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GoldFish dropsy pinecone
goldfish with scales sticking out


Dropsy is a disease that doesn't occur too often. Symptoms of this disease include swollen body, bloated eyes, and protruding scales. Dropsy disease is the result of organ failure from cancer or poor environmental conditions. In order to treat dropsy, antibacterial should be given through medicated food and water quality should be improved to help clear up the disease. It is not possible for a fish to fully recover from dropsy. Some experts believe dropsy is incurable and the infected fish should be euthanized.


GoldFish with scales protruding
pinecone appearance as a result of dropsy


GoldFish Dropsy
a goldfish with dropsy


Fish Dropsy
scales with pinecone appearance


Fish Pox < Prev Next > China Disease

There are 11 comments
Posted by Nykia – Sunderland, England

I have had 3 fish for 7 weeks now and my Bobbi -a goldfish- has fin rot. This is the 2nd fish I have had that has attracted fin rot. My other fish Masie died due to the disease. But now it looks like Simone -again a goldfish- has dropsy. Jak -goldfish- is fine a good size and is quite thin ish. Bobbi is ill and Simone is quite swollen. My friend told me to was just getting fat but I've noticed the scales around the tail are sticking out more so then they were before. Since May 15th I have had six fish. My first won at a fair -flushie, also goldfish- died after 5 days. My second Lenny died of a fungal infection some 7 weeks ago. My third Masie died of fin rot just under 7 weeks ago. So now my new fish are possibly ill I don't want to take any chances, PLEASE HELP!

Posted by Shannon – Montreal

I think one of my goldfish has dropsy. Two days ago he was hanging around the surface, gasping, but wasn't bloated. I do a water change of 1/3 every week and add aquarium salt and de-chlorinate my water before adding it to the tank. I did a water change two days ago and cleaned the filter. He was fine yesterday, eating and swimming with the others, but today, he is just hanging around the surface, bloated, with a small patch of red near his back, like a sore. He is 2 years old. His eyes are also bulging a little. His tank mates are all ok, swimming, eating, avoiding him. If it is dropsy, I know there is no cure - should I remove him from the tank to spare my other fish and have him euthanized? How do you do that?

Posted by Arlene – Coquitlam, BC, Canada

After reading Mark's write up (from El Centro, CA), I was highly encouraged to continue trying to help Elmo, my red/white Ryukin goldfish who has dropsy. He has bloated up like a balloon, has scales sticking out and now has two lesions on both sides which is very red. I have tried almost everything - Maracyn, Maracyn 2, Maracyn Plus, Tetracyline (separately) but nothing is helping him. I am now trying Pimafix and Melafix with epsom salt as directed by Mark. I have also purchased another air pump which is for a 40 gallon tank (I just bought that tank) for the new 10 gallon hospital tank for Elmo. I have also increased the temperature to 86 degrees Farenheit and crossing my fingers.

I have fed Elmo some peas and shrimp but in the last two days he has stopped eating so I am hoping the new medication will help him.

When I had the temperature up with epsom salts, I saw a few droplets of clear fluid coming out of his chest. Also when I fed him peas, he was pooing long clear stringy things like a casing but no real poo. Does anyone know what these are?

I had Elmo as a little baby and now he is huge and just over 2 years old. I love him and hope he doesn't die soon. I am a little desperate and really want him to get well but also know that he can die anytime. Mark's email gave me hope because almost all the research on the internet tells me that dropsy is fatal and sure death and I am hoping they are wrong.

Posted by Osho – Ottawa, Canada

To Mark-Lamont, a 4 year old feeder fish, common goldfish, has started to pine cone. He was sitting on the bottom of the 60 gal. tank he shares with 4 others. Two days ago I put him in the hospital tank and began treatment with epsom salts and Mardel. Yesterday I put in a small heater but after reading your encouraging report I put in a larger one set to go to 86 deg. It makes sense that it would kill bacteria. I'm debating now whether to continue with the Lardel which is liquid Maracyn plus. His next dose is in two days so I'll see how he is then. He's a great little guy and your report was the first really hopeful thing I've read. Thanks for writing it Mark. cheers, pray for Lamont.

Posted by Mark – El Centro CA

Howdy, i had to comment when i saw the dropsy thread cause i just a really bad bout with dropsy on one of my fantail goldfish.

