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Old 04-16-2012, 06:27 PM   #1 
underdebate
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URGENT: need to stop tailbiting

I have a halfmoon with amazing fins who I got about two weeks ago. He adjusted to his new home just fine and has been perfectly happy since then-- following fingers, nomming on his food, even building a nest here and there.

Last night I noticed he'd taken two small crescents out of his tail-- nothing too serious, but a bit confusing. Nothing in his environment has changed: his water sits at a constant 78, he has several plants which he loves to hide in, he's been perfectly happy and curious. What gives?

Went to bed; nothing had changed the next morning, nor had it changed when I came home from school. Within two hours of that, however, he had-- for some inexplicable reason-- SHREDDED his back fin. Twenty minutes later, while doing another betta's water change, I noticed he'd started taking more chunks off and was chasing his tail. He'd also begun flaring at nothing in particular.

This has all happened very suddenly and I am at a LOSS-- nothing about his environment has changed. Concerned that maybe he was being stressed by traffic in the area of the house he's in, I moved his tank to a quieter spot and put a towel underneath it. He's incredibly stressed: the swimming-in-circles hasn't stopped, and I'm worried he's going to take off his entire tail.

I know it's impossible to determine the cause, but I need to know what I can do to calm him down-- like RIGHT NOW, before his beautiful halfmoon self turns into a delta. Advice?
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Old 04-16-2012, 06:35 PM   #2 
Luimeril
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to stop tail biting totally is a pain in the behind.

for starters, try rearranging his tank decorations around. that's how i got mine to stop. does he have a filter? can he see any other bettas? how often do you change his water?
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Old 04-16-2012, 06:38 PM   #3 
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I'm going to try moving the decorations-- I also gave him a bottle cap to play with and I've sort of blocked off his tank so he can't see anyone moving around outside. No filter; it's only a 3.5 gallon keeper, so I just do one 50% and one 100% water change per week. No other bettas nearby either.
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Old 04-16-2012, 06:45 PM   #4 
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Just keep his water clean. You can try a little AQ salt for a couple days to help with the fin regrowth. (1 tsp/gallon. Dissolve before you put it in.)

I find putting new decorations in often stops my Gandalf from nipping. Dense foliage gives them more things to do.
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Old 04-16-2012, 06:48 PM   #5 
underdebate
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The regrowth part will be quite easy, I'm sure. :) I'm currently dealing with two other bettas, one who came to me with swiss-cheese-like fin rot and the other with very little anal fin to speak of. What's got me confused is WHY he decided to start attacking his fins so aggressively out of the blue like that-- he seems a little calmer now, but I'm worried about leaving him alone for any period of time.
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Old 04-16-2012, 06:55 PM   #6 
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You can try covering his tank with a dark shirt to minimize stress.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:00 PM   #7 
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Unfortunately it's like a bad habit (same goes for humans). It's almost impossible to fully cure the habit. :/
I've yet to get Styx to stop. >< He'll heal halfway and then shred his fins again.
Just do as the others have suggested. Salt baths and clean clean water! It can also be from a lack of activity. Try holding a mirror to his tank for 10 min. a day. :)

It's all scientific method really. Try one thing, if it doesn't work try another. xD
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:27 PM   #8 
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Could be a lack of stimulation, could be too much stimulation, could be that the heaviness of his caudal is stressing/aggravating him, could be misplaced aggression, could be a lack of hiding places making him feel vulnerable.

Some fish will tail bite once or twice and never do it again. Some will never tail bite at all, while for others it will become a compulsive habit.

I've found my males with heavy finnage do best in smaller tanks, with no substrate (I've found sometimes the drag of their fins along the substrate can cause irritation and redness) and lots of plants with broad leaves such as anubias for them to rest on and hide in. I actually have a gentle current going on in my HM male tanks as I feel this is a non-stressful way of building up muscle.

My HM males tend to tail bite more when in direct view of a male as opposed to my females. Being exposed to a female seems to spark a more positive flare reaction (seeing the female as a possible mate/submissive rather than a threat) than being exposed to a 'rival' male.

I used to have two compulsive tail biters. I couldn't stand it. No matter what I did they would bite. I was sort of glad when they passed. Now I have three HM males and none of them have touched any of their fins.

Good clean water, IAL or aquarium salt and high-protein foods should be all you need to regrow any damage.
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