Why Is My Angelfish Turning White? (5 Must-Know Tips)

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Several months back, my father and I began nurturing angelfish in our 55-gallon aquarium. We noticed one of them gradually losing its color, turning almost completely white.

Initially, we assumed it might be a natural process, perhaps related to its genetic makeup. 

However, when a similar color fading occurred in another angelfish, we realized there was an issue at hand.

What causes angelfish to lose their vibrant colors and turn white?

Is this a cause for concern? What steps can we take to remedy this situation? How can we detect if an angelfish is under stress or in poor health?

In this article, I will thoroughly explore these questions and more, ensuring you walk away with everything you need. Let’s dive right into it.

Is It Normal for Angelfish to Turn White?

No, it’s not typically normal for angelfish to turn white without a specific cause.

Whitening in angelfish can be a sign of stress, poor water conditions, or a response to breeding behavior.

If the color change is sudden or accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy or loss of appetite, it’s important to check the water quality and seek advice from a fish expert or veterinarian.

Why Is My Angelfish Turning White?

If your angelfish is changing color to white, it could be due to various reasons, including:

1. Fungal Infections

Fungal infections in angelfish are relatively common and can lead to discoloration or whitening of the skin.

These infections often arise in environments that are not properly maintained.

  • Cause of Whitening: Fungi attach to the fish’s skin, causing irritation and a change in coloration, often leading to patches of white.
  • Additional Cause: The angelfish’s immune system may respond to the infection, causing further discoloration as it fights off the fungal invaders.
  • Identification Tip: Look for cotton-like growths or unusual fuzziness on the fish’s body, which are typical signs of fungal infections.

2. Parasitic Infestations

Parasites, such as ich or flukes, can infest angelfish, causing significant stress and changes in color, including whitening.

  • Cause of Whitening: Parasites irritate the skin and gills, leading to a loss of pigmentation and a pale appearance.
  • Additional Cause: The angelfish may attempt to rub off parasites, causing skin damage and further whitening.
  • Identification Tip: Watch for scratching against objects in the tank or other signs of discomfort, indicative of parasitic presence.

3. Bacterial Diseases

Bacterial diseases are a serious concern in aquariums and can cause a range of symptoms in angelfish, including whitening of the skin.

  • Cause of Whitening: Bacterial infections can damage skin tissues, leading to a loss of color and white patches.
  • Additional Cause: The fish’s immune response to bacteria can disrupt normal pigmentation, causing whitening.
  • Identification Tip: Look for signs like ulcers, sores, or abnormal behavior, which are often associated with bacterial infections.

Also Read: Why Do Angelfish Stripes Fade?

4. Poor Water Quality

Maintaining optimal water quality is crucial for the health of angelfish. Poor water conditions can lead to stress and health issues, including color changes.

  • Cause of Whitening: Toxic levels of ammonia or nitrites can cause stress and skin irritation, leading to a pale or white coloration.
  • Additional Cause: Poor water conditions weaken the angelfish’s immune system, making them more susceptible to diseases that cause whitening.
  • Identification Tip: Regularly test water parameters like pH, ammonia, and nitrite levels to ensure they are within safe ranges.

5. Stress

Stress is a common factor in many fish health problems and can lead to color changes in angelfish, including whitening.

  • Cause of Whitening: Stress can disrupt normal bodily functions and pigmentation, causing the angelfish to lose its color.
  • Additional Cause: Chronic stress weakens the immune system, leading to diseases that can further affect coloration.
  • Identification Tip: Look for changes in behavior, such as reduced feeding or hiding, which are common indicators of stress in fish.

Also Read: Stress In Angelfish

Treating Angelfish That Are Turning White

If your angelfish is changing color to white, it’s important to target the possible reasons. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Antifungal Medications

When angelfish turn white due to fungal infections, antifungal treatments are essential. 

These treatments directly target the fungal pathogens, aiding in the restoration of the fish’s natural coloration.

  • General Treatment: Broad-spectrum antifungal medications are effective against various fungal infections in angelfish, ensuring comprehensive treatment.
  • Product Example: Seachem PolyGuard (link to Amazon) treats both fungal and bacterial diseases in freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
  • Dosing Instructions: For Seachem PolyGuard, use one measuring spoon (included) per 40 liters (10 gallons), repeating the dose every 3 days for up to 2 weeks.
  • Treatment Length: Treatment generally lasts for 2 weeks, during which water quality and fish health should be closely monitored.

Also Read: Angelfish White Fungus Disease

2. Anti-parasitic Treatments

Parasitic infestations like ich or flukes can cause angelfish to turn white.

Anti-parasitic treatments are crucial in eradicating these parasites and helping the fish regain its normal coloration.

