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Old 12-20-2011, 08:54 PM   #1 
scrat333
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Unhappy filter damage or fin rot?

Hi, I am super upset tonight as I have just gone to feed my beautiful betta and found he is missing all his top fin and a lot of his tail. This has happened over the course of the day as he was fine yesterday. I think the cause is the filter. I had him for 2 weeks in my 10 gallon tank with a low flow waterfall type filter, however he started picking on my cory catfish so I had to take him out. I bought him a 3.5 gallon tank the next day and decorated it with a log to hide in, soft edged gravel and a silk plant and a couple of plastic plants with rounded edges. There is a heater set at 80 degrees and it came with a little filter. I thought the filter flow may be a bit strong, but he was swimming directly in its stream a lot instead of out of the path of it so I assumed he was fine with it. Now today I see lots of his fin is suddenly missing, so I have turned the filter off.

I tried googling fin damage and fin rot, as I want to make sure it isnt fin rot. However people say that comes on slowly. He did have black around the edge of his fins when I bought him, but they weren't ragged and I think they were just part of his colouring? He is red but had black tipped fins. I did notice he has a few paler patches around his face, but think he always had them. Of course if that is a sign of fin rot I may just have bought him with it already. So is it possible if it was fin rot for them to get so bad so quickly? or is it more likely that it is the filter damage? Most stuff I have read said that the bottom fin is more damaged by fin rot, however his bottom fin seems fine it is his top that is totally gone and about 1/3 of his tail...which makes me think the filter is the likely culprit. He seems fine in himself, swimming about near the top of the tank, eating fine.

So what should I do? I have added some aquarium salt. I read online that bettafix is good for these situations so will go buy some tomorrow. However I do not know what to do about the filter. I don't really want to leave the tank unfiltered, is there a way to reduce the flow of it? like duct tape some foam or something over the inflow and outflow? Any suggestions would be fantastic. I tried looking to see if was a low flow filter could use instead but cant seem to find anything for a small tank like that.

Thanks for taking the time to read. If I can find my camera cord I will attach a photo however I don't know where it is at the moment. I feel terrible for my poor fish and am hoping the fins can grow back, he was stunning and now he looks a mess and I am very guilty, I thought I was doing the responsible thing but obviously not, and ignorance is no excuse.
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Old 12-20-2011, 09:30 PM   #2 
scrat333
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update

So I just tested my water levels and ammonia is 0 nitrite is very high (between 4-6). I have done a 40% water change and added some seachem prime to detoxify it and provide stress coat.

I also took a picture of him so you can see the type of damage... and also the tank so you can see the set up.
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:04 PM   #3 
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I have kept reading and found people saying that high nitrites can cause the fins to dissolve....anyone know if this is true or just conjecture? Still not sure if could have happened that quick or why bottom fin is OK
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:28 PM   #4 
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^ Regardless, this isnt whats going on with your fish.

This is either damage from the filter or its tailbiting.

Regardless, make sure the little guy's water stays clean and watch for infection.

If you want to dose aquarium salt, it is 1tsp/gallon of water, with daily water changes. After you change the water 100%, you add more salt.


Do not use bettafix because it has been known to harm betta's labyrinth organ. It also does not heal wounds (ie, get rid of the bacteria that causes fin rot), so its useless.

Save your money!

You do not need a filter in a betta only tank. Tbh, just take it out. Without a filter in a 3g tank do one 50% change a week with a 100% change in the week as well to maintain the water.
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:34 PM   #5 
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Thanks for the advice. I have dosed with aquarium salt, and will keep up with the water changes. I had only read good things about bettafix, I didn't know it could damage them...

I don't think it is tailbiting as his whole top fin has gone and I don't see that he could have reached there...so more likely the filter. I have turned it off for now and will leave it off unless I find a good solution...most advice on this website is that you should have a filter, but low flow...

Thankyou for your help
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:35 PM   #6 
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Does anything in the tank have a sharp edge he could have caught on? I don't know if the filter could have done that kind of damage, just from him swimming through the outflow. I have my filter baffled with a plastic bottle, and my VT purposely swims under the baffle (and sometimes almost INTO the filter), and his fins are untouched.

I'm sorry; I don't know a lot about diagnosing, but his fins look to me like they got caught on something and tore. I'm sure someone more knowledgeable will be along shortly with better ideas. Here's to a quick recovery for your little guy!

ETA: Never mind; posted at the same time! ;)
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:46 PM   #7 
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Thanks for the response there is nothing sharp in the tank.....there is a chunk of white coral you can see in the last picture which he swims under and through...it is not sharp though but I guess slightly rough? I have just removed that incase...but I could see how that might rub the top fin off but not how it could damage the end of his tail so much.

I don't know how the filter could have done it either...it was just so sudden i cant think of anything else.
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:53 PM   #8 
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If it just suddenly happened then it was the filters intake that tore up your fishes tail. So all you have to do in order to keep that from happening again is to get some pantyhose and cut a piece off and wrap it around your intake. Get a rubber band to hold the pantyhose in place. Just rinse both the pantyhose and rubber band before putting them inside your fish tank. Happened to me once when i placed my fish in his tank. I heard a weird sound kind of like a blender and then next thing i know my little guy was swimming around with fins like your boy.

Last edited by Gnome507; 12-20-2011 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 12-20-2011, 11:17 PM   #9 
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OK that is a great idea. I also read about putting an aquarium sponge over it, but pantyhose would be easier to get on there. Do you think I should leave it off completely for a while to help him recouperate or will it be OK once I have covered it up? Did yours fins grow back?
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Old 12-20-2011, 11:54 PM   #10 
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The outtake (waterfall) wouldnt have done that to his tail, but the intake would. You can try covering it with a filter media bag or damming it up, but it could hurt the propeller.

Btw, bettas can nip any part of their fins anywhere... Right to the base of the dorsal, anal and claudial if theyre feeling it. Biting looks like little U shapes.

Fin regrowth happens fastest when there is ZERO water movement (no filter), high protein foods and frequent water changes.

Regrowth looks clear.
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