I'm curious. It's always made common sense to me that one of the factors that causes tail biting could definitely be due to genetic factors. I'll admit that probably 95% of tail biting is done as a reaction to stress but there are still those fish who will bite no matter what you do (believe me, I have one).
Then I read this article from bettysplendens. She mentioned that many tail biters are used for breeding because they can be bought cheaply and torn/nipped fins aren't such a big deal for a fish that already has ruined fins. Obviously there is something that causes the fish to bite his tail and whether or not it is genetic, stress, or a combination of both you would think that tail biters would be excluded from all breeding practices as a way to avoid tail biting at all possible costs.
So.. would you(/do you/ have you) breed a tail biter?
For me that is a disqualifying factor in a breeder. Unless the circumstances involved a one time incident that was 100% caused by stress (i.e. biting during shipping) and the fish completely healed. It has been my experience that most fish that bite their tails are highly likely to do so again. That is not a trait I would want to perpetuate in my fry.
I don't think of it in terms of tail biting itself being a genetic behavior--but I do believe that just like in humans, fish can suffer from chronic neurotic behavior as a result of heredity. Chemical imbalances in the brain cause people to have mental illnesses throughout their lives, why not fish? This neurotic behavior just happens to be expressed through the action of tail biting. For others it may be glass surfing--and believe me, I have seen some bad glass surfers in my time. Some fish will actually scrape their eyes on the glass and keep going. There are probably other expressions of neurotic behavior we just don't recognize.
If I were a breeder, which I am not, I wouldn't breed a neurotic fish.
Well i suppose it depends on what your looking for as a breeder, i dont remember what thread, but i stumbled on a link on these forums to some atison website (Which i think was a fansite dedicated to a specific breeder, but i didnt look much into it) And they were discuss the Thai version of breeding, well after i read that article i browsed his site cause i thought it would have lots of info, then it had a training area for betta....
this guy is posting tips on how to train your betta to be more of a fighter, its like he's publicly announcing that he fights fish and his blatant disregard to their life. That being said, This particular breeder (As unhearted as he his) is looking for more of a prominent fighting gene. So i suppose in that case, if you were looking for a more aggressive gene, using a tail biter to breed would'nt be a bad idea.
But in my opinion, in both of my breeding attempts (Fry haven't matured so i'd feel like im lying if i were to say its been successful) I picked the fish that i obviously liked the color the most, and the more passive betta, but thats mostly becuase i felt that if i bred a tail biter it would be exponentially harder and i wouldn't be up to the task.
But i did find out one of my CTs has a terrible tail biter quality, because after a week of conditioning him with a female, we put them together, and within minutes he tore a good couple Centimeters out of her fins, and i instantly took her out, and forever gave up on him having kids.
I believe behavior, whether neurotic or otherwise, is to a certain extent passed on to offspring. So generally I wouldn't breed tail biters.
But on the other hand I also believe behavior can be taught/trained which might be passed on to the next generation. So if a once dedicated tail biter stops such behavior, I would and have bred them. I haven't experienced tail biting in the offspring and hope will never.
Blooddeath.. I'm not talking about a male biting a female or vice verse. I'm talking about a fish that continually bites his own fins for no apparent reason.
I don't understand how people can say that neurotic behavior isn't genetic. I guess if you've never come across a fish that bites no matter what you can't understand that it IS (at least in part) based on genetics.
Some of you may not know about Freddie Mercury. He is a Male bi-color VT and the 4th fish I ever owned. He began biting his tail back in August of 2009. At the time he was in a 1 gallon unheated glass drum. He had gravel and a cave and that was it. After doing research into bettas I learned that he was tail biting and that there are many reasons behind it. I set out on a quest to get him to stop tail biting, along the way I learned the proper way to care for bettas and caught "the bug". Here is a list of things I tried to get him to stop biting.... He still bites:
bigger tank (divided 10 gallon cycled to be exact)
more flow (on the side with the filter)
less heat (he seems to prefer temps around 77-78)
no light (which is my current set up)
more water changes
less water changes (but not jeopardizing water quality all the same)
ping pong balls
daily aquascaping changes
dithers (ghost shrimp and snails... he ignored them)
different rooms (more traffic, less traffic, no traffic)
different stuff in front of his tank
more mirror time
less mirror time
long term salt (did nothing)
live plants, silk plants, plastic plants
IAL (at varying degrees of concentration from hardly a tint to black water)
smaller tank (he is currently in a cycled 2.5)
un-aged (treated) water
near another male
near a female
completely out of sight of any other fish
After all that I found a set up that makes Freddie reasonably happy but he still bites his tail on a regular basis. He let's it grow to a certain length and after that he bites it again. I have no other choice but to believe he has some sort of neurosis based on genetic factors.
If anyone has the answer I would be interested to hear it. Until then I refuse to breed any fish that seems unstable because I know how much it sucks to have a neurotic fish. What is the point in breeding long fins if we are breeding a neurosis into them that causes them to mutilate the fins we work so hard to cultivate?
I find it strange that so many people get tail biters,
I've had and have ALOT of betta's and I've yet to have a tail bitter.
Which leads me to believe it's not genetic, But something acquired during their life of living in not so perfect conditions and/or wrong types of food.
In my experience, very few of the tail biters I've come across have been neurotic, in fact, only one that I've had. The overwhelming majority will stop biting once you get to the bottom of what's stressing them out, but it can be very difficult to figure out what the stress factor is. For one of my fish, it was lighting--he bit whenever he was in complete darkness, for another, it was too much decor in the tank. Once I cleared away all the caves and left only plants, he was much happier.
I did have one little orange VT, he was my favorite fish of all that I've ever had. He was extremely high-strung, I couldn't satisfy him no matter what. He eventually died of a head injury--I think he was darting into objects in the tank. I'm fairly convinced that he was just about as neurotic as they come.
I treat tail biters in an extreme way. I would cut his tail short and either isolate him or place him in a sorority with many females and fairly strong currents.
But before I breed him, I would test him. Isolate him again and see if he would still bite his tail.