Hello! I'm Mya and as you can tell from the title, I'm moving into my dorm Saturday. It's going to be my first time away from home and I don't have a room mate, so I thought it would be nice to get a betta for a little companionship. Technically, I have owned fish (including bettas) before, but I was about 7 years old and I'm 95% sure they were not cared for properly (although my mom did her best). This time I really want to do it right.
I've done a bit of research, but everything I've read differs or leaves things out so I'm still a bit confused. Here are a list of questions I have along with what my current plan is. Let me know if I've gotten anything wrong or have missed anything.
What do I need to put in the tank?
I'm planning to get a 2-3 gallon tank which, while not as nice as a 5-10g, is what I can afford money-wise and space-wise as a student. I understand I need a heater (any brand recommendations?), but do I also need a filter? Most people say I don't, particularly if I have live plants. This leads my to my next question...
How hard are live plants to take care of, anyway?
A couple months ago I bought a couple orchids and now they're barely hanging on (don't worry, I have a much better track record with animals). Do I have to do anything special to take care of aquatic plants? Do they help filter the water? How much do they cost and what kinds should I get?
How often do I clean the tank?
From my research, I'd guess maybe change 25% of the water every few days? Full water change weekly or every two weeks? Also, is bottled water or untreated tap water better (or is there no way to get around dechlorinating my water)?
How often do I feed, and what about weekends?
How often do I feed my betta? Every day? Every couple of days? Can it survive the weekends without food when I go home?
Any tips on buying a healthy betta?
As much as I'd love to rescue a betta in need, I just don't have the resources or experience to deal with things like fin rot right off the bat. How do I know that the betta I'm buying is more or less healthy? What should I look out for?
How do I introduce my betta into it's new home?
Feel free to link me to a resource (one on cleaning tanks would be very much appreciated as well). Do you let the bag/cup sit in the new tank for a while to acclimate the fish to the temperature? Do you mix the water in the cup and tank?
Ammonia, nitrogen and cycling?
Help? Do I really need to monitor this, or if I keep a clean tank will it monitor itself? What is cycling anyway?
How much is this going to cost?
I'm hoping it will run me no more that $100 to get started. Please let me know if I'm in way over my head.
TL;DR? Just answer the bolded
questions. Thank you so much!