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I'm trying to create a low maintenance, low-cost betta tank (think Java Ferns and Java moss) and I was wondering whether should I use gravel or sand as my substrate. If anything, I would like to keep my substrate budget under 50 bucks, or Ringgit.

Also, I live in Malaysia, and Eco-complete or any imported aquatic soil costs a bomb here, so that option's out.

So, any suggestions?
 

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Hi... I think go gravel...java fern propagate through creeping rhizomes, so sand might be an issue if it gets compacted. Moss will be ok on either sand or gravel as it can feed off nutrients in the water column. Have you looked pool filter sand? It might be another option for you.
 

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Since you are planning on planting "(think Java Ferns and Java moss)" it really doesn't matter Sand or Gravel, pick the one you like the look of. With those plant choices there is no need for a deep substrate with 1.25CM / 1/2" just to cover the bottom is plenty.

Another Option I've seen would be small smooth river stones in a single layer covering the bottom. They look nice and are very easy to deal with for cleaning maintenance. You can also attach your moss to the stones with Super Glue Gel.
 

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Found my favorite sand doesn't stay on the ground when put in the tank wet. :icon_cry: Now got a cloud storm in the tank and have to empty it. Fortunately only have moss and Bettas in the tank.

Putting it in when it was dry into an established tank it settled on the bottom of the tank.
 

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The rhizomes propagate off the parent leaves. Not exactly creeping
It's both actually. While you do often get new plants forming off the old leaves the main rhizome also grows, putting out new growth along it's length. In fact, I've mostly only seen heavy growth of new plantlets off the parent leaves in relatively distressed plants.
 

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the tank will be cloudy for the first few days if you are going with sand. don't take it out. the sand will eventually settle,
The water is dark brown. I can barely see the bettas in there. I was just trying to put enough down to cover the glass. I turned the filter off. Perhaps I should turn it back on?
 

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If it's taking that long to settle, it will likely get cloudy any time it's stirred up in the future.

If you have some sort of prefilter, maybe put that on and run the filter, and put a bunch of floss or something in the media chamber. If it's so small it's still suspended, it probably won't do much harm to your filter/impeller.

you could also do a couple partial water changes, but that's basically just a more difficult version of rinsing/washing send after it's already in the tank.

I may have read it in Walstad's book (not certain), but as the tank gets established, biofilm will form on much of the substrate particles, and this will keep the smaller pieces clumped together, and reduce the likelihood of stuff getting stirred up later on. may be a while yet, though.
 

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PFS.. hands down with a rock or driftwood. I have a 7.5 with pfs a rock and a piece of mopani and it is so easy to care for. Further I got a bulb pack from petco and a lily pack.. the bulbs all grew crazy and even started propagating themselves so that I had to start pulling the seeds out of the tank because it was getting overrun. The lily is also HUGE.

The only downside is the tea color.. no matter how much soaking or boiling my beta lived in tea. My beta only lived a year and a half because he was a rescue from bad conditions at someones place... I am suprised he lived that long. But now I have endlers and cherry shrimp and they love it.
I have had to do a lot of trimming, but you can see my tank in my profile.
 
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