Dropsy In Goldfish – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Do you feel your Goldfish is swelling? Do your Goldfish look like a pine cone that has opened? Are there any unusual symptoms that your Goldfish is showing? Are people telling you that your Goldfish is suffering from Dropsy? Are you tense that how will you protect your Goldfish and how will you take care of your Goldfish with Dropsy? Do not worry in this article we will provide you with all the information and tell you what you need to do if your Goldfish develops it.

Dropsy in goldfish refers to a condition in which excessive fluids build up in the goldfish belly and it swells. This happens due to kidney failure because of bacterial infection.

What is Dropsy in Goldfish?

Nowadays people don’t use the word Dropsy. People call it Edema or swelling in the common language but the word Dropsy is used to describe a health issue with Goldfish and aquarium fish. So, Dropsy is not a disease it is a sign of a disease; it is a condition in which Goldfish have swollen bellies. Dropsy includes swelling of soft tissues in the abdomen due to the accumulation of water and fluids. Dropsy is not a disease; it’s a combination of symptoms of an internal infection. Dropsy is an extremely serious and often fatal condition. It is extremely difficult or in some cases impossible to treat Dropsy in Goldfish.

Dropsy in Fish

What are the Symptoms of Dropsy in Goldfish?

When the infection most of the time bacterial infection increases and the internal organs such as the liver and kidneys stop working properly. Following symptoms occur from which you can identify that Your Goldfish is suffering from Dropsy.

Swollen Belly

Goldfish with Dropsy will appear like it is getting fat and soon you will feel like the belly of the Goldfish is so swollen that maybe it will explode. This condition happens because the water and other fluids accumulate in the tissues of the abdomen and create swelling. Kidneys and related organs are also swollen and because they are not working properly they can not eliminate excessive fluids either water or other fluids from the Goldfish body.

Scales Like Pinecone

The internal swelling also affects the physical appearance of Goldfish. The scales of the Goldfish point away from the skin and because of this Goldfish look like ripe pinecones. This Dropsy symptom indicates clearly that Goldfish is suffering from some serious internal infection.

Bulging Eyes

When the internal organs of Goldfish are not working properly, there is an excess of water and other fluids in the body that can’t be eliminated. These fluids start leaking into the tissues and also put pressure on the eye resulting in Bulging Eyes. So if you see that your goldfish has bulging eyes then there is something definitely wrong with it.

Change in Gills Color

When the infection increases Dropsy makes Goldfish anemic, it fades the color of Goldfish gills. So you must keep a close eye on the gill color and health of your Goldfish.


Dropsy in Goldfish sometimes causes severe bacterial skin infections. These skin infections cause ulcers in Goldfish.

Curved Spine

Excess water and other fluids push the body organs causing a curved Spine. So a deformed goldfish might indicate dropsy.

Firm Fins

Dropsy in Goldfish causes swelling in their body, this swelling makes the Fins so tight and firm that they look abnormally glued to the Goldfish body. This could cause difficulty in swimming too.

Appetite Loss

Dropsy in Goldfish makes the fish uncomfortable. Goldfish’s body is swollen, it is in pain. These things affect Goldfish appetite. Goldfish will show no interest in food and will ignore the food in the tank.

Appetite Loss

Dull and Inactive

These all symptoms of Dropsy are very difficult to handle for a small Goldfish. So the Goldfish will be inactive, dull, and lethargic. You will notice this symptom if you keep a close eye on your Goldfish.

Weird Behavior

A Goldfish with Dropsy acts weird for example it will try to hide in the decorations or in aquatic plants. It may swim either at the bottom or near the top.

What are the causes of Dropsy in Goldfish?

Now that we have discussed various symptoms of dropsy in detail, now is the time to discuss what actually causes dropsy in Goldfish. Given below are some of the main causes of Dropsy in your Goldfish.

