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Constipated Fish? "Pea-lax!"

 Age of Aquariums > Aquarium Articles


It is not uncommon for a fishkeeper to mistake a complex disease like dropsy with simple constipation. But unlike dropsy, constipation is very simple to treat, using a vegetable commonly found in homes - peas!

Constipation is caused by feeding too much protein and hard-to-digest matter to a fish. Things like too much bloodworms or "people food" can cause it, due to excessive protein and fat content. Some simple signs of constipation are: bloated belly, loss of appetite, reduced activity, upturned fish...

Pea-lax 1 Anatomy and Bud Retrieval
The simple anatomy of a green pea is an outer shell, and two small buds inside. The laxative, and the nutritious part of the pea is in the small buds.

For this treatment, I use Green Giant brand "Sweetlets." To retrieve the buds, there are two different methods that I use. The first, and quickest way to do it is to squeeze the pea between your fingers. The buds pop out quickly, but they tend to fly across the room, occasionally hitting innocent bystanders. The other, "safer" method that I use involves cutting the pea in half with a knife and pulling the buds out. This is the method I usually use.

You may have to chop the buds finely so that they are small enough to feed small fish. This is simply achieved by chopping the buds up with a knife. Most fish will gladly accept them, and these peas are more of a treat to fish than a gross medicine.

Peas are a regular part of the diet I feed my fish. Prevention is much better than trying to heal a sick fish, plus, these are not a difficult meal to prepare. Almost all fish can benefit from peas in a diet- especially fish with high protein diets. Often fishkeepers beilieve that all carnivorous fish can eat is high protein and meaty foods, but this can often lead to constipation and malnutrition. Peas are not usually a regular part of the diet of a carnivorous fish, so you should only feed them about once a week, just as a sort of purge of high proteins and other hard to digest matter.

Pea-lax 2 How Much Should I Use?
It all depends on how much your fish normally eats. When treating for constipation, use an equal amount of peas as you would of any other food the fish would eat.

When you are using it in a regular diet of the fish, you will want to mix it in with whatever else you are feeding the fish. You can use whatever ratio you want, but I usually use one half peas, and one half of whatever other food.

What If My Fish Won't Eat Them?
If your fish is constipated, it will have lost most if its appetite anyways. Your fish is fine to fast for over a week, so do not be concerned if it does not accept the peas at first. Once they get hungry, they will eat it.

If your fish is healthy, the same method can be used as said above. The fish will eventually eat the food you give it. Just be sure to clean up any uneaten food after a maximum of 1 hour.

Pea-lax 3 Recipes


  • Approx. 2-5 Peas
  • Chop pea buds and serve to fish.
  • This recipe is simply used to relieve fish of constipation.

Enriched Cleansing Food

  • Approx. 2 Peas For each Medium-Sized Fish
  • 1 Multi Vitamin *ensure there are no preservatives or harmful chemicals*
  • Approx. 1 mL. Dechlorinated Water
  • Crush multi vitamin into a powder and dissolve in water. Soak chopped pea buds in vitamin water overnight and rinse lightly before serving to fish.
  • This recipe is to be used as a treat for your fish.

Mixed foods

  • Approx. One Pea For Each Medium-Sized Fish
  • Approx. ¼- ½ teaspoon Any (Non-Pellet) Fish Food
  • Chop pea buds, mix ingredients together and serve to fish. Some suggestions for ingredients are: Bloodworms, Flakes, Brine Shrimp…
  • This recipe is for if you want peas in your fish’s staple diet.
Reader Comments Comment

I normally use boiled peas. I boil the peas and allow them to cool to room temperature. I boil them to the point where it is easy to mash the peas, so that the fish will find it easy to eat them. You can freeze the rest of the peas in your refrigerator and feed your fish whenever required, but make sure you bring the peas back to room temperature. Particularly goldfish like peas a lot.

Contributed by Mahesh Param

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