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Old 03-28-2013, 10:19 PM   #1 
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Possible Dropsy or something else?


My male betta of around 3 years has recently started acting sick and lethargic. His scales around his head and gills are raised and his gills seem swollen and are sticking out some. His fins are droopy and he is sleeping almost vertically, with his head pointing upwards. He is still eating some and at times will swim around actively still.

I first noticed his being kind of vertical on Tuesday and thought maybe he just had constipation or something so I didn't feed him for a day and Wednesday morning I gave him a little bit of a pea after doing some research on here. That is when I noticed that some of his scales were starting to raise up and that his gills seemed somewhat swollen. Wednesday night I checked on him and gills were very swollen and sticking out a lot so I started him on Maracyn II thinking it was the start of an infection since the water at my apartment is so bad and his tank not having a filter.

Now his scales are sticking out a good deal as well though, which has me more worried after doing research and seeing dropsy pop up a lot with these symptoms. I haven't noticed any bloating on him yet, but it is a little hard to tell with how swollen his gills are.

I know that his current tank is on the small size for a betta and I have been doing a fish-less cycle of a larger tank with RO water for him that has a filter, I am just afraid to move him to it now that he is showing symptoms of being sick. Would it be best to wait until he gets better to try and move him to a new tank? Or would the new tank with the filter help?

I am a little worried that it may be the starting stages of dropsy, but am not sure and would like any feedback.

What size is your tank? 1.5 gallons
What temperature is your tank? No idea
Does your tank have a filter? No
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? No
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Dry pellets that I soak
How often do you feed your betta fish? 1 time a day, 3 or 4 pellets

How often do you perform a water change? Full change weekly, partial every few days
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 100% or 25%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Prime Seachem and a little bit of aquarium salt

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?

Ammonia: No idea
Nitrite: No idea
Nitrate: No idea
pH: 7.4
Hardness: No idea
Alkalinity: No idea

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Raised scales, gills are puffed out, droopy fins
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Is sleeping almost vertical, very lethargic now. At times will be active, but not as often as usual
When did you start noticing the symptoms? Wednesday
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Maracyn II
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Case of pop eye a few months ago. Not sure before that, I got him from a friend in college
How old is your fish (approximately)? Around 3 years
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:26 AM   #2 
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Location: Queensland, Australia
Oh dear your poor boy does indeed sound like he has dropsy I would probably leave him where he is right now as moving him may be stressful when he already has such a serious condition. I did read though that his tank is not heated and this may be somehow related to his condition. You see bettas are tropical fish meaning that they are unable to tolerate fluctuations in water temperature as this really stresses them out, compromises their immune system and puts them at risk of all kinds of nasty and often fatal diseases and illnesses. An aquarium heater really is one of the most important pieces of equipment that is required to keep a betta healthy.

If there is any chance that you could buy him a heater then please do so as soon as possible because any fish with dropsy has an extremely poor chance of survival but if he has to deal with fluctuating temperatures too...... well things do not look good

I would recommend giving your boy 100% water changes every three days. It is extremely important to keep his water really clean right now. Some antibiotics can be useful in the treatment of dropsy Amoxyll (sorry spelling) is one that might help but you would need a prescription by a vet as it is an S4 drug. Otherwise you could try something more broad spectrum like triple sulfa or mardels maracyn products. I am not sure how effective they will be against dropsy but they may help with the underlying bacterial infection causing it. It is also suggested that Epson salt may be of some use as they work to reduce swelling however NEVER treat a fish that has swelling/bloating or dropsy with aquarium salt because it causes the fish to absorb more fluids and make the situation much worse. Epson salts can be used at a dosage of 1 Tablespoon of salt per gallon. Do NOT add the Epson salts to your fishes tank as Epson salt can only be used as a BATH TREATMENT. Find a clean container fill with 1 gallon of water and dissolve 1 tablespoon of Epson salts in the water. Add the fish and leave him in the bath for no longer than 15 minutes!!!!! This treatment is use only as a last resort for fish with serious conditions so please ensure that he is only lest in the bath for 15 minutes, then return him to his tank. I think you may be able to do this daily but you might need to do further research on that.

