Reasons for Fin Biting - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-11-2019, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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Reasons for Fin Biting

@Rainbo did you say one of your fish became a fin nipper? And he chewed off half his tail in short order?

Do you have any idea what caused this behavior?

Many animals self destruct when bored - is it that?

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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-11-2019, 10:30 PM
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@Rainbo did you say one of your fish became a fin nipper? And he chewed off half his tail in short order?

Do you have any idea what caused this behavior?

Many animals self destruct when bored - is it that?

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I've had a couple of them bite their tail, but I think the one you're thinking of is Bruiser. Yes, I'd notice that he was biting the edge of his tail and usually within a day he'd have half of it gone.

There are lots of theories as to why they fin nip. They are stressed due to the tank being too bare, the light being too bright, or light glaring off white substrate. Stressed because of the location of the tank, water conditions, or the filter being too strong. They are bored, or maybe not being fed enough. The fins are too heavy. Sometimes illness causes it.

I never did figure out exactly what Bruiser's reason was, his tank is densely planted, heated, water parameters good. His filter is not too strong, and he is very well fed. His tank is where he can see everything but the room isn't overly busy. He started biting after his tail grew back after he had torn it off on the filter intake tube, and he always seemed to trim it back to around that length, so maybe he just liked it that short? What's really weird is that he stopped biting just as abruptly as he stared.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-12-2019, 03:11 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting - esp the part about stopping as suddenly as he started.

As to why they start, is it possible for fish to get "bored"?

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-12-2019, 06:01 PM
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Interesting - esp the part about stopping as suddenly as he started.

As to why they start, is it possible for fish to get "bored"?

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That I couldn't say. I know Betta are one of the more intelligent fish, and I've seen studies about fish and depression. One of the causes of depression is boredom. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/s...ssed-fish.html My question would be, why does boredom turn some betta into fin bitters, but not others?

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-12-2019, 10:45 PM
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That I couldn't say. I know Betta are one of the more intelligent fish, and I've seen studies about fish and depression. One of the causes of depression is boredom. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/s...ssed-fish.html My question would be, why does boredom turn some betta into fin bitters, but not others?
Maybe "boredom" doesn't actually cause fin biting? No one knows for sure what does; all evidence (except with white/platinum)* is anecdotal and theory.

Even though boredom can lead to depression and vice versa in humans, I do note in the article that "boredom" is the author's term; not the scientists.

And, for anyone who hasn't seen them, Rainbo's tank setups are the last place I would ever believe boredom was the reason any Betta would bite fins.

Lest one think it's only long-fins that bite....not so....females and PK will bite, too. *And it has been long-realized that a higher percentage of white/platinum Betta bite than other colors. There are Thai breeders still trying to breed it out of them.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 01:27 AM
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I think redirected aggression could be a possible cause. Like when a reactive dog sees another dog, is unable to get to it, and redirects that aggression onto its owner.

I also wonder if there's an element of OCD with some fish. Because some males will bite their fins once or twice, and then never again, whereas, for some it becomes almost a compulsion. Even if the environment is changed, and the fins are bitten down to a length where they no longer impede swimming, the fish continues to bite them. I had a male that would constantly bite whatever fins he could reach, down to bleeding nubs. It was very distressing as an owner to watch.

It would be interesting to see if genetics plays a role. For example, I've always wondered if artificially raising the eggs of egg-eating males, simply perpetuates this behaviour in future generations.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 12:35 PM Thread Starter
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Only domestic fish do it, so I thought it might be analogous to horses' cribbing, but as you say that wouldn't happen in Rainbo"s tank.

A while back I went to a conference at NYU''s center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness - in animals. The speakers and topics on FISH were so interesting. The whole thing was recorded and can be viewed on NYUTV I just have to dig up the link.

If we assume fish are sentient and have Consciousness (and that was the gist of it) not to anthropomorphize but it's not a stretch to think them capable of boredom, depression and even perhaps certain "neurotic" behaviors.

Not to go too far off track but it was proven fish experiencnce REM sleep (I'll hunt down the link, promise) so I had to wonder - do fish dream of aquatic sheep?




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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 09:46 PM
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Just curious: How do we know it's only domestic fish which fin bite?

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 02:58 AM
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I've never seen anyone talk about their wild bettas fin biting on any of the forums or FB groups dedicated to wilds that I've read or been part of.

I've also never witnessed it in any of my wilds.

Besides, as many wild betta species are kept in pairs or groups, they don't need to bite their own fins. They have other fish to do it for them. Haha.


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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 05:22 PM
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But how do we *know* only domestic fish fin bite? I've never seen any of mine bite. And if the same share a tank how do we know the damage is self-inflicted?

You think maybe people with wild fish don't want to lose their reason for not keeping long-fins? 😉 and hehehe.

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