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Discussion Starter #1
Okay so due to many problems with tail ripping, biting etc with Koi I moved him to a 1 gallon. He seems to like it, but it is to much work for me now that I have a job. I don't have time to do 2 changes on it a week. Unfortunatly I still have another 2 gallon, but am thinking I can handle 1. So anyways I just bought a 5g for him and I want to use live plants so I won't have to worry about his thin tail ripping. I want to spend as little money as possible on this. So I am wondering what plants if any will work with a largish rock substate. I would also like it if their is a type of plant that spreads and will fill up more of the tank over time. I would also like the plants to be low matenience as I have around 1 day a week to spend caring for tanks. Which is why I am moving up to all larger tanks. Any suggstions, care tips etc would be much appreciated.
 

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Not many plants will do well with a large size substrate, but easy to care for plants that do work are Anubias and Java Fern. Both are slow growing, and both do well in low light. Anubias actually needs low light, too much and the leaves will yellow. Both of these plants should not have their rhizome burried, the rhizome is the rooty mass at the base of the plant. The usual method is to tie it onto rocks or driftwood, but you can put it directly over the substrate if you wish too. These are slow growers though, so it would take a long time to fill out a tank. Java Fern would probably fill out faster.

You could try some Java Moss too.

Floating plants are also nice to have and Betta's will enjoy them, a good small one is Amazon Frogbit or an even smaller is Duckweed. Both can grow very fast requiring weekly thinning to keep the top from being over grown, you need to keep clear space for the Betta to breath. The thinning is just scooping some out, 10 seconds and your done.

With your new tank though, please keep in mind it takes 4-8 weeks to cycle and it is best if you do that before adding your Betta. You can read how to do a fishless cycle here: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/...inners-guide-freshwater-aquarium-cycle-38617/
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I know about the cycling and won't be putting him in until then. He was previously in a 10g, but he wasn't doing well as it was divided. I will start the cycling process tomorrow.
I got some lights with the tank, and don't mind having to buy different lights. I just want to try and eliminate his tail ripping, that and I love the looks of the plants. the gravel isn't that big, but its bigger then the colorful rocks.
 

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Anubias, java fern, java moss, wisteria, anacharis. Petsmart and Petco have most/all of these. You can also go to www.plantedaquariumscentral.com and use coupon code BETTAFISH when you check out for 10% off.

Other plants that will work (but may not be at local stores): pennywort, dwarf lily.

Watch out for the tubes at Petsmart - a lot of those plants aren't actually aquatic and will die when submerged. I think the ones that aren't are actually labeled "semi-aquatic" now. So look carefully if you go there.

Care tips... it's much easier to maintain a planted tank if your lights are on a timer, or if you can be very consistent with timing. You can get a timer for 3-6 dollars. Set it for 10-12 hours a day (mine are on for 11). Using a timer makes algae less of a problem. With a timer, you can also try using the "siesta method," which is supposed to be great for low-maintenance tanks without CO2 injection. When in the dark, plants produce CO2, and when in the light, they use CO2. The siesta method basically gives the plants a "break time" to produce CO2 during the day, so they don't run out by the end of the day. So, you turn the lights on for 5 hours, turn them off for 4 hours, then turn them on for 5 hours again. And, of course, keep them off the other hours of the day. People have had fantastic results doing this when compared to just leaving the lights on for a full day. Here's a link with some number crunching about it http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/el-natural/67271-lighting-siesta-co2.html

Since you'll be using a gravel bottom, you may want to fertilize a little bit. Seachem Flourish (liquid) is a good brand and lasts a VERY long time (I've had my bottle a year, granted, I don't fertilize very often 'cause I have soil... but the dosage is about 1mL for 10 gallons... I just add a few drops, lol). It's pretty highly concentrated.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, you have been very helpful!
I was at petsmart looking at their plants and all their plants were already fully submerged. Would it them be safe to assume they are aquatic?
also for the fertilizer would I add it every water change?
So I was planning on starting cycling it today, but if I am using live plants can I still put the ammonia in? Or do I have do something different using live plants?
Oh and will be getting one of those timers. I am really hoping to get some java moss as I love that stuff. Thanks for all the help! I was going to wait to do a planted tank until we move, but things have had to speed up a bit in order to give them the best care I can. Also can I just use whatever water dechlorinater? I use prime mostly, but am still using stress coat + for a large tear in his fins. If need be can I use both those decholorinaters (not at the same time) with plants or do I need a different one.
 

