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Easily Constipated Fish


fredct

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I don't consider this an emergency, but I'd definitely like to see i there's a diagnosis or something associated with this.

So for anyone who doesn't know the background, we recently move Fishie from a 5 gallon tank to a 20 gallon one. His nitrates in the old tank were *very* high, and after eating he would often get tipsy and sleep on his side. He was in the small tank for many years, so he's a common goldfish, about 10 years old and 5-6 inches long. His conditions now are much better and so has he been.

Tank params:

pH: ~7.4

amm/nit/nat: 0, 0, 5-10

alk: 80-100

GH: 120-150

There's one Whisper 10 and one Whisper 20 filters in the tank. I don't know the official stats on the old filter than he had in the old tank, but I believe the total is around 200 gph.

We do weekly 5 gallon water changes in his 20 gallon tank. We include some NovAqua+ and AmQuel+.

So... I have still noticed though that he has a continued tendancy to get somewhat of a distended side after eating. Pretty sure its always his right side. Its nowhere near as bad as the example photo that Koko has under 'constipation', but its noticable if you look.

I've gotten him into the habit of feeding him a pea an hour or so after each meal to help 'clean him out' for the night. Last night was one of the rare times that I did not do that, and he was pretty tipsy as his bedtime started approaching. I ended up turning his light back on and gave him a pea, and an hour or so thereafter he seemed better (could have been a coincidence).

But it seems to me this is a recurring thing for him. Is there anything we can do about trying to help his digestion? Or is feeding him a pea after every meal already a good approach?

I try to vary his diet between flakes, 'slowly sinking' pellets, sinking granuals, crisps, seaweed, peas, and, occassonally, a treat of dried shrimp. We pre-soak the food. He's a big & fast eater (a little piggy, who always begs for more!), so he usually gets what he can eat in somewhat a minute or a bit less, usually in two portions (~20-30 seconds of feeding each) where he just gulps down everything in sight :) .

A couple more notes:

1) I haven't noticed him pooping lately. I just don't know if I havent seen it since we work all day. I feel like that's the case since it has to go somewhere, right? :) Is this a symptom or something or does it mean anything? Could it mean underfeeding? Or something else? I've feed him less than we used to - since his side gets bulky, I try not to give him too much.

2) Not sure if this is at all related, but he's a little bit jumpy today - jumping maybe once every 5 or 10 minutes. I checked his water params an they were fine - same as always. Today was the day for his weekly ~25% water change anyway, so I did that, and the params are still normal, yet he does persist with occassional jumps - some small, some modest. Again, water parameters are as above, which is right where they always are. I do not see anything physical wrong with him, or any visible markings/parasites/etc (note to the note: he hasn't jumped since I started writing this post, so thats probably over 10 minutes).

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Updates:

1) The jumpiness has gone as quickly and inexplicably as it came (knock on wood). I haven't seen any since I posted. Sometimes it feels like I just need to distract him for a bit. I gave him some sinking granuals and he spent a good 10-20 minutes mostly at the bottom looking through the rocks for pieces he missed. After that its just like he forgot all about it.

2) I've definitely seen poo a few times tonight (yay! heh). Dunno if something changed or we're just paying closer attention. Generally food colored (definitely not white). No bulge tonight either, but that still is a recurring problem overall.

We're going to be away for ~48 hours in the next few days. I'm thinking I'll feed him a decent amount right before we leave, then it'll only be a 24-30 hours of fasting beyond a normal schedule. I know some people fast for a day regularly, so it seems like that should be okay? Maybe it'll cleam him out?

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I am in the same boat you are. My fantail is a floaty fish and he would float after every meal. I first started on sinking flakes and he floated. Then I went to sinking pellets; he eventually floated on those. After that, I soaked the pellets and he floated. The only foods he didn't float on were veggis.

I decided to try gel food for him and so far, he has been great on that. I still have to watch how much I feed him on his evening meal as that is when he became floaty. However, the gel food works much better. I take it out of the freezer and let it thaw for just a bit. When I put it in the tank, it is still partially frozen, but thaws in the tank. Jaws has to take his time eating it as he can't gulp it down like he did the pellets and such, so he doesn't float.

