Where to start? - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-05-2019, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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Am I Doing This Correctly?

I've been doing a lot of research and planning for my aquarium. One thing I've discovered (I already knew, it's just reinforced every time I need something) is that Canada's product market is lacking. It's so hard for me to find certain things because they are only sold in the United States. I need silicone to reseal the tank but in my area, there aren't many options for aquarium safe silicone. So, I'm going to have to order some online for $20+! I don't have a choice because I really need it before I can do anything else with this tank.

Anyway, I've constructed a plan - not sure if I'll be able to get it finished in the next 25 days (my birthday is December 1st).
Here is a breakdown of what I'm going to do. Feel free to give suggestions as this is my first time actually planning out an entire aquarium like this!

Once the tank is resealed (I have to wait for the silicone to be delivered), I'm going to use pool filter sand as my main substrate along with gravel. I'll probably do a half and half like this:

Or a sand path like this:

Once the sand and gravel is added to the resealed tank, I'm going to attempt to plant live plants in the aquarium.

Here is a list of what I want (In no particular order):
Amazon Sword Plant
Java Fern
Betta Balls
Amazon Frogbit
Java Moss
I had a hard time finding some because they are seasonal. Winter is coming so by the time I'm ready to add them, I'm afraid they won't be available. I've underlined the ones I'm going to start with first. I'd like to take my time to build my micro ecosystem (I think that's what it's called). Not 100% sure my choice in plants is good for a beginner but these are the ones listed when I was researching on the best plants to plant in aquariums with betta fish.

Moving on, after the sand and gravel is laid down and the plants are placed, I'm going to start cycling the aquarium. I'm not sure if I have to do that before planting the plants I want to plant.

Unfortunately, because of where I live, I do not have pure ammonia available to kick start the process. It's way too expensive to order online and the ammonia doesn't always ship well (leaking into the box) so I'll have to do it some other way. I was thinking about starting with ghost shrimp - maybe 6 to start. Just enough to get them excreting waste into the tank to raise the ammonia level. At the same time, I will be adding Seachem Prime to the aquarium water daily. I haven't been able to find a test kit for ammonia, nitrate and nitrite. It's really expensive online and not available for me in stores (only the test strips which I heard aren't accurate) but I know it's important. Hopefully someone can offer advice on this.

After the ghost shrimp settle, I'd like to introduce mystery snails into the aquarium along with clown pleco. Although, I'm having a hard time finding clown pleco - I'm only seeing the ones that grown to 24 inches. They are probably seasonal too but I could have sworn I saw some in the pet store when I went to look at fishes. I think I'll just have to physically walk into different pet stores to see if they have the things that I can't find online.

Then, after the ghost shrimp, mystery snails, and clown pleco have settled into the tank, I will add guppies! Hopefully the betta fish will not clash with the guppies. I think adding the betta fish to an already established aquarium last might help but I'm not sure. The plants might help with creating space for them to claim territory. Plus, it's a 35 gallon tank so there should be enough space for everyone.

Once all of that is completed, I'll look into decorating the aquarium with drift wood maybe and some aquarium stones.

FINALLY, I will add the betta fish.

When I read this all over, it seems like it's going to take at least 2 months to complete. I'm not really in any rush anyway. We'll see how it goes.

I have an air pump but only one side works. I'm going to take it apart and see what the issue might be. I'm also going to have to buy Seachem Matrix for the filter.

This is all I got so far! Let me know what y'all think!

Thank you if you read everything - I appreciate it.
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Last edited by No_One_Special; 11-05-2019 at 08:26 PM. Reason: Corrections
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-05-2019, 09:27 PM
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Welcome to the Forum!

Sounds like a plan. Here is the Forum's fish-in cycling tutorial. Do not be afraid to add the Betta first. The trick is to float the new fish in a darkened tank and leave the tank lights off for a minimum of an hour after releasing the tank mates.


I am not sure if the Ghosties would survive the Ammonia and Nitrites necessary to cycle a tank. Shrimp are highly sensitive to both and while 0.25ppm Ammonia won't impact fish it can kill shrimp.

With a Pleco, the substrate will not stay separated. That's true for most bottom dwellers as they snuffle through the substrate. But, you could build a barrier of rocks/stones like the right tank and may not have as much of an issue.

Do not plant the Hornwort as it does not form true roots and will rot from the bottom. Either weigh it down or let it float.

Have you ever had a planted tank? All of the plants you have listed are good if you have not. But for those rooted in the substrate, like the Sword, you will need root tabs as they are voracious feeders. If you cannot source many live plants you might a mix of live and silk until you can so the tank mates have enough cover and the Betta can retreat from the activity of the Guppies. Silk plants now look so real it's difficult to tell the difference.

Guppies are fine tank mates with Betta; you can even purchase only males if you don't want babies. If you get females, always maintain male-to-female ratio of 1/3.

Keep temperatures 77-78 so all tank mates and plants are comfortable. IME, some plants, like Hornwort, do not do well in higher temperatures.

