Swim Bladder Disease Betta Symptoms & Treatment

Last updated on December 24th, 2022 at 11:05 am

So, Here we are going to discuss about Swim Bladder Disease Betta Symptoms and Treatment. It is very often, when fish lose their ability to swim normally, for example, they are in an unnatural position near the surface of the water or at the very day, aquarists and other people who often observe this pass the death sentence on the fish, without even trying to figure out the reasons. How justified is such a decision and is it worth putting the fish straight into the “toilet” to “ease their” fate?

In fact, not everything is so simple, first you need to have an idea of ​​what the problem is. Many aquarists immediately start looking for “witches” and few people think about problems with the swim bladder. Accordingly, few people actually try to figure it out – because of what it happened. By no means in all cases, a similar phenomenon. When fish swim at the very bottom or at the surface, means inevitable death. Now, if you wave your hand or flush it down the toilet, then definitely.

Common Cases

One of the most common cases of fish health problems in an aquarium is the buoyancy of the fish, when it seems that they do not have enough strength to break away from the bottom or, on the contrary, go down and not swim close to the surface. Most often, aquarists make mistakes when making their conclusion about the impending imminent death of fish, often these erroneous decisions come from the lack of our knowledge about the structure of the fish organism, in this case about the swim bladder.

Many people believe that swimming bladders in fish are a constant thing, but in fact this is not so, their volume is changeable and moreover, the bubbles (there are two of them in most fish) have slightly different functions, at least they have serious differences. In order to diagnose and make decisions about the fate of the fish, you must first get acquainted with the principles of the bubbles. Because often problems with the buoyancy of fish are fixable if you understand the situation.

 The first or anterior bladder has more dense walls, it is practically not subject to changes. In addition, this bladder has a strong connection with the spine of the fish, due to which it is rigidly fixed. The second or posterior bubble is located closer to the tail, it has less dense walls. It can vary significantly in the density of the gas inside, in addition, its position can change. Despite,

Types of Swim Bladders Disease Betta

Fish can be conditionally divided into two types, in which the work with filling the swim bladders with gas is structured differently. Some fish are of the so-called open-bubble type, i.e. They have a channel that directly connects the bladders and the food system, much like in humans. With the help of the esophagus, they deflate or pump the bladder with gas. This group includes goldfish, catfish and so on.

Another group of fish such as cichlids and perches have bladder closures. With the help of a complex structure of the circulatory system or gas glands. For example, they pump or deflate their bladders.

There is another type of fish that may lack a swim bladder. Or have some combination of the two types mentioned above.

Buoyancy Problems in Fish

It should be noted that Western experts are cautious about the term “swim bladder” disease, since it is rather difficult to determine the true causes, most often such problems in fish occur secondarily, and are a consequence. It is generally accepted that there are positive and negative swim bladder disorders. 

With a positive diagnosis, a situation is considered when the fish swim near the surface of the aquarium, while the protective mucus on the side that is located on top dries quickly and leads to the emergence of new diseases through the open wounds that appear that are not protected by mucus. Negative swim bladder disorders are recorded when the fish, on the contrary, sink to the bottom of the aquarium, in this case the problem arises with mucus due to the fact that the fish constantly rubs against the bottom,

Diagnosis For Swim Bladder Disease Betta

In order to make a correct diagnosis of a fish, it is necessary to carefully study its habitat, perhaps if you carefully remember your actions when buying fish, it is possible that even then strange behavior of fish was noted. It is very important to check the condition of the water and its parameters. The temperature and acidity level of the water, check the presence of ammonia, the levels of nitrites and nitrates. 

Another parameter is also important the overpopulation of fish in the aquarium. This condition is often forgotten and completely in vain. It is very important to look at the water indicators through a “prism”, the number of fish in the aquarium. The more parameters and conditions you get from the aquarium. The easier it will be for you to actually establish the cause of the fish disease.

Poor fish feeding is also a common cause of buoyancy problems. For fish, food plays an important role, poor quality feeding can lead to many health problems for fish.

The next step should be a physical examination of the fish. In this case it will be safer to contact a specialist. You can independently check the fish for wounds, stolen fins, bruises and even parasites. Unfortunately, it is often very difficult to identify the cause on your own. Problems can be very minor and difficult to notice if you do not know where to look for the problem.

Positive Buoyancy Disorder

This is the most common case when the fish swims near the surface, on its side. The main reason is a gas-filled swim bladder, most often the second posterior bladder is behind this. But pinpointing the cause of a swim bladder overflow is difficult. Among the reasons leading to this problem are parasites, various physical injuries and some types of cancer. 

