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Betta Experts: Does this look like fin rot, nipping, or something else?


BeetleLann
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Sorry the quality is ūüí© because poor lighting, I am not a great photographer, and my betta never stays put long enough for me to snap his pic lol

PS: I made a long post about my struggles with this guy earlier today, if you wanna read it. I'm trying to help him and I feel bad about how he looks, and I want to learn what to do/ not to do, so that's why I'm here. He is currently being treated with daily water changes and aquarium salt. I have a heater in his hospital tank that keeps his water at 78F, and if that's too cool, please help me learn how to make the water better for him (I hope I don't have to buy a new filter, I have 3, but I will if it is necessary). The long post talks in detail about parameters, but td;lr they're good.

Thanks,

Lanna

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Your longer post shows a bit better angles. He does look like an adult crowntail, but he doesn't look like a healthy one. He should have a much thicker tail at the base before any runners. I'd guess he's got fin rot or some other opportunistic disease. 

Here's a link for a Co op video that might help you. 

https://www.aquariumcoop.com/blogs/aquarium/fin-rot

Good luck 

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11 minutes ago, Mr. Ed's Aquatics said:

Your longer post shows a bit better angles. He does look like an adult crowntail, but he doesn't look like a healthy one. He should have a much thicker tail at the base before any runners. I'd guess he's got fin rot or some other opportunistic disease. 

Here's a link for a Co op video that might help you. 

https://www.aquariumcoop.com/blogs/aquarium/fin-rot

Good luck 

I purchased him as a "veil tail", but I've wondered that, too. Thanks for your reply, the link is very helpful! ūüôā

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23 minutes ago, Mr. Ed's Aquatics said:

What do you think is wrong with him? You're not talking about how his fins look shredded right? He's a crowntail so hes supposed to look like that.

If he's looking I'll or like his slime coat is gone, use Cattapa leaves. 

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Maybe fin rot, maybe nipping. I am honestly not sure. His fins didn't look like this when I purchased him, and the label said veil tail, so I'm wondering if I am doing something wrong to cause him stress and fin loss, perhaps. But maybe he was mislabelled, and is a crown tail, and I'd trust your input more than mine because I am new to the hobby.

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3 minutes ago, BeetleLann said:

I purchased him as a "veil tail", but I've wondered that, too. Thanks for your reply, the link is very helpful! ūüôā

No problem, I got both of mine as veil tail also. They looked similar when they were small, but the one I posted was definitely a crowntail. At least one was a veil tail.

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Just now, Mr. Ed's Aquatics said:

No problem, I got both of mine as veil tail also. They looked similar when they were small, but the one I posted was definitely a crowntail. At least one was a veil tail.

20200815_095733.jpg

He is a very handsome fish! And may I ask what plant that is to the right of him? The one that looks like a bunch of mini bananas.

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2 minutes ago, Mr. Ed's Aquatics said:

The way it's splitting and how much looks like fin rot. I would treat with aquarium salts and cattapa leaves, daily or every other day water changes. It takes em a while to bounce back if it gets really bad. 

Thank you, I will look into purchasing those leaves. For now he has almond leaves and aquarium salt. And thanks for sharing the name of the banana plant, I love it. Take care!

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I'm leaning more toward fin rot from the pictures, but it is hard to tell. From my experience, fin biting tends to make more uniform edges/edges that follow a pattern, while fin rot tends to be more ragged/does not follow a pattern.

These questions might help you narrow down the cause: 

Do the edges where there is damage look inflamed or like they have something growing on them? If it is fin rot the edges will look inflamed (or if it is caused by a fungus the edges will be white/fuzzy). Typically edges from fin biting will look relatively normal and not have any change of color.

How long have his fins been like this, and has the damage progressed or stayed the same? If the damage keeps moving closer to his body it is most likely fin rot, but if it is not and has stayed the same, it could be fin biting. 

Does the damage always stop at the same point? This is kind of a follow up question from the previous one, typically fin biting damage will only reach a certain point. It won't go past where the betta can reach. Also the damage will typically only be on the tail.

