Platies are hardy creatures, which is why I enjoy raising them. However, more than once, I noticed that their colors are changing. Most frequently, I saw that my platies begin to lose their colors and gradually turn white. Since this got me concerned, I began researching the topic pretty extensively.
Most commonly, platy fish turn white due to genetic factors that lead their colors to fade as they grow. However, platies may also become white due to fungal infections, Ich disease, poor water quality, and a stressful environment. In these cases, the fish will appear both lethargic and whitish.
As we move forward in this article, I will take you step-by-step to treat a platy fish that has turned white. I will also show you how to distinguish sick platy that has lost its colors from an old one, which merely became white due to its age.
Why is my Platy Turning White?
It is reasonably common for fish to lose their color, and platies are no different. This phenomenon isn’t a good thing. Sometimes, you have no reason to worry. But in many cases, it is a sign that things have gone wrong. If your platies are turning white, you need to act quickly.
By helping your platy regain its color, you are also improving its overall wellbeing. Of course, you cannot stop your platy from turning white without first identifying the factors causing this occurrence. Some of the more prominent sources of this phenomenon include:
People rarely consider this factor. Sometimes, the transformation in a platy’s color is tied to its genetic makeup. If your platy was young when you got it, it is probably turning white because that is the creature’s natural color.
Platies come in a variety of colors. However, you cannot always determine the color your platy will settle into when it is young. Don’t be so quick to presume that a young fish is sick simply because it is turning white. For all you know, it is supposed to be white.
The same is true for older platies. Some fish grow pale as they age. It cannot be helped, and it shouldn’t concern you. If your fish is neither too young nor too old, you should also consider that its genetic makeup programmed it to turn white at some point in its life.
But you should only conclude this if the platy is entirely healthy and hasn’t shown any additional signs of distress. You should also take a moment to eliminate all other potential causes of the change in color. If you have a pristine tank and your platy is happy, you can blame the change in color on its genes.
2. Fungus & Ich Disease
Fungal infections are quite common in fish. Platies that are stressed or living in poor quality water are more vulnerable to fungal infections. If your platy is turning white, it could be suffering from the Cotton Wool disease.
The fungal infection gets its name from the fluffy white growths spread across the fins, skin, and mouth of an infected fish. If your tank is dirty, and it is home to dead and decomposing organic matter, a fungal infection is highly likely. The same is valid for tanks whose platies are old, injured, or infected by other diseases and parasites.
Ich is another disease that you should keep an eye out for. It causes white spots to cover your fish. A parasite causes the ailment. A fish with ich will also lose its appetite. Over time, it will become lethargic. The irritating sensation on its skin will make it rub against the various objects in the tank.
3. Stressful Environment
Fading colors are generally signs of discomfort in fish, and few other factors cause more discomfort in platies than stress. Stress has many sources where fish are concerned. One of the most problematic is a small tank.
Platies need a minimum of ten gallons. Anything smaller is going to distress them. The same is true for overcrowded tanks. Stress is like a sickness that weakens your platy’s ability to resist diseases and infections. In other words, it is more vulnerable to ailments like Cotton Wool disease.
But even in the absence of diseases and infections, fading colors are one of the physical signs that you will see in stressed fish. If your platy is turning white, look at its tank, and identify any elements that could cause stress.
4. Inadequate Diet
A poor diet will affect a platy’s health. In response, the platy’s physical attributes will deteriorate, including its color. Platies are omnivores that eat insects, plants, worms, and the like. You have to feed them a balanced diet to maintain their health.
A failure to do so will affect their physical attributes. Some people think that flakes and pellets are enough to satisfy their platies. But that is not true. The fish can survive on flakes and pellets, especially the high-quality brands – but they won’t necessarily thrive.
It is also essential to avoid overfeeding. Many beginners think that underfeeding and poor diets are the only dangers that can threaten the colors of their platies. But overfeeding is just as destructive and could potentially harm your platy fish.
Not only will it make your fish sick, but it will increase the amount of waste they produce. That is without mentioning the leftovers that eventually overrun in the tank. The waste (and the leftovers) will eventually decompose, ruining the quality of the water and destroying your platies’ health.
5. Poor Water Quality
If your platy is turning white, toxins in the water are potentially poisoning it. Platies, like most fish, do not like ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. These toxins are always present in large quantities in dirty, poorly maintained tanks.
They are significant sources of stress, and they are more than capable of killing your fish. Not only will they destroy your platy’s color, but they will make it more susceptible to diseases and infections. You can expect similar results in tanks with the wrong pH and temperature.
Platies thrive in waters with particular parameters. The temperature should fall somewhere between 70 and 80 degrees F. They also need a pH of 7.0-8.0, and hardness ranging from 3 to 5dKH. If you fail to maintain these parameters, your platy’s color will pay the price, not to mention its health.
