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bherren1 10-27-2009 03:20 PM

"Betta House" 16 Gallon Bow Front- My First Planted tank
Hello all and welcome to my first journal on one of my first planted aquariums. My wife and son have decided to call this tank "Betta House" because, well, it is where the betta fish that they have so creatively named Betta lives:hihi:. I have tried to grow a few aquatic plants in the past, but they were always in tanks where I focused more on the fish than anything else. I felt it was time for me to stop lurking around this site and finally get my hands wet again. This is one of two planted aquariums, the other one is a Euglaena factory at the moment:icon_redf, that I set up roughly six weeks ago where the main focus is on the plants and successfully combining them in to a natural looking aquascape. Here is a pic as of yesterday evening: (fair warning, my camera sucks and I'm no photographer)

I let my wife and son choose the fish and they selected a nice male Betta and 7 Harlequin Rasboras. Also added were 3 otos, one of which died that night:icon_frow, as per usual with otos, 6 ghost shrimp and a number of snails that hitchhiked in on plants. I tried to choose plants that would complement each other and complement the fish as well. Since this is a low-tech set up I wanted to use aquatic plant species that would be less demanding to grow while trying to loosely maintain the look of a stream in Southeast Asia. Here are my specs and current stock list:

Hardware, Supplements, & Maintenance
Tank-16 Gal. Bow Front
Lights-AH Supply 36 watt 6700K CF 10 hrs/day
Filter-AquaClear 50
Heater-Rena 100 watt (as if you couldn't see that in the pic, :hihi:, hopefully my Cryptocoryne spiralis will one day hide it)
Substrate- Composed of a 1 1/2" of Miracle-Gro Organic Choice 100% Organic Potting Soil with a small amount of a 50/50 mix of Flourite/Eco-Complete mixed in to form a nutrient-rich base layer that is capped by 1 1/2" of the same 50/50 Flourite/Eco-Complete mix.
CO2- None
Ferts- None
Maintenance- 50% WC/week, wipe/scrape any algae from the glass and equipment, filter maintenance as needed, prune as needed

Water Parameters
pH- 7.2-7.6
KH- 5
GH- 13
NH3- 0
NO2- 0
NO3- 10
Temp- 78 F

Cryptocoryne parva
Cryptocoryne spiralis
Cryptocoryne undulata
Cryptocoryne wendtii
Microsorum Pteropus
Microsorum Pteropus "Narrow Leaf"
Microsorum Pteropus "Trident"
Taxiphyllum barbieri
***Temporarily- Sagittaria subulata (got way more than I needed from an S'N'S buy and had nothing else to do with it)

Betta Splendens
Otocinclus macrospilus x 2
Palaemonetes spp. x 4 (2 have become snacks or vanished into thin air, I mean they are ghost shrimp after all)
Rasbora heteromorpha x 7

The only issues I have had with this tank are the ones typically shared by many planted aquarium hobbyist when a new tank is set up: ALGAE. I did had some BBA on the driftwood, rocks and on my ferns 3 weeks ago but I took care of it with H2O2 and by removing all leaves with BBA. I get GSA on the glass and now there is a bit on one of the leaves of my C. undulata. And just last week I started to get fuzz algae on my driftwood, Trident Java Fern, the uppermost tuft of moss and C. spiralis. I am going to follow some advice given by Tom Barr this past week while in a discussion on the use of H2O2 as a treatment for algae on this thread: He suggested putting H2O2 in a spray bottle and misting the areas with algae when the water level is low during a WC. I think read somewhere that some who sell plants on the S'N'S and may have some algae issues spray a mist of H202 on their plants prior to shipping them. Perhaps this is not such a novel idea to some of you more experienced hobbyist out there, but it sounds like a winner to me;). I'll wait and see what the H2O2 does first. If that doesn't work I'll dose Excel and add some Amanos or something. I am also going try decreasing my photoperiod from 10 hours to 8 hours and see if that help as well. If none of that works I think that I may end up having to go pressurized on this tank.:eek:

But other than that this tank has been chugging along with decent growth all around. All of the plants in this tank are true to their descriptions as relatively slow to medium growers. All of the crypts completely melted to nothing but sad Adan stunted look rhizomes when I first planted them except for the C. spiralis. All of the crypts are coming back with C. wendtii leading the way with 1 or 2 new leaves a week.

I am going to have to move all of the crypts except for from the C. spiralis because none of them have been properly placed in the tank. The C. undulata needs to be in the rear of the mid-ground, in front of C. spiralis but behind the rest. After that the C. wendtii will be placed in the mid-ground leaving the shorter C. parva in the foreground. I want to get more of all four crypt species I currently have. I also want to look in to getting some C. crispatula var. balansae for the background and some C. willisii 'lucens' for the foreground areas along the sides of the tank. Some C. wendtii 'Green Gecko' and C. wendtii 'Mi Oya' would be nice to have to add some more color. If you have any of the crypt species I am looking for that you would be willing to part with PM me so we can make a deal.

