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What is Dropsy in fish?

Dropsy in the Betta fish – or in any other fish for that matter – is not really a disease in itself but a symptom of a specific bacterial infection. The main symptom of dropsy in fish is a swollen or bloated condition with the scales standing out like in pine cones. This is a serious infection and unless appropriate treatment is administered, the afflicted Betta may well die.

What causes Dropsy in Bettas and other fish?

The bacteria (mostly gram-negative) lodge themselves in the tissues of the fish body thus affecting the kidneys and causing the retention of fluid and water in the body. It is this fluid retention that causes the Betta to bloat. Another cause of bacterial infection and Dropsy is the condition of the water in your aquarium. It has the same effects on the kidney and subsequent swelling of the body.

Care & Treatment of Dropsy in Bettas & other fish

Dropsy is a very serious fish disease symptom and must be treated with urgency. This and other diseases that afflict fresh or saltwater fish in your aquarium can, if neglected, kill the other species in the tank too. You may end up having to completely replace your aquarium! Periodic health checks for Dropsy as well as other serious fish diseases will always help in keeping your pets healthy and swimming for years of pleasure!

It is imperative to consult a fish disease expert to find the cause and to obtain the appropriate treatment for Dropsy in your Betta. On a lighter note, do not search for Fish Doctor on the internet as you may end up with information about “Doctor Fish”, (the fish species) instead.

The steps given below will help you in dealing with a case of Dropsy in your fish tank:

  1. Immediately change at least a quarter of the water in the aquarium. The water must be treated as mentioned in the step that follows and this water must not be re-used anywhere later on.
  2. Place the diseased fish into a quarantine tank. You need to treat the rest of the ‘unaffected’ fish too – just in case.
  3. Administer a prescribed antibiotic to arrest growth of the infection. Suitable medicines are Maracyn, Kanacyn, Neomycin, or tetracycline drugs and anti fungicides for treating the tank water etc.
  4. A medicated bath must be given to the fish at least two times a day with methylene blue, salt, Epsom salt, and electrolyte balancing salts to ensure removal of fluids from the fish and to keep electrolytes in balance. The proportion of medicines in this bath is clearly mentioned on the labels and one can still confirm the procedure either with the pet shop or the vast library base on the Internet.

In conclusion, react at the very first signs of Dropsy in your Betta. Proper care and treatment of the infection will revive your Betta and other affected fish, allowing you to restore your aquarium to its original state. If you have just started keeping Betta fish it would be advisable to study their traits and health precautions so that you immediately recognize signs of upsets when these occur.

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