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Polycystic kidney disease

This is a common disease in goldfish that causes a slow progressive swelling of the belly over many months or years. In some cases, the fish may swell up so much that they look like they may burst. It is thought to be due to a developmental /genetic abnormality or a parasite that damages the kidneys. Large cysts develop in the kidney which enlarge and occupy a large part of the body cavity. Although it is easily confirmed on an ultrasound scan, there is no treatment for the disease.

Click here for a statistical review of my cases with key points.

Goldfish polycystic kidney disease
Goldfish polycystic kidney disease

Severely swollen belly is common in fish and although there can be several different causes, polycystic kidneys are common in goldfish

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Goldfish PKD lateral radiograph
Goldfish PKD lateral radiograph

Side view X-ray showing moderate swelling of the belly and increased distance between the two swim bladder chambers (2 black central areas). The presence of fluid in the cystic kidneys gives a radiographic homogeneous appearance and conceals subtle detail in the body cavity. It is often possible to see the margins of both affected kidneys (smaller right kidney black arrows; larger left kidney white arrows)

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Goldfish PKD histology
Goldfish PKD histology

Low power (x40 mag) of affected goldfish kidney tissue reveals large cystic cavities (asterisks) caused by severe dilation of the renal tubules, and a glomerulus (arrow) in among some interstitial tissue.

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Goldfish polycystic kidney disease
Goldfish polycystic kidney disease

Severely swollen belly is common in fish and although there can be several different causes, polycystic kidneys are common in goldfish

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