Betta Fish Turning White: What Does This Mean and What Should You Do?

Aside from their ill tempers when meeting another male of their species, Bettas are probably best known for their amazing brilliant colors. 

But what is happening if those bright hues in the Betta fish are turning white? 

Your fish may be suffering from a fungal infection or other ailments 

Let’s explore this topic further.

betta fish turning white


Fungal Infections in Betta Fish 

Fungal infections among aquarium fish are very common. To identify a fungus growing on your Betta you may notice these symptoms;

  • Fuzzy white growth on the fish particularly around the head and back regions.
  • Lethargic
  • Lack of appetite
  • General discoloration
  • Clamped fins
  • Rubbing on decorations and substrate

What Causes Fungal Infections?

Poor water conditions compounded with overfeeding are the leading cause of fungal issues in the Betta tank (some Betta may also develop a fungal infection from an injury).

Despite the attempts of profiting pet retailers to “make it okay” to house Bettas in tiny, unfiltered containers, these habitats are death sentences to the long-term health and well-being of the Betta fish.

The minimum requirements of Betta fish is a 5-gallon tank with a foam filter, cover, and a heater. Even with these parameters met, you will still need to do weekly partial water changes to keep your betta’s habitat optimal. 

When a Betta aquarium is too small, excess food and fish waste will accumulate, which can quickly turn the habitat toxic, creating the perfect environment for fungus to grow. 

But my tank is pristine and he still got a fungal infection. What’s up?

Another cause of fungal infections may be from the introduction of tank mates. Since it is common, other fish are also susceptible to this condition. 

Remember that fungal infections are highly contagious. Before you introduce new fish to an already established habitat, you should quarantine the new tank mates for 7 days to ensure they are healthy and not harboring any diseases or parasites.

How to Treat Fungal Infections in Betta Fish

To begin treatment, you will want to isolate the infected fish in a hospital/quarantine tank. If your Betta is alone in the tank, then follow these next steps;

  1. Lower the temperature of the water to 75 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Add Ag salt to the aquarium at 1tsp per gallon (be sure to pre-dissolve the salt in a small amount of aquarium water before adding to habitat). 
  3. Change 80 percent of the water each day. Re-add the salt.
  4. Do this for 10 days

Note: If you do not see improvement after 10 days, discontinue and add over-the-counter medications available at pet retailers. Be sure to follow the instructions on the medication and do another 80 percent water change before administering the first dose. 

We also recommend changing 80 percent of the water each day before adding the daily dose of medication. Always complete the full medication regime before trying a new one. 

Never use more than one medication at a time.  

Other Causes of Betta Fish Turning White

A fungal infection is not the only reason your Betta may be turning white. The following conditions may also be the culprit. 

Anchor Worms

This external parasite is highly contagious, so if you have introduced new tank mates into your Betta habitat, they could have been the reason your Betta is turning white. 

Anchor worms are not technically worms, but rather a crustacean called Lernaea. This parasite invades the fish by attaching to its scales, then burrowing into the body

Symptoms of anchor worms include; 

  • Seeing the worms (they can grow up to 0.8 inches long)
  • White patches on the body
  • Legarthy
  • Red sores on the belly area
  • Rubbing on substrate and objects
  • Difficulty breathing

Left untreated, anchor worms can be fatal to your Betta. Treat this parasite with over-the-counter medications. 


Another highly contagious external parasite is called Ich. These tiny dot-like infestations can make your Betta appear to be turning white. Other symptoms of “white spot disease” include;

  • Lack of appetite
  • Rubbing on substrate and decorations
  • Legarthy

You will need to treat this illness with medications as left untreated these parasites will continue to reproduce and infect your Betta.


Although not as common as other ailments in Betta fish, columnaris is a bacterial infection that will present itself as white mold-like patches covering the body of the fish. It is also known as Cotton Wool disease and it will need antibiotics or antibacterials to clear it up.


If you are sure your Betta doesn’t have a disease, but you have noticed that his colors are fading or are dull in appearance, check him for stressors. 

Things that can stress out a Betta include;

  • New tanks mates
  • Poor water conditions
  • Tank is too cold
  • Not enough hiding areas
  • Poor quality diet

To help alleviate stress in your Betta, separate him from tank mates that may be nipping or bullying him. Be sure to create the optimal habitat by having at least 5 gallons of water, supported by a low-flow foam filter, a heater, and plenty of live plants.

You will also want to ensure he is getting the proper nutrition with a high-quality pellet, live, or freeze-dried food that supports vibrant colors and overall nutrition. 

Old Age

Bettas that are reaching the end of their lives may also turn white or grow paler. This is a natural progression of the aging process that tends to happen in all creatures. 

Older fish are more susceptible to disease, so this is the time to ensure that your Betta’s habitat is optimal and you keep the stressors to a minimum.

Why Is My Betta’s Face Turning White?

If you have noticed that just your Betta’s face is turning white, it could be the result of shock. This can happen after tank maintenance when the new water introduced into the tank was too cold.

If this occurs, it can take up to two days for your Betta to return to normal. 

When changing or adding new water to your tank, always use a thermometer to get the proper temperature before pouring it into your Betta’s habitat. 

Betta Fish Turning White Final Thoughts

When a beautiful, brilliant Betta turns white, there is a reason. Whether it be from a fungus, bacterial infection, external parasite, poor water conditions, stress, or old age, it should not be ignored.

The best way to address a betta turning white is to keep a close eye on him, monitor his behavior and look for secondary symptoms. Once you have pinpointed the cause of his pale pallor, follow the tips we have provided to get him on the road to recovery.