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Old 03-13-2013, 10:19 PM   #1 
ptps
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Unhappy Self-harming Betta )':

I'm completely new to owning fish, but did my fair share of reading for a month before purchasing my pet. I bought Fish (yes, creative) about a month and a half ago. He's a beautiful Mustard Gas Super Delta, although Petsmart sold him as a Halfmoon. I have a heated but unfiltered 2.5G, with a live Java Fern, one column-like decoration and some non-pH altering river rocks. I do my WC at 50% every half week and 90% every week. This is what happened in the last two weeks in a nutshell:

1st month:
Fine and Dandy! Really pleased I kept him so well.
2nd month 1st week Day 1: Bought a small 3-day Vacation Block to test it out.
Day 3:
He didn't touch the food and it clouded the water really bad. Took out the block and did a 50% change. Noticed a little rippling effect on his tail fin but thought nothing of it since it often looks that way when he isn't flaring.
Day 4: Tail ripped completely in half, clean, not frayed. Immediately did 90% change with salt and observed him. Suspected split due to water issues.
Day 6: Tail healing slowly, not completely in half anymore but fraying a little at the edges.
Week 2 Day 1: Tail fraying more. Confused. Suspect catching on something in the tank. Checked over his tank to make sure he wasn't snagging on anything, took out the decoration he's had since I got him since I felt a suspicious pointy part on where he normally "sits" on it.
Week 2 Day 2: Today. Got home and... BAM. Half the top of his magnificent tail completely gone. Dorsal fin also shredded. Fraying EVERYWHERE. No bits of fin on the floor. Tail showing signs of bloody ends. Final Diagnosis: Tail biter!

I've read that Betta bite their tails from (1) stress from water parameters or (2) boredom. I did a 90% change and added salt and Stress Coat. Moved stuff around his tank, rearranged, put up pictures outside the tank for him to look at (he did). Planning on getting a ping pong this weekend for him to play with. Keeping an extremely close eye on Fish, he's eating normally and swimming and breathing normally otherwise.

Please feel free to share your thoughts. I don't know what's gotten into him considering he was perfectly fine his first month with me. I'm planning on doing 90% changes every day for a week, adding salt and stress coat, then just stress coat in week two onwards until it heals. I'm only worried this many WC will stress Fish out and kill him faster than his shredded tail.

I understand not everyone shares the idea that a 2.5G is sufficient space.
I am unable to obtain anything larger and I apologize. I unfortunately do not own any test kits, as buying those will drive me broke, but I do drip-acclimation for Fish to be safe everytime I do a WC. And now the usual:

Housing
What size is your tank? 2.5G
What temperature is your tank? I have a Marina Betta mini-heater for 1 - 1.5G tanks, but nothing to measure it with, but I'm guessing the 76 - 80s range.
Does your tank have a filter? No.
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No.
Is your tank heated? Yes, see above.
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None.

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Omega One Betta Buffet Flakes (43% Crude Protein) and Nutrafin basix Betta Pellets (50% Crude Protein). I mix up the percentage of what I feed him everyday so he doesn't get bored.
How often do you feed your betta fish? Once a day, a tiny sprinkle of flakes in the morning. (3 - 5 medium-sized crushed flakes) Occasionally when training him to go into a jar for a WC or for training him, 1 - 2 additional pellets in the night.

Maintenance

How often do you perform a water change? Twice a week.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 50% mid week and 90% end of the week. I can't cycle my tank but I try to leave a minimum amount of bacteria behind so it doesn't bubble up too much.
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Nutrafin Aqua Plus and only recently, API Stress Coat. Sometimes API aquarium salt, 1/2 tsp per gallon as per box directions.

