A New Sorority Blues

Nikki Tognetti

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I am wondering if I made a giant mistake as a new hobbyist. Okay I have a 29 gallon that I decided to turn into a Betta sorority. The tank is fully cycled in good numbers and filled with hiding spots. The temperature is set between 78 to 80. Yesterday I went down and picked up 5 betta females to start the tank going. There were 4 male cobra guppies to help cycled the tank, but I rehome them. I believe my 1st mistake was two of the females were larger and most likely older than the other 3. I did the acclamation phase from my initial research in the matter and then I released all 5 in the tank.

Already a super dominant scarlet half-moon tail was chasing everybody around. I heard this would happen because they were trying to establish a pecking order and possibly find their little territories within tank. After 2 days of this I lost my nerve and patience. I placed her in an isolation 2.5 tank and prayed to the other 3 would get along as she hopefully would calm down during her time out. The 2nd larger female who at 1st was submissive to the red one had become dominant and in the very same thing to the poor younger ones. I have no other tank to put this one in, and money is running low because of other family expenses and it’s only the beginning of this month.

So, I looked up DIY dividers for tanks and luckily, I found one at YouTube that is reasonably cheap and easy to make. With this, I will divide a cozy section of the large tank and let them get used to each other behind the divider before removing it, so they can coexist peacefully. I’m praying eventually I can do the same with the red female.

Am I doing everything okay with this strategy? I could really use and appreciate any advice, tips, or any solutions to build the sorority without pulling my hair out.
Here is a picture of the tank before I put the divider(s) in it.
 

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luckdown

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The size differences are definitely a problem. I'm assuming you didn't check their aggression before you bought them? Were the females already in a sorority before you?

For sororities it's best to start with young females, all about the same size who were all already in a sorority/grow out tank before you got them, preferably their entire/most lives.

When I set up my sorority I did a month quarentine in 2 gallon tanks set up so everyone could see each other. I also bought extra females (since I bought them online) knowing not everyone would work for it. Out of the 12 females I got I only used 8 for the sorority. One due to size (I think I somehow ended up with a giant), and the other two weren't aggressive but they were so submissive it seemed like they'd get bullied to death.

I know you don't have room for more tanks but the issue with separating them in their permanent tank is they'll set up their territories, figure out their rank with the ones who aren't separated. Then when you go to put them all together again, you'll need to take them all out and rearrange the tank then add them all at the same time like you did before. Which is going to make them go through the whole process all over again.

Another issue is you might not have enough females, the more you have the more the aggression gets spread out. I've heard that 5 is okay but for me it worked out better with more. I'd say 7 is a better number.

However, you only need to separate them if they're attacking too much. Some nipping and chasing is normal. It's gonna happen a lot at first and then it'll happen randomly for the entire life of the sorority.

My sorority will chase each other plenty but they don't usually nip. I've only had 2 cases of small nips so far, but plenty of "fights"

I did however have to take out one female due to agression during the first day. But I gave her a half hour timeout then put her back in and she hasn't been a problem since.

If the larger females really don't work would it be possible to exchange them for younger ones who might work better?
 
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Nikki Tognetti

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I purchased them all at PetSmart in their individual cups. I don't believe they been in the sorority before. The 2 smaller ones (the 3rd one died) are getting along okay. They will chase but it's brief. They're eating just fine and look fairly healthy. Should I get a few more females their size today? Most likely I'll exchange the 2 larger ones even though their beautiful for some small ones to match the others size. Thank you for your advice and information.
 

luckdown

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Nikki Tognetti said:
I purchased them all at PetSmart in their individual cups. I don't believe they been in the sorority before. The 2 smaller ones (the 3rd one died) are getting along okay. They will chase but it's brief. They're eating just fine and look fairly healthy. Should I get a few more females their size today? Most likely I'll exchange the 2 larger ones even though their beautiful for some small ones to match the others size. Thank you for your advice and information.
I would suggest it. That's not the best place to get girls for a sorority but I'm pretty sure so long as you give them a bit itll be okay. Bring a small mirror with you.

You could always just put the cups next to each other as well since it works the same (I just prefer to use a mirror so I'm checking one fish for aggression at a time without stressing anyone else out)

This test isn't 100% accurate of how they'll act towards other bettas but I use this method and so far it's proven to be good to get a general feel for things.