Bacterial Infection

The most important cause of Dropsy in Goldfish is a bacterial infection. This bacterial infection is caused by the bacteria Aeromonas. Aeromonas is a very common bacteria and is almost found in every Goldfish aquarium or fish tank. This bacteria never affect a healthy Goldfish. It only affects Goldfish with a low immune system. The immune system of Goldfish depends upon the following factors.

Poor Water Quality

If the Quality of water is poor It affects the Goldfish’s immune system badly. This can not only cause bacterial infections but also other parasitic diseases. Buy a water quality checking kit and check the quality of water regularly.

Temperature Changes

If the temperature of the aquarium or fish tank is not properly checked and there is a drop in temperature. It causes stress in Goldfish and it affects the immune system of Goldfish. Temperature fluctuation is not good for fish. If you want to increase or decrease the temperature, slowly do this because sudden temperature change is very bad for Goldfish. Also, Bacteria and parasites reproduce fast at low temperatures.

Frequent Changes in place

If we change the Goldfish’s place again and again like buying from the fish shop then putting it in a fish bowl then putting it in an aquarium; this change of place, again and again, affects the Goldfish’s immune system. An important thing while changing Goldfish place it uses a plastic bag or soft net so you will not stress, damage, or hurt it.

Providing a Proper Habitat

Providing a proper Habitat is very important. Not providing a proper Habitat for the Goldfish also weakens its immune system. If the environment of the aquarium or fish tank is not homely for the Goldfish, then it becomes unhappy and stressed which also lessens its immunity.

Unclean Tank

Cleanliness is very important not only for us humans but also for Goldfish. If the environment of Goldfish is not clean it will affect their immune system. Parasites and bacteria also grow in dirty places and can cause other diseases too.

Substandard Diet

Choosing a proper diet and food for Goldfish is also very important; because if we will buy any food without thinking about its quality it will affect the immune system of Goldfish. A diet with low nutrients is also bad for fish health. So you should get Goldfish food from a trusted source always.

Other Diseases

If your Goldfish is suffering from any other disease like Itch then its immune system is already weak, because these problems make the Goldfish weak physically and emotionally. So a weak immune system can also catch dropsy and will not be able to fight it.


These all factors cause stress in Goldfish and a Goldfish with Stress has a weak immune system. The Goldfish can also be stressed if it is being bullied in the tank by the tank mates, so you need to keep your Goldfish stressed-free at all times.


If these above-mentioned factors occur again and again. This will definitely affect the Goldfish’s immune system badly. And a weak immune system is prone to getting any disease including dropsy.

How to Diagnose Dropsy in Goldfish?

Symptoms like swollen Belly, change of color, etc, are common. Other Diseases have these symptoms too. Both physical and behavioral symptoms occur in Goldfish. These cause confusion so it is best to discuss with a proper veterinary doctor, and with lab tests, we can confirm whether our Goldfish is suffering from Dropsy or not.

How to treat Dropsy in Goldfish?

Now that you know about the symptoms of Dropsy and have also looked at what causes it, now is the time to actually do something about it. If you detect the infection in the early stage it is possible to save your Goldfish or increase its life span for a couple of months. I want to make this point clear because of my own experience. I don’t want to give any false hope to you. Dropsy in its later stages is nearly impossible to treat. Dropsy in Goldfish needs step-by-step treatment which is as follows:

Separate the infected Goldfish

When you see symptoms of infection in your Goldfish the first thing you should do is to put them in a separate aquarium. Always remember to prepare the aquarium properly for example temperature, water quality, and the environment, so that Goldfish will not take the stress and their immunity increases. A Hospital Goldfish tank or aquarium must be simple. So, don’t put any decorations or artificial plants in the hospital tank to keep the hospital tank clean. The only things you need in a hospital tank are a filter, a thermometer, a heater, and an air pump. Dropsy makes the Goldfish very sensitive so for shifting it in other fish tanks or aquariums don’t use an aquarium net, use a plastic bag.

