Planted tank on a budget

Jojo205

Member
hi all!! I’m planning on rehoming my 2 guppies in my 5 gallon tank once i can get rid of the ich in the tank and getting a betta (i learned the hard way u can’t keep 3 male guppies in a 5 gallon) . I want to have a planted tank but i’m not really sure where to start. I already have:
-a lame filter (aqueon quietflow internal filter for 3 gallons, i think it said 25 gph)
-tetra 50 watt preset heater
-tetra whisper air pump for 10 gallons (thinking i could use it for a sponge filter and just start the cycle over?
-crested java fern, regular java fern, and a ton of baby java ferns all glued to a small river rock
-6 marimo moss balls
-substrate that’s kinda in between gravel and sand? it’s really tiny gravel but definitely not sand.
I want to make the tank look good but i have a REALLY small budget (like $20-$30). I live near a river so i can get free river rocks and possibly driftwood. for the java ferns i poured boiling water over them and scrubbed them with a brand new toothbrush then poured more boiling water over them. I have no idea how to make driftwood safe for the tank.
Also how can I get plants for cheap? what are plants that are low maintenance and low tech and will spread so i don’t need to buy a lot of it? Im willing to wait for the plants to spread and get bigger if it means i save money LOL.
Thank you all for your help!! any other planted tank advice is greatly appreciated - i’ve never had a planted tank before :)
 

jkkgron2

Member
Water wisteria is a fast growing plant that can propagate by cuttings. If you can find any, I would get a Java fern with lots of little plantlets growing on it. I now have like 6 baby Java ferns that I’m growing out that I got from one plant!
 
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Jojo205

Member
jkkgron2 said:
Water wisteria is a fast growing plant that can propagate by cuttings. If you can find any, I would get a Java fern with lots of little plantlets growing on it. I now have like 6 baby Java ferns that I’m growing out that I got from one plant!
I got maybe 7 or 8 tiny plants from my crested java fern and there are a ton more on it right now! The regular one doesn’t have any. I just bought them from petco lol
 

jkkgron2

Member
Jojo205 said:
I got maybe 7 or 8 tiny plants from my crested java fern and there are a ton more on it right now! The regular one doesn’t have any. I just bought them from petco lol
Same lol. Petco seems to have lots of Java ferns with little plantlets!
 

Sauceboat

Member
Petco is good for plants but in my case what they have stock is generally pretty limited. Just discovered this online store called yourfishstuff.com where I got my recent plants. What I ordered was incredibly cheap (I ended up with enough Java Fern to fully HEAVILY plant my 3 gallon shrimp bowl with $20) and arrived in really good health so that might be something to consider.

For plants you can never go wrong with Java fern, anubias, stem plants like bacopa and water wisteria, hornwort, and mosses. But if you want to try something else I’d say go for it. If you want any root feeders like carpeting plants or swords, I’d say dirt your tank. Works just as well as aquasoil and will cost you $5 rather than $40. I did it for my budget aquascape/first aquarium and I was able to grow dense Dwarf Hairgrass and montecarlo carpets no problem. The other alternative is root tabs which i have not personally used but I’ve heard work quite well. But if you don’t have any heavy root feeders you should be fine with your sand/gravel. I wish you luck and keep us updated!
 
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Jojo205

Member
Sauceboat said:
Petco is good for plants but in my case what they have stock is generally pretty limited. Just discovered this online store called yourfishstuff.com where I got my recent plants. What I ordered was incredibly cheap (I ended up with enough Java Fern to fully HEAVILY plant my 3 gallon shrimp bowl with $20) and arrived in really good health so that might be something to consider.

For plants you can never go wrong with Java fern, anubias, stem plants like bacopa and water wisteria, hornwort, and mosses. But if you want to try something else I’d say go for it. If you want any root feeders like carpeting plants or swords, I’d say dirt your tank. Works just as well as aquasoil and will cost you $5 rather than $40. I did it for my budget aquascape/first aquarium and I was able to grow dense Dwarf Hairgrass and montecarlo carpets no problem. The other alternative is root tabs which i have not personally used but I’ve heard work quite well. But if you don’t have any heavy root feeders you should be fine with your sand/gravel. I wish you luck and keep us updated!
Thanks!! I’m a complete noob lol how do i dirt my tank? It’s potting mix under the gravel right..?
 

Sauceboat

Member
Jojo205 said:
Thanks!! I’m a complete noob lol how do i dirt my tank? It’s potting mix under the gravel right..?
Yes, find an all organic potting mix, earthworm castings are highly recommended if possible, remove all gravel and add maybe an inch and a half of soil and then ensure you have around an inch of gravel/sand to top it off. Make sure you monitor ammonia before adding fish as like aquasoil, the soil can leech ammonia for a few days before stabilizing (Didn’t happen to me but I’ve heard stories of it happening to others). It’s pretty straightforward.
 

mang0

Member
get your plants from the section on this forum where others sell off theirs, they are typically much cheaper than what you can get at a petstore. another place that has cheap plants is LRB aquatics online but you do have to pay for shipping, and the portions of plants aren't exactly generous (but the plants are good quality). try etsy and ebay as well
 
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Jojo205

Member
mang0 said:
get your plants from the section on this forum where others sell off theirs, they are typically much cheaper than what you can get at a petstore. another place that has cheap plants is LRB aquatics online but you do have to pay for shipping, and the portions of plants aren't exactly generous (but the plants are good quality). try etsy and ebay as well
I found a lot of good stuff on etsy! I’ll look at the bstf forum too
 

mang0

Member
Jojo205 said:
I found a lot of good stuff on etsy! I’ll look at the bstf forum too
awesome! also i saw you are going to have a betta, i find that they like plants that are supportive that they can sleep on. mine sleeps on some penny wort and sometimes anubias. while i don't have floaters yet in the tank (they're in another tank where i'm treating a fish so i'm waiting for that fish to get better so disease doesn't spread), i hear bettas really like them. i have a mix of dwarf water lettuce and duckweed, it looks really cool and the dwarf water lettuce puts out like 5-6 inch roots that bettas also like. let me know if you have any questions!
 
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