Female Betta Sorority Starter Guide
Male Betta cannot be housed together with other male Betta or long term with female Betta. They are extremely aggressive and often do not do well with any other tank mates of a fish variety. The same however is not entirely true of the female Betta who can often be housed with other female Betta or fish. They tend to be, on average, slightly less aggressive than their male counterparts and through the careful breeding programs over the years they have become available in just as many colors as the boys. This has lead to a Betta sorority becoming a very popular way to keep multiple color Betta fish in a single tank.
For the novice looking to start a multiple female tank we must urge caution. Not every female Betta will be a candidate for a life within a group tank. You must be vigilant to keep an eye on your tank’s inhabitants to ensure that one is not becoming a bully or one becoming picked on. You must be prepared for a tank member to fail to assimilate into the group peacefully and have a plan for failed tank members long term housing situation. You must also be aware that some fin nipping between your females is normal so if perfect fins is your preference a sorority may not be in the cards for you.
The ideal setup for a novice is always bigger is better. Minimally we suggest a 20 gallon tank but IDEALLY we recommend a 40 gallon or 55 gallon. The more room you have the less problems you will have. You will want a good sponge filter or two, a heater appropriate for the size tank you are getting that will keep it at 78, and we recommend a good hood for your tank as Betta’s are known leapers. For your substrate you can chose whatever you prefer, but if you want OUR recommendation Fluval Stratum. We recommend this because we recommend live plants and LOTS of them for your sorority.
For a novice easy plants like Amazon Sword, Jungle Val, Dwarf Sag, Hornwort, Anubias, and Java Moss/Fern are great choices as they do not need CO2 injection or high end lighting to thrive. You want ALOT of plants. Plants are super important because not only do they provide vision interruption and hiding spots but they also provide tank cleaning soaking up nitrates and keeping your water parameters safe. They are not however required, so if you want to do plastic instead you can but remember that Betta fins can be damaged by plastic plants. You will also want to provide other types of hiding and sight interruption in the way of decor and caves. A few mystery snails will help keep it all cleaned up.
Sight interruption is going to be your most important concern here. This is something that will get in the way of a chasing fish to block sight of their target. This helps make the inevitable squabbles end quickly. Typically once they cannot see each other directly anymore the chase is over. There will be chases the goal is not to prevent them but to prevent injury and make them end quickly.
Now for your females, you will want to keep the numbers to about 1 per 2 gallons as a novice sorority keeper. You must have no less than 5. Any less than 5 increase the likelihood of one fish becoming a target. The more females you have the more spread out any aggression will be. Siblings tend to do best as long term sorority members but getting a sibling pack will limit your color choices and is not always possible. You want to add all of the members at the same time and any future members you will want to add preferably with at least one other at the same time. If you put a random strange female into the tank by itself you run the risk of all the females turning on it. When first added there is a good chance they will chase each other and even fight a little bit to establish pecking order. You need to use your judgement on whether it is gong to far.
Now from time to time a female may become more aggressive, this usually is a sign they are ready to breed so you will need to remove them from the group if they are being extremely aggressive and not breaking off chasing. You will also need to keep an eye for a female that is spending most of their time hiding, having torn up fins, or otherwise avoiding the other tank mates as this is a sign of a female that is being picked on and they will need to be removed. Sometime these removed members can be readded after a little bit of a time out but this is not always the case and you need to be prepared to handle a failed sorority member situation.
The #1 thing you need to do to keep the peace is to make sure they are well fed. Well fed females are less likely to squabble.