Betta Fish Turning White? Why + What to do

Betta fish are popular for their vibrant colors, such as deeper reds, oranges, blues, and yellow. If you suddenly notice some color loss, it could be a serious problem that must be addressed quickly.

Betta fish turn white due to a lack of real plants in the tank, stress, poor water quality and diet, underlying illnesses, bullying from other fish, or poor lighting in the tank. To fix this, add real plants to the tank, improve the water quality, lighting and diet, then treat and separate them.

Discolored betta fish

Why is my betta fish turning white?

Your betta is losing its vibrant color due to one of the following reasons:

Causes for turning whiteFixes
Lack of real plantsAdd real plants to the tank
Stress Eliminate stressors
Poor water qualityDo a water change
New environmentAcclimate the fish
Poor dietIntroduce a balanced diet
Tank bulliesSeparate the fish
Illness Treat illness
Poor lightingLight up the tank

1. Lack of real plants

Live plants in your aquarium are great for your betta fish. They help purify and clean the tank’s water while providing a natural and beautiful setting.

Some betta species, like the Splendens, are found in rice paddies with thick vegetation. This means they thrive better in actual marine areas. Their color may change if they stay in a tank with fake plants.

2. Stress

Stress can also cause your betta fish to turn white. Their living space could have unfavorable properties such as low-quality water, fish bullies, rotting foods, etc. While betta fish like music, loud and punchy music can also stress them out.

Betta fish may also like watching TV, but it’s mainly due to the color changes on the television. However, a very bright and noisy TV program will stress them instead of entertaining them.

3. Poor water quality

High levels of nitrates or ammonia can be dangerous to your betta fish. Ammonia poisoning occurs when your fish tank’s high pH levels offset the normal nitrogen cycle.

For example, tap water may be safe for betta fish, but only when it is conditioned. If you put your fish in unfiltered hard water, it can be harmed by the chemicals in the water, which may lead to discoloration.

Poor water quality can also damage your fish’s gills and sometimes cause them to turn white. Always ensure the water quality is conducive for your pet to avoid these problems. 

4. New environment

Introducing your betta to a new environment can cause its color to fade before adapting to these changes. Before bringing in your pet, the tank might need adjustments, such as water pH levels, temperature, and water quality.

5. Poor diet

Another contributing factor to betta fish color loss is a poor diet. Feeding your fish too much or too little protein is dangerous.

It’s also not ideal to feed fish huge chunks of meals, like frozen bloodworms. Chopping down the foodstuff makes it easy for your betta to swallow it.

You can also get expert advice from a fish professional on the perfect diet for your betta fish. If your betta fish won’t eat, seek professional help before its health deteriorates.

6. Tank bullies

Betta fish are bullied by larger aquatic pets living in the same tank, stressing them out and making them lose their color and general vibrancy.

While bullying cases may be rare, it’s important to understand the temperament of other fish in the tank and ensure they are compatible to share space with your betta before introducing them to the aquarium.

7. Inadequate light

Your betta fish can turn grey due to poor lighting. If the room has no lighting system, you might notice dullness and whiteness on your fish. Some color changes are intense, making your fish appear almost see-through.

8. An underlying illness

Examples of underlying conditions causing color loss in betta fish include odd swimming behavior, white spots, bloating, grey fins, and flashing. The latter occurs when the fish rubs itself against an ornament, object, or gravel.

If you notice these symptoms, consult an expert and get your fish treated for the illnesses.

What to do when a betta fish is turning white

Once you identify the cause of the loss in color, apply the appropriate remedy as follows:

1. Add real plants to the fish tank

Use natural plants in your betta fish aquariums. They act as hiding places, purify the water, and beautify the tank. However, you have to use the recommended plants for better fish.

Live plants offer oxygen to clear out ammonia, harbor beneficial bacteria, and reduce algae problems to provide a natural and conducive fish environment. 

2. Eliminate stressors

If you notice that stress is the primary cause of your betta fish losing its rich color, consider the environment and check if it meets all the requirements. Always consult a fish expert if unsure of what the fish tank needs.

Remove any rotting food that has been there for over an hour. This prevents murky-looking water and encourages your betta to feed correctly. 

You should also monitor your fish’s behavior before and after these changes. This gives you a better idea concerning the dull-looking profile and helps you improve the condition.

3. Eliminate or reduce ammonia levels

Don’t panic after using a test kit and finding high ammonia rates. You can eliminate excess ammonia from your aquarium as follows:

  • Change the water

Change at least 50% of your aquarium water. This helps reduce the amount of ammonia in the tank. Similarly, you’re clearing out any dirt buildup caused by fish waste.

  • Introduce cycled filters

When you add another filter, the bacteria eat ammonia while lowering the levels. This is ideal for someone with multiple tanks.  

4. Change the water

Sudden water changes for your betta can lead to color fading and stress. If you recently bought your fish from the pet store, consider the correct water parameters, including temperature and quality.

In case of high nitrates levels, perform a 25 percent water change.

There’s no need to use fancy tools when changing the water. Use a simple gravel vacuum or jug for the water change. Repeat this process daily as you test the water until it reaches a safe chemical level. 

5. Introduce a balanced diet

The right food for your betta will keep it healthy and colorful. This includes proteins like freeze-dried daphnia and betta pellets. Mix in some live worms to make the betta healthier and avoid over-feeding them.

6. Separate the fish

The easiest way to prevent fish attacks and fights is separating them. Buy another aquarium and let each have personal space, as fish are very defensive towards their species. 

Ensure the species are intended to coexist. For instance, Betta and Cichlids thrive best on their own, while the smaller freshwater species, like guppies, are better off in groups. 

7. Add a light source

Turn on a light source like a lamp next to the tank and ensure you leave it on for a few hours. This will positively affect the fish because of the direct correlation between the level of light exposure and the intensity of color.

If providing a light source doesn’t help as much, you can feed your fish with safe color-enhancing foods. Most of these meals are easily accessible in pet food sections, including spirulina, herring, salmon, and brine shrimp.

They promote good health and coloration in betta fish thanks to high protein levels and carotenoid pigments. 

8. Treat illnesses

Betta fish illnesses are subdivided into three; bacterial, parasitic, and fungal. Ensure you pinpoint the root cause of the problem to prevent color loss and death death.

For example, a new fish in the tank can introduce parasitic ailments, while poor-quality water can lead to bacterial sicknesses.

Luckily, your betta will regain its color after full recovery. 


When your betta fish starts turning white, it can get frustrating. You imagine all those colorful reds, deeper blues, reds, and oranges fading away.

Fortunately, there are simple fixes to this issue as long as you identify the causes correctly. If you can’t administer some of the fixes, consult a fish vet. Otherwise, your fish may die from some of these conditions.

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