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Why Is My Cichlid Not Swimming? (5 Common Reasons)

Why Is My Cichlid Not Swimming? (5 Common Reasons)

This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addtion, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Cichlids are popular fish that many people keep in their home aquariums. You might have bought some of these neat fish recently.

Generally, cichlids are hardy fish that are going to be simple to care for. They shouldn’t die easily if you make a few mistakes.

Even so, odd things can happen when something is wrong with the fish. For example, you might notice that one or more of your cichlids have stopped swimming.

What does it mean when a cichlid isn’t swimming around normally in the tank? Is it a sign that you’ve done something wrong?

Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know to help your cichlids. It’ll ensure that you have a better idea of what’s likely going on.

1 – It Could Be Defending its Territory

Cichlids are rather territorial fish. Are your cichlids in a community fish tank?

Sometimes cichlids can be seen trying to defend portions of the tank from other fish. For instance, a cichlid might have a favorite rock in the tank and it’ll just stay there to try to defend it from what it sees as intruders.

When this occurs, it’s not unusual for cichlids to stay at the bottom of the tank. They don’t normally occupy the bottom of the tank unless they’ve become territorial.

Avoiding this issue is rather easy. You shouldn’t put too many fish in the aquarium with cichlids.

First, you should know that cichlids aren’t fantastic community tank fish. You can put them in community aquariums, but you have to pick tank mates carefully.

Second, you must know that these fish hate being put into cramped fish tanks. If you’re keeping them in an environment that is too small for them, it’s more likely that they will become extremely territorial.

Always put the cichlids in a tank that is large enough. Be mindful not to add more fish than you should to the fish tank, too.

Picking a fish tank that’s the right size will depend on what you’re trying to do. It’s also true that some cichlids are larger than others, and this means that they will all have different requirements based on species.

2 – Swim Bladder Issues

Have you considered whether the fish is experiencing swim bladder issues? Swim bladder issues will make it very difficult for the fish to get around.

The swim bladder is an organ that controls buoyancy. When the swim bladder is malfunctioning, it makes it difficult for the cichlid to remain submerged.

It might swim upside down or it might just stay in one spot. Sometimes the fish might even swim in circles.

Issues such as this can occur for many reasons. The swim bladder could have been injured because the fish was fighting.

It’s also possible that the cichlid is simply constipated. If the fish has a swollen belly, it’s likely that you fed it too much.

You can clear the fish out by feeding it a boiled pea. It’ll make the fish poop a lot and should alleviate swim bladder problems that occurred due to constipation.

3 – General Sickness

Of course, you should consider whether the fish is sick. Sometimes sick fish will be very sluggish and they won’t move around much.

There are many diseases and infections that cichlids might have to deal with. Many of these have symptoms such as lethargy and a lack of appetite.

If the fish isn’t swimming around as much as usual, it could be due to sickness. Check to see if the water parameters are off because issues with water quality can make it more likely for the fish to get sick.

You might need to treat the fish to help it get better. Try to observe the cichlids so you can take note of any symptoms.

If the fish have an infection of some sort, you might need to give them antibiotic medications. Otherwise, you might simply need to solve issues with water quality.

4 – Could the Fish Be Dying?

Oftentimes, dying fish will not move much at all. If the fish stops moving completely, you might even wonder if the fish is truly dead.

If the fish doesn’t respond to stimuli, it’s likely dead. Try to look closely to see if the gills are moving at all.

Perhaps your cichlid was just old and it passed away. If the fish wasn’t that old, it could have died for another reason.

It could have perished due to sickness or infection. Or it might have been bullied to death by another cichlid in the tank.

5 – Hiding

Is the fish simply hiding? When fish hide, they often stay near hiding spots such as aquatic plants.

If the fish isn’t moving from a hiding spot, it’s likely stressed. It could be stressed due to issues in the tank such as overcrowding.

There might even be fish in the tank that are bullying the cichlids. You could have made mistakes when picking tank mates for these fish.

Try to determine if there’s something wrong in the tank that is causing the fish to hide. You can then make necessary changes so the cichlid will feel comfortable enough to swim around as usual.

Final Thoughts

As you can see by reading the information above, there are a number of things that can cause cichlids to stop swimming. This situation might be related to the fish being sick.

Sick fish might stop swimming due to feeling lethargic and lacking energy. In this situation, you’ll have to help the fish get better by treating it.

It’s not uncommon for cichlids to have swim bladder issues either. The swim bladder can get injured due to fighting or other such situations.

Constipation can cause the swim bladder to malfunction, too. This will keep the fish from being able to swim around as usual.

You can clear up issues with constipation by feeding the fish a boiled pea. Other issues that might cause fish to stop swimming include bullying, the fish becoming territorial, and the fish being on the verge of death.

You’ll have to use the context of what’s going on in your tank to figure things out. Use the information above as a way to troubleshoot what’s happening in your aquarium.