I'm new here and to fish in general. I had an aquarium in college eons ago (back when you could still put yourself thru 4 years of college while working at Pizza Hut and graduating with minimal debt - yeah, I'm that old). I'm pretty sure I did everything wrong back then and the fish all promptly died so I definitely want to avoid that this go round.
I don't have Mr. Fishy yet - I want to get everything ready beforehand. Here is what I am planning:
5 gallon tank - already purchased
Filter - came with tank so it's a little "meh" but I figure it will do until it doesn't. I plan to play with the flow and baffle accordingly before introducing Mr. Fishy.
Heater (of course)
Silk plants - I eventually want live plants but for now I only want to have to worry about killing one thing at a time
Have a good water test kit and have read all the stickys here and elsewhere.
Now the questions:
I was planning to do a fishless cycle but, honestly, it sounds pretty time consuming. Is there really a distinct advantage
in doing one for a 5 gallon tank with only 1 fish? If I do start one and then stumble across the perfect fish 2 weeks later, can I stop the cycle, do a water change, and introduce Mr. Fishy to the tank?
If I do a "fish-in" cycle, does the water change schedule vary depending on where it is in the cycle? Meaning do I change it more often until the beneficial bacteria has accumulated?
And about those water changes.... Can anyone recommend a good siphon/gravel vacuum?
Lastly, I have well water so chlorine shouldn't be an issue. It is somewhat hard water and I do have a household water softening system (uses salt). Is there anything I should be concerned about assuming all the chemistry levels are good?
Thanks for guidance you can provide.