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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 5686
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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I believe I have overfed my goldfish. I was feeding her twice

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I believe I have overfed my goldfish. I was feeding her twice a day fish flakes, and one pea every morning. Her abdomen is bloated and she was pooping white stringy, or very thick but not a lot. Now she is not pooping at all. I fasted her for two days then gave her 2 peas today. I'm finding so much conflicting information. I'm worried that my mistake will cost her her life. Any help you can give would be so appreciated.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 8 months ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

If you noticed Sandy's fecal character to gone from normal to passing stringy feces to not passing feces at all, then I share you suspicion that fecal obstruction induced constipation. And as you have sited, this is often due to overfeeding.

Though I do want to note a few other considerations we have to keep in mind here as potential differentials. For example, if you had you seen mucoid feces prior to constipation, we'd have to also consider GI flagellates as well. And while it is not nice to think about, we can actually see goldfish with abdominal distension (ie dropsy, tumors, etc) demonstrate slowed or halted fecal passage due to abdominal fluid or masses compressing the non-rigid gut. So, I will discuss treatment for constipation below but do want you to consider checking water parameters (ie pH, nitrites, nitrates, ammonia --often pet stores will check this free of charge) and monitoring Sandy closely at this stage.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX for constipation, your approach so far has been adequate. Still if you are not seeing her produce feces with this treatment course or she isn't keen eat the peas offered, then I would suggest an alternative fiber source. Other options that
you can also try would be spinach, cucumber, or even Daphnea as 'laxative/clearing' agents. As well, if we are faced with straightforward constipation, do pay mind to the water temperature, as colder water (below 55 degrees F/14 degrees C) can impede active gut movement..We want to make sure our water is above this level to ensure normal GI movement and therefore normal movement of feces from the GI.

Overall, you are on the right track but I would just suggest those further additions to treatments. Between your fiber boluses to push feces through the gastrointestinal tract, proper water temperature to ensure normal GI movement, and Epsom salt (usually at a dose of 1tsp per 5 gallons water) to relax the GI musculature, you should see feces start to move and appear in the next 24-48 hrs. If you do not or if you see distension continue to the level that her scales raise (pinecone), then we' d have to consider that there may be a more serious issue (ie dropsy) afoot with wee Sandy.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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Remember that if you have any lingering questions or concerns, please reply so that we may continue our conversation. I will be happy to work with your further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek. Please remember to rate my answer when you are satisfied (with4-5 stars or a happy face) so that I may receive credit for my assistance. Thank you & have a great day. : )
Customer: replied 8 months ago.


thank you for this info. She never had mucous-y feces. I did do a partial water change after testing a slight rise in ammonia level. so now I am afraid to add more Epsom salt, as one website cited this could happen. (I checked nitrite level and that's good) Do you think I should omit the Epsom salt? Also, her tank is 72 degrees...is this ok or should I try to increase (I don't have a heater). My main concern I think is - is it better to fast her more or feed her the things you mentioned? I am getting so many conflicting opinions in research online. Also, do I blanch the spinach if I give her that? and how often/how much of these things? If it is a blockage will it be able to be fixed?? I am beside myself that I made this mistake, and don't want her to die.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 8 months ago.
You are very welcome.

I appreciate that you are reading a lot of conflicting advice and are experiencing a wee bombardment with all sorts of information. I am afraid that that is the mixed blessing of the internet.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX's current treatment regimen, if the tank is at 72 degrees, then I think that will be fine (its most often an issue for pond dwelling fish). In regards XXXXX XXXXX you don't want to yet reintroduce her normal flake foods but you can offer the alternative options I have noted. These are high in non-soluble fiber (as opposed to the fish flakes) and these act to regulate fecal regularity (as Metamucil would for people). So, it is a case of fasting them from the normal diet while using high fiber supplements to try and undue the constipation issue. Once she is passing feces again, you can gradually wean her from the fiber sources back onto her normal diet (+/- continuing fiber "treats" to keep everything moving).

In regards XXXXX XXXXX Epsom salt, it is your choice whether you wish to admit it or not. I have treated many fish in this situation in the past without it, but some people have had success with it as part of their treatment protocol. In regards XXXXX XXXXX affecting the ammonia levels of the tank, remember that any treatment to a tank (including if there is any increased food waste as you try to get her eating peas) can negatively impact the tank's water parameters. This is because these will either contribute nitrogenous waste to the water or via putting a bit of strain on the tank's biofilter. Therefore, this is why we want to always have a close eye on tank parameters (via regular water checks) when we are treating a fish for anything in the primary tank. Otherwise, we may choose to relocate ill fish to a hospitalization tank in times of like these. That way, we can better monitor this and respond accordingly; while not causing any negative impact to our primary tank.

So, I would continue the fast of her flake food but consider the above high fiber sources I have noted. The water temperature is fine in this instance. And if you are worried about Epsom salt, then you can choose to withhold them at this stage. But if you do want to use them, then consider close water monitoring, a potential move to a hospitalization tank, and/or partial water changes as need be.

Dr. B.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Remember that if you have any lingering questions or concerns, please reply so that we may continue our conversation. I will be happy to work with your further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek. Please remember to rate my answer when you are satisfied (with4-5 stars or a happy face) so that I may receive credit for my assistance. Thank you & have a great day. : )
Customer: replied 8 months ago.


thank you. how many peas per day should I give her? Or the spinach (and should it be blanched) or the cucumber? Is the blockage something she can't recover from? I am so upset that I made this mistake and don't want her to die. What do I do if she doesn't poop after 24-48 hours? I must sound like a crazy person but I am truly beside myself for causing this and want to do everything I can to save her. Thank you again.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 8 months ago.
You are very welcome.

You need to take a deep breath and calm down.
You cannot beat yourself up about what has happened, only try your best to treat Sandy now. In regards XXXXX XXXXX it is very difficult to overdo the fibrous foods (the fish aren't usually that keen). Therefore 1-2 peas per day should be fine. We do typically blanch the spinach but its not essential. Cucumber tends to be given in small pieces raw. If you are stressing over 'food preparation,' then do use Daphnea (most pet shops carry it) or you can even give nori. Both are 'ready made' and easy to give.

It is uncommon for a fish not to recover from constipation. In cases that don't, there is usually another issue present as I noted before. If we consider the worst case scenario and don't see passage of feces in 24-48 hours, then you will need to consider seeking a local vets assistance. Ideally, you'd want to see if you can find a local fish or even exotic vet. They will be able to take a xray of Sandy if need be. If the xray reveals a mass or dropsy, then we'd have to reconsider her treatment and her prognosis (as it would become much poorer). If there is a fecalolith (a big ball of feces, possible but uncommon) that cannot be passed, then you would need to discuss what options may be available (ie abdominal massage with sedation, surgical removal).

In any case, we need to take a deep breath and take things as they come. Start offering those alternative fiber sources and monitoring your wee one. Hopefully, we will see some feces.

All the best & hopefully we will see some feces from Sandy soon.
Good evening,
Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 5686
Experience: General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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