by Dr. Barb
DESCRIPTION: A condition in which the internal organs, specifically the kidneys, fail, leading to fluid accumulation within the body.
CAUSE: Unknown. May be bacterial in origin from Aeromonas or Mycobacterium, viral, water quality problems (e.g. elevated ammonia or nitrites and unstable pH), nutritional deficiencies, abdominal tumors or related to parasites, as from Costia, as implicated in goldfish.
SIGNS: Markedly swollen abdomen, scales sticking out and away from the body giving it the appearance of a “pinecone”, pop-eye and/or rapid gill breathing. To look for the scales sticking out in the early stages of this condition, look at the fish from the top down...
Or, view the fish from the side, looking for a "saw-toothed" appearance along the back...
SYMPTOMS: Poor to no appetite and sluggish behavior.
PROGNOSIS: Very poor. Most cases are fatal.
TREATMENT: Most cases of dropsy in tropical fish are diagnosed when it is too far advanced for any treatment to be effective, so euthanasia should be performed. If dropsy is caught very early, then it may respond to the following treatment. Goldfish tend to respond more than any other type of fish.
1. Test your water parameters (pH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates) and correct any abnormalities.
2. Romet B or Medi-Gold (antibiotic foods)* for two weeks (one that covers gram negative bacteria).
3. Maintaining the water at 84-86ºF (29-30ºC) for two weeks. Be sure to provide extra aeration/oxygenation when treating at these high temperatures because warmer water holds less oxygen. This can be done by adding an airstone.
4. Abdominal swelling might be lessened by adding Epsom salt at the rate of 1/8 teaspoon per every 5 gallons of water, as it will draw fluid out of your fish. Never use aquarium or other types of salt, as these may pull even more fluid inside of your fish, worsening the dropsy.
5. Always remove your fish with dropsy from the main tank and treat in a hospital tank.
6. Consider treating with RidIch+ or Maracide for external parasites, especially with goldfish.
*Use kanamycin (KanaPlex) or minocycline (Maracyn-Two) as a bath, if unable to find medicated food, for 10-14 days.
*The best antibiotic to use for prolonged immersion, which can only be obtained from your Vet, is tauted to be Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanic acid) 500 mg tablet crushed per every 10 gallons water after a 25% water change has been performed, daily for 10-14 days, though I have been disappointed with its’ results in tropical fish.
Feeding antibiotic food is the best course to follow. Once a tropical fish with dropsy has stopped eating, in my experience, it uniformly dies. The goldfish community has had a different and much more encouraging experience with successfully treating dropsy than the those with tropical fish.
Please post for help in the Flippers 'n' Fins' Emergency Room if needed.
Author: Dr. Barb