If you look in your tank only to see your goldfish floating upside down, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dead, so don’t flush them just yet!
In fact, it’s fairly common for goldfish to end up floating and swimming upside down, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal behavior.
Swimming sideways or upside down in their tank is a sure sign that there’s something up with your goldfish. This article is going to shed some light on what’s happening and what you can do about it.
What Is the Reason My Goldfish Is Swimming Upside Down?
If your goldfish is swimming upside down, the most probable cause is swim bladder disease.
Despite the name, swim bladder disease isn’t really a disease, it’s a symptom of one of several issues that could be affecting your goldfish’s swim bladder.
The swim bladder is a gas-filled organ that fish use to regulate their buoyancy and move up and down normally in water. So, when something’s affecting the swim bladder, it can cause a fish to float upside down or on their side, or float to the top or sink the bottom of their tank.
What Might Have Caused it to Happen?
Fancy goldfish are prone to issues with their swim bladders, especially those varieties that have been bred to have bulbous or balloon-like bodies.
That said, there’s still always a reason behind swim bladder disease, so let’s look at some of the possible causes:
- Constipation. Feeding a poor-quality food or too large a meal can cause your goldfish to become constipated, and the blockage can temporarily stop the fish from being able to regulate their swim bladder.
- Swallowing air. If you feed your goldfish flakes or other foods that float on the surface of the tank, they may ingest a large amount of air when they eat, which can cause issues with their swim bladder.
- Food expanding in the stomach. Certain types of dry pellets and freeze-dried food expands when moist, so if your goldfish eats it as soon as it hits the tank, it can expand in their stomach, which stops them from being able to properly regular their swim bladder.
- Bacterial infection. Sometimes swim bladder disease can be a symptom of an underlying bacterial infection.
- Changes in water temperature. Certain types of goldfish – such as round-bodied varieties – are susceptible to sudden changes in water temperature.
- Large amounts of nitrate in the water. Some fishkeepers have found their goldfish react badly to having high levels of nitrate in their aquarium water.
Should I Be Worried About My Goldfish Floating Upside Down?
Usually, swim bladder disease is simply caused by eating too much food or ingesting air with the food, and should fix itself with a few days of fasting your fish.
However, if your fish also looks unwell – for instance, is lethargic and has legions or discolored scales – it may be the sign of a bacterial infection. In which case, you should be more concerned, and it may warrant a trip to the vet.
What Can I Do to Treat the Problem?
The treatment for swim bladder disease depends on the cause.
Head over to AquaDaily for a comprehensive guide on the different ways to treat swim bladder disease.
How a Vet Can Treat Your Goldfish
In some cases, it might be best to take your goldfish to a vet who specializes in fish to treat the problem. Take a look at this video from Dr. Loh fish veterinarian to see what a qualified vet can do to treat swim bladder disease. Obviously, you shouldn’t be trying this yourself at home.
Is There a Way to Prevent Swim Bladder Disease?
The best way to deal with swim bladder disease is with a pre-emptive strike. Here are some ways you can lessen the chance of your goldfish getting swim bladder disease.
- Feed foods that sink to the bottom of the tank rather than floating on the top.
- Avoid feeding dried pellets or freeze-dried foods unless you soak them before putting them into the tank with your goldfish.
- Don’t overfeed your goldfish.
- Make sure the water in your tank is kept at a stable temperature.
- Check the water parameters in your tank to make sure it’s not too high in nitrates or any other undesirable substances.
Most goldfish found swimming upside down are suffering from some form of swim bladder disease.
On its own, swim bladder disease isn’t necessarily too serious, but it can be a sign of a more problematic underlying issue.
In many cases, swim bladder issues will go away on their own or can be dealt with at home. But, if in doubt, it’s wise to seek advice from a veterinarian who’s experienced in working with aquatic creatures.
Happy fish keeping!