Your fish would be fine not eating for that amount of time while you are away. I believe it would be beneficial for him. I try to fast my fish one day a week.

Another thing I would try is to give him a different feeding schedule. With my fish, there are days when I feed twice, days when I only feed once, and a fasting day. There are also days where they may only get veggis and fruit. I try to mix it up each week and feed them different foods. That may help.

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Just wanted to say thanks Nickie! Its good to know that some fish have issues like that and its not neccessarily a sign of something worse more seriously wrong.

I fed him seaweed yesterday and that didn't seem to have any ill effects - so you may be right that veggies seem to be easiest on him. At 10 years old, I suppose he's allowed to have some middle-age-type issues :) . A little floaty is okay so long as it doesn't get to the point of tipsy - which it does sometimes. I'll try to track whats easiest on him.

I've read about gel food, but we haven't made any yet - maybe its time to consider trying it :)

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The gel food I use right now is from Mazuri.com It is already made up and all you have to do is add hot water and let it set up. Very easy and my fish love it. I got the kind with the krill mixed in with veggis and sprulina. You may want to try that. :)

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Hey guys,

Just bumping this thread a bit, mostly for the point of posting a link, but I'll get to that in a second. Fishie has mostly been okay, but he does get a little floaty after eating, and, on the occassional night, gets somewhat tipsy too. Last night was actually pretty bad, and all I fed him was some "seaweed salad" (really mostly algae). He was a bit better by the time we went to bed, and, of course, better this morning. Earlier this week, I'd bought some incredients to make a basic gel food (gelatine and pea & carrot baby food, figuring I'll add some ground in flakes or something too), but haven't made it yet.

Then, Just now, I stumbled upon the following page, which, in a nut shell, says that gold fish naturally eat a diet that is a vast majority vegetarian, and that the high levels of protein found in flakes, crisps, pellet, etc is not really natural nor good for them, causing high levels of fatty accumulation, poor digestion, constipation, and loss of balance.

http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshmalnut.htm

I'm wondering what you guys think of this article. How does it square with what you know? Do you have any disagreements with it? As I don't intend to plant the tank, this would recommend feeding a diet of primarily things like peas, lettuce, carrots, spinach, etc.

I did notice that the two foods that seem least likely to cause tipsiness are the lowest in protein (the 'seaweed salad' is 31% and the sinking granuals are 30%, all others are high 30s to mid-40s). I realize that's anecdotal, and only one sample at that, which is why I wanted to post this for comment.

Would it be worth switching to a mostly vegetarian diet, with some gel food, and an occassional treat of traditional food? Are there any issues with it? What about other forms of nutrition like vitamins? Would there be any significant things that may be missing? Is there such a thing as too little protein? etc.

Thanks,

Fred

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This is an interesting thread, Fred, and I'm sure it will be helpful to other people with floaty fish.

In a more natural setting (pond, lake etc) fish will have access to protein-foods, in the way of larvae and insects, but they will be less in proportion to the more constant diet of algae and plants available. So keeping this in mind when constructing their food pyramid is a good idea.

I like the idea of providing growing aquarium plants for them to eat but with one proviso; plants if unquarantined can bring in parasites, so it would be important to either QT them before introducing them to the tank OR grow them in a separate tank so that you can provide a constant supply once the GF have stripped the existing stems. Or, as you say, if you can't be bothered with live plants a mostly vegetarian diet would be best. I seem to remember an interesting post by Trinket on the merits of zucchini which seems to have many essential vitamins.

As far as your fish goes the upcoming trip away might be a good opportunity to fast him. Before you leave, you could try hiding a single epsom crystal inside a pea and feeding him that - this will provide a very good laxative treatment and a day or two without food will not harm him.

