My two parrotfish has been with me for two years. One of them, a male, is about a foot long. The other one, a female, is only half of the male’s size. During the first few months, the male would always bully the smaller one. He would push the poor fish until she would stay at the corner of the tank. We were so worried that the female would get killed so we installed a glass partition to separate the two. Oddly, the male would refuse to eat and would seem to be suffering from separation anxiety when we put the partition between them. As months passed by, the two of them seemed to be getting along well. They became so close that the glass partition was no longer needed.



My sister would always complain about our tank looking like the ones in Chinese restaurants. In most Chinese restaurants that I’ve seen, live fish (which are included in the menu) are kept in bare tanks. The waiter would scoop a fish out of the tank when someone ordered a fish dish. Ours looked exactly like that, and my sister didn’t like how it made our fish look like food. So we bought some nice decorations and pebbles to make our aquarium more aesthetically appealing.


Something Was Not Right

One morning, I checked the fishes before I went to work as I did every single day. The male was okay. He had a pretty dark orange colour. However, the female was as white as a ghost. She stayed on one spot, and her mouth was moving strangely. She ignored the food that fell directly in front of her. Then, she jiggled her head from left to right. I immediately suspected that she had swallowed a pebble. I had seen my other fish swallowed a pebble and would spit it out seconds later. I decided to leave things as they were and observe her for a few more days.

She Still Wouldn't Eat

I tried to feed my fish some green peas, but she ignored me completely. She didn’t swim toward me when I passed by the tank. I started to worry.


I Googled my fish’s situation. I found out that fish would die from starvation after swallowing a pebble. A helpful fish owner wrote about taking a pebble out of his/her fish using plastic tweezers. I went back to my sick fish and examined her more closely. When she was facing me, I faintly saw a white object inside her slightly opened mouth. I called my sister and my dad to confirm my suspicion. We decided to perform “the treatment” I had read in the internet.

The Treatment






Things that you will need:

  1. Clean bucket or tray
  2. Clean tweezers or paperclip
  3. Net
  4. Flashlight
  5. Lots of Courage
We took a small clean bucket and poured in some water from the tank. Carefully, my dad took the poor fish with a net and put her into the bucket. Dad scooped her with the net again and held her firmly. He positioned her body upright, her mouth facing us while my sister and I shone lights in her opened mouth. Dad took a blunt pair of metal tweezers and gently inserted it deep into her mouth. The tweezers opened her mouth wider, and I heard a slight cracking sound similar to the sound of bones breaking. I wasn’t sure if it was the sound of tweezers hitting the pebble or her bones. I panicked a bit. My dad asked if parrotfish had tongues, because he was worried that there wasn’t a pebble and he could be pulling her tongue (or organs). I was scared for my fish. I looked at her and she dreadfully looked back at me. Dad put her back into the water and repeated the process. I was getting worried as he was telling us that it was probably not a pebble because it was perfectly white and shiny. After several attempts, he scooped the fish one more time, turned her face towards the bucket and started shaking her up and down. Finally, the pebble started to slip outward until dad could see it. He tweezed a flat shiny pristine pebble out of her mouth! We clapped our hands as we were overjoyed by his success.

After the Fish's Ordeal

We let the fish stay in the bucket while we removed all the pebbles from the tank. My sister didn’t care anymore about our tank looking like the ones in restaurants. We didn’t want any of our fish to accidentally swallow a pebble again. We put our fish back into her tank and she was swimming happily! Her colour came back, and she was her old self again. 
© Rainy Kua 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Parrot Fish Transporting Gravel