5g Low Tech Betta Scape - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-18-2016, 04:34 AM Thread Starter
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5g Low Tech Betta Scape

This tank will be my only tank, so my two main goals of this tank are
1. Work slowly, carefully, and deliberately from start to finish (is a tank ever really done, though?)
2. Create an ideal habitat for a betta that focuses on both form and function

Key factors in this tank have been my space, and even available electricity. I live in a 250 square foot cabin, where the power is sourced from heavy duty outdoor extension cords, running form the main house. So, floor space and wattage have gone greatly into considering the tank, as well as budget.

My final goal will be to set up a low-tech aquascape using stone and wood to create a ravine or river bank drop-off jungle scene of a tree being overtaken by parasitic vines. I will work with the vertical layout of the tank to my advantage and create a unique design.

Equipment:
Marineland Portrait 5 Gallon Tank
Stock Filter
Hydor 25 watt Heater

Lighting:
DIY Work Light
15W PAR20 LED Bulb

ADA Amazonia Substrate
Yamaya Stone
Spider Wood

Plants:
Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae
Crypt. wendtii "tropica"
Java fern
Java fern "windelov"

Future Additions:
Anubias nana "petite"
Mosses
Bucephalandra
Java fern "narrow"
Betta splendens
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-21-2016, 01:20 AM Thread Starter
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No updates on my 5g, still waiting to get to the aquatic store, but I did get a betta for it when it is done. My Petco keeps the bettas right next to the crickets, so I always look at them while I wait. This guy had caught my eye several times I had been in there, and I finally decided to get him if he was there next time. Well, he was, so he's mine now.

I had an old junker 2.5 that had been left outside, where I assumed it stopped working entirely after the year or so it had been there. Amazingly, the filter and hood both work, and the anubias that had been left to die did what anubias do and didn't die.

I'll be doing regular water changes and dosing with Prime until I can move this little dude to the other tank. He is already so much happier. I am actually glad I started him in this tank, since the flow is so low but he's still struggling a bit. He can get his strength up before he's put in the larger tank.
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 01:57 AM Thread Starter
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This is the first official update!

Yesterday I made it to the aquatic store, Aquascapes808, which seriously went above and beyond. Other than chains, they are the only local freshwater store (to my knowledge) and they have a mind blowing showroom. I had been following them on Instagram, so they knew me as soon as I walked in the door and started digging through their drift wood. It's run by a local family, and they really take their jobs seriously. After I pulled every piece of wood out, put it back, pulled them back out, compared them, put one back, pulled another out, put the other back, put them all back, pulled them all out again, I asked how often they watch people sift through every little bit of wood, and was surprised that they normally have to help people do that! I guess most people are timid about playing with wood in public.

I did the same thing with the rocks (Yamaya stone), but fortunately the small pieces were already pretty limited, and they weren't going to be the focal point of this scape, so I was less choosy and just wanted a small variety. The largest one I selected was a slightly different variety or quality (not much was marked, it's more of an ask and find out game) but they priced it all the same.

I also grabbed a bag of Aquasoil, which was something I had debated getting online, but after their customer service and deciding the price difference wasn't worth not supporting locally, I bought a bag of the regular Amazonia.

The last thing I got was a nice clump of narrow leaf Java fern, and they through in a half clump extra for me. I wanted a little more cover for Osioto while he hangs out in his 2.5g tank.

All in all, I was really blown away by how expensive everything was, but it is Hawaii and everything here is marked up as it is. Add to it the shipping cost of sticks and stones, and make it a really specialty item, it will run you a pretty penny. I also would always rather support local when I can, and with hardscape items it's really important for me to actually have my hands on the item. The layout of this tank made that even more critical, since the dimensions are so unusual. This does make me feel better about trying to budget everything else out, so I can splurge on the scape itself. Ended up paying $61 for the hardscape, and $36 for the substrate. I told my boyfriend I bought a $36 stick and he was amazingly understanding.

