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FAQs on Freshwater Popeye, aka Exophthalmia, Other Eye Issues: Due to Trauma/Injury

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

FAQs on Eye Troubles: Causes/Etiologies: Parasitic Involvements Suspected & Real, Infectious Disease, & Treatments/Cures, Case Histories, Related FAQs: Environmental Disease 1, Environmental Disease 2, Popeye/Exophthalmia, Nutritional Disease, Aquarium Maintenance, Establishing Nutrient Cycling, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease,

The most common cause of "one sided" (unilateral) Popeye is trauma... a "bump" into something

Sick injured Green Terror Cichlid.    10/13/13
Sick green Terror

Please help, over the years I have rarely had to deal with aquarium diseases so unfortunately have very little experience in the diagnosis or treatment when such problems occur.
I have a very poor fish and basically I really need your help/advice on what you might suggest my next steps should be if hopefully you think treatment is still a viable option.
If you think he is too far gone then I will euthanize him immediately.
I have had this guy for 3 years and he is now approx. 6 inches, until recently he was in a 450 ltr aquarium with a 7 inch Jack Dempsey and 2, 11 inch Oscars.
In the 450 ltr tank he was the bottom of the hierarchy, he was never seriously hurt ever, sometimes he would be chased about but no damage, hence me thinking the eye swelling/damage was from bashing himself as he occasionally got chased away from a certain area of the tank.
So about a week ago I noticed he had this huge eye, I moved him immediately to his own 180 ltr tank to recover and treat, I upped the water changes from 50% every week in the 450 ltr up to 30% 4 times a week, I add salt to each water change and I treated with Myxazin as directed on the bottle.
He seemed to respond quite well at first, still swimming about and eating and the eye swelling appeared to subside a little and for 2-3 days I thought it would be simply treated and sorted out.
He then started ignoring his food completely and a lot less active in the tank, then yesterday it got a whole lot worse, even more swelling, he has now got a large hole in the front of his face which is full of a white clumpy substance and the tissue around the eye has gone white and it looks as if his eye is about to burst, I also noticed blood was occasionally coming from the hole but not always i.e. its not bleeding constantly but it was weeping this morning but not this evening.
Now I am thinking, he was stressed in the 450 ltr and bashed his eye, but with a weakened immune system rather than heal he has succumb to a secondary infection of some sort, and now I worry I am not remotely close with the diagnosis so am I even treating it correctly???
Tonight I have been watching him, he remains not interested in his food, he’s still buoyant and sometimes swimming up and down but spends most of his time sitting in one place just breathing normally flapping his fins.
Just now I have taken another photo and now notice he has ruptured the lens on the affected eye, so it’s just going downhill rather than uphill.
So here I am, I don’t want to just give up if there’s a chance this hardly little bugger can heal up, but at the same time need someone smarter than me to tell me where they think I should go from here.
Please give me something as soon as you can. Yours faithfully roonas zzzzzzz,
< I would move him to a clean hospital tank and treat him with the Myxazin. Keep doing the water changes and adding the salt. Offer food once a day and then siphon any uneaten food out after five minutes. If available I would recommend treating with Furan-2 since it inhibits bacteria and fungus growth. Keep treating and record the results. The other fish may become infected too so you need to be aware of what works and what doesn't.-Chuck>