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

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Tail and dorsal fin completely ripped and frayed as opposed to beautiful flowy wide tail just over a week ago. Signs of bloody ends.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Not much, but he's always seemed really hyper since day one. He'll do tons of head-shake dances when someone comes to his tank and swim around really rapidly until he doesn't see us.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? See TL;DR above. About two weeks ago, and it got progressively worse.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Stress Coat + API salt. Lowered water height a little. Thinking of doing daily water changes for a week or two.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Pelvic fins were slightly rotted when I got him but healed and grew out in month 1, and are still fine, as is his anal fin (which also grew out). I also suspect he may have parasites as he poops only very little small solids (they are like 5mm long black/red turds) / had white mucus-y poop. I am getting General Cure and will treat him for this after his fins are healed back.
How old is your fish (approximately)? I have no idea.

I can try and take pictures if needed but Fish moves like a bullet.
Edit: This is how my tank is usually set up, and how it's set up now but with the water lowered a little. I put the column decoration back in because I suspect taking it out stressed him even more to bite his tail that badly. Picture is from when Fish was in full health and his fins were gorgeous.

Last edited by ptps; 03-13-2013 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 03-13-2013, 11:20 PM   #2 
ptps
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I forgot to add that I fast Fish once a week, normally on Sundays. Getting kind of anxious at the lack of replies...
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Old 03-13-2013, 11:26 PM   #3 
callistra
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It probably created an ammonia spike. Those feeders aren't anything good.

I would increase your 90% change to an 100% change including a rinsing of the gravel to remove poop and debris. This is important, but if you do it right it won't hurt him. I do my changes like this:

The 50% changes the betta can be kept in the bowl and use a turkey baster to remove half the water and as much of the debris as possible. For the 100% you need to remove him - scoop him out with a plastic solo type cup and set aside while you thoroughly rinse the bowl and gravel to remove the debris. Then he should be acclimated to the new water by floating for an hour while you slowly add a couple tablespoons of new water to the cup every 10 minutes. When you release him, try to let as little of the old cup water back into the tank as possible. All water changes should use same temp water, matched to running tap using the in tank thermometer and the water needs to be premixed with conditioner before adding it to the betta tank. If you don't already have anything, you can use gallon water jugs from the grocery store - rinsed thoroughly in hot water but no chems.

Stress coat and aQ for 10 days would be a fine treatment. I would increase AQ to 1 tsp per gallon. Make sure you predissolve it and you only need to add more along with a water change. Only add back as much as water you change.

Mucasy poop can be a sign of stress and water quality issues.. it just means something is irritating the stomach lining. What and how you are feeding could also lead to constipation issues which can cause it as well. But watch it some more because red stringy is normal.. and this is hexamita: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&...L5TE4APq5oGIDw and if it stays like this I will teach you had to treat it.. you will need to feed meds

I would change feeding some.. I would nix the flakes and nutrafin and only feed omega one. If you want to mix it up try mixing with New Life Spectrum Betta or Attison's Pro. 3-5 of those spit up into twice a day feeding (am and pm) would be fine. One fast day a week should be a staple. If you want to reinforce time in the cup, put the cup sideways and put a pellet in the back. Feed another pellet once he's right side up and calmed down.

Last edited by callistra; 03-13-2013 at 11:28 PM.
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Old 03-13-2013, 11:28 PM   #4 
jadaBlu
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I can't tell you about tail biting but I can tell you the column decoration you have has some rough spots. I filed some off before using mine. I have taken mine from the tank. I plan to fill a gap behind the column with aquarium glue because a betta could get stuck there and to paint any gritty feeling surfaces (mostly in back) with aquarium glue so they will be smooth before I put it back.
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Old 03-13-2013, 11:55 PM   #5 
ptps
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callistra: Yeah, I'd read up on the vacation blocks before using them and figured they would do some damage, but reviews were a 50/50 so I gave it a shot. I'm never using them again. ):

No gravel - can't be bothered to clean substrate. My river rocks are large chunks that I rinse off good and well with warm/hot water, and cool before adding back into the fresh tank.

