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Discussion Starter #1
So, after deciding to come back to bettakeeping, I figured I might as well start a journal so I can share my experiences with you all! I have had bettas in the past but this time, I feel I've got more experience with bettas and smaller tanks under my belt and am excited to create the planted tank of my dreams!

I decided to splurge when I had a good sale opportunity and picked up the newer version of the Fluval Spec V 5 gallon tank. I've always dreamed of owning a Spec III or V, and seeing as how the newer models have improved lighting, I went for it. I like the sleek lines of the tank and the length of it, and I feel a betta will appreciate the length too! I got it out of the box yesterday and WOW it is bigger than I expected and I am so excited! I'm definitely glad I opted for a 5 gallon rather than a 10, due to limited space.

Here's my tank!
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Yesterday, I stopped by my local petco. I picked up water testing supplies, seachem prime, some black gravel, some cheap fish food for cycling purposes (I've heard of the method of using fish food and figured I might try this), and I dug through the driftwood and picked out what I thought was the coolest piece they had! I've never used real wood in my tank before but have looked up the boiling process and soaking so I'll be starting the boiling later today. I was impressed with the betta selection they had at my location and was SO tempted to take one home but knew I wanted to prepare more prior, as I'm also considering swinging by a LFS to see what their betta selection is like. I was also impressed to see my petco had these neat rocks with plants attached to them being sold near the bettas in the plastic cups, as I'd never seen pre-attached plants in a store before!

Here's my driftwood piece I picked out. Not sure how I want to angle it, I'm considering eventually trying to attach some plants to it, maybe a java fern. Anyway, that's pretty much all for now! I'm super excited about my tank and can't wait to share more updates!

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Nice finds! One word of caution about the wood, make sure to feel around it and sand off any sharp points, or places where it looks like the betta may snag his fins, before using it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Will do! I figured I'd let it soak for a bit first before filing it down since it would be softer and easier to work with. I boiled it for 15 minutes since its a smaller piece and WOW that water was dark! I let it cool and then switched out the water. The piece I got sunk before I even boiled it which I wasn't expecting!

I also ordered some more stuff off amazon. I picked up a hydor theo 50 watt heater since I've heard good things on here from people who use them, a thermometer, a filter intake sponge cover, and some fake silk plants so I can have some coverage for my fish even if I don't have all of the plants I want right away. Definitely is feeling like I'm getting closer and checking things off the list!
 

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I am glad you started a journal I will be reading.......looks like they did update the tank not sure but the out put area looks different.
Very nice looking tank glad you got a discount.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
As of this morning, I have officially filled up the tank, added water conditioner and got the filter running! The light is so bright, it makes my black gravel look blue in photos. Spent the night at my boyfriend's last night and came home this morning to my soaking driftwood in a pot of tea colored water, but its looking less stained than before! Switched that out and went to work. I added prime but I still need to get to the store to get some ammonia. Hoping to test my water parameters in a couple of hours when I get back. I'm on city water, so I'm gonna find out what my baseline looks like before headed to the store in case I find out I need to keep some extra pH adjustments on hand. So far, the filter current seems quite gentle. I put the filter on the lowest setting. I also ordered pre-filter sponges which I plan to cover the outflow with.

I also double checked how much weight my dresser/cube storage thing could hold and then how much a 5 gallon fish tank weighs. Looks like I have about 20 pounds of wiggle room for safety so I should be good (I hope). Headed off to classes and hoping I don't come home to water all over my room *fingers crossed*

Here's the tank!

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Discussion Starter #6
So, I've been doing my research in regards to tank cycling and think I've decided I'll end up going with a fish in method when it comes to be time, as this is the method I feel that I am the most informed on having done it prior with betta tanks successfully. For the mean time I've got my filter running and treated my water with prime. Still soaking the dang driftwood! At this point, I wonder if it would be the worst thing in the world for the driftwood to go ahead and get added to my tank. It's not leeching horribly, but is definitely still releasing tannins.

