Lewis is not a smart betta. Should I baby-proof his tank?

Discussion in 'Betta Fish' started by sophi, Jul 22, 2015.

  1. sophiWell Known MemberMember

    My poor Lewis... I wish he was a little smarter. This guy likes to explore his tank, and while doing so, he squeezes into spots he shouldn't be. About a week ago, I woke up to find a large chunk of his tail missing, and a hole in the middle. I've been doing every other day water changes + extra Stress coat to try and aid in the healing, but yesterday he managed to rip even more of his tail out. I'm not sure how he's doing this since there isn't anything sharp in his tank. The only thing I thought could be doing this was his plastic leaf bed, which I removed as soon as I saw his tail. Otherwise, all he has in his tank is a piece of driftwood, real plants, and some smooth rocks. He likes to squeeze himself into one of the corners where it's very dark, but it's a tight spot. I'm thinking he's ripping it against the substrate maybe when he's wiggling himself in there, even though I don't think it's sharp enough. This is what I'm using (http://www.amazon.com/Flourite-7-kg...&qid=1437566988&sr=8-1&keywords=fish+flourite). I have this same substrate in my other betta tank (he has even longer/fuller fins) and I have yet to have a problem with it.

    I got him a betta log and am trying to encourage him to sleep in there versus on the ground, but as far as I'm concerned, he's going to continue injuring himself. I haven't seen any part of his tail begin to grow, but I don't see any infection either. There's no signs of fin rot, so that's good. I can't deal with that again. I just don't want him to continue ripping up his tail though, and am not sure really how to prevent it. Should I consider removing his substrate and replacing it with sand maybe? I don't know what to do in this kind of situation. Heck, he might even be tail biting for all I know, though I've never witnessed it. I need to figure this out though because I am moving in a month, so my family will be caring for my fish while I'm away. I've got to get him healed and well before then, otherwise he could get worse. :( What should I do with my clumsy Lewis?
  2. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    Hmm, imo, I might try rearranging the tank around, if it's not too much trouble. It might even encourage him to find other spots to rest and play in.

    Best of luck! :)

  3. sophiWell Known MemberMember

    Yeah, I've been rearranging some of the plants and even added a large bunch of Java fern to prevent him from going in his corner hiding spot. That actually made him want to hide more though. -_- He literally squeezes himself between the smallest spaces. I'm so worried he's going to get stuck one day.

    Looks like I'll be remodeling his home then haha. Might have to remove him from the tank for a few minutes if that's the case. I might make his little sand area bigger so it's a softer area for him to rest in. And that hiding spot of his has to go... >.<

  4. atb224155Valued MemberMember

    Sounds like a case of bad dog/fish. Your fish is described as a Border Collie, clever and smart to a certain degree. I would add some items that will close spaces where your betta would think twice, before acting.

  5. GenaWell Known MemberMember

    Do you have an internal filter? Maybe he's getting his fins stuck on that. Or maybe he's wedging himself against the heater or a thermometer? I do think that getting sand is a good idea. When I get a betta I'm going to use sand. Murphy's Law and all.
  6. sophiWell Known MemberMember

    Yeah, he has an internal filter and I will admit, the flow output is stronger than I'd like. I have it placed right up against the glass though so there's no way he can get caught in the direct flow and burst a fin or anything. It's possible he's getting it stuck in the filter but I have yet to see it happen. I think I'll try putting a piece of panty hose or some filter floss over it just in case. And yeah, I guess this weekend I guess I'll be doing Extreme Makeover Home Edition; Betta Special Edition. I think I'll replace half of his tank with sand, and keep half of it gravel. Then on the gravel side, I can fill it with plants so it prevents him for laying down. The poor guy has even torn is ventral fin and like, has worn it down completely. And today, I saw him sleeping in a tight spot between the glass and wood. -_- He gave me a good scare... thought he was dead. Nope, just wedged in an unusual spot sleeping peacefully.

    Sigh, he's a handful. My other betta is a lot more smart it seems. He knows not to try and wedge himself into places he may never get out of. But Lewis... Oh my poor Lewis and his inability to make good judgement. T_T
  7. sophiWell Known MemberMember

    Okay, Extreme Makeover Home edition happened and it was a major success!

    I put about half sand half gravel, and a nice new large, smooth rock in there along with smaller smooth rocks. While redoing his tank, I checked literally everything for any sharp edges and could find none, so I'm still assuming he tore it on the gravel.
    Unfortunately, he has ripped another small section of his tail, so he's currently got 3 rips going on. I've circled them in the photos below, plus pics of the new tank! There will be more plants going in later today. I was too swamped to deal with planting another tank tonight since I spent about 2 hours of labor working on my main tank lol. I have some staurogyne repens growing in the other tank that I plan on propagating and maybe try carpeting/planting densely on the gravel side to keeping preventing him from laying on the gravel. I've also got some wisteria and cabomba that will be going in the back that hopefully I can plant densely as well to fill that back area. It will also cover the filter intake so he can't get back there and possibly get stuck on it.

