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FAQs on Freshwater Popeye, aka Exophthalmia, Other Eye Issues: Case Histories

Related Articles: Environmental Disease, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Freshwater DiseasesChoose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks,

FAQs on Eye Troubles: Causes/Etiologies: Trauma/Mechanical Injuries, Parasitic Involvements Suspected & Real, Infectious Disease, & Treatments/Cures, Related FAQs: Environmental Disease 1, Environmental Disease 2, Popeye/Exophthalmia, Nutritional Disease, Aquarium Maintenance, Establishing Nutrient CyclingAfrican Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

Popeye   7/31/11
I wanted to write and thank your website for saving my Flame Tetra!! I looked at my Flame Tetra yesterday and his eye looked like a Spaghetti O. I used the Google search tool (Popeye) on your website and followed the instructions given (repeatedly)to use Epsom salt and water changes and his eye doesn't look like I could pull it off anymore.. thank you so much for your detailed and accurate advice. He is almost back to normal. I thought he was doomed to lose his eye, at the very least. Now it looks like since I caught it early he will make a full recovery.
<This is indeed very good news. While I've never seen fish recover from serious Pop-eye, very slight swelling can fix itself by its own accord, and Bob does recommend certain treatments for more advanced cases.>
I use your website whenever I have a problem. It has gotten me successfully through Ick, turning my Puffer's tank to Brackish, and I have thoroughly researched transferring my Pufferfish to the 20 gallon and transferring my current community tank from the 20 Gallon into my new 55 Gallon. I always search your site and have never had to post a question of my own..I also use Puffer Forum founded by Puffer Punk.
<A fine web site populated with some very knowledgeable people.>
I just had to let you know that you are making a difference and there are people who take your advice to heart, and use it, and you save lives!!
What you do is Priceless!! You are wonderful!!
Thank you so much!!
<Thanks for sending along these very kind words. It's appreciated! Cheers, Neale.>

Pregnant platy with Popeye/RMF   1/19/11
Hello my name is Coby I have 2 pregnant wagtail Platies one has Popeye. I have her in a 5gallon hospital tank with 1Tsp of Epsom salt as I have read that that will maybe take the swelling down is there anything else I can do for her?
<Mmm, just be patient, keep an eye on water quality really>
I would also like a bit of clarity as when to do a water change and how much? I am new to fish and I really don't want to loose this lady.
<Or lose her. Bob Fenner>
Pregnant platy with Popeye/Neale    1/19/11
Hello my name is Coby I have 2 pregnant wagtail Platies one has Popeye.
<Hello Coby. With livebearers, Pop-eye is caused by one of two things. One is physical damage: males fight, and sometimes the males harass the females, to the degree the females bump into things. Check the tank is big enough (at least 15 gallons for Platies) and that you have at least 2 females per male in the tank so that the males can't be bullies. Adding floating plants also helps; floating Indian Fern is ideal! The other cause is poor water quality. Check the aquarium has good filtration (zero ammonia and zero nitrite) and that you do regular water changes (20% every week or two). Platies need hard, basic water, so check the water chemistry -- should be at least 10 degrees dH hardness and at least pH 7.5. Although not strictly essential, adding 1-2 grammes marine aquarium salt mix per litre of water can be very helpful if you're having problems with your livebearers.>
I have her in a 5gallon hospital tank with 1Tsp of Epsom salt as I have read that that will maybe take the swelling down is there anything else I can do for her?
<Yes: antibiotics such as Maracyn will help reduce the swelling. If only one eye is "popped", then physical damage is likely the problem, so also look to see how/why she hurt herself.>
I would also like a bit of clarity as when to do a water change and how much?
<A good plan is to change 20-25% of the water every week or two. Unless the tank is overstocked, this should be ample for good water quality. Don't worry if you miss a week or two while you're on holiday -- provided the tank isn't overstocked or overfed, no harm will be done!>
I am new to fish and I really don't want to loose this lady.
<Hope this helps, and welcome to the hobby! Cheers, Neale.>

