Good day! I’ve been an avid reader of your blog and website and pretty much took to heart everything you noted on Betta care.
I just wanted to share an experience with Dropsy and how my fish unbelievably made a recovery from it. I hope others who have their pets affected by this can benefit as well.
I never used to have any problems with my Betta, Manny. He stays in a 2.5 Gallon Tank with a HOB filter, with no substrate or decorations since anything added to the tank other than the filter never seemed to agree with him… whether they be rocks, live plants or anything plastic. He was a happy fighting fish, swimming actively and playing with the current from the filter for days on end. One morning I saw him floating on his side one morning when I came to give him his food. His scales were raised, there was a certain redness under his gills, and his tummy had a slight swell to it… at that point I figured it had to be Dropsy plus some other infection that I couldn’t tell. My first three Bettas all died of Dropsy, and I felt bad knowing I might lose him to this one too. Nonetheless, I took him from his tank and put him in his 16 oz. hospital bowl where I know the measurements of his meds would be more exact. I took out the aquarium salt (1 teaspoon in 1.5 gallon containers) from his usual water mix, and put in Epsom salt in its place. I also got some Betta Revive and put in a drop to go with the mix. I made the transfer and prayed for the best. He was still floating on his side for the first few days, but he was eating so I figured there was still a chance.
I did this routine everyday for two weeks, (despite the fact that the note on Betta revive said it should be discontinued after a week) changing his water every one or two days as I could, applying the same mix. From floating on his side, he started swimming upright and then just lay down on one side at the bottom of the bowl the next few days. I felt sorry for him since he looked like he was in a lot of pain. He would only respond to food, and he wouldn’t really move for the rest of the time. I did see some physical improvements; his scales eventually returned to normal, the redness under his gills disappeared, and his belly returned to its normal size. He still seemed pretty weak, since he still wasn’t moving about.
This morning I checked, and he looked completely normal. Granted, he wasn’t as active as his old self was, but he looked better than he ever had since he got hit by Dropsy. He was eating (dashed off with a pellet of Hikari Bio-Gold in his mouth), and responded quite well when I waved my hand in front of his hospital tank. I have yet to move him in his old tank, but it does seem like he’s made a remarkable recovery.
To everyone that has Bettas suffering from Dropsy… it’s important to catch this very early on. I think I may have been lucky that I got to see this early in Manny, with his scales partially raised and his tummy swelling just slightly. I doubt I could’ve made much of a difference if I caught it in its later stages. There were points that he looked worse before he got better, but as long as he’s breathing, eating, and moving… he has a chance. Don’t give up on his water changes and inspect his condition every day.
For reference, the recovery package included:
- 1 16oz Mini Bowl or Tank
- 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt for 1.5 gallons of water
- 1 drop of Betta Revive per 16 oz.
- Water treated with the usual anti-chlorine and aged for a day or two near the tank so the temperature would be consistent.
I live in the tropics, so the temperature often ranged from 27-32 C degrees. I did 100% water changes every one to two days as my schedule allowed, since I got so swamped with work deadlines that time.
I didn’t change his diet with this, feeding him smaller amounts of BettaMin Tropical Medley flakes and (1 pellet, soaked) Hikari Bio-Gold alternately. Fast him every 6th or 7th day to give his digestive tract a rest.
Prayers definitely helped too.
In any case, I’m moving Manny back to his old tank today. I’ll have to taper off his dosage of Epsom salt so as not to make it sudden. Then I’ll likely reduce the aquarium salt or remove it altogether.
I hope others would be able to use this information. Thanks again for such an informative blog, and I hope this info adds a bit more to help Betta keepers everywhere!
There is a great lesson to be learned from this story. Animals are amazingly resilient and have inalienable will to survive. I admire Angelo’s dedication to the treatment of his pet. I too have seen some amazing recoveries and believe deeply that we have a responsibility to care for our fish when they are sick and to take whatever steps are necessary to provide a safe and stable environment for them.
Thanks again for the email Angelo.