Q: SK wrote: I came across your website by the recommendation of a few people. My betta seems to be having a pseudo-unique health problem. He seems constipated but really grossly, but he swims as energetically as always and his appetite hasn’t waned in the slightest. He is however, grotesquely swollen. For the past week, I’ve reduced his regular diet and given him greens like bits of green peas. He is defecating normally. His fins aren’t protruding like with dropsy. I’ve attached a few pictures of him. Keep in mind, he is still swelling. Any help or advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.

Betta with Bloated Abdomen

Betta with Bloated Abdomen

A: Thanks for writing in and providing those images. Though they are difficult to look at, they do illustrate, quite clearly, the severity of the situation. Dropsy is often characterized by full body swelling with protruding scales but very often it will materialize as an immensely bloated abdomen. I’m not certain why in some fish, the swelling is spread and in others it is centralized but fish hobbyists consider both to be Dropsy. I suspect the difference has to do with regulating osmotic pressure but I will have to do further research to see if there are theories.

The swelling you are seeing is not caused by a solid blockage (food) but rather a fluid build up caused when the internal organs begin to fail. Sadly, the survival rate in tropical fish is quite low and even more so when it gets to this level.

To make your fish more comfortable, I suggest either an epsom salt dip (1/2 tsp / gal for 15 minutes in a separate container) or you can add 1/8 tsp per 5 gal of epsom salt to his tank directly. Epsom salts are traditionally used to regulate the osmotic pressure and to relieve some of the swelling but some folks us aquarium salt instead at a dose of 1/2 tsp per gallon for a 15 min dip or a 1/2 tsp per 5 gal directly into the tank. (Don’t use aquarium salt in your tank if you have live plants).

Just as a side note, salt does not evaporate. If you are adding it directly to the tank for the first time, it will remain after a water change. Don’t redose the entire aquarium with salt again and again so that it accumulates. Instead, treat just the new water. While your fish is sick, it’s important to keep his water clean and free from toxins. Frequent water changes are helpful.

It’s important to understand epsom or aquarium salt isn’t a cure. It’s just intended to help bring some of the swelling down. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Dropsy.

I wish there was more I could offer. I hope he continues to feel good as long as
possible. Please let me know how he progresses.

Bloated Betta Fish

Bloated Betta Fish

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Reader Interactions


  1. Laura says:

    Aw! 🙁 This is exactly what my poor baby looks like. I took him to my local fish doctor a few days after I first noticed the swelling and he pretty much told me to prepare for the worst. Even though I knew it was coming, it brought me to tears. My fishy and I have been through a lot together.
    My little guy’s been this way for about four weeks now and still acting like everything’s fine. Still eating, still flaring up when he sees his neighbour and still cheerfully swimming around his tank like nothing’s wrong… I’m hoping he’s not in any pain. I just do a 30% water change every second/third day and pop epsom salts in. This hasn’t reduced the swelling but he hasn’t grown any bigger, either.
    I know there’s no cure for dropsy so hopefully I can just manage it and keep him happy for as long as possible. When I saw your post and saw how similar the conditions were, I was really, really hoping it was some other (treatable) illness — I got so excited. Alas. All the best for your little fella too.
    – Laura

    • destinee says:

      my male beta fish is like that now im not sure how long it has been like that but i really hope he gets better and i am not sure how they get it but i really hope he is going to be ok 🙁

      • Maria says:

        Tova kakvo znachi kakvo triabva da napravia

    • Ericka says:

      Aww 🙁
      My Bob has been like that too and I thought it was because he’s such a fatty…but it began to worry me so I found this page. My little brothers are devastated. We just lost our puppy to a hit and run, so you can imagine how we all feel losing another member of the family. Bob has been with us for almost a year now…and its so sad to think him gone.
      Best of luck to you guys!

      • Alivia Depew says:

        My fish is a fat fish i keep the tank clean and everything dont worry if you are a good pet owner and keep it clean then your condition may be that your fish likes to eat like mine

    • beryllagem says:

      My Betta is also suffering from a swollen tummy. I took him out of my 45 G tank into a gallon hospital tank. I’m treating him daily with 95% water changes, 1 tsp of epsom salt, and 1/4 tsp of terramycin. I also put 2 live red shrimp to keep him company and a live food source. After 2 days, he finally started pooing a little. His stomach has gone down a tiny bit. Will update in a few days.

    • Terrenae Bryant says:

      If it has raised scales its dropsy, but I would highly recommend going tot his webpage http://www.bettatalk.com/betta_diseases.htm. It gives a through description of betta diseases and how to cure them.

