9 Reasons Your Betta Fish’s Fins Look Ripped & 7 Treatments

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Last Updated on 2024-05-03

If your Betta’s fins are damaged, ripped or shredded, it could be due to fin loss or fin rot. Although not immediately harmful, it’s a sign of unsuitable living conditions or aggression in your aquarium, which can impact the fish’s recovery and future health. So, you need the right knowledge to take action!

In this article, I’ll help you identify causes of fin loss and fin rot, if your Betta’s fins will heal, and how to treat their fins.

Key Takeaways:

  • Betta fish can experience ripped fins, which is often a sign of fin loss or fin rot.
  • Fin loss can be caused by factors such as the fish biting their own fins, sharp tank decorations, and boredom due to inadequate living conditions.
  • Fin rot is a condition that can result from suboptimal tank conditions and may manifest as discoloration on the fins.
  • Treatment options include adjusting water temperature, adding salt to the water, and using medications for advanced cases of fin rot.
  • Regular monitoring of water quality and the betta’s living conditions is essential for their well-being.

Why Do My Betta Fish Fins Look Ripped?

 It is important to be able to distinguish the difference between fin loss and fin rot to diagnose and remediate properly. Overlooked complications in your aquarium can cause stress on your Betta, leading to visible damage to the fins. Examine all your possibilities to determine the source.

(Find out east ways to tell if your betta is suffering from fin rot or fin loss.)

1. Fin Loss

The easier of the two to identify, fin loss is the physical tearing causing your Betta’s fins to look ripped. This can be a result of boredom causing your betta to bite his own tail and fins, unsuitable aggressive fish paired in the tank, or something as simple as the decor chosen in your setup.

2. Tank Decor

It might be time to review your decoration style. Anything that does not feel smooth or soft to the touch can catch on their delicate fins. Items such as fake plants, some driftwood, and rocks are examples of tank decor that will be too sharp for your Betta to brush against while it’s swimming. 

3. Fish Biting

Make sure to re-evaluate your Betta’s roommates. Unlike popular belief, Betta’s can be housed with other fish given the right conditions. However, another aggressive fish may choose to pick on your betta fish, nipping and biting at its fins.

(Check out the 31 best tank mates for betta fish.)

4. Boredom

Pet stores often market tiny aesthetically pleasing tanks for use with bettas. It is simply not true that those will be sufficient for their lifestyle. They require a minimum 5-gallon aquarium, but ideally 10 is better. With a lack of space to swim, your Betta will become bored, causing hostile behavior toward anything else living in the space and can be a danger to itself.

5. Fin Rot

Less than optimal tank conditions can induce stress in your Betta, leading to a weakened immune system and making them susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections like fin rot. This condition is characterized by discoloration on the ripped fins. Issues can range from the aquarium’s water conditions to the way you feed your Betta.

(Find out the best betta fish fin rot treatments.)

Betta Fin Rot Example
Source: @fernando_and_marge

6. Improper Water Temperatures

The ideal temperature for your betta fish tank is 76-80 degrees Fahrenheit). Colder waters cause your Betta to act lethargic due to a slowed metabolism, whereas hotter temperatures will have your Betta displaying overactive behaviors such as uncomfortably dashing around their tank and burrowing in the aquarium gravel.

Stressful conditions like this will lower your Betta’s immune response to fighting off bacteria and fungi in the water, and can even lead to temperature shock in bettas as well.

7. Too Many Fish

Your tank’s water quality will quickly deteriorate when housing too many fish. This means fluctuating bacteria and ammonia levels and increased stress. When planning your fish tank, a common rule of thumb is 1 inch of fish for every 1 gallon of water. If you have multiple different species of fish living together, you also want to make sure that they have similar habitats and social needs to prevent conflict. 

8. Inconsistent Feeding

Under or over-feeding will have its effects on your betta fish’s immunity and well-being. There may be a lack of or an overabundance of certain vitamins and nutrients. Overfeeding also doesn’t guarantee they are eating, and the extra flakes could be lingering around the bowl affecting the water quality. Just add the amount of food your fish requires – even if your tank is on the larger side, your fish will have no problem finding and consuming the food.

(Check out the ideal feeding guide for your betta fish!)

9. Deterioration Their Slime Coat

The mucus layer of a fish also known as their slime coat is a physical and chemical defense against harmful bacteria and fungi in the aquarium’s water. Any kind of stressor or a rupture can deteriorate your Betta’s slime coat. Without a healthy coating, your fish has an increased vulnerability to fin rot.

(Check out how you can tell the difference between a healthy and unhealthy betta.)

Betta fish

Will My Betta Fish Fins Heal?

Ripped fins on betta fish do heal! If you act fast, you can help your little fish make a quicker recovery.

Once you identify whether your fish is experiencing fin loss or fin rot, you can narrow it down to the root cause. Revised and ideal conditions can produce fin regrowth with little to no complications. (However, this can still take weeks to months.)

Beware that relapse infection is possible and common when treating fin rot. Keep a close eye on the healing process and adjust it accordingly as things progress.

How To Treat Fin Loss and Fin Rot

Now that you have figured out what is ailing the, you can choose the best betta fish fin loss treatment. Depending on the severity, you may only need to do a couple of these treatments, or you may need to try them all.

