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The Illustrious Doctor Sparkles (10 gallon planted betta tank journal)

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This silly title popped into my head as I was writing this and wouldn't leave so here we are. I wanted to start a journal post for my 10 gallon planted betta tank, which has been running since January 2021. This was my first tank, and it's evolved so much as I've learned and grown as a fish keeper. The tank is heavily planted, and currently home to Doctor Sparkles the betta, a colony of blue velvet shrimp, and one enormous nerite snail. 

When I joined this forum, both this tank and the betta were in bad shape, so I didn't get the chance to show it off. Doctor Sparkles had a severe case of fin rot that he has fully recovered from (thanks to the help of folks on this forum!) He's like a whole new fish now.

Here's a recent picture of him -- it's much easier to capture how good he looks now in video, because he's always zooming around, but his fins pretty much grew back completely and he's a very happy buddy.


Here's the tank a few months ago, when it was looking really nice, but a little dark and moody in this photo.


And here it is today, looking a little less nice because that water sprite is dying back. I think the water is probably too warm for it. I have a minor rescape idea that I'm going to be doing soon though. I'm planning on taking out the water sprite, and moving a bunch of that pearl weed to that empty back corner, where I'll let it grow a little taller and just take over that spot. I'll probably leave some pearl weed closer to the foreground and keep it trimmed (because I do like the look of it as a carpet) but I'm also going to leave the front more open, and place a few smooth rocks with java moss attached, and some more leaf litter. My anubias is also getting huge and growing up against the glass, so I'm going to try propagating it for the first time so that I can add more of it around the tank. 


The current plants in the tank are: one amazon sword (the first plant I purchased, and I think the only survivor from when I first started the tank), one anubias barteri, one sad water sprite, pearlweed, a few small crypts (lucens I think?), java moss, red root floaters, and salvinia cucullata. I've tried a lot of plants in this tank and the sword, anubias, and pearlweed definitely seem to be the most stable. I did not realize when I first started out that it would be hard to keep plants in the 80 degree water that bettas prefer. 

Here's an older photo of the first time I did a rescape on the tank, when i moved to a new apartment and had to break everything down.


And the humble beginnings 😅



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Thanks everyone! 🥰

Managed to get a picture of the buddy making a sneaky bubble nest in the back corner of the tank. He's an old man so it makes me so happy that he still feels good enough to make bubble nests sometimes. (I promise that 72 degree reading on the thermometer is incorrect - it's running out of batteries)


Gonna pull out that water sprite and get to work on a small rescape this afternoon!

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Got things all rearranged in the tank the other day! It looks a little awkward right now, but I think it's going to look nice once the pearlweed settles back in and starts getting taller in the back corner. I sliced off the tip of the big anubias, one node with four leaves and one little root, and stuck it to a bit of hardscape. Hopefully it takes, and the main plant doesn't rot! I used an xacto knife so the cut was pretty clean. 


"What the heck are you doing to my house??" 🤔


I needed a few random items from the Co-op, so I impulsively ordered a hydrocotyle tripartita 'japan' -- which is a plant that I've always wanted to try because it's so delicate and pretty. It sounds like it's happier as a high-tech plant so I don't have high hopes. I'm going to plant it in the foreground around those rocks, but I'm letting it float for now to get used to my water first. 


I also never realized until I saw it in person, but this plant kind of looks like tiny cilantro 😅

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/14/2022 at 11:51 PM, Minanora said:

Looking good! Great adventure so far!

I keep tripartita Japan in my low tech shrimp tank. It does very well. I've had it in there since the beginning of December.

Welp my tripartita Japan melted faster than I've ever seen a plant melt before 😂 Within about a week it had pretty much disappeared. What's your general water parameter situation in the tank you have yours in? I'm thinking the 80 degree water in this tank was not what it wanted.

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On 5/28/2022 at 3:48 PM, dangerflower said:

Welp my tripartita Japan melted faster than I've ever seen a plant melt before 😂 Within about a week it had pretty much disappeared. What's your general water parameter situation in the tank you have yours in? I'm thinking the 80 degree water in this tank was not what it wanted.

