Dealing with sick Betta fishes can be difficult – not only because their dazzling colors are threatened, but because the creature we care about is obviously suffering. The horrifying question, “Why is my Betta fish turning white?” can worry any Betta owner.
Betta fish can lose their coloration because of various reasons, such as stress, diseases like fin rot or columnaris, and parasites like anchor worms or ich.
But don’t worry, this article will discuss the various reasons why a Betta fish turns white and provide solutions that you can do to restore your Betta’s health.
Why Is My Betta Fish Turning White?
Betta fishes are well-loved not just because of their stunning colorations and rich personalities, but also because of how relatively easy they are to care for.
That said, despite how hardy they are, Betta fishes are just as vulnerable to negative situations as any fish.
There are three primary reasons why your lovely Betta turns white all of a sudden: stress, disease, and parasites. Let’s discuss each one.
Stress is usually the most common culprit of your Betta fish losing its color – and arguably the hardest one to deal with.
Bettas, like humans, experience stress when their environment is not suited for habitation. They have physical manifestations of this stress, usually resulting in them turning white or becoming discolored. If it goes on, it can also develop into severe illness.
So now that you know that stress can cause a Betta to lose color and develop into something more, what can you do?
The first thing that you can do is to improve their environment immediately. That’s easier said than done, but there are some clues as to which aspects of their environment you should focus on.
Here are some of the most common causes of stress in Bettas:
- Water parameters. Bettas need to have at least 5 gallons of heated, filtered, and cycled water. You can use a reliable test kit like API Freshwater Master Test Kit to ensure that you have 0ppm ammonia and nitrites and <20ppm of nitrates.
- Loud noises and wobbly tank stand. Like humans, Bettas also get stressed out when the environment outside their tank is not peaceful. Make sure that your tank stand isn’t shaky and that it’s not located in a noisy place.
- Aggressive tank mates. Bettas are aggressive fishes themselves, but they can still fall prey to fast-swimming fin nippers. You should either give them more space or, if you have a 5-10 gallon, just keep the Betta with a few invertebrate companions.
You can also try using formulas like Seachem StressGuard to improve your Betta’s condition. This is especially true if your Betta is new to your tank or has just recently gone through transport.
Bettas can also turn white because of disease.
Like humans and other pets such as cats and dogs, fish can also get diseases. However, fishes are more vulnerable to these illnesses because they’re in direct contact with water, and whatever is in their aquarium can directly affect their body.
Fin rot is a type of aquarium bacterial infection that can cause your Betta to turn white.
If you’ve been a hobbyist for a long time, you’ve probably already encountered fin rot in one way or another. After all, it’s one of the most common fish diseases around.
Just like its name suggests, fin rot is when your fish’s fins start rotting away due to a variety of reasons. When their fins start to wither, it will turn a bleached white before it begins to disappear, which might be the issue with your Betta.
This disease is commonly caused by unhealthy water parameters, especially if your tank is unfiltered. Since fin rot is a bacterial infection, it can occur under multiple circumstances, such as the following:
- Unfiltered or under-filtered tanks
- Overcrowded tanks
- Overstressed fishes
- Fin-nipping tank mates
It’s important to treat fin rot as soon as possible, as it can move beyond your Betta’s fins and spread to its body, which can be lethal. Worse, fin rot can spread through the water, making it dangerous in a community tank.
How to Treat Fin Rot
Fin rot is a horrible disease to witness and a painful experience for your Betta. Fortunately, it’s easy to spot and straightforward to treat.
Here are the steps to treating your Betta fish for fin rot.
- Isolate the infected fish in a suitable quarantine tank to prevent them from getting more stressed or infected.
- Medicate your Betta with fin rot treatment. The most popular include freshwater aquarium salt, methylene blue, malachite green, or phenoxyethanol. Make sure to read the instructions and do your research for the proper dosage. You can also use commercial fish treatments like Seachem ParaGuard.
- Test your source tank’s water conditions with your test kit to determine if there’s anything wrong with your water parameters.
- Fix the problems and clean the tank. Remove everything that might be stressing your Betta, whether it’s aggressive tank mates or specific water conditions.
- Monitor and maintain your tank and Betta to ensure fin rot doesn’t occur again.
Another serious disease that can cause your Betta fish to turn white is columnaris.
Columnaris is a serious bacterial disease caused by the bacteria Flavobacterium columnare and aided by stressors, bad water conditions, and weak genetics. It particularly affects Bettas because of how mass-produced they are, resulting in weak genes that are susceptible to illnesses.
