Dropsy Treatment

Dropsy Treatment

Dropsy is a symptom, not a disease. Because of this there is no sure-fire way to treat it as it could be caused by several different things. Although, it is generally caused by fungal or bacteria infections, so we can use an anti fungal/bacterial to try and treat it. The “symptoms”, for lack of a better word, of dropsy are pineconing scales and usually bloating. I have personally noticed the fish tends to become discoloured as well, but this is probably caused by stress more than dropsy it self.

It is important to note before treatment that the chances of them making it are slime. Dropsy is very similar to certain types of cancer in the fact that by the time you notice it it’s probably to late to recover. Of course if you discover it when it first starts you have a much better chance of successful treatment than if it’s noticed at it’s full extent. Dropsy is very deadly and certainly makes the fish uncomfortable while it has it, so this brings up the question, “Should I just end it’s suffering?”. The answer to that depends, if you believe that you can treat him or he still wants to fight, then personally I’d say no. If it doesn’t seem that way and he just seems as though he wants the pain to be over, then it may be yes. In the end it is entirely up to you and what you believe to be the correct option. If you do go for the euthanasia route I highly suggest using the clove oil method, either the pure clove oil or vodka. Other methods such as freezing can cause pain while clove oil is more of a “final” sleep. If you do not have access to clove oil, then as horrific as it sounds, I suggest decapitation and pithing, but you must not hold back when you do this other wise it could cause pain. Regardless of which method you choose, please research thoroughly on how to do it.


  • Epsom salt
  • Seperate bowl/food container( thoroughly washed)
  • An antibacterial/antifungal
  • QT tank/tubberware(if original tank is inhabited by others, otherwise it is optional)

This list does not include everything you will need for certain fish, for example, a betta you will need an adjustable heater set to around 80F. This is just the basic list for general freshwater fish. Because dropsy is similar to cancer, you must treat harshly. With some illness’ you can be less aggressive, but with dropsy you have to be just aggressive as dropsy itself. You can leave no room for it to get a footing again once it starts getting better, so it is very important you continue treatment all the way through. Now the steps-
  1. Move to QT. If in community tank, remove the fish unless others have dropsy as well. You will still need to treat the main tank with an antibacterial/fungal, but you may be able to do it at a lower dosage. You can remove the fish to a QT even if it’s in a solitary tank if that would be easier for treatment, just allow a few hiding spots like fake plants that you can toss if need be. A filter is not required in a QT for dropsy.
  2. Do daily waterchanges of 25-50%. Clean water is always a major factor in helping a fish recover from an illness and dropsy is no exception. You must adjust medicating and salt while doing this.
  3. Add Epsom salt. The salt needs to always been in with the fish to help reduce the retention of water in the fish. The ratio for the tank is 1 tbs per 5g.
  4. Medicate. Use an antibacterial/fungal like kanaplex to help beat what is causing the dropsy. Very necessary as without treating the root cause there could be a relapse.
  5. Epsom salt baths. Do 2-3 of these daily to further help reduce the rentention. The ratio is 1 tbsp per gallon and you will need to leave the fish in for 10-15 minutes.

This is what I suggest on treating dropsy and I truly hope this helps you and your fish if your reading this because your fish has it.


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Wonderful! I have a few questions though.

1. I’ve already added aquarium salt to my betta’s tank (only other inhabitants are snails), is it safe to do Epsom salt baths?
2. The antibacterial I’m using specifically says to but do a water change until day 5, do you still think I should do daily water changes?

Very informative. Can you confirm your ratio for Epsom salt/gallon? You say 1tbs/5gal water for the tank. Do you mean 1 tablespoon OR 1 teaspoon / 5 gallons of water? I ask because you write tbsp/gal in the Epsom salt soak ratio.
1tbs per gallon for the bath and 1tbs per 5g for the aquarium(the salt that will be with the fish longer term). So if you have a 10g tank you will need to use 2tbs for the entire tank.
Very good over view and suggestions
Salt doesn't work for everything and in some cases makes things worse. What is dropsy specifically? other methods towards treating dropsy would be appreciated.
Thanks for your review Dutch! I never said salt works for everything, in fact I practically never suggest using salt. In the case of dropsy, using Epsom salt can’t really make things worse considering it’s already a practical death sentence and without it, in my experiences, the fish will not get better at all. Instead they will die significantly faster. In my experience salt is a necessary part of treatment. As for other ways of treatments, I’m honestly not certain of many other reccomend ways to treat. It is typically suggest to do Epsom salt baths, daily water changes, any bacterial/anti fungal medications, and a few fish specific treatments as far as heating and such. If there were other ways I’d like not include them though as this is the way I treat it. Honestly the whole reason I made this was so that I could just link it when I was helping someone with the problem. Dropsy is symptom that’s typically caused by fungal/bacterial infections, that’s about as specific as I can get and I’ve already added that in. I also said what the “symptoms”, no better word to use really, of dropsy are.
We think our Betta has Dropsy. Thanks for this
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