Betta Fin Rot Treatment

In order to determine the right betta fin rot treatment, you need to first establish its cause. Checking your water conditions immediately upon discovering fin rot symptoms will help you do that. The success of any betta rot treatment depends on identyfying the cause of the infection. Use this page as a checklist of possible causes: Betta Fin Rot.

You should also try to assess how far the fin rot has progressed.

Mild Fin Rot

If there is still more than half of the fin left, it’s usually enough to do a full water change and carefully observe your fish to watch for any signs of a relapse or a worsening during the very sensitive period of recovery.

Toxins like ammonia and nitrite become exponentially more harmful in alkaline water [pH above 7.0]. Lowering the pH isn’t recommended, though, because sudden fluctuations in water pH cause more stress. It’s far better to leave the pH stable and to purify the water instead. While your betta has fin rot, it is helpful to increase the frequency of your water changes and add water conditioners, if necessary.

The fins may grow back slightly curled. If this should happen, don’t worry – it won’t hurt the fish.

Severe Fin Rot

If the fin rot is severe, the betta may need medication in addition to clean water. If the fin rot is bacterial in nature, you will need a gram–negative antibiotic, such as Mardel’s Maracyn–Two [Minocycline]. They can come in a hard tablet which you’ll have to crush into a powder before you can administer to a betta in a bowl. A tablet treats 10 gal of water, so you will have to calculate how much you need. Be careful not to exceed the recommended dose. Medications weaken the fish in the long run, so it’s best to keep their use to an absolute minimum.

If you are hesitant about the use of antibiotics, as many people are, try a more gentle, herbal remedy like Melafix or Bettafix. These preparations contain Melaleuca, which is a highly effective topical antibacterial and antifungal. Learn more about Melaleuca on Wikipedia’s site.

There are warnings in the Betta community about the dangers of Melafix to Bettas and other oxygen–breathing fish. Please research this more carefully if you are concerned. Read more about the Melafix controversy here I have input from someone who has bred bettas for twenty years or so and Melafix has worked for him much better than anything else he has ever tried. But, the conditions must be as follows:

the fin rot is noticed quickly and treated immediately
the fin rot isn’t due to dirty water
fin rot isn’t a secondary opportunistic infection due to some hidden and undiagnosed disease
In addition to a full water change, use tetracycline or Ampicillin combined with Fungus Eliminator. Change water every third day, adding a new dose of medicine each time. Continue until fins/tail stop receding and start showing some new growth. This may take up to 4 weeks, so don’t give up. Once rot stops and fins start growing back you can stop treatment, but not before then.

For a fungal infection Malachite Green works well too, as do most fungal cures, such as Jungle Fungus tablets. One tablet treats a 10 gallon tank, but if you have something smaller, you’ll have to dissolve the tablets in water and use a spoon to dose your tanks. Usually it’s about a teaspoon full per gallon.

Adding aquarium salt to the aquarium will help with stress.

Antibiotic remedies often damage the bacterial filter and can sometimes cause more problems than they fix. Fungal infections are typically a secondary symptom of a problem with aquarium water quality.

Fin Rot Treatment Summary

So, to recap the fin rot treatment:

  • do a full water change with temperature-adjusted (heater here), dechlorinated/conditioned water
  • include Tetracycline Sulfa & Fungus Eliminator in water.
  • wash the tank and all tank contents in hot water (live plants in lukewarm); pay particular attention to the gravel.
  • add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon of water to hold the bacteria back and thus increase the healing speed
  • if needed, administer an antibiotic, such as Mardel’s Maracyn–Two [Minocycline]
  • change water every three days, adding a new dose of medicine each time
  • monitor water temperature closely and keep it constant
  • monitor water pH level closely and keep it constant
  • continue treatment untill rot stops and fins start to grow back. Whitish color on the fin tips signals fin regrowth.
  • feed your Betta fish a healthy diet of food meant specifically for Bettas. It’s also important to feed your Betta a variety of food, as that strengthens their immune system.
  • date your food to make sure it isn’t stale. You shouldn’t keep a container that has been opened for more than two months.

Note: Remember to wash your hands before and after handling the fish or the material.

Fin Rot in a Community Aquarium

If you have a community aquarium, it is a good idea to isolate a sick betta, even though fin rot is not contagious. It’s much easier to keep the water clean when you have your fish in an isolation container.

Also, many medications used to treat fin rot can kill your biological filtration, live plants, and may be harmful to other animals in your tank (depending on the medication and the other animals). It’s also just generally a good idea to isolate any sick fish when treating them so that they are not getting picked on and there is no chance of passing any secondary infections on to other fish. It also makes it easier for you to monitor their progress.

Look out for any tank bullies that are nipping or fighting with the other fish, and either remove them or the other fish. Similarly, if your tank is over–crowded you’ll need to remove some of its inhabitants to a new home.