Daaaaaaaaaaaaaang nice post, Bob!
Bolivian ram? For me it depends on the temperament of the betta. I have a Bolivian ram pair in my 40b with my dragon, but they coexist peacefully.
Careful with a German blue in there, maybe try a Bolivian. I never had much luck with Germans in anything smaller than 30g.
Here are a some suggestions to AC!
1. Bigger tank.
2. Liquid test kit.
3. Regular, monitored water changes without