My tank would house my betta fish, and potentially a couple of cherry shrimp, is this okay?
Bettas will most likely eat the shrimp. Every fish varies, so it is possible, just generally not likely.
How do I even start this?
Do I dechlorinate the water, add the substrate, and plant right away? Or do I cycle for sure first?? And then add plants? Or how do I even start?
I would start by drawing a plan on paper. Detail equipment (lights, filter, substrate, water changing equipment, ferts, CO2 (if you choose to use them)), plants, livestock, goals (what kind of tank you want), etc. You can post it and ask for help. But, once you decide that, generally you would want to:
1. Rinse the substrate (rinse is well so it won't be cloudy. Cold tap water is fine).
2. Add a small amount of water, enough to submerge the substrate a bit.
3. Plant your plants (Note: Anubias, java fern, and other rhizome plants should not be have their rhizomes buried, but instead, be tied to something)
4. Using a plate, or some other object, deflect water flow when filling the tank so as not to disturb the substrate too much. Dechlorinate the water. I am not sure what method you use, but a lot of people on this forum use a python for water changes (google python water changer) and Seachem Prime as a dechlorinator. You can add the dechlorinator directly to the tank, then add water.
5. Start equipment (filter, lights, timers, etc)
6. Some people say you can add fish right away. I usually add a bit of fish food and let it cycle. You can speed it up by using the filter media or substrate from an established tank. I'm paranoid about losing fish, so I might be taking unnecessary precautions.
I want low light, and easy plants...I was thinking of some Anubias, some floating duckweed, some java moss, and maybe some crypts or two...Yes? No?? What do you recomend?
That sounds fine. I will warn you that duckweed grows very fast and becomes a pain in the butt.
I've read on fertilizers and CO2, but would they really be necassary just yet? I'm going to get a ten gallon later on in life, in which I would use them, but for now is it necassary?
It's entirely possible to do tanks with no CO2 or ferts (except maybe some micros). Keep in mind this depends on your lighting. The more light you have, the more CO2 you need. CO2 usually helps anyway, even DIY CO2 (yeast mixtures). Pressurized CO2 becomes a cheaper alternative if you need a lot of CO2. Light drives growth, which drives CO2 consumption, and then macronutrients, and finally micronutrients.
Water changes - How do you guys do your water changes? With my 1.5 gal bowl (NOT planted) I just dump out about a gallon, and add another fresh dechlorinated gallon. I'm guessing a 5 or 6 gallon is different?
See pythons above.
I'll have more questions later on, but for now this is enough... I won't start anything until I have all the answers I need first
I don't want to mess up
I'm sorry I'm so new - I'll read up more - Promise! I'm just lost
Thank you SO much for the help!!
We were all new once. You can use the search function for some of your questions, or, if you are looking for something under 3 letters, such as HC or EI (abbreviations), you can google: [Search Term] site:www.plantedtank.net