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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-06-2007, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2007
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Hi everyone,
I've been doing a ton of research on dropsy in bettas, because my male betta, Marco, has been swollen for months. His scales have only begun to rise in the last week or so, and it's subtle (they don't stick out as much as some of the pics of goldfish you may see). He was inititally in an unheated and unfiltered vase, about a gallon, and I think the water conditions caused him to start swelling in the belly, probably due to a bacterial infection. About a month ago, I bought a 5-gallon hexagon tank with a water heater and have set the temp to 80-82 degrees. He loved it an was flaring his gills and making bubble nests for a few days, until the novelty wore off.

Anyways, I've been through several treatment phases with him. First a combo of Maracyn and Maracyn 2 for five days. Nothing. I then tried Kanamycyn for 5 days. Still nothing. I've been diligently doing the water changes and everything a good fish mommy is supposed to. His swelling has been very gradual and chronic, nothing sudden. He also has had a normal appetite and is pretty lively, despite looking like a little balloon. So I don't want to euthanize him just yet.

I started feeding him some antibacterial fish pellets, soaked in tank water for 15 minutes first, and he hated them. I think they're too big. So I crushed up the dry pellets and now he'll eat the smaller portions. I'm doing this as one last antibacterial effort, and have accepted that he has kidney failure and will probably not recover. He may also be like this for months, who knows.

However, I have been concerned about how SWOLLEN he gets, and it worries me because I know he can't be comfortable, even though his behavior is still normal. I've read a couple of posts about people who have drained the fluid with a syringe, and I decided to try it since really, there's nothing to lose at this point.

I bought a pack of BD Ultra-Fine II Insulin syringes at my local grocery store pharmacy. The needle is very small (5/16" or 8mm length and 31 gauge). I tried taking him out of his tank to see if he would sit still, and he was like a little marble rolling around on the towel I had soaked with his tank water. So, for accuracy's sake and not wanting to hurt him, I put him in the anesthetic clove oil solution (NOT the euthanizing strength--just 10 drops or so in about 2 cups of water). I waited for about 5 minutes until I could see he was asleep (gills still moving, but otherwise motionless).

I took him out, and he did move around a little once out of the solution, but not as much as before. I laid him on a towel soaked in tank water (that I put on a little plastic plate I don't use for eating). I then very carefully inserted the needle in one side of his swollen belly (really anywhere would work, as long as you're not near the organs along the back--any point where there's obviously liquid making the stomach distend would work, since it's all fluid and there's nothing to run into), and drew out a full syringe of yellowish-clear liquid. He didn't move or give any indication that he was in pain, so I put him on his other side and did the same. I pulled out a total of 3 small syringes full of liquid, and immediately put him back into his tank, which I treated with Marycyn Plus in order to avoid an infection at the puncture sites. The needle is so small that you can't even see where I stuck him.

He seemed stunned for a few minutes and just hung out near the water heater. But then he came around and is swimming around again, and even ate a little. He is a very tough little guy! He's still swollen, but not nearly as bad as before. I didn't want to go too far the first time, you know? I know I will probably need to do this again, and keep repeating, since he's no longer getting rid of fluids on his own. I'll do it as often as necessary as long as he seems happy and is eating. I just wanted to give him a fighting chance to be comfortable and not explode! This first time was the hardest, so now I'm comfortable with having to do it again.

Good luck to you if your fishy has dropsy--it's the pits, but for me, I feel better knowing I can do something to make his last weeks or months better.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-10-2007, 05:09 PM
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Pennsylvania
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You can do that? That is amazing? How is he feeling now?

mommy to
Tyler - kitty
Oscar - water turtle
Bean - kitty
Frankie - dachshund
Belle - dachshund
Oliver - bunny
Ophelia - bunny
Penelope - bunny
Teddy - bunny -ok I have given up on 4 of a kind and am willing to settle for 2 pairs.
8 fishes - RIP Little Guy and Greta
and Tabatha - October 11, 2006 - rest in peace our sweet angel bunny
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-10-2007, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kathydip
You can do that? That is amazing? How is he feeling now?
Hi Kathy--thanks, and yes, apparently it can be done despite everyone's beliefs that absolutely nothing can be done for a fish with dropsy. I realize it won't "cure" him, but it sure makes his life better for now. I wasn't sure about doing this, because I couldn't find many details I could follow to try it myself. I just decided to go for it and was very careful.

I have a suspicion that dropsy causes death ultimately because of the fish's inability to pass waste (besides the obvious organ failure--but then I think about how humans undergo dialysis when their kidneys fail, and still live decent lives). I think this is why a lot of fish with dropsy stop eating. They may not feel good enough to eat, but I believe it's because all the swelling makes it impossible for the food to go anywhere and so they just can't eat! It can't be good for them not to be able to pass waste. I noticed that he hadn't pooped for days, and it wasn't because he was constipated. It was because he was so swollen that his poop hole probably closed off. He pooped almost immediately after I drained him, and it was long one, lol!!

He's doing great--swimming around very actively and doing the "feed me" dance every time I get anywhere near his tank. I am keeping a close eye on him to monitor his swelling (to be ready to drain him again if he gets big); he's looking good and so far I don't see that he's had any complications from the surgery. You wouldn't even know he's sick! He really is a tough little fish, he's been through a lot and is very much still hanging in there!
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-10-2007, 07:31 PM
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Heys How's he doing now?

I learned a lot about dropsy dealing with one of my baby frogs that has it. I had to use a needle to get the water out of him too, twice so far. I know it sounds a little icks but if you don't do it the bloat puts pressure on the internal organs and can kill them. If you do this though, you don't want to remove all the fluid from under the skin because the sudden change in pressure can cause problems.

One thing I learned about dropsy is that if it is a fast onset, your fish/frog probably won't make it too long. But if it's a slow onset they have a much better chance.

What I found out with my frog is that certain foods really make him bloat up. His kidneys for some reason just couldn't handle the food that I was feeding him, and he would bloat up really bad! But after I used the needles the second time I started feeding him a new food, and lo and behold he hasn't bloated up again so far

So, if your dealing with bloat and want to try getting some of the water out from under the skin with small gage needles, it should help make the fish more comfortable. I would play around with the diet and see if that helps. Try feeding less, or a diffrent food completly and see what happens. I've heard that frozen foods such as frozen bloodworms are good because they're easy to digest.


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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-10-2007, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2007
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Marco follow-up

He's doing great these days, swimming around very actively, doing the little piggy "feed me" dance if I even get near his tank. I think I've bought him a few more weeks or months of comfort--who knows? He doesn't look sick, and sure doesn't act like he is either!

I'm hoping I won't have to drain him again anytime soon, but if I do, I will. I'm glad I didn't euthanize him first, since it looks like he's doing all right since his "surgery".
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-11-2007, 08:16 PM
Can't Stop Touching Her Eyes
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Pennsylvania
Age: 46
Posts: 2,934
 
That is amazing. I hope I never have to deal with it although I still am not sure what is going on with Little Guy. I hope his problems are due to his swim bladder. He is a fancy tail so it's likely that is the problem. Whatever his issue is it's been going on for months now.

mommy to
Tyler - kitty
Oscar - water turtle
Bean - kitty
Frankie - dachshund
Belle - dachshund
Oliver - bunny
Ophelia - bunny
Penelope - bunny
Teddy - bunny -ok I have given up on 4 of a kind and am willing to settle for 2 pairs.
8 fishes - RIP Little Guy and Greta
and Tabatha - October 11, 2006 - rest in peace our sweet angel bunny
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