Popeye  1/3/11
Hi guys.
I have some concerns with Popeye in my Central/South American tank. It is a 135 gallon tank. I recently lost one of my favorite fish to some kind of disease. A beautiful male Trimac. He had Popeye. His head turned a purplish color and appeared to have a white fungus on his head and eye area. I had to put him out of his misery. He looked awful. I knew whatever it was he wasn't going to recover. Temp is at 78 and constant. Ph 7.4 Ammonia 0 Nitrite 0 Nitrates are a little high at about 80 ppm.
<Not a little high. This is precisely WHY your cichlids are sick and dying. Nitrate MUST be 20 mg/l or less. I have seen high nitrates cause cichlids deaths AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.>
I have now noticed another one with bulging eyes. There has been some fighting between fish. What could be the cause of this? How do I go about curing? Could it be a parasite? Fish are not flashing at all. Or bacterial? I have been treating the tank with Melafix for 3 days. Have heard this isn't a great medication. As far as filtration. I am running a Cascade 1000. And an older Sealife Systems wet/dry with overflow box. I do have a 9 watt uv but I have turned that off and removed all carbon. Please help.
Thank you in advance. Aaron.
<Reduce nitrate levels down to 20 mg/l or less. This may well involve reducing stocking density, feeding the fish less, doing more water changes, and/or using nitrate-free water such as suitably hardened RO or rainwater for water changes. Obviously Central and South American cichlids have much different water chemistry requirements as well as somewhat different behavioural tendencies, so mixing them is a bad idea. Given nitrate-free water, and with suitable use of antibiotics to reduce infection and Epsom salt to reduce swelling, your fish should recover. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Popeye  1/3/11
Epsom salt? Is that the same as aquarium salt?
<No. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Aquarium salt is sodium chloride, i.e., table salt.>
What Kind of antibiotics do you suggest.
<With cichlids you want to use both Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace at the same time. Vets recommend this combination and it works extremely well. Not only will it help with the Pop-eye, it'll shift parasites such as Hexamita as well, giving your remaining cichlids a clean bill of health. Won't be dirt cheap, but compared to any other medication, this combo has by far the best likelihood of success.>
My lfs said the nitrates at 80ppm was not an issue?
<Your LFS is very wrong.>
Explains why my fish are not getting any better.
<Yes. Do read anything about cichlids from the last 30 years, and you'll see that nitrate is fingered as one of the key causes of death.>
Probably just want me to keep buying meds.
<Or new fish.>
Thank you Neale for your expertise.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Popeye  1/4/11
Hey Neale. I went out and got Furan 2 and some Metro+. Along with the Epsom salt. Can you give me some advice as to properly dosing the tank? Metro says 1 capful per 10 gallons daily. The guy at the lfs says to do 1 cap full a day.
<Use the two antibiotics PRECISELY as stated on the packaging. I'm not a vet, and neither is your local fish shop guy, but the people writing those instructions will be vets and will know what they're doing. Remember to remove carbon from the filter, if you use it. Do also step up aeration and/or water circulation while medicating too. As for the Epsom salt, Epsom salt helps to reduce swelling when used at a dose of 1 to 3 teaspoons per 5 gallons. It can be used for long periods without harming either the fish or filter, so use it until swelling goes down. Remember to add more Epsom salt to each new bucket of water added during water changes, at the stated dose.>
I was hoping you could give me the best plan of attack. Thanks again Neale.
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Popeye  1/4/11
Thanks Neale. One more question. I had seen at PetSmart, they have a med made by Tetra. It is called Fungus Cure. The main ingredient is Nitrofurazone. Hope I spelled that correctly. Would this work in place of the Furan 2?
<Quite possibly, but do be aware at least some of these Nitro- compounds can harm your biological filter. Do read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/furancpdfaqs.htm
I am on a very tight budget at the moment and this stuff is not even a fraction of the cost of the Furan 2. Thanks again Neale. This site is an awesome place for us hobbyists. And I greatly appreciate all the help you have given me. Aaron.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Popeye  1/4/11
One last question, I promise. The Metro+ does not give directions for treating the tank. It says to use as a bath or to use on food. This is why I am confused. I am lost as to the use of this med. Any advice?
<Do see here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Popeye / Tumour on Ram Cichlid  7/13/10
Hi Team,
Your website has provided me with a wealth of useful information and learning resources. However now I must seek your help with my Ram cichlid.
Following on from the learning of others in WWM, I *was* treating this ram in a hospital tank before finally deciding to put it bank in the main tank based on other Googled resources from forum users indicating Popeye for a single eye is not contagious.
<Almost always this is correct>
While I was treating this ram in quarantine, I initially used Methylene Blue for 7 days with a 10% water change daily but no improvement.
<Not expected on my part>
Maracyn is not sold in Australia so my other option was Trisulfate and Tetracycline.
<Mmm, also not often efficacious. I would ask a doctor or veterinarian for the Maracyn/Erythromycin>
Following that 7 days, I allowed ram to have a day rest in fresher water (50% WC). I then treated it with Trisulfa for a week and Tetracycline another week. During treatment, the eye just got bigger and turned out like a whiter. I found a resource on google search where I followed it by proceeding to try to suck out the white stuff using a hypodermic sterilised needle which I purchase from a pharmacy/chemist.
<Mmm, browsers, please don't do this>
I found the white stuff was like a blob and the needle could not suck it out.
So after this attempt I put it back into quarantine with Methylene Blue as antiseptic. 5 days later I google searched and found that one Popeye is not contagious so I thought the fish would be happier to live in the main tank for as long as it can.
(the hospital tank was next to main tank so the fish was always looking into the main tank saying hi to friends maybe??).
Now it's in the main tank for past 10 days and the eye looks like a tumour.
Only yesterday, the fish breathing has increased while the other tank inhabitants are breathing normally. Fish continue to eat well, very active, very curious, and responsive when it sees me. There are also 3 holes developing on the head (HLLE?).
<Could be Neuromast destruction>
I feel sorry and guilty when the fish rushes to the front of aquarium to greet me. It looks happy but I know it could be suffering. What's your suggestion as I do not want to kill this fish because it has the biggest personality for such a small fish!?
<Really to just keep doing what you are. Good care, patience, hope.>
Would it be worth taking to a fish vet? But what would a fish vet do --- remove the eye or *heal* the eye?
<Mmm, I might try Epsom Salt... Please read here:
but a minimal dose. Bob Fenner>
Re: Popeye / Tumour on Ram Cichlid  7/13/10
I just realised I should provide you this information:
pH: 7 to 7.2
<High for this species...>
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 5ppm
Eheim Pro2 canister filter with bio-noodles, Substrat pro (bio balls), white foam media. No charcoal or other chemicals in the filter.
Planted tank with CO2. Lighting is on 5 hours per day as there is ample light from the windows during the day.
<Oh! Do check re the tolerance of the plant species you have to salt exposure. BobF>

