Why Goldfish Swim Upside Down {Swim Bladder Disease?}

Have you just noticed your goldfish swimming upside down and wondered why they do it?

It’s not just goldfish that swim this way, but other fish species like betta fish and deep-sea fish also exhibit this behavior.

Understanding why fish swim upside down is crucial for aquarium owners to ensure their pets are healthy and happy.

Why Goldfish Swim Upside Down

Goldfish swimming upside down can be a sign of various health issues such as swim bladder disease, oxygen deprivation, or even neurological problems.

We’ll also discuss the different types of fish that commonly exhibit this behavior and how you can identify if your pet is experiencing any health issues.

Why Goldfish Swim Upside Down

What Is Swim Bladder Disease

Swim bladder disease, also known as swim bladder disorder, is a common condition that affects goldfish. The swimbladder is an organ located in the fish’s body that helps it control its buoyancy and maintain its position in the water.

When this organ becomes infected or damaged, it can lead to swim bladder disease.

Symptoms of swim bladder disease in fishes include difficulty swimming, floating upside down or on their side, sinking to the bottom of the tank, loss of appetite, and lethargy. This condition can affect various species of fish, including betta fish and cartilaginous fish. It is important to ensure that fish food provided is appropriate for their dietary needs to prevent swim bladder issues.

Types of Swim Bladder Disease

There are two types of swim bladder disease: primary and secondary.

Primary swim bladder disease occurs when there is a disorder with the development or function of the swimbladders, commonly found in betta fish and cartilaginous fish.

Secondary swim bladder disease happens when other conditions such as bacterial infections, parasites, or constipation caused by improper fish food, lead to damage to the swimbladders.

Common Causes

Swim bladder disorder can be caused by various factors such as overfeeding your goldfish, feeding them low-quality food with poor nutrition value, sudden changes in water temperature or quality, overcrowding in tanks leading to stress on fish causing gas buildup, which can be fixed with proper care and treatment.

It’s important to maintain proper care for your goldfish by providing them with a healthy diet and suitable living conditions.

If you suspect your goldfish may have swim bladder disease due to any symptoms mentioned above then immediately consult a veterinarian who specializes in aquatic animals for advice on treatment options.

How to Treat Swim Bladder Disease:


Swim bladder disease is a common ailment among goldfish and can cause them to swim upside down or have difficulty swimming. One way to treat this problem is by using medications.

There are different types of medications that you can use, such as antibiotics, antiparasitics, and anti-inflammatories.

Antibiotics are used when the disease is caused by bacterial infections, while anti-parasitics are used when it’s caused by parasites. Anti-inflammatories help reduce inflammation in the swim bladder.

Non-Medical Treatments

In addition to medication, there are non-medical treatments that you can try. One of the most effective ways is to change your goldfish’s diet and feeding habits.

Feeding your fish high-fiber foods like peas can help regulate their digestive system and prevent constipation which could be causing the swim bladder problem.

Another non-medical treatment option involves changing the water conditions in your fish tank. Make sure that the water temperature and pressure are at optimal levels for your goldfish’s health.

You may also want to consider adding aquarium salt or Epsom salt to help improve their overall health.

Symptoms of Swim Bladder Disease:

Physical symptoms

Swim bladder disorders affect the buoyancy of fish. When a goldfish is affected by swim bladder problems, it may float to the surface or sink to the bottom of the tank.

A common symptom is when a goldfish swims upside down or on its side, unable to right itself. This happens because there is an imbalance in the fish’s swim bladder, which controls its buoyancy.

Other physical symptoms include bloating and distended abdomen. These symptoms are caused by gas that gets trapped inside the fish’s body due to an improperly functioning swim bladder. In severe cases, the fish may develop redness or inflammation around its belly. The only way to alleviate these symptoms is to fix the swim bladder.

Behavioral changes

When a goldfish has swim bladder problems,
it may also exhibit behavioral changes. The fish may become lethargic and lose interest in food.

It may also have difficulty swimming and struggle to keep up with other fish in the tank.

Another sign that your goldfish has swim bladder disease is if it spends most of its time at the surface of the water or at the bottom of the tank.

Signs that indicate a more serious case

In some cases, swim bladder disease can be life-threatening for your goldfish. If you notice any signs of infection such as redness or inflammation around your goldfish’s belly area, this could indicate a more serious case of illness that requires immediate fix.

