Fighting Dropsy in my Male Betta

  • #1
Hello all.

I thought it might be helpful for some of you if I post this thread documenting my personal experience with fighting Dropsy in my Male Betta, Gatsby. If I'm successful, then it might come in handy as a reference for the future. If not, you'll know what not to do. I'll write day one, two, three, etc and document exactly what has happened, and continue to update it daily. Any tips and tricks are welcome in the comments below, not just for me, but for any future fishlorians who stumble across this thread whilst fighting Dropsy themselves.

Please remember it is important to catch Dropsy early, so you give your fish a fighting chance. Dropsy is an aggressive, hard to cure disease, so you have to be aggressive in your treatment and do everything you can for your pet as soon as you can.

It's also important to remember to separate the fish from a community tank into a hospital tank if they are not already.

Disclaimer: I'm by no means an expert on Dropsy or other fish disease, and methods I'm using for my fish may not be what is best for yours. Please consult your local expert as to what they believe is the best method for treatment. Just, do it quickly. If your fish is too advanced into the stages of Dropsy to cure, you can find a thread HERE (CLICK) and another amazing article including photos you can view about how to humanely and quickly euthanize your aquatic pet without any pain or suffering.


Day One:
Gatsby has always been a bit on the bloaty side. Since I got him, really. I figured it was just him. Maybe he was a little too chubby, maybe I fed too well, I wasn't worried about it. However, one evening after work I noticed some scales along his spine sticking up a bit. I thought it was very odd, so I looked at my female betta. Perfectly smooth along the top. Hmm. It worked out perfectly that I had done a bit of research about pineconing, (when sacks behind the scales fill with fluid and cause the scales to be raised) and I knew what I was up against.


I frantically messaged one of my amazing friends, and I was advised to lower the temp of the water, and add 1 tsp of aquarium salt. (For refrence, Gatsby lives in a 5.5 gallon tank by himself.) I sped (10 miles over the speed limit) (not advised) up to walmart and grabbed a bag of aquarium salt. I did a 50% water change, and added the aquarium salt, dissolved. I also added Betta Safe and Prime.

Symptoms on Day One:
-Raised Scales or "pineconing"
-Not as active, but swimming and behaving the same

Care taken on Day One:
-1 tsp of aquarium salt added
-Water conditioner added


Day Two:
I was lucky enough to get out of work early, so I had the opportunity to go to PetSmart the next day. I purchased Maracyn 2 and a new testing kit to monitor everything and make sure I was keeping the water levels steady. Gatsby's pineconing only worsened a bit, so I was lucky. It seems the progress of his Dropsy is quite slow, which is lucky for me. Anyway, added one full packet of Maracyn 2. I also fasted him. No other symptoms were present besides a bit of a lack in color on his whole body.

Day Two Symptoms:
-Still had raised scales
-Still bloated
-resting more, swimming a bit less than normal for him

Care taken on day two:
-Added a whole packet of Maracyn Two (one packet per every 5 gallons on the first day, then 1/2 packet per every 5 gallons day 2-5)
-Fasted to help reduce bloat
-Kept water temp consistant


Day Three:

On day three, I added another 1/2 packet of Maracyn 2 and checked water levels to make sure they were okay. Fed him a tiny bit of his normal Omega One Betta Buffet flakes (released under the water) to give him a little strength and help keep his bowels moving. He had 2 long stringy white-ish things hanging from his underside. A bowel movement, I presumed. He still isn't as active as normal, but still swimming normally and without clamped fins. The swelling on the right side of his body had gone down visibly, and some scales returned to normal. The left side of his body got a tad bit more swollen, and had a few more raised scales. I thought it might be notable to put that he hasn't lost his personality. He's still the same sweet fish that greets me at the glass and could watch me watch him for hours.

Day Three Symptoms:
-Bloating/swelling of the body
-Not as active
-Odd feces

Care taken on day three:
-1/2 packet of Maracyn 2
-Checked water levels


Day 4:
As I write this post, it is day 4. He is losing color still, and he's currently hanging out on the bottom of his tank. Still swimming normally, not as active. Still bloated, still has pineconing, just not on his whole body. Still has some swelling on the left side. He is greeting me at the tank per usual, and is really thriving. I think I caught it just in time. There's not a lot to say for today except that he is still hanging in there. He got a lot of sleep last night on his leaf bed, so hopefully that will help. I have noticed that he's preferring to rest along the bottom of the tank. He's not "laying" down on his side, and does occasionally swim around and go up for air. I just did a 45% water change.

Day 4 symptoms:
-Not swimming as much or moving as much as normal

Care taken on day 4:
-Added 3/4 packet of Mracyn 2 (on accident)


Day 5:
He looks a bit better. I did a big water change yesterday and I think it helped him. I'll be adding some epsom salt tomorrow. I added 1/2 packet of Maracyn 2. I'm happy to report he's more swimmy and happy.

Day 5 Symptoms:

Care taken on day 5:
-Added Maracyn 2

Day 6:

Hasn't really been acting sick at all. I added another 1/2 packet of Maracyn 2 and did a smaller water change. Scales however are still raised, but just on the spine now. All other body scales are back to normal! Fasted him today.

Day 7:
He's still himself, no change from day 6. Happy and swimmy and HUNGRY. Fed him a little, added 3 tsp of Epsom Salt, 1/2 packet of Maracyn 2. I'm just going to continue using that stuff until his scales go back to normal, if they do.

  • #2
I'd just like to point out that dropsy isn't an actual disease, but rather a symptom of another problem.

  • Thread Starter
  • #3
All I can do is fight the symptoms and keep him in the best water possible.
  • #4
I'm hoping for the best for Gatsby! Have you been doing water changes?
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
I wasn't sure if I should, because of the salt I put in, as well as the medication.
  • #6
Remember that dropsy is the body retaining fluid that it cannot expell due to the kidneys not functioning properly. Aquarium salt should NOT be used as it allows for the retainage of fluids. Unscented pure Epsom salt should be used as it acts like a super laxative and naturally draws fluids out of the body.

Lastly, be careful with the type of antibiotics you use as they can cause further stress on the kidneys.

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