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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I just posted in the clasified section as I would like to get some cheap plants to add to my aquarium, I would LOVE to have a nicely palnted tank.

So, the story again:

I am pretty new with only about 1.5 months with a 5.5 g tank with a betta, apple snail, gravel, filter, heater, some decoration and a few plants that I don't seem to grow well. So, I am looking for advices plus cheap plants that I hopefully will be able to grow. The lighting is an IKEA 15W desc light that I got reccomented in the pet store, maybe not the best though :(

I have 1 hair grass and 1 other plant that I will try to find the name later, plus lots of hornwort that seems to be the only one to do really well. The hairgrass started well, but now loses the colour and some leaves are "melting" in water. This might be due to the aquarium salt I added to treat my betta. He is doing very well now, so that is a relief.

I read the sticky topics, but I am not sure if I can/need to do that in such a small tank with a betta.

Please, advice and thanks a lot in advance!
 

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I also have a 5.5gallon tank. It depends how much plants you want in your tank and the types of plants you want.

The keys factors in determine plant growth are:
1) Lighting - each type of plant requires low/medium/high lighting (right now you have about 13/5.5 = 1.25 watts per gallon good for low light required plants.
2) CO2 - plants need food and CO2 is required. If you have just a few plants the fish would provide enough, but if you want good plant growth, then you may consider DIY yeast CO2 or dosing Seachem Excel.
3) Fertilizer/nutrients - depending on the type of substrate (gravel, flora base, eco complete) you have, plants will grow faster with nutrient rich substrate. However, you may consider dosing such fertilzers like seachem flourish trace and comprehensive.

There's a lot of methodology in how you want to set up and see you plants grow. Just remember CO2, nutrients, lighting. Remember the duration of light also influences the amount of alage you may have.

There is a wealth of information on this website to get you allow the way.

I've "re-started" my 5gallon take two months ago and plants I never knew I can grow, I'm having great success with.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks so much for the info! As my betta can't stand anybody else (we tried), I consider having more plants then, to have a more interesting tank. So, I guess if I want more plants I will need to add fertilizers.

Do you think I rather get stronger lighting first? As this hairgrass doesn't look good and I guess the lighting could be the isssue.

Any ideas of types of plants that are easy to grow in my situation?

Thanks a lot once again!
 

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Mother nature is always balanced.. or somewhat LOL!

Anyways, if you have too much light and not enough food and co2, it still doesn't work!
Everything must somewhat balance for plants to grow. Too much of one thing and too little of another can just lead to algae blooms!
I would correct the lighting a little, pick out plants that could work out! And then consider seachem excel since you're new to this!
Fertillizers can be purchased at or through aquafloranurseries.com, very cheap, and will last over a year on a 5 gallon~
 

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Hi Infrared,

15 watts should be more than plenty for your 5 gallon tank, whether it's an incandescent bulb or a fluorescent. I have had a 15 watt incandescent on my 5 gallon betta tank and the plants did very well. I switched to a 9 watt fluorescent (twisted) 6400k bulb and the plants are doing pretty well, too.

The plants that I have in my betta tanks are: java fern, anubias, a reddish plant that I think is ludwigia repens rubin (it grows so well that I have planted clippings in my other tanks), wisteria (hygrophilia difformis, I think), and one of my tanks also has an Amazon sword and a banana plant.

I don't think that you have to add CO2 for a small tank if you don't use too much light. It's a good idea to have some nutrients in your substrate, but a lot of the plants I'm using in my tanks don't need that, either. I add Flourish Comprehensive and Trace supplements to my big tanks sometimes, and Excel, but not to my 5 or 12 gallon betta tanks. They are low light and they seem to do fine with just the betta.

I'm guessing that the grass you have in your tank is meant for a higher tech setup and you'll do fine if you switch to easier plants. Java fern, wisteria and anubias are all very low maintenance, like hornwort. (Hornwort dies, though, if it gobbles up all the nutrients. It seems to like nitrates. If it runs out of nutrients, it can suddenly drop all its needles to the bottom of your tank. So I like to use hornwort in small tanks with fry, where I tend to overfeed.) Water sprite is good, too. And I've also found that dwarf bonsai seems to grow pretty well everywhere that I stick it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
WOW, excellent source of information! Thanks a lot, very much appreciated!

The hairgrass I'm having was recommended in the pet store as low maintenance, low light plant good for the betta tank. And it was doing well initially, but during last week it started to "melt", thus I thought it could be the salt I put in the water, but the betta is so much better now.

The hornwort is thriving, but I am not very happy with it. I got it as 1) it was offered to me free; 2) it was from an established tank that I needed when I started mine 3) it did help a lot with the water quality as well. What I don't like is that it can't really stick around filter, etc. or get "rooted" (attached) in any way but always tend to just float, which really bothers the fish in its way to the surface. So, once I have enough plants that I can grow I will give this one to somebody else.

I will try to find the ones you mentioned, hopefully they will go nice in my setup.
Thanks so much once again!
 

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i would definitely not recommend diy co2 on a 5.5 gallon tank, there is too much risk to overdose the tank. Excel if anything.

