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Swim Bladder Help

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  • Regular Member

Hi everyone,

I'm having some ongoing swim bladder problems with one of my goldfish. This first started probably 2 months ago when the fish started floating upside down at the top of the tank. A large water change seemed to fix the issue but to be safe I also fasted the fish for a few days and then fed some peas and duckweed. No further issues. Then about a week later the fish started floating upside down again. Another large water change fixed the issue. This has been going on every week or so since then, the fish will be fine for a spell and then have buoyancy issues. Sometimes he will be at the bottom upside down (as pictured) but usually is floating at the surface.

Due to the fact that water changes seemed to fix the problem I also upgraded the tank my fish are in to try to provide more water and therefore more stable water quality. This was around 2 weeks ago. The fish hasn't shown signs of swim bladder problems again till today. I have just done another large water change and he seems improved but not yet back to normal, hopefully he will continue to improve. 

However I would like to know if there's anything I can be doing other than keeping on top of water quality to help improve this issue. 

He lives with 3 other goldfish, however he is the largest. He's around 2 years old. The others are all healthy and normal. He is a "fancy" ryukin (unsure of spelling sorry) fish. No new fish added. No other visible signs of distress or injury. Otherwise perfectly healthy, still active, still eating and passing waste. No signs of disease, parasites, ammonia poisoning. He sometimes rests upside down at the surface however a lot of the time he is swimming actively trying to right himself. He usually succeeds for a minute before flipping again.

I should add that as far as I can tell by behaviour this fish is female (despite me calling her a 'him' through the post. Her name is Phil) and is with 2 other females (Syd and Derek) and a male (Bruce). 

I appreciate any help or insight you might be able to give me. 


Test Results for the Following:

 Ammonia Level(Tank) 0

 Nitrite Level(Tank) 0

 Nitrate level(Tank) 0-20 range just before water change.

 Ammonia Level(Tap) 0

 Nitrite Level(Tap) 0

 Nitrate level(Tap) 0

 Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) - pH around 6.5 - 7, KH around 40, GH around 60-120 (strips can be tricky to tell sometimes) I can get the water tested at my local fish store if more accuracy is needed.

 Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) - untested

Other Required Info:

 Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? API test strips

 Water temperature? - Varies naturally with the weather, tank is unheated but due to living in Aus does not get excessively cold and is currently around 20C (68F)

 Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running? - Current tank is 200L (52G), previous was 150L (40G). Current tank has been running 2 weeks, previous over a year. Filter media was transferred into the new tank.

 What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)? - Generic branded canister filter. Rated up to 250L.

 How often do you change the water and how much? - Once a week, 90%

 How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change? - Today, 90%

 How many fish in the tank and their size? - 4 goldfish. 3x around 3inches, one around 4inches. The sick goldfish is the largest one. 

 What kind of water additives or conditioners? - Seachem Prime water conditioner.

 What do you feed your fish and how often? - Once daily, goldfish sinking pellets. According to packaging, ingredients are Fish Meal & Oil (Sardine, Tuna, Mackerel & Anchovy), Canola Oil, Poultry Meal.
Wheat, Faba Bean, Lupin Meal, Soya Meal, Starch, Vitamins and Minerals. And specs are: 50% protein. 20% fat. 8% moisture.Digestible vitamins. Anti-stress compounds. Anti-disease compounds. Also about once a week I give a handful of duckweed.

 Any new fish added to the tank? - None for over a year.

 Any medications added to the tank? - None

 List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank - No previous treatments.

 Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? - No, fish are otherwise perfectly healthy.

 Any unusual behaviour like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? - Floating upside down. 



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  • Admin

Do you have a tote you can use that is long but not tall?

If you can I would put this fish there with low filtration. Then I would feed this fish, nothing but duckweed for a week. See if that will help.

Your fish is a Ryukin. These fish are prone to flip overs. There swim bladder is compressed and it can either get a bacterial infection in it or some times it will get twisted or it might pop. 😳

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  • Regular Member

I don't have a shallow alternative I can keep him in but he doesn't have any issues reaching the surface. Since the water change I performed yesterday he has gone back to normal as is the usual pattern. 

I will feed him with just duckweed for a week to be safe. 

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  • Helper

Yeah I agree with Koko, this looks like standard swim bladder issues because of his shape, exacerbated by constipation.  Unfortunately I had a fish have the same problem earlier this year and had to euthanize him when the flipping kept him pinned to the top, but if he is responding favorably with water changes and vegetable food I think a veggie only diet (duckweed, seaweed, blanched zucchini and spinach, etc) is the best idea.  And yes, for whatever reason shallow water seems to help. There is no scientific reason that should work, but observationally it does.  Ironically higher flow power heads can also help, it forces the goldfish to spend more active time swimming and that can help combat constipation too, which those pellets could be causing.

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