First stop is in a strip mall on Mary Avenue, on the north corner of Fremont in Sunnyvale. The lights are on, the front door is open, but nobody's home. It's a beautifully arranged store, with tanks lined up in rows parallel to the front of the store. The tanks are new and clean and well kept. Lots of gouramis, but I don't see any bettas, and there are no tank stands. Seeing nobody, and not seeing what I want to buy, I walk out. On the other side of Fremont, in a strip mall kitty corner from the first one, is another fish store. I walk in on three people having pizza at the back counter. One introduces himself, tells me he just bought the store and this is his first full day on the job. He has no bettas, and tells me metal tank stands seem to run in cycles, and nobody is manufacturing them right now. He is more interested in telling me his life story than in selling me fish. I lie and say I'll come back tomorrow, when he expects a shipment of bettas. I have two more places on my list, I'm sure to find something before tomorrow.
The next place is on the other end of Sunnyvale, in Town & Country Village near Washington & Mathilda. This is a tiny place, mostly dedicated to salt water fish. They have no bettas and their tank stands are all over-priced wood ones, $99 and up.
I look at the map for store #4 and see I have scrawled that it is closed Wednesdays.
Walmart's ragged bettas are starting to look like a viable choice.
On my way home, I see a Petco, on El Camino near Sunnyvale-Saratoga Rd. They have fish, don't they? Sure. I don't like the idea of going to a chain store, but the indies have let me down big time.
They have a metal tank stand at a good price. They have a ton of male bettas ranging from pretty good to excellent condition. I pick two of the latter from the display at the end of the aisle - they are already in individual containers, ready to go. I look in the big tanks, I don't see any female bettas, but they have beautiful gouramis. It takes 15 minutes for someone get around to to helping me, but finally I get four gouramis.
So I'm all set. After dinner I set up the stand, put the divider into the tank so each betta has his own side, fill the tank with lukewarm water with a capful of stuff which will remove the nasty chlorides. Wash the gravel and add that. Bettas ands gouramis don't really need gravel, they do fine with a glass bottom, but I like the pretty colors.
After floating the fish in their containers for half an hour, I decant them into the tank, one betta and two gouramis per side. Put the top on the tank, turn on the light, and sprinkle just a tiny bit of food.
During all this, Domino is upstairs on my bed sleeping, and Pumpkin is out on the patio watching the world outside. When Pumpkin comes inside, he is very curious about the tank. He makes quiet, frustrated noises as he looks for places to get a better view. He almost falls into the garbage can into which the fish containers were thrown, but catches himself just in time. He does finally get up on the arm of the sofa to try to find a way into the tank, but I gently shoo him away.
Amazing but true, when I woke up this morning, both cats were in bed, the tank was still standing and all the fish were still alive. One betta has been chewed up a bit - the biggest gourami is not as good a neighbor as they usually are.
Tonight I'll try the place which was closed. I still need some plants, and would like to get at least two female bettas. Four would be better. If not, there's another Petco in Mountain View.