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Old 12-08-2013, 03:42 AM   #1 
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Join Date: Dec 2013
HELP ASAP! My Betta fish has a bloated stomach - Maybe Dropsy?! :(

What size is your tank?
20 gallon
What temperature is your tank?
76 degrees F
Does your tank have a filter?
No, it broke a while ago, so we are getting a new one.
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?
I don't know what that is..
Is your tank heated?
Yes, I just got a heater - and put it on 76 degrees F
What tank mates does your betta fish live with?
A male betta fish; the tank is divided in two by a mesh divider.

What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
Mostly Betta fish pellets (they are circles) and dried blood worms but not very often
How often do you feed your betta fish?
3 of either one of them once a day - in the morning


How often do you perform a water change?
So, ever since the filter broke every month or so. Before with filter, I would change cartridge and add more clean water (about 1/4 of the 20 gallon).

What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?
1/4 of the 20 gal
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change?

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?
**(None of the above)**

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
YES!! She has a bloated stomach, which has been going on for a few months now - maybe at most 5 months. But recently in the past 2 weeks her stomach has gotten really big. And her eyes have gotten swollen today.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
Not very active. And swims on her side, the one that is mostly blown up.
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
A few months ago -- not sure when exactly, maybe 5 months. But mostly recently..
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
I was thinking it was dropsy, so I got Maracyn two, but then i wasnt sure if it was dropsy, so I was afraid to use it and maybe it would harm her. I also read about epsom salt and aquarium salt and some people said it hurts betta fish so I got scared and didn't use it. As you can see I'm really confused!..... :/
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
How old is your fish (approximately)?
About 15 months (of the time I had her)

For about a few months my Betta fish (female) had a bloated stomach. It wad very small and then when I saw it freaked out and looked all over and found that it might be dropsy and that it is fatal; however during these months nothing seemed to happen but then I realized her stomach is getting bigger and the reason I didn't use Maracyn (which is what many people recommended for it) is b/c I thought it would hurt her if I wasn't 100% sure. Also, now I don't know for sure because her scales are raising up like a 'pine-cone' as people call it, but I'm not sure because it doesn't look like it.

So anyway. I decided to take a picture and ask a person from pet smart what to do; he said that its called bloat and that there is nothing he know or that they have that can cure her and she might die a month or so. Which upset me, of course.

I did not have a heater- but I just got one and put the temp to 76 degrees; also I have a filter, but it broke so for about a month I didn't use one.

I also have a tank that is divided because I have two Betta fish (the other one is male.) I just separated him. I don't know if she is contagious, but he is just lying down on the gravel not very active anymore.. What should I do?

I don't know what to do. I've also seen recently that epsom salt will work? Is that true? And if so do I get it from a pharmacy like CVS or Walgreen's? Also, if I do the salt thing or whatever you recommend can he also be in the tank to (my other fish) or do I take him or her out into a separate container?

I looked everywhere and need to know what to do fast and I keep getting different answers which makes me even more confused.

Is it dropsy or something else? What is it and what can I do to save her?!?

I have attached photos for you to see what I'm describing. I tried to take all angles so hopefully you can fully see what I'm seeing/trying to explain.

I'm really worried so please help asap. Thank you in advance for all you help!
Attached Images
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Old 12-08-2013, 06:48 AM   #2 
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Seattle, WA
Sorry, I don't know much about dropsy, but please change your water!!! Even with a filter you should be doing weekly partial water changes. At this point you may want to do large water changes every day or two. You said you don't add anything to the water - are you using tap water? If so, you need to dechlorinate it.

Epsom salt may help. 1-2 tsp/gal, and yes you can get it at drugstores. It shouldn't hurt your other fish.
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:09 PM   #3 
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Pacific Coast
She looks really bloated. Have you been fasting her? Have you tried any other things to help her? This has been going on for five months?

There are a few things that may help with bloating, but honestly I've never really seen a case like this. A number of bettas get better after a few days of fasting, but in this case I think we should try Epsom salt to begin as well since she's so big. You can get it at most places, I believe. Make sure it's pure and unscented with no additives. It won't hurt your other betta, but it may be best to separate her anyway because there's no need to use it on him and we don't really want to use something on a fish that doesn't need it. To put it in I take a cup or so of tank water out and pre dissolve the salt in that. Use 1-3tsp of salt per gallon. Then every ten or so minutes pour a little bit back in the tank until it's all gone.

