EVERY Reason Your Goldfish Is At The Bottom Of The Tank

Last Updated on 2024-05-11

When you see that your goldfish is at the bottom of the tank, then it’s often the sign of a problem. If left untreated, these problems often become worse and can lead to death. Fortunately, though, if you’re able to catch them early enough, you can treat the problem, and your goldfish will make a full recovery!

Keep reading to find out all the different reasons your goldfish is sitting at the bottom of their tank, other symptoms to look for, and, of course, what to do!

Key Takeaways:

  • Possible reasons for a goldfish being at the bottom include stress, boredom, sickness, being laden with eggs, sleeping, or old age.
  • Stress factors can include poor water quality, an overstocked tank, poor nutrition, disturbances, or low oxygen levels.
  • Boredom can be addressed by creating a more stimulating environment with plants, decorations, tank mates, and occasional rearrangement.
  • Sickness may manifest as lethargy, clamped fins, and loss of appetite; water parameters should be checked for issues like dirty water, incorrect temperature, or disease.
  • Female goldfish laden with eggs may also sit at the bottom; egg binding can be a serious issue requiring professional assistance.

Why Is Your Goldfish Sitting/Laying At The Bottom Of The Tank?

ReasonPossible Solutions
StressImprove water quality, avoid overstocking, provide proper nutrition, reduce disturbances, increase oxygen levels
BoredomEnhance the tank environment with plants, decorations, tank mates, and occasional rearrangement
SicknessCheck water parameters, address issues like dirty water, incorrect temperature, or disease
Laden with EggsMonitor for egg binding, seek professional assistance if necessary
SleepingNormal behavior, no action required
Old AgeProvide general care and support, as there may not be a specific solution
Poor Water QualityRegular tank cleaning, maintain proper chemical balance
ParasitesIdentify symptoms, consult a vet for appropriate treatment
Water TemperatureMaintain a consistent and suitable temperature
New Tank SyndromeProper acclimatization, monitor water parameters, take corrective actions

Being able to figure out the exact reason your goldfish is sitting at the bottom of the tank is vital for learning how to treat them. And there are so many different reasons it can be happening.

Your goldfish could be laying at the bottom of their tank due to:

  1. Stress
  2. Boredom
  3. Sickness
  4. They’re Eggbound
  5. They’re Sleeping
  6. Old Age
  7. Poor Water Quality
  8. Parasites
  9. Water Temperature
  10. New Tank Syndrome

They’re Stressed

One reason that your goldfish may sit at the bottom of your tank is that they’re stressed. When your goldfish is stressed, they may feel safer at the bottom of the tank, where they’re less exposed. In some cases, they may even sit in one corner of the tank.

There are a number of things that can cause stress, such as poor water quality, an overstocked tank, poor nutrition, constant disturbances outside the tank, and even in some cases, a lack of oxygen in the water.

Fortunately, this is genuinely easy to fix; you can buy them high-quality food, change the water more frequently, buy a bigger tank, and add more plants or an air bubbler to the tank to make sure it’s getting enough oxygen!

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They’re Too Bored

A lot of people think that goldfish are just dumb fish that don’t need stimulation; however, this simply isn’t the case. You need to make sure that you’re giving your goldfish plenty of stimulation by making their environment as interesting as possible.

If they don’t find their environment interesting, they may become depressed and just sit at the bottom of the tank all the time.

Some ways to stop your goldfish from being bored are by adding more plants and decorations, adding tank mates, and even rearranging the tank every once in a while!

They’re Sick

Your goldfish may be sitting at the bottom of the tank when they’re sick. In fact, simply trying to swim may be too exhausting for them. If your goldfish is sick, you can look for other symptoms of illness as well. Some common symptoms include clamped fins, a lack of appetite, and general lethargy.

If you think they’re sick, you should check the water parameters to see if the water is dirty and also to make sure it’s not too hot or cold.

Some common illnesses that can cause this are dropsy, constipation, and swim bladder disease.

They’re Laden With Eggs

If your goldfish are females, then they may be laden with eggs. This causes them to look bloated and to become lethargic. If they are laden with eggs, then they may also lay at the bottom of the tank too.

While being laden with eggs isn’t too much of a problem, egg binding may be. If your goldfish is egg-bound, the ovaries aren’t developed enough to release eggs. This means they can keep building up and building up, causing your goldfish to become bloated. This can be extremely dangerous for them, and you may need to seek the help of a professional to sort it out.

They’re Sleeping

Your goldfish may simply be at the bottom of the tank because they’re sleeping. When they sleep, they just sort of stay stationary suspended in one area. Occasionally this may mean that they’ll lay at the bottom of the tank. And if this is the case, there’s nothing to worry about.

You can tell if your goldfish is sleeping or not by moving something near the tank. This can often wake your goldfish up, and if they swim away normally, you can relax.