76, 15°gh 14°kh, pH 7.8. but I haven't checked the parameters in over two months.... I'll check when we get back from the lake on Tuesday.

I'm sorry yours melted. That's a shame. Mine melted in my 75. Not sure why. The parameters are almost the same. They were from the same tissue culture cup too

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  • 2 months later...

Whoops, it turns out I'm not very good at keeping up with journals!

All's well with the boy, except for that fact that, since my last update, he did that thing that bettas do sometimes where he decided he was just done peacefully coexisting with his shrimp tankmates. I think I may have tipped the balance somehow when I did a big rearranging in the tank. I definitely caught him eating a shrimp -- and it's possible it was already dead when he got to it, but based on the way he was terrorizing them, I'm inclined to think he killed it. There are no shrimp left in the tank now, or if there are still any stragglers they never come out of hiding. I managed to catch one and relocate it to my shrimp tank. It's a bummer, they were cute shrimp! 


Photo of a fish who woke up and chose violence. 😂

It's just him and his one old nerite in the tank now, and it gets scummy a lot faster without the shrimpy clean up crew. 


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  • 3 weeks later...

Feels like it's about time for a proper Doctor Sparkles update! He's doing great. Definitely noticing him slowing down and doing a lot more lounging these days, but he still seems happy and healthy. I want to add more things to the tank for him to rest on - I'm thinking some nice seed pod botanicals for him to hang out in (like a monkey pot or a sterculia pod) or maybe an additional coconut cave for the bottom of the tank (he sleeps in his coconut every night, it's so precious 😭)


I never really posted progress shots of the tank after that last little remodel. The pearlweed grew in a ton but I never quite achieved the look I wanted. Here's how it looked back in June:


A combination of some lighting issues and the fact that the Doc decided to murder his shrimp lead to some algae problems and a generally scummy tank. I also started having problems with my floating plants melting and not growing... maybe a nutrient issue or the algae choking them out, or possibly because I was dosing the tank with some liquid carbon? Here's how things were looking as of last week:


You can see how much the floaters have thinned out, and how much shorter the roots have gotten on the ones that are still there. And so much hair algae 🤢

So I decided it was time for a hard reset. Especially since I was seeing a little hint of cyanobacteria. On sunday I took everything out and did a full rescape! 


I realized that the driftwood with the big anubias on it would work much better in the center. It's a cool piece of wood and it forms a little cave and I just wanted to showcase it more. I had to toss a lot of the pearlweed because it had so much algae on it, so I'm planning to trim and replant it and fill in more of that back area as it grows. I'm also considering adding another stem plant but I'm not sure what. My other 10 gallon has some rotala that I think would look great but I'm trying to avoid ending up with all the same plants in both tanks. I also think some sort of bushy midground plant would be nice, especially to block the view of the sponge filter a little. Maybe another crypt?

I also decided to add three large amano shrimp to the tank to help with clean up. The Doc hates them but I think they're too big for him to do anything besides chase them around a little. 


Also, when I was trying to get a shrimp photo just now I caught the boy using the tank thermometer as a little lounge spot 🥺



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  • 2 months later...
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  • 8 months later...

I've been away from the forum for a but, trying to get back into the habit of checking and posting again. Unfortunately I have some sad news to share, belatedly. I haven't really had the heart to post about it until now. 

Sweet Doctor Sparkles passed away on April 21st. His health declined suddenly and unexpectedly -- he was fine in the morning, and when I came home from work that afternoon, he was on the bottom of the tank, barely alive, unable to swim at all. I'm really not sure what happened, and it was definitely a shock. 

I had just recently finished re-scaping his tank and was excited to share it with you all. He only got about a month in the new set up before he passed. I hope the stress of the change didn't cause his health to fail, but he seemed comfortable in the new tank. 

I learned a lot because of this little fish. I wish I had posted about him more here, but I'm grateful to you all on this forum for sharing these snippets of his life. 


This is the last photo I ever took of him, hanging out in his new betta tube that he absolutely loved. 


And here's him checking out the new tank set up. 

Swim in peace, little buddy. 💔

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