Red Eye Tetra Swim Bladder / Pop eye Problems...Please help! 4/27/09
And thanks in advance for any help you may be able to provide. I have a strange problem that I just don't know what to do about.
I have had a 55 gallon freshwater tank that has been completely stable and fine for about one year. It is stocked with tetras, Rasboras, and Corys.
I change about 10-15 gallons every 3 weeks.
<You could do bigger/more frequent water changes. The current recommendation in the hobby is 20-25% weekly. Very small water changes like the ones you're doing here won't dilute nitrates particularly quickly, and will allow organic acids to accumulate, messing up pH stability. Most fish do better the more the water is changed. An old joke is this: "Aquarium fish live in their toilet, and it's the fishkeeper who yanks the chain".
'Nuff said.>
Earlier this month, one of my red eye tetras (fish #1) started having trouble swimming. Eventually, she began resting upside down on the bottom of the tank, although she would still swim up to eat at feeding time. I
checked my levels and ammonia, nitrite were at 0, ph was 7.2. I did a water change anyway. I few days later, another red eye tetra (fish #2) got pop eye in the right eye, and fish #1 had not eaten in two days. I moved these two fish into a five gallon quarantine tank I had already set up. I also moved a third red eye tetra (fish #3) that seemed to be having trouble swimming as well (she flips up vertical, with her head facing down, but then quickly rights herself). Meanwhile, fish #1 did not look good, she had red sores/streaks on her body, she wasn't eating, and I really didn't think she would last.
<Pop-eye is usually a sign of a bacterial infection, particularly if both eyes are infected. If accompanied by sores on the fins and body, then you can be almost sure that's the diagnosis. Now, the problem is that very
small fish tend to have little resilience, so by the time you see such symptoms, they're too far gone to treat.>
On the recommendation of the folks at my LFS (who thought my fish were having swim bladder issues), I treated the quarantine tank with Maracyn Two (and removed the filter carbon). I have now completed two 5 day treatments (10 days). I also just did a water change (about 1.5-2 gallons) after the treatment (ammonia/nitrite levels were fine before this change). Fish #3 still seems to be having some trouble with swimming, fish #2 still has pop eye in the right eye. Both are eating normally. Fish #1 still spends
almost all of her time upside down, but she is still alive. She eats bits of food off the gravel when they come near her, but she really cannot actually swim after food. Her body sores/streaks have cleared up, but she
does however, have a bloody area at the base of her dorsal fin (I think, because she is resting this on the gravel).
<To be honest, I'd be surprised if these fish recover. Beyond doing what you're doing, there's not much you can do. One issue with Red Eye Tetras (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae) is that they're "bullies", and if kept in insufficient numbers, sometimes turn on one another. Or more specifically, they have a very strong hierarchical instinct, and in the wild would live in groups of hundreds. In such groups, in-fighting is how each fish determines its status, and because of the size of the group, dominant fish can't bully weaker fish seriously. But in small groups, fewer than ten, this becomes short-circuited, and the dominant fish is able to bully weaker fish without mercy, to the degree he can damage their fins and eyes, both common symptoms of such bullying. Wounds become infected, and infections become Finrot and Pop-eye.>
This is just breaking my heart. I don't know what to do for her. The LFS folks said to keep treating with another round of Maracyn Two, and to add aquarium salt. However, I have read that aquarium salt is bad for tetras, so I am not sure if this is a good idea.
<At very low doses, salt can be used therapeutically, but you shouldn't add it on a permanent basis, no. That said, I can't imagine it's going to make a big difference here; salt is normally used to treat external parasites such as Ick.>
I also don't understand why these fish would be getting swim bladder issues at all (the others are all fine, and the ammonia/nitrite levels are fine in both tanks). The only thing that I can think of that has changed in my
routine is that my municipality is adding a lot of chlorine/chloramine to the tap water this month. I did not know this when they began (and these problems appeared shortly after I did a water change). I normally treat the tap water for water changes with the water conditioner Prime, and I have doubled the dose of Prime since I learned of this water treatment by my city.
<In which case you should be fine; you can get chlorine test kits just to be sure, or else, have your pet shop test some water from a bucket *after* you've added water conditioner to see if you've used enough.>
Do you have any idea what I can do for my red eye tetras?
<Difficult to say without some context, e.g., the number of Tetras in the main aquarium, in case we're looking at bullying rather than a chlorine issue. As for the sick fish, if you don't see them recovering, I'd
painlessly destroy them (see WWM re: Euthanasia for suitable methods).>
Should I add aquarium salt?
<Won't make any difference.>
Should I continue dosing the quarantine tank with Maracyn Two?
<If you want too. It rather depends on whether these fish are actually healing. If they are, and their wounds show sign of clearing up, then by all means continue. But if they're not actually getting better, then you
might decide further treatment to be pointless.>
Should I continue to double dose Prime in my water changes, or should I use distilled water instead?
<Don't use distilled water.>
Is there anything else I can/should do? Any help/advice would be most appreciated.
Thanks so much,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Betta Popeye Not Responding to Epsom Salt  9/20/07 A week ago I noticed my male Betta, Chip had Popeye in his left eye. We have had him for 18 months. He lives in a 3 gallon Marineland Explorer tank with a filter and BioWheel. (We had gone away for a week and he got overfed - the nitrates were high, over 50.) I checked WWM and put in Epsom salt as required and I have been doing a 50% water change everyday, replacing the Epsom salt. He has been resting a lot, but comes to see me when I am near. He seems tired and the whole thing looks painful and it has not improved. When I have tried to feed him brine shrimp or bloodworms, he can't see them and they sink to the bottom. I have been giving him flake food instead and tuning off the filter so he can grab it more easily. The only things in the tank are a small decorative treasure chest, the filter tube and a silk plant for him to rest on. Any other suggestions? I am concerned about adding antibiotic to such a small tank, but I am also reluctant to let this drag on without him getting better. Asa in DC <Greetings. Pop-eye tends to be caused by two distinct things: mechanical damage (e.g., rough handling) or poor water quality. There are other things that can cause it, but not all that often. So, you need to zero out those two most likely issues. Is there anything in the aquarium that it could scratch itself on? Some people stick things like fake corals and plastic plants in tanks, and these can be fine, but in very small tanks it is so easy for a Betta to throw itself against one of these objects when alarmed. That's why I tend to prefer small tanks be decorated only with silk or real plants, and only very smooth rocks, such as water-worn pebbles. Second thing, check the water. A Betta needs water with moderate hardness, a pH around neutral, zero ammonia, and zero nitrite (with an "i"). The nitrate (with an "a") isn't such a big deal and I wouldn't worry about it. Temperature is a factor, but it isn't something I'd expect to cause pop-eye; pop-eye is really a reaction of the sensitive tissues of the eye to irritating water. Think of it as a bit like conjunctivitis on a human. Adding an appropriate antibacterial or antibiotic to the water may help to soothe the infection, and is certainly worth using. I hope this helps, Neale>

