On Sunday, I had an awful shock with Falkor. My partner and I had visited a friend for the day, and when we got back, he had gone from beautiful, full fins to a half-gnawed off caudal and damaged dorsal and anal fins. Between midday and 9:00pm, he'd done this much damage to himself. I was horrified! And also wondering what I had done wrong to cause him to do this to himself.
Being my usual panicky, anxious self, I fluttered about for a while, berating myself for neglecting my baby, until my partner basically grabbed me by the shoulders and told me to go search my beloved betta forum for ideas, and stop panicking. I spent the rest of the evening going through all the things that could be causing him stress or boredom or the miriad of other things that cause tail biting, exhausting the search function on the topic and ended up even more confused than when I started.
Needing to make a decision, I resolved to first change up the decor in his tank, with plans to purchase a larger home for him ASAP. The following day, I initially kept the light off, but noticing that there was no change in behaviour whether the lights were on or not. That day also happened to be Christmas Eve, the day my father was visiting, and the evening my partner and I needed to head to the country to visit his family. I was upset that I couldn't do any more for Falkor that day, but since he'd stopped biting, at least for that time, I stuck to routine until we left.
This morning, Christmas Day, my partner and I were instructed to go on a "treasure hunt" for our gift. We followed the trail of clues, from inside the house, around the property. At one point in the journey, attached to one of the clues, was one of those "exercise mirrors" for bettas. I'd been thinking of getting one for Falkor for once in a while, as I'm always afraid of holding a mirror to his tank for fear of him hurting himself on the glass, so I was delighted that my partner's family had thought of not only us, but our little boy. We headed back inside with the final destination being the Christmas tree. We then found out why we needed to go on the hunt. In the time it took us to find the clues and come back, two bettas had been placed under the tree, one for each of us.
Initially, I was horrified that they were in tiny vases with nothing in them and no lids, but I hid that emotion because they'd obviously put a lot of thought into getting them for us, and gone over the set budget for presents set by the family to get us these boys (it's a large family so the budget for each person was $10, and the average price in our state for bettas is anywhere between $10-$20 each, usually on the upper end of the scale, plus the vases and food they'd bought). As for the conditions they were in, we found out that they'd just followed the instructions given to them at the pet store, so it was no surprise they were in those conditions. We packed the rest of our presents up as best we could, and prepared to take these poor little boys home. They braved the long train ride with us, and now they're safely in my living room.
As yet, we don't have enough equipment for proper housing for them, as we had no idea we were being given pets for Christmas. It was a beautiful surprise, and very kind of his family to have been so thoughtful of our interest in and love for fishy friends (they'd heard all about Falkor each time we called them). Unfortunately, I have only a 2 gallon, which Falkor occupies, and a tank of similar capacity but different dimensions that my first ever betta, Commander Worf, occupied over two years ago. Luckily, I have a spare heater, so one of the boys will be able to be nice and warm until I stores open tomorrow, but I'm kind of despairing for the other one. I hope he'll be okay until I can get some supplies for him.
So now our fishy family has grown from one to three, with the new veiltail and crowntail from today. Being an inexperienced fishkeeper, I'm quite daunted at the prospect of caring for three at once, and also healing two with chomped fins (the crowntail took a chunk out of his caudal fin, so I'll need to treat him along with Falkor for their injuries). My work is definitely cut out for me, but I'm still pretty ecstatic, despite the nervousness and disappointment in myself at letting Falkor get to a point where he mutilated himself. Eeep!