Angelfish Broken Fins: Will They Grow Back?

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Seeing broken fins on my angelfish was such a frustrating issue. Over the years, I’ve learned what makes this happen. Although, I kept asking myself – will my angelfish fins grow back? From what I saw, sometimes they have, but sometimes they haven’t. To understand this phenomenon better, I began researching a little deeper.

Yes, angelfish fins grow back in approximately six weeks – considering they are partially intact, and the damage is not too severe. To support the healing process, make sure you maintain ideal water conditions and eliminate potential predators.

Later on, I will help you recognize the fracture’s nature so you may anticipate what the future holds. Also, I’ll show you what the factors that will support your angelfish fins’ growth are. Keep on reading to learn all about it.

Do Angelfish Fins Grow Back?

What happens when the fins on your angelfish break? Fish breeders always ask this question at some point. After all, water is a violent place. Things go wrong all the time, and it isn’t that unheard of for angelfish to either lose their fins altogether or to have inches cut off.

Fins look like flesh, but they are actually bony spines protruding from the body. A layer of skin covers them. Sometimes, the skin joins to form a web of sorts. In other cases, it looks more like a flipper.[1]

Angelfish are laterally compressed. From a certain angle, they look like a disk on edge. If you know what to look for, you can identify them via the long sweeping ventral fins, not to mention the dorsal and caudal fins. 

Some people think that these fins are decorative. This is why they are not always alarmed when they realize that the fins are bent, rotting, or completely missing. This attitude is problematic. The fins on an angelfish are essential, performing completely different functions. 

Ventral Fins

Ventral fins are located below. If you have never seen an angelfish, imagine any other ordinary fish. Ordinary fish have pectoral fins that are found on either side. On such a fish, the ventral fin is found below but behind the pectoral fins.

A ventral fin is a steering tool, as some might have guessed. Your angelfish uses it to go up and down. It is also useful for quick stops and sudden, sharp turns. 

Dorsal Fins

The dorsal fin is found on top. To be more specific, it is on the back of your angelfish. Angelfish use the dorsal fin to make sudden turns and stops. But, even more importantly, it provides a defense against rolling, which is a significant threat when you’re in the water. So you can see why it is vital for your fish to have a dorsal fin.

Now that you understand why the ventral and dorsal fins are significant to the life of your fish, do you have any reason to worry if you wake up to find these appendages gone? Definitely, you should worry. As with humans, anytime an angelfish loses parts of its body, you should ask questions.

That being said, with fins, there is hope. They tend to grow back. Talk to anyone who owns Angelfish. You will realize that it isn’t that uncommon for angelfish to lose fins. You will also come to understand that, in most of the cases your fellow breeders encountered, the fins grew back.

How long does it take? Most people will tell you to wait four to six weeks. Yes, that sounds like a short time; angelfish are far more resilient than you think. However, do not expect every fish you find to stick to that schedule. Some fish will take longer to regrow their fins. 

Do Angelfish Always Regrow Their Fins?

It is generally accepted that angelfish will regrow their fins. But the final results will vary depending on certain factors:

The level of damage matters. Obviously, a fin that is only missing small chunks from its edges will heal faster than a fish whose entire fin was ripped off. 

Sometimes, fish will nibble on the fins of other fish. This isn’t a cause for concern for most breeders. The damage is simply too small. 

There are instances of fins breaking off entirely. However, there are also instances of fins breaking gently. It might be more accurate to call it bending or even curling. Angelfish fins can bend for any number of reasons.

If an injury is to blame for a bent fin, there are steps you can take to aid in the healing. You probably have nothing to worry about. Your angelfish will regain its original state in no time. The same applies to situations where the fin was bent as a result of mishandling at a young age.

However, if the fin is simply deformed; in other words, if there is no generic reason behind the curling fin on your angelfish, it won’t get better. 

Sometimes, fins bend because of the conditions in the water. In such cases, if you can restore the water to the proper conditions, you will see massive improvements in the appearance of your angelfish fin.

There are bent or broken fins that will either grow back shorter or deformed. It is difficult to determine what causes such occurrences. In most cases, you just have to accept your fish’s new appearance and then hope that the female will provide better replacements down the line.

What Causes Broken Fins in Angelfish?

Broken or bent fins have several causes, some of them obvious, others surprising:

  • As you might expect, some angelfish lose fins because other creatures in the tank bit them off. Angelfish, for their part, have been known to nibble on other fish. So you shouldn’t be too surprised if they end up damaging the fins of other fish.
  • Sometimes accidents happen. An angelfish caught between some solid objects in the water can fight so vigorously to get away that it rips pieces of its fins off. 
  • Some people have purchased angelfish that were already missing fins. In such cases, they don’t notice until the angelfish is safe and sound in their tank. 

You could argue that accidents also happen in fish stores, and the retailer isn’t always in a position to ensure that the fish in their store is entirely healthy.

However, you should also know that some retailers intentionally cut the fins off angelfish. It sounds like a cruel undertaking, but it definitely happens. Why? You are bound to find a dozen different answers to this question.

But in many cases, you find retailers that have angelfish in their tanks with deformities, particularly around the fins. To hide these deformities, they will cut the fins.