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Thanks Pixie. Just an FYI, this is an old thread I bumped, so the time away already occurred over Christmas. I gave him a decent size meal before we left but then he didn't eat for a bit over 50 hours (other than whatever algae he found on the rocks :) ). It didn't harm him, and may have helped clear him out some, but the problem has continued to occur.

Gel food and a more vegetarian diet (and me better learning to resist his adorable pleas for more food! :) ) are my main approaches we'll try. If anyone else wants to chime in on any downfalls/notes on a high veggie diet - i.e. what is a good/bad mix of veggies, what might be missing in veggies, what may be too many veggies/too little protein, etc. - I'm very interested in hearing from experiences and the collective knowledge of you all :)

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I made a basic gel food today (I think I made about 3 years worth! :) ), just with pea and carrot baby food, gelatine, and I finely ground up some flakes (just a bit) to scatter some trace extra nutrients throughout the mixture. I gave him a few small pieces, which he definitely enjoyed. That was a bit over an hour ago. He looks a little floaty, but he's been floaty all day (I have him a pea or two at about 1 pm today too), but I don't think he's tipsy. So, so far, peas and veggie gel has avoided any tipsyness, but not stopped floatyness. It seems successful thus far - not a miracle, but not problematic either.

And, still, if anyone has thoughts on potential pitfalls of a mostly vegetable diet, and how to avoid them (such as what types of vegetables must be included to get the appropriate vitamins and what may be missing from all veggies, etc), I'd be very interested to know.

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Fred, It's great you made the gel food and your fish is enjoying a more vegetarian diet. It's true-some fish do not do well with processed foods just like too many processed foods can give humans skin/stomach problems and so on. I would suggest to get the protein he needs you supplement the veggy food with some shrimp or krill, either added to the food or as a twice weekly treat. I buy the frozen cubes of brine shrimp, wriggle the cube in a cup of clean treated water until half a dozen or so are thawed off, put them in and refreeze the cube. Lasts ages. You can also offer occasional soft cooked grains of rice if you feel he needs fattening up. My fish love their carbs :rolleyes:

I'm just wondering about the swollen area on his side :unsure: and if that could also be connected to the floatiness. Do you think he/she could be female? If so, sometimes females will get 'impacted' and it can make them a little tipsy and apt to hover at the surface.

The other one is high nitrates. I have one of these fish, nitrates over 40 will have him tilt to the side...

Then, there's gas in the intestinal tract- what you are thinking- if you see poop with lots of bubbles that might be it. As well as feeding veggies/fasting/ another way to treat gas can be a very large meal to push out the gas or to feed a food that contains the lacto bacteria that compete with the gassy bacteria for the food. The lactobacillus bacteria (in goldfish probiotic food or sold in health shops) are like those in yoghurt, promote intestinal health & healing.

Keep an eye on the swelling, if its gas it will go. If not, it may be egg impaction, an internal cyst or something that needs treatment.

Hopefully the new diet is going to work given time.

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Thanks so much, Trinket. That advice is invaluable. I wasn't planning on going 100% veggie, so I'm glad to know that supplementing the veggies with a protein food a couple times per week or so should be sufficient.

The other one is high nitrates. I have one of these fish, nitrates over 40 will have him tilt to the side...

You may not recall me specifically, but you helped us move this fish out of a 5 gallon tank that was very high in nitrates to his new 20 gallon home. At that time, he was getting quite quite tipsy The nitrates typically now vary between 5 and 10 ppm.

I'm just wondering about the swollen area on his side :unsure: and if that could also be connected to the floatiness. Do you think he/she could be female? If so, sometimes females will get 'impacted' and it can make them a little tipsy and apt to hover at the surface.

Yes, he could certainly be female, we have no real way of knowing. I also do believe the swollen area is related to the floatiness/tipsyness, it appears to grow larger after feeding, and when he/she's the most swollen is when he has the most problems with tipsiness. I guess it could be overinterpreting, but its always appears that way to me.

Would this still be the case if its egg impaction? i.e. would feeding exacerbate it? Or did you mean something else by impaction (i.e. not 'egg')? What is to be done about egg impaction? Anything?

