As my username and the thread title suggests, I am considering purchasing a betta fish for my niece. She is almost 11 years old but has never owned a pet. She has always wanted a pet. I have discussed this idea with my sister and she thinks it's wonderful. I have read that it is a good starter fish but it is not a decoration, it's a responsibility. I want it to be healthy so I'm doing my research.
Since my niece would be a first-time pet owner, I wanted to find something that is easy to care for. My sister will obviously help her but, since this is my gift to her, I want to make sure that I have everything she needs to get started and that I show her the right way to care for the fish when I leave her with it. I have never owned a fish so I'm doing my research now so that I can coach my niece on the proper care.
This is what I have gathered so far (please correct me or add anything helpful):
* I only plan on getting one, so there is no worry about pairing with other fish.
* While betta fish CAN live in a smaller bowl, they are happier and healthier in a tank with more room. I read about a 1 gallon per 1 inch rule of thumb, but I think I've decided on a 5 gallon tank. I sincerely care about the well-being of every animal so I want it to be happy with enough room to swim about.
* The temperature must remain between 76-82 degrees (I actually found varying degrees, but it was usually around here), so a heater is important (Suggestions on heater types/wattages are welcome.)
* It is good to decorate the tank with places to hide, but the decorations should be smooth so they won't tear the delicate fins. Silk/real plants are ideal. No sharp edges (no plastic?). (Is this right?)
* Filter - not 100% required but if we do get one, it needs to be low-flow. (I think I want to get one. Suggestions on types are also welcome.)
What is the best food to buy? My sister is on a bit of a limited budget so nothing too fancy/something easily accessible at a regular pet store is ideal.
This is about as far as I have gotten so far. I only thought about this today so I have just started looking into it. I am super excited about this (I can't get my own fish because I have very territorial cats). Is betta fish ownership too complicated for an 11 year old? I will not be there and I want to ensure it is well-cared for. Are there some things I should ask her mother to take care of for her?
It is important to me to do this the right way. Any advice you can offer for me to set up my niece - any specific instructions I should pass along or anything - it is greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much for your help! I can't wait to read your answers!