I have been passively keeping betta fish for a long time without really understanding anything about them. I chose to go with betta's because they are relatively easy to care for and they look good.
I didn't know anything about cycling or bioload or pH or anything like that. I got a bowl, let it get to room temp, added the fish, fed them daily, changed 50% of the water weekly.
Don't get mad, I didn't know I was doing anything wrong. I have recently decided to go the next level with a larger aquarium, now that I know that betta's can live with other fish. I have read most of the sticky guides about cycling and everything else and am now ready to invest in a community aquarium.
I would like to keep a betta, 3-6 small schooling fish, and a pleco or other similar bottom feeder. Things that are easily compatible.
I would like some recommendations as far as tank size (or even particular aquariums) the right temp, pH, water hardness. The right kind of plants, and substrate.
Ideally I would like a habitat that looks nice and has a good population that can live together and are easy to feed and maintain together.
Money is not unlimited, but I have been saving for a while and I can afford a decent setup. 300-400$ including fish and all the other accessories. Thanks in advance for the advice