Here is some background information for everyone.
My aunt will be caring for this fish tank. It's my job to set it up, and teach her how to properly siphon the tank, feed the fish, and administer water conditioner. If the fish get sick, I will be caring for them. I am definitely going to go with the fishless cycle with shrimp as Adastra suggested, but to "seed" the tank with bacteria I will be picking up Tetra Safe Start. I'm also going to pick up a heater to help with bacterial growth, and when I make this drive again next weekend, I'm bringing my testing kit to test the water myself.
Fish won't be going in quite this weekend, since there's a heavy debate on this...
Chicklet, I understand that you are incredibly experienced with your fish keeping and the fish that you keep. :)
My aunt is looking for a decorative, easy to maintain tank with lots of colorful fish. A sorority would be too much for her to handle I think, since you have to really watch betta females. She IS new to fish-keeping for the most part, but she has a 1-gallon filtered mini bow on the kitchen counter with 3 tiger barbs in it who seem very healthy. Although, I cleaned the tank the last time I was here because she had an algae bloom so bad that the filter was clogged. But they're alive and kicking even in the small thing.
The fish dictionary I have in my head is really obtained from users here who talk about what they stock in their sororities. I figure, if these breeds get along together with female bettas, they'll get along together without them. I love the colors of platys and mollies but when I learned they were both live-bearers I was sad because my aunt can't just isolate the female/pay attention, etc. My dad said he learned by experience that mollies changed gender and the babies were so bad they got all in the filter and it was just one big mess.
If anyone has any ideas of colorful fish that can school together and get along with other types that are relatively hardy and easy to care for, please say here. :) Since this tank is getting cycled fishless, we have a bit more options now. I'd love to put a sorority into this huge tank but... I don't think she could handle it.
But my dad's tank up in Jacksonville... He he... That one might just be a sorority... >.>
carpenter - To be honest, I will be more likely to go with the opinions of those who have more experience in fish keeping, who have proof they are experienced, not just throwing out links to prove a point.
Adastra - You're my unsung hero. I died laughing when you said what you did. *high five*
Wally - It is going to have lots of plants for sure. I love natural-looking tanks. Granted the blue-mix gravel in this tank is anything but natural but plants are definitely on my agenda. When we get to PetSmart on Sunday I'm sure dad will want to go extravagant. Pictures will come here. :p