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I am a beginner looking to start my first tank since I had a betta. When I had the betta I used a water conditioner to make that part of the environment suitable for him/her (I'm not sure the sex... It was named Dory, I let my 2 yo nephew name it, it was blue and he really liked Finding Nemo at the time. Anways...) I want to become a hobbyist so I am trying to establish my 3g tank (I know it's small I only plan on starting with a couple fish) as I would a bigger tank so I can learn with something small and learn to do it right the first time (I know there's not necessarily a single "right" way).

I would like to keep 3 tiger barbs and 1 snail (I'm not sure which kind; most likely whichever my locally owned pet shop has in town) in my 3g tank. Advice?? Both positive and negative feedback welcome just don't chew me out, as I said I'm a beginner. I'm willing to change anything and everything about my fish choices. This is what I have chosen based on the research I have done and a little "experience" that I have with a tank that my parents had when I was about 6-7 that I would occasionally help take care of.

I would like to get live plants immediately to help speed up the cycling process I'm just not sure what species I need and how many plants I would need. I'm willing to order plants online if my local pet store doesn't have the ones you recommend.

Also along the lines of plants... Sort of... How should I do the substrate since I want to keep live plants?? I have colored gravel right now, should I get something else or will the gravel work fine?

Before I start my tank I plan on purchasing all the equipment I need. Here is a list that I have compiled of what I think I need:

A clamp light with a cfl light

I have an air pump and what I believe to be a water heater. (It's been a few years since I've had dory)

Any advice on brands and models (with links preferably) is needed! I would like to upgrade to a 30g (maybe bigger?) tank at a future date so any equipment that I can use for this tank and also the other tank when I upgrade would be greatly appreciated! (I understand this may be extremely limited)

Price isn't so much an issue as I want to do this right, but I don't want to break the bank.


P.S. Sorry for such a long post I have a lot of questions!

2,088 Posts
Congratulation on getting ready to take the dive into planted tanks!

First and foremost- lets get this one out of the way. As a beginner, you should not be keeping any fish, aside from a betta, in a 3 gallon tank. Tanks 3gallons and under are called pico tanks, and for a good reason, they're just that tiny. (Under ten gallons they're called nano tanks).

Don't get me wrong, there *are* suitable fish other than bettas for a 3-gallon... but they're
a) expensive
b) hard to source
c) relatively new to the hobby and hence...
d) sensitive to water parameter
e) often fussy eaters (will only eat live food etc)

If you want to do a community tank, I recommend a 10 gallon tank. Your stocking options will greatly increase should you choose to get a 20 gallon tank instead.

For planted tanks, your most important element is the lighting this is key to the photosynthesis action of plants. All plants need light to function, in this case -eat up nutrients toxic to fish.

ideally you will need a full spectrum 6500k lighting. This best imitates sunlight and gives plants the right color temperature to grow.

I always do a plant "cycle" when planting my tanks. I never stock immediately with fish. I would plant my tank, them put in a bunch of snails. These snails then become an ammonia source for the tanks as well as a great cleaning crew when breaking down dead or dying plant matter.

Once a healthy cycle is established between the plants and the snails I will allow myself to start stocking fish or shrimps.

There are many methods of planted tank keeping, the walstad method is one of the most popular. If you google walstad method, you should be able to come across the instructions for setting up a walstad planted tank.

Gravel will work just fine. I keep some of my plants in bare bottom tanks (no substrate). the only reason I would never use gravel is well... I think it looks ugly. lol.

Some simple plants you can start off can be (but not limited to) these fast growing plants:

water sprite
water wisteria
bacopa carolina
elodea (anacharis)
duckweed (messy plant)
Banana plant
Dwarf Lily

Other easy plants (but don't grow very fast) include:
Java moss
Java fern

So far your equipment sounds good. If you plant to get a 30 gallon in the future. I highly recommend to do that right now. you will save a lot on equipment!

Your question was pretty long so I may have missed something, so, if I did, please don't hesitate to ask!

good luck :)
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