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Josie

Starting new Betta tank

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I am planning to start a betta tank, I just got it set up, and am going to do a fishless cycle.  Here is what I have so far: a 5.5 gal tank with aquaclear 20 and a heater.  I added dechlorinated water and some goldfish food to get the cycle started.

 

I have been looking at lights and substrate, since I would like for it to be a planted tank.  However, I am very new to this, so I would like to have easy plants that hopefully won't need CO2.  Here is what I am looking at for lights:

 

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=23550

 

and for substrate I was thinking the Seachem Fluorite black sand.  Does anyone have any thoughts, or are both of these choices good?  Also what is a good brand of betta food?  Should I also order some excel or flourish?  I am not sure if these two things are necessary.

 

Also I am wondering about tank mates.  I have been reading other people's posts about their betta tanks, and I see that people are keeping African dwarf frogs, which seems like a really cool idea.  Does anyone know if this will greatly complicate anything?  Do they need special food?  I know my tank is small, and I was hoping to have 1 betta, 2 dwarf frogs and maybe 2 nerite snails...is this too much?  Aqadvisor puts me at 111% stocking level with this, and since a 5.5 gal is rather small, I am wondering if maybe I won't have enough room for everyone to be happy.

 

Any input would be appreciated, as I really want to make this tank a success!

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I think that light would be to much for low light plants and no co2.  Get something really cheep.  Something a GE cool white light would fit over your tank in.    Then get low light plants make sure some are fast growing.  

If you do get that light at least get some excel and maybe some trace elements to supplement.

Here is a list and this is the place I like to order from.  Any substrate well work.  http://www.aquariumplants.com/Low_Light_Plants_s/25.htm

Also you can seed the cycle with a piece of media from your goldfish tank.

I really enjoyed my little frogs when I had them. They are a hit and miss as far as weather the ones the pet shop have are healthy.  And I have had not luck with finding ones that are for sure healthy.  Don't get them till it gets somewhat warmer.  I have never had any live very long I bought in the winter time.

Good luck

Edited by Hidr

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I think that light would be to much for low light plants and no co2.  Get some really cheep.  

 

That is kind of what I was worried about.  Would a regular old fluorescent in an aquarium hood work?  I am having trouble finding something small enough-the tank is only 16" long.

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A lot of things get along well with bettas. My favorites are neon tetras and things like platies. They're docile and don't nip at fins. ADFs are notorious for being hard to take care of and many people have to spot feed them or else they will starve.

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Ok, thanks for the heads up.  I don't think I want the frogs if they are going to be high maintenance.

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Sorry I'm kinda spotty with this - I didn't have time to put it in my above post.

 

For plants, you can go with rotala, bacopa, crypts, or even hornwort. They grow like crazy and love to reproduce - plus they don't need any special care, so don't worry about Excel or Flourish.

 

Keep in mind that, over time, things like Flourite break down and cause the water to get soft. I had Flourite in my 40gB for years and it crashed one day and I had to tear it down. Killed fish that were 8 years old. I looked it up and it turns out it has happened to a lot of other people as well, so just be prepared to change it out within a few years. It loses its "sand" look and tends to turn to gunk.

 

I haven't had luck with LEDs and plants. I love T5 and T8 fluorescent bulbs. LEDs are never bright enough for me and the tend to crap out quickly in my case.

 

I would suggest this lid with something like an 8-13w CFL bulb that you can get from someplace like Lowe's or Walmart.

 

http://www.amazon.com/All-Glass-Aquarium-AAG20007-Economy/dp/B0002AS4Y2/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424751731&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=5.5+gallon+incandescent+hood

 

What watt heater do you have? Can you baffle the AC 20 if needed?

 

For betta food, I highly suggest Hikari Betta Bio Gold. I love this stuff and it makes my bettas' colors pop.

 

http://www.hikariusa.com/diets/betta-bio-gold/

 

Now, to stock the tank, if you REALLY want/need a nerite, I would only suggest one. Technically, you can use one per 10 gallons. I have 3 in my 55g and that's more than enough. I had one that I swapped between my two 10g tanks that were filled with algae, yet it still died of starvation because it ate all of the algae so quickly and it wouldn't take to foods like algae wafers, seaweed, or fresh vegetables.

