Egg Bound Goldfish: Causes and Treatment

Female goldfish can lay anywhere from 100 up to 1000 eggs in the aquarium while they wait for males to fertilize them. Unfortunately, fish eggs will sometimes get stuck in their ovaries which are called egg-bound. This happens when the female makes eggs, but her ovaries aren’t mature enough to let them out. This causes the ovaries to fill up with eggs, which then leads to egg bound. You wouldn’t want this to happen to your goldfish because an egg bound can make your fish much weaker and can lead to death. Read this article to learn more about egg binding in goldfish.

Can Goldfish Get Egg Bound?

Egg bound, also called egg binding, is a condition in which your fish can’t get its eggs out of its body. This is because of many things, such as old age or bad water conditions. If they can’t lay eggs, they will get bacterial infections and have other major health problems.

Goldfish lay eggs when they reproduce, so it is possible for an egg to get stuck or get egg-bound. However, chances are very low that your fish’s eggs will get stuck in them and kill them. Even if your fish die with eggs in them, that doesn’t mean that the eggs killed them.

There are a lot of ways to help your fish get better if they get egg-bound. Like putting male fish in your fish tank, which will help the female fish lay some eggs. You can also help your goldfish lay eggs by raising the water temperature a little to make it feel like spring, which is a cue for goldfish to lay eggs.

What Causes a Goldfish To Be Egg Bound

Your goldfish won’t get egg-bound if you keep your aquarium clean and the water very clear. But there are some things in your aquarium that you might not notice that can make your goldfish unable to lay eggs. Here are some of the reasons why your goldfish got egg bound.

1. Low Water Quality

Most likely, the main reason your fish get egg bound is that their environment isn’t good for it. If the water isn’t good, the fishes’ brains will tell them not to have eggs. Even if your aquarium looks clean and clear, it could have a spike in ammonia and nitrates that you don’t know about, which can make the water quality bad.

2. Tumors and Cancers

Even though it may seem impossible, goldfish can also get cancer or tumors in their reproductive organs. When this happens, the tumor or cancer can change the goldfish’s reproductive system, making it unable to spawn eggs and get egg bound.

3. Absence of Male

 When the conditions are right, your goldfish’s ovaries release hormones that attract male goldfish, who then rub against the female fish. Then the female fish lays its eggs, which are fertilized outside of the body. If you don’t have any male goldfish in your fish tank, your female goldfish won’t be able to release its eggs, causing it to be egg bound.

4. Overcrowded Fish Tank

If your fish have trouble laying eggs, it could be because their tank is too crowded with fish. Having too many fish in your fish tank can stress your goldfish, making them instinctively not spawn eggs. The water quality in overcrowded fish tanks also gets worse, which is one also another reason for your goldfish to be egg bound.

5. Malnutrition

Malnutrition not only in female goldfish but also in other female fishes can cause serious problems with reproduction which can also lead to being egg bound. Not only that, malnourished goldfish usually have heads that are too big for their bodies, and their bodies are long and skinny. They will also get sick more easily from other diseases.

6. Your Fish Is Stressed

If the conditions are right, a fish will only lay eggs. This can be caused by diseases or sickness, bad care of the fish, or other fish that are too aggressive. If your fish is stressed and won’t lay eggs, it’s possible that your goldfish is egg bound.

7. Wrong Water Temperature

Most goldfish can breed at temperatures between 10 and 26 degrees celsius. But the best thing to do is heat up the water. This makes it feel like spring, which tells the goldfish it’s time to lay eggs.

Egg Bound Goldfish Symptoms

Female goldfish are always carrying eggs, and if the conditions are right, some of these eggs will mature and be released so that males can fertilize them. But sometimes, your goldfish won’t be able to get the eggs out, and this is called egg binding. If you suspect your goldfish got egg bound, here are some symptoms to look out for.

1. Swollen Belly

The most noticeable sign is the swollen belly, which is caused by egg bound. On the other hand, some female goldfish may not have big bellies even though they are carrying eggs. If the female goldfish is releasing eggs, she is pregnant, but she is not bloated.

2. Lethargy

If your goldfish is starting to look tired, sleepy, and less active, one reason could be that it is unable to release eggs. But lethargy in goldfish could also have been caused by a lot of other things like poor living conditions. But if your fish is sleepy and has a swollen belly, it is very likely that it is egg bound.

3. Bloating

If you think your goldfish got egg bound, another sign to look out for is bloating. Egg-bound goldfish have ovaries that are too big and take up the whole space inside their bodies which can also put pressure on their stomachs. 

4. Loss of Appetite

Egg-bound goldfish have ovaries that are so big that they take up the whole body cavity. This can also make the goldfish always feel full which can make the fish stop wanting to eat. The goldfish might think they are always full, but they wouldn’t be getting the daily nutrients they need.

5. Goldfish Swimming Oddly

Fish that are carrying eggs will also swim in strange ways, such as swimming sideways. Some fish keepers have even noticed that their egg-bound fish swims at a 45-degree angle. This is likely because the ovaries have grown in different ways.

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How To Treat Egg Bound Goldfish

Egg-bound means that your fish can’t get its eggs out of its body. This is a serious problem. It is best to treat your fish to help it lay eggs before the problem gets worse and kills it. Here are some ways to take care of a goldfish that is egg bound.

1. Epsom Salt

Epsom salt has magnesium sulfate in it, which helps relieve pain and heal wounds. The egg binding makes the middle of the body swell up and makes the goldfish feel bloated. Epsom salt is very important for reducing swelling and the pain that comes with it while also helping the ovaries mature faster and release eggs from the body.

2. Raise The Water Temperature

To help goldfish release their eggs, the right temperature is needed. Warmer temperatures can help the goldfish think it’s spring season, which triggers them to lay eggs. You can raise the water temperature by between 20 and 25 degrees by turning on the aquarium heater or leaving the tank out in the sun.

4. Carp Pituitary Extract Injections

Carp pituitary extract is a substance made from the carp’s pituitary gland, which is in the brain. It can be bought in some pet stores as a powder that needs to be mixed with water and salt. One thing about giving pituitary extract injections is that it might be hard to do, especially if you are just starting out as an aquarist.

5. Withhold Food

It’s a time-consuming trick that enables fish to reabsorb their own eggs. It is a natural process that happens when fish eat their eggs after a while. Fish naturally eat their own eggs when they don’t have enough food or male fish around.

6. Gently Squeeze The Goldfish

Eggs that are stuck in the fish’s body can be freed by squeezing the fish. Lay the goldfish on its side, put pressure on its belly using your hands, and squeeze it gently. Bound eggs will escape from the body and leave through the anus, which you can collect later in a separate jar.

7. Injecting Luteinizing Hormone

The hypothalamus makes this hormone, which makes the pituitary gland release hormones. These hormones can make fish spawn faster than pituitary extract from carp. It’s also hard because you have to inject something into a fish.


As aquarists, we should be excited to see our favorite fish lay their own eggs, which will soon turn into the next fishlings we’ll have to care for. Seeing them lay their own eggs will let you know that all of your years of hard work to keep your goldfish healthy has paid off. That’s why it’s important to watch out for signs that your goldfish is egg-bound, like lethargy or swimming in strange ways so that you can treat it sooner. Treatments range in how hard they are, from just raising the temperature of the water or adding Epsom salt to injecting your goldfish with substances and hormones. As long as you treat the egg bound right away, you don’t have to worry about anything.

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