Most types of fish have swim bladders, and gouramis are no exception. A swim bladder is an organ that controls buoyancy, and when it’s malfunctioning, it’s going to cause many issues.
You might see that your gourami fish will start swimming funny in the tank. It might appear as if the fish has very little control over its movements.
Many gourami fish owners get confused when this happens. They might not understand swim bladder issues and exactly what is going on.
Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about gourami fish and swim bladder issues. Having this information should make it so that you can help the fish to get back to normal.
Understanding the Swim Bladder
You’ve already heard that the swim bladder is an organ that most fish have. There might still be things that you don’t understand about it, though.
The swim bladder is an organ that helps fish to control their buoyancy. Essentially, it allows them to swim around normally in the water and maintain their sense of balance.
If something goes wrong with the swim bladder, then it throws everything off. The swim bladder is a sac that is filled with gas.
Under normal conditions, the sac is going to fill with gas and also deflate when necessary. Sometimes an injury or some type of obstruction will keep the swim bladder from being able to do what it needs to do.
This is when you’ll see the fish start swimming in an unusual fashion. Sometimes fish can get around a little bit when they have swim bladder issues, but others are barely able to move around at all.
For gourami fish, it’s common for them to try to swim upside down or sideways. Often, the fish will just sink right to the bottom of the aquarium and they won’t be able to get around.
What Causes Swim Bladder Issues to Occur?
There are a few different things that can cause swim bladder issues to occur. The most common one involves constipation.
You can wind up feeding your gouramis way too much food if you’re not careful. Fish will pretty much just keep eating past the point where they are full if you aren’t feeding them responsibly.
It’s recommended to feed gouramis twice per day. You want to only give them as much food as they can finish in a couple of minutes.
Feeding the gouramis more than this will cause them to become constipated. When a fish is constipated, it’ll wind up getting a swollen belly.
This swollen belly is going to press against the swim bladder. It’ll prevent the swim bladder from being able to fill with gas normally, and this makes it so that fish can’t swim right.
Another possible cause of swim bladder issues involves injury. A fish could get injured by fighting another fish.
If the fish gets injured badly enough and in the right spot, it could cause permanent damage to the swim bladder. This means that the fish won’t be able to get around properly for the rest of its life.
Constipation is a problem that you can fix. Some injuries to the swim bladder might get better over time, but severe injuries might never heal.
A severe injury that causes permanent swim bladder damage might make it hard for the fish to live normally. If the gourami fish has a hard time swimming and isn’t able to eat normally, it might be better to euthanize it.
Some types of infections can cause swim bladder issues. For example, a fish might get infected by a parasite or some type of bacterial infection.
Occasionally, this might cause swelling in the intestines. It is the swelling that leads to swim bladder issues.
Fixing Constipation Issues
Fixing constipation issues won’t be too hard if you take the right steps. You just need to feed the gourami fish something that will clear it up.
It’s recommended to feed a gourami fish a frozen pea so that it will poop a lot. When you feed a gourami fish a frozen pea, it should start pooping pretty soon.
Eventually, the gourami fish will poop enough that the constipation will go away. It’ll no longer have a swollen belly, and the swim bladder should go back to normal.
In the future, you’ll want to prevent things such as this from happening. Be responsible when feeding the gouramis so that they don’t become constipated.
Other Swim Bladder Treatment Options
There could be other reasons why gouramis might have enlarged bellies or intestines. Issues such as this have been known to cause swim bladder complications.
Generally, it’s recommended to stop feeding the fish for three days to see if things clear up. During this time, you’re supposed to raise the temperature of the water to between 78 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep the water very clean during this time and monitor the fish. It might go back to normal after a few days have passed.
Some enthusiasts recommend quarantining the sick fish and putting aquarium salt in the tank. This could help to speed up the recovery process.
Should the fish have some type of infection, it might be necessary to treat the water with antibiotic or antibacterial medication. If you need specific advice, then it’s recommended to consult an exotic veterinarian.
Swim bladder problems can be a really terrible thing for gourami fish to have to deal with. Many different types of aquarium fish can have problems with their swim bladders.
Since there are many potential causes to consider, you’ll need to try to determine what is wrong with the fish. If you simply overfed the fish, then you just need to get rid of the constipation by feeding it a frozen pea.
If the fish has some type of infection, then you’ll need to clear the infection up by giving it appropriate medication. Sometimes the solution to swim bladder issues will simply be to not feed the fish for several days while keeping the water very clean.
It could be that the fish sustained some type of injury to the swim bladder. If the injury was bad enough to have caused permanent damage, then you might want to euthanize the fish.
This depends on whether the fish is able to live happily while not having a functioning swim bladder. Some fish can get around well enough to eat, but others will struggle to do anything.
Sometimes it’s kinder to euthanize the fish than it is to force it to live in a compromised state. You’ll be able to examine the situation and make a decision for yourself, though.
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.