What do I do for a goldfish laying on bottom of tank?

a couple of fish sitting on top of a wooden plank.

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Help! I have a goldfish laying on bottom of tank! What do I do?

If your fish is in distress, there are certain steps you should take in order to get him back to normal.

goldfish laying on bottom of tank

Step #1: Check Your Water Chemistry

We’ll never stop saying it; water quality is the #1 most important influence on fish health. If your water is terrible, your fish WILL get sick. If you slack on your maintenance routine, or just don’t have one, your fish can go from normal one day to almost dead the next. Fish have amazing coping mechanisms, but they will reach their end point at some time.

Can’t check your water chemistry? Well, go buy a test kit! Most major pet stores carry them, and don’t waste your money on test strips! I know they’re convenient, but they do not provide any realistic information. Once you have your results, compare them to these reference ranges. If anything is off, here is how to get them fixed correctly.

Step #2: Call Your Veterinarian

If your water quality checks out okay, the next step for a goldfish laying on bottom of tank is to call an aquatic veterinarian. A normally acting fish lying on the bottom of your tank is a serious concern. Rather than waste time trying to fix it yourself, consult with a professional. There are many different potential caused of negative buoyancy that require veterinary intervention. These include:

Your best option to save your fish is to consult with a professional. Yes, it is more expensive than figuring the cause yourself, but it’s a lot faster. Time your fish may not have. If you are in California or Nevada, call us at (831) 278-1081. To find a fish veterinarian near you, visit the American Association of Fish Veterinarians or the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association.

If you have a fancy goldfish with intermitted buoyancy issues, please read this after you schedule an appointment with your vet.

What NOT To Do

If your goldfish is lying on bottom of tank, here is what you should NOT do:

DO NOT Stress Him/Her Out

Fish do not do well with stress. A fish with a buoyancy disorder is stressed out enough, so additional handling and manipulation will only make things worse.

DO NOT Strap a “Life vest” to Him/Her

These monstrosities are all over the internet. Strapping airline tubing to your fish will erode the slime coat causing secondary infections and in some cases, coelomic perforations, further injuring your fish. Just don’t do it.

DO NOT Dump in “Antibiotics”

A fish with a negative buoyancy disorder is rarely cased by a primary bacterial infection, that’s why it is so low on our differential list above. If anything, a bacterial infection is secondary to something else. Have we mentioned water quality is the #1 influence on fish health? And those “antibiotics” you buy over the counter are not checked or confirmed by anyone, so who knows what is in there.

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