The Myth Behind Feeding Peas

The Myth Behind Feeding Peas

  • Author FinalFins
  • Creation date
Note- All of this information is my personal take on the subject of feeding peas to help cure bouyancy issues in fish.

I don't know why, but there are many myths surrounding the fact that peas are great for fish, and that they will cure swim bladder or constipation. Usually when one's fish has been diagnosed with an ailment such as SBD (swim bladder disorder) or constipation, the most common advice I see around forums is to feed a pea to the affected fish.

One is usually asked to boil a pea until it is soft, then deshell it and wiggle it around to try and coax a fish to gobble it up, and hope the ailment goes away.

First I'd like to address SBD. It is a common misunderstanding that Swim Bladder is a disease, but it is actually an organ. Buoyancy problems arise when a fish is essentially 'too full'. The stomach swells and compresses the swim bladder, causing problems in swimming. Now there are most likely more reasons behind buoyancy problems but the reason just stated is the most common.

This is why we starve fish and feed them laxatives, during these times, is to empty out their stomach and release the pressure put onto the fish's swim bladder.

Now peas are a common treatment to many fish with swim bladder problems, especially bettas. My best guess where this myth came from is on a goldfish forum, where a member suggested feeding a pea to a goldfish and it was assumed to work with any fish after that.

Now peas are a laxative themselves since most carnivorous fish lack the proper digestive aspects to fully digest peas, so they pass right through. But since peas are unrecognized [by the system] and not often eaten it is a bit harder to pass through the intestines, and often peas can worsen what you try to fix, since peas are very sugary, meaning gassy. When my dog ate peas, there would almost always be gas after that, and since dogs and [carnivourus] fish are similar regarding diet, it would be safe to assume the same would be true for fish. It can make fish gassy. Really peas should only be given to herbivorous fish, but only as a treat.

For carnivorous fish, there are much better options as laxatives. Daphnia and baby brine shrimp act the same, being a laxative, but are much healthier for fish that don't naturally eat green, sugary foods.

And if your fish won't take foods, and Epsom salt bath will help reduce constipation in fish :)

Thank you for reading,



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True. Who knows if peas really work or not? You explained it very clearly. Thank you for writing this
Great article and very true, the suggestion that bettas should be fed peas has always annoyed me too.
What would be really helpful is some link to resources etc. though. Are there any scientific sources on fish diets and what happens when you feed a fish a pea?
Because tbh I'm not even sure how a pea would be laxative in the first place, even when fed to a goldfish. I'd love to read some sources.
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