Dropsy is a somewhat mysterious disease that is fatal and that can be hard to cure. The disease is caused by bacteria and (almost?) only attacks weakened fish. There are many reasons that can cause a fish to become weakened and most are within your control as an aquarist. The reasons include poor living conditions, incorrect living conditions, improper diet and incorrect company in the tank. By keeping your aquarium clean and well kept you can eliminate the risk of dropsy due to poor living conditions. By researching the requirements of your fish and setting up the aquarium accordingly you can eliminate the risk for dropsy due to incorrect living conditions. By feeding a varied diet suitable for your fish you can eliminate the risk for dropsy due to poor nutrition and by only keeping fish with similar needs and temperament together you can eliminate the risk of dropsy due to incorrect company. This does of course not eradicate the risk of dropsy completely, but it does significantly reduce the risk of dropsy.
Dropsy is as earlier mentioned a bacterial disease, it attacks the kidneys on weakened fish and cause renal failure or/and fluid accumulation. It is the fluid accumulation that causes the visible symptoms of this disease; bloated body and protruding scales.
It can as I said be hard to treat bloat and many infected fish dies which makes dropsy a dreaded disease. There are medicines against dropsy that you add to the water of your tank but those are seldom very effective and it is, as this is an internal disease, better to give the fish medicated food. Make a 1% mixture of an antibiotic such as chloromycetin (chloramphenicol) or tetracycline and fish food. Based on weight, 1% equals to add 100 mg antibiotics to 10g fish food, or 25g fish food with a standard 250mg tablet antibiotics. It can be good starve the fish before feeding them medicated food to make sure that they eat properly.
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