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Old 02-19-2013, 11:50 PM   #1 
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Location: Michigan
Exclamation Betta Fish eating his tail, what to do?

I'm posting on behalf of my friend. I helped her pick out a betta fish and she's had him for almost a week.

This is what he looked right after she got him:

This is what he looks now:

She's done everything she can. I got her to move him to a 5 gallon tank. She has changed the plastic plants to silk ones. He is eating.

After observing him for awhile, we saw that he was spinning around and trying to grab his own tail, which then he was tearing pieces of his tail.

He likes to dart around her tank, much more than my betta (Mine is active but not like her betta that looks like it's addicted to caffine) There are no white spots to indicate fin rot, however my friend has mentioned seeing black spots. We've tried ping pong balls to try and entertain him, different types of food (His staple food is omega pellets however)

His tank is not filter or heated, however her room is kept warm enough to keep his tank at atleast 74 degrees. He's feed twice a day and eats 2 to 3 pellets.

I've been trying to figure out why her betta has been having so much trouble but I can't figure out what is wrong. He has enough food, a large space, we try out best to entertain him, plants to hide, but he stills eats more and more of his back fin everyday. (it's worse than the last picture. The back fin is nearly completely gone and the top fin is slowly getting worse too now)
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Old 02-20-2013, 12:55 AM   #2 
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Location: Goleta, California
Unfortunately, once they start tail biting, it's quite hard to get them to stop. It's become a habit for them. The best thing is to keep his water nice and clean to prevent infection and to promote growth. My boy's been tail biting, and I haven't gotten him to stop either.

I really suggest your friend gets an adjustable heater, since 74F is below the minimum temperature they should be in (76 is the min). Although you say that her room is "warm enough", there may be times where the temperature in the room changes, thus causing the water temp to change. Keeping fish in an unstable temperature is VERY stressful to your fish, which makes your fish vulnerable to diseases. I won't go as far as to say that it is deadly, but it is possible. With a heater, you can keep your fish's water at a nice stable 78-79F (ideal temperature for them). 25 watts should be perfect for heating a 5gal.

Last edited by majesticstorm; 02-20-2013 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:45 AM   #3 
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Location: Shangdong, China
They bite for several reasons - boredom, stress, fins are too heavy, or just because they can. If you can figure out WHY he is bitting, you may be able to stop it. However if its because his fins are too big/heavy or he is doing it just because he can-not much you can do to stop him. I have several tail bitters. One bites his fins off EVERY time I change the water

The best thing to do is keep the water at about 80, which is about where it shuld be since they are tropical fish. 74 is a bit too cold and keep the water super clean so fin rot won;t develop

do you have a filter? If so, that may be the cause of the stress.
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:11 AM   #4 
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Warmer water will help (as previous posters stated, 76 is the ABSOLUTE minimum a Betta should be kept at), as will lots, and lots of hiding places. Keeping him entertained with decorations both inside and outside the tank can help as well. Frequent interaction with humans can lessen this as well. You can teach him tricks, and get interesting things for him to play with. Some Bettas like to play with ping pong balls or to push around moss balls in their tanks.
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:50 AM   #5 
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Location: Dartmouth, NS
Like Tiki said, finding out why the betta bites is important. I had 2 VT's and both bit their tails. However, I stopped it almost completely in my current VT Ludendorff since I split the tank and he had another fish to communicate with. Both fish are on my desk now too, whereas before only one fish was on my desk. He bit his tail when he was not getting enough attention from me.

Put the tank somewhere it receives a lot of attention. I would suggest getting a heater too. Nothing beats the betta blues like warm water. Heaters are fairly cheap now too.

Is there a filter in the 5 gallon?
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:20 PM   #6 
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To answer your questions, she doesn't have a filter, however keeps up on water changes. She was originally doing 100% water changes, but I told her to at most do 50% water changes at once so he isn't stressed out.

We're hoping to get a heater for him this weekend, however both she and I are both short on funds. (Art college student problems) Hopefully that will help if we are able to pick one up this weekend.

