Dropsy in Betta Fish : Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

We may receive commissions when you buy through links on our site.

Betta fish are lovable creatures that most of the aquarium enthusiasts like to own. But what if they fell ill and catch dropsy?

In this article, we will be discussing the causes, symptoms, and prevention of dropsy in betta fish. Furthermore, we will guide you on how to treat Dropsy in Betta fish.

What is Dropsy in Betta Fish?

Dropsy in Betta fish is a bacterial infection that can be dangerous and even fatal. It is an indication there is something not good with your Bettas. It is not a disease itself. Instead, it is an indication that your Bettas are undergoing some problems internally.

You can take dropsy as a warning that your Betta fish health is compromised, and if not taken seriously, your Bettas won’t live long. Luckily, it is not common in healthy fish. If you fish have a weak immune system, there is a high chance they will catch dropsy easily. The growth of dropsy is a slow and deadly process. Kidneys, Liver, and Betta fish skin are usually the most common parts affected by it.

Unfortunately, the chance of survival for such fish is low. But still, it is curable to somewhat extent. The sooner you find and identify the symptoms of dropsy, the more chance your Bettas will have to survive.

Symptoms of Dropsy in Betta Fish

Thanks to its symptoms, dropsy is easily identifiable in Bettas by just monitoring them with a little focus. You can notice their appearance and behavior will change as the bacterial infection grows in their body.

Always keep that in mind that these symptoms are quite similar to the ones that are present in stressed Bettas. So it is better to compare them before the execution of dropsy treatment as it can cause further stress in Bettas, which will be disastrous for them.

What are the Early Symptoms of Dropsy in Betta Fish?

You can save your Bettas life by diagnosing the symptoms by yourself at the early stages of dropsy. This stage is not fatal, and the chances of your Bettas’ survival are high. Let’s take a look at some early symptoms that your Betta fish show when falling ill because of dropsy.

Lost Appetite

You may notice that the food you put in your Bettas aquarium is not disappearing because Bettas aren’t taking it anymore. So what may be the reason for that? It may be a sign that your Bettas aren’t feeling comfortable because of dropsy. However, there are many other reasons that we must take into account before taking any necessary actions.

Avoiding Contact with Other Fish

Have you ever noticed your Betta fish avoiding contact with other tank mates or fellow fish? Yes, it happens when they are not feeling well and healthy.

Hiding Away

If your Bettas are lonely and hide at some point in the aquarium. You might need to take this indication seriously that your Bettas are feeling lonely. Bettas are one of the liveliest creatures that love to roam here and there in the water. If they are hiding, it means that they are severely feeling low and ill.

If you find these symptoms in your Bettas, you need to plan treatment for them within one or to days. Because more severe symptoms will be on the way.

Most Significant Symptoms of Dropsy in Betta Fish

If dropsy in your Betta fish is becoming severe, you will notice some more noticeable changes in their appearance, shape, and behavior. However, it is challenging to eliminate dropsy from such Bettas. But there is still some possibility for a cure if you notice these symptoms early.

Severe Bloating

Bloating is the general symptom of many diseases and abnormalities. You may see a bloated Betta fish because of overfeeding, constipation, or dropsy. In very rare and unfortunate cases, the bloating can be a sign of a tumor present in fish. If you’re noticing severe bloating in Bettas, then the chances of such fish survival are meager because of internal fluid building.

Pinecone Scales

Pinecone scales or “protruding scales” (all the scales sticking out) are the most common way of identifying dropsy in Betta fish. Once a Betta fish starts getting these scales, its usual performance and happiness decrease, following total organ failure and death. It is the most severe and prominent symptom of dropsy as far according to our knowledge.

Curved Spine

Some bloated Bettas do have a curved spine (by sideways, NOT vertical) because of their uneven weight distribution. It is easy to detect because of the strange shape of Betta fish. The swelling of organs can be the reason for such a spine that causes excessive pressure making it curved.

Miscellaneous Symptoms of Dropsy in Bettas

If you haven’t found any of the symptoms discussed till now, but still you are concerned about your Bettas health, then don’t worry. There are some other symptoms that you may include in your list whenever you are examining Betta fish for dropsy.

Swimming at Upper Surfaces

Betta fish tend to swim at the top of the tank when they feel down. The reason for it is the excessive pressure that they face when they are at the bottom of the tank, and couldn’t bear it, so they spend most of the time at the above surfaces.

Clamped fins

Bettas’ fins would always be clamped in because of swelling, which makes it harder for them to move and swim freely.

Pale Gills

You would notice the colorful gills disappearing out of their body. They become pale and less shiny as they get contracted with dropsy.

