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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone, I’m worried that my Nebby has fin rot. I prepared a small hospital tank with API Aquarium Salt, but before I put him in it I want to get a second opinion to make sure that this really is fin rot and not just my anxiety making me freak out over nothing. Here is the filled out questionnaire form:

Housing:
How many gallons is your tank? - 10 gallons.
Does it have a filter? - Yes.
Does it have a heater? - Yes.
What temperature is your tank? - 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? - No aeration devices, but filter creates water flow. Also live marimo balls in aquarium.
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? - No; formerly housed with 4 “julii” corydoras, but they had to be rehomed.

Food:
What food brand do you use? - Hikari.
Do you feed flakes or pellets? - Pellets.
Freeze-dried? - No; tried to feed freeze-dried bloodworms twice around the New Year, and both times he took a bite and ignored the rest.
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? - Everyday, twice a day (once in morning and once at night), 2-3 pellets per feeding.

Maintenance:
Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? - Once a week.
What percentage of water did you change? - Around 20%.
What is the source of your water? - Indoor sink.
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? - I vacuum the substrate.
What additives do you use? What brand of conditioner? - Imagitarium Betta Water Conditioner, Imagitarium pH Reducer, and Tetra SafeStart Plus.

Water Parameters:
What are your water parameters? Please give exact numbers. If tested by pet store please get exact numbers. "Fine" or "Safe" won't help us help you. Important: Test your water *before* the regular water change; not after one.

Ammonia: 0 ppm.
Nitrite: 0 ppm.
Nitrate: 10 ppm.
pH: 7.5.
Hardness (GH): Exact number unknown, been told that water is soft.
Alkalinity (KH): Unknown.

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? - Less than a week ago.
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? - Tears on caudal fin, white spots on tip of caudal fin.
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? - A little more lethargic than usual, doesn’t flare at reflection as much.
Is your Betta still eating? - Yes, still as gluttonous as ever.
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? - No, but have been closely monitoring his condition since the fin tear was first noticed. Currently preparing for treatment with API Aquarium Salt.
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? - None known.
How long have you owned your Betta? - About a month.
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? - No physical symptoms noticed, but extremely stressed.

Attached are 2 photos of Nebby; the first photo was taken on December 18 2019, while the second photo was taken on January 14 2020.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
UPDATE:

On January 16 2020 I started treating Nebby for fin rot. I put him in a 0.75 gallon quarantine tank with dissolved API aquarium salt (I don't remember how much), then performed a 100% water change in his aquarium. I also soaked all of the decorations (except the gravel) in hot water for a day before returning them to the aquarium. The plan was to treat Nebby in the quarantine tank and return him to his aquarium once the treatment was over, but I could not stand seeing him in such a small unheated tank so I moved him back into his aquarium the next day. Before returning Nebby to his aquarium, I added 3 tablespoons of dissolved aquarium salt into the aquarium in order to continue the fin rot treatment.

For a week his condition remained stable, though I had to delay the water change by a few days cause I was called into work when I was about to do it. Just as I was preparing for a water change on January 25 2020 I noticed that the fin was even more torn. I should have done another check of the water parameters, but I sorta panicked and immediately performed a 40% water change. When performing the water change, I added 2 tablespoons of dissolved aquarium salt, both to replace what was removed from the water change and to add more for treatment. On January 28 2020 I also started treatment with Imagitarium Bacterial Infection Remedy (I was skeptical of using a store brand for medicine, but a customer told me that it works and I read mixed reviews about Melafix/Bettafix, so I was willing to give it a try). I followed the instructions on the bottle, and gave the final dosage on February 1 2020. That day I also tested the water parameters, and they were as follows:

pH: 7.4 for high pH test.
Ammonia: 0.25 ppm.
Nitrite: 0 ppm.
Nitrate: 5 ppm.

I had to remove the carbon filter cartridges for the antibiotic treatment, so I figured that is what caused the increase in ammonia. The next day, I added Aqueon Ammonia Neutralizer to protect Nebby from any potential effects from the ammonia.

When I woke up this morning, I immediately noticed that Nebby's fin was worse than ever. After my dentist appointment I tested the water parameters, and they were as follows:

pH: Between 7.2 and 7.6 for regular pH test.
Ammonia: 0.25 ppm.
Nitrite: 0 ppm.
Nitrate: 5 ppm.

I just performed a 40% water change and added more aquarium salt. I'm at a loss, I fear everything I'm doing to try to treat him is only making him worse. I'm thinking of giving him a salt dip/bath, but I don't want to risk doing anything else without advice from more experienced aquarists.

I don't want my Nebby to die, PLEASE HELP!!!

