Typical story goes like this: you can’t keep more than one betta in a tank.
But that’s for the males.
In this guide, I’ll show you how you can create a stunning betta sorority tank.
How Many Female Bettas Can be Kept Together?
The question really isn’t how many Bettas you can keep together. It’s more about the minimum number you should keep.
It’s best to keep a group of at least five females in your Betta sorority.
Well, this spreads out any aggression over a larger number of fish.
Let’s say you only keep a group of three, but one of them is a bully. That fish will only have two targets for its aggression.
So the other two fish will constantly take the brunt of her bullying and nipping.
But, if you have five, suddenly that ill temper is spread out over twice as many fish and no one individual is taking a beating all the time.
From there, how many you can keep is governed by how big your tank is.
Tank Setup and Water Parameters
Since you should keep at least five females in your sorority, it’s best to go with a minimum of 20 gallons (75 liters).
Pro Tip: Bigger is always better when it comes to aquariums. The larger the aquarium, the more stable the water parameters will be. The higher water volume means there’s more room for fish waste before it starts to impact your water quality.
You want 20 gallons (or larger) because this will make the fish feel less crowded.
Bettas are aggressive little things. The girls are less aggressive than the males, but you can still run into problems with fighting.
If the fish feel crowded, and like they need to defend limited resources, they are likely to start trying to drive off competing fish.
But if they have plenty of room to get away from each other when needed, this will lessen stress in the tank, which should hopefully also lessen aggression.
Betta’s come from tropical parts of Southeast Asia, like Thailand and Myanmar. They require really warm temperatures between 75°-81°F (23.8°-27.2°C).
So a heater is an absolute must.
When it comes to filters, Bettas prefer a gentle flow. They’re not the strongest of swimmers and a really strong current will just sort of blast them around the tank.
Sponger filters are a great choice since they provide lots of biological filtration but are also very gentle.
The right decor is essential in a Betta sorority.
Each female betta will want to establish her own little territory within the tank. So it’s best to have the aquarium densely planted and decorated so there are tons of little hiding places and areas for each fish to hang out in.
That way, anyone who’s getting picked on can get out of sight. And, it breaks up the view of the bully fish so they don’t see their tank mates as much. Out of sight, out of mind works wonders.
The best things to use are driftwood and live plants. The wood slowly leaches tannins which will soften and acidify the water. This mimics the Betta’s natural habitat.
Live plants not only help recreate a natural aquatic environment, they also help to eat up nitrates and phosphates that are produced when fish waste breaks down. So they help make your water healthier.
But, if live plants and driftwood just aren’t your thing, you can use things like artificial plants, resin decor, rocks, whatever kind of aquarium-safe decorations you want.
Just make sure that the eyeline of the fish is broken up. The best way I’ve seen it described is that you shouldn’t be able to see all the way to the back of the tank.
- Temperature: 75°-81°F (23.8°-27.2°C)
- Ammonia/Nitrite: 0
- Nitrate: <20 ppm
- pH: 6.5-7.5
- GH: 3-4 dGH (50-66.7 ppm)
- KH: 3-5 dKH (53.6- 89.4 ppm)
Bettas are a soft water loving fish that does best in a near neutral pH. Bettas have been farm raised for many generations so they can adapt to a wide variety of conditions, but keeping them in a pH near 7.0 with a low general and carbonate hardness is ideal.
Selecting Your Sorority
Choosing the fish for your sorority is another crucial step.
To give your tank the best chance for success, you should pick out fish that are similar in size and age.
If you mix fish of different sizes, it’s very likely that the larger fish will harass and bully the smaller ones.
Pro Tip: Buying from a local breeder is better when you’re setting up a sorority. It’s the best way to guarantee that you get fish that are a similar age. Local breeders also tend to take better care of their fish than big importers, so you may be able to get healthier fish.
Your absolute best bet for success is to get all your females at a really young age and let them grow up together.
Bettas aren’t very aggressive when they’re babies. It’s when they become adults that they start to get meaner.
If they’ve all grown up together, and are already used to each other, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to live as a group long term.
Also, if you see a puny fish that doesn’t seem to be very healthy, don’t buy it so you can “nurse it back to health.”
This can be a problem in several different ways.
It could be that the puny fish is carrying a disease or parasite that can harm your other fish. So you’re trying to make one fish healthy but ended up making all your fish sick instead.
Also, the healthy fish will more than likely try to attack and drive the sick fish away.
It’s better to go with the healthiest fish you can find and just pass by any sickly Bettas you might run across.
I recommend going with a pelleted Betta food as the staple diet for your fish.
In the wild, Bettas are carnivores that eat mostly insects and insect larvae.
The first few ingredients listed should come from high quality protein sources, like whole fish, shrimp or insect larvae.
To lessen aggression, food should be added to several different places around the tank. This makes sure that everyone gets some food without the fish having to fight for access.
Pro Tip: You should feed your Bettas several small meals a day, instead of one big one. A Betta’s stomach is tiny so they can only digest so much at a time and the extra just passes through as waste.
Make sure to remove any uneaten food immediately to keep it from fouling your water.
Keeping up with your aquarium maintenance is the single most important thing you can do to ensure your tank’s success.
Just like with other aquariums, your Betta sorority tank will need weekly water changes. Change out 25%-50% of the water and make sure to vacuum out the substrate to remove solid wastes.
Spend some extra time cleaning around and under decor since the tank is so densely decorated.
Have a Back Up Plan
Female Bettas might be less aggressive than males, but they can still get pretty downright mean at times.
You will need to keep an eye on aggression levels in the tank and may need to act quickly if fish are getting beat up.
It’s normal for there to be some nipping and chasing, especially in the first few weeks while they figure out the pecking order, but you still have to make sure that there’s no real damage going on.
Be prepared to move fish to other tanks, maybe even permanently, if things aren’t working out in the main tank.
Is a Betta Sorority Right for You?
It’s easy to see the appeal of keeping a Betta sorority. It’s the only way to be able to keep multiple Bettas in one tank.
They may not have the big flowing fins of a male, but female Bettas are still gorgeous fish that come in a huge variety of colors and have spunky personalities that shine through.
But, there’s a catch. These tanks have to be done just right or the fish can start tearing each other apart.
Carefully plan out your tank, decor and fish to give yourself the best chance of everyone getting along long term.
But no matter how much time you spend planning ahead, you still need to have a backup plan so that you can separate the fish if it all goes south.
I highly recommend going with a local breeder (or ordering online from a small breeder) instead of buying from one of the big chain stores. Then you have the best chance of getting young fish that are roughly the same size.
Hopefully, all goes well and you can enjoy your tank full of colorful Betta girls for many years to come.