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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was recently given permission to buy a 20 gallon tank to put in the my kitchen, with one condition. It had to be a bunch of fish living together (my dad isn't a fan of dividers or how they look). So, I jumped at the chance to finally get my dream females.

I did a bunch of research on tankmates before finding platies. I looked into a bunch of threads and found mixed results everywhere, but had quite a few people saying to go for it.

This will be my first time attempting a sorority or even a community tank. I know how difficult it is said to be, and how dangerous it could be to the fish.

I plan to buy all petstore females and make sure they are used to each other before they are put in.

I plan to add as many plants as I can without overcrowding it to the point where there isn't enough room. They will all be silk or plastic, the latter only if very soft (I have had much success with plastic before, in fact one of my bettas seems to prefer it).

I plan to buy around 6-8 platies and 5 female bettas.

Just a few of my questions:

-What are the best products for cycling? I'll be looking back into the cycling sticky soon but was wondering the best and quickest way to do it.

-Is there anything specific I should know about platy care? What is the best food for them? I've heard a lot of flakes as answers.

-What is the best betta variety diet? By this I mean a weekly diet and brands/type of food. I don't know what's recommended. Maybe brine shrimp once a week, pellets most of the time, and flakes a few times a week? I have no clue. Absolutely no worms, dried or live. I'm trying to find frozen brine shrimp in my store with no success. I'll be trying other further stores soon.
Note: What I have right now is a Aqueon Betta Food Pellets and OmegaOne Pellets.

-Do you recommend this? I know platies and bettas often do work if they are not too aggressive, but sororities in community tanks are less common. Anything else I should know that is not listed above? Please do not just completely go against the idea.

Thank you in advance, and I appreciate any help that anyone can give, whether it is on platies, bettas, or sororities. :)
 

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I actually do not recommend tankmates with a sorority. If you're going to do a Sorority then just do the girls. It's already a high-stress environment for them and you'll only be adding stress if you add other fish to the equation. So one or the other, not both preferably.

As for your questions:

Cycling:
I personally use seeded filter material and Tetra Safe Start. So if you have another tank that is already cycled, take out that filter media and put it in the new tank/filter to get a jumpstart. Ideally, you don't want to cycle a tank with a sorority already in it because again; you're adding more stress than needed and you'll end up with dead girls much quicker. But you can get a platy to help cycle the tank or one single Betta girl. When comes time to add the other girls in, you'd take that first female out and rearrange the tank so that she doesn't have her territory anymore and won't be mean to the other girls.

Platies eat everything and anything, flakes are alright if you have a good brand (ie. NLS or Omega One), keep in mind that they are omnivores versus insectivores like our Betta's so they need more veggie material in their foods. They may even eat cucumbers and zucchini as well.

For Betta, you usually want to stay away from flakes since it's easy to overfeed them (another reason that mixing species is bad) so stick with pellets and frozen foods. You can do frozen foods more often for them too, well fed girls are usually happy girls.

As I answered already, no. It's not so much that Platies or Bettas are necessarily aggressive, it's purely the stress factor in it. I'm not completely against it, I just don't want you to end up with a bad experience and end up with lots of dead fish :-/ It really is a stressful type of tank not just for the fish but for you too. I've had a sorority of my own before and have helped many others with theirs as well, I'm not fully against them but I won't do another (that aren't siblings at least) any time soon if ever again. Too much heartache to be truthful with you.

On the other hand, you could potentially have one female Betta or male if you chose and do a bunch of Platies, that would certainly work out just fine ^_^

Oh and I forgot, you do actually want so many plants that they can barely move, that will cut down on chasing and all around bullying :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I actually do not recommend tankmates with a sorority. If you're going to do a Sorority then just do the girls. It's already a high-stress environment for them and you'll only be adding stress if you add other fish to the equation. So one or the other, not both preferably.
I know it is not recommended, but I also know many who did this with success, and many who do recommend it. If I notice anything going too badly, I'll immediately stop and do what I can with the girls (I cannot have the tank without some kind of community fish).

As for your questions:

Cycling:
I personally use seeded filter material and Tetra Safe Start. So if you have another tank that is already cycled, take out that filter media and put it in the new tank/filter to get a jumpstart. Ideally, you don't want to cycle a tank with a sorority already in it because again; you're adding more stress than needed and you'll end up with dead girls much quicker. But you can get a platy to help cycle the tank or one single Betta girl. When comes time to add the other girls in, you'd take that first female out and rearrange the tank so that she doesn't have her territory anymore and won't be mean to the other girls.
I don't, none of my tanks are cycled (although I may begin a fish-in with my 3.5). I plan to do the cycling beforehand, especially if this is quicker.

