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Old 11-04-2012, 05:41 AM   #1 
Onbu
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Really need to refresh my betta knowledge as soon as possible - thanks for your help

Hi all,

I have very recently adopted a betta who is a known tail biter.

I have not had any fish for quite a few years now - and the only ones I've ever owned were betta's. None of my betta's ever ate their own tails though. So I have been obsessively searching the info to update my care knowledge and also read up on this self inflicted tail damage problem.

Hoping some of the very knowledgeable people here will be able to keep me on the right track with this little guy. I have learnt from other posters the importance of keeping photo logs to track progress so am doing this also.

He was originally purchased by his previous owner as a beautiful half-moon but his owner tells me that he quickly became a consistent tail biter and in the 10 months since she bought him he has routinely eaten more than half the length of his tail off. She tells me it does start to grow back but despite her best efforts he just always chomps it back down again (she had concluded that perhaps it is just too heavy for him and he likes it shorter).

I am keen to troubleshoot this problem behaviour and help this little guy to be happy and healthy if I can, hopefully breaking the tail biting habit and grow back his fins to their gorgeous natural size. But I am definitely not a betta/fish expert. I have owned numerous Betta's in the past and none of them ever bit their own tail.

I am using the Seachem Prime Water Conditioner (as was his previous owner) and I was wondering if I could also start using the Seachem Stress Coat as part of his everyday water content and if that would help the growing process for his tail? Also looking for clarity about whether this product is used WITH the prime water conditioner, or instead of, or only ever meant to be used in a treatment/hospital tank to encourage repair of visible wounds instead of as an always included product after water changes.

His previous owner assures me that although he has been a tail biter since his day one with her - that he has never suffered fin rot as a result.

I have been shown the photos of how he looked when he was younger and she had just purchased him and at that time he had zero tail damage – his tail was full and beautiful so I know the behaviour started once he made the move.

Since I agreed to adopt him - I have been researching like crazy about ways people find work with their tail biters to break the habit and repair the tail.

Poor little guy. :(

What I know of his history:
He was purchased in Asia and then transported in a suitcase.
Since then he has been living in a glass bowl that is about 3 gallons (for about 9 months now).
No filter.
No heater.
At least once or twice a week 100% water changes.
Owner’s feeding routine was giving him 4 Hikari baby pellets a day for food (usually given at four spaced out / different times of the day, so one pellet each feeding time) – on one day of the week though he was getting frozen blood worms.
He has had the 3 gallon bowl all to himself but I believe his glass tank was sitting next to another glass betta bowl in his previous home.
I have taken him in and purchased the bowl he has been living in from his previous owner.

I am just about to place an order for completely new decorations such as plants / floating log / mirror etc to just experiment and gradually swap out one by one all of the decorations he currently has and has always had in his bowl and see if perhaps one of the objects in his environment has been the tail biting trigger.

I've also read that sometimes just moving the position of the tank or the lighting in the room etc can be enough to break the cycle (depending on why the fish is doing it) and so will wait a week before changing decorations to see if he is happier just from being in his new location inside my home.

Very keen to help this little guy repair his beautiful tail because the photos of him are truly stunning before he ate his fins back to kind of delta size but also because this behaviour doesn’t seem to be an indication of a happy, stable, content little fish.

From all my research, and in trying to pin point the WHY he is doing it - he does not fit the criteria of a 'highly aggressive' or 'skittish/neurotic' fish...so I'm leaning toward he may have always been too bored, too hungry or it is a hereditary bad habit. He seems like a happy guy, doesn’t act sluggish, or scared and is always eager to come straight up to the surface to greet me for food. Spends most of the day just calmly swimming all around this bowl.

I have read about the possible solution of getting him some companion fish to see if that keeps him more occupied and less interested in his tail but as he has never ever had tank mates before I would like to try all the more subtle changes first. If it gets to this point; How many companion fish would you say is a happy and safe mix in a 3 gallon tank with just one betta? (and which companion fish would be most recommended).

So any other advice you can offer regarding successfully repairing his fins – but most importantly stopping the biting would be appreciated.

I am also interested to hear from Betta owners who swear by or swear off the Moss balls (both the Marimo live Balls and the Fluval imitations – and the pro’s and con’s of live v’s artificial in an uncycled tank).

Lastly, is anyone able to tell me if you have ever heard or seen any info regarding whether dried blood worms are known to cause constipation / digestive problems with betta’s. As compared with using the frozen blood worm cubes?

His previous owner loved him very very very very much and I’m sure she took very good care of him and all her other betta’s (he was the only tail biter she had) – She had tried many things to break his bad habit and is knowledgeable about betta’s but I still have my fingers crossed he may be able to be helped.

He has been with me a few days now and I have not actually caught him in the tail biting act – but I am preparing myself because I have been shown pictures by his previous owner of him with part of his tail still hanging out of his mouth!!! :eek:

Thank you very much for any help you can offer and also for sharing your time.

Kind regards,
Onbu.
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Old 11-04-2012, 06:09 AM   #2 
ChoclateBetta
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You need a ten gallon for betta tankmates that are fish also you need a heater.
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Old 11-04-2012, 06:33 AM   #3 
Kim
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Well, it certainly sounds as if you've done your homework already. Unfortunately, I can't really add all that much to the discussion except to say that it's different with each fish. I've had several tail-biters in the past, and while I was able to somewhat curb the behavior in 2 of them, it never really went completely away. One seemed to bite if his environment was changed in any way, so I would leave the plants relatively stationary and perform water changes carefully so as to avoid stressing him out. The other was a half-moon who just seemed to dislike his long finnage as his tailbiting episodes did not correlate with anything else.

