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HELP! Betta has dropsy!

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Jessica Hoffart

New Member
Nov 7, 2018
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Hi, my beta fish has been looking strange for about a week, and I just did some Google searching and realized she has dropsy. She has the whole pinecone effect going on and is overweight looking and losing color. I need to know what to do to keep her from dying. Please help!
Hi there. I'm so sorry your fish got dropsy.

First, Dropsy is incredibly difficult to treat, and most opt for euthanization at the sight of it. I've only successfully treated Dropsy once, and that was when the pinceconing was only behind the gills, but the fish was so swollen she had a lower grade pop-eye on one side. By the end of treatment, only 3/4 of the scales had pinceconed. They will continue to pinecone for the first few days of treatment, and since it moves so fast, most don't make it. I'm very sorry about your fish.

If you want to try to treat it, the best way to treat it is to get Kanaplex and some unscented epsom salts.

The epsom salts buy time, the kanaplex will take care of any bacterial problems in the kidney, as Dropsy is kidney failure.

Epsom salt draws out fluid buildup, and can help slow or even reduce the swelling. In my experience, it just slowed down the swelling and gave the kanaplex time to work. Kanaplex is a 6 day treatment, dosing every other day, so three dosing days, and my fish didn't show improvement until 3 days after the treatement ended. Also, I recommend doing different than the package dose. Day 1, do a full dose. Day 2, do a 50% water change and do a 1/2 dose. Day 3, full dose. Day 4, 50% water change and 1/2 dose. Day 5, full dose. Day six, 50% water change and 1/2 dose. Day seven, leave it be.

So, you'll want to add 1tbsp per 5 gallons of epsom salt to the main tank. Dissolve the salt before adding it, and add it slowly. It does not increase salinity, but will increase TDS and gH rather quickly, which can shock some fish. Yours should be fine though. You will want to do 2-3 (3 is better) epsom salt baths each day.

For the baths, dissolve 1tbsp of epsom salt in one gallon of water. Move your fish in for 10-15 minutes. If your fish shows signs of severe discomfort (rolling on side and unable to right itself, sitting on the bottom and unable to get up, or defecating) remove your fish immediately.

Kanaplex is the key here. There are a couple of different types of Dropsy; bacterial, fungal, parasitic, and organ failure. Bacterial is most common, and that is what kanaplex will treat. Fungal and parasitic are difficult to treat and diagnose, and I'm not sure how to treat them. If it's organ failure, the only reported treatment has been epsom salt, as it reduces fluids and therefore pressure on the kidneys, giving them a chance to heal.

Best of luck.
Hi and welcome to the forum :)

Dropsy is a common name for abdominal bloating normally caused by bacteria growing inside the fish's internal organs or body cavity. It can affect any or all of the fish's internal organs and is not easy to treat, and most fish showing the symptoms die. Quite often it is cheaper to replace the fish rather than try treating it and losing the fish anyway.

If you want to try treating it then anti-biotics (kanaplex) as mentioned above can be used, but treat the fish in a plastic storage container because the anti-biotics will wipe out the filter bacteria too.

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.

If you treat the fish in the tank, then 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.
Rtessy is right on with prognosis and treatment. Kanaplex or even Kanaplex and Furan-2 together is worth a try but prognosis is very poor for survival. I wish you the best of luck and hope things improve.

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