Dropsy on Goldfish – Why is my goldfish looking like a pine cone?

This is a pine cone.

Pine Cone

I don’t know about you, but pine cones remind me of Christmas… and I love Christmas! So I often associate pine cones with nice warm feelings.

However, I can’t say the same for a goldfish that looks like a pine cone.

This is my Oranda goldfish looking like a pine cone.

Dropsy on Goldfish

Can you see the resemblance?

Let me give you a close up:

Dropsy on goldfish-closeup

See what I mean?

What we are seeing here is dropsy on goldfish, and I can assure you that this “pine cone” is not what you want to encounter in your goldfish keeping journey.

What is Dropsy?

Dropsy on goldfish is not a disease itself. It is a symptom where the scales on the goldfish are sticking out, giving it a pine cone appearance. The reason why the scales are doing that is due to the over-accumulation of liquid in the fish’s cavity and tissues.

So why is the liquid building up?

Well, the body of the goldfish contains electrolytes which make it denser than the water in its surrounding. Due to osmotic pressure, water from outside its body will constantly get pushed into the body to “dilute” it. That is how the nature of osmosis works.

In a healthy goldfish, its kidney is able to regulate this by eliminating the liquid constantly from its body through respiration and urine.

However, when the goldfish gets sick, its immune system gets weaken and this ability is affected. This is made worse when there are bacterial/parasitic infections at the kidney. When the kidney fails, the liquid will just keep accumulating in its body and tissues to the point that dropsy appeared.

Goldfish Dropsy

Besides bacterial/parasitic infections, I think birth defects may also cause the kidney to fail, thus dropsy on goldfish.

You see, a goldfish with an egg-shaped body has its internal organs cramped up in a small body cavity. As they grow, these organs may get squashed against each other, causing disorders. This I believe, is possible… similar to one of the reasons why swim bladder disease is common in egg-shaped goldfish. After all, the goldfish’s kidney is next to its swim bladder.

Whatever the causes may be, sad to say that getting to the point of dropsy is really a death sentence for the goldfish. I have lost a few of them this way. 🙁


So what can we do about it?

I personally had no luck treating my goldfish when they showed dropsy. I did read before that salt treatment may help at the early stage of dropsy, so if you want to give it a try, please do.

As dropsy is a symptom and not a disease, it is really difficult to identify the actual cause. It could be due to this or that bacterial/parasitic infection, or it could be due to a birth defect. Anyhow it is always good to quarantine the affected goldfish in case the dropsy is caused by bacterial/parasitic infections.


Prevention is definitely better than cure here, and these are some things that we can do for that:

Well, I really do hope you will not have to deal with dropsy on goldfish.

However, if you have to, or you have done that before, do share your experience in the comment section below.

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