Hi everyone! I'm planning on getting a betta but I'm pretty nervous about it because I had goldfish before and they died pretty quickly (probably because the pet shop guy said it would be okay to keep three goldfish in like a 20 litre tank). I did a lot of research on bettas and have so far based my purchases on the RSPCA's guide. I currently have - a 15-litre tank* - heater - filter with adjustable flow - thermometer - pH test/adjustment kit - a fake-hollow-log decoration (no sharp edges) As far as I can tell, I also need to get an ammonia/nitrate/nitrite test kit, gravel, water ager, substrate, food, gravel vacuum, plants, and the fish! Is there anything I've forgotten? *This is the minimum the RSPCA recommends so I've ensured that both the filter and heater are suitable for slightly larger tanks in case I upgrade later. I also have some specific questions I can't find answers to Is it okay to not have substrate? Weirdly, the thing I'm most nervous about at this point is the whole gravel-vacuuming thing; I feel like I won't be able to do it properly and waste will build up. Is it okay to not have substrate (at least to begin with). I mean, does the fish itself actually need substrate or is it just an aesthetic thing? I love the look of gravel in the bottom of a tank but I was wondering whether it'd be okay to start off without it, just get used to the whole feeding/water changing thing, and add gravel later? Transporting the fish home I live (well, go to college, see below) in a regional city and I have basically two choices of fish shop. #1 is about 50km from where I live; they keep their bettas in a filtered, divided tank and I would probably be able to get a lift with someone so I could take the betta home in a car. It'd probably be about an hour door-to-door. #2 is an aquarium store I've found on the Internet, but haven't visited. It's much closer to home but I'd have to get a bus and walk a bit from the bus stop to home; it'd probably be 40 door-to-door. I feel like being carried/lifted a lot would be really stressful for the fish. Which do you think would be better? Either way, would it be beneficial to transport the fish's bag in an insulated bag, to protect against sudden light/temperature changes during transport? Putting the tank on a desk I'm in a college room so there's a bit of a space constraint. Is there anything bad about putting a tank on a desk? The desk can support a 15L tank, as it's a huge sturdy table and I actually stand on it to reach the bookshelves above! But I know it's bad to tap on a fish tank and I'm it might be the same issue with the table jiggling when I write/type. It is a big, heavy, sturdy desk with thick metal legs, so I don't notice any shaking myself at all, but would the fish be disturbed by vibrations? Cycling the tank People don't often discuss cycling betta tanks so I was wondering how to do this? Measuring out water ager So the water ager I'm going to buy says it's 5mL per 20L, which means that for my tank I'll need just under 4mL when I initially fill it. But if I replace say 2L of water in my water change, does that mean I should put 0.5mL of water ager into the new water before I put it into the tank, rather than dosing the whole tank with another 3.5mL? What is best to do if I go away for 1-2 nights? Should I just not feed the betta while I'm away, or leave one of those weekend feeding blocks in the tank? I usually go visit my parents one night a week. Sorry for all these somewhat weird questions! I can't find the answers to them online!