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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all,

I think my fish Killian is fin biting on his caudal (cheeky boy) - any tips on how to stop it? I just did a 50% water change on Monday and put (back) into his tank, his silk plant and an IAL (*sigh*). I noticed the tank was a bit cloudy after I did the water change, but didn't really think too much of it cause maybe I disturbed the bacteria cultures in the sponge when I poured clean water into the tank. Any ways, let it run (without any fish in for a couple of hours to settle and also added in the water conditioner). Put the fish back in and it's still a bit cloudy - it's been a bit cloudy since Monday.

I'll probably move around some decor inside his tank too - if it's bordem that is making him fin bite.

Also, pretty sure I spotted little white specks that look like the signs of early ich (though I doubt my camera could pick it up). Would anyone recommend I do a treatment for it? I'll be doing another water change this weekend, probably a 100% and clean out the substrate, just to make sure it's not ich.

He's behaving fine - eating and swimming normally.

Here are some pics. First two are pics before I noticed his fins today; second ones are just this evening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's just my opinon but I think too often we medicate before we know there's actually something wrong. Meds are stressful and, also IMO, should be used sparringly.

Unless you've added new fish or live plants it's doubtful he has ich. I could be wrong but I'd wait and see. Cleaning won't get rid of ich; meds and high temperatures will.

If your tank is filtered and cycling or cycled there's no reason for doing 100%; unless, of course, you're tring to rid it of meds.

There's no reason established for fin biting. It can be that long finned Betta have trouble swimming and find shorter fins make it easier to maneuver. Or they could just be biting the way a dog or cat chases and catches its tail: It's there but with a Betta the tail fins are so fragile damage occurs. No one knows. But what most agree on is avoidance of stress is important. For that reason I would not do a 100% water change. But that's me.

BTW, where was Killian while you were waiting for the water to clear? Is it after that he started biting? If he spent that time in a cup it could have stressed him enough to start biting. Sometimes tanks, especially new ones, will cloud with a bacterial bloom. Perfectly harmless.
Hi Russell - fair enough :-D - I was thinking of waiting and seeing before treating, but wanted to get other opinions too - more information and help is better than attempting anything alone; especially if it's not needed. His tank is at 27C and his over all behaviour hasn't changed to indicate he is ill.

This is the first water change Killian has had with me if you don't count his initial introduction to the tank; and with all of my other fish, I usually just place them in a small temporary glass cup/bowl to settle and swim around while I'm attempting to pump out the uneaten food/poo in the substrate and wash the plants in the tank water. I try not to move them too much if I don't have to and I scoop them out using a cup and allow them to slowly swim into it before grabbing it out. I usually let them settle and swim around and maybe drop a bit of food in too just so they aren't freaking out cause their surroundings are different. Also with water changes, I'm very particular about making sure I do any water changes on the same day each week, just so that it's consistent for them.

I only noticed that fin damage tonight - he hadn't done it before (I spend time watching my boys swim in their tanks after I finish work - it's really peaceful). His fins were in top shape yesterday, so I'm not sure what could have caused the sudden fin damage.

Usually I'm not that worried about the bacterial bloom - only noticed the cloudiness after this water change - when I initially started and cycled the tank it didn't display any signs of cloudiness - is it normal for it to display it now?

I figured I'd try and gather more information from everyone before I decided upon doing anything - some times the thought of potential illnesses make one feel like they need to act immediately rather than wait. Just wanted to ease my mind.

Thanks for your reply!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Knock wood, I haven't had illness in my tanks in so many years I sometimes forget the uncertainty and worry. I've always tend to be conservative in everything except politics. ;-)

I don't think there's every a way to determine why they fin bite because no one has ever been able to prove anything. It's all guesswork and opinion. If they're eating, active and otherwise acting normal I watch to see if the fins are infected but other than that I don't pay much attention. I used to try to figure it out and it drove me crazy while the Betta continued to swim merrily along. :)

Good luck with Killian. Let's hope he doesn't have ich and his fin biting was a one-time thing. I've had them do that, too.
Thanks Russell! I'll keep an eye on him... I think he's a bit of a cheeky fish anyways! Probably doing it just to make me worry and fuss over him *lol* I'll keep my eyes open for ich - though his tank mate (he's in a divided tank - isn't showing any of the white specks I *think* I see on Killian...) Suppose that just means I'll keep an eye on both of them.

They're both happy and swimming normally so maybe it is a one time thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So it's been a few days since I posted about Killian... and I'm pretty sure it's ich. He's suddenly developed more little white specks on his body and fins... and now Tony has a few too!

The only thing I can think of that was new to their tank was a bit of IAL! *sigh* anyways, anyone recommend I start treating for it? I know ich tends to multiply fast if nothing is done and the substrate isn't cleaned out properly.

