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16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My female koi betta Mel may be suffering from dropsy symptoms, or something else but I am here for confirmation or advice! A couple days ago I did a 25% water change in her tank that is fully cycled, she had an ammonia spike type reaction, shedding her slime coat, gasping for air, and laying at the bottom. I moved her into a hospital tank with a heater and filter that I treated with aquarium salt and a did 25% water change each day. Her slime coat has regenerated, no clamped fins, no gasping and she appeared to be getting much better. She is a very active fish, and since she has been recovering she is less crazy than her usual, but not lethargic by any means. Today I noticed her breathing seemed a little fast and she appeared a little more bloated than normal. I used a bright light to examine her and I am worried her scales are pineconing and am concerned she has dropsy symptoms. After noticing this, I quickly did a 100% change and treated it with epsom salt. She has still been eating, which I began fasting today once I noticed these symptoms, but have read this is good in terms of her ability to recover. Please provide any guidance you can!! Does she have dropsy? What else could it be? What does it look like? How do I proceed?

I apologize for the poor picture of her current condition, let me know if you need a better one. I have also attached an old one for size reference on the bloat.

How many gallons is your tank? 5 gallon
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What temperature is your tank? 78
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? None

What food brand do you use? Bug Bites
Do you feed flakes or pellets? Pellets
Freeze-dried? No
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? 2-3 pellets twice a day

your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? Once a week
What percentage of water did you change? 25%
What is the source of your water? Gallon spring water
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? Vacuum
What additives do you use other than conditioner? What brand of conditioner? StressCoat+, (pH down to combat pH of spring water)

Water Parameters:
What are your water parameters? Please give exact numbers. If tested by pet store please get exact numbers. "Fine" or "Safe" won't help us help you. Important: Test your water before the regular water change; not after one.

Ammonia: .25ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 0ppm
pH: 7.0
Hardness (GH):
Alkalinity (KH):

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? Today
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? Bloated appearance, scales slightly lifted
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? Not as active, not lethargic just not pacing and exploring like normal
Is your Betta still eating? Yes
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? Epsom salt in hospital tank
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? No
How long have you owned your Betta? 9 months
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? No


64 Posts
From the pictures provided she does seem quite active. If she stops swimming and starts gasping at the bottom for breath or floating by the top, that is bad sign. My betta currently has dropsy and I'm considering euthanasia because she can't even swim to the surface anymore. The Epsom salt and a hospital tank you have going will help, as well as clean water. I do see some raised scales on her in the first picture so it could be dropsy. There is such a dramatic decline in health from the ammonia Spike I think that she's just a little stressed as she should be honestly. Test her water frequently before you put her back in her original tank 100% water changes reset the cycle so your fish is currently in an uncycled tank. That's going to bring up stress and probably make it worse. If you want to do a large water change at most do 50% twice a few hours apart.

Super Moderator
24,365 Posts
She already suffers from Dropsy.

How much ES in the tank? You could try an ES bath: 1 tablespoon completely dissolved in one gallon of treated water. Place in bath for no more than 15 minutes. Do not treat for more than 10 days.

Dropsy is a symptom of either kidney failure or a bacterial infection. You could additionally treat with Kanaplex.

16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you for the reply. She is currently in a 2.5 gallon hospital tank and I added 1 teaspoon of ES. I do not want to take her out of the tank for stress reasons unless absolutely necessary for a bath.
Is this definitely dropsy? Since her behavior is fine? Or is her behavior good because I have caught it early?
I have read about and considered Kanaplex, so I can try that as well.
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