Has his behavior changed? If it is fin rot, he might be acting lethargic or sick. If it is fin biting, his behavior will most likely be normal, and sometimes you can catch them doing it (it looks like they might be twisting and rubbing themselves on the substrate or decorations).

I'll attach photos of some of my own fish as examples. The one with the koi pattern had a bad case of fin rot when I bought him. The edges look red/irritated and the damage doesn't follow a pattern. Also all of his fins are affected. The metallic one developed a bad tail biting habit. The photo was taken during a healing period, but you can see that the damage stopped at a certain point (it didn't go past where he couldn't reach) and followed a pattern. Only his tail was really affected.

20180519_121114 (1).jpg

fin rot.jpg

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Whatever your issue is, I do hope you find the reason and solution if there is one. I have a ‚Äúself grooming‚ÄĚbetta.¬†My beautiful deep blue little guy named ‚ÄúLevi‚ÄĚ unfortunately looks as terrible as a preschooler who took the scissors to their own head. I hate that he does this to himself but I have tried everything recommended to me such as rearranging his tank and¬†engaging him in activity for exercise.¬†He has pristine quality water that I obsessively keep on top of. It appears that I just have a neurotic fish. I would be curious to know if certain colors or tail types experience this more then others. It seems most of the folks who post pictures of their fin biters are blue.¬†Any scientific data out there?

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On 8/21/2020 at 1:37 PM, yannachka said:

id bump up the temp to 80 to speed up healing. its hard to tell in the photos but if its bad id treat with erythromycin to kill off the bacterial infection. usually clean water, warm temps, and catappa leaves are enough but if its bad some meds will help it heal faster. 

Thank you @yannachka for suggestion! Do you, or anyone else, know of ways to increase the temp of a preset heater? I own 3, but all are set to turn off when the water reaches 78F.

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On 8/25/2020 at 6:22 PM, JessR said:

I'm leaning more toward fin rot from the pictures, but it is hard to tell. From my experience, fin biting tends to make more uniform edges/edges that follow a pattern, while fin rot tends to be more ragged/does not follow a pattern.

These questions might help you narrow down the cause: 

Do the edges where there is damage look inflamed or like they have something growing on them? If it is fin rot the edges will look inflamed (or if it is caused by a fungus the edges will be white/fuzzy). Typically edges from fin biting will look relatively normal and not have any change of color.

How long have his fins been like this, and has the damage progressed or stayed the same? If the damage keeps moving closer to his body it is most likely fin rot, but if it is not and has stayed the same, it could be fin biting. 

Does the damage always stop at the same point? This is kind of a follow up question from the previous one, typically fin biting damage will only reach a certain point. It won't go past where the betta can reach. Also the damage will typically only be on the tail.

Has his behavior changed? If it is fin rot, he might be acting lethargic or sick. If it is fin biting, his behavior will most likely be normal, and sometimes you can catch them doing it (it looks like they might be twisting and rubbing themselves on the substrate or decorations).

I'll attach photos of some of my own fish as examples. The one with the koi pattern had a bad case of fin rot when I bought him. The edges look red/irritated and the damage doesn't follow a pattern. Also all of his fins are affected. The metallic one developed a bad tail biting habit. The photo was taken during a healing period, but you can see that the damage stopped at a certain point (it didn't go past where he couldn't reach) and followed a pattern. Only his tail was really affected.

20180519_121114 (1).jpg

fin rot.jpg

Hey @JessR and thanks for responding to my post and your patience with my low quality photos.  I can't quite confirm that my betta's fins look comparable to either of yours, but if I had to guess, I'd say it looks more like the first photo you posted.

To answer your questions:

- It's difficult to tell if the fins are inflamed; the colours seem uniform, but he is a dark blue so perhaps I am mistaken and just can't see any inflamation. Some of the stringier bits have white tissue on the tips. An associate at my local store said the white is possibly regrowth? It does not look like the regrowth on your betta in the first photo.

- I believe I first noticed how raggedy his fins look approximately one month after COVID shut down everything. For the most part they have looked long, thin, and frayed since then, however, I do occasionally notice his fins are shorter.

