If you’re keeping the ornamental betta splendens, it is likely that it might bite its tail and fins.
Due to generations of cross-breeding, the betta splendens now have large and beautiful fins that many adore.
However, this is unnatural and could be the cause of your bettas biting its own tail.
If you notice your betta biting its tail or chunks of your betta’s tail are missing, keep reading this post to know the causes, prevention, and treatments of when your betta bites its tail and fins
What is betta tail and fin biting?
As the name implies, betta tail and fin biting is a condition in which your betta fish start biting their tail and fins.
Tail and fin biting can cause panic among betta owners, but the good news is that it can be prevented and treated.
What causes betta tail and fin biting?
The exact causes of tail and fin biting in betta fish are unknown.
However, there are a few factors that many believe are responsible for bettas to bite their tails.
Stressful living conditions
Poor water quality and unfavourable temperature levels in the aquarium could cause your betta fish to become stressed.
Constantly changing your tank layout is another reason for stress development in your betta. When you put your hands in the aquarium and constantly move decor around, it causes stress in your bettas.
As bettas are territorial in nature, they’ll have to build a new territory for themselves.
Doing this often might cause your bettas to feel stressed pretty often which may lead to fin and tail biting,
Bettas can also become stressed when they’re made to live with aggressive tank mates (fish of other breeds). Tetras that nip, other bettas, larger fish, and generally aggressive fish like cichlids might stress out bettas.
Boredom can be another significant cause of tail and fin biting in bettas. When coupled with stress, boredom may speed up the process of tail biting.
Many factors can trigger boredom, such as the small aquarium size and the lack of decor in and around the water tank.
Betta fish show boredom and weariness by biting their tail and fins.
If your betta fish as larger fins than usual, they may not like them because they may slow them down.
If your betta fish have larger fins, they may get frustrated and feel dragged while moving in the aquarium.
Therefore, they start biting their fins to eliminate this extra burden.
Larger fins are one of the causes of tail and fin biting that can not be treated.
So, if your betta fish is ripping off parts of its tails and fins due to them being large, there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Tail and fin biting in bettas could also be hereditary. Some betta fish naturally tend to bite their own fins and tails and it passes down to future generations.
If that is the case with your betta fish, there’s nothing you can do to stop it because it’s genetics-related.
Many choose to cull their bettas if it’s due to genetics.
Betta fish are aggressive in nature.
They need something to disseminate their aggression; otherwise, it continues to build up that may cause them to bite their own tail and fins.
Some experts call it aggression exhaustion.
Aggression buildup causes your betta fish to become so exhausted that they start showing aggression toward themselves.
Signs and Symptoms of betta tail and fin biting
The symptoms of tail and fin biting in betta fish are visible to the naked eye in the form of damaged and torn-up areas of the tail and fins.
However, some betta owners may confuse tail and fin biting with fin rot or tail damage from decoration in your tank.
The best way to diagnose tail and fin biting in your betta fish is to observe them for a few hours periodically.
If you see them biting their tail and fins consistently, you should consider taking preventive and treatment measures immediately.
It’s also important to remember that the tail and fins damaged by biting can be distinguishable from damages due to other causes.
A close look can help you identify tail and fin biting more easily.
Following are some common signs and symptoms of betta tail and fin biting:
Rapid loss of tail and fins
When your betta fish develop a tail and fin biting condition, it’s not difficult for you to notice that they’re losing their tail and fins rapidly in the form of small portions.
The rapid loss of tail and fins is one of the significant symptoms in betta fish.
You might be thinking that fin rot or tail damage also causes the loss of tail and fins, so how can you distinguish biting from other forms of damage?
Well, damage and loss to the tail and fins due to causes are slow and happen gradually, while you may notice overnight disappearance of the tail and fins in the case of biting.
Missing chunks of tail and fins
If you notice missing chunks of tail and fins with a uniform deterioration on your betta fish, it may be the symptom of betta tail and fin biting.
If you look closely at the chunks, you may notice it is round in shape, more like bites.
Sometimes when there are only one or two missing chunks, it could be that your bettas had its fin stuck and ripped off due to sharp decorations in your tank.
However, if there are only one or two missing chunks, you can’t rule out the possibility that they could be caused by decoration damage – it could be an early sign that your betta is biting its tail.
However, if there are quite a few missing chunks from the tail and fins of your betta, you can consider it a symptom of tail and fin biting.
You may notice clean edges.
When betta fish bite on their tail and fins, they leave clean edges that are noticeable upon close look.
The edges produced by fin rot usually look tatty, and you may notice that the tail is dropping off slowly.
However, you will observe clean edges when your betta fish bite their tail and fins.
Treating betta tail and fin biting
Betta tail and fin biting needs immediate treatment because it can affect the immune system of your betta fish and make them susceptible to other illnesses.
Treating betta tail and fin biting is pretty challenging because of how fast your betta will bite its tail off.
It’s highly likely that the fins and tail of your betta will be damaged entirely within one or two days of the condition.
Because of how fast it happens, there are no significant treatments for damaged fins or tails.
Rather, you can use some treatment methods to help fins and tail grow back quickly and some prevention is key too.
Depending on your tank’s condition and your betta’s immune system, fins and tails grow in a few days to weeks.