Re: Betta Fish Popeye Not Responding to Epsom Salt or Furan -- 09/25/07 Hi Crew and thanks for the advice the other day. <Hi Asa, Andrea with you today. Not sure who you talked to, but you are very welcome.> It has been ten days since I discovered my Betta had Popeye. I have him in a 2 gallon Marineland tank with a filter. Since I found out, I have been doing a 50% water change most every day, initially adding about 1 1/2 tsp of Epsom salt and, putting in 3/4-1 tsp with the water change (depends - it isn't always exactly 50%). <This sounds good. I'd keep up with the water changes. Keep the water quality as stable as possible. Ease up a little on the Epsom salt. For two gallons, you want to have 1.5 tsp total in the water overall, including taking into account any evaporation. When the water evaporates, the salt does not, if that makes sense. So, since you are changing water every day, ok, adding another 3/4 tsp is probably ok. I'd say 1/2 tsp would be better.) For 4 days, I treated with Furan (following those directions) and using the advice found on WWM, took a packet, diluted it by 10 cups of water and put in 2 cups as the ratio. <This is fine.> It looked kind of weak to me, but I was afraid to add more to such a small tank. Chip seems to perk up after the water changes with the salt. He can't see well, so I have been unplugging the aquarium to feed him - either flake food or brine shrimp. <You might try some antibacterial food, such as Jungle antibacterial. Also, it is far better for the medication to seem too weak than to be too strong. You will help him heal much more with good water quality than anything else you can buy, including antibiotics. There is a time and place for medication, and this is one of them, but he needs good, clean water to have a fighting chance. You did the directions, and did just fine. The antibacterial food will help, as it will help him also from the inside out, especially since he is eating.> Bloodworms are too small. <Really?? The ones I buy frozen that my Bettas love are way larger than Brine shrimp.> He is eating, but getting weaker as you can imagine. <Very good that he is eating. Just keep up the clean, stable water.> The swelling in his left eye is enormous and not going down. <Patience. That is about all you can do at this point. Patience, and clean, stable water.> He's resting a lot, but hanging in there. Was the Furan too weak? <Most like, it was not too weak.> Is there anything else I can do? <Time and patience. Water changes. Epsom Salts. Try the antibacterial food. Other than that, you are doing great.> Tank readings are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and 5 nitrates and pH of 8, which is what it has always been since that's the local water source. <Are you using a dechlorinator? You might try something like Prime if you aren't. It is really good stuff.> Tank temperature is constant 75 degrees, but a usually wait an hour after the water change before returning him so the water warms up. <You might try bringing the water up to about 78-80 degrees, slowly over 24 hours. Bettas like it a bit warmer than 75 degrees, and it will help him fight the infection.> Thanks, <Anytime. And get the spacebar on your keyboard looked at ;-). It seems to be sticking.> Asa <Andrea>

