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Why is My Betta Fish Turning White (Losing Color)?

Renee Whitmore
Last Updated on
by Renee Whitmore

Seeing your betta fish losing color is startling, but there’s often a remedy for it. With the exception of old age, the reason why a betta fish loses its color often comes down to a well-meaning but misinformed owner.

For example, you may introduce a fish into the tank that brings in bacteria or parasites. Alternatively, you might put a toy in the tank that has a rough edge.

By using the strategies we discussed here, you should be able to get your betta back to living a happy, healthy life.

Betta fish losing color

Why Is My Betta Fish Losing Color?

There are several reasons that your betta fish is losing its color, including:

  • Illness
  • Stress
  • Injury
  • Old age

Illness:

Many diseases can cause a betta fish to lose its color or turn a different color.

For example, ich is a white parasite that attaches to the outside of a betta’s body. As its name implies, the parasite makes bettas feel itchy.

To treat ich, you’ll need to quarantine your betta if he’s in a tank with other fish and put a heater in the tank to get it up to 80°F. Within four days, the ich parasite will die.

Another disease in bettas is velvet, which changes the color of your betta to golden.

Velvet is yet another parasite and often enters a tank if you introduce a new fish. Like ich, you should raise your betta tank’s temperature to kill it. You can also add aquarium salt and keep the lights off.

Stress:

The research is in: People’s hair really does turn grey from stress. So, it should come as little surprise that your betta’s color changes when it’s stressed, too.

Often, when bettas feel stressed, their color becomes pale or even white.

Bettas usually become stressed because of environmental conditions. Factors that impact a betta’s happiness include:

  • Plenty of space (you should have a minimum of a five-gallon tank)
  • Feedings once or twice per day
  • Frequent water cleanings
  • Constant water temperature around 78°F

So, if you have a betta fish losing color and have a hunch that it’s due to environmental reasons, try making these adjustments to see if your betta’s color returns.

Injury:

A betta’s fins are beautiful, but it’s easy for them to scratch against toys in its tank or get caught in the substrate. Just like humans get scabs and scars when they get injured, a betta fish’s skin can change color, too.

Once your betta’s skin recovers from injury, it’s common for it to have a darker or lighter color in that area than it used to have.

To avoid preventable injuries for your betta, ensure that any toys and plants you put in its tank don’t have sharp edges. Furthermore, don’t create any setups where large stones on the bottom of the tank could move and fall on your betta’s fins.

Old Age:

If you eliminate stress as a reason that your betta is changing color, then it could be because your betta is getting old. Bettas don’t have a long lifespan; three to five years is typical.

When betta fish age, the pigment in their skin usually gets lighter. So, you might notice your betta losing its color as “young” as two years old.

There’s nothing you can do to get your betta’s scales back to their original color if the lightness is due to age. So, embrace the change and continue providing your betta with nutrient-dense food.

The Color Changing Exception: Marble Bettas

We’ve all seen how people with hazel eyes seemingly change eye color depending on what they wear. Well, it’s a similar situation with marble-colored betta fish—changing color is natural for them.

So, there’s no need to worry if your marble-colored fish changes color frequently.

Why Is My Betta Fish Turning White?

While it’s fun to watch marble-colored betta fish changing colors since it’s Mother Nature at work, it’s troubling if a non-marble-colored betta begins to turn white.

When betta fish begin to turn white, it’s often the sign of a more serious condition. Examples include:

  • Columnaris—a bacterial infection that can cause fluffy-looking white spots on your betta’s skin.
  • Anchor worms—parasites that live on your fish and are often white. They can cause your betta fish to rub and scrape its skin, creating even more discoloration problems.
  • Fin rot—a disease that stays strictly on a betta’s fins. It causes the fins to fray and become white.

Tips for Keeping Your Betta a Healthy Color

Although color changes are expected in betta fish as they age, there are many things you can do throughout your betta’s life to keep him healthy and maintain vibrant colors.

Assess Your Betta’s Tank:

Happiness starts at home, so to make sure your betta doesn’t lose its color from stress, put him in a tank that’s at least five gallons. You should also have a heater to maintain a warm temperature and a filter to prevent ammonia build-up.

Feed Your Betta Quality Food:

Just like people who eat unhealthily don’t have the radiant, glowing skin of people who do look healthy, choosing the types of food you feed your betta makes a difference with its color. Certain foods have more color-enhancing properties than others, such as:

  • Daphnia
  • Salmon
  • Fresh, frozen, and freeze-dried foods

Be Mindful of Giving Your Betta Space:

Betta fish aren’t very social, which is why you often see them in their own tanks at pet stores. That’s not to say that your betta can’t share a tank with another fish, though.

If you choose to introduce your betta to other fish, make sure to increase the tank’s size accordingly. As a general rule, you should add a minimum of one gallon of water per inch of fish after the five-gallon base.

By doing so, your betta will feel less stressed and will maintain its beautiful color.

Related Article: Why is my betta fish bloated?

Betta Fish
About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
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