Guppy Dropsy (Causes, Treatments, Prevention & Symptoms)

Have you been noticing something weird about your guppy fish’s appearance lately? Perhaps a bent spine? a bloated belly? Pinecone-like scales? If so, It is likely that your guppy fish is suffering from dropsy.

Dropsy is a dangerous disease that can prove to be fatal. Unfortunately, the chances of survival of your guppies suffering from dropsy are very slim, especially if it is caused by bacteria.

guppy dropsy

On the bright side, there are a few remedies available for dropsy in guppies. We will go through all of them in a bit.

However, avoiding any disease is always better than curing it. Therefore, I will go through all the measures that can be taken to avoid this disease from happening in the first place.

What Causes Dropsy In Guppies?

You are probably wondering, what caused dropsy in your fish in the first place? Well, the truth of that matter is that the bacteria that causes dropsy is always present in your fish tank. it only strikes when the immune system of the fish is weakened. So, the question you should be asking yourself is what weakened the immune system.

For starters, there are many reasons for a compromised immune system, so one isolated factor cannot be blamed.

Poor Water Quality

Poor water quality is a major factor that leads to dropsy. Not changing the water regularly leads to an excess of ammonia and an unhygienic environment. This will weaken the immune system of your fish making it vulnerable to attacks from diseases.

Overcrowded Tanks

Having an overcrowded fish tank is always a bad sign. This is because it breeds many problems. First off, overcrowding increases the chances of inbreeding. Inbreeding leads to many diseases in the fish tank which weakens the immune system of your guppy. Making it vulnerable to diseases like dropsy.

Secondly, overcrowded tanks increase the chances of injuries, which makes it easier for the bacteria to enter the guppy’s body. Causing diseases like dropsy.

Injuries

If you notice injuries in your fish, you should remove them immediately and tend to the wounds. This is because injuries not only weaken the immune system of the guppies but also provide an opening for the bacteria to enter the body. This can lead to many illnesses, including dropsy.

Injuries can be caused by aggressive tank mates in your aquarium, who might bully your guppy fish or sharp ornaments that might pierce into the guppy’s body.

Sudden Change In Water Temperature

A Sudden Change In Water Temperature

Guppies respond quickly to shock. Shock can come from a sudden change in the temperature of the water in the fish tank. the shock will weaken the immune system of the guppies which will make them vulnerable to diseases like dropsy.

What are The Symptoms Of Dropsy In Guppies?

Poor Water Quality

Poor water quality is a major factor that leads to dropsy. Not changing the water regularly leads to an excess of ammonia and an unhygienic environment. This will weaken the immune system of your fish making it vulnerable to attacks from diseases.

Overcrowded Tanks

Having an overcrowded fish tank is always a bad sign. This is because it breeds many problems. First off, overcrowding increases the chances of inbreeding. Inbreeding leads to many diseases in the fish tank which weakens the immune system of your guppy. Making it vulnerable to diseases like dropsy.

Secondly, overcrowded tanks increase the chances of injuries, which makes it easier for the bacteria to enter the guppy’s body. Causing diseases like dropsy.

Injuries

If you notice injuries in your fish, you should remove them immediately and tend to the wounds. This is because injuries not only weaken the immune system of the guppies but also provide an opening for the bacteria to enter the body. This can lead to many illnesses, including dropsy.

Injuries can be caused by aggressive tank mates in your body, who might bully your guppy fish or sharp ornaments that might pierce into the guppy’s body.

Sudden Change In Water Temperature

 Guppies respond quickly to shock. Shock can come from a sudden change in the temperature of the water in the fish tank. the shock will weaken the immune system of the guppies which will make them vulnerable to diseases like dropsy.

As I mentioned above, dropsy is easily identifiable. Which makes it easier for you to diagnose the disease and treat it in its early stage.

Pinecone Scales

Pinecone scales are one of the main symptoms of dropsy in guppies. This occurs when the belly of the guppy bloats to a point where the scales start coming off.

There is nothing that can be done about your fish if it gets to this point, so euthanasia is the best option.

A Swollen Stomach

The main symptom of dropsy in guppies is a bloated or swollen stomach. This happens as a result of swelling caused by the infection or injuries. However, a swollen stomach can also be mistaken for another disease, which is comparatively less fatal, like swim bladder disease or constipation.

A Swollen Stomach

If you notice your fish’s stomach is bloated, remove it immediately from the main fish tank and transfer it to a quarantine fish tank.

Avoiding Other Fish

You might notice that your guppy is avoiding other fishes in the fish tank. this is because the other fishes might be bullying them which will stress the fish out. This in turn will further deteriorate the immune system and the guppy’s condition worsens.

Skipping Meals

Another symptom of dropsy in your guppy is skipping meals. There are two possible reasons for your guppy skipping meals. Either your fish is scared of the other fish and is hiding away, or your fish is too weak to swim up and eat.

Either way, skipping meals will lead to weak fish as your fish will not be getting the nourishment it needs to survive. The weakened fish will further worsen the infection, causing fish to die.

Curved Spine

Your guppies may also develop a curved spine when suffering from dropsy. A curved spine will occur because of the immense pressure inside the body of the fish as a result of the bloating of the stomach.

There is no cure for a bent or a curved spine so the best thing that can be done for guppies with bent spines is euthanasia.

