Well, Zebra, Rose, Marge and Tina all have a 20 gallon to themselves. I have added tall live plants, more fake plants, and it's definitely denser in there... Unfortunately none of them will color up! Rose always has her red red fins, and Marge and Tina almost always have their blue/purple fins, then Zebra has her black fins... but the bodies remain that yucky brown color! There are tons of hiding spots. The picture is an old one, and that was a "before". Now it has so many more plants, and is rearranged to benefit the bettas. But still they will not color up. My camera failed so yeah... I have no camera to show you the tank.
I have done a recent 75% water change, which is rare. But that was because my cory cat disappeared and Madame (r.i.p.) got dropsy (probably from the missing aka dead cory who fouled the water!) Which then they were acclimated to the tank, tap water conditioner was used, nice and heated to 78... Their fins went really really brightly colored during this time and Marge had her body go a little blue glimmer on the side/top of her back! But that was it. No stress stripes, just the brown bodies.
I have Java Fern coming in the mail, I am getting some fabric plants if I can, and I'll be attempting to triple dense that tank!! I know it is not just environment... But they have been fed live foods, I am trying to get frozen bloodworms, they have had pellets, freeze-dried bloodworms... So any tips? D: Just a note... I removed Rose as a test to see if she would color up. she went icky brown. no red in her fins. Put her back, super red in her fins. Guess they are social
I think part of it is that you have a 20 gallon high, not a 20 long. Sororities have better success with a longer tank. That way, there is a bigger "footprint" and more territory for the girls to stake out. Also, like you said, you need more cover. They're never going to be happy together in a tank that bare.
Is that the tank as it stands now? If so, that is not really densely planted enough. Sororities ideally, should have as much cover as possible. Your females are probably not feeling very comfortable at all.
I need some updated photos of my sorority currently, but here is what I visualise when I think 'heavily planted'
This is my 7 gallon sorority that contains five females. I have had no issues with either water quality or aggression since starting it three or so months ago, because it was like this from day one.
Also, I have females of a similar colouring to yours, and they will never really lose that brown underlayer. Usually only their fins colour up fully.
I do agree that the cover isn't really dense enough, but I don't think that's necessarily the issue. My tank is really heavily planted and my females are still brown (not stress-stripey, just dull). One of them has definite body colour, one is faintly coloured, two have faint irridescence, but that's it. The other two remain firmly brown.
This is a picture of mine, but at the moment I also have a plant that I haven't got room for anywhere else just floating there providing a hanging jungle of cover that they love, so it's anything but bare. They still lack colour, though.
I stated it is an old picture that does not show what I have in there anymore. I added a lot more plants - so no it is not like the picture.
And I had to rearrange the tank when I did the 75% water change, looking for the cory. Everything was taken out, and Madame was already in the heavy dose of epsom in a container. The girls were put back in, with everythinf rearranged which then they showed some color buuuuut then reverted back >< however their fins have stayed colored this time around. I got 3 tall grassy plants, like someone mentioned. I always rearrange when fish are moved or reintroduced... I think the middle is the most dense, with the rock plus two fake plants. I am going to add in my floating plant, which grows extremely fast. i have got lots of hiding places, tall plants that are dense and not dense... Plus like I said java fern coming up. And I cannot separate them since they seem to be more social and better colored with each other.
Can I note they also show more color in natural light? Like... When I have my blinds open and no tank light. I am changing the light to a UV one - will that help their colors too, as well as the plants?
And maybe it is age? Except I estimate them to at least be 6 months... They were half an inch in the store, filthy water stunted them for 2 months untik I got the four girls. Zebra is now over an inch, Marge and Tina about an inch and little Rose is slow growing at under an inch. They lost their stripes when i got them and only show them when they are stressed - which now is rare. I think they are trying to establish a new order (who will be alpha?) too. Rose is trying
I will note Marge is definitely trying to color up, part of her body is going the color of her fins... Zebra seems to go red, then lighter, then red, then brown... So might it be just they are establishing a new order? I added a floating plant in there, since I was told that adds cover when they go up for air :) so I did. It grows fast so I do not want to get more floating anythings. From the side I cannot see the other side... but I can see to the middle and it is the same from the other side. I am getting some fabric plants today anyways, since I need pellets. They are branched out ones that come in medium and large sizes only. I cannot get live plants unless it is ordered or I go to the city - which I do not know when I can!
I know, I actually was going to get him some more buds. The store only had one ;( then POOF he disappeared. I won't bother getting cories the females eat like piranhas xD Oh, tried getting pics with my ipod, excuse the blurry girls. This is my tank! Not yet with Java fern, or the other fake plants I want to add. I wanna add more to the middle section, and get the java fern on the rock. I KNOW I am supposed to have like... 3-4 minumum and that is absolute minimum... But yeah like I said the only guy in the entire store. And we only have one store. (never getting fish from there again)
1. front view
3. close up part front view
4. random middle one with a female who zoomed in the picture o_O
Are you sure that is not enough cover?? I am adding more. Lots more. And if I get my friend's 29 gallon, I'll move all to that with double the plants probably - which by then the Java Fern will have gotten to me :)