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If I've had only one female betta for a while, is it too late to add new girls to the tank? And how many could I get?

Tank info and other questions?

I've had my female betta for a while. She's slowly upgraded tanks and is now in a 20 gallon with a nerite, Japanese algae eating shrimp, ADF, another tiny snail? And a raph striped catfish (I know he needs mates but they never had more at the store and aqadvisor already said he will be too big for my tank.
So, I definitely want to get more plants since the upgrade left my tank a little bare. But since they are in a bigger tank, do I risk getting another cat fish? Can I get a smaller catfish to make mine happy? That would be instead of the bettas
 

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I started my sorority with two, but it will really depend on the fish. I am lucky that my girls are all pretty peaceable. You could try, but would need another tank on standby as a permanent home, incase your existing female or the new one(s) decide they do not want to live together.

If you want to try, I would advise getting all the new ones at once, or in small groups, depending on the size you want to achieve. QT them in a tank, and leave the tank where the other female can clearly see them. If any fish are stressed, I would say its best that they are not introduced into the same tank. You will want to introduce them in much the same way as for introducing a male to a female, so the longer they can see each other before trying to share a tank, the better.

It is important to cut off the view if either is unduly stressed.

Ideally, sororities should be 5+ fish, and if you want to add them, if you can get 5 girls from one tank, that already live together (like in my lfs) there are better chances of it working.

Also, when I want to buy females (or males) I spend at least half an hour in the LFS at thei tank, checking to see which behave well, and are happy in the group, without bullying others.

Its a hard process however, and if there is a female who is not happy, you have to have a spare tank. I prefer to have two tanks on standby when running mine. Every so often, all the other girls, even in an established soroity, can suddenly decide one female has to go and they'll gang up on her, so she would need to be removed.

Its easier if only one fish has a nasty session however, if it goes to far the troublesome female gets put into a betta display box in the tank until she calms down enough to be nice to the other ladies.

Rambling, I know, but trying to write everything whilst watching my LO and doing treatment/waterchanges ^-^

ETA: as for the catfish, how big is the one you have? and how big do they grow? Not sure catfish can all successfully have communities with different species of catfish, but someone else may know. :)
 

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"Temperament: The Raphael gets along with most fish, do not put him with anything that can fit in it's mouth." <-- that made me chuckle. :3

The problem is, when full grown will a betta fit in its mouth? :O Naughty catfish. Pretty though.
 
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