Swim bladder disease is one of the most common problems affecting goldfish. If you’ve seen your fish swimming upside down or on its side, then you’ve seen a swim bladder problem.
Although often called a “disease”, it is actually a symptom that can have a number of different causes. There is not one specific “disease” that is the cause of all swim bladder problems in goldfish.
Proper goldfish care can prevent most swim bladder problems.
As it is not actually a disease, swim bladder problems are not contagious. If one fish has a problem, your other fish won’t “catch it”. However, they may still be at risk of developing similar problems.
Fortunately, swim bladder problems can usually be cured fairly easily, as long as you spot them early enough.
If you see your fish swimming upside down or on its side, act quickly!
There are several good swim bladder treatments available. But, before you try to cure your fish, read on to find out more about treating swim bladder problems.
What is swim bladder disease?
Swim bladder disease is when a fish loses its ability to regulate the air going in and out of its swim bladder. This causes the fish to swim strangely, on its side, or even upside down.
The job of the swim bladder is to help the goldfish stay stable in the water and control the way in which it floats.
If the goldfish wants to swim upwards, towards the top of the tank, then it will take air into its swim bladder. This makes the goldfish more buoyant (like an inflatable in a swimming pool) and it rises towards the surface.
If the goldfish then wants to swim downwards, towards the bottom of the tank, it will release air from the swim bladder. You may see this air coming out of the fish’s mouth in the form of bubbles as it swims to a lower point in the tank.
Why Is My Fish Swimming Upside Down?
If your fish is swimming upside down, it has a problem with its swim bladder.
Your fish has stopped being able to control its swim bladder and has got stuck with too much air inside it.
The reason for this could be constipation, a poor diet, eating habits, or an infection.
What Causes Swim Bladder Problems?
Causes of swim bladder problems include:
- Constipation, which results in excess food pressing against the swim bladder. This is a common problem in goldfish, which you can read about here.
- Swallowing air at the surface of the tank when eating
- Eating the wrong kinds of food, which then ferment in the gut
- Sudden changes in temperature
- Bacterial infection
- Parasitic infection
Fancy goldfish often suffer from deformed swim bladders, as they have been bred to have such unusual body shapes.
Symptoms of Swim Bladder Disorders
Identifying swim bladder disorders can be challenging, but certain symptoms such as abnormal swimming patterns, difficulty maintaining balance, and floating or sinking issues can indicate a problem. Observant fish owners can play a crucial role in early detection.
What Do Swim Bladder Disorders Look Like?
Swim bladder disorders in fish manifest in various ways, and recognizing the signs is crucial for prompt intervention. Understanding what to look for can help fish owners identify potential issues and take proactive steps to address them. Let’s delve into the visual cues that indicate a fish may be experiencing swim bladder disorders.
Treating the problem in 5 easy steps
Swim bladder problems can be very serious. But there is hope! It is also one of the most straightforward issues to treat.
Follow these 5 simple steps:
- Test the water quality and temperature using a test kit. Is the tank properly cycled? Do you do regular water changes? Is there ammonia or nitrite in the water? Is the temperature stable? If not, you need to urgently take action to improve and stabilize your water parameters.
- Do not feed the fish for at least 48 hours. Don’t worry – goldfish really don’t need to eat much!
- After 48 hours, start to hand feed the fish very small amounts of peas with the shells removed in order to clear up the blockages.
- Add some aquarium salt (one teaspoon per gallon) to de-stress the fish. You can buy aquarium salt online or at pet stores.
- Try a specific swim bladder treatment.
- Try a treatment for bacterial infection such as API Melafix.
You should soon see your goldfish start to swim in a more stable, upright position.
Balancing Your Pond Fish’s Diet
With the arrival of autumn, it becomes essential to modify your fish’s diet to align with the shifting water temperatures. The decrease in temperatures during the fall season can noticeably decelerate their digestive processes, which can be the leading cause of enlarged intestines.
Stopping it from happening again
After your fish has recovered from swim bladder disease, you should consider making changes to their diet.
Here are 5 top tips to prevent swim bladder problems.
- Read our article on feeding goldfish and feeding a varied diet to your fish.
- Feed sinking pellets instead of flakes. You can find out more about pellets in our guide to feeding pellets to your goldfish.
- Feed your goldfish peas with the shells removed, boiled vegetables, bloodworms, and brine shrimp.
- Soak food in tank water for a few seconds before adding it to the tank. This will make sure it sinks and stop your goldfish from gulping air at the surface.
- Feed less regularly. Goldfish really don’t need to eat much at all. There is much more risk of over-feeding your goldfish than there is of under-feeding them.
In conclusion, swim bladder disease poses challenges in the realm of fishkeeping, but with awareness, preventive measures, and timely intervention, its impact can be mitigated. Stay attuned to your fish’s behavior, provide optimal care, and foster a community of shared knowledge to ensure a thriving aquatic environment.
- How can I prevent swim bladder disease in my fish?
- Maintaining water quality, offering a balanced diet, and monitoring behavioral changes are key preventive measures.
- What are the common signs of swim bladder disease?
- Unusual swimming patterns, buoyancy issues, and erratic movements are indicative of swim bladder disease.
- Can swim bladder disease be cured at home?
- Mild cases may respond to conservative treatments, but severe cases often require professional veterinary intervention.
- Are certain fish species more prone to swim bladder disease?
- Yes, some species are more susceptible, highlighting the importance of species-specific care.
- How quickly should I seek treatment if I suspect swim bladder disease?
- Swift action is crucial; delaying treatment can lead to irreversible consequences.