Columnaris manifests as fuzzy white spots in specific areas of the body.
If your Betta suddenly has fluffy white spots near the gills and mouth, with their scales falling off to reveal their light muscles beneath, they most likely have columnaris. These unique symptoms are why columnaris is also called Cottonmouth Disease or Cotton Wool Disease.
More than that, Bettas can also develop ulcers and frayed fins from this disease.
There are two types of columnaris disease that can affect your Betta. Unfortunately, if the fish is affected with the first type, it only has about 24 hours to live, and your Betta might have already died before you noticed it developing.
The second type takes a long time to become fatal, so you still have time for treatment.
How to Treat Columnaris
Columnaris is a serious disease, but fortunately, you still have several effective courses of action to treat your beloved Betta fish.
- As with other diseases, isolate your fish in an appropriately-sized quarantine tank separate from the display tank.
- The first thing you should do is to give them a fish bath with freshwater aquarium salt at one tablespoon per 5 gallons or higher.
- Other medications that you can try include Acriflavine, Furan, or Terramycin. Make sure that you follow the correct dosage. Too little may not be able to kill the bacteria, while too much can negatively affect your fish.
Another explanation for a Betta turning white is the presence of parasites in your aquarium tank.
Like fish diseases, parasites come in a wide variety of shapes and forms. Your fishes can get parasites from unhealthy surroundings, most commonly from the fish farms where they’re all bred.
This disease is another common culprit for a Betta turning white. Ich, or ick, is caused by a protozoan called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. It’s an opportunistic parasite, meaning that it takes advantage of the lowered immune system of weak and stressed fishes.
This parasite is comparable to chickenpox in humans: it attacks your Betta’s skin, turning into milky white spots and causing severe irritation.
Bettas with ich usually rub or “flash” their bodies on surfaces to relieve the irritation (much like how we humans want to scratch our skin with chickenpox). As such, it can cause rashes and ragged fins if left too long. Your Bettas can also become lethargic and lose appetite.
How to Treat Ich
Here’s how you can treat your Betta with ich at home.
- Isolate your Betta in an appropriately-sized quarantine tank.
- Medicate with commercial ich meds containing malachite green or methylene blue, such as Seachem ParaGuard. Follow the bottle’s prescribed dosage for your tank size and repetition.
- You can also medicate with freshwater aquarium salt, which is also effective. Your Bettas might be able to handle as much as a teaspoon or tablespoon of salt per five gallons.
Although this parasite is commonly known as “anchor worms,” its real name is Lernaea, a parasitic crustacean that attaches itself to your fish’s body.
Anchor worms are not as common as all other diseases mentioned above, but they do happen occasionally.
When your Betta is infected with anchor worms, you will see white spots clinging to your fish. These parasites might have different colors, but they are mostly white.
These parasites can come from other fishes and plants brought into your aquarium and can cause sores, ulcers, irritation, and breathing difficulties.
How to Treat Anchor Worms
When your beloved Betta is suffering from anchor worms, you need to deal with the problem directly using effective treatments. Here are the steps to treating this parasite at home.
- As usual, isolate your Betta to another tank for treatment.
- Once your Betta has settled in, you can directly pull the worms from its body. This is the simplest and most hands-on method of curing this parasite, but it may also stress your fish, especially if the worm has buried its head deep.
- You can also give your fish a Potassium Permanganate bath. Be sure to follow the directions on the product for the appropriate dosage.
- Lastly, adding aquarium salt to your quarantine tank can also remove anchor worms, as they can’t tolerate it. Add about a tablespoon of aquarium salt for every five gallons of water.
How To Prevent Betta Fish From Turning White
The sections above discussed the most common reasons your lovely Betta fish might turn white, and how to restore their health and bring them back to their full glory.
But as good aquarists, we shouldn’t just wait around for bad things to happen – we have to be proactive about keeping our pets healthy.
Thus, here are a couple of tips to prevent your Betta from turning white.
Good Water Parameters
Any aquarium creature needs to have the right water parameters to survive, even fishes that are thought to be generally hardy like Bettas.
One of the best ways to avoid your Betta turning white is to maintain a top-quality water environment that your fish will thrive in. Here are the numbers needed to make that happen.
|GH||3-4 dGH (50-66.7 ppm)|
|KH||3-5 dKH (53.6- 89.4 ppm)|
Proper Tank Environment
Though important, water parameters is not everything. All of the numbers may check out, but that doesn’t automatically mean that your betta will thrive in a neglected and stressful environment.
