This review examines the initial swimbladder inflation in cultured finfish larvae and the mechanisms controlling body buoyancy and the distribution of larvae during the critical early development stages. The literature suggests that the body buoyancy of larvae affects their distribution in the tank and fish with low buoyancy are likely to sink to the bottom leading to mortality. Initial swimbladder inflation occurs in a finite period of the postlarval stage and a number of biotic and abiotic factors have been associated with preventing inflation during the ‘window’ period. In recent times larval rearing techniques have been advanced, but it is still a challenge to increase the initial swimbladder inflation rates and maintain larval positioning in the water column to reduce mortality. This review shows that various nutritional and abiotic factors can be manipulated in the culture of many finfish species to achieve high rates of swimbladder inflation and reduce deformations and mortality during early larval rearing.