Is My Fish Dead or Sleeping

Is My Fish Dead or Sleeping: Aquarist’s Personal Experience 

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As fish don’t have eyelids like us so it is hard to understand Whether a fish is sleeping or not. Sometimes beginner fish keepers make mistakes by thinking that their cute little pet fish is sleeping but unfortunately it is dead which is really heartbreaking.

When I started fishkeeping I panicked a lot by seeing this type of scene. However, fish are like other animals. They sleep also and if you observe them carefully then you may understand them well.

The gill movement of a fish tells whether a fish is dead or alive. If a fish sleeps then its gill moves very slowly which is not possible for a dead fish. Moreover, sleeping fish can be motionless but becomes active again. However, a sick or dead fish may be inactive & pale.   

It is a very brief answer that does not justify other aspects. But here I’ll discuss comprehensively what I have seen in my fish-keeping journey. If you want o know your fish well then Let’s dive deep into the topic

Is fish sleeping or dead?
Is fish sleeping or dead?

How to know if your fish is sleeping or not

Fish don’t sleep like us. They don’t have eyelids like other species. However, it does not mean that fish don’t sleep. If you are a fish keeper you may have observed that your pet fish may become motionless for some time. It means the fish were sleeping at that period of time.

At that time you can check its gill movement. Generally, a healthy aquarium fish’s gill movement remains normal but during the sleeping period, it becomes slow. During that time, It may hover near the surface of the water or may stay at the bottom of the aquarium. It becomes motionless. However, it remains active during the sleeping time too. 

There is a great way to check whether your aquarium fish is sleeping or not. Initially, I applied this method to understand this topic. You can take a small fish net and pretend to catch the sleeping fish. Most of the fish will move away to survive. Though you may catch some fish with that small net still, you can understand easily by observing its gill movement.

As fish do not have any eyelids so you can’t understand naturally. However, you must know that a fish is sleeping means its body will remain horizontal according to the base of the aquarium. It is another way to understand fish behaviour. (Exceptions are always there. Such as catfish, loaches, etc.).                  

How to know if your fish is dead or not

If your fish is not sleeping but still it becomes motionless means the fish is really sick or dead. However, without checking you must not take a decision to remove it from the fish tank. Sometimes fish do this type of acting while playing with their companions. I made this mistake several times before. So, you must first ensure the condition of the fish.

If the fish is floating upside down on the surface of the water means it is dead. At that time some white-coloured bubbles may appear around its body. Moreover, if other fish are swimming around it but still it is not responding means the fish is dead. However, to ensure, it is recommended to check the eyes’ condition & body colour.

If your fish is dead then you will not get any type of response from it. You can understand easily from its body colour. The body colour will start to become pale and whitish after its death. You may observe its bulging eyes. Observing cloudy eyes is also a way to understand the fish’s death.

Labyrinth species like betta, gouramis are fish which are hard to know whether they are sick, dead or sleeping. Betta fish remain calm and inactive if you put them into a bottle or in a small space. Sometimes they don’t respond either. 

So to understand them better you must put them into at least a 10-gallon fish tank. But if they are dead then their fins will definitely show indications to you.

Read Here:- Fish jumped out from aquarium: Scientific Truth from a veterinary

Can a stressed fish recover?

The stress of the fish is one of the bad things. Your fish may be stressed because of the different bad elements of a fish tank. Due to excessive stress, fish in an aquarium may die off. However, you can recover a stressed fish by applying some basic guidelines.

Fish can recover from stress and become healthy again. However, there is no fixed timeframe to recover from stress. Chronic stress may take time to recover. To recover from stress a fish requires a stable aquarium habitat with proper nutritious foods and the right companions. 

A fish may be stressed for various reasons in an aquarium. However, fish keepers must check the water parameters twice a week. It is better to isolate the stressed fish from the mother tank. Proper nutrition is a must in this case.

You should add medication to recover the fish from stress if it is affected by any infectious diseases or parasites. However, that medication must be prescribed by an expert.

One thing you must remember and initially I made this mistake a lot. You must choose the right tank companion. You must not keep a peaceful fish with an aggressive fish. Peaceful fish will be stressed even if the other elements are suitable. For instance, you can’t keep a convict cichlid with any fish without knowing about nature. You must do a little bit of research before choosing fish for the fish tank

Read more:- The aggression of convict cichlids: Compatibility Test 

Do aquarium fish float or sink when they die?

As a whole, aquarium fish do not float upside down when they die. Fish maintain negative buoyancy with the help of their swim bladder organ. However, when this organ gets damaged then it loses all pressure, and the fish floats after dying. Besides this, due to parasitic disorders, fish may also float after death.    

The parasitic or bacterial disorder may kill all of your fish in the aquarium and at that time they all may float on the water surface of the aquarium. It is a very unfortunate incident that I’ve faced in the past.

These types of pathogens create gas and due to this gas the dead body of fish can’t maintain buoyancy and it starts floating. However, a fish that has died normally can float too after dying. If you do not clean the aquarium then the dead body of the fish will start decaying and it will start producing carbon dioxide gas with it. After a few days later the fish will float on the top of the water surface.

Read More:- 11 Most Popular Freshwater Aquarium Fish With A Recommendation 

Is it normal for fish to stay still?

If the fish is staying still, then there is a possibility of stress. Besides this, it may happen for fluctuations in water temperature, and oxygen deficiency also. However, when the fish falls asleep then also it becomes motionless & inactive. Check water parameters first, if fish remain in this position constantly.

Should I change the water after the fish died?

A few percent of water change is recommended if a fish has died. However, it is mandatory to check the cause of the fish’s death. If death happens from any parasitic infections or from any bacterial or fungal infections then fish tank sterilization is a must. For other cases check the water parameters first.  

When one of your fish dies in the aquarium then you must check the overall condition of the tank. If the fish tank is not clean and the filter is not working properly then you must clean the tank as soon as possible. It is because there is a high chance of ammonia and nitrite spikes.

Besides this, you must check the water parameters first depending upon the overall tank condition. If you notice that other fishes are happy, healthy, and active then you may skip this process. However, it is recommended for us to check at least some of the water parameters.

So best of luck & happy fishkeeping 🐟

Read more:- Sterilization of aquarium after fish’s death: A VETERINARY guide 

Read More:- Top 9 Most Expensive Fish For Aquarium With Price Range

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