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Revive Your Fish Using These Easy Steps

Writen By
Carol M. [Fisheries Consultant]

You may find your pet fish gasping for air or sleeping at the bottom of the tank and looking dead. This situation may arise if your fish jump out of the aquarium. It could be due to high water temperatures, or the fish has an infection that makes it jump and accidentally gets out of the tank.

fresh water fishes discus 1

 So, if you find your fish gasping on the ground, there are ways you can revive it. Again, your ornamental fish may have infections like fin rot or ich which may cut short its life. While some conditions are curable, some can be fatal. For example, having low water temperatures can make your fish lethargic. For this and other situations, learn how to revive fish. 

How to Revive Your Fish 

First, before reviving your fish, confirm if the fish is alive so that you can save it. Some of the signs of a dead fish include;

  • Dry and cracked skin
  • Eyes appear concave( bulge inwards)
  • Pupil is gray 
  • Missing body parts such as tail

If your fish presents these symptoms, it's impossible to save it, and euthanasia may be the remaining option. However, if the fish looks dry but still has all body parts and convex eyes(the usual way), you can revive it. 

Prevent Unfavorable Conditions 

Prevention is always better than cure. Before we think about saving the fish, it's always best to regulate the conditions and factors that lead to their death. You can achieve this in four steps;

  • Maintain the aquarium regularly through water changes, siphoning debris and food particles, and cleaning the filter.
  • Provide a healthy diet for your fish. Give them frozen, dried, and live feeds correctly to avoid overfeeding.
  • Make the aquarium a habitable friendly environment. Ensure proper filtration for cleaning the water, ventilation above the waters, live plants, and hiding places/ decorations for exploration.
  • Check out that nothing interferes with the fish's health, for instance, a decoration leaching out chemicals or even new equipment.
  • Maintain correct water parameters. The most critical parameters are ammonia and nitrate levels. The two compounds can cause poisoning and lead to death. Ammonia should be 0ppm and nitrate 30 ppm for safe levels. Also, water temperatures are crucial, and it's best to ensure it's within the correct range.
  • Control any disease-causing microorganism like bacteria by treating the sick fish or even doing quarantine to avoid spreading the disease. 

Identify the Fish Symptoms and Address Accordingly

As the first step,  identify what's affecting your fish before any medication or first-aid. For instance, if it's suffering from a viral disease or bacteria, it may be tricky to revive the fish. Again, the condition affecting your fish will determine which reviving measures you will undertake and the necessary.  

For diseases, be quick to identify if it's a swim bladder disorder or tail rot. 

  • Place a Quarantine Container 

This tank should contain cool water for more oxygen to dissolve. While in the water, try to clean any dirt or debris on the fish. Hold the fish gently in your hand and eliminate debris on its body. You can achieve this by moving the hand gently on the fish's body to clear any dirt. 

Also, try to open the fish gills carefully. Open gills on both sides and examine if they are red, which is a healthy sign. Additionally, try to massage your fish's belly to enhance airflow. 

In this quarantine tank, ensure you have lower water levels to conserve the fish's energy and prevent it from swimming far to the surface to get in the air. Additionally, lower the water flow by obstructing the output; you don't want your fish to get stressed as it's recovering. 

  • Improve Aeration

Ensure you have an air stone to regulate temperatures and oxygen in the tank. Move your fish close to the air source to get more oxygen. If you don’t have an air stone, continue massaging your fish belly. 

If these techniques fail, you require more equipment to carry out CPR. These equipment are clean and dechlorinated water, tape, plastic wrap, pure oxygen container air piper, and air stone. 

The CPR method involves the following;

  • Place your fish in dechlorinated water. Connect the tubing to the air stone on one end and the other to the oxygen. Seal the container with plastic wrap and shut it with tape.
  • Turn the oxygen container to let a good amount of air into the air stone. Let the air stream for 5 minutes, then reduce the amount of air supplied.
  • Keep your fish in the container for around 2 hours.
  • Try inserting a tube into the gills though this may cause more harm than benefit. If possible, it's best to avoid it, as you may injure the gills and even fail in the reviving mission.
  • Soak Some Almond Leaves 

Placing the leaves in the quarantine tank boosts the fish's immunity, enhances its appetite, and has an antibacterial effect. If you can't get almond leaves, chlorophyll can also boost your fish's immune system. Search for a pure liquid chlorophyll from your vet store, and add it to the tank, or your fish food.

  • Stress Water Conditioner 

The product is best for preventing further infections to your fish. Again, it’s best for injured fish and helps in recovery. Finally, the product helps better the water parameters for the fish, thus reducing stress.

  • Salt Bath 

Aquarium and Epsom salts are very beneficial to your fish. You can use any salts to clear any wastes or toxins from your fish body and revive it. These salt baths are best when the fish has overfeeding issues or mild infections. Make Epsom salt bath as recommended, and your fish will survive. 

The salt will help the fish heal from wounds and general body health wellness. Again, it will help eliminate any pathogens and parasites from the fish.

  • Chest Compressions 

This method is the last option if you can't feel the fish's heartbeat. You need to be cautious when carrying out this procedure, as it can be risky. Put on your gloves, and hold your fish while inside the water with a good grip. Ensure the gloves are thin so that you can feel the pressing and lay the fish sideways.


Your fish are very fragile and require proper care and a favorable aquarium environment. If you compromise the water quality parameters, diet, or hygiene, your pets will contract infections and parasites, which can sometimes be fatal. Therefore, ensure you keep a healthy environment for your fish. But in case of any occurrence, use the above steps to revive your fish.

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HI, I'M Carol M.
Fisheries Consultant
I'm a passionate fisheries consultant with over 5 years of experience in the aquaculture sector. I have been practicing the skills in offering extension services, teaching learners on aquaculture practices and economic empowerment. In my leisure time, I love researching and writing articles on the niche, offering guidance in fish rearing and also watching fish related documentaries.
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