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Problems with Painted Fish


Artificially colored fish have become increasingly popular in the aquarium trade. May fish producers started to create colorful fish by injecting them with artificial color or dipping them in dye.

Why is painted fish a problem? The fish will suffer during the various treatments and also becomes much more susceptible to illness. Some dyeing methods cause up to 80% of the treated fish to die during or right afterwards. In addition to being hurt and stressed, dyeing can cause young fish to be stunted and never reach their full size. Estimations show that roughly 90% of these painted fish loose their colors within a few months.

Painted fish are often sold to less experienced fish keepers that are attracted to the vibrant colors without realizing that they are unnatural.

Painted fish are also known as juiced fish, artificially colored fish, or dyed fish. Fish can be colored using different methods. The three most common methods are dye injections, dipping and colored food.

Dye injection:

During a dye injection, a needle is used to inject dye under the skin of the fish. Only a small area of skin will be dyed from each puncture. A large amount of punctures is necessary to achieve desired coloration, which is very stressful for the fish. The Indian Glassfish is one example of a fish that is commonly dyed using dye injections. The common forms of dye will metabolize in 4 to 20 months. How long the fish will stay colorful will depend on the particular fish, which type of dye was used and how concentrated the dye was.


During dipping, the fish is placed in a caustic solution that removes the mucus from the body the fish is then dipped in dye. When the dying process is over, the fish is yet dipped in another solution. This solution consists of chemicals that are known to irritate the skin of fishes, since the irritation will stimulate the fish to produce a new slime/mucus coating.

Colored food:

Today, you can purchase prepared fish food that will enhance the color of fish. Many of these foods have been made to suit a particular fish species, and contain colored food particles and balanced nutritional needs of that particular fish. The problem occurs when fish producers start feeding their fish that contains unhealthy and unnatural dye.

Many different fish species are dyed. Examples of fish that are commonly dyed are below.

Bubblegum parrot or Jelly Bean – They are dyed versions of Bloody Parrot Fish. They are dyed using bright colors like purple, green, red and blue.

Blueberry Oscars – Albino versions of the Oscar fish are injected with blue dye and sold as Blueberry Oscars.

Fruit tetras – Fruit tetras are White Skirt Tetras that have been dyed using the dipping method. Fruit tetras are usually obtained in a wide range of pastel colors.

Painted cory – Dying the tail of the Cory is the most popular variant.

Painted Botia – Blue Botias can be found in wild and are dyed to enhance color.

Painted Glassfish – Indian Glassfish is frequently dyed using brilliant colors.