    • gerald says:

      My little betta Anjelica is swelled like that too she wont eat and just floats to the surface and then back down to the bottom. She seems out of it. Semiconscious. I think she will go soon, but she has stayed longer than I thought. Im sure all of your fish have had a amazing life. Stay strong

  2. Christie says:

    Oh Laura, I’m so sorry to hear about your Betta. I hate Dropsy, as I too have lost beloved fishes to it. It’s a horrible disease.

  3. Bobbi says:

    Hi Laura,
    My beta also got very swollen but his entire body. His scales stuck up like spikes!
    I gave him regular baths of epsom salt, feed him peas and got him a heater and started feeding him Daphnia.
    After four weeks of constant treatment the swelling started to go down and he became normal size within three days!
    Charlie is a vey happy fish and he has a very happy Mama!

    • anita says:

      Laura how often do u apply the epsom salt?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi.. my betta Redman must have dropsy in the begining.. I immediately began treatment using only salt baths and melafix.. his poops are back to normal and isn’t swollen anymore.. all of this scales are back to normal.. So there is hope if you catch at its earliest stages… treatment may last for months… I am a veterinarian technician student so I think I learned something from my studies..

  5. Anonymous says:

    Poor fish! I have a young male Betta who looks exactly like this. He has been acting completely normally but gradually swelling for the past couple of weeks. At first I thought he was just eating too much as he is by far the greediest fish in my 200ltr tank. But when he just kept swelling despite being put on a diet I knew for sure something was wrong. No other fish in the tank have been showing any signs of illness.
    I described the symptoms to a local expert over the phone who told me that my fish could possibly be suffering from Dropsy – but this was ruled out as the only symptom he has is the swelling and no pineconing or notable changes in behaviour.
    Having established he was probably just constipated I was advised he should be fed live bloodworms and live brinshrimp That did not seem to help much.
    So I took him in for an examination and have just been advised that it is in fact most likely a case of Malawi Bloat, not Dropsy – that is, he has been eating too much high protein food which his body cannot process properly so he has developed ‘fatty’ tissue and is severely constipated.
    He is now in a little hospital tank and is being treated with Octozin and a 40% water change every day. I was also told to feed him only small amounts of live brineshrimp.
    It is early days yet but he already seems more comfortable so here’s hoping for the best. I hope this can be of some help to others trying to treat the same horrible condition.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My fish Radcliffe is now going through the exact same thing! Its so sad because I got him when I moved into college and he has been with me in my dorm now for a few months.
    I do have a question. Is Dropsy contagious to other fish? I also have a female betta in the bowl with him and Im hoping it wont affect her too.
    Thank you!

  7. Anonymous says:

    This condition is not contagious but a male and female betta should never be kept in the same bowl together. These are aggressive fish and even if they are not actively attacking each other, they are stressing each other out and are prone to random acts of violence (murder!) so I would seperate them anyway as soon as possible.

    • Sheila says:

      I’m not sure if I agree with this advise. We had a 29 gallon tank, a 10 gallon & a 1 gallon for breeding & babies. We separated our males but always left one male & our females in the same tank together. They never fought or even paid much attention unless they were breeding. We bred hundreds of betas successfully & sold them to the local fish store.

  8. Anonymous says:

    my betta sparky is showing exactly the same symptoms all of you guys are describing. i have taken him out of his 13L tank and popped him in a jar of melafix and not fed him for 3 days. hes still bubblenesting!!!! i am about to give him a quarter pea, and thoroughly clean his tank. i’mm gonna keep writing on here every few days on his progress….. wish us luck !

  9. Anonymous says:

    I got a Betta a week ago…And immediately after I started feeding him he’s abdomen started swelling…He isn’t constipated because he’s eliminating normally…But is it dropsy?

    • Reece says:

      I’m sorry to say but most likly so iwould prapare the worst

  10. Anonymous says:

    what kind of peas can you give beta, and can you use kosher salt for salt baths?

  11. Anonymous says:

    My betta looked exactly the same four weeks ago. At that time I found a site saying that this is probably a fungal infection, which cannot be cured, and which eventually kills the fish. They also said the only cure is one which just relieves the suffering: taking out the liquid which accumulates inside the fishes’ belly with a syringe using a very thin needle. Which I did. Since then, I did it twice, and the fish seems almost healthy – it occasionally lays down on the ground of the bows on a side, but has no problem chasing the neons around, getting to the surface for air, and eating.
    No other fish in the bowl seems ill.
    I’ll try and get some anti-fungal water treatment, and see if the fish stops getting balloony very couple of weeks. I bookmarked this page, so I’ll try not to forget to post back.

