Goldfish constipation is one of those things that sounds silly to talk about, but it’s actually pretty common with fancy goldies – especially ones who are fed a low quality, high protein and low fiber diet. More often than not, constipation is at the root of the mysterious “swim bladder disease” that so many people get onto forums asking about; the most prevalent symptom of constipation in goldfish is buoyancy issues.
If your goldfish is having trouble swimming or is perhaps already floating upside down, it’s a good idea to rule out constipation before trying harsh medications that could add to the problem. In addition to buoyancy problems, constipated goldfish may also show a disinterest in food, and their scales may pinecone out from the pressure. However, it’s important not to confuse constipation with dropsy; most of the time, the scales of a constipated goldfish won’t stick straight out, they will just look slightly lifted and the fish will appear slightly bloated. Here are the basic steps to treating a goldfish for constipation
Steps for treating Goldfish for Constipation
- Fast the goldfish.
- Feeding only shelled Organic Peas
- Use of Epsom Salt
1. Fast the goldfish.
This means that you will need to take your goldfish off of food for at least several days before starting treatment. Don’t worry about your goldie starving to death during this time; fish are equipped with a very different digestive system than we are. In most cases, a healthy goldfish can go up to a week, and sometimes more, without showing any signs of declining health from a lack of food. Of course, this isn’t any reason to stop feeding your goldfish after he gets better!
2. Feeding only shelled Organic Peas
Feed your goldfish shelled organic peas. Although the organic part isn’t necessary, I usually toss that in there because organic peas seem to be the easiest ones to find without any added salt. Regardless of the brand of peas, you choose to get, you will need to read the label for any additives – don’t get anything that lists anything other than peas in the ingredient statement. I personally use bags of frozen peas – just toss them in the microwave in a cup of water for about a minute, let them cool down, shell them, and then offer them to your goldfish.
3. Use of Epsom Salt
Add a ½ teaspoon Epsom salt per gallon of water. Sometimes, all it takes to fix constipation in goldfish are the above two steps; fasting and a diet of shelled peas. However, if that doesn’t seem to be working, then you may want to consider adding some Epsom salt to the water, as well. Usually, I never actually get to this step – most of the time, the goldfish that I’m treating end up passing feces regularly about a day after feeding them peas; they will be very bright green. If you do need to add any salt to the water, make sure you do so slowly so you don’t shock your goldfish with the sudden change in water chemistry.
As a final note, maintaining excellent water quality is another important step to treating constipation in goldfish; in fact, it’s a super important part of any type of disease treatment in fish. If the ammonia and other toxins are allowed to build up, then the poor water quality will only compound the problem and add more stress to the already unhealthy fish.