Goldfish Dropsy Disease


Goldfish dropsy is a not a medical term and it’s not technically considered a disease. The term refers to the combination of symptoms that ‘dropsy’ will display. The symptoms of dropsy are the result of an internal bacteria infection in the kidneys. The infected kidneys retain water, become swollen and throw of the homeostasis of the goldfish’s osmoregulation. Osmoregulation is the ability of a goldfish to keep its internal fluids in balance with the external water. In the late stages of dropsy, a goldfish will have a swollen belly so severe that its scales are raised outwards. A sick goldfish with dropsy may or may not have problems swimming but it typically becomes lethargic, has a loss of appetite and just looks unhappy.

brown and gold fancy goldfish


The problem with curing a sick goldfish with dropsy is that most obvious symptoms are a sign of late stage dropsy; most cases at this point are terminal an no goldfish care is likely to help. Even if you are able to treat the infection with antibiotics, complete organ failure can likely follow. However, if dropsy is caught early on, a goldfish can survive. Take the sick goldfish and place it into a quarantine tank for treatment. Dropsy isn’t contagious which means it’s not necessary to treat all the goldfish in the tank. In the quarantine tank, add 2 teaspoons per ten gallons of epsom salt to help draw out excess fluids in the goldfish. Epsom salt is different than regular aquarium saltbecause it contains magnesium sulfate not sodium chloride. Next add Maracyn Plus AntiBacteria Therapy or Kanamycin to help treat gram negative bacterial infections and feed the goldfish with antibacterial food or soak fish flakes in Neomycin. Maracyn Plus can be harmful on the kidneys and Kanamycin absorbs into the kidneys better.


Most cases of dropsy are diagnosed too late and lead to the death of the goldfish; prevention of dropsy is the best option. Preform regular water changes and maintaining optimal water parameters. Keep the stress of the goldfish to a minimum by proper handling and proper aquarium setup. Use a Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Stress Coat when ever a goldfish losses a scale, gets a scratch or even looks depressed.

Recommended Medications

Antibacterial Medication
Furan Medication
a common goldfish breed

4 comments on “Goldfish Dropsy Disease

  1. I have had fish with dropsy but never been able to save them i only ever get it with comet goldfish dont know why sorry not good news for you

  2. Always practice hygiene measures to avoid any illness in the body. Kids are love to have a pit like fish as wasting time. Thus, they never know the consequences on having it at home. Before buying anything, try to ask facts about that thing that will not lead into harm.

  3. We have a fancy goldfish-Lucy she is the only fish in a 20 gal. Tank fairly large apx the size of an adult hand. Lucy started showing signs of Dropsy- she bloated and scaled began to protrude or pine cone; apx 4 weeks ago. I immediatly did a good tank cleaning and started pima fix and meta pix along w internal atibiotics and medicated food.the swelling started to decrease apx a week ago then came back w a vengance and now a few of her scales of bubbled. I have been adding epsom salts to her tank along w salt baths (i do this while im doing her water changes). Ive read just about everything i can on the internet regarding goldfish dropsy and really dont know what to do from here.
    I have heard of ppl using needle aspiration to draw out the fluid even? Also rapidly increasing the water temps?
    Would any of these help?
    Lucy is eating her medicated food although she doesnt exactly care for it. She is swimming normally and does not have any discoloration or red spotting like i have read in many other cases.
    Outside of epsom salts to draw out the fluid is there anything else i can do?

    • You are doing everything I would recommend. I’m not an expert on dropsy and have not had to treat it yet. I think you should go to a fish store and ask the fish expert about your treatment options. Another good idea is to ask this question on one of the fish community forums. Try this one, there are some knowledgeable individuals the frequent these boards

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