  12. Anonymous says:

    My fish is like this, but like a week before the noticed swelling, something pinky-purplish came out of him. I had no idea what it was, really scared me. Do you guys know what that was?
    I read that if they have tumors that they would rub them off, but I’m not sure if the current swelling is that. He eats normally and doesn’t have the pineconing of the scales.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I have a betta with the swollen abdomen, decrease in appetite, not very active at all–either stays at the bottom or the top of the tank, any suggestions??

  14. Anonymous says:

    My betta has the same issues as the 3:37pm post. It started with him suddenly becoming lethargic one day, and then I noticed a wierd lump between one eye and his gill. After a couple of water changes, his behaviour went back to normal -being active, etc. but the wierd lump never went away. A few days ago, he became lethargic again, and all he does is hang out in his plant. He still eats, but doesn’t seem very excited about it. Today, in a scary progression, I noticed a lump that it turns out is his abdomen getting swollen. It’s not very big yet, but I’m very worried from reading this that it will become so.
    Any advice? I feel so bad for my poor lumpy betta!

  15. Aurora says:

    My poor baby is suffering as well. I put some tablet that’s supposed to cure Dropsy two days ago, but he looks miserable. Even though when I called him, he swam up to the tank. I have my doubts that he will get better since I was able to cup him in my hand. I’m going to try the salt tomorrow, along with peas. I really hope this works. I love that little guy!

  16. Anonymous says:

    My daughters betta had the same thing over a month. This morning I noticed that she had removed the water from the little tank so I thought the fish had died. I was surprised when I asked her if her fish had died and she answered, “no he’s getting better. I think he was just constipated”. To my surprise I saw the fish and his belly had gone down. Unfortunately I do think he is going to make it because he cannot stay at the surface of the water. Does anyone know what happens at this point if whatever was in the belly is out and the fish is still alive? It is not on it’s side or upside down. It simply has a hard time reaching the surface for air.

  17. Jeni says:

    My betta looks exactly like the picture (minus the coloring): swollen belly, but no protruding scales. I’ve tried feeding him a green pea, which he loved, but his belly is still swollen. He will only eat Hikari freeze-dried bloodworms (and peas). He refuses his flakes and pellets. I fasted him for a day before giving him the pea, it made no difference. I’ll try a salt bath, but I have to do it in a little fish bowl because he has live plants in his aquarium. He currently lives in a Hex5 5-gallon tank with bio-wheel kept in the mid 70s F. I’ll update if anything changes after the salt bath.

    • Llk says:

      I’m so heart broken, my fishy looked like that and was also himself (happy, energetic, still eating) I also started feeding less but this morning he didn’t make it. He tried to swim to the top of the tank and kept nose diving down and then to the side and then he just wilted at the bottom of the tank. (This all took less than a minute) It was the most awful thing to watch ! I tried to take water out of the tank to help him get to the surface easier but it was too late : ( worst experience.

  18. anonymous says:

    My betta fish looks exactly like the one in the picture. At first I thought it was dropsy but his scales aren’t sticking out at all. I went to the pet store to find medicine and there i saw a medicine with a picture of betta that looks exactly like this. The diagnosis says that the swollen abdomen is the cause of a tapeworm. I bought the medicine and put it in his tank and Im hoping for the best! Just thought I’d comment since dropsy seems to be what everyone thinks it is although after seeing the lack of swollen scales i’m convinced it is in fact a parasite.

    • Betta Lover says:

      Hi just wanted if the medicine worked and if it did could you let me know what medicine it was….I would be really grateful!!

  19. Jeni says:

    Update: My betta is STILL bloated. (See post from April 2, 10:25am)
    I’ve cut out all freeze-dried, pellet, and flake foods. I’ve switched to only foods he would find naturally in the wild, only frozen. He gets 1 serving of thawed daphnia every other day (the amount of his eye), and 2 frozen (thawed) blood worms every 4 days. Still swollen. Still getting bigger.
    I bought a liquid test kit and his levels are fine. His temp is now 80F constant. I even gave him an epsom salt bath in a smaller container floating in his main tank for a week. No change. The daphnia helps him poop, but he has not lost his enormous belly. 🙁
    I’m thinking parasite, tapeworm, SOMETHING is going on here. If I figure out what it is, I’ll update again. It’s so frustrating to see all these posts all over the internet with no resolution.

  20. Jeni says:

    FYI; found a long, stringy poop tonight. Treating for parasites now with Tetra Parasite Guard. I’ll keep you all updated with the results!

