New betta owner here. I'll admit what inspired me to get a betta was couple of office bettas and the misconception that they are easy to care for in a small space. That being said, I did some research and found out that that wasn't correct.
This weekend I went to a reputable aquarium store to pick up the supplies (5g tank, filter, and gravel). I also picked up a betta. (I was hoping that the aquarium would cycle with betta in it.) I looked at a few tutorials and acclimated him very quickly to the tap water (10-20 minutes of adding some tank water, after floating the bag for 10-15 minutes), and scooped him in (with a very small measuring cup, since I didn't have a net.
He was active, swam around, and seemed to like his new home. Turning the light off to go out for the night, when I came back, he was sleeping near the surface (which is normal behavior, I think), and I went to bed. The next morning he was floating at the bottom of the bowl. I wasn't sure whether he was gone, but I gently nudged him with a chopstick, and then proceeded to scoop him out. There was absolutely no response... so I took it as a safe bet that he was dead and not in a deep sleep. I was pretty devastated.
(I didn't pick up a couple of things, like gravel cleaner, test kits, water conditioner, etc... and I figured that I would be able to pick these up within the next day or so. Would lack of water conditioner cause a death in less than 24 hours? The office bettas my coworkers have probably lived in worse conditions for 1-4 years and they are still going.)
So, I went to another Aquarium store (who had a very knowledgeable sales guy) who set me up with PH/Ammonia testers, thermometer, heater, vacuum, water conditioner, and solution to build up good bacteria. He showed me how to use everything and warned me against putting the betta fish in that night.
I cleaned the fish tank thoroughly after the death (thought maybe there was a possibility of sickness) with hot water and vinegar. I thoroughly rinsed the tank. I filled it back up with water and it has been sitting there for 7-8 hours. Once I got home from the shop, I treated the water with the conditioner and the solution for bacteria, put in the heater, and then eventually floated the plastic bag in the water for the rest of the night, and then I waited until the morning of the next day(approx. 9 hours).
And now here I am trying to acclimate him for the last hour and 30 minutes. I'm feeling pretty paranoid, so I am trying to go slow (woke up early before work). Hopefully everything goes well. This little guy (a light purple/blue with a red face veil tail) seems really active with a gorgeous full tail, so hoping I'm doing everything right.
The last Aquarium shop was so much more helpful, but both specialized in fishes and gets good reviews by fish hobbyists on yelp. Unfortunately the first place only had two betta fish and one seemed lethargic and sick (had white fuzzy thread on his forehead). The one I got seemed ok, but who knows...
This place seems to be a wealth of information. :) Hoping you guys can help me in the coming weeks/months.