Betta Fins Shredded Overnight? 6 Possible Causes

Jaime Douglas
Jaime Douglas

Writer at The Aquarium Keeper

Betta fish are very delicate and beautiful creatures, most of them have long fins, that can easily be ripped apart by decorations, or even other fish. It can be very hard to bear when you find your beautiful betta fish in the morning with shredded fins. There can be multiple ways, in which your betta fins got shredded overnight. In this article, I will explain 6 possible causes of this problem, and also provide reliable ways, how you can help your betta fish.

Table of Contents

Possible Reasons Why Your Betta Fins Are Shredded

Before getting into the reasons themselves, you have to understand how easily your betta fish fins might get damaged. First off, betta fish are very curious creatures, that like to explore their aquariums, and sometimes fit in some places that they should not be. At the same time, betta fish are predatorial fish, which means they like to hunt and move a lot. Thirdly, long-tailed betta fish don’t have a very strong immune system, since they have been heavily inbred. 

In nature, betta fish have very short fins, and these long-finned betta fish have been bred for the purpose of money. A lot of long-tailed betta fish have a hard time swimming around, and can easily damage their fins in multiple ways.

Sporadic Swimming

The first way that your betta fish might get their fins shredded overnight is by swimming sporadically. It might look that betta fish are slow and calm sometimes, but they can swim and jump very fast. Betta fish can rip their fins swimming very fast, similar to how humans pull a muscle while running.

When this happens, betta fish usually have just a few rips in their fins, and the damage should heal on its own in time. If the damage on your betta fish tail does not go away or becomes even worse, sporadic swimming is probably not the cause of your betta fish injury.

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Fin Rot

The most common reason why betta fish fins are shredded is fin rot, but this does not happen overnight. Fin rot mainly occurs because of bad water quality, and stress. High ammonia levels or improper water conditions (temperature, pH) can lead to your betta fish becoming weaker and developing fin rot.

close up of white betta fish with fin rot

This is a bacterial infection, that slowly destroys your betta fish tail and fins, and can lead to death. The easiest way to tell fin rot apart from other injuries is the appearance of the betta fish fins. If your betta fins are ripped apart and have black or red edges at the very end, it can definitely be fin rot. Don’t worry, because betta fish fin rot treatment is not that hard, and usually these fish make a full recovery.

Betta Fish Tail Bitting

Moving on, another common betta fish fin shredding cause is that some betta fish bite their own fins. Betta fish can easily damage its own fins or tail overnight. It might look surprising to you, but this is a very common problem when keeping long-finned betta fish. These creatures can bite their own tails for various reasons. The first one is boredom. If your betta fish lives in a very basic setup and does not have anything to interact with (tank mates, plants, other decorations), it can start biting itself. 

The second reason is stress. Betta fish can be highly territorial creatures and can get very stressed seeing other fish or aquatic creatures. Siamese fighting fish are predatorial fish, which usually should be kept alone, or just with snails, since some betta fish have aggressive characters, and can attack other fish. Tank mates can also trigger your betta fish to bite their own tails.

The third reason betta fish bite their fins is reflection. Some bettas attack their own reflection because they think it is another betta fish. This can also trigger tail biting. 

The easiest way to stop your betta fish from biting their own fins is to change up the environment. If your betta constantly flares at their own reflection, make sure that there is no reflection that it can see. Also, if your betta seems to be bored, introduce new plants, decorations, or even tank mates. The damage done to their fins should heal on its own.

Fin Nipping Tank Mates

A very common issue with betta fish is that smaller and faster fish can fin-nip your betta. This can also happen overnight, and you should monitor the behavior of your betta fish tank mates, to make sure that this is the cause of your betta injury.

Although it is not always the case, but some tetra, rasbora, and barb species can be very aggressive fin nippers. Fin nipping is very situational, and does not occur every single time with the same species. This problem actually has a deeper meaning: if your tank mates are fin-nipping your betta, they probably feel stressed, or there is not enough room for all the fish.

This problem can be solved in a couple of ways. Firstly, try to rearrange your aquarium, so that your betta fish tank mates would have something else to focus on. If that does not work, I highly suggest rehoming your betta fish, or the fin nippers, that are causing you problems. If the fin-nipping is stopped, your betta will heal on its own.

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Sharp Decorations

Moving on, some plastic or ceramic decorations can easily shred your betta fins overnight. Betta fish are known for being clumsy sometimes, so it is possible, that they ripped their fins on something sharp. This problem is easily solvable since you can just remove the sharp object from your aquarium. Your betta fish fins should heal in no time.

Aquarium Filter Water Intake

The last cause of shredded betta fins is the filter. In some filters, the water intake part can easily suck your betta fish fins, causing injury. Although this is very rare, it has happened before in the hobby for a bunch of fish keepers. Also, if your filter creates a very strong current, it can also injure your betta fish, when it accidentally swims in that current without knowing.

If that is the case, try to cover the water intake part, so that it still works, but the betta fish can’t get near it, and at the same time reduce the water flow level. This should prevent any more scenarios, where your betta fish might get injured again.

How to Treat Ripped Betta Fish Fins?

If your betta fish fins are shredded just a little, you really don’t need to do much. Cleaning your tank from excess waste and having clean water should improve the healing process, and that is enough. If the damage to betta fish fins is worrying, you can use aquarium salt in your tank. Don’t make the mistake of adding table salt or any other type of salt, get aquarium salt from a pet store. You should add 1 tablespoon per 1 gallon of aquarium water. This also helps, if your betta fish has fin rot. Besides using salt, you can also try fin rot medications, check with your local pet store for recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Ripped Betta Fins Heal?

If your betta fish fins are ripped only a little, it can easily heal on its own. If your betta fish is suffering from serious fin loss, it can indicate that your betta fish is either sick or seriously injured. It would hardly heal on its own.

How to Regrow Betta Fins Fast?

The best thing you can do is just keep your tank clean, and make sure your betta fish is healthy. If your betta fish is suffering from some kind of fin-loosing disease (fin rot), then you need special medication. If your fish simply injured itself, it can recover on its own, just in a healthy environment.

Writer's Thoughts

It can be very worrying to see your betta fish with damaged fins, but it is a relatively easy problem to solve. It just takes some dedication and thinking to diagnose your betta fish fin loss problem. Every aquatic creature deserves to be properly taken care of.

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