DROPSY AND MALAWI DISEASE
By Jim E. Quarles
Is the cause of this disease viral infection, or bacterial
in nature? Also nutritional and or metabolic function can be involved, but
are they? This is one of the most frightening diseases the hobbyist is
likely to see. It is unsightly and nasty looking when the fish is in the
final stages before death. Actually there remains a good deal that is
unknown about this condition. Exactly why and when it occurs opens questions
that so far have not been completely answered.
Photograph by Tetra Publications
Sometimes this disease comes out of the blue without warning, or any
other sign of problems in your fish. Sometimes fish in poor condition
develop it, other times fish in a seemingly healthy condition will develop
The build up of fluid in the body is noticed, the scales become raised
and develop a saw like appearance, the eyes swell and it looks like the
onset of popeye or a combination of both dropsy and popeye.( In fact is my
personal belief that both diseases are common one to the other, they just
appear with different symptom under different conditions and fish).
TREATMENT AND CONTROL
Since so little is known as to the exact causes of this condition,
precise treatment is difficult to prescribe. So I will simply state the
way I would handle fish in such conditions. I believe the infection is
contagious, I would remove affected individuals to a separate treatment
tank. I would make sure they have the best possible water conditions with
pure clean frequently changed water. I would start them on a diet of high
protein food that has been sublimated with vitamins.
I would wait to see if the condition improves with just those measures.
If they do not then the use of a broad-spectrum antibiotic drug might be
tried, such as (Gentamycin).
If this does not have the desired effect the fish should be killed.
Care must be taken to avoid transfer of this disease to a healthy tank
though nets, hoses, or other tools commonly used in the fish room.
PREVENTION THE BEST MEDICINE
Keeping your water and tank conditions super clean and the removal of
un-eaten food along with a high protein diet fortified with vitamins, will
go a long way towards preventing these kinds of disease factors. A dirty
tank is a sick tank. Poorly fed fish are diseased fish waiting to die.
One other note, please do not flush sick fish down the john, it only
spreads the disease germs, burning is best, if possible.