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Joan, Vet Technician
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 18192
Experience:  Vet Tech for 35+yrs. Small Animals and Fish
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One of my goldfish has seemed to develop swim bladder

Customer Question

One of my goldfish has seemed to develop swim bladder disease. It is unable to float and is laying on its side at the bottom of the tank. I've been fasting him for a day now and tried to feed a crushed peeled pea but it seems he has lost his appetite. I'm not sure what I can do next.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Veterinarian will know how to help your goldfish. What is the goldfish's name and age?
Customer: His name is ***** ***** he is 4 years old.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Sammy?
Customer: I've already moved him into a separate "sick tank" until I can figure out how to help him.
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.


My name is ***** ***** I have been a Vet tech for 30+ years and a Fish keeper for over 40 years.

The swim bladder is the organ that helps in maintaining a fish's ability to balance and swim in a normal position. When it becomes blocked up or too full of air it stops functioning properly.

This can be a result of water quality, over feeding dry foods or a Bacterial infection. Poor water quality can play a major issue contributing to the Swim Bladder problem. The first step to helping is to check your water quality. The Ammonia should be 0, Nitrites 0 and the Nitrates 20 ppm or less. You should have an API test kit to check the levels. I sugggest the API Master test kit.

We can try some first aid to help the fish.

1) First do a 3/4 water change and be sure to add some de-chlorinator or use bottle Spring water for replacement.

2) I also suggest using aquarium salt at 1 teaspoon of the salt per gallon of water. The Salt helps to draw out fluids that can cause swelling in the swim bladder disease.

If the fish is in with other fish it may be wise to set up a hospital tank which will make it easier to treat the fish.

There are some other methods of treating swim bladder which include reducing the amount of water in the tank which helps to decompress the swim bladder, but I would only use that as a last resort.

This link will help you locate Fish Vets if the treatment does not help:

My goal is 100% satisfaction. Please hit reply if you have further questions, so I can meet that goal and give you the best possible answer.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have actually seen this response before and have followed it. All ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels are normal. The "sick" fish has been moved into its own tank with clean de-chlorinated water. Salt as indicated above has already been added to the water. I have withheld food for a day now and plan to feed a peeled pea after a couple days to help loosen up his digestive tract. My main concern is that not only is he laying on his side and unable to float, but he seems so lethargic that I doubt he will eat the pea or anything at all. I'm worried that the SBD is just a symptom of a more serious issue.
Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

There are several reasons for this issues, it could be a kidney issue, an infection, constipation, or a damaged swim bladder. Unfortunately swim bladder is not easy to clear so we treat the symptoms. IIn some cases we lower the water to help decompress the fluid. That will sometimes work. The other thing that can be done by an aquatic vet is to have the bladder drained. In some cases they may have you do an antibiotic dip, in Baytril/enrofoxacin a couple of times a day if they feel this in a infection. We are limited at home to treating the symptoms. The Aquarium salt is the best option we have to help, short of the Vet visit.