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Thanks, you have been very helpful!
I was at petsmart looking at their plants and all their plants were already fully submerged. Would it them be safe to assume they are aquatic?
also for the fertilizer would I add it every water change?
So I was planning on starting cycling it today, but if I am using live plants can I still put the ammonia in? Or do I have do something different using live plants?
Oh and will be getting one of those timers. I am really hoping to get some java moss as I love that stuff. Thanks for all the help! I was going to wait to do a planted tank until we move, but things have had to speed up a bit in order to give them the best care I can. Also can I just use whatever water dechlorinater? I use prime mostly, but am still using stress coat + for a large tear in his fins. If need be can I use both those decholorinaters (not at the same time) with plants or do I need a different one.
Yes, their tanks with water+plants are full aquatic. Just don't get anything with lots of roots. :) Some rooted plants will do okay in gravel, but I wouldn't trust my word on which ones. XD I hope someone else can come around and let you know that. I -think- amazon sword does okay in gravel. You can always write down what kinds they have and go home and research them (or use a fancy smart phone if you have one ;) ). You'll want low-light, easy care/low maintenance plants that can grow in gravel or don't have root systems (stem plants are plants without roots).

Fertilizer is usually dosed once or twice a week. Adding it after your weekly water change would be good. :) Try doing it just once a week to start, especially if you use siesta method, because you won't need as much with that. If you're not getting the growth you want after a few weeks, up it to twice a week if you so desire. I recommend starting at once a week just to make sure you don't get algae, because you'll end up just fertilizing algae instead.

Yes, you can add ammonia and cycle with live plants. The live plants will consume a bit of the ammonia, and will stay healthy that way, but it won't detract from your cycle since you're not doing a full on NPT (in which case, you don't need a cycle because the plants consume all the bad stuff XD). You can fertilize while doing this, as well.

Planted tanks aren't as hard to move as it seems like they'll be. I've moved one twice (one is a soil-based NPT, one was gravel).

Those dechlorinators are fine with plants. I use Prime, too. :D As far as I know, any dechlorinator is fine with plants. It's some medications and salt you have to worry about.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Whats the difference between a NPT and just adding a few plants? I would be interested in not cycling lol are they harder to maintain?
 

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Natural Planted Tanks just means low tech so no artificial CO2 injection. Some go further and use soil under a layer of sand. You can have equally beautiful tanks regardless on if you use sand, small gravel (less than 'pea size'), or soil.

High tech tanks use CO2 injection, either in a DIY way that works okay on small tanks, to using pressurized CO2 on larger tanks or when you want to control the exact amount of CO2. Aside from light, CO2 is the most in demand nutrient a plant needs, mainly the Carbon while they expel the Oxygen (O2). So for people who want fast growth and a lot of the red colored plants will go with bright lights and CO2 to achieve that. Typically in these set ups daily fertilizer is required and most use dry fertilizers.

High light, down to the upper end of moderate requires CO2 injection or you'll end up with an algae farm. Less than that you can get by with natural CO2.
 

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Once you get a NPT going, it's not hard to maintain at all. The difference is a NPT has soil, whereas a plain planted tank is just sand or gravel. I have organic potting soil (no added fertilizers or chemicals and no poo) covered by a sand cap. Some people cover it with small gravel instead of sand or cover it with sand and line the edges with small gravel. I had a huge problem with ammonia when I first set it up (not enough fast growing stem plants when I first got it going and my soil made ammonia like crazy)... so next time I make one of these, I'm going to wait at least a week before adding fish. Research walstad planted tank if you're interested. :)

A NPT is basically the closest you can get to a natural ecosystem in a little box. You don't even need a filter with an effective NPT, because the plants will consume all ammonia. The levels in my NPT are constantly 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate with 2 water changes a year (the water changes are really just to keep minerals going and freshen the water/remove some tannins to make it clearer... lol. I don't even think it's necessary). Just top it off and done. I have a filter for water movement and to remove particles I stir up when pruning or adjusting plant leaves. You can make NPTs in bowls to huge tanks, which is awesome. I want to do a few 2 gallon bowl NPTs when I have the resources. :)

With a low-tech NPT, you don't use fertilizers, have low light (1-2 Watts per gallon), and no CO2 injection. These tanks GREATLY benefit from siesta method. Mine is kind of on the high tech end, getting away from NPT... I have high light, so I use DIY CO2 and a bit of fertilizer.

Here's my NPT... it's been going for a little over a year, but just recently really started growing because I realized my light was too high to not have CO2... so I added CO2 about a month ago and it's exploding:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I have been talking to OFL about doing one of these. I love the idea and I can only imagine how much better it must be for the fish! And they look amazing. This is the plan for me new tank. Around how many plants will I need to get this started so it actually works? And then would a 25w bulb work or will I need more or less? And what is that grass like stuff you have? I love it. I would like to get away with no fertilizer or CO2. And I also plan on going filter less. And just having the heater.
 

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I have been talking to OFL about doing one of these. I love the idea and I can only imagine how much better it must be for the fish! And they look amazing. This is the plan for me new tank. Around how many plants will I need to get this started so it actually works? And then would a 25w bulb work or will I need more or less? And what is that grass like stuff you have? I love it. I would like to get away with no fertilizer or CO2. And I also plan on going filter less. And just having the heater.
25W might even be TOO much for a 5g. Talk to OFL about that, for sure. There's more into it than just wattage and I know she has/has had 5g NPTs without filters. She can probably tell you the exact brand name of the bulb that would work best.

