Swim Bladder Disorder In Goldfish

Goldfish can be afflicted with swim bladder problems.

Swim bladder disease is a common affliction in freshwater fish, such as goldfish, bettas and mollies. Swim bladder is usually suspected when a fish is swimming erratically or irregularly. The swim bladder aids fish in maintaining swimming balance and buoyancy, so when a problem occurs with the swimming bladder, it is usually noticeable.


Swim bladder can be caused by a virus, bacteria, diet or constipation due to anatomy, which often occurs when a fish’s organs are confined to a small area, allowing constipation to occur more often. Inflammation of the swim bladder generally occurs in swim bladder disease regardless of the cause. In relation to diet, feeding foods that are too dry and absorb too much water in the digestive tract can contribute to swim bladder.


The swim bladder is located in the body cavity above the fish’s intestine or alimentary canal. Signs that a goldfish has swim bladder disease can vary depending on the cause. Whirling around, hence the name of whirling disease given to a type of swim bladder disease, can be a sign that your goldfish has bacteria-induced swim disease. Fish that remain in a head down, tail up position usually have hardening of the bladder, which is a side effect of swim bladder disease. Cysts and other lesions that may not be visible in the swim bladder may be present.


A homeopathic treatment for swim bladder due to impaction is to feed the goldfish a thawed frozen pea that has its shell removed. Allowing your fish to fast for a few days can help alleviate constipation symptoms that cause swim bladder. Fish can go up to a week or slightly longer without food. Non-prescription fish medications, such as Quinine sulfate, Erythromycin and TMP sulfate also clear up swim bladder infections in goldfish.

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Most goldfish survive swim bladder disease and continue to live and thrive. However, sometimes swim bladder disease is not curable, but simply treatable. Improvement in symptoms should be seen within a few days, if you use the pea method. If you don’t see improvements, try using one of the recommended medications.


Preventing swim bladder has a lot to do with the reasons that caused it. Feeding a variety of foods, such as vegetables in addition to dry foods, such as flakes, can prevent constipation that results in swim bladder. Keeping sufficient water quality by testing the water for ammonia and nitrites and making sure your filter is working correctly can prevent occurrences of swim bladder.