Goldfish Swimbladder Disease (also called “Goldfish Flipover Disease”) is so common in goldfish that it is has to be high on the goldfish problems to avoid.
Here’s the scenario: you awake one morning and your goldfish is floating on top of the tank. It seems to be on its side or floating upside down. As you look on, the goldfish is still “breathing” and you can see it is alive. However, it seems to be swollen. It’s almost like looking at an inflated balloon.
As the goldfish lies there, you look on confused. Why is he or she like that? Why can’t they swim down? Will they be OK?
Here’s a fact: this goldfish problem needs to be urgently addressed. You have a limited amount of time before stress and the inability to feed mean the end of your goldfish.
So what’s going on exactly?
A goldfish has small air sacs that it uses for buoyancy. By using these air sacs, a goldfish can dive down, submerge or come back up to the surface. Under normal circumstances the buoyancy organs work fine.
However if the digestive tract get blocked or the goldfish constipated, then the sacs can become over-inflated. And the goldfish loses the normal control they have.
Aquarium goldfish suffer from several problems that can lead to Goldfish Swimbladder Disease:
- Water quality is not optimal. Nitrate or ammonia levels may be high: these can cause the capillaries to the air sacs to dilate
- “Thermal shock” can cause Swimbladder problems
- Receive a poor diet lacking in fibre
The lack of fibre from being fed exclusively a flake or pellet diet is often the cause of Goldfish Swimbladder Disease. Goldfish do not actually have stomachs. The food is absorbed as it moves along the digestive tract.
If goldfish are not getting enough fibre, this can become blocked. They experience a build up of gas and have constipation-like symptoms.
In humans, this would be inconvenient. In goldfish that have much smaller air sacs, this can be life-threatening. Once they float to the surface because of the excess air, they stay there – unable to move. They cannot breath, swim or eat easily.
That’s why I developed the Swimbladder Resolution Protocol. Here’s a brief version of it:
- Stop feeding your goldfish for three days
- This allows the gas to pass through
- Gradually start to feed them again
- Only feed them vegetables and fruits in small chopped-up quantities
- You should notice that after about a week the goldfish “rights” itself
Please be aware that “fancy goldfish” varieties are much more prone to Goldfish Swimbladder Disease. That means you must pay particular attention to give them a varied diet.
I especially recommend peas or spinach as the vegetables to be included in their diet. This will not just resolve Goldfish Swimbladder Disease, but also keep your goldfish healthy.
Avoiding and treating Goldfish Swimbladder Disease can often be achieved by keeping the digestive tract clear with a varied diet.