Can Betta Fish Change Color (or Lose Color)?

One of the most common questions that people ask about betta fish is, “Do betta fish change color or lose their color?”

The answer is yes, they do. However, the reasons for their color change vary from one Betta to the other.

Some betta fish change their color due to the changes in their environment, while others lose their brightness due to stress. There is no one reason for the change in color in all bettas.

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

In this article, we are going to explore all the different reasons why Betta fish may change their color.

Let’s dive right in!

Reason Why Betta Fish Change Color (or Lose Color)

Now that we have established that betta fish do change color.

Let’s dig deeper and find out why.

Here are some common reasons for color change in Betta fish:

  • Stress
  • Change in environment
  • Illness
  • Puberty and Growth

Color Change Due to Stress

Betta fish, similar to humans, display physical reactions in response to stress. Just like when humans feel angry, their face turns red.

Or when someone is in shock or scared, they turn pale. Betta fish react to stress with a change in their color.

The change is usually in the form of the loss or dullness of a color. If the stress gets too much, some lose their color temporarily. In other cases, betta fish develop a condition called “stress stripes“.

Many people even buy the betta fish for their stripes, not knowing that it is a sign of a stressed-out fish.

The stress stripes are good indicators of stress in your fish. These stripes appear in horizontal alignment on the Betta’s body.

The stripes usually run from the gills of a betta all the way up to its tail. The stress stripes usually appear in black, red, white, or a mixed combination of colors.

If you observe the appearance of stress stripes in your betta fish, you should consider checking its aquatic environment and making a few healthy changes.

More often than not, the inadequate temperature in the aquarium causes stress in Betta.

Make sure that your tank has a temperature between 78°F and 80°F.

The ammonia and nitrate levels could also cause your fish to be stressed, so you need to check if they are within recommended limits.

It would be best if you keep an aquarium water testing kit. That way, you’ll always be ahead of any environmental changes that may stress your Betta out.

Change in Environment (Positive or Negative)

Have you ever brought a betta fish home that had a certain color when it was at the pet store but changes its color in your aquarium?

This experience is quite common among fish enthusiasts. As sad as it is, pet stores sometimes fail to provide the best environment for the fish on sale.

So, when you bring your Betta home and let it out in your aquarium tank, it starts regaining its color.

After enough time to assimilate to the new environment, most betta fish display a richer and deeper color.

The inadequate living conditions in the pet store take a toll on the fish, and they lose their color as a result of immense stress.

When you get a new betta fish, make sure that you prepare its tank well. Keep the water quantity to at least 2.5 gallons in the tank.

You need to ensure that the temperature in the tank is between 78°F and 80°F. You have to let your fish assimilate to the new environment, so refrain from changing things up too frequently.

With the transition into a new and healthier environment, a betta fish will slowly become stress-free and full of color.

The change from dirty water and shared space gives the Betta a chance to regain its original form and become happier.

The same is the case with betta fish that are moved from a bowl or a cup to a fish tank with clean water, filtration, controlled temperature, and space to move around.

And on the other hand, if the living conditions of your betta deteriorates, then it’s possible that they will start to lose color (and may even turn into black or white).

Below are some of the things you need to manage to make sure your betta remains happy and colorful.

Adequate 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 cramped spaces because they want to swim freely.

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

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.

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.

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 Changes

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.


Another common reason for the change in color of betta fish is illness. If a betta is sick, it can lose its colors temporarily.

Usually, betta fish tend to turn pale in color, which is a good indicator of a health issue.

When you’re out shopping for your new Betta to bring home, make sure you look for these signs.

This is also a good indicator of the care provided to fish by the pet store that you often go to.

The common illnesses in betta fish that cause it to go pale include fungal and bacterial infections. The symptoms and signs of each illness vary from one another.

Although a color change is a good indicator, you can’t rely on it entirely to determine the health condition of your betta fish.


Betta fish also change color due to aging. Just as humans experience the greying of hair as they grow old, betta fish have a similar experience.

As the Betta grow older, they can turn grey. Sometimes, they may lose their color. In other cases, their original color becomes dull.

So, if you observe that your Betta is looking a little gray, you shouldn’t jump to the conclusion of a health condition.

Aging is a far more common reason for this dullness. Try to determine the age of your Betta. If you’ve had it for quite a few years, then the greying color would likely be happening because of aging.

In that case, there is not much reason to worry.

However, if you’ve just brought the betta home, and it starts turning grey, you may need to consider the quality of their environment.

Make sure you clean the tank and change the water regularly. You don’t want your Betta to get infected by fungi and bacteria.

Puberty and Growth

If you’ve brought home a very young betta fish, then chances are it will change its color until it grows into an adult.

Young betta fish go through a sort of puberty face in which they change color as they grow older.

As your Betta matures, it’s likely to darken in color or become brighter and more prominent.

Betta fish often reach sexual maturity much before they have fully grown in size.

So, almost all betta fish go through these minor changes in color as they grow into an adult.

Although it’s not necessary that all betta fish show a darkening of color while growing up, it certainly is very common.

The reason why you don’t notice this transformation is because most pet stores put fully grown and mature bettas on sale.

So, fish enthusiasts usually miss that phase of growth.

In case you get a young betta fish, don’t panic when it shows a bit of change in color.

There is a possibility that the betta was not living in an optimal condition when you bought it, and you have given them a comfortable environment and it is regaining its natural color.

You need to allow it to grow to its full potential and quire a more permanent physical coloration.

Marbled Betta Are Known To Change Color

There is a specific type of betta fish that is referred to as marbled Betta. This type of betta fish is known for its marbled coloration.

Marbled Betta

The defining character of this type is that they change colors more frequently than regular Betta.

The changes in color are very noticeable and occur many times throughout the life of a marbled betta.

The marbled betta fish carry a gene mutation called the jumping gene. This gene is responsible for the frequent color change in this type of Betta.

The thing that makes this gene different from others is its ability to shift from one Betta chromosome o the other.

This movement is the primary reason why you may notice a frequent change in color throughout the life of a marbled betta.

For example, the jumping gene in a marbled betta may cause an originally turquoise-colored betta to change into a completely different color within a few weeks.

So, if you’re traveling and you return home after some time, don’t panic when you see that the Betta that you left now looks like a completely new fish.

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.

Some fish enthusiasts believe that this mutation is a sign of an unhealthy or sick betta fish.

However, there is no scientific study that has made any correlation of illness to the marbled betta fish. Therefore, there is no reason to worry.

How to Maintain or Boost Betta Fish Color?

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.

Final Words

Betta fish can change color, and it happens for a variety of reasons that we have discussed above. Your Betta may turn pale due to stress or illness.

It’s important to maintain a consistent temperature and an overall healthy environment for your Betta to stay out of stress and away from infections.

If your Betta is turning grey, it could be an indication of aging. If the betta transitions into darker color themes over time, it may be because you brought in a young fish.

If you notice that your Betta completely changes in color from when you saw it at the pet store, then you may have a marbled betta in your tank.

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