Dropsy is a medical condition that causes the belly of a fish to swell. This is not a disease in itself, but rather a condition of another type of illness. The swollen underside is caused by a build-up of fluids in the tissue and body cavity of the fish. Typically, dropsy will not appear until the fish has been infected for quite some time, so immediate treatment is required.
Fish are most prone to illnesses that cause dropsy when they have a lowered immune system. This can be caused by poor water quality in the tank, overcrowding, or a sudden change in the temperature or chemical balance of the water inside the tank.
Dangers to Your Fish
The swelling of the belly of the fish is not only extremely painful and uncomfortable for the fish, but is can also be fatal if not taken care of properly. As the fluid builds-up, it can start to damage the internal organs of the fish and they will slowly start to shut down. Since, it is nearly impossible to determine exactly what disease may have caused dropsy, there is a risk that it could affect the other fish in your tank. This may require you to quarantine the infected fish for several months.
Symptoms of Dropsy
Dropsy is easily detected by the swelling of the belly of the fish. This may also cause its eyes to bulge, its scales to stand out, and it may have a red and/or swollen anus. You may also notice the gills of the fish are paler than normal. As time progresses, your fish will become very lethargic and spend a lot of time on either the bottom or the top of the tank, but less time swimming. You may also notice that your fish stops eating or eats very little.
If one or more of your fish are showing signs of dropsy, it is vital that you quarantine these fish in a separate tank. This will help to prevent the spread of the disease causing dropsy. You should start by giving the affected fish a salt bath, by adding one teaspoon of salt for every gallon of water. You can also give your fish antibiotics or antibiotic fish food for about seven to ten days to help treat the infection. Maracyn Two is also a good treatment because your fish will absorb it through their skin. You should not return your fish to their regular container until all signs of dropsy are gone.
Dropsy is often a condition that occurs in the late stages of certain diseases and bacterial infections. This makes immediate attention necessary if there is any hope to save the fish. There are several preventative measures you can take to prevent the onset of dropsy, including keeping the tank clean, regularly checking all chemical and water levels, and not overcrowding your tank with too many fish. You also want to constantly observe the heath of your fish and treat any potential illness, injury, or disease, as soon as detected.