Random Bits of Projects

June 5, 2009

Upside-Down, Floating Goldfish Problems?

green-peas-2I just took care of this problem with one of my goldfish today and thought I would pop a quick note up about it. Some of you may have noticed your goldfish has trouble swimming downward on occasion and just pops right back to the surface like it is full of air. The worse cases end up floating belly-up. This is most often seen in fancy goldfish with compact, round bodies. Their organs are all tightly packed in that round body and sometimes air does get trapped in the intestines. This sounds funny that the fish cannot swim due to a fishy equivalent of a fart but it can kill the fish if it continues too long. Many times they work it out, but not always.

Their diets need to have more grain than protein to begin with and do not overfeed. When/if the air problem happens the best thing I have found to remedy this are green peas. Yep. Peas. I keep a bag of frozen peas handy for this. If you catch it early, you have a chance to get the fish back to its happy dumb goldfish self (I mean that with affection).

Frozen_Green_PeasI run a few peas under water and work them in my hands to get them to thaw. Then I pop out the insides of the peas to feed to the fish. For some reason I have better luck discarding the outer coating. In the case of this fish, I had to grab him/her and hold the pea in front of his face until he calmed down and realized food was dangling in front of its mouth. Did not take long. This one is very food oriented. Sucked down 3 peas in no time (not a full grown fish-size of golf ball and looks like one too). I broke up more peas into the tank for the others to eat as well. After a few hours the fish was right side up and not struggling to swim down. Another one was having some floating problems too and it is better as well.

Other things to check is your water. The better the water, the less I see this happen too. I am going to do a water changechester goldfish tomorrow to be safe.

Some people also feed larger goldfish Cheerios cereal.

If the fish has been having this problem for days, the peas may not help. I am not sure what to do then other than do water changes.

Preventative: Try to feed sinking pellets, not floating. The fish may be sucking too much air when they try to get food floating on the surface. The goldfish will clean the food up off the bottom. They love their food. Man companies are switching to primarily sinking pellets now because of the floating problem.

Oh, and by the way, fish bowls are horrible for goldfish long term. Get an aquarium.

Hope this helps!

Let me know if anyone has more suggestions!


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17 Comments »

  1. Peas worked great. Thanks for the great information.

    Comment by A Reyna — September 25, 2009 @ 11:29 pm | Reply

    • Fantastic! Glad it helped!

      Comment by virtuallyamy — September 25, 2009 @ 11:31 pm | Reply

  2. Brilliant. Worked within hours. Fish was really struggling to stay down and was
    clearly distressed. Now sorted out. Many thanks

    Comment by david — January 23, 2010 @ 7:37 am | Reply

    • Thank you for letting me know it helped! I am so glad!

      Comment by virtuallyamy — January 23, 2010 @ 10:50 am | Reply

  3. My 3 year old fish has been having this same problem recently, and last night, at the suggestion of the pet store, I switched him to sinking pellets instead of flakes, but he didn’t seem to figure out that it was food. Will he start to figure it out? I am worried he will begin to starve.

    Comment by rmf — February 17, 2010 @ 11:35 pm | Reply

    • Yep, your fish will figure it out. All of mine did. I had to switch as well and it has worked for all but one overly piggy one. The odd one still goes to the top and sucks air even when something is not there. I think “just in case”. But overall, they figured it out and it helped. There is a risk the fish will swallow a rock but that is not common.

      Comment by virtuallyamy — February 18, 2010 @ 1:41 pm | Reply

  4. Im having lots of problems with one of my goldfish! Going to try this pea thing right now! Ill let u know how it works! Thanks for info!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Amber — January 11, 2011 @ 9:31 pm | Reply

    • Good luck!!

