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Do Betta Fish Shed Their Scales ?  Betta Fish Scales Facts

Do betta fish shed their scales? Yes and betta shedding scales are completely normal. Generally every fish shed scales during one session to obtain new skin. It allows betta fish to protect its body from seasonal temperature changes. This is a natural decaying process, so you should not worry about it. But there are other reasons you may need to consider. 

Betta Fish Shed Their Scales

Is it normal for betta fish losing scales?

Yes. Betta fish shedding its scales is a normal process. However, you should check the water temperature if you are using the heater to keep the bettas warm. The excess heat may cause the betta fish skin to shed faster. If you find fish are not eating the food or reacting unusually, then consult with the veterinarian to find a solution. But water quality and temperature are common causes of shedding. Let’s see why.

Why do betta fish shed their scales?

As betta fish do not molt, there can be 3 main reasons that betta fish lose their scales.

Natural cause

There are various reasons why betta fish would shed scales. One of the common reasons is replacing the old scales with the new one. It would be best to closely observe bettas whether the old scales are getting replaced with a new one. If that’s the case, then it is a part of their normal process. Another way of looking at this problem is to look for a bacterial infection or fungal infection on bettas. Ensure that the water temperature is at least 76 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is high bettas will lose scales.

Physical injury

Damage by a heater (Burned)

It is common to use an aquarium heater with betta fish. The heater comes with a protective sleeve. This is done to prevent the fish from being burned by the aquarium heater. However, it is possible that the protective sleeve will become damaged or could slip off completely. When this occurs, it can burn the flesh of the betta when contacted.

But it is quite rare for a fish to get burned by an aquarium heater, but it does happen from time to time. The most common cause of a burn is a betta becoming trapped between the aquarium glass and the heater element. A burn caused by an aquarium heater is rare, but when it does occur. If the burn is severe enough, the fish will either shed scales or die because of the wound formed by the burn. Therefore, you need to check if your heater is intact.

How To Treat Heater Burn

Depending on the severity of the burn, there are two things you can do.

  1. Using salt to cure the burn on betta fish– This will prevent secondary infection on fish
  2. Allowing the burn to heal on its own.- This can be done for light burn on betta
  3. Use medication – To heal faster you can apply Povidone-iodine medication to the burn area or Stress Coat, which creates an artificial layer of mucus over the scale loss area. Also, it can prevent secondary infections on the fish.

However, if the cut appears to be too deep and is keeping the betta from swimming or moving, it is preferable to let the fish die rather than attempt to save it. The wound will initially worsen with each passing day, and the fish will eventually succumb to its injuries. If, on the other hand, you look at the burn wound and the fish is swimming and moving normally, it might be worth trying the treatment described above. It is best to treat betta burn as soon as it occurs to avoid secondary infection.

How to avoid Heater Burn

There are 2 ways to avoid it. One is using an extra heater guard and two is using a filter that has an inbuilt heater.

Damage by sharp objects

Do not place moving equipment in the tank, which may cause stress to the fish. Fish develop health problems when they are stressed, especially when betta are alone in the tank. There may be a chance that the betta fish is rubbing their scales on decorative things such as hard rocks or plant surfaces, which makes betta scales come out.

Damage by sharp objects

One of the most prevalent causes of physical damage in aquariums is the aggressive behavior of betta fish. Such fish have the potential to injure others by repeatedly striking other fish. This can also result in the loss of betta scales.

Tank mates

It is preferable not to have betta like aggressive fish in the same tank as peaceful fish to avoid this type of behavior from occurring. Additionally, sharp objects should not be kept in the aquarium to avoid betta scales loss. Having a group of fish in the tank would make betta happy, and they would enjoy the surroundings. Remove the decorations until the betta fish gets in a healthy condition.


This does not rule out the possibility of including decorations or caves within the fish tank. This could be due to the fish scraping themselves against sharp or rough objects. Most of the time, these have sharp edges. However, you must ensure that your fish do not injure themselves with decorations.

Water Quality Problem

Water must be clean with the required amount of nutrition and oxygen in it for a betta. The dirty water causes various forms of health problems for the fish. The excessive amounts of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, as well as a low or high pH, indicate poor water quality which affects betta scales loss. As a result, you must periodically test the water to ensure that all the parameters listed above are operating at their optimal levels.

You can find more about betta fish care here

guppy in 1 gallon tank

Betta fish diseases

Fungal Infection

Among all betta fish diseases, this is the most uncommon disease and it is often presented on fish as white cotton or “furry” growths but can also be internal. They can be induced by water quality, infected food, or open wounds, but there are many additional causes. Although fungal diseases are not normally communicable they can cause some form of scales loss in betta fish.

To treat this condition the fish should be treated with antifungal medicine immediately, preferably in a quarantine aquarium.

betta Fungal Infection

Scale-losing disease – Infectious Protrusion

Infectious scales protrusion, also known as scales shedding, is a common aquarium fish illness. Aeromonas punctata and Pseudomonas fluorescens are likely to be the culprits. The disease progresses to epizootic proportions and is frequently lethal.The addition of an antibiotic to the diet is a highly successful treatment. Use roughly 1 percent of the antibiotic in the flake food and properly incorporate it into the food.

