Why Is My Koi Fish Laying On Its Side?

Koi fish is a popular fish to domesticate because of its multiple uses in agriculture and farming.

People admire these fish as they are economical and easy to maintain.

Although they are easy to raise, as Koi fish owners, observing changes in their laying patterns might be concerning.

If you are experiencing your Koi fish laying on a specific side, there could be several reasons for this (such as poor water quality or out-of-range water parameters such as temperature or pH).

Or it might be due to pollution, diseases, and sickness. To understand these reasons in detail, read this guide to know why your koi fish is lying on its side.

Reasons Why Koi Fish is Laying on Its Side

It is not a good sign if your Koi fish is lying on its side.

The following can be the reasons for it.

Polluted or Inferior Water Quality

If the tank has poor quality water and you have not cleaned the water properly before introducing Koi fish into that tank, they will not swim in it and will lay on that side.

Tank water needs to be regularly cleaned and maintained for their movement.

Either manually filter their aquarium or pond water biweekly or install a filter to clean it.

Unclean water will cause harm to Koi fish as their feces contain harmful nitrogen compounds that need to be regularly cleaned.

Undue Physical and Emotional Stress

If you have newly introduced koi fish in a pond or aquarium, just like us, they will take time to adjust because of emotional stress, known as system shock.

Check if your fish tank has a hiding place, as when koi fish feel threatened in a new environment, they prefer to hide in their hiding area until they are calmed and ready to come out.

Koi fish can lie on their side; due to stress and fear, so in this state, provide them the comfort they need of a hiding space until they acclimatize to the new space.

Otherwise, they will not move and lay on their side in your tank.

Presence of Parasites

A significant issue unclean water creates in your Koi fish tank is the growth of bacteria and parasites.

If those parasites and bacteria infest your Koi fish, it will fall sick and not move.

Lethargy and discolorations are the common symptoms when these harmful parasites infect your koi fish.

As parasites stick to the gills and skin of Koi fish, they fall sick and cannot move or swim.

Swim Bladder Disease

Swim bladder disease is prevalent in most tank and pond fishes.

It can occur due to improper diet, the availability of parasites in your water tank, or other bacterial attacks.

It is one of their most prevalent diseases, along with poor nutrition and constipation issues.

When your Koi fish is sick, overfed, or unable to digest its meal, it is suffering from swimming bladder disease.

Koi fish will remain inactive when they suffer from this disease and will only get active if you seek medical help and provide adequate treatment.

Fluctuating Temperature and p.H

It is very common for Koi fish to hibernate when the water temperature is low.

In this situation, their digestion is also disturbed when the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit; thus, providing them with optimum temperature for healthy growth and active life is better.

The same goes for the pH of your Koi fish tank water.

If its pH fluctuates above seven, it will be more alkaline due to ammonia, limiting the Koi fish’s activity in water and laying on its side.

In general, it’s a good idea to keep checking the water parameters of your aquarium or pond regularly. If the water parameters are out of range, you should try and get it sorted.

How Can You Ensure Your Koi Fish Does Not Lay on its Side?

If your Koi fish is laying on its side, it might be a hazardous sign, and you need to fix it before it gets out of hand.

Here are some remedies to cure or control this severe issue.

Improving Your Fish Tank Water Quality

When your tank water lacks cleaning and oxygen, it is challenging for koi fish to breathe.

Introducing air pumps in your tank and a filter is essential as it will increase oxygen in the water and remove toxins from it.

Koi fish needs clean water for their proper growth. They will not survive in dirty water for longer.

Thus, keep your water oxygenated and clean, so your Koi fish will remain active and not lay on the side.

Keeping Your Koi Fish Relaxed

Stress could be a significant issue if your Koi fish is laying on its side; if the problem is not very prolonged, let them adjust in their tank and keep them in a larger tank so they can quickly move.

Another way to release their stress is to add a hiding place in their tank so they can hide there in case of fear.

Improving the quality of their feed can also reduce their stress and make them more active.

Sometimes quarantining them in another tank can also help; maybe another aquatic species could be the reason for their stress, and keeping them in a separate tank can improve their condition.

Professional Veterinary Help

No matter how carefully we treat our Koi fish, if they are laying on their side for a longer duration, consult a professional vet on this matter; the vet will carefully monitor the condition and give you a better solution.

It is a costly solution, but a professional doctor can properly diagnose the reasons behind their inactivity and suggest measures to improve it.

Removal and Treatment of Parasites

Removing parasites from the Koi fish tank is essential, as when your koi fish is affected by parasites, it gets lethargic and lays on its side.

The most economical way is to add common or Epsom salt to your koi fish tank.

Common salt and Epsom salt are neutral in p.H and have no adverse effect on Koi fish.

Salty water kills the parasite, and we can easily remove them from Koi fish gills or skin to get them rid of parasites.

We can add 100 mg of salt per liter of water in our tank to get a perfect concentration that kills parasites.

This salt concentration in water is also safe for other aquatic species.

Removal and Treatment of Bacterial Infections

If your Koi fish is laying on its side due to bacterial infection, it is essential to treat it before it worsens your Koi fish’s health.

We need to shift our Koi fish to a cleaner tank while they are on antibacterial treatment.

There are three ways to give them antibiotics. First, under a vet’s supervision, give them antibiotic injections.

Second, feed them medicated feed in their separate tank as suggested by a vet.

Lastly, add an antibiotic to their tank water and monitor them carefully for the next seven days to see their recovery.

Avoid polluting their tank with natural remedies and seek professional help.

Remedies to Cure Swim Bladder Disease

As we have discussed earlier, this is the most common disease in Koi fish and could be genetic or due to cleanliness issues in your tank.

Ensure your tank is clean if you want to avoid this disease.

Another reason for swim bladder disease is indigestion, when your Koi fish cannot digest its food due to overfeeding or feeding on sub-quality feed. Try to switch your feeds with a better feed.

When Koi Fish feed contains less nitrate and more valuable nutrients, they can easily float, swim, and not lay on their side. 

Regulate p.H of Koi Fish Tank

Another potential critical factor for your Koi fish laying on its side could be the fluctuating p.H of the fish water tank.

To ensure that Koi fish tank water pH remains between 7-7.2, keep testing your water parameters daily with the help of a pH meter to ensure their active growth.

If your water pH still keeps fluctuating, adding a p.H stabilizer to your Koi fish tank is better to keep it within its limit.

Try to use Tap water as they are more neutral and resistant to p.H change if you don’t have a p.H stabilizer.

Regulate the Temperature of Your Koi Fish Tank 

Koi fish require a temperature between 59-77 degrees Fahrenheit for their optimum growth.

Keep a temperature check of your tank using a thermometer and maintain a record of tank water temperature.

If the temperature in your area is below 59, maintain it using a heater with a fixed temperature between the optimum temperature zones.

Improve the Maintenance of Your Koi Fish Tank 

Lastly, ensure that you maintain your koi fish water tank by cleaning it and keeping its water in check.

Test for the oxygen level in your Koi fish tank; if the oxygen level is low, try to improve it with the help of an air pump.

Final Words

If your Koi Fish is laying on its side for longer, you need to monitor this issue very well and ensure your fish tank is well-cleaned and its temperature and pH is maintained.

When Koi fish tank hygiene is not maintained, it depletes oxygen and increases bacteria and parasite growth, making them ill and inactive.

Therefore, in this guide, we have informed you about various remedies you can utilize to ensure your Koi fish doesn’t lay on its side and lives a healthy life.

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