How To Treat Dropsy In Guppy? (Symptoms+Remedies)

Dropsy is a very life-threatening condition for your guppy fish. Therefore, detecting the illness in its early stages is essential for successful treatment. So, how to treat dropsy in guppy? Let us find out.

Bacterial infection can be the reason for Dropsy. Other factors are stress, water condition, and poor nutrition. Add one tablespoon of Epsom salt per gallon of water to a hospital tank, and feed high-quality food to recover from Dropsy. However, it cannot be cured if reached in an advanced stage.

This article will discuss symptoms, causes, and treatment for Dropsy. Also, we will discuss the other possible reasons for the swollen belly of your guppy fish.

What is dropsy?

Dropsy is a condition in which fish get a swollen belly, and its scale starts sticking out, taking a pinecone-like appearance.

Many refer to dropsy as swollen belly or bloat.

Bacterial infection can be the reason behind your guppy suffering from dropsy.

Other reasons for dropsy are stress, water condition, and poor nourishment.

What are the causes of dropsy?

Various factors can cause dropsy.

Dropsy is the result of bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Aeromonas.

Bacteria Aeromonas is a bacteria that is common in most fish tanks.

But, this bacteria only infect the fish which is under stress because of various factors:

  1. Overcrowding
  2. Inadequate water condition (spike of ammonia and nitrite)
  3. Unstable water parameters
  4. Stress from moving from one place to another.
  5. Poor nourishment
  6. Non-compatible tankmates (aggressive tankmates).
  7. Other illness

If your guppy is under stress for a long time, then it can be vulnerable to such infection, which causes dropsy.

What are the symptoms of dropsy?

These are the signs which indicate that your guppy is suffering from dropsy:

  1. Your guppy will have a bloated belly.
  2. Your guppy will refuse to eat.
  3. Guppy will have a curved spine.
  4. Your guppy will have bulging eyes.
  5. You will see pale gills.
  6. Your guppy will be less active.
  7. You will witness redness in your guppies skin and fins.
  8. Your guppy will hold its fin against the body.
  9. The Guppy scale will stick out with pinecone-like visuals.
  10. Your guppy will swim at the bottom of the tank.

Can guppies recover from dropsy?

It entirely depends on the reason behind dropsy.

If a bacterial infection is the cause of dropsy, then it cannot be treated.

However, if water condition, stress, and improper nourishment are the reason behind dropsy, it can be treated.

Treatment for dropsy.

If bacteria cause dropsy, it is not curable as the infection will quickly affect your fish.

The experts recommend euthanizing your sick guppy to stop the infection from spreading.

If other factors like water condition, Improper nourishment, and stress cause dropsy, it can be treated if detected in the early stages.

Follow these steps for treating dropsy:

  1. Move your sick guppy to a hospital tank.
  2. Add one tablespoon of Epsom salt per one gallon of water once a day in your hospital tank.
  3. Provide your sick guppy with good quality nutritional food.
  4. Treat your guppy with antibiotics through water or food.
  5. Test the water every day to ensure that the water is perfect for your ill guppy.

Moving the affected fish to a hospital tank is essential to stop spreading the infection to other healthy fish in the aquarium.

After placing your affected guppy in a hospital tank, change the 50% of the water in the original tank.

Keep a regular check on the remaining fish present in the original tank and see if there are any symptoms of dropsy.

Adding salt to the hospital tank will help in the osmotic balance of your guppy by making the water salinity closer to your guppy blood’s salinity.

This will help your guppy fish get rid of excess water gathered in the body.

Make sure not to add more than one tablespoon of salt per one gallon of water, as too much salt can affect your guppy.

Keep the hospital tank clean and perform a weekly water change.

Add salt to the new water you are adding to the hospital tank while performing a water change.

Feed your guppy high-quality nutritional food.

Feeding your affected guppy good quality food can resolve the bacterial infection in the early stage.

Provide a variety of food to your guppies to regain their health.

Also, continue monitoring your guppy even after the symptoms disappear for some weeks.

Run the antibiotic treatment if nothing works.

Make sure to read and follow the direction given by the manufacturers for duration and dosage.

Treating affected guppy with antibiotics will also eliminate the good bacteria from the tank.

So, keep a check on the ammonia and nitrite every day.

Is dropsy contagious?

Dropsy is contagious to other fish.

If your guppy fish is suffering from dropsy because of a bacterial infection, it can get transferred to other fish present in your tank.

However, fish with a strong immune system will protect themselves from such bacteria.

Fish dropsy is not contagious to humans.

However, we recommend using gloves and other precautions while treating your affected guppy.