Platies eat everything and anything, flakes are alright if you have a good brand (ie. NLS or Omega One), keep in mind that they are omnivores versus insectivores like our Betta's so they need more veggie material in their foods. They may even eat cucumbers and zucchini as well.
I've heard about that, that's awesome! XD I want to try that sometime. I'll look up more food types and probably get flakes.

For Betta, you usually want to stay away from flakes since it's easy to overfeed them (another reason that mixing species is bad) so stick with pellets and frozen foods. You can do frozen foods more often for them too, well fed girls are usually happy girls.
I've heard a lot about bladder and such with too much shrimp so that's why I said once per week, I may increase it to two. Yes, I plan to do pellets anyway, but I wasn't sure about flakes. I'll stick with those two then. Do you recommend any brands?

As I answered already, no. It's not so much that Platies or Bettas are necessarily aggressive, it's purely the stress factor in it. I'm not completely against it, I just don't want you to end up with a bad experience and end up with lots of dead fish :-/ It really is a stressful type of tank not just for the fish but for you too. I've had a sorority of my own before and have helped many others with theirs as well, I'm not fully against them but I won't do another (that aren't siblings at least) any time soon if ever again. Too much heartache to be truthful with you.
Yes, I understand. It's not exactly pleasant to find out you can't, but I'd like to give it a try at least.

On the other hand, you could potentially have one female Betta or male if you chose and do a bunch of Platies, that would certainly work out just fine ^_^

Oh and I forgot, you do actually want so many plants that they can barely move, that will cut down on chasing and all around bullying :)
If it doesn't work out, that's what I plan on doing :) Another male wouldn't hurt...xD It'd look great. But I'd still like to try it, since this is probably the only tank that will ever be funded for me (therefore allowing me to buy all the plants i could possible need for it).

Ah, alright. I'll look into that then. Thank you!
 

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I wonder though, how is their success measured? I don't mean to get you down on this but many will keep a sorority for 8 months to a year and call that a success when Betta's should be living 2 years or even more.

If the community fish was one that was less rowdy like Neon Tetras or something, it could be a better environment but Platies are extremely rambunctious fish and again, stress; it's a killer.

As for the foods, that's not true about Brine Shrimp. It is when they are babies and growing up and you feed too much but as adults, they can handle anything fine. I personally keep frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, mysis shrimp (one of the best foods for freshwater fish to keep fins healthy), and daphnia and rotate them practically daily for my community tank downstairs and they're all doing just fine. I usually feed daphnia twice a week to keep their digestive systems moving; it's a minor laxative basically so it will help clean out their bowels.

And brands, do you mean for frozen foods or for pellets? I'll just list some brands for both just in case. For frozen I typically do Hikari since they've been through a rigorous decontamination process. I stay clear from San Francisco Bay as I've seen more reports of internal parasites with them than other foods. Omega One is good for frozen foods too. And for pellets, I use New Life Spectrum and occasionally Omega One. I have pretty much everything NLS: flakes, betta pellets, small fish pellets, all purpose pellets, grow pellets, and H2O veggie wafers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I know some of these people, and they do know the correct lifespan (although a year isn't too awful with petstore bettas, since a lot of them are a year or older, and weak from the care).

I considered neon tetras but I just don't think it will work. I'm open to other suggestions for fish but still, preferably ones that...well, look less like a tetra. Again, this tank is the request of my father and the fish in there must be approved by him xD.

Ah alright, thanks! I don't think I will be getting the others to be honest, since I already can't stand dealing with this kind of stuff and brine shrimp is just because the little guys (and future girls?) are lucky I love them to death o.e

Both I suppose xD I plan to use Omega One frozen brine shrimp (probably the squares)...if I can find it -.-

I have OmegaOne pellets already, I might look into NLS then.

I'll probably try to get OmegaOne or NLS flakes for the platies then.

Oh, any filter/heater recommendations? I found a nice one I love by Aqueon for 20g, and I currently use it in my 10 (it works out fine, luckily). So I will probably use that again. But my 3.5 filter isn't great (I think Tetra 3i for 3 gallons) and my 10g is Tetra Whisper up to ten. The second one has been working fine but the flow is ridiculously hard to control for me. I finally found something temporary, but even then. And the hood doesn't fit on the filter. So I might change or just try to figure something out.
 

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I realize that he has to approve it but just because they may want some fish, doesn't mean that in a certain situation that those fish are still compatible. I recently set up a tank for my mother and she wanted literally one of every fish possible but that is impossible if you want a healthy tank so I had to guide her on that and she agreed to the three schools and two pairs of Rams (it's a 45 gallon so there's more room to play). So while you may want to please him and yourself, it may not be good for the health of the fish.