Attached are 2 photos of Nebby; the first photo was taken on January 25 2020, while the second photo was taken on February 3 2020.
 

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The first photo you posted, I can't see any signs of fin rot. His fins are getting a bit ragged, but are clean, with perfectly clear edges that match his coloring. Bettas with large fins, once put into a large enough tank for them to move around and especially if there's a power filter, often end up with tattered-looking fins just from the fact that they're swimming around with those delicate fins.

In your updated photos, I'm still not seeing fin rot- I'm seeing fin biting. You can tell the difference because fin rot will often attack the entire fin at once, and the edges look melted and blackened or reddened. Fin biting can happen at any time, and will result in "U" shaped chunks missing, often only from one or two areas. Once bitten though, the fins are more open to infection.

We don't know for sure what causes fin biting. Some bettas will bite their fins and others won't, it just depends on the individual fish. Common thought is that it's either because of stress, or because their fins are so heavy that the betta bites them off to swim better.

With that in mind, I would do what you can to reduce stress in his tank. It looks like you have a few plants in there, which is good- if you can afford it, more is never a bad thing, especially ones tall enough to reach the top of the tank (Shapes the light & provides resting spots).


Add either India Almond Leaf, or Rooibos tea (pure, not a mix- you can find this at most grocery stores), which will add tannins to the water. Tannins help make the water more like the water that bettas evolved in- more acidic, a darker murky color- and it also helps act as an antiseptic to keep infection at bay.


Especially if it's a HOB type, your filter may be putting out a powerful current that is bothering your betta. Consider baffling the out-flow with a piece of sponge, or a cut-up water bottle. We've got a good tutorial with pictures on the forums here - https://www.bettafish.com/101-betta-fish-bowls-habitats-accessories/30139-step-step-filter-baffle.html

Keep his water clean with smaller, but more frequent water changes. 20% over two days is less stressful than 40% all at once. If you can swing it, changing 20% of his water three times a week should keep his water very clean to encourage fin regrowth.

Personally, I would finish the package's directions for treatment of the medicine you picked up, and then stop using it. Like Melafix/Bettafix, it's not a true antibiotic, just an herbal supplement. If the ingredients don't contain Tea Tree or Eucalyptus oil then it should be safe, it just (in my opinion) won't do much good either. But TBH, I can't see signs of fin rot in your boy at all to think you need a medicine right now in any case.

AQ salt shouldn't be used for more than a month at a time, ideally you would use salt for two weeks and then give the fish a week in clean water before doing a second round. If there's no actual infection than a low level of salt can help just keep the edges of his bitten fins clean, but it isn't necessary if the water is also clean, especially if you added IAL or Rooibos.
 

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I agree that it does not look like fin rot, but he does appear to be fin biting. In addition to what Rana suggested, I'd start adding Seachem StressGuard to his water, I'd probably just stop the Imagitarium Bacterial Infection Remedy. What you want to do is prevent those fins from getting infected, and the Stressguard has an antiseptic to prevent and treat infection, along with the ability to bind with wounds and form something like a liquid bandage.

Can you take a picture of his full tank? It will give us an idea about what might be stressing him enough, if that's why he's biting, to cause the behavior.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you so much to everyone who provided information!

So far it seems like the consensus here is that the issue is fin nipping rather than fin rot (that would certainly explain why the tears are only on the top of his caudal fin). I don't want to keep adding medicines for fin rot treatment if this is just fin nipping, so it's good to know which I am dealing with. I'll need to figure out what is stressing him and address it, while also monitoring the fin to make sure it does not get infected. I'm going to the pet store today so I'll get something that will help reduce his stress (Seachem StressGuard if I can find it - if not, then probably API Stress Coat).

I'll have to try the bottle method to reduce the water flow. So far I've been using a pre-filter sponge, a filter mesh, and a large silk plant - they have helped, but if the water flow is making Nebby stressed enough to fin nip then it's obviously by not enough.

Here is a photo of the aquarium (the plants are made of silk, and there are also live marimo "moss" balls behind the mopani wood):
 

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Thank you so much to everyone who provided information!

So far it seems like the consensus here is that the issue is fin nipping rather than fin rot (that would certainly explain why the tears are only on the top of his caudal fin). I don't want to keep adding medicines for fin rot treatment if this is just fin nipping, so it's good to know which I am dealing with. I'll need to figure out what is stressing him and address it, while also monitoring the fin to make sure it does not get infected. I'm going to the pet store today so I'll get something that will help reduce his stress (Seachem StressGuard if I can find it - if not, then probably API Stress Coat).

I'll have to try the bottle method to reduce the water flow. So far I've been using a pre-filter sponge, a filter mesh, and a large silk plant - they have helped, but if the water flow is making Nebby stressed enough to fin nip then it's obviously by not enough.

