How To Save Your Goldfish From Death: Simple Steps That Will Have Them Swimming Again

how to save a dying fish

Goldfish are one of the popular aquarium fish in the fish world, as they are very beautiful and calm. These fishes have been petted by ancient China in ponds, bowls, and tanks. These fishes are not natural, they are man-made yet beautiful. Goldfish love to be in groups and love mostly vegetarian food like peas, spinach, and cucumber. There was various breed of goldfish like black Moore, red cap, Oranda, Rancho, Ruskin, Comet, etc. 

These fishes make humans relax and also some goldfish recognize human faces and play with them, showing the joy of happiness when we give food by swimming all around the tank. It's very stressful to see them dying or showing signs of sickness. There are various reasons like parasites, ph. of water, temperature, cleanliness, etc. All these parameters matter they can live up to 10-15 years if cared for properly or they will die very soon too.

In this blog, we will discuss how to save a dying fish at home as well as actions you can take to make sure your goldfish has a long and healthy life. It's critical to understand the most prevalent causes of disease and death in goldfish, as well as how to avoid them in the first place. 

🔹 All you need to know about "Swim bladder disease"

So like humans breathe through the lungs, goldfish have air bladder or swim bladder. These air bladders help them to move up and down and also keep balance in their body. If air gets filled in the bladder the fish move downwards and as air is released the fish move upwards. It is an important organ for fish. So when goldfish get this disease they tend to lose their balance and swim randomly in any direction.

Swim bladder disease


1. Internal parasites are one of the reasons for swim bladder diseases. It is mainly seen in newly bought fish. So when you buy a new fish don't feed for 2 days and on the 3rd day provide your fish with boiled peas. This will clean your fish's stomach and also remove all parasites from the stomach. The symptom of the internal parasite is white poop thread-like.

2. Overfeeding can lead to constipation in goldfish, so it's important you don't overfeed your fish. Goldfish are playful and it's not necessary for them to show attention whenever they are hungry they are friendly fish that would likely play with you. So make sure you don't overfeed.

🔹 Symptoms of a Dying Fish

1. Just before the end of life, your fish can start moving randomly and their gills and fins become less active, as in response to distress

2. Your fish can also die suddenly, gasping for air 

3. Their gills and fins become less active, in response to distress

4. Their breathing becomes more rapid

5. They lose color 

6. Their gills and fins become limp 

7. They become listless 

8. They show neurological signs such as paralysis and confusion

9. When you touch their gills or fins, they can’t support your touch, like when you pet your dog

🔹 Cleaning the Tank by Changing the Water

cleaning fish tank

Check your bowl for any clumps of mucus in the water. Then Soak the fish in clean tap water for 20 minutes and then leave it for another 20 minutes in a bowl with filtered tap water. Rinse with clean tap water. You can then transfer the fish into the bowl with fresh water. 

Do this the day before and then continue with this daily until you see the fish swimming normally again. Suppose that a lot of mucus or flake is coming out of the fish’s gills. This usually means that the fish’s body condition is very poor. Your goldfish may need a diet change to increase its body condition again. To encourage your goldfish to eat more: Use live food such as baby food fish food and fresh water to attract your goldfish to eat. 

Powerhead filters are useless and are not a good choice. What we need is bio media which makes a house for bacteria that breaks down the ammonia and cleans the water. When we place powerhead enough bacteria is not grown and unable to break ammonia. Ammonia causes fin burns, not eating food, and other diseases. The filter should be on 24 hrs 365 days.

🔹 Find Out What Causes Fish to Die

Some goldfish are born with a disease that is particularly contagious for male fish, who are also more susceptible to infections. Goldfish flu can also be transmitted to a nearby aquarium by an infected male (or possibly a male that has a fatal disease). The main symptoms of this disease are Frequent rubbing of the head on the tank floor. 

Frequent swimming to the top of the tank, which is accompanied by a frustrated cry. Lifting their head out of the water as if it’s hurting. A slow downward movement, with the head and front half of the body remaining at the top of the water. An inability to swim. Fatigue in the form of lip-smacking. The scientific name for this disease is Silver ball disease which is an outbreak of a bacterial infection caused by the virus Sanders.

🔹 Treatment For a Dying Fish

What causes goldfish to die from varying illnesses? While a variety of factors can cause your fish to go belly up, most of the time, the problem is with the water quality. That's why it's important to be certain of your water filtration and the source of your goldfish's food. 