As for my third tail-biter, he was really a chronic case and would tail-bite no matter what I did. He was a rescue and had severe fin rot when I bought him, and I pretty much concluded that he didn't like the weight of his tail because his biting coincided much more with the length of his tail as it grew back than any outside stimuli or changes. He "trimmed" his tail for the duration of his life but otherwise always seemed happy and healthy.

The one issue I see with your setup is the lack of heater. Bettas really are a true tropical fish and will be happiest with a temp. around 80F. Good luck with your little guy!

-Kim
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Old 11-04-2012, 06:41 AM   #4 
Onbu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kim View Post
Well, it certainly sounds as if you've done your homework already. Unfortunately, I can't really add all that much to the discussion except to say that it's different with each fish. I've had several tail-biters in the past, and while I was able to somewhat curb the behavior in 2 of them, it never really went completely away. One seemed to bite if his environment was changed in any way, so I would leave the plants relatively stationary and perform water changes carefully so as to avoid stressing him out. The other was a half-moon who just seemed to dislike his long finnage as his tailbiting episodes did not correlate with anything else.

As for my third tail-biter, he was really a chronic case and would tail-bite no matter what I did. He was a rescue and had severe fin rot when I bought him, and I pretty much concluded that he didn't like the weight of his tail because his biting coincided much more with the length of his tail as it grew back than any outside stimuli or changes. He "trimmed" his tail for the duration of his life but otherwise always seemed happy and healthy.

The one issue I see with your setup is the lack of heater. Bettas really are a true tropical fish and will be happiest with a temp. around 80F. Good luck with your little guy!

-Kim
Hi Kim,

Thank you so much for sharing your insight - his previous owner had literally come to the same conclusion with this little guy. She described his behaviour to me as 'being his own barber' because he always eats his tail back whenever it starts to grow back to healthy/normal size for a half moon.

I have not really read anything concrete on the subject though - as you say everyone seems to be experiementing with different solutions for every different little fish.

I am certainly not an expert and at this point I still feel this habit is so sad and he must not be happy - because I have not read anything that supports that it is 'natural or normal' for these guys to 'trim' their own tails to their desired lengths.

Have you seen anything supporting this behaviour as completely healthy in some of the betta's who just dont want a huge tail?
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:20 AM   #5 
ChoclateBetta
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What is the Temp?
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:55 AM   #6 
Onbu
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I have been monitoring the temp and I do see it is a problem :(

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What is the Temp?
Hiya,

His previous owner told me she kept her house at a constant 24 degrees celsius.

So before I took him in I turned my climate control unit setting to 24 degrees celsius also, so as to reduce the stress induced by all the changes/moving house for him. I've been trying to keep everything as consistent as possible for him since taking him on so I could avoid a sudden shock death and also monitor his usual behaviuour.

He has been with me two nights now and despite his previous owner never doing so and feeling if the room temp stayed consistent so will his water - I have inserted a digital thermometer into his tank so I can monitor what I assume will happen even with the climate control set, thus being unavoidable changes throughout the day just based on night v's day time etc and sunlight/warmth/heat through the rooms windows at different levels throughout the day.

I realised today his water was still reporting too cool for him though - so I have pushed my room climate control aircon up to 26 degrees. Am hoping once the room warms up this will have a positive effect on his water temp rising.
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:58 AM   #7 
ChoclateBetta
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I would still reccomend a heater they are really helpful. What is the tank size and are there lots of hiding spots sorry if I did not see it and its in there.
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:14 AM   #8 
Onbu
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Thanks so much for trying to help me

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Originally Posted by ChoclateBetta View Post
I would still reccomend a heater they are really helpful. What is the tank size and are there lots of hiding spots sorry if I did not see it and its in there.
Hiya,

He has been in a 3 gallon tank.
By himself.
I've kept him in the exact same tank at my place.
He has a little house down the bottom that I am told he has always had and he likes to pop in and out of there, especially likes to sleep in there.
There is a little penny wort plant on top of the house.
And there is a fake floating lily that I have been told he likes to make bubble nests under.

I can see that at present there is not enough hiding, playing or resting space scattered inside the main space of the tank though as the shape of the tank means the base is quite small and fits only the sleeping house and the penny wort that sits on top of the house is too small to provide 'near surface' resting spots or for him to play/hide between foliage etc.

So I have today placed an online order for a few new things to switch around and experiment with which will hopefully arrive in about two weeks:
Exercise floating mirror
Mini floating betta log with feeding hole
Different types of floating lily options
Variety of different types and sizes of silk plants to try out
Seachem stress guard

And I am going to keep an eye out for a different little sleeping house to sit on the bottom where his current one is that he really likes, just in case something about the shape or colour of the current one is upsetting to him.
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:21 AM   #9 
ChoclateBetta
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Sounds good you have a lucky little Betta quick fact the Betta avergaes 2-3 years in bowl and averages 5-7 and rarely ten in goos envirements cant find a link too it I read about the study.
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:25 AM   #10 
Onbu
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Hmmm.....

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Originally Posted by ChoclateBetta View Post
Sounds good you have a lucky little Betta quick fact the Betta avergaes 2-3 years in bowl and averages 5-7 and rarely ten in goos envirements cant find a link too it I read about the study.
So a betta in a tank with a filter will live for at least twice as long as a betta in a bowl?

Hmmmm...I didn't realise that.

All my past betta's have lived in bowl/large vase type glass containers - and I had one little guy who lived for so many years we lost count of how old he was...we started affectionately referring to him as 'The Survivor Fishy' :)

I don't want this little guy to die prematurely though just because he doesnt have a filter set up
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