Q: SL wrote,

My beta Spooky most definitely has dropsy, but out of all the articles i’ve read on it, none have talked about other problems I’m having with him, which is making me to believe this is a really bad case. He barely eats now and barely moves. He hangs out at the bottom of his bowl. When I noticed the scales sticking out, I tried to get him to move. When he did, I noticed red spots on his belly and what looks like his belly ripped open. I attached photos of it. I’m afraid it might be too late for him but I’ve treated him with aquarium solutions beta revive, which the people at my local pet store gave me. I’ve had to keep him on a top shelf away from the cats. If he wasn’t up there, maybe I would have notice sooner. I feel really bad. I’ve had fish all my life but I’ve never had a fish with any illness, so I’m completely at a lost. If he is dying, what else can I do to make it easier for him and about how much longer? I hate seeing him like this.

A:Dropsy is a terrible disease. I have lost several fish to it myself and I know how heartbreaking it can be to see your Betta suffer. Unfortunately, tropical fish rarely overcome Dropsy. The pineconing and bloating you see is believed to be caused by internal organ failure and the accumulation of fluids in the body. Once it becomes noticeable it’s usually too late. The redness you are seeing is blood under the surface of a severely stretched abdominal area. The options are limited, I’m afraid, to trying to make him comfortable in his final days or fish euthanasia if you think he is suffering.

For severe bloating you can give him an Epsom salt bath to help combat the swelling. Add 1/2 teaspoon Epsom salt per gallon to a bowl of tank water and soak him for 15 minutes. (make sure the water temperature is the same as the water you are removing him from.) You can also try adding Epsom to his tank but at a reduced concentration of 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons of water. Results are mixed but it can be helpful in many cases of severe bloating. It’s important to know this isn’t a cure, just a way to reduce some of the osmotic stress and bloating.

Some aquarists prefer to euthanize very sick fish but this can be difficult for many people, especially those who keep fish as pets (rather then large quantities for breeding). If you have the stomach for it, there are several safe and humane methods to put your fish to sleep. Click to read more about fish euthanasia at Nippyfish.net.

I’m sorry you are going through this with your little Betta. It’s a really hard thing to watch them go through and unfortunately it is very common, especially among Bettas. You can take solace in knowing you did everything you could for him and are certainly not alone. I lost my oldest Betta to Dropsy last year and it was really tough even though I knew he was old and wouldn’t be with me long.

For more information on Dropsy in general, visit our Dropsy page.

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  1. Kalie says:

    My fish Sunny clearly has dropsy and I think a parasite? He clearly has had it for some time as well… months. There has been so mood change, eagerly swimming around when he sees the foot container, and always perking up when i come to the bowl. It wasn’t until i added aquarium salt, a solution calling dechorinator? And a broad spectrum type of pill that he has been a little less eager to eat and swim around. I know I don’t have the heart to euthanize so I’m not sure what to do, it’s keeping me up at night

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