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Old 10-31-2012, 06:49 AM   #1 
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Torn fins :(

Hello everyone, I'm new here.

After a bit of research I bought a 5 gallon tank with a filter and heater, cycled it, then bought a betta who has been with me for about 2 weeks. He's a beautiful friendly little thing.

Last night when I got home from the hospital (I'm a med student) and checked on him he was fine, but then an hour later when I looked again his tail and lower fins were damaged. Long, thin sections of the them had been torn off as if he had been in a fight! One piece was actually still attached at the bottom and was dangling behind him, but has since fallen off.
It's made me really sad, I'm really attached to the little guy. I've been wracking my brains trying to think what could have caused it... he has soft live plants, smooth gravel, no tankmates, and I don't *think* it was the filter...I'm out of ideas!

(oh, i should add that he had a photo background on his tank, but could see his refection in several parts of it and would spend a long while flaring his fins and attacking it...could he have bitten himself in frustration? I've removed the background now.)

Is there anything I can do for him to help him heal? I do frequent water changes and gently rinse the filter media in old tank water, so the water is crystal clear. I read that some people add aquarium salts...should I do that? I'm in the UK and the only local pet store is 'Pets at Home', and to be honest I don't think they know what they're talking about most of the time so I'm hesitant to ask for advice.

I'm just worried he's in pain or he'll get an infection. I don't care what he looks like as long as he's healthy and happy.

Please advise... Thank you :)

Last edited by sparrowlegs; 10-31-2012 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:06 AM   #2 
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Is he a long finned male? They are notorious tail biters. They chomp on their tail when it gets too heavy for them to swim comfortably. However, I don't know for certain without a picture. Does it look crescent shaped?

If he is indeed tail biting, just keep super clean water. If he's biting, he'll probably keep doing it. Salt isn't good for plants, so unless you have a hospital tank I wouldn't even worry about it. Maybe some extra Stress Coat if you use that at water changes.
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:18 AM   #3 
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His shape is quite like the one in your picture. I think he's a veil tail (?) but now his tail has split into two and is ragged. There's a big strip missing from the fin flowing down from his underbelly as well. Is there anything I could do to stop him, if he's biting himself> i took away the background so he cant see his reflection.

I'm sad for him. I worked hard to make him a perfect little home because I know these guys are often mistreated. I'm not too attached to the plants if he needs salt...? When i do water changes I add a de-chlorinator and a product with live bacteria to boost the filter flora.

Thanks :)
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:58 AM   #4 
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Aww.. tail biters are hard to break of the habit.

Salt will be helpful only if he develops fin rot, but as long as you keep up on your weekly water changes then you shouldn't have that problem. AQ salt isn't good for them, so it should only be used when absolutely needed.

The long straight split should fuse back together within a few days, but the rest will take a bit to grow back. You will see a clear to white coloration at the edges when it's growing back.

Something may have stressed him out to cause him to do that in such a short time.. did you do a water change, or turn on the light that scared him?

Filters and "fin blowout" tend to just be rips rather than chunks taken out. Make sure the filter is on the lowest setting (if possible) or baffled with an aquarium sponge placed into the outflow section (secured with a clean rubber band if needed).

They do bite their fins for any number of reasons.. some we can control, some we can't. I have a male that was fine for the longest time, then one day I had to go into surgery and he was left alone for a couple of weeks (fed, but otherwise alone) and he started biting his fins then. Ever since then if he is left alone for any period of time he shreds himself- so he has to be in a divided tank to give him some company and even still once in a while he will take a chunk out because he had grown into that habit. And another will chew his fins if anything in his tank is rearranged or added/removed. I can't add in substrate or anything otherwise he goes nuts.

So don't blame yourself, it sounds like you are doing a great job in caring for him and giving him a great home. Just something caused him to do that that is out of your control. Just think to see if anything had happened or if you had done anything to the tank in that hour, if not then it may just remain a mystery.
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:01 AM   #5 
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+1 With the loneliness. I was house sitting for a week. My boyfriend fed him, but again, was mostly alone. That's when it started. Now I can't go away for more than 3-4 days. I put his tank in the kitchen in hopes that it would keep him company and got him a snail, so we will see.

If he is biting, all we can really do is make him comfortable. He isn't hurting, the nerves are closer to the body and not so much in the tail. My veil tail (my picture) did the same thing you did, split it almost all the way up to his body. It took a couple months for it to look normal again but I saw clear regrowth a couple days after it happened.

It sounds like you're taking great care of your little guy. He'll be fine in no time at all :)
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Old 10-31-2012, 10:07 AM   #6 
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as long as you keep infection at bay, you should have nothing to fear from a torn fin. good care will grow it back, but some fins never grow back...
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