Swim Bladder Issues in Angelfish

Angelfish (Pterophyllum) is a popular freshwater fish species for aquarium enthusiasts, with their distinctive flattened oval shape and vertical stripes. However, like any pet, angelfish are susceptible to health issues, and one of the most common problems is swim bladder disorder. In this article, we will explore what swim bladder disorder is, what causes it, how to prevent it, and how to treat it if your angelfish develop this condition.

What is Swim Bladder Disorder in Angelfish?

Swim bladder disorder (also known as swim bladder disease) is a condition where the swim bladder, an internal gas-filled organ in fish that regulates buoyancy and allows them to control their depth in the water column, becomes damaged or inflamed. This can affect an angelfish’s ability to swim normally and stay balanced in the aquarium.

The most common symptoms of swim bladder disorder include swimming upside down, floating at the surface or sinking to the bottom, and having difficulty swimming or controlling their movements.

Causes of Swim Bladder Disorder in Angelfish

There are several factors that may contribute to the development of swim bladder disorder in angelfish, including:

Poor water quality

Dirty or contaminated water can damage the swim bladder and other parts of the respiratory system in fish. It is crucial to maintain good water conditions in the aquarium, including regular water changes and testing the water for pH, ammonia, and nitrate levels.


Angelfish are omnivores and will eat a wide variety of foods, but overfeeding can cause digestive issues that affect the swim bladder. As a general rule, feed your angelfish small amounts of high-quality food once or twice a day.

Genetic factors

Some angelfish may be more prone to swim bladder disorder due to genetic defects or predispositions.

Physical injury

Trauma or injury to the abdomen or swim bladder can cause swim bladder disorder in angelfish.

Prevention of Swim Bladder Disorder in Angelfish

Preventing swim bladder disorder in angelfish involves creating a healthy environment for them to live in and practicing good feeding habits. Here are some tips to keep your angelfish healthy and minimize the risk of swim bladder disorder:

Maintain good water quality

Regularly test the water for pH, ammonia, nitrate, and other levels, and perform water changes as needed.

Avoid overfeeding

Feed your angelfish small amounts of food once or twice a day, and make sure their diet includes a variety of high-quality foods such as flakes, pellets, and frozen foods.

Provide a suitable environment

Make sure the aquarium is the appropriate size for your angelfish and has plenty of hiding places and vegetation.

Treating Swim Bladder Disorder in Angelfish

If you notice symptoms of swim bladder disorder in your angelfish, there are a few things you can do to help them recover:

Reduce feeding

Cut back on the amount of food you are feeding your angelfish, and consider fasting them for a day or two to allow their digestive system to rest.

Water changes

Perform a partial water change to improve water quality and remove any toxins or contaminants that may be affecting your angelfish.

Adjust water temperature

Raising the water temperature by a few degrees can help to stimulate digestion and relieve constipation in angelfish.

Use medication

In severe cases, an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory medication may be necessary to reduce inflammation and infection in the swim bladder.

Can fish die from swim bladder disease?

Yes, fish can die from swim bladder disease if the condition is severe and left untreated. Swim bladder disease, also known as swim bladder disorder or swim bladder infection, affects the swim bladder—a gas-filled organ that helps fish control their buoyancy and maintain their position in the water. When the swim bladder becomes dysfunctional or damaged, it can lead to a range of symptoms such as buoyancy problems, inability to maintain proper orientation, floating or sinking uncontrollably, and difficulty swimming.

If swim bladder disease is caused by factors like infection, inflammation, injury, or improper diet, it is crucial to address the underlying cause to improve the fish’s chances of recovery. However, if left untreated, the fish may experience chronic distress, weakened immune function, and an inability to feed properly, which can eventually result in death.

How long can a fish live with swim bladder disease

The lifespan of a fish with swim bladder disease can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the condition, the underlying cause, the fish species, and the care provided. In some cases, fish with mild or intermittent swim bladder issues can live for extended periods with proper management and care. However, if the swim bladder disease is severe or chronic, it can significantly impact the fish’s overall health and lifespan.


Swim bladder disorder is a common condition in angelfish that can cause them to have difficulty swimming and staying balanced in the aquarium. By maintaining good water quality, feeding habits, and providing a suitable environment, you can minimize the risk of swim bladder disorder in your angelfish. If your angelfish do develop this condition, there are several steps you can take to help them recover and regain their buoyancy. Remember to always monitor your fish’s behavior and health, and consult with a veterinarian or aquatic specialist if you have concerns about your angelfish.