 

Really, thinking about it, a lot of the fish I suggested either get as big as the betta or they need groups of 5 or more. I would really go with one betta, one nerite, and some shrimp. You can have something like 50 red cherry shrimp into the tank with the betta. The betta might snack on them, but they reproduce like crazy, they are super easy to care for, and they have an extremely low bioload. I had a betta into a 10g because he was special needs. My 10g was my RCS tank and he never messed with them. So, I had over 200 shrimp and a male betta in the same tank with nothing but a sponge filter. No problems at all.

 

Even though AqAdvisor says that, stocking wise, you can fit one male betta and 5 neon tetras into the 5.5g, you still have to remember their space. My neons are 2" each and my male bettas can get up to 3". So, you'd have 13" of fish in total into a 5.5g tank. I know the one inch per gallon rule doesn't apply anymore, but you do have to remember how they look and if you think they would be cramped or not.

 

Hopefully this time around I have given you more detailed information. I apologize that my first post was so short and lacking in detail. I've had work on my mind a lot, but that's my deal. I hope I have helped more this time around. :)

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Hi, thanks for replying again!  Is there a better alternative to the Fluorite?  I have read some people just use regular dirt.  Or should I just change out the fluorite every few years just to be safe?  

 

My heater is a 50W submersible heater from aqueon.  I have had the tank set up with just the heater, water, and filter for a few days now, and it is staying at 78 degrees F.

 

I did end up ordering the LEDs since I have them on my big tank and I really like the look, also I read reviews that said they were good for growing low-med light plants.  Hopefully they will work out, but if not it is good to know I can just buy a cheapy hood and bulb later.

 

I am planning on going to my LFS tomorrow or Thursday to check out the plants-I was looking at planted aquariumscentral, which looks really awesome, but the shipping cost is pretty high for me at about $60.  Hopefully I will find some good plants here in town.

 

As far as stocking goes, I just want to make sure that nobody is overcrowded.  I think I will stick with just the betta, but I will definitely check into the red cherry shrimp, as that sounds like a great idea.

 

One more question: I was planning on fully cycling the tank before putting in a fish.  I have been reading a lot online, and many blogs say that with plants you don't need to wait for the cycle, and that with lots of plants I may not even see a cycle happening.  Any thoughts on this?

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You can add plants whenever you want. :)

Highly suggest not adding anything aside from some shrimp or a nerite with the betta. I would generally suggest 10g for a betta, but it looks like you're going to do just fine.

You can use liquid aquarium fertiliser if you would like to, assuming it is invertebrate safe.

My betta tank generally did well with java ferns and water wisteria, nice to see since the goldies tried to eat both all the time. Could also try some floating plants like duckweed or frogbit, though my betta did find duckweed delicious..

I cycled with my fish in the tank but kept it primed, at safe levels, and frequently water changed.

It took him years to accept a filter in his tank. :rofl

Edited by Chai

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I got the Flourish root tabs-will those be okay?

 

I am so excited to go to the store tomorrow-I will post an update/pics when I get everything set up.

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The tabs will be ok. Is there a reason for not wanting to use general sand or gravel?

 

Frogbit should be fine, but I wouldn't suggest duckweed because it will easily clog up the AC 20. I swear, any other filter is fine. xD I would highly suggest Amazon Frogbit. Bettas LOVE building bubblenests into them.

 

The temperature is perfect for the betta. :)

 

For plants, I would suggest going on AquaBid to find plants. I'll have to find the seller I loved. Sent me tons of plants for $15 - free shipping.

 

Here's an example of an assortment, but a lot of sellers will combine shipping if you buy more than one (single) plant - so you win multiple of their auctions. This package right here is a great choice for starting out with plants.

 

http://www.aquabid.com/cgi-bin/auction/auction.cgi?liveplants&1424809883

 

Here's another great starter package.

 

http://www.aquabid.com/cgi-bin/auction/auction.cgi?liveplantsr&1424822039

 

Another great starter with frogbit and vesuvius (very expensive plant!) - only $10.

 

http://www.aquabid.com/cgi-bin/auction/auction.cgi?liveplants&1425262458

 

Here's another example, ludwigia - this stuff is GREAT for betta tanks!

