One of the goals I set earlier this year, was to convert all of my wild betta tanks into planted tanks. I was intending on cutting down my water changes to once or twice a week, and so wanted to use the plants to help maintain the water quality in the interim.
So far, I have to say my plan has been a big success.
I deliberately chose floating plants that were fast-growing and relatively low maintenance for the surface of my tanks. These plants act as my main nutrient sponge, and consist largely of watersprite, Asian watergrass and duckweed. Because they grow so fast (I swear my watersprite is plotting world dominance a la Day of the Triffids), these sorts of plants uptake a surprising amount of nutrients, including ammonia.
Beneath the surface, I decided to go with plants that can tolerate lower light conditions such as java moss and java fern. This is partly because the floating plants diffuse much of the available light, but mostly because java fern and java moss require little effort to grow.
Unfortunately, these plants grow too slowly to have much of an impact on water quality. However, this was never their intended purpose. Rather I use these plants to provide cover for fish, particularly in tanks where I am housing groups rather than pairs.
As I am sure I have mentioned before, wild bettas are still members of the Betta genus, and so some level of intraspecific aggression is expected. Their fights may not be as deadly as those between two splendens males; however, don't think this means there won't be any fighting at all. Particularly if multiple males are being housed together.
After a recent move, my Betta persephone tank is looking rather bare at the moment. I have noticed that there is definitely a lot more territorial aggression going on between the males now the main area of cover is limited to a single java fern.
A tank full of live plants provides many areas of cover at different levels of the tank. This means fish aren't being forced to fight over territory, and weaker males aren't constantly stressed by their more dominant tankmates.
On top of that, live plants are something of a renewable resource. Unless my plants die off completely, I am never going to end up with less plants in a tank than I started with. This is great because I work on a tight budget and don't have the money to be going out and buying new plants every month!
Tomorrow, I should be receiving a delivery of various species of java fern and a sizeable amount of java moss from a very generous sponsor of the AquariumLife forum (Aquarium Therapy). These plants will be used predominately in my persephone and rutilans tanks.
As I already have watersprite growing in those tanks, all that remains on my plant wishlist, is Amazon frogbit and hornwort. In spite of the mixed success I have had with the latter, I am determined to have at least a small amount of hornwort growing in each of my tanks by the end of the year. It is one of my favourite aquarium plants in spite of its tendency to disintegrate without warning.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, I currently keep and breed a number of species from the coccina complex.