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Creating a natural style betta habitat


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#1 Akythara

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 09:45 PM

Hey!

As many of you remember I got a 55gallon a while back! Anyway I'm in the middle of designing it to be 'planted' tank, I've got the lighting, substrate, filter, UV sterilizer and some good ideas for plants, was going to go for an Amazon river style tank but a book Saucy gave me got me thinking, part of it pretty much said the more like the evoiroment the fish evolved in the tank is the happier the fishies will be and happy fish = healthier fish!

So what would you guys suggest I get/do for them? They get brine srimp 3-5 times a week to chase, any other ideas?

"What would I need for a close to real habitat Betta Sheila tank?"

Lots of plants and places to hide?

Muddy Substrate?

Baby invertebrates/guppy to eat? >_< (I'm not sure I would want my babies being eaten!)

A tank off to one side growing insect lava? tongue1.gif

#2 Walking_Target

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 11:11 PM

After having searched and found no reference to a species under the Genus and Sub-Genus Betta Sheila; i'm going to assume you mean to set up a Sorority tank. (you darn Aussie you ;) )


Rule one: Lots and lots of plants


As for 'natural', there is very little you can really do to make it completely natural. Completely natural would be a muddy bottom tank with almost stagnant current and near-choked with driftwood and rotting vegetation.

The muddy part alone disqualifies a truely natural setting; sand is your next best bet, followed by products like Amazonia and Black Onyx sand (which can be mixed with Silica or Pool sand to create the desired shade)

What I would start off doing is selecting plants; It'll be very hard to make a complete Betta type biotope, as there is very little in the way of completely aquatic plants you can use: especially considering the fact that females in a group will NEED places to hide and breaks in the line of sight.

Now, you can find plants that are approriate for this; Large stems of Giant Hygro (Hygrophila Corymbosa), thick plantings of Water Wisteria (Hygrophila Difformis) are both good tall breaks for the line of site, both are proper in a SE Asian setting (though not occurring in the same habitat as bettas)

Mid level plants will be Java Fern (Monosorum Pteropus) attached to hardscape (driftwood or rough rocks) and most of the Cryptocoryne species (which require a nice sandy and deep substrate)

Of these, i highly recommend Crypocoryne Wendtii and Cryptocoryne Beckettii as both have done well in my lower light aquariums with a minimum of 'Crypt Rot'.

Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri, incorrectly called Versicularia Dubyana) can be useful as well, but must be kept in check, It should also always be rooted to driftwood, rocks or a framework lest it drift around uncontrolled making a mess (which is nigh-on impossible to clean out!)



Edit: be aware too, that as you are in florida, some Cryptocoryne species are on the state noxious weed list and should be avoided, I also believe Hygrophila Corymbosa var. Stricta is on the list as well. It would pay to look over that list, as buying some of these plants online and having them shipped to you can count as a federal offense.

Edited by Walking_Target, 24 August 2008 - 11:15 PM.


#3 Akythara

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 09:23 AM

QUOTE
As for 'natural', there is very little you can really do to make it completely natural. Completely natural would be a muddy bottom tank with almost stagnant current and near-choked with driftwood and rotting vegetation.


Perfect!

Oddly enough, Ive found in the 55g the girls all hang out together and dont fight much! I was amazed they did that, lots of hiding places, floating, midlevel and on the bottom of the tank and they all hung out most of the time together in one little area!

Current is a major issue in the 55g, the filter and UV make a large current which would be perfect for normal planted but not so much for betta tanks. I like the idea of onyx stand, i might get some just for looks over the substrate, the substrate itself i have was bought for standard planted and I'm not about to replace it sader1.gif failure #1 for my new concept!

I'm more interested in making the tank feel right for them then look right for me, I can do rotting IAL!!! and driftwood, I'd love to get some nice branchie wood.

I always see the betta hunting around the tank looking for something to munch on, I love putting the brine shrimp on the bottom of the tank and making them hunt.


