Generalized Edema of a Lionhead Goldfish (Carassius auratus)
IAAAM 1994
Drury Reavill, DVM, ABVP, Avian Practice
Avian Medical Center of Sacramento, Citrus Heights, CA

"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" (anasarca).

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.

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Drury R. Reavill, DVM, ABVP

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