Why Can’t My Guppy Swim?

Guppies are lovely fish species. The owner of them should take care of their guppies in an excellent way, and if they found anything unusual, they should immediately know about it and try to solve the issue. Guppies can go through several issues, of which one is not able to swim. So, why cant my guppy swim? Let’s find out. 

Guppies are not able to swim because of swim bladder disorder. The disorder can be caused by compression of the swim bladder, which involves an extended stomach, cysts in the kidney, and fatty deposits in the liver. Providing an adequate water condition and proper diet care will help your guppy recover.

There are various symptoms of a swim and cause bladder disorder. We will discuss it and also find the treatment for such a condition. So let us get into it and find the solution to the problem. 

What is swim bladder disorder?

A swim bladder disorder, also known as swim bladder disease or flip over, is a common illness in aquarium fishes.

In swim bladder disease, fish cannot swim as their swim bladder doesn’t work because of sickness, physical abnormalities, or mechanical or environmental factors. 

Symptoms of swim bladder disease

Guppies suffering from swim bladder disease exhibit a lot of symptoms like:

  1. Your guppy is sinking to the bottom.
  2. Your guppy is floating in the top of the tank.
  3. Your guppy is swimming on their sides or upside down.
  4. Your guppy is suffering to maintain a normal position.

Some physical changes can also be like your guppy can have a curved back or distended belly. Affected guppies may normally eat as they do or will have no hunger at all.

If there is severe buoyancy, then your guppy will suffer from eating normally, or even they will reach the surface of the water. 

Causes of swim bladder disorder

The swim bladder disorder can sometimes cause your guppy because of condense of the swim bladder, which can entail a distended stomach from overeating, gulping air, constipation, or rapidly eating. Eating dry flake or freeze-dried food, which expands when getting wet, can result in an intestinal tract or enlarged stomach. 

  1. Low Water Temperature: Low water temperature in a tank can slow the digestive process in your guppies. The digestive slowing process can result in digestive tract enlargement that puts pressure on the guppy’s swim bladder. 
  2. Other Intestinal Organs: Another intestinal organ can extend and affect your guppies swim bladder, like, fatty deposits in the liver, cysts in kidneys, or egg binding in female fish can cause the extension which can harm the swim bladder. 
  3. Infections: Any bacteria or parasites can provoke the swim bladder. Any physical injury by being in a fight with other fishes in the tank or by getting a hard blow by striking on the object in the tank can affect your guppies swim bladder. 
  4. Birth Defects: There is a rare factor that the guppy is born with swim bladder defects. Suppose there is a congenital disability in your guppy affecting their swim bladder. In that case, you will detect it at an early age, as the symptoms are present at an early age in guppy with a congenital disability. 


If the extended intestine or stomach is the reason for the cause of the swim bladder, then the first thing an owner should do is not provide their guppies food for three days.

In addition, an owner should make sure that during this treatment, the water temperature should be 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

After three days of not feeding your guppy anything, you can provide them skinned and cooked pea on the fourth day.

Frozen pea seems perfect for this, as they can be a boil or microwaved for seconds to defrost, resulting in a proper steadiness being not too soft but also not too firm. 

You can feed your guppy a pea a day for a few days and after that can switch to provide them their regular food. However, an owner should make sure not to offer them flakes or pellets that float. 

If an infection is a reason for your guppy’s swim bladder disorder, then the proper antibiotic treatment is needed. In such cases, an owner should immediately meet the veterinarian for appropriate treatment. 

There are some other treatments you can provide your guppy in case of swim bladder disorder:

  1. An owner should keep the water very clean and maintain a 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit water temperature. 
  2. Reducing water levels can make it easy for your guppy to move around the tank.
  3. An owner should feed their guppies by hand, as it will be necessary and helpful for the affected guppies. 
  4. You can put some aquarium salt in the tank.
  5. Reduce the flow of water in a tank with a strong current.
  6. If the guppy is floating with a part of their body constantly being out in the air, then putting a bit of a stress coat to the exposed area will help your guppy avoid sores’ development. 

There are many cases in which the swim bladder disorder doesn’t get cured by the treatment. So the only option we get left with if the guppy is not remedied within a reasonable time is euthanasia. 

Ways to prevent swim bladder disorder

The most important thing to do is keep the water’s condition clean and change the water regularly. Poor water conditions can be the reason for various infections.

Therefore, keeping the water especially clean and regularly changing the water will help prevent swim bladder disorder. 

A bit higher water temperature will help your guppy in the digestion process and avoid the possibility of constipation. In addition, keeping the water temperature a bit higher will help your guppy prevent the other potential cause of swim bladder disorder. 

Avoid overfeeding your guppies. Provide them with a smaller quantity of food so that they don’t get overfed. An owner should keep an eye on the amount of food they are feeding to their guppy.


Swim bladder disorder can occur from various things. However, the main cause of swim bladder disorder is the poor water condition and the low temperature of the water. In addition, there is more cause of swim bladder disorder like an extension of other intestinal organs or infections, or congenital disabilities. 

We can prevent our guppies from swim bladder disorder by taking care of some things. First, we should make sure that the water is clean and also should change the water regularly. Second, the water temperature should not be low as it can be the reason for swim bladder disorder in your guppy. 

Taking care of such things will prevent your guppy from swim bladder disorder. 

Reference: NCBI, ResearchGate

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