Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Older Bettas & Dropsy

Curious, originally uploaded by SuperNova83.

Q: RSB wrote,

My betta's name is Nemo. I have had him for about three and a half years now. He has been sick for about two weeks. He is rather lazy and sluggish and usually sits at the bottom of his bowl. He has a big loss of appetite and hasn't really eaten anything for like two weeks. Just today, I noticed that his scales are protruding out a little bit. I read somewhere that protruding scales are a sign of dropsy. I also read that if a betta has dropsy, he usually has a bubble under his abdomen that makes him look pregnant, but my fish has no bubble. He just seems very sad and depressed.

Here is some more information:

1. I keep my fish in a fish bowl that carries about a gallon of water.
2. No, I have not tested for ammonia.
3. I have not tested him for nitrate.
4. I have not tested the pH either.
5. I am not positive on the temperature of the water. It seems a little cold. I know the water is supposed to be at about 78 degrees. I just tested his water to see if it was warm but it doesn't seem warm enough for him. It seems like it's between 70-75 degrees. I am not sure how to check the exact temperature of the water, so if you would know how, please tell me.
6. My parents change his water once a week. They pretty much change four fifths of his water.
7. We just put in about 6 drops of Aqua Safe water conditioner every time we change his water.
8. I feed him the hikari pellets. Usually, I would feed Nemo every time I saw him come up to the top of his bowl and I would see him staring at me. On average, I would feed him about 5-6 pellets a day.
9. He has no tank mates.
10. No, the tank is not planted.
11. (refer to paragraph above)

So what do you recommend I should do? Should I get him some medication or should I just focus more on the temperature of the water?

Thank you for taking the time to help out Nemo. He and I will really appreciate the help.

A: I'm sorry to hear about poor little Nemo. Unfortunately protruding scales is the most common symptom of Dropsy. A swollen abdomen, as you mentioned, is also very common but fish with Dropsy don't necessarily show both symptoms. If yours has pineconing scales then he almost definitely has dropsy.

Dropsy itself is not a disease but a symptom that can be caused by several things including a bacterial infection, virus or even parasites. It's very common in tropical fish, especially Betta splendens and sadly it is usually fatal. Dropsy can affect Bettas of any age. If you have had Nemo for 3 1/2 years he is likely about 4 years old or even as old as 4 1/2 years, which is getting up there in Betta years. It isn't unusual for older fish to become susceptible to illnesses as their immune systems weaken from old age. I also lost an older Betta to this terrible illness last year.

The only thing you can do in the later stages of Dropsy is to keep the water clean, warm and stable. To monitor your water temperature you can buy an aquarium thermometer for as little as $1 - $2 at any local fish store.

To learn more about Dropsy visit the Dropsy page.

I wish you all the best and will keep you and Nemo in my thoughts.