There are a huge number of people new to the fish keeping hobby out there who are keeping platies in their tanks due to the species being an excellent, cheap, beginner friendly fish that is brightly colors and can have beautiful patterns.
As with many things within the fish keeping hobby, it can take time to learn the various ins and outs of keeping pet fish and we have noticed a number of people reaching out to ask about if their pet platy has dropsy or if it is pregnant.
A platy that is suffering from dropy will usually bloat up all over its body while often losing the ability to control its ability to swim correctly and potentially turn upside down if it’s not swimming around and in many cases, dropsy can cause the scales of the platy to protrude too.
A platy that is pregnant usually only has the swelling or bloated look on its bellow with minimal bloating elsewhere on the fish and no other issues.
Obviously, only a female platy can end up pregnant so that can also help to narrow it down but many pet stores misidentify the gender of the fish they sell.
We have seen countless reports of people on social media who think that they are keeping an all male or all female tank of fish ending up with fry and baby fish due to the fish being miscategorized.
This means that even if you think that you are keeping an all male tank of platies, there still can be females in there that end up pregnant so it is not an instant indication that the problem is dropsy.
Why Do I Have A Platy With A Swollen Belly?
The two most common reasons that you may have a platy with a swollen belly is due to the platy either being pregnant or the platy having dropsy.
Although less common, in bad cases of constipation, a platies belly can start to swell up to a level that may start to appear as though the fish is pregnant of in the early stages of dropsy.
We go over the constipation issue in more detail in our article on why your platy has white stringy poop though and due to it being very rare that a platy will actually bloat or swell up enough due to constipation, we will not be talking about it anymore in this article.
Again, in very rare situations, internal parasite infections in your fish can also make it appear as though your platy is bloating up due to the parasites in its stomach taking up so much space but that is also covered in our article on white stringy poop from a platy.
Overfeeding is very common with people who are new to the fish keeping hobby and this can allow a platy to gain weight and start to look boated.
The this with overfeeding a platy is that the process is gradual as the fish requires a surprisingly large amount of time to actually gain the weight.
This means that you are often able to confirm that the bloating is simply due to weight gain rather than a pregnancy or dropsy due to how slowly it will develop in the fish.
Visual Differences Between Pregnancy And Dropsy In A Platy!
There are a number of visual differences and behavioral differences between a pregnant platy and a platy with dropsy.
A platy with dropsy will usually bloat all over its body, its scales will often protrude due to the swelling, and it may not eat while also turn upside down when not swimming.
A pregnant platy will usually only swell around its belly and often eat more than it normally would.
Although this may sound basic, they are obvious when you are actually looking at a platy with dropsy compared to a platy that is pregnant and the differences really are obvious.
We go into far more detail on this in our article on why your platy is pineconing though if you want to read more about treating a platy with dropsy.
Please remember that a platy that has dropy does not always have problems with its scales protruding either or at least not until the later stages of the problem.
We have seen some people misidentify their platy with dropsy as a pregnant platy just because the scales of the fish were not protruding but this is usually a less common symptom of dropy until the condition has had a chance to develop.
What Can I Do About Pregnancy Or Dropsy In My Platy?
If your platy is pregnant then it can be a good idea to put her into a breeding box as platies can and will eat their own fry so having her give birth in the breeding box and then removing the mother is often a good idea.
Dropsy can be very difficult to treat as it can quickly prove fatal in your fish but if you are consistently having problems with dropsy then keeping some dropsy medication on hand can be a good idea.
The issue is that if your aquarium tank is consistently having problems with dropsy then you will usually have an underlying problem in that tank that really does need to be corrected.
In some situations, you may actually have to fully strip and clean the tank and replace it with new substrate, decorations, plants, and rocks as you should not be constantly having problems with dropsy in a healthy tank.
Platies really can breed rapidly though so it is very common that your fish will end up pregnant in mixed gender tanks.
If you are actively trying to breed your platies then using a breeding box or a breeding tank can be a good idea in some setups as it can increase your fry yields.
If you want to avoid overstocking your tank due to a rapidly increasing platy population then just letting the female platy give birth into the community tank can be fine as the other fish will eat the majority of the fry anyway helping to control the population.
That brings our article going over if your pet platy has dropsy or is pregnant to an end. Dropsy can be rare and the bloating will often be due to pregnancy, constipation or internal parasites such as worms rather than dropsy so the odds are generally in your favor. We hope that we have been able to help you better identify the differences between pregnancy and dropsy in platies though and although the differences sound subtle, when you have the fish in front of you, they do tend to be obvious.