Why is Your Fish Afloat?

How to Treat Swim Bladder Disorder

Swimming veiltail goldfish

If you’ve noticed your fish struggling to stay afloat, sinking or even swimming upside down, it’s likely that your fish is suffering from swim bladder disorder.

Thankfully, our expert team here at Pond Planet know all there is to know about swim bladder disease, so read on to discover more about the disorder and just how to treat and prevent it.

What is Swim Bladder Disorder?

Swim bladder disorder commonly affects aquarium fish, notably goldfish, and can occur through a variety of issues. The disorder afflicts the swim bladder, an internal organ which is filled with gas and allows the fish to control its buoyancy without expending any additional energy.

The disorder causes various problems, including the fish floating to the top of the tank, sinking to the bottom and struggling to swim in a normal, upright manner.

What Causes Swim Bladder Disorder?

There are numerous causes of swim bladder disorder, however, the most common is attributed to constipation through the fish over-eating or eating too quickly. Poor quality, air-filled fish food can also attribute to this.

The fish over-oxygenating and gulping air too fast is also a factor, along with the metabolism of the fish slowing down during the colder months. Other causes include the development of cysts in the fish’s kidneys, deformed internal organs and infection.

How Should You Spot and Treat an Infection?

With cases in which an infection is the cause of swim bladder disease, you’re going to need to take different measures in order to ensure your fish returns to full health.

Signs that your fish is suffering from infection include a loss of appetite, shaking and the clamping of fins in addition to the aforementioned signs of swim bladder disorder.

You can treat an infection by thoroughly cleaning and treating the water of your tank or aquarium to rid the fish’s environment of any harmful bacteria that may be the cause. Should the problems persist, you’re able to purchase special antibiotics from most pet stores that can be ingested or dropped into the water to treat fish.

How Can You Treat Swim Bladder Disorder?

Thankfully, there are numerous ways in which you can treat fish suffering from swim bladder disorder. Our expert team here at Pond Planet have compiled a concise list to help you out:

    • Cease feeding your fish for 3 days, this allows time for whatever is in the fish’s system to pass
    • Simultaneously increase the tank’s temperature to around 27℃ (80℉), even adding a small amount of aquarium salt. Fish struggle to digest in colder water, and so the warmer temperatures will aid in faster digestion
    • Following the 3-day fast, feed your fish skinned and cooked peas. You may use frozen peas, just be sure to microwave or boil them to soften the pea first. Once ingested, the pea will help to clear out the fish’s digestive system
  • Temporarily reduce the volume of water in the tank or aquarium. This will make it easier for the fish to move around the tank, saving energy levels and reducing the fish’s struggles

How Can You Prevent Swim Bladder Disorder?

There are various simple steps you can take in order to prevent the occurrence of swim bladder disorder in your fish:

    • Invest in a good quality brand of fish food, cheaper feeds are likely to be filled with air which can add to the risk of swim bladder disorder, as well as generally lacking in vital nutrients
    • Soak the fish food before feeding, this results in the feed sinking to the bottom of the tank and prevents fish ingesting more air while feeding at the surface, a common factor in causing swim bladder disease
    • Avoid overfeeding, monitor your fish’s food intake and only feed them what they need, this lessens the risk of constipation
    • Keep your tank or aquarium clean, this prevents the build-up of harmful bacteria and parasites that may lead to an infection. As well as the regular cleaning of the tank, invest in a quality aquarium filter and be sure to use an aquarium test kit to ensure pH, ammonia and nitrate levels are safe
  • Keep the water temperate warm, around 21℃ (70℉) is fine for most aquarium fish and helps with mobility and digestion

Don’t be alarmed if your fish is suffering from swim bladder disorder, it’s fairly common, not too serious and can be easily treated.

In many cases, swim bladder problems may disappear on their own, but by following our handy tips you’re sure to keep your fish fit and happy for many years to come.

If you’ve got some handy hints of your own, or you’d like to know more information, contact our friendly expert team by following our social media links below!

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