Dropsy and malawi bloat
These are usually considered to be one and the same thing by most fish keepers.
The cause is not entirely known and may actually have more than one cause. It is thought to be caused by possibly a virus, bacteria or parasite in the intestines. This then spreads and has an effect on the wider internals of the fish.
Symptoms include a swollen body, protruding scales(pine cone effect), pale and stringy faeces. This is because of an accumulation of fluid in the fish’s body. The fish will stop eating, darken in colour and may develop pop-eyes where the eyes will bulge out and swell.
Treatment for dropsy
Because of the uncertain cause of this disease, it is difficult to treat. Many fish die once they have this, even with treatment. The best treatment is to separate the affected fish to a hospital tank and treat the fish with a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Try some methylene blue and malachite green. Also add in Epsom salts, which will help release fluid build-up. Do not feed the fish for a week. It probably won’t eat anyway. Then see if the condition improves. If it doesn’t improve then it is better to euthanise the fish than to let it continue to suffer.
If the fish recovers from dropsy, it does not mean that the fish is totally cured. You then have to maintain a healthy environment for a period of 3-6 months, feeding quality live food during the following months. This period is needed for the fish to repair any internal damage to vital organs and will be susceptible to dropsy re-occurring. Only then can the fish be considered as cured.