PSA: massive offload here, appreciate not everyone has hours to read people’s rants on here but thanks for the opportunity to get this issue off my chest lol.
Soooooooo my planted 130L community tank started with a female bristlenose and then a male betta, and it was a match made in heaven! Bffs, seem to go out of their way to hang out together, he swishes his fins across her and she’d go nearer to him and they’d be in each other’s hang outs all the time and zero aggression or anything whatsoever. Just super lovely. If I could start all over again, this is where I would have stopped! This was superb.
Added some harlequin rasboras, still, everyone got along great! A flare or two at the start but then I’d catch my betta sometimes bopping along w the rasboras, who never tried to hide from him or avoid him at all; everything was peachy, even while managing a snail population explosion and incorrect water changes and a fair amount of other stressful things I was doing to them accidentally that I won’t go into now, so much stress from those rasboras onwards, but unrelated to betta aggression…. Added a kuhli loach, by himself cause he was the only one at the lfs, things were still going fine. Everyone out and about, no aggro, no hiding or chasing, seemed super peaceful.
Added two more kuhli loaches – within days; cant find my rasboras? See that they are hiding under the filter or in the plants, separated, out each on their own. Hmm that’s weird. Then for days, not a kuhli in sight. Then when I could actually sit back and observe a while, I see that my betta is spending his whole day chasing the rasboras any time one gets close to him. Not just a flare and turn away but actually boosting himself up to dart after them, for ages! He seems to be getting faster and stronger too and almost caught one the other day, I had to check it didn’t have a wound.
Soooooooo he’s now sequestered into a 52L which I had been setting up for one final manic “rescue” male betta petshop adoption, that has been cycled and has plants over half of it already and IALs and alder cones and a sponge filter, and he’s sulking like ANYTHING and I’m pretty sure (well I like to think) the bristlenose is missing him and also sulking (she looks pretty much the same) but now the rasboras are shoaling around freely again and the kuhlis are out and about and the vibe is generally, way more relaxed. Like the exact day I removed him, the kuhlis all showed themselves again and came out to eat etc.
But every time I look at David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust/Starlord I have a pang of guilt. It’s not like I saved him from a tiny box at Petbarn and popped him into this little paradise, its like I took him from his (albeit crowded, for him anyway) mansion and he has been downgraded severely. He stalks the glass or hides in one spot. He flares at his own reflection, which I hardly ever saw him do in his old tank.
My options as I see them are… add more harlequins (which I was going to do anyway) and more kuhlis (had been on agenda) and rearrange the big tank, and then cautiously add David Bowie back in to see if he can be his sweet old polite self, with everyone else being more confident in bigger groups and having re-established their territories etc. If this option works, its probably the ideal.
If he is still aggro or worse, because he just hates a crowd, then take him out for good…. Let him live out his sentence alone in the 50L til I can fit and afford another 20-30 gal for him and his bristlenose girlfriend to live out their days in peace. And add some female bettas to the big tank maybe. Or another little school and one of those cute gouramis. There are options.
I feel too guilty to try return or rehome the rasboras and kuhlis, even though I’m not particularly bonded with them and really originally got them to create a diverse environment for David Bowie (my other betta is THRIVING peacefully in a 87L with his bristlenose gf and cherry shrimp friends so I know the system can work, even though he seemed far more aggro to begin with than David Bowie) I feel responsible for what happens to them down the road now and like I need to commit to giving them the best life I can.
Is there anything else I could try, in your experience, to make all these creatures I’m now responsible for happy and healthy?
Phew. Thanks in advance and btw so good to have a space to talk through all this fish stuff, my friends all think I’ve lost the plot