  21. Jeni says:

    My betta did not make it. It was only a week after my last posting and he passed away. 🙁
    I’m thinking his kidneys may have shut down. Fluid built up causing him to be bloated, as a result of him being part of the nitrogen cycle. The tank was NOT cycled when I put him in it, so he must have been subjected to ammonia, nitrite and nitrate spikes. 🙁
    By the way, the stringy poop was just poop, not parasites. So the parasite guard only weakened his immune system further until he succumbed to dropsy, complete with pineconed scales. 🙁

    • Christie F. says:

      Sorry to hear Jeni. Dropsy is awful. I’ve lost several fish to it over the years. I don’t know what it is that makes bettas so susceptible to it the first place. 🙁

      • Slogz says:

        Hey sorry to hear, i actually bo0kmarked this site hoping you would make some progress i could learn from.
        Dropsy sucks. Lost 2 males to it. Only common denominator so far was they both had shorter than normal bodies….anyone have the same finding?

        • Christie F. says:

          Interesting theory Slogz. Maybe it has something to do with how their organs form in their shortened bodies? You should investigate your theory more.

  22. Marcia says:

    I have had my fish for over 2 years. I have successfully treated it twice for a funny coating on the fish with Melafix. About a month ago I noticed something white on the fish. Wasn’t sure what it was. I talked to several people that supposedly know about fish. I even brought the fish into the pet store a week ago. One told me it was a parasite but not ich. She told me to treat it with the same medicine used for ich. In addition she suggested using sea salt or aquarium salt in the fish tank. The more I looked at the fish I decided it looked fungal. I decided to treat it for a fungal infection. It has spread. I am still treating it for a parasite as well. The fish has also started bloating and I read that salt can cause bloating that Epsom salt should be used. The fish stopped eating 3 days ago. He is still swimming a little. Still stays at the top of the tank most of the time. I did my first Epsom salt bath tonight. It still has the fungal thing going on and I think perhaps the medicine I am using is not a good medicine. I may have to find something else to try. I keep getting different information from different people. I do not know how my fish got sick but I suspect from snails I brought home from the pet store. Almost every time I have brought one home the fish seemed to have a problem including what I treated with Melefix. I would like to mention that both of my snails died shortly after I noticed my fish had this fungal thing going on.

    • notrelevant says:

      you sir have a case of “i think i need a pill for this, a pill for that ho and dont forget the pill that i need because i need a pill” theres probably a name for this but who cares. all im trying to do is point out that you might be doing more harm than good by subjecting your poor animal to different medecine or therapy. it sounds like a lot of people here are assuming and tryin the hit and miss thingy. if a professional tell you something that you think is wrong…. ask another professional, don’t assume that sudently you now have a vet degree.

  23. ashley says:

    My betta fish Herbert I stopped eating all of a sudden. I thought maybe he just wasn’t hungry and would eat within a few days. But then I noticed he is starting to bloat. I bought him some Epsom salt and put him in a different bowl. I then put a light on him and I left him in there for about 20 minutes. I wasn’t sure how much salt to use so I used a pinch because his tank is only 1 gallon. I hope he will be alright.

  24. Slogz says:

    So i have a beautiful crowntail male, and when i last posted on this site, was because he had a bloated belly too.I tried everything – i starved him a few days, fed the boiled pea. he p0oped, but still was very bloated, i followed up with regular epsom salt baths about once a week, this did not help.
    I kept fasting him, fed him twice a week. eventually i gave up and housed him in a split tank with another male, he wouldnt even flare. Over the next few weeks i maintained regular water changes, i fed him more (once daily) and over time i increased the daily intake, and 2 nights ago, for the first time in over a month my betta swims with vigor (previously hardly swam either stayed at the top or bottom and did more of a wobble instead of swim) flares at the male next to him when exposed and his tummy is no longer swollen.he is still not yet restored to his former glory, but i can see him getting there.
    I cannot say what did the trick, but i did feel the epsom baths caused more distress in my case.Hope you guys all the best!

    • Christie F. says:

      Wonderful that you were able to get him back on his feet (err, fins rather). I agree with you about the epsom salt. I think it can be good and can work, but it can also cause stress so I don’t like to use unless I’ve tried other milder treatments first.

      • Slogz says:

        Thanks Christie, Bettas can really make a person stress more than a betta in a epsom bath

  25. Corey says:

    Hi guys my fish looks like that one in the picture, ive been medicating him with powder form marcyn 2. been doing it for 3 or 4 days with no result, just cloudy water. now hes laying by his filter and doesnt want to move. was hoping someone could email me and help me with this situation. cjg20252005@gmail.com please help !! thanks

  26. Natalie says:

    Just read this and it’s exactly what my The Incredible Mr. Limpit has…I just noticed it today. Although i pay attention to him EVERYDAY….but it’s really sad to know that he’s in organ failure. he’s not the first Betta that I’ve had, but the first to go through this type of thing. I got Me Limpit for my b-day 2 yrs ago….it’s really sad to know that there’s nothing that can be done

  27. Amber says:

    My betta, Tai, is bloated and has been bloated for a while. I believe he has constipation, and I fed him peas but nothing yet. He is only a few months old. I’m thinking that maybe today I’ll give him an epsom salt bath, but I need some help with how much I should give him. Reach me at my email, amberknndy@aol.com .