Betta Fish Popeye 3- Ampicillin Dose  10/19/07 Hi Crew: Neale answered my question last time, suggesting Ampicillin . I wrote a few weeks back about my Betta with Popeye. Tank is 2 gal, filtered with BioWheel. Tank tests at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 5 nitrate ( this is the tap water) and 8 pH (also local) I age and dechlorinate the tap water. Temp is 80 degrees. <All sounds good. Aging water, by the way, is redundant now if you use a good dechlorinator. Though there's no harm doing it if you want!> I began treatment with Epsom salt, moved to Furan and we are now on the second dose of Ampicillin. <Very good.> Poor Chip (we have had him for 18 months) cannot see, so I have been taking him out during tank changes (50% every other day since this started 6 weeks ago using a siphon) and giving brine shrimp, bloodworms initially. But the last 2 weeks, he misses them completely, even with me using an eye dropper, so I am using Betta flakes so he can easily grab them. He has not eaten the last 3 days - he swims around blindly trying to grab them, but misses. <Be persistent, but don't panic too much... fish can go days without food.> Jungle antibiotic food did not work - he spit it out initially since it was so hard and he didn't like it. <Common problem with small fish. Much medication is formulated for big, expensive fish like Koi that people are likely to spend effort on healing. Common attitude with small fish is they're "disposable". Shame.> He has been sitting on the bottom completely since I started the second dose, moving every so often and coming up once in a while to grab some air. (Before he would often sit on his plant near the heater.) He now won't come up for food. His breathing is rapid since I started the Ampillicin. I stopped the Epsom salt and gave 1 1/2 tsps of sea salt to see if it would perk him up. It has in the past, but not this time. <I'm not a fan of randomly adding salt to aquaria.> I have 250 mg of Ampillicin dissolved in a gallon of water. With the help of the math teacher brother-in-law, we have calculated that it is about 13 oz of water per gallon to dose the tank safely. I have given him a dose every other day as instructed on the package, with the water change, I have not used a new Ampicillin pill each time, but just used the treated water which is sitting in a plastic milk jug. I am concerned that maybe I should be using a new pill each time to ensure it is fresh. <Possibly, but I wouldn't worry too much. Store unused medicated water in a covered jar in the fridge though. Excess heat and light could certainly alter the drug.> Should I not change the tank water, but just take out enough to replace it with the Ampicillin water? This would increase the dosage. There is no carbon in the filter. <Hmm... in this instance I'd minimise water changes through the course of treatment. Though in practise, the medication is probably metabolised by the bacteria in the filter very soon after you pour it into the tank. But I've not used Ampicillin, since it isn't freely available in the UK, and my honest (and by UK standards, legally acceptable) advice has to be to consult with a vet. Not very helpful to you, I'm afraid. To be honest, it probably doesn't matter much either way, whether you change a bit of water or a lot, since I'm fairly sure the drug will be entirely metabolised by the bacteria within 24 hours.> So, is there anything else to do? <Pray to the Fish Gods.> I have thought we were at the end several times already, but he is still hanging on. To review six weeks of care: Water changes ( I am heating the water to 80 before returning him to the tank) Meds tried: Epsom salt, Furan, Ampicillin Feeding in small space to ensure he eats Thanks, Asa <You're doing everything you can. Stick with it, and hope for the best. As I say, treating small fish, especially in small tanks, is difficult and the results variable. The very nature of small fish that by the time we see a problem, the strain on their internal organs is often very severe. An adult Koi carp at least has some reserves of fat to draw on, and so various therapies can be tried out until you find one that works. But something as small as a Betta may only have a few days within which you can find the "silver bullet". Good luck, Neale>

Flowerhorn With Stubborn Popeye   7/25/06 Hi.. a pleasant day once again to you. Its me again, I consulted you before about the problem of my Flowerhorn. If you still remember, my fish has an internal infection and pop left eye. Well, I followed your advice. I apply the proper medication for my fish. But it seems he's not feeling better. He even got worse because his right eye got infected too and now his eyes both popping out and both are turning white. I am really worried because he's also not eating for days already. I think I've done everything to help him but I still want to know and try if there is anything else I can do to save him. Aside from giving him Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole and water changes, is there any other ways to help him get well or make him eat again. I am afraid to ask this but .. will my fish die? <This disease can be fatal.> What do you think is the percent for his survival? < The key to a complete recovery is early detection and early treatment. Something has stressed your fish to the point that he is susceptible to this disease. It could be food, sanitation, temperature and even tankmates. You need to find out what had changed before he got sick. You could try to add some rock salt to the tank too. About a teaspoon per 5 gallons would be worth a try.> I hope he'll gets better,.. because he is my beloved pet.. hope you help me again. Thanks in advance and for your time going through my letter. good day. RHEA from Philippines. < These medications are usually pretty effective if the disease is caught early. Keep the tank clean by vacuuming the gravel and cleaning the filter often.-Chuck>

Flowerhorn With Cloudy Popeyes   7/7/06 Hi, A pleasant day to you. Well I need your help once again. I wrote you about 2 weeks ago about my flower horn with a case of pop eye. My two year old flower horn has his left eye bulge out before. It really grew big and his eyes turn whitish outside. Well I followed your advice to do a water change and put Metronidazole in the water. My concern now, is that his right eye is now slowly turning whitish just like what happen to his left eye. I am really worried that his right eye will suffer like his left eye. What should I do to stop or prevent this from happening? <When the fishes eyes protrude they seem to get in the way and bump into everything and get infected. A treatment of Kanamycin of Nitrofuranace should get rid of the whit cloudy eyes.> Pls help him. Will my fish will lose his eyes? < If not treated the infection could render him blind.> I don't want him to lose both his eyes so please, please help me. What best medicine should I give him? <The above medications should get rid of the white and may have some effect on the Popeye too.> Before I forget, his appetite is still poor. He hardly eats. Again thank you for your time in going through my letter. I am hoping for your help and response again. Thanks and good day. Rhea- Manila < When the eyes get better the appetite should bet better too. Don't over feed when the fish is not feeling well and hardly eating.-Chuck>

