Fat Fish II: Blockage
for the week of 6/10/99
Other occasional causes of bloated looking fish are being egg-bound or constipated. Neither of these conditions are well documented in current aquarium literature, but some anecdotal evidence has been handed down in the last century or so.
What happens? Sometimes female fish develop eggs, but do not have the opportunity to spawn. If, for some reason, the fish cannot otherwise expel or absorb these eggs, they remain in her body. As more and more batches of eggs develop, she begins to swell up. Similarly, some fish appear to become constipated or to have some sort of intestinal blockage that will not allow them to pass waste, which leads again to a growing waistline.
How can you tell if a fish has blockage? Blockages usually affect only a single specimen at a time and develop over about a week's time. If not corrected, blockages are usually fatal within a few weeks.
What causes blockage? Poor diet is the most likely culprit; either inappropriate foods (too much meat for vegetarians, or feeder fish with large, hard-to-digest scales) or too little variety may lead to trouble. Poor diet may also play a role in egg-bound fish, as well-nourished, healthy fish rarely seem to develop this problem.
Is there treatment? Prevention is accomplished by providing a varied diet of foods suited for the species of fish kept, and perhaps by providing spawning opportunities for egg-laden females. Once fish have begun to swell up, a ten minute bath in a bucket of tank water with two teaspoons of Epsom Salt per gallon often loosens things up.
"Tip of the week" appeared regularly in 1999 and 2000.
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