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Self-harming Betta :(


Caretta Rose

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Hi all,

 

I'm so upset! I moved recently into a basement apartment, my beautiful Betta did quite well with the move (my plants, not so much...) despite how worried I was about the whole process. Everything was going well, until I left him for a weekend alone. The apartment is quite dark and doesn't get a whole lot of natural lighting. I left his light timer on as usual.. however, since I was gone the ambient room light was off the whole time and I'm thinking his reflection was super visible with the aquarium lights on, thus stressing him out, and he started self-harming his tail. The top half of his tail fin was shredded and there was a giant bubble nest. He's always been a relatively calm fish, I've never seen him flare his gills until after moving. I did a little experiment and turned the room lights on and off just to see his reaction. Every time I turned them off, he went crazy - flaring and darting around. I haven't seen him nip, but judging on the location of the shreds, it looks very much like it.

 

Problem is, I am leaving again this weekend. I'm wondering if I should just turn all his lights off for the two days I am gone? I know this won't bother the fish, I don't want him to get stressed to the point he starts nipping again. It looks like he's starting to heal. However, I do have live plants and worry about them just as much. I have some anubias, crypts, scarlet temple, some moneywort plants (that are struggling), as well as pothos that are rooted in and overhang the aquarium. 

 

I've considered replacing the lighting on the aquarium, too since they are relatively bright LEDs but the funds are just non-existent at the moment.

Edited by Caretta Rose
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I think there are many reasons they do this. Did you have an auto feeder? I've heard they can start nipping if they aren't fed for a few days. I've read where it seems they do it out of boredom. I heard where they do it from stress also.

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Maybe I'm crazy...but if the room lights *are* the problem...could you get a timer for them, too? Have them on at the same time as the aquarium?

I'm watching with interest, because I'm taking my first vacation in forever soon, and of course I just started fishkeeping...

Sent from my SM-G900P using Tapatalk

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Nipping is extremely common and yes, regular meals do help. Some still barber and nobody knows why except that the fins can sometimes annoy them or drag overly much. It's ugly but it doesn't really hurt anything. In my experience lighting makes zero difference, I've had nippers in the dark and well lit tanks and they do it regardless.

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I would just turn the tank lights/timer off and see how if goes this weekend.

FWIW, I've been using Indian almond leaves in my betta tanks and my bettas have never looked nicer, something to think about for the future.

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Its better to fast than use a feeder block/auto feeder (makes mes sin tank or can over feed).  Some bettas fin bite because their fins are too long ans weigh/slow them down.  My doubletail halfmoon mustard male had this problem-huge fins.  He trims them so short he looks like a plakat.

If you're worried about reflection being an issue and are willing to do some DIY you can make inserts for your tank with acrylic sheets, an electric saw or utility knife, and Krylon fusion spray paint.

004_zpswfbovqjm.jpg

I did this for one of my boys, worked great!

This is the tank after a few years

Edited by AquaAurora
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The acrylic sheet idea is pretty neat! My living situation is temporary (I went back to school), so I'm hoping this all passes at some point.

 

He did just fine all weekend alone with the lights off! :) I did leave a little LED nightlight on for him so it wasn't pitch dark. No signs of additional nipping, either. Just wanted to mention that this is the first instance of nipping that I've seen with him. It was very surprising seeing him react so much when I did the light 'experiment' - I've never seen him even flare up prior to that.

 

Today was water change day and he seems to be healing up nicely. We'll be back to half-moon status in no time!

Edited by Caretta Rose
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