- I would estimate the damage is about 1/2 - 3/4 the way up his tail and does not appear to be closer to his body. It looks as if someone took scissors and cut his tail into shreds or ribbons. That's the best way I can describe the issue. As you said in your post, the damage does not follow a pattern.

- Not once has he seem lethargic or uninterested in food. He will always greet me when I come to see him. He have a ravenous appetite, and at one point I had to treat him for constipation. He also eats algae wafers that I put in the tank for the corydoras. I believe he picked up the behaviour from them. He is now fed every other day lol

- He does like to hide in the plants, but I don't believe I have ever seen him intentionally rubbing against anything in the tank. My driftwood is fairly gnarly-looking, however, so maybe that is damaging him. I've wondered this before.

- In addition, I one found an approximately 5-10mm long piece of fin on the bottom of my tank. It was as bright blue as he is. I assumed it was ripped off by something, or he bit off a chunk? I do not have aggressive tank mates, either.

Given your questions and my responses, I'm starting to think he's eating himself or there's some other kind of infection going on.

Again, thanks for your reply, and wishing you and your fishy friends best of health ūüôā

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11 hours ago, Nickyjax said:

Whatever your issue is, I do hope you find the reason and solution if there is one. I have a ‚Äúself grooming‚ÄĚbetta.¬†My beautiful deep blue little guy named ‚ÄúLevi‚ÄĚ unfortunately looks as terrible as a preschooler who took the scissors to their own head. I hate that he does this to himself but I have tried everything recommended to me such as rearranging his tank and¬†engaging him in activity for exercise.¬†He has pristine quality water that I obsessively keep on top of. It appears that I just have a neurotic fish. I would be curious to know if certain colors or tail types experience this more then others. It seems most of the folks who post pictures of their fin biters are blue.¬†Any scientific data out there?

@NickyjaxYour description of the child with scissors is both hilarious and a surprisingly accurate description of my betta, too! I guess if the fish has to be stuck with a neurotic owner (aka me because of how much I obsess over him), it stands to reason that I should also be stuck with a neurotic fish haha

And fascinating to read your statement about blue bettas and fin nipping. I'd be eager to hear more, too.

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On 8/26/2020 at 9:02 PM, BeetleLann said:

Hey @JessR and thanks for responding to my post and your patience with my low quality photos.  I can't quite confirm that my betta's fins look comparable to either of yours, but if I had to guess, I'd say it looks more like the first photo you posted.

To answer your questions:

- It's difficult to tell if the fins are inflamed; the colours seem uniform, but he is a dark blue so perhaps I am mistaken and just can't see any inflamation. Some of the stringier bits have white tissue on the tips. An associate at my local store said the white is possibly regrowth? It does not look like the regrowth on your betta in the first photo.

- I believe I first noticed how raggedy his fins look approximately one month after COVID shut down everything. For the most part they have looked long, thin, and frayed since then, however, I do occasionally notice his fins are shorter.

- I would estimate the damage is about 1/2 - 3/4 the way up his tail and does not appear to be closer to his body. It looks as if someone took scissors and cut his tail into shreds or ribbons. That's the best way I can describe the issue. As you said in your post, the damage does not follow a pattern.

- Not once has he seem lethargic or uninterested in food. He will always greet me when I come to see him. He have a ravenous appetite, and at one point I had to treat him for constipation. He also eats algae wafers that I put in the tank for the corydoras. I believe he picked up the behaviour from them. He is now fed every other day lol

- He does like to hide in the plants, but I don't believe I have ever seen him intentionally rubbing against anything in the tank. My driftwood is fairly gnarly-looking, however, so maybe that is damaging him. I've wondered this before.

- In addition, I one found an approximately 5-10mm long piece of fin on the bottom of my tank. It was as bright blue as he is. I assumed it was ripped off by something, or he bit off a chunk? I do not have aggressive tank mates, either.

Given your questions and my responses, I'm starting to think he's eating himself or there's some other kind of infection going on.