Old Age

Lastly, when your goldfish is old, then they may sit at the bottom of the tank. This could be due to disease, tiredness, or simply because they don’t have the energy to move around. Whatever it is, there’s not much you can do about it. You just need to continue taking care of them as best as you can.

Poor Water Quality

This is a common cause of stress for goldfish. Factors contributing to poor water quality include inadequate tank cleaning, high ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate levels. Regular water changes and maintaining proper chemical balance can address this issue.


Parasitic infections can lead to lethargy and sitting at the bottom. Identifying symptoms like clamped fins and loss of appetite is crucial. Consultation with a vet may be necessary for appropriate treatment.

Water Temperature

Inappropriate water temperature, either too hot or too cold, can cause goldfish to stay at the bottom. Temperature shock, especially sudden changes, can be harmful. Maintaining a consistent and suitable temperature is essential.

New Tank Syndrome

When setting up a new tank, imbalances in the aquarium environment may stress goldfish. This can be addressed by proper acclimatization, regular monitoring of water parameters, and taking corrective actions.

Why Is Your Goldfish Gasping For Air At The Bottom Of The Tank?

Sometimes you may notice that your goldfish is lying at the bottom of the tank while also gasping for air. This is a more specific problem which means it’s slightly easier to diagnose.

When goldfish are gasping for air at the bottom of the tank, it’s either due to ammonia poisoning, not enough oxygen in the tank, a disease, or the water temperature isn’t right. All of which are going to need an instant remedy.

Ammonia Poisoning

One thing that can commonly cause goldfish to gasp for air at the bottom of the tank is ammonia poisoning. When the ammonia is too high in the tank, it can burn your goldfish gills and make them struggle to breathe.

If you’re not sure whether it’s ammonia poisoning or not, you should test the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in the tank. (The API Master Test Kit is best for this.) If you notice that the ammonia nitrite or nitrate levels are too high, then you should perform a 50% water change immediately.

Once again, test it, and if the ammonia is too high, add API Ammo Lock to reduce it. Keep changing the 10-15% of the water every day until the ammonia returns to normal. And if it spikes too much again, use more API Ammo Lock.

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Not Enough Oxygen In The Tank

A lack of oxygen is another reason that your goldfish may be gasping for air at the bottom of the tank. When you think this is a problem, try adjusting the filter to create more surface agitation or adding an air bubbler. Likewise, you can also add lots of plants to the tank to increase the oxygen as well.

If you’re dosing your tank with co2 to help plant life, then stop doing this as well. You may be adding too much co2 to the tank, which is suffocating your goldfish.

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Disease And Illness

Diseases and illnesses, particularly ones that affect the gills, can also be a reason too. Gill flukes, columnar and other bacterial and parasitic infections can all be causing this.

Some signs of disease and illness include clamped fins, lethargy, and spots. You may also notice symptoms on the gills themselves.

If you do notice symptoms, then you should speak to a vet or professional to find out the best treatment.

The Water Temperature Isn’t Right

If the water in your tank is too hot or too cold, then it could be causing your goldfish to lay at the bottom of the tank. When the water is too hot, it’s not going to be able to hold as much oxygen. As well as this, warm water rises to the top of the tank, so your goldfish may be going to the bottom of the tank where there’s more oxygen.

However, there is a flip side to this. If the water is too cold (close to freezing), then the water warm water will actually sink to the bottom of the tank, so the goldfish will go there to follow it. However, this probably won’t happen in aquariums but ponds.

Also, if the water is too cold in your fish tank though, your goldfish may sit on the bottom as they go into a semi-hibernation. (Which is really bad for them.)

goldfish is at the bottom of the tank
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Why Is Your Goldfish Laying On Their Side At The Bottom Of The Tank?

If your goldfish is lying on its side at the bottom of the tank. It’s most likely going to be caused by swim bladder disease, dropsy, or constipation. While swim bladder disease and constipation can be treated with fasting, and epsom salt baths, dropsy has a much more fatal prognosis.

Unfortunately, if it’s dropsy, there’s not much you can do, and the chances of recovery are slim. However, constipation and swim bladder disease can both be treated and cured! In both cases, you first of all want to clean the tank and perform a water change.

Next, if your goldfish is constipated, fast them, and then after a couple of days, feed them a cooked deshelled pea. If this doesn’t clear their constipation up, then you can also add Epsom salt to the tank.

With swim bladder disease, keeping the water clean and making sure they’re not getting hurt by other fish or objects in the tank is the key to recovery.

Why Is Your Goldfish Not Eating And Laying At The Bottom Of The Tank?

If your goldfish is not eating and lying at the bottom of the tank, then once again, it could be because they’re ill. Dropsy, swim bladder disease, and constipation could be the culprits behind it once more, but they’re not the only ones. As well as them, most illnesses could be causing this.

