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Hello,

I have a problem with my new male betta I purchased 2 weeks ago. He ripped off his own tail!

I've seen him chasing his own tail like a dog, and he has caught and bitten it before. When I came to look in on him this morning his tail was bitten off to a stump, and he seemed quite pleased with himself. He is in a 20 gallon tank, unfiltered and unheated (the room is always very warm, water is changed 1x a week), by himself, with about 10 gallons of water. I have a small crypt and a couple scraggly dwarf saggitaria but nothing else in the tank; I can't see how he could have possibly caught it on anything and ripped the whole tail of so neatly.

Has anyone heard of such strange behavior? I've had several bettas in the past and never seen anything like this. He's very shy fish, could he be stressed possibly? Will the whole tail grow back, or could he die from it? I have some aquarium salt somewhere, would a dose of that be beneficial for the crazy little guy?

Thanks!
 

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The unfiltered part concerns me as bettas are Tropical fish and require everything that the other tropicals do including the removal of the waste products that they normally put out into the water. If he is in a non filtered and non heated tank he could indeed be getting stressed. Yes, I have known of bettas who have eaten their fins and it can be fatal if the dreaded fin rot or an infection sets in. There is one way to prevent that and I am afraid it is not a guarantee. The absolute cleanest and most pristine of conditions and the total absence of ammonia in the tank is vital to him reforming the fins. If they become infected it will be almost impossible to care for him in a tank with no heat or filtration or medication. The thing about the medications you would use is they work best at a temperature of about 80 degrees and it needs to be held steady. The problem is not that the tank is liable to be cold but the fluctuation of temperature and that is the general problem in unheated tanks. Not the coldness but the fluctuation of temperature. If the tanks fluctuate more than about 2 degrees F or 1 degree C in a 24 hour period it is hard on the fin tissue. Remember that the long finned beauties that we see in the stores are not like the short finned plakat type fish that live outside in nature by about 5000%. These fish really do need to be treated in a way that you would the fanciest of Tropicals as they are really fairly hard to keep well if you do not give them the environment they need to stay that way.

If it were me, I would remove him to a smaller tank with at least a heater, set at about 80 degrees Fahrenheit and start a routine of water changes daily in the 50% range to remove any ammonia that builds up. I would not have substrate in that tank and/or any plants or decor other than perhaps a small smooth glass for him to use for a cave to feel comfortable in layed on its side. This way he has nothing to rub against to keep the new growth rubbed off. It will come in looking white or clear like cellophane and will be very tender and can easily fall off while it is forming. Try not to overfeed him and yet see that he receives two very small meals a day. He should get a routine of medication including Triple Sulfa or TriSulfa depending on which one it more available to you or if you can find it Maracyn Plus. It is a liquid and medicates the fish not the water. You use a cc per gallon of tank size of the liquid after shaking the bottle. One teaspoon will treat 5 gallons of tank size. With the Sulfa meds they treat 10 gallons with a packet. it saves medication to put the fish in a smaller tank and treat with less medication and also allows for less water change every day. I realize this is probably not the news you would like to hear but the situation for this betta is not good and in fact kind of dangerous. He is going to need care and i do not see aquarium salt doing a thing to prevent a problem.

Thank you for your concern for your little friend.
 

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very nice explanation rose i am thinking of getting a betta for my 20 gallon and you gave me a brief backround aon caring for them

good job
 
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They, of probably all fishes that i am aware of, have definite personalities. They can get depressed and show emotion. Anyone who actually takes the time to interact with them on a regular basis can get to communicating with them pretty well. I would say the best quote I can give you came from a friend of mine in England who got very good with her fish..."they are like puppies with fins." I really think they do not realize that they are fish but think they are like us. They get along better with us than they ever will with most other tank mates.

The best bettas are the ones that are treated like kids and talked to and those that have quality time spent with them. That is how you unlock the personality and can get to truly having fun with them. You can choose to use them as just another fish but you lose an amazing opportunity to have a fun pet.
 
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