How to build a sorority - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-05-2012, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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How to build a sorority

After 2 ill-fated carnival fish and 2 ill-fated replacement fish I bought my 6 yr old daughter a female Betta. I think I actually bought the fish for me because I am now obsessed with her. She has such personality. I'm preparing a heavily planted 10gal tank and want to get other fish. I've researched which ones would work with her and the size of the tank. I gue
They just don't seem as interesting as the Betta. I'm tempted to rescue a bunch of females from petco and form a sorority. If I try to do this, what should I look out for. What behavior is normal pecking order stuff and what warrants separation? Maybe I'm too much of a newbie to try this.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Someone mentioned using a mirror to see how aggressive your Betta is. I tried this and Bluefin kept going after her reflection. Sigh! I guess she can't be in with other fish.:(
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 06:53 PM
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I have females and the former alpha was like that, but now she is docile and doesn't attack the others

Open your eyes
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 07:08 PM
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It's really hard to tell how a female will do in a sorority no matter what her apparent aggression level is when she's alone. I personally have only ever had a betta reject a sorority because she was too submissive and got depressed. Here's the basic setup I recommend for a sorority:

- 10 gallon tank at minimum... a 20 long tank would be perfect.
- at least 2 plants (real or fake) and 1 cavelike shelter with multiple exits per fish
- Strategically placed plants to break up line of sight, plus some surface cover is good.
- 2 gallons per fish, so a 10 gal could have 5 girls, a 12 gal could have 6, etc.
- 5 or more females is the minimum number you should start with just in case 1 or 2 girls cannot adapt to sorority living. You never want to dip below 4 girls.
- Try to get the youngest fish you can find, adult females who have spent their lives alone are less likely to adjust to sorority living. If you can get a pack of young siblings from a breeder this would be ideal. I have put adult females into sororities before so it is possible.

Fin nipping is normal during the first 48 hours. As long as you don't see one fish specifically going after one other fish again and again let them be. If you think a fight is getting too serious you can squirt water at them with a pipette/turkey baster to break it up, but in general try not to intervene too much.

After those first 48 hours are up the pecking order should be established. Infrequent fin nipping is normal in a sorority tank but if it seems to be happening a lot make sure you don't have a girl that is too aggressive and needs to be moved.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 08:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! That's extremely helpful. She's an inch long. Does that mean she's still pretty young? Her mouth is not quite big enough to eat Betta pellets. She was light blue when I got her at Petco and she had stripes. Now she is a gorgeous dark blue with no stripes. She seems happy and very confident. I've fed her by hand even.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 08:14 PM
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I have a question about aggression, ( I don't mean to hijack your thread Lrucker) but if two females are going at each other and nipping at each others body and sort of smacking each other with their bottom halves, that's not normal aggression, right?
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Lrucker View Post
Thanks! That's extremely helpful. She's an inch long. Does that mean she's still pretty young? Her mouth is not quite big enough to eat Betta pellets. She was light blue when I got her at Petco and she had stripes. Now she is a gorgeous dark blue with no stripes. She seems happy and very confident. I've fed her by hand even.
Yes she sounds like she's around 3 months old. Now would be a good time to have her in a sorority.


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I have a question about aggression, ( I don't mean to hijack your thread Lrucker) but if two females are going at each other and nipping at each others body and sort of smacking each other with their bottom halves, that's not normal aggression, right?
It depends on the context. In an established sorority with the pecking order established, no. Unless it's a fish challenging the dominance of the alpha female to become the new alpha. But otherwise that kind of behavior is worth watching. If it's frequent, prolonged, and targeted toward a female who isn't the alpha, the aggressor needs to be put in a fry net for a day or two if she doesn't stop doing it. If she still acts viciously toward her tankmates after a timeout (and sufficient time has passed for her to figure out where she is on the totem pole), she's probably not going to get better and would be best in a solitary setting.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Not at all Crowntaillove. I'm new at this site and just found the post about sororities in the Betta care section. Was feeling a little sheepish about the redundancy but glad to see that the thread is helpful to others.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 08:48 PM
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CTLove: no, that sounds like the kind of aggression that I would break up. You can separate them for awhile(more than a day in my opinion) and then try to re- introduce them to sorority...sometimes this works. If you know one of them is the aggressor, you can just remove that one, if unsure, take both out. On another thread, I believe I saw the recommendation to remove all sorority females and then re-introduce the whole sorority to tank at same time....which is a good suggestion, but in my opinion, if tank is heavily planted, it is not necessary.
I have two sororities and I frequently remove a female for breeding purposes and then re-introduce later with rarely any pecking order issues, but: 1, my tanks are heavily planted with many hiding places and line of sight breaks, and 2, each sorority has over 5 females. It is ESSENTIAL to never put less than 3-4 females together...they need to spread out aggression and territories or, more than likely, you will have a fight to the death!
+1 to babystarz...follow her advice and you should do fine!....looks like everything covered well.

LRucker: the heavily planted 10g you described should work great, and rescuing a bunch from Petco will be fine as they are usually young fish. On side note: we have lot in common as my 30+ betta obsession began when I bought a 2.5g tank and male betta for my 5 year old daughter! And your right: compared to most fish, bettas are bursting with personality. I speak to them like I do my dogs, they have to be named, they respond to world outside tank...
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-06-2012, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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I speak to mine too and I swear that she responds! My husband makes fun of me a little for it but I don't care.
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