Why Betta fish could be lethargic and pale? 

In this post, we will understand why your betta fish are lethargic and pale. We will also outline how to keep your betta fish healthy.

Why Betta fish could be lethargic and pale? 

This is because fish adapt to the composition of their aquarium water to a degree. Some Betta fish kinds are exceptionally colorful, and in the majority of situations, a specimen will not naturally lose its coloration as a result of the environment.

Your Betta fish’s vibrant colors are most likely fading as a result of its stressed surroundings.

In aquarium fish, stress may be caused by a variety of factors, including filthy water conditions, abrupt changes in water parameters, and aggressive behavior among the tank’s residents. Once the underlying problems have been addressed, it will be possible to restore the fading hues.

The only way a Betta fish’s color would naturally deteriorate is if the animal has the Marble gene. Fish that have the gene may have their complete color pattern altered at random.

If, on the other hand, the loss of color is accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue, a lack of appetite, or bloating, you should most likely seek medical attention right once.

Coloration loss in aquarium fish is a typical indication of disease in this species.

A Betta fish that is gradually losing its color and is no longer interested in swimming may be a symptom of something like this. Pigmentation loss in fish is a potentially dangerous indication, particularly when paired with lethargy and an inability to eat well.

The first steps to take if you notice your Betta is losing color

If you begin to notice that your fish isn’t as vibrant as it used to be, or if it seems to be changing color, you should be worried More often than not, loss of color is caused by stress or old age, however, genetics may also play a part in the process.

If your betta fish is losing its color, you must determine the source of the problem as quickly as possible since this might be an indication of something much more severe.

those are the following issues to pay attention to in your betta fish tank

The water conditions are incorrect, and the fish tank needs cycling.

If the water in an aquarium has not been properly cycled, the Betta fish may get ill as a result. The signs of poisoning caused by water pollution express themselves as languid behavior and a simultaneous loss of color over the fish’s whole body, according to the experts. Betta fish that have been affected by this disease may become entirely white and may also refuse to eat or swim.

These symptoms may be accompanied by reddish gills that move quickly.

The term “cycling” refers to the presence of a well-established nitrogen cycle in the fish tank, which is achieved with the assistance of beneficial microorganisms.

In terms of parts per million, here’s what the water parameters of a cycled aquarium look like:

  • 0 parts per million of ammonia; 
  • 0 parts per million of nitrites; 
  • 10 to 15 parts per million of nitrates

Ammonia and nitrites are very hazardous to all freshwater fish and should be kept at levels below 0 parts per million (ppm) at all times in the environment.

Anything beyond 20 parts per million of nitrate for an extended length of time may also be detrimental to your Betta’s health. If the aquarium settings in which your pale Betta fish resides do not fall within these limits, you will need to cycle the tank once more before it can be used.

It is common to keep betta fish in tiny tanks, although contrary to popular belief, smaller fish tanks need more upkeep than bigger fish tanks. This is because even a little alteration in the water conditions is quickly noticeable across the whole aquarium.

Betta fish should be housed in tanks with a capacity of at least 5-gallons of water since this offers a more secure habitat for the animal as a pet.

Your Betta’s tank will most certainly need to be upgraded if it contains less than 5-gallons of water, to provide him with the best possible living environment.

Betta fish tank temperature is not adequate.

Betta fish, like the majority of aquarium fish, are particularly sensitive to temperature variations, which may cause them to get stressed. A temperature change of 2 to 3 degrees Celsius over the night might be enough to put a Betta fish into shock.

The damaged animal frequently exhibits a paler appearance or a total loss of color on the body and fins. A fish that has experienced thermal shock may behave in a variety of ways, including lying sideways on the bottom and showing little interest in swimming.

The problem is that while a fish is under shock, its immune system is impaired, making it exposed to a wide range of infections, including severe external parasites.

Maintaining constant water temperature in a Betta aquarium with a dependable, self-adjusting heater is most likely the most effective approach to avoid all of this and keep it steady.

As is usually the case in these situations, the fish’s vibrant colors will return shortly when things have returned to normal.

You changed more than a third of the water in the aquarium at the same time.

Although water changes are necessary for the appropriate maintenance of an aquarium, you may be going overboard. When more than 30 percent of the whole tank’s water is changed at once, a Betta fish may become pale and sluggish, and it is best to avoid doing so.

This is because fish get acclimated to the composition of their aquarium water to a certain extent. An abrupt change in the composition of water might cause a Betta to go into a state of shock or possibly die.