I have had dropsy on orandas before and it was always fatal. i used to not know what to do. i would try things here and there but it was always to no avail. then i did some reasearch and found something, tried it and it really worked!!! Dropsy is a real #$*#* too.

Anyway, i pulled Tubs (the fantail) out and put him in a 10 gallon hospital tank with lots of airation ( 2 airstones on seperate dedicated lines). before i put tubs in there, i raised the temperature to 86 degrees ( i know it seems high but theres a reason) and put a 1/4 teaspoon of epsons salt in there. ( the ratio is 1/8 teaspoon for 5 gallons). Dont under any cercumstance use regualar salt or aquarium salt cause it will cause the gold fish to retain even more water and die quickly. Epson's salt drawls out the water releavign some of the presure on the organs of the oranda or goldfish your treating.

Next i put tubs in the 86 degree water with no adaptation period. The reason why is the shock in water temperature kills alot of the bacteria right away. And alot of the bacteria cant live past 82 anyway. So with Tubs in the hospital tank at 86 degrees and 1/4 teaspoon of epsons salt in there, i added a dose of Melafix and Pimafix.

In about 20 hours, his swelling had allready gone down 40 percent!!! The epsons salts really worked and the high temperature didnt bother him at all ( once again, i had a lot of airration!) Side note: He was REALLY pineconed out alot with a 3/4 inch long ulcer that was red and sore on his stomach too. At the next day , he was doing better, i made sure to feed him sparingly that day 2 times. the swelling went down even more and he was doing better. At the 2nd day, i did a 100 percent water change and added the epsons salt and Melafix and Pimafix and put tubs back in there (of course its stilll 85 degree water)
I contintued this for a week and ALL the dropsy went away and the ulcer even healed up too! i thought it wasnt possible to heal him cause of all the bad advise that i had taken before, but with this set up and a lot of prayer to Jesus, Tubs is happy as ever! feel free to email me if you had any questions. id be happy to help! You dont need antibotics or anythign like that, just some epsons salt and Melafix and Pima fix!

Reply to Mark
Posted by Gabi – MD

Hi, I have a fantail goldfish that has been sick for a few months. I've read almost every article on the internet trying to figure out how to help. He shows signs of swim bladder disease and constipation. Lately, it seems his scales have begun to rise a little and it appears some of his fins have fin rot. I do not want this to get any worse!!! He is a small goldfish, in about a gallon tank. I've fed him peas, and put a few epsom salts in the tank. I have been fasting him for a few days and I am going to try feeding him lettuce too.... What is Melafix and Pima fix? Would it help him? Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it!!!

Reply to Mark
Posted by Miranda – Edmonds

Hello, I was just wondering if I could get some extra help and advice since you seem to know what to do with this disease.

I check on my fish constantly and I hope its not too late that I noticed this. This morning my lionhead (Thor) was not out to eat, which is obviously weird for goldfish. And then this evening I noticed his scales aren't lying flat. Not pine cone, yet, but just a little fluffy looking. And a few odd scratches on his back?

I have a 3 gallon tank, Thor is only about 2 in, and I have one air stone on one line, but have the ability to make two. But I don't have a filter for this extra tank. Do I need one to treat him in this tank. I also have epsom salt. Also would it be harmful to treat him in the tank he is in if another fish is present?

Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks for reading.

Posted by dropsy cure – NY

Dropsy is an internal infection. Try giving fish medicated fish food with metronidazole. If they wont eat, try fish metronidazole or kanaplex in the water.

Posted by Px

My fish had fish pox.i didn't know what he had!!!i'm still sad that poor little guy had to sufer....i still miss him....

Posted by Fred – Massapequa

I've been fighting this with one of my big blue orandas...stinks that one of the treatment options is euthanizing it. The swelling has gone one point it got so bad the scales on both sides were sticking out so much the fish looked more like a pine comb. After a couple of weeks of medicated food, life guard and blue drops the fish looks better and the scales have gotten better, but I can still tell something is wrong with the fish...guess she'll be living alone for now

Posted by Lin Koorbloh – Azeroth

-sigh- my betta died of dropsy... poor guy... i hadn't even known what it was...