Why Is My Goldfish Turning White? Is It Normal or Serious?

Goldfish are beautiful tiny creatures that come in different colors. They are delightful and cost almost nothing to keep. One unique feature that sets out these lovely little aqua pets from other aquatic species is their bright skin color.

These enchanting creatures possess such beautiful skin coloring we just want to see them keep glowing! A change in the color of orange fish is bound to raise some questions and concerns from you as a pet owner.

It’s not so delightful watching your beautiful goldfish lose its beautiful flashy skin color to unexplainable white patches. If you discover a change in the color of your goldfish, it might not be entirely bad.

Have you ever asked why is my goldfish turning white? This article will discuss possible causes for color change in goldfish, preventive measures to take to prevent your goldfish from turning white, and what to do when your goldfish starts turning white.

Is It Bad If My Goldfish Turned White?

As frightening as it may seem, a sudden change in color of your goldfish, such as your goldfish turning white, might not necessarily point to it being ill. Color changes in goldfish are pretty common, and the most common color for a goldfish during color change is white.

A goldfish turning white doesn’t mean you have a sick fish. Some causes of color changes are quite natural and environmental, which are most often not harmful to the health of your fish.

Why Is My Goldfish Losing Color?

It’s alarming to watch your goldfish lose its bright orange to white.

There are so many reasons that could be responsible for the color change your goldfish might be experiencing. Goldfish can turn white for the following reasons.

1) Inadequate Sunlight

One of the major and most common reasons for most goldfish turning white is the lack of adequate sunlight or exposure to light. If you discover or spot a color change in your little aqua pet, investigate the amount of direct sunlight the fish is getting.

It could be that your fish is not getting enough sunlight. One attractive feature of goldfish is their bright skin colors which are more commonly found on goldfish that dwell in outdoor ponds where they get enough access to natural sunlight.

Your goldfish might be missing these benefits as most pet goldfish are kept indoors. Having discovered the reason for your goldfish turning white due to lack of or inadequate sunlight, you may be bothered about how to fix this, and here’s good news.

Natural sunlight for your goldfish can be substituted for Full Spectrum LED lights. Although this artificial lighting is not the same as sunlight due to the lack of UV light in these artificial lights, they can provide similar benefits.

You can also consider giving your goldfish some “sunbathing” time by moving her from the darker area to sunny areas for a short while to expose your fish to extra sunlight.

Think of it as your goldfish getting a good tan. Ensure not to expose your goldfish too frequently to sunlight, especially on sunny or hot days. Also, make sure to use a thermometer to keep track of the water temperature to avoid overheating.

2) Goldfish Is Turning White Due To Aging

As your fish ages, it is expected that they undergo a natural transformation from their original color to white. Most old goldfish aren’t spotting their natural bright orange color but have changed to pale white.

This transformation is similar to humans, who tend to get gray hair as they age. So, also, goldfish tend to lose their glow associated with their youth due to old age.

Old age is a natural cause of your goldfish losing its original color, and this is no cause for alarm but just a reminder that your little pet isn’t so little anymore.

Related: How long do goldfish live?

3) Lack Of Vitamins

Another reason for the unexpected signs of color change on your goldfish can be due to a lack of vital vitamins. It’s not enough to just make sure your goldfish is eating well, but ensure your fish is getting the proper food.

Lack of a proper diet will not only cause your beautiful orange aqua pet to lose color and turn pale white but will also affect her life span and health.

Ensure you do not only feed your goldfish gel food but also supplements like algae wafers. Make sure to mix up various nutritious meals to keep your fish in good health and perfect shape.

4) Genetics

Although most goldfish turn white as they get older, a color change is mainly linked to genetics. Goldfish coloration is complex and, most times, unpredictable. The color changes you see on your goldfish may be pointing to the reality that your goldfish possess the genetics to undergo a color change to white.

Most goldfish species were created through selective breeding, which can lead to them undergoing unstable color changes.

The good news is these genetic reactions do not in any way affect the health of your goldfish, so there’s no worry that your goldfish is sick or dying.

