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Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP
Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 1801
Experience:  DVM 2000, Specialist in Canine and Feline Practice, DABVP, since 2009
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FISH patient is 5 fantail gold fish. It is bloated and its

Resolved Question:

FISH: patient is 5" fantail gold fish. It is bloated and its own bloat rolls it onto its back. I think it is constipated - no feces in tank for days. Yesterday, I spent 2 hours pressing its' stomach until it could finally stay upright - but does so by curving its tail downward as counter balance, and staying in a corner. When it swims out or corner, it rolls over. Yes, it is very fat. Several months ago I had same problem with it and attributed to cheap food - so bought some "good" gold fish feed from alaska. I have not fed it for 2 days. Last time I fed it, the next day (yesterday) I found it in AM upside down. I want to give it an enema and somehow relieve the gas but dont know how. WHen I massaged its stomach I think it burped a big air bubble. WHAT TO Do!!!???
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP replied 8 years ago.
I have a couple of quick questions for you.

Have you recently checked chemicals/temp/etc, and how clean is the tank?

What are you currently feeding it (aside from the last 2 days)

Any other abnormalities?

Is this the only fish in the tank, and if not, are any others affected?

Thank you,
Dr. Devlin
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

temp ok. I use well water so no chemicals.


No other fish in tank.


No other abnormailites. Last couple of months after feeding this happens but goes away after a few minutes. I attributed to too much food since his tank mate died and I may have still been feeding for two without realizing it. Now just give a tiny pinch of food. I dont think condition is from stress because I made a cut out of his tank buddy and have it outside tank where the now dead fish always hang out this one is not going away.


"omega one" gold fish flakes


Expert:  Dr. Laura Devlin, DVM, DABVP replied 8 years ago.
I'm concerned your goldfish has dropsy. Dropsy can begin with bloat, and progress until the scales are sticking out.

Dropsy is not really a disease. For all intensive purposes we will call it one. It's really an internal bacterial infection usually caused by poor water quality.

Bloat can wax and wane depending on how much they are retaining.

Fish may recover with no treatment and may die despite it. There are multiple possible causes. Sometimes it's not contageous, but sick fish should be isolated and treated since determining the actual cause may be impossible. The swelling is because the fish is absorbing water faster than it can eliminate it, and it can be caused by many different problems. High nitrates are one thing to check.

Well water without chemical treatment and pH adjustment/nitrate analysis may harming your little friend. There are many hard minerals and trace elements in well water.

Internal bacterial infections, including fish TB, are other possibilities. If there are no water quality problems, you may want to attempt antibiotic treatment.

Causes of drospy are numerous, and can include poor water quality, intestinal bacteria or parasites, or kidney disease.

Dropsy is not very contagious; however, Fish usually die from this, but in some cases where the problem is due to bacteria, if detected early enough, it can be treated.

To treat, see your fish store owner about antibiotic bath, and kits to test water quality. There are a number of medications available such as penicillin, tetracycline and naladixic acid. The fish usually doesn't make it. By the time the scales begin to raise, however, it is very fatal to the fish. Salt baths can help to draw the fluid out of the fish. A variety of medications can be purchased that treat dropsy, which sometimes occurs due to an internal bacterial problem. Medications for external bacterial problems only will not be effective for this problem.

Poor water conditions are often the culprit. Gouramies, Cyprinids (barbs, danios, etc), guppies, betta and goldfish are prone to this disease. Goldfish are said to be somewhat more prone to dropsy than other fish. High nitrates are usually the culprit. Clean water is key! Again, Key water is key!

Best luck with your little guy.
Dr. Devlin
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