Why Are My Goldfish At The Bottom Of The Tank? 9 Possible Explanations

Goldfish are one of the most common fish for beginners, but experts also love them! When you look at the physical appearance of a goldfish, you’ll be enchanted by its beautiful fins, fat body, and prominent eyes! But when you notice your goldfish sitting at the bottom of the tank, you may become concerned, and rightfully so!

While some potential reasons may include health problems that could lead to death, some are not health-related at all! If you’re asking yourself “Why are my goldfish at the bottom of the tank?” you’ll want to know how to diagnose potential problems with your your beloved goldfish. Read on for 9 possible explanations for this behavior, so you can address it if necessary.

So, Why Are My Goldfish At The Bottom Of The Tank?

There are several possible answers to “Why are my Goldfish at the bottom of the tank?” so you shouldn’t prepare for the worst just yet! If you catch some of the symptoms early enough, you may stand a chance to save your goldfish and enjoy them for many years to come. Let’s take a look:

1. Your Goldfish Is Struggling With Incorrect Water Conditions

High nitrites and ammonia could lead to your goldfish sitting at the bottom of their tank. This could inevitably lead to the death of your fish if you do not attend to the situation immediately. 

Your goldfish will show physical signs if the ammonia and nitrite levels in their tank are too high, including a change in color, jagged fins, and signs of lethargy. 

It is crucial to check your aquarium water and ensure that there are neither nitrates nor ammonia. If you suspect that the reason behind your goldfish sitting at the bottom of their tank is due to ammonia or nitrates, you need to test the water to be sure. 

If neither is the cause, you may need to do a significant water change. Frequent water changes, proper filtration, and daily water checks will ensure your goldfish feels better soon and starts returning to normal.

2. Your Goldfish May Be Suffocating In Their Tank

If you keep your goldfish in a lengthy aquarium or an aquarium that becomes too warm while lacking an aeration system, your goldfish may start to suffocate in their tank slowly. 

This is a huge concern, and it basically means that your aquarium is slowly and painfully taking the life out of your goldfish. 

Your goldfish may become so tired and lifeless that they give up on gulping oxygen from the surface and suffocating at the bottom of their tank. 

If suffocation is the cause, you will notice your goldfish’s gills rapidly moving while repeatedly gasping at the bottom of their tank.

3. Your Goldfish May Be Experiencing Some Form Of Stress

A goldfish experiencing stress will be unhealthy and become tired and lifeless. If you notice your goldfish remains inactive in their tank, with their fins being partially clamped, your goldfish may be stressed. 

This behavior will continue only for a short time before becoming combined with erratic swimming. After these phases have passed, there is an unexpected and concerning switch to bottom sitting. 

Your goldfish may be stressed for many reasons, such as an unsuitable tank mate, dirty water, unsuitable tank size, or a rapid change in their water. Your goldfish may also be in a state of stress to their environment. 

If you keep your goldfish in an area that frequently experiences vibrations, loud noises, and just everyday human foot traffic and activity, they can quickly become stressed and startled. This will make your goldfish hide under a plant or decoration and lay on the ground beneath it.

4. Your Goldfish May Have Disease Or Parasites

An underlying illness or parasite is one of the most common causes and explanations for why your goldfish might be sitting at the bottom of its tank. 

When it comes to diseases, there are so many that could be caused by infections or disorders, and they are not always identifiable during the early stages. 

Suppose you notice even the slightest sign of disease in your goldfish. In that case, you need to isolate them from the rest of your fish immediately, as some diseases are highly contagious and could cause the death of your entire aquarium. 

Parasites could also weaken and wreak havoc on a goldfish’s body. If a goldfish is exposed to parasites in the long term, it could lead to many different health issues. 

Parasites could also cause many diseases in goldfish that would cause them to remain at the bottom of their tanks. There will be clear symptoms of parasites in your goldfish.

Why Are My Goldfish At The Bottom Of The Tank

5. Your Goldfish May Have Deficiency Or Digestion Issues

Goldfish may be tough, but they will suffer if they are constantly kept on a low-quality diet with little variety. Goldfish require lots of protein in their diets with balanced fat and fiber levels. 

Many people underestimate a goldfish’s dietary needs, and if you have not fed yours a mixture of foods along with their staple commercial fish food, this may be the problem. 

Over extended periods, a low-quality diet will cause your goldfish to appear deformed. This will result in them not having enough energy to swim around in their tank, causing them to lay at the bottom. 

In the worst cases, a goldfish’s organs may even start to shut down, causing them to develop dropsy. 

Digestion issues are also very commonly seen in goldfish. Goldfish are prone to having issues with their digestion due to their compressed organs and rounded bodies. 

They may have trouble digesting their food and effectively passing their waste. This could become extremely painful to goldfish and cause them to sit at the bottom of the tank while trying to pass waste.

6. Your Goldfish May Be Bored

If your goldfish is placed inside an empty bowl, they are not only being kept inadequately, but they will become bored over time. Goldfish who are kept in a small aquarium with no decorations or stimulation will have no room to explore and swim. 

As a result, your goldfish may become bored and depressed, causing them to sit at the bottom of their tank and become uninterested in typical goldfish activities. (You can remedy that by learning what fish do for fun!)

7. Your Goldfish May Be Full Of Eggs

If all your goldfish are females, they may sit at the bottom of the tank simply because their bellies are full of eggs! This will cause them to appear bloated and become lethargic. 

While being laden with eggs shouldn’t be too much of a concern for you, egg binding will become a huge one. If your goldfish is egg-bound, it means that their ovaries are not developed enough to be able to release the eggs. 

This means that the eggs can keep building up, causing your goldfish to become bloated. This could become especially dangerous for them, and you may need to look for a professional to sort it out.

8. Your Goldfish May Be Sleeping

Your goldfish may be hanging out at the bottom of their tank to take a nap. If you suspect your goldfish is only sleeping, you have absolutely nothing to be concerned about. 

If you want to check whether your goldfish is sleeping or not, you can move something close to their tank. This will most likely wake your goldfish, and if they swim normally, you can rest assured knowing they were just a little sleepy!

9. Your Goldfish Might Be Dying Of Old Age

When a goldfish is old, it may sit at the bottom of its tank. This could be due to general tiredness, disease, or simply because they don’t have so much energy to move around anymore. 

If old age is the case, you can do nothing about it except for looking after them as best as you can for the last of their days.


Hopefully, this list has helped you narrow down why your goldfish has been spending so much time at the bottom of their tank. While old age, poor tank conditions, and illness can lead to this behavior, so can boredom and even sleep! Use this guide as a starting place to rule out serious conditions.

Keep up with the latest aquarium tips and insights!
Follow us on Pinterest:

Similar Posts