 

http://www.aquabid.com/cgi-bin/auction/auction.cgi?liveplantsr&1424822209

 

Another one for cabomba - the purple can be hard to keep alive, but the bettas (and ME!!) love how soft they are.

 

http://www.aquabid.com/cgi-bin/auction/auction.cgi?liveplantsr&1424822371

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No, I just wasn't aware that using regular sand or gravel would work.  Is it better to just use regular sand?  If I use the fluorite black sand do I still need to use the root tabs at the same time?  I have never had plants before and I haven't been able to find much basic information for people who are just starting out-everything I have read seems to be overcomplicated.

 

I have never looked at aquabid before, I will definitely check it out!

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Oh, plants (especially fast growers) are EXTREMELY easy to care for. You don't need Flourite or root tabs. Just some gravel that you like will work fine. Just make sure that they have light at least 8 hours a day and some form of food such as fish poop (nitrates). They help absorb the nitrates from fish poop and in return they grow faster and produce oxygen. I would suggest giving new plants root tabs to help them adjust to being in a new tank with different lights, but you don't need to keep it up.

 

I'm just wary of root tabs because I tried some (don't remember what type) and they killed my plants and the 3 bettas I had in my 10g.

 

These plants that people sell come from high light and special care, so root tabs or liquid ferts would help with the acclimation, in my opinion. After they adjust, though, they are no longer needed. Fast growing plants definitely don't need anything special. My 55g has jungle vals and I need to trim them often. I just have pea gravel and goldfish in the tank, but the jungle vals grow over a foot a week. Great food for my turtles! lol

 

Really, in my opinion, all plants need (unless they're extremely difficult to keep) is good lighting. I have a 10,000K Daylight T5HO and an Actinic T5HO over my 55g. The LED you ordered has 3 blue bulbs, but those are not actnic. Keep those off because they will do nothing for your plants and if the lights are too strong then they can keep the fish awake. Just keep the white lights on during the day and turn it off at night.

 

In general, I believe your plants should do fine and grow steadily after the initial acclimation. :)

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Oh, plants (especially fast growers) are EXTREMELY easy to care for. You don't need Flourite or root tabs. Just some gravel that you like will work fine. Just make sure that they have light at least 8 hours a day and some form of food such as fish poop (nitrates). They help absorb the nitrates from fish poop and in return they grow faster and produce oxygen. I would suggest giving new plants root tabs to help them adjust to being in a new tank with different lights, but you don't need to keep it up.

 

I'm just wary of root tabs because I tried some (don't remember what type) and they killed my plants and the 3 bettas I had in my 10g.

 

These plants that people sell come from high light and special care, so root tabs or liquid ferts would help with the acclimation, in my opinion. After they adjust, though, they are no longer needed. Fast growing plants definitely don't need anything special. My 55g has jungle vals and I need to trim them often. I just have pea gravel and goldfish in the tank, but the jungle vals grow over a foot a week. Great food for my turtles! lol

 

Really, in my opinion, all plants need (unless they're extremely difficult to keep) is good lighting. I have a 10,000K Daylight T5HO and an Actinic T5HO over my 55g. The LED you ordered has 3 blue bulbs, but those are not actnic. Keep those off because they will do nothing for your plants and if the lights are too strong then they can keep the fish awake. Just keep the white lights on during the day and turn it off at night.

 

In general, I believe your plants should do fine and grow steadily after the initial acclimation. :)

 

Thanks for clearing that up!  It can be very difficult to sort through all the information out there on the internet.  I am going to use the fluorite black sand because I already ordered it, but I will keep in mind what you said about replacing it eventually.  Also it is good to know that plants can use normal sand, since I would like to get a couple easy anubias for my goldfish tank too!

 

I had to stop in to the petstore today because one of my goldfish filters broke down, and they had the most beautiful male betta, he was blue with a black face and the ends of his fins were white.  I wasn't going straight home so I couldn't buy him, but I am definitely going back for him tomorrow!

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Best of luck! He sounds like a black/blue marble butterfly. Do you know what fin type he was? Definitely post pictures!

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He looks like this one.  So cute!  I initially wanted a blue betta, but I had never seen one like this and I think that the white tips will look great since my aquarium has a dark background.

