I set up a new natural planted tank at work (on 5/2) and thought I'd document the process.
It's a 6 gallon plexiglass hex that I picked up for cheap at a local club meeting.
The first step was to add about an inch of topsoil. I used a cheapo topsoil from Home Depot called EarthGro. We went thru it and removed some sticks and broke up any clods.
Then sprinkled a layer of crushed oyster shell over the top, mixed it in and then evened it out.
Next I ran a layer of gravel (pool filter media) around the outer edge of the tank.
and then started setting in plants. I had some bronze crypt wendetti potted in soil already, so I unpotted those and plopped them in the center of the rear of the tank. Stripped the bottom leaves off some sunset hygro.
and planted that on the right of the crypts. On the left, there's limnophilia and in front of the crypts are a stem of hygro difformis. e tennelus was planted around the front and middle of the tank.
Then using a small plastic dish to deflect the water, I filled the tank with several inches of water.
There wasn't any cloudiness happening, so I moved the tank into my office and finished filling it. It's a little hazy, but not bad at all. I also added some najas grass and hornwort to take up the slack while the rooted plants are filling in. and added some java moss. I also ended up with MTS, pond and ramshorn snails in the tank.
Here's the front
and the side
More pics are here
This tank has a powerhead built into the hood, so I left the sponge filter it came with in over nite to remove the haze.
It has one of the incandescent bulbs in it. I plan to replace that with a compact fluorescent bulb. It will be getting direct sunlight in the afternoon, so it'll be interesting to see what it takes to adjust the blinds so it doesn't get boiled but still gets plenty of sunlight.
Tested the water on 5/3 and it's ready for fish!
ammonia: a trace *maybe*
Here it is on 5/4 and the tank is lookin great!! I removed the sponge from the filter cuz there shouldn't be that much debris happening with some snails and a betta.
The najas grass is pearling under direct sunlight in the evening.
I stopped by a LPS this morning and picked up a crowntail betta boy. Here's the lucky betta. He's a little manly man! Keeps seeing his reflection in the side of the tank and is determined to run that other betta off.
Last week, I replaced the incandescent bulb with a 20 watt 6500K fluorescent bulb. I may drop back to 15 watts since it's also getting direct sunlight in the evenings.
Also, my coworker has been keeping a betta in a vase. I had a 2.5 gallon bowfront that was sitting around--another local aquarium club steal, and set that up as a NPT for her betta.
Plants include e tennelus, sag subulata, sunset hygro with najas grass and hornwort floating. There's a little powerfilter in the tank for water movement with no filter pad in it. It has an incandescent bulb in it and we're looking for a small CF bulb to replace it with. It's also getting direct sunlight in the evening.
Here's her veiltail betta boy, Will-E. He wasn't very cooperative, but I got a somewhat decent pic. His finnage is awsome.