I have very recently adopted a betta who is a known tail biter.
I have not had any fish for quite a few years now - and the only ones I've ever owned were betta's. None of my betta's ever ate their own tails though. So I have been obsessively searching the info to update my care knowledge and also read up on this self inflicted tail damage problem.
Hoping some of the very knowledgeable people here will be able to keep me on the right track with this little guy. I have learnt from other posters the importance of keeping photo logs to track progress so am doing this also.
He was originally purchased by his previous owner as a beautiful half-moon but his owner tells me that he quickly became a consistent tail biter and in the 10 months since she bought him he has routinely eaten more than half the length of his tail off. She tells me it does start to grow back but despite her best efforts he just always chomps it back down again (she had concluded that perhaps it is just too heavy for him and he likes it shorter).
I am keen to troubleshoot this problem behaviour and help this little guy to be happy and healthy if I can, hopefully breaking the tail biting habit and grow back his fins to their gorgeous natural size. But I am definitely not a betta/fish expert. I have owned numerous Betta's in the past and none of them ever bit their own tail.
I am using the Seachem Prime Water Conditioner (as was his previous owner) and I was wondering if I could also start using the Seachem Stress Coat as part of his everyday water content and if that would help the growing process for his tail? Also looking for clarity about whether this product is used WITH the prime water conditioner, or instead of, or only ever meant to be used in a treatment/hospital tank to encourage repair of visible wounds instead of as an always included product after water changes.
His previous owner assures me that although he has been a tail biter since his day one with her - that he has never suffered fin rot as a result.
I have been shown the photos of how he looked when he was younger and she had just purchased him and at that time he had zero tail damage – his tail was full and beautiful so I know the behaviour started once he made the move.
Since I agreed to adopt him - I have been researching like crazy about ways people find work with their tail biters to break the habit and repair the tail.
Poor little guy.
What I know of his history:
He was purchased in Asia and then transported in a suitcase.
Since then he has been living in a glass bowl that is about 3 gallons (for about 9 months now).
At least once or twice a week 100% water changes.
Owner’s feeding routine was giving him 4 Hikari baby pellets a day for food (usually given at four spaced out / different times of the day, so one pellet each feeding time) – on one day of the week though he was getting frozen blood worms.
He has had the 3 gallon bowl all to himself but I believe his glass tank was sitting next to another glass betta bowl in his previous home.
I have taken him in and purchased the bowl he has been living in from his previous owner.
I am just about to place an order for completely new decorations such as plants / floating log / mirror etc to just experiment and gradually swap out one by one all of the decorations he currently has and has always had in his bowl and see if perhaps one of the objects in his environment has been the tail biting trigger.
I've also read that sometimes just moving the position of the tank or the lighting in the room etc can be enough to break the cycle (depending on why the fish is doing it) and so will wait a week before changing decorations to see if he is happier just from being in his new location inside my home.
Very keen to help this little guy repair his beautiful tail because the photos of him are truly stunning before he ate his fins back to kind of delta size but also because this behaviour doesn’t seem to be an indication of a happy, stable, content little fish.
From all my research, and in trying to pin point the WHY he is doing it - he does not fit the criteria of a 'highly aggressive' or 'skittish/neurotic' fish...so I'm leaning toward he may have always been too bored, too hungry or it is a hereditary bad habit. He seems like a happy guy, doesn’t act sluggish, or scared and is always eager to come straight up to the surface to greet me for food. Spends most of the day just calmly swimming all around this bowl.
I have read about the possible solution of getting him some companion fish to see if that keeps him more occupied and less interested in his tail but as he has never ever had tank mates before I would like to try all the more subtle changes first. If it gets to this point; How many companion fish would you say is a happy and safe mix in a 3 gallon tank with just one betta? (and which companion fish would be most recommended).
So any other advice you can offer regarding successfully repairing his fins – but most importantly stopping the biting would be appreciated.
I am also interested to hear from Betta owners who swear by or swear off the Moss balls (both the Marimo live Balls and the Fluval imitations – and the pro’s and con’s of live v’s artificial in an uncycled tank).
Lastly, is anyone able to tell me if you have ever heard or seen any info regarding whether dried blood worms are known to cause constipation / digestive problems with betta’s. As compared with using the frozen blood worm cubes?
His previous owner loved him very very very very much and I’m sure she took very good care of him and all her other betta’s (he was the only tail biter she had) – She had tried many things to break his bad habit and is knowledgeable about betta’s but I still have my fingers crossed he may be able to be helped.
He has been with me a few days now and I have not actually caught him in the tail biting act – but I am preparing myself because I have been shown pictures by his previous owner of him with part of his tail still hanging out of his mouth!!!
Thank you very much for any help you can offer and also for sharing your time.