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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My little guy bit his tail a few weeks ago. Since he has never had a tail-biting habit before, and hasn't done it since, I assume he is lonely (It was around the time my brother's betta died, he was in a separate tank but they knew of each other). He is in a half gal quarantine tank currently.

Long story short, while he's recovering, I want to do a 360 on my tank. It is an under-decorated 10gal with nothing covering the bottom. In addition, I want to cycle it (It's never been cycled), and prepare it for two or more Cory Catfish as well. I will be adding the Corys first, so that I don't have a big territory problem with my betta. Hopefully this will make my betta get over his loneliness. I'd also like to add some plants, real and fake.

I've read the guides here, and since I'm taking on a lot, I'd like to share my plan, hear your opinions, and ask some questions. In advance, thank you for your help and consideration!

What I have:

- 1 Veil-tailed bi-coloured splendens betta male, named Mako
- 10 gallon tank
- 2 silk leaf hammocks
- 1 scratch-tested colosseum decoration, size medium
- 1 scratch-tested plant / cave combo decoration, size small
- Medium-sized gravel (Will not be using for the tank makeover)
- 1 Fluval Thermostat hang-on-back Heater (Which I highly recommend!)
- 1 Tetra Whisper 10i Internal Power hand-on-back Filter, low flow (Also highly recommend!)
- 2 overhead lights built into tank lid
** As for stuff that may or may not be part of the tank makeover process: Pellet betta food, bloodworms (freeze-dried, frozen), daphnia (Freeze-dried), mysis (Freeze-dried), water conditioner, water softener, aquarium salt, epsom salt, BettaFix, Tetra Fungus Guard, waste remover, soft net, sponge tank cleaner, two quarantine tanks, each a half gal.

What I intend to get:

- Substrate, probably sand.
- 1-2 Aquarium plants. Must be compatible with betta, catfish, substrate, low-flow filter, temperature of between 75F and 80F, and artificial light (Tank light and external lamp available. Sunlight very limited). Not being used as decoration or fish habitation, more so being used to keep toxin levels down.
- 1-4 Cory Catfish, or any other fish compatible with betta, substrate, plants, decorations, filter, and tank temperature between 75F and 80F.
- Cory Catfish food, or other fish food.
- 1 Soft, blue plant, size medium - large, for Mako to camouflage with.
- 1 Submergible platform, to create more of a distinction for the territories of the fish.
- 1 alternative decoration, size large. (Will be a smooth driftwood root / cave system that breaks surface of tank to reduce jumping. Blue/Grey colour so Mako can camouflage)

My Process:

1) Empty tank. Clean tank, filter, heater, and decorations with hot water and salt.
2) Add plants and substrate. Not sure how to plant the plants, so that process of which to add first and whether or not there needs to be a lot of water and light is still up in the air.
3) Add decorations.
*Optional* I may or may not leave the tank for three months in order to let the substrate settle and become condensed. If I do, then I will cycle after three month and use the tank explicitly for caring for and growing the plants until then.
4) Add filter and heater.
5) Start the cycling process: plant method with no fish.
6) Once the cycle is complete, or a few days before, I will buy catfish and their food. When tank is safe, add catfish.
7) Take care of the catfish for a while to make sure they are okay in the tank. If I am buying four, I will add them one-by-one, or two-by-two. Name the catfish at some point.
8) Once the catfish are acclimated, add Mako.

From there, it's the obvious care and maintenance. If Mako doesn't get along with the catfish, I already have someone else willing to take them and the food. Mako will then stay in the tank. If the time comes and the person does not want the catfish anymore, I have a 3gal tank that I will keep them in with the same substrate and one of the decorations from the cycled tank.

There's a lot of stuff covered in this plan that I still don't know a lot about yet. If anyone is willing to give me recommendations for plants or other fish, I would really appreciate it. Also, I acknowledge that there may be some parts of this plan that will not work. If anyone is willing to correct anything written here that is uninformed, again I would very much appreciate that.

