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Discussion Starter #1
Hello friends!

For a little background:
I got the betta bug in 2011. I dwindled out of the "hobby" ( I consider it more of a lifestyle :lol: ) in 2013 when I got majorly stressed out with high school. Long story short, the stressor has dissipated, and now I'm back!

I've had live plants in my tanks before, but I wouldn't really consider them actual planted tanks. I only saw a little pearling and growth. Now, the goal is to set up a nano 3gal planted tank- a super simple one! I'm not looking for any fancy, jungle or dutch style or whatever; all I want is a pretty rock and a dwarf hairgrass carpet (iwagumi inspired I suppose).

The tank I ordered is JBJ's 3 gallon Picotope Nano. Here's the stock photo:



I'm going to keep the filter and light fixture, but I'm replacing the bulb (it's a bit actinic) with a 9watt daylight(6500k). That'll make it 3 watts/gallon - sufficient for DHG. I'll be doing a 6-8 hour photoperiod for this probably. For other equipment, I'm definitely going to get a heater. I'll just pick one up at my LFS.

As far as substrate goes, I'm looking at ADA aquasoil (powder type).
For ferts, I'll be dosing seachem flourish excel weekly. Does that sound about right? Would you suggest that I add some room tabs as well?

I'm not experienced enough for a high tech tank with a CO2 system. I've tried researching DIY CO2 systems, but from what I've read, I should be fine with Flourish (also it seems quite difficult, but I may be overcomplicating it :shock:). Do any of you recommend a CO2 booster or dissolving tablets?

Okay, so now I have a question about cycling. Is cycling any different in a planted tank? I know it's harder to control in a nano, though. Any recommendations regarding a fishless or fish-in cycle? Any links or tips would be much appreciated!

Once my tank is all cycled and whatnot, I'll be buying a betta fish to inhabit it! I'd like to order a little koi-colored female HMPK, but, knowing myself, I'll probably just fall in love with one at my LFS. I'm impatient and weak like that.

SO, I know that was a lot, but I'm trying to plan as much as possible so nothing goes horribly wrong. How does that plan sound? Any feedback would be super helpful! :)
 

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If you do fish-in cycle get Seachem Prime. Its a de-chlorinator but also binds ammonia and nitrite in a way that it won't hurt fish but allows beneficial bacteria and plants to still consume it. The bottle has directions for dosing for binding ammonia/nitrites. This doesn't mean you don't have to do water changes during the cycle-it just makes it less uncomfortable for the betta between water changes.

I'm personally a huge fan of the fish-less cycle pure ammonia method. I use Ace hardware's janitor's strength ammonia (about $3 a bottle-bottle lasts me years and many tank cyclings) and a needle-less syringe for easy dose measurements. I use this site for ammonia calculator(bottom)/tank volume converter(right side) for ammonia dosing.
http://www.fishkeeping.co.uk/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=51&keywords=cycling
Get the test kit mentioned above, test ammonia before adding more so levels don't get too high from over dosing. Get in the habit of your water change schedule you want during cycling (test and add ammonia after water change). I calculate for a 3ppm ammonia level but 2ppm is plenty for just a betta (I usually also keep 'pest' snails in the tank).

Cycling typically takes 6-8 weeks. I like fish-less cycling as it gives me time to make sure there's no equipment issues and ensure the live plants are all settled in (as many sold at stores/online are originally grown emersed(out of water) and must get use to submerged life again. But that said my 3 most recent bettas I did fish in cycled with heavily planted tanks.
 

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Oooh! This sounds exciting!

So for the DHG when I tried it without co2 it wasn't veery good. I would recommend DIY CO2 since it's really easy especially on a small tank like that. But if not I'm guessing dosing and root tabs will help. ADA soil is the bomb! Cycling a a planted tank Is no different in my opinion.

Post some pictures when you get the chance to set it up!
 

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Flourish excel needs to be dosed daily since the carbon has a halflife of ~10 hours (apparently depends on tank conditions) once you add it, best done in the morning! Unless you mean flourish comprehensive. I read somewhere that carpet plants greatly benefit from having tabs in the substrate, but I'm not sure if they are necessary.
DIY CO2 is really easy once you get your head around it, I'd highly suggest going with the citric acid + bicarb method though, since you can control it a lot easier and the pressure shouldn't build to the point of exploding hahaha. They sell the kits on ebay and amazon for pretty cheap. I just use a piece of bamboo chopstick as a diffuser.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks so much everyone for your replies :) i'll post updates as I work on it!
 

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I did both of my 3 gallon tanks in aquasoil with a sand cap. Cycling with aquasoil is rather alarming, so be prepared. The aquasoil makes HUGE ammonia spikes at first so don't be alarmed, it goes away. It's been over a year now since I set up my tanks, but if I remember right it took only four days for the outrageous ammonia readings to get to zero and stay there. My tanks are quite heavily planted for their size though, which helped a lot. And just an fyi, aquasoil has a lot of ferts in it so adding more is unnecessary. I have never added a fert to my tanks.
 

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Shooter: Oh, okay. Good to know. I probably would've freaked out at the ammonia readings if you hadn't told me that! I'll add a fish AFTER it cycles then! :)

Bobioden: No, it unfortunately does not come with a lid. I'm not sure how I would go about getting one for it either. Any suggestions anyone? My plan was to just keep the waterline about an inch/inch and a half from the top to prevent any jumpers from succeeding.
 

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You could easily get some acrylic cut to make it into a lid. Just get the measurements before going in. They might be able to make it in the same shape as the tank's top
 
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