Ripped Betta Fish Fins, Causes + What to Do

Betta fish fins are prone to damage due to their fragile nature. They might wake up to ripped or lost fins depending on the underlying cause. Although not something to worry about, it can be a sign of a serious issue like fin rot. So why does my betta fish fin look ripped?

Ripped betta fish fins may result from boredom, rough tank décor, bullying, fungal and bacterial infections or poor water conditions. While shredded fins are likely to regenerate on their own, treatment is necessary for containing fin rot or other infections.

Reasons why betta fish fins may look ripped

In detail, let’s look at what leads to this problem, what you should do to help the fins recover faster, and ways to prevent any future reoccurrence.

1. Boredom

Betta fish require a minimum of 20 gallons to swim freely. When the tank is too small, they have limited space and may not move freely. This will create boredom; in most cases, you will find your betta fish staying in one spot or acting violet against other tank mates. These fights or self-harm lead to ripped fins.

2. Bullying from aggressive fish

Betta fish are relatively temperamental and can be aggressive when triggered by uncomfortable situations. Smaller schooling fish like the black widow tetras and tiger barbs will likely trigger this reaction when kept in the same tank as your betta.

In return, these small fish bully betta fish by nipping off their fins, making them look rugged and ripped. Bettas can also live with guppies. However, male guppies can be aggressive when they get territorial and protective over their matting mates. As a result, they may nibble on bettas’ fins.

3. Fights between male betta fish

Male bettas have strong combating skills in their interactions with their counterparts. It is a characteristic found in most fish species. This aggression occurs from territorial instincts, impressing the female bettas, and food distribution among the herd.

In such instances, you may notice some of your fish, especially the weaker males, developing ripped fins from the fights.

Pro tip: Aggression that leads to ripped fins may also occur if the number of betta fish in a sorority tank is too high with limited space.

4. Aquarium decor

While working on your tank decoration, going for smooth and blunt decor is essential. This is because betta fish fins are tender, making them vulnerable to damage once rubbed against a rough surface.

Likewise, rough and sharp decor can harm the betta fish during transportation or handling of the tank. You should go for smooth surfaces and decorations to prevent fin damage.

5. Contact with other infected fish

If you have recently transferred a new aquatic pet to a tank, there is a possibility it could be infected with a contagious illness that can spread to your betta. Some medical conditions manifest through symptoms like ripped or shredded fins.

6. Poor diet

Food plays a major role in your betta fish’s physical appearance. Some foodstuffs, such as daphnia are essential for the repair of ripped fins, and their absence in its diet can bring out these symptoms. A balanced diet is essential to prevent these occurrences and help the already ripped fins heal faster.               

7. Poor living conditions

Dirty tank water makes it easy for bacteria and other parasites to multiply, posing a threat to your betta’s health. If your fish remains in this living condition for long, its fins and other body parts are in danger of getting ripped or losing colour.

Any injury on the fin or any other body part can also be re-infected if the wound is exposed to a dirty aquatic environment. Therefore, constant water change and cleaning the tank are very important when you notice that a betta has ripped fins.

8. Unfavorable water parameters

Unbalanced pH, too low or too high water temperatures and spiked ammonia levels in the water can damage a betta’s fins or cause other illnesses whose symptoms include shredded fins. 

Betta fish fins look ripped + solutions

Will the shredded betta fish fin grow back?

Yes, shredded fins of your betta can heal and grow back with proper care and nursing. After establishing the root cause of the ripped fins, your next step is to monitor the betta’s progress and nurse it until it gets better.

The healing process depends on the level of damage to the fins. It may take a week or a couple of months. In addition, healing may take longer than expected if the fish keeps bumping into things like decorations or other aggressive mates within a tank.

When a betta’s fins start growing, you will notice a thin membrane at the edges if you look closely. The progress can be faster with continued care and adherence to the remedies listed in the following context. 

