Why did my Betta Fish Turn Brown? What to do!

Is your Betta fish turning brown? Is its beautiful color fading? Why exactly is this happening? Is it some sort of a curse?  Is this driving you crazy? If the answer to all of these questions is yes then you are at the right place. We will talk about why your Betta is turning brown and why are the colors not the same as when you bought them in the beginning. By the end of this article, you will also get an idea about what to do to solve this problem. So fear not, we are here to the rescue! So let’s get started.

Why Did My Betta Fish Turn Brown?

Betta changing color is something any owner would be worried about. Betta adds beauty to the tank because of its vibrant colors. A discolored Betta is something no one would want.

Why is the Betta Turning Brown?

So this is the million-dollar question that needs to be answered. There are a number of reasons why your Betta could be turning brown. Sometimes it doesn’t even turn brown rather it simply starts fading. Now we will talk about the reasons why your Betta is acting like a chameleon. So given below are the reasons behind this;

1. It Could have a Certain Illness

Like human beings, Betta also gets physically affected when they get sick. So if you look at your Betta and observe that its colors are not the same then there is a high chance that the Betta is sick. There are a number of diseases that affect the physical appearance of the Betta. We will talk about a few of them below;

(a) Columnaris

Columnaris also known as Cottonwool disease, Saddleback disease, guppy disease or Cottonmouth disease is a common bacterial infection in aquarium fish. Betta turning brown is a later symptom of Columnaris.

betta Columnaris

The earlier symptoms include:

  • Ulcers
  • Damaged Fins
  • Betta Rubbing its Body Against Things in the Tank

If the Betta starts turning brown then this could be an indication of a later stage of columnar. We will talk about how to treat Columnaris shortly.

(b) Fin Rot

Fin Rot is also a bacterial infection in Betta. If your Betta is turning brown only in the fins and tail region then this could be an indication of Fin rot. In Fin rot, the overall health of the fins deteriorates. You might notice fins looking sore and white spots at the ends of the fins. If the condition becomes really bad then the chunks of fins could start to fall off too! But this all can be prevented and even treated. We will discuss the treatment in a while.

betta Fin Rot

2. Aging

This is the simplest reason for the Betta turning brown. You can’t stop your fish from growing older. Just like humans show signs of aging so does Betta. Our hair goes white and our faces wrinkle while Betta starts to decolorize. Alas! There is nothing we can do to stop time.


3. Nitrite Poisoning

Ammonia and Nitrites concentration in the fish tank depends on the amount of waste present. If the concentration of nitrites increases then the Betta can suffer from nitrate poisoning. In this condition, Betta’s blood turns brown because of the excess nitrites. This brown color becomes visible on the outer surface too.

Nitrite Poisoning

4. Genetic Conditions

Sometimes the Betta changing color is totally out of your control. The presence of a certain gene could be causing this problem.

One such condition is known as the “Marble gene”. In this condition, the Betta develops blotches on certain body parts. The Betta’s color can entirely change too. But the color can change again and you can always hope that it’s a good one!

You can read more posts: How To Give A Betta An Epsom Salt Bath?

What to do if the Betta is Turning Brown?

Now that we have discussed the different reasons why your Betta might be turning brown or fading, now is the time to take action! We cannot sit down and do nothing. The change in color could be an indication of an underlying illness and could kill the Betta if left untreated. Now we will talk about the different measures you could take to prevent the Betta from going brown. We will also discuss what to do if the Betta has started to turn brown. We have already discussed that Columnaris, Fin rot, and Nitrite poisoning can cause the Betta to turn brown. We will discuss how to treat and avoid these conditions. We also know that aging and genetic conditions also cause the Betta to turn brown but these problems are out of our hands. So now let’s discuss what we can actually do to solve this problem.

1. Avoid Nitrite Poisoning

Nitrite poisoning causes the Betta’s blood to turn brown which inherently makes the Betta look brown. So nitrate poisoning must be avoided at all costs. The steps taken to avoid nitrate poisoning are as follows;

  • Regularly check the nitrite concentration in the tank. It should be 0ppm.
  • In case of higher concentrations of nitrites perform a 50% water change. By this we mean that remove half of the water from the tank and replace it with fresh water.
  • Nitrite concentration depends on the amount of waste in your tank. If you want to keep the nitrite levels low then you must keep the waste level low. So you should feed your Betta less to avoid more amounts of waste.

2. Avoid Illness

As promised before, we will now tell you how to avoid Columnaris and Fin rot. Columnaris and Fin rot is a bacterial infection that can give a decayed look to your Betta. So the following things should be kept in mind to avoid both of these diseases;

Avoid Illness

3. Quarantine New Fish

This is the basic rule. Whenever you bring new fish you must quarantine them. The reason is that the new fish might be a carrier of Columnaris, fin rot, or any other disease. So one must quarantine the new fish in a separate tank for a few days to ensure that they are healthy.

Quarantine New Fish

4. Clean the Tank Regularly

A clean tank is less likely to have germs in it. Diseases like Columnaris and fin rot can be avoided if your tank is clean.

Clean your Fish Tank Regularly

5. Give the Betta a Balanced Diet

If your Betta is healthy then it will have a strong immune system. A strong immune system will help fight diseases.

6. Avoid Overcrowding The Tank

It is difficult to keep an eye on all the fish in an overcrowded tank. Also if any of the fish gets sick the disease could spread very easily. So you must avoid overcrowding.

How to Treat Columnaris?

Now we will talk about how to treat Columnaris. The step-by-step procedure is as follows;

  • Quarantine the Betta.
  • Lower the temperature slowly to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Columnaris cannot survive or reproduce in lower temperatures.
  • Now add an antibiotic to treat this bacterial infection. You can consult a veterinary specialist to ask which antibiotic to use.
  • For making your betta more comfortable 1 teaspoon of aquarium salt per 5 gallons can also be added.

By following these steps your Betta will most likely recover from Columnaris. Cheer up it is a very easy procedure!

You can read more Posts: Why Does Betta Fry Keep On Dying & How To Avoid It?

How to Treat Fin Rot?

Early stages of fin rot can easily be treated. So if you see your Betta suffering from Fin rot there is absolutely no need to panic. Just like Columnaris, it is very easy to treat fin rot in Betta. Now we will discuss the procedure to treat fin rot. The steps to be followed are listed below;

  • Quarantine the Betta. This is extremely important for the safety of the other tank mates from the infection.
  • Add aquarium salt to improve the water quality of the tank.
  • API stress coat can also be added instead of aquarium salt. API stress coat helps the Betta in the growth of their slime coat. The slime coat is necessary for Betta’s growth.
  • Perform a water change of the tank. This is done to remove any germs and to give the betta a new fresh environment. If the fin rot is severe then a 100% water change would be needed.

By following these basic steps you will hopefully be able to treat your Betta from fin rot. However scary it may sound but the treatment is very simple and doable.

The Bottom Line on Why did my Betta Fish Turn Brown?

So I hope through this article you got to understand that your Betta turning brown is definitely not the end of the world. It should rather be taken as a signal to check your Betta for some illness. Treatment for a brown Betta is totally possible. One thing that one must keep in mind is to never ignore such a situation. Some problems if ignored can even cause the death of your precious fish. So keep your tank and fish under strict check and always keep it clean. A good fishkeeper always stays calm and doesn’t panic. May we all be good fish keepers and may our Betta always stay happy and healthy!

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