So I bought two goldfish on Wednesday, and the shopkeeper did not tell me to cycle the tank or anything. I bought the gravel and tree on Thursday and my auntie gave me an air pump and filter around Thursday tea time.

Today (friday), I bought some weekly cleaner to kill ammonia and nitrates. I washed the gravel and tree using fish tank water. This morning they looked okay, swimming around, but I had to move my 10 liter tank as the wires are tripping hazards.

Before putting them in the tank I left them in a bag to get used to the water, after adding the weekly cleaner and changing some of the water, it still looks cloudy even with the air pump and filter.

Now they are going to the side of the tank and trying to swim to the top but floating back down and swimming backwards so I turned the air pump off, and they are barely moving now, just sitting on the bottom behind the tree. Here is a video to help understand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWVdCnYuIgU&feature=youtu.be

Why are my goldfish acting this way, and how can I remedy it?

  • Related in reference to tank size: pets.stackexchange.com/questions/7647/…
    – Spidercat
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 21:00
  • 1
    I just want to note, since there was a long discussion in the comments before, we do have a chatroom. The only requirement is 20 reputation to say anything (That's 4 upvotes on a question, or 2 on an answer).
    – Spidercat
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 21:40

2 Answers 2


Not being able to swim properly points towards swim bladder disorder. The ammonia and nitrites are consumed by the bacteria in your filter, which convert it into nitrates. A large partial water change (PWC) is what you need to remove nitrates. Never, NEVER, buy chemicals to remove something, which can be fixed by a PWC. Also, never add chemicals (i.e. medicine, chlorine remover, ammonia remover, etc. more info in P.S.) directly to the tank. Always dissolve them in a tumbler full of tank water (not fresh tap water, but water which has been in the tank for a significant time), and then add this solution slowly to the tank.

If your fish is still swimming weirdly, perform a large PWC, of about 60-70%, and add fresh water not treated with any chemicals, i.e. no chemicals added by YOU. Chlorine remover is ok, if it is added to the bucket, a couple of hours before the water goes into the tank. You can do without the chlorine remover, by filling water in a bucket(s) and letting it stand uncovered for the night.

Simple lines to keep fish happy:

  1. Always acclimatize them by changing their environment and their surroundings slowly. Thus even PWCs have to be slow enough.
  2. No chemicals to be added to the tank, except when medicating them. Chemicals should be added outside, to aged tank water only. Never use chemicals to jump start your aquarium. Some beneficial bacteria are good, but naturally establishing bacteria in your filter is better.
  3. Do unto your pets, only what your would do to yourself. Meaning, you wouldn't use some chemical to clean your dog's messy kennel, or your kid's messy rooms, would you?

My points are only to guide you out of this situation, and I really really hope that your fish survive.

P.S.: editing to explain what chemicals mean. Chemicals basically mean any compound or mixture of compounds which you add to the tank water, but which normally do not occur in the tank water. This includes medicines, rock salt, algae removing agents, beneficial bacteria mixture, etc. If any such chemical needs to be added for whatever reason, you should first mix it properly in a container (tumbler, bucket or bowl) of aged tank water, and then, this can be slowly added to the tank water.


You probably don't need a cleaner at all and a weekly cleaner is too frequent unless you are running an over capacity tank. Goldfish are hardy and filters are usually sufficient provided it is rated for equal or greater gallons.

Given that this was a 1 hour old tank, you'll want to get tap water conditioner to remove chlorine.

If this is a new hobby for you, a aquarium test kit is highly recommended so you can stay on top of water condition changes.

Odd behavior in fish is usually an indication of stress of some kind. In this case I'm going to say it's due to inadequate water conditions. Within a few weeks the tank should be sufficiently established and their behavior should normalize.


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