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Betta With Dropsy

Discussion in 'Tropical Fish Emergencies' started by Vikki-BettaLover, Oct 18, 2018.

  1. Vikki-BettaLover

    Vikki-BettaLover New Member

    Oct 18, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Hi, I'm new to this forum, and relatively new to keeping Bettas. This is my second Betta with dropsy, she's under 2 years, a little over 1, I'm not sure exactly how old she is. I just noticed it earlier today and immediately removed her from her tank, (Which incidentally was the same tank as the other fish who had dropsy.) I've added a teaspoon of Epsom salt and have ordered Kanaplex, which will arrive on Saturday.

    Then I noticed a small open wound right behind her left fin. I tried researching it, but I haven't gotten any answers. Would the Dropsy have caused that small open wound?


  2. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Perth, WA
    Hi and welcome to the forum :)

    can you post a picture of the fish?

    Has the tank got a filter on it?
    How often do you do water changes and how much water do you change?
    Do you gravel clean the substrate when you do a water change?
    Do you dechlorinate the water before adding it to the tank?
    How often do you feed the fish?

    The hole in the fin is probably caused by bacteria that normally affect old or weak fish or fish with some sort of health issue that is weakening their immune system. Tuberculosis is one possibility but there are other types of bacteria and protozoa that cause fish to bloat up and die.

    Whatever happens, make sure you wash your hands with warm soapy water after working in the tank or using the medication.

    If this fish dies then I would disinfect the tank to make sure there is nothing left in it to infect new fish.

    If you are going to treat with anti-biotics, you should try to do it in a bare tank/ container. If you don't have a spare tank then treat the tank he is in. Anti-biotics are normally treated each day for at least 1 week but no longer than 2 weeks. You should wipe the inside of the tank and do a complete (100%) water change and gravel clean before retreating each day.

    To work out the volume of water in the tank:
    measure length x width x height in cm.
    divide by 1000.
    = volume in litres.
    When you measure the height, measure from the top of the substrate to the top of the water level.

    There is a calculator/ converter in the "How To Tips" at the top of this page that will let you convert litres to gallons if you need it.

    Remove carbon from the filter before treating or it will absorb the medication and stop it working.

    Before you treat the tank, wipe the inside of the glass down, do a 75% water change and complete gravel clean. And clean the filter before treating. Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

    Increase surface turbulence/ aeration when using medications because they reduce the dissolved oxygen in the water.
  3. NickAu

    NickAu Member
    Tank of the Month Winner!

    Jan 14, 2015
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    Colin, how often have you encountered TB in fish? let me answer that question NONE, so stop with the possiable TB diagnosis.

    Epsom salt dip/bath should help.

    Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate, which you may know as a saline (salt) laxative or a remedy to reduce swelling for humans. It is easily found nearly anywhere, often in first aid aisles and even in gas stations! Please note that humans use Epsom as a means to relax when infused into bathwater, so sometimes it has dyes or is scented. Please only use unscented, undyed Epsom when medicating your fish!

    What's Epsom do?:
    Epsom has a bunch of uses. Not surprisingly, its uses in fish are very similar to its uses in humans. When used properly in fish, it can act as a laxative as well as a means to reduce swelling. If used correctly in fish that have swim bladder disorder (SBD), epsom can help them swim better and even be able to sink.

    What does this mean for my fish?:
    These qualities mean you can help a bloated or constipated fish expel backed up waste and feel good again, as well as reduce swelling that may be caused by disease or infection. The swelling Epsom can assist with includes: popeye, external wound infection swelling, and in some cases relieve pressure from dropsy.

    How much of this salt per gallon do I use?:
    For Epsom, you use 1 TABLEspoon (TBSP) per gallon of water. This is three TEAspoons (TSP).

    How long does the betta stay in this mixture?:
    In Epsom, the betta should stay in for 10-15 minutes, with 10 being less severe need and 15 being a more severe need. Never exceed this time!

    How long should my fish be left to acclimate before going back into its tank in this mixture?:
    Acclimate your fish (see below) for 2-5 minutes before going back to avoid shock.

    How to prepare (any) dip for your fish:

    Prepping for the dip is the same for either salt type. You will need:
    • a clean fish-only 1 gallon container
    • a smaller container
    • Water conditioner
    • a measuring spoon
    • thermometer
    • net
    • your undivided attention!
    • watch/timer/alarm
    • salt per your needs

    Here's what you need to do:
    1. Fill your gallon container very fully with clean, treated water. Make sure the water is the same temperature as the water the fish came from in its tank via the thermometer. This prevents temperature shock.
    2. Add the salt per recommendation and stir it until it is fully dissolved.
    3. Get a second container with 1/4 salted water like your 1 gallon tank, and the rest (3/4) with tank water (this is the "reviving station").
    4. Carefully get your fish from its home and gently put it into the water. You must make sure that the fish does not pass out! You can tell if a fish has conked out if it is no longer breathing (look at its gills, by the eyes) or if it lists to the side and becomes still. It may knock out due to the sudden change in salinity (saltiness) of the water, but can be revived.
    5. *If the fish passes out or becomes extremely stressed, remove it! Carefully but hastily put the fish into your reviving station to revive. Then, put it into its home again and try the dip another time.
    6. If the fish is not super stressed and does not pass out, be very attentive during the recommended time in the dip as the fish may jump due to discomfort or stress. Pay close attention to how long the fish has been in the dip and do not exceed the time!
    7. Once the fish is finished, put it into the reviving station to adjust back to more normal water parameters. Then, without pouring the salty water into your tank, put the fish back into its home to recover.
  4. Alliesten

    Alliesten Fish Fanatic

    May 26, 2017
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    Washington State
    I am wondering if I am reading this correctly.. you are recommending to do a 100% water change and redose antibiotics everyday?

