Many of us dream of keeping bettas together, but after learning that bettas are naturally aggressive, we seem to put the thought of housing them together in the back of our minds. Well, there is a way to keep bettas together and many betta fish keepers have had great success with groups of bettas as well! However, keeping bettas together is best left to more experienced keepers who have several years of experience in caring for betta fish.
If you are a seasoned aquarist interested in keeping a sorority of female bettas together, then this is the perfect article for you. This article will inform you on the best way to keep bettas thriving in the same tank while providing you with top tips gathered by the experts.
Important: Betta sorority tanks should strictly only house FEMALE betta fish.
Table of contents
- Betta Sororities and How They Work
- Male Betta Sorority Keeping
- Before Starting a Betta Sorority Tank (Essential Items)
- How to Set Up a Betta Sorority Tank in 5 Easy Steps
- Cautions and Concerns Regarding Betta Sorority Tanks
- Maintenance and Cleaning
- Wrapping It Up
Betta Sororities and How They Work
Betta sorority keeping is a recent idea that has become increasingly popular over time. It involves keeping a certain number of female bettas together in the same tank. There is a lot of effort and work that goes into keeping a successful group of female betta fish, but generally, it is maintainable for those who have previously kept community tanks and male bettas.
A typical description of a betta sorority tank is a heavily planted 20-gallon tank with 6 female bettas in. A bonus to this is that you can also play around and add other peaceful community fish in with the group of female betta fish. For the sorority to work out, you will need to provide them with the right conditions and always have a second tank on hand in case you need to separate a particularly dominant female from the tank.
Male Betta Sorority Keeping
Unfortunately, betta sorority keeping is limited and is not achievable with male betta fish. Male bettas are extremely aggressive and territorial to other males and even some females. Males will fight till death or serious injury, and it is not recommended to try to house them together. The outcomes are always the same and will often end in heartbreak. Although you can house males with compatible tank mates like neon or Endler tetras, which is perfect if you prefer a male betta but still want to maintain a community-style tank.
Before Starting a Betta Sorority Tank (Essential Items)
Before rushing in and placing a group of female bettas together, there are essential aspects to follow if you want your betta sorority tank to thrive. Here is a starter kit list to ensure you have the basic supplies to raise a group of female bettas:
Once you have bought the essential items, it is time to start setting up the tank and begin preparing it for your new group of female bettas.
How to Set Up a Betta Sorority Tank in 5 Easy Steps
Setting up a new aquarium is fun! You have the option to make the tank as lavish or plain as you want to. There is a lot of opportunities to create the perfect environment for your new female bettas.
Here’s how you can go about creating and setting up a betta sorority tank:
1. The tank and stocking ratio
The tank should be between 10-55 gallons and placed in the area you want it to stay. Start by rinsing the substrate and then gently layering it along the bottom of the aquarium.
2. Water conditioning
Once you have placed the substrate of your choice in the tank, you can then begin filling it with water. After the tank is filled, you can place it in water dechlorinate to reduce the chlorine found in household water supplies.
Once the water is at the desired level, it’s time to start planting. You want to aim for a heavily planted tank full of bushy live plants. Hornwort, Vallisneria, java fern, and subwassarang are good plants to start with. They will provide a nice jungle look to the tank while still providing shelter.
Add in the filter and heater alongside an accurate thermometer. Turn the heater on to the temperature settings bettas are most comfortable at (78°C) and make sure it is large enough to heat the size of the tank. A 20-gallon tank can run a 50W to 100W heater. Place the filter in the tank and connect an air stone to an air pump so that all the bettas have enough oxygen and do not have to compete for it.
5. The nitrogen cycle
Now that the setup is complete, it is time to cycle the aquarium for the next several weeks. When the tank is done cycling, the water testing kit should read at 0ppm ammonia and nitrite, with 5 to 20ppm nitrate. This step should be done before adding in your sorority. Run the filter during this time.
Cautions and Concerns Regarding Betta Sorority Tanks
Even female bettas are aggressive and territorial, but not in the same way males are. Female bettas can be kept together because they do not fight till death as males do. They do prefer their own space and will not form a shoal. However, one betta will always be the most dominant and may pick fights on occasion if they feel that another betta is in their territory. Keeping female bettas together does not come without the added risks and it is a good idea to monitor their behavior. They should rarely fight if they have the right sized tank with a good number of live plants. Betta sorority is generally successful but always be prepared that they may occasionally fight with each other.
Always make sure that they are indeed females before you place them together. The pet store should label the genders on the container or display tanks they are held in. We recommend buying a group of females that are siblings from an ethical betta fish breeder in your area. Siblings seem to get along well with each other long-term.
Maintenance and Cleaning
Once the sorority tank is set up and fully cycled it will be easy to maintain and clean onwards. You will need to do basic water changes once a week due to the bio-load your group of bettas will produce. Gravel vacuums are essential to ensure that all the excess waste and debris is removed from the tank. If the tank is heavily planted, then water changes every 2 weeks will suffice.
When it comes to feeding, you want to place food in various places in the tank so that they do not all huddle together to fight over food in one spot. This will also reduce the risk of aggressive behavior between who gets all the food.
Wrapping It Up
A sorority tank’s success rate depends on how much care the fish each receive. Keep in mind the tank and elements inside play a major role in determining if your female betta sorority will work out. If you provide them with all the essentials and plenty of hiding places, then you will reduce the risk of fighting. Each betta will claim an area for territory, so make sure they are comfortable and have lots of places to hide. If you notice any fin nipping behavior, it is best to go ahead and remove the aggressor from the tank.
Featured Image Credit: Hobi Atok, Shutterstock