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Discussion Starter #1
I'm currently housing my betta, Marco, in the following setup:




I'm upgrading Marco to a 10g (20Lx10Wx12H) in the next week or two (incl. adding another filter and a Hydor Theo 50w heater). I'd like for the new tank to be planted, and more organized/aesthetically pleasing, however I need it to be super low maintenance because I'll be leaving in 7 months to hike the Appalachian Trail and will be leaving Marco in my parents' care during that time. Since they'll be responsible for maintaining the upkeep, I can't have a CO2 system hooked up. I'm planning to purchase Aquarium Co-op's Easy Green pump bottle so that all the fertilizing they'd need to do is a single pump once a week. I'm trying to eliminate all chances of anything in the system crashing while the parentals are managing the tank.

With all that in mind, what kind & amount of plants can I use that would be low maintenance enough to be satisfied with the above arrangement? Should I use soil again in the 10g or have some other arrangement? If I should use root tabs instead, will they last 6 or so months such that I could plant a new batch right before I leave for the AT? I'm hoping that by having the new setup running for these next 7 months (with no new changes/additions) it'll be stable enough for them to handle on their own. I suck at designing, so if anyone has ideas for an aquascape layout/map for the 10g it would be much appreciated too.

Sorry for the 20 questions but thanks for any responses!
 

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I'd suggest using crypts, especially Cryptocoryne wendti green, some mosses on woodden elements, Anubias barteri nana on stones or wood, also Microsorum windelow, or any tiny microsorum would be nice. If you like grass like plants you could also use Vallisneria tortuosa (the one with curly leaves) as the backround plant. These plants aren't demanding, grow nicely without co2 and in lower light conditions. Only for crypts and Valisneria it is good to put some clay-peat balls in the gravel next to the root system.
 

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Layout plan proposition

I've also prepared a proposition of the plant layout plan for your tank. If you choose very dark (possibly black) gravel and stick black foil as backgorund it could look quite fancy when the plants will grow bigger.

You should also change your gravel. The dia. of max 2 mm would be a lot better for the plants to create a good root system. There is no need to use soil under the gravel. For the plants I've proposed only crypts and Vallisneria would need some clay-peat balls next to the roots.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for your input! I recently purchased pool filter sand per your suggestion to move away from gravel for my substrate. I will probably use the gravel I currently have as a decoration of sorts on top of the sand in the new tank to keep the BB on it. I'm looking into some driftwood at my LFS but will probably put that into the tank later on as I am currently short on funds to add more decor.
 
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