I have one male betta and don't intend to get anymore anytime too soon. I also have one 5-gal tank that I have previously housed him in. I have moved twice in the last couple months and so he has temporarily been housed in his 1 gal hosp tank. I want to get the 5 gal ready for him to live in. I've decided from observing others responses that I will get entirely new gravel and just throw away all of the old. It got really dirty and gross while moving and it's cheap so that's cool. The filter that came with it is actually really sad looking and I happen to have a brand new filter that I was saving for a sorority at some point but now I think I should just get that filter when I go to make it. The new filter I have is exactly the same as the old one for the tank(and I've seen about the water bottle buffer and that sounds genious btw). I used to have dividers in the 5 gal so that my two boys could be in there together but as I am not getting another male for some time I want to clean all that residue off the best I can. What is the best method for cleaning this tank? What about all of the items that used to be housed in it?
I know that I have to run a new filter for at least 24 hours before attempting to add any new fish. When I first got the tank over a year ago I knew nothing of cycling or any of the water quality but in the time since I have aquired water test kits, different kinds of medicine (no fixs) and knowledge about water temps and such. So after knowing how to properly clean said tank and items I have an idea for what I could do to jump start the cycle. I've read that as long as you are attentive to water changes and ammonia and nitrate nitrite levels you can house one betta (or fish) by itself and it should be fine as long as you test the water everyday and take the necessary actions to correct the water and make it safe. I was wondering if in addition to adding him, I could take the moon rock from my girls tank (which is cycled) and put that into the new tank and have those bacteria "infect" the 5 gal and make the process go faster? (she NEVER touches the thing and I'd rather make it useful and give it to a fish that might actually use it).
What are some things that I should be extremely aware of while doing this? I know how to cycle and follow all the directions and such I just want to make the transition for him as quick and easy and smooth as possible. I know he's missing the larger amount of space... He looks at me like "Mom? WHY am I still in here? Where's my real home?" So yeah... Any advice/direction would be great. Thanks! :D (I know he is totally going to love me for that 5 gallons of space all to himself...)