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Old 10-13-2013, 10:05 AM   #1 
OrangeAugust
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My betta's scales are pineconing! I forgot what that means!

Over the past two days I noticed one of my bettas at the bottom a couple times which isn't normal for her. Then this morning she was at the top vertically and gasping for air so I took a closer look and her scales are all sticking out. Is that dropsy? I forgot. Is it curable? Is it contagious? she's in a sorority/community tank.
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:21 AM   #2 
JBrady
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Pineconing usually means that it's dropsy. Sorry to say but it's very hard to cure this and the chances of her surviving are low. I'm not sure what causes dropsy or if it spreads so maybe someone who has more into will come along. Sorry about your betta
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:22 AM   #3 
williamwong411
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Dropsy is not a disease itself, but rather a symptom of another problem. Dropsy is the term we use to describe the severe bloating or pinecone appearance our betta fish take on as a result of organ failure. It is generally believed by fish keepers that Dropsy can be caused by a variety of things including bacterial diseases, viruses or even parasites. You will sometimes hear stories of Dropsy being terribly contagious and killing off many fish at a time. Technically, this isn’t true. The initial infection may be contagious and may infect several fish leading to multiple cases of Dropsy, but the Dropsy itself is not contagious. More often than not, Dropsy pops up in our fish tanks as an isolated incident. This is especially true with betta keepers as they typically keep their fish in isolated containers.
While any fish can get Dropsy, it seems to affect Betta Fish and Goldfish the most. I’m not sure exactly why that is but I have some speculations. First, I suspect there is something about their physiology that predisposes them to organ failure. What that is, I couldn’t say. Perhaps it is that both bettas and goldfish have been so intensely bred for their physical traits that they have become more susceptible to stressors. Secondly, these fish may be exposed to poor water conditions more often than most other aquarium fish. Bettas and goldfish are both commonly kept by beginner aquarists and may then be open to more mistakes made by new hobbyists. The other major stressor both have in common is that they are frequently kept in tanks too small for them. Fish stores often sell bettas in small bowls without educating the buyers to the dangers of ammonia and nitrite poisoning. Goldfish too are often poisoned by their own waste. Goldfish are very messy and excrete a large amount of waste for their size. Each medium sized goldfish should have at least 10 gallons of water but they are often kept in tanks much smaller. Aquarium conditions may just be the reason we see Dropsy so often in bettas and goldfish.
The symptoms of Dropsy are many; bloating, extended scales, color loss, loss of appetite, lethargy, clamped fins, swim bladder disorder, etc. I want to focus on the two tell-tale signs – bloating and pineconing. I regularly receive emails from readers indicating that their betta has one symptom but not the other. It is important to understand that these symptoms are not mutually exclusive. Your betta may have one or both or maybe even neither of these symptoms but could still have Dropsy.
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:02 AM   #4 
NeptunesMom
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Fill this out, and lets see if we can save him.

Housing
What size is your tank?
What temperature is your tank?
Does your tank have a filter?
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?
Is your tank heated?
What tank mates does your betta fish live with?

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
How often do you feed your betta fish?

Maintenance

How often do you perform a water change?
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?
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?

Ammonia:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
pH:
Hardness:
Alkalinity:

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
How old is your fish (approximately)?
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Old 10-13-2013, 02:14 PM   #5 
OrangeAugust
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Thank you, William Wong, for your detailed answer.

Neptune's Mom, here is the form:
Housing
What size is your tank?= 55 gal.
What temperature is your tank?= 82
Does your tank have a filter?= yes
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?= 6 other female bettas, zebra danios, neon tetras, julii cories, oto cats, amano shrimp, various hitchhiking snails

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Omega One betta pellets, but they also sometimes eat the tropical flakes I put in for the other fish and pick on the sinking pellets I put in for the cories.
How often do you feed your betta fish?= once per day

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change?= every 2 weeks
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?= 25%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change?= Stress Coat

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

Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate:
pH: 8.0
Hardness:
Alkalinity:

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?= pineconing and bloating
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?= lethargic- on the bottom most of the time now, but once saw her floating vertically at the top with her mouth out of the water.
When did you start noticing the symptoms?= 2 days ago
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?= no. don't know how yet
Does your fish have any history of being ill?= no
How old is your fish (approximately)?= I got her a year ago and she was pretty small when I got her, so I guess less than 2 years old.
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Old 10-13-2013, 03:41 PM   #6 
NeptunesMom
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First I would QT her in a smaller tank for treatment. Then I would start with an ES treatment ASAP. Since she is already pineconing I would do 3 tsp/1tbs per g.

Watch her poop, and let us know what color it it.
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Old 10-13-2013, 05:19 PM   #7 
LittleBlueFishlets
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+1 on Neptunesmom's advice. However, I tend to start them out at a lower dosage of Epsom salt, and gradually increase it over the course of several days to 3 tsp/gal total dosage.

What medications do you have on hand? Do you have Kanaplex (kanamycin) and/or metronidazole (found in products like API General Cure or Tetra Parasite Guard)?

The Epsom salt will help reduce the fluid retention that causes the bloating and pineconing. However, she'll still need something to treat the underlying condition. Kanaplex is one of the few antibiotics that can treat internal aerobic bacterial infections. Metronidazole can help if the problem is either parasitical or due to an anaerobic infection.

If she's having trouble reaching the surface to breathe, you can lower the water level in the tank or provide a hammock/leaf for her to lie on.
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Old 10-13-2013, 05:34 PM   #8 
OrangeAugust
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Ok. I already started her at 3tsp per gallon. should I change the water and put in less? I do have Kanaplex because I have a betta with SBD... it never worked for him, though. Anyway, I will start her on Kanaplex. Luckily she doesn't have trouble getting to the surface. She spends most if the time now at the surface gasping for air. :(
Thanks for all the advice.
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Old 10-13-2013, 05:46 PM   #9 
NeptunesMom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeAugust View Post
Ok. I already started her at 3tsp per gallon. should I change the water and put in less? I do have Kanaplex because I have a betta with SBD... it never worked for him, though. Anyway, I will start her on Kanaplex. Luckily she doesn't have trouble getting to the surface. She spends most if the time now at the surface gasping for air. :(
Thanks for all the advice.
Kanaplex doesn't work for SBD. SBD is normally just caused by bloating, which isn't something you would use an antibiotic for. If it were me, I would wait to start medication until I could figure out what was wrong.

I personally would start with the 3tsp, as you have. I think it's just a different way of approaching it.
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Old 10-13-2013, 06:45 PM   #10 
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OrangeAugust - No, since she's in the 3 teaspoon/gal dosage already, just leave her there.

I recommended Kanaplex for her because we don't know the underlying cause -- but by the time pineconing occurs, the fish's internal organs are failing (or are in danger of failing). For this reason, I would opt to treat dropsy quickly with an antibiotic that is effective on internal infections. Depending on the underlying cause of the infection, an antibiotic may, or may not, work. But IMO, it's worth trying Kanaplex, especially since you have it on hand already.

Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 10-13-2013 at 06:47 PM.
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