Oscar fish eye split open  - 06/22/2006 <<Hi. Tom here.>> I have two Oscar fish in my tank, but only one developed pop eye disease. <<"Pop eye" is not really a disease. It's a symptom, generally, of a bacterial infection that causes fluid to build up behind the eye. It can be caused by a variety of situations including poor water conditions or injury. Unfortunately, an internal infection is usually pretty advanced by the time the outward symptom - the swollen eyes - are discovered. (If it affects only one eye, I would be suspicious of an injury. Do your pets get along okay?)>> I went to my local fish store and was told to buy Melafix and follow the instructions on the bottle. <<Melafix is moderately effective on open sores/ulcers. Metronidazole, for example, would be more effective for bacterial infections as would Oxytetracycline, among others.>> At first it looked as if it was working, but the last 2-3 days I've noticed that his eye looks to be split opened. <<Yipes! Sorry to hear about that!>> I was wondering if that was the medicine working or, is my fish's eye going to fall off? <<No, that was a case of the medicine "not" working. Your fish may not "lose" its eye but will certainly be blind in it.>> And if so, is it possible for my fish to live with only one eye? <<Absolutely, your fish can live a long life with sight in only one eye. Do a Google search on Blind Cave Tetras. These fish are born with normal eyes but flesh grows over these early on and they spend their entire lives totally blind. I don't pretend to know what "Evolution" had in mind but these fish get along very well this way. Tom>>

Stubborn Popeye... not the Sailorman, Betta  - 03/13/2006         Hi, I am having a dilemma with my Betta and if you could give me some advice I would appreciate it greatly. I have a five gallon Eclipse tank with three African Dwarf frogs and one Betta. My levels all seemed to be perfect and I did regular gravel vacuuming and partial water changes. And I use conditioned tap water. Last week I found my Betta listless and very inactive only to wake up one morning to see that we was developing Popeye. I immediately went to the pet store and bought Maracyn-Two because he had also stopped eating. I put him in quarantine with frequent partial water changes and a heater. <Didn't have the heater before?> It has been eight days on the medication and Epsom salt and he still has a white ring around his eye and is protruding slightly, his right hand side of his face still is swollen and he just started eating yesterday. Should I do another round of Maracyn-Two? <Mmm, I would not> And through all this my fros are fine at least! Thanks for reading my letter and if you have any suggestions for me I would be grateful. Thanks, Mary Ann <Just time going by at this point will show whether this fish, eye will heal more completely. Bob Fenner>

Pop Eye on Tetra  2/18/06 I have a 100 gallon tank with 2 magnum filters going on. One of my tetras has a bubbled eye. What do I do? I need help. I have put him by himself in a small tank 10 gallon with half water which is 5 gallon water & did put that tablet fungus clear tank buddies. Do I have to add Epsom salt with it.?. Kindly respond. thanks. Godfrey < Treat the tank with the sick tetra with Metronidazole. The original tank may have elevated nitrate readings and so check the levels. They should be under 25 ppm although some fish like them lower.-Chuck>

Ram Now Has Popeye  2/18/06 Thanks for your quick response last week. I QT'd the fish and followed your advice with the Furanace. Unfortunately on day 3 of the treatment I noticed that the expiration date on the medication was 2 YEARS ago... the ram hadn't really eaten in 4 days and I didn't think he would survive another 4 days with new meds so I put him back in the main tank where he was eating and happy to be with his mate. His nares got better, I kept up with water changes and thought all was well. (My ammonia, nitrites are 0, less than 10 nitrates, water is RO with RO Right mixed to keep a lower pH and softness...) Yesterday he developed Popeye. I QT'd him again, added StressCoat and Epsom salts to his tank.  (His QT tank water is all at 0 as above).  I see no symptoms of anything wrong, just one eye bulging out.  The other eye may be swollen a bit, but not much I can tell. Is there anything I can do to help this poor fish? I just can't figure out what is wrong with him... is there an all purpose antibiotic I should try on him? Thanks again, Cathy G Oh, the expired meds all came out of a fresh shipment of meds to the store - somebody needs to get a better supplier me thinks... < The Popeye is an internal bacterial infection behind the eye socket. Treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Guppy with Popeye   2/1/06 Dear wet web media, <Leslie>     I have a Guppy that has had Popeye for approximately 2 weeks. We had some aggressive Serpae tetras at the time, and I assumed it was due to the nipping they were doing. <Maybe> Immediately upon noticing the condition, I moved him to a fish bowl I have. It was the best I could do for a QT tank.  I treated him with Epsom salts per your instruction in the FAQ section of your website.  The eye has improved some, and he has started to eat (he wouldn't eat at first).  There was a red ring under his eye for about a week, which has gone away, but  I have still left him in QT because the LFS told me that Popeye is sometimes caused by a parasite, <Mmm, very rare actually. If one sided, a trauma or aggression almost always... if bilateral, typically environmental in cause> which eventually comes out from behind the eye.  If it was a parasite, I did not want that released into my main tank.      Basically, it has been two weeks and his eye is still bulging.  The swelling has not gone down much.  Should I treat him with something else, or should I just let him be.         Thanks,      Leslie <Mmm, some expense involved, but antibiotics can be attempted... Covered on WWM... search under Popeye, Freshwater. Bob Fenner>

Betta With Pop Eye  12/24/05 Hello: A week and a half ago our Betta showed the first signs of Popeye. At the store I was told to use Melafix, but the problem just got worse. Now we are trying Maracyn Two in combination with Aquarium Salt and Cycle. We moved the fish into a hospital tank and changed the water every other day. The fish seems friskier and is eating again, but the eye condition didn't improve. Today is day four of Maracyn treatment; my question is for how long should I keep it on Maracyn and, eventually, what other medication would you recommend? Thanks for your help! Roxanne B. < The water changes are good. Treat with Nitrofurazone or Metronidazole instead. Both of these will work on anaerobic bacteria that are behind the eye pushing the eye out.-Chuck>