To everyone who has taken the time to read and / or respond, thank you very much!
 

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Hi :D sounds like a big project!

For live plants you will need sunlight bulbs, or in other words, lighting as close to 6500k as possible :)

For cories i recommend a sand substrate. and it's friendly to their barbels and constant substrate sifting. They also prefer to be in groups of 4 or more. otherwise they may get very lonely.

Sand is already quite compact when you add it to the tank. I've never heard of waiting three months for the substrate to compact. where did you read his?

My personaly preference for planting is to do it when the thank is not yet filled. I would make sure the substrate is wet however, to hold down the plants

I noticed there is a "water softner" in your list of additional items. What is it exactly?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hai aokashi, thank you for your post!

I will get the bulbs and I am probably going to get 4 catfish. If I can though, I will test to see whether or not Mako reacts to just one first.

I got a pamphlet on silt at PetSmart, and it said you could optionally wait for the silt to compact before adding fish so that not only would food and waste stay at the top, but you could use a waste remover to remove these things without sucking up the silt, and the filter wouldn't stir too much of it up. But I also read that Corys like to stick their heads in sand to look for food, so I'm probably going to get sand instead of silt.

The water softener is an additive that I put in my tank water with the conditioner. While my conditioner neutralizes heavy metals, it does not change my water hardness to the level that betta fish need. Instead of adding lots of conditioner, I just add water softener. I have experimented with just leaving the water out for a day or leaving it in an absorbent plastic bottle, but the water softener works the best. For some reason my tap water is stubborn and I cannot reduce the hardness through any other method.

Actually, I was wondering whether or not Corys are scaleless fish, because I understand that, in that case, the less additives the better. If they are, I will probably stop using the softener or find something compatible with them. Also, obviously no salt or medicine.
 

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Sounds good!

Unfortunately the water softener does not truly soften it water. instead it is adding salt in to the water to exchange out magnesium and calcium ions. Beta fish don't really like salt either ^_^
It's probably best to stick with whatever come out of your tap. even if it's rock hard water~ betta fish are pretty adaptable.
Corys are scaless fish. however there have been no confirmation that they react badly to salt...
Personally I wouldn't use salt anyway ^_^
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well, Mako's fins were curling because of the hardness of the water. Since I've been using the water softener, they've gone back to normal.

Also, according to my testing kit the softener actually does reduce my hardness.

Aside from that, bettas actually have a high salt tolerance.

I'm not sure what to do without the softener other than use filtered water, but I know this isn't necessarily good for the fish, and definitely not good for the plants.
 

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Bettas certainly do have high salt tolerance. However they are also soft water fish...
Where salt can cause kidney problems for fish, hard water causes a more aesthetic problem.
So here comes a dilemma huh? ^_^

Plants generally love hardwater ~

What I meant by the water isn't truly softened is the fact that the minerals have not actially been removed from the water :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The problem with curling fins is that it isn't only an aesthetic problem. Irreversible damage could occur and the curling will become permanent. Because he is in such a deep tank, I don't want anything inhibiting Mako's ability to swim.

Also, salt encourages slime coat growth and kills parasites. It's not like I'm putting actual salt in his water either. But it sounds like we'll end up agreeing to disagree on this topic. :)

I'll probably stop using the hardener when I get the plants since they will alter the water anyways.
 

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Lol ^_^ I don't mind~ personal preference really :3 Salt does cause skyrocketing TDS though XD probably why I try to keep it away from my fish~

I'm not sure what you mean by plants altering the water?
 

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Oh thank you! And judging from earlier posts, very high total dissolved solids are not good? What do they do exactly, and what happens when they are "skyrocketing"?
 

