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Old 09-05-2012, 08:46 PM   #1 
britishbetta
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Red face How to treat early dropsy?

Hi everyone, I noticed Shigeru's gotten a grey belly, he's bloated, his eyes seem to have swollen up a bit as well around the rims, and he's clampy. This sounds like early dropsy (thankfully he has not pineconed). On top of that, he's also chronically constipated. What is your general consensus on how to treat him?

What size is your tank? 3 gallons
What temperature is your tank? 84 degrees F
Does your tank have a filter? No
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Hikari Betta Bio Gold, Hikari micro pellets, Hikari frozen daphnia (for constipation)
How often do you feed your betta fish? A few micro pellets in the mornings, and one betta-eyeball sized clump of daphnia at night.

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change? Normally, one 50% + one 100% a week, but I think in his current salt treatment, he should be getting 100% changes. Is this correct?
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? see above.
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Recently, I've added Epsom Salt and stress coat. I also add Tetra Blackwater extract.

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


Ammonia: ?
Nitrite: ?
Nitrate: ?
pH: 7.2
Hardness: ?
Alkalinity: ?

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? He's gotten a grey, swollen belly (not too bad, but noticeable), his body seems to glow bright pink inside under bright light as if he has a fever, his eyes have swelled a bit, he's clamping his fins.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He's more easily tired than usual, but is still pretty alert, demanding and hungry.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? Labor Day weekend.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Since September 4th, I've added 1 tsp/gallon of Epsom Salt. I'M CURRENTLY DEBATING STARTING MARACYN I AND II.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Yes, ever since I got him from the pet store, he's had occasional flare-ups of red streaks appearing in his tail and fins, which I would always treat with Erythromyocin; this kept the flare-ups in control. Eventually, he developed chronic swim bladder disorder and constipation, which combined with his red streaks flare-ups and led to this current predicament.
How old is your fish (approximately)? He's old enough to be sold, so probably 7 months plus.

My main questions are:
Should I be starting Maracyn I and II? IF SO, should I be adding a new dose of medicine with each daily 100% water change?
Also, Maracyn I and II come in 10 gallon packets that I would have to divide into the appropriate smaller, daily doses for Shigeru's 3 gallon tank. Does anyone have a good way to do this accurately and safely?

I really appreciate all your help. Shigeru's a real trooper and an awesome fish to have, and I want to give him the best treatment possible.
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Old 09-05-2012, 09:37 PM   #2 
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Hi BB. You can up his epsom salt dosage to 3 tsps per gallon. At this point, I'd hold off on the use of any Maracyns. I've done some research and discovered that not only do most bacteria have a resistance to the medications in the two Maracyns but one of them, minocycline, also causes kidney damage. Since many dropsy cases are caused by kidney infections, risking the kidneys with that med is not recommended.

You can also try fasting him for a few days to see if that helps with the bloating. When you resume feeding, feed only a bit of daphnia each day until he's able to pass some waste.

If you can get a hold of Indian Almond Leaf or naturally dried oak leaves, those would be beneficial as well as they have some antimicrobial properties as well as recreating the tan water that bettas naturally come from. If you need any IAL, you can PM me and I'd be happy to mail you a few leaves.

If he isn't showing any signs of losing his bloat or perking up, then we may need to try a good antibiotic like Seachem Kanaplex. This med is often very hard to find in stores so it may need to be ordered online if this is a route you want to go.

Good luck with the little chap and keep me updated.
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Old 09-05-2012, 10:12 PM   #3 
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Hi Sakura8, thank you so much for the reply. I'm very thankful for the information about the Maracyns because that is such critical information. I'm very glad I haven't started using them.

Shigeru was able to pass a rather large bowel movement yesterday with the help of some daphnia, although he hasn't pooped at all today. I think I will keep giving him only daphnia each day, as you suggest.

I'm still a little hesitant with using epsom salt for very long, as it seems to be harsh on Shigeru in particular, but I will try increasing his dosage to 3 tsp/gallon and see what happens. How long would you recommend treating him for? 10 days and 100% daily water changes?

And as for IAL, will it really be safe to use it when he's sick with something bacterial/viral? I know, I know, it's really good for the little guys and you just mentioned it has antimicrobial properties, but IAL is organic and it comes allll the way from Southeast Asia. Is it pretty fresh and clean when you get it? o.o If so, I will seriously start ordering this stuff.

Again, thank you for sharing this information. I feel more confident in how to help him now. :] I'm hoping for the best.
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Old 09-06-2012, 12:23 AM   #4 
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Hi BB. Did Shigeru deflate any after passing his bowel movement? Or is he still quite bloated?