She has tried ping pong balls. But he didn't take to them.

I do know that she doesn't like to play with her Betta as much as I do. I've tried to convince her to teach him tricks, get him to jump for food, and such. However I end up being the person to give him exciting food rather than his pellets. Since she doesn't want to touch bloodworms and doesn't to spend the money on frozen food. If I visit her dorm, I feed him a bloodworm or give him frozen food.

On another note, her fish, is very skiddish. If she sets something down anywhere on the desk he is on, he flies around the tank and freaks out for a bit.

My friend is getting very upset with him :( He used to be absolutely beautiful with the such a long tail with like four different colors.
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Old 02-20-2013, 03:17 PM   #7 
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How often are the 50% changes getting done? On a 5g tank one 50% and one 20% should be good since she doesn't have a filter.
Warm water and more decorations are all I can suggest for now. What you can do is both split an online order for Indian Almond leaves (they're like 5$ for 25 or something, they're very cheap) and that might create a more comfortable environment for him since bettas prefer blackwater.

More hiding spots and plants would be a good idea too since he gets skittish and hides- nothing should be slammed on the table anyway but little bumps here and there shouldn't really spook him.
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Old 02-20-2013, 05:25 PM   #8 
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I hate to say it but it doesn't sound like a betta is the best pet for your friend. Her fish it too cold, stressed, bored and she is getting upset with it? You should try and convince her to let you take it.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:31 PM   #9 
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I would take him, but I was hoping to get cories for my 10gal. And I don't think my friend would let me take him. She does love that fish, she's just very upset because she doesn't have much money and she hates seeing more of his tail go.

She goes a 50% water change every week, but I think when he first started tail bitting, she got scared that it might have been something in the water and did a full change immediately.

I find it so interesting how her fish is the exact opposite of mine. Mine is so chill, loves it when I stick my hand in to move decor, loves seeing me, is a smart little guy, happy as can be. While hers spins around and eats its tail, and is scared of the smallest things. She doesn't even really slam things on the desk, just if something is placed and it moves the water at all, he freaks. :(

We will pick up a heater this weekend, even if I have to buy it for her. She can owe me, I just feel so bad for her little fishy.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:21 PM   #10 
Nicci Lu
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You are a good people friend and a betta friend.

It is amazing how bettas can have such different personalities. It sounds like your friend's betta is just a high strung betta. I would suggest doing things to accommodate his shyness- perhaps this is just a part of who he is. Or, if he's just stressed, it may help him to relax.

Get him a cave to hide out in, where no one can see him if he so chooses. I know it sucks to not have money (I'm a grad student with two children), but your friend doesn't have to get him anything fancy for now. A big, glazed ceramic coffee mug from the dollar store will do nicely. Or a plain terra cotta flower pot- but you'll have to fill in the hole with aquarium safe silicone because bettas can get stuck. I sawed the end off of one those big plastic cups, sanded it smooth and used aquarium safe epoxy to cover it with gravel.

Is he in a high traffic area? Does your friend have company over alot? If so, perhaps his tank should be moved to someplace a little quieter, without so much stimulation. Some bettas prefer to be in a more out of the way spot. Don't ignore him, of course. ;) But maybe he needs less interaction.

Tell your friend to keep a journal of when she notices that his tail has been bitten. What was happening around him at the time? It sounds like he gets more attention from you- Does he bite his tail after you leave, when it's just him and her, or when he's alone? If it's one of these, then you'll you know whether it's lack of attention or too much company. Hopefully, with these notes, she can figure out the trigger. The longer he bites his tail, the harder it will be to get him to stop.

Finally, make sure and tell your friend not to be too upset. It's just cosmetic. Even if he doesn't look as pretty, he's still the same betta companion. As long as your friend keeps up on the water changes suggested above, and keeps an eye out for black edges (white edges are actually a sign of regrowth), then he's still healthy. Like others mentioned earlier, some bettas are just lifelong tail biters, but they lead perfectly happy, healthy lives.
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betta, bored, eating, stressed, tail

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