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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've just completed my first El Natural tank last Sunday.
It's actually my sons.
It's the Marineland Explorer but without the filter.
Did add a light and has the Marineland 10W compact florescent.
Boy what a difference the light makes in viewing.

Plants:
Val. Spirlus
anacharis
Java Moss
Java Fern
and Duckweed.

A new Crowntail Betta calls this home.
He looks like he loves it there.

Patrolling his territory, jumping through the java moss and of course
staring me down when I took a picture of the tank (he's in the top right corner).

The reason for this tank setup is due to the Bettas. We love this fish, but they didn't seem to live long (the longest was ~1.5 years).
I felt it was due to the high water flow (full tank replacement in 2 min) and it wore them out.
After reading Diana's book, it maybe more to substrate poisoning.
I really wanted to have a non-flow tank, but didn't want constant water changes (weekly). I had heard a few things about using Java moss but did have any good info.

Until I read Diana's book and found the whole Ammonia uptake by the plants. And of course everything else.

I felt this book was great. I'm an engineer by trade and this was a good read. Didn't go into all the molar equations but like the theme of balance in the aquarium.

Funny thing about this tank, is it must be one of the most relaxing freshwater tanks I've seen. The green does add a real calming affect, the whole natural thing. My son has looked at this Betta more in the last 4 days then probably the whole 1.5 years of the last Betta, and I don't think it's just because the new one is a crown tail. Like my son said, it's science that we are doing at home.
Looking back, the old tank setup (a few fake plants) was the equivalent of an underwater desert.


So here is a picture of the tank.
I've added a seashell to help with GH and KH. I have noticed that the PH has gone up in the last two days from 7.4 to 8.2. But this maybe due to the new substrate from the store as they seem to leach even if they are covered with acrylic.

Any know if the GH tests (bottles, test tubes) have an expiry date. I can't seem to get a reading on my tap water or tank water and I'm pretty sure I don't have a GH of 20 :D.

So any comments would be appreciated.
Thanks
 

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Finding the betta took me a while. Seems to be posing ;)

Bettas don't have long life-spans to begin with, but with growing plants in the tank it'll live far healthier than your earlier ones.

Congratulations on your 1st El-Natural setup. If you ever go for a larger tank, the method in Diana's book works just as well there -- I have a 55 gallon El-Natural tank with only a fluorescent bulb and a heater, no filter at all. Platies and corys are healthy and multiplying so rapidly that I don't know how many there are.
 

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The Aquarium Pharmacueticals Gh Test is very hard to read. The color change from pale orange to pale green is very subtle. Here's what I do:
Fill two test tubes - put one or two drops in one and cap it. Use this one to compare to the other one as you start adding and counting drops. It is easier to see when it turns green if you are comparing it to an orange one (really more like yellow)

Of course - hold them up to a white background as you do the test.

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the advice on the GH.
I have tried using standards for some of the others, i.e. no drops, but great idea on seeing the water with 1 or 2 drops as a reference.

I tired the strips, all in one. They are terrible. The PH reading is total off.

So any warnings on the KH and PH. I've seen this climb before.
Will the Seashell be sufficient for the Ca/HCO3 nutrients.

Glad to hear about the 55gallons working as well.

I still feel it's a little crowded but he (the fish) seems to like it. The bubble nest is huge.

Any suggestions for company besides a female. I would be concerned about adding any more since it is only a 2 gallon (10.5"x8" surface area).
Any shrimp-type invertebrates I could add, that would try to eat the fish or viceversa.

Thanks
 

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What a great home for your betta! He sure looks happy in there. I enjoy the ease and beauty of my modified natural planted tanks, so I know what you mean. I was thinking of a couple of ottos as possible inhabitants since I think the betta would like at shrimp as food. Of course, there are always snails, some of them are really cool too.
 

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Is it recommended to have the water movement? They sell these small powerheads that can go in such a small setup.
 

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Oh, I just saw the picture...
How do you do water change on this small setup? And how often?
I'm thinking of setting up my 2G fishbowl.
thanks,
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I used to use a regular aquarium syphon. Have to do the dip and down.
Since this is my first Walstad, I plan not to do one until 6months.
Even I wonder what the advatages are.

Oh, I just saw the picture...
How do you do water change on this small setup? And how often?
I'm thinking of setting up my 2G fishbowl.
thanks,
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Week1

So here is the status of week 1:
PH is 8.4 - yeah a little high. Why? Maybe for a few reasons
1) leaching of the new gravel. I've seen that before.
2) The plants are going crazy. Low PH because no C02 what so ever.
3) The sea shell I have in there (don't think so). (See picture left side)

The Anarchis is really growing.
Ariel roots. If you look at the picture you'll see a stem creeping from center to the right on the surface. Well it's not called a waterweed for nothing.

The KH is 4.
The NH3 is 0. I've known from personal experience the I would register something after 1 week in an unplanted aquarium with no filter. So the plants are really working.
GH -still can't get a reading. Even tried the reference tube. I believe the solution is too old (4 years). A big squirt and no change in color expect for more orange. If there's green I can't see it.