    Most antibiotics recommend not doing water changes at all while using. It will state how much to change if it is needed.

    Just trying to understand your recommendations, also wondering why you would recommend that..

    Also Tuberculosis is very very rare. I wouldn’t even suggest that as a diagnosis.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Perth, WA
    Tuberculosis (TB) is commonly found in shops and importer's aquariums/ quarantine facilities all around the world.

    Between 2004-2006 I had fish dying and had them necropsied by a number of Vets (including 2 fish vets) and they all confirmed TB. I spent a couple of years researching and trying to find a way to cure the fish but ended up killing them all and scrapping the tanks. I had over 600 adult fish (worth in excess of $18000) that were used for breeding stock and supplied fish to various shops, so trying to find a cure was worth it.

    During my research I contacted most of the pet shops and importers in Australia and they all confirmed their tanks had TB or were suspected of having TB on at least one occasion during the last 2 years. Normally the contaminated tanks were just flushed out and the fish were destroyed. Some places destroyed the fish and disinfected the tanks and contents with chlorine.

    A number of the importers informed me that they had been told by their Asian suppliers, that certain fish had been shipped out of Asia and the fish were known to carry TB. There were apparently several fish farms in Asia that were knowingly sending out fish that were infected with TB.

    I spent time working with the vets that I contacted about this and they confirmed that pet shops and private fish keepers had brought in fish over the last few years that had been confirmed as having TB.

    I had contact with people in the US that did some research into this and they were informed by shops that TB was sometimes found in batches of fish that had come in.

    I also had contact with Fisheries WA and they confirmed several aquaculture facilities in Western Australia (including a government run facility) had TB in their systems and they were releasing diseased fish into the wild for recreational fishing.

    So Tuberculosis is very real and quite common and the original posting said that 2 fish had died from similar symptoms, 12 months apart. This fits a TB infection with the Mycobacterium being slow growing and taking a year or so to build up in sufficient numbers before it destroys an internal organ and subsequently kills the fish.

    Mycobacteria are a very old genus of bacteria that have a waxy coating surrounding their cells. This makes them extremely difficult to kill and the cells can survive in dry environments for years, and damp environments for even longer. One of the vets I worked with had done research into fish TB and found dormant but live Mycobacterium cells in a dry river bed under a rock. There had been no water in this river for 8 years and the TB cells were alive and became active and started dividing when put into a petri dish and cultured.

    So flushing a tank out does not guarantee getting rid of the Mycobacteria and if a new fish is introduced into that tank, it could easily pick up the TB cells and develop an infection that kills the fish between 6 months and 3 years after it is infected. Bigger fish survive longer because the Mycobacteria have to build up in numbers before they destroy an organ. And fish in cool water survive longer because the Mycobacteria don't grow as quickly in cool conditions.


    Most anti-biotics break down quickly in water and become useless after a short period of time. However, bacteria produce a slime/ biofilm that can protect them from anti-biotics and other medications. Cleaning the tank out each day and retreating at a full dose helps to ensure the anti-biotics work on the fish in the water and don't get wasted on other types of harmless bacteria that set up home in the tank after the anti-biotics have broken down.

    In addition to this if you use anti-biotics in a tank with a filter, the beneficial filter bacteria are killed along with the ones harming the fish and you end up with ammonia building up in the water. The ammonia poisons the fish and puts them under more stress.

    Anti-biotics and most other medications reduce the oxygen levels in the water. This combined with ammonia from the fish, dead filter bacteria and the dead microscopic organisms in the biofilm, stress hormones released by the fish because they are sick or being exposed to anti-biotics, all contribute to the water becoming pretty unsuitable for fish to live in. Changing all the water before retreating the tank will remove all the harmful chemicals and any residual anti-biotics leaving a clean tank ready for treating. There will be no chance of overdosing because there won't be any anti-biotics in the new water. The clean water and clean tank are beneficial to the fish's overall health and anti-biotics work best in a clean environment.
  6. Deanasue

    Deanasue Fish Addict
    Tank of the Month Winner!

    Oct 29, 2018
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    I would 1) Give Epsom saltbaths several times a day if your fish can handle it. Then treat with Kanaplex and Furan-2 as directed. The antibiotics begin breaking down after 24 hours so it is usually recommended to re-dose every 48 hours. Dropsy is usually fatal but sometimes, if caught early, you can save the fish. I have had 50/50 success rate with 2 fish suffering from dropsy. Good luck!

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