And actually, that is incorrect, most, if not all pet store Betta's are less than 6 months of age minus a few of them who get to sit there unfortunately, for a few more months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I realize that he has to approve it but just because they may want some fish, doesn't mean that in a certain situation that those fish are still compatible. I recently set up a tank for my mother and she wanted literally one of every fish possible but that is impossible if you want a healthy tank so I had to guide her on that and she agreed to the three schools and two pairs of Rams (it's a 45 gallon so there's more room to play). So while you may want to please him and yourself, it may not be good for the health of the fish.

And actually, that is incorrect, most, if not all pet store Betta's are less than 6 months of age minus a few of them who get to sit there unfortunately, for a few more months.
Really? I was never sure of their age, but someone once mentioned about a year. That's great to hear! Means my oldest might be just over a year with hopefully a long life ahead.

My dad knows, and he does not want anything that would harm them. He's fine with a lot, just not the smaller and less colorful neon tetras.

If there is anything else I can have instead, I would love to hear. If you really think I shouldn't, I won't. I'll still to platies or maybe try to convince him to let me have a sorority only tank.
 

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Yeah, some people guestimate and they think that just because most Veiltail betta's are larger than the fancy ones that they are indeed older but it's not true. Just like humans; Betta's come in all shapes and sizes ;-)

As for alternatives, does he not want any sort of tetra at all? Or just not ones that look like Neons? One of the best tankmates for Sororites are Cory cats, you can get lots of little ones like Dainty (Corydoras Habrosus) or the Pygmys (C. Hastatus). In a 20 (I assume it's 20 tall not long?) you could easily have 10-12 of these little ones and they'll help up clean up the bottom of the tank (they don't eat waste like some people think but they kick it up so the filter can get at it).

One of my favorite small Tetras are Ember Tetras, still nice and bright red when they get comfortable and again, you could do something like:
7 Betta girls (more girls the better)
8-10 C. Habrosus
12 Embers

Or if you don't want those, Cherry Barbs are another fish that inhabit more of the bottom of the tank so they won't disrupt the girls as much. They're very colorful and much more peaceful, they can still be a little rambunctious but they stay towards the bottom so it doesn't upset the girls.

The key is to look for other fish of different levels of the tank. Ideally you want to stay away from top dwelling fish like Platies, guppies, hatchet fish, because the Betta's will have their territories up there. So instead, look at fish that like the mid to bottom of the tank like the ones I've listed so far. The girls will explore all of the tank of course, but their territories are actually at the top of the tank.

So some fish you could look into:
Cherry Barbs
Ember Tetras
Checkered Barbs
C. Habrosus or Hastatus or Aeneus if you like albino things
Harlequin Rasbora
Rummynose Tetra (if it's a 20 long versus tall)

You can try single fish too such as:
Peacock Gudgeon
Scarlet Badis
German Blue Ram/Electric Blue/Gold/Wild Blue (ONLY if your tank is fully cycled and you have close to no Nitrates, they are sensitive fish!)
Goby (Rainbow and Cobalt are common usually)

Stay away from fast, rambunctious fish or fish who stay up at the top:
Gouramis of any sort should always be avoided with bettas
Guppies
Hatchetfish
Platies
Rainbowfish
Danios
Mollies
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Yeah, some people guestimate and they think that just because most Veiltail betta's are larger than the fancy ones that they are indeed older but it's not true. Just like humans; Betta's come in all shapes and sizes ;-)

As for alternatives, does he not want any sort of tetra at all? Or just not ones that look like Neons? One of the best tankmates for Sororites are Cory cats, you can get lots of little ones like Dainty (Corydoras Habrosus) or the Pygmys (C. Hastatus). In a 20 (I assume it's 20 tall not long?) you could easily have 10-12 of these little ones and they'll help up clean up the bottom of the tank (they don't eat waste like some people think but they kick it up so the filter can get at it).

One of my favorite small Tetras are Ember Tetras, still nice and bright red when they get comfortable and again, you could do something like:
7 Betta girls (more girls the better)
8-10 C. Habrosus
12 Embers
I was about to say tetras might not be good, then I read the rest of this, and wow. I looked up pictures, and I have to say, this might easily work. I get my girls, and at the same time, my dad gets his exotic looking cories (although not that colorful, still cute and they look so weird, or is that just me?) and colorful little tetras. Plus that's a lot more fish. Tall or long, it will be long. It will be in a particular part of the kitchen so anything else won't fit. Unless...I can maybe see if we can put it elsewhere with a small stand...or a slightly bigger tank...with a lot of fish...and tall...;) XD I have my ways. I'll see what I can do, but for now, it will probably be long.