You also said 'if its gas, it will go'. Well this has been an on and off for a good month or more, although we do have a new diet now.

Finally, a word on poop (heh). Maybe once I noticed a bubble in it, but not on a regular basis. Occassionally it's white, but not usually. Sometimes, for a day or two at a time, I don't notice any at all, but I don't know if I'm just missing it. When I do notice it, it usually somewhat darker than food colored and seems generally healthy. So I'm having trouble diagnosing anything via that. Anything thats labeled as 'unhealthy' i've probably seen once or twice, but not regularly.

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Very tipsy yesterday evening unfortunately, after a few good days. Fine again by this morning. I think I'll fast for a day, as I haven't done that since Christmas.

Trinket - or others - if you could respond to just one thing. This is definitely feeding-related... i.e. only happens after eating. That is, both the swelling and then the tipsyness (if the swell is bad enough). Not after every feeding, but never otherwise. Is there any chance that feeding could exacerbate something else like egg impaction? Or is that pretty conclusive evidence that its dietary/digestion related?

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Yes food can affect a fish impacted because the eggs are taking up a lot of space in there and the intestinal tract may narrow as a result. An internal cyst will do the same.

Its good the poop is normal looking most of the time. Very good.

Why not try adding epsom salt to the water. Some people believe magnesium sulfate (used in laxatives) will draw out extra fluids from the fish. You don't need much. One full teaspoon for the whole tank should do it. Others will put one epsom grain inside a pea and feed that for a similar effect.

Just out of curiosity was the fish fed flake food for many years?

And Fred, I remember you and your fish very well from the original tipsy thread :)

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Thanks Trinket. Just to be clear, the epsom or magnesium sulfate would be treatment for digestive issues, right? The other things don't really have treatments?

Just out of curiosity was the fish fed flake food for many years?

Yes, dry floating flakes, crisps, and sun dried shrimp for 10 years. Since it seemed to work just fine, they never had any reason to change, until we began running into problems back at my initial thread.

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The other things have treatments too. You can very,very gently stroke the fishes belly and sometimes the eggs will be released but its

not a surefire thing..for a cyst there are medications.

How often are you feeding and how often is she "going"? How is her appetite? Is she swimming around at all? More info, anything we can grasp clues from always helps narrow the field.

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Fishie's appetite and behavior are fine. Regularly scrounging through the rocks, swimming around... glady coming over to you when you're near the glass (unless he's too busy in the rocks :) ) - nothing unusual. When he/she's tipsy (I'm gonna use 'he' from now again, but, again, its unknown), he seems to be a bit annoyed and eventually gives up and just rests on his side, but does still swim around the tank actively between rests.

I usually feed daily in the evenings after work, sometimes I would put in a few flakes (or something) in the morning before work too, or give two modest meals on the weekend (sometimes).

As far as fequency of 'going', I dont know. I know I dont see most of it because I'm at work, but it usually doesn't 'hang around' for long (no pun intended :) ). I know I only notice it ever couple days, but I believe its more common than that.

One thing we've noticed is the food doesn't 'pass right through' as many sites say it will, although my girlfriend is quite sure thats not new. When I do see poo it'll often be the next morning, or in the evening if I gave a decent size noon-ish meal on a weekend.

Thanks for the time and help with the diagnosis, Trinket!

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Well I don't think it passes through immediately. The time frame you give sounds like my fish..between 5 -12 hours after eating if its one feed a day. More fequent meals will push it all through faster :blink:

The way he behaves reminds me very much of HP (my nitrate sensitive fish)- swimming is fine and it is only when stopped still that he has balance idiosyncracies. The way I worked this out was that high nitrates in the past had damaged permanently the efficiency of some of the blood capillaries that transfer air into the airsacs. The 2 airsacs (controlling balance) are located in the abdomen and rely on the network of bloodvessels surrounding them to transport and adjust the flow of air to maintain correct balance. Imagine a long balloon twisted in the middle to make two lobes with a mass of controlling vessels all around pumping and monitoring air supply.

