Goldfish Swim Bladder Disease and How to Treat Your Sick GoldfishGoldfish swim bladder disorder is a disease that can be caused by several factors such as infection, poor feeding conditions, and sudden temperature changes.

Furthermore, swim bladder disorder causes the infected fish to float to the surface. In severe cases, they float upside down, causing them to swim on one side. To know more about swim bladder disorder and symptoms, you should read on.

What Is Swim Bladder?

The swim bladder is an air-filled organ in fish for regulating buoyancy and balance. They are long sausage-shaped organs and are usually two in number, with one being larger than the other. 

Furthermore, there is an opening directly into the gut of the larger rear swim bladder. That opening helps the fish slightly deflate or inflate the swim bladder, depending on how much buoyancy is required. The front air bladder has small bones at the back of the skull attached to it. This performs the function of hearing and balance. 

To find out what causes Goldfish swim bladder disease, you should keep reading.

Causes Of Goldfish Swim Bladder Disorders

Several factors ranging from poor diet to old age can cause Goldfish swim bladder disorder. Until you can identify the cause of the disease, it may be challenging to treat swim bladder disease. So, here are some of the common causes of a swim bladder disorder:

  • Poor feeding habits
  • Infection 
  • Swallowing air
  • Sudden temperature changes
  • Water conditions
  • Old age and genetics

Let’s go ahead and review each one closely:

– Poor Feeding Habits 

Poor feeding habits are among the most common causes of a swim bladder disorder. So, goldfish that are fed with stale or poor quality food could suffer from swim bladder disorder. Moreover, when Goldfish eat food that is unsuitable for them, they could become constipated. This results in gas forming in the fish’s gut.

Constipated Goldfish can’t release the accumulated gas independently. If the accumulated gas becomes too much, it could get into the swim bladder. With the swim bladder filled with gas, the fish becomes too animated and loses balance. Therefore, you should always ensure that your Goldfishes are fed properly.

– Infection

An infection in the swim bladder of Goldfish is another reason for a swim bladder disorder. The swim bladder can be attacked by bacteria, causing the fish to lose balance or buoyancy.

– Swallowing Air

Some expert breeders believe that Goldfish could lose balance and buoyancy when they swallow air while feeding. For this reason, some aquarists prefer to feed their Goldfish only sinking pellets. However, do keep in mind that some fish swallow air while being fed without experiencing any problem.

– Sudden Temperature Changes

Sudden temperature change is a significant cause of swim bladder disorder. Furthermore, round-bodied Goldfish are more prone to developing swim bladder disorders, as they are more susceptible to chills. What you should do is ensure that the temperature is always properly maintained.

– Water Conditions

The water conditions of your aquarium could also cause swim bladder disorder. Some breeders believe that water with high nitrate levels can affect the swim bladder. In this case, your best bet is to ensure that your tank’s water conditions are optimal at all times using an Aquarium water clarifier and a Test Kit.

– Old Age And Genetics

Swim bladder problems are more common in old Goldfish. Sometimes this is also linked to the fish’s genetic makeup. The fancy varieties are more susceptible to developing swim bladder disorder as they age. Therefore, when choosing your fish for breeding, ensure you pay attention to the varieties you select.

How To Fix Swim Bladder In Goldfish

Treating swim bladder problems in Goldfish involves several treatment steps. Once these steps are followed appropriately, the disorder can be corrected.

However, swim bladder treatment needs to start as soon as you notice the fish is distressed to treat it effectively. If the treatment is delayed, the imbalance could become permanent.

This would cause the fish to float to the surface, exposing it to air and excessive light. With this, the Goldfish could start developing redness on its belly or areas exposed to air for a long time. So, you should be vigilant and take action quickly to prevent this.

The treatment process can be completed in four steps that we have described below.

Step 1. Fixing Goldfish Swim Bladder: Moving the Fish to a Sickbay

Moving the affected Goldfish to a sickbay is the first step to treat swim bladder problems. Although swim bladder disorder is not contagious, moving the fish out would allow for better treatment to be administered.

It will also enable you to observe the fish better. When moving it, ensure you watch the fish’s waste and use fresh, aged water in the sickbay.