If its an incandescent, they can be tricky with planted so i'd recommend seeing if you can substitute with a low wattage CFL in the socket (9W/13W), whether its retro or twister style it'll be a huge upgrade to the plants. the higher the wattage, the higher the lamp can stay (you'll also be able to fine tune the light level via height). You want room for some of the stems to grow out of the water and bloom, why? because they are purdy and beta's deserve purdy.

Remember that the watts per gallon rule applies is very innaccurate for nano tanks, especially when you stray from t8 lighting, so don't try to achieve this or you'll grow some nice green sludge.

Even Low Tech or Low light plants need some sort of nutrients. for nano's the substrate is best suited for this, but you'll do fine adding ferts via the flourish ones morainy mentioned. The additives are cheap for tanks that small :)

For plants, stick with low demanding as you don't want co2 added. Two of my favourites are anubias nana and windelov (java fern variant). Hair grass i've noticed is too easy to grow other unwanted things in tank not yet balanced.

But for information sake, heres a link to planted tank with the plant species suited for lower light tanks: Excellent List of Low Light Plants
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Awesome! Thank you so much! As I said I appreciate all these great inputs!
I'll go through the list this evening and will shop during the weekend if I can't find these from the forum sellers :)

The hairgrass I am having will most probably die if it continues to melt like that... I hope I can find some for less as otherwise it will take a couple more months to have enough.

Thanks a lot again. Will post some pictures from the current state and hopefully in a month or so when all these great advices will be in place :)
 

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InfraredDream, sometimes plants that start to melt do bounce back. I don't know anything about hair grass, though.

Although hornwort can't be planted in the substrate, you can weight it down with a plant weight or the edge of a rock. You can even make it appear to be growing out of the gravel that way (but don't bury it). This will keep it in the area of the tank that you want to have it in, so that it doesn't float up to the top.

If hornwort likes your tank, it will tell you that by growing into a big, green jungle! It does not like copper, though. If you ever put copper into your tank as a treatment for your fish, remove the hornwort or you will get hornwort-needle soup!

Anubias are very slow growing and you can attach them to a piece of driftwood or a rock with a piece of thread. They don't have to be planted into the gravel (and shouldn't be planted deeply if they are). Wisteria is really easy to care for and if a bit of it breaks off, it will float up but keep growing. It doesn't care whether you've got Eco-Complete or blue-painted gravel because it takes most of its nutrients from the water. Very forgiving.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wisteria sounds like the best plant for me :) I will get some soon!

As for the hornwort, I did exactly what you said and some pieces that are attached to bigger decorations are fine, they just lost some needles, but it is OK. The ones around filter and smaller rocks keep getting out and end up at the surface. I believe because the needles get off and it is hard for the plant to stay fixed. It looks like it really likes the tank as it grows very well and pretty fast.

I'll try with anubias and wisteria and will let you know.
Hopefully you are right and the hairgrass will do well again as it developed a nice root and was looking good a week-10 days ago.

Thanks a lot for all the comments and advices - very informative and helpful!
Hope I'll be lucky with growing a nice planted tank.
 

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I completely forgot to mention another plant, Sunset Hygrophilia. I've got it in my 6 gallon killifish tank, lost in a jungle of hornwort. When I got it, I thought that it might be a high light plant because the top leaves are pink. However, the stuff multiplied like crazy in my tank even when the tank went for more than 3 months without a light (Marineland's Eclipse lamps were on backorder) and it was surviving with only a bit of light from a distant basement window (north-facing). Wherever the plant came near to the front of the tank, the leaves pinked up.

I like that plant a lot. I think I'm going to move some sprigs into my other tanks.

Java ferns seem to grow very well in small tanks, producing many plantlets. They thrive even in the tanks that I don't add plant food to. They seem to look best if anchored to a piece of driftwood or rock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Oh this one is looking awesome! Thanks a lot for mentioning it!
I'll try to find some, haven't seen it in stores though :(

I know Java ferns are always the first to put with betta, but I personally don't like it that much, don't know why. I prefer the ones with stem and leaves. To have colours is great! Much more then I hoped I can have in my tank with the current setup.

Thanks a lot!
 

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I think that Charles or Patrick have sunset hygrophilia at Canadian Aquatics. It's on their website, anyway. Aquariums West has it sometimes.
 

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I wouldn't say anubias shouldn't be planted in gravel, i've grown mine in sand/gravel since i've started, the big thing is to not bury the bulky green rhizome where the leaves shoot out from. If you end up burying the rhizome, the anubia will grow much much slower, and if too deep, it'll rot. If you bury the roots in the substrate vs tied to driftwood, you can get something like jobes plant food spikes from walmart ($2-$3) and place a chunk of that under the roots to give it a kick start.

Many see anubia and java ferns as only to attatch to decor, simply because they can grow there fine and it'll free the foreground up for other plants. Its really about your personal preference
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the advice, I'll check these guys as I am in love with that sunset hygrophilia plant already!

neven, thanks for the input. Seems like I won't get anubia for now then, I don't want a floating plant because of the betta. Thus I am planning to give away the hortwort once I have well growing planted ones. I would love to have these attached to decoration, but I don't think I have enough room for that in my small tank. Hopefully we'll move in the next year and we'll get a bigger tank, so I'll use that idea there.
 
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