Yes, kind of the same problem here when I started. I did schooling fish in the 1 to 2 inch size which are easier (sort of) to replace unnoticed.
I've got a betta in a 22l tank. A larger tank could have a betta and some dwarf chain loaches on the bottom.
Ime live bearers I've found the odd one is lost but in a tank with hiding spots you can get self sustaining population.
Tetras do better after the tank has been established, certainly cycled at least imo
I researched to find fish that roughly matched my tap water (ph above 7 and soft kh
) and went from there.
Now I have to bribe the family with coffee from Dome to stop off at the lfs
on the way back