Betta Fish Dropsy – How To Treat It

What Is Betta Fish Dropsy?

You love your betta fish and they look amazing swimming in your fish tank with their beautiful colors and flamboyant fins. You do your best to take care of them but as with all living things it is possible that they may become ill. Unfortunately, betta fish diseases exist and knowing the signs of illness in betta fish and how to treat the different diseases can mean the difference between life and death for your aquatic companions. Betta fish dropsy is one of the more common ailments that can affect our little friends. Let me tell you more about it so that you can know how to identify if your betta fish have dropsy and what you need to do to about this disease if necessary.

What is Betta Fish Dropsy?

Betta fish dropsy is a very common disease. Betta fish can get dropsy when they are fed live food that is contaminated. Dropsy is contagious and it is fatal. When betta fish have dropsy they have bacteria that cause kidney failure and similarly to other animals, when the kidneys fail they will die. The bacteria that cause the betta fish’s kidneys to fail are also the reason that dropsy is so contagious. (Note: Unfortunate osmoregulation is the second most common cause of dropsy.)


What Are The Symptoms of Betta Fish Dropsy?

If your betta fish have dropsy you will notice a buildup of excess fluid under their scales. The fluid buildup is the result of kidney failure. This excess fluid will cause the scales to rise up. The raised scales tend to look a lot like pinecones. Another symptom of dropsy in betta fish is a bloated stomach that is very big. Here are a few pictures to give you an idea:

How to Treat Dropsy In Betta Fish

Unfortunately there is no cure for dropsy in betta fish. It is fatal. However you can take steps to prevent your betta fish from getting dropsy. You may want to avoid feeding any live worms to your bettas as this is one of the most common ways for betta fish to get this disease. Also, because dropsy is contagious, if you notice that one or more of your bettas are displaying symptoms of the disease you should separate them from the healthy betta fish immediately. Changing the water in your fish tank regularly (at least every 3 days) is also advised.
Dropsy is a fatal betta fish disease and unfortunately it is seen frequently. Be careful about what you feed your betta fish, especially when it comes to live foods, and be aware of the physical condition of your bettas. You minimize the risks that they will get dropsy when you feed them healthy foods and, if you are able to quickly spot a sick betta, you can separate it and reduce the likelyhood of contaminating the other fish.
Have you ever dealt with betta fish dropsy? Do you have any dropsy advice that you would like to share? Please post your experiences and comments below! And remember, the best betta tank is a clean betta tank!

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8 thoughts on “Betta Fish Dropsy – How To Treat It

  1. Hello. My Betta fish has a huge stomach and I’m really worried. Does this mean he’ll die? There’s nothing I can do except watch him die?

    1. Hi Esther. Sorry to hear that. A huge stomach can also be “Swim Bladder” disease, which is treatable. Have a look at our post “Does My Betta Have Swim Bladder Disease?” to see if the information sounds familiar to how your betta looks and behaves. If it does, then follow the suggestions as soon as possible. Good luck.

    1. Well, it could be something else, like constipation/bloating. You can try fasting your betta for a few days, then try feeding it a pea. It has to be boiled and deshelled. That trick works well for bloating (it’s like a laxative).

  2. Hi again. I tried the pea thing and my betta didnt eat it and now he’s officially not eating anything. His scales are very pine cone looking, and his tail is starting to look yellowish (he’s all red). Its been about 2 weeks already. I do have snails in the tank with it. Should I take them out and just wait it out?

    1. I’m sorry to hear that. You could try taking them out and trying an antibiotic like Maracyn II. I actually just stumbled across an article that explains the whole process, better than I could. Have a look here: It’s worth a shot if you have the time and resources to do it.

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