So the alpha female in my Sorority (Amitrine) is a picker. She is constantly chasing the others from the surface, and for no reason obvious to me, chases them around the tank, sometimes doing a tiny bit of fin damage. She doesn't even give them a warning flare first. She is much larger then all the other fish in the tank (nearly 3 times the size of my smallest female)...should (can) i remove her or is this just normal for an alpha female?
Whoops, sorry... got dragged away from the computer...
Your tank size is fine. My sorority is also in a 20H.
Each betta is an individual... so there is no 'normal', really - just typical breed behavior. My Alpha is leader/teacher... she is kind and gentle, although she may give a young upstart a waring nip if they are need of one! She is the largest girl and the oldest in the tank.
Your Alpha may develop similar traits, or not. What concerns me is that her overly aggressive behavior may be suppressing the development of the other bettas in the tank... one of which may make a better leader for the sorority.
Watch your Alpha in the net breeder. Look for signs of illness - ill fish can be more aggressive. Also watch to see if any of the other fish are hanging around the net - if they have an interest in her. When the other bettas are comfortable with the Alpha and they are ready to accept her, they should consistently hang around the net to keep her company.
While the Alpha is confined, the other bettas will work out their hierarchy. Release the Alpha one a week, after a 30% water change and all the bettas have been well fed. If she behaves, let her stay out. If not, back to the net breeder she goes for another week.
Continue to do this until the Alpha chills out and gets along with others. If she's determined to be a monster, then she'll need to be removed to her own tank.
The dynamics in sororities are always changing, depending on growth, health, water conditions and so on. Sororities are challenging for this reason. The more you watch your girls, the more you'll understand what's going on in there! :)
There can be nasty fights... even the best sorority keepers have had horrible losses that just 'came out of the blue'. It helps if your tank water is as fresh as you can keep it, so the fish are less stressed. The bettas also need their tank to be heavily planted, with lots of caves and stuff to hide in.
Finally, the more bettas, the better... larger groups tend to be less territorial. Currently I have 12 girls in my 20H, with three cory cats... but, I also upped my filtration considerably and am committed to 30% water changes (min) every week.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions!
Having the light turned off is less stressful for the fish. You could just light the tank with room light, and leave the tank light off for now.
You say the Alpha goes into monster mode when the light is on? Does she associate the light with food? If this is the case, you may want to net her when the tank light goes on. If you net her every time that light comes on, she will associate the light coming on with being netted, and she will learn to hang back and let the other girls go first.
For now, you can isolate her in a plastic container that is floated in the sorority tank. Tape the container to the side of the tank to 'anchor it'. Cover the top with plastic wrap (but be sure the betta can get fresh air). The wrap will keep her in isolation, and keep the other bettas from jumping in (yes, they do silly things like that)!
A net breeder that is commercially made is high enough to discourage unauthorized exits and entrances, and the net overlaps the top of breeder in such a way as to further hinder such occurrences. You might be able to replicate something similar with plastic straws and new clean nylons, but it doesn't sound like you've got that much free time on your hands!
Whatever you do, do not settle for a plastic three or four way breeder - they have no tops, so the fish can jump out or in. I had a betta girl lose her anal fin after she jumped into an aggressive betta's plastic breeder (after much TLC she recovered, but it was an awful experience).
Good luck with the fences and horses and nets and bettas!
Well shes been cupped since 4, and she is mad at me haha.
The others flocked around her cup right away, but then they all scatterd. My middle sized female, Tormaline, seems to have assumed alpha right now.
Every one takes turns going up to Ami's cup and noseing around her.
Before i cupped her, everyone had stress stripes, now no one has any...infact my purple CT and my purple DBLT are the darkest shade iv ever seen them