Treatment with Salt

The most common treatment for Dropsy in Goldfish is adding salt to your aquarium. Add one teaspoon of non-iodized aquarium salt per gallon of water to your aquarium. Always remember to add salt in proper proportion because if the salt quantity increases, stress in Goldfish increases as a result the function of the kidney worsens even more. An accurate amount of salt will not stress the Goldfish but will increase their immunity of Goldfish. The salt helps Goldfish get rid of excess water in the body.

Clean Environment

Keep the Goldfish tank or aquarium clean. Changing water partially every week is a must. After changing the water add salt to the new water. Test the quality of water to check that water is suitable for Goldfish.

Good Quality Food

Feed your Goldfish with good quality food. Discuss with your vet and give your Goldfish the best quality food rich in nutrients. Try to give fresh food. Sometimes giving good quality and highly nutritious food to Goldfish cures the infection by strengthening the immune system. However, this only happens if the disease is not in an advanced stage.

Proper Medication

Treat your Goldfish with proper medicine. Discuss with your vet, most of the time vets recommend Antibiotics either in food or in water. Antibiotics’ complete course is of 10 days.  You should follow the directions of the vet for dosage and duration.

Treatment of Bacteria

Slowly raise the water temperature of your Hospital tank. This prevents bacteria from multiplying. There are lots of proper medicines for bacterial treatment. I have not tried all of them but according to my personal experience, Kanaplex is good. Follow the directions for proper dosage. This treatment takes 7 days, if in 3 or 4 days you see no improvements then change the medicine.

Treatment of Parasites

There are parasites like Itch, tapeworms, and anchor worms. These parasites are carriers of other Diseases especially infections that cause Dropsy or organ failure in Goldfish. Discuss with your vet and buy the best medicine to cure your Goldfish.

Even with the proper treatment of Dropsy in Goldfish, the success rate of this disease is very low. If a Goldfish is diagnosed in the early stages of the infection then you can save it. Mostly when you see signs of Dropsy the chances are that it is too late. But don’t worry and don’t give up.

Can you Prevent Dropsy?

In most cases when you see the symptoms of Dropsy it is too late. Prevention is better than cure. All those factors which stress our Goldfish can be prevented with a little effort. The factors which we should keep an eye on are as follows.

  1. Performing water changes regularly.
  2. Checking the water quality.
  3. Maintaining the temperature of the tank.
  4. Regularly clean water filter.
  5.  Try to have a big aquarium or water tank and avoid overcrowding it. Because in an overcrowded tank, the disease spreads faster and the environment is more stressful for your Goldfish.
  6. For removing wastes from the bottom of the Goldfish tank use a gravel vacuum.
  7. Feed your Goldfish with the best quality and highly nutritious feed. Don’t overfeed your Goldfish.
  8. Don’t put your Aquarium or fish tank in a noisy area. Noise means stress and a stressed Goldfish has a weak immune system.
  9. Always place your Aquarium in a place where a suitable amount of sunlight is present.
  10. Most importantly keep the aquarium or fish tank clean and be vigilant. Observe and monitor your Goldfish closely

If you follow all these instructions and your tank is highly maintained. If you are feeding your Goldfish a healthy diet and your Goldfish is not stressed then the outbreak of infections that cause Dropsy is unlikely.

The Bottom Line on Dropsy In Goldfish

Goldfish with stress have low immunity levels and because of this, it becomes easily sick. Healthy and happy Goldfish have higher immunity levels and they rarely fall sick. The best thing is if we observe our Goldfish properly and give it a proper Habitat, a homely and clean environment, and healthy and nutritious food then the chances of Dropsy or any other disease are very low. Dropsy is sadly a very difficult disease to cure, the Goldfish that recover may still die in a couple of months. It only depends upon the kidney’s condition and how much it is damaged. The best way to treat Dropsy is to prevent it. But still, you must never give up because your beautiful Goldfish are counting on you, and your love, care, and time are the first steps to healing them.

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