If your goldfish shows no improvement after several days despite receiving treatment for swim bladder disease, then it might be necessary to take them to see an aquatic veterinarian who will diagnose and fix them accordingly.

To sum up, if you notice any physical symptoms like bloating and distended abdomen or behavioral changes like lethargy and loss of appetite from your goldfish, it could be a sign of swim bladder disease. If this is the case, it’s important to fix the issue as soon as possible to prevent further complications. Consider using v4 treatment methods for effective results.

Prevention of Swim Bladder Disease:

Proper Feeding and Diet

Swim bladder disease is a common problem among goldfish, which can cause them to swim upside down. To prevent this condition, it’s essential to feed your goldfish the right food and in the correct manner.

Overfeeding is one of the primary causes of swim bladder disease, so make sure you give your fish only what they need. Feed them small amounts two to three times per day instead of one large feeding.

You should also avoid giving them food that can lead to constipation such as peas or spinach.

Maintaining Good Water Quality

Goldfish are sensitive creatures, and poor water quality can lead to swim bladder disease. Make sure you fix their tank by changing 20-25% of the water each week.

If you have a larger tank, consider investing in a filter system that will help maintain good water quality.

Avoiding Overfeeding and Overcrowding

Fix overcrowding to prevent stress and swim bladder disease in your goldfish. Ensure there is enough space for each fish in your tank (one gallon per inch of fish) to fix the problem. Also, fix the issue of keeping too many fish together at once to avoid overfeeding.

Swim bladder disease affects not only goldfish but also other cartilaginous fish like sharks and rays that may require a fix.

The gas bladder or air bladder helps these deep-sea vertebrates control their buoyancy while swimming up or down in water columns. In contrast, goldfish use their pectoral fins for swimming up or down.

The swim bladders of some species fix the pneumatic duct that connects with the esophagus, allowing them to gulp air from above the surface when needed. However, this duct is absent in most bony fishes like goldfish.


In conclusion, swim bladder disease is a common issue among goldfish that causes them to swim upside down. It is caused by various factors such as overfeeding, poor water quality, and bacterial infections. The good news is that it can be fixed with simple remedies like fasting or adding Epsom salt to the water. However, prevention is always better than fix.

Regular water changes are crucial in fixing and preventing swim bladder disease in goldfish. Keeping the tank clean and maintaining good water quality will fix and reduce the risk of bacterial infections and other health issues. Feeding your goldfish a balanced diet and avoiding overfeeding will also help fix and prevent swim bladder disease.

Remember to monitor your goldfish for any symptoms of swim bladder disease such as swimming upside down or floating on its side. If you notice any signs of illness, take immediate action to fix the problem and prevent further complications.

Overall, taking care of your goldfish’s health requires regular maintenance and attention to detail. By following these simple tips, you can fix swim bladder disorders and ensure that your goldfish stays healthy and happy for years to come.


Q: How often should I change my goldfish’s water?

You should aim to fix swim bladder disorders by changing at least 25% of your goldfish’s water every week.

Q: Can overfeeding cause swim bladder disease?

Yes, overfeeding can lead to swim bladder disease in goldfish. However, there are ways to fix this issue.

Q: What should I feed my goldfish?

Goldfish require a balanced diet consisting of pellets or flakes specifically formulated for their nutritional needs to fix swim bladder disorders.

Q: Can stress cause swim bladder disease in goldfish?

Yes, stress can weaken a fish’s immune system and make them more susceptible to illnesses like swim bladder disease, but there are ways to fix it.

Q: Should I add aquarium salt to my goldfish tank?

Aquarium salt can be beneficial for some fish species but it is not recommended for goldfish as it can damage their kidneys. Instead, Epsom salt can be added to the water to help fix swim bladder disease.

Q: How long does it take to treat swim bladder disease in goldfish?

The duration of treatment for swim bladder disorder varies depending on the severity of the illness and the treatment method used to fix it. Fasting your goldfish for a few days or adding Epsom salt to the water can provide relief within a few days. However, more severe cases may require longer treatment periods.

Q: Can swim bladder disease be fatal for goldfish?

If left untreated, swim bladder disease can lead to further complications and ultimately result in death. It is important to monitor your fish’s health and take action immediately if you notice any symptoms of illness. Fixing the issue as soon as possible can prevent the disease from progressing and causing more harm to your fish.


Hello, I'm Jason. I'm the guy behind HelpUsFish.com. I volunteer at my local fish shop and I created this site to offer tips and advice on the fish I care for.