When the tank’s conditions are poor, you may also notice that your platies are swimming at the top of the tank, as I discussed in this article. I highly recommend reading it if that is your case, since following the steps I listed there could definitely save your fish’s life.
How to Treat Platies That Lost Their Color?
If your platy is turning white, you shouldn’t lose hope. There are several ways to help the fish, including:
1. Cotton Wool Disease & Ich
If your platy has a fungal infection like cotton wool disease, you can treat it with salt baths. If that doesn’t work, try Phenoxyethanol or any other antifungal agent that your vet has prescribed. If only one platy is sick, place it in quarantine before you initiate the treatment.
If you think that the other fish have contracted the disease, you can treat the entire tank. In case your platy has ich, start by improving the hygiene in the tank. Once this is done, raise the temperature to 86 degrees F. Keep it at this level for two days. You can also apply products such as formalin and copper sulfate.
2. Feed Your Platies Properly
As was noted above, it isn’t a good idea to feed your platies merely flakes and pellets. Add some variety. Give them a mixture of live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods. They need both animal and plant matter in their meals. Don’t just feed them shrimp. Add some spirulina and kelp.
When it comes to food supplements, I highly recommend checking the Tetra BloodWorms (link to Amazon). I found these highly nutritious and was able to see the results within a few weeks. Both my platies and angelfish have gained pretty immense colors after getting this diet.
Feed them only twice a day in quantities they can consume in two to three minutes. If you keep finding leftovers in the tank, take that as a sign that you are giving them too much food. Cut back. It might take a bit of experimenting to find the right amount of food to feed your platies, but the effort is worth it to avoid overfeeding.
3. Improve Your Tank’s Conditions
Sick platies need healthy tank conditions to fight off any ailments causing them to lose their color. That is why you have to improve the quality of the water in your platy’s tank before applying any additional treatments.
Check the size to ensure that your fish are not cramped. You can either get a bigger tank or remove some of your fish to ensure that the remaining platies have ample space. Test the water regularly to ensure that toxins like ammonia and nitrates haven’t spiked in concentration.
If your tank’s hygiene is responsible for the fading colors, start by carrying out a water change. If the platy is extremely sick, a water change could make things worse by inducing more stress. That is why you are encouraged only to change a third of the water. Do this twice a week. That will remove toxins while combating infections, parasites, and diseases.
If you don’t have them, add filters and heaters. A proper filter is necessary to keep your tank clean. Personally, I can’t recommend more the MarineLand Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter (link to Amazon). That device does a fantastic job in biological filtration, and you can barely hear it working.
However, on its own, the filter cannot sufficiently maintain the hygiene of the tank. You need to perform water changes. But even if you change the water regularly, a filter is still necessary. The same goes for a heater.
I also recommend performing regular water tests by using the API test kit (link to Amazon). That is the precise kit that I use to make sure that the ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, and pH are within the desired range. Checking the water’s quality is extremely crucial and should be done quickly if your fish are losing their colors.
You shouldn’t rely on the ambient temperature to maintain the conditions in your tank. A heater will give you more precise control over the temperature. If you can maintain a clean aquarium with the right pH and temperature, your platies will have a better chance of fighting off the illnesses, causing them to turn white.
5. Add a Few Plants
If your platies look stressed, add some plants and decorations to their aquarium. This will give the creatures more places to hide. Sometimes, a little privacy is all a fish needs to find some peace of mind. Peaceful platies are less likely to struggle with fading colors.
If you find it challenging to grow living plants, you can just as easily add fake ones. I personally use the MyLifeUNIT Artificial Seaweed Water Plants (link to Amazon). I like those because they are tall and provide shelter to all kinds of fish, regardless of their swimming level.
If you prefer living vegetation, I recommend checking an article I’ve written on whether platies eat plants and algae. In there, I listed all the types of plants that platy fish are not likely to eat, and which ones they will happily consume. That article may save you a lot of trouble down the line.
If your platy’s condition doesn’t make sense, and it continues to lose color despite your best efforts, you are encouraged to consult a vet. Some people will tell you to feed the fish color-enhancing foods such as salmon and daphnia. But you are still encouraged to see a vet. They have the expertise to diagnose your platy’s situation and to offer practical solutions.
If your platy had turned white, you should first consider genetic factors. Some platies merely become white as they grow, and besides that, they are perfectly healthy. That is probably the case if your fish hasn’t shown any signs of lethargy or sluggishness. However, if you’ve noticed changes in its behavior, you should first check your water quality.
Start by performing a test for toxins, such as ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. You should also check the pH and temperature. If fixing those hasn’t made any difference, you should consult a vet to check if an underlying infection is causing the problem.