So, when I bought a baby betta fish back in February, I told myself, "If it's a girl, then I shall start a sorority!" ... and now it's May and I've pretty much confirmed it's a girl.
So yeah, I am now planning on starting up a sorority, but I'm scared of doing it wrong and getting my precious Violet killed or hurt. I have a 10 gallon tank with 1 betta and 3 bronze cory catfish. According to aqadvisor, my limit is a total of 5 female bettas in my tank. And while I may not have too much cover as of right now, I do plan to buy some more silk plants to spread around before or when I buy the other females. So now on to the questions!
1. Should 5 be good enough? I hear the minimum should be 4, but anything less than 6 is still dangerous (more than 6, too, but less dangerous).
2. Should I quarantine my new females when I do finally bring them? If yes, then for how long?
3. If I'm running on a budget (and limited power outlets), what would be my best choice for quarantine tanks?
4. Is there any way to determine if the betta will be aggressive or not before I put her in, or will I have to let them all in and find out?
5. Since I've already had Violet in there for a while, would simply adding more plants be enough? Or should I move around the ones currently in there along with the decoration?
6. Most importantly, does this seem like a battle that would be too much that I should just give up on?
I hope to start it up in 2 weeks, when I'm finally off of school and I can monitor the behavior, but I could wait longer. I believe I have until September 26 before college starts for me (I'll still be home, so don't worry about whether or not I'm going to have to transport them).
You would cut off the tops. They would need water changes at least every two days but every day would be better. Assuming there is a heater in your ten gallon, I would remove it (I think the cories would be fine) and use that to heat the water in a separate container like a rubbermade tub, then place the bottles in there. This will heat all of the bottles and make it so that you don't have to spend money on a new heater that will only be used for a couple weeks. I would qt your original girl too... It will decrease aggression issues during introduction and keep her warm.
Would my sorority be more likely to work out if I buy bettas that were in a sorority in the store? I remember seeing one at a store once and I might consider going back again to see if they still have one. And I should definitely still quarantine each one even if I do get all of them (except my current one) from the same tank, right?
Well, this is what I did to set up my sorority, and it seemed to have worked pretty well (there's still some fin nipping and all, though that's sort of to be expected and there haven't been any big fights barring the first day or so when the two biggest females were trying to determine who was the "alpha").
1. Five should be fine. Six is better because you have more of a "buffer" in case one of the females happens to die. I started my sorority with six and my one crowntail died while I was away at college in between the weekends I come home to do maintenance, but the five that were left got along fine for the most part. I'm now up to nine, however (29 g sorority) and there seems to be less stress overall, so the more you can have the better.
2. Always quarantine if possible. If you feel you're unable to do so, then make sure you absolutely scrutinize the females you want to get (ensure they're active, fins look good, no strange abnormalities like lumps/white dots/etc. but know they can still be carrying something regardless) or buy from someone that quarantines correctly before offering fish for sale (some LFS - not chains - and online sellers do this).
3. What MattsBettas suggested would probably be your best bet. It would also give the females a chance to get used to one another in close proximity, which may cut down on initial aggression.
4. See how she reacts if you put another betta near her. Some mellow females may flare a bit, but others will go as far as ramming into the side of their cups. Females that don't seem to show others much interest may be your best bet, but this is not a guarantee. I had one or two females that could care less about the others, but then they would randomly start to get super aggressive under certain situations. One of my original "mellow" ones now stands pretty high up on the hierarchy as far as I can tell, while one I thought seemed far more aggressive tends to back down from confrontations.
5. I personally did a complete decor overhaul when I added my four new females. There's maybe one piece of driftwood in the same spot, but I added new plants and rearranged the ones I had in there (and it looks a lot better as a result xD). Generally you want to try and break up the line of sight as much as possible so that the females can avoid confrontation where possible, so if you don't have tall plants in there now, try to get some. Caves are handy, but they aren't much good if a fight starts at the surface of the tank, and I noticed the female I think is my "alpha" tends to hang at the top a lot, so having plants at the surface allows the others to go up for air and eat without having to attract her attention. Fortunately my queen girl is actually fairly mellow as long as another female doesn't start something with her, so there isn't a huge problem there, but if you end up with a particularly aggressive top dog your other females are going to need ways to avoid her sight.
6. Ultimately up to you! I absolutely love my sorority and once you get it running it's pretty smooth sailing until you want to add more females (at least that's how it's gone for me). It really is a nice way to have a bunch of beautiful and unique bettas without having to have a ton of room for tanks, but it's not for everyone.
As for the sorority in the store, you may have better luck with them seeing they've been living together, but that's not a 100% guarantee. The conditions at a pet store tend to be very different from those in a home aquarium, and they may just be getting along because they are sluggish from stress or something similar. Generally, you want to have a back up plan in case things do go south (as in a separate tank to put a really picked on female or really aggressive female in, or someone to take such an individual).
Also, when you do go to release your females into your show tank, you want to release them all at the same time, but about 15-20 minutes apart starting with the fish you believe to be the lease aggressive (this has been suggested by some people and it's what I did for my nine, it seems to work out well even though it can be time consuming with large numbers). Include Violet in this line-up, as in cup her and release her again (AFTER you redecorate the aquarium - you don't want to leave her in there alone with the new layout because she may try to reclaim the entire tank as "her's", and if she ends up being your most aggressive fish this may be a problem).
Basically, in my case, this let the more docile females explore and stake out a claim on areas before the more aggressive females have a shot to claim everything. Otherwise, they may have just been bullied from the get-go because one of the others believed everything was theirs. This method kind of puts a damper on a fiesty female's attitude, so to speak, because they won't be bullying everything from the beginning - they'll actually be outnumbered by the time they enter the tank.
The docile females, I noticed, were also much less likely to fight during the time there was only 2 or 3 of them in the tank. The first couple I put in just spent the time exploring and/or teasing the females still in the cups - chasing and fin-nipping didn't start occurring until I put the last couple in, and by that time there were enough females the aggression could be spread out.
At least that's how it worked for me =3 I did get concerned at one point because my one orange girl was the original "alpha" and a large turquoise girl I got ended up getting into quite a few scuffles with her. The orange girl still remains the alpha, however, and she made that very clear with a couple strikes and quite a bit of flaring. The turquoise girl now knows her place, however, and I haven't had issues since.
So I might see occasional fights for alpha? Thank you. I already have all my 2 liter bottles, I just need to figure out how I'm going to float them while giving them space to breathe and unable to escape...
Yeah, though more so in the beginning depending on the sorority - I don't see many confrontations anymore. The occasional chase, sure, but very little flaring or striking. To be honest, from what I observed they tend to operate a lot like a little fishie wolf pack. They fight to sort out who is alpha/beta/whatever, and as long as you don't have really, really aggressive females or no hiding places the fights are usually not enough to kill or seriously harm - just enough for one of them to say "Hey, I'm top dog whether you like it or not" and the other one to back out with her tail between her fins.
When you have females that simply aren't suited for sorority life is typically when you encounter the huge issues - which fortunately hasn't happened to me yet.
As for the bottles, you can always attach blocks of wood or something to the sides with string/rubberbands or something, which will help them float. Or, if your tub is shallow enough, you can just fill them up with enough water so they rest on the bottom and you can rubber band mesh or something over the cut tops