 

Swplykr.jpg

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Everyone has their own experiences and opinions.  You have to pick what works for you.  I have a betta in a five gallon filter and light in the hood with nothing else and I have one in a 2.5 with a led light and heater.   This tank also has just a betta.  

The betta in the five gallons seems fine but never makes bubble nest.  The one in the 2.5 is very active also and makes bubble nest.  Both tanks have plants.

The only reasons I think the 5 gallon does not need a heater is location and the fact it is bigger then the 2.5 that has to have heat in the winter.  I well probably not have to run heat in the summer time.

Not every tank is the same.  So you have to get the best advice you can and then find out what works for you.  

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So I just got home, I got my awesome betta, one nerite snail and some plants:

anubias barteri

anubias nana

crypt parva

crypt wendtii

vesuvius spiral sword

sagittaria dwarf

moss balls

 

I kind of felt overwhelmed when I got there, so I just bought plants that I remembered hearing about.  I really wanted some microsword for the foreground, but they didn't have any for sale.  Also I didn't get any shrimp yet, but when I go back I will get a few just to see how it goes.  I am setting everything up now and will post pics later.

 

Does anyone know what KH I want the water at for my betta?

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Congratulations on your purchases. Very exciting. I think your betta and 1 nerite snail will be very happy in their new home and have enough room to live and explore. I personally wouldn't get any other kind of fish to live with your betta and from the size tank you have. If you do decide to get a couple of shrimps just be aware that your betta might eat them as a snack if you don't mind that,

Before my betta passed away a couple of months ago he lived in a 20g with anywhere from 1 to 5 nerite snails. They had the reddish seachem flourite substrate in their tank. I didn't like the color too much for it reminded me of the desert so I took some of it out and added the black flourite substrate on top of it. I love the black flourite. It's beautiful. I did top it off with a little black gravel because that was a mess when I did water changes. It made my water cloudy if I wasn't careful. But I loved it enough to keep it.

I still used excel with the seachem flourite. Some of my plants did awesome and others not so good. I'm thinking that I might not have had enough "normal fish waste" in my 20g tank for my plants.

I've since upgraded my tank to a 34g tropical tank and brought over some of the plants and bought a ton more and am using the same substrate. I'm having no problems with this. It's been about 14 months of using the same substrate. I have a lot more fish producing waste and my plants have been doing much better.

I'll be looking forward to seeing photo's/video of your setup. It looks like your going to have a fully planted tank with all your new plants you picked out. It's going to look beautiful.

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Awesome, it is good to hear that you had luck with the fluorite sand.  I just put it in after rinsing it about 10 times, and the water is very cloudy.  I have read similar reports on other people threads.  Do you have any tips to get it to clear up?  I am assuming this is why you put some gravel on top of it :)  I don't plan to add any more fish now that I have had time to learn/read more about everything.  I do expect the betta to eat any shrimp I add, which I am totally ok with.  I think he deserves a good snack!  :teehee

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If I remember correctly it was real cloudy for me for a day or two. It was suggested to me (which worked wonders) to have a filter running to help clear up the cloudy/icky water AND to also rinse out the filter in the morning and evening. When I did rinse it out what a mess that was. It was working obviously because of that. I put the gravel on top of the substrate after the fact. Once I learned that when I did my water changes that they were making my water cloudy all the time... I just didn't want to deal with that every single time. It is a messy substrate but I still love it a lot and wanted to keep it. :) Even when I planted my plants it was making a mess.

I have a thread up in the betta section if your interested to compare our tanks mess with the substrate and read of the help I got from others. This was all new to me also at the time. The title is something about A new project. A new betta project. ??

I was going to get shrimp for my Diego but I never did in the year of having him. I just kept going back and fourth on the idea. I think I was also afraid of having an over population of shrimps. hehe

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Cool, I will definitely check out your thread, I am sure a lot of questions I have not run into yet will be answered!  One more thing-since obviously my tank is too cloudy for me to see, will my plants be okay in a bucket of tank water until tomorrow?

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Yes, Your plants should be fine. Just put them under a window to get some natural light if you can Or put a light on them for several hours. You can even give them fresh water with prime in your bucket.

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