  28. Lilly says:

    NOOOOOOOO our fish look so much alike it’s creepy! ahd he’s also bloated… I love my fish so much! I wish there was a cure…

  29. Em says:

    I’ve had my betta for a few weeks now, and when I got him I immediately noticed a small portruding belly. Tonight especially, he appears very pale and lethargic. I am a little worried because he has never looked this bad since I’ve had him. I think I will check out a local pet shop to see what exactly is going on. But I think it may be my tank, I’ve have housed many bettas in that tank and have not properly cleaned in the past. I think it is catching up with me, or the fish I mean…

  30. Jose says:

    My fish looks like that also, but i think its because i over fed him. After he ate alot i noitce that his tummy was HUGE after.. thinking i wont feed him for 3 days..

  31. rachel says:

    My male betta is blue and i just noticed how big his belly looks and i notice him from time to time laying on his side at the top of the tank i thought he was dead but he is still alive.. he is having a very hard time swimming to the bottom of the tank its so weird he instantly floats back to the top.. he cant stay at the bottom.. what is going on with my fish!! does anyone know??

    • AngryPuppy says:

      could very possibly be a bad case of dropsy, for which thee is no easy cure…he could come out of it himself, but its very unlikely…

    • Faith says:

      Mine is doing exactly the same thing, and from what I’ve seen before and read it’s probably a swim bladder issue if he doesn’t have any other problems such as pinecone scales.

    • Betta Lover says:

      Yes, he’s constipated. Especially cause you said he’s having a hard time getting to the bottom. He doesn’t have dropsy or he’d be at the bottom a lot. You have to put him in a small bowl with his own waters and feed him small pieces (4 if possible) of cooked peas. You can put frozen (not canned) peas (2 at a time) in the microwave for 30 seconds, then feed your fish from the small bowl. The peas will keep sinking but just keep feeding him until he eats 4 pieces, then return him to his bowl (without the pieces of peas) and don’t feed him any food tomorrow. My betta survived for 2 more years after he had this. Start feeding him 1 piece of food at each feeding not a bunch all at once.

      • Betta Lover says:

        Oops – Forgot to say when you cook the peas in the micro put them in water not just by themselves.

  32. Dustin says:

    i bought my second beta (female) a couple weeks ago, this one didn’t seem to be doing so well but i had high hopes for it because its colors were amazing. after getting it home and treating it for a variety of different things from ick to fungal infections. i got a better heater and kept her warm around 80-82 and she perked right up. last week i realized she was gasping for air and her gills were going way out of the side of her body, i immediately pulled her out of the tank and into a smaller container. after closer inspection she has several signs of sickness. her balance while swimming is off, her belly is semi swollen, she struggles to get to the surface of the tank and then sinks back to the bottom, her fins were slightly damaged from when i got her but were showing signs of growth. she is looking pale and lethargic. i have been doing 100% water changes daily. i have been using a natural fin repair med called betta-fix and it is doing well for her fins. as for the bloating i have come to the asumption that it was the pellets i was feeding her. so after massive research i found 2 things that boost betas digestive system. daphia and brine shrimp spaced out over a few days. i had previously been doing some flakes and and pellets. she is today starting to swim normally, continuously and starting to swim straight. i will give an update as soon as i figure out how well she is doing. hope this helps

  33. AngryPuppy says:

    This is EXACTLY what my fighter Kasbian looks like right now…I’ve tried epsom salts and the pea trick, and all of my tanks are alway immaculately clean…although he swims around heathily, I can tell he’s not, and I don’t think its Dropsy or Constipation…I’ve tried everything…

  34. Sange says:

    My fish, Finn, is suffering from the same thing. Started noticing a slight swelling of his belly about 2 months ago. Checked on websites that mentioned constipation, dropsy, tumors, tapeworm… Checked with the local pet shop and was told Finn could not have dropsy or a tapeworm because he lives alone and does not eat live/freeze dried food. Fasting did not work, he is pooping again but it’s very long strings. His belly is getting bigger. He’s still swimming around happily, making bubble nests, and doing jumping tricks for food daily. I wish I could help him but I seriously don’t know what’s wrong. I got him in June and a couple of weeks later he developed Velvet and was terribly lethargic and not eating then, so this mysterious bloating is really (seemingly) not affecting him adversely. Just trying to prepare myself to come home from work or get up in the morning to find him floating on top. : (