My water around here has a pH of around 6.5 which seems somewhat acidic for being on city water. I also (yes, please judge me because I'm kicking myself) am using the stupid test strips currently and I should know better than this!! When I had gone to the store and got my driftwood, they were sold out of the API freshwater master test kit. At that moment, I saw the strips, 25 for 10 bucks, and caved. Now that I'm using them, I'm regretting it and know I need to pick up the API test kit. I'll also need to pick up some Stability so I might as well bite the bullet and hit the store at some point and grab these things.

Fun time though! I'm beginning to consider what plants I want in my tank. I'm not going to lie, the whole C02 thing - I'm clueless about this so probably will be leaning towards plants I don't feel would need C02 dosing. Starting off, I figure I can't go wrong with a marimo moss ball or two and maybe picking up an anubias and attaching it to my driftwood. I'm trying to figure out if its better to tie the plant on the driftwood or to glue it.

This is obviously just a bunch of random thoughts and whatnot but I figured I'd update you all. Also, my hydor heater is installed in my tank and I'm having success with it keeping my water at around 78 degrees! Yay! Anyway, that's pretty much all for now. Time to think about plants!
 

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You're on the right path! few things

You can glue them to the driftwood or tie it doesn't matter. I would go with non-C02 plants you have endless options if you go to several plant selling websites and click on beginners or low tech plants trust me you'll have enough. The driftwood tends to lower ph levels.

Stability would be a good thing to add I also added the smallest seachem betta basics available just to give him an extra boost.

Few plants options
floating plants
Ludwigia
anubias
alternanthera
java fern
staurogyne
bucephalandras
rotalas
swords (ive read that they suck a lot of nutritients from substrate)
etc

I'm a bit new in the hobby so if i'm wrong correct me plz! but I've done a lot of research so if i'm wrong . Also check out Seachem Alert Combo I saw it in a pic old dog posted and went and ordered one :D
Also I did change the filter media that my tank brought the one you have to buy every month and just filled it up with Coarse sponge.
Consider adding a timer to your lights or maybe even a dimmer too if its too bright.

hope this helps!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
You're on the right path! few things

You can glue them to the driftwood or tie it doesn't matter. I would go with non-C02 plants you have endless options if you go to several plant selling websites and click on beginners or low tech plants trust me you'll have enough. The driftwood tends to lower ph levels.

Stability would be a good thing to add I also added the smallest seachem betta basics available just to give him an extra boost.

Few plants options
floating plants
Ludwigia
anubias
alternanthera
java fern
staurogyne
bucephalandras
rotalas
swords (ive read that they suck a lot of nutritients from substrate)
etc

I'm a bit new in the hobby so if i'm wrong correct me plz! but I've done a lot of research so if i'm wrong . Also check out Seachem Alert Combo I saw it in a pic old dog posted and went and ordered one :D
Also I did change the filter media that my tank brought the one you have to buy every month and just filled it up with Coarse sponge.
Consider adding a timer to your lights or maybe even a dimmer too if its too bright.

hope this helps!
Thanks for the suggestions! Definitely will be looking into more plants. I stopped in at Petco yesterday and was VERY tempted to walk out with an impulse betta but I was able to control myself, lol. I got some marimo moss and some rocks to add to my aquarium as well as seachem stability. I still need to get the seachem alert, but it was $20 at petco and I've seen it elsewhere for much cheaper so I decided to hold off.

Currently trying to decide if I can add my driftwood today. I boiled it on the 25th and since then have continously been soaking it in water which I replace with clean water when it turns slightly brown. Definitely not leeching like it was in the beginning but still unsure if I will add it today. Will update with pictures!
 

