Why Do Bettas Change Color?

One of the most attractive features of a betta fish is its vibrant colors, but is it possible for a betta to change color?

Betta fish can become a different color due to changes in its health, mood, or environment.

If you suspect that the color of your betta is different than it used to be, discover what causes these changes and what can be done to restore its color.

Why Do Bettas Change Color?

There are several reasons why your betta fish may have lost or changed color from the day you brought it home.

Gold and Yellow Betta


The primary reason a betta will change its color is stress. The human body can change colors under stressful circumstances, and the same can be true for the betta fish.

Stress in a betta will often result in horizontal stripes that extend from the fish’s gills to its tail. These “stress stripes” can be different in color than the normal appearance of your fish.

Stress stripes indicate that there is something not right in your betta’s environment, so learning to recognize these signs early will help to extend the life of your fish.


A betta’s colors may appear like they are fading or becoming washed out if your fish is sick. Watch for signs that your betta may not be eating, seems lethargic, or maybe hiding for long periods of time.

There are bacterial and fungal diseases that a betta can develop that will affect its overall health.

Fin Rot

Fin rot can cause your betta fish to turn white. Signs of this bacterial disease are the discoloration and fraying of the tips of the fins.

Fin rot can spread to other parts of your betta, causing permanent damage to the fins and tail. If caught early, medication can be added to your aquarium water to reverse the effects of the disease.

White Spot Disease

White spot disease, or “ick,” is the appearance of small white spots on your betta’s body. White spot disease is caused by an aquatic parasite that will make your betta uncomfortable, causing it to make contact with objects in the tank resulting in possible injury.


Columnaris is a disease that can cause your fish to turn white or have white spots appear on its body. This fungal infection can also cause frayed fins and ulcers.

Whatever disease may be affecting your fish’s health and coloration, some treatments can help. Consult an expert on what medications can be added to your tank water to help reverse your betta’s illness.


An injury can affect the color of your betta. Perhaps your betta fish was injured in transit or bumped into a piece of the aquarium decor.

If the affected area of the fish is reddened or fails to heal, it could be a sign of a bacterial infection.

When a betta heals from an injury, the area of the body that was damaged may become a different shade of its original color.

Water Conditions

Sometimes when your betta changes color, it can be a positive sign that your fish is happier than it was at the pet store.

It is common for betta fish to be kept in very small display tanks at the pet store. Low-quality living conditions lend to a lethargic and unhappy fish, which increases its stress level.

Once you bring your betta home and acclimate it to its new tank, the extra room will allow your fish to de-stress and its colors to become brighter.

To keep bettas in optimum health, your aquarium’s water should be kept at a temperature between 76° and 85° F with a pH between 6.8 and 7.5.


A betta’s color will tend to fade as it ages. It will depend on the genetic makeup of each fish, but the discoloration process can begin early or towards the end of its life expectancy.

A betta can change color as it reaches sexual maturity as well. Colors may darken or become more vibrant as it matures into an adult.

Of course, there are some betta fish that show no signs of losing their color at all and can be vibrant pets their entire life.

Marble Bettas

Marble bettas are a type of fish that change colors when healthy. Originally known to have a black and white marbling, marble bettas have been bred to include a variety of vibrant colors.

A gene that can move from one chromosome to another is responsible for the betta to change to a different color, even if only temporarily. Marble bettas are a popular choice because of their ability to change their appearance throughout a lifetime.

How Can a Betta’s Color Be Restored?

If your betta’s colors are fading or looking washed-out, you need to first determine what the cause may be. Is your fish sick or injured? Is there an issue with the tank’s water or temperature?

Identifying the potential cause of your betta’s fading or changing color is the first step. As long as it is not a serious health concern, there are ways to restore the bright colors that your betta used to show.

The color of your betta fish may be preserved or improved by:

  • Feeding your betta a color-enhancing diet rich in protein
  • Maintaining an appropriate water temperature in your aquarium
  • Checking the water quality and ph levels of your tank
  • Knowing the signs of illness to keep your betta colorful and healthy


Betta fish can change colors for a variety of reasons over the course of a lifetime. Although not all color changes indicate that something is wrong with your betta, the number one reason for this change in appearance is stress.

To keep your betta fish happy and healthy, learn how to recognize the signs when your fish may be ill or in distress. By keeping your betta in an optimum environment, any color changes your fish puts on display are yours to enjoy.