Caring for clownfish is something that can bring you a lot of joy. They’re such neat fish that are fun to observe.
You do your best to care for all of your fish, and that’s why it’s so disheartening when problems occur. If you checked out your tank recently and saw that your clownfish started to swim sideways, that’s going to be worrisome.
Of course, swimming sideways doesn’t seem like a normal thing for a fish to do. You suspect that there is something wrong, but you might not be sure what is happening.
Why is the clownfish swimming sideways? What can be done to remedy this situation?
Keep reading to learn about the reason why a clownfish will have issues swimming normally. Once you have all of the information, it’ll be easier to determine what to do.
Clownfish Do Sometimes Swim Unusually
It is worth noting that clownfish do sometimes swim unusually. Some clownfish enthusiasts say that the weird way that they swim is one of the reasons why they’re called clownfish in the first place.
You might notice the clownfish swimming erratically from time to time. It might appear to be swimming sideways against the glass or it could be going slightly upward.
Often, you’ll see clownfish swimming toward the top of the tank. They’ll swim sideways a bit and wait for you to feed them.
This isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, but it could be an issue if other things are also happening. It’s simply too early to say definitively that something is wrong.
Your clownfish could just be “clowning around” and swimming normally. It could also be dealing with significant bloating and constipation issues.
You’ll learn more about what happens when these fish experience bloating later. For now, it’s just going to be wise to observe your fish.
Is the fish simply swimming sideways a little bit sometimes? Does it swim normally sometimes as well?
Have you noticed the fish swimming upside down? After spending some more time observing the fish, you’ll be able to determine if something is wrong.
Issues with Swim Bladder Disease
Issues with swim bladder disease can cause clownfish (and various other types of fish) to not be able to control how they swim. The swim bladder is responsible for controlling the buoyancy of the fish, but when a fish becomes bloated, the swim bladder doesn’t work properly.
If you feed the clownfish too much, then it might wind up getting constipated. Being so backed up will cause the clownfish to bloat, and its belly will bulge.
This bloating pushes on the swim bladder and causes it to malfunction. The swim bladder not working correctly can make it impossible for the clownfish to swim normally.
In some instances, this will make it so that the fish will swim sideways. It’s probably more common to see the fish swimming upside down when it’s experiencing swim bladder problems.
Since clownfish do swim sideways in certain situations while in captivity, it can be tough to determine if there is a problem at first. You might think that the clownfish is acting normally at first, but it could actually be bloated.
Try to observe the fish and see if it looks like it’s bloated. If it does appear to be bloated, then you might need to feed it a frozen pea so that it can go back to normal.
Feeding the fish a frozen pea will allow it to relieve itself. The fish will poop a lot and the excess stool that has been compacted inside of the fish will no longer be a problem.
Do your best to avoid overfeeding your clownfish in the future. Swim bladder issues can be quite problematic for the fish since it makes it that much tougher for them to get around.
How Often Should You Feed Clownfish?
Since you don’t want to overfeed the clownfish, it’s going to be imperative to understand how often to feed them. Adult clownfish should be fed twice per day, and it’d be easiest if you chose to feed them at the same time every single day.
Getting on a schedule such as this is usually going to make your life easier as a fish tank owner. You can set alarms and do what you need to do to ensure that the fish get fed.
Younger clownfish will need to be fed more often. A juvenile clownfish needs to be fed three or four times per day.
You need to be careful, though, because you don’t want to overfeed the juvenile fish. It might be better to stick to feeding the young clownfish three times each day to be on the safe side.
Be sure that you’re feeding the clownfish the right diet, too. Clownfish will be able to eat fish flakes and pellets that are formulated for them. If your clownfish isn’t eating, you might simply be providing the wrong type of food for it.
Ask an Exotic Veterinarian If Issues Persist
If your clownfish is having really strange issues with its swimming, then it might be better to talk to an exotic veterinarian. You might need to have the fish checked out to see if it has been injured in some way.
It is technically possible for the swim bladder to be permanently injured. If the fish is able to get around fine and is still able to eat, then you don’t have to euthanize it.
Simply having a vet tell you what is going on might help. As an average fish tank owner, you might not have the knowledge to fully determine what is happening with the fish.
Hopefully, this is just normal behavior, but swimming sideways and upside down can be an indicator of issues. If you have an exotic vet in your area that can help, it’ll be the easiest way to clear up any confusion.
You’ll be able to do your best to keep taking care of the clownfish if it has issues. It might be possible to get it feeling better so that it can swim normally again (assuming there are problems in the first place).
Continue to look after your clownfish. Being an observant fish tank owner truly does help because you can catch potential issues before they get too bad.
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.