Why Is My Goldfish Losing Color (Turning Black Or White)?

why are my goldfish losing color

Why Is My Goldfish Losing Color (Turning Black Or White)?7 mins read

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why are my goldfish losing color

Why is my goldfish losing color (turning black or white)? Goldfish are some of the most vibrant aquatic creatures, which earned their popularity among aquarium pets thanks to their bright orange shade. Their bright color is seen as their identity, and seeing your goldfish losing color can be a bit disheartening. Besides losing its color, you might even notice your goldfish turning black or white.

If this is your current predicament, you’ve found the right article to help you. Don’t be alarmed, though! A goldfish losing color isn’t an immediate sign of something terrible. However, it helps to be proactive, especially if you see your goldfish not moving at the same time. In this article, we’ve detailed everything you need to know about such conditions in goldfish.

What Is The Goldfish’s Natural Appearance?

Goldfish's natural appearance
A health issue can be the cause of fading or color loss in your goldfish and it could be deadly if not treated.

Before diving into the changes observed with regular orange goldfish, there are some interesting things worth knowing about these Carp. As a part of the Cyprinidae family, their appearance in the wild differs from their domesticated counterparts.

Goldfish come in a diverse spectrum of colors, such as bronze, gold, red, white, calico, and black. Along with the classic orange, you should also be aware that your goldfish can change into a reflection of its distant family in the wild. Of course, seeing an unconventional color change in your goldfish can be alarming, but this isn’t something that will occur regularly.

What Causes A Goldfish To Lose Its Color?

Goldfish lose their color
Goldfish are a common household pet and there are plenty of reasons that cause them to lose their color.

Now that we’ve broken down some crucial details on goldfish colors, it’s time to dig into possible factors that affect their appearance. Whether it’s something damaging, nature, or something you’re reading too deep into, a lot can be drawn from a goldfish losing color.

1. Genetics

Genetics of goldfish
Goldfish will change color in the first year of their life and it is due to genetics and has nothing to do with their health.

The appearance of a goldfish is easily linked to how it was bred and the life cycle they tend to experience. For some goldfish, turning white is a natural occurrence as they age. However, this behavior has also been observed with certain goldfish in the first year of life. Because of this, it’s not easy to determine what a goldfish losing color may look like in the future. Although, not all goldfish bred carefully for their vibrant colors will experience this sort of problem.

With black goldfish, they begin to fade from a rich, deep black color to a lighter black. This is almost a certainty for all black goldfish. Their appearance in later stages of life usually lightens to a grayish tone with gold highlights around their body. Because of their strong genetics, a goldfish turning black or white is something you shouldn’t immediately feel alarmed about when first observed.

2. Illness

Illness in goldfish
The most serious and common cause of color change in goldfish is bacterial infections. Always keep your tank clean and quarantine new fish.

Unfortunately, fish tend to get illnesses from time to time. This can also mean losing its vivid colors, such as your goldfish turning black or white. Infection induced loss of color is very likely depending on how ill your fish is. This means your goldfish can be expected to regain its color after recovery. Still, the first point of action is to treat the illness successfully. Along with losing color, a goldfish not moving is also a strong sign of illness. One particularly problematic illness for them is tuberculosis. A goldfish dealing with it can experience organ failure and risk fatality.

If you suspect an illness, you should test the water in your tank for signs. Look out for dangerous levels of ammonia and nitrates in your observations. These toxins are harmful to goldfish, shortening their lifespan and inducing immense pain. In fact, your goldfish losing color is sometimes associated with ammonia toxicity.

After confirming the water is the problem, you must quarantine the affected goldfish and begin treatments. Next, you should try consulting with an experienced aquatic veterinarian. This will lead to a diagnosis and recommended steps for its recovery. Be sure to take proactive steps once you suspect an illness, as fish health can be unpredictable.

3. Parasites

goldfish survive without food
A serious infestation will lead to bacterial illness and can cause a color change in goldfish. Regular treatment with a worming medication designed for fish can stop these pests from harming your fish.

