Future planning for sorority - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-25-2017, 12:43 AM Thread Starter
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Future planning for sorority

Adding to the millions of threads about sororities...

I'd like to have a 3 fish sorority if possible. I have read that 4 is a minimum, or that you should ONLY stock sororities in odd numbers.... and most just say "don't do it at all" (but I feel I am up for the challenge, and I am preparing waaaaaaaaay ahead of time). Is there actually a firmer rule / anything to read about it?

My idea is a 30L or 40/55 gallon tank, TONS of plants and hide decos, and potentially even some of those vertical shelf tank spacers so there's sort of "platforms" to occupy (with their own plants and hides, naturally). Is that much space going to allow for better odds with 3? I could also go to 5. (I have a particular, extremely, embarrassingly nerdy theme in mind for this tank, and 3 fits the bill I'd PREFER, but if 4+ / odd only remains recommended even with that much space, there is a similar theme that'd work with 5)

When you have a sorority, is it wise to stock other tank mates? (Shrimp, snails, cory/otos, maaaaybe ADFs?) Or does any excess aggression just end up taken out on them?

I know every fish is a whole personality unto themselves, so who knows what falls out, but will you have better luck introducing fry/juveniles instead of adults? Or will it resemble when fry decide to eat their siblings?

I'm also gonna take a wild guess here, but people quarantine their girls completely separate right? (so each in their own 2.5 / 5 away from each other and then floated in cups/bags in the big tank once they're "safe" to introduce before releasing them, yeah?)
If there's an advantage to using fry, wouldn't you be giving that advantage up by having them age up during the waiting period? Or is my quarantine timeline just too long (~3 months)?

Readin' readin' readin'. If anyone knows of a particular user who is gifted with sororities / they keep a journal for their tanks, I'd love recs. :D Thank you!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-25-2017, 05:57 AM
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Unfortunately, very few have managed to keep sororities long enough to develop journals. Note to others: I said "very few," not "no one".

I imagine in a tank that size you would have a better chance of success. Good luck!

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-25-2017, 01:34 PM
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This isn't exactly a journal, but it helped me get a general idea when I started mine. Unfortunately sororities are very unique and what works for one might not necessarily work for another. My sorority is relatively young (months instead of years) but these are some things that have worked for me:

The only problem I've heard with under stocking with such a large tank, is that the girls sometimes forget the others are there and then have to re-establish territory over and over. I personally have 7 girls in a 13.5 gallon tank. Sororities aren't something you can just rely on the conventional stocking limits (according to AqAdvisor I could have 17 girls in my tank and be fully stocked), but the general consensus seems to be higher numbers of at least 5 seem to work the best.

I spent a lot of time at the store putting cups next to each other to evaluate the reactions and tried to pick the most non-reactive girls I could find. Also releasing them into the permanent tank at the same time is very important. It's too hard to judge the hierarchy beforehand and they'll surprise you even after all the time in QT.

I've seen sororities with tank-mates, my personal one has red cherry shrimp and nerite snails, but it depends on the personalities of your girls.

Generally you want the youngest girls you can find, and of similar size. I can't comment on the siblings thing, but I know for me having different colored girls makes it easier to monitor everyone.

I've found that mid-top level coverage is more important than lower, my girls seldom use the hides on the bottom.

I quarantined my girls in a partially filled cycled 10g. They stayed in their individual cups for the first two weeks, I rotated their position so everyone got used to being around everyone else. After the QT period I started releasing one girl into the 10g tank and letting her swim around the others so they could get used to more interaction. I cycled through the girls so everyone had a chance to be loose and swim around while the others were still in their cups. The longer the QT the better in my opinion, my way just involved a LOT of daily water changes.

I also use a more powerful filter on my sorority and the areas of fast current (not the entire tank) can help interrupt chases/aggression. It is also beneficial to have a tank that is longer rather than taller.

I'm not the best person to talk about dealing with aggression because I haven't had to separate anyone or deal with any injuries, but that link gives good ideas about "timeouts" and other things you can try if you encounter those sorts of problems.

Overall; remember that they aren't many rules that can guarantee a successful sorority, but once you find what works for you don't mess with it (no matter how tempting that new mustard koi female is ).

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-26-2017, 11:55 AM
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I just wanted to butt in;

I recently got 4 new girls and started a new sorority (my second, so I sort-of knew what to expect). Two are Orange Cambodians, one is a Platinum Marble, one is a Multicolor, and then there is my adult Yellow. I was stunned when I woke up this morning to Tsuki running scared from the Pt. Marble girlie, who is nearly half her size. THen the little Plat. ran from one of the Orange Cams, and then the Multi came in and broke everyone up. The Multi was the one I expected least, and Tsuki the Alpha. Alas, it was not to be! That's okay, though, because nobody is hurt.

Like other have said, find that balance. Once you find it, don't mess with it.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2017, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Halle for that thread link, especially.

