Why do goldfish change color?

Have you looked at your goldfish recently and thought that it looked a different color?

Have you compared old photos of your goldfish to now and noticed that your fish’s color used to be brighter?

You may even have noticed your goldfish gradually turning white!

Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy! It’s actually perfectly normal for goldfish to change color over the course of their lives.

(Ok, maybe not quite as much as in the picture! If your goldfish goes that color then consult a vet!) 

Read on to find out why goldfish change color…

Has your goldfish changed color?

The main reasons that your goldfish may have changed color are:

  • Maturing to adulthood – goldfish are actually brown when they’re born, and develop their adult color later!
  • Diet – some goldfish foods bring out color in goldfish more than others
  • Amount of sunlight – goldfish in a pond or an aquarium that gets some sunlight will be more brightly colored than goldfish kept in darker conditions
  • Poor water quality – you should get a test kit that measures ammonia pH, nitrite and nitrate. Make sure that you’re using a suitable aquarium filter and doing enough water changes, as poor quality water can make goldfish color fade (and is bad for your fish’s health of course!)
  • Illness or disease – again, check your water quality and look for other symptoms of disease
  • Genetics – some goldfish change color as they age, simply because goldfish can live a very long time and that’s what their genes program them to do!

If your water quality is good and your fish is getting enough sunlight, then don’t worry about any gradual change in your goldfish’s color. Your fish could be changing color for any of the above reasons, or perhaps other reasons, and it’s almost certainly nothing to worry about.

However, if you notice your fish change color very suddenly, or only in localized areas of their body (small white spots for example) then you should consult a vet or search for the symptoms online. It’s possible that your fish could have a disease such as “Ich” (also known as “white spot disease“).

2 thoughts on “Why do goldfish change color?”

  1. Hello,
    I’ve noticed reddish spots on my common goldfish’s tail. Can you tell me what this may be? Ammonia levels and ph are In a healthy zone.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Jessica. Sorry to hear this about your fish! It could be a bacterial infection. Does it look like this?

      When you say “ammonia is in a healthy zone” do you mean zero? We would suggest that ammonia should be zero in a well cycled tank and anything above that – even low levels – would be a concern and could either harm your fish or let bacterial infection take hold.


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