Sunken Belly Fish Treatment: Optimal Measures For Aquarists

One day, you see your fish behaving weirdly in the tank with a strange belly. Your fish has a likelihood of having a sunken belly, which mainly derives from bacteria or parasites. 

It’s not a simple case, but calm down! We are here to help with the proper sunken belly fish treatment

Embark on the journey with us right now!

Sunken Belly In Fish: Root Causes


If you’re keeping your fish fed on a regular timetable, this unusual occurrence shouldn’t happen. Still, your cichlids can get a higher risk rate when your tank is crowded. 

This species is notorious for the demand for tank mates. Their fierce rivalry over resources, including food, reproduction, territory, and hierarchy, can influence their social instability. 

For this reason, lower-ranking cichlids often get hungry due to aggression from their superiors. Thus, setting your eyes on their social behavior is imperative.

Fish Tuberculosis

Among tank-dwelling fish diseases, this one could be the worst. The culprit, Mycobacterium, is exceedingly tricky to eradicate because of its firm protective cover. 

It harms the whole immune system and renders the fish vulnerable to most medicines. It’s safe to state that fish tuberculosis is highly contagious, challenging to cure, and almost always fatal to the host.

Beyond that, open wounds coming into contact with infected fish or water can spread the disease to people. Its symptoms include lethargy, body ulcers, skin lesions, sunken belly, open sores, scale loss, spinal abnormalities, and so on. 

The danger is that more benign disorders share similar symptoms, which can lead to a misdiagnosis and the disease worsening later on. 

No way can be done to save a fish having late-stage tuberculosis. Thus, it is best to give the fish euthanasia to halt its suffering and the disease’s spread.

Fish Tuberculosis

Parasites Or Hexamita

The pathogen causing Hole in the Head disease is called Hexamita. Parasites invade the fish’s body, multiply, and ultimately kill the host due to severe tissue damage. Other parasites, such as intestinal worms, also trigger the sunken belly. 

A surprising number of Hexamita pathogens exist in otherwise healthy fish, which are controlled by the fish’s formidable immune system. 

They don’t start growing until the fish’s immune system becomes weakened owing to stress, temperature changes, water quality or pH level changes, or other illnesses. Medication is a must to sort out this situation.

Nutritional Deficiencies

A poor diet will result in multiple health problems in fish. Some mineral and vitamin deficiency symptoms are a sunken belly, anemia, scoliosis, poor growth, cataracts, etc. 

In the worst scenario, poor nutrition might ultimately prove fatal for the fish. It will exhibit a distinct set of symptoms, depending on the level of deficiency in the diet.

Sunken Belly Fish Treatment: The Soundest Recommendations


The treatment process includes 3 main steps:

Step 1: Quarantine

Regardless of the treatment, you should isolate your fish in a separate tank at the first sign of illness. The disease is highly contagious among fish and can quickly wipe out an entire fish population.

Catch all the ill fish and put them in a different tank. Ensure that, like the main tank, the hospital tank provides stable and ideal settings.

Step 2: Evaluate The Disorder

When you settle down all the ill fish in the therapy tank, the next move is to pinpoint the conditions, severity, and root causes of the sunken belly. You then can adopt a tailored treatment plan for your fish’s speedy recovery.

Step 3: Treatment Plans

Therapy For Bacterial Infections & Parasites

Consider taking some medicine. The Seachem Paraguard is ideal in this regard as it does the trick in treating skin lesions and serious tissue damage arising from fungus, ectoparasites, bacteria, and other diseases. 

Paraguard won’t alter the water’s pH since it contains no formaldehyde or methanol. Hence, your fish may stay in a clean, healthy, and stable habitat while being treated. 

Its practical anti-parasitic impact makes it a must-have for coping with viral infections spreading from one fish to another.

Therapy For Tuberculosis

In the late stages, fish tuberculosis is generally incurable, leaving only the option of euthanasia. If the condition is caught early enough, treatment will likely succeed. You must see a veterinary expert to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Measures For Nutritional Deficiencies

A novice aquarist can mess up the tank fish’s diets, especially more exotic species like African cichlids. Feeding cichlids a varied and nutritious diet is essential. Of note, you must seek ways to reduce competitive food-related aggression. 

Consult a cichlid expert to plan the meals with optimal ingredients and a feeding schedule. Once you get them on proper food, the fish will quickly rebound.

Can A Sunken Belly Kill The Fish?

No. Poor care for a cichlid with a sunken belly can put the animal to death. In other words, it’s not the sunken belly that kills the fish but the disease producing it. A sunken belly is just a disease’s symptom. 

To cure your sunken-belly cichlid, don’t only treat its problematic belly; finding the factors causing it is a must. As such, you can reach accurate diagnoses and treatment schedules.

Why Do Sunken-Belly Ones Lose Their Appetite?

Why Do Sunken-Belly Ones Lose Their Appetite?

Many diseases and health issues, such as parasites, bacterial infections, digestive problems, etc., can cause appetite loss.

Stress kills a fish’s appetite and affects its behavior. In fact, sunken-belly fish are lethargic, aggressive, hide, swim poorly, and eat little to nothing.

This shows that identifying a fish’s condition only based on hunger is impossible. To get the appropriate diagnosis, assess different symptoms.

Take-home Messages!

Several illnesses and infections afflict cichlids, and one of the symptoms is a sunken belly. Such a situation could be the result of parasites, starvation, or other factors. 

In this case, medications and sunken belly fish treatment are part and parcel of helping your beloved pet rebound and become healthy again.