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Do Fish Fins Grow Back? (Surprisingly, Yes !)

Fin loss is common for many aquarium fish species with long fins. Fish can lose their fins for various reasons. Fortunately, these wounds heal most of the time if there are no complications. But, do fish fins grow back?

Well, the short answer is yes. Their fins grow back when they receive good care and have no other complications.

For those who want more insight on this topic, below is a detailed explanation for you. In this article, we will also discuss the reasons for fin loss, how fins regrow, how to promote fin regrowth, and how to avoid fin loss.

Do Fish Fins Grow Back

How do fish lose their fins?

Fish lose their fins for several reasons. It can result from physical damage or a disease’s symptom. Below are a few common reasons for fin loss in your fish.

Physical Damage

The most common reason for fin loss is physical damages. Fish can get hurt in various ways. Some of them are,

Tank decorations

If you have sharp-edged tank decorations and equipment, these edges can injure the fish fins while swimming near the edges. If the water condition of your tank is poor, these injuries can cause infections then fin loss.

Tail biting

Some fish are used to bite other fish’s fins out of boredom, anger, and several different reasons.

These bitings are not necessarily bullying, but they can be a problem for fish with long fins and tails.

When another fish bite fish tails or fins, it can cause bacterial infections. The injured fish may lose the entire tail or fin due to the disease.


Fish often fight for food and mates to establish dominance and mark their territory. These fights are usually short-lived and fade away once your fish establish their hierarchy.

But, sometimes, some fish bully others out of aggression. Either way, the innocent fish can get injured, and it may cause fin loss.

Sometimes, these injures can get infected by bacterial infections like fin rot, and the bullied fish may lose the entire fin away.

Fin rot

Fin rot is a bacterial infection that causes the fish fins to rot away. Usually, fin rot occurs as a secondary infection.

This means fin rot occurs only when the fish is sick or physically injured. Pseudomonas fluorescens is the bacteria that causes the ragged rotting of the fin. When a fish is infected with bacterial fin rot, it can be treated with antibacterial medications.

However, fin rot also occurs because of a fungal infection. Fungal infections occur mainly when the water condition is bad.

Sometimes it can occur when the fish is sick or injured. The fins rot evenly in fungal fin rot infection, producing a white “edge” on the rotted fin.

Sometimes, fish get infected with both bacterial and fungal fin rot. When this happens, it is not easy to diagnose the problem.

What is fin rot in fish?

Fin rot is often a symptom of fish disease. When a fish is sick, its immunity drops. This causes the fish to get infected with bacterial and fungal infections easily.

Since fin rot is either a result of a bacterial infection (Pseudomonas fluorescens) or a fungal infection, sick fish get infected with fin rot easily.

Once the fish is infected with fin rot, it starts to destroy tissues of the fins, beginning from the edges of the fins. If left untreated, fin rot totally destroys the fin to the fin base. At this point, it will be impossible for the fish to grow it back.

Once the fin rot reaches the fin base, it continues to attack the fish’s body and cause body rot. This will, unfortunately, cause the fish to die.

You have to diagnose the condition early before it reaches the fin base and treats the fish with medications to cure fin rot.

Can fish regrow fins after fin rot?

Fortunately, fish can regrow fins after fin rot if treated immediately. However, if the fin rot has already reached the fin base, it is impossible for the fish to regrow the fin.

In rare cases, fish do not grow back their fins even if they were treated right away. This isn’t a problem for your fish as long as it can swim and is healthy.

Do fish fins regrow after physical damage?

Usually, fish naturally regrow their fins after physical damages if they are healthy and have no other complications like a bacterial infection.

However, you will have to identify the cause of the physical damage and make necessary changes to avoid further injury.

To promote faster healing, you can use medications like antibiotics. This will prevent unnecessary bacterial infections. So, the fish will grow back its fin faster.

What does fin regrowth look like?

When the fish regenerate its fins, it will not be the same as before. The new fins are very thin and very fragile. It will be colorless, often are transparent.

It will take many more months for the new fin to fill in colors, and the new colors can be different than the original color.

Until the new fins recover their color, they can be more prone to diseases than the typical fins. Therefore, it is essential to take good care of your fish until it fully recovers its fins.

How fast do fish fins grow back?

If the water condition is excellent and the fish loses its fin due to physical damage, the fin will start to grow back as soon as 3 to 5 days.

A healthy fish usually can regenerate its fin within about 3 to 8 weeks. However, things are different when the fish is sick. It will take much more time to cure a sick fish.

The fins will grow back once the sick fish starts to get better. But, we can not predict the exact time a sick fish will take to recover as each disease is different.

How do you promote fish fin regrowth?

As we mentioned before, fish fin regrows naturally when the fish is in good health.

But, we can speed things up by providing them good care. We can promote fish fin regrowth in several ways.

Provide clean water

Fish require pristine water conditions to recover from illnesses and injuries.