Anyway enjoy. NB - the first picture in the above post was day 3. So the picture below is day 7 or 4 days later.
Boy I hope those tools come in soon :-D
 

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Cool tank!
I love to see people housing their betta in larger containers. It makes me sad that people assume that just because they survive in a cup, they're "ok" in whatever container.
My first betta is over 2, and he survived a year with a friend. He's being pampered now. Well cared for, a healthy (read: non-inbred) betta can survive for 3-5 years. In a lab setting, they can survive to the age of 10. Pretty amazing. :rolleyes:

In a larger tank, even a 5g, there'd be more suggestions for tankmates.
Generally, anything that doesn't look anything like another male betta, and doesn't fin nip. However, every betta has a different personality and ability/disability to play well with others.
If anything, I'd reccomend an otto or two as a previous poster mentioned. Maybe some pond or ramshorn snails if you don't mind dealing with "pest" snails, or cana/bridgessi if you don't mind moving them when they get too big. I think a mixture of all kinds of snails is fascinating, and they go largely unnoticed by bettas.
Ignore the betta when thinking about surface area since he bypasses the waterbound oxygen and breathes mainly from the surface with his labyrinth organ. Because of his fancy breathing ability, your main concern when considering betta buddies is the poop load.
By the way, watch to make sure leaves don't completely choke out the top of the tank or he won't be able to make it to the surface and will suffocate to death or worse "beach" himself on a leaf trying to breathe and get crispy by the lights.

I got a Hagen GH/KH test kit. I love it. You can definately tell when it changes color, because it goes from blue to yellow. None of this pale junk. On Drs. Foster and Smith, its kinda hard to find because they call it a "carbonate and total hardness" kit, which is different from the label on the other brands.

Good job on picking the betta by the way, he's a cutie!
 

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Won't the betta breath from the water as well. I thought air breathing was only a secondary feature?
Yes, they can breathe from the water too, but its the suplimentary method. If anabantoidei are trapped away from the surface they will drown. Its not an experiment I'd suggest trying at home. :(
 

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Yes, they can breathe from the water too, but its the suplimentary method. If anabantoidei are trapped away from the surface they will drown. Its not an experiment I'd suggest trying at home. :(
I don't know, I thought it was the reverse... Breathing air is a supplimentary feature. Although you could be right. I see my bettas gulping air eventhough the water quality is fine.
 

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Ok I just once would not like to hear the puddle thing when it comes to bettas. Really a rice field is an awfully huge 'puddle'. Yes a betta in the WILD can survive in a puddle of icky water , knowing full well rain will connect him to a body of water soon enough. Bettas we now keep in tanks are far removed from their wild brethren.
Beatiful tank btw. It will help lengthen betta boys life. They do tend to like the jungle tank. Lots of places to play.
I do agree with keeping the water surface clear,not only for the fact that bettas breath air but also for the o2 exchange that happens at the surface of a tank.
 

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Sorry newbie to sidetrack your thread but,
"betta + drowning" or "anabantoid + drowning" on google. ;)

Also, thank you morbidia for dispelling the rumor that betta can survive long periods of time in a cow's footprint full of water.
Betta are beautiful creatures and deserve no less room than what newbie314 is providing his.

Cudos, newbie, for providing a nice place for your betta to frolic.
 

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I have female bettas in a 55 heavily planted tank. I have a lot of leaves either floating or just under the surface. The bettas love to actually sit on top of a leaf with the top of their body actually breaking the surface of the water! It is amazing! I can actually pet them with my finger! At first I thought the fish was in distress, ill or worse. I poked it with my finger and it would swim away perfectly fine, and eventually come back to the leaf and work itself on top of it and just sit there! I've had these fish in this tank for three years now. Below the tank in the floor, I have a rubbermaid tub with only about three inches of water in it. I grow some emersed plants in it. Somehow, one of the bettas got from the 55 into the tub. I kept her in there for several months. She had plenty of room, but only three or four inches deep. I eventually put her back in the 55 because I thouhgt she might be lonely without her sisters! All six females wer given to me by a local breeder, and they came from the same brood.
 

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I'm raising serveral betta fries right now. They get very excited at feeding time that they literally jump out of the water.. One of them landed on the side of the glass, got stuck for a second and slid back down into the water. It was pretty funny.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Week 2

Here is the week 2 update.
Took out half the java moss, and tried to rearrange the java fern so the Val. isn't so covered.
The val. in the front kept coming out of the substrate so I tried to replant it.

The val. as a whole isn't doing as well as I would like.
Most likely not enough light and maybe the water isn't hard enough.

The Anacharis is growing like a weed.
I've pruned quite a bit and the one in the center front was floating (veritial :S) and I have planted it to the left.

The fish still loves his home. Even swims to the back where the java moss is. Sits near the surface. I don't know if that space was there or he created it himself. It wouldn't surprise me if he is using it as a bed.

A new bubble nest is forming (under the center java leaf). This is a good sign since I destroyed his other one. I was concerned maybe he wasn't healthy.
Ammonia is still zero (at least 2 days ago).

Here's a picture. Hope you like it.
 

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Good job with your tank!

I just wanted to add that I have 5 bettas all in different set ups and every one of them has Red Cherry Shrimp in the tank. I was nervous about adding the shrimp to my smaller tanks (5 gallons) because I wanted the shrimp to survive.

The bettas were interested in the shrimp at first but are unsuccessful in catching them. The cherry shrimp are breeding in the tank and are quite beautiful and very interesting creatures. I think your son might enjoy having some in the tank - the men and boys who have looked at my tanks all seem to love the shrimp! [smilie=w:
 
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