Here is a photo of the aquarium (the plants are made of silk, and there are also live marimo "moss" balls behind the mopani wood):

Please know that Stresscoat is not the same as StressGuard. Stesscoat is a water conditioner with aloe added. I'm not saying it's a bad product, just that it does not do the same thing as StressGuard.
 

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Looks like a pretty good set-up to me, so probably he's not stressed from the tank itself. I'd still suggest baffling the filter- it doesn't hurt anything, including the filter's performance.

Hopefully the cause of his biting is an easy fix, but sometimes a betta will just keep at it no matter what you do. Keep his water clean, feed him high-quality foods (You might consider adding frozen bloodworms), and even if he continues nipping his fins they should at least stay clean & healthy.
 

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Fin biting isn't always linked to stress. Some fish may bite their fins during a stressful situation such as shipping, or as the result of sort of redirected aggression/barrier frustration (such as when a male is kept in view of another male), and never again. While for some fish, it becomes almost a compulsion, and they'll bite their fins bloody regardless of what changes are made to your husbandry. In some fish, the fins are so long, I wonder if the fish even recognises them as being part of itself anymore.

So if the fin biting continues, don't feel that you're necessarily doing anything wrong.

Sometimes all you can do as is recommended above. Maintain excellent water quality, feed him a high-protein, high-quality diet to encourage healing and regrowth, and keep an eye out for any sign of infection.

This is why I stopped owning long-finned bettas. After owning a couple of chronic fin biters, it wasn't worth it to me.
 

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UPDATE: Nebby's fins look about the same as they did on Monday (maybe a little better, hard to tell). Today I performed a 20% water change in the aquarium and added StressCoat+ (I could not find StressGuard at my pet store, but I'll keep an eye out for it), which should hopefully help with any stress that he might be dealing with. I also created the water bottle filter baffle to manage the water flow- I really hope that this works.

Here is a photo of Nebby today, along with a photo of the new filter baffle.
 

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UPDATE: Nebby's fins look about the same as they did on Monday (maybe a little better, hard to tell). Today I performed a 20% water change in the aquarium and added StressCoat+ (I could not find StressGuard at my pet store, but I'll keep an eye out for it), which should hopefully help with any stress that he might be dealing with. I also created the water bottle filter baffle to manage the water flow- I really hope that this works.

Here is a photo of Nebby today, along with a photo of the new filter baffle.
I think the fins look better than in the 2nd set of photos you shared. They look like they are growing back!

Hopefully that continues. You're certainly doing all you can. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Great to hear that they are growing back! I thought that they looked a little better today, but I wasn't 100% sure. I forgot to ask earlier, but what are the best high-protein and high-quality betta foods? Right now I am feeding Nebby Hikari Betta Bio-gold pellets and Aqueon Pro Betta pellets (the former at night, the latter at morning), but I'm willing to switch if there are better betta foods out there (preferably one that has invertebrate proteins rather than plant-based fillers as the main ingredients). Specifically, what main ingredients should I be looking for in a good betta food? I want to feed him a diet that best replicates what a wild Siamese betta (Betta splendens) would eat. I tried feeding Nebby freeze-dried bloodworms twice, but he would not eat them.
 

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What you want to look for in a food is a named protein as the first ingredient. The protein will usually be some sort of fish like krill or it may be something like shrimp.

Personally I feed Fluval Bug Bites for medium sizes fish. I found that the one for small fish was too small. I also feed New Life Spectrum betta. I rotate that with frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp.
 

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UPDATE: I decided to switch Nebby's food from Aqueon Pro Betta pellets to Fluval Bug Bites Betta Formula pellets. I also want to add variety to his diet, and I'm still trying to decide whether to keep the Hikari Betta Bio-gold pellets as the second food or to replace them with one of the Hikari Bio-Pure freeze-dried foods.

In addition, after much thought, I replaced the silk plants in his aquarium with live plants. Specifically, I planted Anubias, Java fern, and Java moss into the aquarium, in addition to the marimo balls I already had. I don't know whether the silk plants were scratching his fins or not, so I wanted to test that by removing them. To provide the live plants with extra nutrients (and to help with water pH regulation, so that I don't have to keep buying pH reducing chemicals), I bought a bag of Fluval Stratum substrate and mixed it with the gravel I already had.

Nebby is doing much better now than he was when I first posted this. His fins have not completely grown back yet, but it is showing signs of regrowth. In addition, he started building a bubble nest over the weekend.

Hopefully this healing progress will continue. Once again, thank you to everyone for your advice!

Here is a photo of Nebby (and his bubble nest) from February 22 2020:
 

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