Again, thanks for your reply, and wishing you and your fishy friends best of health ūüôā

From what you've said here and in your other longer post (I went back to re-read it), I honestly think he may have just ripped his fins. For whatever reason some just don't regrow their fins. The white you are seeing may just be scar tissue. If fin rot had caused that much damage, he would most likely behave differently. Some people recommend daily flare sessions for fin health as it promotes blood flow to the fins. I'm not sure if it would help, but if it is something you are comfortable with trying it may help them regrow.

I might be wrong and it could be fin rot, or a chance that he may have had a secondary infection from fin damage. But I think your treatment has probably cleared that up by now. If you stop treatment and the fins start to deteriorate again, it probably is fin rot. But it sounds like you are taking good care of him!

It can be hard to tell what is wrong with these guys, so it is always our best guess. There's always something to learn, which is what is so great about this hobby! I'd love to hear an update in a few weeks. Good luck! 

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On 8/26/2020 at 9:43 AM, Nickyjax said:

Whatever your issue is, I do hope you find the reason and solution if there is one. I have a ‚Äúself grooming‚ÄĚbetta.¬†My beautiful deep blue little guy named ‚ÄúLevi‚ÄĚ unfortunately looks as terrible as a preschooler who took the scissors to their own head. I hate that he does this to himself but I have tried everything recommended to me such as rearranging his tank and¬†engaging him in activity for exercise.¬†He has pristine quality water that I obsessively keep on top of. It appears that I just have a neurotic fish. I would be curious to know if certain colors or tail types experience this more then others. It seems most of the folks who post pictures of their fin biters are blue.¬†Any scientific data out there?

For some of them I definitely think it's just an anxious/neurotic habit they have. Just like you, I had tried different things to stop mine from fin biting, but nothing seemed to help (the blue one I posted a picture of). I took the picture not long after I moved him to a bigger tank. He stopped biting for a few weeks, which is why it was regrowing, but then he started again. It really sucked because he had a gorgeous spade tail. I have one now that fin bites is a gold veiltail. They are both from the same store chain so I feel like it might be something from their supplier's line.

I'm definitely interested to see if certain colors and tail types are more prone to fin biting as well, because I think it might be a genetic trait. I haven't actually looked if anyone has studied it. I wonder if breeders keep records of this stuff. Maybe we could make a poll?

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On 8/28/2020 at 1:49 PM, JessR said:

From what you've said here and in your other longer post (I went back to re-read it), I honestly think he may have just ripped his fins. For whatever reason some just don't regrow their fins. The white you are seeing may just be scar tissue. If fin rot had caused that much damage, he would most likely behave differently. Some people recommend daily flare sessions for fin health as it promotes blood flow to the fins. I'm not sure if it would help, but if it is something you are comfortable with trying it may help them regrow.

I might be wrong and it could be fin rot, or a chance that he may have had a secondary infection from fin damage. But I think your treatment has probably cleared that up by now. If you stop treatment and the fins start to deteriorate again, it probably is fin rot. But it sounds like you are taking good care of him!

It can be hard to tell what is wrong with these guys, so it is always our best guess. There's always something to learn, which is what is so great about this hobby! I'd love to hear an update in a few weeks. Good luck! 

Hey, thanks for your reply. And I am sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you! I just started grad school and things have been a bit hectic.

I really appreciate your input. All the best to you!

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On 8/28/2020 at 2:02 PM, JessR said:

For some of them I definitely think it's just an anxious/neurotic habit they have. Just like you, I had tried different things to stop mine from fin biting, but nothing seemed to help (the blue one I posted a picture of). I took the picture not long after I moved him to a bigger tank. He stopped biting for a few weeks, which is why it was regrowing, but then he started again. It really sucked because he had a gorgeous spade tail. I have one now that fin bites is a gold veiltail. They are both from the same store chain so I feel like it might be something from their supplier's line.

I'm definitely interested to see if certain colors and tail types are more prone to fin biting as well, because I think it might be a genetic trait. I haven't actually looked if anyone has studied it. I wonder if breeders keep records of this stuff. Maybe we could make a poll?

I would be quite interested in this poll! Did you make one?

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