I love your style in posting these journals! (Also love the little intro of the last one with Carry On my Wayward Son).
Sashi sounds like quite a character, some of his antics reminds me of Merlin's, like thrashing in his cup when he's placed in it, being a bit of a nuisance when I'm trying to clean out his water, granted that's about where it stops since if it were up to Merlin he'd be in the largest tank possible and have it all to himself XD.
I do hope you keep writing about you, your GF, and Sashi's adventures, I've certainly enjoyed reading them and getting to see pictures of him!
Thx BettaLover1313. He's pretty funny, in a Grumpy Old Men kind of way.
Week 1 || Day 2 || 82 Degrees
"Sashi: A Tale of Tattered Tails"
"He bit his tail!" said my GF for the second time, frustration and annoyance laced in her words. I was walking towards her place while on the phone. It all made sense. His ragged tail when we bought him, the sharp turns he would do in his tank which attracted his eye to his tail, the mystery of what he was up to in the early morning hours when left to his own devices.
Upon arrival, I saw the havoc that Sashi did to his tail fin. The top 3/4 of the upper portion of his tail was gone, clean right off, straight down to what's left of it at the bottom giving himself an L-shaped tail fin. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present to you the worlds first L-TAILED BETTA!!! GF didn't think that was funny.I believe "ugly" was the word she used. I had to admire Sashi's handiwork though. It was as though he had access to some really fine equipment because when I look at the vertical cut he did to himself, it was ruler straight.
We suspected it may have been from the filter, that the current was too strong causing him stress, so we turned it off and went to the mall to find foam. We found one, designed specifically for the tank that we have which baffled the filter outtake really well. We also almost came home with some real plants too, but decided against it at the last minute. Didn't want to risk infection. We did get a floating plastic log though.
After coming home and applying the foam to baffle, the tail biting was still hovering in our minds. It was a sad blow, especially to my GF who wanted nothing more than to nurse Sashi back to good health, starting with his fins. We didn't know why he did it. Out of hunger, boredom, stress, lack of constancy in his aquariums...it could be any of these. For the time being we devised an ingenious way of punishing his tail biting behavior with the use of a mirror. It was decided that when we see him biting his tail, or do those tight turns in the corner which would bring his attention to his tail, we would bring up a mirror to stop this behavior.
The strategy had 3 things going for it. First is that it will distract him from considering biting his tail. Second, it will give him a reason to keep a bigger tail for intimidation purposes. Third, it was a form of punishment; his evil twin rival will only appear when he bites his tail.
Unfortunately, The Bay Of Pigs worked out better for the CIA better than this strategy did for Sashi. It didn't work out because we simply can't keep an eye on him for that long of a time, and he didn't do that behavior in front of us enough times for him to connect the idea that tail biting equals mirror dueling. With his personality, I actually wouldn't be surprised later on if he would bite his tail simply to make his rival appear.
On the internet we found plenty of information, but nothing really definitive. It could have been any of the factors I mentioned, or it could be something else entirely. Or it could be a case of "Crazy Fish Syndrome." Whatever the case, it was driving us nuts. Spent a whole day's worth of earnings on his aquarium and supplies and decorations, and this is the thanks that we get? Is it too much to ask to simply eat, sleep, and poop.
This once again sparked the long argument that I've had with GF about how much to feed. She was even more hesitant than ever to feed more than necessary now that he still had that bump near the end of his body. She feared it was constipation. We haven't seen any poop since moving him to new tank so I was just as clueless but I laid out my theories to GF. Sashi may be constipated so feeding him more would simply worsen the scenario, or he may be hungry which is why he is biting his tail. He was fasting two days ago, he's probably still hungry and if we fast him again to get rid of what may or may not be constipation, it was entirely possible that he will take another chunk out of what's left of his tail tomorrow.
What she said really made me sad. GF told me to take Sashi home.
From the very beginning GF and I butted heads on how to provide care for Sashi. We barely agreed on anything. Sashi was supposed to relax her during her busiest semester yet, and while Sashi did offer moments of serenity, more often than not we were arguing about what I think we should do against what she thinks we should do. It was a classic case of too many cooks in the kitchen. But because it was her fish and her source of zen and relaxation and her idea to get one, I would almost always give in. The highlight of my aquarium career up to this point was when I convinced her on the "modestly priced" 5 gallon tank that we have now.
So when she told me to take Sashi home, I was stunned. I was sad. I was glad. This meant I was entitled to a thousand "I told you so." But I saw what it took out of her to say that. I couldn't do it, though not out of pity but simply for the fact that it wouldn't be logistically possible. My room is a mess, I play loud video games and loud music when I'm there, and nothing happens when I'm not. If I'm not at work, I'm at GF's house, or out hanging out, or out taking pictures. As bad as I think things are going in GF's house, Sashi wouldn't last the month at my place. Boredom and neglect would be his downfall.