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I have amazon prime and get free shipping i ordered everything from there my alert was $9 usually you'll find the lowest price stuff there and petco/petsmart will price match as well. Also if you go on amazon and check the pictures for example seachem prime there's a chart that will explain how many drops per gallon very helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Figured I'd update you guys with a tank shot! I ended up moving the heater out of the back compartment and into the main section of the tank. For some odd reason, the water level in the back compartment was a bit lower than the main area of the tank this morning when I got home. I don't want my heater to short out from low water levels so I unplugged it immediately, moved it, and fingers crossed it will be okay.

BUT! I got some nice stones which I rinsed this morning and added in, as well as some marimo moss balls I picked up at petco! I also got a little telescoping net so that way I could use that to fix the gravel at the bottom as well as help position some of the decor where I wanted it. I was happy that I got the last three pack of mini moss balls they had at my Petco, it was the same price as one larger one so I feel like it was a great deal.

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Here's my moss balls I picked out!

AND! The more exciting part... here's the current state of my tank! I REALLY want to go ahead and add my driftwood in, but I've never used real driftwood before. I boiled it 5 days ago and since then have been continuously soaking it, changing the water as necessary. It still leeches a teeny bit of color into the water. I really don't think I would mind a bit of tannin leeching but I have no idea to what extent it would do this in my aquarium so I'm trying to hold off.

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Should not be a big rush to put wood in you have time only thing is it has been soaking in tap water? So keep that in mind. Tie your plants I don’t use glue too messy. That list of plants is a very good list of easy nice plants, of course the most beautiful plants that you see require co2 and special care. LOL.......😩
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Should not be a big rush to put wood in you have time only thing is it has been soaking in tap water? So keep that in mind. Tie your plants I don’t use glue too messy. That list of plants is a very good list of easy nice plants, of course the most beautiful plants that you see require co2 and special care. LOL.......😩
Yeah, I think I'll wait on the wood for sure and try to let it run its course. And yeah, I really like some other plants but the level of care and the need for all of the co2 just might be too much for me currently! Maybe something I could look into more in the future if I change my mind!

For now, I've got 3 marimo moss balls, 3 fake silk plants, and am planning on picking up some anubias!
 

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So, unfortunately I've come down with a bad cold or something and have been sick for the past couple of days and life has been quite hectic. :frown2: I've got an exam in my evening class tonight and another one tomorrow morning (yikes!). Figured I'd take a study break to stop in here and share an update!

I had ordered some fake plants on amazon and they arrived on Monday. After giving them a rinse, I have added them in and really am impressed with them. They're not exactly silk, they're more like threads. Hard to explain but no plastic, definitely some type of fabric and they look awesome! It came with three so I added them in. I also had a bit of a freak out since I thought my heater had stopped working and was about to get so frustrated until I realized that when I was messing with my water levels/setting up the larger stones and moss balls, I had unplugged my heater since I was scooping some water out so I could account for the water displacement of my arm and I guess I forgot to plug it back in.:grin2:Definitely a whoops moment but I'm glad it wasn't broken. I've decided to keep it in the main section of the tank rather than the back area since the water level seems to be a lot more stable in the main area and it seems to help evenly heat my tank this way.

Here's a quick picture I took of my tank, nice little view from laying in bed while sick. Enjoy!
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Very nice beginning will fill in very nicely with more plants. Make sure you like your hardscape your substrate and such make sure your tank is in the location you want. From what I understand each time you tear down the tank and replace everything it is like starting a new cycle which can be stressful I think for the fish.
Looking good ! 💯 Get well quick 😀
 

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Very nice beginning will fill in very nicely with more plants. Make sure you like your hardscape your substrate and such make sure your tank is in the location you want. From what I understand each time you tear down the tank and replace everything it is like starting a new cycle which can be stressful I think for the fish.
Looking good ! 💯 Get well quick 😀
Thank you! And yeah, I live in a tiny apartment so this is pretty much my only spot where my tank can go so it'll be here until I move out next summer! So far I know I want to keep everything thats in there to start with, I just will need to rearrange a bit to add in the driftwood piece once that's ready. If it ever stops leeching! Trying to be patient with it!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Update time!

