Dropsy is not a specific disease but rather a condition that could be caused by a few things. The swelling it causes is because the fish is absorbing water faster than it can eliminate it. It may recover with no treatment but it may die despite it.
The fish will swell up and may look like it is carrying eggs (or pregnant). The scales may stick out like a pinecone. To determine this you may need to look at your fish from above.
A sudden swelling of the abdomen indicates acute dropsy, which is caused by an internal infection or injury to the kidney, or heart, which could lead to internal bleeding.
A slow swelling of the abdomen indicates chronic dropsy, which could be caused by cancer or internal parasites.
Many different things can cause dropsy. As mentioned before it can be caused by internal infection or injury, cancer or internal parasites. Or it could be as a result of poor water quality or poor diet.
This is a difficult condition to cure due to the multiple possible causes. It is also difficult to say if it is infectious. Therefore prevention is very important.
It is vital to your fish to maintain good water quality, i.e., keep up with weekly water changes, regularly check water parameters, do not over feed,
There are many things you can try to treat the condition. First up check the level of nitrates, nitrites etc to determine water quality. If it is a water quality issue, make sure you determine what is causing the issue and rectify it. Raise the temp to 82F. Use Epsom salts to help eliminate the fluid from the body. Use one tablespoon to 10 gallons of water.
Some other possible treatments include Kanamycin, Tetracycline or Maracyn 2.
An aquatic vet may also be able to help with antibiotic injections.
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