Injured Betta fins

Catchthewind

Hi there,
I'm new to these forums. I've had fish most of my life but over the last ten years or so to a break. Recently I started up a saltwater aquarium and my daughter decided she wanted her own freshwater tank. She did a ton of research and settled on a five gallon with a betta fish and three neon tetras. We've got live plants in there and she does weekly water changes of about 10%. It's heated and filtered. I think at this point it's a month or so old. She adores her little fish. The betta comes up to the top and goes to her finger when she opens it and isn't shy of us at all. It's been a lot of fun.

I have two concerns though. First, the inside seems quite mirrored. He flares up at his reflection still sometimes. Should we be concerned about this? I'm worried about stress. At this point a new tank isn't really an option. She saved her own money for this one, but is there anything we should do or maybe it's really not a big deal?

More concerning, we noticed the other day he has a bit of blood on his fin. We can't figure out where he could have caught it. It hasn't got worse so we're kind of just keeping an eye on it and continuing to try to figure out how it happened. The only rough thing in the tank is a shell but it's flat against the bottom and the wound is in top of the fish so I can't see it being that. Is there anything we can do to make sure it heals okay?

Thank you for any advice!
 

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PAcanis

Pretty fish.
 

Katie Dawn

Hello Catch! Your betta is beautiful!

Welcome back to the hobby and I'm so glad your daughter is enjoying working with these fish. It's so fun watching our kids learn and grow in these ways.

Several things here, but the overall focus of these points will be water quality and stress.

First, are the three neon tetras in the tank? I'm not seeing them in the pic. If not, please don't add them to this tank. To provide good quality of life a betta needs a 5 gallon tank at a minimum. So you're good on tank size. But a sort of "rule" you'll hear is that, because bettas are naturally territorial, they need 5 gallons of dedicated space. So if I have a 15 gallon tank, I need to imagine 5 gallons of it belonging Exclusively to the betta and then think about what I want to do with the other 10 gallons. Many bettas will chase other fish out of whatever they've decided is their territory, and the fish will have to use the remaining room in the tank. In your case, with just a 5 gallon, there's nowhere that the tetras can go that will satisfy the betta. And let me say, I made this exact same mistake early on, so know I'm giving this advice with gentleness and understanding. I had a 5 gallon tank with a betta and added a few cardinal tetras. My betta didn't really chase them, but it became apparent to me (because I knew what his behavior had been like before) that having the cardinals there was stressing him out Big Time. I think it would be highly unusual for a betta in a 5 gallon tank to NOT be stressed about other fish in that small of a space.

A stressed fish may flare at his reflection more, because he's on high alert all the time. His flaring at his reflection might not be related, but it could be.

Water Changes: your tank is still going through the nitrogen cycle so frequent and large water changes are even more critical right now than they will be once the tank is settled. With one 10% water change per week I doubt you're keeping the ammonia levels down low enough. We can't know for sure, though, unless you test the water. The API Freshwater Test kit is around $30 but it is the gold standard in the freshwater hobby. It will be one of your most important tools in keeping your little guy healthy. We can provide resources for you to learn more if you're not sure. In the meantime you should be doing 25%-50% water changes daily or every other day. Not doing so will very likely result in your fish dying. It's going so well right now for him and your kiddo, let's make sure it stays that way!

The red you're seeing may be from his flaring so much he's damaging his fins. Really clean water and removing the tetras will make a huge difference here. Are you seeing and actual rip in the fin, or just the red/blood? We can definitely talk about potential hazard in the tank that could cause fin damage, but I would be more focused on keeping the water clean and removing any tank mates right now.
 

Ouse

Welcome to FishLore.

There’s not much at all that can be done about the flaring. The fish would still be able to see it’s reflection against a background.

I don’t see any blood on the fins in the photos.

Do 50% weekly water changes. 10% weekly doesn’t do much.
 

ValkyrieLips

1. remove the neons, they are known to be fin nippers in small numbers (anything under schools of 6) plus they are too active for a 5 gallon.
2. increase WCs to 50% at least 2-3 time per week while healing then reduce to once per week once healed.
3. Increased WCs will help with healing.
 

Catchthewind

Thank you all! That's too bad about the neons. We had read they were a good match for Bettas. They are in there, I think they all managed to get out of the shot at the same time as I took the picture somehow lol. We considered getting her a ten gallon but unfortunately her space is limited on her desk. We've not noticed the neons or the betta paying much attention to each other at all so hadn't considered they could be an issue.

We'll definitely increase the water changes. I have the Salifert ammonia test for my saltwater tank and have been keeping an eye on hers and not seen any spikes this far but I'll be honest that we haven't been testing it terribly regularly. I'll start watching it a little closer too.

Could the tetras live in a smaller tank with just a bubbler and no heater for a couple of weeks? I know not ideal but maybe we could watch and see if his flaring improves and it makes a difference and if so I'll take them back to the fish store and if not we can try them back in again? Or are they just a definite no? I definitely do not want to stress her fish out so I'm not asking obstinately, we really do want the best for all of them.

Funny there was this quote at the bottom of the page here and it's very a propos to her Betta. "Bettas, they aren't fish, more like puppies in a fish suit." (Tazmiche) That fish even lets her pet him gently lol. (That's not what caused the damage, she just puts her finger in and he comes up and bumps against it, she's not chasing him around trying to poke at him I promise lol!)
 

Katie Dawn

Thank you all! That's too bad about the neons. We had read they were a good match for Bettas. They are in there, I think they all managed to get out of the shot at the same time as I took the picture somehow lol. We considered getting her a ten gallon but unfortunately her space is limited on her desk. We've not noticed the neons or the betta paying much attention to each other at all so hadn't considered they could be an issue.

We'll definitely increase the water changes. I have the Salifert ammonia test for my saltwater tank and have been keeping an eye on hers and not seen any spikes this far but I'll be honest that we haven't been testing it terribly regularly. I'll start watching it a little closer too.
You weren't totally off. Neons COULD be ok tank mates for non-aggressive bettas and neons that don't fin nip, but it would have to be a much bigger tank so everyone had the room they need. Your unfortunate conclusion is the same situation I have found myself in a few times... I research and determine that X could work in Y situation... And think I've read all about it... Then once I'm into it and have an issue told that you should Never do X I'm Y situation because of some detail I hadn't even thought about. In this case your research was fine but what you were reading just wasn't addressing tank size. Its frustrating for sure, but there are lots of people here that can help.

In my case I ended up returning the tetras to the store and did not ask for a refund. Didn't seem like I should since it wasn't anything the store did wrong.

Last thing: that's great that you can check ammonia. Just remember once ammonia settles nitrites will rise which can also be poisonous to fish.

Best of luck!
 

Catchthewind

The red you're seeing may be from his flaring so much he's damaging his fins. Really clean water and removing the tetras will make a huge difference here. Are you seeing and actual rip in the fin, or just the red/blood? We can definitely talk about potential hazard in the tank that could cause fin damage, but I would be more focused on keeping the water clean and removing any tank mates right now.
Sorry I'm just reading all the replies over again with my daughter and realized I missed this part before. We don't actually see any tears on his fins at all which is part of what confused me about the redness. It's almost like a blood blister on his fins. To the other responder, you can see two streaks of red on his top fin in the pictures, those are definitely new.
 

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