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Great thank you for the link! While I've never owned a fish, over the years I've done some research on keeping them, but I'd never even read that term before in my research, so thanks for clearing that up! We have pretty hard water here it seems like (at least compared to every where I've traveled in recent memory)
 

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I realize now that you meant "soft water fishes" as in fish that need to be kept in soft water, not fish that are kept in soft water because that's what their owners happened to put them in! Doh! One of the freshwater articles on tropical fish keeping mentions goldfish, live bearers, and Rift Valley Cichlids as being hard water fishes. What are bettas considered, as far as soft or hard water?
 

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bettas spelndens are considered soft water fish ^___^
but since they've been "domestic" for so long (they can't survive in the wild, lol) they are now quite tolerant of hard water.
 

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Ok that's good to hear, but is there a limit on how hard the water can be? Maybe I should test how hard my water is before trying to put a fish in it. Are those water softeners they sell at the pet store A) actually worthwhile, B) any different from the domestic water softeners available, C) and really safe for fish, as I've heard they change salt levels?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
It has a lot to do with your specific betta.
Even in the wild, betta habitats range from extremely hard water to extremely soft water.
The best thing to do is ask the breeder when you purchase the betta what kind of water it has grown in, or do a test on the water it is placed in when you buy it.
My boy grew up in soft water, whereas my brother's jumbo betta grew up in hard water.
Without the minerals in hard water, bettas will become nutrient deficient. This is why conditioning (And softening if need be) can be considered better than placing your betta in filtered water, because filtered water does not contain any nutrients, while conditioned and softened water contains the same nutrients, but they are no longer harmful to the fish.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I could really use some advice as to which live plants to get that are compatible with bettas, corys, and mystery snails
 

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All of them! I kind of subscribe to the mix of moss/stem/crypt/roseate plants, and stuff it full. My guys love wiggling around on top of floaters or high growers.

Beware, plants do not like salt (usually). You may need to look into salt tolerance of individual species.

It is also normal for plants to "melt" at first, before putting out new growth. That can lead to ammonia spikes for a while. Extra testing is usually a good idea until everything settles down.

!0 gallons sounds like lots of fun to plant! It's going to be beautiful.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Alright! I just priced this out on PetSmart!
Also made some more decisions on what I need to get. Here it is, wish me luck and PLEASE, I will take any advice! (Prices before tax. Only reg. prices shown, not including current sales, of which there are many). Prices rounded to the nearest tenth. Underlined is what I intend to purchase.

REQUIRED

Tank Substrate: Top Fin Betta Sand OR Top Fin Betta Crushed Pebble
MIN (3) - $15
MAX (5) - $25

Large Decoration: Top Fin Grey Tree Root Ornament
$25

Live Plants:

Java Fern Plant
$7

Water Wisteria Plant
$5

Anubius Plant
$9

Moneywort Plant
$4.30

Plant Bulb: Zoo Med Flora Sun Maximum Plant Growth
MIN (1): $16
MAX (2): $32

Green Cory Catfish (At PJ's Pet Store)
MIN (1): $2
MAX (4): $8

Mystery Snail
MIN (1): $3.50
MAX (3): $10.50
Will purchase (2): $7

OPTIONAL

Albino Cory
MIN (1): $4
MAX (2): $8
(I might mix the Albinos in with the Greens during or after tank set up. If during, I will buy two Albinos and two Greens. My goal is to add two fish at a time if possible, maximum four fish at a time. If addition is after set-up, the plan is four Greens and two Albinos. Since the Albinos are smaller, I'm toying with the idea of doing only (4) Albino catfish and no Greens. I read that Corys can get aggressive if they are much bigger than another fish, and my Mako is just over 2". Greens grow to 4", and Albinos grow to 3". Thoughts? )

Silk / Plastic Plant: Top Fin Plastic Plant Variety Pack
$8
(I will investigate this, I'm actually looking for a silk plant that I know PetSmart sells, but all that's on their site is plastic. If they don't have silk, I'll check other places)

Replacement Tank Lid: Aqueon Incandescent Full Economy Aquarium Hood
$30
(If I can't fix the faulty wiring in mine, I will have to buy a new one)

Min Budget: $100
Max Total: $161.30

***All values in CND
 
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