How Do You Treat Swim Bladder in Goldfish?

Swim Bladder in Goldfish

Swim bladder disorder is one of the common problems associated with goldfish in an aquarium. The swim bladder is more of a collection of issues affecting swim bladder rather than just a single disease. Although it strikes most aquarium species, it is more prevalent in goldfish.

The first line of treatment of swim bladder in goldfish is to regulate their feeding for a few days. It would help if you also increased the water temperature to 78-80°F for the period of treatment. You can also treat them with broad-spectrum antibiotics because swim bladder problems can be a result of bacteria invasion of the bladder. 

Swim bladder gives some obvious symptoms in goldfish. Although this condition is called ‘disease,’ it can occur as a result of several factors; hence, it is not a disease. Swim bladder problem is not contagious; therefore, you don’t need to quarantine the fish that has it except because of the feeding regulation.

What Is Swim Bladder Disease?

The function of the swim bladder is to allow goldfish to stabilize itself and maintain control over its floating in the water. Swim bladder disease is when a fish loses its ability to regulate the inflow and outflow of air in its bladder. This loss of control over airflow can cause the goldfish to swim irregularly. The disease can either make the fish swim upside down or on its sides.

Naturally, goldfish employ a different mechanism of swimming up and down in the water. When the goldfish intend to float upward to the top of the tank, it allows air into its swim bladder. This technique allows the buoyancy of the fish as it moves to the surface.

Likewise, to allow downward swimming of the fish, it employs a reverse process as moving upward. It releases air from its bladder. You can even notice the outward movement of the water with the release of bubbles in the tank.

It becomes evident that the goldfish has a problem with the swim bladder when the fish starts exhibiting an awkward type of movement. You can either find the fish swimming upside down, on its sides. Goldfish can lose the ability to control swim bladder, thereby allowing too much air inside it, thus resulting in awkward swimming.

Causes Of Swim Bladder Problems In Goldfish

Swim bladder problems can result from several reasons that include;

  • Poor Quality Of Food: bad food or inappropriate food for goldfish can allow the development of gas in the gut. The development of too much gas in the gut alone can cause the fish to lose balance. Some of these gases can find their way into the bladder, therefore causing the fish to become too buoyant. It can also be a result of constipation.
  • Sudden Change In Temperature: As much as goldfish can cope with environmental changes, they can have a problem with an unexpected and drastic change in temperature.
  • Infection: Bacteria and parasite invasion of the parasite in the bladder can cause the bladder to lose its function. Consequently, this bacteria invasion of the bladder by the parasite can cause it to lose buoyancy and balance.
  • Swallowing Air: Goldfish swallowing air can allow too much air into the bladder. Some aquarium owners only feed sinking pellets to their goldfish because they believe floating food causes them to swallow air.
  • Old Age And Genetics: Swim bladder problems can become more predominant as the goldfish grows older. Likewise, the tendency of goldfish to swallow water can be genetic; therefore, it can genetically move down the line of the generation.

 Treatment of Swim Bladder In Goldfish

The cause of swim bladder problems in goldfish varies, and it can influence the suitable treatment for them. However, there are still some general treatments that can work for all cases of swim bladder problems.

The first line of treatment for the swim bladder problem in goldfish is dependent on the cause. If an enlarged stomach or other internal organs are the cause of the problem, the first line of action is to regulate their feeding.

It would help if you stopped feeding for about three days while also keeping the temperature in the region between 78-80°F through the period of the treatment. On the fourth day, you should feed them with sinking food, ideally cooked, frozen, and skinned peas.

Regulated feeding can continue for a few days until there is a noticeable change. You can, however, switch back to the goldfish-specific type of food to allow consistency and prevent the condition from reversing.

Also, if bacteria and parasite invasion is the primary cause of the swim bladder problem, then you can treat the affected fish with broad-spectrum antibiotics. You might also have to visit a veterinarian in some extreme cases.

Other Supportive Treatments

Aside from these two basic techniques, you can also include some other supportive treatment (independent of cause) procedure that includes;

  • Keep the water in the tank clean, and ensure that the water parameters are in the optimum range.
  • You can add small aquarium salt to the tank
  • Reducing the water level in the tank. This reduction in water level can provide the fish with the opportunity to move around the tank as they regain their balance.
  • It would help if you also reduced the water flow in the tank with a strong current
  • In extreme cases where the fish have a significant problem with movement, hand-feeding the fish can be crucial.
  • You might also have to apply a stress coat to parts of the body if the affected fish continuously expose certain areas of the body to the air. The application of a stress coat will prevent the development of sore on the body of the fish.


Swim bladder problems can hit any member of the aquarium, but goldfish are generally more susceptible to this condition. It affects almost all aspects of fish life. It takes a negative toll on buoyancy and balancing of fish in water, thereby causing the fish to swim upside down or on its sides.

Swim bladder problems might not be life-threatening at first, especially if you take proper measures. Therefore, you don’t have to panic when you find your goldfish in these awkward swimming positions. All you have to do is take prompt diagnostic and treatment steps.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Left Menu Icon