Do Betta Fish Shed? A Guide On How To Take Care Of Your Bettas

Shedding – sometimes known as molting – is a process in which animals get rid of their old skin or feathers and replace them with new ones. For most animals, shedding helps them remove the worn-out external coating and refresh their appearance for mating purposes.

However, not all species have to go through this, especially if they live underwater. For inexperienced aquarists, this can be confusing as to which sheds and which does not.

So, do betta fish shed? And what should you do if you see their scale coming off? Everything will be addressed below.

Do Bettas Fish Shed?

Many people wonder whether bettas peel, and the answer is no. Bettas do not peel, shed, or molt their skin.

Like human beings, they have the capacity to grow and stretch their bodies accordingly. The bone and skin structures will adjust themselves to accommodate the changes without the need to discard excessive body parts.

betta change its body structure

That said, it is not uncommon to see betta fish peeling their skin. In most cases, this is an indication of severe health issues and unfavorable tank conditions. Should you spot this occurrence, it is important that you act right away before things get worse.

Why Is My Betta Scales Coming off?

As mentioned above, bettas do not shed or molt. Hence, shedding bettas usually means trouble. Below are some of the most popular reasons for this problem.

Bettas are sick

Usually, bettas molt their scales due to serious diseases and illnesses. Fungal and bacterial infections can affect how firm the scales and fins are held together. As a result, scale loss can be rampant.

There is a specific disease called Scale Shedding when bettas become lethargic. They also struggle to breathe and end up losing most of their scales. If your bettas show these symptoms, chances are they are undergoing a rough time.

Bettas are injured

If you are certain that your bettas are more than healthy, their molting fins and skin might be a direct consequence of physical injury. Ramming against the walls, running into sharp edges of rocks and driftwood, or being swept away by strong, violent currents are all possible explanations for their appearance.

Bettas are breeding or fighting

fin shed

Like most animals, bettas increase in size when they carry offspring inside their bellies. Such a stretch can cause certain fins to come off and several patches to become pale.

Another rare reason for shedding bettas is a direct collision. While bettas are relatively peaceful, they can still get aggressive and fight with others if provoked. In such cases, it is no wonder why bettas look a bit tattered.

Bettas are mating

When the mating season hits, bettas can get rather nasty during their attempts to secure a partner. When male betta chases after its female counterpart, nipping and biting are bound to happen.

While most of them are harmless, some might be slightly more forceful than others. This is due to their sharp, tiny teeth, which can be accidentally too much for the females.

That said, these love bites are usually nothing to be worried about, as bettas will soon recover.

How To Tell If A Betta Fish Is Sick

Telling the difference between a healthy and a sick betta is a piece of cake. All you have to do is to look for the following signs on your fish.

  • Bettas become more lethargic and do not move around as much.
  • Bettas spend more time hiding in small caves and plants instead of swimming cheerfully.
  • Bettas experience a loss of colors, where their vibrant shades gradually turn pale.
  • Bettas start having black edges around their fins, and the fins look slightly loosened.
  • Scales start sticking off their bodies and are prone to falling off.
  • Bettas struggle to breathe and tend to swim near the water surface.
  • Bettas look restless and frustrated.
  • Bettas swim upside down.
  • Bettas have missing scales and nipped fins.
  • Bettas do not eat as much. Sometimes, they refuse to eat altogether.
  • Bettas develop white spots around the mouth’s corners.
  • Bettas seem bloated and increase in size while not spawning.


1. Do betta fish shed their fins?

No. A normal betta fish does not shed its fins naturally. If it does, then the problem can be traced back to fin loss and rotten infections. Whatever the case is, you should look into the occurrence and provide timely solutions to minimize the impact.

2. Can betta fish regrow their fins?

Yes. If the water conditions are ideal and bettas are cared for, they should be able to grow back their fins within a week.

That said, a poor diet with low-quality water can impede the regrowth speed. In case you want to hasten their recovery, it is vital to keep them well-fed and happy.

3. How to tell if betta fish are feeling stressed?

While a high-stress level manifests itself in many ways, the easiest symptom to detect is bettas’ swimming patterns. Bettas tend to swim frantically and move without any clear directions when they are irritated.

Sometimes, they even try to jump out of the tank or crash at the tank’s bottom. If the situation worsens, you can see bettas rubbing themselves against the walls or other objects to relieve themselves of the discomfort.

4. How to tell if betta fish are feeling happy?

happy betta fish

Happy betta fish can be pinpointed by their natural swimming patterns and ease of effort. They do not need to push themselves forward or lean on a particular side.


Do betta fish shed? The answer is no. Since it is not natural for bettas to molt their skin, you should act promptly if the problem occurs. In most cases, this is a cry for help!