I haven't done 100% changes because I've read that those are the easiest ways to kill your fish. Now that I'll have to do them every day for a week I'm really worried! As long as I acclimate him every day will that stress him out too much? I normally dump all the water in his changing cup (cup I got him in from Petsmart) back into the clean tank as the 10% (after acclimating of course!). He absolutely hates being in that cup though, even if it's for less than ten minutes while I scrub down and rinse out the surfaces of the tank (no soap).

Decent Betta foods are impossible to find where I am, and Omega One was the best thing they had. I'd like to feed Jungle anti-parasite pellets but they don't stock them here... Omega One ARE the flakes. I was going to go for OO Pellets initially but my Petsmart has been out of stock for those forever. I can't feed bloodworms, not even frozen, as much as he'll probably love those because (1) parasites urgh (2) I have unfortunate and extreme worm phobia. If I ever get planaria or worms in my tank I'd seriously flip out...

I always pre-dissolve my salt before adding, so no issues there. I cut back on the salt because I'd been adding it prior to this issue and I was worried the bacteria or whatever would build immunity. I guess with his current condition there's not much of a choice?

I'm so worried, even though I'm glad it's just tearing and not one of the more serious issues like dropsy or swim bladder. Just... my poor baby! Looking at his tail makes me want to cry for being such a terrible owner... I'm at work and only see him in the mornings / at night so it was difficult to determine it was tail biting until I saw that entire chunk of his tail gone.

About his poop: Thank god, but it's not hexamita. It was fluffy little things that floated around the tank in his first month or so; his current issue is that I hardly see any poop at all and if I do, they're tiny little turds. Not the good, long, solid, semi-squishy red lines of poop I hear about. I'm wondering if it's constipation, but fasting and feeding peas haven't done anything for him.

jadaBlu: I'm definitely not keeping it! The sharp edge is still there and I'm not risking him tearing again, even if I know it's due to tail biting now. I'm opting to pick up one of these Top Fin Windham Ornaments that seem too slick to have any edges that could pose any danger when I go in to pick up the General Cure and do an exchange for decorations tomorrow. Only problem it might pose is that it's really large and will probably take up a lot of the space in my tank. I just hope he doesn't flip out again not having something to swim around in for the day, he's a lot calmer now after I put it back in. Or maybe that's the Stress Coat talking.

Last edited by ptps; 03-14-2013 at 12:02 AM. Reason: Edited formatting because OCD
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Old 03-14-2013, 12:08 AM   #6 
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Just feel the edges for sharp edges even those have some you might have to sort through the bunch for the best one. I didn't notice any problems with the column decoration after filing it down but my fish has far less tail than yours does. I figure I will take extra precautions anyway now that I have the AQ glue.
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Old 03-14-2013, 12:15 AM   #7 
Seki
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You know, I had a tailbiter, and your fish sounds rather similar to him. Zen had a gorgeous halfmoon doubletail when I bought him. When he passed away, he had nothing left but a stump! In the interest of not letting this happen to Fish, I'll tell you what I did with Zen and see if you can maybe glean something from my experiences.

Month one: Purchased Zen at a petstore and brought him home to his brand-new 5.5 gallon. It was filtered, heated, and the water was conditioned. I had two silk plants and three decorations in there for him to explore. He seemed to settle in quickly and began bubblenesting two days after I got him. Everything seemed copacetic as I began my fish-in cycling of the tank.

Month two: Fish-in cycling was going well and I was doing regular water changes to keep the tank's parameters in appropriate ranges. I noticed Zen's tail becoming slightly ragged at the ends and decided he must be tailbiting as I had already checked all of his decor before putting it in the tank, and I had baffled the filter. Several days after first noticing the ragged fins, I caught him tail-biting. I switched up the decor in his tank (rearranged it) and switched his food up a little. Things seemed to be going better.

