Do Betta Fish Change Color? Why and How to Prevent it

Bettas are famous for their magnificent look and the intensity of coloration. Males are prettier than females. In some cases, Bettas change color due to stress, illness or ageing.

One day while you are drinking your coffee and enjoying your aquarium you notice that your Betta has changed its normal color. Something completely unexpected happened and you have no idea what it is because everything around your pet looks normal. Do not be alarmed just yet, wait until you read all and decide how to help your Betta pet. 

Do Betta Fish Change Color

Why Do Betta Fish Change Color?

Is your Betta turning black, or white, or just fading and changing color? There are a few reasons why this may happen and we are going to talk about it. In some cases, changing color can be harmless but in others, it can be very dangerous.


The most common reason for a Betta losing color is stress. Your Betta is stressed if the living conditions are not adequate. What can you do? You need to provide at least a five-gallon tank because Bettas like space. Next, the water in the tank has to be clean and filtered. If you do not have a filter, provide regular water change once a week. 

Bettas like warm so check if the water temperature is between 78 and 80 degrees of Fahrenheit. If the water is too cold or too warm, Betta`s body will be stressed. Check the thermometer and if it is broken, replace it. The water parameters should be checked too, the pH of the water should be between 6.5 and 7.5 and the ideal is 7.0. Keep the hardness of the water between 3 and 5 DH. Check the level of nitrite and ammonia, they should be zero and the level of nitrate could be below 20 ppm. All need to be within the limits. 


The color change can also happen due to illness. In some cases, the first sign of an illness is changing color so observe your pet. Mostly the color will turn white but depending on the disease it can vary. If your Betta is suffering from fungal or bacterial disease patches, discolored spots may appear. It will become more gold if it is suffering from velvet, and white spots will appear if it is Ick. Now, let us talk more about some illnesses and what look you should expect. 

Ick is a very common disease with Bettas. The first thing you notice are white spots over Bettas body and fins. It can be fatal if you don’t treat it. You should increase water temperature and combine it with ick medication and it will clear up.

Velvet is a disease that coats the scales and gills with a slimy brown and yellow film. It can be fatal so you have to treat it with aquarium salt and medications the moment you detect it. 

Fin rot caused by bacteria makes Betta’s fins turn white and torn at the edges. It needs to be treated instantly or the damage to the betta’s fins and body will be permanent and fatal. 

Columnaris caused by bacteria reflects frayed fins, ulcers and white spots. In most cases, the fish turns white and becomes fluffy. 

Fortunately, all the conditions mentioned are treatable if noticed in time. All of them are treatable with water medications, by changing the water in the tank and waiting and observing until it goes away. If that is not the case, look for help from a professional. 

Puberty and growth

baby betta fish

Sometimes Bettas change color when they reach sexual maturity especially if you buy a young Betta. When they are born Bettas are almost translucent. The color intensifies until they are two years and becomes either brighter or darker. After that point ageing comes. 

Old Age

Like with people when they grow old their hair becomes gray, with Bettas is more or less the same. As they grow old, they lose their vivid color. Their life span is from two to five years and. Their color is most intense when they are around two years old and after that, it starts to fade to a duller shade.

Marble Coloration

In rare cases, you can notice your Betta changing color. If you have checked everything connected to the environment and you haven’t noticed anything wrong with its body, you don’t have to panic. This marble coloration is caused by a genetic quirk. It is when genes move or jump from one chromosome to a different part on another chromosome. This genetic change is temporary which means that a Betta can change color many times throughout. Your Betta is as healthy as any other and although rare this is quite normal. 

Environmental reasons

There are situations when your Betta loses color after an injury. Maybe while being transferred or it just bumped into a decoration in its new home. No matter the reason it can change color but this doesn’t have to concern you. The injured part will heal and it doesn’t need any special treatment. 

Do Betta fish change color when they die? 

Yes, color loss is one of the symptoms that your Betta is dying but observe and check for other symptoms too. If you notice a lack of appetite, slower moving, lying at the bottom of the tank your Bettas final days have come. When a Betta dies it turns white because air, nutrients and light no longer circulate its body. 

Make Betta’s color brighter

If you want to make your Betta’s color brighter you can achieve that in a short time by a color enhancing diet. Since Bettas are omnivores, feed your Betta with a high protein diet, a diet rich in meaty proteins (salmon, brine shrimp, Daphnia, krill, bloodworms, mosquito larvae). Live foods contain proteins and it will help to intensify color but be careful. Many bacteria and parasites can be imported to a tank with live foods. 

Final Words

Bettas can and do change color for many reasons. In most cases, it is about stress. If you exclude things that cause it, your Betta will be as good as new in no time. Old age, growing or injury can cause color change but there isn’t much you can do about it. But poor water conditions, too low or too high temperature, high levels of nitrates, ammonia, nitrites or pH of the water can cause other diseases too and can seriously harm your Betta. 

Observing your pet, you can find symptoms that cause illnesses such as ick, velvet, fin rot or Columnaris which cause the change in color and need to be treated with medications. 

We hope that everything said will be useful and that you have no more doubts why your Betta changed color.

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