As is true for humans, the type of diet you offer your fish has a direct effect on their digestion. If you feed your fish a diet that is too heavy or too low in fiber, it can lead to constipation. While this may not seem like a serious problem, in fish it can quickly become fatal when the fish are unable to pass feces properly. In this article you will learn the basics about the causes, treatment and prevention for constipation in aquarium fish.
Cause of Constipation in Fish
In most cases, constipation in aquarium fish presents in the form of bloating and stringy feces. When your fish are healthy, their feces is passed easily and falls immediately into the substrate at the bottom of your tank. When your fish are constipated, however, the feces hangs from the fish in strings. Other symptoms of constipation may include lethargy, lack of appetite, loss of condition and difficulty swimming. These symptoms become more severe the more chronic the constipation becomes.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of constipation can easily be mistaken for the symptoms of dropsy. As a result, many aquarium fish do not get the treatment they need as soon as they should. The main cause of constipation in aquarium fish is a diet lacking in fiber. Without adequate fiber in the diet, your fish’s digestive system will not be able to properly expel feces. You may not realize it, but most commercial fish foods are very low in fiber. For this reason, you should consider supplementing the diet of your fish with fresh vegetable matter.
Treatments for Fish Constipation
Because the cause of constipation is a lack of fiber in the diet, the best treatment is to feed your fish high-fiber foods. These high-fiber foods will act as a natural laxative, helping your fish to expel accumulated feces and to resume normal digestion. The most common food to use as treatment for constipation in fish is tinned peas – for large fish you can leave the peas whole but, for smaller fish, you should squash or chop them. It is important to avoid feeding other foods when using peas as a treatment for constipation to ensure that your fish eats them. You may also want to consider dosing the tank with 1 to 3 teaspoons of Epsom salt per 5 gallons of tank volume – the Epsom salt will act as a muscle relaxant to help in cases of severe constipation.
Prevention Methods for Fish Constipation
Java moss is one of the easiest and fastest- growing aquarium plants as a vegetable food source for fish.
Fortunately, preventing constipation in fish is very easy – you just have to be sure to offer the right type of food. For herbivorous fish, the best foods to offer are leafy greens rather than commercial pellets or flakes. Even non-herbivorous fish may enjoy the occasional piece of lettuce, cucumber or sweet potato as a treat. You can also stock your aquarium with fast-growing live plants so your fish can eat them as they like. When adding live plants to your tank you need to be aware that certain adjustments may be required to keep your plants alive. Live plants require clean water to thrive, so consider adding an EcoBio-Stone to your aquarium. EcoBio-Stones are made from natural volcanic rock and cement infused with beneficial bacteria and the nutrients they need to thrive. As soon as you place your EcoBio-Stone in the tank the beneficial bacteria will begin to multiply, establishing and maintaining the nitrogen cycle which is the key to keeping your tank water clear.
As is true with all living creatures, the state of your fish’s diet directly impacts its health and condition. Be conscientious about providing your fish with a healthy diet to prevent diseases and dangerous conditions like constipation.