Hello all, I've been quite busy but figured it was time for an update. I went to a LFS the other day that I hadn't had the chance to visit yet and WOW they had some gorgeous bettas and so many fish! I was considering getting some plants but I didn't really see any that I wanted and noticed that a lot of their plants seemed to have snails on them and I'm really not trying to deal with pest snails if I don't have to... lol.

I finally decided to go ahead and add my driftwood in the other day! The water definitely has a slight tint which is more noticeable when the lights are off but I really am not bothered by it. Here are some pictures!

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I've been doing lots of research on plants but I guess I'm still a bit undecided. I'm pretty sure I'll end up getting an anubias to attach to the driftwood. I also have been looking into crystalwort (Riccia Fluitans) since I really like the appearance and I've read that CO2 isn't necessarily required for it. I'm also thinking I might try to get some floating plants like frogbit since I love the look of them and since my fluval Spec V lid has that giant hole, I figured a floating surface plant could be good to deter any jumping. I'd section off part of my surface of the tank to keep plant-free so it wouldn't entirely be covered. I also know with frogbit I'd have to keep on top of thinning it out so it doesn't completely take over.

I was going to order a tissue culture anubias from Aquarium Plants Factory but am slightly concerned about the shipping. I was leaning towards tissue culture since I'd know it would be pest free, I just need to do more research to see if I can go ahead and order it and do the 2-5 day shipping and not have it die on me!

That's pretty much all for now! Any advice or feedback as always is welcome!
 

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Figured it was time for an update! I ordered some java moss from a seller on Etsy and was so happy with what I received! It looked healthy and green and lush upon arrival in the mail - I was slightly afraid I would get a brown lump of moss but thank goodness I didn't.


Tanks been cycling for a couple weeks now and I got some filter media from an established tank several days ago which really is helping me along more than my fish food method. So far the readings have been looking pretty good and I'll probably be getting a betta this weekend! Yay! I can't wait!


I attached the moss to the driftwood using sewing thread, but man was that a pain. Next time I'll go with fishing line or the glue method most likely. I hope I tied it enough, guess we'll find out!

Picture time!
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Java moss attaches itself quickly to almost anything, you shouldn't have a problem with it. I always give it a little floof and trim the ends to get it growing and spreading faster. If it is too densely clumped you will get portions that will die off.
The tank is coming along nicely, I really like the driftwood you picked for it.
 

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Java moss attaches itself quickly to almost anything, you shouldn't have a problem with it. I always give it a little floof and trim the ends to get it growing and spreading faster. If it is too densely clumped you will get portions that will die off.
The tank is coming along nicely, I really like the driftwood you picked for it.
That's good to hear about the moss, hopefully I won't have issues with it. I fluffed it a bit and have it tied down (I've never had java moss in a tank before so it's a learning experience for me!). And thanks! That driftwood kinda drove me crazy with the crazy tannins and whatnot but I really like how it looks. I've got a betta leaf hammock I'll be adding in and need to find a little hide or cave and maybe get some smaller foreground plants and floaters!
 

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WHEW. After having some issues with my driftwood (pretty sure it was rotting and feeding detritus worms, which showed up after I added the moss), I've been doing tank maintenance and cleaning/vacuuming and decided to ditch the driftwood altogether and make sure my parameters stayed stable for several days after that.

BUT! My betta tank officially can be called that now since last night I picked up a fish! Still not 100% certain on his name, but for now I've been calling him Mr. Fish. He was so active in his cup at the store and won me over. He is a "Rose Petal male" according to his cup.

He spent last night at my boyfriend's in his cup since I picked him up that evening, and this morning he floated in his cup in the tank until he was acclimated and has been exploring his new digs for a couple of hours now! I need to get some foreground/midground plants still and am going to pick up a cave or hide for him. Tank lights have been off so he doesn't get stressed!

Introducing, Mr. Fish! Here's some pictures :)
 

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