TFT, would you say that the girls you got were similar in age at all? (I do love me some bossy / top of the ladder small ones, admittedly... I might be biased as a 4'9" person )
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2017, 07:23 PM
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LOL. Kaida, Tako, Uni, and Ika, are around the same age; close to 3-4 months. Tsuki is probably closer to 10 months.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2017, 07:51 PM
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I personally think three can be a potentially dangerous number. It just seems the chances of one fish becoming the 'odd one out' is very high. I think it would work best if you could find females that shows very little territorial/intraspecific aggression. One risk of starting with sub-adult females, is that aggression can increase as they reach sexual maturity and they may become much less tolerant of conspecifics.

Also be aware that when things turn sour, they can do so very quickly. A couple of nipped fins here and there can escalate to a seriously maimed or even dead fish. The most important lesson I've learned from keeping bettas over the years is that they are incredibly unpredictable. A fish they tolerate one day, they may try and kill the next. So you really have to keep an eye out for even the most subtle sign that trouble is brewing. It might be as innocuous as a female that seems just a touch slower to come out of hiding, or the slightest bit hesitant when feeding.

The only reason I don't like to see 'unorthodox' stocking is that if things go wrong, it's the fish that suffers. I lost almost an entire sorority because of one silly mistake, and I still feel guilty about it even years later.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2017, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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@LittleBettaFish - I was hoping you might come in. :) Your thread was really good, but you mentioned towards the end your views had really changed (beyond just min. tank size and less enthusiastic about recommending it) I didn't tag you because I wasn't sure if you still wanted to talk sororities though.

I've been having a lot of trouble finding any sort of concrete opinions on what 'unorthodox' stocking counted as. Unless you meant the addition of non-bettas tank mates rather than sorority size? I have seen some people say that sororities below 10 are unethical, some even 17+, but it seems like it'd be massively difficult to keep track of aggression results with that many? With proper attention, does 5 seem significantly *more* likely to balance, besides the sheer luck? Is it actually MORE problematic to have such a bigger tank than a smaller one, even if it's going to be equally plant/hide dense?

What's a good way when finding females to get a good grasp on if they're going to be territorial? Would you recommend Halle's approach?
With the sexual maturity risk, is there any way to mitigate that, in juvenile or adults? It seems like if it's a risk pre-maturity once the threshold is crossed, it'd be the same risk with getting adults, ye? Or is it a matter of "one who is non aggressive pre might become aggressive post" like with human teenagers and their literal brain soup?

I am prepared that however many I have, I am going to need that many individual back ups / strong dividers (assuming the problem isn't disease based, but that seems risky), if I follow through with a sorority. I live and die by the "the animals' needs always trumps your personal wants" - To the point where sometimes I feel bad buying commercially because there's just no incentive for regulation or standard improvement that way, you know? Just perpetuates the cycle, even if it FEELS like "one less fish on a shelf/one more rescued" ... until I remember they'll just be replaced :/

If you don't mind sharing, would you tell me your personal oops? Or was it a moment in towards your early days and you still carry it?

@ThatFishThough that's incredible, and I love it. I also love your naming choices. :3
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2017, 09:54 PM
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Yes, my opinions have changed over the years not only due to my own experiences with sororities, but also having spent a number of years reading horror story after horror story on this forum.

However, I'm not saying all sororities are inevitably doomed to failure. It's more that they are a riskier venture than some online sources would have you believe, and I think it's in the best interest of the fish that people are informed of these risks before they set-up a sorority and start posting on here because their fish are dying.

It's more personal opinion that I consider a sorority consisting of a trio of females to be unorthodox stocking. Simply because I've found it better to have at least four or five females so that aggression is more evenly dispersed among the group, rather than solely focused on a single female. As you've seen, just what exactly is the 'correct' number of females for a sorority, remains a rather contentious subject.

With that said, I do believe the success of a sorority is determined solely by how well your females tolerate each other. Other factors such as fish numbers, tank size, and planting density can help mitigate aggression, but they're not going to stop a determined fish from harassing or attacking the others. My wild betta tanks are densely planted and often heavily stocked, but more than once I've sat and watched a fish hunt out a rival with surprising single-mindedness.

I've had wild bettas that would retreat from their reflection, and yet show no such hesitation when it came to other fish. It's really difficult to predict just how females will react to being in such close proximity to each other without actually putting them in together.

I do agree with what was said further up the page that if everything seems to be doing well, resist the urge to add further females/fish to the group or move the group to a new tank. Stability is key. I definitely notice a spike in aggression whenever I make large changes to my wild betta tanks, as there's a lot of working out of the pecking order and the establishment of new territories.

My mistake was caused by forgetting how easily I could stall a cycle with my soft tap water, compounded by not testing my water frequently enough following a tank move, and made worse still by using a test kit that was giving me false negatives for ammonia. The end result being that a number of my females died following a sudden spike in ammonia.
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