Hello all. I am a new betta owner, and I have done a lot of research to ensure I give the betta a happy home (hopefully!). I still have a few more questions though that I couldn't quite figure out without asking, and I would really appreciate the expert's advice. I have a single male betta (named "Shark") in a 5 gallon, filtered, and heated (79 degree) tank with 3 live plants and a structure for hiding. Thanks so much for reading/answering.
1) I have a 10 Watt daylight CFL in the tank. How many hours a day should I run it to have the proper balance of light/dark for the plants/betta without risking an algae outbreak?
2) About how big will he get, or is he about fully grown? He is currently pretty small at about 1.25" or so. He was one of the smaller ones at the pet store when we got him, but liked his personality and color. Just curious if I can expect him to grow any bigger.
3) I want the tank to cycle so eventually it will be lower maintenance. I know fish-in cycle is not ideal, but that is what I need to do here. Should I change the water based on a schedule? Or change it based on tank readings? What schedule or tank readings should I use to make sure the tank cycles while limiting the exposure to the toxins?
4) When I change my water, should I vacuum the gravel while trying to cycle the tank? Or should I let the bacteria stay there and accumulate to help the cycle?
5) I am planning to feed him 5 pellets of Aqueon Betta Food
once per day, with a one day fast per week. Is this a reasonable feeding schedule? He snaps up the pellets very quickly, so I am a little afraid I am underfeeding him, but don't want to overfeed him either!
And here is a picture of Shark! Thanks for reading!