I've been browsing this forum and it looks great so far! Looking forward to getting lots of help and advice here!
Our family received a betta fish (now named Sparkie by my daughter) as a gift on Dec 21 - just over 2 weeks ago. He came with a very small cube "vase" to live in. I have 2 cats and 2 dogs, but never had or wanted a fish, and was not too impressed with this unexpected gift. However, being an animal lover, I pretty much immediately fell in love with Sparkie. :) He is a beautiful blue color with some purple, and has a very curious, lively personality.
I knew right away that the little cube he was living in was not suitable. I didn't do any research though. I went to Petsmart the next day and bought a 2.5g Aqueon "Betta-bow" aquarium and figured that would be like a mansion for Sparkie. We also bought gravel and a single live plant for the aquarium. (I am not sure what kind of plant it is). We set it up and transferred Sparkie to his new home slowly over a couple of hours, and things seemed good, and Christmas came and went. Then I finally had time to do some research about how to properly care for a Betta.
So now I have learned a lot. I know that 2.5 gallons (which I thought would be a mansion) is maybe just barely adequate. I hope it will do as I don't want to go buy another tank right away. I then realized he needed a heater which led to lots of research, heaters bought and returned, and now I have settled on a Hydor Theo 25W, which I'm very happy with - it is keeping the tank at a toasty 78. I learned that I needed to test the water so I bought a set of strips - which showed everything as fine, so I wasn't worried. However, then I realized the strips didn't test perhaps the most important thing - ammonia! When I bought another test kit for ammonia I found it was high in the tank - 2ppm! Started doing lots of water changes and switched to using Seachem Prime water conditioner since it said it removes ammonia - previously I just used what came with the tank which was an Aqueon one.
So that led to more research and learning about "cycling", which I had never heard of. In an attempt to get successful biological filtering set up, I bought and replaced the little "cartridge" filter that came with the tank, with a Azoo Mignon 60 filter, and put an Aquaclear sponge and Biomax beads in there, as recommended here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKkChviIQds
- and in some reviews of the filter that I read.
However, now I am reading that cycling is not possible or stable with a small tank like 2.5g. Have I wasted my money buying this new filter? Anyway, since I've got it now, I guess that doesn't matter - but how should I proceed from this point? Should I worry about cycling at all, or just assume I will have to continue with frequent water changes indefinitely? And, how frequent, considering that there is one fish and one live plant in a 2.5g tank with a filter?
I am enjoying my new, unplanned "hobby" so far, although I have spent over $100 on my "free" fish so far, and I am a little stressed out that I will kill or harm Sparkie.
Thanks for any advice!