gravel-sucking goldfish
June 24, 2005 10:07 AM   Subscribe

goldfish care: my goldfish, like all of them, sucks up his aquarium rocks. i've tried to rid the tank of all the ones small emough to get stuck. but now he seems to have one lodged in his throat. anything i can do to help him spit it out?

it's been stuck for about ten minutes. and he's worked it out further forward into his mouth, but hasn't yet spit it out. poor fish!
posted by crush-onastick to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
Can you see it in his mouth or something? How do you know it's in there?
posted by agregoli at 10:14 AM on June 24, 2005

Response by poster: oh yes. i can see it. he "coughs" it almost all the way out, then it gets back more in his throat (where i can still see it) then he swims (apparently) frantically in circles, before angling head downwards and pushing it forward again.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:16 AM on June 24, 2005

Oh dear! I don't know that there's anything you can do; I think you've got to leave it up to him. (I would suggest, though, that you change out the gravel into pebbles that are too big for him to get in his mouth...)
posted by Specklet at 10:20 AM on June 24, 2005

Response by poster: yes, i think a gravel removal is well in order, assuming he survives this. then, both a gravel removal and new goldfish.

what are the alternatives to aquaria gravel? are those glass marble/rocks that peope use in decorating okay? i need something to anchor the plants.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:25 AM on June 24, 2005

I've seen people use glass marbles (like the kind used for flower arranging) in their aquarium with no problems. Depending on how large your tank is (I'm guessing at least 10 gallons, since it's a goldfish) it might get expensive, unless you can find a cheap source for them.

Plant stores sometimes sell bags of polished rocks, but you need to be careful with those and make sure they won't affect the water chemistry.

Good luck!
posted by ambrosia at 10:39 AM on June 24, 2005

This happened to one of my fish when I was a kid. He had the rock stuck in his mouth for days and it simply didn't look like it'd ever come out. So I sprung to his aid.

I washed my hands throughly (making sure there were no remnants of soap) and nabbed him with a net. Carefully, I held him steady and popped the rock out with a blunted toothpick.

He plopped back into the water and seemed much happier.

Be forewarned, however, that I am not an icythologist!
posted by aladfar at 10:51 AM on June 24, 2005

what are the alternatives to aquaria gravel?

Sure, those marble thingies would work fine. So would regular marbles, come to think of it, and that might be cool lookin'. I use smooth pebbles in various sizes that I picked up off the beach. (And boiled them for twenty minutes before cooling, rinsing, and putting in the bowl.)

achmorrison, I flagged your post. A little insensitive and not at all helpful, don't you think?
posted by Specklet at 11:35 AM on June 24, 2005

Response by poster: so, assuming he doesn't spit it out and i'm not able to pop it out myself (i did try to grip it with my fingernails, but that didn't work and frankly, i was afraid of crushing him to death), what do i do? euthanize him? after how many days? my google searching has brought up a lot of "goldfish tend to suck up the gravel" but no "this is what you should do when they do" i mean, it's just a goldfish, but if this is going to be a horrible slow death, i'd rather put the creature out of his misery, but i also don't want to kill him if i don't have to.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:45 AM on June 24, 2005

Is there a good fish store near you? If so, call them and see what they suggest. There might even be someone there who would do the deed (get the stone out, that is) for you. Cheaper than a vet, and just might work. The blunt toothpick idea for getting it out sounds pretty good too.
Best of luck. Our pets seem so helpless when they do things like this, it's hard not to empathize.
posted by dbmcd at 11:53 AM on June 24, 2005

Best answer: I looked up "stuck gravel" on the goldfish forums on Aquaria Central, (may require a login) and the technique advised was as follows:

1. net (fine mesh)
2. wet towel
3. tweezers or hair pin
4. lots of patience, and
5. nerves of steel.

I'm not sure how long I'd let it go, but I wish you luck!
posted by ambrosia at 11:59 AM on June 24, 2005

Best answer: May I just add something, as one who worked as a commercial fisherman? Fish mouths heal well. Manually removing this after 12-24 hours is the thing to try. If some injury to the fish is incurred, don't kill the fish. Give him some Ick Guard and watch him for a couple of weeks. Fishing salt water, there were plenty of good healthy fish with mouth scarring.
posted by kc0dxh at 12:35 PM on June 24, 2005

Please let us know what happened, crush-onastick...
posted by ambrosia at 3:24 PM on June 24, 2005

Response by poster: well, i didn't really want to wait 12-24 hours, so i transfered (via fine mesh net) fish to small dish with about an inch of water in it. waited for fish to cough rock forward. firmly grasping fish above gills, but below the rock, i held him in my (thoroughly washed without soap) hands and poked at the rock with a blunted toothpick. he spit out the rock. i squirted the tank with stresscoat and put him back in. he seems fine.

however, in removing all the rest of the gravel, i seem to have broken the filter. so i have to run off to the pet store and replace that. but thanks! everyone (particularly ambrosia for finding instructions and kc0dxh for convincing me that just handling the fish wouldn't kill it).
posted by crush-onastick at 3:29 PM on June 24, 2005

Your goldfish swears his life allegiance to you, c-aos. In your time of need, you may rely on it to provide you service.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:21 PM on June 24, 2005

Response by poster: he had better be one damn loyal *magic* goldfish! he got a new tank with posh rocks and lush foliage out of the whole deal.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:59 AM on June 26, 2005

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