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Fish/Betta Nipping Own Fins


My Betta1
My Betta1  

My Betta2
My Betta2  
Dear Jordan Gobely,

I have a male betta (probably 19 months old) in a 4 gallon tank- unfiltered and unheated. Let me tell you that I live in Kerala (India), where the temperature seldom goes below 82 degrees, which is the reason why I don't use a heater. And I don't use a filter as I do 50% water changes every 3-4 days, and do cent percent change every week.. I feed him Atison's Betta Pro- something he loves like hell.. Now, dear Jordan, let me number my questions, of which the last one is the reason why I'm seeking your help..However, kindly answer all of my questions..

1) I used to feed him Hikari Betta bio-gold, now switched over to Atison's Betta Pro- is that OK for him? Quite ridiculously, he hates any kind of freeze-dried food, be it blood-worms or brine-shrimp.. He spits them out ( I do thaw the food before feeding him).. Is it okay to feed him pellet food alone? After all, what can I do when he rejects blood-worms and shrimps? Then, frankly, I feed him nearly 15 pellets a day.. He eats up them all, and still runs up to me when I go anywhere near him. I bet you, he'll eat 30 pellets a day if he's provided.. Is it okay to be giving him 12-15 pellets a day, as long as I do 50% water changes every 3 days?

2) Please tell me the difference between API Ammolock and Stress Zyme+.. I don't have a filter, and I don't have any idea about nitrogen cycling. Hence, I guess Stress Zyme won't be of much use for me. However, is Ammo-lock effective? Can I confidently buy a bottle to use for my betta to prevent issues like fin rot?

3)The most important question of all. MY BETTA NIPPED OFF HIS FINS LIKE HELL OVERNIGHT. NOT EXAGGERATING- HE BIT OFF NEARLY 0.5 sq. inches OF HIS BEAUTIFUL FINS.. WHY ON EARTH DID HE DO IT? He has done it before too.. But then the reason was that I starved him for 4-5 days, as I was away.. And he recovered all of fins in a matter of 2-3 weeks. Since then (almost 8-9 months), I've made it a point to feed him on a daily basis.. Please note that it's not a case of fin rot, or brushing against sharp edged tank decors (which are surely not present).. I have another male betta too, affected by terrible fin rot for more than a year (but by god's grace still actively surviving).. Hence, I know what fin rot looks like.. Dear Mr Jordan, why did my beautiful betta nip off his fins just like that? For your info, he has never mated.. He makes bubble-nests now and then.. Is it that he's so frustrated that he hasn't been able to spend time with a lady-love? Do male bettas get frustrated when they aren't given a chance to mate? I guess he's not bored as well. He's got some hair-grass like plants- through which he swims and hides. He's got a betta-leaf-hammock too, on which he happily rests...

Please take your own time to answer my questions as comprehensively as possible.. No hurry at all...
(The attached image is of my betta before he nipped his fins- just to give you a picture of how handsome he is- at least for me!!)

Thanks a lot in advance
Mathews Joseph

Hello Mathews, Your questions are very good. So for the first question, your food is good. Every now and then you might try giving him a live ghost shrimp to eat but other than that the brine shrimp are what I would recommend in addition to pellets. Since he doesn't eat it, then you can try the live shrimp or you can try a few peas. Like one pea replaces an entire meal. As far as the number of pellets, only feed him an amount that he can eat in 2 minutes. Otherwise he is getting fed too much. Feed him twice a day. The two chemicals ammo-lock and stress zyme have probably very similar chemical properties so either one would be okay to use. If ammo-lock is working fine for you, then keep using that. Use an anti bacterial or an anti fungal for the fin rot (it can be caused by both types of organisms). I do not know why he would nip off his fins. It is not because he needs a mate or has gotten bored, etc. He may have gotten stressed out. If he has done it before, then there was a healthy reason why he did it the last time and the same would apply now. From the pictures you've shown, he looks very healthy so I wouldn't worry. If he nips more of his fins off then you should be a little more concerned. Try to see how hungry he is at feeding time but be careful to not overfeed.


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Jordan Gobely


I can answer most questions about fish care and maintenance. I am not an expert on saltwater aquariums but I am researching more about them on a daily basis. I have kept many different tropical freshwater fish as well as cichlids. Brackish water is my weakest category but if you have a question feel free to ask and I will do research on it myself.


I have kept fish for over 10 years. I am also an employee at a pet store and the head of the fish department. I am going to school at Emporia State University and studying biology with a concentration in ecology and biodiversity for undergraduate work. Right now my job is to care for and maintain the fish department at a local pet store. As far as water quality, I am well versed in different practices you can do to help improve conditions and what levels to look out for when testing the water.

I am majoring in Biology at Emporia State University and have researched fish reproductive behavior for the past decade.

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