  35. MissFrizyCee says:

    Please help, i believe i have a male molly that has the same symtoms but im unsure, i will go to my local petshop but usually they like to just make a sale out of anything (bad i know) so please can someone advise me before i go there, im worried for the little guy 🙁 he still poops and swims around, and he still eats, this has only happened in the last couple hours… Thanks

  36. Nana says:

    My fish looks the same at the picture swollen, but not change his beautiful color. I took him to Petsmart and I bought Bettafix, I’m changing the water of the tank every single day since 8 days ago, and putting half teaspoon for bettafix, but still my poor baby is the same 🙁 .
    I’m saddddddd for him, he all the time is at the bottom of the tankd, not eating

  37. Amanda says:

    My Betta. Ive had him since January and now its the end of February. He is a really good fish. I feed him bloodworms and he really loves them. This morning i noticed he was having slight swelling in his belly area. And his fins at his belly area are shorter than they have been. And hes been laying at the bottom of the tank more than usual. He still has the same appetite and comes up to the top of the tank when he see’s me. And swims around to signal that he wants food but the swelling is scaring me. What do i need to do and what is the disease?

  38. Jamie says:

    My poor prettyboy has gotten this recently and i hadn’t notice since he was just sort of a fatty.
    But considering he’s kept in a fifty gal with about ten baby mollies with no lid to keep water from evaporating, I suppose it was inevitable.
    Bluh..I don’t even want the baby mollies but we don’t know what to do with them so now my prettyboy is probably going to die

  39. Dawie says:

    Hey, i have my betta now for 6months, and never had any problems, now the last 2 weeks he is swollen from head to tail and his tail is dying peace by peace, he went from blue/purple to a brown whitish pale colour, i change the water once a week feed him twice a day with special betta food, and all of the sudden he is lyining on the bottom or at the top of the water he doesnt want to eat hardly moves and gives a fatty type of liquid off that drift ontop of the water, plz help i dont want to loose my fishy

    • Dawie says:

      just founded out that my betta has dropsy and tail rot disease im so sad now

  40. Anonymous says:

    My fish became swollen in it’s belly too, just like in the picture. I thought he would die because most everything I read said that if your fish gets dropsy, they usually die. I did a partial water change and vacuumed out his little tank. He remained swollen for almost two months, and then one day I decided to feed him fish flakes because they float on the top of the water and the beta pellets I’d always fed him would sink to the bottom making it hard for him to get because his belly was making it so hard for him to swim freely. After switching to flakes for about a week, he started to deflate and now he is back to perfectly normal!

  41. Lee says:

    We have a male betta that this coming September will be 1yr that we have had him. It’s been now close to 4 weeks that Blu has been swollen( like pic). He acts normal, and still eats. I added epsom salt to the tank to help him. Fed him today dried shrimp instead of usual pellet. The pea thing thats mentioned here should I try that ? My 4yr old will be heartbroken if Blu dies. Please help.

  42. Krista Lail says:

    My betta developed this swollen abdomen, but acted as if nothing was wrong. It was like this for a couple of weeks and when I checked on him this morning, he looked quite normal with hardly any swelling, but he wouldn’t eat his pellets. Any thoughts?

  43. Jessica says:

    Help! My betta jumped to the counter a few weeks ago during a cleaning and stopped acting normal. (hardly swimming And not eating.) tonight I noticed his belly is starting to swell, just like these pictures but not as large yet. He has some stringy poo hanging down but I don’t know what to do!! 🙁

    • Irene Athas says:

      My Dovy fish, I just finished reading at least 75 sad letters about the swollen belly problems on Betta pets but very little on other symptom’s. Has anyone seen a droopy mouth, whitish body, and side flippers flashing fast? I just did another check and he’s now at bottom of bowl….I’ll be crying again soon….cause now it sounds like Dropsy. Has anyone seen these other symptoms? Is this a bladder disease? The Pet Store lady said to only feed a little every other day. I hope there’s a fish heaven for all of you who lost these sweet creatures. Help!

  44. Nayeli says:

    My betta fish looked the EXACT SAME, I went to walmart and bought “FUNGUS CLEAR FIZZ TABS” which treats “DROPSY” and I also bought EPSOM SALTS, I put my little fish in a hospital tank (1 gallon tank) and on a separate 1 gallon container , I did the bath salts dip twice a day and the fungus treatment, for the first 3 days and after the 3rd day, you change 25% of the water and put a little more medicine, but just a little bit, you gotta read the instructions, anyway, i really thought the fish was gonna die but today is the 4th day of treatment and his belly DECREASED SIGNIFICANTLY and he looks happier, I really think my fish is gonna make it!!

