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

why are my guppies losing color

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

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why are my guppies losing color

The appealing look of guppy fish is sometimes very alluring, so seeing a guppy fish losing color can be a huge concern. With bright colors and an attractive appearance, it’s no surprise why they tend to be a point of focus for most aquarists.

If this is your current predicament, it can feel like you’re watching your pet lose its identity. However, that feeling is something that doesn’t have to be permanent. With enough knowledge, you can get better at spotting the events leading up to your guppy fish turning black or white.

Why Your Guppy Fish Is Losing Color

Why your guppy fish is losing color
Guppy fish can lose their color and look pale for various reasons. Finding a particular reason will help you to avoid this troublesome situation.

Caring for a guppy fish typically entails providing adequate food, water, light, and resources to encourage a flourishing life. While these things are essential, guppy care also comes with a fair bit of preemptive action to ensure that things don’t go wrong.

This article will provide everything you need to know about guppy fish color loss. With the information covering color preservation and preventive measures, there’s enough knowledge to create an expert guppy owner out of you!

1. Stress

Stress in Guppy fish
When your guppy fish is not moving and losing color this might be an indicator that your fish is stressed. Create a more lively tank by adding some plants and foliage.

When a guppy fish is dealing with increased stress, it can display physical indicators of distress. Some of the indicators can present themselves in your guppy fish not moving and the guppy fish losing color. If your guppy is stressed, it’s best to consider what is causing the problem. When you keep a fish in your aquarium, a few essential factors need to be taken into consideration that can help limit their stress.

First, your guppy may feel intimidated if there are too many tank mates. An intimidated guppy may lose color to be less noticeable in the tank and be less of a target for bigger fish to bully. While bullying is not the only cause for guppy fish losing color, another thing to consider is that they get stressed when there’s too much competition.

Male vs Female Guppy Needs

When your guppy population is such that there are too many males competing for the females, things tend to get complicated quickly. The best way to curb stress and avoid your guppy fish losing color is by controlling your guppy population. In other words, creating a fair male-to-female ratio and decluttering your tank to create a feeling of freedom. For every male, have 2-3 females.

Furthermore, if your guppy is pregnant and has lost color, attend to this immediately. Stress during pregnancy can mean complications later on.

Also, you’ll want to create a lively tank environment for your guppies, so you should consider adding some plants and foliage. This can be super helpful for guppies that feel intimidated in a tank.

2. Poor Water Quality

Poor water quality in guppy fish tank
Lack of nutrients and insufficient water quality will make your fish turn black or white in color. To avoid this use the correct tools for your tank to achieve optimal water parameters.

When you’ve got a tank with insufficient water quality, your guppies can lose color in only a matter of days. With the lack of nutrients and struggle to survive, you may notice your guppy fish turning black or white. This problem is highly avoidable, so it’s one that you don’t necessarily have to deal with. If you’re willing to commit to the correct tools for your tank, achieving optimal water parameters should not be a struggle.

First, you’ll need to install these handy gadgets to take the load off your back. A thermometer and filter should be a good start. Next, you will need to know the average temperatures and pH balance levels in which your guppies can thrive. Stick to these numbers and regularly check if you are in the range to ensure they are correct.

Guppy fish prefer water that sits between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit. And the great news is that guppies are pretty hardy and do well with a pH between 7.0-8.0. Unfortunately, most aquarium fish don’t tend to enjoy pH levels this high, so you’ve also got to be considerate of their tank mates. However, swordtails, Mollies, and Honey Gouramis are all viable options for tankmates that can survive in these levels.

3. Disease

Disease in guppy fish
Diseases like fin rot, dropsy, swim bladder disease, and more will cause your guppy fish to lose color.  It’s best to consult a vet immediately.

Like other aquarium fish that tend to lose color, a guppy fish turning black or white can be easily linked to a disease or infection. However, a particularly concerning one is the ich. Also known as Ichthyopthirius Multifiliis, this is a common problem with aquarium fish. If you suspect this is in your tank, you must quickly isolate the affected fish, replace the tank water and commence treatment.

A few other tank diseases also exist and come with their own harmful symptoms. Symptoms such as your guppy fish not moving can occur with fin rot, dropsy, swim bladder disease, and more. When a guppy suffers from these ailments, having a trusted vet to communicate with is one of the best things you can do.

Watching your guppy fish lose color due to a disease doesn’t have to be the end. If you can treat the problem early and effectively, your fish can make a full recovery and have its original colors restored.

4. Food

Food for your guppy fish
Feed your guppy fish 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. Image from Flickr

Guppies are supposed to be fed at least twice per day. If feeding habits are inappropriate, you may quickly notice your guppy fish losing color. Sticking to a balanced feeding pattern is a good idea if you want to keep it in good shape. With a good feeding pattern, you need to be more conscious of the types of meals they receive.

For example, choosing foods that can be consumed in under a minute. Guppies can easily be subjected to the consequences of overfeeding or underfeeding, so feeding them the right quantities is highly recommended.

Ensure that your guppies are given a wide variety of foods. This includes meals like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and the occasional flakes. Be sure to avoid feeding pellets or flakes consistently. Guppies tend to have a strong need for nutrients, and flakes can only do so much, which causes a deficiency in their diet. With the wrong diet, you will witness your guppy fish losing color and other problems, like your guppy fish not moving due to lethargy.

5. Artificial Coloring

Artificial coloring for guppy fish
If your guppy is losing color, it’s likely losing the artificial color and is returning to its natural color.

This is a pretty avoidable problem if you avoid the temptation to introduce colors to the tank at all costs. However, the real problem begins if you purchase a guppy from a store owner that uses artificial colors. If the store had been using artificial coloring, you are likely to see the color fade when you place it in your tank.