Sky is absolutely FLOURISHING in his NPT... you wouldn't even know he's 2 years old, because his colors get more vibrant everyday. It's so stable with perfect water quality for them.

You'll need quite a few fast growing stem plants to start out with. Frogbit, anacharis, hornwort (I hate hornwort and don't particularly recommend it), java moss, wisteria, water sprite would be good starting points with that (you can go with just one or two of those types, of course). There are other plants you can use, too. If you Google and research walstad planted tank or natural planted tank you'll get a longer list and some pictures that show just how much people used. You'll need a decent bit, but not a tankful.

I have 3 types of grass, haha. The tiny hairy stuff is dwarf hair grass (http://www.shop.plantedaquariumscen...arf-Hair-grass-foreground-plant-dwarfhg01.htm). I got it last month and it's starting to grow like crazy. I want it to carpet the whole bottom, and it's on its way to doing that.

The mid-size grass is dwarf sagittaria (http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=768+827&pcatid=827).

The tall, crazy growing grass is vallisneria (http://www.shop.plantedaquariumscen...talian-Vals-tall-background-plant-itval03.htm). GET SOME! XD It's REALLY good for a NPT to keep the anaerobic pockets down, because it spreads like wildfire and each tuft has a pretty extensive root system. Root systems eliminate the pockets. I also recommend amazon sword for that (that's the huge green plant in my picture on the right side). You might not like how big it gets in a five gallon, though... it gets huge, as you can see. Can always prune it down.
 

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The soil type recommended by Diana Walstad herself is Miracle Grow Organic Potting Mix. That's what I used... you'll want to let it air out on a tarp/garbage bag for a day and pick out the big sticks and rocks. OFL uses dirt from her yard but I don't trust my parents' yard dirt, since my father sprays stuff out there, lol. For sand cap, you can just use play sand to keep costs down. I wanted black sand, but it made it eeexpeensiiivee. I think there -are- some darker play sands, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Okay, will write down a list for when I go to petsmart. I am really exited about starting this. I just hope Koi likes it as he seems content in his 1 gallon. I was planning on getting at least 1 amazon sword as I really like it. Thanks for all the help! Anything else you can think of to add would be awesome. I am hoping to get the things in the next few days.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I am planning on using some dirt. I know some places that haven't been sprayed and that my chickens haven't gotten to yet.
 

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Oh! And definitely consult OFL about other plants you can use to start it out. She'll know what's cheap and what works because she's done this so many times.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I love my chickens. And I am just waiting for her to reply to my last message. She and you have been ever so helpful though! I just worry about doing something wrong and harming Koi in the process.
I have started a short list, and hope that one of the few petsmarts near me will have some of these and I will be able to get them for under $25. Not sure if it is possible or not.
 

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I love my chickens. And I am just waiting for her to reply to my last message. She and you have been ever so helpful though! I just worry about doing something wrong and harming Koi in the process.
I have started a short list, and hope that one of the few petsmarts near me will have some of these and I will be able to get them for under $25. Not sure if it is possible or not.
A lot of people, including OFL, add fish the same day. But they've also done this a lot... As long as you wait to make sure you've got no ammonia and keep an eye on it and nitrite and nitrate (there will be a bit of a biofilter in the soil, so check for nitrite, too), Koi will be fine!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Okay thanks!
 

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The difference is a NPT has soil, whereas a plain planted tank is just sand or gravel.
This is something I strongly disagree with, there is nothing unnatural in using sand or gravel and there are numerous places in the regions these fish and plants live that are sandy or rocky.

Success can be had using either substrate, with equal effort. Soil is actually one of the most difficult substrates to work with initially, and isn't something I would recommend to someone doing their first planted tank. If you like to start with hard and want the challenge go for it. I've nothing against people using soil in their substrates but I suppose it is a pet peeve of mine for people to say it's better, or it's easier. It isn't, success can be just as easy with plain gravel/sand.

As a case in point I'll reference another users tank that is low tech and uses regular play sand for a substrate: Amazonian Riverscape 115g - 115 gallon Freshwater fish tank

In regards to the use of fertilizers, only substrate rooted plants will benefit from nutrients in the substrate. All other plants get their nutrients from the water column.

A good place to start is here: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/...approach-natural-planted-aquarium-part-34861/

Tropicalfishkeeping.com is the parent site of bettafish.com, this is only a small sub-forum of a much larger community. It's a good place to go if you want more specific advice on aquarium plants with several knowledgeable people. You probably don't even need to make a new account to post there, since they are technically the same site. At least I don't, but I created my account there.
 
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