Anyway good luck with your boy, our thoughts are with you
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Old 03-29-2013, 01:23 AM   #3 
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Hi, um I would just like to say that in my experience and same with many other users on this site is that epsom salt is not just a bath treatment. In fact some owners have 1tsp/gal permanently for bettas who were born with some buoyant or swim bladder problems. I believe what epsom salt does is that when added to water it turns the environment into an hypertonic solution(high solute conc. with low water concentration) therefor by osmisis draws out some excess liquids. (Well thats the basis of it I dont know the other details) but epsom salt is just pure magnesium sulphate and is quite gentle in fact. By this case with the raising and everything i would say 2tsp/gal of epsom salt with careful acclimation to the new water with epsom since epsoms tend to alter the pH quite a bit at first. As for other meds I'm not sure but yah I wojld just like to pitch in with my imput of what the other user said about epsoms being a salt bath. Honestly ben if it was all this dipling and scooping and such is so stressful, and fifteen mins would be like... Not much time for the osmosis and such to happen to draw that much excess liquids out and even if it does it would keep building up again. The raised scales are from build up of excess internal liquids and a symptom of something occuring internally. And this would also help with ur betta's swim bladder too, since its control by amounts of gas in the swim bladder to alter the density of the contents therefor floating up or not, so i would say epsoms stay in, and maybe daily water changes if its not too stressful, but it depends on the meds your taking. As for antibiotics, i know u need meds to treat the initial cause of all this but antibiotics shojld only be used if its bacterial or you have reason to suspect its bacterial, if used when its not a bacterial problem them it would just cause bacterial resistance for in the future and u in return cant use that antibiotic anymore. Lol sorry for rambling, my point
1)epsom salt can just be in water with careful acclimation
Maybe 2tsp/gal (of course u can research on this epsom salt matter on the forum since u have a member on the other hand disagreeing, do some research and make ur own decision)
2) you need to try to diagnose what is happening/cause and treat it. At this stage conservative treatments would be quite slow and i recomend using meds once u know which meds exactly to use

Hope my reply was somewhat helpful sorry if it turned out confusing
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Old 03-30-2013, 10:27 AM   #4 
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Thank you for the replies!

I had been hoping it wasn't dropsy, but now there really is no doubt. Leonard, my betta, has steadily gotten worse over the last few days. He has lost most color, his scales are very raised, and his gills are as well. He is still eating though, which is good.

I started giving him epsom salt baths yesterday, which seemed to help some. I just don't think it will be enough though. I got him a heater for his tank as well and the water is now around 77 degress.

Thank you again for the replies. I just wish there was something I could do
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Old 03-30-2013, 12:29 PM   #5 
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Location: Canada
Try 3tsp/gal epsom in water not just bath. It will lower raising, the baths will not benefit much in the long run and stress him out more. You might want to search up tannins too and consider adding them so the betta will be more comfortable. Also, if you do want to stay persistant, there are some really strong medications that might help. Dropsy is a symptom of organ failaire. But raised scales can also be caused by an extreme case of external parasites. Other members on the forum have noticed in some cases other than ich and velvet, other external parasites may not cause the fish to flash much, but you would still see a lot of excess slime cloating on the bottom

Since he's still eating, make sure the pellets you give him are full of nutrition. (First threes main ingredients are meat, preferably not just "fish meal"
And if you want u can soak them in garlic juice (search that up if you dont know what I'm talking about) to boost his immune system in hope he can keep fighting

Good luck and hopefully you dont give up too soon

-ps: please believe me when I say epsoms go in water and not just a bath, please just search it up since you don't seem to believe me. Even the moderators and everyone can comfirm it on the site.
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Old 03-31-2013, 05:06 PM   #6 
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Update on Leonard
Almost all of his color is gone and overnight he developed popeye in one eye. His scales are extremely raised, he is not swimming much anymore, it is getting harder to tell if he is breathing, and I couldn't get him to eat this morning.

I did a 100% water change yesterday and slowly added 2tsp of epsom salt over a few hours to try and not shock him (I dissolved the salt in some water first and then added the water to his tank. Also, a lot of different posts said different amounts but 2tsp/gallon was usually the middle ground). I figured if the salt bath seemed to be helping and since maggie gave me the measurements, it was worth a shot.

He is currently on both Maracyn and Maracyn II since I have not been able to find an actual pet store that carries some of the stronger medication (the most I have been able to find is a PetSmart and Pet Supplies Plus and both told me to try and find a pet store because they didn't carry the medicine...)

Thank you again for your replies and help
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Old 03-31-2013, 10:45 PM   #7 
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Leonard passed away tonight.
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Old 03-31-2013, 11:54 PM   #8 
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I'm really sorry about your loss... but don't worry Leonard is in a better place now, haha even swimming under the rainbow bridge? Maybe try reading this thread to help
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