      Comment by virtuallyamy — January 16, 2011 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  5. Thanks for the information! My black moor is having the floating problem but because it has been for a few weeks since it got sick, I don’t think it will go back to normal ;-(. It is now well from what it had but just can’t seem to swim upright anymore. I haven’t tried the peas yet but did switch from floating pellets to sinking pellets. This did help as the fish can position it lower in the tank. Also, since it floats upside down, i find it hard to feed the sinking pellets as a lot of the food just goes straight down. Is there are particular brand that you recommend or should I feed it with a dropper? I normally need to scoop up the remaining pellets at the end. Any help is appreciated. I am giving my black moor Hikari Lionhead sinking pellets. Thanks.

    Comment by Mungoo33 — November 7, 2011 @ 8:54 am | Reply

    • Good luck on your Moore! With my fish that had this problem, I would gently cradle him in one hand and hold food in front of his mouth in the other (all under water of course). I fine that when anything is in front of his mouth, he sucks it in. He became used to me cradling him. Be careful not to grab hard. Very delicate skin. Hope this helps. Fingers crossed!

      Comment by virtuallyamy — November 11, 2011 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

      • Thanks for your reply! I have been feeding it some peas and some other fish pellets. I will take your advice and try it! The fish seems to be a bit more active and happier after I stopped feeding the floating pellets. At this pint, I try not to overfeed it but have a hard time figuring how much it should be eating. My moore is about 5 inches long, not including the tail….thanks again for your advice.

        Comment by Mungoo33 — November 11, 2011 @ 5:26 pm | Reply

  6. Thank you so much for this tip…. My black moore was really sick and it was floating upside down occasionally for around 1 month…. In last week it was worse… But then I found this post and immediately acted on it… And it did wonders… Now it is back to almost normal and playing around with water bubbles that I missed for last few months !!! :) I am so happy to see my happy fish now…. Thanks a lot

    Comment by Anonymous — February 18, 2012 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

    • Yay! Every situation can be so individual and different. I am so glad when something works. Thanks for letting me know! :)

      Comment by virtuallyamy — February 18, 2012 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

  7. I keep running into this problem, even when my fish have been on an all-pea diet for weeks. :/ I’ve cut down to only feeding them in the morning, 1 pea per fish. My largest Ryukin has gotten better, though still tend to be a little floaty every couple of days. My smallest Ryukin was fine this morning and is not suddenly popping up to the surface like a cork! He’s a little rounder and is having trouble staying right side up, though he doesn’t seem to mind being upside down. He just motors himself around the top of the tank, happy as a clam. I’m worried this could get worse though. :/ Should I cut the diet down to feeding every other day and see what happens?

    Comment by Meredith — February 19, 2012 @ 5:09 pm | Reply

    • The compact goldfish tend to have this problem more than those with a longer body. I have had a few that are just so prone to it constantly returns. Your upside down guy might still be sucking air when feeding since he is near the top. Have you tried sinking food? The sinking food will not do a whole lot of good if he cannot get down there to feed but once he does, it could help.
      If your fish are otherwise healthy, you can try to reduce feeding to see if that helps and avoid food that floats on the surface. I wish I could say for sure. Some I have gotten to get over this permanently and others just keep doing as yours does every few days. Since I have stopped using floating food as well as making sure of feeding a well rounded diet, any new additions have not had any problems with upside down issues, no matter how compact their little bodies. It is the ones that predated this new feeding that I still have some problems with. I do watch overfeeding. And again, watch out for your water turning bad in general.
      Good luck!

      Comment by virtuallyamy — February 21, 2012 @ 4:55 pm | Reply

      • Amusingly, both Ryukins were perfectly fine the next day. I think they’re doing it on purpose just to mess with me. @_@’
        Whenever I do feed them pellets I feed them the sinking kind, soaked for at least an hour beforehand. Their diet right now is only peas though, and I’m going to try cutting it back to half a pea per fish and see if that keeps everybody in the tank happy.

        Comment by Meredith — February 21, 2012 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

        • Ha! Having to laugh at that. It is amazing how much we put into fretting over our fish! :)

          Comment by virtuallyamy — February 21, 2012 @ 8:15 pm | Reply


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