Question Is my Nemo fish decor stressing out my betta?

AlexW9102

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Recently, I got a Nemo tank decoration since my little sister wanted it to go in the betta tank because she thought he needed a friend. When I put it in, my betta Furry (sister was also the one who named him and said he looked furry, so the name stuck), he fanned out his fins and gills and started flapping them in the fake fish's face and trying to intimidate it and bite it. He has been doing it multiple times a day, every day. I read that bettas can get stressed out whenever they see themselves in the mirrors, and doing that too much can cause harm. My family members said he'll be fine and that if he is capable with being around other tank mates (although he is solitary at the moment), he can be around a fake fish. Is the fake Nemo fish going to cause him stress over time? And if so, could it lead to over aggressiveness and self-harm?
 
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SM1199

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Yes, and yes.

I lost the betta in my profile picture due to uncontrollable fin biting that led to severe fin rot. He was perfectly healthy and happy before I got another betta and set him up an adjacent tank. He was only capable of seeing the new betta through the glass and he got so aggressive about the other betta that he started taking it out on his own fins in frustration. Once I figured that out, I rearranged the tanks so they couldn't see each other. It didn't matter - he continued to bite his fins until he had almost nothing of a tail and passed away, despite my best efforts to re-arrange his tank, keep him occupied, and treat him with medications.
 
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AlexW9102

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Oh no that's so sad! And he looked like such a beautiful betta! We went to the store yesterday to ask for advice on my betta's fin rot which I only discovered the night before. We thought he was just growing when it began, but after a few weeks, I had a strong feeling that was not the case. That's also the same day when we got the Nemo decoration. Although the decoration isn't the cause of my betta's fin rot, will it still stress him out enough to make the fin rot become worse rather than better? Is it still okay to keep in in the tank for only a few minutes out of a day just like how other people use a mirror to allow them to let out their pent up aggression?
 

SM1199

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It's not necessarily bad for a few minutes, but make sure he's not letting the frustration roll over into the rest of the day, which can have negative consequences.

Make sure you stay on top of his fin rot and get it under control before it spreads so far that you can't effectively treat it.
 
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AlexW9102

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For my betta's fin rot, I got Melafix and Pimafix and have been treating him for about a day and it already seems to be working well. If he does start biting his tail, I suppose that it's a major red flag to get that decoration out of the tank. Luckily he hasn't gotten to that point, but my parents are seeing him fighting it as funny and a good form of exercise and have been against me taking it out. But even if he isn't biting his fins, are there other signs I should look for if he is being negatively affected?
 

SM1199

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I'm glad those two seem to be working, but they're not my favorite. Melafix isn't the safest medication for bettas and is better at about a quarter dose than suggested (Bettafix is the exact same as Melafix except one quarter the concentration). If the fin rot heals up, great. If not, you should look to start treating with something like aquarium salt (mild but can do wonders).

Yes, you should keep an eye out for fins that rip apart if he flares too hard, heavy breathing, blindly darting around the tank (exploring enthusiastically and with purpose is different and OK), or laying on his side/lethargy.
 
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AlexW9102

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Thanks for the info! I was reading the directions on the Melafix, and 5ml per 10 gallons each day seemed a bit much. I'll try reducing the dose. I just started using it yesterday, so I haven't noticed any huge differences and I was concerned that it may help with bacteria, but harm the betta in other ways like the eyes and insides. Metafix smells like essential oil and even though it may not be, I know that something similar can be harmful to some extent if used improperly.
He has been flaring up quite a bit and someone pointed out that his tail seemed a bit more ripped and said that the Metafix hasn't worked. Well, we've been using it for a day haha and his tail being already sensitive because of the fin rot and then flaring it up causing ripping makes perfect sense.
 

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AlexW9102 said:
Metafix smells like essential oil and even though it may not be, I know that something similar can be harmful to some extent if used improperly.
That's exactly what it is - it's just melaleuca oil (tea tree oil). It can damage a betta's labyrinth organ if used at too high a dose or for too long.
 
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AlexW9102

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Oh my gosh that sounds horrible! I began using a much smaller dosage the other day, and he seems to be less stressed out, but he's still healing. I'll totally continue keeping it in low amounts. Thank you for letting me know!
And I did manage to convince the others to take the Nemo decoration out. It took a lot of convincing, though! I feel much better knowing that he won't be stressing himself out anymore.
 

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