Betta Fish and Dropsy

In this article, we will discuss a little about the main problems with dropsy in Betta Fish. We will also learn how to prevent and treat dropsy in case it becomes a problem with your fishes.


There are numerous aquarium fish diseases to be aware of when it comes to keeping your aquarium fish healthy. It’s not uncommon for novice aquarium owners to be taken off guard by problems like dropsy, which can appear out of nowhere. You must first understand what dropsy is and what causes it before you can treat your fish.

What is dropsy?

You might have been taught that dropsy is an illness if you have heard of it before. This is not the case at all. Dropsy is, in fact, a symptom of underlying health problems, which are most commonly caused by gram-negative bacteria.

Dropsy is extremely uncommon in healthy fish; instead, it is more common in fish with compromised immune systems. Dropsy is analogous to edema in humans. It occurs when the body’s ability to drain fluid from soft tissues fails. Bloating is a result of this.

Symptoms of Dropsy in Betta Fish

Skin lesions may form as the infection progresses, the abdomen fills with fluids and swells, internal organs are harmed, and the fish eventually dies. The death rate is significant even with prompt treatment. If a fish is diagnosed in the early stages of an infection, successful treatment is rare.

The core bacterial infection can produce a wide range of symptoms. Some fish will have a swollen belly, while others will have skin sores, and still others will have no signs. Diagnosis is challenging due to this variability. A variety of physical and behavioural symptoms are seen in the majority of cases.

In most cases, the main symptoms of Dropsy in Betta Fish are:

  • A Stomach that is grossly enlarged
  • Scales that have a pinecone-like look and bulging eyes
  • Gills that are light in colour
  • The anus that becomes bloated and red
  • The faeces are pallid and stringy.
  • Ulcers along the lateral border of the body
  • Fins that are clasped together on a curved spine
  • Skin or fins that are red
  • Lethargy in general
  • Refusal to consume food
  • Swimming along the water’s edge

What are the causes of Dropsy in Betta Fish

Kidney failure, a poor diet, poor osmoregulation, and various internal illnesses have all been associated with dropsy (e.g. liver). Internal swelling from fluid build-up puts pressure on the body and abdominal organs, causing it to swell. Bettas that are getting older are more prone to kidney failure.

High bio-loads caused by too many tank mates or a small habitat can quickly result in the spread of dangerous illnesses and germs. Live foods and proteins that are not advised for betta fish eating can cause digestive problems and kidney failure in the fish.

Is there any treatment for dropsy in Betta fish?

Dropsy is a difficult-to-cure infection about which many fish specialists disagree. Despite this, there are a few things you can do to preserve your fish from Dropsy, especially if you catch it early on. First and foremost, remove your betta from the contaminated water, especially if they share a tank with other fish.

Set up a hospital tank with clean water to securely transport them – consider using aquarium salt or epsom salt bath for betta. To help sterilise the water, it is recommended that you use one teaspoon of salt per gallon of water. Always read and follow the directions on the package.

Begin feeding your fish high-nutrient items next. If the fish is still in the early stages of sickness, a good diet may be enough to keep the germs at bay. If your fish does not appear to be improving, we will resort to medicine.

Dropsy can be treated with an antibiotic that kills all gram-negative bacteria. Most medicines will cure your fish in a week if taken correctly. To ensure that the infection is gone, most fish experts recommend treating the fish for up to 10 days. This will be enough to eradicate the main dropsy symptoms.

Keep an eye on your fish for around two weeks after you notice changes. During this time, it is recommended that they be left alone in the hospital tank. Keep the water as sanitary as possible throughout this time to prevent the infection from spreading.

Preventive Measures against dropsy in Betta Fish

As with any condition, preventing the problem from harming your fish in the first place is far preferable to treating the disease once it has occurred and you have a sick betta on your hands. Almost all of the elements that might induce stress in your betta are enough to make the fish exposed to an infection that could be avoided.

Water Quality

Poor water quality is by far the most prevalent source of stress in aquarium fish, therefore cleaning your tank and keeping it clean in the best possible conditions is critical. Make sure to perform daily water tests on the tank, including measuring the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in the water as well as the pH.

Your betta will feel anxious if any of these values become too high. You can maintain the water clean and fresh by doing weekly water changes, which include removing up to 25% of the water and replacing it with clean water that has been treated to eliminate chlorine and other harmful chemicals.

Use an aquarium vacuum to remove waste, uneaten food, and plant debris that has dropped into the substrate when cleaning out your tank. Also, remove any dead or dying plant materials before it decomposes and pollutes the water in your tank. This is fundamental for the quality of water.

To prevent blockage, properly wash the filters with tank water on a regular basis. Remove any sludge that may be preventing the filter from operating properly. Bettas are particularly sensitive to water temperature. Check that your tank heater is operating correctly and that the temperature remains constant at 780 F.

