Hey everyone! As a lot of you know I am starting a sorority and it is going well. I have learned a lot and I thought I would give anyone who is considering or planning on a sorority a heads up on some of the costs and other things to expect. There is a lot of great information on how to make a great sorority work, but it can be difficult to get an idea of exactly how the process of starting one goes.
1. One of the best tips I can give is to START EARLY.
My plan is not to have everything set up with fish in it for another two months, but I am still thinking of things I need and the costs keep adding up every day. Give yourself time to afford the things you need, or make sure you have enough if you want to buy all at once.
2. KNOW WHAT YOU NEED.
Many people start out with few of the things they really need if they are a first time betta owner, which is usually fine and is remedied quickly. This is NOT the case with a sorority. In order to make sure the tank is a low stress environment, you need to have the water parameters perfect, plenty of hiding places and cover for the fish, adequate filteration, etc. Beginning without any one of those things could mean disaster for your tank. Even if you already have some fish equipment, such as a gravel vacuum, you may still need to get more of the same thing because it is dangerous to share equipment between tanks. Most of my equipment was used, and it is still costing me a fortune to get everything set up.
3. DO YOUR RESEARCH.
Know what kind of setup you want. If you want a planted tank (which had many advantages), plan on the costs of the pants, special substrates, light requirements and various fertilizing options. If you want a non-planted tank, make sure you have enough hiding places, plant cover, and understand the cleaning and care requirements of that kind of setup. Many people say that planted tanks are more expensive, but I have found that is frequently, but definitely not always, the case. If you want tank mates, calculate the base cost and additional costs such as bioload control, separate food, kinds of substrates etc. Have a very solid understanding of the risks of a sorority so that you will know what to do if disaster strikes or be prepared to house females alone should they not get along with other members of the tank. Know what kind of fish you want and where you are getting them to avoid having to settle for fish you would normally pass up in a heartbeat.
4. One factor that seems to me to be overlooked is TIME AND SPACE.
For example, my sorority will be half female giants, half average size. This means that since fish are usually sold young, I am having to get my average females early to grow them out a little in order for them to coexist with the larger females. I also plan to have conditioning sessions to get the fish used to each other. Your fish need to be quarantined thoroughly (many suggest two weeks). This means that I need to have a place to put them all for two weeks PLUS the time I am going to take to condition them all to each others presence. This also means that I have to find adequate housing and heating for all of them, which is not an easy task. In addition to all of that, I am using live plants, so I have to sterilize and quarantine them and then let them grow out a little to provide plant cover for when it comes time to add the fish. Last but not least, the tank they will be in has to be cycled. There are many ways to do this, and it can take up to two months. When all that is said and done, you really need to plan to set aside an entire day to acclimate the fish to their new home, make a plan and execute it for releasing them, and the time to monitor the tank for the next "however long it takes" to make sure everyone is getting along.
As you can see, there is really a lot more to planning a sorority than you might originally think. I am guilty of being ignorant of these things when I started, but I do not regret starting it at all and the process is a lot of fun and will be totally worth! I hope this helps anyone who is looking forward to a sorority and good luck!!
(These are just things I have realized so far. If I have neglected any tips or factors, feel free to add on!)