Can Betta Fish Change Color? The Good and Bad of It!

One of the most common questions that people ask about betta fish is, “Do they change 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.

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

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
  • Marbled betta fish

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

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, but 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.


Another common reason for the change in color of betta fish is an 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 that you get a young betta fish, don’t panic when it shows a bit of change in color. You need to allow to grow to its full potential and quire a more permanent physical coloration.

Marbled Betta

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.

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.

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.

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.

Other articles you may also like: