Fancy Goldfish Buoyancy Help

a fish in a tank with plants and rocks.

Not all goldfish are created equally, especially fancy goldfish. Fancy goldfish buoyancy disorders are very common due to their manipulated anatomy. Many of these varieties have sacrificed internal function for hunched bodies, long, decorative fins and bulging body parts. Most comet and other long-body goldfish varieties will look like this on the inside (minus the pebble):

Those two grey blobs in the middle of the fish’s body are their swim bladder. This organ is responsible for maintaining a fish’s buoyancy, or its ability to swim in the middle of the water column, without sinking or floating. Now, if you manipulate this beginning body shape and modify it over many inbred generations, you get the following shapes:

What was two swim bladders is now one, maybe a very small two. Fancy goldfish are notorious for having buoyancy issues, and where some cases are correctable, others are not.

However, there are a few things fancy goldfish owners can do to limit buoyancy issues.

Keep Your Tank Shallow to Improve Fancy Goldfish Buoyancy

This is especially true for very small fish. Deep water exerts more hydrostatic pressure on tiny fish swim bladders, making it more stressful to switch between the bottom and top of the tank. If your fish is stuck on the bottom or top 1/3 of their tank, they may not be able to manipulate their swim bladder fast enough to make appropriate changes. Switching to a shallower tank may help alleviate this issue.

Minimize Water Flow

Some fancy goldfish are very pretty, but poor swimmers. This makes it hard for them to swim in strong currents, burning additional calories and being more prone to severe weight loss. Use an appropriate size filter for your system and position the outflow away from any corners to prevent downdrafts. Some brands have a handy function to decrease the flow to pick a speed that suits slower swimmers, including bettas.

Feed an Appropriate Diet

Remember that goldfish are physostomous fish, with a duct between their swim bladder and esophagus. They require a good-quality goldfish pellet; try to avoid wasteful flakes. If your fish is prone to floating, switch to a sinking diet. And for the reverse, a sinking fish needs a floating diet. Any buoyancy assistance devices are SHORT TERM only to allow the fish to correct the issue themselves. Do not attempt to rig your own fish without consulting a qualified aquatic veterinarian.

Maintain Your Water Quality

Fish get stressed like all other animals. When they are stressed, some of their homeostatic processes, such as buoyancy, can go wonky. Maintaining your water quality is the #1 thing pet fish owners can do to promote healthy fish.

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8 thoughts on “Fancy Goldfish Buoyancy Help”

  1. Pingback: Feeding Fish Green Peas - Aquatic Veterinary Services

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  3. I have a ranchu little baby gold fish (not sure the age but around 2 inches), the day I got him i noticed him having issues with buoyancy (turning belly up then swimming to correct himself) I placed him in a epson slat bath and fed peas to him… It seem to work for about 2 months and now it came back. I tried to help correct it the same way and it helped a little, then I notice him floating upside down and I thought i lost him. Then as I got close it seems as he found comfort with floating upside down at the bottom of the tank. I feel bad for him and not sure at this point what to do… he is a fighter and wants to live

  4. I have a large not-fancy goldfish with gorgeous fins (6″ including the tail). It has had ICH and I have treated it 4 times. It keeps coming back after 10 days or so. I use ICH-X, remove 25% of the water each day, and vacuum the tank. I also take out the charcoal filter. I’m concerned it keeps coming back. I have a normal heater but add warmer water each day to raise the temp. Any thoughts on how to get rid of it? Thank you, you guys are the best!

  5. I have a fancy beautiful male goldfish.he is floating upside down.I think he is suffering from swim bladder disorder.I didn’t treat him like 3 or2 months.what shoul I do.

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