    I did a 100% water change tonight, and I guess will continue with regular water changes maybe every other day to keep his water clean as he heals. He was super energetic tonight and was playing in his favorite spot (the left front corner) and in the sand, so I'm guessing that clean water feels nice. I'm also dosing extra Stress Coat and Vitachem, but is there anything else I should be doing? I bumped his temp up to 81F but should it go higher to help heal his fins?
    And gah, I hope this helps his tail. It's definitely looking better than before but it's like, he continues to get a new rip every few days. I really want to know how he is possibly doing this. -_- I'm even wondering if he's tail biting at this point... though I've never seen him do it.

    Here's the tank! A little cloudy still from the sand, but I think it's a major improvement and definitely a lot safer. It'll look even better once the other plants go in later. :)


    And here's little Lewis the trouble maker. The 2 bottom rips are a bit wider than what you currently see, but I believe they're growing in slowly.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  8. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    I just want to say that's a beautiful tank.... Normally I don't like sand/gravel mix but you pulled it off. I normally use salt to treat fin rot and it helps with stress from what I understand but I'm not too sure about that.

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  9. sophiWell Known MemberMember

    Thank you! I've been playing around with the gravel/sand mix and I found that play sand, once sifted, works really well in a natural set up. And my shrimp and snails are currently loving it. Henry, the assassin snail, has been digging in it and my nerite (who has no name... yet) is just loving it. I think Lewis likes it too so far. He's been kind of wiggling around in it when he's in his happy corner. I removed all of the small rocks in it, so there's no way for him to scratch up his fins if he sleeps on it.

    Yeah, I think I'm going to try salt again but not sure how much to dose and for how long. It's not infected or getting worse (well, aside from him adding MORE rips to his collection), so I guess I should maybe do half strength of salt for maybe, 3 days? Then water change to remove? I've never dealt with ripped fins like these so I'm not sure if there's different ways of going about healing them.
  10. FishtailBraidValued MemberMember

    Gorgeous tank! My betta is the same - can't put anything too close to the glass or each other, or he WILL decide that the tiny gap is the best way to get wherever he wants to be...
  11. KarenLMWell Known MemberMember

    Lewis and his tank are both gorgeous!
  12. GenaWell Known MemberMember

    Oh wow, he sure is a pretty boy though! He reminds me of tie dye.
  13. atb224155Valued MemberMember

    Lewis is gorgeous and his tank looks very good. Glad you've outsmarted him.
  14. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    I wouldn't worry about using any salt. Clean water to prevent infection would be the best bet.

    I just wanted to say, he's probably ripping his fins on the wood and rocks, not the gravel. It happens. Often. Nothing to really worry about, those tears fill back in pretty quickly most of the time. Finny halfmoons like Lewis are extremely prone to caudal tearing, I've even had one bust a ray from flaring before.
  15. sophiWell Known MemberMember

    Thanks everyone! He and the shrimp/snails seem to be enjoying it as well. So far I don't see any new rips thankfully but he continues to squeeze himself in very strange spots. He was sleeping under the green plant on the right at one point, and likes to sit right behind the heater on the little suction cup. Literally every time I find him snug between or under something, my heart completely drops. He gives me a good scare since he literally looks dead at times. Still trying to encourage him to use his log but yeah, I think he's liking the sand.

    As far as treatment, I'll stay away from salt since I see his fins healing well just with clean water and vitachem so I'll continue with that. Is there anything else I can do to baby proof his tank to prevent this from happening again? I have some more plants going in soon but I'm wondering if I should find him another source of entertainment that is safer than what he's currently doing. >.>
  16. sophiWell Known MemberMember

    Little update on Mr. Lewis. He is healing up well, but continues to get himself in not-so-smart- situations. He purposely likes to squeeze himself somewhere where he is secured, I guess when he's sleeping so he doesn't drift around the tank? But he's also continuing to swim against the gravel and has scratched his tail slightly. Like, if you look at his tail under the light, you can see very tiny, faint holes where he must have dragged himself along the bottom. He does spend some time in the sand area, but he just really likes his gravel bed. I'm like 99% sure it's the gravel that is doing this because all of the larger rocks I have in there have completely smooth edges that I triple-checked before putting them in. I also rechecked the wood and there were no sharp edges on that as well.

    Is there a product I can buy that can maybe discourage him for sleeping on the bottom so much? I have those plastic leaf hammocks (I removed it because I thought he might be ripping his tail from that) and I have a floating log which he sometimes uses. But he just prefers to sleep on the hard rocks like 90% of the time. Is there anything else I can do for this clumsy little man or is it just something I'll have to monitor?

    edit- just checked on him and he's sleeping in his little log! :O Haven't seem him do that in a few days. I still need to find some ways to distract him and encourage him to stay at the top more though, but hey this is a good start haha.
  17. GenaWell Known MemberMember

    I'm glad he's making progress! Are you still going to remodel?

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  18. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    One of those little bobbing, floating mirrors would be a good way to encourage him to spend time off the gravel.
  19. sophiWell Known MemberMember

    Thanks June! Will definitely try to grab him one of those soon.

    And Gena, his tank is finished with the remodel. I'm having to wait for the plants to start growing in my main tank before I transfer them over, but the big changes are done. He's definitely getting into less trouble but I just worry about his tail and the way he keeps scratching it. The sand does seem to be helping and reducing the risk of any further damage though!

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