How to prevent our guppy from dropsy?

Prevention is better than cure.

It is not hard to prevent your guppy fish from dropsy.

All you should take care of are:

  1. Keep your guppy fish aquarium clean.
  2. Perform a regular water change (at least 30% weekly).
  3. Avoid overfeeding your guppy fish (Provide food in a quantity they can eat in 1-2 minutes).
  4. Test the aquarium water regularly to ensure that it is perfect for your guppy fish.
  5. Make sure to clean the filter regularly (Clean the biofilter media with tank water).
  6. Make sure that your guppies aquarium is not overcrowded.
  7. Provide a variety of high-quality food to your guppy fish.
  8. Clean the bottom of the tank by using a gravel vacuum.
  9. Don’t use old food to feed your guppy fish.

You should generally take care of these things in everyday life while having an aquarium with guppy to keep them healthy and ensure a happy lifespan.

Dropsy like condition is unlikely to happen if you have a maintained tank and feed good quality food to your guppy.

Is Epsom salt any good to treat dropsy?

As discussed above, if a bacterial infection is a reason behind dropsy, it cannot be treated.

But, other factors like water condition, poor nourishment, and stress is the reason behind dropsy, then Epsom salt will help recover your guppy fish.

What can be the other reasons for a swollen abdomen?

There can be other reasons for your guppy having a large abdomen, such as:

  1. Your female guppy is pregnant.
  2. Your guppy is suffering from constipation.

Your female guppy can have an enlarged abdomen when it is pregnant.

The gravid spot will enlarge and become darker when the female guppy is pregnant.

Also, a pregnant female guppy will have a big round belly.

If the female pregnant guppy is not the reason for the enlarged abdomen, constipation can be another reason.

A male guppy with an enlarged abdomen is something serious.

If your female guppy has not lost its enlarged abdomen even after releasing the fry, constipation is the reason behind the enlarged abdomen.

Usually, constipation issues get solved in 2-3 days, and if your guppy is suffering even after 2-3 days, it is not a constipation issue.

Dropsy is the reason behind an enlarged abdomen then.

How to know if my guppy is pregnant or suffering from dropsy?

Female guppies have a gravid spot behind their anal fin.

A gravid spot is a dark spot located behind the anal fin of female guppies.

When a female guppy is pregnant, the gravid spot will become enlarged and darker.

A pregnant guppy will have a big round belly.

If your guppy has a curved spine, scales sticking out, and have pale gills. Then it is dropsy.

Also read: Is My Guppy Pregnant?

How to know if my guppy has constipation or suffering from dropsy?

If you are overfeeding your guppies, they can have a swollen abdomen.

Constipation is a very critical condition for your guppy fish.

Let your fish have a fast for some days, and then start by feeding them cooked peas in small quantity will eliminate the issue of constipation.

However, the constipation issue gets solved in two to three days.

If your guppy fish has not recovered after 2-3 days, it is not constipation.

Dropsy is the explainable reason now for the enlarged abdomen of your guppy fish.

When should we go for euthanizing guppy with dropsy?

If the fish scales are sticking out, showing the advanced stage of dropsy, then it would be time to euthanize your affected guppy.

There are some ways to euthanize your fish humanely:

  1. Clove oil method
  2. Stun and stab method

The clove oil method is the peaceful method of euthanizing your guppy fish, whereas the stun and stab method is violent.

Place your sick guppy in a container with a half-gallon of water.

Make a mixture of clove oil by mixing 1 gram of clove oil in 15-20ml of water and slowly add the clove oil mixture to the container.

Let your fish be in the container for 15-20 minutes.

If you see no movement of gills for more than 20 minutes, then you have successfully euthanized your sick guppy.

The stun and stab method is violent and not for weak-hearted people.

You will need a blunt object and a knife for performing this method.

Place your sick guppy in an aluminum foil, then hit the head of the ill guppy with a blunt object for damaging the nervous system so it cannot feel anything.

Now, make a sharp cut from just above the eyes with the help of a knife, making your sick guppy instantly pass away.

Also read: How To Humanely Euthanize Guppy Fish?


Dropsy is a life-threatening condition for your guppy fish. It is not treatable if it reaches an advanced stage because of bacterial infection. However, if stress, water condition, or poor nutrition are the reason behind Dropsy, you can make your guppy recover from it.

Isolate your affected guppy to a separate tank to stop spreading infection.

Feed your guppy high-quality nutritional food and provide adequate and stable water parameters to prevent such issues.

Keep your aquarium super clean and perform a regular water change.

Reference: ResearchGate, ResearchGate, Wikipedia

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