Goldfish Hanging Out at the Top of Tank (the Cause of Gasping)

Goldfish Hanging Out at the Top of Tank (1)

If you are a pet owner, you must observe your fish regularly to understand its behavior.

Suppose you are worried to see that your goldfish is hanging out at the top of the tank. Unfortunately, due to lack of oxygen and poor water quality, goldfish gasp at the tank’s surface.

In this article, you will be clear about why your goldfish hangs out at the top of the tank.

Why Do Goldfish Hang Out at the top of The Tank?

Generally, goldfish hang out for overcrowding in the aquarium, the warm temperatures create a lack of oxygen level, and poor water quality raises high ammonia in the tank. However, sometimes goldfish swim at the top to collect food.

You must be aware of protecting your goldfish from any health issues.

Some Simple Steps to Prevent Air Gasping at the Top

Usually, goldfish explore at different depths of the aquarium, from the surface to the gravel. But it is a bad sign if your goldfish constantly hangs at the top of the tank.

Make sure to follow some precautions to prevent hanging out at the top of the aquarium.

What you’ll need–

  • Water change
  • Air pump
  • Water temperature
  • Big tank
  • Feeding
  • Water test

Prevention process–

Step 1: Change the water

Check the water quality frequently. If your water parameters are unstable, your redox potential may get lower and will not create any bacteria.

Fewer bacteria will raise the ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels that are harmful to goldfish.

Make sure to perform a partial water change immediately. Use a prime or stress coat daily to remove the ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite. It will raise the redox level, which helps bacteria to work efficiently.

This bacteria will assist in getting rid of ammonia and so forth.

Step 2: Use an air pump

You need to put an air pump in the tank to agitate the water’s surface as much as possible.

Surface agitation is necessary to raise the oxygen level. If your goldfish is hanging at the top of the tank, there is a lack of oxygen in the aquarium. 

When the oxygen level is low, goldfish swim to the tank’s surface to breathe, where the oxygen levels may be higher.

You need to put an air pump and plants immediately to provide enough oxygen to protect the goldfish’s life.

Step 3: Maintain the water temperature

Make sure to check the water temperature. Goldfish prefer excellent conditions and stay healthy between 68 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

But if the temperature gets warmer, it holds less oxygen. So, maintain the water temperature.

Step 4: Choose a big tank 

A goldfish needs a 30 gallons tank; for adding every fish, you need to add 10 gallons each.

The overcrowding of fish in the tank causes low levels of oxygen. So, you need to choose the amount of fish based on the tank size to ensure adequate oxygen in the aquarium.

Step 5: Feed properly

Make sure to feed less food to your goldfish to keep it healthy. If you overfeed, it may be unhealthy for your fish and make the water dirty easily. 

The dirty water may decrease the oxygen level and make the water quality poor.

Make sure to feed your goldfish twice a day to keep them healthy.

Step 6: Do a water test

A goldfish who spends most of the time on the surface may be struggling, distressed, having breathing problems, and gasping.

To fix these problems, you need to perform a water test regularly. Make sure to check the ammonia level, nitrate level, nitrite level, and ph levels. If this test shows an undesirable rate, take some measurements to avoid the problems.

After a water test, change the 30% of the water to clean the tank. Then, check the filtration system to see whether it is working correctly.

Why Do Your Goldfish Stay at the Top of the Tank?

Goldfish explain their condition through specific behaviour. So it’s hard to understand why they are staying at the surface of the aquarium. 

Some significant reasons to identify why your goldfish is at the top of the tank.

  1. Sometimes goldfish float at the top of the tank if it is dead or about to die.
  2. If there is low oxygen in the tank, that time, goldfish hang at the surface level to have some oxygen
  3. If the number of goldfish is higher than the tank size, it will make them a little bit stressed and reduce the oxygen level.
  4. When your tank has a warm temperature that contains low amounts of oxygen, it creates different issues.
  5. If your water is dirty and water quality is too poor, it will raise the ammonia level, which is hazardous for goldfish. 
  6. Your goldfish may be waiting for food, or maybe you provided food. For that reason, your goldfish may appear at the surface level of the tank.

When Do Goldfish Stay at the Top of the Tank?

Goldfish is an intelligent, mysterious, and strong species that require proper care.

  • Usually, goldfish float at the top of the tank, which indicates they are no more.
  • If the oxygen level is insufficient in the tank, goldfish need to move to the top of the tank to have oxygen to breathe.
  • If the temperature is improper in the tank, it may lead your goldfish to come to the top of the tank.
  • Goldfish are an intelligent species who learn tricks quickly, so they can swim to the surface to greet him to have food.
  • If your goldfish is not struggling or suffering from any distress, but if they are hanging at the top, it demonstrates that they are excited.

When Do Goldfish Sit at the Bottom of the Tank?

If your goldfish is active and moving around throughout the day and sitting at the bottom for a while, that means they are taking a rest or sleeping.

If your goldfish is sitting at the bottom the whole day because of excessive lethargy, your fish is sick.

You need to undergo a water change to clean the water by following proper circumstances to protect your goldfish.

What Does a Swim Bladder Prefer?

Goldfish always have air from the water’s surface after feeding, which may cause buoyancy problems. This gasping air from the surface may cause different diseases named swim bladder.

The swim bladder is common for goldfish, and it causes your fish to swim upside down.

To prevent this disease, you need to quarantine your sick fish and keep it at 28 degrees Celsius,  put some rock salt and multivitamin, and feed peas. 

Watch the video to see how to deal with swim bladder disease–


If you’re still conscious about the goldfish hanging out at the top of the tank, the cause of gasping! Then in this article, you’ll learn the facts–

  • Goldfish hang out for overcrowding in the aquarium 
  • The warm temperature creates a lack of oxygen level
  • Poor water quality raises high ammonia in the tank. 
  • Sometimes goldfish swim at the top to collect food.

Now you know why goldfish go to the top of the tank and how to avoid it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How Do You Oxygenate My Fish Tank?

Make sure to increase water movement to increase the oxygen level in the water.

Add an air pump, change the water frequently, and stir the water to improve the oxygen level in the water.

Q2. Is It Normal for Your Fish to Swim at the Top of the Tank?

If your fish spends most of their time at the top of the tank, it is a bad sign. Your goldfish may not get adequate oxygen. For this reason, they are roaming at the surface level.

But if your fish swim at the top only to collect food and swim throughout the tank, that means it is normal for the fish.

Q3. How Do You Cheer Up Your Goldfish?

Make sure to give your goldfish a better friendly company. Feed them different foods adequately. Make the tank enjoyable by putting other plants and hiding spots. 

Also, clean the water regularly, use enough lights and avoid any noise to keep your goldfish happy and healthy. 

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