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About Dropsy[edit]

Platy with Dropsy

Dropsy also known as Bloat, Malawi Bloat or Pinecone disease. Dropsy itself is not a disease, but rather a name used to refer to shared symptoms of several other diseases affecting the aquarium. Dropsy can affect fish and amphibians.


Viral and/or internal bacterial infections of the kidney, as well as metabolic and nutritional disorders. Fluid builds up within the body cavities of the animal. This fluid builds up and causes internal pressure which causes the swelling. In fish, this causes the scales to protrude noticeably. giving it the name 'pinecone disease'.

In frogs, the skin swells up greatly and causes a balloon effect.


Protruding scales and swollen body, causing a 'pinecone-like' appearance. Poor or not feeding. Sluggish. 'Pop eye' is also common.


Treatment is rarely successful as by the time it is noticed, the animal usually dies. Often the damage to the kidney is so profound that recovery is impossible.

If it's a viral infection then there is no cure.

However, if its a bacterial infection then you may be able to save the animal.

  • Goldfish tend to respond more than any other type of fish.
  • Keep the animal in a clean environment.
  • Add a gram negative antibacterial food if it's still eating. Romet B, a broad spectrum antibacterial, possibly may help when used with an increase in water temperature to 28-29C (84-86F) for 14 days minimum.
  • Epsom Salts can be added to the water. 1 tsp to every 750L (US 200g).
  • Never use salt as this will kill the animal quicker due to Osmotic pressure on the animal. This is a common mistake used by aquarists.

One type of treatment is to take the animal to a Vet and get them to remove as much of the fluid as possible. This is usually done via a syringe and a needle to drain the fluid away, this would only be feasible in large fish and only aquatic-specialist vets may be willing to carry out this procedure. There is no promise that this may help the fish pull through and indeed the stress of the procedure may kill the fish.