By installing a thermometer at the opposite end of the tank from the heater, you can ensure that the temperature is dispersed evenly across the tank. Also, place the heater near the filtration system so that the water gets heated before being circulated around the tank. Check the heater constantly to see if it is working properly. 


Although some company is beneficial to your betta fish, avoid overwhelming the tank. When there are too many fish, the environment becomes stressful, and illnesses spread more easily. As a general guideline, one inch of water should be allowed for each inch of fish.

Of course, your display tank can only hold one male betta fish. They are nicknamed Siamese fighting fish for a reason: two males will battle, frequently to the death. However, a sorority of female bettas with your guy and a few other calm tank mates may be viable.

Diet and Overnutrition

Betta fish can become stressed if they are overfed. Bettas are naturally greedy fish who will continue to eat even after they’ve had enough to meet their nutritional needs. Because a betta fish’s stomach is the same size as his eye, you can easily see how little food your fish requires to stay satisfied.

Feeding stagnant food should be avoided. Dried food, such as pellets, flakes, and freeze-dried food, should be consumed within one month of opening the package. Although live insects and bug larvae are a betta’s natural meal, you must ensure that your provider has a strong reputation.

Although you may produce your own live food for your betta, you should never collect insects or larvae from the environment. It is all too simple to mistakenly introduce germs and even parasites into your aquarium using live food in both scenarios. Vary your fish’s diet by feeding him live, frozen, freeze-dried, and pellet food.

How to keep your Betta Fish healthy

It’s simple to keep your Betta Fish healthy and happy, as well as to reduce stress in your pet fish. Every aquarist should understand the necessity of taking proactive measures to protect their pet’s health. Your betta’s well-being will be a top priority if you respond quickly and alertly to any physical or behavioural changes.

The following are signs of happy, healthy, and relaxed betta:

  • Colours that are bold and lively
  • Their fins are kept open but not stiff in the water, allowing them to protrude and fold.
  • Active, smooth swimming movements feed the fish readly.

A stressed or diseased betta, on the other hand, may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Colour faded and muted
  • Stress stripes-more evident in female bettas and less so in males.
  • Clamped fins are held close to the body
  • Fish meal that has been recently given may be ignored due to a lack of hunger.
  • Lethargy
  • Hiding
  • Darting

Your betta may lose its brilliant colours and develop “stress stripes” on their body if they are regularly exposed to stressors. The horizontal stripes are black and pale in colour. Bettas who are stressed are known to have low appetites and will swim right past fresh food.

Importance Physical Stimulation in Betta Fish

Bettas are intelligent fish that may learn to identify their owners and benefit from your activity and playtime. Exercise and play help to keep their minds busy and reduce boredom, which is beneficial to their mental health. Activity improves their social well-being by allowing them to interact and gain confidence and reduce stress. 

Furthermore, because male bettas are reclusive, their pet parents become their primary source of interaction. Female bettas can occasionally be maintained together in big aquariums, or sorority tanks, with plenty of decoration and spots, whereas male bettas must be kept separately.

Consult an aquatic specialist to ensure that the quantity of female bettas you are considering adding will fit comfortably in your aquarium and to inquire about indicators of hostility in fish. During the first few days that your fish are together, you’ll need to keep a careful eye on them.

Female bettas can become violent and hurt or even kill their tank mates, however this is less common than in males. Exercise and play are also beneficial to your betta’s physical well-being, since they help them move about enough to keep fit and healthy.

Remember that the quality of your fish’s aquatic environment has a strong impact on their physical health. If you are not already educated about fish care, see an aquatic specialist for advice on maintaining water quality and designing an aquarium with enough space for its inhabitants to swim and hide.


In this blog, we discussed some relevant questions about dropsy in Betta fish such as causes, preventive measures and treatment. We learnt that dropsy is not easily cured, however, with the correct actions, the problem can be solved in a few weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Betta Fish and Dropsy

Is it possible for a Betta fish to recover from dropsy?

Dropsy is caused by an infection that is difficult to treat. Some specialists advise that all afflicted fish be killed to prevent the virus from spreading to healthy fish. Furthermore, when paired with Popeye, the outlook is grim.

Dropsy can be fatal to a fish, but how long can it live?

As a result, the use of medications to “treat” the condition has limited and variable success. Often, the fish will survive or die regardless of pharmacological therapy. The majority of the time, a fish with dropsy dies. Perhaps not right away, but within a few months.

Can overfeeding Betta induce dropsy?

Overfeeding does not necessarily result in dropsy, but it may lead your fish to defecate more frequently, causing your tank’s ammonia levels to rise more quickly. Keep in mind that polluted water quality is one of the symptoms causes of the many illnesses that lead to dropsy.


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