betta with dropsy?

jezebelle76(z5 IA)October 15, 2005

I have three bettas (seperate bowls) and one has devoloped dropsy (bloated belly, pine-cone looking scales)the other two are in good health. everything I have read about this says by the time you notice it, it is usually too late.. and the fish will probably go to fish heaven within 15 days or so.. and he has been like this for over a month.

I have had these guys for almost two years now, and my sickly one- other than appearance, does not act sick, he is still swimming around, eating normal, acting normal.

any ideas on this? am I just mis-diagnosing?

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weedwoman(z6 NJ)

Funny, I was just about to write about the same thing. I have been giving mine antibiotic - Maracyn-Two, made by Mardel, and he seems to be recovering although I don't know if it's the antibiotic or not.

Anyway, I've had him for a year, he's in a 4 gallon aquarium with some plants and a filter (and about a million snails) and he went from looking fine to laying on his side on the bottom. He had the pine cone scales and his fins were clamped, but after about a week he started perking up a little - he goes after food if it drifts past him and has been sitting up on the leaves. At first he could only get to the top if he swam real fast but now he seems to be able to swim a little more normally. He's still spending a lot of time laying sort of on his side on the bottom, though.

What is this? What causes it? (He hasn't been near any other fish and this appeared literally overnight.) How can I prevent it from happening again? Anybody know?


    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 8:39PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

Dropsy happens, and most cases is untreatable. Sometimes fish will have protruding scales and bloating just from constipation. The use of epsom salt added to the water helps clear it, shelled peas have been used but if the fish won't eat this is a problem as is pepso or medicated food. If the heat is turned up a bit say 84F it could help eating.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 11:07PM
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Hi everyone,
I've been doing a ton of research on dropsy in bettas, because my male betta, Marco, has been swollen for months. His scales have only begun to rise in the last week or so, and it's subtle (they don't stick out as much as some of the pics of goldfish you may see). He was inititally in an unheated and unfiltered vase, about a gallon, and I think the water conditions caused him to start swelling in the belly, probably due to a bacterial infection. About a month ago, I bought a 5-gallon hexagon tank with a water heater and have set the temp to 80-82 degrees. He loved it an was flaring his gills and making bubble nests for a few days, until the novelty wore off.

Anyways, I've been through several treatment phases with him. First a combo of Maracyn and Maracyn 2 for five days. Nothing. I then tried Kanamycyn for 5 days. Still nothing. I've been diligently doing the water changes and everything a good fish mommy is supposed to. His swelling has been very gradual and chronic, nothing sudden. He also has had a normal appetite and is pretty lively, despite looking like a little balloon. So I don't want to euthanize him just yet.

I started feeding him some antibacterial fish pellets, soaked in tank water for 15 minutes first, and he hated them. I think they're too big. So I crushed up the dry pellets and now he'll eat the smaller portions. I'm doing this as one last antibacterial effort, and have accepted that he has kidney failure and will probably not recover. He may also be like this for months, who knows.

However, I have been concerned about how SWOLLEN he gets, and it worries me because I know he can't be comfortable, even though his behavior is still normal. I've read a couple of posts about people who have drained the fluid with a syringe, and I decided to try it since really, there's nothing to lose at this point.

I bought a pack of BD Ultra-Fine II Insulin syringes at my local grocery store pharmacy. The needle is very small (5/16" or 8mm length and 31 gauge). I tried taking him out of his tank to see if he would sit still, and he was like a little marble rolling around on the towel I had soaked with his tank water. So, for accuracy's sake and not wanting to hurt him, I put him in the anesthetic clove oil solution (NOT the euthanizing strength--just 10 drops or so in about 2 cups of water). I waited for about 5 minutes until I could see he was asleep (gills still moving, but otherwise motionless).

I took him out, and he did move around a little once out of the solution, but not as much as before. I laid him on a towel soaked in tank water (that I put on a little plastic plate I don't use for eating). I then very carefully inserted the needle in one side of his swollen belly (really anywhere would work, as long as you're not near the organs along the back--any point where there's obviously liquid making the stomach distend would work, since it's all fluid and there's nothing to run into), and drew out a full syringe of yellowish-clear liquid. He didn't move or give any indication that he was in pain, so I put him on his other side and did the same. I pulled out a total of 3 small syringes full of liquid, and immediately put him back into his tank, which I treated with Marycyn Plus in order to avoid an infection at the puncture sites. The needle is so small that you can't even see where I stuck him.

