Gold Betta, originally uploaded by sponytales2000.

Q: D wrote,

I’ve looked around the net quite a bit and haven’t found an answer to this one. As you’re the enthusiast, perhaps you’ll know. My betta started out life completely white with a red dot on his tail. After finding a nice home in my 20g tank with a few other social fish, he blossomed and turned gorgeous colors. And what I say turned, I mean it! He’s been many different colors; the only thing that’s been constant is that little red dot. At the moment, he’s mostly all black including his lips. Is this normal? Please tell me my fish is just super happy and putting on a gorgeous display for my family and me. I’d love to hear what you think.

A: It is not at all unusual for bettas to change colors over the short and long term. Betta fish that have been living on a store shelf are often pale versions of themselves. This bland coloration is the result of stress caused by a small container, poor water quality and low water temperature. Once the fish is acclimated to a better living condition their true colors will come out (both literally and in terms of personality too). Within the first few days and weeks in clean warm water the fish will become bright and lively. This is a signal to you that you are doing a good job caring for your betta.

Bettas may also change color over the long term. Over the years your betta’s dominate color may begin to change. In some fish this change may be slight. A bright red betta, for example may begin to show some black coloration around his head but will often stay mainly red. Other bettas may show more extreme color changes. I had a green and blue betta that over the years transformed into a dark red. I have also seen young white bettas over time develop striking blue or pink coloration in their fins.

Often bettas will change color in certain parts of the body. Most common areas for color change are the head region. The crown of the head will often change to a dark black in darker colored bettas or a yellow or rust color in lighter betta fish. The area under the mouth often changes too. As a betta ages you may notice a graying or blander coloration. Betta fish keepers often refer to this as the “betta beard,” a sign that your fish is becoming an old man. The fins often change color too, particularly the tail fin (also called the caudal fin), the dorsal and anal fins. The pectoral and pelvic fins don’t typically have noticeable color changes.

Rapid color changes from bright vibrant color to dull or pale color may be a signal that your betta is sick. If you notice this sort of color change keep an eye out for other signs of disease and test your water.

It sounds to me that your betta has been through quite a change. I don’t think I have ever seen a betta go from white to black. If you have photos from before and after email them in and I will post them on the blog for all to see. This goes for any of our readers. Feel free to send in your color changing betta photos.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Christine says:

    Thanks for the pictures! Wow! I wonder if I’ll ever come across a marble gene betta…
    What is a “betta beard”? What does it look like? My betta looks silver on his stomach, just behind his “jaw”, but I thought this happneded when he had a full tummy (or maybe overfull? *oops*), not a coloring variety. Could you post pictures distinguishing this feature?

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Anonymous says:

    We have a betta fish that we gave a home to about 5 months ago. He is vibrant blue with a black head. In the last week he has gotten a white strip on his top fin and a white strip on his beard. He is lively as ever but we are concerned that something may be wrong. He lives in a 2 1/2 gal. tank and has grown since we have had him. Suggestions anyone?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi, i just go a fish and he looks just fine but when i was cleaning out his tank for the first time today.I saw that he had black dots on his tail… im really worried…does anyone know what it is??

    • dallon oorloff says:

      thats due 2 dirty water

  5. Anonymous says:

    it’s most likley the membranes of his tail so don’t try to pick them off

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hey, my family has 2 betta fish. The first one (a shining reddish-purple one) is fine. The second one (a light blue one) might be sick. The water could be the case. It had 2 pink stripes on either side of its gills that faded away when the water was changed. However, there was still one red stripe left on one side of its gills. Its still there today! What does it mean?!

  7. Anonymous says:

    The pink stripes are back on my betta fish! What does this mean??!

  8. Barney says:

    my bettas are getting some disease that made their fins and tails shrink..does anyone know what kind of disease is it and how to cure?

    • dallon oorloff says:

      its due 2 dirty water change the water every 2 days for 3 weeks ……. and after every 5 days………..

  9. Alex says:

    I see that their colors change but can they be made to be more vibrant?

  10. sarita says:

    I recently bought a betta that was white with light blue fins. In a couple of weeks he changed dramatically to black/navy blue body but his head is still white with blotches of black. One eye is black, and the other is blue. He seems happy with his new home, I just wasnt expecting a dramtic color change. I wish I took before/ after pics to show you.

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