5) Illness and Stress

One underlying cause of most goldfish changing color is a potential illness. Although other related causes to color change may include lack of light, genetics, aging, and dieting.

However, when all these causes seem not to be in play, and once you observe the scales of your goldfish falling off and its color-changing to white, you have an ill fish to bother about.

Make sure to pay a quick visit to a vet for examination or seek advice from a fish expert once you notice your goldfish starts losing scales or other symptoms of illness like lethargy, weakness, or difficulty swimming.

Stress can also cause an unexpected change in the color of your goldfish. Your goldfish might be experiencing stress if it has undergone certain tedious or rigorous activities like reallocation or transfer from one tank to another.

In this case, there’s no cause for alarm as your goldfish will surely regain her normal color once her stress level drops.

6) Low Oxygen Level In The Aquarium

Low oxygen levels in your aquarium tank can be very dangerous for your fish’s health as it can lead to severe illness or even death. To ensure the longevity of your fish life span, ensure that water quality is okay for your goldfish.

You can do this by testing the water in your goldfish aquarium for oxygen levels to ensure your goldfish is receiving enough oxygen. Check the numbers with a test kit to ensure they correspond with the original oxygen level requirements for your aquarium type and size.

If oxygen levels appear low from testing results, you have to begin with a water change. A quick water change could just be what your goldfish needs.

Also, add an air stone, powerhead, or any other form of aeration to ensure that oxygen levels remain stable.

7) Low Water Temperature and Environmental Changes In Goldfish Tank

Poor water conditions can be caused by a high level of ammonia and nitrate in your aquarium. High ammonia levels can make your goldfish turn white, cause severe illness and shorten the lifespan of your fish. Goldfish are very adaptive to change and are known for adopting certain features from their environment.

These aqua creatures are very sensitive to their habitat and react to changes in their tank-like PH levels, temperature, and new decoration or new tank placement.

Goldfish are hyper-sensitive and can easily detect even the slightest change in the environment. It could take a few months for your goldfish to become comfortable in a new environment.

Do Goldfish Change Color When Sick?

Goldfish are fragile creatures requiring care and close monitoring to ensure their lifespan is not cut short. In other to achieve this, there are signs apart from a color change that goldfish owners must look out for to avoid losing their little friend.

Illness is one major cause of death for goldfish, and most illnesses are contracted from their diet or habitat, which can lead to a color change or other noticeable symptoms.

One of the major symptoms of a sick goldfish is that it exhibits color change which can happen overnight or begin by displaying various discolored skin patches quite different from the natural ones.

What Are The Signs That Your Goldfish Is Dying?

The following signs are pointers to a dying goldfish;

  • Color Change: Your goldfish suddenly turning white, red, or black can indicate a severe illness that can lead to death if not addressed urgently.  
  • Breathing Disorders: Symptoms such as gasping for air, rapid breathing can be caused by breathing disorder. In these cases, you may likely find your goldfish skimming the surface of the tank water or lying at the bottom of the tank, which can be caused by poor water quality or illness.
  • Swim Bladder Disease: If you observe your fish swimming abnormally or upside down, this could have been caused by a swim bladder disease or improper diet or feeding.
  • Internal Parasite: Goldfish are known for their appetite! So, if you notice any contrary behavior in your goldfish, such as loss of appetite or weight loss due to lack of eating, this may be an internal parasite at work.
  • Fungal Disease: Symptoms such as turn or folded fins, lumps, bumps, protruding eyes, pale or bloated gills, milky white areas on fins or tails could all be indicators of a fungal disease.


The symptoms above explain the reasons why your goldfish suddenly changed color. Goldfish can regain their coloring through certain deliberate measures such as; correct dieting, adequate lighting, good oxygen levels, reduced stress level, and moderate environmental changes.

However, not all goldfish regain their normal color after they change color.

Once you notice your goldfish is changing color, contact your vet for proper advice to protect your goldfish’s health.

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Kelly Stanley