Ok, here's the low-down....
1) Have a baby-betta,
I'm willing to guess he's about 7wks old based off of one of those charts online. He was showing signs of blue coloring when I got him, definitely a double-tail.
2) He's in a five gallon tank w/ top filter,
Doesn't seem to mind it. He'll actually go and swim though it since the current is pretty localized.
3) He's in a "small" community tank,
W/ 3 tiny neon tetras and a cory. Everything seems fine, I actually worry about the cory getting enough to eat since he's eating really well (and what he doesnt get the neons will). No nipping or agression.
Was initially worried since he seemed to stick near the top in a corner for the first 2 days and seemed to have touble staying vertical (he seemed to float diagonally). Now he's looking extremely healthy, swimming well, and exploring all depths of the tank.
I have plastic plants in there, but I heard they can have chemicals in them, so most likely going to switch to live plants soon. Any suggestion for gradually replacing plastic ones with plants self grown from bulbs (they will grow pretty slowly), would be great.
I know he needs a heater, and I'm sure the tetras (being tropical fish) wouldnt mind a heater as well. Since its a five gallon, what wattage heater do I need?
Bought tropical fish flakes and betta food, but was only feeding flakes since the betta food wasnt getting eaten. Threw a small one in there a day ago and he went crazy... so will definitely start crushing them and feeding him those. Wanted to make sure that that's ok (will he go for the betta food in preference of the flakes, and are flakes not good for them? Read that, wasn't sure if it was true).
Also, is the five gallon too small for the community I have in there? Thought about upgrading to a 10 gallon, but I move in a couple months to a smaller apartment and not sure if it'll fit.
The filter is one of those "included" top filters that cause a medium downward current. If he seems strong enough to swim though it (and seems to do it on purpose sometimes), is this ok as long as it only effects a small portion of the tank?
I'm also a "beginner" fish keeper (had fish before but definitely wasn't doing it right). And I'm in college. Heard that the water needs to be changed atleast once a week. Is there anyway I could make the setup viable for a water change once a month? (aka. adding live plants/activated charcoal/etc.)?
MOST important question!
When I got him he wasnt showing any color except for very little on tips. Had him a week and he looks a lot healthier and showing more color on end of fins. HOWEVER, there still is almost no color on his body except for some faint black lines. Are these stress lines, or are they natural markings for young bettas until the color sets in and "covers it up"?
I can post pics if it helps!
PS.) I know about the whole "baby betta PETCO cruelty" thing NOW.... but at the time he looked a lot healthier than the adults they had in the store.