How to Treat Swim Bladder Disease

fancy goldfish in an aquarium
Photo by Gabriel P from Pexels

A swim bladder is a gas filled organ within all bony fish that is used to maintain and control buoyancy. When a fish has problems with its swim bladder this of course causes problems with buoyancy and you may see your fish swimming on it's side or otherwise swimming oddly. Swim bladder disease is most common in fancy goldfish, but can happen to any fish with a swim bladder.

Swim bladder problems are usually a secondary problem caused by something else that's gone wrong, such as a bacterial infection, or constipation usually caused by overfeeding, or simply by gulping too much air when eating at the surface.

Because constipation can cause swim bladder problems you'll often see suggestions in articles that tell you to give your fish shelled peas. This is because shelled peas have fiber and the idea is to get your fish's intestinal tract moving again.

Almost ALL problems will be improved by improving your water quality. That is why weekly partial water changes are necessary. A weekly partial water change will often prevent problems from occuring in the first place.

How to Treat Swim Bladder Disease

If you suspect your fish may be constipated then you can try giving your fish thawed frozen green peas. Please see the You Tube video below to find out how to prepare the green peas for your fish.

If your fish has a bacterial infection causing the swim bladder problem then something like Melafix may help.

Often, aquarium salt is recommended because it helps with osmoregulation. Don't use regular salt, use only aquarium salt.

Will Severe Swim Bladder Disease Go Away?

I recently had a glofish tetra who suddenly developed a really severe case of swim bladder disease. The fish could hardly swim at all and mostly layed on itside at the top of the tank. I didn't think that she'd make it. I felt really bad for her because her quality of life was certainly diminished.

I did see that she was still trying to eat and was even successful at times. I made some of her meals freeze dried bloodworms because I thought they might have more fiber than her regular flake food. I would have tried peas, but I did not have any at the time. I also did a partial water change. That is all I did.

Miraculously, in a few days she became so much better. I don't know if the bloodworms had anything to do with her improvement or not. I'm sure the water change helped some. The water change may be what helped the most.

It's only been a few days and she is continuing to get better. She is still a tiny bit "wobbly" in her swimming, but still, so much better than before. So, yes, a really severe case of swim bladder can go away.