I also think I need to switch the regular Java Fern from up front with the Narrow Leaf that is on the right side of the driftwood. The leaves in the Narrow Leaf are so close in shape to those of the Cryptocoryne spiralis it is often hard to tell the two apart. I don't know, I hope some of you experts out there may have some advice. All comments and constructive criticisms are welcomed and will be greatly appreciated. And with that I'll leave you with a some more pictures.
A real Kodak moment. This was taken two days after set up. Our 9 month old boxer Sassy loves it. She sat like that for 30 minutes just watching the fish swim!
Betta, that tank star. Oh how he loves to pose for pics!
One of the rasboras paused long enough for me to snap this pick.
A shrimp chillin' on my C. wendtii
C. spiralis is showing red on some of the leaves. It has doubled in height and number of leaves since it was planted in this tank. Look at the top left of this pic and you will see the fuzz algae that is growing in my Trident Java fern, and everything else for that matter. Think I'll take care of some of that today... Also this pic makes me want to switch those ferns around because the two are so similar it's hard to tell where the fern ends and the crypt begins...
Overhead shot, my other three crypts clockwise starting just below the fern:
1.C. parva
2.C. undulata
3.C. wendtii
View from the left side. Vertical plant height in the background is severely lacking and the dwarf sags look very out of place in this tank....

redfalconf35 10-27-2009 04:33 PM

looks good! I think that your cut from 10h to 8h photoperiod will put you on the winning side of the algae war! Also, as the plants grow in, the algae will have stiffer competition for the resources in the tank. If the algae isn't unbearable as is, then with your adjustments and the natural growth of the tank, you've got a recipe for a great low-maintenance tank!

demonbreedr16 10-27-2009 05:42 PM

Wow! That is gorgeous!

I really like that betta, he reminds me of Titanius [my mom's betta] that's going to inhabit my 5.5gal...

bherren1 10-28-2009 01:38 AM

Thank you for viewing and saying such pleasant things about this little tank. I just hope it's not like one of those instances where your buddy shows you a picture of his newborn child and it is the ugliest baby you have ever seen so you force a smile and say, "Awww, he's so cute".

demonbreedr16 , I have recently come to the realization that bettas are a very under rated and under appreciated fish. It is a fish that many hobbyist snub there noses at (I was one of those people for a long time) because of how common they are in the hobby. When we move on to our high-tech, high $$$ tanks and start breeding discus we forget how much pleasure can be had in maintaining a simple layout with a simply beautiful fish. I'll be honest, I kind of cringed a bit at the prospect of having such an ordinary fish in our new set up when my wife and son began seriously looking at the bettas in their little 10 oz. plastic jars at PetSmart. Now I have no regrets. I love Betta. He's a little stud and I need to see about getting him a lady, for the long, cold nights of winter are almost upon us ;):hihi:. Now I cringe at the cruelty fish actually being housed in one of those 10 oz. plastic jars.

redfalcon35, I appreciate your insightful advice. My hypothesis is that I have too few plants in this tank for all of my plants to be such slow growers. I would say, although I have no means to quantify this statement, that it stands to reason that a slow growing plant has a slow rate of nutrient uptake resulting in an excess of nutrients in the tank. The when you couple that with descent lighting and a 10 h photoperiod you allow algae to out compete the plants and have a situation like what I have. The fuzz algae is worse today than it was yesterday.

So this is my plan to get ahead of the algae once again.
1. I'm going to remove the fish and shrimp and do a large water change, scrape the glass, and remove as much of the algae as I can. With the tank water low, and after a good dip for a couple minutes in some H202 to get rid of as much of the algae as I can, it will be a good time to rearrange my java ferns and crypts.
2. I'm going to put my filter media in bowl with some of the tank water to preserve as much of my beneficial bacteria as possible and the clean and disinfect the rest of the components. I will also clean and disinfect the heater.
3. Then I'm going to plant the two pots of Cryptocoryne lutea I picked up from my LFS today.
4. Then I'm going to refill the tank and put all of the equipment and fish back into the tank. I'm also going to put the 5 shrimp I purchased with the crypts into the tank.
5. Then the last thing I will do is change the photoperiod from 10 h to
8 h and call it a night. Picks will come tomorrow after everything settles down.

If this doesn't work I'm going to try adding some of my fast growing Hygro from my other tank and see if that helps. BTW, everything I have read says that otos and shrimp love fuzz algae but mine won't touch it......


Aubzilla 10-28-2009 02:25 AM

Please don't get Mr. Betta a girlfriend- splendeds do not get along with "live in" girlfriends. Chances are that you will end up with just the Misses.

