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Hi!
I am new here, and very interested in starting a Betta tank with one male.
I'd love to have a couple of other fish to initially cycle the tank and then to clean it of algae/look pretty.

I've found the albino cory cat - could I keep two of these in a 5 gallon tank with one Halfmoon Male Betta?

I have a few questions about cycling the tank. My goal here is to add the Cory Cats at the beginning, feed them and generally care for them for however long it takes the bio filter to set up whilst the tank's mechanics are going on, and then add the Betta.

1. When I get the tank, what water do I add for the Cory Cats and what do I do to it?

2. Once I have added the water and (if needed) removed the chlorine, and set up the filter and heater, could I add the Cory Cats to the tank about a day later?

3. Do I actually need to measure the ammonia, nitrites and nitrogen levels or can I presume, after two weeks of the Cory Cats being active in the tank, that the levels are fine to go and add the Betta?
If I need to measure the levels, can someone recommend a complete kit of the indicators?

4. Can I add sand from the very beginning?

5. Are there any precautions or very notable things about the Betta that I should know about? When you were a newbie, were there any things you would have instinctively done that would have been very bad?

Thank you so much. I am probably going to make another thread with more care questions if that's ok. I've read the sticky and have been researching for a while but am quite confused. I'm an animal enthusiast but find fish to much more complicated than exotic mammals such as my pygmy hedgehog, haha!

Thanks :D
 

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I would recommend the fish-less cycle, especially if you have never cycled a tank before - it's the most forgiving since you don't risk losing any fish.
I would also strongly recommend getting a test kit, it helps you know without a doubt what's going on in your tank. I use the API test kit for my tanks.

Once you get your tank cycled, you can go ahead and add a few Corys. Make sure they have hiding/resting spots. Then once they are established and eating (which shouldn't take long, they're pretty boisterous fish), you can add the betta.
It's also very important to have a test kit when you add new fish so that you can test daily to make sure your beneficial bacteria is keeping up with the waste, and so that you can start figuring out a water change schedule.

As for bettas, there's a reason they are sold as beginner fish - they are hardy and fairly easy to care for. As long as they have a filter, heater, clean water, and good food, they will thrive. Bettas have given me the least trouble out of all my fish - though Corys have been very easy too.
 

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A 5g tank is only suitable for one Betta and maybe a few shrimp or a snail. No other fish.

If you like Cory cats (and I do), you need to keep a school or 5 or 6 minimum. For full-size Cory (like albinos), this means a >29g tank. You can stuff a school of 6 pygmy Cory into a 10g with Betta. But you want a cycled tank with high ammonia-processing capability, plenty of plants, etc. This requires the complexity of fishless cycling, "pure" ammonia and a test kit to keep track.

Amazon.com: API Freshwater Master Test Kit: Pet Supplies

Cory are a little sensitive to water quality and a re not the fish you'd use for a fish-in cycle. A Betta in a 5g is simplicity itself to cycle. Just do 2 x 50% wtaer changes/week with Prime water conditioner @ 2-drops/gal tank size, and 1-drop/gal daily until cycled. The tank will cycle automatically with just the Betta in it.
 
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