Chloromycetin is an effective antibiotic (chloramphenicol). Alternatively, tetracycline can be used.

Antibiotics are often available in 250 mg capsules. If one capsule is put into 25 grams of flake food, it should be sufficient to treat dozens of little betta. Try to use the same mixing ratio whether you are feeding frozen or chopped items to your betta.


cyprinacea, often known as an Anchor worm, is commonly found on goldfish and koi, but it can infect any type of fish such as betta. They have several life stages, but the first sign of an infestation is what seems to be a pimple or a red sore on the fish.

Anchor worms penetrate the betta body through the scales, attaching themselves to the fish’s body with hook-like appendages, and then begin to devour the betta bodily contents. Which can cause loss of scales. They can be removed with tweezers, but caution must be exercised to ensure that the entire parasite is removed, since they have a tendency to break off, leaving the head and “anchor” intact.

betta parasites

It is possible to remove a tiny chunk of flesh when removing Lernea from a betta, which necessitates the usage of antibiotics in order to avoid subsequent bacterial infections from occurring. It is recommended that the aquarium be treated with salt or Dimilin to eliminate eggs and other life stages to prevent new infestations.

The diseased betta fish that you are unable to treat must be disposed of properly. As soon as the sick betta fish has been removed from the aquarium, the tank, its equipment, and the fishing tackle must be thoroughly sterilized.

Use 5 percent of hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, or chloramine solution to clean the betta aquarium equipment and fixtures.

While the plants can be treated with a solution of Bicillin-5, the animals cannot. In addition, the gravel should be tempered or heated in order to sterilize it. If the problem is not resolved, consult the veteran to find the exact reason. Your betta may be going through a health problem.

Do betta scales grow back? 

The process of growing the scales back to their normal state may take weeks to months, depending on the type of fish. Generally, the scales decay slowly, and each scales get replaced one by one.Some fish require more time to grow the scales. You should keep the water clean and provide nutritional food while keeping them in a proper environment to stay healthy. Remember that if the betta is stressed or feels ill, it may take more time to grow back the scales.

How long does it take to scale grow back?

The process of growing the scale back to its normal state may take weeks to months, depending on the type of fish. Generally, the scale decays slowly, and each scale gets replaced one by one.

Some fish require more time to grow the scale. You should keep the water clean and provide nutritional food while keeping them in a proper environment to stay healthy. Remember that if the fish is stressed or feels ill, it may take more time to grow back the scale.

Do Bettas molt? -Betta fish molting stage?

No. betta does not molt, a betta is the opposite of that. You will never find betta fish molting their skin during the seasonal change. Betta does go through a process where it changes its natural color. It has been observed that Betta fish can change its original color to an entirely new color during the seasonal change in skin color.

It happened due to the change in the jumping genes. Over time the betta adopts the new colors on its body and tail. The process may take some time, depending on the type of betta fish. You will see slow progress in the color change as it starts growing. It is completely natural to experience the color change in betta, so do not worry about it.

Betta also goes through a color change when they are kept in a completely new environment. The process helps betta to adapt to the surrounding environment, water conditions, and temperature to survive.

Betta needs to avoid environmental damage and go through mutation to secure the future. It is a natural process, and all types of fish go through this change.

Final Verdict:

Betta fish are so sensitive to their environment. You should periodically check the water condition and keep the water clean. Bettas adopt the new environment quickly and change their skin and color according to their need. When you see a shedding problem or skin color change, you should check the water condition. Bettas also shed when they are stressed.

Knowing the cause behind the betta fish’s stress would help you avoid them getting damaged and stay in good health. Betta fish would love to stay in the group. Bettas will feel safe and enjoy their condition around them. So it is important to keep bettas in a safe and secure environment to avoid scales loss.

Related questions

Are betta fish shedding normal?

Bettas do not naturally molt or shed their scales. These fish don’t shed scales under normal circumstances. In light of this, if something similar occurs and you discover that your tropical pet is losing some of its scales, it’s likely that they are sick or in some sort of distress.

Why is my betta fish skin peeling?

Bettas do not have a reason to shed their scales.  It may be falling off as a result of physical trauma, such as being cut by anything sharp in its habitat or being tossed around by powerful currents. In a very rare instance, bettas scales may also fall off if they are fighting or mating.

Why are my fish losing scales?

Fish losing scales due to physical harm, such as bumping against hard items in the tank (particularly during breeding season), or rough handling, is the main cause of bettas scale loss. It can also be caused by skin infections, although in such cases, there is evident evidence of skin damage, bleeding, and other symptoms.

Where do betta fish live?

They are originally from Thailand. But now betta fish live in neighboring nations like Malaysia,  Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos. Bettas in the wild can be found in marshes, rice fields, still ponds, slow-moving streams, and other shallow freshwater habitats.

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.