Or if you don't want those, Cherry Barbs are another fish that inhabit more of the bottom of the tank so they won't disrupt the girls as much. They're very colorful and much more peaceful, they can still be a little rambunctious but they stay towards the bottom so it doesn't upset the girls.

The key is to look for other fish of different levels of the tank. Ideally you want to stay away from top dwelling fish like Platies, guppies, hatchet fish, because the Betta's will have their territories up there. So instead, look at fish that like the mid to bottom of the tank like the ones I've listed so far. The girls will explore all of the tank of course, but their territories are actually at the top of the tank.
I see. I do like the Embers and cories (the first one) idea. What about cories and cherry barbs? If embers are not possible in long, I'll go with Rummynose Tetras. I like the cherrys over the checkered barbs. I rather stay with these, I don't know how well I can control the nitrates and more fish is preferred. Although those are beautiful suggestions, wow! And alright, I'll do that. No guppy friends then xD By the way, how many gallons is suggested for maybe 3 male guppies and a male betta? My uncle has like 200 of those buggers and I can have any I want if I ever get room.

Just wondering ^ I recently got the adorable sweet non-flaring little boy a few days ago. And I would like to see what I can do for him.
 

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Oh, I was just going to suggest that long is better too! more surface area for the girls and more ground space for the cories; they'll appreciate that for sure!

Yeah, not all area's have the fish I mentioned so make sure you can get them first ^_^

My Embers are in a 29 gallon which has the same foot print of a 20 long (I have a stand where both my 20 long and my 29 are on) so they'll be happy with the lateral space versus tall space. The only fish that really like tall spaces are Angels, while schooling fish certainly won't mind a taller tank; more lateral space is always better for them!

Yep, cories and Cherries get along great too! All the fish I listed for the good ones will do just fine with cories and the Betta girls ^_^

As for controling nitrates, it's all about water changes basically. Once your tank is settled and cycled, all you do is maintenance water changes every other week or as needed and the water changes will help take out nitrates. Ideally you'll want to do smaller water changes, so like 10-15% weekly will be good so you don't disturb your girls all the time. Doing huge water changes can upset things and cause stress which is a no-no in sororities as I've stated before ^_^

And for 3 guppies and a male, you could do 5.5 though 10 gallons is prefered just for spacial reasons. While a 5.5 gallon could contain the bio-load (their poop), they still need their own spaces so a 10 gallon would be great for that ^_^

Though a fair warning, just because he seems sweet and doesn't flare, doesn't mean he isn't a mean little bugger lol. Betta's can be so decieving! It's crazy! I once had one that NEVER flared, didn't flare at males, didn't flare at females, didn't flare at a mirror, didn't mind tetra's but he would absolutely tear and kill my guppies! It was horrible! Granted, that's a chance you take with any Betta! Another one of mine flares at everything but doesn't touch, he just warns lol. It's funny to watch them actually. But just didn't want you to get a surprise dead guppy if he turns out he's mean underneath all the fluff and sweetness!! :-D
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wow, that's great! Anything I need to know about cories and tetras care-wise? Once I confirm my favorites, I'll look more into their specific care and such.

Thank you! This is probably the most helpful thing I've read on the sorority xD The suggestions are great!

I see, I'll probably do that. I have a nice quarter gallon plastic cup I use for water changes in all my tanks, a few of those should be a nice 10%.

I know! Even the non flarers! I recently learned something...yesterday night...Turns out my boy Scarlet can jump an inch into the air! That's a new record! Usually it's a centimeter! I noticed he seems to notice food higher above the tank than anyone and so I wanted to see. He really impressed me!

And yeah, that's true! I'll have to try to put him in tanks in a cup and see if he minds.

I see...I might try for a 5 or 5.5. I'll just do water changes often. For now, I'm still working on the 20, and finishing my 10, so I'll worry about that later. I just want to get my boy out of his half gallon as soon as possible (daily water changes are done so ammonia doesn't get too high). I hope I get a nice tank for him soon! Even with guppies he would be my most spoiled xD
 

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Not too much, cories usually prefer softer substrate like sand but they may be okay in gravel if it's not too sharp; otherwise it will cut their faces and barbels and that's no good! Can lead to infection and death. So I definitely suggest some nice soft sand, I usually use PetCo's black sand, it's usually nice and clean and looks nice too. it will bring out the colors of the other fish as well. They are usually omnivores so veggie wafers are good for them. I use Omega One Veggie wafers and my fish go nuts for those! Be ware, your Betta girls will eat them too so I normally switch in this case; one day do veggie wafers and the other day I'll do flakes/pellets. On the note of foods, it's always good to have at least one fasting day where no one gets fed so they can empty out their bowels and not become constipated!

