Do Angelfish Change Color?

Angelfish can change color for several reasons. Sexual dimorphism in some species may radically change the color, markings, and overall appearance of the male and female fish. To name but a few other reasons, they’ll change color due to illness or injury, when they are sleeping, stressed, or while fighting.

There are more than eighty varied species of angelfish. Angelfish are vibrant and colorful, making them favorite additions to fish tanks and aquariums. Angelfish colors, markings, and species result in exciting conversations among fish enthusiasts.

Angelfish Do Change Color

Angelfish can change color due to their dermis containing pigments, chromatophores, iridophores, and melanosomes. All these cells work together in forming the vivid colors and markings seen on angelfish.

The fish scales reflect the colors, and the brighter the light surrounding them, the more radiant the colors. The radiance of the colors reflects the well-being of the angelfish. The more radiant and brighter the colors and markings, the happier and healthier the angelfish!

Why Do Angelfish Change Color?

Angelfish may change color when they feel stressed, moody, feel sick due to age or their level of happiness. Other factors that may trigger color changes include mating behavior and aggression. In addition, changes in the brightness of the light in their environment may lead to them changing colors.

Angelfish are known for being moody, wearing their emotions on their proverbial sleeves. They even show how they feel by changing their color.

Striped Angelfish on Sand

Twelve Reasons Angelfish Change Color

If you are in tune with your angelfish, you can “read” their disposition by looking out for tell-tale signs. Following are twelve reasons angelfish may change color.

1. Angelfish Change Color Due To Water Quality

Angelfish are extremely sensitive to water quality. If the water is of low quality, its colors will fade rapidly. In addition, angelfish stress when the water temperature and pH levels are not suitable for their health. Correcting the temperature and pH in the water will see their vibrant colors return.

2. Angelfish Change Color Due To Illness

The colors of a sick angelfish will fade rapidly or slowly, depending on the illness. Nursing the fish back to health will be rewarded with the return of radiant colors.

3. Angelfish Change Color Due To Injury

Injured angelfish will lose color since it requires a lot of energy from the body to regenerate the injured cells. Therefore, the body will focus on regenerating cells and healing the injury rather than maintaining color.

4. Angelfish Change Color Due To Malnutrition

The quality and quantity of food angelfish feed on plays a detrimental role in their overall health and well-being. Angelfish will change color when malnourished and turn paler in color over an extended period. Changing or adjusting their diet will slowly return them to their colorful selves.

5. Angelfish Change Color Due To Age

Healthy, mature angelfish have vibrantly bright colors, while younger angelfish appear paler. The scales of older angelfish turn pale in color over time and will not appear so bright and radiant anymore.

6. Angelfish Change Color Due To Stress

Angelfish will show their feelings through the color of their scales. Angelfish will experience stress if other tank dwellers show signs of aggression. Changing their tank companions will lead to happier, more radiant angelfish.

7. Angelfish Change Color When Pregnant

Parental stress will cause the colors of angelfish to fade slowly. Please find comfort in the fact that they will return to their brightly colored selves within no time at all.

8. Angelfish Change Color During Breeding Season

Male angelfish want to impress female angel fish during mating season. His bright, bold colors present his dominance, health, and strength, persuading females to mate with him. So, you can expect a bit of “peacocking” and additional action in the fish tank during mating season.

9. Angelfish Change Color Due To Environmental Changes

Angelfish are sensitive to environmental changes. They change color depending on the brightness of a room. The brighter the light, the more radiant their color, and if they sleep in the dark, their color will fade until they are back in bright light again. Darker tanks will cause fish to appear less vibrant.

10. Angelfish Change Color With Nutritional Food

Angelfish are famous for their vibrant colors. To ensure you have the most colorful, healthy fish possible, you must feed them high-quality nutritional food. They will become more vibrant in color over time as they adjust to the new food.

11. Angelfish Change Color When Sleeping

Rejuvenating damaged cells and tissue precedes the production of color during nighttime. The fish’s body focuses on repairing the damage and not color while sleeping, making the fish appear pale.

12. Angelfish Change Color When Fighting

Male angelfish will appear brighter and more radiant when fighting. They use their bright colors to frighten their opponent, confuse the senses of the other fish and establish their dominance.

Why Do Angelfish’ Stripes Fade?

As mentioned previously, angelfish are extremely sensitive. Healthy, calm, and content fish will display distinct dark stripes. When experiencing any stress, these stripes will fade away and be near invisible. However, whenever the fish is more relaxed, the stripes will return.

Angelfish may change in color during their life cycle, but their markings and stripes do not change and will only fade or brighten depending on their mood and health.

Unusual Color Changes In Angelfish

Apart from the usual changes in color, angelfish may change color due to injury or illness. When angelfish eyes turn red, they may have endured an injury. Red eyes may be an indication of ammonia or nitrate poisoning.

White spot disease causes angelfish to turn white. The disease causes white spots that cover the entire body. White spot disease is caused by sudden changes in water and elevated stress levels.


Although angelfish can change color for various reasons, happy, healthy, content angelfish can live up to ten years of age. Their vibrant colors, stripes, and antics will provide hours of joy, fascination, and relaxed times.