Betta fish, scientifically known as Siamese fighting fish and originating from Southeast Asia, have long captivated the hearts of aquarium enthusiasts worldwide.

However, beneath the shimmering exterior, Betta fish can face various health challenges that can lead to significant color loss, ultimately turning them white.

Bullet Points

Understanding Betta Fish

Characteristics and natural colors of Betta fish

Betta fish flaunt a mesmerizing spectrum of colors. Their natural palette includes deep blues, fiery reds, and lush greens, with some even having iridescent or metallic scales.

Importance of coloration in Betta fish

Coloration is more than just an aesthetic feature for Betta fish; it serves as a reflection of their overall health and well-being. Vibrant colors signify a happy and healthy Betta.

When a Betta fish loses its color and turns pale, it is a sign that something might be amiss.

The Causes of Betta Fish Turning White

Loss of vibrant colors

Means that the fish's natural coloration appears washed out, dull, or faded. This can be an indication of stress, illness, or even aging.

Faded or clamped fins

When a betta fish's fins become faded, they lose their crisp, defined edges and may appear ragged. Clamped fins refer to fins that are held close to the body instead of being fully extended.

Both of these conditions are signs of distress, often caused by poor water quality, illness, or stress.

Unusual behavior

Unusual behaviors might include lethargy, frequent hiding, darting around the tank, or spending extended periods at the water's surface or bottom. Such behavior changes may signal distress, disease, or even problems with the tank environment.

Reduced appetite

Betta fish are generally voracious eaters, and a noticeable reduction in their appetite is a cause for concern. It can be linked to various health problems or stress.

It's essential to monitor a betta fish's eating habits and ensure it receives appropriate nutrition to maintain its health and vitality.

If these signs persist or worsen, seeking advice from a veterinarian or a knowledgeable aquarium expert may be necessary to determine and treat the specific issue affecting the fish.

Health-related factors

Diseases are another important factor in the loss of color in betta fish:

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections in Betta fish can lead to color loss, as well as other symptoms like cottony growths on their scales, fins, or mouth. These infections are often a result of poor water quality, physical injuries, or stress.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections can also cause Betta fish to lose their color, and these infections may manifest as skin ulcers, fin rot, or other visible issues. Bacterial infections are often linked to poor water quality and can be contagious.

Warning! In this case, isolate the betta fish from other fish.


Parasitic infestations, such as protozoa and worms, can also affect the health and color of Betta fish. Parasites can lead to various symptoms, including color loss, lethargy, and visible parasites on the fish's body or in the gills.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is a common condition among Betta fish. It is caused by bacteria, which can result in the deterioration of the fish's fins. This can make the fins appear ragged and lead to color loss. Fin rot is often associated with poor water quality or injuries.

Anchor Worms

Anchor worms are external parasites that can attach to the skin, scales, or fins of Betta fish. Their presence can cause skin irritation, damage, and inflammation. As a response to this discomfort, the fish may lose some of its coloration.

In all of these cases, it is important for betta owners to ensure proper water quality is maintained and appropriate treatment is provided when necessary.

If you notice loss of color in your betta fish, it may be a sign of a serious health problem and you should consult a veterinarian or an experienced fish farmer to diagnose and treat the problem.

Genetic factors

Some Betta fish, known as Marble Betta, have color-changing genetics. Their colors may shift over time, leading to white discoloration. Additionally, selective breeding practices can result in genetic variations that cause color changes.

Diagnosing Pale Betta Fish

Physical examination

Examining your Betta fish for signs of illness or discoloration is the first step in diagnosing the issue. Look for changes in color, fin appearance, and any visible abnormalities.

Observing behavior changes

Changes in behavior can be indicative of stress or illness. If your Betta is lethargic, refuses food, or exhibits unusual swimming patterns, it's a red flag.

Consulting a vet

For persistent color loss or concerning symptoms, consult a veterinarian with experience in treating aquarium fish. Professional guidance can help you diagnose and treat the issue effectively.

Preventing Betta Fish from Turning White

Maintaining water quality

  • Proper Water Temperature: Betta fish are tropical fish and thrive in water temperatures between 75°F and 80°F (23,8°C to 26,6°C).
  • Regular Water Changes: Perform partial water changes (approximately 20-30% of the water) every 1-2 weeks. Use a siphon to remove debris from the substrate. This helps maintain water quality and remove toxins.
  • Water Conditioner: Use a water conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramines from tap water before adding it to the tank. These chemicals can harm your Betta.
  • Water Testing: Regularly test the water for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates using an aquarium test kit. Keep ammonia and nitrite levels at zero and nitrates below 20 ppm. High ammonia and nitrite levels are harmful to your Betta.
  • Maintain pH and Hardness: Betta fish thrive in slightly acidic water with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Check and adjust the pH and water hardness as needed.

Proper tank setup and maintenance

  • Adequate Tank Size: Betta fish need space to swim and explore. Ensure you have a tank of at least 5 gallons. A larger tank provides more stable water conditions and reduces stress.
  • Filtration: Use a gentle and adjustable filter that won't create strong currents. Betta fish prefer still or slow-moving water. Ensure the filter media is regularly cleaned or replaced as needed.
  • Live Plants: Live plants can help maintain water quality by absorbing nitrates and providing hiding spots for your Betta. Choose non-toxic, aquarium-safe plants.
  • Lighting: Provide an appropriate lighting schedule for your Betta to mimic their natural day-night cycle. Typically, 8-12 hours of light per day is sufficient.
  • Quarantine New Fish: Quarantine any new fish or plants before introducing them to your Betta's tank to prevent the introduction of diseases.
  • Regular Tank Maintenance: Clean the tank glass, decorations, and substrate as needed to prevent the buildup of waste.

Treating Pale Betta Fish

Medications for fungal and bacterial infections and nutritional adjustments:

Consult a Vet

If you suspect your Betta fish has fungal or bacterial infections, it's crucial to consult with a vet experienced in fish health. They will perform a thorough examination to confirm the diagnosis and recommend appropriate medications.

Prescribed Medications

Once the vet has identified the specific infection, they will prescribe the necessary medications.

Common medications for fungal infections may include antifungal agents like Methylene Blue, while antibiotics like Kanamycin or Nitrofurazone are used for bacterial infections.

Follow the vet's instructions precisely regarding dosage and treatment duration.

Balanced Diet

Offer a well-balanced diet to your Betta fish. High-quality Betta fish food, both dry and frozen, should make up the foundation of their diet. Look for food that lists protein sources like whole fish or insects as the primary ingredients.


Introduce variety into their diet by occasionally offering live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms. These can provide essential nutrients and stimulate their appetite.

Feeding Schedule

Feed your Betta small, frequent meals instead of one large portion. A good rule of thumb is to feed them the amount they can consume in about two minutes, 2-3 times a day.


Consider adding Betta-specific supplements to their diet, like vitamins and minerals, to enhance their overall health and coloration.


This detailed guide has shed light on the various factors that can cause betta fish to turn white, including health-related issues such as fungal and bacterial infections, parasites, fin rot, and genetic variations.

Important steps include regularly monitoring their behavior, performing medical examinations, and contacting a veterinarian experienced in fish health. Additionally, ensuring ideal water conditions and proper nutrition are vital to preventing bettas from turning white.

By following the recommendations from our Flora Fish team in this guide, betta fish lovers can help ensure the well-being and vibrant colors of their Siamese fighting fish.

See you in the next article!