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Discussion Starter #1
I recently purchased a new tank because one of mine cracked (my dad tried to pick up the full 5.5g and it cracked) I bought a larger tank and combined the two i had into one. it is working out very nicely.

Now I have an empty 10g and I'm itching to fill it. I'd like to try a NPT and have been researching them for a while now.

I have some potting soil that I planed to use and I want to use gravel over top instead of sand. I read that it's better for waste decomposition.

Plant wise, I want to order from plantedaquariumscentral.com because the selection in my area is... not ideal. I was thinking about getting the following:

1 Eleocharis parvula, Dwarf Hair grass, foreground plant
2 FLAME MOSS, Taxiphyllum sp.
1 HEMIANTHUS MICRANTHEMOIDES, Baby Tears, Pearl grass, 15 stems
1 Wisteria, HYGROPHILA DIFFORMIS , spectacular plant

As well as some Sword plants and a Java fern

My questions are:

Is this enough to start for a 10g?
What lighting should I use?
Are there any plants that I should add or remove from my list?


Also I have a piece of grapevine that I would like to use. I bought it at the pet store in the reptile section. Would it be okay (for a betta) if I boil it and dry it out a few times?

Thanks in advance for your help!
 

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Read over this thread....http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=84915 this may help give you an idea on plants, lights...etc....also, in my album are more pic and information on smaller soil based NPT's......

When you start a soil based system....starting with enough of the right species of plants is really important...you need to add more stem plants and a floating plant to your list...

The baby tears-a really nice plant may not do as well with the lighting normally used for the low tech NPT's especially without injected CO2-they may grow more upright-still looks neat...but usually won't make the carpet like you see in the high tech systems with high lights and injected CO2

I wouldn't recommend grapevine for aquarium use....often they continue to leach sap for years and can really be a mess.....
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks OFL

I forgot that I needed a floating plant. I'll look into those now. How many more stem plants do you think I need?

Also what kind of wood should I get instead of the grapevine?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I think I'm going to go with duckweed for my floating plant. I know I can get that at pet stores near by.
 

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For wood...I collect my own hardwoods in my forest and from my wood pile I use in my fire place.....I look for interesting pieces that are pretty dry-the drier/cured the better and de-barked....soak in water for weeks to months-scrub on occasion-using a spoon to dig out any rotten/soft areas....sometimes I have to weight them down once in the aquarium until they are fully water logged....
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Are there any particular types that are better?

Thanks so much for your time and advice!
 

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I stay away from green wood, pine, cedar, vines and black walnut...mainly I use hickory and oak but that is because that is what I have a lot of...hardwood works the best and I admit some of the wood I have used in my tanks I have no idea what they are.... I have never had any issues-since I use soil I don't worry about the shedding from the wood-something will either eat it or it will decomp and become part of the soil and help naturally create CO2 for the plants...thats one of the beauties of the NPT's....the mulm/debris can be a good thing to a degree, however, it still has to be monitored since this is a closed system.

Once the soil based heavy planted tank is mature, plants thriving and the soil is alive with life....it can pretty much take care of itself......as close to a natural ecosystem that can be created in a glass box/closed system.....lol.....you just have to have patience and tolerant of little mess on the bottom-but the water should stay crystal clear except for a little natural tannins that are created-but in my tank you can't tell unless you dip the water out to view in a clear glass container....

All the critters in the tank have a job of sorts-common snails help with dead plant matter, excessive food-then the trumpet snail help aerate the soil preventing anaerobic areas along with the roots of plants, shrimp are the shredders to help speed the decomp process-everything organic in the tank-fish, shrimp, snails, plants, microorganism and added fish food- all provide ferts for the plants along with CO2 that both life and decomp naturally create for the plants to thrive in order to function as the filtration to help support life......

I will never go back to the standard systems......
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I will never go back to the standard systems......
I can see why. I'm really excited about getting my tank set up. :)

I realized yesterday that the potting soil that I chose isn't what I should have (it had added fertilizers which I honestly didn't even think about when I bought the soil) and I have to get new soil tomorrow.

I have the gravel that I want to use and I'm getting a few of my plants this evening.

I found a beautiful Bacopa Carolina plant at my LFS yesterday (as well as another stem plant but I forgot what it was called) and I'm going back to get them.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Is is okay if I add plants over the course of a couple days or should it be all at once?
 

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So I'll play devil's advocate...

Any particular reason you want to go for soil on your first attempt? I ask because soil is not something I would recommend to a beginner as it is the most difficult substrate to work with and has more pitfalls if you miss a step or make a mistake. You should only use a pure organic soil that has no additives, most terrestrial plant fertilizers are high in nitrates which is not good for fish.

That's not to say soil dosen't work, it does and with great affect, but it's also not the only way to get a great looking tank with plenty of plant growth. You can, if you wish, use any inert fine gravel or sand.

Below I've linked a picture of my 20 gallon which uses the epoxy coated gravel most pet stores sell, in it I have several of the plants you are considering.

On the right you can see Amazon Sword, and next to them in the back on the sand castle is a Java Fern. Behind the crypt in the left-center is Bacopa Carolina and on the left, overgrowing the wood and Anubias is Wisteria.

The secret to my success? A comprehensive fertilizer once a week, in my case I use Flourish. In a 10 gallon, a small 250 mL bottle will last you over 5 years and costs less than $10. It has no expiration date.

So like I said, there is nothing wrong with using soil, just don't feel like that is your only choice when starting out for the first time =)

In regards to your question about driftwood, I personally highly recommend Malaysian Driftwood. It's natural and one of the most commonly used in Aquariums. It naturally sinks without pre-soaking, dosen't contain a huge amount of tannins, and has a low probability for fungus. The other I've used, and is in the picture below, is Mopani. This can be a mixed bag, it has loads of tannins and is susceptible to fungus. Fungus may or may not be detrimental, in my tank it was not harmful and my Mystery Snail thought it was the best food in the world. In regards to tannins, they are not harmful and is actually quite natural for several fish, people who actually want it for a natural biotype tank call it "blackwater" even though it is a brown-ish tea color.

 

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Discussion Starter #12
This isn't my first attempt. I've kept bettas as well as goldies before (just got back into fish keeping recently). I'm fairly new to live plants, but I'm keeping swords and java fern in my existing tank quite successfully. That tank has gravel substrate.

I want to try soil because I love the look of those types of tanks and the idea of trying to replicate a natural ecosystem. I've been researching these types of tanks for some time and once i suddenly had a free tank, I couldn't resist trying it out.

I do have organic soil. Due to misinformation at the hardware store, I originally bought the wrong soil. I have since bought Miracle grow organic choice, which I have seen recommended several times.

And if I do wind up making a mistake, it will be a learning experience. I am doing my best to gather correct information and follow all advice to the best of my ability so there hopefully wont be mistakes.

Thanks for showing me other options and the advice on driftwood. :)
 
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