Tiger Barbs And Exophthalmia - 11/15/2005 Hey guys, <And gals - Sabrina with you today.> I have a question about what seems to be an eye infection in one of my tiger barbs. <Alright.> I have a lightly stocked 72 gallon planted community tank. My parameters are all good, pH 6.8-7, nitrites, ammonia all 0. <Great. Nitrate?> Recently one of tiger barbs developed a cloudy, popped out eye. Only one eye developed this. I've had them for a couple of years with no problems, and as no other fish, tigers or others, displayed this, I decided to watch and see if it was a sign of natural age related disease. <It actually may be injury-related.> I do weekly or biweekly water changes and since my parameters are fine I do not think it is a water quality issue. <Check those nitrate readings. This can impact exophthalmia/pop-eye.> If it was, then other fish would display signs of stress as well most likely. I just noticed that the barb died and a second one developed the same popped out, clouded eye (though it isn't as developed yet). Otherwise it also seems fine, as do all of the other fish. Does anyone have experience with this? How would I definitely diagnose and treat it? <I would first suspect injury, here.... Fish have a natural tendency to bite at eyes. Tiger barbs are nippy animals. Try watching them for a bit and see if you see any aggressive behaviour among them, or if perhaps one fish specifically is causing the others extraordinary amounts of stress.> All help is appreciated. At this point I wouldn't bother quarantining because if it has been transmitted than most likely it is in the water already, unless the treatments would kill the plants.  <Mm, better to pull the affected fish.... Even if it is a bacterial infection of some sort, it may not have transmitted to other fish as yet. Furthermore, if the animal HAS been injured, it will give it time to recover.> Thanks, -Eric <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Tiger Barbs And Exophthalmia - II - 11/16/2005 Thanks for the advice. I will watch and see if there is an overly aggressive behavior. <Excellent.> I haven't tested for nitrates because all of the test kits I have only include nitrite tests so I was under the impression that I can only infer my nitrates from my nitrites. <The two are actually quite different. One can be quite low, the other quite high.... do please try to find a test kit for nitrate and check on it.> Eric <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Popeye in an Older Betta - 11/14/2005 Good Evening... I have been reading your chat forum.. Kudos on the GREAT JOB you do answering all who have questions! <Thank you kindly for the kudos!> I too have the "Betta" obsession.... 8 at my worksite, and 7 at home.  <Wow.> Two days ago, however, my oldest, has developed a red spot at the right front lower jaw, and yesterday I noted he is developing "Popeye" (left side). "Rupert" has been with me for 22 months now, and has not grown much since I've had him (leading me to believe he was fairly close to adult at purchase).  <Entirely possible. They don't exactly make 'em like they used to; a couple of years is about "right", unfortunately.> All "the boys" have their tanks cleaned weekly -- their water is "well water" (brought from home). I have added one of the "Melaleuca" compounds to the tank, <I generally avoid against such things.... really not of much use.> along with some "slime coat", but don't seem to see any change in his afflictions.  <I actually might not use this either; some of these sorts of products actually "work" by causing the fish irritation.> Am I expecting to see change too early? Is "Rupert" perhaps too old to help?  <Mm, not necessarily.... I would generally try to see to it that this fish has optimal water conditions, appropriate temperature....> Since you haven't found the Melaleuca compounds to be of much use, should I change his tank again and try Epsom Salt ?  <Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) may in fact help reduce the swelling of the "Popeye"/exophthalmia.> I've not tried any of the "medicated" treatments offered at PetSmart or PetCo (locals here) as I did not see any mention of Popeye or red spot on the "usage" labels.... <If anything at all, you could consider a broad-spectrum antibiotic, but I'm not sure I would in this case; at least, perhaps not just yet.> If I should be treating with OTC medications, should I use Epsom Salt as well?  <I would start with this only, and see where that gets you.> Thank you in advance for your assistance in helping my little buddy.... Best Regards from the "PhishPharm"..... ....Swim On!!!... <Glad to (hopefully) be of some service.... Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Pop Eye on a Silver Dollar 8/3/05 Hi, I am Janet. I have a 55 gal fresh with 10 white clouds, 4 black tetra, 2 spotted Cory cats, 2 dwarf gouramis, 1 blue magic dwarf Gourami (the other died in this heyday I have been having) , one goldfish, one black moor, 2 scissortail Rasbora and 2 six or seven year old Silver Dollars that were given to me by a friend when his wife died. They were her babies. Hi Oh Silver came down with Popeye then a god awful case of dropsy. I put in Melafix for the seven day prescribed and Hi Oh didn't really improve much. I changed out 25% of the tank, put in Stress Coat and Stress Zyme and some Methylene Blue. Hi Oh looked bad yet. I went searching on the internet and found your site with salt treatments for these diseases. I didn't have Aquarium Salts but another site said Kosher Salt would do too. So I mixed up the salt (one gal to 4 teasp Kosher salt) popped Hi in and watched him for distress. After 3 min.s (of the 5, unless distressed) I thought he looked like he wanted out. So I put him in the tank. Next morning HE LOST ALL THE POPEYE AND MOST OF THE SWELLING!! I did a test and found my nitrates were 160 so I did another water change out of nearly 50%. Put in Stress Coat and Stress Zyme and Meth blue. My test today shows PH 6.0, Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrite 0ppm and finally, Nitrate 0ppm. It seems Hi Oh is getting Popeye again and I think his pal, Long John Silver is too. Oh, I put in new carbon filters in case of something in the water affected the old new filters I had in. Hi looks great other then that. A very small swelling on his cap (above his eyes/face), looks somewhat silver in most places, eating, swimming all about and with his buddy. My question is should I start over and put the two in a hospital tank and treat with Melafix again or just do salt dips again? How many times can I salt dip a fish and at what frequency.... daily, every other day, ???? Salt seems to best work to bring down swelling. I have been fighting this for 3 weeks now and Hi is still here. He does sit stationary a bit crooked but he swims great. I think he can see yet out of his eyes. So far Long John is puffy in one eye.   This whole mess started with fish from PetSmart and putting their water in my tank. I didn't know not too since I read to do it in a dumb book, only to find out NEVER put water in another tank. I have NEVER tested water before so that is all new to me too but I desperately want to save the boys. Please help me : ( < The high nitrates are stressing your silver dollars. Keeping them down to under 25 ppm will be very beneficial. I have found that salt dose reduce the swelling and some fish do recover enough to be cured from this internal bacterial infection but just don't seem to be cured. I would recommend Metronidazole to treat the infected fish in a hospital tank so it won't affect the good bacteria needed to break down the fish waste.-Chuck>

