As soon as we finished setting up our most recent Ultum Nature Systems TV stand nano planted tank, we were asked by a good friend of ours to also scape her a tank for her Betta, Chai. Continuing our nano planted tank scape-fest we decided to set her up with a 2-gallon (slightly over) cube, which would be the perfect size for Chai and very manageable for a beginner. This whole setup cost a little less than $100.
Using the same method to prep the Manzanita Wood, as we did for our TV stand nano planted tank, we boiled and soaked the wood the night before. In addition to that, we also utilized the same method of moss attachment to the wood pieces. After the Java Moss was secured in strategic locations, we arranged the hardscape layout. Notice that the moss attachment points are placed in seemingly random yet natural-looking areas. This also helps to hide any unnatural cuts or twists on the bare wood.
One of the great things about aquascaping is that there are no limits to your creativity. We decided to go for a rooted forest look. Also, we had a few bags of unused Alder Cones laying around so we decided that they would definitely add to the overall look of this tank. A handful of them were placed in the tank along with the wood for our tree-type scape. The great thing is that the Alder Cones look like miniature pine cones and they accentuate the look we were trying to achieve.
Alder Cones provide many benefits in freshwater aquariums and even have antiseptic properties. In general, they lower pH, which is perfect for this tank since the only substrate we were planning to use was natural play sand and her tap water has a naturally higher pH. Natural sand alone does not lower the pH in tank water like planted tank substrate does. In shrimp tanks, they provide a natural food source for the shrimp by creating favorable conditions for micro growth and all shrimp seem to be attracted to them, it doesn’t matter the species. The cones stay around for a while as well but will eventually start to break down organically over time. One thing to note is that they do leech tannins into the water column and will float if not treated like drift wood before placing them in the tank.
Next up we moved onto to the planting of epiphyte plants such as Dwarf Bolbitis, Java Fern Narrow Leaf and Anubias Nana ‘Petite’ to the hardscape. In order to achieve the tree-look, we planted the Dwarf Bolbitis near the top of the layout and moved down from there. In between the Dwarf Bolbitis, we created balance by sticking a few trimmings of Java Fern Narrow Leaf in order to avoid getting repetitive with the Dwarf Bolbitis. To end, we attached 2 large bunches of Anubias Nana ‘Petite’ to the lower half of the Manzanita Wood for added depth and leaf variation in this smaller tank.
We filled the tank with established water from Chai’s old home so that the tank would not have to cycle again, he was completely fine, and has been very active since that day.
A few days later, we visited Chai’s new home to perform a water change, clean up a little and reorganize plants that may have been shifted from the Betta’s eager exploration. We also added a few more Alder Cones to complete the look of her tank.
The photo above shows how it looks today after a fresh 40% water change with a slight amount of fertilizer added. Both the plants and Betta seem to be loving it. Her light is set at 3watts and is fertilized once a week. One added bonus is that we took out her Lucky Bamboo from Chai’s old home and re-homed it in his new Azoo Mignon 60 filter to add another pop of green to her room. We’ll be updating again once this tank is grown out a bit more. We’re excited to see how it comes along in the next few months!
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