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Old 03-11-2013, 11:48 AM   #1 
leahleigh
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Extreme Tail Biting?

Hey there, i'm not new to the fish world or anything, in fact some of you may know me from my 6.6 planted tank adventure! If not it's okay. :)

Recently I started noticing that Dimitri MIGHT be biting his tail. Maybe. And then one day he took a chunk out and I thought, crap, he might be serious about this. So I let it sit for a day or two, keeping an eye on him, and knew that nothing in his tank could snag him or cause them to rip. This started BEFORE I divided my tank, and I thought that he maybe had caught it on something before I betta-proofed it. I thought they only did this out of boredom, and it was common in HM's. He has a heavily planted tank side, with lots of time to flare at his tank buddy. I didn't ever think it'd get this bad.

First time I noticed it, after the chunk missing.


The next time, today, after a couple of days of nothing.
Note: His fin has always been like that, he's an EE with a "nemo" fin.



Now that's out of the way, here!

Housing
What size is your tank? 6.6
What temperature is your tank? 78-79 F
Does your tank have a filter? Yes, baffled, on the left divided side.
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? Yes, one, on each side.
Is your tank heated? Yes.
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? Apple snail once a week, divided once, on the other side my HMPK Garth.

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? KYORIN betta pellets. The very small ones because they can't eat the big ones yet.
How often do you feed your betta fish? 2 in the morning, 1 at night, none on mondays.

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change? Once a week, siphoned, and maybe some smaller ones depending on how the tank looks.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 50%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Aquasafe water conditioner.

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?

Ammonia:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
pH:
Hardness:
Alkalinity:

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Yes.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? It hasn't really, he's still being his jerky-y self and eating like a hog. He greets me, swims a lot, he's completely normal other than his torn fins.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? A couple of days ago. One day before I divided the tank.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Not yet, not sure if I should or how.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Yes. Parasite, then ich, then he got cured. Has been healthy for the last two months or so.
How old is your fish (approximately)? About a year, maybe less. Have had him for a few months.
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:30 PM   #2 
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Things I want to know:
If this is tail biting? I'm about 95% sure, but I want to be 100%
Why is this happening?
How do I treat it?

No, he didn't hop the divider or get in a scuff with Garth. Garth is completely unscathed and is happy doing his own thing.
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Old 03-11-2013, 05:56 PM   #3 
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I don't think it's biting (or at least not all biting) because I don't think bettas can reach some of the places that your fins are missing.

I'm concerned about your water parameters. Anytime you want to keep a cycled tank and not be doing 100% changes ever you really ought to have a reliable drops kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. 50% weekly throughout the cycling process would not have been enough. He would have seen very high ammonia spikes and this could have contributed to his condition. Also the ich is entirely opportunistic from fish stress and/or poor water conditions so this points to water issues as well

You needed to be testing daily with a reliable drops kit for ammonia and nitrite and doing an extra 50% change any time you see either. In addition to this a weekly 50% with siphon is needed.

First you will see ammonia, then nitrite. Eventually, hopefully, you will see ammonia fall and stay at 0 even after a week of no water changes, and finally nitrite. At this point you will be left with only nitrates after a full week of no changes and these can be kept <20ppm by weekly 50% change w/siphon. All this can take up to two months, and with such a heavy stocking I'm afraid of how well it can establish... those snails are a lot dirtier than people give them credit for.

At this point I would get a test kit and see where you stand. Especially since this is a very heavy stock for something of this size.

Also what filter do you have, how do you have it baffled and how do you maintain it? It does appear there is tearing involved. Have you tested everything in his tank with women's panty hose to see if anything snags?
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Old 03-11-2013, 11:55 PM   #4 
leahleigh
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His ich was from his last tank and when I first got him, as I said it was a few months ago and hasn't had any issues with it again. I have dealt with ich for many fish and know how to handle it/why it pops up. :)

I didn't put the numbers because I didn't test the water myself, I took a bottle of it to Petco and they said it was fine, to which I put in both fish and plan to take another bottle there next weekend. I do 100% once a month, I find it works better for my tank and for my fish. I take the petco employee's word for it because I know him personally and watch him test it myself, along with use the kit that I could buy, but am too lazy to. Plus I don't trust myself enough to judge it correctly even though it's quite easy.

