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Treating swimbladder infections

You look into your beloved aquarium and – boom – one of your fish is swimming on its side at the top of the tank but it’s not dead. It doesn’t seem to be able to balance or regulate its buoyancy and is struggling to get to the food. This sounds like a swimbladder infection.

How should I treat swimbladder infections?

Swimbladder disorders are stressful for your fish so it’s important to treat them as soon as possible. Delaying treatment may mean their weakened immune system contracts other diseases or that your fish becomes thin and malnourished as they’re unable to feed.

Use a swimbladder treatment such as Swimbladder Treatment Plus, that is designed to attack the bacterial infection that causes the problem. Work out how much treatment you need for your aquarium using the dosage calculator and follow guidelines carefully; taking note of any instructions or repeat dose measures.

This treatment should be used in partnership with Aquilibrium First Aid Salt which will help your fish with successful osmoregulation. Osmoregulation is the way in which the salinity of your fish’s body harmonises with the salinity of the surrounding water, which speeds up recovery. The swimbladder is a crucial organ in successful osmoregulation, so supporting it gives your fish the best chance of recovery. Learn why tonic salts help fish in a freshwater aquarium.

Knowing your fish and their ‘normal’ behaviour will help you spot problems early and enable you to deal with them promptly.

So, why does this happen?

In a fish, the swimbladder acts as a float (it’s properly known as a hydrostatic organ), which allows the fish to stay balanced under the water when swimming.

Fish affected by swimbladder issues struggle to stay buoyant. They typically look well but float near the water’s surface, or sink to the bottom, wobbling about on their side or upside down.

They can get exhausted trying to stay upright, or trying to feed. This can be caused by various problems including a sudden change in water temperature although a swimbladder infection is the more likely cause.

Other causes of buoyancy issues

Swimbladder problems can also be hereditary. ‘Fancy’ goldfish like moors; veiltails and orandas often have misshapen swimbladders and are particularly prone to the problem. Tropical fish such as; Betta (Siamese Fighters), Platys and Angels are also more susceptible to swimbladder disorders, so keep an eye on their behaviour.

Buoyancy problems can also be caused by a fish swallowing too much air. This can happen if they gulp air when eating from the water’s surface. It may be beneficial to hold the food further into the water as you feed (with clean hands), to force the fish to swim down to eat.  Alternatively, purchase a tablet-type food that you can stick on the inside of the glass, part way down.

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