How Fish Get Fat and What You Can Do if spot Dropsy fish?
Aquarium owners take great pride in their fish, and as they spend countless hours tending to them, they can often spot any changes immediately.
If you see a difference in your fish, and it looks bigger, it can lead you toward one very common question.
How do fish get fat, and what you can do?
Fish can get fat for several reasons. Depending on the sex, they could carry eggs. If not that, it will be one of three other things. Overfeeding, tumors or dropsy. There are no treatments for fish with tumors, and you can easily reduce or change your fish’s diet.
The last option is dropsy, which is the swelling of your fish. You need to separate your fish quickly and begin treatment before it’s too late.
What is Dropsy Fish?
Dropsy is an old medical term for a condition similar to edema or ascites and is the swelling of soft tissues inside body cavities like the abdomen or stomach. It isn’t heard much in medical areas any longer, although it is used to describe health issues with aquarium fish.
Dropsy defines the condition, where fish have hugely swollen bellies. Besides, it may describe the visual symptom as the fish’s belly drops down. You may also find this condition portrayed as bloat.
What Causes Dropsy?
Dropsy in fish are several symptoms caused by infection from bacteria commonly present in all aquariums.
Any fish may be exposed to the dropsy-causing bacteria, but healthy fish rarely fall foul of the disease, and it is certain fish who are susceptible, because another stress factor compromises their immune system.
If all fish in your tank face stress, it’s quite common for an entire tank to become infected. However, it is also possible that only one or two fish eventually fall ill. Hence the reason for prompt action, as this can prevent the spread of the bacteria.
The dropsy causing agent bacteria is the common Aeromonas bacteria. It is among several gram-negative bacteria found in aquariums. The bacteria are gram-negative as they don’t take on any particular stains used with the Gram Stain means of identifying strains of bacteria.
The bacteria only cause serious infection when fish already have a compromised immune system. You can find several factors leading to this, and it is easy to see why it can affect all your fish.
- Poor water quality
- Significant drops in water temperature
- Ammonia or nitrite spikes
- Transportation induced stress
- Improper nutrition
- Aggressive tank mates
- Another disease
Dropsy Symptoms in Your Aquarium
As the infection progresses, skin lesions may develop, the belly fills with fluids and becomes bloated, internal organs are infected, and the fish eventually die.
Even with prompt therapy, mortality is high; thus, effective treatment is rare unless a fish is detected at an early stage of infection.
Bacterial infection underlying symptoms can vary. Some fish have a typically swollen abdomen, others have skin lesions, and some have very few symptoms. It is this that makes diagnosis difficult, although in most cases, both physical and behavioral signs are observed.
- Large swollen belly
- Swimming close to the surface
- General lethargy
- Bulging eyes
- Pale colored gills
- Curved spine
- Refuse to feed
- Scales have a pinecone-like look
- Feces are pale and stringy
- Lesions on the body
- Fins clamp together
- Redness of skin and fins
These signs develop gradually as the disease worsens. Internal organs, especially the liver and kidneys, will be affected and anemia results in gills losing their natural red color.
Organs are forced aside as the belly fills with fluids and characteristically causes the spine to curve. Scales protrude from the body, reflecting the appearance of the pinecone, and which is the classic sign of serious infection.
Treatment for Dropsy
The infection that causes dropsy is not easily treated, and some experts suggest killing all infected fish to avoid the spread of the disease to healthy fish.
However, if the infection is identified early and fish isolated for proper care, they may be saved.
Treatments should resolve the root issue and provide supportive therapy to the sick fish:
- Move infected fish in a ‘hospital tank’
- Add one teaspoon of salt for each gallon of water
- Feed the infected fish, fresh and high-quality food
- Treat the fish with antibiotics via their food or as water additives
- Conduct water checks daily to be sure it is suitable for your fish
It is vital to move infected fish to another tank and segregate them from healthy fish.
Make sure to carry out a water change in your healthy tank and also monitor your other fish for any symptoms.
As you add the low levels of salt to the water, this aids the osmotic balance of your fish. What it does here is turning the water salinity to a level closer to that of your fish.
By doing so, you can help your fish shed water from inside its body, and what causes the dropsy. Make sure not to add too much salt, as this can harm freshwater fish.
Keep the hospital tank scrupulously clean, and perform weekly partial water changes, adding salt to the fresh water you add to the aquarium.
Provide the ill fish with a variety of fresh, high-quality food. With the above steps and tips, you can reverse the effects of the infection, although you will need to monitor your fish for several weeks.
You can use antibiotics if the infection hasn’t set in too much and your fish are still eating. You would opt for a broad-spectrum antibiotic that has a formulation specifically made for gram-negative bacteria. Using this, you can expect to administer these for ten days to ensure the disease has been eradicated.
One of the best ways to deal with dropsy is to help prevent it in the first place. Any stressing factor can lead to dropsy in fish, and poor water quality being the most common factor of all.
Here are other things to remember as you try to avoid an outbreak of dropsy.
- Test the aquarium water regularly to ensure it is healthy for your fish.
- Carry out regular water changes
- Keep your aquarium clean
- Clean your filter regularly and check it isn’t underpowered
- Use a gravel vacuum to remove fish waste and uneaten food from the tank bed
- Avoid the overcrowding of fish in your tank
- Avoid overfeeding of fish
- Vary the diet of your fish and use some freshly cooked peas or other soft vegetables
There are many ways you can help keep your tank in the optimum condition with clean water. Even the addition of snails or fish known to be fond of algae, can all help create the ideal environment in your tank, and prevent the outbreak of dropsy.
Hi, my name is Adam and I’m an aquarium enthusiast! I didn’t discover the joys of being an ‘aquarium fanatic’ (as some of my friends call me!) until I was in my 20’s. When I first started out I found it difficult to find all the information I needed so I started this website to compile all the useful information I can think of. Enjoy!