He seemed stunned for a few minutes and just hung out near the water heater. But then he came around and is swimming around again, and even ate a little. He is a very tough little guy! He's still swollen, but not nearly as bad as before. I didn't want to go too far the first time, you know? I know I will probably need to do this again, and keep repeating, since he's no longer getting rid of fluids on his own. I'll do it as often as necessary as long as he seems happy and is eating. I just wanted to give him a fighting chance to be comfortable and not explode! This first time was the hardest, so now I'm comfortable with having to do it again.

Good luck to you if your fishy has dropsy--it's the pits, but for me, I feel better knowing I can do something to make his last weeks or months better.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 5:10PM
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Hi Hsdiaz,

Your posting saved the life of my fish!!!!.

My 1-year old female Betta began to swell about 3 months ago. Most likely from dropsy syndrome
She was very activewhile the swollen developed. I did research on the web for over a month, went to pet shops, spoke with vets and all I found was discouraging answers and postings and no hope ....expecting her to die at any time.
I refused to flush her down the WC as she was eating as usual and swam actively, but after many weeks
went by she began to eat less. She was not processing her fluids or food and swelled to a point that I was afraid she was going to burst...until two months down the line when I was desperate, I found your great posting.

I did almost everything on your blog but time was of the essence and I decided to do a few variations on the procedure since I did not have all the medications suggested. I just thought to my self that it was better to give it a try rather than not doing anything at all and let her die that day.

I do art conservation so I used my magnifying glasses with 5 magnification, got the smallest syringe possible (25G), instead of clover oil I crushed a clove and applied a little of the powder on each side of her belly while she was laying on the comfort of several layers of a wet paper-towel bed. (The clover irritated a little her belly's skin but it became better a few hours after the procedure (perhaps the clover oil is a better idea).

I extracted 1cc of yellow liquid from one side of her belly as instructed on this blog and I decided not to proceed with the other side as she appeared very fragile and weak.

I rinsed the excess of clover powder from her belly with distilled water and a soft clean brush previously sterilized with boiling water and placed my Betta on a small shallow bowl. She was not able to swim much due to the stress and numbness from the anesthetic and I knew she needed to get above water every now and then to catch air, so the small bowl made it easier for her. She swam little and on the side for a few days but was somewhat active.

I applied a dash of Epson salts in the water to reduce the constipation and a tini-tiny amount of Tetracyline taken from a gel-cap found in my medicine cabinet in order to avoid infection from the syringe wound.
She did not eat for the first two days, so I placed a small piece of 5-day food supply at the bottom of the small bowl in order for her to get nutrient from the water during her recovery.
I replaced the water every day for 6 days in a row with the Tetracycline and the Epson salts and made sure she was in a warmer area than usual(near my water thermos). By the 6th day she began to eat one pellet per day with increments of 1 pellet every 3 days and I transferred her to her usual bowl with low water level. Her recovery was slow but improved every day.

It's been three months and she is swimming and eating as when I first got her and there are no signs of her having this dropsy condition any more. It took her about 12 days to recover and I think that she will be around for a long time with no recurring treatments.

It was not a simple task but I hope this feedback help some other little Bettas with dropsy condition.

Thanks HSDiaz for posting this and helping me save my little girl :).

    Bookmark   May 20, 2010 at 10:03PM
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bettagirl can you give any follow up and explanation on how exactly you removed the fluid? i have a betta with a slow developing case of dropsy also and while he is swelling a little bit everyday he is still active and i don't think i'd be able to keep him still enough to remove the fluid. i assume your fish was at the point she wasn't moving much? did you take her all the way out of the water? clive is still swimming normally at this point, and no pineconing, just gradual swelling of fluid in his belly.

thanks for giving some hope with your story... my little guy is hanging in there but i know the inevitable is coming and want to help if i can. the 3 months more you got sounds great.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 9:17PM
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I put my betta in a half gallion tank with a filter, heater, and a teaspoon of aquanrium salt, changed 25% of the tank water everyother day and his bloating went down and is back to normal. I put another teaspoon of salt everytime changed the water. And yes its conditioned water.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 6:32AM
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The poor guys have no heaters?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 9:38AM
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I just attempted to do this and no luck. I numbed my betta (charlie) with the clove oil purchased at local drug store. He fussed and fluttered, then calmly settled. Then i attempted to extract fluid with no luck. I put him back into the tank, he was motionless with slight hardly any movement of gills. He looks dead. My wife is super mad, i think she will divorce me. I feel like such a murderer. Did i add to much clove oil? What did i do wrong??...well at least im comforted that my poor boy is no longer suffering...