  45. kyra says:

    hi my betta fish has dropsy me and my fish have lots of fun together. I’m sad because what he has is something that does not have a cure and he may die.he was my first fish even though I can get another fish but another fish won’t be the same as my first fish. My first fish was very special to me and my sister and her name is Princess Julie. thankyou

  46. Oliver says:

    There might be hope! I know that there are over all fungal and other treatments that will treat bloat, dropsy, Fin rot, and some other miscellaneous conditions and don’t cause much stress to the fish. You can treat the whole tank, but be weary of any fish with no scales. This can be painful for them. Most come in tablets that can be dissolved and start working immediately and often second treatment isn’t needed. My betta was not only swollen, but was showing signs of swim bladder disease and lethargy. I’ll be doing a 25% water change every three days and retreating, so we’ll see how things turn out. Sadly, I think I’m too late. It’s been a few days and I thought maybe it was due to stress and that he’d be fine once he was returned to his original tank. I wish you lot the best of luck, looks like we all need it.

  47. Tnt says:

    I have a gorgeous tailed blue n red Betta with same problem. Have had him over a year. He comes to the top to see us, but kinda swims sideways due to big belly. How much Epsom salt do I use per liter and has anyone had any success with the salts, peas, or Daphnia solutions?? Email me at TigerzEyez09@yahoo.com. Do the anti-fungal treatments really cure Dropsy? He does not have any roommates and has spent the full year very healthy, sad to find him like this.

  48. debbiek says:

    My betta is in a 2 1/2 gallon tank, how much epsom salt should I add to his tank? and how often should this be done,and should I clean his tank after this treatment.

    • nAYELI says:

      My betta fish looked the EXACT SAME, I went to walmart and bought “FUNGUS CLEAR FIZZ TABS” which treats “DROPSY” and I also bought EPSOM SALTS, I put my little fish in a hospital tank (1 gallon tank) and on a separate 1 gallon container , I did the bath salts dip twice a day and the fungus treatment, for the first 3 days and after the 3rd day, you change 25% of the water and put a little more medicine, but just a little bit, you gotta read the instructions, anyway, i really thought the fish was gonna die but today is the 4th day of treatment and his belly DECREASED SIGNIFICANTLY and he looks happier, I really think my fish is gonna make it!!

      • nAYELI says:


  49. Kelsey says:

    My betta has had a big belly for a while I thought it was just because he ate a lot, but recently he hasn’t been swimming much just sitting at the top of the tank. Now he floats on his side and doesn’t move unless the tank moves. He’s still alive but is starting to bleed. I feel so bad for him ;(

  50. Solari says:

    My lovely Betfa has the same big belly as the picture. I noticed today that all of a sudden he was bliated. I will do the salt and meds tonight and keep record of its progress. I want my little fish to survi e since I had him for a year.

  51. Jessica says:

    I got my male crowntail about a week before christmas and he was doing great! Swimming around and flaring at his reflection and all that jazz. Last time I changed the water was either last wednesday or thursday and I didn’t notice any swelling, I was also getting ready to go to California for the weekend and was running around like a mad man to get everything done. I noticed tonight though that he’s barely swollen like in the picture, not as bad as that but noticeable even after not seeing him for about a week. I don’t have the funds to go out and buy medicines and what not but I have aquarium salt, tetra ick guard tablets, rid-ick plus and bettasafe. I’m going to do a full water change and clean the crap out of my filter in hopes that it’ll help. Anything advice will help!

  52. Sherry says:

    My beta looks like this too. How sad. I don’t know how to put him out of his misery. He comes to me and eats. He acts normal most of the time. Looks like he is getting a round hole in his beautiful tail.