Some breeders will forgive such sins. They don’t think that the actions of the retailer matter because the angelfish will eventually grow its fins back. However, that is a false attitude to nurture. 

If a fish has a deformity around the fins, cutting the fins off isn’t going to help. The fins will simply grow back along with the deformities. 

Because such issues are generally genetic, the chances of your new angelfish producing equally deformed fry are quite high. Deformities are not the most straightforward issue to overcome. You have to perform quite a bit of culling and selective breeding to get the results you want.

  • Some fish will lose their fins because they were scraping through the substrate or across specific decorations.
  • Angelfish are not immune to diseases. Things like fin rot can wreak havoc on their bodies. They can lose some inches off their fins as a result. 

Also Read: Angelfish Fin Rot

How Can You Help Your Angelfish Regrow Fins?

Human beings have sustainable bodies. Those bodies are susceptible to viruses and germs and even harm from external forces. But they have a natural healing ability that allows them to recover. And yet, human beings do not hesitate to seek medical assistance in such situations.

Angelfish are no different. Their bodies are designed to regrow the fins they lost. That being said, you can’t just sit back and wait for this process to happen. You can take steps to help them heal.

First, make sure the conditions in their water are appropriate. Healthy angelfish will react negatively to poor water conditions. So you can conclude that poor water conditions will also exacerbate their healing. Endeavor to keep the tank free of ammonia.

The nitrates and nitrites should be kept under 40 ppm. Don’t make assumptions. Use a test kit to ensure that the water parameters are right. Change the water every two weeks and vacuum the substrate. 

There are products that you can use to increase the rate at which the fins will regrow. But none of those are as effective as simply maintaining the right water parameters. 

Changing the water and keeping it within the right parameters isn’t just a precautionary measure. A fish that has lost its fins is nursing an injury. As with any injury, you have to worry about infections. They can happen in fish as well. 

Before you can worry about regrowing the fin, try to prevent fungal and bacterial infections in the ventral or dorsal fin. This is where changing the water enters the picture. If you have already done this, start raising the temperature in the tank. 

This is also designed to fight infections and prevent diseases from taking root in the fish. In many cases, simply changing the water and raising the temperature will get the job done. But if you want to give the healing process another boost, find some salt and add it to the tank. In case it isn’t apparent, ordinary salt won’t do. You need aquarium salt. This will also fight the infection.

If you are new to fish, don’t forget to look at the container. It usually provides clear directions on the amount you should use. Excessive quantities of salt will kill your fish. Keep that in mind. Try to keep it to half a teaspoon for every gallon of water. Better yet, follow the instructions on the package.

Many breeders use MELAFIX to fight bacterial infections. But you can also use a stress coat which relieves stress and promotes the slimy coating that the fish naturally produces.[2] Not only will the product assist in the healing process, but it can prevent infections.

Lastly, keep in mind that age matters. Younger fish tend to heal quicker and more efficiently.

How Can You Keep Angelfish Fins Intact?

While there are ways to help your fish regrow their fins, you are better off preventing the damage in the first place:

  • If your angelfish lost its fins because another fish bit them off, consider separating them. You can remove the offending fish or relocate the angelfish to a more peaceful aquarium. 
  • If your angelfish keeps scraping against decorations or dragging through the substrate, you should consider getting another tank. 
  • Situations like this happen because the tank is too small. Find a more prominent replacement. As far as your decor is concerned, find and remove any objects whose surfaces are excessively rough. 
  • When buying angelfish, study them carefully. Pay close attention to the fins. Make sure the ventral and dorsal fins are straight. Look at the tank in which the fish were kept. 

If you see dead fish inside, do not buy any of the angelfish that came out of that tank. You might bring the disease back with you. Don’t assume that all the bent or deformed fins you see are temporary problems that can be rectified with some care.

How Do You Fight Fin Rot Among Angelfish?

Fin rot is common. It manifests as a result of factors like overcrowding, overfeeding, and poor water quality, to mention but a few. While it is easy to treat, you have to identify it in time. When fin rot takes root in your angelfish, the fins will discolor at the edges.

This change isn’t always easy to notice. But you can’t ignore the next stage. This is where the fins begin to fray, with pieces falling off. If you choose to ignore the ragged edges of the fins, the illness will progress, creating bloody patches around the infected area.

To resolve this issue, you must first eliminate the cause.[3] If the water was to blame, change it. Clean the tank, remove food debris, and create a healthier feeding regimen. Make sure that the temperature and pH are appropriate. 

Once the cause is eliminated, start using antibiotics. You are encouraged to consult a vet. They will tell you the drugs you can use, the quantities, and the treatment period.

As was mentioned above, aquarium salt will help you control the bacterial infection. If you stick to the treatment prescribed, the fin rot will eventually clear up. Your angelfish will regrow its fins. 

Also Read: Why Is My Angelfish Turning Red?


Angelfish are likely to grow their fins back, and it would probably happen within a few weeks. However, if the damage is too severe (or due to a genetic defect), the situation will remain the same.

Either way, you should provide your angelfish with ideal water conditions and remove all potential predators. Hopefully, you will get the beautiful fish back. If you don’t – just learn to love them as they are.


  4. Featured Image: Flickr