I'm really worried about my dragon scale Crowntail Betta. I realised that in the last couple of weeks he has had a bump, like in the picture, on his body on both sides.

He has started to curl his body to the side every now and again. I know he has been a bit bored since I put him in a 5 gallon tank by himself, but lately he hasn't seemed himself. He only swims at all if he sees me and sometimes I'll watch him from my doorway where he can't see me and he'll just be hovering above the gravel on the bottom of the tank, sometimes at a slight angle.

I gave him a pea a couple of hours ago because he looked a bit big in the stomach and I've only given him a tiny bit of food the past 2 days and soaking them in water before I gave it to him, cause I thought he could be constipated.

More information:

  • He has a stringy poo hanging out of him.
  • I got him during the Christmas holidays.
  • I haven't been feeding him the highest quality food.
  • He is still eating eagerly
  • There is a black dot on one of his fins

I can't really decide if it's just me or whether his scales are slightly raised

enter image description here

  • 2
    What are the parameters of your water (PH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, temperature)? Sounds like there's a few things going on here.
    – Henders
    Mar 29, 2018 at 10:47
  • every now and then he will come to the surface and gulp air the swim around abit, every time I come to check on him.. his on the bottom on a slight angle, but when he sees me he swims up to the surface takes a big gulp of air and swims a little.. then I'll come again later- and it's a repeat.. but now he is getting less and less responsive when I go to his tank.. really worried.. I also noticed that the last few times I checked in him.. his fin that had the black dot which now I'm convinced is a parasite, and could be the cause for all these issues... what do I do? How do I get rid of it?
    – user10731
    Mar 29, 2018 at 11:23
  • 1
    Have you got a test kit? If not, it's worth picking one up and testing your water regularly. I initially thought your question was different to this one but if it isn't then you answer will be there instead. That temperature range is quite wide and if the water is fluctuating, the fish will suffer.
    – Henders
    Mar 29, 2018 at 11:31
  • 1
    Honestly, without the tests it's basically just guessing. Bare in mind that all the additional bathing and medications that you use will stress the fish. In my opinion the benefits must outweigh the stress. The tubes are normally 5ml so if you can measure 5ml you can still do the PH test. That alone won't tell you much though. You can get test strips if money is limited. Less accurate but they still give you something. You may want to pop into chat to continue this discussion
    – Henders
    Mar 29, 2018 at 11:50
  • 1
    Dropsy is very obvious with scales sticking almost straight out from the body; the photo does not show dropsy. Mar 29, 2018 at 18:27

2 Answers 2


I know this is a few months old but I did want to chime in on a few things :) Dropsy can look like a very bloated stomach, it is not always pine-cone'd scales which are commonly referred to as pineconing. These are both symptoms of organ failure and is not always anything that the owner did or could have prevented.

The area circled is a muscle/organ-it looks like the swim bladder and is perfectly fine and normal. He could use some fattening up, however. Frozen foods are the best-Hikari and cobalt make some decent stuff. Fluval bug bites, Northfin pellets, omega one are all good brands of pellet or flake food as well. New Life Spectrum is also pretty decent.

Best parameters for these guys are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, ~20 nitrates, and 7.5pH or so. Stable pH is more important than trying to fix it. They enjoy their water temperature to be around 80-82F.

Fish naturally have 'stringy' fecal, if it is white then I would be concerned. Also, if the habitat is small it is best to do more frequent water changes to prevent ammonia or nitrate poisoning. Epsom salt baths help with swelling and drawing fluids, and that is about it if there is nothing to draw out then it won't do too much good to do it. For Dropsy, some folk have tried Furan 2 and Kanaplex but it is almost always a temporary fix if it even helps. Dropsy-or organ failure-is fatal and shortens the lifespan greatly. Please do not let it discourage you from the hobby, tho!

  • Welcome to Pets :) As long as the filter is correctly cycled, you should never have a build up of ammonia. If you do big water changes on a small tank, you need to be careful to not change the parameters too drastically.
    – Henders
    Dec 4, 2018 at 10:28
  • Depends on the size of tank. You can do a 100% water change and not disrupt the bacterial cycle-it's living in the media, not the tank water or substrate. It can also cause a bacterial bloom, lol. with a correctly cycled tank and good media, you WILL have ammonia build up-fish make ammonia by urinating and also respiring through their gills. So water changes are essential to keeping healthy parameters :) I simply made some points in case OP comes back to look at this. Any changes done at all should be done carefully/slowly-be it temperature, acclimation, so on. Dec 4, 2018 at 19:47
  • Ah, perhaps I didn't make my point clear - apologies. I know the bacteria lives in the filter media or substrate. You must always provide the same water parameters as you take out. Standard water from your tap can vary so unless you're using RO and buffering, you'll need to test it before hand. Any tank that is correctly cycled will have 0 ammonia. The ammonia is converted to nitrite then nitrate as part of the nitrogen cycle. You may have nitrate build up but never ammonia. Ammonia is lethal to fish.
    – Henders
    Dec 5, 2018 at 9:16

thankyou both so much:) i had no idea what i was doing back then and got lazy with water changes-the source of all my problems. he was unhappy in his new tank ( he was in a small community tank before and loved it) then i got lazy and water quality must have been horrendous, i didnt have the experience, medications, and money at that,as well as the water test kit( which i have the API master test kit now:))- plus he was on really crappy food...unfortunatly he died not long after i posted the last post ages ago. thankyou heathan fatalis when you said not to be discouraged as i was going to give on fish keeping so many times.. and thanks for heling me understand more of dropsy as in the end he did have slight pinconing, but his body wasnt large like most fish with dropsy have and what the bump/lione on his sides were, noticed alot of fish have it at pet shops..i have guppies at the moment and am planning to get another betta soon- really well planted, tank mates depending on aggression level of the fish, and variety of good frozen, pellet and flake food- i will make sure im more prepared this time:) im also looking at putting some pothos plant cutting in the filter to help with ammonia- i heard that can help too:) once again thankyou both. -janayah.

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