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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, what happens when someone in the field of psychology becomes an aquarist? To give you an idea, google Konrad Lorenz and geese (lol). Behavioral psychologists have studied animals for decades, and learning about everything from infant attachment to social hierarchies to how we learn.

Believe it or not, fish, especially our beloved betta splendens, have been the subjects of numerous studies about behavior and socialization. And fish, like mammals, can have their behavior shaped significantly by environment.

If you took a child, kitten or puppy and chained it to a wall in a small windowless room in a cold, dark musty basement, gave it no opportunities for social interaction or mental stimulation, and only marginally attended to its food, medical and sanitation needs, how would you expect this poor child or animal to behave? Well, unfortunately thousands of bettas are kept in comparable conditions and have for decades or centuries.

This is my method for socializing bettas.
1) put the betta in a heated, filtered tank of at least 1 gallon, 10-12 hours of daily light, and some decorations including a hideout

2) put this tank directly alongside another tank so the betta and his neighbors can see one another

3) feed small amounts twice daily. At feedings, watch and talk to your betta. Make every effort to pair your interest with food

4) after cleared from qt, add the betta to a divided tank or put in a breeding box inside a minimally 15 gallon (bigger is better) tank with other similarly sized non aggressive fish. The breeding box should contain a hideout or some artificial plant parts

5) if in the breeding box, keep fish there for anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the betta's and other fishes' behavior

6) introduce betta to tank, watch closely for any signs of aggression or stress

7) re the tank, the bigger the better and there should be plenty of plants and hideouts

This is basically the technique that animal behaviorists use to introduce new pets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
When I have socialized bettas in this manner, I have not had a single instance of betta aggression either towards another betta or towards a different species fish. Even my bully female Cherry has been successfully rehabilitated and she has not been aggressive since. In fact I have had way more problems with male guppies tearing each other up to have a breeding monopoly.
 

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Great info, thanks. Any idea how I could apply this but flipping around; introducing a mystery snail or different critter like RCS into a tank with a single betta. Or would this be different and I should just put it in after acclimation?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If you have the betta first and want to add other fish, I'd place them in side by side tanks during quarantine. I usually qt for two weeks at least. Then, depending on the tank accommodations, I would divide the tank and keep them this way for at least 1 week. Or, if possible, temporarily remove the betta, add the other fish to the aquarium and then re-introduce the betta via a breeding box. Re snails, my bettas have never bothered them, so after qt the snail could probably go right in. If you're cautious then use the breeding box method. What is an RCS?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My method has worked on other fish besides bettas. When I first set up a mixed species community tank, my serpae tetras literally had my platies cowering under the plants. I did the divided tank method and they've played nicely ever since. I have no experience with cichlids so I can't say if it would work for them.
 

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Cacique, the trouble with Red Cherry Shrimp is that even after they have been living together well for a long time, betta sometimes decide that the shrimp look tasty, especially if you have to go without feeding the betta for longer than usual. The method listed here will make the betta not kill the RCS out of hand, but it won't keep him from saving them for later.
 
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