I am interested in trying my hand at keeping some fish that require low-pH, soft-water environments (ie. Betta persephone, and some killie species). I (think I) understand the science behind it, but I am hitting a wall on the practical application
of that. I read about setting up peat filtration, boiled oak leaves, etc. Frankly, I am stuck on how to begin and maintain the environment. Also, can this be done in a low-tech, "Walstad" fashion (ie. soil substrate, sunlight, etc)?
First of all, what exactly is peat filtration? Is this as simple as putting peat in the substrate, or using peat instead of soil? Is this what I would call generic peat moss found at garden centers, or sphagnum(?) peat moss? (Are there other types?) If not in the substrate, would peat in a filter bag in a filter, or sitting in the corner of the tank work?
Secondly, what about the use of oak or almond leaves which I see mentioned on different web sites? They will frequently mention them being boiled. Are these fresh, tree-picked leaves? Dry, dead leaves? If boiled, for how long (don't they just disintegrate)? I've never boiled leaves, so I'm not sure what is involved. How long do these boiled leaves last in such an environment? Does it get messy?
What about plants, then? I would assume things like Java Moss and Java Fern would work, as they seem so hardy as to work in just about any environment. What about other types of plants? Any crypts?
As you can see, I find lots of data to work from, but I cannot find any documentation on how to implement the suggestions. Hence my verbose confusion above!
Thanks for any assistance.
Oh, one other thing. My tap water, the starting point, is always pH 7.0 and a GH/KH of ~1dH.