Betta Changes Color

Betta Changes Color


Betta Close Up, originally uploaded by sammorrowphotography.

Q: CL wrote,

I have a Betta, my first fish. He is in a three gallon tank that has a filter and light. It’s the Eclipse System Tank and has a replaceable carbon filter. I feed him freeze dried blood worms. I see that after looking at your blog that is not good and I am changing that to frozen. He is a beautiful deep purplish blue with a black velvet head. Well, until two days ago. I noticed his top fin feathers changed to white then seem to get bigger and looked rather lavender but still edged in white. His black head first started getting golden rings around his eyes. Now today his head looks like it has reddish spots almost like he rubbed it off. I put in Betta Fix last night in his tank. After looking over your blog I am not sure I doing the right thing. He swims, begs for food and seems happy but he is looking rather shabby. I also read in your blog to take out the carbon filter before treating the water but I didn’t do that because I didn’t know until today that I should have done that. Will that hurt him more? (I was also overfeeding him) Someone said maybe he was conditioning.

Your blog has helped me in so many ways. It is wonderful and I sure thank you for your time and caring.

A: Thanks for writing in. Looking at the photos and description you provided I can’t tell for certain that anything is really wrong. The whitish/purple coloration on the fins and red coloring on the head could certainly be indicative of natural coloration. It’s very common for a Betta’s coloration to change shortly after you bring him home. When the fish goes from cold dirty water at the store and is placed in a clean warm environment their true colors begin to intensify in their vibrancy and often the change can be quite drastic. I have observed this color change happen anywhere from the first couple of days up to a month or more after arrival. As Bettas age, their color changes as well so you may notice even more surprises over the next year. When the fish reaches the end of his natural life you may again notice the color changing but this time it will become dull and faded.

Just to be on the safe side, I recommend doing the usual water tests just to make sure there isn’t anything off. It’s good to do them regularly anyway, especially when the tank is just getting established. The most important tests for your set up are ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, gh and kh. For more information on water parameters visit: All About Water

To touch on your feeding question, frozen blood worms are a great source of food but alone they don’t make a complete and balanced diet. The freeze dried ones aren’t all bad but they can cause constipation if overfed and tend to hold in water. Just be careful to only feed a couple at a time and soak them in a cup of tank water for 10 minutes or so before feeding. You may want to mix in a couple of other types of food just to make sure your Betta is getting a good variety. For food ideas check out the Feeding page on Nippyfish.net.

Thanks for your email and congratulations on your first Betta.


Photos provided by original emailer

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Christie F is a Betta splendens hobbyist that enjoys spending time caring for her fish and helping new betta keepers learn the ropes. More posts by:

8 Comments for this entry

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have (had) a blue marbled male betta. He ate 7 Betta bits when I first brought him home (starving) and he wouldn’t touch them after.

    I switched to freeze dried blood worms (which he loves) and his color changed…the white marbling turned dull blue (blackish) and his blue body color faded to dull too.

    I finally got my Betta to eat color-enhancing flakes…his blue color is brighter (body and fins)but the white hasn’t come back.

    I have pictures…

  2. Christie says:

    The flakes are usually fortified with vitamins and minerals and while they have their problems too, they do offer a more complete diet than the blood worms alone. I could see how your fish may not do so hot on just the worms.
    Hey, if you want to email your photos, I will post them on the blog for you.

  3. Devvon says:

    About a month ago i bought a blue veil tail betta. after about a week his color started to lighten (his tail almost clear looking). At first he was a deep royal blue color with a black head but now his body is much lighter and his head isnt black at all. I clean his bowl every week so hes not swimming in dirty water and he eats a lot so i dont think hes losing color because hes ill. Also, the confusing part is when i moved his bowl to where there was more light his colors went back to normal and then a couple days later he turned light again. I dont understand why this is happening…

  4. Alita says:

    I have a 2 year old Crown-tail Betta and I recently(a month and a half ago) moved his tank out of a partial sunlit area. Since then I have noticed his body, which has been a deep indigo color since I brought him home, has turned the same rusty color as his tail. I know Bettas can change color as they get older especially since mine is a “pet store mutt” but I was wondering if the lack of natural sunlight could have caused this relatively(for Oskar) quick transformation? Just for reference he lives in a 3 gallon tank kept at 84 degrees no filter, his body has not dulled or grayed, his fins are perfect, he is active and his diet consists mainly of Betta pellets, though I do supplement with peas and color enhancing flakes.

  5. Aleese says:

    I have a young male veil tail Betta who is recovering from a mild case of fin rot(nobody took special care of him while i was in the hospital) but even though his fins are growing back at a remarkable rate his beautiful turquoise color is down to multiple colors. His head is now a yellow gold sort of color his fins r a mix of red white and the original turquoise and his body is a slight pink and blue mix. He literally looks like a rainbow now. He lives in a once gallon tank alone with fake plants…I had to take the real one out due to constant water changes for the fin rot…and he is still on the aquarium salt treatment. He has always been a very picky eater, he only eats the pellets and he eats like a pig. I never have him in direct sunlight and he swims energetically and seems happy but I’m worried about his color change. I purchased him a few months ago from Petco and since I’ve had him he has grown quiet a bit so I know that he is not that old. I condition his water with Aqueon Betta Bowl Plus which is suppose to promote proper health, color and natural slime coat protection. Before the product worked fine but now….he is a rainbow. What is wrong and what should i do to help him LOOK his best again? please email me your advice at callumaleese@yahoo.com because I check that daily. Thank you!

  6. nick says:

    my brother get a double tail betta at a petstore. he didn’t listen to my advice on how to care for one properly. I bugger the crud out of him for about a month (in that time, he never did a waterchange. the water reeked and the fish was lethargic) and finally he said: “if you want it, take it! jeezus! leave me alone!”

    I immediately put it in a heated and cycled 20 gallon (with some tetras in it), and about two weeks later, his colors DRASTICALLY changed. he was already a beautiful fish, with a white body and metallic GREEN fins (they are literally a seafoam color. absolutely stunning,) and now he has black speckles on his body, which have developed since his addition to the tank. proper care REALLY changes your fishes colors.

  7. Sarg. Bluie sent me says:

    Hey my betta fish is having almost the same problem as Aleese’s fish except he is getting a purple tint around his base of his fins (he is a blue and blue green crown tail) I saw the color change shortly after moving him in to a 3 gal tank with an air stone light and heater I do100% water changes 1 time a week and feed color enhancing flakes and freeze dried brine shrimp.

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