If a water change is not part of your solution, consider switching your goldfish to goldfish water, which is a mix of fresh fish food, a mineral supplement, and mild chlorine treatment. If you're not sure whether or not you have the option of switching out your water, ask your local fish store. The staff may be able to offer a recommendation. All the treatment should be done in the hospital tank.

Step-1: Salt Treatment

Salt treatment dehydrates the bacteria from the fish's body and ultimately kills all the bacteria. And fish start to recover. Salt treatment only works when your fish tank is clean. If your fish tank has ammonia and you keep adding salt nothing will happen your salt treatment won't work. 

Salt treatment is a 3-week program. In the first week 15g of salt in 10L water. Make sure you add on freshwater every week adding salt next week. Salt can be aquarium salt, Epson salt, and Himalayan pink salt.

Water Volume Calculator=L x B x H/1000 in centimetre
=180 liters

Step-2: Aquarium Heater

The heater is necessary for the hospital tank, and a thermostat heater must be used. If we set the temperature at 28 degree Celsius the heater will maintain the temperature and once the temperature is obtained heater gets off and saves electricity if the temperature rise or decrease, the heater will turn on and maintain the temperature. Salt treatment along with a temperature heater and clean water will make your fish recover.  

🔹 Feeding Your Fish

Feeding Your Fish

“Goldfish” as a species is not known to have any nutritional deficiencies This means that feeding your fish is up to you. What I would recommend is only providing your fish with 1 tsp of food per day. That way the fish can eat twice as much as other goldfish in the same-sized tank. Do your research before purchasing any food as fish people at the pet store tend to get it wrong more often than not. 

Feed them food with protein like blood worms. Another thing to my experience and so many vets nary has recommended providing them greenery food it makes fish recover fast from diseases. Greenery food includes peas, spinach, and cucumber

🔹 Provide Medicine to Your Fish [Last option even if fish don't recover after salt treatment]

The most common goldfish deaths can be avoided by ensuring you clean your tank thoroughly. Take the time to clear out any pellets, algae, and unwanted plants. The best way to do this is to use a pH testing kit to ensure your water is safe to use. If you can’t remove the junk, add some more fresh water. A good way to do this is to have a nice warm shower (or bath) in the morning. 

Slowly add some water until your tank has been replenished. If you take a fish to the vet and it dies shortly after leaving, your vet may be able to test the water for ammonia (a type of gas produced by bacteria and yeast). Ammonia is the biggest killer of goldfish. Antibiotics include Bactonil and blue liquid. Add 1 drop per gallon.

🔹 Move Your Fish to a New Tank

When you start to see symptoms of your fish dying, this is one of the hardest and saddest things to do. You are losing an important part of your life. Finding a place to store your fish is a very hard task because you have to find a spot that can protect the tank from humidity and the wind. You should find a spot that is deep enough, so the fish can get food and water easily, without making too much noise, and at the same time, be away from the saltwater tank. 

You can also use a large plastic tub or a small aquarium with the biggest water volume you can get. If you choose the tub type, you have to make sure that the water is deep enough and you do not have to clean it all the time. You have to check the fish tank every day.

🔹 Taking Your Fish to the Vet

Putting your fish to sleep should never be done without the advice of a veterinarian and proper medications. It is also advised that no one feed your fish before you take them to the vet. It is also advisable to take your fish to a licensed pond care facility. This allows the veterinarian to check your fish for infections or diseases that might kill them. 

In some cases, the only option is to euthanize your goldfish because it may be a severe case of tetrodotoxin poisoning. Your vet can then treat your fish for tetrodotoxin poisoning with a lethal dose of medication. In rare cases, your fish may recover but the vet will need to watch them for signs of ill health or develop new symptoms.


In conclusion, goldfish are lovely and peaceful pets that may have a long and healthy life if properly cared for. They are, however, susceptible to a variety of ailments and can perish swiftly if not properly cared for. Some of the most prevalent causes of goldfish illness and mortality include swim bladder disease, overfeeding, and poor water quality. 

We can save our dying goldfish and ensure they have a happy and healthy life by recognizing the signs and causes of these diseases and following the necessary treatment and care procedures. It is essential to remember that keeping a pet entails a responsibility to properly care for them and maintain their well-being.


1. How do you comfort a dying goldfish?
Keeping goldfish in a hospital tank along with maintaining temperature and saltwater treatment will comfort a dying fish.

2. How do you know if your goldfish is dying?
Goldfish show signs like floating above the water, an unbalanced body, a whitish body, and bloating stomach.

3. What is the lifespan of goldfish?
Goldfish have a life span of 10-15 years.

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