Betta’s Body Turning Black


Emmy and her plant, originally uploaded by CerLynn.

Q: YC wrote,

Hi Christie! I love your site and your blog! They are very detailed and I admire how much time and effort you dedicate to this hobby. Bettas are beautiful, lovable fish and it’s nice to visit a site whose owner is not only knowledgeable, but with a deep fondness all betta owners can relate to.

I have a question, and it’s not too urgent, but any help you can give me on this matter would be very appreciated. =)

My first betta, Tempest, has lost a huge patch of color from his body. He was all blue except for his head which was hooded black, and now part of his back is the same color as his head. I have not yet tested the water of the tank because I doubt it is a factor of his color change. (My three other bettas are all in water from the same source and they’re all peachy and younger than he is.)

1. What is your tank size? *One gallon, in a bowl

2. Have you tested for ammonia- what were the results? *No

3. Have you tested for nitrite- what were the results?* No

4. Have you tested for nitrate- what were the results?* No

5. Have you tested for pH- what were the results? *No

6. What temperature is your tank? *83 degrees Fahrenheit

7. How often do you perform water changes, how much water do you change? *Once a week, full water changes

8. What water additives are you using (please include any conditioners, salt or medications) *I use Aquasafe conditioner, 1/2 tsp aquarium salt, and 1 drop of aquarisol. Currently, Tempest has fin rot and is being medicated with Mardel’s Tetracycline.

9. What type of food are you feeding, how often and how much? *3 pellets of betta bits, and bloodworms every few days.

10. What kind of tank mates, when were they added? * No tank mates

11. Is your tank planted? *Only a plastic/silk plant

12. What are the symptoms, when did they begin and is there anything else we should know? *Ahh, to the good stuff. Around the same time Tempest developed fin rot (a week and a half ago), he lost a patch of blue from his back. I was worried he was sick, but no symptom of any sickness I’ve heard of was like this. He is not bloated, pineconing, or itching. There is no ich or velvet sheen on the black patch. In fact, despite the fact that he lost color, he is pretty much normal, except for the naps. He often takes naps (rests at the bottom of the bowl), and is doing it much more than he used to. It may be him recovering from fin rot.

My suspicion is that he is getting old (I gauge him to be 1 1/2 to 2 years now) and the loss of color is a sign of him aging…but I am not sure. Today, he is losing color from another patch. I hope this is not too serious! I look forward to your reply and thanks for your help!

A: Thanks for writing in about Tempest. I agree, Bettas sure are beautiful and I love them too. Let’s see if we can figure out what might be happening to your fishy. One thing I am confident of is this color loss you are describing is likely not caused by old age. Symptoms of old age are progressive and often take many months or even years to develop. The rapid color loss you are observing is being caused by some sort of external force. (Perhaps a bacteria, fungus or toxin exposure) Also, 1.5 – 2 years is about middle age for a Betta and is a little premature to be showing significant aging symptoms. With good genes, proper care and a little luck a Betta can live 5 years or more. Old age symptoms are more likely to manifest in Bettas who are 3 to 4 years old. Check out the link for more info on

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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:

7 Comments for this entry

  1. Anonymous says:

    your betta is female, see ovipositor and ‘veiltail female’

  2. Anonymous says:

    I can see that this betta has a little bit of red near his gill in the photo. My betta has a spot like that too except that it is copper-colored more so than red. I wonder if that’s a bad sign?

  3. Anonymous says:

    my betta is did the same thing a while ago… i change her food to a more expencive kind thinking that she had a lacking of nutrition ans she seemed to get some color back. she ust to be very blue. her name is lil blu =) unfortunatly shes very sick right now i think she got it from her nabor fishy, squirt, witch is veryy sick right now with some kind of fungus/bacteria idk but ya

  4. Katelin says:

    my fish has done the same thing, im worried.. i clean the tank and shange the filter every month.. maybe im doing something wrong, i need to change foods because the little pebble things the pet store gave me are way to big for her mouth… they have to dissolve and turn goo like before she can even fit them into her mouth.. my biggest concern is her (i dont wanna say choking) not being able to swallow her food..

  5. Anonymous says:

    I'm new to Bettas. I just put a King Blue Male in a new tank all by himself last night. It was a new 3 gallon aquarium with heater and air pump. I put the Betta fiz tablets per the instructions and let it sit about 12 hours. The tablets say you can drop them in immediately after they dissolve. This morning we woke up and he's turning brownish. Petco states he's getting used to his tank and nothing is wrong but I'm afraid for my 8 year old son (his new pet) that there is. I tested PH and it was about 7.8 or greater so I just started to drop PH but slowly so as not to put him in shock.

    When we brought him home his bowl was full of feces and the water was pretty cloudy. Do you think the fish will survive with me slowly changing the PH or did I miss something all together? Again, I put those fiz tablets in there to neutralize the water and get it ready for the Betta. Thanks, Brian!

  6. Chase says:

    Hey everyone,
    just a little piece of advice. Do not perform full water changes.
    When you completely change the water, the tank has to recycle. During the cycling process, ammonia levels will spike high enough to kill a lot of fish. Fortunately, bettas are a pretty hardy species and will survive in most kinds of water conditions. My presumption is that while your bettas may still be alive, they are suffering from ammonia burns, which can tatter fins and distort coloration.

  7. Kristen says:

    My betta use to be blue with red on her tain now she is black. I think she is 1/2 years old. I don’t know. she does not have a pump in her tanks. She acts like any other fish world. I don’t know…

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