You could also feed her some frozen daphnia. Normally using both Epsom salt and daphnia at the same time isn't really recommended since they both have laxative effects and using too much at the same time can cause dehydration, but in this case I think that we should consider it if fasting and Epsom salt doesn't work.

You say you feed 3 of either pellets or dried bloodworms each day? Bloodworms are more of a treat than a regular food. Some foods with more fillers can also cause more issues like bloating, constipation, swim bladder in some bettas. What brand do you usually feed her?

Last edited by Aquatail; 12-08-2013 at 08:11 PM.
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:29 PM   #4 
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Colorado, USA
That looks like dropsy and my gosh: That's a lot of fluid around that body and must be putting a lot of pressure on the swim-bladder. I agree with Aquatail and knowing what food you are feeding is very important. You want a food with at least 45% crude protein and a very low fat-content. OmegeOne pellets are awesome. And are the most afforable for those of us on a budget.

I'm with Aquatail on the Daphnia. If you are worried about keeping frozen daphina in a freezer I suggest finding freeze-dried Daphnia. Same properties just a little less messy (especially if you're living with folks who are easily weirded-out). Hikari does a great freeze-dried Daphnia that is formed into cubes that can be then crushed.

If you do the Epsom Salt treatment: Make sure it isn't scented!
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Old 12-09-2013, 12:39 AM   #5 
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Location: Buffalo NY
I would do the Epsom salt I just lost my betta to dropsy and your fish looks bloated but the scales do not look raised I wouldn't use the maracyn I did and I think it did more harm then good i was told kanaplex is good but you probably have to order it I did but my fish past before I got it you should separate your bettas if it is dropsy then The male can get it try and get a smaller hospital tank with a heater and fast her for a couple days hope she gets better I know exactly what your going threw I just lost my Percy Thursday
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Old 12-09-2013, 01:12 AM   #6 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Central Texas
I would try the Epsom salts and fasting and see what happens. If she's still sick then maybe you can go with the kanaplex.
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Old 12-09-2013, 12:52 PM   #7 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Philadelphia
Definitely separate your other betta because even though Epsom not harmful, and betta are very tolerant and beneficial from that ,when needed only,you still don't want to stress him out with the treatment. And some fish actually can have reaction to the salt just like a human can have allergic reaction to the food.

You definitely need to do more water changes. Just like kittenfish said even with the filter you need to do weekly water changes, better (50%) with vacuuming ,and filter media has to be swish/rinse in the tank water . Filters gather a lot of gunk on them and it more important to rinse it off then change the filter cartridges. You don't even have to change it often , but you have to clean it
Since you don't have a filter you need to do more water changes now. Would you able to do 50% daily water changes with Epsom? And of course vacuum the gravel to take out all that derbies?

I saw you don't use a water conditioner, so you have well water? All well water different and some can contain heavy metals. And the only way to get rid of it is the water conditioner. I think it is good idea to use a water conditioner.

Fish can be bloated for many reasons : internal parasites, constipation, fluid in the body which will lead to the organs failure , tumor, internal infection. I think in your situation it can be a tumor or severe constipation. The reason i think so, because if it would be fluid retention he would have dropsy symptoms with all his scales raised the length of his body, and if it would be really dropsy with fluid retention he would not survive as long as he did. I think the longest they can live with with dropsy symptoms like that is about 2 wks. I had one betta died from it, and he died 2 wks from symptoms onset.
If it would be internal parasites he would also not survive as long as he did. But i would still check his poo and make sure its not white or clear.

Therefor i think he has tumor or severely constipated. And a lot of time when fish is bloated like she is ,the scales will be raised a lot of her stomach.
You not able to see his poo though in that big tank. I was wondering how often he poops.
Did you fast her before? Did it helped? I think if fasting not helping then it something like a tumor. Split her food in a few meals. And try to find food that already was mentioned and frozen food is recommended too.

I think Epsom salt will help his eyes. You saying his eye are swollen or they always been like that? I was looking at my dark blue betta and his eyes looks like that. I think some times, some of the bettas has more bulgier eyes , especially you can see it in darker colored bettas like she is.

I would always separate any sick fish anyway in case its something contagious.

Last edited by ANHEL123; 12-09-2013 at 01:10 PM.
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