Why Is My Arowana Fish Swimming Upside Down?

Has your Arowana fish just started to swim upside down? Do you know why is my arowana fish swimming upside down?

Are they doing it for fun?  Are they ill? Are they hunting?

I will cover everything you need to know below.

Why Is My Arowana Fish Swimming Upside Down

Whenever Arowanas have swim bladder disease, they exhibit awkward swimming skills like swimming upside down, floating or sinking upside, etc. Arowanas swim upside down whenever they contract swim bladder disease.

Why Is My Arowana Fish Swimming Upside Down

Causes of Swim Bladder Disease

The swim bladder is an organ in the fish that helps the fish maintain buoyancy. Without the swim bladder, the fish will lose balance and probably drown.

When an Arowana is affected by the swim bladder disease, it loses buoyancy and starts showing features like swimming upside down, floating upside down, sinking upside, etc.

This behavior can cause the fish to drown and eventually die. There are two leading causes of the swim bladder disease; constipation leads to the swim bladder’s infringement and the swim bladder infection.

Constipation occurs when stool becomes challenging to pass out, and bowel movements become less frequent. It happens when there is a change in diet or when there is an inadequate intake of fiber.

When constipation affects the swim bladder, the Arowana starts to experience an involuntary upside-down movement. Treat the fish as soon as you notice the upside-down activity.

Apart from constipation, there are also other causes of swim bladder infection. Other causes of swim bladder disease include; overeating, gulping of air, rapidly eating, compression of the swim bladder,  low water temperature, etc.

When the water temperature is low, the digestion process slows down and can result in intestinal enlargement, putting pressure on the swim bladder. At times, some Arowanas are born with defects that can affect the swim bladder.

An infection to the swim bladder can result in the fish’s death if you do not intervene quickly.

Treatment of Swim Bladder Disease

You have to treat your Arowana of the swim bladder disease as soon as you notice it. There are different ways of treating your Arowana of the swim bladder disease.

  • Alter the Temperature: Low temperature can cause indigestion and, in turn, cause swim bladder disease. Increase the temperature of the water to 78°F to 82°F. You should always keep the water clean. Also, you should change the water regularly.
  • Add a little amount of aquarium salt to the water: You should always add the aquarium salt every time you change the water in the tank. The salt is effective in treating fish diseases.
  • Reduce Water Level: Reduce the water in the tank to make the fish move around quickly. When the water level is low, the Arowana will need little energy to swim through the water. Little water will also increase the aquarium salt concentration, thereby increasing the efficiency of the salt.
  • Reduce the Water Flow: Reduce the water flow in the tank with a strong current. It will help speed up the treatment rate.
  • Use Manual Treatment: If the Arowana is floating, you should check if there is an exposure of its body to the air. If there is an exposure to air, you should apply a little bit of stress coat to the area exposed. It will help prevent sores from developing in the area.
  • Change Feeding Pattern: You might hand feed the fish if you notice some significant issues with its movement.

Unfortunately, most cases of swim bladder infection do not respond to treatment. If you notice that the Arowana does not respond to treatment over time, you might resolve to euthanasia to save the helpless fish from troubles

Prevention of Swim Bladder Disease

We all know prevention is better than cure, and we are better safe than sorry.

Knowing that not all swim bladder infection cases responded to treatment, you wouldn’t want to risk your Arowana’s life by not taking preventive measures against the disease.

One of the causes of swim bladder disorder is low water quality. Fishes are prone to diseases when their tank or water is dirty. To prevent the disease, you should make sure the tank is clean and change the water regularly.

Keep the temperature of the water a little bit high. Higher temperature aids digestion reducing constipation and risk of a swim bladder disorder.

Feeding Arowanas with quality food will reduce the risk of a swim bladder disorder. You can also soak dried food in water before feeding them to the fishes.

You should avoid overfeeding when providing the Arowanas with feeds and also thaw frozen foods thoroughly before feeding them to the fishes.

Common Diseases of Arowana Fish

Aside from swim bladder disease, other diseases affect Arowanas. Some of the conditions are fungal infections, bacterial infections, viral infections, and lots more. Some of the disorders include;

  • Protruding anus: This infection is as a result of poor digestion. It occurs when there is an inflammation of the tissue around the rectal area, which later results in protruding and swelling of the tissues.
  • Cloudy eye: Cloudy eye is a bacterial infection that affects the eyes. The eyes appear cloudy or opaque. It might seem like a fungal growth at times but it must be treated immediately to prevent total blindness.
  • Anchor worms: Anchor worms are parasites that burrow into the skin or gill covers of Arowanas. The tunneled area experiences inflammation and swelling. This parasitic infestation happens as a result of low water quality.
  • Dropsy: Dropsy is a disease that occurs as a result of a bacterial infection of the kidney. This infection is common among juvenile Arowanas. The condition causes the Arowana to be unable to regulate its body’s water balance.


A swim bladder infection occurs when there is damage or disorder of the swim bladder of the Arowana. The swim bladder disorder causes the fish to swim and float upside down.

Try to administer treatment to the fish as soon as you notice the symptoms. After administering treatment for days and no changes in the fish’s health, you should stop the treatment. You might euthanize the fish to save it for its troubles.



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.