Why is Betta Fish Losing Color (Fading, Turning Black/White)

The Betta species is popular among marine enthusiasts, mainly because of its vibrancy, flaring fins, and unique nature.

Not only is it mesmerizing to watch, but they also add an element of beauty to any fish tank.

However, there are instances where a Betta fish may start to lose its color. For example, their vibrant hues might start to fade, or they might start to turn black or white.

Even though this seems like something to panic about, we can assure you it’s not. This is a common issue in Betta fish.

Let’s explore why!

Reasons Why Your Betta Fish Is Losing Color

There are several reasons why your Betta fish may be losing its color.

However, diagnosing the correct problem can help you find a solution to help your Betta regain its color.

Stressful Environment

Betta fish are incredibly susceptible to environmental stressors and can develop a state of shock pretty quickly.

Stress can result in disease, changed behavior, and color fading in Betta fish.

So, what stresses a Betta fish out?

It could be anything from your behavior to the different aspects of the fish tank that are not according to their needs.

Inadequate Tank Size

Each Betta fish requires at least five gallons of water in its fish tank.

Anything less than five gallons can be a cause of stress for your Betta fish.

Fish, in general, don’t like to be in crammed spaces because they want to swim freely.

Therefore, five gallons of water per Betta fish is adequate space for it to swim around.

Poor Water Quality

Chlorinated or unclean water is another reason which may stress your Betta.

The remaining food and stool particles in the tank can turn the water musty, which indicates your tank needs a water change.

Water with chemicals can be more harmful than stressful.

However, any disease or sickness can also be a cause of stress for your fish.

Lack of Nutritious Diet

Bettas are carnivores by nature, which is why they require a good nutrition diet.

If you are only feeding your Betta fish dry pellets, it is most likely stressed and not getting enough nutrition.

Hence, you must incorporate rich live foods in your Betta’s diet, such as tubifex worms, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, etc., along with the dry pellets.

Too Many Water Changes

Changing and cycling the tank water too frequently or not enough can stress a Betta fish.

If you change the water way too much, it can put the Betta under a state of shock.

At the same time, if you do not change the water enough, the poor water quality can again be stressful for the Betta.

Temperature is Not Ideal

The ideal temperature for a Betta fish is 75-80 degrees F. If your fish water tank is not their ideal temperature, it can be alarmingly stressful.

Even if you have a heater installed to keep the temperature just how they like it – they may sometimes malfunction.

At the end of the day, heaters are just machines. You must check the water temperature frequently to ensure the heater is doing its job.

Too much Noise & Light

Too much or too little light can be stressful for a Betta fish.

It would be best if you did not keep your Betta fish tank in the dark, nor should they be under direct bright lighting.

A regular to dim light is comfortable for your Betta fish. Other than this, too much noise can also make a Betta fish uncomfortable.  

Lack of Hiding Places

If your fish tank has adequate space for your Betta fish but no plants or décor pieces, then the empty wide expanse can be stressful for your Betta fish.

Betta fish like to play and hide between plants because it makes them feel more secure.

They also like to rest their fins on the plants, which is why they are an important part of any fish tank.

Age Factor

The general life expectancy for a Betta fish is five years.

If your Betta fish reaches close to its five-year mark, the fading color may be part of aging.

In some cases, Betta fish start to lose color as soon as they are two years old.

Hence, if the stress factors do not seem to be the cause, it may just be natural aging.

Injury

Another reason why a Betta fish may lose color is that they might have some injury.

For example, a sharp or pointy object in the fish tank might injure your Betta’s fin.

Other than this, there are conditions such as fin rotting that can lead to color fading as well.

Genetics

Some Betta fish are naturally pale in color.

This can cause the Betta fish to turn even more white if it is under stress.

However, there is no treatment for this condition as this is their natural state.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is a condition in which your Betta’s fins change color. They can appear damaged and much paler than the rest of the Betta’s body.

It is crucial for you to treat your Betta fish before the fin rot turns into a body rot.

If this disease turns into a body rot, you may not be able to rescue your Betta fish from it.

Ich

Ich is a disease that allows several white spots to emerge on your Betta’s body.

These white spots are parasites that can rapidly spread on the Betta’s body and cause problems. If your Betta is suffering through Ich, it will show a loss of appetite and lethargy.

When your Betta fish has this disease, you may notice it rubbing its body against the tank. This is your Betta fish’s attempt to remove the parasites from its body.

If you feel that your Betta has Ich, you should quarantine it in a separate tank and start treatment.

Anchor Worms

Anchor worms can cause your Betta fish to turn white. They are tiny worms and are typically white themselves.

They can cause breathing difficulties and lethargy in your Betta fish if not treated in time.

Like Ich, you will notice your Betta fish rubbing or scraping against the tank to eliminate the worms on their body.

Anchor worms can cause ulcers and sores, which can be extremely uncomfortable for the Betta fish and cause a change in behavior.

Even though anchor worms are a plausible cause for Betta fish discoloration, they are not that common in aquarium fish

Columnaris

Columnaris is a bacterial infection that can turn your Betta fish extremely pale.

In addition, this bacterial infection can cause white spots to appear on your Betta fish’s body.

What sets these white spots apart from Ich is that they can appear fluffy. The fluffy white spots on your Betta’s body can cause sores as well as damage their fins.

Regular Bettas vs. Marble Bettas

Marble Betta fishes are another type of Betta fish that are known to change their body colors.

If your Betta fish is changing color from orange and red hues to perhaps green and blue tones, the cause is not stress or injury – it is possibly because it is a Marble Betta fish.

This is not a cause to worry because a Marble Betta fish changes colors several times in its lifetime. 

However, going through the color change process is not that frequent for them.

Even with a regular Betta fish, it does not stay the same color throughout its life but cannot drastically change hues like a Marble Betta fish can.

What can you do to maintain or boost color in your Betta fish?

Here is a list of things you can do to maintain your Betta’s vibrant color:

  • Provide your Betta fish with a heater and a good quality filter. A good filter will keep the water clean and make the Betta fish happy.
  • A Betta fish does not survive long in a fishbowl, so make sure you are providing it with adequate space in a minimum five-gallon water tank.
  • Change the water as soon as it gets dirty, do not let your Betta fish stay in dirty tank water.
  • A diet filled with vitamins, nutrients, and proteins can have a color-enhancing effect on Betta fish. A good nutritious diet along with healthy living conditions can make your Betta fish really vibrant and beautiful.
  • The more variety of nutrients you provide your Betta with, the better results you’ll see. You can include a wide variety of foods such as freeze-dried foods, live foods, and even high-quality dry pellets to satiate their carnivorous diet.

The Bottom Line

As you can tell, there are several reasons for a Betta fish to lose its color. However, not every factor is a reason for you to panic.

Most color fading diseases are curable as long as you provide treatment in the early stages.

Moreover, as a fish owner, you must play your part and give your Betta fish a healthy living environment and high-quality food.

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