  53. Brian says:

    My betta looked just like this and I cured him in one week.When I got Fin as my wife named him,he was already in rough shape from neglect.,Once I got his fin rot under control I got him a 20 gallon tank so he could move around a little and things started looking very good for him.With 20 gallons in his tank I thought 25% water changes weekly would be enough using a siphon to vacuum the gravel for waste removal.He looked great and was getting a beautiful blue color proving we were on the right track.I was very careful what I put in his tank so as not to hurt him,(on a side note,NEVER buy Chinese fake plants unless you’re willing to watch your friend die almost immediately.Within 5 minutes he was on his side with his eyes bugging out!I had to scoop him out and change his water.,that seemed to be enough for him to recover that mishap.)Next I got live plants,he loved them and would spend the bulk of his time there so I got more live plants only this time they came from an aquarium at Pet Smart.Within 2 days his belly was getting pretty big for his size and we cut back on his food.A couple more days he looked like he swallowed a ball,and then I spotted a SNAIL in the gravel.,Then another and more so I figured he was just gorging on them.Another tank cleaning and a very nasty call to Pet Smart which got an admission of guilt for the snail thing.(corporate does not allow the stores to put warning signs up concerning the snail infestation in their tanks)Any way I thought he was plugged up with snail shells or something so I thought my only course of action would be surgery to clear shells from his inner workings.Little did I know this was not the case.Some surfing and some calls led me to a marine vet in the Buffalo N.Y. area.A 500 mile round trip doesn’t seem like too much to try to save a life I guess, even if it’s for a 4 dollar fish since he only gets one life like any of us.Upon my arrival I was told not to get my hopes up because they never survive this condition because it was not as I suspected but a bacterial infection verified by drawing the fluid by syringe from his belly and examining it under a microscope.He was administered an antibiotic and I was given 5 more injections to follow up over the next 2 weeks.It broke our hearts to give him his shots because we thought he would be afraid of us afterward but he seemed to know we were trying to help him.Within 3 days he was pooping GREEN,The vet said he was expelling the infection.,after maybe 2 days of that it turned to white and he was swimming around pretty well again,another couple days and his beautiful blue color was returning and he acted like he was starving,snapping his food almost before it hit the water..A very similar condition can be caused by over feeding as their bodies can only process so much and it leads to bloat.Any way Dropsy is a condition CAUSED BY an illness,not the other way around.If you love your fish keep his tank clean and be ready to transfer him to a hospital tank quickly as time is the key to survival for many illness’.Fish:free.Tank,stand and gravel plus accessories,plants,ect.ect.400.$.Vet and road trip:250$,.I realize alot of people don’t have the money to spend chasing a cure for their loved pets so I felt obligated to share this as I have been blessed with a good job that affords me the luxury of doing what most people consider eccentric.,but the show Fin gives me when I walk into the room is proof enough to me that even fish recognize and show affection to their keepers and that in itself to me is priceless.I hope that many may benefit and hopefully it will save somebody the pain of losing their pet over the lack of funds or info.

    • KT says:

      Wow, that’s dedication! I’m so glad to hear that things turned out so well for your fish! My fish’s symptoms sound similar, but like you said the swelling is a condition caused by an illness, not the other way around, so the root of the problem could be very different from yours. It sounds like I need to start searching for a vet who treats fish…

    • JJ says:

      I just got a new betta, Chip, and don’t know a thing about raising him. I see you guys talking “bubble nesting, dropsy,etc. How can you tell when they are pooping ok? And what is “bubble nesting”?

  54. notrelevant says:

    betta sucks when it dies get a new one. try to find a match so your kid dont notice.

  55. trinity says:

    Can you use sentited epsom salt

  56. Elizabeth says:

    I think my little girl has this, I just noticed it a few hours ago, hope the Epsom salt will help her, some..

  57. Divya says:

    my little guy had a swollen belly i chanced his water right away at 2am i was freaking out the next morning he was fine his belly went back to normal 🙂

  58. feather tails dad says:

    I was so excited to find your site for I have a male beta fish whose name is feather tail. Mr tails has been living with this condition of gulping too much air, failed kidneys and/ or Dropsy. My heart became extremely heavy at first glimpse of Mr.Tails swollen Pectorals. Not knowing what to do, I immediately exchanged Mr. Tails water with fresh solution for bowl. This has been on going since Aug. 2013 and He is still with us though he is currently swollen or have worked but too much

  59. Sam says:


  60. Sam says:

    My betta is severely bloated and seems to have dropsy, and also there is this white protrusion coming out of his abdomen/the annul area and is sitting at the bottom of his tank. What is the problem? And what can I do to help? Please reply!

  61. Randohn says:

    My beta has dropsy. I cleaned his whole ten gallon tank and have been teasing his water with erythromycin fur bacteria and API fungus cure because I couldn’t determine which type of infection he has. His pineconing had gone down. I have him a salt bath and that send to reduce swelling. My fear is that he hasn’t eaten for a week. I don’t know if he will be strong enough to beat the infection having gone so long without eating. Should I put him down?

  62. Lisa says:

    My betta swelled up like this a few weeks ago and looked like a pine cone. I expected he worst. I put him in a treatment bowl with aquarium salt water. He perked up and had a good appetite. Over the past 10 days his swelling went down and he was finally back to looking completely healthy. He remained that way for about a week. His belly is now swelling again. He is still energetic and has a good appetite. I have not put him back in his tank. I am baffled. I thought we had kicked whatever was going on….

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