Large quantities of aquarium water must be changed often to eliminate accumulated ions such as nitrates. Taking approximately half of the total nitrate ions from the water causes an imbalance in the osmotic equilibrium that exists between the fish’s body and the water in which it dwells. The Betta may suffer from inadequate fluid retention, which will result in the enlargement of its internal organs.

This circumstance may result in a suppressed swim bladder, which is the organ responsible for the buoyancy of the fish. Eventually, the Betta may find itself swimming upside-down with its belly up, which is often followed by the loss of its coloration.

Alternatively, you may just make smaller and more regular water changes to avoid all of this. At any one moment, no more than 15 percent of the water should be changed.

Additionally, always ensure that the water you use for the exchange is the same temperature as the water in the aquarium.

The pH of the water fluctuated from one point to another.

Betta fish like to live in a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5 and will adapt to any environment within that range as long as the transition is slow and steady.

On the other hand, sudden fluctuations in pH might cause the fish to become stressed to the point that it loses its color and becomes unwell.

As a result, the acidity of water scales logarithmically, with 5 pH being ten times more acidic than 6 pH and one hundred times more acidic than 7 pH, respectively.

A pH swing causes great stress to a Betta fish, and it may even result in the fish’s death.

Furthermore, Betta fish are often housed in smaller tanks, where pH fluctuations occur more frequently as a result of the reduced amount of water in the tank.

In addition, the fish might be suffering from white skin sores or fungal infections.

Your Betta fish may be losing color as a result of a skin condition if the paleness is only visible in one area and the body or fin texture seems to be somewhat altered in that location.

When a skin disease such as Columnaris develops, white or gray patches appear on the fish’s body that do not reflect light in the same manner as the rest of the fish’s skin.

Columnaris is a condition that very rarely affects the fins.

The fish may be suffering from fungus, which shows as white fuzzy structures on the Betta’s body and feels like a cottony growth on the fish. When the Betta fish’s fins look to be unusually ragged and have a fading hue around the margins, the fish is likely suffering from fin rot.

What’s crucial to note is that most of these illnesses might be caused by environmental stress, which has caused the Betta fish’s immune system to become impaired. A variety of factors, including inconsistent water conditions and temperature variations, are often the root cause of white patches or spots developing on aquarium fish.

The fish may be fatigued as a result of being constantly surrounded by hostile competitors.

Aggression and a lack of personal space among aquarium fish are major contributors to the stress that they experience in their surroundings.

If the Betta fish, for example, do not pass the mirror test and will aggressively flare when they see themselves in the mirror. Bettas may get psychologically exhausted as a result of this since the fish is continually on the lookout for a way to combat its imagined opponent.

If your male Betta is subjected to excessive stress, the colors of his skin may eventually begin to disappear. The paleness generated by this sort of stress is uniformly distributed throughout the fish’s body.

You’ll probably need to make some modifications to the incoming light to ensure that the tank’s glass doesn’t reflect any excessive light.

Another option is to place Betta in a tank with appropriate tank mates or in a moderately populated aquarium, according to your preferences. Fighting, biting, and pursuing are all examples of aggressive behavior that may cause the fish to get stressed and lose their color and pigmentation as a consequence.

Choose your Betta’s friends carefully if you want to prevent any of these problems. Separate tanks with male Betta fish close to one another may nevertheless result in a stressful atmosphere because the fish will flare at one other.

In Marble Betta fish, the presence of jumping genes may result in a complete shift in color.

They are known as Marble Betta fish in the industry because they contain a sort of “jumping” gene that causes a natural shift in the color of the fish.

Changing skin color in Betta fish may occur numerous times over their lifespan due to gene recombination, which occurs when the gene moves between various sites on a chromosome.

The likelihood that your Betta has the jumping gene is high if it seemed to have splotches of color when you initially received it. This is because Marble Bettas carry the leaping gene.

Occasionally, certain species of Betta fish can lose their color totally or will become completely white. While the color is not really fading, it is rather evaporating completely, leaving behind a distinct white or gray spot that becomes larger with time.

It seems that the modifications are more likely to occur at the fish’s head than elsewhere. However, if the discoloration has not occurred suddenly and has not been followed by behavioral indications like lethargy or lack of appetite, your Betta’s color pattern may be merely transitioning to a lighter shade of blue. This procedure might take up to a week or more to complete.

What should you do to assist your Betta fish in returning to normal?

There are several actions that you can do to assist your Betta in regaining its brilliant colors and appearance.

Check the water quality in the tank. Check the settings to see if anything is out of whack.

