Why Is My Swordtail Fish Laying On The Bottom?


Swordtail Fish Laying On The Bottom

As an aquarium owner, you may realize that your swordtail fish lies on the bottom of the tank for quite some days before meeting its sunset day.

And, the question that most people ask is, why is my swordtail fish laying on the bottom?

There could be many reasons why swordtail may lie on the bottom of the aquarium: your fish may be pregnant, stressed or affected by ammonia poisoning, poor water quality or have diseases and parasites.

In reality, your fish lying on the bottom of the aquarium is a red flag that something is not right. And if necessary changes are not executed in time, the risks of losing your pet are high.

Probably you don’t want to lose fish, so let’s take a close look at individual factors and solutions that can save your sowrdtail fish.

Pregnant Swordtail Fish in Labor

You can fall in the bracket of people who are not so keen on genders of their swordtails. The fact is, in a tank that harbors more than five pets of the same species, it may be tricky knowing which one is female and which is male.

So, how will you know that your pet is pregnant?

First, a pregnant fish tends to stay at the bottom of the aquarium for several reasons. They tend to lie alone and under restricted movements. Just as in cases of napping, you don’t need to be overly worried about this. It is natural and normal. As long as its breathing rate is regular, all you need to do is taking proper care of the fish during this critical moment. After giving birth, ensure your pet regains its normal behavior.

Second, the fish will show a swollen belly and dark gravid spots. A pregnant swordtail fish has an unusually larger belly that makes it struggle when moving around the aquarium. It becomes inactive, territorial, and in many occasions may go without food. You may need to separate it from others for close monitoring during labor.

Fish Stress

Stress is another reason why your swordtail fish may be lying on the bottom of the tank. In fact, it tops the list of causal factors.

During the upkeep, stress can be caused by:

Poor Conditions in the Tank

Fish can only assume a healthy life in a good sized tank and favorable temperatures. Swordtails are normally large and best swimmers. Thus, you will need the right sized tank with adequate swimming space and lots of plants.

Tanks come in different sizes. The least size for a swordtail fish is 15 gallons. In case you need to raise more swordtails in the same tank, you will be required to go for tanks with capacities of up to 30 gallons. This ensures adequate room for easier movement within the tank.

Secondly, stress can be as a result of drastic changes in the overall temperature in the tank. Ideal temperatures should oscillate between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit. You are also to change 25% of the tank’s water every week while closely checking on its conditions. Lastly, always ensure that the pH is maintained at 6.8-8, and the water hardness maintained at a range of 1DH to 24DH.

Hostile Mates in an Overcrowded Tank

A bullied fish behaves just like a battered child. They tend to keep calm and stay low in the aquarium due to the stress factor. To avoid the company, they are normally forced to draw their borders at the bottom of the aquarium due to the presence of hiding outs.

Carefully monitor the pets in the tank and identify the bully. You will then relocate such bullies in another tank.

In most cases, you will realize that male species are more aggressive as compared to female counterparts. And, with poor rationing, you may end up removing almost every fish in the tank. 1 male to 3 female ratios, work best for most tank owners.

Diseases and Parasites

Even though swordtails are stronger and relatively hardy to diseases and parasites, factors such as stress render them vulnerable to specific tropical diseases. The most common freshwater ailment is Ich.

The moment your pet grows ill of Ich, it will definitely stay inactive and low. You may even wonder whether it is alive or not.

The best way to prevent this is through the creation of a proper environment and provision of a well-balanced diet. The aquarium should look like your pet’s natural habitat. Through this, they will always be less stressed, happier and healthier.

Anything you add in the aquarium in the form of substrate, decoration, and plant has a potential of introducing diseases and parasites to the fish. Take great care of the aquarium through proper cleaning. This will enable you not to upset the balance.

Ammonia Poisoning

Ammonia poisoning is the most popular reason why Swordtails stay low. Under exposure to access ammonia, your pet will start breathing while gasping. This is the first symptom to watch out for. You will notice that the pet breathes with a lot of difficulties. And, when left in such a state for long, it automatically succumbs to death.

Poisoning infects the organs of the pets in the aquarium. The resultant effect is damage to the infected organs. You will notice that the fish at one point starts bleeding externally. This also happens internally.

To combat ammonia poisoning, change the water in the aquarium frequently and remove any organic matter that lies in the tank.

Excess fish flakes and any other food supplement should not be left to overstay in the aquarium since they always decay into ammonia after some time. Strict feeding timetable should, therefore, be put in place in order to ensure appropriate feeding frequencies.

Why is my Swordtail Fish Swimming so Strange?

Sometimes you will realize that your pet is swimming abnormally strange than usual. It can be up and down or horizontal in the aquarium.

The fact is, your fish may be poisoned with excess ammonia or experiencing a swim bladder disorder.

Ammonia poisoning can happen abruptly at any time of the day. It affects vital body organs such as the fins and later the brain. Poisoned fish will tend to swim to the surface, gasping for air or remain low in the aquarium under difficult breathing.

With continued infections, the fins clamp together hence impairing the normal swimming process. With fins clamped, the fish will not be able to breathe, has its brain functions impaired and meets its death bed.

Swim bladder disorder is another cause of strange swimming. This disease always occurs when the bladder is full due to excess intake of air or food.

The disorder may be as a result of lower metabolism rate due to lower temperatures. As a result, you may see your fish sinking or floating. You may also see it swim horizontally or float upside down.

If you suspect that your fish is experiencing a swim bladder disorder, desist from feeding it for at least three days while raising the temperature of the aquarium to 80 Fahrenheit. This will enable the fish to use excess products.

Why is my Swordtail Fish Hiding?

Swordtails are usually social and peaceful fish species. However, some conditions can force them to hide in the tank between plants or under aquarium decoration.

Swordtails do hide when they are breeding, scared, ill or exposed to unfavorable conditions in the water.

Just as I said early, pregnant swordtails tend to draw their boundaries deep inside the tank, most cases, in the hideouts. This is due to the overgrown bellies that do not allow to swim freely in the aquarium.

Sometimes your pet may be scared of its fellow in the tank or the busy external environment. Rooms with predators such as cats and flashy lights instill stress on the pets. Hence, they normally hide. To combat this problem, simply remove the aggressive fish species and replace them with peaceful ones. You can also avoid flashy rooms and cats.

A sick swordtail tends to hide since its normal body functioning is impaired. Therefore, always ensure you create a friendly environment away from stress and other risk factors to potential diseases.

Is my Swordtail Fish Sleeping on the Bottom of the Tank?

It is not usually easier to determine whether a swordtail fish is asleep or not. In fact, whether fish sleeps or not is another topic of the day.

Nevertheless, just like humans, fish need at least sometimes to rest. It is through this process that the general bodies functions are rejuvenated.

You will realize that when the aquarium light is turned off, the pets go in an inactive state, seemingly the period of sleep. Fish sleeping on the bottom of the tank is not a problem. They normally do it in a group at the bottom of the aquarium.

However, when a swordtail fish seems restless, tired and always sitting on the bottom, you should raise an eyebrow. It may be sick, scared or pregnant.


A healthy swordtail fish is all you need for a classy, well-furnished and latest-fashioned room. In a healthy environment, the warm welcome from these social species of fish will surely make your visitors’ faces gleam with smiles.

With time, understanding the behaviors of these little gems will always be a walk in the park. Take your time and commit to maintaining your pet’s health at a world-class standard.

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