Tetras are pretty easy, they usually like softer water but will be okay if they are captive bred rather than wild caught. They aren't as sensitive as Neon's though which is always great. They'll feel safe with more numbers so definitely keep it around 12 if you can, they'll look much nicer too! But they eat everything, flakes is usually good because they can't take larger pellets. They'll take the NLS Small Fish formula though :) Mine also pick at the veggie wafers I throw in for my cories and other bottom dwellers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Not too much, cories usually prefer softer substrate like sand but they may be okay in gravel if it's not too sharp; otherwise it will cut their faces and barbels and that's no good! Can lead to infection and death. So I definitely suggest some nice soft sand, I usually use PetCo's black sand, it's usually nice and clean and looks nice too. it will bring out the colors of the other fish as well. They are usually omnivores so veggie wafers are good for them. I use Omega One Veggie wafers and my fish go nuts for those! Be ware, your Betta girls will eat them too so I normally switch in this case; one day do veggie wafers and the other day I'll do flakes/pellets. On the note of foods, it's always good to have at least one fasting day where no one gets fed so they can empty out their bowels and not become constipated!

Tetras are pretty easy, they usually like softer water but will be okay if they are captive bred rather than wild caught. They aren't as sensitive as Neon's though which is always great. They'll feel safe with more numbers so definitely keep it around 12 if you can, they'll look much nicer too! But they eat everything, flakes is usually good because they can't take larger pellets. They'll take the NLS Small Fish formula though :) Mine also pick at the veggie wafers I throw in for my cories and other bottom dwellers.
Anything else instead of cories? Turns out my father doesn't like them, not colorful or exotic enough I suppose. Sucks, since I was really taking a liking to the cuties. Are there more colorful breeds of cories? Maybe I can still convince him...
I was always worried about the filter or fish throwing sand up and hurting them or getting all over. I'll see! Maybe I can convince him...what would be the best combination of tetras/cories and cherry barbs/cories? Is it possible to have all three, or just tetras and cherry barbs?
Ah, thank you! I'll keep all the food stuff in mind. Do you have a specific schedule you usually follow weekly? If so, what is it (so I can start out right)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Sorry for all the questions! I'm trying to get information about as many types as I can, and ratios so I know how much to get of each fish and don't overstock or anything.
 

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Np, I'm happy to help.

As for the sand, it's actually rather heavy once it's in the tank, you may see a little bit fly up when you siphon or move stuff around but it settles really quickly.

What about Kuhli Loaches in place of cories. You could have 6-8 of them and they do still prefer sand because they like to dig.


Basically in this tank, you want one schooler fish (tetra or barb, not both) and one bottom feeder group along with your girls. Each of these fish need schools (5 or more fish in a school) to be socially healthy, if you don't have the recommended numbers then the fish will end up with bad times; sick more often and not so happy. So you need to keep to one school if you can. So Tetras OR barbs, not both unfortunately unless you get a bigger tank.

Let's see...other bottom dwellers you could try:
Kuhli Loaches
Panda Cories (Here's the list of cories and you can look through but not all will be available in your area: http://www.planetcatfish.com/common/quick_find.php)
Apistogramma are good for pairs or single males
Bolivian Rams
Peacock Gudgeon
Sidthimunki Botia Loach

That's about all I can think of at the moment for bottom dwellers. You could increase the girl numbers and take out the schoolers and just do a Ram pair or the Peacock Gudgeon for something different.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Probably not, I'm not a fan of them and they remind me too much of worms somehow.

I'll probably go for barbs then, depending.

I'll look through the cories, thanks! And I think I better stick with these actually...if I can find colorful nice cories. Otherwise maybe just barbs and a lot of girls.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Would random different types of cories work together?

Also, aren't cherry barbs fin nippers? I've heard a lot of that from them.
 

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Nope, the cories have to be of the same species. It's like mixing different types of Tetras; they may look similar but they are not the same species.

And no, Cherry barbs are one of the sweetest barbs, I do suggest getting some females, not all males. The males are bright red while the females do look more drab but it's better to have some females so the males don't get in trouble with each other lol. Preferably you can do 4 males to 6 females and the males will constantly display to each other and the females as they try to get the girl ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Will the males and females breed? How do you tell the difference? I'm not as keen to get so many fish in one tank with so many dangerous illnesses that they could all easily be infected with :/
 
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