Thanks for getting back to me Lebron - I have not even purchased the Betta in anticipation of the cycle taking a while.
I found this information in a sticky on this forum section:
-The "Fishless Cycle" Using Shrimp
This method is similar to the fish food method but instead of fish food, we supply ammonia using raw shrimp from the seafood section of the grocery store. One medium sized shrimp for every 20 or 30 gallons of water will decay and provide a steady flow of ammonia into the tank. The benefit to using shrimp vs. fish food is that you can put the shrimp into some sort of mesh bag (filter media bags or pantyhose work great) so that the waste can be removed easily at the end of the cycle. Using shrimp also provides a nice steady, even flow of ammonia, something that can be hard to accomplish using only fish food. The steps to the cycle itself are the same as described above. This is likely the easiest method of cycling a tank as all you have to do is add the shrimp, test the water parameters from time to time, remove the shrimp at the end of the cycle and do a water change and you're all set.
Is this really bad advice? I am sort of all set to take this approach - willing of course to try another but was hoping to start tonight.
Would love to hear some more opinions. Thanks for all your help thus far.