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iamtetsuo 12-12-2009 12:11 AM

Plant for cycling a small tank
Hi there!

I am starting a small tank for a Betta. I'm hoping to start a fishless cycling process soon. The tank is a 3 gallon Eclipse, with built in florescent tube. Not sure on the tube type. I don't have the tank or tank info with me, it's in storage right now.

Room light is diffused natural light, north facing window with white shades permanently drawn and a north facing sunroof (angled so any light coming in refracts off of a wall then into the room). Even during the height of summer the sun doesn't get high enough in the sky to provide direct sunlight.

Water temperature will be set at around 78F, perhaps higher to speed up the cycling process.

Can anyone suggest some plants to me that will be hardy enough to survive (and hopefully assist) the cycling process? I would prefer if I could keep the plant in the tank after the cycling process to give my betta to hide in, but I'm willing to remove it if need be after the cycling process. So optimally something that won't overcrowd a small tank.

I was looking at crypts, but it seems as though they might not survive the cycling process.

Oh if it helps I am planning on doing a pure ammonia cycle, the prawn cycle seems a bit messy and smelly.

Hawkian 12-12-2009 08:03 AM

In such a small tank I would think that you'd want a plant that doesn't grow too fast to keep yourself from trimming it every other day. You may want to look at Dwarf Anubias (Anubia nana) - they are said to be very hardy! You'll have to anchor it to a rock or a piece of driftwood though...

Angel079 12-12-2009 08:36 AM

I'd suggest various Cryptocoryne plants, maybe some Cabomba and/ or Java Ferns...

Look here to find pictures of these ideas: Aquarium Plants

Byron 12-12-2009 10:30 AM

If you intend to have plants in the tank, I would plant them and "cycle" the tank with the plants. Forget the ammonia stuff, it is not needed.

A tank with a betta and plants will be "cycled" the first day with no harm to the fish. I use quotation marks around cycle because in a planted tank there is basically no cycling period. Plants require nitrogen and they prefer getting it from ammonium. In acidic water, ammonia produced by the fish changes to ammonium and the plants use it. In basic (alkaline) water the plants grab the ammonia produced by the fish and convert it to ammonium themselves. The nitrification bacteria in a planted tank is minimal because the plants use the ammonia faster.


iamtetsuo 12-14-2009 02:00 AM


*quick trip to google*

Wow you're right! I didn't realize plants could absorb ammonium directly (proof that I should have stuck with my Marine Biology degree instead of switching to Economics)

So would it be best to allow the plant to establish itself for several days before putting in the betta, or would it be ok to put them in together at once?

Planning on getting a Java Fern as the local aquarium store had a very good selection in stock, and the owner suggested it for a small heated tank. I also liked that the biggest one they had in their tanks (which according to him was about as big as they'd get) wouldn't come close to crowding the tank.

1077 12-14-2009 05:12 AM

Java fern ,like Anubia will need to be attached to rock or wood with thread or fishing line. Will also need light for 8 to 9 hours a day.
I would attach the java fern to the rock or wood as described,and place it in the tank where you want it. Fish could be added the same day. Be sure and leave the filter alone so that bacteria can develop. If filter needs cleaned,clean it in dechlorinated water or old water you take out during weekly water change.

Angel079 12-14-2009 09:18 AM

If you have way's to test your water: Add plants & fish same time. Then monitor your water parameters and if they rise too far, do a good size water change before it harms the fish :-)

Byron 12-14-2009 11:03 AM

As previously mentioned by 10767 and Angel, add the fish with the plants. Plants need nitrogen from the ammonia/ammonium, so a fish provides it. As long as you don't overload the fish side compared to the plants, and one betta will not do this.

Java Fern is not a fast user of nutrients and light, but again with only one betta this will not be a problem. Some floating water sprite (Ceratopteris) would be ideal, it will shade the JF (which does not like bright light, the leaves can "burn") and be so "natural" for the betta. Anabantids build their bubblenmests in the dangling roots of this plant, and spend lots of time grazing through them for food bits.


iamtetsuo 12-16-2009 10:28 PM

OK I got a Java Fern for my tank.

Of course I listened to the clerk instead of coming and checking here first, doh! I planted the fern in gravel instead of tying it to a rock or peice of wood. I am going to reposition it when I do my first water change on Monday.

Would getting a small peice of driftwood from the creek behind our house be ok if I boil it before putting it in the tank? Or should I buy a piece from a store?

Byron 12-17-2009 01:35 PM

The risk with wood from outdoors is what may be in it. If it is now under water, boiling it should kill off parasites and pathogens, and it is less likely to have other contaminant that might be the case if it was in air (pesticides, toxic chemicals...). Of course, not all wood is good in the aquarium; soft woods can rot quickly, polluting the water, and some contain resins and saps that are poisonous. It is always a risk.

Wood purchased from a reputable fish store is less likely to be a problem. It will be wood intended for an aquarium. I have a lot of wood in my tanks, all store bought; it is the dark wood that sinks on its own (the lighter woods need securing or they will float).

And you're correct, JAva Fern will not grow rooted in the substrate; it will easily attach to wood or rock. I would pull it out of the gravel and let it float until you have something to tie it to.


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