  • General Treatment: Effective anti-parasitic treatments target common parasites in angelfish, such as ich and flukes, and are critical for their recovery.
  • Product Example: Fritz Mardel Coppersafe (link to Amazon) is widely used for treating ich, velvet, and other parasitic infections in both freshwater and marine fish.
  • Dosing Instructions: Administer Fritz Mardel Coppersafe by adding 1 teaspoon (5 ml) for every 4 gallons (15 liters) of water. The treatment should not be filtered out or diluted.
  • Treatment Length: Continue the treatment for at least one month to ensure all life stages of the parasites are eradicated.

Also Read: Angelfish Ich

3. Antibiotic Therapy

Bacterial infections can lead to angelfish turning white, and antibiotic therapy is often necessary to combat these infections.

  • General Treatment: Antibiotic treatments are specifically tailored to target bacterial pathogens, effectively treating infections and aiding in the recovery of the fish.
  • Product Example: API Fin and Body Cure (link to Amazon) is designed to treat bacterial diseases such as fin rot, open sores, and ulcers in fish.
  • Dosing Instructions: For API Fin and Body Cure, dissolve one packet per 10 gallons of water, and continue the treatment for 5-7 days.
  • Treatment Length: A full course of treatment, typically lasting 5-7 days, is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the antibiotic.

Also Read: Angelfish Fin Rot

4. Water Quality Improvement

Poor water quality is a common cause of stress and illness in angelfish, leading to whitening. Improving water quality is vital for the overall health of the fish.

  • Regular Water Changes: Conduct 20-30% water changes weekly; this helps reduce nitrate levels and introduces fresh, mineral-rich water for angelfish health.
  • Water Testing: Test water weekly for ammonia, nitrites (0 ppm), nitrates (below 20 ppm), pH (6.8-7.8), and hardness, adjusting as necessary for angelfish. I use the API Freshwater Master Test Kit (link to Amazon) for that.
  • Frequent Changes: Implement 15% bi-weekly water changes in addition to the weekly 30% to ensure optimal water conditions for the angelfish.
  • Filter Maintenance: Clean or replace filter media monthly, and check filter flow rate regularly to maintain efficient water filtration and oxygenation.

Also Read: Angelfish Water Parameters

5. Stress Reduction Measures

Stress can significantly impact an angelfish’s health, causing whitening. Implementing stress reduction measures is crucial for the wellbeing of the fish.

  • General Approach: Opt for a 20-gallon tank for a single angelfish, adding 10 gallons for each additional fish; ensure compatibility among tank mates.
  • Tank Environment: Create hiding spots with plants like Java Fern or decorations; a well-structured environment reduces stress in angelfish.
  • Lighting and Noise: Maintain a consistent light cycle of 12 hours on, 12 hours off; keep the aquarium in a low-traffic, quiet area of your home.
  • Feeding Routine: Feed angelfish high-quality flakes or pellets twice daily at set times; consistent feeding reduces competition and stress. My recommendation: TetraCichlid Cichlid Flakes (link to Amazon).

Also Read: How To Feed Angelfish

Normal vs. Abnormal Color Changes in Angelfish

Normal vs. abnormal whitening in angelfish can be distinguished by observing the patterns and context of the color change.

Normal whitening is usually uniform and gradual, whereas abnormal whitening may appear patchy, rapid, or accompanied by other symptoms.

  • Natural Aging: Mature angelfish often gradually pale, showing uniform whitening over several months as a normal aging sign.
  • Stress Indicators: Sudden, patchy whitening, combined with erratic swimming or hiding, often indicates stress from environmental factors.
  • Disease Signs: If whitening is accompanied by other symptoms like clamped fins or loss of appetite, it could indicate disease.
  • Water Quality: Consistent, gradual whitening without other symptoms can be a natural response to genetic traits.

Are Certain Angelfish Species More Prone to Turning White?

Yes, certain angelfish species are more prone to turning white, often due to genetics or specific environmental sensitivities.

These species typically exhibit a greater tendency for color changes either naturally or in response to stress.

The most common species known for this tendency include the Platinum Angelfish, Pearl Scale Angelfish, and the Albino Angelfish.

How Regularly Should You Check Water Conditions to Avoid Color Changes?

To maintain the health and vibrant colors of angelfish, it’s recommended to check water conditions at least once a week.

Regular monitoring helps in detecting any changes in parameters like pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, which can affect the fish’s coloration.

More frequent checks may be necessary if you notice any signs of stress or color changes in your angelfish, as early detection allows for prompt corrective actions.

Also Read: Angelfish Turning Black


For quick readers, here’s a short summary:

  • Angelfish turning white can indicate stress, fungal or parasitic infections, bacterial diseases, poor water quality, or natural aging processes.
  • Stress in angelfish, often due to environmental factors, can lead to color changes, necessitating measures to create a stress-free environment.
  • Fungal infections, typically resulting from poor aquarium maintenance, cause white patches and require specific antifungal treatments.
  • Parasitic infestations, such as ich or flukes, result in whitening and are addressed with effective anti-parasitic treatments.
  • Bacterial diseases leading to whitening of the skin need targeted antibiotic therapy for effective treatment and recovery of the fish.