I would continue with the veggie focused gel food diet. With supplement feeds of shrimp and frozen food but cut back on all processed (pellet/flake) type foods for a while to see if that works.

Keep a close eye on the swelling to see if it gets larger or you see any reddening or discoloration of the skin/in his fins.

Egg impaction is usually on one side only. Warmer water can help a fish release eggs if it was that. Could still be gas retention related bouyancy probs or the nitrate theory though... :)

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Thanks Trinket. I did indeed read your response a couple days ago and have been watching closely. The good news is that since we fasted for a day on Monday, things have been fine. And it hasn't all been veggies, as my girlfriend has fed some flakes before I got home from work. It seems like some weekly or bi-weekly fasting day may be another thing to consider.

With the combination of high nitrates and stunted growth from too small of a tank, I certainly wouldn't be surprised if it caused some problems, and your theory on the 'balloon' is very possible. So I'm trying to figure out, from your experience, and my trial and error, what I can do to try to minimize the effects. And I greatly appreciate it.

I would continue with the veggie focused gel food diet. With supplement feeds of shrimp and frozen food but cut back on all processed (pellet/flake) type foods for a while to see if that works.

I picked up a 'emerald entree' 'omnivore' frozen food recently, which is mostly frozen shrimp, krill, etc but also has lettuce, spinach, cabbage, etc in it. I also bought some cucumber yesterday, so I'm beginning to develop more non-processed options.

I'll definitely keep a close eye and let you know if anything new develops.

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I have noticed several similarities between our fish. One is that Jaws always got floaty and bloated after eating. He would immediately go to the top after eating and suck air and his tummy would be bloated all around; not just on one side like your fish. Jaws can't eat any kind of flakes at all, even when they were soaked.

I started feeding Jaws a diet mainly of veggis and he gets gel food with krill in it a few times a week. I also started feeding him different foods everyday and at different times every day. He still gets his pellets, but not as often as he did. I also fast them one day a week, unless they are on medicated food (which they are now).

I found that after I changed up his diet and started feedings at different times everyday and fasting one day a week, Jaws never gets bloated that much now. It is basically trial and error to find out what works. However, I would keep an eye on that bulge on one side to make sure it is not something more serious. Hang in there! You will eventually get it figured out!

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I just thought I'd chime in with an update. Thanks for all your helpful words. Fishie has been doing pretty well since we fasted him for a day nearly 2 weeks ago. Occassionally floaty, but hasn't been at all tipsy in a long time. We've varied his diet much more - plenty of peas, the omnivore frozen food, romaine lettuce, and he even enjoyed some orange pieces. He still gets something like flakes, crisps, or granuals regularly, but they are no longer the core of his diet. Unfortunately, he had a bad experience or two being unable to chew the gel food (he's a wussy chewer I think :) ), and since then he hasn't been so fond of it.

As I said, he can still get floaty after eating, but it hasn't been to the point of tipsiness, so it doesn't interfere with his life and activities. I am keeping an eye out and prepared to fast him again if necessary, but luckily it hasn't been needed. I've also been trying to feed him less overall.

Its hard to say for sure if it was the fasting, because just at the same time I did that, it was also unusually warm here in the northeast and his tank got up to 74 to 75, while its usually 70 to 72. I know Trinket said warmth can help with egg impaction, so I have no idea if that was related or not, but whatever the details its a definite improvement.

But anyway, thanks so much Trinket, and Nickie. I think this will always be something we have to be careful about, but its been a while since its been a major issue.

Nickie, sounds like Jaws and Fishie and somewhat kindred spirits, dietwise. I hope he's been doing better with his fin issues!

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Uh oh... I was thinking about moving this to emergency, but I think I'll keep it here for now.

On Friday night I gave Fishie some dried shrimp, a treat he hasn't had in quite a while. That could be totally unrelated, but I had to mention it. Afterwards, he was a bit extra floaty, and his side was bulky, so I didn't feed him anything again until Saturday evening, but then, on Sat evening, we gave him some veggies including peas. An hour later he was tipsy, like he hadn't been in over 2 weeks, and his side was bulky again.

