Betta Fish Marbling – Color Changes in Bettas

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Many Betta owners who adopt their favorite fish in a certain color realize that after some time such color changes. And that is mostly a sign which brings worries, as it is usually related to high-stress levels in a fish or even to diseases. Or simply, old age.

But few Betta parents know that some specific fish can change their coloration in a perfectly safe way. How amazing is that? Such a phenomenon is called Betta Fish Marbling, and here is all you need to know about color changes in Bettas.

What is Betta Marbling?

This cool occurrence happens thanks to a gene mutation in certain Betta fish. Indeed, those who are born with the ˝jumping gene˝ are basically able to continuously change their coloration throughout the duration of their lives.

The jumping gene is able to move through their chromosomes, blocking out the black pigment and making Bettas change colors. It may be really spectacular to observe.

The most common colorations of such specific Bettas are usually either red or blue, as well as purple or white shades. The jumping gene is recessive. On top of that, it seems there are no general rules on the frequency of color changes in such Bettas.

Indeed, some may only change colors a few times during their lives, others can do it quite often, while third cases show that the color modification stops after a while.

How do Bettas Change Their Color?

Marble Bettas change their color thanks to the jumping gene they were born with. The gene has basically two functions: one is to move from one gene to another, and the second is to change coloration in such genes.

Indeed, when the jumping gene travels to one part of the Betta’s DNA, it deprives it of coloration. When that happens, it will seem like a marble effect from the outside. And it looks quite amazing.

The jumping gene basically blocks all-black pigmentation from a certain part of the chromosomes, forcing them to visibly change color. Such a special gene is completely unpredictable and it is impossible to plan in which direction and how often is it going to move.

That is why professional breeders prefer avoiding marble Bettas, as they can never be certain of the results with them. However, to all other Betta owners, observing their marble pets changing coloration is pure fun.

Do all Bettas Change Their Color?

Not all Bettas own the jumping gene which allows them to change color in a safe and healthy way. However, absolutely all Bettas can change their coloration when exposed to parasites or highly stressed situations. Also, old fish can fade their colors over time and there is nothing owners can do about that.

To conclude, all Bettas can change their color but, if they do not own the jumping gene, that could mean there is something wrong with their health.

Unfortunately, there is no way to be sure whether you are to adopt a marbling Betta or not. That is why it is always recommendable to adopt your pet from a certified and professional breeder, who will certainly offer more precise information about the parents.

Alternatively, a potentially good way to choose a marble Betta from a pet store is to look for those which are white, as these are likely to carry the jumping gene and start marbling at some point. Also, butterfly Bettas are often carriers of such genes.

Why are Betta Fish Colors Fading?

There can be so many reasons for Betta fish colors fading. Some of them are perfectly normal while others are caused by poor maintenance or illness, so it is important to understand them on time.

Bettas that carry the jumping gene and Bettas which reach old age will eventually have faded areas across their bodies. But this can also happen to highly stressed fish or those which are in unsuitable water, as well as fish that are not being fed properly.

Often, owners who purchase their Bettas from pet stores of poor quality, realize that their fish actually had faded colors due to poor maintenance and that such coloration became much brighter once their living conditions were improved.

There are also tiny tricks related to food that improve their coloration. If your Betta’s colors are a bit dull, try offering it brine shrimp or spirulina algae. Salmon and herring also enhance the color brightness.

Wrapping Up

Betta fish marbling is something that happens more often than we like to think it does. But many owners are unaware of that, so they are unfortunately often instructed to treat their Bettas with strong medication even if they are perfectly healthy.

It is important to be able how to recognize a safe from a dangerous color mutation, but you can always consult your vet if you are not sure.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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