I have had my Oranda goldfish for three years now and he/she/it has been floating at the top of the tank upside down for the past month.

The tank is a 40 gallon with 2 aqua-tech 40 gallon filters. There are 2 other young fancy goldfish in the tank and a bristlenose pleco. They are fed steamed de-shelled peas and sinking pellets regularly, with sinking algae pellets and cucumber for the pleco. For the past two years, there have been no issues with the tank and the water was changed 40% every other week.

When my oranda started floating a month ago, I did a cycle of fasting for 3 days and giving one deshelled pea on the third day for 2 weeks. There was no improvement. When the oranda started developing red sores on the area of the stomach that would poke out of the water, I placed a small plastic mesh divider across a quarter of the tank for him/her/it to rest under to prevent sticking out of the water. I also added a small concentration of aquarium salt to limit stress and help the sores heal.

The sores disappeared but the floating continued. I then tried epsom salt baths to help expel air from the swim bladder. I have been doing these regularly for one week. I see him/her/it expelling bubbles while in the bath. When added back into the tank, he/she/it swims better/near neutrally buoyant for about a minute before swimming to the top and gulping air. Then he/she/it floats upside down at the top of the tank again, until the next bath. There is no pineconing or discoloration of the scales.

None of my other fish exhibit this air gulping behavior or any swim bladder problems. They have been fed and treated regularly throughout all of these treatments. I now do a 10-20% water change every day with the epsom baths and pea feeding /fasting. Nothing is working.

The oranda is still interested in food and will swim down for it, but sometimes he/she/it will not move even if touched. I don't know what else to do and most sites I go to say that it is a bladder deformity and might not ever be fixed. Should I euthanize this fish?

  • 1
    I do not know what you should do. But I know what you should not do: do not destroy the entire aquarium trying to fix one upside-down fish.
    – virolino
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 7:11
  • For some reason this question got closed as a duplicate of "What's the least painful way to euthanize a fish?" but I can't really see how it is. Maybe I am missing something, but for me it's a separate issue as the person asking the question hadn't even made the decision to euthanize the fish at that moment. Marking "should I euthanize" and "how to euthanize" as the same issue feels wrong for me because it implicitly rules out any alternative to euthanasia. And my answer for the supposed duplicate question would also be completely different if I were to attempt answering it.
    – lila
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 21:55

1 Answer 1


I think the decision whether you should euthanize the fish would have to be ultimately of your own, because it is also somewhat of a moral dilemma without the one best definitive right nor wrong answer. At least I am personally not able to provide one for you nor do I feel like it would be appropriate to give you one there. As you mentioned, your fish is still interested in food which is in a way signaling it's will to live. Swimbladder related buoyancy issues in fish aren't really terminal illnesses by themselves, nor is it understood how and to what extent do fish perceive pain, but they significantly decrease fish's quality of life, cause emotional distress, and also would almost surely lead to predator-related death if the affected fish was to live in the wilderness. In this case the disorder is also predicted to not resolve by itself, but as opposed gets worse as the fish ages.

It seems you have already gone through a lot of effort and tried various remedies to cure the fish's disease and your ultimate decision should depend on whether you are willing to put some additional effort beyond what you've already done, like visiting a specialized veterinarian, or if you feel like you couldn't do anything more and watch your fish suffering. In the latter case - yes, you should seriously consider euthanizing.

Unfortunately, fancy goldfish varieties like Oranda are common to suffer from swimbladder problems due to their genetic burden, so this fish was somewhat doomed to begin suffering from this kind of disorder sooner or later in life.

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