Treatment MethodDescription
Do NothingIn the case of minor fin loss, no action may be needed. Fins may heal naturally over time.
Remove Sharp DecorationsCheck and remove any sharp or abrasive tank decorations that may be causing fin damage.
Clean Your TankRegularly clean the tank to remove waste and maintain good water quality for the fish.
Quarantine TankIsolate the betta in a separate tank for treatment, ensuring clean water and conditions.
Adjusting Water TemperatureUse a heater and thermometer to maintain the ideal temperature range for betta fish.
Add Salt To The WaterAdd aquarium salt (not table salt) to the tank in a specific ratio to help with healing.
Treat With MedicationFor advanced cases of fin rot, use bacterial and fungal treatments available at pet stores.

1. Do Nothing

In the case of fin loss, small rips aren’t much to worry about. If you are satisfied with the conditions and set up of your tank being up to standard for your Betta to thrive, their ripped fins should heal within the week with no difficulty. Make sure to keep a close eye on it in case the situation worsens.

2. Remove Sharp Decorations

If you suspect that the ripped fins may be due to decoration in your tank, remove all the structures and any fake plants for inspection. A good way to test if your decorations are too sharp or abrasive is to stretch a pair of pantyhose over the object in question and gently pull to tighten.

The pantyhose will rip if it is too sharp. Any cheaper-priced plastic plants will commonly be too sharp as well.

3. Clean Your Tank

Whether housed alone or with other fish and live plants, a thorough cleaning is necessary. Removing the build-up of fish waste and food flakes will help maintain and improve the water quality.

Typically, you should not change or treat your tank’s water if you will also be adding a medication. This is why it is important to do this step first and relatively close to when you will be adding the medication.

4. Quarantine Tank

If your Betta is in an aquarium housing multiple fish, you will need to separate them for treatment. A 2.5 but ideally 5 gallon tank will be sufficient. The smaller size is easier for control purposes. Make sure to properly acclimate your betta fish to its temporary tank ensuring you’ve used freshly conditioned water.

(I love using API Stress Coat, not only is it a water conditioner, but it also helps reduce stress in fish too.)

Fluval Flex 9 Aquarium Kit – Fish Tank for Fish & Plants – Comes with LED Lights, Filtration System & More – 36″ x 18″ x 18″ – 34 L, 9 Gal. – Black
  • Stylish Fluval Aquarium: Contemporary design with curved front and honeycomb wrap that conceals water line and filter compartment sides

5. Adjusting Water Temperature

A proper aquarium setup should have both an aquarium heater and an underwater thermometer to accurately regulate and easily monitor temperatures. Even your home’s temperature, especially in the summer months when it is noticeably warmer, may still not be enough to heat a tank adequately.

Choose a location for your aquarium away from heaters and sunny windows. To promote cooling, encourage evaporation on the water surface by using an air pump with a bubbler.

Fluval M150 Submersible Heater, 150-Watt Heater for Aquariums up to 45 Gal., A783
  • Aquarium heater that blends into the aquarium environment with built-in reflective technology that mirrors the surrounding colors
betta care facebook group

6. Add Salt To The Water

Just as we soothe our sore throats and other bodily irritations with saltwater, you can treat your Betta’s fin rot as well! Adding aquarium salt to your tank’s water can provide a cleansing solution for your Betta. Make sure you use aquarium salt from the pet store, do not use table salt or sea salt. The mixing ratio is 1/2 a teaspoon per gallon of water in your tank.

API AQUARIUM SALT Freshwater Aquarium Salt 67-Ounce Box (Packaging May Vary)
  • Contains one (1) API AQUARIUM SALT Freshwater Aquarium Salt 67-Ounce Box

7. Treat With Medication

With a more progressed case of fin rot, treatment with medication will be necessary. Your local pet store should carry bacterial and fungal treatment to add to your aquarium water. To be on the safe side, you may choose to try this method of treatment first.

Check out the most comprehensive guide on betta fish there is!

If your Betta’s fins look ripped overnight, this video by drmichaels fish den can help you out!


Here are some frequently asked questions that people have about why their betta fish’s fins look ripped

How Long Does It Take For Betta Fin Regrowth Take?

Anywhere from a week to a few months. This depends on the severity of the ripped fin and the upkeep of treatment. Respond to the stressor quickly and appropriately for best healing times.

Why Were Your Betta Fins Shredded Overnight?

If your betta’s fins were shredded overnight, then the main culprit could be your betta himself biting his own tail. On top of this, it could also be decorations in the tank or extremely aggressive tank mates (like tiger barbs.)

Betta Fin Rot Vs Fin Loss

The main different between fin rot and fin loss, is that fin loss, it’s caused by damage, where as fin rot is caused by infection. To heal fin loss, you need to remove anything that can harm your betta from the tank. To heal fin rot, you’ll need to use medication as well as more frequent water changes.

Summing It Up

Keep a happy and healthy betta by monitoring temperatures and water quality for their aquarium, choosing appropriate decorations, and being considerate of the community living within the aquarium. Remember, healing takes time, and you will need to be patient. If you are serious about your betta fish, be diligent in maintaining the proper home for them.

I hope for you an easy recovery process!



Ultimate Betta Fish Care Guide
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