The filter has very little suction and is not on his side of the tank, Garth has no problems with it. The stock in my tank is fine, considering I know how to properly care and clean up after an apple snail. I MIGHT be pushing it with having Garth, but it's really not bad to the point my water is going to get whacked out.

I discovered that it was only half tail biting. He found the weakened spot in my divider that I didn't know about, I watched him shove his way into Garth's tank and try to fight with him. Garth seemed extremely uninterested and even swam away from him after inspecting him, to which Dimitri got angrier and persued him further. I figure he could have gotten in there last night and gotten back, although that seems very unlikely. If it's not, then he bit his tail.

Literally nothing in his side of the tank could rip apart his fins the way they are, or at all. He bit them off or got into a scuff with Garth (most unlikely), or both. I saw bits of fin on his own side, which is why I jumped to it being tail biting.
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Old 03-12-2013, 12:07 AM   #5 
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Tail biting... My guy is a contortionist who loves ripping his fins off. *sigh*

They do it for all sorts of reasons. It could be too much/too little: food, light, noise, temperature, neighbors, noise, boredom, etc... My guy started it right after bloating. Now, I think he just keeps it up from habit. (Although, he's getting better. It's just taking time.)

Think back to something that was different, or was changed, right before he started biting. That could be the key to getting him to stop. (Emphasis on "could." LOL)
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Old 03-12-2013, 01:18 AM   #6 
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Hmmm. There are A LOT of differences. Like bigger tank, better flow, aeration, different gravel, more plants, more hidey places. He only got so ba after I put Garth in. I don't know what his problem is. I don't think it's boredome. :/ Maybe misplaced aggression. He's always been extremely aggressive, more than any Betta i've owned. :P

Honestly, even if it makes me a bad betta owner, I hope it was Garth that did it. That way it's a one time thing. Is your boy a HM?
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Old 03-12-2013, 01:44 AM   #7 
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if it's tail biting...there's one thing I notice what people in this site likes to do, put two or more males in the same tanks, divide them but..they can still see each other, this actually tend to "exhaust" your bettas, flaring as long as they can do ( would u like to "shadowboxing" like 24/7 for the rest of your life? ) and with some halfmoons, this can "trigger" their tail biting habits. just my 2 cents though.
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Old 03-12-2013, 01:49 AM   #8 
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secondly..u said u feed him...small pellets..2 in the morning, 1 at night, none on mondays. I don't think that's enough, he's probably starving also.
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Old 03-12-2013, 04:29 AM   #9 
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I've got one who started tail biting at the store when they tried to kill him in his little plastic cup full of what was once water...but had basically become urine. You could *smell* the ammonia in that thing. Ugh...I'm still angry about that...no animal should have to live in those conditions.

When I got him home, he had almost no fins, and he had bitten his tail to the nub. Since then, he bites when he doesn't "feel well" and my water params are off. Before he'd get sick he'd tail bite, when I was late with a water change, he'd tail bite. Once I got his tank filtered and the cyle stable, he got much, much better...but I still come in every few days and he's eaten off a big section of his tail again. I don't think he'll ever completely stop doing it now that he's started. At this point, I have no idea what sort he actually is...his tail never gets long enough to know. ;)

He does bite when he's hungry though, so you might try feeding your guy a little more. :)
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Old 03-12-2013, 10:43 AM   #10 
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I assure you that he doesn't flare 24/7, I sat and watched them for two hours after I got off of work and after the incident, and he only flared maybe two-three times in that span of me watching them. If it DOES become an issues, I can always cut another piece of mesh and put it in there. Thanks for the the tip, if I see that he gets more flare-y i'll definitely do it.

Also, he has a bit of a buldge but nothing severe. I don't like fish with big tummies and he seems quite alright. I highly doubt my fish is starving, and if he was i'd know.

Oh, wow, I don't think Dimitri does it because of that, more-so probably because of his misplaced aggression. Or he jumped the divider. I'm hoping he only does it this once this bad, I can handle little knicks and stuff, but holy cow he just ripped his tail to shreds. I'll up his feeding to two extra pellets just in case. :)

Thanks for the advice guys!
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