Artificially colored fish is cruelty to animals

Let’s face it, who doesn’t love beautifully colored and striking aquarium fish? Unfortunately, it happens that people are not aware that colored fish are artificially colored. For example, by injecting dyes, painting or even tattooing the fish. Artificially colored fish are increasingly traded, often without owners knowing what has happened to the fish.

It would be something, an artificially colored bright red cat or a dog that glows in the dark. The pets look unhappy in their eyes. Artificially colored fish are bought because they are beautiful. You frown upon hearing this story. Unfortunately, this is the reality with the increasing trade of artificially colored tropical fish. Aquarium fish are colored using gruesome methods, a process of suffering that often leads to accelerated death of the fish. Are you aware of that?

Fact: Nine out of ten colored fish lose their color after a few months.

How do fish get artificial color?

Different techniques are used to add color to tropical fish. New techniques emerge regularly and at a rapid pace. The consequences for these aquarium fish are not wrong. Not only do fish become totally stressed, and are therefore very sensitive to fish diseases such as White spot, often fish die some time afterwards due to the consequences of the treatment. We have listed a number of methods for you.

Injecting aquarium fish

A horrific method of artificially colored fish is injecting (or lasering) dyes directly into the skin of a fish. Just like with a tattoo, only a small part of the skin is colored per injection, which means that many injections are necessary. Here too, fish often die as a result of needle infections and the stress that this entails.

colored food

From an early age, aquarium fish are fed food with dyes. This creates colored fish, which swim around with a temporary color tint. The moment these fish stop eating the food, the hue will also disappear. Unfortunately, this food has harmful effects on their growth and development.

Read Also: Dry and live food for fish


Ways like this are downright horrific. What happens here is that the fish is submerged in a liquid that dissolves the outer slime layer. Then this fish is submerged in another liquid which gives it an artificial color. Finally, he is immersed in a liquid that irritates the skin, causing a kind of accelerated reaction of the repair of the mucous layer. A very stressful and often deadly treatment method.

Fact:  Colored fish usually die over time from the effects of artificial coloring


In this method, aquarium fish are kept in water containing large amounts of artificial hormones. Resulting in more visible colors and color patterns. In some cases, female fish even acquire masculine qualities. And voilà, artificially colored fish. Inflicting too many hormones is unfortunately harmful to the long-term health of the fish.

Genetic manipulation

It all started with injecting a fluoridated protein from a jellyfish into a zebrafish gnome. These experiments have since been further developed and glow-in-the-dark fish exist. While this is said to not harm the fish (fish are born with the colors), there is a lot of debate about its ethical implications. What’s next, glow-in-the-dark parakeets?

Why are artificially colored fish cruelty to animals?

As mentioned briefly above, the treatment methods entail quite a few harmful consequences. Artificially coloring aquarium fish is simply animal cruelty. Why? Read the summary below.

  • Generally with some treatment methods 80% of the fish will die. Unfortunately, because 20% survive long enough, the treatments remain commercially interesting.
  • During the treatment, the fish suffer from stress from various fish diseases and infections, which means that these fish live considerably shorter.
  • Many young fish develop physical abnormalities as a result of the treatment and do not grow to their actual normal length.
  • Adding a physically weak and sensitive fish to your own aquarium is very dangerous for the other aquarium inhabitants. These run a high risk of brought infections.
  • Treating fish for cosmetic reasons leads to an increased mortality rate with almost every treatment method.

What can you do to avoid buying colored fish?

You can’t blame every owner for coming home with an artificially colored fish. This often happens because of ignorance. What you can do about this is delve into the fish you want to buy. Search the internet for the tropical aquarium fish that match your tank and Google if they are artificially colored. Before purchasing the fish, ask whether its beautiful colors are not artificial by chance. A conscious buyer is a good buyer!


The best way for consumers to deal with practices such as artificially coloring fish is simply not to buy these fish. As stated, not every aquarist intentionally buys artificially colored fish, so help aquarists in your area to become aware of the consequences of color treatment. Prevention is better than cure. Artificially inflicting colors is nothing but a heinous form of animal cruelty.

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