Do Betta Fish Change Color? How To Improve Coloration

    Do betta fish change color

    Betta fish are one of the most popular pets in the world, and their vibrant colors are a big part of why. But do Betta fish change color? It’s a common question from first-time Betta owners, so it’s no wonder if you’ve been wondering about this too.

    The answer is… well, it depends. Betta fish can change color under certain circumstances, but it’s not something that happens all the time or even regularly. In most cases, Betta fish will keep the same coloration throughout their lives.

    However, there are more factors at play when it comes to a Betta fish’s coloration than just their species. In this article, that’s exactly what we’ll talk about.

    In addition, here’s a helpful video that explains why some betta fish change color:

    YouTube player

    Do Betta Fish Change Color?

    As mentioned above, the answer to this question is a bit complicated. Betta fish can technically change color, but it’s not something that happens often or that you’re likely to see unless you’re paying very close attention.

    Color changes can include light colors darkening over time and vice versa, or dull colors becoming more vibrant as time goes by. In some cases, a Betta fish may even change to an entirely different color altogether.

    Why Do Betta Fish Change Color? Common Reasons

    why do betta fish change color

    There are a few reasons why Betta fish may change color. In this section, we’ll discuss the most common reasons.


    One of the most common reasons why Betta fish change color is simply because they’re getting older. Very young Betta fish tend to have a different color than their older counterparts.

    In fact, as young fish age, it’s not uncommon for their colors to darken or become more muted. This is especially common in Betta fish that have bright, vibrant colors.

    While this color change is usually gradual, in some cases it can happen quite quickly. If you notice your Betta fish changing colors suddenly, it’s important to keep an eye on them and contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.


    Stress is a common cause of color changes in Betta fish. Betta fish are very sensitive to stress and it can have a number of negative effects on their health, including causing their colors to change.

    Sometimes, it can even cause what we call “stress stripes.” Stress stripes are exactly what they sound like – stripes that appear on a Betta’s body when they’re stressed. These stripes are usually dark in color and run horizontally along the fish’s body, from their gills all the way to their tail. The most common colors are red, white, and black. Female Betta fish are also more likely to get them than their male counterparts.

    Betta fish can experience stress for a number of reasons, including being kept in a tank that’s too small, not having enough hiding places, or being constantly harassed by other fish. If you think your Betta is stressed, it’s important to take steps to reduce their stress levels as soon as possible.


    Another common reason for color changes in Betta fish is their environment. Betta fish are very sensitive to their surroundings, and even small changes can cause them stress. This stress can lead to a change in coloration.

    For example, if you move your Betta to a new tank, they may change color as they adjust to their new home. Similarly, if you add new tankmates to a Betta fish home or make any other changes, they may also change color.

    If you do notice your Betta’s colors changing after a change in their environment, it’s important to give them time to adjust. In most cases, they will return to their normal coloration after a few days.


    When a Betta starts losing color, it can be because of what they eat. In general, fish keepers should feed Bettas a good nutritious diet that’s high in protein and contains a variety of different foods. Some even advocate giving Bettas a carnivorous diet. Bettas are officially carnivores, although they do eat anything they can fit in their mouths, including fruit.

    If your Betta’s diet is lacking in certain nutrients, it can cause their colors to fade or become dull. For instance, if they’re not getting enough carotene, their colors may appear muted. On the other hand, if they’re not getting enough vitamin B, their colors may appear washed out.

    Conversely, if they’re getting too much of certain nutrients, it can cause their colors to become brighter or more intense. Vitamins like A and C can cause this.

    It’s important to feed your Betta a balanced diet to help ensure their colors stay healthy and vibrant. 


    The sex of your Betta can also affect their coloration. In general, male Bettas, when they reach sexual maturity, tend to be more brightly colored than females. This is because they use their bright colors to attract mates.

    As a result, you may notice that your male Betta’s colors become more intense during spawning season – which is also the same time that they can be seen building bubble nests. Females, on the other hand, may change to a more neutral coloration when they’re ready to spawn.

    After spawning, both male and female Bettas may change color as they recover from the stress of reproduction.