You may notice a color difference when your goldfish is dealing with a parasitic infestation. In particular, flukes is a common type of parasite. These parasites feed on goldfish skin, causing your fish to develop mucus as a combative response. This mucus may give your fish a dull appearance. In addition, the parasite’s effect is also strong enough to result in your goldfish not moving or displaying strong signs of lethargy. Some other symptoms of a parasite are clamped fins and lesions.

The best response to parasites on your goldfish is to quarantine them. Keep it away from the main tank and other fish for at least four weeks. Be sure to use the correct treatments during this process. Once your fish has healed, the color should return to normal.

4. Lighting

light for goldfish
Sunlight can help improve the goldfish’s color. Keep your fish tank in an area that is well-lit, but out of direct sunlight.

As weird as it may seem, the lighting might be the answer to your goldfish turning black or white. When your goldfish is kept under dim lighting conditions, it can begin to lose its brighter colors. Goldfish skin has a pigment that is reactive to UV light. If there’s extreme sunlight or a lack of sun, you will find your goldfish losing color and beginning to turn white.

The most important thing with goldfish and lighting is your ability to be consistent. A goldfish needs to be under a light that complements its needs. Therefore, ensure your tank is always well-lit and kept out of direct sunlight. Alternatively, using a lamp is an excellent choice to encourage the vibrant orange on its body.

To put into perspective the importance of lighting for goldfish, you can observe that goldfish kept in ponds have brighter colors compared to their aquarium-kept counterparts.

5. Diet

Diet for goldfish
Feed your goldfish twice a day with a diet that consists of flake, pellet goldfish food, and treats such as fresh or frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, and other meat-based foods to encourage bright coloring.

Goldfish tend to eat like they’ve never seen a meal before. These little guys have huge appetites but still require a balanced diet. Therefore, investing in the proper meals is good for keeping them healthy.

A goldfish losing color can be directly linked to whether or not it is on a good diet. When purchasing fish food, opt for high-quality foods from the pet store. Quality goldfish food may cost a little more, but it will benefit your fish much more. Many high-end products are specifically designed to improve vibrancy in goldfish colors. Be sure to look out for those with these specifications.

Goldfish tend to eat a mixture of plants and animals in the wild, so you can consider using this information as a baseline for what to include in their diet. Also, focus on consistency with feeding, ensuring that they eat 2 or 3 times daily. Too frequent feeds can lead to overfeeding, so be wary of this. In return, overfeeding can develop other complications, like your Goldfish Not Moving. If you see this in tandem with color loss, it’s best to dig deeper.

Goldfish owners have popularly noted that Spirulina algae and Bentonite clay have done an excellent job with their colors, so you should look into those options too. Nevertheless, whichever method you choose to improve your aquatic friend’s diet, you shouldn’t expect the color to return right away. Often it is a gradual process.

6. Tank Environment

Tank environment for goldfish
It’s best to set up a large tank with plenty of room for your goldfish to swim and provide plenty of decorations for them to hide in.

As much as you feel like your goldfish is adaptable, there are still some limits you shouldn’t push with them. Sudden changes in their habitat can trigger a goldfish, primarily due to their sensitivity. You’ll have to watch for parameters like your tank temperature, pH balance, water hardness, and other factors.

Having water that sits at 6.5 – 7.5 is your ideal level for the pH balance. This pH balance is vital because it helps avoid lethargy, poor health, and loss of appetite. Your Goldfish Turning Black Or White can also be in response to more minor changes in your tank, even events that don’t directly relate to water conditions. For example, new decorations or revamping your tank’s design can trigger new behaviors.

One particular goldfish response to change is stress. A stressed goldfish is one that feels like things aren’t quite right in its environment. To help it out, consider removing any recent additions to your tank or restoring the environment to one your fish is familiar with.

If your goldfish is beginning to turn white after adding a new tank mate, there isn’t much you can do here. Don’t be too worried, though. They tend to eventually adjust to the change, brightening up after some time.