If they continue to live in dirty water, the ammonia and nitrate concentrations can inhibit healing and fin regrowth, causing them to worsen their condition.

Therefore, it is crucial to provide your fish with clean water conditions in their surroundings if you want them to survive. If you don’t, your fish may lose its life even if it is a physical injury and the fish is healthy.

To promote fish fin regrowth, regularly change the water, remove debris, clean the tank and check for water parameters to prevent any change.

You can also add one teaspoonful of aquarium salt per gallon so that the injuries will heal faster.

Feed nutritious food

Like humans, your fish will need extra nutrition to regain their health after an illness or an injury. And also, fish need to be healthy to regenerate their damaged fins.

Therefore, it is essential to provide your fish with nutrition-rich food every day until they recover their fins entirely. This will take from weeks to months. So, you will have to feed them nutritious food for several months.

Treat the fins with antibiotics

If your fish has lost its fin due to a physical injury and you don’t suspect fungal fin rot, you can accelerate the healing by providing a bacteria-free environment.

You can do this by treating your tank with antibiotics made for fish. Use the medicines as per the instructions given on the label. Continue treating your fish with antibiotics until your fish regrow its fins.

However, if you suspect fungal fin rot, you will have to treat your fish with a medication such as API Fungus Cure.

Can a fish live without a tail?

Most aquarium fish will survive without a tail to an extent if the fish itself is healthy. This is because there is no competition for food in the aquarium setting.

Fish readily receive enough food to thrive in aquariums. So, they do not have to search and compete for food.

But, the situation in the wild is different. Wild fish have to compete and swim after food, requiring speed and precision.

Without their caudal fin, fish can not swim faster and cannot swim in the right direction; hence, they don’t stand a chance to catch prey. As a result, these fish starve and, unfortunately, die.

Can a fish swim without fins?

Most fish can live without some of their fins in aquariums. Having said that, they need to have some of their fins to help them swim somehow.

If the fish has lost all of its fins, sadly, that would be its last day because it can not move at all.

In the wild, losing even one fin is a drawback for the fish because fins help keep the stability and direction.

Failing both strength and direction would lead to starvation because the fish can not catch prey for a living. Therefore, most fish that lose fins do not stand a chance to live in the wild.

How to avoid fin loss in an aquarium?

While you can not stop your fish from fighting, you can take some measures to avoid physical damages to your fish. Less physical injuries cause less fin loss, which means a happy, healthy fish.

Keep soft and smooth decorations and equipment

If your tank has compatible fish species and they live peacefully, the most common cause for fin loss of your fish would be decorations and equipment with sharp edges.

If your tank has such decorations, remove them immediately and replace them with soft, smooth decorations and equipment.

If replacing is not possible, you can rub the decorations with sandpaper and smooth the sharp edges. This way, your decorations may look less attractive, but they will be safer for your fish.

Provide ample space

Most fish fight when they don’t get enough space of their own to explore around. Overcrowding is a common problem in beginner aquariums, leading to fights over claiming their territory.

When fish are given ample space to swim around, aggressive fish gets enough space to claim a territory while the bullied have enough space to stay hidden.

By providing more space in your aquarium, you can establish peace among your fish, which helps reduce fish injuries like fin loss.

You can do this by removing aggressive fish to another tank, selling away, buying a large fish tank, and transferring your fish to the new tank. If you want to keep all of your fish, the latter is the best option.

Provide more hiding places

When you provide more hiding places such as caves, driftwood, and plants, the bullied can save themselves from the bully when they chase the bullied.

So, when aggressive fish chase the peaceful fish to attack them, peaceful fish stand a chance to avoid injury by hiding.

Clean the aquarium regularly

If not for injuries, most fish get sick because of dirty water conditions. But, when you keep pristine water conditions in your aquarium, all the fish will have a chance to stay healthy stress-free.

Healthy fish do not easily get caught up with diseases like fin rot because their immunity can fight infection. So, to keep pristine water conditions, you need to clean the aquarium regularly.

Keep only compatible fish

Just because the fish you chose are beautiful doesn’t mean you can house those fish together. Every fish has a temperament.

Before housing two fish species together, you should research this temperament level and their ideal water conditions. Some fish species like betta do not prefer the company of other fish.

If housed with other fish, these aggressive fish tend to bully the other fish. Therefore, you must research the compatibility of the two species you have chosen before buying them.

Keeping only compatible fish can reduce fish fighting at a great depth, so be sure to keep only compatible fish.

Final Thoughts

Fish fins grow back when they receive good care and have no other complications. But, you need to give them pristine water conditions and proper medication.

If the fish has lost its fins due to fin loss and the rotting surpasses the fin base, it can not regrow its fins. In most cases, fish can survive without fins in aquariums, but they can not in the wild.

Fins help fish to keep stability and direction. Therefore, you must take every possible action to prevent fin loss in fish.

Credit to : Long Island Fish Guy
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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.