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Discussion Starter #1
@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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@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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Discussion Starter #3
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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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/science/depressed-fish.html My question would be, why does boredom turn some betta into fin bitters, but not others?
 

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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/science/depressed-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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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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Discussion Starter #7
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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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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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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I've only ever seen one of mine bite and that was the one who only bit his fins after he got sick with a mystery illness that I ended up not being able to cure. He was a rosetail, and up until that point never touched his fins.

Pinkerton might have bit due to his coloring, he was a pale pink butterfly DT, and from what I hear fish with his coloring seem to bite more then others and some suspect there's a genetic component to it. He'd stop for a week or so then start up again.

Bruiser, royal blue VT, only started biting after he ripped his caudal and dorsal fins off on the filter intake tube. He let the dorsal grow back but insisted on biting back the caudal ever time it got around half grown back. I almost suspect that he liked it that length. For reasons that I can't figure out, after months of his trimming it he stopped and has left it alone for around 6 months now.

Cinnabar was a red VT and never touched his fins. Lagniappe is a yellow VT and leaves his fins alone. Picasso is a marble rosetail / double tail and he's never bitten his fins. Cork is a blue, red, bicolor HM double tail and he leaves his fins alone. They are all in heavily planted tanks, but the tanks vary in size from 2.5 gal to 20 gal, they are all fed the same diet.

I sometimes think it's luck of the draw whether or not they bite. It does seem that the longer the fins the more chance that they might but that's probably because of ease of access to the fins.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Good question and apologies for belated response.

That comment was based on observing fish in the wild since 1988 with my first scuba certification.

Now since we're underwater for typically an hour at a time, there's no way to say for sure that wild fish aren't fin biting - I've just never observed that behavior in 500+ hours.

Since so many aquarium fish are wild caught, does fin biting happen in other populations?

I've always said the sea was my aquarium so I'm a novice when it comes to captive fish

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I wonder if it could be analogous to a bad habit like cuticle biting in humans?

It just seems like a bad idea from an evolutionary perspective, a fish preoccupied with fin biting would make an easy target.

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Discussion Starter #14
So it's fair to say there's a genetic component?

Again, from an evolutionary perspective I'd think that behavior would be weeded out in wild fishes.

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The long and the short of it is no one has conducted an actual study that established a concrete reason why Betta sometimes fin bite. The only "evidence" is the anecdotal.

As far as the gentic/color-relation, Thai breeders noticed it seemed a higher percentage of white Bettas were prone to biting. So they tried breeding the trait out. No success. This comes from a person who used to import his father's Betta on eBay.

One also seldom sees a Betta fin bite. I never have. :dunno:

And some people seem to have a higher percentage of biters than others. I have had, maybe, 10. All things being equal, three or four bit until I moved them into a 2.5; at least five bit in transit but stopped completely so I don't really count them. The only chronic biters I've had were white or marbles.

The above is out of hundreds of Betta in 52 years. Two were HMPK. The rest were HM. None, as far as I know, were related.

All were in very heavily-planted tanks @78F with same lights and light schedule. Black substrate with large areas of shade.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I see what you're saying.

We definitely need double blinded repeatable clinical studies

cause anecdotal observations are just....well anecdotal

But you've been observing Betta for 52 years?! That's more than Guru status that's Legend :)



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What I find interesting is those who bit in transit never did again.

Breeders/Sellers often do daily flare sessions. These are Betta kept in bare tanks of one gallon or so. From what I've been told, percentage-wise fin biting is low. This seems to offer support to LBF's frustration theory.

See? So many possibilities.

BTW, 52 years makes me no guru. 😉 I learn something new almost every day
 

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What I find interesting is those who bit in transit never did again.

Breeders/Sellers often do daily flare sessions. These are Betta kept in bare tanks of one gallon or so. From what I've been told, percentage-wise fin biting is low. This seems to offer support to LBF's frustration theory.

See? So many possibilities.

BTW, 52 years makes me no guru. 😉 I learn something new almost every day
 
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