Following are some common treatments you can utilise to promote the regrowth of fins and tail:
Conduct frequent water changes
Changing your tank’s water frequently helps you maintain high water quality, which plays a key role in avoiding stress buildup in your betta fish.
Tail and fin biting condition makes your betta fish more susceptible to bacterial infections that could cause tail or fin rot.
When you perform water changes at least once a week, you remove harmful toxins such as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates, while removing harmful bacteria in the water column.
If you’re not doing water changes weekly, consider doing so when your betta fish is going through the fins or tail regrowth phase.
Treat the tank with aquarium salt.
Aquarium salt treatment is another way to keep your betta fish safe from bacteria.
Treating the tank water with aquarium salt kills the harmful bacteria that can interrupt the fin or tail regrowth simultaneously reducing stress for your betta.
You should use a measured amount of aquarium salt for more effective results. Experts believe one tablespoon of aquarium salt is enough to treat 5 gallons of water.
So, if you have 40 gallons of water in the aquarium, eight tablespoons of aquarium salt will be enough.
For aquarium salt treatment:
- Take a separate container and add your aquarium water to it. Dissolve a small amount of aquarium salt in the container and pour it into the tank.
- Add salt solution made through this process once a day for four days.
Keep adding salt solution until you have added the required amount.
For example, if you make a salt solution with one tablespoon of aquarium salt for a tank with 40 gallons of water, you will add the salt solution eight times into the tank as every 5 gallons require one tablespoon of aquarium salt.
Many recommend doing the salt treatment for a week and then doing a large water change to dilute the salt concentration.
A week later, repeat the salt treatment for a week again before doing a large water change.
Salt treatments generally shouldn’t be prolonged as salt isn’t present in a betta’s natural habitat.
Preventing betta tail and fin biting
As mentioned earlier, there’re no effective treatments and prevention measures to prevent betta tail and fin biting if your betta fish are genetically susceptible to it or have large fins.
However, you can take some preventive measures to deal with other causes of tail and fin biting, such as stress, aggression, and boredom in your betta fish.
Here are some helpful preventive measures you can take to promote the regrowth of fins and tails in your betta fish:
Use Indian almond Leaves
Indian almond leaves can help your betta fish avoid tail and fin biting in many ways.
Indian almond leaves are rich in antioxidants. So, when they are added to the aquarium, they release antioxidants that help your betta fish to deal with stressful conditions.
When you add the leaves to the tank, you’ll notice that it will darken the water. Your water tank will then become a blackwater aquarium.
The black colour of the water is due to the large concentration of tannins and antioxidants released by the leaves.
Indian almond leaves also create a natural environment for the betta fish that helps alleviate stress levels.
Here’s my definitive guide on Indian almond leaves for bettas.
Decrease lighting in your betta tanks
Decreasing lighting in the tank is a helpful way to manage things if you’re sure that the tail and fin biting condition in your betta fish is due to stress.
When you reduce the lighting level in the tank, it mimics their natural environment and your betta fish will feel safer in dark environments.
Betta fish love to hide and enjoy living in darker environments, which is easily achievable by decreasing the light.
In fact, I recommend keeping the lights off if your betta fish are feeling stressed.
Combine this with Indian almond leaves, it creates a dark environment for your bettas and it reduces stress significantly.
Here’s my guide to lighting for betta tanks.
Consider adding tank mates for your Betta fish.
If your betta fish are biting their tail and fins due to boredom, adding a mate in the tank can provide them with company and entertainment.
There are various types of livestock you can choose as mates for your betta fish, such as shrimp and snails, though shrimps might end up as snacks.
You can also consider corydoras or loaches for this purpose too.
If you have a large enough tank, you can consider adding non-nippy tetras or danios too.
When your betta fish have tank mates that they get along with, they won’t get bored or try to bite their tail and fins.
Flare your bettas frequently
If you think that it’s excessive aggression that is making your betta fish bite their tail and fins, showing them their own reflection could be helpful.
I recommend putting a mirror to the side of your aquarium for 20 minutes every few days to let your bettas’ aggression out.
However, you shouldn’t use mirrors for a long time as they can cause restlessness among your betta fish.
Add decorations to the tank
Having enough decorations in your aquarium provides entertainment for your betta fish.
Decorations offer hiding and swimming places for your betta fish and help relieve their boredom.
You can use tall plants, rocks, and anything decorative to make your betta happy.
Feed live food
Many blogs don’t really talk about this enough, but live foods such as daphnia, tubifex worms, and bloodworms help improve your bettas’ immune system.
Live food also swims around the tank and provides some form of activity for your bettas.
If you’re feeding worms, they might end up in your substrate and occasionally appear for your bettas to hunt.
Although betta tail and fin biting is not as treatable as other betta diseases, you can take several steps to prevent it and promote the regrowth of your betta’s fins and tail.
You may notice some new growth after a few days, but the complete regrowth can take a few days to a few months.
It is likely that the newly grown fins will not look like the old fins, but they will perform as intended as long as they are kept clean and free from bacteria.
Be sure your betta fish aren’t stressed or bored to prevent tail and fin biting conditions.
Remember, seeing your betta fish biting their tail and fins is the biggest sign you can observe, so always observe your bettas’ behaviour.
I hope this article has provided you with helpful information regarding tail and fin biting and how to prevent it in betta fish.