You should check for other symptoms to help you figure out exactly what the problem is.

But when it’s not an illness, it could be because they’re not enjoying the food you’re giving them. Fish can’t tell you when they don’t like food, but they can only show you.

You should try feeding them different types of food to see if they’ll eat again. Live food and freeze-dried food are great choices. But you can also add in some blanched vegetables and change the fish flakes you’re feeding them as well!

Why Your Goldfish is At The Bottom Of The Tank and Not Moving

It can be extremely worrying when you see your goldfish at the bottom of their tank not moving, so it’s definitely a cause for concern! Here are the reasons it may happen.

In short your goldfish laying at the bottom of the tank not moving can be caused by:

  1. Temperature Shock
  2. Swim Bladder Disease
  3. Dropsy
  4. They’re Sleeping
  5. They’ve Died

Temperature Shock

Again, temperature shock can be the reason that your fish isn’t moving, and if it’s got to this stage, then it’s extremely serious! Check to see if the heater has broken and is causing the water to heat up too much or cool down too much.

If you notice that the water is too hot or cold, begin adding conditioned water to balance it out and either warm it up or cool it down.

When the temperature shock has been caused by the water temperature changing dramatically though, you should leave it and give your goldfish time to adjust.

Swim Bladder Disease/Dropsy

Swim bladder disease and dropsy can also make it incredibly difficult for your goldfish to move. When they have it, they may just lay at the bottom of the tank.

They’re Sleeping

Once again, if your goldfish is sleeping, they may look like they’re completely still at the bottom of the tank.

They’re Dead

Sadly, sometimes your goldfish will sink to the bottom when they die. If your goldfish is dead, then you’ll notice no matter what happens around them, they won’t move. If you notice your goldfish is dead and you have other fish, then make sure you remove them from the tank ASAP to reduce the chance of other fish getting sick.

Goldfish is at the bottom of the tank
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Check out this video by Aquarium Fish Keeper on what it means if your Goldfish is at the bottom of the tank!

Preventative Measures to Keep Your Goldfish Healthy

Routine Water Testing: Regularly testing the water quality in your tank is crucial. It’s advisable to check the levels of ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and pH weekly. Keeping these parameters within safe limits can prevent many health issues before they start. Consider investing in a reliable water testing kit and documenting the results to track any changes over time.

Optimized Tank Environment: Ensure the tank environment is conducive to good goldfish health by:

  • Maintaining appropriate stocking densities to avoid overcrowding, which can lead to stress and poor water quality.
  • Using a filtration system that matches the size and bioload of your tank to keep the water clean and well-oxygenated.
  • Adjusting the lighting, as excessive light can promote algae growth which in turn can affect water quality and fish health.

Nutritional Diet: Feeding your goldfish a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs can help prevent health issues. Opt for high-quality fish food and vary their diet with safe treats. Avoid overfeeding, which is a common cause of poor water quality and digestive issues in goldfish.

Regular Maintenance: Keep up with regular tank maintenance, including:

  • Regular water changes, ideally 10-20% of the tank volume per week.
  • Cleaning the substrate and decorations to remove food waste and other debris that can decompose and degrade water quality.
  • Inspecting equipment such as heaters and filters to ensure they are functioning correctly.

Observation: Spend time observing your goldfish regularly. Early detection of changes in behavior or appearance can be key in addressing issues before they become serious. Knowing what is normal for your goldfish will help you recognize when something is off.

By implementing these preventative measures, you can create a stable and healthy environment for your goldfish, reducing the likelihood of them sitting at the bottom of the tank due to stress or illness.

Why Is Your Goldfish Dead At The Bottom Of The Tank?

Disease, poor water quality, old age, temperature shock, ammonia poisoning, lack of oxygen, egg binding, and stress can also cause your goldfish to die and stay at the bottom of the tank.

When you notice that your goldfish is dead, the first thing you should do is remove them. Secondly, you should test the water to see if there’s too much nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia in it. As well as this, you should also check the temperature to make sure it’s okay. And lastly, look to see if any chemicals have got into the tank that shouldn’t have.

If you notice any of the above, then treat them immediately to stop your other fish from becoming sick.


Here are some frequently asked questions people have about why their goldfish is laying at the bottom of their tank.

Why Is Your Goldfish Gasping For Air In The Corner Of The Tank?

Ammonia poisoning is the most common cause your o your goldfish gasping for air in the corner of their tank. On top of gasping for air you’ll also notice that their gills are red as well.


Now you know all the reasons that your goldfish may be sitting or lying at the bottom of the tank. As you can see, a lot of the time, it can be a sign of a problem, but sometimes it could just be your fish being silly!

If you liked this article, make sure you check out the rest of the website! Otherwise, have a great day!


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