Protruding Anus

The protruding anus of the Bettas is another sign of dropsy in Bettas because of fluid retention. It may also cause bulging eyes.

It must be noted that you won’t be seeing all of these symptoms at once, so it is better to take precautionary measures as soon as you notice some of them, especially the most dangerous ones.

Is Dropsy Painful for Bettas?

Yes, it is. Just like any other disease that can cause hindrance to their movement, dropsy is also a painful condition that makes the Bettas uncomfortable. The Betta fish cannot move freely and starts swelling due to this pain.

The Bettas not only feel pain, but dropsy also makes them feel lonely and unfriendly. It makes them feel low and not capable of anything. The will to live starts breaking down with the time, and you must start the treatment for dropsy before Bettas lose their precious lives.

Is it Dropsy or Constipation in Betta Fish?

Before we proceed to the treatment of dropsy, let’s not misunderstand it with constipation. Most of the people think both of them as the same, but in reality, treating a fish for dropsy that is constipated might be fatal for it.

The most common method to examine if Bettas have constipation is just monitoring the stool amount they pass. If they’re not passing the usual amount of stool, most probably, they are constipated. The constipation is also directly linked to the amount of food you fed to your Bettas. Make sure you are providing high-quality food only.

Again, look out for other symptoms as well other than bloated state if you’re unsure about dropsy or constipation.

Causes of Dropsy in Betta Fish

The most significant cause of dropsy in Betta fish is their dirty and unclean environment. Weak and Old Bettas are usually more vulnerable to it. But it is easier to prevent young and healthy fish as long as you’re taking the necessary measures. Here we are mentioning the common causes due to which Bettas are contracted to dropsy.

Polluted Water

Bettas can easily fall ill if they are kept in poor water quality. The bacteria in the polluted water can grow drastically. Usually, Aeromonas is a common bacteria that isn’t reactive to common testing. The bacterial infection is the worst in sea creatures, and it must be shunned at all costs.

In case if you’re wondering how to avoid such a situation, the best way is to install a filter that keeps the water clean from visible and microorganisms pollution.

Poor Diet

One shouldn’t treat its Betta for granted. If you don’t pay close attention to the necessities of Bettas, including the proper and essential diet for them, you will lose them in the future. If your Betta isn’t getting sufficient and healthy food, there is a high chance of making them ill, following organ failures and death.

Pay extra attention to what you’re feeding to them and always find high-quality food products in order to keep them healthy and happy.

Vigorous Change in Temperatures

Keeping your Betta fish in a stable environment is your utmost and prior duty. If they are brought into sudden and extreme temperature changes, it may cause severe stress to their bodies, which will weaken their immune system, making them more susceptible to dropsy.

You must install a proper heater to maintain the temperature constant throughout the tank in case if your container is big and carries lots of fish.

Suffering from another Illness

If your Betta has other diseases, they are very likely to catch dropsy too. Because of their weak immune system, they cannot resist the bacterial infection entering their body.

Therefore, you will have to be more careful with such fish that are already ill or infected.

Transportation to New Environment

It is another natural cause of getting infected. When fish are brought to a new environment, they are not completely in tuned with it. The new water parameters make them uncomfortable and eventually making them weak and vulnerable to new bacterial infections.

Look out for the appropriate pH level of the water, hardness, and other notable factors before shifting Bettas to their new home.

In case if you’ve taken every cause into account, the old Bettas are still vulnerable to dropsy very much. It is because of their weakened immune system just like we, humans, get weak as we grow old.

Prevention of Dropsy in Betta Fish

As we’ve come this far, you might be thinking of dropsy as very hard to cure. You are pretty much right, and this is the reason why we are talking about its prevention very seriously and stressing out too much to take precautionary measures against dropsy.

The prevention of dropsy is easy and does not require much effort. As long as you’re keeping your Betta fish stress-free, you won’t need to worry about dropsy and many other diseases. Let’s take a look at some prevention factors against dropsy in Bettas.

Keep the Environment Clean

If you want to keep your Bettas away from stress, you’ll have to keep their tank clean and free from polluted water. The major water pollutants may be visible or not, such as dust, stools, microorganisms, and other harmful gases. A proper filter system can be used to eliminate all types of pollutants.

Most people do have a misconception that there is no need to change the water if you’re using a filter system in your tank. However, the truth is that the need for frequent changing water is reduced indeed, but you still need to change the water from time to time.

Avoid Overcrowding

Let your Bettas live in peace and provide them with a sufficient amount of space where they could roam and play freely with each other. Keep the bioload factor in mind; it increases with the number of fish present in the tank. Massive bio loads can increase the growth of bacteria and fungus in the tank, which will eventually increase stress levels in Bettas.