7. Poor Oxygen Levels In Tank Water

Poor oxygen levels in tank water of goldfish
Do a water change of about 60% of the water volume in your tank to help improve the water conditions and make sure the aquarium is not overcrowded.

If you catch your goldfish turning black or white, this can be due to oxygen. In fact, poor oxygen levels in a goldfish tank can be spotted if you notice them going translucent white. If you spot this, it’s time to perform a water change of about 60% of the water volume in your tank. This will help with improving water conditions.

To avoid this problem, you’ll need to keep your tank oxygen levels at around 8.3 PPM (parts per million). Although goldfish can handle oxygen levels that are lower than that, it is best to avoid this as it does make them uncomfortable. It can also really reduce your Goldfish’s maximum possible lifespan.


Goldfish turning black or white
It will be difficult to prevent this type of damage to your goldfish but careful handling of your fish can help reduce it.

There you have it! Goldfish have quirky biology, but they are also quite understandable once you have their challenges in your memory. Keep this guide as a reference in case you ever find a goldfish turning black or white, a goldfish not moving, or anything else alarming!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my goldfish turning black?
A goldfish turning black is more of a rarity compared to the dull white-ish color loss they tend to endure. However, if yours is starting to show dark spots, there are a few steps you can take to change the situation. Ammonia Burns When a goldfish suffers from an ammonia burn, its body may attempt to heal itself, causing black patches to appear. This works in a similar way to how human injuries leave scars. Ammonia burns are caused by the chemical found in a fish's waste. It can be hazardous to the health of a goldfish. The best way to detect this problem is by testing your tank water for high ammonia levels. If your ammonia levels are high, the goldfish can develop these burns. Keep your tank regularly cycled to prevent this, ensuring to change at least 30% of the water consistently. Your water parameters should also be kept in mind. With ammonia, there's really no way to 100% guarantee that it doesn't happen in the future. That's why tank care should be a sole priority once you make the decision to take care of goldfish. Injuries Humans develop scabs over their injuries, and goldfish develop something similar, which looks like black spots. A recently injured goldfish can start healing with treatment or time. However, these injuries don't just disappear. Instead, a black spot can appear over it. The black spot might be a surprise if you were unaware of an injury on your goldfish. Interfering with the healing process is usually pointless, and you should leave your goldfish to recover naturally. Black Spot Disease An unlikely problem with goldfish, but one nonetheless. Black Spot disease is when you notice black patches on your goldfish. It's a parasitic infection likely caused by snails in your tank or goldfish pond. This parasitic infection can result in your goldfish not moving. If you're using a tank that meets the usual conditions for this parasite, you can treat the black spot disease with the help of a vet. Parasites have a wide range of effects on goldfish, and the impact varies. It could even lead to your goldfish turning black or white.
Why is my goldfish turning white?
You'll usually experience this if your goldfish is losing color, so you must check out any of the most likely causes detailed above. Usually, this may be due to genetics, tank conditions, water quality, sickness, and infections. The best step you can take to prevent this is to provide regular checks on your goldfish tank.
Can goldfish be restored to their original colors?
For goldfish, restoring their colors definitely comes down to why they began losing color in the first place. If the reason is traced to lighting and diet, it is relatively easy to create a plan that helps your goldfish return to its vibrancy. However, other reasons for your goldfish losing color may not be as reversible. Changes due to genetics, old age, and certain illnesses are less likely to be restored. With illnesses, addressing the comfort of your goldfish is one of the most vital things you can do. A goldfish losing color isn't the biggest deal in the world. Paleness isn't necessarily a sign that something drastic may happen to your goldfish.
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Tal Halperin

Tal is an avid fish keeper and has been raising ornamental fish for decades. As a little boy, he drove his father crazy to buy him an aquarium with all the necessary equipment. Now, after a career in the field, he has set up Your Aquarium Place to offer the most comprehensive guide to ornamental fish keeping available and share his passion for the different species he has looked after.