I've cranked up their heater in the tank to 28C from 26.5C, so I might just do partial water changes every couple of days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
**Update**

Killian is indeed fin biting... I wonder if it's cause he's stressed?? He did have ich - after I increased the temp of the water, the little white specks have disappeared (slowly). In any case, I've been doing some research about getting rid of ich and read that I need to clean the substrate every couple of days, so any surviving ich doesn't re-attach. I'll also do a partial water change and add in some AQ salts - does anyone recommend that I add in a bit more than the regular dosage on the box? 1tsp/gallon?

I'll add stress coat too and rooibos tea to the water so it'll help with his fins.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm glad you're treating him. I really wish there was a cure to fin nipping. 3 of my 5 boys are nippers, and Chili just started again. This kind of thing ALWAYS happens to me. Some days I'm just so frustrated at them. Is there anything that I can do to help promote re-growth and curb the habit? My boys are HUGE glass surfers so when they turn around their fins smack them in the face so that probably doesn't help.
Would getting an adjustable heater help? 78 F just doesn't seem warm enough. :/
Yea me too! I have Killian who is a fin nipper and Kennex/Dorian who are reformed nippers. I've been doing some research on it and lots of ppl say that there isn't a whole lot to do... Cause they do it out of bordem or stress. I'd like to believe that my fish aren't stressed and just bored. Things I've tried that might work for you also is:

- up the water temp using an adjustable heater to about 78F (mine is up higher to test for inch at the moment)

- change the environment:
- move around the decor in the tank (I do that when I do a water change weekly)
- add more spaces for them to hide
- add/change the decor in the tank to stave bordem

- add in IAL or rooibos tea to make the water darker (tannins in the water help make them feel less stressed and "visible")

- limit the use of your aquarium light (if you have one)

It's funny cause my boys don't really surf that much.... Well some of them do but I've paired certain boys together (as their all in divided tanks) and they've calmed down quite a bit.

Hopefully we can 'nip' this problem :lol:;-)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm definitely getting an adjustable heater when I can afford it.
I actually have done all those things, but it never hurts to keep trying! I don't have IAL or anything, so I might try that soon!
I swapped Killian and Tony around... I think it worked and he's not really nipping anymore.... But I'm still keeping my eye on him.

Adjustable heaters are good... Totally worth the money :-D and I'd definitely recommend IAL or rooibos tea... I'm doing the rooibos method now.... Just cause I have the tea bags and want to use them up :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Killian's fins are looking worse!

Hi all - so latest update:

Moving Killian and Tony didn't work - he still nipped at his beautiful fins.. so I've been making sure the water is clean and been adding in stress coat to help with fin growth... unfortunately after the 50% water change last night, it got worse!

First photo is just after I did the water change... the second photo is just a few minutes ago (and i've swapped him back to being next to Arrow - but I noticed the damage this morning).

Please tell me I'm not crazy and this really is a bad case of fin biting and seriously not turning into a bad case of fin rot... *sigh* I think maybe moving him to a proximity closer to other slightly more aggressive fish might help "occupy" him so he doesn't nip any more? It's not only affecting his caudal, but his anal and dorsal fin too!:shake::sad::cry:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Believe it or not, that isn't a really bad case of fin biting. People have posted pictures of Betta without much left of their caudal or dorsal.

The most common cause of fin rot is poor water management; dirty water. With the care you give your boys I seriously doubt you'll have that problem. That's not to say fins can't become infected or develop problems aside from fin rot.
Thanks RussellTheShihTzu, I guess it "feels" like a bad case of fin biting cause compared to my other boys.... it's pretty rough... I can't even look at him for the time being cause he's just being a dork.

I have put in some stress coat for him... been doing it for about 2 weeks now... how often should I put it in? I've been doing it daily... but maybe that's too much? In any case, I have been making sure the water is clean and warm - it's at 30C! He's definitely eating well... a mix between pellets and some bloodworms for extra protein (gotta get those fins healing) and his water has been coloured with the tea treatment.

I think maybe if I put him next to more "agressive" fish, he might just get distracted enough that he'll let his fins heal up... *sigh* May try that next week.... other wise I might stress him out too much with all the moving...
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Was he ever in a smaller tank? If so did he bite his fins?

I've had three or four Betta that could not live in anything more than 2.5 gallons. They stressed and bit in a five or a 10. The 2.5 was exactly like the others as far as planting but only there did they stop. It might be worth a try.

