Q: I am getting a 10 gal tank to house female bettas. Can you give me some advice to make it successful?  Thank you.

Question submitted by josette, portsmouth - oh

A: A harem, he? :)... Well Josette, the first primordial thing to provide your gals is the shopping channel :P, mirrors (with good lighting), and lots of completely useless and most positively vain magazines (with lots of print adds and almost no actual content). Optional: a hair salon (possibly overpriced). Also make sure to tune your TV to "Sex and the City: once a week and your betta females will, in deed, be in female heaven LOL.

OK, but seriously (maybe I should rename this column "But seriously" LOL) and all kidding aside, here are a few (real this time, no really, I mean it) pointers to have a happening 10 gal betta harem going:

  • do not overcrowd your harem: 6 females would be more than plenty. 4 would be even better. It's not only a matter of water/inch of fish but it also a matter of water/attitude problem of fish LOL. Females DO fight! 

  • provide a really good filtration system. I recommend an external power filter with flow control. Penguin is my brand of choice (and they are not even giving me anything free to say that LOL - as in: no incentive what so ever), cause I like the bio wheel feature and they work great. I have never had one die on me yet. Some have been going night and day non stop for 5 years now. But there are other good brands, make sure to pick one that has flow control (so you can shut down the filter when you feed and also so that you can regulate the water flow so  bettas are not disturbed by too much water flow)

  • make sure water flow is not so strong that the bettas are swimming sideways! But keep it going as strong as possible within these parameters so water stays clean

  • no need for air pump. Bettas do not need air bubbles and all it does is create more water movement which they do not like much.

  • lots of need for lotsa plants. Cause our female bettas are nasty and like picking fights. So they need to have plants to run for cover when one of them is PMSing heavily and acting like a real b.... ;) (I meant b.... as in betta hehehehe) (yeah, right!)

  • use small heater (maybe 75w) and set it to keep water at about 70F. Get a thermometer to keep an eye on temps, too.

  • only use clean, new stuff. Never use a tank or used fish stuff that has not been sanitized. Especially if the last tenants died in it!! :(

  • perform 50% water changes monthly (and do not over feed)

  • keep an eye on your females especially at first, they will need to establish a pecking order and the alpha female will soon run the show and keep everyone in line. But in the process, you might see fights erupt and some may get pretty serious. One nasty female could destabilize the whole thing. So my advice is watch them closely. If they fight too viciously, remove the trouble maker. But once the dominance has been established and they appear to get along, do not remove or add anyone else, any changes can affect the delicate balance and cause new vicious fights to erupt again.

  • log on to bettatalk.com and read read read :)) (shameless plug)

Good luck with your betta harem !! Remember that female bettas can sometimes be as pretty as the males (especially marbles, BFs - rare- and opaques). Yeah! Girl power!!! ;)