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Dropsy and Goldfish

For goldfish keepers, keeping their fish healthy and vibrant is the number one priority. Often times, diseases and other illnesses can wreak havoc inside of a goldfish tank. If not treated, these illnesses often spread from fish to fish and can have devastating results. Of all of the common goldfish health issues, dropsy is often the most feared because of its high fatality rates.

What Is Dropsy?

Dropsy is not actually a name for an illness, but rather a term for the symptoms that can be seen from multiple different illnesses. Dropsy can be caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses or other environmental hazards in your goldfish tank. Untreated, these health problems generally lead to kidney failure. Often times, by the point that dropsy is noticed, there is already internal damage and treatment is difficult.

A few of the most common symptoms that are referred to as dropsy include your fish:

  • Acting lethargic
  • Hiding in the corner of the tank
  • Presenting a swollen, distended body
  • Having visually pine-coning scales
  • Suffering from swollen or bulging eyes

How To Treat Dropsy

Luckily, if you catch the symptoms before internal damage is done, dropsy can be treated. It is important to isolate your affected goldfish into a warm tank with high levels of oxygen. A water heater should be used to bring the temperature up to 80 – 85 degrees – a temperate which will prevent aeronomas (bacterial strains associated with dropsy) from multiplying. Aeronomas will move internally through open lesions or injuries and can affect your fish quickly if not treated.

Adding ¼ teaspoon of Epsom salt for every 10 gallons of water in your tank will help draw excess fluids from the fish’s body – be careful not to use standard aquarium salt as this will cause a dangerous increase in fluid retention.

Some of the best medications for treating dropsy are:

  • Oxolinic Acid – Oxolinic acid powder can be added to your tank along with Kanaplex to treat fin rot or visible lesions and ulcers.
  • Kanaplex – Kanaplex is a kanamycin-based medication. Add one scoop of Kanaplex per 5 gallons of water in your tank, repeating up to three times
  • Metro-Med Food – Metro-Med produces a fish food specifically designed to help your goldfish overcome dropsy.
  • Kent Garlic Extreme Drops – These drops are formulated to help your goldfish regain its appetite while sick.

How To Prevent Dropsy

Dropsy is most commonly seen in tanks that are overcrowded or oversaturated with food. In order to prevent dropsy from occurring in your aquarium, here are a few simple tips to keep your fish healthy:

  • Change your tank’s water frequently.
  • For each water change, swap out 70 – 90% of the tank’s volume.
  • Use a strong aeration system in your tank to prevent the buildup of aeromonas.
  • Skip gravel and sand bases – use a bare-bottom tank to prevent the buildup of pathogens which can cause parasitic, fungal and bacterial infections.

Dropsy can be a deadly problem for your fish if untreated, but can often be cured if caught early. While keeping an eye on your fish for problems is crucial, it is often too late to do anything by the time full-blown symptoms set in. Instead, the best way to protect your fish is through preventative action. Ensure the conditions in your tank are up to par and that you’re proactively caring for your goldfish tank through regular water changes and a highly-aerated clean tank.

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