Goldfish with Dropsy
Answered by: Kerry Hackett
Question from: Samantha McMonigal
Posted on: November 27, 2006

Recently I have begun taking Dandelion roots. I have learned that it is a diuretic that helps to clean toxins from the blood among other things. My favorite goldfish, Vivre, has just begun the symptoms of dropsy, which is reported to be 100% fatal. However, I know of some people online ( in a forum where they have saved some of their fish from this ailment. Still, many die.

Dropsy occurs when bacteria enter the fish’s kidneys. The kidneys begin shutting down. The fish’s body begins to swell with fluids, and his or her scales begin to stand on end giving the fish an appearnace of a pine cone. Furthermore, the fish may become so swollen that his or her eyes begin to pop out of their sockets, a condition known as popeye. Death is not quick nor pretty; this is a slow and torturous way to go.

Researching online, I am saddened to find that their seems to be no information on herbs and fish. Possibly this is because their bodies are extremely different from humans. I was wondering if you know of any information that I might be able to read online or that you might share with me yourself?

Currently, I have found that goldfish can eat dandelions (the leaves that is; I am still unsure about the roots). Since it helps to clean human blood I am curious to try and give Vivre some of the greens to see if it helps her since her kidneys are not funtioning well at this time.

While I have read about some anti-bacterial herbs I thought that might be nice as well since it is bacteria that infect the kidneys. However, I am very scared to try anything since there is not much research out their in regards for what is safe for a fish to take.

Currently, my fish is receving medicated fish food that treats internal parasites, but am also struggling to find out if I could also give per pumpkin or pumpkin seeds since I read that this helps humans in this regard. Currently I have no clue as to what I may use for in case she has cancer.

Unfortunately I have no experience treating fish with herbs and, as you say, they are entirely different from mammals (including humans) or birds. I looked at the advice available at and as they have much more experience in this area than I, and mentioned that they have managed on occasion to save a goldfish from this condition, I would give their advice a try.

As for dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), I suspect it is possible that a fish might nibble a leaf on the bank of a pond but I do not know if that would apply to goldfish (are there dandelions in their native environment?) and in any case dandelion roots and pumpkin seeds would not be naturally available. In addition, fish in the wild would have an entire ecosystem at their disposal wherein many plant medicines could be of use. A tank, unfortunately cannot replicate a fish’s natural habitat and I would wonder how a dandelion leaf would affect the rest of the environment, pH levels, etc.

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