Originally Posted by katmandew
Thank you for your advice. I didn't realize I could go without a filter. I was just reading the post on cycling..argh....I am already driving myself insane with this. Do you think I should clean everything out and start all over doing a fishless cycle? and the person from Petsmart said to do a once a week 25% water change, does that sound right? Also this gravel vac thing looks a little difficult but now would probably be a good time to practice with it.
One other thing what kind of live plants would you recommend and what needs to be done to maintain them? with the live plants do you leave the lid on your tank and use your light? I just ordered the API testing kit and the Prime conditioner :)
Bettas are one of those fish where having a filter is totally optional as their long fins can making having a current a tad stressful. I would just wash everything out with very hot water (no soap).
If you stick with the filter and want to do a fish-less cycle, that would be the easiest route for both you and the fish. When you cycle a tank you have to do water tests almost daily and do water changes whenever there is a large spike in ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. Usually those changes will be 50%. Once your tank is cycled then you can do 25% weekly changes but it's still a good idea to do a test once a week.
Gravel vacs can take a bit of getting used to, so when you do your changes while you're cycling it'd be helpful to practice :)
If you choose to go the planted route there are tons of options open to you, this thread http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=114575
has a lot of good information.
Some good beginner plants are: anacharis, water wisteria, hornwort, java moss, java fern, marimo moss balls, and anubias
Light wise, you're going to want to get a 6500K CFL (compact fluorescent) bulb I think the wattage rating on the hood is 13 W, I found a 10W 6500k CFL bulb at walmart that has been working amazingly well for me.
If you do the full planted route, then you will need to do roughly 25-50% water changes until your tank can maintain itself. One member who is very knowledgeable about planted tanks, Old Fish Lady, will tell you that if you get enough of the right plants then you will be able to create a self-sustaining environment and not need to do water changes at all. Though some people still do it out of habit.
Lastly, don't be afraid to ask questions, you can never ask too many, and it's better to be well informed than confused :)