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All About Dropsy


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Dropsy is a common disease afflicting pet fresh-water fish in aquariums. Symptoms of dropsy include a swollen abdomen and a pine-cone-type appearance caused by the scales sticking out. This is caused by a concentration of built up fluid in the body tissues and cavity. A fish afflicted with dropsy might stop eating, lose color, be listless, or stay at the very top and bottom of its tank. This disease is dangerous, as it affects the internal organs and causes them to cease functioning correctly. The prognosis for dropsy in fish is usually poor. Once a fish has swollen to the point where the scales have begun sticking out, internal damage may be too great to heal. Many cases of dropsy turn out to be fatal. Fish which do recover will see full improvement in under a week.

Dropsy affects Gouramis, Cyprinids, Bettas and Goldfish. It is easy to diagnose the condition, but the causes of this affliction vary. Most often, dropsy is caused by bacterial infection from food or poorly maintained living conditions. Other causes include edema from kidney failure and secondary symptoms of heart of liver failure, as well as tumors and viruses. This condition isn’t very contagious, but fish diagnosed with this condition should be place immediately in a sick tank. There is some chance that bacterial dropsy can spread, or that the stress of being around a sick animal can cause the other fish in the aquarium to be susceptible to other forms of disease. Isolation also reduces the stress on the fish with dropsy.

Treatment of dropsy can usually best be accomplished by targeting the cause of the dropsy. Antibiotics from the vet can be introduced to the water to combat the bacterial condition. Some over the counter commercial remedies are also available. These are best used in the early stages of dropsy. It is also helpful to raise the temperature of the aquarium several degrees, and to add Epsom salts to the water to help encourage the expulsion of harmful fluids. It is important to maintain water quality. Dirty water is often a cause of disease in aquarium fish. Frequent water changes can prevent disease from spreading by watering down the concentration of bacteria and other disease causing agents. They can also reduce stress in the occupants of the aquarium. All tanks need to have ten to twenty-five percent of their water changed every week, by siphoning the dirtiest water from the bottom. Prevention of dropsy can be aided by feeding fish from reliable sources, with high quality food.

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