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Newbie 5 Gallon Tank Questions

5208 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Skizhx
Hi everybody!:D

I am completely new to fish keeping, and my mom says that I can get a betta fish at the end of the school year. I don't have any stuff yet, so all of it is open to change. Because I am going to boarding school next year, I am putting my betta in a 5-gallon tank, because it will be easier to transport. I really want to have live plants, and my family is laughing at me because of how excited I am about it all. I need help and advice though, and I don't know where else to get it. I have done loads of research, and my brain feels stuffed! I just stumbled on the Walstad method, and it sounds pretty cool. I do not under any circumstances want to ever add CO2 to my water, and I would rather avoid fertilizers. I want it to be very low maintenance, because I will be at boarding school and have not have much time. Here is a list of the stuff I am getting:

-5 gallon or 5.5 gallon tank (long)
-Hydor 25W Submersible Aquarium Heater - Original Theo and a thermometer
-10 watt (???) fluorescent daylight light that will probably be in a desk lamp over my tank, not a hood (is this correct for a 5 or 5.5 gallon?)
- Toms Aquarium Products Mini-Filter

-A cheap potting soil (got any inexpensive brand suggestions that are safe? I heard Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix works well, so I might use it)
-Either sand or small gravel to cap the soil (where can I buy this? Could I use something like eco-complete?)

-Betta fish (male)
-Maybe a zebra "nerite" snail named Ziggy Waldorf (if my mom lets me), what other snails are good? I don't want them to breed. I am ok with only one snail.
I have seen a lot of people with more than this in a 5 gallon. Should I add more, or are they overstocking their tank?

-Baby dwarf tears carpet (will this grow in this setup? Will there be enough light?)
-Dwarf hair-grass (can you trim this like normal grass? How short and tall can it be?)
-Willow or Java moss (what do you recommend?)
- Pygmy or some other Chain Sword
- Dwarf Anubias (planted at the base of a log with driftwood on it)
- Willisii (Nevillii) Crypt
-Coffee Leaf Anubias (How big will this really get? Should I use a smaller plant?)
- Brazilian Pennywort
- Java fern
- Alternanthera
- Dwarf Hygrophila
-Naja Grass

-Mossy log/driftwood that Mr. Betta can swim through (can I use driftwood from nature? How can I tell if it's good? Where can I buy driftwood that is safe?)
-Mossy rock (same thing with the driftwood)
-Plastic Betta Leaf Hammock (apparently they love them)

Water and parameters:
Tap water will be used. I will also find a plant-safe water conditioner. Any suggestions? I also want to minimize water changes because I will be traveling from home to school. I can always bring water from home in a jug while I am away. However, how can I minimize my water changes so I don't have to lug 20 gallons of tap water to school? (I only live 30 minutes away from the school, so even though I will be boarding, I can go home for water) Also, what do you know about tank salt?
-Neutral PH, 6.8-7.4 (do PH changers harm plants?)
-78-79 degrees, 75-82 degrees

-Betta pellets
-Algae slabs for snail if it does not have enough to eat (will it need this, or will I have too much algae and need more snails/algae eaters?)
-Freeze-dried brine shrimp

General Questions that I Desperately Need Answered:
-How often do I need to do water changes in my tank? How much water should I change? For cleaning/water changes, do I need to siphon, or could I carefully scoop water off the top of the tank with a cup?
-What is DH?
-Bettas need minimal water movement because of their large fins. The filter I got allows for this. Will this filter make enough movement for the plants?
-Should I cycle my tank like any other cycle with plants, or is it different? If I still cycle, I plan to do a fishless cycle like this website says:
-What is a reliable place to buy live plants?
-Where can I get rocks and wood?
-Would it be possible to only add a few plants at a time? Could I start the tank with one or two, and then add to it as time goes on?

Here is a modge-podge picture I made that is what I want. Please tell me what you think and if it is proportional/possible for a five gallon? I want my betta to have enough space to swim, so could I maintain a good amount of open space with regular trimming?

Thanks for all your help!


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