I believe my fish, a white neon tetra, has swim bladder disease.

  • He swims looking upward 95% of the time. I don't believe he can sleep due to this.
  • He's been in this state for three days now.
  • All of the other fish in my tank, which are my minnows and cories and other tetras, appear just fine.

Should I euthanize my fish? I've had them for a year and a third now and only one cory has died from 24 fish (two other minnows mysteriously disappeared).

Here is a pic:

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  • 1
    Is he lethargic and refuses to eat food? If both of those are true then yes you probably should. If he is still active then don't worry about it, he still may recover.
    – Quillion
    Feb 1 '15 at 14:56
  • Thanks, yes he is still very active. If he was lethargic I may have already done it. He seems to be swimming more upright today.
    – Don Larynx
    Feb 2 '15 at 16:18

This is a difficult one to call. It's always a hard decision to make but I try and make sure that I've done everything I can to help before making a final decision. Here's my list:

Water Quality

Make sure your water is as good as it can be. No ammonia, no nitrite and nitrates probably lower than about 40ppm. Make sure you're keeping up with your maintenance. Great water quality can go a long way to healing a sick fish.

Diagnosing the problem

Try and work out what is wrong with the fish. It sounds from your question like your fish has some kind of swim bladder issue because it cannot keep level. Sam A suggests using peas which can help to reduce the risk of bloat but I'm not sure will really help in this situation.


I've found that Melafix and Pimafix are great for a range of issues but this fish may be too far gone for this to help. Obviously, if you can its best to separate the fish and medicate a smaller tank so the others are not affected.

My experience

In my experience, tetras can be quite weak because they are bred heavily for their colours which might mean that other aspects of the fish are overlooked. If you've done all that you can and the fish is making no improvement, you may wish to make a decision. It sounds like you've got a good setup going though because you've not lost any other fish. This is an unfortunate part of the hobby.


Have you tried feeding it (grated) green peas? I discovered it (Google) as a general purpose cure-all when I first got my tropical fish. I have used it with several fresh water fish- platies, tiger barb and a bronze something "goldfish"

As it was approximately 2009 I did the Google search I can't link to the page/thread It is highly likely it was on www.tropicalfishforums.co.uk they have several threds of people using peas for suspected swim bladder problems and constipation.

  • 3
    is it possible for you to post a link to the source of the cure-all statement,it will realy improve this answer. Jan 1 '18 at 10:29

Probably best to euthanase to be honest, I had a similar experience with an emperor tetra who would swing vertically and when it wasn't swimming it would just sit at the bottom, and because I had other fish they would bully it and try to eat it. Fish don't magically dissappear, the others probably ate it before you got chance to remove the bodies

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