Alright, I decided, we'll fast him on Sunday. And we did so, he hasn't eaten since Saturday night, except whatever algae he gets off the rocks, of course. He's gone from 'floaty' to 'sinky', which happens when he doesn't eat for a while. *Except*, the big problem I see is, the swelling in his one side hasn't really gone down this time. Its still distinctly bulky.

The other problem is, his behavior seems a bit off. He's been pretty quiet. Whenever he gets 'sinky', he decides that he prefers to be at the top, and therefore when he sinks, he'll kinda get upset, and force himself back to the top, kinda 'treading' water at the top for a long time. Eventually though, yesterday evening, he kinda gave up and has been willing to lay on the bottom. When does 'resting' become 'bottom sitting' and a problem though?

All of which I could write off as fairly normal-fasting behavior, except:

1) he's still bulky on one side

and

2) this morning when I got up, he was playing in the rocks. Good, I thought, that looks normal. But then, a few minutes later, there was a 10-20 second period where he had the oddest behavior. He swam in a verticle circle a few times (meaning, like a ferris wheel shape, being upside down at the bottom of the circle), and then swam around twisting every which was, including upside down... as if he'd totally lost his sense of direction. I saw him swim normally after that, but it really freaked me out.

I plan on doing a modest water change again when I get home - a couple gallons - just in case, and starting him up on a few days of peas. But something still seems off. Any ideas?

Nervously,

Fred

Edit: Oh, tank params as of yesterday after the water change were pretty normal: amm/nitrite/nitrate = 0/0/5. pH = ~7.8. KH/GH = 5 dH/11 dH.

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Mmmmmmmmm. He doesn't seem quite right does he fred. I am beginning to wonder if now might not be the time to try him on some antibiotic food. I'm a bit worried about the lump on his side not going down and don't want us to be focusing on food issues when he actually has a raging infection in his GI tract. Is there anyway you could order some Medigold from Goldfish Connection? It's the very best internal medication there is in my opinion and if he is eating readily it may be the very thing. I suspect there may be some inflammation in there and Medigold contains an anti inflammatory ingredient as well as a few antibiotics that treat a wide range of common problems.

Once bottom sitting starts getting more frequent, especially when it was preceded with strange swimming and gasping, its fairly safe to assume there is more going on here than constipation or egg impaction.

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Well, he's seemed perfectly right for the last two weeks. Bulging was minor to none, and behavior was perfect. This was pretty sudden. Its not going down in the last day or two, but it was indeed gone for weeks - just want to make sure I'm clear on that. I do feel that if you think its worth trying some medication, then I certainly will. I would probably be the type to try it sooner rather than later if it wasn't for the Koko's credo of not doing there. There's nowhere I can get Medigold locally is there? So I could begin sooner?

Thanks,

Fred

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I ordered some Medigold with fast shipping. It should be here Wednesday at the latest. I'm hoping tomorrow even, but probably not.

My questions are, would feeding him a pea or two tonight and probably Tuesday be the way to go until then?

And, during medigold, should it be the exclusive food for 14+ days? Or is throwing in a few veggies/peas a good idea?

Edit: okay, now my questions are just flooding...

P.S. Or should I look for some other medicated food/medicine for the next day or two before we get the Medigold?

P.P.S. Is there anything I need to do with medicated food (or medicine) such as take the carbon out of the filters? Any additives that are not compatible? Anything else to watch out for?

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Email from my girlfriend:

"I went to visit him during lunch and he couldn't get off of the bottom. He was only able to rock his body back and forth a bit. He moved a few times when I wasn't looking, though. Do you think he's hungry or sick?"

My reply:

"I wonder if he couldn't or didn't want to. Either way, it sounds like he's sick... one day without food shouldn't make him *that* hungry. I'm still trying to get an answer on if there's anything we should do before we get the Medigold."

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