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Why Is My Tiger Barb Swimming Upside Down?

Why Is My Tiger Barb Swimming Upside Down?

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.

You want to ensure that you do a good job when caring for your fish. Tiger barbs usually make things pretty easy since they aren’t too fragile.

These are fairly hardy fish that can live to be between five and seven years old. They’re good fish for beginners, but they also appeal to experienced aquarium enthusiasts.

If you bought some tiger barbs for your tank a while back, you likely love them a lot. When you see one or more of them swimming upside down, it’s going to cause concern.

Why would your tiger barbs start swimming upside down? Read on to learn why this is happening so that you can help the fish.

Swim Bladder Issues

Oranda Goldfish Near Surface With Swim Bladder Issue
Oranda Goldfish Near Surface With Swim Bladder Issue

When fish start swimming upside down it’s a sure sign that they’re experiencing swim bladder issues. Most often, this is related to constipation.

Tiger barbs commonly experience constipation issues. Why would this cause swim bladder malfunctions, though?

Simply put, tiger barbs will have swollen bellies when they become constipated. The swollen belly presses against the swim bladder which prevents the organ from functioning properly.

If you don’t already know, the swim bladder is an organ that helps fish to regulate buoyancy. When the swim bladder isn’t able to work right, the fish won’t be able to control how it swims.

The swim bladder is a gas-filled sac that inflates and deflates. Something pressing against it prevents it from working as intended.

Tiger barbs can be voracious eaters. They might gorge themselves sometimes and this will cause issues with constipation.

You’ll want to do your best to prevent this from happening. Now that you know that swim bladder issues can be caused by constipation, you’ll be able to work to avoid such problems in the future.

Don’t Overfeed the Fish

Lots of Fish Food Flakes in a Blue Container

Don’t overfeed the fish because it can cause them to experience swim bladder issues. You might need to feed the fish less than you have been.

Perhaps you’ve been feeding the fish a bit too often. More likely, you’ve been giving the fish more food than you’re supposed to at once.

Most people feed tiger barbs once or twice per day. It might be better to feed them once per day since it’ll be easier to remember.

When feeding the fish, you want to give them as much food as they can finish in five minutes. Don’t give them more food than this since it will lead to constipation.

If you choose to feed the fish twice per day, you’ll want to give them less food each time. Feed them as much as they can eat in approximately two and a half minutes.

How to Fix Constipation Issues

Green Peas Being Boiled in a Pot of Water

Fixing constipation issues shouldn’t be too tough. There are a few things that you can try.

One option is to simply stop feeding the fish. This gives the fish the chance to clear out and poop without refilling their bellies.

Another idea is to attempt to force the fish to poop. Many people feed fish boiled peas to try to force them to poop.

This should work for tiger barbs since they’re omnivores that will eat veggies. Feeding a boiled pea to the tiger barb that is swimming upside down should help it to poop quite a bit.

Once the fish has relieved itself, you’ll want to keep an eye on it. Hopefully, it’ll go back to normal pretty fast.

Other Swim Bladder Disease Causes

The Swim Bladder of a Carp on a Table
The Swim Bladder of a Carp on a Table

There are other things that can cause fish to experience swim bladder issues. This won’t be as common as constipation, but it’s still worth knowing about.

Sometimes fish might experience abdominal swelling when they’re infected. A fish that has become infected by bacteria might experience inflammation in the intestinal area.

This winds up causing the belly area of the fish to swell. It’s the same type of thing as constipation, but clearing it up will involve treating the cause of the infection.

Another potential issue involves a physical injury. The fish could have been attacked or otherwise become hurt.

If the injury occurred near the swim bladder, it could have caused swelling or directly injured the swim bladder. This might get better unless the fish has been permanently scarred due to a severe injury.

Can Swim Bladder Disease Kill a Fish?

An Orange Betta Fish Being Quarantined in a Small Tank
An Orange Betta Fish Being Quarantined in a Small Tank

Technically, the fish could die due to swim bladder complications. It isn’t the swim bladder disease itself that kills the fish, though.

If a fish can’t get around properly, it might not be able to eat. It also won’t be able to defend itself against other fish.

Tiger barbs are semi-aggressive fish, and they might pick on weak members of the group. A tiger barb that can’t swim normally might get killed by the other tiger barbs in the tank.

For this reason, you might want to separate the tiger barbs with swim bladder issues by putting them in a quarantine tank. This should help to keep them from getting hurt by other fish.

Another thing to consider is that the fish might starve to death eventually. Some fish have such bad swim bladder issues that they won’t get better, and that might make it hard for the fish to live normally.

Final Thoughts

A tiger barb swimming upside down probably isn’t a big reason to worry. It’s likely that the fish is constipated due to eating too much food.

You likely need to adjust the amount of food that you’re giving the tiger barbs. Feeding the fish too much will cause them to become constipated.

It’s hard for fish to get around when they experience swim bladder malfunctions. If constipation is the cause of the swim bladder issue, it won’t be that hard to fix things.

Most people will feed the tiger barbs peas to try to get them to poop. After they poop a bunch, the constipation issue will be resolved.

Infections and injuries can also cause swim bladder malfunctions. If the fish has an infection, you might need to give it antibiotic treatments.

Just do your best to look after your fish and take the appropriate actions. You should be able to get the tiger barbs in your tank swimming around normally again.