What to do when betta fish fins looked ripped

All hope is not lost. A betta’s fin can naturally re-grow after it is lost from fights, infections or injuries. To speed up the process, do the following when your betta fish fins appear ripped:

1. Check on decor

Most decorations for aquarium purposes are made smooth to prevent fish from bumping and losing their fins. Thus, getting one is easy and will not cost you time or money since they are easily accessible.

Some decors are tough with sharp edges that can hurt your fish if they accidentally bump into them. So, the next time you decide to do a tank decor, consider the texture of the accessories.

2. Sanitize the tank

Make sure to change the tank water occasionally as you clean it so that any open wounds on a fish are not infected. Ripped fins are prone to infection by fungi and bacteria, leading to rot. You shouldn’t worry too much about a betta’s torn fins because they regenerate, but act immediately if your betta fish is not moving.

Adding tonic rocks or aquarium salts in the fish tank will help prevent bacterial attacks on the vulnerable fins of your Betta fish.

3. Separate from aggressive fish

Betta Fish are easily attacked by small schooling fish that nip their fins. With this in mind, make sure to purchase less aggressive fish or invest in a tank divider.

In addition, putting male bettas in the same tank may lead to constant fighting; hence it is essential to separate them. You can opt to put a male Betta with a female one or other fish that do not have long wavy tails.

4. Entertainment

Betta fish get bored and express their boredom by biting their fins. You can solve this by imitating the natural habitat of the betta by creating a large water body ambience in their habitat.

Imagine the betta fish patrolling the vast sea in its natural habitat, attracting females, and looking for food. Take care of this by investing in a larger tank instead of a water bowl or small one.

Other things you can do to keep your betta entertained include:

  • Provide food varieties to make the diest interesting
  • Mix Betta fish with other non-aggressive fish
  • Provide enough females for every male
  • Decorate the fish tank with sea-like soft accessories and plants

5. Feed your betta daphnia

Feeding your betta food rich in vitamin B can speed up the healing rate of shredded fins. In addition, providing your Betta Daphnia is essential in ensuring a balanced diet.

Daphnia is nutritious tiny fleas fed to fish for proper digestion. They can be bought or bred. With this, you’ll boost your immune levels and speed up healing.

6. Quarantine the affected betta

To reduce the risk of bacterial infections among the fish, separate the affected betta from others. Move them to a clean, peaceful environment with proper food until the ripped fins heal. This makes it easier for you to monitor progress and administer necessary care.

Make sure to acclimate the betta while moving it to another tank to reduce the chances of unnecessary stress, which might slow the healing process.

7. Regulate tank temperature

According to IFAS extension-University of Florida, “Bettas thrive in warmer water and do not do well in cold water. If they are kept in an unfiltered, unheated container, the room’s air temperature should be maintained at no less than 71.6°F.”

Ensure that your aquarium set up has an underwater thermometer and an aquarium heater for the correct temperature level for your betta. Too much heat causes increased stress levels for bettas, which should be avoided if you want the damaged or ripped fins to heal and grow back.

On the other hand, cold water lowers the betta’s immune system, making it prone to bacterial attack. Therefore, what started as just ripped fins may turn into fin rot—eventually leading to a worst-case scenario, death.


If your betta’s ripped fins get infected, make sure to get some anti-bacterial or fungal treatment to add to your tank from your local pet store. However, do not do this before consulting an aquarium vet or expert to understand the extent of your betta fin’s damage. This gives you an accurate account of your betta’s condition, guiding you on the most suitable remedies.

Besides their colourful nature and beauty, bettas are known for their long-flowing fins. Unfortunately, their fins are prone to ripping, giving them a rugged, shredded look. On the brighter side, numerous ways exist to provide your betta healthy flowing fins and reverse the unpleasant condition.

You can consult an aquarium vet for medications to treat fin rot resulting from infected fins, enhance your betta fish’s appearance and prevent fatal infections.

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