I always start new Betta in a 2.5 and leave them there for a month before I put them in a larger tank. I have always thought going from a cup to anything larger than a 2.5 could be stressful for some.
Hmm... well the only other place he's been in is one of those tiny jars you find them in at the pet shop... his 2.5 is his first upgrade... and i havent made one from there... i did notice he doesnt like his tank bare... so its heavily planted with silk plants and he's got a hiding spot too in some tubes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I'm confused...what size tank is he in now? Is it divided?
He's currently in a 20L divided tank.. I think it works out to be just a little over 2.5 Gallons. But he's never been in anything smaller except the pet store cups.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Can you put him in a tank by himself long enough to see if he slows or stops biting? Even if it's small? Divided tanks can be extremely stressful, too, even if the Betta can't see each other.

A two-gallon cookie jar would work as a temporary home. Or either Captain or Arrow's tank with paper between so he can't see the other Betta?
Hi Russell - I did consider transferring him into Arrow's tank (as it's not a shared tank and can be covered on either side) and then transferring Arrow out into Killian's current space next to Tony.

Presently, he's doing ok in Tony's space as he can see Arrow & some times Tony - looks like his anal fin is healing a little bit, but his caudal is still pretty rough and so is the top of his dorsal. The divider in the tanks are a blackout divider so he can only see another fish through small slits in the top or bottom, though he seems more distracted by Arrow as that side of his tank is just glass and can see right through. I've also covered the front on his tank with a towel, so that he's not distracted by light etc. over night.

I'll post pictures of the tank so you know what I'm referring to - Killian is on the left side of the tank and currently using Tony's decor.

Thanks for all of your help RussellTheShihTzu!
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 · (Edited)
Oh Killian... trying to make a bubble nest, so I wouldn't notice his terrible looking fins... *lol*

Ah well, at least he doing something constructive rather than biting his fins! :-D
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 · (Edited)
Ok so I worked on Killian/Tony's shared space... did a little betta musical tank...

I gave Tony back his decor and he's quite happy - swimming in and out of his tubes! He now resides next to Cap (who's pretty ok being at the end of the panorama which is good!)

Killian on the other hand, well, he still resides next to Tony, but he can now see Arrow (who resides with Flash & Baymax). I added in an underwater tiki statue... and kept 1 plant. I've also added a ping pong ball to both Killian and Tony's tanks - though I put the water a bit high and the ball is just a fixed structure now :lol:

Hopefully... with any luck this might help both of them stop biting long enough for their pretty fins to heal back up! Doubled the stress coat for the last few days so *fingers crossed* I start seeing some re-growth... just some...

If this doesn't work... then I guess next step will be to try to cover the top slits in the tank that the boys share and see how that goes. I figured Killian likes being near the other fish who may be just as aggressive as he is... maybe it'll keep him occupied!
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Whoops... forgot the pictures!
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
So it's been about 3 days since I moved Killian & Tony Stark's tank around and placed it between Flash, Baymax, Arrow [Betta trio] and Cap's [betta mono] tanks...

Seems Tony has stopped fin biting - I'm actually starting to see some clear areas of regrowth where he's bitten... so that is a plus! Huzzah! He's happy swimming in and out of his black tubes and loves trying to get Cap's attention at the side of the glass.

Killian on the other hand... is, from what I can see not getting worse (yay)... he's been busy trying to make Arrow flare at him (although Arrow can't flare, on account of his tumor right near his beard - Arrow does react though and swims around frantically like some betta's do when they are flaring)... and he's also been busy making a bubble nest next to the ping pong ball and a long line at the front of the tank. Hopefully there is some regrowth and his fins return back to that beautiful pre-biting look. If not, at least he is healthy and swimming happily and *cross fingers* NOT biting :lol: Though looking back on old photos - I got Killian on 15 May... and in a month, he's pretty much bitten half his tail... *sigh*

I've been double dosing the boys with stress coat now and their water has rooibos tea to make it darker for them.

Here are some photos - the first one is Killian - his fins now compared (in the smaller box) to his fins on the 17 May - you can see how much of his fins he's bitten. The second photo is Tony - his fins today compared (in the smaller box) to his fins a few days ago. The next photos are Killian's bubble nest.

I know there is no cure for fin biting... and that we just need to figure out their "ticks" and hopefully we get it right so they stop... I just thought I'd share my 2 fin biters journey with everyone so you don't feel so alone in this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 · (Edited)
Super frustrated!

*sigh* I'm super frustrated (so apologize the tone of this, it's a bit of a rant)

On the 14 June - I changed around Killian/Tony Stark's tanks and they were happy... at least, happy enough that for the next 3 days, I managed to see fin regrowth, dosing them with double the stress coat and also water changing 30% every week.

Alas, I'm really frustrated! I woke up this morning to find that Tony had bit his fins!! (including all of that new regrowth) It looks horrid and terrible and I can't figure out what is going on! I just checked the two of them about an hour ago and now Killian has bit his fins too!!

