Goldfish and constipation

All fish can potentially suffer from constipation, regardless of the type of diet they are fed, and goldfish are no exception. As goldfish are prolific eaters, constipation is one of the more common problems they face.

So, if you’re wondering how to tell if your goldfish is constipated – and what you should do about it if so – then read on to learn more about constipation in goldfish.

What is constipation?

Constipation is a blockage of the digestive system, which makes it difficult or impossible to pass feces naturally and comfortably.

The blockage usually occurs in the bowels or intestine, and will form a hard mass of compacted waste that the goldfish cannot expel from the body normally.

This leads to extreme discomfort and in chronic cases, can even cause death.

Symptoms of constipation in goldfish

You can usually identify constipation in goldfish by the appearance of the fish; they may appear physically bloated, and may also be trailing a string of feces behind them that does not drop off as normal.

They may also have problems swimming normally, and appear very lethargic, as well as losing their interest in food and possibly showing signs of discomfort.

What causes constipation in goldfish?

Generally, constipation in goldfish (as with other animals) is caused by feeding a diet that is not completely balanced, and lacks enough roughage or dietary fiber. Fiber is important to help the metabolism to keep moving, and to bind the food so that it can be passed naturally.

Goldfish that nibble live plants within the tank will rarely suffer from constipation, and it usually occurs in fish that are fed a diet high in protein with not enough roughage.

How can constipation in goldfish be treated?

Generally, constipation in goldfish can be resolved by upping the amount of dietary fiber in the diet and promoting the consumption of greenery and roughage.

You should stop feeding your fish pellets or flake food while you resolve the issue, and concentrate on encouraging them to eat plant matter and greenery. Tinned peas (sugar and salt free) are a good product to feed to a constipated goldfish, as they have a gentle laxative effect.

If your goldfish is not eating at all due to constipation, you may need to isolate the affected goldfish and add a dose of Epsom salts to your hospital tank at the rate of 1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons of water. This relaxes the muscles and aids in the passing of faeces.

6 thoughts on “Goldfish and constipation”

  1. I’m not sure if my gold fish has dropsy or constipation. Swimming about as normal. Still very lively. But because of the swelling in stomach I stop feeding it pellets and gave it greens. If I was to email you a picture could u help advise me on what to do ? Please and thank you for reading this

    • Hi Sharon, we’re happy to receive a photo via the Contact Us page. From what you’ve said, we suspect constipation or a swim bladder issue are more likely than dropsy. Dropsy causes a fish’s scales to stick out – people often describe this looking like a pine cone – so you’d be fairly easily able to spot it if your fish had it.

  2. I need help figuring out what is wrong with my mother’s 8 year old fancy goldfish. He’s extremely bloated looking and goes between being interested in food and then not interested. We have tried peas he doesn’t touch them and she’s been trying Epsom salt but all she has noticed is that he gets a little more active for a short period of time. No idea what is going on.

  3. Heyy
    My fish has been sitting at the bottom of the tank during night. I thought it was common, that it’d be sleeping. Whenever I approached it, it’d come to the top like usual. But today (26/09/21) it has sat at the bottom for a long time and swims weirdly. Sometimes it becomes slightly tilted while swimming and just now it was on the verge of swimming upside down. Whenever it’d sit, it’d kind of sink down and bounce a little as a result. It has been a week that we changed the tank, the fish was fine and happy but this started happening today and I’m extremely worried about it. It’s also not eating much. Generally, it’d come to the top Whenever I opened the lid of the tank, but today evening it didn’t eat well. It’d also suddenly start swimming rapidly, hit its head on the walls or smth and then sink down.. Our tank does not have any stones, it’s empty with two artificial plants. Will feeding peas work? Please suggest something as soon as possible.

    • Hi, thanks for your message. How big is your tank? Have you tested the water parameters (and if so, what were the results)? It sounds like a swim bladder problem, though without knowing more – e.g. whether the fish is in a very small tank with high ammonia levels – it’s difficult to identify an exact cause.

  4. I have 2 black fish.and 1 gold fish.i have lost 1 of swims side ways.and sits in the same corner all wont ear.and it tonite I notice it has moved to the other back side of the rank.any reason it would be doing this?


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