Originally Posted by kuklachica
Congrats!! Looks awesome!!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you can't cycle a 1.5 gallon :( There is not enough surface area for the bacteria to colonize and keep up with the ammonia. You'll need to do 50% water changes at least once a week and a 100% WC once a week, rinsing everything in hot water - gravel, tank, decorations, everything but the fish.
I agree with this--you shouldn't try to cycle this tank. It would be unstable and put a lot of stress on your fish. Just wait until you get a bigger tank with a real filter. :)
As far as the test strip things, they are a waste of money. The liquid test kit costs more, but you get way more tests out of it--so it's actually much cheaper per test and much, much more accurate than the strips. It's better to save up and get the liquid kit when you can.
If you don't mind ordering online, you can save a ton of money if you shop at www.fosterandsmithaquatics.com
-- most items are marked down $10-$20 off of pet store prices, and everything ships for a very reasonable flat rate. If I were you, I would save up my money and then do one big Foster and Smith order, that way you save on shipping and save on every item.
They accept paypal if you don't have a credit card--paypal can easily be set up to withdraw from a bank account.