Month three: After the tail had begun to heal, I noticed it getting worse again. Chunks missing now... he was really doing a number on himself. Worse, he had gotten himself infected and the edges of his fins were bloody red. I asked for help on the forum and was advised to put him in a QT for salt treatment and/or meds if the salt didn't work. I put him in a 1/2 gallon hospital tank (since he wasn't swimming very well) and did aquarium salt treatments for five days. His fins seemed substantially better, so I put him back in his tank after the treatments and he seemed fine.

Month four: all quiet on the western front

Month five: tail-biting returns with a vengeance! Zen went to town shredding his tail. I tried desperately to figure out what was causing him to do this. I changed food, I rearranged decor, I even tried turning off the filter at one point. Nothing worked... I kept his water pristine, changing it twice a week (more than necessary for a cycled 5.5 gallon), but he still managed to get another infection, worse than before. I tried more salt treatments... they weren't helping, so I discontinued them before I damaged his labyrinth organ. I purchased an anti-fungal medication from API, but never ended up using it. His tail dwindled and dwindled, and as his tail got worse, I noticed his other fins looked ragged as well. Fin rot... I have to believe it was brought on by his tail-biting habits leaving him open to infection.

Month six: Zen is doing poorly. His tail has been whittled down to little more than a stump, though he is still swimming around as always. He pauses to rest a lot and spends more time than he used to just hiding beneath his bridge. He still has his appetite, but he looks absolutely terrible. His tail, which used to be long and beautiful, is now shorter than any of his other fins. He seems unhappy and I don't know what to do for him anymore.

Month seven: Zen's tail is showing absolutely zero signs of regrowth. The red around the edges is gone, but all of his fins are in tatters. He is a mess, and I don't know how to help him anymore. I come home from work one day to find that he is gone.

I'm not 100% sure what happened with my fish, but there you have it. Maybe take steps I didn't and treat with meds if necessary? All I know is, tailbiting is NOT something to ignore! I firmly believe my fish died as a direct result of his tailbiting... despite my efforts to save him. It sounds like you have a really good set-up for your boy. I hope you can get this sorted out soon!
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Old 03-14-2013, 12:26 AM   #8 
ptps
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jadaBlu: Definitely going to feel the decor first this time. I was thinking about getting a bridge ornament or a cave ornament; went to the store, saw how pathetically small they were (read: Fish likelihood of getting stuck extremely high) and just gave up. I might just switch to a combination of Anubias/Java Fern/fake silk plants as decor instead of anything made of plastic or resin. My house is too poorly lit for them for overtake my tank, the Java Fern I got a month ago is thriving but hasn't been "shooting off" like I've heard it's prone to do.

Seki: ...oh god, reading your post made me almost cry. I don't know what I would do if Fish deteoriated that badly, I would never forgive myself. I'm definitely not treating the tail-biting lightly, especially since his tail is already showing bloody stumps. I'm so sorry to hear about Zen!! It's just the worse feeling like you're on a jerkstring with that recovery, and then sickness, then recovery, then sickness again... Thank you for the well wishes!
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Old 03-14-2013, 12:50 AM   #9 
ptps
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Decided he was calm enough for a photo, so here's pictures of the damage. This is how awesome his fins used to be before the splitting and fraying ):



The first split, right after I took out the feeding block. V


Not so bad, right? It closed up a couple days after.

Today. V

Unfortunately you can't see his tail too well against the background, but it's terrible! Ignore the bubbles on the tank glass, I can't help it with a tiny uncycled tank.

He's been calmly swimming around the last few hours since I did his WC, although I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. I just want to look in his tank and be like BAM! HEALED 100%!

Last edited by ptps; 03-14-2013 at 12:51 AM. Reason: Pics
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Old 03-14-2013, 01:14 AM   #10 
callistra
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You shouldn't use aquarium salt unless he's actually sick. It will breed a resistance that makes it useless in case of actual infection. It can also lead to premature organ failure if you use it too much.

It looks more shredded/torn than anything. ARe you seeing any discoloration to the tips? Any black/grey/red or thinning?
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