If you own a Betta fish, you should always make sure to keep them in a healthy and peaceful environment.
Some of the most common stressors for Betta fish include the following:
- Dirty and under-filtered water.
- Loud and shaky environment outside of the tank.
- Lack of territory in community tanks. Male Bettas, in particular, should be kept by themselves in tanks no less than five gallons, ideally more.
- Lack of greenery and coverage since their natural habitat involves heavily planted bodies of water.
Buying From Reputable Sellers
Lastly, one of the best things you can do to not see your Betta turning white is to buy from reputable sellers.
As mentioned, parasites and diseases might come from stressful farm environments where these fishes are bred en masse and kept in restrictive containers.
Avoid supporting these harmful fish farms, as they will likely circulate low-quality pets that may carry parasites and diseases with them.
Why Is My Betta Fish Losing Color?
Your Betta might not be turning white, but you might be steadily noticing a decline in the vibrance of their fin coloration as well. What could be causing this?
There are plenty of factors that can cause your Betta fish to lose color.
Just like your Betta fish turning white, stress can also cause Bettas to lose their colors. Vibrant coloration is usually a sign of your fish’s health, and loss of it means they are stressed and unhealthy.
Solution To Stress
Like the above, keep the tank safe and clean, make sure the water parameters are within the right ranges, and avoid putting in aggressive fish with your Betta if they’re in a community tank.
Bettas, like most fishes, naturally lose their color as they age.
These fishes can live around three to five years, but some Bettas might even start losing their color as early as two years. It might be tough to accept, but if your beloved pet is reaching its twilight years, it will start to lose its color.
Solution To Aging
There’s no real solution to this since it happens naturally. The best thing you can do is to make sure that your Betta is living a good life, no matter what age they are.
Turns out, the adage “you are what you eat” also applies to your pet Bettas. When fishes are fed unfulfilling, unhealthy diets, they will also lose their color.
Solution To Inadequate Diet
Give your Bettas high-quality, color-enhancing food. You should also treat them with nutrient-rich live food every once in a while and vary their regular diet to keep them interested.
Illnesses and Parasites
As mentioned, illnesses and parasites such as fin rot, columnaris, ich, etc., can cause your Betta to lose their color and eventually turn white.
Solution To Illnesses and Parasites
Fortunately, we’ve also discussed the most effective fixes for these illnesses above. If your Betta is losing color due to those reasons, you can try our suggested treatments.
A lot can happen when your Betta is injured which can cause your Betta to lose their color. They could be stressed, or the injured scales and tissue might just be growing back.
Whatever their injury may be, you don’t have to be too concerned. A healthy, clean, and safe environment will likely heal them right up.
How To Prevent Betta Fish From Losing Color
If you’ve identified the reasons that your Betta might be losing color, all you have to do is fix those factors to ensure that your Bettas won’t lose color. Follow these tips:
- Keep your Betta’s environment peaceful and well-maintained.
- Ensure that your tank doesn’t have any sharp or rough decor that might cause injuries.
- Feed your Betta a variety of nutrient-rich food to keep them healthy.
How To Improve A Betta’s Color
Here are a couple of tips to make sure that your Betta has that lovely coloration that we’ve come to love.
- Maintain good water parameters. The table above shows the water parameters best suited for your Betta’s success. Always test your tank to ensure that its parameters stay within those numbers.
- Ensure heater and filter are working. There’s an ideal range of temperature and cleanliness where your Betta thrives the most. Make sure that your tank stays in that range.
- Feed them with color-enhancing food. Nutritious food is essential to keep your Betta healthy and vibrant. Vary their diet and provide them live food every once in a while. You don’t need to feed them daily, but make sure they don’t go too long without eating.
How Long Will It Take For A Betta’s Color To Restore?
The time it takes for your Betta to retain its coloration may vary depending on what caused it to lose color in the first place.
If the cause of their fading color is minor and can easily be changed, they will usually regain their beautiful coloration within just a few days. However, if it’s something major like severe diseases, parasites, or injury, it might take a few days or even weeks after you treat them.
Betta keepers will eventually have to answer one of the most stressful questions that a person in the hobby can face: why is my Betta fish turning white?
Although it can be horrifying to know that our Betta is suffering, the reasons for their change in coloration are often easy to spot and simple to cure.
If you’ve followed the instructions laid out in this article, you shouldn’t have any problems with bringing your beloved Betta back to full, vibrant health.
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