Played around a bit, and was mostly impressed with how perfectly the wood filled the space. It wont be easy to clean and maintain, but that's part of a vertical layout I guess. Next step is to go back and get some plants. I held off on getting them until I had a better idea of what the actual hardscape I'd be working on would look like. There will probably be a lot of anubias petite, mosses, java ferns and a few crypts and maybe vals and floaters. Also going to see what foreground plants they have.
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 04:14 AM
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You sound like you're going about this in a very awesome way, this is well thought out and I agree cleaning and maintaining will be a challenge as it is with mine and you saw all that emerging wood. Nerite snails, shrimps, and a long tool set are your best friends. I like your hardscape a lot better than mine, I am forced to tweak what I started with. You my want to consider tapering your soil in the front down for aesthetics, plus any foreground plants will not require as deep soil. I will be following this!!

What kind of fish or inverts do you plant to stock this with? Just a Betta?
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 05:16 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teebo View Post
You sound like you're going about this in a very awesome way, this is well thought out and I agree cleaning and maintaining will be a challenge as it is with mine and you saw all that emerging wood. Nerite snails, shrimps, and a long tool set are your best friends. I like your hardscape a lot better than mine, I am forced to tweak what I started with. You my want to consider tapering your soil in the front down for aesthetics, plus any foreground plants will not require as deep soil. I will be following this!!

What kind of fish or inverts do you plant to stock this with? Just a Betta?
Thank you! I'm definitely being picky about it, since it's going to be the only tank I have running. And yeah.... definitely going to get a set of tools for this one! Seems a little silly to invest in for something so small, but good lord just reaching in to adjust the rocks has been a pain.

Now that I have this filled with water I am realizing how much I put in the front. I wanted it full to help shorten it a bit, but I did go a little overboard with it. I also plan on adding a little more in the back once I start planting and have some roots to keep things in place, so everything is just going to get heaved back a little bit.

Unfortunately, because of agricultural import laws we can't bring any inverts into the state. I had planned on a couple amanos, or nerites, but they are a big no-no. So likely this will just be a betta tank. There are a couple invasive species of feeder shrimp, called opae that are similar to a RCS. I may throw a few in there, but I have a feeling they will end up as snacks.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-25-2016, 06:26 AM
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The long sand flatteners are great for moving that substrate back, unfortunately I never found a tool set long enough for this tank.

Wow! Remind me to never move to your state lol I can never imagine visiting my LFS and not seeing inverts for sale! They make or break an aquarium imo, without a cleanup crew maintenance is high enough to partially loose interest in the hobby. Just a heads up on the shrimp snacks, my Betta recently died from over eating on RCS so be cautious they have no self control. Number one reason for their death in this hobby is over eating.

I hope the link I sent you helps with lighting, I tried modifying the original hood but ultimately ended up using a 15W PAR20 LED bulb. I find it is not quite enough to grow hair grass though, but keeps everything else growing okay.

If you plan to run this tank without the glass top, beware that things like to get into the back of the sump over the top edge. I find fish, shrimp, and snails vanish from the tank to only find they somehow made it over the back wall into the sump (extremely frustrating trying to get them back in the display side of the tank).
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-25-2016, 07:02 AM Thread Starter
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No inverts is one of the drawbacks of living in Hawaii... but living in Hawaii makes up for it. I was going to buy a few and test the waters tomorrow. Fortunately they don't breed in FW, so maybe these will stay large enough to not be enticing.

The link was super helpful. I've only ever run CFLs before, but I like the LEDs. Stock light on this thing is pretty bad, but seems standard on all kits now. I'm avoiding any carpet plants, so this light should be great. And I can play around with the height very easily to adjust if necessary.

Glass top is staying on for sure. I love your style of the drift wood emerging but my house is too humid as it is, and I get too many hugs interested in the water. I learned from my last tank when I had to do emergency betta rescue after a blue centipede fell in and about half of it went down his belly. I would also be traumatized if my fish jumped out.

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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-25-2016, 12:50 PM
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This tank looks so cool!

For LED lights you should check out the finnex stingray or fugeray. I've never had the stingray myself but my fugerays have all worked pretty well for me.

Having no inverts must be tough. You might be able to find pond snails in a local creek or pond, if you're up to that.


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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-25-2016, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al3x View Post
This tank looks so cool!

For LED lights you should check out the finnex stingray or fugeray. I've never had the stingray myself but my fugerays have all worked pretty well for me.

Having no inverts must be tough. You might be able to find pond snails in a local creek or pond, if you're up to that.


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Thank you!

I'm going with a bulb fixture for this. The aquarium specific clamp lights are too restrictive for me, and I'm trying to go a little more budget/DIY.

I wish I could find some locally, but the opae shrimp are literally all we have I think. It's ok though, I've kept planted tanks without them before. One of my bettas was a psycho and would kill even those tiny pond snails for sport. Today I'm going by the local shop and I'm going to ask them about invert/cleaning crew options here and make sure I'm not missing any.

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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-30-2016, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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Plant update!

I probably jumped the gun a little bit on this one, but my light bulb has shipped and should be here midweek. I went with a 15W PAR20 LED, recommended by Teebo who has the same kit. We'll see how this thing runs on this tank. I'm starting it close to the water surface, maybe 4-5" up since I'm keeping a glass cover on this tank.

I planned on picking up just some java fern to attach to the drift wood, but I couldn't really stop myself once I got into the shop. I wanted jungle themed, and I'm doing it pretty well so far. I'm basing the look of this theme off the natural environment local to me here.

Current plant list is:

Java fern
Java fern "Windelov"
Crypt. wendtii "Tropica"
Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae

I also am waiting on anubias nana "petite" to create a parasitic vine-like appearance up the branch, and have some standard anubias nana and java fern "narrow" in my temporary housing tank. I am also waiting on a moss order to come in to my LFS.

Immediately upon getting home with my plants I realized I went way overboard for a first round, even though I only got one of their smaller potted crypts, a single bunch of the microsword, two java ferns, and one windelov. I could and should have held off on the crypt, but I think that once I get some good background plants its dark leaves will really pop. The substrate has also turned into a bit of a mess, a lot of it coming forward, so when I get some background plants I'm going to try and add/move it around so it stays rooted in place.

Overall, I'm really happy with the result so far. I don't think any tank ever has the exact look you planned (I had wanted lower "shrubbier" foreground plants for instance) but I love this look and it is going in the general direction I had planned. The microsword, while I doubt it will really spread in this tank, reminds me of the invasive cane grass we have all over here, and the java fern is doing exactly what it's supposed to do.

Last little bit is I learned we do have invasive pond snails here so yay... (sarcasm? Maybe, I don't know) I now have them in my tank. I also learned a local shop may carry apple snails, so that may be my only option for a clean up crew.

I did get five opae shrimp from the LFS as an experiment, and I learned that Osioto may not have a taste for shrimp, but he will systematically go around and murder them one by one. So they will not be residents of the tank, but I think occasionally I will pick a few up to keep him stimulated.

As always, sorry about the photo quality. I need to just bust out my real DSLR camera one of these days.
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-31-2016, 12:49 AM
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How did you already scratch your glass up??

Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae was a great idea, I wonder how this will do compared to something like Chain Sword.

Good job I will look forward to seeing everything bounce back!
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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 10-31-2016, 12:56 AM Thread Starter
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How did you already scratch your glass up??

Lilaeopsis novae-zelandiae was a great idea, I wonder how this will do compared to something like Chain Sword.

Good job I will look forward to seeing everything bounce back!
Haha, oh that is not this tank. My betta lives in a cheap 2.5 acrylic tank until the aquasoil cycles. It's one of those Aqueon desktop kits, an it's been outside in a junk pile for a year or so.

I'm not too familiar with any of the sword species. It was really cheap, so I figure it if it doesn't work it's no loss. If it doesn't send out runners that's fine with me, it's already plenty of coverage.
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-01-2016, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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I received my anubias nana "petite" from Bartohog and they arrived in excellent condition. I really love this little plant.

They really did have the effect I was hoping for, creeping jungle vines.

My light came in yesterday too, so this photo better shows the true temperature this tank will be viewed with.



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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-13-2016, 06:00 AM Thread Starter
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Woohooo!

Osioto has been moved successfully into his new jungle digs! He is super happy and almost immediately began some pretty intense exploring and hunting behaviors. For now he is settling in for the night.

For the final plants in the background I added hygrophila difformis, and the narrow leaf java fern that had been kept with Osioto's temporary tank. I am not super in love with the H. difformis, but my background options were pretty limited. AFter just a few days it is already starting some healthy looking growth, so hopefully if I can prune it properly it will work to my advantage. I really feel like the narrow leaf java fern gave it a nice completed look.

I'm hoping to find some small floating plants to give Osioto some more cover.
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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-13-2016, 06:39 AM
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Nice tank. I really like the vertical space - you've created a very natural looking environment for your betta.
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