Getting cichlids for your fish tank will be a good experience. These fish might not be the best community tank members, but they can still be so much fun.
You’ll like that they’re hardy fish. Most cichlids are considered to be good options for beginners.
Of course, things can go wrong when certain things happen. If you notice that one or more of your new cichlids is swimming upside down, you’re going to be quite concerned.
What does it mean when a cichlid starts swimming upside down? Is there something that you can do to help the fish?
Continue reading to learn about what to do when your cichlids start swimming in strange ways. This should ensure that you can help the fish when it has such issues.
Swim Bladder Disease
The reason why this happens has to do with the swim bladder. A swim bladder is an organ that many fish have.
It’s a gas-filled sac that inflates and deflates as necessary. This organ helps fish control buoyancy.
When the swim bladder isn’t working properly, it makes it impossible for the fish to swim around. They can swim a little bit, but they won’t be able to control it as usual.
Often, when fish have swim bladder issues, you’ll find them swimming upside down. Some fish might swim sideways, too.
There have been times when fish owners have observed fish swimming in circles when they have swim bladder disease. The main thing to take away from this is that fish that are experiencing swim bladder malfunction have a tough time getting around.
What Causes Swim Bladder Disease?
What causes fish to get swim bladder disease? There are actually many possibilities.
Since the swim bladder is a gas-filled sac, it’ll malfunction if something is pressing against it. Sometimes swim bladder issues will be caused by constipation.
A cichlid that eats too much food might get very backed up. It’ll wind up having a swollen belly that will press against the swim bladder.
The swim bladder can’t inflate and deflate as usual when the belly of the fish is pressing against it. This causes the fish to start swimming upside down or to have other problems getting around.
In this situation, you just need to solve the constipation issue. There are other things that can cause swim bladder issues as well, though.
A physical injury can cause the swim bladder to stop working as usual. Fish might get injured by fighting other fish or by slamming into objects in the tank.
Another potential problem involves the fish getting infected. Bacterial infections might impact the intestinal tract of the fish.
When infections like this occur, it’ll cause inflammation. The inflammation presses against the swim bladder and makes it so the fish can’t swim normally.
How to Treat Swim Bladder Issues
Treating swim bladder issues is about figuring out what’s wrong and taking the appropriate action to solve things. If the fish is constipated, fixing the problem will be rather simple.
You can clear up constipation issues by feeding cichlids boiled peas. A boiled pea will make a cichlid poop a whole lot.
When the cichlid poops, it’ll make the swollen belly go down rather fast. Before you know it, the cichlid should be swimming around normally again.
In the case of infection, it’ll be necessary to get rid of the infection. Treating the fish with antibacterial medications should help them to get better.
It’s also wise to solve any problems in the tank. The fish becoming infected is likely an indication that the water parameters are off.
Test the water and ensure that the pH balance is in the right range. Make sure that the fish tank is clean and do water changes as necessary.
What if the fish has swim bladder issues due to some type of injury, though? The injury might heal on its own, but it depends on the situation.
Try to keep the fish fed and ensure that it survives. Cichlids might have a hard time eating when they can’t swim around normally.
There are situations when swim bladders will be permanently damaged. If that is the case with your fish, it might not ever improve.
Some choose to euthanize fish with permanent swim bladder issues. It can be hard for these fish to go on living due to not being able to compete with other fish to get food.
Also, the other cichlids might bully the fish to death. Take the right action for your situation.
Preventing Swim Bladder Problems
Preventing swim bladder problems is about taking care of the fish well. You can easily avoid overfeeding the fish so you won’t have constipation issues to deal with.
When feeding cichlids, you want to avoid feeding them more than they’re supposed to eat. Adult cichlids do best when they’re fed three or four times per day.
Each time you feed the fish, it’s best to feed them as much as they can eat in 30 seconds. Never feed them more than this since it could cause them to become constipated.
Some types of cichlids might have different feeding requirements. You should look up specific information for the type of cichlid you own.
For instance, angelfish and Oscars are both types of cichlids. Ensure that you’re feeding the fish the recommended amount of food each day to get optimal results.
If your fish becomes infected, it’s likely due to problems in the fish tank. You can make it less likely that something like this will occur by taking good care of the fish tank.
Be sure to clean the fish tank regularly and do weekly water changes. Weekly water changes of 15% will help a lot.
It’ll also be great to monitor the pH balance of the tank closely. You’ll be less likely to cause your fish to have swim bladder issues.
Physical injuries might not be preventable. Give your fish more than enough space to thrive in the tank.
Don’t keep male cichlids together in the same tank either. Males like to fight each other and will be the most likely to injure each other as well.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.