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High nitrates are one thing to check. Internal bacterial infections, including fish TB, are other possibilities. If there are no water quality problems, you may want to attempt antibiotic treatment in a separate tank.

There are multiple possible causes. Usually caused by kidney damage. Kidney damage may be caused by overuse of drugs or a disease. Eventually the swelling will cause the scales to raise, giving the fish what is called the "pine-cone" appearance.

You can best see this by viewing your fish from the top. Fish may also stop feeding, appear off-colour, become listless and/or lethargic, have sunken eyes, and hang at the top or stay at the bottom of the aquarium.


Treatment of this disease is difficult, as by the time it is recognized, permanent damage to the internal organs of the fish will have occurred. Immediate treatment must be performed if there is to be any chance for survival. Metronidazole (Flagyl) and or Clout are the best medications for treatment of Dropsy. Notwithstanding, not much is known for certain about the etiology of this disease and some experienced aquarists use antibiotics to fight Dropsy. For oxytetracycline, baths of 20-100 mg/litre for five days is suggested. For tetracycline hydrochloride, treat with baths of 40-100 mg/litre for five days. And for minocycline hydrochloride a dilution of 250mg/10 gallons of water is recommended. On day 2 change all the water and add the medicine again at the same dose for another 2 days. Increase aeration during treatment. Do not use minocycline a third time in a row. Caution: tetracyclines are photo sensitive so turn the tank lights off during treatment and cover the whole tank with a blanket. If the fish is still eating, you can soak the food in a concentrated solution of the antibiotic before feeding.
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