*insert swear words here*

Up until last night their fins were doing really well!! They were showing good signs of regrowth... especially Killian's! His fins regrew about 1cm (maybe a little more) from the end of his dorsal fin - where he bit to [see previous pictures] (it's what I generally used to measure how bad he had bitten his fins down too).... now he's taken chunks out of the re-growth! :evil: It's been 13 days and I thought I had this beaten... the only thing I can think of in regards to any changes to their tanks is that last night I only added in half of the usual stress coat dosage I give them and 1/4 tsp AQ salts... any ways, I just did my weekly water change and added in the 5mL of stress coat (plus rooibos tea; no AQ salts)... and maybe I'll just have to be patient again and keep waiting to see if they stop and their fins regrow!

This is super frustrating cause they were both making progress! :cry::cry::cry::cry:
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
photos

Here are some photos:

photo 1: Killian's fins last night
photo 2: Stark's fins last night
photo 3: Killian & Stark's fins tonight :cry::evil:
photo 4: Killian's fins tonight (close up)
photo 5: Stark's fins tonight (close up)
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 · (Edited)
At least I'm not alone

Sorry if this comes across as harsh but ... There. Is. No. Way. To. Stop. Fin. Biting. Period. Betta owners either learn to live with it or rehome the biters. It breaks my heart to see so many people stress because think they have it figured out only to have the biting resume.

It's not your fault. It's a behavior you can't control and, after reading about it for so many years, it seems a high percentage of Betta in open and/or shared barracks have the problem. As Hallyx says, a tank isn't properly planted if one "can glance over and easily see a Betta." Then add that Betta in a divided tank share more than water; they share stress, too. And phermones.

As Betta are not bright light/lightly planted fish, you could try muting the light and adding a jungle of plants but you'd still have the barrack's problem. Perhaps experiment with one of the biters in a single, muted-light, jungle-like tank.

Knock wood, since I've started keeping tanks like these fin biting has stopped. When I had a divided tank it was this planted in both sections. Top and bottom photos are same tank but bottom photo is when the 20 long was home to Dexter, an OHM. Notice how many darkened areas there are?
Thanks Russell - I'm not so much stressed about it, as just frustrated *lol* it seemed they were doing so well for the last 2 weeks... but then tonight it just changed... *sigh* In any case... I have been keeping a record of any changes I've made to their tanks [you're welcome to move this thread to journals - if it's better suited there]. I do see your point though about increasing the plants and providing more darkened areas for hiding.

And while I know there isn't much I can do to stop the biting, I suppose this is a good place to document changes etc. so other members might also find solace in the fact that many of us have betta's/fish that nip their own fins.

I will post a few things that have worked/not worked for my fish (at least for 13 days any ways :lol:) - perhaps it may help others (even though there isn't much that can be done if they really want to nip/bite their fins - I've accepted it for the most part, but it's more of an "ok, so you did it again *sigh*" kind of frustration)

Their water is heated to 30C (86F) - it is cleaned weekly; with a 30-45% water change; stress coat is 5mL and no AQ salts (even though the box says it can be added to water that has been changed), rooibos tea @ 1hr (for darker water)

For both boys:

- I have ruled out solitude - it was worse when they weren't around other fish. So, I have moved both of them around between the other betta's I own so they have a variety of fish to look at and be kept occupied.
- ping pong balls - they don't play with them, but on occasion Killian likes to blow bubble nests around it
- They didn't seem to like heavily planted tanks w/ no ornaments - I tried, but they both nipped more (especially Tony)
- lights are on for about an hour (max)... usually I just leave their light off - the only other light source around them at night (mostly) is maybe from one of the other tanks or the room light) - lights bother Killian more than Tony

That being said, I'll most likely try and change them around again and see how they go... I guess I have yet to find their "tick".... guess it was a little too hopeful that they would stop after 13 days of not biting *lol*
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
It's not going to stop. Can't say it many more ways or plainer than that.

When you moved the boys to solo tanks did you move them with their current decor? I've observed in a large percentage of fin biters: High light + low planting = fin biting. Your tanks would be considered sparsely planted and brightly lit; two major stressors. Which is why I suggested you try a heavily-planted tank; not just replicating their current habitat in a solo aquarium.

I think this would be better as a journal. I'll do that now. Maybe someone will change from sparsely planted and brightly-lit tanks to a more natural habitat. Might bring the same results I experienced.
When I moved the boys to solo tanks - I didn't put in their decor - well I kept the plants, added more and removed the ornaments & had different substrate; that being said, I'm willing to try it again... perhaps it was due to the plants I used (since I only had plastic - panty hose tested) - but now they have silk plants - I might have to add larger silk plants.

Also, thanks Russell for moving this to the journal section :)
 
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