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 3:22AM
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I'm not sure what is going on with my Betta. I have a 20 Gal tank with heater, no live plants. I have several fish in the tank including my betta. Trouble started when my red tailed shark became dull in color, swollen, started swimming around the tank frantically and eating frantically. after 1 day he died. Since then I have been watching my fish very closely. non of the other fish has exhibited any strangeness except for my betta. He appears to be swollen but otherwise normal, his color is great, he is active and eating. I'm worried that it might be Dropsy but no all the symptoms are there, it has now been two weeks with no changes. I have been doing regular water changes and making sure my PH and ammonia are in range. I even added some epsom salt to the tank today although I am still unclear on how much i should add per gal. I am no skilled enough to preform the procedures above. Any thoughts on this/ could it be dropsy without symptoms in the other fishes? How much epsom salt should I put in a 20 gal? Thanks for the help I don't want him to die.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 12:51PM
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I tried the method of removing the fluid from my betta today. The post above said to use about 10 drops or so to 2 cups of water. I did this and my betta immediately went to the bottom, gills were still moving for a few minutes.

The post above said to wait about 5 minutes and I did this too. When I took my little betta out to extract the fluid from his belly, he was dead.

I determined the amount of 10 drops or so is tooooo much and killed my little guy. I feel like crap now.

If you attempt this, please note that 10 drops is too much.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 9:39PM
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My betta had been swollen for over a week and I tried to get a syringe from the pharmacy, but the would not do. So I used a sharp needle to drain. The bubble immediately deflated and my fish started swimming around rapidly. I kept him in a bowl with fish level water so he could swim, but not go crazy. the water had been treated with epsom. So far he is doing great, not eating yet, but maintaining. He has a large hole on his side where the bubble had pushed in. At least he is more comfortable.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 1:30PM
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[quote] Posted by blackorchid10 none (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 6, 11 at 21:39

I tried the method of removing the fluid from my betta today. The post above said to use about 10 drops or so to 2 cups of water. I did this and my betta immediately went to the bottom, gills were still moving for a few minutes.

The post above said to wait about 5 minutes and I did this too. When I took my little betta out to extract the fluid from his belly, he was dead.

I determined the amount of 10 drops or so is tooooo much and killed my little guy. I feel like crap now.

If you attempt this, please note that 10 drops is too much. [/quote]

Do NOT give your fish eugenol/clove oil unless you want to euthanise your fish.

you can not give him an amount that will put him asleep and not kill him. best case you put him to sleep and he 'drowns' because he is so unconscious that his gills will not breathe.

i had to euthanise a fish today that had bad dropsy. i wish i would have a way to get a syringe and try to drain the fluid. anyways, he is no longer suffering. they do not go quietly to sleep when using clove oil. mine trashed around violently and died. i only had a few drops mixed in the water.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 5:40AM
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Dreadful Deadly Dropsy.... The beloved Betta Mini died December 20, 2013. Died?! No.....disintegrated. I will include pictures of this terrible death documenting the last almost 3 months when I can.

For now... In case anyone has a fish with medically verified Dropsy, they should immediately consider euthanizing the fish in the kindest way possible. Probably the best way is to get clove oil and dilute it very thoroughly with water as directed by the articles on Euthanasia sites. BTW, that a fish has no feelings is Incongruently and Unconscionably wrong.

Briefly, for now, we tried everything from three week long treatments with Methlylene Blue and four entire treatments with MaracynTwo ..including fasting and numerous small feedings as the medicine stimulated hunger, for awhile. We changed the water as directed and kept it a steady 82 degrees.

This valiant creature tried to handle being so bloated the best he could, in and out of dropping unconscious. He finally curled in a very tight ball inside his cave for about 5 days, only coming out to breath the best he could. THEN, it happened...for 24 hrs his fins started dropping off. He was panicked and so were we. We had been wracking our brains how to best euthanize him but until this happened we always held out hope for him. Then..right then,.. HALF HIS TAIL dropped off and the bewilderment and utter inability to move, took over. He somehow got himself on his favorite leaf, slipped off and...died, with a little shudder.

From time to time during these weeks we had hopes that he might possibly be getting better but those hopes were always dashed. He was almost 4years old and veterinarians all said he probably would die of this Dropsy but to keep on trying to save him. This was well-meaning but wrong advise. Not one of them would help him be euthanized.

IF YOU HAVE A BETTA MINI or probably ANY fish with Dropsy, PLEASE ......euthanize the dear fish. Of course he could not eat the last few weeks, and seemed to shake in pain occasionally or from his huge efforts to stay upright.

His little machinery finally gave out but his eagerness and awareness of his home still continues. How we wish we could have made things so simply easier for him at the end. Goodluck & yes, prayers.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 2:43AM
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