Flaring is fine and should be expected. What youre looking for is if they obsess over the reflection, trying to get at it. An ideal response for a sorority girl, or a betta being used for a community tank, would be flaring then shortly after leaving. Revisiting and repeating that is fine too. Anyone who looks and completely ignores is awesome. I have two males like that and they're peaceful with every fish I've put them with including female bettas for breeding attempts.

People might advise against this but! If you can handle daily water changes. I would suggest before putting them all into the tank (which you'll need to rearrange before putting anyone back in) to put them in their own decent sized clear containers all next to each other so they can see and get used to one another. Give them maybe a week (2 if you want to be safe and use this as a quarentine period). Then introduce them together. Similar to how you introduce bettas for breedings to help lessen aggression. A week or two in a smaller than ideal container with daily water changes wont kill them, and since you don't have room for more tanks it'd do fine for your situation.

Idk how others do it but that's what I do, maybe someone else can give more advice?
 
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Nikki Tognetti

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Great. Yes I don't mind the day WC and the 1/2 week waiting. Thank you so much. I'll keep you updated if you like.
 

david1978

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In the beginning i didn't want a whole bunch so i got 3. Yea that didn't work even in my 75 so i added 2 more and things calmed down some. Once i got to 7 it was way more peaceful. I have added and subtracted from the group since with no issues although i try to add young ones. I even have 2 males with them but its a 4 tank so each one has lots of room.
 

luckdown

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Nikki Tognetti said:
Great. Yes I don't mind the day WC and the 1/2 week waiting. Thank you so much. I'll keep you updated if you like.
Yes please! I love updates and pictures! <3 and you are very welcome! If you'd like I can give you a tip to get them to play with you?

I recommend trying while they're quarentined. I am extremely glad I did it with my girls.

david1978 said:
In the beginning i didn't want a whole bunch so i got 3. Yea that didn't work even in my 75 so i added 2 more and things calmed down some. Once i got to 7 it was way more peaceful. I have added and subtracted from the group since with no issues although i try to add young ones. I even have 2 males with them but its a 4 tank so each one has lots of room.
Ooo I was not aware you added and took out from that tank. That's interesting. I've never tried adding to my sorority. Just to my group tank that should not exist at all and that didn't go too well.
 

david1978

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Im down to 15 right now. Ive given 8 away to my daughters freinds so there has been quite a few in and out. When i add i just dump them in. 1 was even born and raises in there so i dont know what to believe as far as what cant be overcome.
 

david1978

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In a 29 im thinking 7-9 girls. If you can find them that were kept together it may be better but if your like me the only ones in my area are in cups. Personally i like baby bettas they are a surprise as to their coloration and seem to integrate easily. The only caution with babies is one of mine grew into a boy, i got lucky with the big tank and it worked out but a smaller tank it may not.
 

luckdown

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david1978 said:
Im down to 15 right now. Ive given 8 away to my daughters freinds so there has been quite a few in and out. When i add i just dump them in. 1 was even born and raises in there so i dont know what to believe as far as what cant be overcome.
This is true. I mean. I have a 10 gallon I put my rescues in when I was getting overwhelmed with all the daily water changes. They're all perfectly happy in there with zero agression. I had 7 males and 3 females :I one healed from sbd so I took him out. But still no issues. Everyone kept saying I needed to separate them but they don't like being apart and just do better together in this tank that shouldn't exist.

So very true. A lot more is possible than most people think.
 
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Nikki Tognetti

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Update; they only had 3 other small betta females at store. They had very limited numbers of females. So I scooped up two vail-tails and a half-moon. I also purchased three 0.5 cheap plastic fish bowls. These would serve as their very temporary quarantine homes as they settled down into their surroundings and can view each other safely. I'm not comfortable with them in such small spaces but it's all I can do at this time as they get to know each other safely. I put these 3 bowls up against the main tank so everybody could see each other and get used to the situation. I don't mind the water changes daily... I'm quite used to greater water changes by now hehe. Here are photos of the setup. So far the flaring and gesturing towards each other have been very brief and all seems like it's going good. Luckdown, I would love to learn how to teach them to play. Sounds like fun plus it would help enrich their situation as they wait in their little temp homes. thank you
 

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