Cricket my platy has Popeye 7/22/05 Hey crew, <Jennifer> I have a red female platy named Cricket who has developed Popeye.   I am not sure why? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/popeyefaqs.htm> I test my water 2x a weeks and all is in the norm. I think she may have ran into something while I was trying to get my red male out of the tank. <Possibly> (he is small about 1 inch but very aggressive and picks relentlessly on my blue sail fin undetermined sex platy) Anyways deep tank, lots of hornwort and short net stick working against me in the battle to capture him <A good idea to have, use two nets...> and put him in his new 5 gallon tank.  After he was out I noticed she was sitting under the bog wood where she stayed barely coming out for 3 days.  I noticed while feeding her on the second day that her eyes where looking a bit strange. On the third day I took her out and put her in a 10g naked hospital tank, I started treating with Maracyn two since both eyes were swollen then on the third day I realized that the meds said expire 7-05! <Mmm, don't let this throw you>   So I changed 80% of the water and started the meds all over.  She is now on  her third day of the new Maracyn two treatments with no improvement it actually looks worse in one eye now.   I don't know what to do?  After I finish the Maracyn treatments should I try Epsom salt? <I would, yes> Someone told me that they used Jungle Labs fizz tabs for fungus and Popeye with success, should I try that? <I would just use the Epsom> She has still been eating but has not been active since the night I moved the male. I really don't know what to do since I don't know what the cause is.  I have two other adult Platies in the main tank along with several (maybe 25) ranging in size from 1 and a half cm.s to a little over a half cm.  All seem healthy including my three deformed fry. Please help me! I hate having to euthanize my fish. Also after reading your FAQ section I see that Popeye can last for a very long time?  Why is that? <Latent damage to the eye/s... trapped gas at times> Is it painful for the fish?   <Mmm, I don't know. Doesn't appear to be> If it was because of a bacteria wouldn't she be getting better from the antibiotics and not worse? <Not particularly... just as with human health, there are bacteria that are susceptible to some antibiotics, but not to all> Please help, I get very frantic when my fish get ill, I am starting to be afraid to look at her for fear of seeing her eye burst or something, I really do not want her to suffer and will not let it get that far, so I am just trying to help her out as much as I can now. BTW,  today her water tested: Nitrate- about 10 Nitrite - 0 pH     - 7.5 Thanks in advance, I really hope she makes it! <Me too. Bob Fenner>
Sorry I forgot to add the picture.  It was taken with a camera phone so the quality is not great but it is fairly clear.  This picture is from yesterday 8 days after the male was removed, today one eye looks a little worse. <Welcome. BobF>

POPEYE IS NOT JUST A SAILOR Hello, I apologize in advance if the problems that I am about to describe have been addressed in previous inquires, and understand if you cannot respond to this email. I have been experiencing problems with my male Betta for over two months now. It appears that he has severe Popeye, and a greyish discoloration near his head. He also developed fin/tail rot, but luckily I was able to treat it and it is clearing up nicely. I have searched for Popeye on your site, as well as discolorations and fungal and bacterial diseases, but could not find any information that seemed helpful in this situation.  Originally he was in a 1/2 gallon tank, with the temperature at an inconsistent temperature (it would fluctuate quite often and drastically, and I think the abrupt changes are what compromised his health.) After discovering that his eyes were blood red and protruding, along with the patchy spots near his head, I went and purchased a 2 1/2 gallon tank, have been doing full water changes weekly, and have been keeping the temperature constant at about 75 degrees.  I have been also alternating medications, trying to find something to treat his eyes, and have tried Maroxy, Maracyn, and Maracyn 2. Nothing has seemed to work. He appears fine, his appetite is great, and he is very active, although he has not made any bubble nests at all since he has been sick. I have not tested his water for pH, nitrates, etc. and think that may be the next step to see if there is something wrong with the water. I'm not sure what to try at this point, but would really like to get my Betta back to normal! I hate seeing him suffer! Thank you, Jade < The internal bacterial infection behind the eyes can cause permanent blindness if not treated. Popeye can be treated early with Metronidazole and consistently clean warm water. Avoid extremes in temp and water chemistry.-Chuck> 

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