Do Oscar Fish Change Colors? {Is This Normal?}

Are you wondering if your oscar fish will change colors? Do you want to help your oscar fish be as vibrant and colorful as possible? In this article, we’ll discuss color changes in oscar fish and whether or not these changes are normal.

Do Oscar Fish Change Colors? Yes. Age, mood, water conditions and poor health could lead to color changes . Dark colors are positive while sudden bright color changes could indicate anger or frustration. Dull colors could be a result of old age or the onset of illness. 

Do Oscar Fish Change Color With Age?

When oscar fish are born, they look dull in color. The fry will experience major growth in their first year which also leads to color changes that are pronounced with color patterns which are much more appealing to the eye.

Two oscar fish from the same fry will not necessarily develop the same colors or patterns when they grow older together or apart. Oscar fish are unique in their color differences whether they are slight or more obvious in their varieties.

Why Do Oscar Fish Lose Their Color?

The loss of color in oscar fish becomes prominent when conditions in their health or their environment become poor. Diseases or stress show up physically with an oscar fish demonstrating poor health or discomfort by exemplifying faded colors.

Oscar fish can get moody like many other fish. Some fish keepers say that oscar fish are one of the moodiest fish out there. They could sulk, avoid tankmates, refuse food or change colors to more brighter or faded hues that shows us how disturbed or sensitive they feel to their internal or surrounding conditions.

Do Oscar Fish Change Color When They Are Happy?

Mood changes in oscar fish may show up externally and become easily noticeable with color changes. We tend to beleive that if our oscar fish is bright and vibrant then they are happy. Sometimes this is not true.

Did you know if an oscar fish is angry or frustrated, it can also brighten up the same way we would when our blood rushes to our head when we’re upset? The full body of an oscar can liven up and display vivid colors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy.

Usually, a calm and peaceful oscar fish in ideal water conditions with an optimal diet will demonstrate their comfort by displaying dark and distinct color patterns that are pleasing for us fish keepers to witness and observe.

Why Do Oscar Fish Turn Gray?

A gray oscar fish is trying to tell us something. This moody fish is not satisfied by what has happened. Some possible reasons include:

  • Being placed in a new tank
  • Changes in water parameters
  • Too much stress
  • Aggressive tankmates
  • Poor diet
  • Early signs of old age
  • Onset of disease

Before we get concerned to the point of seeking professional help or medication, let’s test the water levels and make sure these messy oscar fish haven’t changed their color to gray because of something we can improve.

What Can I Do?

See if you can take any of these suggestions below and turn them into action to bring back the vibrant or defined colors of your oscar fish.

  • Conduct frequent water changes
  • Bring ammonia levels to 0
  • Add nutrients through vitamin supplements
  • Address any aggressive tankmates by separating them
  • Add more hiding spaces or dividers
  • Increase tank size
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Why Do Oscar Fish Turn White?

A white colored oscar fish could be an albino breed or something more concerning. The white spots or discoloration could indicate disease or parasites on your oscar fish. Ich or Hole in the head (HITH) diseases could cause havoc to your oscar fish if they are not treated along with the water they reside in.

  • malnourishment
  • parasites
  • Ich
  • HITH (Hole in the Head disease)
  • messy water
  • high ammonia levels
  • high stress

Observe and test the water parameters. Consider a quarantine tank while you try to eliminate any parasites or bacteria that may cause harm to your oscar fish that is turning white. Act quickly and avoid any terminal effects from this undesirable color change.

What Do Oscar Fish Colors Mean?

It’s wrong to account for all color changes in oscar fish to changes in mood, but the following information can be observed and should be helpful in trying to understand our oscar fish better.

A happy oscar fish should display dark shades of:

  • black 
  • blue
  • dark green
  • orange

An angry oscar fish will brighten up rather quickly with popping shades of:

  • green
  • blue 
  • red

A sad oscar fish will turn noticeably pale in color with dull shades of:

  • green
  • blue 
  • red

If your oscar fish has other unique color patterns, just remember the following:

  • Happy = dark shades
  • Angry = bright shades
  • Sad = dull or pale shades

This is not a perfect science, but these color changes are helpful reminders to interact with our oscar fish who are communicating to us in a distinct way.

Do Oscar Fish Change Color For Camouflage?

Oscar fish are able to blend in with their surroundings. If your substrate is lighter in color, then you may notice a similar color change in your oscar fish. Add more vibrant colors to your substrate as a test and see of your oscar fish tries to match it.

Camouflage works well when oscar fish feel threatened or frightened. This is an ideal adaptation in the wild and they may resort to it in a tank that is uncomfortable at times. Due to their larger size and territorial nature, it’s best to give oscar fish plenty of room and lots of hiding places, plants or decorations.


It is normal for oscar fish to change color. We’re looking to see dark shades of various color patterns that make oscar fish beautiful to look at while they try to show us that they’re happy or comfortable. Sudden changes to brighter colors could indicate frustration or anger.

Prolonged vibrant colors are healthier than declining or dulling colors due to old age, stress or the onset of illness. We are lucky to take care of fish that are responsive and communicative through color changes so we can act accordingly if necessary.


We hope you are enjoying the process of oscar fish keeping and caregiving. Contact us or search through our site for many more oscar fish articles that offer suggestions, information and tips to help you enjoy your connection to your oscar fish even more!

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.