I couldn't take her away from Sashi her for her own good and vice versa for Sashi's own good. We felt that Sashi needs consistency in his environment, something that we did poorly on. New aquarium, new toys, new filter, filter baffle two days later, new food, different amount of food/day, new dechlorinator, plants being rearranged frequently yesterday, it was a long list. At this point in time, we were also getting advice from helpful advice from helpful forum members (thx jenjen) who said that they barely see the lump, so we decided to risk the constipation in lieu of feeding more and more often to see if tail biting stops.
So with that figured out all that was left was for me to say my goodbye to Sashi and make my home. I placed my finger on his tank and said my farewells when he flared at me. Son on of a...I asked GF to do the same, maybe it was the light and he was seeing his reflection. GF placed her finger on the tank, Sashi followed but no flaring. I did it one more time, Sashi followed and flared. Son. Of. A. Fish. I spent a whole day's worth of earnings and this is the thanks I get? GF thought it was funny. I didn't think it was funny, nor did I think that her thinking it was funny was funny.
Good thing Sashi was staying at that house as I could have gone for sashimi right there and then.
Picture taken below was taken simply for the composition. I don't do vertical shots too often but in this case, I can't think of a better way of framing the subjects. More importantly though is that this was where I first witnessed Sashi taking a more than healthy interest in his tail a day ago. I noticed that when he was inside of those petals, much lower than what is depicted here, instead of continuing on his path, he would instead turn around and go the other way, which would bring him face to face with his tail. He never bit it here, and he didn't do this behavior again at this location. No, he would do that in the bamboo forest when we weren't around.
"Sashi: The Veil Tail who wants to be Crescent-Moon"
Sashi strikes again. While we were away he took it upon himself to give himself another haircut. He snipped the bottom part I suppose to make everything look even, then he snipped in a crude arc through the middle portion for that crescent look. When we first got him, I noticed that nearly half his total length was comprised of his tail fin. Not the case now.
Was not what we wanted to wake up too. At this point we decided to rearrange the plants in the tank so that Sashi wouldn't have any place where he would turn around sharply and see his tail. We were hoping that the only reason he bit it is out of remembering that that was what he used to do in the pet store. Now that he was in a bigger tank, we really didn't see how he could be sad or stressed or bored. So the bamboo forest had to be split up, one on each side. We also wanted to place the big red plant in the middle but couldn't because the upper branches were needed to help keep the foam from being ejected from the outtake spout. The bottom area of this place was also a known U-turn area for Sashi.
Pic below is how everything ended up. Not my first choice but we were hoping it would stop the tail biting. This view also provides me a cheap version of X-ray during the day as the backdrop is the giant sliding door on the other side which allows me to see better the condition of his fins and water quality. This was over a week ago, my days may have been mixed up. In here if you look closely you will see that he still has the L tail haircut
Sashi strikes again! Apparently not satisfied with his last two self modifications, he decided to go deeper into his tail for a more pronounced split. I'm at a loss. I moved the red plant nearer the center, mostly angular changes becasue we needed it to wedge the foam in place. Besides that, I really didn't know what else could be causing him to do this. He wouldn't go out of his way to bite it, only when turning sharply, then he would see his tail, assess it's length, then I don't know what else goes through the tiny mind of his before he decides on his self mutilation escapades.
We bought him a nice home, we keep it clean. If he wants to bite his tail, well, good for him. Hope he has a good health care plan cuz I'm broke from buying all of his equipment.
In some ways though, I had to respect his decisions, even though I didn't agree with it. In racing, we call it drag. Excess downforce that slows the car down. If he was making these modifications to allow him to swim with greater ease, well that is something that I could understand.
His behaviour was also taking a turn for the worse. He would flare at me when I placed my finger on the tank, no matter what time of day, and he would always be impatient when it came to feeding time. The impatience at dinner time I could understand, but the flaring...that's just rude. Well, it was cool in a way, saves me the trouble of having to teach him that, but it's the principle that bothers me. You don't bite the hand that feeds. It really bummed me out and made me less attentive to Sashi. Why shower all these displays of affection when he wasn't returning them. Not my style.
However, on my way home I thought about my attitude towards our unruly fish. I realize I was being unfair to him. Here was a creature of instinct, bred for centuries to be as ferocious as ferocious can be. He was only behaving in the manner that we programmed him too. With that figured out, I decided it was pointless to hold any grudges against our little guy. He'll settle down eventually, and if not, we'll just have to accept him for who he is...Sashimi!
This pic was marks the 2nd and last time I would take photos of him in a creative capacity (4 or so days later, they would be daytime, medical oriented pics). For the tail biting reasons, we decided not to put the camera that close to him for the time being lest it cause him stress. However, I had to try one more thing. In the 1st batch of photos, I noticed that I still had some leeway in terms of ISO (film sensitivity) so I cranked it up, which resulted in being able to capture high action moments. Love this picture because it was as he was turning around. His head was already stationary but tail fin was still in motion. Photographers only have one trick up their sleeve to evoke a sense of motion in their photographs, and that's through motion blur, and there is just the right amount in his tail for this pic to work. It also helped that he gave them a tattered look, very 'Dragonball Z I just went 12 rounds against Frieza' look.