    The temperature of your Betta’s environment can also affect their coloration. For healthy living conditions, Bettas do best in consistent temperature, ideally between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

    If the water temperature is too cold, their colors may appear dull. On the other hand, if the temperature is too hot, their colors may become brighter.

    In some cases, sudden changes in temperature can also cause your otherwise healthy fish to change in color. This is because they’re very sensitive to temperature changes and it can be stressful for them.

    Similar to the above factors, if you do notice your Betta’s colors changing due to a change in temperature, check to see if you need a heater or if you need to move the Betta tank to a cooler area.


    In some cases, color changes can be a sign of disease. For example, if your Betta’s colors are fading or appearing dull, it could be a sign of an internal infection. It could also be caused by fungal and bacterial infections.

    Similarly, if their colors are changing suddenly or dramatically, it could be a sign of a more serious health problem.

    For instance, if your Betta gets infested by velvet parasites, you might notice the skin of your poor itchy fish suddenly turning brown or rusty-looking. The fish’s gills and fins may also show signs of disease – any affected body part is bound to have some discoloration.

    Diseases such as fin rot, body rot, columnaris, and ich don’t just show the Betta fish color changing, but other symptoms as well.

    That’s why if you notice any sudden changes in the coloration of your fishy friend alongside other symptoms like lethargy, lack of appetite, or frayed fins, it’s important to take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. They can determine if the color change is due to a health problem and provide the appropriate treatment.


    The variety of your Betta can also affect their coloration. There are many types of Betta varieties in terms of colorations, some of which can change color more easily than others.

    Here are some of the most common color varieties:

    • Solid-colored Bettas have a single color from head to tail.
    • Bi-colored Bettas have two colors that are evenly distributed across their body.
    • Multi-colored Bettas have three or more colors that are evenly distributed across their body.
    • Koi Bettas have a white base color with spots or patches of other colors.
    • Butterfly Bettas have two colors that are separated by a horizontal line running across their body.
    • Marble Bettas have a swirl pattern of two or more colors. This variety is popular for constantly changing colors.

    What Colors Can Bettas Change To?

    do betta fish change color when stressed

    Bettas can change to a wide variety of colors, depending on their breed and genetics. For instance, as mentioned above, there’s a breed called marble Betta fish that are known to change colors throughout their life.

    When they were first bred, marbled Bettas were originally white and black, earning them their name. As time went on, more and more colors began to appear in the marble Bettas, including green, blue, red, and more. This is not unlike a regular Betta fish, who comes in various colors as well.

    In general, Bettas are very colorful fish and their colors can vary greatly. If you’re interested in keeping Bettas, it’s a good idea to research the different color varieties to see which ones you like the best.

    Do keep in mind that if you’re buying a Betta fish from a pet store, the color you see may not be the color they stay for their whole life. Bettas can change colors due to several factors as discussed above, so the color you see today may be different from the color you see a few months down the road.

    Why Is My Betta Fish Turning White?

    white betta fish

    There are several reasons why your Betta fish might be turning white. We’ve already discussed this in another article, but here’s a quick summary.

    • If your Betta is feeling stressed, it can cause them to change color. This is because when they’re stressed, their bodies release a hormone called cortisol, which can cause their colors to fade or turn white.
    • When Betta fish are sick, their bodies become weak and unable to produce the pigment that gives them their color. As a result, they may turn white as their disease progresses.
    • If your Betta has parasites, it can cause changes to their skin, including their color. For example, columnaris can cause white spots in your Betta fish, which can give them an overall appearance of being white.
    • Old age. As Bettas get older, their bodies may start to produce less pigment, causing them to turn white.

    Why Is My Betta Fish Turning Black?

    why is my betta fish turning black

    Occasionally, you may notice your Betta fish turning black. There are a few reasons why this might happen, most of which are the same as the reasons why they turn white.

    For instance, stressed or sick Betta fish can sometimes turn black. Other times, injuries may cause certain parts of their bodies to become black due to the increased blood flow.

    Some Bettas also tend to seem darker as they grow old, due to their body creating less pigment.

    In some cases, a Betta fish turning black may be due to a genetic mutation. For example, there’s a condition called melanism where the body produces too much pigment, causing the Betta to turn black.

