I have posted in many of the forums on here as my Butterfly VT Gawain has been having issue after issue, both with his tank and his fins. After a long time trying to diagnose him, and changing out every decoration in his tank, I finally caught him biting his own tail. I'd like to post the photos I have of his progression from normal to in the throes of tailbiting in the hopes that I can help others diagnose the same issue.
I would also like some advice on how to go on from here... I don't know if it's something that will ever go away, and while his tail has not worsened in the last three days it has not shown any signs of regrowth that I can see. I have a very mild dose of aquarium salt in his tank (though I might up the dose since it seems that even that much is going to off his plant in any case), I've been doing water changes every other day using NutraFin conditioner and Stress Coat, and right now I've got some IAL in the tank with him.
And now, the photos:
Say hello to Gawain! This was the day after I got him from the store. He was perfectly normal with a healthy rounded tail, for the first month and a half that I had him:
About a month ago, I noticed two minor splits in his caudal fin. I immediately switched out any suspicious decorations.
Within a day or two these splits became much more aggressive, and actual holes started appearing in his fins. The edges of the splits and the holes looked ragged and chewed, rather than smooth tears. This is right about when I caught him chewing his fin, which is the only time I ever saw him do it. I think he chews when I am not in the room, or does it inside his cup, since I haven't been able to catch him at it since.
After some advice from the community here I changed most of the decor in his tank and started him on aquarium salt, Stress Coat, and frequent water changes. However, nothing seemed to help.
Here it is easiest to see that his fins, though ragged, are clean and clear, denoting the absence of fin rot as a possible cause.
A day after the last picture I noticed that he had taken off a sizeable part of the top of his caudal fin. In this photo you can also see an unusual, knotty-looking kink in his anal fin that had appeared about a week before the tailbiting began.
...Well, he took care of that three days ago, biting the whole knot cleanly off of his anal fin, the first sign of biting anywhere other than his caudal. The day before that I had put a large Indian Almond Leaf in the tank, which has considerably darkened the water. For the last three days he has been like this. His anal fin has had a strange tendency to fold to the left even now that the knots are gone, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's clamping (though I have never seen that and cannot tell, and also wouldn't put it past him to develop another issue on top of this). The edges of his fins have begun to look more irritated now that they've had a chance to sit, rather than being defined by very new, clean bites all the time.
When I first put in the aquarium salt and stress coat he immediately showed signs of improvement and even new growth, but these slowed and he went back to biting and showing no signs of regrowth after a day. It seems to me that the IAL has been the best thing for him, since any signs of more biting that I can see have stopped since I put it in... however, his tail just looks so ragged now that he could still be taking pieces off and it would be hard for me to tell.
So, hopefully this will help anyone who is trying to figure out if their betta is a tailbiter, and help anyone who knows determine what I should do next.
Thank you for reading.