The popular type of Oscar cichlid is susceptible to polycystic kidney disease. Which is located between the swim bladders, which can lead to a displacement of the posterior bladder from its normal position. Unlike the anterior swim bladder. The posterior one does not have a rigid attachment to the spine of the fish and can become larger or smaller.

The displacement of the posterior bladder in most cases results in a positive buoyancy disorder of the fish, but at the same time, problems with the displacement of the swim bladder do not often lead to abnormal behavior or swimming of the fish.  There is also a more serious reason for the violation of the buoyancy of fish diseases of the gastrointestinal system of fish.

Other Disease

Surprisingly, fish also suffer from diseases such as gastritis and various parasites are common in them. Which lead to a number of diseases associated with the stomach and intestines. It is impossible to diagnose the disease on your own in this case. Gastroenteritis can also appear as a result of severe stress, tank conflicts, improper feeding and other problems. 

In this case, you can try to remedy the situation by improving the situation in the aquarium, establishing normal nutrition, etc. Often, buoyancy is a secondary symptom, since problems with the gastrointestinal system lead to increased gas formation. Which in turn leads to deformation of the posterior bladder and then the problem becomes critical.

A third less common cause of bubble deformation and positive buoyancy disorder is the ingress of potentially foreign objects. Despite all this positive buoyancy disorder, it does not often lead to the death of fish. If the correct medical attention is received in time, the fish quite often survive and recover well.

Negative Buoyancy Disorder

Unlike a positive buoyancy disorder, a negative one has a more negative prognosis. Besides, aquarists do not attempt to understand the situation for quite some time. The main cause of buoyancy problems in this case is the accumulation of fluid in the bubbles of the fish. Liquid ingestion occurs due to food intake, since in many fish the esophagus has a direct connection with the bladders. 

Water displaces air and it becomes much more difficult for fish to swim and maintain their body position in the water. Another common cause of a negative disorder is a bacterial infection, and the infection of the blisters again results in fluid formation. The third most unlikely cause is rupture of the bladder from injury or illness. Which can lead to a complete loss of gas.

Treatment of Swim Bladder Disease Betta

If there are signs of disease and problems with the buoyancy of fish, it is necessary first of all to carefully consider the water, it is necessary to bring all indicators back to normal and ensure the water filtration in the aquarium. Some experts recommend adding salt to the water, but this is a very controversial decision. Since the wrong dosage will lead to other problems and not the fact that will help solve the problem with the buoyancy of the fish. In addition, salt can cause problems in the operation of the devices and can lead to their serious damage.

Proper nutrition of fish plays an extremely important role in this matter, in particular. Sometimes cichlids are fed meat products at a time when many of them need plant food. Another problem with feeding fish is associate with constant feeding with dry food. Which by the way most often leads to positive buoyancy disorder. 

Some types of food are difficult for fish to process, since these products are not natural for them, many probably fed the fish with dry food intended for other species and often thought, well, what’s the difference? The difference is that dry food has a different structure and feeding with the wrong type of food leads to increased gas formation in the intestines of the fish. Crushed fresh green peas can help deal with excess gas.

Swim Bladder Disease Betta Symptoms & Diagnosis


To combat positive or negative buoyancy disorders, surgeons often use a needle to gently pierce the fish bubble and release excess air or suck out excess fluid. Another thing is if the problem is in the displacement of the swim bladder. Then the fish cannot save without serious surgical intervention. 

Everything is much more difficult with a negative diagnosis, only ultrasound can diagnose the exact problem, which means that the chances of fish survival are small. Do you know many aquarists who are ready to pay for this procedure for their fish, not to mention how ineffective are good specialists? But only ultrasound makes it possible to understand exactly what causes and if it is an infection. What kind of bacteria and what antibiotics should be given to fish for treatment.

To reduce the risk of death, it is necessary to allow the fish to break away from the bottom. For this, floats with a high level of buoyancy are attach to the fish. Which make the fish swim in the water, and not lie limply on the bottom.

As you can see, in reality, the buoyancy problems of fish are much more complicated in every sense. This does not mean that the fish have no chance of survival. It also means, at least maybe, that you are clearly doing something wrong for your pets. Poor buoyancy syndrome is quite complex and it is almost impossible for aquarists to pinpoint the exact cause. Unless the aquarist is an experienced veterinarian with diagnostic equipment.

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