Goldfish Floating and Sinking Issues
Swimming disorders, such as floating haphazardly; bobbing at the surface; uncontrolled swimming, swimming at 45 degree angle or swimming vertical, or swimming upside down; sinking to the bottom
A more natural environment for goldfish is a shallow pond with plenty of surface area. Aquariums and tanks are typically deeper than wider which can create serious issues for the more sensitive of the fancy goldfish; their bodies aren't designed for deep and narrow tanks. If we're going to keep goldfish in aquariums, we must make some compromises.
Goldfish are bottom dwellers by nature. On the bottom is where they eat and rest. There's nothing quite as sad as a goldfish that can't stay on the bottom comfortably. It may live in constant fear that it will be eaten by a predator whether it's in a pond or in the safety of an aquarium.
The function of the swim bladder is to maintain the goldfish's buoyancy; giving it the ability to sink or rise, but some experts believe the swim bladder may also act as a conductor for sound or vibration. Loud booming noises could be one among many reasons a fish loses control of its ability to sink or rise at will.
The intestinal tract is connected to the swim bladder by a small tube where gas is exchanged. Ingested food in the tract creates carbon dioxide. This gas is exchanged back and forth from the tract to the bladder giving the fish the ability to sink or rise.
Goldfish that are fed too much at one time may gorge, and become constipated.
The tract may slow, and even become impacted, trapping gas in the bladder,
causing the fish to float aimlessly.
If food is withheld for long periods of time, the empty tract will cease to produce gas; causing the fish to lose its ability to rise, and may struggle to get off the bottom.
Good digestive health is critical in eliminating swimming disorders. Feed
less more often; feed a variety of veggies and flakes; feed consistently.
Some of the fancy fish develop digestive issues more easily than others, and some fish have floating disorders due to poor breeding or genetics. However true this may be, everything possible should be done to make certain these fish aren't suffering from constipation, and if this issue is ruled out, the water table should be lowered to assure these fish live comfortably.
The aquarium in the photo below has a lowered water table for sensitive goldfish.
Courtesy of Cricket
Goldfish has uncontrolled swimming
The deeper your goldfish tank, the more pressure created by the volume of the water. This weight greatly affects some goldfish. The more sensitive goldfish contained in too tall of an aquarium may develop symptoms of uncontrolled swimming, floating or upside down syndrome. Depending on the amount of pressure and for how long the floating goldfish has been affected, or just how weak the organ is, this condition may or may not be life threatening.
Lowering the water table reduces water pressure, eliminating these types of problems in most goldfish that have genetic disorders. Parts of a Goldfish
The swim bladder organ is connected to the intestinal tract where gas is exchanged; giving the fish the ability to sink to the bottom or rise to the top at will.
What causes this sensitivity in goldfish may always remain a mystery; in some cases the volume of water itself or perhaps a bacteria infection or digestive disorders could be responsible for weakening the bladder. A loud noise or a direct hit to the tank may be responsible. Some of these goldfish can eat, digest their food, and breathe without any problems, but the majority of these issues are caused from improper feeding. Most goldfish keepers make the mistake of feeding their fish only once, or twice a day; some even less which encourages the fish to gorge. Algae, the wonder plant
No specific type of goldfish is immune to floating issues
The digestive system of the goldfish evolved according to the food supply in its original and natural environment. In the wild, vegetation is found in abundance. Foods higher in protein such as fish eggs, worms, or small fry are scarce, and the competition is fierce. The goldfish spends every waking moment in search of food; finding a nibble here or a gobble there, they ingest small amounts of food frequently. Feed your fish several small meals every day; consistently.
Feed a variety of foods. These fish greatly benefit from eating peas and fresh greens or algae, Mother nature provides a wide variety of vegetation, worms, bugs, fish eggs and fish, and so should we. Make sure you're feeding your properly; never sprinkle flakes or pellets on the surface. Although it's a trend to feed floating pellets; designed to bring pond fish to the surface for viewing; this trend encourages the fish to swallow air; which may disrupt the gas exchange from the intestinal tract to the swim bladder.
Goldfish are not designed to intake the air that we breathe; instead, they absorb the oxygen from the water as it passes through the gills. The oxygen is then absorbed into the blood stream.
If you have an air pump or bubbler; remove it and replace it with a water pump. Some fish may intentionally or unintentionally swallow these bubbles; which may create complications with the swim bladder by disrupting the exchange of gas.
Goldfish floating upside down
Symptoms exhibited may worsen after water changes because of sudden and large pressure changes. To avoid further injury to these fish, increase number of water changes and decrease amount of water exchanged; performing smaller, but more frequent changes. Parts of a Goldfish
The most serious conditions may require the water table be lowered to match
the length of the fish from head to tail. Some fish will recover quickly after
the depth is lowered, and some will never recover, but the symptoms may be
greatly reduced in shallow water. You may not need a pond pump at all if the
water is less then 6" with a fan set up, and daily water changes performed.
Most fish suffering from floating disorders prefer water that is quiet so they'll have less trouble navigating. The more shallow the water, the higher the oxygen levels. The greater the surface area compared to the body of water, the greater the oxygen levels. Combining the two makes for heavily oxygenated water with or without a pond pump, but only with the use of a fan.
To make certain your fish tank or pond is free of harmful bacteria use
Salt Treatment and feed the gel food with natural
antibiotic if you suspect your fish is infected internally.
Feeding goldfish too much in one sitting can cause gorging, which leads to a slow moving tract, which leads to bad bacteria infection. Overfeeding can impact the intestinal tract eventually, leading to that fish's death. To determine which issue is causing your fish's floating disorder by process of elimination.
To relieve constipation administer the following intestinal flush remedy
one part castor or mineral oil
one part warm (tank or pond) water
Use an eye dropper or syringe to administer oil and water, place
tip deep into throat and squeeze gently and slowly.
Scoop the fish and some tank water up in a separate container; gently catch up the fish in cupped hands; lift its head above the surface. After a moment it will gasp, giving you a chance to administer. The fish will spit and the container water will become contaminated, so hand carry the fish back home. Repeat as needed.
If you believe your fish has bad bacteria in its intestinal tract; long stringy pooh; pooh that is darker or lighter in color than the food it eats; replace the warm water with warm garlic water. Feed peas marinated in garlic water, and nothing but until it shows signs of improvement.
feed Recipe for Digestive Disorders
Goldfish swimming upside down
Some of the more delicate fancy fish may experience floating
issues in deeper water just because they are awkward swimmers. Most goldfish
with healthy bladders can easily tolerate 10 to 12" in depth.
It may take a few hours or a few days for the procedure to take affect. Some fish stop showing symptoms after lowering the table only a few inches, but some fish will need extreme therapy, requiring shallow water.
Point a fan where it skims across the surface keeping it exposed to fresh air when the water table is lowered