"Dropsy" and "pinecone disease" are common complaints of
goldfish (Carassius auratus) owners. These terms describe clinical signs and not specific disease
entities, which can prove very frustrating not only to owners, but also veterinary practitioners
seeing fish. A case report is presented to illustrate some attempted therapies and the postmortem
findings of a lionhead goldfish with "dropsy" (ascites) and "pinecone disease"
A one-year-old lionhead goldfish presented with a three day history of
"pinecone disease" and anorexia. The fish exhibited generalized edema that resulted in
the lifting of the scales. A pocket of edematous tissue could be seen beneath each scale. The
periocular tissues were also edematous. It was difficult to determine if there was edema of any
other areas on the head because of the normal head growth of this species. The abdomen may have
been enlarged however the normal conformation of lionhead goldfish is for a bulky, rounded
abdomen. The owner elected to attempt symptomatic therapies and not permit any diagnostics,
because of the poor prognosis given.
The body weight of the fish was estimated at 30 grams. Furosemide was given IM
once at three mg/kg in an attempt to reduce the edema. Piperacillin at 100 mg/kg was given IM once
a day for ten days as a broad spectrum antibiotic for a suspected bacterial septicemia.
Dexamethasone was administered IM once at one mg/kg for shock after the examination and initial
injections, as the fish started to float and gasp. Within five days the edema had noticeably
reduced, improving the most in the caudal half of the fish. The scales on the peduncle of the tail
fin appeared normal. The appetite also improved. The fish continued to improve for several days
after the end of the treatment period and then relapsed. Piperacillin was again given with only
minimal improvement. The owner requested euthanasia and a postmortem.
The postmortem showed a 32 gram fish with generalized edema. Approximately 0.3
cc of clear ascitic fluid was present in the coelomic cavity. Miliary white foci were apparent
throughout the parenchymal tissue of the caudal kidney. The pericardium appeared thickened and
opaque. Histopathology demonstrated a multifocal to diffuse sever necrotizing inflammation of the
hepatopancreas, small intestine, ovaries, kidney, and pericardium. Aeromonas hydrophila group was
isolated from the caudal kidney. It exhibited resistance to piperacillin.