Do Betta Fish Change Color?

Last Updated on April 13, 2022

Color changes are a natural trait of a betta. With their vibrant colors and striking prints, you might ask yourself if bettas are born with it. There is also a possibility that they develop these colors as they grow. 

In this article, we will answer these questions and discuss what are the factors that could affect why your betta fish change colors and if it’s healthy or not.

Betta fish changing color

There are many reasons why your betta fish is changing or losing color. If you notice your betta fish’s color change into white, black, or even lighter than their natural color, then it may be because of the following: 

Marble betta color

There are bettas who are called “Marble Betta Fish”. These marble bettas have a gene mutation known as the “jumping gene”. This gene can move between the bettas’ chromosomes, making changing colors possible throughout their life span.

As exciting as this can get for fish caretakers, some marbled bettas can turn completely solid or completely lose their color.

Betta fish losing color (2)


This is the most common reason why betta fish is losing color or suffer from “betta fish stress stripes” or “racing” stripes. If you think they are born with it, you are mistaken. These stress stripes are moving from gill to tail and are red, black, white, or mixed.

When you see stripes on your fish, this indicates stress and you need to do something about the environment they are currently in. 

Stress stripes are mostly caused by incorrect water parameters, poor water quality, and improper water temperature. Sometimes, even the stress of living in a small gallon tank can cause a color change. Remember to provide your fish with the best home possible to avoid stress!


Similar to humans with graying hair as they get old, your fish also change colors when they age. When they are born, they are translucent gaining color as they grow. The color may reach its most vibrant stage when they are approximately 2 years old.

As they grow old, the color will fade and become duller, particularly around the mouth and gills.

Illness or disease

Another reason that your betta fish change color is when they are sick or suffering from a disease. White spots are a particular color to identify your betta’s condition.


This also refers to white spot disease where the parasite sticks onto the betta fish’s body. It covers the body, making your fish covered in white dust. This will cause irritation, itchiness, and discomfort.

Your betta fish may rub itself against objects in the tank to remove the parasite. They might also experience loss of appetite and clamped fins.

For treatment, remove your fish from the container and place it in a hospital tank. Increase the temperature slowly from 81-86F each day. Administer a teaspoon of salt per gallon of water and perform 25-50% water change every day.

While Ich is easy to treat, remember that this could lead to your betta’s death if left untreated.

Related: How To Cure Betta Fish Ick The Right Way


This parasitic disease covers your betta in yellow or gold-like dust. In its struggle to fight the infection, your betta fish is producing extra mucus that results in this gold coating.

Like ick, your betta will also suffer from loss of appetite, lethargy, and clamped fins aside from losing its color.

Once you noticed the velvet, remove the betta from the container. Remember that you must treat the display aquarium. A hotter, saltier, and dark environment weakens the parasite until it dies.

Treating velvet is similar to healing your betta from white spots disease. The only additional step is that you should dim your container during the whole treatment. The parasite has chlorophyll in its cells, making them capable of photosynthesis.

Related: Betta Fish with Velvet: How to Treat and Prevent it

Fin Rot

If you noticed the change in color on your betta’s fins, they may suffer from fin rot. Fins are darker and the tips are changing to brown, grey, or white. The edges also appear ragged and frayed.

The earlier you detect, the easier you can treat fin rot. If your betta is in a container over 2 gallons with any living organisms, transfer it to a hospital tank. Setup the tank that should not be over 2 gallons and start the medication.

Related: A Helpful Guide to Betta Fin Rot Treatment


This is a bacterial infection also known as the cotton wool disease. Your betta will have white spots like ich, and they can have frayed and ragged fins like fin rot. Other symptoms would be sores or ulcerations on the skin of your betta fish.

Unlike the others, the treatment for Columnaris is quite different.

Bacterias flourish in a warm environment, so adjust the temperature to about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a teaspoon of aquarium salt for every five gallons and use medication from the pet store. Remember to also do 25% water changes daily.

Anchor Worms

These worms can cause your betta to turn white and are easily identified. They are around ¾ inches long and look as if split at the end. As a response, your betta may brush itself against things to remove the worms.

This can cause red spots and sores, so you need to work on the treatment immediately.

Treatment for this is very hands-on as you need to remove the worms with tweezers.

Work on it quickly and transfer your betta to a hospital tank to rest and recover. Add salt and medication from the pet store.

While this is rare, it does not mean that your betta fish will not have it.

Betta fish turning black

Betta fish turning black? Do not worry too much about this if there are no other signs or symptoms of illness and stress.

It is totally normal for your if your fish’s color changes especially if you own a marble betta. 

However, if your fish is starting to show signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, and hiding, then you should check and monitor your pet thoroughly to rule out any diseases.

How to make your bettas full of color? (1)

Other than its natural cycle, you can improve the color of your betta fish. If you just bought a betta or recently observed it is losing its color, check on these steps:

  • Temperature – Make sure that the container temperature is between 78 and 80°F since bettas are tropical fish. Include a water heater in your aquarium to give your fish the necessary temperature.
  • Tank SizePut it in a tank that holds at least 2.5 gallons of water, smaller tanks require heavier maintenance. A small container means you need to change the water regularly and that can be very stressful for your betta. 
  • Water Condition – Remember to have regular water changes and make sure it is free of chlorine and other contaminants. Betta fish requires a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5 (7 being neutral). You can purchase a pH kit to ensure your water quality works perfectly for your fish. Check out water conditioners you can use for your betta fish tanks.
  • Betta Food – Keep a strict schedule for your betta’s feeding time. Provide it with a healthy diet rich in protein – you can never go wrong with live food. Bettas are picky eaters so take note of what they want to eat and the foods they dislike.
  • Filters and Plants – Having a filter and plant in your betta’s tank removes toxins from the water and prevents your fish from being sick. Learn which live plants you must place inside the tanks of your fishes.
  • Tankmates – Separate male and female bettas to prevent fighting unless you are breeding. Find out other fishes you can put with your betta.


So when someone asks “Do betta fish change color?”, you know what to say. While betta fish naturally improves its color as it grows, there are factors that can cause it to lose its vibrance.

Being observant is important for knowing if something’s up with your fish, but sometimes, we just need some minor adjustments in order for it all to work out.

Keep in mind that a good environment will translate into a good-looking and healthy fish!

Related: Can Betta Fish See Color?

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