Suppose you suspect your guppy fish is losing color due to artificial coloring. In that case, you don’t need to be too concerned about its health. The only real consequence is that your guppy will return to a naturally pale appearance. This look may be less attractive, but a healthy and happy fish is still worth appreciating!

6. Age

Age of guppy fish
There’s nothing you can do if your guppy fish is losing color due to aging because it’s a natural process! Image from Flickr

As guppies get older, their colors begin to fade. Suppose you see your senior guppy fish turning white. In that case, this is something not to worry about, especially if they are over a year old. By at least two years of age, guppies can already begin to display signs of aging, which is not too big a deal.

Ideally, you’ll want your pet to live long, but aging is just their natural process. The life expectancy for guppies can go on for up to 5 years. And, there are many ways to naturally extend your guppies’ lifespan.

When a guppy loses its colors due to aging, there’s nothing you can do to restore the originally vivid colors. So instead, you need to take care of it and keep it healthy for the remainder of its life.

How Guppy Colors Work

Colors of guppy fish
A health issue can be the cause of fading or color loss in your guppy fish and it could be deadly if not treated.

If you’ve examined guppies for even a short period, you’d have learned that colorful guppies are usually male. Meanwhile, female guppies are primarily pale gray. This design is borne out of nature and not a trait that can be influenced by breeding.

The science behind it, at least according to researchers, is down to mating. Like peacocks, wild male guppies evolved to be colorful in order to appear more attractive to mates. Meanwhile, the females never had that incentive in their evolution, so they have always been a pale gray shade.

For male baby guppies, inheriting the colors of a male parent is quite simple, as the female parent’s genes do not interfere with the male parents.

If you’ve got a bunch of new baby guppies and you don’t immediately notice the vibrant colors, it’s not a point of concern. Babies only tend to develop their colors once they’ve matured between 1-6 weeks. So by the 10th week, it should be fully colored.

How To Care For A Guppy Fish That Is Losing Its Color

Care for a guppy fish
Now that you know the different reasons why your guppy fish is losing color, the next step is to learn how to restore it!

When a guppy fish begins to lose color, you can do something about it in certain scenarios. So if you are looking to learn some valuable tips for when your guppy fish is turning black or white, here they are:

1. Prevent Overcrowding

Overcrowding guppy fish
Overcrowding will cause stress to your fish which will eventually lead to them losing their color. It’s best to buy a bigger tank to accommodate all your guppy fish and maintain your tank regularly.

Guppy fish losing color will quickly become a significant issue if your tank is too populated. To avoid this, don’t make your guppies compete with one another. Overcrowding also increases the risks of dangerous minerals like nitrate and nitrite building up. It also messes with the tank’s cleanliness, making it difficult to maintain.

To solve this, consider buying a bigger tank to accommodate all your guppy fish. You can also get an aquarium kit to help with maintaining it better. Finally, an overcrowded tank can lead to oxygen deficiencies, contributing to your guppy fish not moving.

2. Provide Adequate Lighting

Adequate lighting in guppy fish
Adequate lighting is essential for maintaining and enhancing guppy fish color.

When a guppy fish is losing color due to lighting, you’ll need to introduce the right lights that can help with enhancing its appearance. In other words, it’s time to reevaluate your current lighting and see what adjustments need to be made. Also, avoid exposing your tank to direct sunlight, which can be dangerous for fish because tank temperatures can quickly fluctuate.

Consider using artificial lighting options, specifically lights that provide a warm tone to encourage colors like red, green, brown, and orange to be more visible.

3. Provide Plants

Provide plants in guppy fish tank
Plants will create a good hiding spot for your guppy fish. More plants will cause less stress to your fish.

When a tank has a sufficient plant population, your fish will feel less stressed and more inclined to grow successfully. Tanks with plants are also appealing because they give more depth to your aquarium’s appearance. If a guppy fish is losing color due to stress having plants can create good hiding spots and an excellent place for your fish fry to be safely sheltered.

If you have plants you’d like to introduce, take extra care to ensure that they don’t contain parasites that can be dangerous for your guppies. Artificial plants are also an option if you want to avoid the responsibility that comes with real plants.

Final Thoughts

Cute guppy fish in tank
There are a lot of factors why guppy fish lose their color. These might be stress, poor water quality, disease, poor quality food, artificial coloring, and the age of your fish. Make sure to keep a stress-free environment and adequate water conditions with stable water parameters in their tank.

A guppy fish losing color is not an ideal situation to have in your tank. However, these problems come with the task of being an aquarist. With vital information like the content of this guide, you can make your experience more pleasant with knowledge of possible problems and the right solutions to implement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my female guppy fish losing color?
Although female guppies don't get the vibrant colors that their male counterparts tend to sport, they can also deal with the effects of losing color. Therefore, it is also possible to observe your female guppy fish turning black or white. If this is something you've noticed, there is a possibility it could be pregnant. Pregnant guppies tend to fade a bit when experiencing signs of stress during pregnancy. Therefore, it's best to ensure that your pregnant guppy is kept separately during this period.
Why is my guppy fish turning black?
If you've noticed a darker tone on your guppy, it could be due to ammonia burns. In this situation, replacing at least 50% of your tank water is best, and using an aquarium kit to track the water conditions.
Why is my guppy fish turning white?
A guppy fish turning white is one of the more common affects you may observe while caring for one. It can be due to aging, diseases, or many other factors detailed in this article. Once you notice that your guppy fish is losing color, it's best to make an effort to keep it happy by fixing whatever is affecting it.
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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.