Hi, troops. I've got a bit of a situation.
Here's the story: I have a boy named Isaac, a rescue, who I've had since January. Isaac initially came home with a very severe, very persistent case of fin rot, and despite it healing, his fins have been sort of delicate ever since. Due to the persistent nature of the rot, Isaac was in and out of a hospital bowl for about three months (just because, quite honestly, keeping water crystal-clean is much easier in a 1.5 gallon than in a 5 gallon), and the bowl turned into more of a 'home' than a hospital-- to keep him amused we added decorations and lightweight marbles he could push around, and he grew to like it.
However, about three months ago, Isaac was perfectly healthy and I started feeling like he deserved a bigger tank-- so we got him a nice 2.5 gallon, prettied it all up, decorated it to give him more than enough hiding places, and let him explore. The tank was in the same area as his bowl so very little about his environment had changed, and he seemed happy and active.
Within a week, he'd chewed off half his tail and developed holes in his fins from overflaring. The tank was the only variable I could think of, so I moved him back to his bowl. Biting stopped, and his fins grew back very nicely-- the holes even disappeared.
So. This Saturday, I decide to give him another chance. I'd gotten my hands on another 2.5 gallon and moved it to an even quieter area of the house. Isaac seemed-- well-- bored in his bowl, quite honestly, and I wanted to see if a bigger space would up his activity level.
It's been about four days and the biting and holes have shown up again. Isaac is NOT a chronic biter-- I do have another biter who will chew off his tail as soon as it reaches a certain length, but Isaac had maintained his tail at its full length for almost two months now.
I feel like the answer 'move him back to the bowl' is obvious at this point, but I've heard just about every lecture there is about keeping bettas in less-than-2.5 gallon environments. What I'd like to know is if anyone else has ever had a similar situation and if they could share their thoughts. If not, I'd like to see opinions anyway-- when I got into betta-keeping, I was convinced keeping a betta in anything less than 5 gallons was outright cruel, and I've seen a lot of mud being thrown over bowls.
I'm going to try moving him back to the bowl and see if it does any good. In the meantime: thoughts?