Help Betta Fish Fins Tearing For Months... really bad damage, what's the cause?

Equilibris

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I've had my betta since January and ever since, I can't figure out what the heck he's ripping his fins on. Recently, as in the last week or two his fins began to tear incredibly fast. Before, it would only be slowly. Even his dorsal fins got teared bad, which I don't think is from nipping but they have recovered now (he's a dumbo betta). I've done so many things to remedy this from changing the whole substrate to removing driftwood. Below are pictures of when I first got him, 3 months into having him, and as of now.

Tank Info: 5 Gallon with Heater/HOB Filter. Established tank, only live plants no ornaments.

Thing's I've Done to Solve The Tearing
- Created a baffle to stop the HOB Filter water flow from being too strong
- Removed any driftwood in case he was catching himself on it
- Use only live plants (I have only Pogostemon Stellatus, cryptocoryne and one anubias)
- Moved the suction cup of the heater high up since he used to rest on it and was worried he could get caught there
- Bought a betta log and hammock for him to rest on in case he's bored and nipping
- Last week bought one Amano shrimp to keep him busy if hes bored
- Changed the whole lid into a glass lid so I could use a less intense light in case that was stressing him out
- Changed the substrate from Top Fin Gravel to Tropica 710 Soil in case he was tearing it from the substrate three weeks ago (did not help)
- Use a pre filter intake
- Heater consistently setting tank at 80F
- Weekly water changes of 40% (although for a week I've had a Nitrate spike due to moving substrates and plants dying, changing water more frequently)

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Water parameters are:
- 6.0 pH (due to soil substrate change, it used to be much higher at around 7.2)
- Ammonia: 0.20 ppm
- Nitrite: 0.1 ppm
- Nitrate: 35 ppm (I know I know, it was due to me not being home for 2 weeks to take care of the tank and then I did a substrate change after which led to a lot of plants dying... but this fin tearing problem has been going on for months)
 

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WrenFeenix

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He might be biting. My betta has the same problem, but changes in water quality seem to irritate him even more, so he really tears up his fins until it stabilizes again. Adding carbon to his filter seems to have helped.
 

Rose of Sharon

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Bettas are very sensitive to some types of water changes....that ph is low. Do you know what the old ph was?

When it comes to ph, consistency is the key. If it was much higher, and now it is that low, that would cause him a lot of stress, which would lead to his fin nipping.

I don't recommend chemicals to raise or lower ph levels. There are natural ways to do that.

Adding some crushed coral will raise the ph gradually (if this is an issue). Again, it depends on what the ph was before now.
 
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Equilibris

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WrenFeenix said:
He might be biting. My betta has the same problem, but changes in water quality seem to irritate him even more, so he really tears up his fins until it stabilizes again. Adding carbon to his filter seems to have helped.
Has your betta ever gotten better? What would you recommend to use in order to add carbon to the filter (mine is a HOB filter) ?

FreshwaterHG said:
It also looks like some fin rot going on. Check the water parameters and see if there’s anything up.
Water params are all normal except the nitrates, a lot of my plants started to have leaves die due to the move from gravel to soil substrate. I measured my water and here:
pH - 7.0~ (Was near 6.0 before this water change for some reason, possibly because of the soil substrate change)
Ammonia - 5ppm
Nitrite - 0 ppm
Nitrate - 30 ppm (Working on this with daily 40% water changes)

Rose of Sharon said:
Bettas are very sensitive to some types of water changes....that ph is low. Do you know what the old ph was?

When it comes to ph, consistency is the key. If it was much higher, and now it is that low, that would cause him a lot of stress, which would lead to his fin nipping.

I don't recommend chemicals to raise or lower ph levels. There are natural ways to do that.

Adding some crushed coral will raise the ph gradually (if this is an issue). Again, it depends on what the ph was before now.
Before I did my water change today, I checked the water parameters after the water change yesterday. The pH has gone up to 7.0, since my tap is generally 7.6-8.0 in pH so that makes sense. I think the pH dropped like crazy from the original 7.4 because I changed the whole gravel substrate to soil without rinsing the soil 3 weeks ago... which made the water pH drop. Anyways, that problem shouldn't happen again since I won't be changing the substrate and the pH should stabilize back to its original 7.4 before the substrate change. Do you think he was nipping even more than usual due to the pH being so different?
 

Rose of Sharon

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Equilibris said:
Has your betta ever gotten better? What would you recommend to use in order to add carbon to the filter (mine is a HOB filter) ?


