I am interested in owning a betta fish for a few reasons, a) I used to own one when I was younger, b) I am working on my Pets merit badge and I need to have owned a pet for 4 months, and c) I think it would be fun.
Also, I forgot how to take care of one so, if you don't mind, what do I do?...
Basically, you want at LEAST a 1 gallon container for your Betta, although the larger it is, the easier it is to maintain the water.
You'll want a heater to keep the water at around 76-82 degrees F.
You'll want a stick on the side thermometer to keep accurate readings of water temp.
Filters are helpful for keeping the water clear but not entirely necessary for a smaller tank if you do proper water changes. Some filters create too much of a current for your Betta.
Your Betta will need to breathe air from the surface of the water so be sure there is space for him to reach the surface.
When decorating your tank, avoid plastic plants or decorations that are sharp or could catch fine material. These things will rip your Betta's fins. Use silk plants, or even better, live plants, although this requires more experience to set up.
You will need to do water changes every week, the number and amount of water changed depending on the size of the tank. Read here for that information: http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=115758
Pellets are the most recommended food, with the brands Omega One or New Life Spectrum being the healthiest for your fish.
Please read the forums I've linked and let us know if you have any questions after that.
Stick on thermometers aren't always accurate, especially ones that go on the outside. Also, don't forget to buy water conditioner, and it's handy to have a water testing kit, most pet stores give free water tests, but many uses test strips, which aren't accurate, so it's just better to have your own, make sure it's the ones with drops. Also, it doesn't hurt to get your new pets some treats, try frozen or freeze dried bloodworms, many people prefer frozen ones, just remmeber to not drop the whole cube in the tank haha.
Wha I would do is buy the tank at a thrift/second hand shop. They are cheap and often available there. Do not skimp on the heater, buy a brand with good reviews. Buy it online for the best price. For food, you want new life spectrum or omega one. Both are available at petco. All of the other stuff you can find at the pet store.
PetCo sells glass tanks, usually pretty darned cheap. I would say that a 5g is good for your budget, as well as a good size.
Here is a good cheap heater that I have 2 of - they work great, just make sure to CHECK THE TEMP of the water. They are quite touchy, but once you get used to them, they are great. -http://www.amazon.com/Elite-6-Inch-Thermostatic-Heater-25-Watt/dp/B0002AQF84/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1365890385&sr=8-14&keywords=25w+fish+tank+heater - available at some stores, I got mine at a local fish store, online will probably have the best prices.
Just as clarification, when I said "stick on the side thermometer" I meant the floating glass thermometers that you can stick to the side. :) Definitely don't want the strip ones you stick to the outside.
Petco currently has a $1 per gallon sale, but the smallest size tank that applies for are 10 gallons. So you could get a 10 gallon for $10. You could keep it half-filled to prevent the fish from jumping out and so it's not as heavy. If you have a lamp, you could use that as a light. Then you might have enough money left over to buy the other essentials.
if you're limited on space & cash, petsmart sells a "critter keeper" (you want the large size) for about fifteen bucks. i think they usually stock them in the reptile section, but they hold water and are fine for fish as well. glass tanks are really nice because they don't scratch as easily as plastic, but a plastic tank is fine too, just wash it out (not with soap! never use soap when cleaning something for a fish tank) and let it sit for a day before you use it. i second the idea to check the thrift store too, i see fish tanks there all the time. your top priorities are going to be the tank, water heater, thermometer and water conditioner. you can find silk plants & small clay flowerpots at the dollar store to use for decoration and hiding places, don't use anything with paint on it or metal in it. gravel, sand or marbles for the bottom are nice looking but not necessary for your fish. $25 is tough to budget on unless you can get some things gifted to you by friends who used to have fish. if you can't, another ten dollars would make it a lot easier.
Last edited by mushumouse; 04-13-2013 at 10:34 PM.