How to set up a planted tank for a betta

How to set up a planted tank for a betta

  • Author Prevail
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So, you want to try putting live plants in your betta tank like you've seen at the pet store, or maybe online or even at a friend's house. If description fits you, this article is for you.

Step 1: Buying your equipment. Before you even buy your betta, there is still a lot you need to do, and a lot you need to buy. You should start by buying a tank, A 5 Gallon tank that is on the shorter side is best for a single betta, your betta will also likely jump, so you should buy a lid. It is important that your lid is clear because you need a light. Speaking of lights, there are many different options, so where to start. I recommend a planted tank light, but you don't need to go super fancy, a finnex stingray will suffice, or you could splurge for a fluval plant 3.0 if you want to grow more difficult plants. You will also need a filter and a heater. Any 25–50-watt heater will work for a 5 gallon; it should be set from 78-82 degrees Fahrenheit. A thermometer is also cheap and useful. For filters, low flow is best. I love sponge filters, and you should get one designed for your tank size. I prefer sponge filters with a corse sponge, but finer sponges are fine too. For a sponge filter, you will also need airline tubing, a check valve, an air pump and optionally, an air stone.

Step 2: Substrate. Substrate is whatever is on the bottom of your tank, most hobbyists use either sand, gravel or no substrate. Because this is a planted tank, I recommend gravels designed specifically for planted tanks such as CaribSea eco-complete and Fluval Stratum. any substrate is fine, however I do NOT recommend artificially colored gravel, as the paint can leak into the water, and it is also not visually pleasing at all. The general rule for substrate is 2 pounds per gallon, though your tank's footprint should be taken into account. You should aim for 2-3 inches of substrate so plants can grow roots.

Step 3: Decorations (Hardscape). Like artificially colored gravel, you should avoid artificial decorations. Instead, opt for driftwood, and stones such as Ohko stone and Dragon stone. Many hobbyists have posted their beautiful aquascapes here on Fishlore, and I encourage you to look at them to make inspiration for how to decorate your tank

Step 4: Planting. Before you fill your tank, but after you have added your decorations, you want to plant your aquarium. Some plants, like pearlweed, swords and crypts should be buried into the substrate so their roots can grow. However some plants have rhizomes that will rot if buried into the substrate, so these plants should be superglued or tied onto hardscape BEFORE THE TANK IS FILLED. Some of these plants include anubiases and java ferns. You can also have floating plants, such as Amazon Frogbit, Salvinia and Dwarf Water Lettuce. The plants should be put into the water after it is filled and they will grow long roots. I do not recommend duckweed, because it propogates very quickly, and will block light from reaching the other plants. Any plants that have large leaves are amazing for betta fish, as male betta fish have long fins and need to rest frequently, and these plants are good spots to rest for your betta.

Step 5: Cycling. This is not a full guide on how to cycle an aquarium, or what the nitrogen cycle is, so I'm, just going to explain it as easy as possible. Fish create ammonia, which is toxic to them, so it must be removed from the water. This can be done with beneficial bacteria or plants, which will turn ammonia into nitrites and then different beneficial bacteria and plants will break nitrites down into less toxic nitrates. Nitrates can be removed with water changes. The process of turning ammonia into nitrates takes a long time, so you should be adding an ammonia source into your tank (either with fish food or bottled ammonia) for at least a monthbefore adding fish. When you can go from 2ppm ammonia to 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite, >20 ppm nitrate in a couple days, your tank is ready to add fish

Step 6: Stocking. If you are doing a 5-gallon tank, your stocking should consist of 1 single betta. This guide is for Betta Splendens specifically. This information may apply to wild type bettas, but I have no experience with them, so I cannot give advice about them.

Step 7: Maintenance. every week, you should remove roughly 20% of your tanks water and replace it with new, dechlorinated water. You can trim your plants if they are getting too large, and you should add liquid fertilizers as well as root tabs to keep your plants healthy. You should also remove algae so your tank will look nicer for humans, but it will not affect your fish. If you have too many floating plants, you should remove some of them every so often, and you should feed your betta fish a diverse, carnivorous diet with at least some frozen or live foods. You should also test the water at least once a week to make sure your betta fish is in a safe environment. Last of all, you should enjoy your betta fish and be happy that you have created an environment for your betta to not only survive, but thrive
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Awesome! Really informative.
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