    While it’s not necessarily harmful if your Betta fish turns black, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on them and make sure that it’s not a sign of something more serious.

    How To Prevent A Betta Fish From Changing or Losing Color

    If you want to prevent your Betta from changing or losing color, there are a few things you can do.

    Maintain A Healthy Environment

    A clean tank of at least five gallons with the proper temperature and water quality will help to keep your Betta healthy and stress-free, which can prevent them from changing color.

    Regular water changes will keep the quality of the water inside their aquatic environment high. Remember, dirty tank water can cause a bacterial infection or worse. Keeping them in a new and healthier environment prevents your Betta from getting sick, both of which can cause them to lose color.

    You can use a water testing kit like the API Freshwater Master Test Kit to ensure that the water parameters are perfect for your Betta fish.

    Help Them Avoid Stress

    As we’ve discussed, stress is one of the main reasons Bettas fish change color. Sometimes, the reason for Betta fish losing color is just because it’s stressed. If you want to prevent this, make sure you give them a peaceful environment where they feel safe.

    This means avoiding putting them in tanks with other aggressive fish, as well as keeping the tank temperature stable using a heater or other natural methods. You should also avoid moving them around too much, as this can be stressful for them.

    Always Quarantine New Additions

    Diseases are another common cause of color loss in Bettas. To help prevent Betta fish turning white or losing color, it’s important to quarantine new fish before adding them to your tank.

    Even plants should be rinsed with a hydrogen peroxide solution before you include them in your Betta fish tank. This way, you can make sure they’re healthy and don’t have any parasites or diseases that could potentially harm your Betta.

    How To Improve A Betta’s Color

    improve betta fish color

    If you want to improve your Betta’s color and make it more vibrant, there are a few things you can do.

    Feed Them A Healthy Diet

    One of the best ways to improve your Betta’s color is to feed them a high-quality diet that’s rich in vitamins and minerals. This will help to ensure their bodies are healthy and able to produce the pigment that gives them their color.

    There are a lot of different types of food available for Bettas, but we recommend sticking to high quality dry pellets or flakes that are specifically designed for Bettas. You can also give them the occasional treat of live foods or freeze dried foods, such as brine shrimp and bloodworm.

    Here’s a short list of the best Betta food on the market right now:

    Add Tannin To Their Tank

    Another way to improve your Betta’s color is to add tannin to its tank. Tannin is a natural substance found in leaves and bark that can help to darken the water, making your Betta’s color appear more vibrant. You can buy tannin online or at your local pet stores. Some fish tank decorations, such as driftwood, also contain tannin.

    To use tannin, simply add it to your Betta’s tank according to the instructions on the package. You can also soak your decorations in a tannin solution before adding them to the tank.

    In fact, if you really want to make your Betta’s color pop, you can create a blackwater environment. Blackwater is simply water that’s been stained by tannin, and it’s often used in Betta tanks to make the fish appear more vibrant. Blackwater aquariums look very similar to a Betta’s natural environment, so that’s also another plus.

    Add Live Plants

    Plants can help to improve the water quality and provide your Betta with a place to hide, both of which can reduce stress and improve their color.

    Some of the best plants for Bettas are java fern, anubias, amazon sword, and hornwort. These plants are all easy to care for and can thrive in a wide range of water conditions.

    Use Dim Lights

    Another way to bring out your Betta’s color is to provide them with proper lighting. Bettas are naturally found in rivers and streams in Southeast Asia, so they’re used to living in water that’s stained by tannin and other materials. As a result, they don’t do well in bright lights.

    In fact, too much light can actually cause your Betta’s color to fade. If you want to help your Betta retain its color, use dim lighting or even keep the lights off for part of the day. This will help your Betta feel more comfortable and reduce stress, both of which can improve their color.


    Betta fishkeeping can be a very rewarding activity for fish enthusiasts, especially as you watch your Betta grow from a tiny little fish to a still small but gorgeous adult.

    Along the way, you’ll probably start wondering how to make your Betta’s colors even more vibrant and beautiful. With the tips you read from this article, we’re sure you’ll be able to do just that in no time at all!

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