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Old 11-13-2012, 09:37 AM   #1 
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Chronicle of a Tailbiter (where do we go from here?)

Hello all.
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:
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About a month ago, I noticed two minor splits in his caudal fin. I immediately switched out any suspicious decorations.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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...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.
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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.
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Old 11-13-2012, 01:01 PM   #2 
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Fishie is a chronic tailbiter. He's a HM Rosetail, so he has lots of finnage to deal with. I had him for a few months before he started biting. He's in a 5 gallon filtered tank, and I discovered that at the time that he started biting, the filter flow had increased because my cartridge got all gunky and the water was coming out the overflow area. So I thought that made it harder for him to swim and therefore he started biting. I put him in a 1 gallon tank to treat him, and he kind of hated it in there. He didn't swim around much, so I felt bad keeping him there. So after his tail started growing back a bit and I had fixed the issue with my filter, I put him back in the 5 gallon. He was good for a few weeks and he had a lot of regrowth, but then he started biting again. This time he started biting his anal fin! But then I noticed he'd taken a couple of chunks out of his tail, too. I treated with AQ salt for about a week and did more frequent water changes until the redness in his fins went away. I put Stress Coat in each time I change the water, I have an oak leaf in his tank, and the food I feed him now has much higher protein content, so his anal fin seemed to heal more quickly but his tail is still really ragged. I have a feeling that whenever it grows back to a certain length and gets too heavy, he's just going to start biting again. I don't think there's much I can really do about it besides checking for redness or signs of fin rot. He had such a beautiful tail before, but I don't think he'll ever let it grow back to its full glory.
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Old 11-13-2012, 01:16 PM   #3 
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I am in the same boat, it's soo heartbreaking to see such gorgeous fins, destroyed and shredded when for the first month everything is fine, then out of the blue, they attack their own fins, my most recent fishy, Ocean, in the pic, the mint green one had such gorgeous flowing fins,, he ripped em apart with in the past couple days, he is in treatment as we speak,

I was very nervous because I saw some red, in beetween the fins and edges, where the most recent biting occured, so I have to wait it out, but all his plants are silk, and I had recently took him out of the filtered tank, to help with regrowth..uggh,,i dont know why he did it..but it's worse now than before..not the filters fault this time..And it's not just the HM's the VT's do it too, my red VT, he attacked his tail too..
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Old 11-13-2012, 10:02 PM   #4 
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I have to diagnose my male rosetail with the same condition. I've had him for about three weeks now and his fins were perfect except for a couple knots in his caudal fins. Then just a couple days ago I noticed splits in his tail. These have grown to concave chunks. He is starting to look like a crown tail! I noticed the edge of his anal fin appearing to disintegrate today, which I believe may indicate fin rot. So frustrating... I hope he makes it. I have kids and they get very attached. And of course I do too. :)
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Old 11-13-2012, 11:05 PM   #5 
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lol, add another VT to that list. mine did that every week when i got him and still does so in the 5g divided though the frequency has dropped quite a bit, i think mine has finrot also but he's been in AQ saelt recently.

such habitual tail biters are hard to deal with. you can only resort to AQ salt in a really bad situation when it does occur. his caudal recently got rot and bitten down. its healing well though the anal tail has rot now.....:*(

Last edited by nel3; 11-13-2012 at 11:07 PM.
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:54 PM   #6 
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I haven't been able to tell whether Mori has been tearing his fins, biting them, or if it's fin rot. It looks like he has a tear in his anal fin and that he's been biting his caudal fin. I wish I had an answer as to what is officially going on, but I don't. He has silk plants in his tank. Does anyone think it might have to do with water quality? The water from this area is fairly hard, so I don't know if that weakens his fins or anything.

Here's his most recent photo to you betta experts. I'm proud that, despite his tail, he still built a bubble nest for me. ^_^

Last edited by titusthebetta; 11-14-2012 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:49 PM   #7 
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good clean water does wonders for the fins if the situation isnt that dire. the funny thing is that some bettas get rot or torn find then manually trim the uncovered rays.
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