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Desktop Goldfish

Swim Bladder Disorder


Swim Bladder Disorder, or Floating Disorder, is a physical deformity, a bacterial issue, or a feeding problem. SBD is common, highly in Fancy Goldish, but can effect all freshwater fish. 

An air filled organ, the swim bladder is used by the goldfish to balance itself and can swim up and down by regulating the pressure inside the swim bladder. The airbladder can become compressed, deformed, or diseased and the goldfish can not regulate it and will then start to lose its balance. Fancy goldfish are more likely to suffer from Swim Bladder Disorder due to there body shape, or an internal physical deformity. 

Other causes of Swim Bladder Disorder in Goldfish can be:

  • Constipation - which compresses the SB
  • Gulping air whilst feeding at the surface 
  • Eating food with too much air inside
  • Fatty Liver Disease or kidney cysts
  • Egg impaction in female fish


Swim Bladder Disorder in goldfish can be easy to spot. Goldfish can't keep a normal upright position in the water. 

  • List to one side
  • float upside down
  • swim pointing head downward / upward
  • Unable to rise from the bottom
  • Unable to swim down to bottom
  • Listless 


Treatment can be very simple. Don't feed the goldfish for a 2-3 days and then feed peas (lightly steamed, de-skinned, mushed). If the peas are not effective, increasing the tank water temperature to 78-80°F and add Epsom Salts (1/8th teaspoon per 5 gallons). If the water temperature increase is not effective a medicated food, or borad spectrum antibiotic can be given. 

If none of the above works it might be time for some internal medicine, or a trip to the vet. The vet can take an x-ray of the goldfish to check both the swim bladder and surrounding organs. 

If the fish is stuck at the bottom of the tank, it is advised to remove about 50% of the water from the tank, releaving some of the water pressure on the goldfish. For a fish floating on the surface it is advised to add plants so there is some soft protection, and if any part of the goldfish is out of the water a light coating of vasaline should be applied to keep the area from drying out and becoming soar.