No need to apologise :D I keep mine at 8.0 just because it's stable, and they do quite well, but I'm sure they'd prefer a much lower pH. I just can't provide it without having fluctuations.
In terms of the curling in CT's with a hard pH, mine would curl from occasions, and I once also assumed that it was due to my high pH, although my water hardness was pretty mild, and his fins would sort themselves out. The mineral content of the wate is also something people will factor in, but I don't really know how that could be measured. I tried tropical salts (those blue ones sold by aqua something?) and my CT would still curl from time to time. It's a hard call to make, but with delicate fins like they have, who knows! They must have bad fin days from time to time lol
Oh yes, stable is much better than fluctuations at any time!! they can tolerate 8.0 just fine
I'm sure there are much more factors than just hard water vs. soft and high pH vs. lower but it is and has been observed much more frequently in those water types. Whether it is indeed the hard water, the mineral content or lack of, the nutrient/vitamin content as well or lack of or pH level, it is very difficult to say and hard to measure, you are right in that ^_^ but thus far fin curling has been observed in places with mostly hard water, the harder it is the worse it is for fins and then pH just kind of tags along with it. It would be very unusual to have a low pH and very hard water although I'm sure there are places with such parameters!
Grr. This is very frustrating. Before I got Catullus, I bought him a 5.5 gallon tank. The tank is heated, filtered, and has silk plants for his delicate fins. I have a stocking covering the filter so his fins won't get torn. He has a betta log to sleep in and play in. He also has a little tiki hut where he can hide. Still, I can't get this right! I checked on him today and his fins look like they've gotten worse!
Now, if this is still just fin growth and normal, that's perfectly fine. I just want to make sure this isn't fin rot. I'm really worried about him.
***He looks slightly pale in these pictures because I just did a 50% water change with the gravel vacuum and that always makes him a tad nervous.
Okay, yeah that's not healthy growth. He's torn them against something, I seriously doubt he would be biting them since they look more frayed than U shapes and he would really have to stretch to reach his tail. I also see there is a scrape on his head there, small yellowish patch which is common when they bump or scrape against something.
Are there any possibilities there are other things that can scratch him. Does the plant have any plastic at all on it? Have you looked on the insides of the hides? I'd like to see a picture of them all if you can to see if there's something else he's hitting against. You have a foam baffle for him right?
Water changes and stress coat will help. How often are you doing water changes right now?
I'm doing water changes once a week now. 50% with a gravel vacuum. I'll increase that to two changes. I think the stems of the silk plants have plastic on them. I see him swimming in those most. I also see him in his betta log quite a bit. I've never seen him swim around his tiki hut or columns, but that doesn't mean he doesn't play near them when I'm not looking. The tiki hut is technically for hermit crabs, but it is quite soft. The colums may be a bit rough.
Here are some pictures of the tank set up and the decorations.
I actually have the same columns and the same plants too. I know the columns are fine as they've been in with Rembrandt and he was totally fine. But the plants, there is the stem in the middle that is rather pointy, I cut mine and then sealed it with silicone so that it doesn't rust the metal inside but that's just me.
Likewise he could be taking tiny chunks out of his tail for some odd reason, sometimes they have a tick, sometimes they're frustrated especially if in view of another Betta for long periods of time. Can he see Agrippa or the other male (I think you have three? can't remember lol).
If it's due to a tick, you'd have to observe him for a while to see what makes him want to bite his fins. Could be the light of the heater coming on at a certain time or coming on at night, or maybe he can see his reflection or doesn't like that you've moved a plant or something, sometimes they can be really finicky for no reasons or at least none that we can see.
Yeah, go to twice a week changes for now, both at 50% if you can to keep his water clean and then Stress Coat will help to. Monitor his progress of course and check back when you've got questions or whatever ^_^
He and Agrippa are in two different rooms. I'll see what I can do about the center of those plants. I'll keep an eye on him and see if I catch him nipping his fins, though I try to spend 15 minutes a day talking with him (I read that that would help us bond). During all that time, I've never seen him nip his fins. This just popped up with the bacteria bloom. Could that have irritated his fins? Also, Coppermoon mentioned sunlight. He is in direct sunlight and I do have his light on during the day. Maybe I'll try turning his light off for a few days to see if that makes a difference.
It's more for aesthetics. They will grow back given time and care of course. But as with many other things it's difficult to measure "pain" in animals unless they make certain sounds and whatnot, but with fish it's even more so since all we can see is their frantic swimming or lethargic-ness. But no, as far as I am aware, ripping, nipping, biting don't hurt for a period of time. I have a feeling it probably doesn't feel good when it actually rips but then after that it's like a healing wound, it's kind of irritating but for the most part it probably doesn't hurt much.
The food idea is a good trick to see if he'll respond to it for sure! But the most important thing right now is to just keep his water clean with the twice weekly changes and using stress coat If he does happen to have a tick, he'll bite again when that tick comes around.
Also on heavier finned fish like yours and mine, sometimes they like to gett themselves a "hair cut" because their fins slow them down or drag them down. This is more prominent on heavy finned HM's, rose tails (RT) and feather tails (FT) so while I'm not surprised if he does bite, it still is questionable since his tail doesn't seem that long is all.