Water params are all normal except the nitrates, a lot of my plants started to have leaves die due to the move from gravel to soil substrate. I measured my water and here:
pH - 7.0~ (Was near 6.0 before this water change for some reason, possibly because of the soil substrate change)
Ammonia - 5ppm
Nitrite - 0 ppm
Nitrate - 30 ppm (Working on this with daily 40% water changes)



Before I did my water change today, I checked the water parameters after the water change yesterday. The pH has gone up to 7.0, since my tap is generally 7.6-8.0 in pH so that makes sense. I think the pH dropped like crazy from the original 7.4 because I changed the whole gravel substrate to soil without rinsing the soil 3 weeks ago... which made the water pH drop. Anyways, that problem shouldn't happen again since I won't be changing the substrate and the pH should stabilize back to its original 7.4 before the substrate change. Do you think he was nipping even more than usual due to the pH being so different?
I do think that might have had something to do with it....if he was stressed, then fin nipping is definitely one of those signs that let you know he is stressed...
 

FreshwaterHG

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Equilibris said:
Has your betta ever gotten better? What would you recommend to use in order to add carbon to the filter (mine is a HOB filter) ?


Water params are all normal except the nitrates, a lot of my plants started to have leaves die due to the move from gravel to soil substrate. I measured my water and here:
pH - 7.0~ (Was near 6.0 before this water change for some reason, possibly because of the soil substrate change)
Ammonia - 5ppm
Nitrite - 0 ppm
Nitrate - 30 ppm (Working on this with daily 40% water changes)



Before I did my water change today, I checked the water parameters after the water change yesterday. The pH has gone up to 7.0, since my tap is generally 7.6-8.0 in pH so that makes sense. I think the pH dropped like crazy from the original 7.4 because I changed the whole gravel substrate to soil without rinsing the soil 3 weeks ago... which made the water pH drop. Anyways, that problem shouldn't happen again since I won't be changing the substrate and the pH should stabilize back to its original 7.4 before the substrate change. Do you think he was nipping even more than usual due to the pH being so different?
Ammonia at 5ppm?! That’s definitely not normal or a good reading. If you mean 0.5 then that’s much better but could still be causing stress.
 
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Equilibris

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FreshwaterHG said:
Ammonia at 5ppm?! That’s definitely not normal or a good reading. If you mean 0.5 then that’s much better but could still be causing stress.
Oops! Sorry, I meant 0.05... how silly of me.
 
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Equilibris

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Rose of Sharon said:
I do think that might have had something to do with it....if he was stressed, then fin nipping is definitely one of those signs that let you know he is stressed...
I see, do you think he could make nippings that big? Almost his whole tail is off in that one section. And it's been going on for months but never this big/drastic
 

Rose of Sharon

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Equilibris said:
I see, do you think he could make nippings that big? Almost his whole tail is off in that one section. And it's been going on for months but never this big/drastic
I think he probably did bite himself, but that turned into fin rot. The best thing for fin rot is lots of clean water (frequent water changes - like every other day- 10 to 20 %), keeping that temp up and stable, and I also add Indian almond leaves. It is surprising how fast their fins will get better by just doing these few things. Even if you don't have the IAL, the water changes will help a lot.

It also sounds like you are doing everything that you can. Now all you need is to give it some time.

I would venture that all fish-keepers encounter fin rot at some time.

He is an extremely beautiful guy, and I hope he gets better quickly!
 
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Equilibris

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Rose of Sharon said:
I think he probably did bite himself, but that turned into fin rot. The best thing for fin rot is lots of clean water (frequent water changes - like every other day- 10 to 20 %), keeping that temp up and stable, and I also add Indian almond leaves. It is surprising how fast their fins will get better by just doing these few things. Even if you don't have the IAL, the water changes will help a lot.

It also sounds like you are doing everything that you can. Now all you need is to give it some time.

I would venture that all fish-keepers encounter fin rot at some time.

He is an extremely beautiful guy, and I hope he gets better quickly!
Will do. Do you think 30-40% would be too much everyday? It is a 5 gallon and I am trying to bring down the nitrate levels. I hope the little guy makes it, he still has a good appetite at least
 

WrenFeenix

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My betta is a rosetail with huge and frilly fins, so I think he will always bite his fins. Keeping his tank super clean and contaminant-free seems to help him bite less and his tail is looking much better. My betta’s fins seem to be irritated easily, so the conditions in your tank may be irritating your betta’s fins.

I have loose carbon (Seachem Matrix Carbon) that I put in a fine mesh media bag. Use a bag that fits your hob.
 

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Equilibris said:
Will do. Do you think 30-40% would be too much everyday? It is a 5 gallon and I am trying to bring down the nitrate levels. I hope the little guy makes it, he still has a good appetite at least
I think 30 to 40% would be okay for a few days, just to get your parameters corrected. But you can ease back on the amount when you start to see the nitrates lowering, and you will actually see his fins starting to grow back. When they do, they won't be exactly like they were before. They sometimes tend to curl, and can be somewhat translucent.
 
