How to Fix Swim Bladder Disease in Goldfish

Written by ehow pets editor
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A fish that has problems diving to the bottom of its tank, appears stuck at the bottom of the tank seemingly unable to swim to the surface, swims sideways or upside down or appears to swim standing on its head, might have Swim Bladder Disease--an illness that affects a fish's equilibrium. Treating Swim Bladder Disease is not complicated and involves using green peas you find in your own freezer.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1 to 2 frozen peas

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  1. 1

    Defrost 1 to 2 frozen peas. The peas must be very soft. If they are not soft enough for a fish to eat, cook them briefly according to the package directions.

  2. 2

    Gently squeeze the peas to free them from their skins. Discard the skins.

  3. 3

    Put the skinless peas in the fish tank.

  4. 4

    Allow the affected fish to eat at least 1 of the 2 peas. If there are healthy fish in the tank, either remove them so that they will not eat the peas, or remove the sick fish into a separate tank and offer the peas there. If the sick fish will not eat the peas, remove the peas and try again later.

  5. 5

    Withhold other foods until the sick fish eats at least 1 pea.

Tips and warnings

  • Poor water conditions exacerbate Swim Bladder problems, so maintain a healthy tank at all times.
  • Feeding a fish flakes or pellets might lead to swim bladder problems because the production process introduces air pockets into the food. These air pockets can adversely affect a fish's swim bladder. To counteract this, soak the flakes or pellets in a cup of tank water for 5 to 15 minutes prior to feeding.
  • To ease the fish's discomfort until the swim bladder issue subsides, isolate the fish to a shallow, quarantine tank with one tsp. added 1 gal. of water. After 1 to 2 weeks, reintroduce the fish to its normal, deep tank.
  • You should see results within 3 to 5 days of feeding the fish peas.
  • The pea-feeding method outlined above only works if the swim bladder problem is the result of constipation where waste matter caught in the fish's digestive tract puts pressure on the swim bladder and it cannot inflate and deflate properly. Swim Bladder Disease can also be a side effect of a bacterial infection--feeding the fish peas will not solve this. Instead, a trip to the veterinarian or aquarium shop for medication is required.

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