Partial water changes should be performed regularly. This is done to dilute the pollutants in the aquarium and as an emergency measure if the Betta fish has been poisoned by anything in the aquarium.

Examine the aquarium equipment to ensure that it is in proper working condition. Manually inspect the filter and heater to ensure that they are operating as they should.

Feed the Betta fish with high-quality meals to keep it healthy. The most significant influence on your pet fish’s rehabilitation may be achieved by switching to a diversified diet that closely resembles what Betta fish consume in the wild.

If necessary, provide medication to the fish. If the discoloration is caused by a skin disorder, learn as much as you can about the condition and treat it as needed. Taking your fish to a veterinarian is the most reliable approach to determining what is wrong with it.

If you follow these procedures, your Betta fish will truly return to its original color after the underlying problem has been resolved.

What can you do to make the vivid colors of a Betta fish even more dazzling?

If you believe that your Betta does not get enough color or does not achieve its full brightness potential, you might try the following techniques:

Providing a Betta fish with food that is rich in bug protein and fiber is the most effective strategy to improve its coloration. Providing a Betta fish with meals like midge larvae, water fleas, and shrimp has been shown to dramatically boost the brightness of the fish’s body and fin coloration.

Although these diets include land-based plants and gluten, Betta fish are essentially carnivorous and need a diet that is mostly comprised of insects, much like they do in the wild.

It should be noted that these sorts of diets will almost certainly improve the general health of your Betta fish as well. A Betta fish that is brightly colored is most likely a Betta fish that is content.

Unless you have a Marble Betta, if yours is losing its color, it might be a significant signal that something is wrong with your aquarium.

Loss of coloration is a common symptom of illness in aquarium fish.

A Betta fish that’s progressively losing its color and is not interested in swimming may signal just that. Fading pigmentation could be a bad sign for fish, especially if combined with lethargy and a lack of appetite. Can the fish get better and regain its vibrancy?

For how long does it take for the color of betta fish to reappear?

According to what caused the color change, your betta fish’s color might return in as little as a day or as long as many months, depending on the circumstances.

If it is taking longer than you would like, keep in mind that this does not necessarily indicate that the aquarium conditions are poor; rather, it just indicates that your fish is taking a bit longer to get acclimated to its new surroundings.

Maintaining consistent water parameters and tank conditions throughout this healing period is recommended; any little changes might lead your fish to get stressed out again, which could cause the issue to resurface and spread.

During this period, it is also advised that you switch to higher-quality diets to assist strengthen and protect your betta’s strength and immunity.

The Four Most Common Betta fish illness Symptoms

  • The absence of color
  • Fins that have been clapped
  •  Lethargy or sluggishness 
  •  Appetite loss 

Old age betta fish

Betta fish, like all living things, begin to lose part of their vibrancy and brilliance as their lives come to a close. Betta fish only survive for around 2-3 years on average in captivity, with some individuals living for up to 5 years.

If you’ve kept your fish for a long period and you see that its color is fading and its fins are becoming thinner, it may be time to say goodbye. All that you can do in this situation is ensure that the water quality is excellent and that the tank operates as quietly as it possibly can.

Make careful to evaluate all water conditions and identify the source of the color loss if your fish is still young and developing color.


In this post, we understood why your betta fish are lethargic and pale. We also outlined how to keep your betta fish healthy.

if you have any questions, let us know below in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Why Betta fish could be lethargic and pale? 

Why is my betta going white?

Your betta becoming white might be caused by columnaris, anchor worms, ich, stress, and fin rot. You may increase your betta’s color by making the water quality better, giving them foods that encourage brilliant colors, and avoiding overstocking your tank.

Can I save a dying betta fish?

However, if cared for correctly, your Betta Fish may live for up to six, happy years. If you fear your Betta Fish is dying, there are several methods to cure its condition and resuscitate it. While most illnesses are treatable, a few may be deadly.

Why is my betta fish sluggish and not eating?

Sometimes you may notice a betta fish not eating due to the temperature in the tank. Bettas are cold-blooded which means a lot of their energy is dependent on the temperature surrounding them. If you’re keeping your betta in a tank that isn’t warm enough then it’s going to result in lethargy and reduced metabolism.

What is causing my betta to become gray?

Be aware that it is natural for a betta’s color to change slowly as it matures, and older bettas will often develop a “beard,” or a region behind the mouth that turns dull or gray as they get older. Once again, this occurs gradually as the bettas develop Rapid color loss may be a symptom of a disease or a visual indication that the water supply is insufficient.