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Well hello there. C: Halp a noob?

762 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  dwc13
Hello forum! I'm Eli! A couple months ago, a friend bought my a betta in a bowl as a gift, and googling that led to a mad dash for a decent-sized tank, ect. I had to move, and leave my two boys with my family-- however I've been wanting another fish.

When I'd first started looking at bettas in proper tanks, there were a few planted 10 gallons I saw that looked beautiful. I'd have loved to try something like that before, but didn't get the chance to. I'd like to now.

I am, by all accounts, a total newcomer to this. I asked on my betta forum about how to start up a planted tank, and was linked this site, so I guess I'll post the couple questions I have here, and hope someone can help me out.

My goals are pretty simple, I think. I want something that will look pretty, make my fish happy, and not shrivel up and die because I looked at it funny. :p

So here are my questions;

What do I need to get/do before getting plants?

What are some hardy plants you'd suggest for a total noob?

How do I care for/feed them until I get my betta? And when I get my betta?

How much time per week should I expect to dedicate to the care of plants within my tank?

What's a ballpark estimate that you should think I'll end up spending on this venture with a 10 gall tank?

What else do you think I need to know?

Thanks so much for any help you can offer me-- when I started with my fish, I wound up getting something and scrambling to care for it right before-- this time I want to have some idea of what I'm doing before I go out and buy things. C: My end goal is to create a pretty tank that both my betta and I can enjoy, and one that will hopefully enrich my fish's life when I get it.
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Welcome to TPT! This is definitely the place to come for advice on aquatic plant care. You want a 10g betta tank with plants...hmmm.

The main thing about growing easy plants is getting the right lighting. Regular fluorescent lights don't do well at representing sunlight. Plant specific lights have kelvin ratings ranging from 6500k to 10000k and are considered "full spectrum" lights. I opted for a desk lamp from Home Depot that is a 6700k light called "Hampton Bay desk lamp" and it costs about $25. Lighting options are endless...

Anubias plants are incredibly easy to grow as well as Java ferns. I would browse around websites and search for "easy to grow plants" and see what you like. Just do research on everything. Are you a member of the Minnesota Aquarium Society? If not, then go to and get info on how to join. We hold monthly meetings and there is usually plenty of plants to buy.

What type of filter do you want for the 10g? I imagine you can't have too much current going with the betta. If you want a hang-on-back filter I would recommend an AquaClear 20. Do you need a heater for the tank? Any 50 watt heater would be fine for your needs.

Ballpark estimate:

10g = $13 from Walmart
Hampton Bay light = $25 from Home Depot (look at my 10g in my signature for what it looks like)
AquaClear 20 = $30 from Petsmart
50 watt heater = $20 from Petsmart

Any other questions don't hesitate to ask.
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Welcome, Eli,

Java Fern and Annubias are great plants to include in many tropical aquariums, but especially in tanks of those just starting out with aquatic plants. Both have fairly minimal requirements (lighting, nutrients, etc.) and are tolerant of a lot of different conditions -- not quite indestructible, but close to it. In addition, they're both slow growing, meaning low maintenance. In a small aquarium such as a 10G, you don't want fast-growing plants or you'll be spending too much time trimming the growth.

You should be able to find Annubias Barteri var. nana in a pot. You can just leave the plant in its pot if you want. I've had potted Annubias Barteri var. nana (@$7-$13 at LFS) in my aquarium for years and it is one of my favorite aquatic plants. As for Java Fern, I have purchased several mats (@3"x5") of the stuff for @$18-$30 at LFS. You can cut up the mat into smaller pieces if you like, but I think the densely planted mat looks great on its own.

You might consider an Aquarium kit that packages some or all of the things you'll need, such as the aquarium, filter, heater, lighting, glass cover, etc. Since a Betta is an anabantoid (able to breath surface air), filtration doesn't have to be the most important consideration. Recall the small cup/container bettas are often kept in awaiting sale in the store - there was no airstone or filter hooked up. That being said, you probably want filtration to do its job but be inconspicuous. You don't need (or want) the filter to cause much turbulence/currents. That's where the Aquarium kit might fall a bit short, especially if the included filter doesn't allow for some sort of flow control.

One thing about lighting -- lights specifically made for aquarium usage usually have a mositure-resistant ballast. Ordinary desktop lamps typically do not. If you will *not* be placing the light fixture directly on top of the glass cover of the aquarium (or very close to the top), it's probably not an issue; however, if you will be placing the light on top of the glass cover of the aquarium, you should take this into consideration.
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Alright, thanks for the information!

When I go out to buy plants, what should I look for? What should I avoid?

I know you always quarantine a new fish before putting it in a tank-- but what about a plant? How would you even go about doing that? Are their plant-diseases that I should worry about? Things that might affect my (future) fish?
There was a recent post on this forum that will give you a few ideas.

If you search this site, you'll probably find additional information on the subject. Also use common sense - if a plant just doesn't look right to you (too few leaves, discoloration, algae growth, etc.) or if there are dead fish or several dead/dying plants in the tank, look elsewhere.

I suggest you go to a reputable LFS and check out the selection of aquatic plants. Ask the staff questions, let them know what you're trying to do. Also be sure to ask what day(s)/time shipments of plants arrive so you can visit when they're fully stocked for the week. FYI, Annubias and Java Fern are typically stocked by many LFS.

Usually I will quarantine plants for a short period (I don't have the patience to wait longer) in a separate tank. I'm not a big fan of snails and try to avoid introducing them (or their eggs) into the aquarium. This is a personal preference and there are others who will extoll the benefits of having snails in an aquarium. If you're at a retail store, look closely and determine whether there are snails in the tank where the plants are kept. If there are snails, then you know you'll need to take additional steps to remove any that might be lurking if you don't want snails in your aquarium (or just don't purchase plants from that store). A quick soak in a potassium permanganate solution will get rid of snails. FYI, when you're dealing with aquatic plants, coming across snails (and/or eggs) is almost inevitable. Plants can also carry unwanted things such as ich cysts which could infect fish. That being said, if the fish is comfortable in its environment it will be far less susceptible to disease (genetic issues notwithstanding) than if it is stressed. The bottom line: keep your fish happy and healthy by providing it with a comfortable environment and don't worry about the plants infecting your fish.
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