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Equilibris

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Rose of Sharon said:
I think 30 to 40% would be okay for a few days, just to get your parameters corrected. But you can ease back on the amount when you start to see the nitrates lowering, and you will actually see his fins starting to grow back. When they do, they won't be exactly like they were before. They sometimes tend to curl, and can be somewhat translucent.
Got it, I really hope he does regrow them... he hasn't been able to in months since I got him. I am starting to feel like he's just a nipper. I got the nitrates down half today. It's sitting at 15ppm, when should I stop? Ammonia still at 0.05ppm (tap has some) and nitrites at 0. pH stabilized back at 7.4-5
 

brendadrummond

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I have been betta-keeping for about 2 years (4 tanks-2 mine, 2 my kids) and I honestly think that looks more like fin rot than nipping. I am diligent about my tanks, but sometimes my kids' bettas do get fin rot since their tanks are smaller & need so much more maintenance. And almost every time it happens, my water parameters are actually perfect, which I've never understood. Anyway, I can tell you what has helped me like a miracle... VERY frequent water changes, like every other day, and if you want to medicate, I've had great success with Seachem Stress Guard & ParaGuard used together. But I've also had success with just water changes and no medication. I do about 50% every other day until I see regrowth, then I slow it down to every 3-4 days (still 50%) until the fins are grown back. I know that might seem aggressive, but I've had 100% success rate doing that. It's crazy how much that will help! Be diligent. I know it's a pain, but when you start to see that clear re-growth, it's so rewarding! He's a beautiful fish btw! Best of luck to you.
 
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Equilibris

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brendadrummond said:
I have been betta-keeping for about 2 years (4 tanks-2 mine, 2 my kids) and I honestly think that looks more like fin rot than nipping. I am diligent about my tanks, but sometimes my kids' bettas do get fin rot since their tanks are smaller & need so much more maintenance. And almost every time it happens, my water parameters are actually perfect, which I've never understood. Anyway, I can tell you what has helped me like a miracle... VERY frequent water changes, like every other day, and if you want to medicate, I've had great success with Seachem Stress Guard & ParaGuard used together. But I've also had success with just water changes and no medication. I do about 50% every other day until I see regrowth, then I slow it down to every 3-4 days (still 50%) until the fins are grown back. I know that might seem aggressive, but I've had 100% success rate doing that. It's crazy how much that will help! Be diligent. I know it's a pain, but when you start to see that clear re-growth, it's so rewarding! He's a beautiful fish btw! Best of luck to you.
For sure, I think he did contract some case of fin rot recently but the pictures where he had tiny cuts on the edges a few months ago... not sure what that is from. I've been changing water everyday and using stress guard so far, do you think I should cut it back to every other day until I see regrowth?
 

brendadrummond

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Equilibris said:
For sure, I think he did contract some case of fin rot recently but the pictures where he had tiny cuts on the edges a few months ago... not sure what that is from. I've been changing water everyday and using stress guard so far, do you think I should cut it back to every other day until I see regrowth?
What percentage are you changing out each day? I’m not sure if that’s too aggressive or not. I’d like to hear someone else pipe in because I’d never want to tell you wrong. I’ve only done every other day because I was always nervous about stressing the fish out. If you can get your hands on some ParaGuard, I’d add that too if things aren’t improving. Seachem has GREAT customer service if you want to email them too. They’ll look at your pictures and give you advice also. Usually the same day. Great company. If your ammonia is high at all, you can’t go wrong with every day. But if levels are good, I’d do every other day. Anyone else out there have advice on that?
 
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Equilibris

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brendadrummond said:
What percentage are you changing out each day? I’m not sure if that’s too aggressive or not. I’d like to hear someone else pipe in because I’d never want to tell you wrong. I’ve only done every other day because I was always nervous about stressing the fish out. If you can get your hands on some ParaGuard, I’d add that too if things aren’t improving. Seachem has GREAT customer service if you want to email them too. They’ll look at your pictures and give you advice also. Usually the same day. Great company. If your ammonia is high at all, you can’t go wrong with every day. But if levels are good, I’d do every other day. Anyone else out there have advice on that?
I’m changing about 40-50% everyday. Will continue to do so and wait for others to chime in. Hopefully it does get better though
 

brendadrummond

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Equilibris said:
I’m changing about 40-50% everyday. Will continue to do so and wait for others to chime in. Hopefully it does get better though
Sounds like a good plan! I sure hope he improves for you. It's crazy how much we love these little fish!! :)
 

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