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Why Is My Gourami Swimming Erratically? (3 Common Reasons)

Why Is My Gourami Swimming Erratically? (3 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.

So many people find gouramis to be perfect fish for their freshwater aquariums. There are many reasons why these fish have become incredibly popular.

Gouramis are relatively easy to take care of even for beginners. Most gourami types are hardy enough to survive even when you make a few minor mistakes.

The fact that these fish are hardy makes encountering problems with them especially troublesome. For example, if you see that your gourami fish is swimming erratically, then you might be wondering what in the world is going on.

What would cause a gourami fish to start swimming erratically? Is this a sign that you’ve done something wrong?

Read on to learn about what could cause a gourami fish to act this way. You’ll have a much better idea of how to proceed once you’ve read all of the information.

1 – It Could Be Stress

Sometimes gouramis will swim erratically when they’re under a lot of stress. If the conditions in your tank aren’t good, then the gourami fish will become stressed.

Stress is a big problem because it can wind up causing your fish to have more health problems. When fish become stressed, it’ll make it so that they have compromised immune systems.

Thus, stressed fish are more likely to become sick. It can make them act strange in different ways as well.

Your gourami fish will normally swim around the top of the tank. It might start swimming erratically in other parts of the tank if it’s experiencing stress.

Consider whether the fish could be stressed. Sources of stress include poor water conditions, crowded fish tanks, the presence of bully fish, and not getting proper nutrition.

If you recognize that the fish is stressed, then you should try to turn things around. Eliminate the sources of stress as much as you can so that the gouramis can feel better.

2 – Elevated Ammonia Levels

Elevated ammonia levels have the potential to cause so many problems in your fish tank. It’s always going to be best to monitor the pH balance of the tank as well as the ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels.

Things need to remain in the recommended range or else it can cause complications. When ammonia levels get too high, it can be very bad for all of your fish.

This isn’t something that will only impact your gourami fish. If you have other fish in the tank, then it’ll be dangerous for them as well.

Ammonia levels being too high will make it tougher for the fish to breathe. It might make your fish sluggish and, sometimes, it could cause them to swim in unusual ways.

Typically, ammonia levels get out of control when you don’t do a good job of keeping the water clean. You should be cleaning the tank and doing weekly water changes for the sake of your fish.

It’s recommended to change 15% of the water each week. If you haven’t been doing that, then that could explain why the ammonia levels are higher than usual.

Also, too much organic debris in the tank can throw the water parameters off. You might have been feeding the fish too much, which causes them to produce way too much poop.

Remember to only feed your gouramis twice per day. You should feed them no more than they can eat in a couple of minutes.

3 – Swim Bladder Disease

Swim bladder disease could easily be what is causing your gourami fish to swim erratically. When gouramis have swim bladder malfunctions, it causes them to swim in circles or swim upside down.

The swim bladder is an organ that helps fish control buoyancy and swim around properly. When it’s malfunctioning, the fish won’t be able to get around as normal.

These issues can occur for a number of reasons. One reason involves overfeeding the fish and causing it to become constipated.

Essentially, when a fish eats too much, it’ll become constipated, and this causes it to have a swollen belly. The swollen belly presses against the swim bladder and prevents it from being able to function normally.

When this happens, you’ll need to feed the fish a frozen pea to make it poop a lot. This gets rid of constipation.

Other things can cause swim bladder issues as well. For example, infections can cause stomach or intestinal inflammation which will lead to swim bladder issues.

Physical injuries can also cause the swim bladder to malfunction. In most cases, swim bladder issues can get better, but permanent physical injuries to the swim bladder can cause the fish not to be able to swim normally for the rest of its life.

In this situation, it might be best to euthanize the fish. This is especially true if the fish can’t get around at all and is having trouble eating.

Some fish get around well enough despite having swim bladder issues. Others will essentially be stuck going in circles or they might not be able to stay upright.

The water parameter issues mentioned earlier will make it easier for fish to develop problems like this. Remember that stress makes it easier for fish to get sick or become infected by bacteria.

Try to keep a closer eye on the fish tank and do your best to keep it in good condition for the gouramis. It should allow you to keep them healthy, and it’ll be unlikely that you’ll have to deal with swim bladder issues.

Final Thoughts

Learning more about this topic should make it so that you understand what to do now. You know what generally causes gouramis to swim erratically.

Sometimes these fish will swim in strange ways when they’re stressed. Stress issues can be very problematic since the fish will become more likely to get sick when they’re stressed.

You want to try to recognize sources of stress to the best of your ability. It should be possible to make changes in the tank to protect the fish.

Keeping a close eye on the water in the fish tank will also be important. You need to monitor the water parameters to ensure that things stay in the right range.

Sometimes the pH balance will get thrown off and the ammonia levels will rise. You should be testing the water to keep issues like this from occurring.

It’s also imperative to keep the fish tank clean. Doing regular water changes will help to keep things good for your gouramis.

Remember that swim bladder disease can make fish become incapable of swimming normally. When the swim bladder is malfunctioning, fish might swim in circles or swim upside down.

Do your best to help your fish to get better so long as it isn’t suffering from a permanent injury. Everything should be fine so long as you take the right treatment approach, but there are cases when it’s kinder to euthanize the fish.