I didn't go the "cheap" route when I started up breeding.. I bought everything needed (purchased mostly online as it's about a 2hr drive to the closest Petco/smart). I had set up for a 2 spawn at a time, and a plant tank.. which included 2 10s (1 for plants one for spawning), and 2 30gs for grow outs (if you want detail items, let me know and I can PM you my list (along with where I got the items for cheapest).. it's quite a bit) - start up costed me about a thousand dollars, not including the fish, and I have grown since then - within a couple months I had spent about $1500 total.
There are short cuts such as using rubbermaid bins to breed them in, etc.. I chose to go for actual tanks so I could watch the babies grow, etc with a bit of ease.. also makes it easier to cull the deformed ones, and siphon out the waste, etc.
I got one fish from AB, the rest from breeders from multiple betta groups on FB - a lot of breeders will sell cheaply there, and some give away for free (just shipping). That had saved me the biggest money - I purchased one female fish for a total of $55 off AB, and for that price once I ended up with 3 males and some worm cultures, and now for $50 I am expected to be getting 5 breeding females this coming week. Also got two gorgeous breeding males just for the price of shipping ($35)... all the good deals from breeders I had met from the groups. One being Chard56 on these forums :)
So definitely would look into some betta groups on FB to get some great bettas.. if you want I can point you to some awesome breeders that will help you, along with the groups.. will PM you the info if you wish.
Breeder so I have too many to count and too many named to list here!
Last edited by Myates; 01-06-2013 at 08:00 PM.