Overall, epsom salt is pretty mild because it isn't a real salt, it's magnesium sulfate. Most fish react well to it but there are some that don't and if Shigeru is one of those, we certainly don't want to stress him out by increasing his dosage. Another option is to give him 1 hour baths in a mixture of 3 tsps of epsom salt per gallon and returning him to his tank afterward. You would do this twice a day as opposed to leaving him in the mixture round the clock.

With epsom salt, they can be treated indefinitely. Aquarium salt, on the other hand, is definitely a salt and has the potential to cause damage to the organs if used too long. That's the one we definitely say 14 days maximum treatment.

IAL certainly isn't going to be as effective as a medication in terms of fighting off a true bacterial or parasitic infection but it does have some properties that are beneficial. It's what I recommend when I can't tell for certain from the symptoms if the fish has a bacterial or parastic problem, because I don't want to suggest a bacterial med and then have the fish start passing worms or something. Too much medication and/or the wrong kind can be just as harmful as no medication. It's why treating fish can be so darn hard, because a lot of the times they don't show us conclusive symptoms until it's too late. :(

Here's a website that has some facts about IAL

http://www.indianalmondleaves.com/aquariums.php

The IAL I get is from . . . Singapore? Thailand? I can't remember the country exactly but the supplier I use, Amy Ketapang, is one many members on the forum use as well. The leaves are cleaned and dried and shipped that way so they stay fresh for a long time in a ziplock bag. As an added precaution, you can always rinse the leaves in hot water before placing them in the tank.

Again, if he doesn't show any signs of improvement within a few days or he seems to get worse, we can try something like Seachem Kanaplex. Another option is to get Hikari HealthAid Metro and soak his food in that. Metronidazole is a good med because it is an effective antiparasitic and also treats some mild anaerobic bacterial infections when given internally via food. Unfortunately the key is: he's gotta want to eat. As far as I'm aware, no store around here carries Kanaplex but Jo-Jo's Aquarium on Stockon near 47th has Metro, as well as Seachem Garlic Guard to make it taste better. I think AquaWorkz on Belvedere just off Power Inn also has the Metro.
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Old 09-06-2012, 12:56 AM   #5 
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Wow, thanks for clearing that all up, especially about the salts.

Okay, since I'm at work all day, I'm not sure I can do the salt baths twice a day as in once in the morning and once in the evening. However, I would be able to do them 4 hours apart at night when I get home. Would that work?

If that's ineffective, I might try raising the salt level in his tank gradually to 2 tsps and then 3 tsps/gal. The reason I think epsom salt's harsh on him is because the last time I used it on him, he got kinda raised looking scales the next day, and the same thing is happening now. After I stopped the Epsom salt, his scales went back to normal, which is what I anticipate would happen now, too.
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:22 AM   #6 
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Ah, well, he shrank a little after pooping, but he's still a bit bloated. It's noticeable, but again, not severe. His belly's still grey though.
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:23 AM   #7 
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That's odd. Raised scales, like pineconing? I've never heard of that happening from epsom salt. I wonder if he has an allergic reaction. Epsom salts are commonly used as muscle soaks or as a laxative in humans because they draw out excess fluids. That's why we use them in bettas with dropsy, to draw out the excess fluid caused by organ failure (most often kidneys). Epsoms should cause him to flatten out, not stick up.

If he does pinecone any time he's on epsoms, then I'd definitely say we need an alternative method of treatment. Metronidazole as a food AND as a soak would work, if he'll eat something soaked in it like frozen bloodworms or pellets. I'm not sure but O Street might carry metro. Otherwise, I can loan you Kanaplex.
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:35 AM   #8 
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No, not to the level of pineconing. The grooves between each and all scales on his body just seem to "darken and deepen", but when I look at him from the top, I don't see any horizontal swelling or scales sticking out. It just looks like the scales get "rougher" instead of fitting together smoothly.
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:39 AM   #9 
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Well, in any case, I should probably get to bed before I fall asleep mid water-change, so I will stick with a treatment of 1 tsp of epsom salt/gallon for now, just to continue drawing out extra fluids from his body. :)

Thank you and good night! I will keep in touch.
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:42 AM   #10 
Sakura8
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That's odd. I've truly never heard of that phenomenon before. I'll have to ask a veterinary friend if she knows what that may mean. I'm wondering if it is some kind of illusion caused by the interaction of the water and magnesium sulfate crystals. I know that I can tell the difference between salt water and freshwater when I first put in the epsom salts or regular AQ salt, too. You can see it get all cloudy/crystaly/sparkly as the salts settle and dissolve.

Does he react negatively in any other way when he's in epsom, aside from his scales going weird? If he seems okay otherwise, can breathe and isn't in any distress, then I'd leave him in 1 tsp for now instead of removing him from the salt entirely. If you felt comfortable with the idea, you could bump him up to 2 tsps but only if you feel comfortable with it.
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