Avoid Overfeeding

We know how much you love your Bettas, but it certainly doesn’t mean to express your love by overfeeding them unnecessarily. It will only make them slow and lazy. And such fish are easily contracted by dropsy. You should only feed them as much as double the size of their eyeball over the whole period of the day. Because of their small stomach, it is very easy to overfeed them and is something that must be taken care of to avoid dropsy in Betta fish.

Provide Different Meals

Just like humans require different diets to intake in order to get all the nutrition, Bettas do need a variety of diet too because of their omnivorous nature. Feed them with their favorite food bloodworms, mosquito larvae, and pellets to never make them bored. Feeding different food to Bettas will serve them different types of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that are essential for them to remain healthy.

Is Dropsy Curable in Bettas?

Before jumping on how to treat dropsy in Betta fish, we must know if it is even curable or not.

It depends on a number of factors, especially on how early you detect dropsy in Bettas. You’ll have to better chance to make your Bettas healthy again if you diagnose it earlier. But if you find yourself late even by one or two days, the chances get very slim because of the damage to their internal organs.

The treatment also depends on the age of your Bettas. It’ll be easy to cure dropsy in Bettas that are young and stress-free rather than aged. But let’s hope we’ll be able to make your Bettas healthy if they are contracted to dropsy.

How to Treat Dropsy in Betta Fish?

The treatment of dropsy in Bettas requires not only your consent, but it also requires a strong will of Bettas also to live and defeat dropsy out of them. If you think that you both have got what it takes, then let’s go through how you can treat dropsy in Betta fish.

1. 25% Water Change

Change the water quantity of up to 25% in order to employ fresh water for the process.

2. Quarantine Setup

The second step includes setting up the quarantine tank for the infected Bettas. Before putting the Bettas into it, you should place the hiding places in order to reduce stress levels in them. There should be a proper heating, filtering, and bubbling system to keep the water oxygenated and warm (78 degrees Fahrenheit). Giving them a stable environment will make the recovery process faster.

3. Keep the Water Level Low

You should not increase the level of water (height) too much. It will make it harder for Bettas to get oxygen from the water surface. Provide as ease as you can do to them, they are already undergoing through a difficult time, Right?

4. Adding Aquarium Salt

We are talking here about adding Aquarium Salt, NOT table salt. Add it at a rate of 0.5 teaspoons per gallon. It will help in not only reducing stress levels but also help in curing swelling and built-up fluids.

5. Acclimate Your Betta Fish

Acclimate your Bettas with your old main tank water in a bag for 20 minutes at least and then expose them to their new environment. This way of transportation is the most reliable one.

6. Using Antibiotics

Use amoxicillin to eliminate all the bacterial growth in the environment. You can also use any other strong antibiotic in the tank sticking to the manufacturer’s instructions that come along with the antibiotic supplement.

7. Change the Water Daily

Make sure that you are changing the water in order to eliminate the depleting dissolved oxygen. Otherwise, the risk of overdosing your Bettas with excessive oxygen will increase.

8. Feed High Nutrients

When your fish are in quarantine, they need a proper and varied diet that contains a high level of nutrients. If the infection is not severe, nutritious food will alone be enough to get rid of that.

9. Continuing the Process for 10 Days

Usually, you need to continue this process for about 10 days to see any effects on the Betta fish. In the meantime, you will have to closely monitor the health of your Bettas if it is getting better or worse. You’ll have to remain adding antibiotics and aquarium salt every day in appropriate ratios, as mentioned.

You could continue the treatment for dropsy a little longer until you don’t see any symptoms of dropsy if you think that your Bettas health is better. The bacteria can come back stronger if the treatment is stopped in between.

Final Words

In this article, we laid down the idea of how to treat dropsy in Betta fish and its symptoms, causes, and prevention. Your Betta fish health is more worthy than compromising on small things. Bettas deserve to be happy just like humans do. And we have to take care of their basic necessities along with treating them for their diseases.

Please share your past experiences with us in the comment box below. We would love to hear about your personal opinions and experiences about how you treated the Betta fish dropsy problem and will add the information in our future writings.


2 thoughts on “Dropsy in Betta Fish : Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention”

  1. my betta lives in one of those small betta tanks (fishbowl type) that dont have any filtration system in them. he is almost 4 years old. i noticed the dropsy when i was changing his water. since the tank is so small i always did a complete water change and let him acclimate to the new water temp while in about 3 inches of his old tank water in a clear cup floating on the surface. i bought jungle fungus clear from walmart and started treating the tank, but on the box it does not mention anything about the salt. Is this a necessity? I been treating him for 4 days now. ive already done a 25 percent water change and added the second dose. any advice?


Leave a Comment