So far we have:

* Still water
* LOADS of mess
- plants
- sticks/driftwood chunks
* Nice soft sand.

I like those plants you suggested Walking_target, I will get some of them for sure (those i can get lol) I think I'll have some grasses/mosses for them to rest on

#4 Walking_Target

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 10:39 AM

I wouldn't be too hot on rotting IAL leaves or huge mess in general; it can cause bad things with your biological and mechanical filtration.

Of all the plants i've suggested, Water Wisteria and Java Ferns should be at the top of your list; They are near impossible to kill.

As for a sandy bottom, don't worry about that too much right now; you should be tearing your tank down in around 6 months anyway; just to clean out accumulated mulm and other crap from the bottom. Once that happens, it's easy to replace with a mix of Onyx Sand and some pool or play sand (to give it that muddy dark brown color).

The nice thing about sand is that waste tends to rest at the very top, making it real easy to gravel vac it out (pinch the hose a bit to avoid sucking up alot of sand)



Oh, and some people talk about how nasty sand is for compacting and going anaerobic on you (creating nasty smells and so forth). This is extremely easy to fix by planting with Cryptocoryne species, as they send out huge, extensive root networks. I checked the C. Beckettii sprouts in my tank, when they only had 3-5 leaves and the root networks were already 3"-5" away from the rhizome! Plant roots tend to keep anaerobic bacterial action at bay.

Also, Malaysian Trumpet Snails are awesome for churning up sandy substrates and keeping them clean. Your bettas can't kill them either (although i've seen a betta stalk one for several minutes till it decided it wasn't worth it's trouble)

#5 LexaCG

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 03:23 PM

do giant MTS's do the same thing or are the small ones better?

#6 Psybock

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 04:44 PM

Check out these pics of this guy's biotope, it's the closest one I've seen to a betta's natural habitat. Considering that asian swamps are normally sand/mud/or peat bottoms, doesn't always mean they have no plant material whatsoever, mostly crypts and mosses dot these areas... I know the swamps around here (SC) do have low growing low light plants, along their margins, the bottoms are mostly leaf litter and peat, however, like I said, plants in the margins...

Kevin

Biotope

sorry forgot to place link at first...

Edited by Psybock, 25 August 2008 - 04:45 PM.


#7 Akythara

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 09:41 PM

Thats a nice biotope!

i need to get some sticks...and snails...and driftwood! I'm gonna peat the filter from time to time to keep it at a good pH! Wont be a true biotope though sader1.gif I already have a lot of plants which are nice but they will work well enough looks wise.

Next up i need to find a place around here i can get some branch wood, crypts and mosses are awesome! I cant wait to get a heap of them and my wood smile-222.gif

#8 chronox290

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 10:34 PM

This might help

IM gonna model my 60 gallon like this rolleyes12.gif

#9 Akythara

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 12:04 PM

thanks chronox that looks good.

i found these photos http://www.plakattha...ttahabitat.html which show them catching betta in an area smothed in plants which i thought was interesting. I might have half of the tank filled with something like val and some plants which will grow out of the tank.

#10 Walking_Target

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 11:36 PM

you want Crypts.

Crypts are one of the plants that occur in their natural habitats.

Really though, unless you are stuck on the idea of a biotope, the fish doesn't really care what plants you use, so long as there's lots of them.

#11 Walking_Target

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 11:36 PM

my first post was lonely... so it made a copy of itself...

Edited by Walking_Target, 29 August 2008 - 11:36 PM.


#12 Akythara

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 12:19 AM

QUOTE (Walking_Target @ Aug 30 2008, 03:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
my first post was lonely... so it made a copy of itself...



That happens to me too sometimes sader1.gif

anyways!

Not interested in a biotope just in convincing the betta they should be happy! A betta could be convinced it lived in nature using silk plants i imagine....so I'm going to go for easily available plants/driftwoods which look good.

I'm even added Endlers 'guppies' (hybrads) to make it seem just like Amazo...err Thailand! yah thats it...




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