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I recently got and set up a Marineland Portrait 5 gallon tank for one of my bettas, and tbh it's looking pretty bare. I got the current plants from other tanks I have, and it's been quite a while (up to 3 years) since I bought them, so I'm not 100% sure of the names, but as far as I can tell there's one section of each: Anubias Barteri, Vallisneria, and Hygrophilia Difformis, as well as two Nymphaea Stellata bulbs that haven't sprouted yet, and a few little bits of duckweed. My substrate is Fluval Stratum, and the rocks are Ohko stone. The stock is a single male betta and a couple of ramshorn snails.

The light that came with the tank was pretty pathetic, so I switched it out with that of a Top Fin Retreat tank I had lying around, and it's much brighter now as you can see below, but I don't know if it could be considered "good" lighting.
Original light:
Water Vertebrate Blue Natural environment Pet supply
New light:
Water Plant Vertebrate Pet supply Organism


Since the Nymphaea and Hygrophilia will get tall quickly, I think I want to attempt a carpet or something similar, but I'm not sure what would work best, especially since I don't add CO2 and I have generally pretty hard water. What do y'all suggest?
 

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I like how you've set it up with the slope. In my opinion, I would move the Val to the back right corner. It could really take off and you'll want that height in the background. Then I'd try to find some anubias nana, or some sort of moss, to glue onto the rocks in different areas. Lastly, I'd add some crypt wendtii or crypt parva around the rocks in the front to give you some foreground plants.

I have hard water too and the crypts my crypts are looking great!
 

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75g, 33L, 2g and play tanks
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I like how you've set it up with the slope. In my opinion, I would move the Val to the back right corner. It could really take off and you'll want that height in the background. Then I'd try to find some anubias nana, or some sort of moss, to glue onto the rocks in different areas. Lastly, I'd add some crypt wendtii or crypt parva around the rocks in the front to give you some foreground plants.

I have hard water too and the crypts my crypts are looking great!
I was gonna say pretty much this, so ditto.

Looks like a broad leaved anubias you have there. That could make some cool shaded areas over the dead AT-AT; only thing different that I was thinking. But if it's attached, then let her live her life. lol

And everything listed that pgallagher said will do well in your lights no matter the power. those lights look much nicer, btw.
 

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If you want a carpet, I'd try crypt parva. Some crypt windtii or undulata would fill in the middle area well. As others suggest, cryptocoryne will do well in your tank. Mine grow like champs in a low-tech, low-light, low-ferts tank with unbelievably hard water. I just feed them root tabs once in a while when I remember, and occasionally I even dose a little API Leaf Zone. They're also one of the few plants I prefer to buy as tissue cultures, as I find for some reason the TC plants don't do the whole crypt-melt like more mature potted ones do, and you get more plants for the price.

If you want to get fancy, you could add a little bucephalandra for some color, or some ludwigia red mini (which won't be as intense in your setup, but should still have some decent red even low-tech). Both of those should do fine in there.

I suspect the hygro and val will outgrow your 5g pretty fast, though for now they'll make a good nitrogen sink until you can get more plants in there.
 

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If I were you I'd considerate on the Algae on the leafs of the anubis this can hurt the plant as it will block the light. The plant doesn't seem to be at it's highest potential

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If I were you I'd considerate on the Algae on the leafs of the anubis this can hurt the plant as it will block the light. The plant doesn't seem to be at it's highest potential

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Also yes you need more plants they will also help with algea problems

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The soil you used it made for plants to be planted in. I would give monte carlo a try. Any small leafed carpeting plant will fill in nicely! You will most likely need to consider Co2 supplements. Flourish makes some. But you will be rewarded with a bright green carpet! You should consider a stronger light that will support life much better. I would give recommendations but I don't know the dimensions of your aquarium.
 
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