How Long Can A Fish Live With Swim Bladder Disease?

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Last Updated on 2023-08-08

Fish have a swim bladder, an organ that is filled with gas and is vital to their survival. It aids the fish in maintaining their buoyancy and allows them to swim more easily. Some fish use their swim bladder to make and hear sounds, in addition to its more obvious uses in maintaining posture and improving swimming performance. The function of this organ is crucial to the fish’s body as a whole. It is not, however, immune to illness and dysfunction.

The good news is that if caught early, this condition can often be treated successfully. But how long can a fish live with swim bladder disease? We’ll look at the answers here, as well as help you understand exactly what swim bladder disease is and how best to recognize the symptoms so you can start treatment early. Keep reading for everything you need to know about treating this troubling health issue in your aquarium pet!

How Long Can A Fish Live With Swim Bladder Disease?

Swim bladder disease has a varying prognosis. There are some fish that only suffer from this ailment temporarily. The severity usually depends on the root of the problem. In cases where excessive or quick eating is to blame, for instance, fish typically feel better within a day or two.

However, the healing process may take longer if the illness was brought on by an infection or is the result of bad nutrition or inadequate water quality. The condition may not always be treatable.

Fish who suffer from swim bladder conditions are given medication to alleviate their symptoms. This means the illness has no direct therapy. As an alternative, we focus on diagnosing and fixing the underlying causes and conditions that manifest as symptoms.

The veterinarian will prescribe a course of action to clean and treat the fish based on the underlying causes. Most infections can be effectively treated in 1-2 weeks.

What Causes Swim Bladder Disease In Fish?

The disease commonly known as “swim bladder” is actually a collection of diseases that share similar symptoms. In reality, it’s a disorder of multiple diseases. Complications with feeding, the environment, or one’s body itself can all contribute to this issue.

These are some of the possible causes:

Dietary Routines

Swim Bladder disorders are more common in fish that fast feed or overeat in a short period of time. A fish swallows a lot of air as it eats quickly. As a result, their swim bladders are forced to move to a different location within their bodies.

Bloating from eating too many dried and flaky fish meals is another possible cause. Foods that are dried out and then rehydrated provide a bloating danger because of their increased size.

Enlarged Abdominal Organs

When abdominal organs suddenly grow in size, it might have an immediate effect on the swim bladder. Additionally, the presence of abdominal cysts and tumors may also play a role. Some female fish may experience egg binding during mating season, and excess fatty deposits on the liver could also play a role.

Bad Water Quality Parameters

The ideal water temperature is essential for the health and development of all fish. But if the water temperature isn’t quite right, certain fish species may experience stomach issues and gas.


Infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites are extremely frequent in home aquariums. These infections have a direct impact on the swim bladder, reducing its capacity and making it less effective. Submerged infections can also be caused by fish injuries that aren’t immediately apparent. If your fish are showing symptoms of an infection, don’t delay in getting them treated.

Defects At Birth

Birth defects affecting the fish’s swim bladder are extremely unusual but do occur. These make it so they can’t swim freely while submerged. You won’t have to worry about the symptoms appearing out of nowhere, though, because many disorders show their faces early on.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Swim Bladder Disease In Fish?

It’s not easy to spot fish with swim bladder disease because the symptoms are subtle. But if you have enough training and knowledge, you should be able to tell the symptoms apart. The fish’s primary sign is a severe loss of buoyancy. Other common signs and symptoms include:

Poor Swimming

A fish’s swimming pattern should reflect whether it is a bottom feeder or a surface feeder. A swim bladder disorder may be the cause of the fish repeatedly sinking to the bottom or flopping on top.

Inability to Maintain Balance

The fish are able to remain in the same place in the tank due to their natural buoyancy and equilibrium. Fish with swim bladder disease will have trouble swimming upright and may even float or sink.

Abdominal Distension

The disease is caused by a buildup of gas and indigestion that puts strain on the bladder during swimming. As a result, a distended belly may be a symptom of the swim bladder disorder in the affected fish.

A Curved Back

Fish with this condition may develop a curved back because internal organs have been suddenly moved. This symptom only appears in a small percentage of affected fish.

Loss of Appetite

Fish with a problem with their swim bladders often refuse to eat, especially if they are bottom or surface feeders. Because of this, they have a hard time getting back to feeling like themselves, and this eventually leads to malnourishment.

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How Do You Treat Swim Bladder Disease In Fish?

As an aquarist, you’re well aware of the fact that providing a healthy and comfortable home for your fish requires more than just keeping the water clean. Even if you’re diligent about tank maintenance, there’s still a chance that one of your fish might become ill. One common ailment among wide varieties of aquarium dwellers is swim bladder disease, which is caused by problems with the air sac inside a fish’s body. This condition needs attention before it gets worse! Below are the necessary steps to safely and effectively treat swim bladder disease in your aquarium.

1. Diagnose the Symptoms – The first step to helping your fish recover from swim bladder disease is identifying it in the first place. Look for signs of irregular swimming, difficulty remaining upright, and floating at the surface of the tank. These are all classic symptoms of swim bladder disease and should be addressed immediately.

2. Adjust their Diet – Another key part of swim bladder disease treatment is modifying their diet. Many varieties of fish are prone to ingesting air when eating, so switch out any food that requires ‘fish-sucking’ for a more solid option, like flake or pellet food.

3. Perform Tank Maintenance – Changing out the water regularly will help reduce the risk of swim bladder disease in your tank. Doing so will reduce any ammonia or nitrite levels, which are both contributing factors to this ailment.

4. Administer Medication – If the problem persists, you may have to consider using medication to treat your fish. Consider using aquarium salt. Aquarium salt helps fish maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes and kills bacteria and parasites. Although it may not aid in the recovery of your fish from swim bladder illness, it is a safe and effective alternative to a modest dose of a broad-spectrum antibiotic. However, always consult with a veterinarian before administering any drugs to your fish, as incorrect use can be dangerous.

5. Follow-Up After Treatment – Finally, once the treatment is complete, make sure to keep a close eye on your fish to ensure that they’re recovering properly. Monitor their swimming patterns and behavior for any signs of improvement or further complications.

Caring for your fish is an important part of being a responsible aquarist, and our guide should help you to successfully treat swim bladder disease in your tank. By following these steps, you can rest assured that your fish will be well looked after and on their way to recovery!


What Should You Feed a Fish with Swim Bladder Disease?

Green peas that have been frozen and then thawed in a microwave or pot of boiling water for just a few seconds (not too soft but not too firm) are perfect for fish suffering from swim bladder illness.

Can Peas Help Swim Bladder Disease?

If, after three days of fasting, your fish is still having trouble maintaining its buoyancy but otherwise seems healthy, try feeding it some cooked green peas. Peas are not only a wonderful source of fiber, which aids in digestion but also of a number of other beneficial elements.

Can Fish Die From Swim Bladder Disease?

Fluid buildup in the swim bladder is a common symptom of a more serious infection, which can be lethal for fish. While fish with gas issues may seem well at first, their condition can rapidly deteriorate if left untreated.


Fish in home aquariums often develop a condition called swim bladder disease. Swim bladder disease in fish is unfortunately rather frequent and has numerous possible causes. The good news is that your fish can have a long, healthy life with the proper care. Identifying and treating the condition early is easier if you are familiar with the signs to look for. Act immediately if you suspect your fish has swim bladder disease.

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