Just a warning, this is really long!
This is my first time owning a Betta, or really any fish. I had those mosquito fish that everyone gets in fourth grade, but my mother swiped them as "cooking companions" once they turned into a huge colony. My only real experience with fish has been them, and they survive in a 10 gallon tank with a sponge filter and a tank cleaning about per month. They've lived through gatorade and grape juice, not to mention grapes and other strange foods from childhood and my mothers strange vegan concoctions. They're the fish that just get a pinch of food once a day and thrive.
Our house is also kept at a brisk 60.
Anyway, I got a Betta yesterday, and I hope I'm doing this right. He's in a 2.5 gallon tank, with well rinsed gravel, that little zen looking rock tower/stack that seems to be very popular here, and a live java fern in a tiny little ceramic pot, which is surprisingly nice for being from petsmart. I made the trek to a not so local fish store to pick up a nice adjustable heater and an adjustable filter. I did a 100% water change before I put the gravel in and installed the heater and filter. The thermometer says it's 76 at the moment, quite a feat since our usually stable filter decided today would be a good day to deliver 40 degree water. I would like to have the tank cycled eventually, even though it's a bit small.
The Betta himself, Spencer, is doing much better since I put the heater in, although he is really jumpy. He's a tiny but gorgeous red and blue crowntail. I am a bit worried though, at the petsmart he came from most of the fish either had fin rot, or were dead. In fact, the Betta I was originally going to get had it so bad I could see the bones on the ends of his fins. I feel terrible, he was a really big beautiful iridescent silver blue, turning to deep blue on fins, but I have no idea how to care for fin rot. I went and looked at the aisle with medications but I couldn't find anything.
I picked Spencer because I heard that crowntails are more resistant to diseases like fin rot (even though I used to think they were terrifying ahaha) I came home with a generic medicine for ich and stuff like it just in case. He seems to have trouble swimming sometimes though, he doesn't really move his fins except for the tiny almost clear ones by the front of his head, and he moves them really fast. I also noticed one of his little spiky things on his fins (those long things on the end of their fins only crowntails have... I'm not really sure how to describe it) makes a loop. The only possibly thing I could think of is that it was broken and healed strange. He also has some broken bones on the bottom of his tail (they might be from me unknowingly netting him earlier) and what look like little red dots at the end of his "spines". He also seems to have trouble eating food sometimes, moving his head up and down like he's trying to swallow. His pellets are really tiny, so I'm not sure what the problem is. It also seems like one of his gills sticks out more than the other.
I tried to give him freeze dried bloodworms as a treat, but I quickly decided they're terrifying and I hate them. I couldn't get it to sink and it stuck to me. He also seems to need all of his food sunk for him, and now that the gravel is down if he doesn't see it he just won't eat it. He just won't notice it if it's on the surface.
Is there anything that could be wrong with him?
How many times should I change the water weekly if I want the tank to cycle?
I'm interested in live plants. Will the java fern live, and could I add others like marimo moss?
Could I add any other animals to his tank (2.5 g)
What are bio balls?
So um, basically I just want to know if I'm doing this all right. Sorry for writing this giant wall of text, I'm a worryer
Is there anything I'm missing/not doing right?
Thanks for reading!