Step 2. Fixing Goldfish Swim Bladder: Introducing Salts

Once the fish has been successfully transferred to the sickbay, the next step is to introduce non-iodized salt and Epsom salt. Ensure you add two teaspoons of Epsom salts and non-iodized salt per gallon to the water.

Step 3. Fixing Goldfish Swim Bladder: Watch Before You Feed

After adding non-iodized salt and Epsom salt, don’t feed the fish for at least two to three days. Before feeding the fish on the second or third day, ensure that there is a noticeable improvement in its condition, so you should watch if the fish has regained its balance or if it passes out waste.

If the waste is light-colored, hangs from the anal pore for a duration, or has gas bubbles interspersed in it, it is clear that the fish is suffering from constipation or indigestion.

Step 4. Fixing Goldfish Swim Bladder: Warm Water and Food

Warm the water of the sickbay to about 68 degrees Fahrenheit if the water temperature is cold. Ensure you do this for several days while observing the fish’s progress. This along with the other steps of this treatment should fix the disorder after a couple of days. Moreover, you should feed it with little live food when you observe the fish feeling better. 

The feed should include some green food like shelled peas that are cooked and crushed. Furthermore, you should ensure the fish eats this green food before further feeding. After some days, you can slowly increase the proportion of food given. 

You should give green peas and live food for at least one week before taking your goldfish back to the aquarium or pond. Then you should make sure that you feed the fish only fresh feed and test the pH of the water before returning it to the aquarium.

This way, you’ll be preparing it properly to return to its previous environment without the risk of a shock

But what if the fish doesn’t heal after this treatment? You will have to try other treatment options stated below.

What Can Be Done If The Initial Treatment Doesn’t Work?

If your Goldfish doesn’t get better in a few days after the initial treatment, you can try other treatments. However, the new treatment depends on what happened over the first few days of the initial treatment.

If your Goldfish was observed passing out waste during the initial treatment, the problem could be a bacterial infection. It could also mean that the fish’s swim bladders are permanently damaged.

Moreover, before you administer the following medicine you should consult your aquatic vet to get a proper medical opinion. Mention our information to them, and if they give the green light, then you can go ahead and treat your fish using these. 

Kanaplex antibacterial treatment is one of the most effective swim bladder medicine. Administer Seachem KanaPlex Fungal and Bacterial Fish Disease medication to the fish. This swim bladder medicine should cure the problem within a few days. If the condition remains the same after a few days, it implies that the disorder may be permanent.  

On the other hand, if your Goldfish has not passed any waste, ensure it doesn’t eat anything for at least two more days. Once the two-day wait is over, feed the fish with peas or other vegetables. After feeding it peas or vegetables, wait till it has passed waste before feeding it with any other food. If this treatment also fails, read below to learn the cause of the swim bladder disorder.

What If All Treatments Fail?

If nothing works after trying the treatments mentioned above, selectively identifying the cause of the swim bladder disorder is the final step to solving the problem. The behavioral changes observed could help suggest where the problem is coming from.

For example, when your Goldfish floats upwards and can’t swim normally, it could be poor dieting. To correct this, leave the fish without food for a few days, then change its diet.

Goldfish Swim Bladder Disorder Causes and Treatment

Another example is when the fish sinks to the bottom due to a lack of buoyancy. This implies that the situation is more complicated, as the swim bladders have been damaged. Treatment may not be effective in such cases. In any case, we do strongly recommend going to a vet who will help you out in identifying what is happening to your fish.


This article discusses the causes and treatment of Goldfish swim bladder disorder in detail. For better understanding, here’s a summary of everything we discussed:

  • Goldfish have two swim bladders that perform different functions
  • When the swim bladders are exposed to unfavorable conditions, they could develop some problems
  • Goldfish swim bladder disorder is caused by factors such as feeding habits, temperature change, and even age
  • Mild Goldfish swim bladder disorder can be treated with the simple steps that we outlined above
  • Observing the behavioral and structural changes of the fish could tell how to treat Goldfish if our treatment suggestion doesn’t work
  • When all treatments fail, it implies that the swim bladders are damaged, and the disorder is permanent
  • In any case, we advise that you take your fish to an aquatic vet who will be able to give you concrete answers on what to do

If you own a Goldfish suffering from swim bladder disorder, you should know that it can be cured easily. Use the valuable information you found out in our guide, and we are sure that your fish will be healed soon.

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