I also agree that Bettas are under-appreciated. However, females are even more so under valued. I have a tank of 15 females and they are my favorites to watch.

bherren1 10-28-2009 04:42 AM

:thumbsup:She wouldn't stay in the tank long, but hopefully long enough....

lauraleellbp 10-28-2009 04:55 AM

If you want to try your hand at breeding bettas, I strongly suggest setting up a separate spawning tank for many reasons, including:

1) Male and female relations can be very violent, and a 16gal tank is not much room for them to get away from each other.
2) The male will probably have trouble maintaining a bubblenest in a tank with much filtration.
3) It's not likely you'll be able to raise a spawn in a community tank.

The tank setup looks really nice, though- great job!

DevinWolfe 10-28-2009 05:24 AM

The 16G bowfront is one of my favorite types of tanks. I have actually considered swapping my 10G at the office to a 16G, but it would be a lot of work and nothing would fit....

It looks like a really nice tank so far!

bherren1 10-28-2009 09:21 AM


If you want to try your hand at breeding bettas...
lauralellbp, My days of breeding fish are over, at at least for now. I am trying to focus more on freshwater plants for the time being. I was really speaking more in jest than anything. But you are absolutely right about this tank not being ideal for breeding bettas.


The 16G bowfront is one of my favorite types of tanks.
Devin, Since I am new to planted aquariums I am finding that this tank's footprint is giving me fits! Of course it doesn't help that my driftwood stump takes up so much room. I'm still looking for something for the 18" tall background, perhaps Crytocoryne crispatula var. balansae.

Update: It's 4:20 AM and I have class at 8 AM. But hey, the rescape and fuzz algae have been taken care of.


After (yes this pic is crooked, it's 4 in the morning, what else do you expect?):

It looks much better, IMO. Let me know what you guys think.

I lost one oto during today's activities. How it jumped out of a half full 5 gallon bucket is beyond me. All of the fuzz algae that I could see is now a pinkish read. H2O2 works!

Updated tank info:
Cryptocoryne lutea- These look pretty good. They have a nice bright green leaf with red edges. I hope it stays like that in my tank....
Cryptocoryne spiralis
Cryptocoryne wendtii
Microsorum Pteropus
Microsorum Pteropus "Narrow Leaf"
Microsorum Pteropus "Trident"
Taxiphyllum barbieri

Betta Splendens
Otocinclus macrospilus x 1
Palaemonetes spp. x 9
Rasbora heteromorpha x 7

R.I.P. Airborne Otocinclus :icon_cry:

bherren1 10-28-2009 07:02 PM

While in class today I was thinking that maybe I should go ahead and add some hygro to the background. I have these 3 species in another tank to choose from:

Hygrophila corymbosa 'angustifolia'
Hygrophila polysperma 'Rosanervig'
Hygrophila sp. 'Tiger'

On the other hand, I would really like to plant some Crytocoryne crispatula var. balansae to keep the low maintenance, slower growth and infrequent trimming aspect of the tank. Then there is also the possibility of planting a bunch of Vallisneria in the background. But the bottom line is this: My background is severely lacking!

Any suggestions?

Look for some more pics after I get home.

RipariumGuy 10-28-2009 07:15 PM

I like the tank, it has a nice simple, relaxing look. The Vallisneria backround would look really cool. Have you ever thought about adding Anubias plants? Good Job!

bherren1 10-29-2009 05:04 PM

Well, some of the crypts are taking to the readjustments and some are showing signs of melt. The C.wendtii and C.spiralis that I already had but moved a bit are fine. The new C.lutea is showing signs of melt on some and others are OK. This was to be expected and eventually they will all settle in and everything will be fine.
BOO...crypt melt

All of the fuzz algae is all pink and fried and the oto (will be getting it 2 buddies today) and 9 shrimp are going to town on it. It should be gone in a week or so. Hopefully with the increased volume of plants they will out compete the algae.
Pink-fried's whats for dinner!

I need to find a way to cultivate algae that isn't unsightly and that the shrimp and otos will eat:hihi:. Actually, used to always just let it grow on the rocks in my cichlid tanks. It never looked bad, in fact it made the tanks look more natural. After all, algae was a part of their diet as algae was what many of the cichlids I kept ate in nature. But I do not want it growing all over my plants.

Still wrestling with what I should do for the background. But it will be the weekend before I get a chance to do anything about it. As the tank is right now the eye is drawn left and up and it makes all of the plants look like that as well. Perhaps finally getting a decent amount of background plants will fix this.
Full Frontal 10/29
Something with height needs to go back there....
Hey there little shrimpy guy.

Amazonfish 10-29-2009 05:55 PM

I love this tank. That's all I wanted to say :-)

bherren1 10-29-2009 08:57 PM

Well, thanks Amazonfish

Coltonorr 10-29-2009 09:00 PM

Very nice tank! Love the moss!

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