So I currently have two bettas, each in their own 1-gallon tank with a heater and some plants. I'm getting pretty tired of all the water changes
So I'm thinking of moving up to either a 10 gallon or 20 gallon divided tank.
Goals: Ideally, I'd love to have something where I feed, check tank stats as needed, do a 50% water change weekly, and don't really need to do anything else. I'd love to keep plants because my bettas love hiding in the plants so much, but if I had a really good reason I might go plant-less. I like the idea of adding a few tank mates for variety, especially some nerite snails and a group of cory cats, but I'm not tied to it. Mostly, I really want to avoid the labor-intensive regular 100% water changes, so I'd rather have the tank under-stocked than over-stocked.
What I'm thinking of doing right now is picking up a 20 gallon long (maybe next time Petco has a dollar-per-gallon sale?) and setting up the dividers. Then, once the dividers are good, setting up the substrate (maybe fluorite?), plants, filter, heater, water, and some snails, and letting the tank run for a week. If the readings are pretty stable at that point, I'd add about 5 corys to each side and let it run for another week or so to make sure the tank is handling the bio load, and then finally add the two bettas (one to each side of course!)
Cycling: I've read different things about cycling with plants. Some people think you don't need to cycle at all, others think you need to cycle anyways. Any thoughts? If I add one kind of fish first and then the other, should I add the bettas first instead of the corys? I won't really have a good quarantine tank, so I figured that if I add the corys first and they brought something nasty with them, then at least they won't spread it to my bettas.
Tank load: I don't really want to go bigger than a 20 gallon, so is 10 corys, a few snails, and two bettas a heavy load for that size tank? A small load? I could always just keep corys (plus the betta and snails) on one side and just a betta and snails without corys on the other, but I'd rather have the tank balanced.
Substrate: I know with corys I should have a sand type substrate, not gravel. Is fluorite something good to use, or is there something else I should pick out?
Tank changes: could I do just 50% water change weekly with this kind of tank? Are there some changes I could make to get a 50% water change feasible?
Plants: right now I have some cryptocorynes and jave fern in each of my betta tanks. Any recommendations for things to add to that in the new tank? I just have one plant each in the betta tanks, so I know I'd need more than that to fully plant a 20 gallon long
Thanks in advance!