Why Is Your Goldfish At The Bottom Of The Tank? (12 Reasons)

When you see that your goldfish is at the bottom of their 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!

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

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. Here are the most common reasons!

They’re Stressed

One reason that your goldfish may sit at the bottom of your tank is because 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!

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.

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

Sometimes you may notice that your goldfish is laying 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.

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.

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.

Disease And Illness

Diseases and illness, particularly ones that affect the gills can also be a reason too. Gill flukes, columnaris and other bacterial and parasitical 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.)

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Why Is Your Goldfish Laying On Their Side At The Bottom Of The Tank?

If your goldfish is laying on their side at the bottom of the tank then it could be a few of things. It’s most likely going to be swim bladder disease, dropsy or constipation.

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 laying 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 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 is a great choice. But you can also add in some blanched vegetables and change the fish flakes you’re feeding them as well!

Why Is Your Goldfish At The Bottom Of The Tank Not Moving?

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

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.

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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 becoming sick.


Now you know all the reasons that your goldfish may be sitting or laying at the bottom of the tank. As you can see a lot of the time it can be the 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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