Newbie totally overwhelmed! - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 11-11-2009, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Red face Newbie totally overwhelmed!

I am in the process of setting up a tank for a betta. For the long story, you can read my post from the aquarium forum here. It's been suggested that I look into getting a live plant for the tank, so here I am. I've been reading through the forum and am totally overwhelmed!

I have a 3 gallon Eclipse kit. I don't have a fish yet; I filled the tank yesterday and am letting it cycle. It has a media filter and a biowheel. I'm planning to get a test kit in a couple of days, then add a betta once everything is right. Other specifics: for gravel, I'm using smallish river rock pebbles. They're bigger than most aquarium gravel, but still pretty small. The aquarium has a full-spectrum, 60 watt florescent lamp. The bulbs obviously don't get hot, but the transformer for the lamp does get quite warm. I don't have a heater and am a little undecided about getting one. I live in Florida, and the temp inside our house is generally around 80 (or even a little above) except for a few weeks in the middle of winter when it might get down to the low to mid 70s.

I read the sticky about plants for 20 gallon and smaller aquariums, but I didn't see anything specific to something this small. Are there plants that can thrive in this small an environment?

I have no idea exactly how to plant or care for an aquatic plant. Do I just stick the roots in the gravel and that's it for planting? What kind of ongoing care is required? Can you recommend a resource to get me up to speed?

Thanks so much!!

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post #2 of 4 Old 11-11-2009, 03:00 PM
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Hi Lisa,

A belated welcome to the forum. Lots of folks here have a lot of collective wisdom so you're in the right place.

I read your other thread, and would suggest the sulfur-like smell could be your water conditioner. I have read that Prime, a very good wc, does have such a smell. In a new tank I wouldn't expect it to be signs of trouble like dead spots in the substrate, so this is probably it.

Anyway, to your plant questions. Small-grain gravel works better with plants, but you can manage with what you've got since you won't have that many plants in a 3g tank. You have intense light, I'm assuming it is a compact fluorescent bulb? You will have to reduce the light period, which I'll come to momentarily.

Plants require a balance of 17 nutrients, one of which is carbon that they usually take as carbon dioxide (CO2) which comes from the fish respiration and biological processes that occur in any aquarium. There won't be a lot of CO2 with one Betta, so the light will have to be no more than what will balance or other problems will arise like algae. One trick is to stagger the light period with a mid-day siesta. Instead of having the lights on for a straight 10 hours, have them on in the morning for 5 hours, off for 2-3 hours, then on for 5 hours. Arrange the on times for when you are likely to be viewing the tank. A timer from the local hardware store is useful to set the light times.

In the other thread kymmie mentioned a temp of minimum 80F for a Betta, so I would suggest you get a small heater. They have an automatic thermostat that will not turn the heater on unless the temperature falls below the setting, so it may not be on much but that is fine; you don't want to chill the fish. Buy a good one, even though more expensive; the smaller heaters can be poorly made and are frequently the most troublesome, so a good brand is best. You will need to keep the tank well covered to keep the air above the surface most and warm (humid). Betta's are anabantoids, a fish that possesses a labyrinth organ that allows it to "breathe" air and it must do this or it will die.

There are a number of plants that would work in your setup. One certain thing is a floating plant; Betta's like B. splendens are bubble nest builders that live in quiet swamp-like ponds like rice paddies and ditches, thick with floating plants, so it will feel right at home. Ceratopteris works perfectly in such a setting, and will help to shade the light.

For the lower area, rooted plants like crypts (most species are fairly small) or the smaller swords, such as the pygmy chain sword or Echinodorus amazonicus would work. Stem plants would grow well, but fast and require regular trimming (weekly), but if that isn't troublesome you could try Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) or other Hygrophila species.

Some nutrients that the plants require will arrive via the fish food, and maybe a few minerals in the tap water, but usually one has to supplement with fertilizer. Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium or the Kent Freshwater Supplement are both good products. Very little will be needed, maybe once a week after the partial water change.

This should get you started; any further questions, ask away.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 4 Old 11-11-2009, 03:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for all the info! I'll see what I can find and post a picture when I get everything set up. I'm sure more questions will arise as I actually try to get this put together, and I'll be sure to post when they do.

(also a BMus!)
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post #4 of 4 Old 11-11-2009, 03:43 PM
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welcome to the forum!! It is nice to have you here. If you go to it is an AWSOME webite. it catagorizes the plants into level of care, tank placment, floating/rooted my 5 gal betta tank i have a banana plant, which would probably do well in your tank, and floating plants (duck weed)....but as i said, will give you some good info on diff. plants....

"Fish are friends not food"
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