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Find Out What is Dropsy in Fish?

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When you get an aquarium and fish home, you also bring along a lot of responsibilities. They require your love, care, and cleanliness. To make sure that your fish are living healthy and are having a happy time, there’s a lot to take care of their health and their living environment. Well, looking onto that aspect, we have come across some facts that you must be aware of.

Just like humans, fish also suffer from health issues, and you need to make sure that they do not get into it, or if already did, you know how to cure them. Fish usually face these issues because of water contamination. Cleaner the water healthier the fish. Therefore, things like what is dropsy in fish, how can you help them avoid getting into this, or many others should be your concern when petting fish.

Did You Know?

Fish have been present on Earth for the last 450 million years. They were present long before the Dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

Henceforth, this article focuses on enlightening such topics and introducing you to an efficient and effective solution. Take a tour of this article for very relatable solutions.


What are the primary health issues that fish face? 

There are multiple health issues like ammonia poisoning, cotton-mouth, dropsy, white spot, fungal infection, tail or fin rotting, etc that are usually faced by fish. And to be precise, these issues are all generated due to water contamination or irresponsible cleaning process. Yet, the most common health issue faced by fish is dropsy. All of these problems cause stress to the fish and, if left unnoticed, possibly leads fish to die in the tank. This leads other fish to get infected and, they also gradually die. So, it’s your responsibility that you are keeping a track and are ensuring that the water in the tank is clean and sanitized.

What is dropsy in fish? 

Dropsy is a disease that develops due to the buildup of fluid inside the body cavity or tissues. This is a very common Aeromonas bacteria that leads to severe infection, especially to the one who has a compromised immune system. However, dropsy in fish is considered more of a symptom than a disease as it usually indicates numerous underlying diseases like liver dysfunction, bacterial infections, or parasitic infections. They are caused due to a significant drop in water temperature, ammonia spikes, poor water quality, improper nutrition, etc.

How long can a fish in dropsy survive?

They do not have much time once they get affected by this disease. According to what the records say, a fish in dropsy can survive 7-10 days maximum. If in case, after that, there is no cure for dropsy in fish, you need to do a massive water change, However, dropsy is not something that is ever considered as being cured but you can at least take all the possible treatments that might cure it. Before that, take a look at the signs and symptoms that indicates dropsy.

Symptoms of dropsy in fish:

Another important thing when you start discussing dropsy in fish, the first thing that comes in your mind is what are the symptoms that indicate dropsy in fish. Well, if you are an observer when it comes to your fish than you are most likely to see some behavioral changes in your fish.

So, typically, a fish suffering from dropsy will stop eating altogether, or will often start hiding in just one part of the aquarium. They will keep steering clear of their peers and will develop a lack of appetite that usually extends for two to three days before the belly starts to swell. If you started noticing such changes, immediately start the treatment for dropsy in fish.


How to treat dropsy in fish?

Now the question arises, what are the treatments for dropsy that you should be opting for. Well, here’s how you can do that. 

Use a quarantine to treat dropsy. However, the condition is not always where dropsy in fish is contagious, but this is an excellent precaution that you can opt for. Quarantine of the infected fish is to make sure that none of the others will be infected. It helps in isolating the fish in the tank.

Step 2- Once you’ve isolated the fish, add some salt into the aquarium of the infected fish. But, one thing that you need to strictly follow is that you are adding 1 teaspoon salt for every gallon of water. Keep changing the water on a regular basis and make sure you are still in the loop of adding 1 teaspoon for every 1 gallon added to the container.

 There are chances that it might not complete making dropsy go away but it will hugely reduce its effect and it will save other fish from being affected by this. 

Did You Know?

Did you know that fish have the ability to taste without even opening their mouths? This truly is amazing.

Diet and Medical Care

Apart from what you should be used to prevent fish from suffering from dropsy, you also need to take care of their diet and medication. Here is a precise take on how can you do that, take a glance at how to take care of their diet and medication of fish in dropsy.


A good diet is the best way to prevent and treat common diseases. Considering, you are also maintaining a perfect water condition. However, there can be variations in food type depending upon the individual species. But it should be made of a quality flake food and should have additional supplementation of vegetables, and frozen foods.


You can always require medication so it’s a good idea to keep it handy. It is the quickest and easiest way to treat dropsy in fish as it adds an antibacterial remedy to your aquarium. One very consistent medication that you can serve is API Melafix.

Try out this API Melafix that you can easily find on Amazon:

​Quickly And Rapidly Help Fish - Recommended
  • Heals bacterial infections and repairs damaged fins, ulcers and open wounds
  • Contains natural, botanical tea tree extract to
  • Helps treat newly-introduced fish to reduce risk of disease outbreak in freshwater aquarium

Did You Know?

It would be weird to say that fish can drown, but that can happen. If there is not enough oxygen dissolved in the water, they can be drowned.


Is Dropsy in Fish Contagious? 

First of all, dropsy is not a disease but a symptom of many other diseases that the fish has been affected by. Hence, dropsy is not contagious to fish of other species but might affect other fish of the same species in the tank. So, the time you notice any behavioral changes in the fish, make sure to start the treatment as quickly as possible. There are chances of a cure if noticed at the initial stage.

Possible solution

Although, at present, there are no medications introduced that can claim 100% cure of dropsy in fish. Once the swelling starts, the fish eventually dies. But in case you noticed the symptoms at the initial stage, you can use some medication to reduce the effect. Unfortunately, when most people first see something is wrong is when they notice swelling. And because during the blotting, scales of the fish gradually rise, and it is not a sign of recovery. What is told to be the best possible solution is keeping animal’s welfare in mind, to remove the fish from the fish aquarium and, humanely euthanize it.

In addition to this point, it is also told to give them a blunt edge trauma to the head rather than chilling or freezing as it is considered the most appropriate method of euthanasia. This is because chilling or freezing takes considerably more time and thereby prolongs any discomfort. Although, in the case of a goldfish and koi, chilling and freezing is a better option given their ability to tolerate low water temperatures is very low.

Video Introduction

Let’s close the tank - Wrapping up! 

We have come across multiple information and facts about what is dropsy in fish, what are the possible causes, symptoms, solutions, etc. Keeping that in mind, I would always you to keep your fish tank water clean, fresh, and sanitized. Ensure that your fish is being served healthy food and in an appropriate amount.

They aren’t overfeeding and that there is no leftover rotting on the bottom of the tank. Keep the gravel, sand, or any decor inside the tank clean. Keep changing the tank water at a proper interval. Observe your fish whenever you are feeding them, or while cleaning the filter or the tank. Add the required nutrition from time to time. If you own a tank, take responsibility and put in your effort to keep them healthy and alive.

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