If you can find them, Cryptocorynes make great aquarium additions. As does Vallisneria.

Have fun and keep us posted!

My 60-Year Aquarium and 53-Year Betta Addictions

If your dog thinks you are the greatest do not seek a second opinion
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-06-2019, 12:34 AM
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There are regular silicone sealants that can be used in aquariums, you have to be CERTAIN that it only contains silicone and doesn't have any additives. It should say 100% silicone, but read the label to be certain, it should not say Mildew resistant, Mold free, Bacteria protection, or Anti Microbial anywhere on the label. Some brands to try are Momentive RTV 100 series, GE SCS1200, and GE Silicone-1 Window and Door CLEAR (do NOT use ge silicone-2 as it is not safe). Those come in tubes and you'll need a caulk gun to apply them, but they are much more cost effective then something like API aquarium silicone.

For cycling the tank I'd start with the mystery snail or the guppies, they are much more likely to survive the cycling process then shrimp will be. As RussellTheShihTzu noted shrimp are very sensitive to changes in water parameters. If you are careful to keep up with the water change and follow the directions that Russell linked you to the guppies or the snail would handle the cycle just fine.

For your substrate you are going to need some type of barrier to keep the sand and gravel separated. I know from experience that while it'll start out looking great it will very quickly start to blend where the gravel meets the sand if you do not use a barrier.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-06-2019, 06:18 AM
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Welcome to the forum. I hope you will find all the information you ask for very helpful. It sounds like you have a great plan and are doing this the right way by taking your time and doing it in steps. Don't plan on a certain date to be finished. (I say this because from experience no aquarium is ever finished. LOL They are and always will be a work in progress. A labor of love.) Russell and Rainbo have given you very good advice. Keep us informed as to your progress. A journal would be a great way to start this project. (if you have the time).
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-06-2019, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for your helpful advice! I've ordered the silicone online. It should be here by next Tuesday. I'm going to attempt to reseal. Been watching quite a few videos but I'm still not confident doing it myself. I wish I knew someone with lots of experience who could do it for me.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-06-2019, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by No_One_Special View Post
Thank you all for your helpful advice! I've ordered the silicone online. It should be here by next Tuesday. I'm going to attempt to reseal. Been watching quite a few videos but I'm still not confident doing it myself. I wish I knew someone with lots of experience who could do it for me.
I'll tell you one thing ... do it yourself, that's where everyone, even the best of us start.
My dad taught me about fish but he wasn't one for aquascaping. When I started, I had this great idea and enough money. I put it together and it looked a little messy but it was passable.
Then it all went to heck but the fish didn't care.

Then the next tank, I fixed some of the problems and it looked fine, and then it all went to heck but the fish didn't care.

Then the next tank grew into a beautiful wild mess and then went to heck.

Now, while still not an expert, I can work with the plants to keep them alive and have a decent looking tank.

Don't be afraid to fail and try again. And when looking at many of those show tanks, realize that a lot of them are put together to be shown for a couple of weeks and then dismantled.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-08-2019, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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Someone suggested that I leave the tank alone if it's not leaking. I've filled it with water to see if it'll leak.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-08-2019, 07:59 PM
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To tell you the truth, I have never trusted a used tank. (even if it were one of mine.) If I took a tank down and left it sit for more than a few weeks I would scrape the sealant off each edge of the tank one edge at a time. Giving each edge time to dry before doing another edge. (unless you want to totally strip the tank and clean the edges of all the glass completely. and start over rebuilding the tank one section at a time.) Then it's a crap shoot weather you did it right. The new rebuild could hold forever or it could fail in a few hours or days. Just when you think it was done right..

The reason I am saying this is that after a tank has been filled the seal stays wet and doesn't leak. Until you take it down and leave it sit dry for a few weeks or a few months or even years . You find the tank in storage and say well it wasn't leaking when I put it in here, so you fill it and it holds water with no problems. You have the tank completely set up for months and one day for no reason at all the seal starts to leak and the leak gets a little larger before you try and reseal it. By this time the glass gives way under the weight of the water in the tank and next your fish and plants and substrate are in a very big puddle in the middle of your floor.

But than again a brand new tank can fail also. Only with a brand new tank there is a limited warranty and the tank will be replaced. Too bad the rest isn't covered. This is what we go through on a daily basis. I have leak alerts around each tank I have, The very first sign of a leak the tank comes down and is replaced with a new tank. (not a used tank.) If you ever had a catastrophic tank failure you know better than to trust a tank that may leak. I had this happen with a 75 gallon cichlid tank and it cost more then it should have, but then I had a 4 year old that caused the failure.

Really if it was me I would feel safer buying a new tank or having the old one rebuilt by someone that would warranty the tank and work.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-08-2019, 08:14 PM Thread Starter
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This is so discouraging, I almost don't even want to bother with the whole thing.

I don't know where else I can find a tank that big in my budget. Everywhere I've looked, they've been $200+.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-08-2019, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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Update: Filled up the new tank with water and the water is underneath the silicone - it's near leaking...

I'm not sure what to do.
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