How To Cure Dropsy In Guppy Fish?

Although dropsy caused by bacteria is not exactly curable, or so a lot of the fish-keeping experts say, some people prescribe a treatment that can help your fish make a full recovery.

Quarantine The Fish

The first thing that you are going to want to do is quarantine your fish. Take them out of the main fish tank and transfer them to a hospital tank. doing so will not only reduce the stress of getting bullied, and you will be able to treat them more effectively. This will also reduce the chances of a spread of this disease in the fish tank as dropsy is contagious.

Epson Salt Treatment

The next thing that you have to do is the salt treatment. Generally, you take your fish out from the quarantine tank and place it in the container and change the water from the quarantine tank.

You generally use one or two tablespoons of Epson salt for each gallon however you should read the instruction first. Give this treatment at least once a time in a day for a week.

Medication

Medicating your guppies Is the best way to cure them. Although many sources will recommend certain antibiotics, I recommend consulting a vet first.

Medication

Whichsoever medicine you use, it is recommended to read the instructions as there can be different dosages for different medicines.

How Do You Prevent Dropsy In Guppies?

preventing diseases is always better than curing them. Fortunately for you, I will be teaching you different measures that can be taken to avoid the spread of dropsy in your fish tank.

Quarantining New Fish

Most fish-keeping experts recommend quarantining new fish before adding them into the fish tank. this is due to the fact that sometimes, guppies can be infected by diseases but the signs are not apparent at the early stage.

Therefore, it is recommended that you quarantine your fish for at least a week or 10 days before moving them to the main fish tank.

Performing Regular Water Changes

Performing regular water changes is also essential to avoid dropsy in your guppy fish. This is because dirty water may be contaminated and might have excess ammonia. Which might make your fish sick. As ammonia weakens the immune system.

You should change around 30 percent of the fish tank water every week, try your best to keep the temperature of the water the same as the fish tank as a sudden change in the water temperate can prove to be fatal for your fish.

A High-Quality Diet

Guppy fishes are omnivores, as a result, they require a diet of both meat and vegetables. A poor diet does not necessarily mean underfeeding your fish, it can mean that you are not providing the nutrients required by your fish to be healthy.

There are countless guppy feeds available on amazon or any online platform that achieve this purpose. Apart from the flakes, toss in a ringworm every once in a while, as it is very nutritious and the guppy fish enjoy eating them.

 A good quality diet will ensure that your fish’s immune system is strong enough to counter diseases like dropsy, keeping the fish and the other occupants of the fish tank safe.

Do Not Overcrowd Your Fish Tank

This goes without saying, overcrowding your fish tank will have an immensely negative effect on the health of your guppies.

To start off, overcrowded fish tanks lead to uneven distribution of food in your fish tank. this will lead to some fish being stronger and healthier than others. This will increase harassment and bullying in the fish tank as the healthier fish will hurt the weak ones. This will weaken the immune system of the weakfish increasing the chances of diseases like dropsy.

The overcrowded fish tank will also contaminate the water with ammonia which can be personness to the fish and can weaken them. Causing diseases like dropsy.

Remove Aggressive Tank Mates

Guppies are peaceful creatures; they do not attack even if attacked first. So naturally, they are not the best creatures to have around aggressive tank mates. Aggressive tankmates can cause injuries to your fish which can weaken their immune system. Furthermore, having sharp ornaments in your fish tank can also harm your fish.

The best thing that can be done about this is to remove the aggressive fish from the fish tank and transferring to some other fish tank. and just throw the sharp ornaments away, what good is aesthetic if it harms your fish?

Note: One important thing to note is that if any one of your fish catches dropsy, you should remove it from the fish tank immediately. And clean 50 percent of the water. This will reduce the chances of the disease spreading and will avoid a dropsy pandemic in your fish tank.

Should You Euthanize Your Sick Fish?

Euthanasia is always a hard decision, as growing closer to your fish doesn’t take long. However, if your fish is very sick, so a point that nothing can be done about it. Putting it down humanely to end its suffering is the only humane thing left to do.

There are several different ways that people use to euthanize their fish, some might boil it, and some might freeze it. Both of these are considered inhumane. As there are other ways available that might be available that are less painful.

First off, anesthetic, the vets usually perform this one as they have the proper tools and machinery for it. This is easy for your fish as your fish usually dies within 5 minutes, painlessly. Another, must easier way to do it, in the comfort of your home is by using clove oil. Simply take your fish out of the fish tank and place it in a separate container. Then gradually add concentrated clove oil solution to the container, make sure you do it gradually as a sudden change in the water parameters can stress the fish out. After about 10 or so minutes, the fish will pass and you can remove it from the container and dispose of it.

The Bottom Line On Guppy Dropsy

In conclusion, dropsy is a bacterial disease that is easily preventable. Identification of this disease is very clear and it is very hard to confuse this with some other disease.

Furthermore, there are a number of different treatments available for this disease, like antibiotics or home remedies, which are effective, however, I will still recommend visiting the vet before treating your fish for more effective treatments.

All in all, while it is a harmful disease that can take the life of your fish, you can certainly prevent it from happening in the first place, just make sure to feed it in time and keep a healthy environment, and of course, prevent any harm happening to your fish.

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