Is This Betta Sick Or Injured

Discussion in 'Betta Fish' started by California L33, Jul 11, 2017.

  1. California L33

    California L33Well Known MemberMember

    When I was a kid I kept tropical fish for many years, but haven’t had any in decades. I just bought a 3 gallon nano tank, a betta, and a nerite snail. While the tank was cycling I kept the betta in a 50 year old 1 gallon fish bowl with just a couple of plastic plants to hide in. He rarely did anything until feeding time. I kept him happy with daily partial water changes. He stayed there for two weeks until his regular tank was ready. He’s been in the new 3 gallon tank for another two weeks without problems. He seems to like it as he’s much more active now, almost constantly on the move.

    All was well until yesterday when I noticed a small amount of tearing in his tail. I don’t see any fungus, or red or black tips that might indicate fin rot. I checked the water chemistry. The ammonia was less than .5, and there was no detectable nitrite or nitrate. I did a 40% water change anyway. This morning the tearing was worse, having almost doubled in size. I did another 40% water change. He has no change in behavior, and in still as hungry as a horse. The only thing I can think of is that the day before I noticed the torn fin I saw him wedged between the tank wall and heater cord with his tail blowing like a flag under the filter return, which seemed a bit odd as bettas are supposed to avoid moving water (but I didn’t notice tearing then, and it doesn’t explain it getting worse). He was in no distress while there, appeared to just be resting, and rushed to the front of the tank with his usual ‘feed me’ posture as soon as he noticed me.

    I’m going to try and post some photos. Are there any betta experts who can tell me if this is a disease or an injury, and what I should try to do to get him better?

  2. KimberlyG

    KimberlyGFishlore VIPMember

    What a pretty boy! He is fine. Do you have a sponge filter on the intake?
  3. KimberlyG

    KimberlyGFishlore VIPMember

    Where are my manners?
    Welcome to Fishlore.
    I thought a little more and since you have not kept fish in a while, you may have kept betta in tiny little bowls without a filter and a heater. I know I did. Their fins never displayed this kind of damage but of course they were not that active either. Bettas are kept in those small little containers for more than just aggression reasons. It is to keep their fins pristine until they are bought. Their fin tissue is extremely delicate and tears easily. The simple act of swimming will do damage. If they are fighting a current the damage is worse. These enormous fins are not normal for bettas. They were carefully bred to produce these fins. My boys will start to heal, then start to shred. Clean water is best for healing them but there will be wear and tear. My most successful long finned betta is in a Fluval Chi. There is basically no flow and there is no filter intake tube to suck his tail into.

  4. bopsalot

    bopsalotWell Known MemberMember

    Hi and welcome! It sounds like your tank may be cycling. The nitrogen cycle? It can be a period of increased stress for a betta, as he will be exposed to ammonia and nitrites in the water. Overall, not great for fin health. I would consider doing lots of water changes for your beautiful boy to keep his water as free from toxins as you can while the tank is cycling. Good luck!

  5. Fierce Betta

    Fierce BettaNew MemberMember

    How are your tank's parameters? Ph, nitrite, nitrates, etc.? I don't think your fish has something.

    That said like the above post mentioned, I would continue doing partial WCs and monitor the situation (just in case). My betta went through a unexpected tear in his fin last year and WCs brought him back to normal.
  6. OP
    California L33

    California L33Well Known MemberMember


    Thanks for the welcome.

    When I was much younger I had everything from guppies to discus, but never a betta, so their care is brand new to me... and I'm more than a little rusty at fish keeping so I've been reading as much as I can.

    As for the filter, the flow is very low. When I was setting up the tank (a Marineland Contour 3, which has a built in filter) I noticed that even at its lowest setting the flow was pretty fast, and I know bettas are slow water fish, so I put a small piece of filter foam in the output tube which slows it considerably- so when I said the fish's tail was 'blowing like a flag' it was more like blowing like a flag in a breeze, not a gail. I haven't measured, but I'm guessing the filter output will fill an 8 ounce glass in about a minute. The intakes are quite large, and there's no danger of his tail getting sucked in. (I've seen him slither between the java fern in front of it and the intake and not had the intake even move his tail.)

    I'd hate to have to confine him to a smaller tank to keep his fins pretty, but as long as he can stay relatively healthy with a few fin tears I think I'll keep him in the larger tank with things to explore so he can live a fairly normal life, even if he's been selectively bred for abnormal gi-normous fins and gaudy color. I'll keep a lookout and see if I see them getting caught anywhere, but I was alarmed to see damage after almost two weeks of perfection, and then see that damage get worse in one day.


    Thanks for the input. Ammonia was less than .5 when I noticed the damage, and is undetectable now. Nitrites were undetectable from the start. I've been changing water and will keep it up.
  7. OP
    California L33

    California L33Well Known MemberMember

    @Fierce Betta

    Thanks for the advice.

    Water chemistry-

    When I noticed the tear- Ammonia less than .5, nitrites and nitrates undetectable.
    Now- Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates all undetectable
  8. jl_1005

    jl_1005Valued MemberMember

    If there's 0 nitrates I think the tank is not yet cycled. So there will continue to be ammonia and nitrite build up in the tank if you haven't been doing frequent water changes. Be sure to monitor the water parameters daily, as you're in the process of cycling your tank with your betta in it.

    Btw your betta is beautiful!
  9. OP
    California L33

    California L33Well Known MemberMember

    @Fierce Betta

    I'll continue to monitor the water, but I think the tank has cycled. Added bacteria and food (and had a snail in the tank) for two weeks (also added as much ceramic bio media as the free space above the pump area would hold), had the ammonia spike, then the nitrites, then started getting some nitrates, but I've been doing PWCs regularly since the fish has gone in, and it is heavily planted.

    The fins tears were no deeper today, so with luck it was just an unfortunate injury.
  10. Fierce Betta

    Fierce BettaNew MemberMember

    That's good to hear. Hopefully we can sum it up as that.
  11. OP
    California L33

    California L33Well Known MemberMember

    I just noticed that the biggest tears have gotten worse, with parts of his tail gone now. All the tissue around it still looks clean and healthy. The rip is just bigger, and chunks seem to be gone.

    I'm doing 40% water changes every other day, treating the new water with BettaSafe.

    The water chemistry is still outstanding- still no detectable ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates.

    Is there a possibility he's doing this to himself? I have seen him bent almost double and moving quite aggressively, but I can't say I've _actually_ seen him bite his own tail as I'm always at a distance from the tank when he does it and he stops when he sees me. What's odd is that if you look at the latest picture of him- and then at a picture of a purported tail biter   , the damage is almost the same- same place on the tail, almost the same amount of damage.

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