goldfish swim bladder disease
Goldfish are delightful, popular pets for kids and very easy to care for. However as with any kind of pet they have their problems and are prone to a particular illness called swim bladder disease. Although distressing to see it can in most circumstances be easily resolved if you know how.
Swim bladder disease in goldfish is often first noticed when your pet begins to swim and behave erratically. The fish may be observed thrashing around or simple floating with only the occasional lethargic gill movement. The illness appears to worsen when the creature begins to contort itself. I many cases it will actually bend completely in half sideways and try to swim in this bizarre fashion.
The swim bladder
The reason for this behavior is a problem in the fish's swim bladder. The swim bladder is an air sac the fish inflates when it wants buoyancy to rise in the water or release air to decrease buoyancy and sink deeper. If this organ isn't functioning properly the fish is unable to swim correctly.
Causes of problems in the swim bladder
There can be numerous reasons for malfunction of the swim bladder but one cause which is the most prevalent is constipation. Many owners feed their pet on dried fish flakes. Although the flakes generally contain most of the nutrients a fish requires they do tend to cause constipation because they don't have any sort of fiber. Unable to expel waste from their gut the compacted food buildup presses on the bladder stopping it from being inflated.
Other common causes are viral or bacterial disease that affect the bladder leading to it failing to function correctly. Sometimes an underlying factor is due to the water not being cleaned properly or changed often enough leading to toxins and eventually disease.
Remedies for swim bladder disease
Watching your pet writhing or attempting swim on its side is a distressing sight. A concerned owner would feel their pet is so poorly it cannot rebound. However this is far from the truth. With the right treatment the fish can be returned to full health in a matter of a few days. The success of the cure is related to the root cause. If the reason is viral or bacterial then it is that which must be treated and a visit to the vet is the best solution. Should the cause be digestive due to constipation, then there are several options. Again a vet can perform a procedure where a needle in pushed into the bladder to relieve the pressure. It has to be said there are risks with this kind of remedy.
As the fish is constipated a good dose of fiber can solve the problem. As mad as it sounds shelled peas, microwaved to cook them and make them soft enough for the fish to eat will help shift the compacted food. It may take several days of feeding to take effect and at first it is often a good idea to starve the fish for a few days. Fish are greedy and will eat all the time even when constipated therefore enforcing a fast will help. After a few days of feeding with cooked peas at a rate of a couple per day an owner will know if this has been successful because the fish will begin to right itself in the water and swim normally once more.
In the UK a product called Swim Bladder Treatment No.13 is available from pet stores. This is a liquid solution that is diluted and put into the fish's water. It does take several days to take effect but I can vouch is very effective in curing swim bladder problems. Epsom salts is another remedy that may be tried. The salts are diluted at the ratio of one teaspoonful per ten gallons of water and placed into the fish tank. Please note Epsom salts are the ONLY kind of salts to use. Although certain kinds of table salt can be used to cure some illnesses it has to be expertly used and you MUST be sure of what you are doing.
If you pet goldfish develops any of the worrying symptoms outlined here, don't despair. It is certainly not the end for your beloved pet as I know from experience of curing my own goldfish exactly as told here.