cloudy eye on angelfish 7/16/11
Hi Crew,
I have searched the site and found some information, but need more advice for this fish. This angel fish was given to me because it was being picked on in my friend's tank so it came to me with this cloudy eye. I think it got startled and scratched it's eye. The eye is not swollen but I am worried it will turn into pop-eye. I am not sure it I should isolate this fish to treat it.
<I would neither isolate, nor "treat">
All of my levels are with normal limits and all fo the other angels in the tank are fine and growing normally. Should I isolate this fish for the salt treatments?
<... no>
Will the salt mess up my water conditions?
Nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia are all at 0. My tap water is a little hard, but the fish are doing fine in it. I do 10% water changes 3 weeks out of the month and gravel vac once a month. I feed a mix of flake, crisps, blood worms and frozen brine shrimp. The tank is 75 gallon and there are 12 other angel fish in the tank. There are no sharp objects for the fish to hurt themselves on. There are plenty of fake tall plants for the fish to hide in. I see no aggression as of yet, but have a 29 gallon tank that I can set up if I have to separate any of the fish.
<All sounds good here>
Thanks for your help
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
cloudy eye on angelfish 7/16/11
Sorry I forgot to attach the picture
<As you speculate, likely resultant from a mechanical injury. Will heal on its own, though this may take months. BobF>

Re: cloudy eye on angelfish 7/19/11
<2.1 meg pic...>
Mr. Bob,
We have a new development with the angelfish's eye. It is coming to a point and I am not sure why or what to do about it. I will send a picture with this email so you can see what I am talking about. Please advise.
Thanks for your help
<Same response. B>

Re: cloudy eye on angelfish 7/20/11
Thank you for your knowledge and your willingness to share it with those of us need it. You're awesome. By the way, Patches is doing wonderful and is in the big tank in the living room,
<Ah, good.>
Thank you,
<Certainly welcome>

Pop-eye in Panda Moor [Bob, any better ideas?] 5/29/2010
<Hello Jane,>
Please would you be kind enough to advise me further regarding treatment of my newish Panda Moor.
A couple of days after I purchased him I notice that his left eye was rather swollen.
<Right. Now, assuming he was fine in the shop, if one eye has become swollen, it's likely this was physical damage, perhaps while being netted, or else by bumping into something in a new, unfamiliar, or too-small
There are no signs of any clouding of the lens or any fungus etc. His other eye is normal.
<This is good.>
He seems to be having difficulty seeing his food to eat it but after hoovering around on the surface he usually ends up finding it. I have tried the Tetra Gold sinking pellets that I got but he is unable to see them and leaves them and I end up having to remove them, so therefore I have stopped using them. He is currently in a 12 litre quarantine tank with a filter.
<12 litres/3 US gallons is a trivial amount of water, and confining him here will only make things worse. Much better to have him in the main aquarium, which for Moors needs to be upwards of 100 litres/26 US
I have tried Myaxzin for 5 days but sadly there seems to be no improvement.
<Never found this stuff much good myself. Anyway, contains Malachite Green, Formaldehyde and Acriflavine, which have a mild antibacterial affect with regard toe external infections.
<<And too likely to interrupt nitrification, an essential element of biological filtration, by killing off necessary microbe populations. RMF>>
In this case the problem is internal, the eye "popping" because of pressure behind the eyeball. Time, good conditions, and the use of Epsom salt is about the best thing you can do without using antibiotics. In the UK, antibiotics are prescription-only, so to get what you need to treat Popeye, for example Nitrofurazone, you need to speak to a vet. This isn't expensive, but it does require finding a vet willing to treat fish.>
I have had the water tested by the local Aquarium shop and they said it was fine.
<May well be.>
Unfortunately, I did not ask for the exact test results, as from reading other entries you probably need them to help me further.
<Correct. At minimum, you should own a nitrite [with an "I", not nitrate with an "a"] test kit and a pH test kit.>
I have read the entries about using Epsom Salts and Metronidazole.
Unfortunately I am still unsure as to the best way forward as there seems to be a divide over the most appropriate treatment. I don't really want to delay as I would like my poor fish to have the best chance of a full recovery.
<Both Nitrofurazone and Metronidazole are antibiotics, and both will reduce the infection behind the eye, if there is one, and unless you're a vet, you really can't tell either way.>
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and thank you in advance if you would be able to help me! It would be most appreciated by myself and my little panda moor.
<Hope this helps.>
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Pop-eye in Panda Moor 6/3/10
Dear Neale,
<Hello again Jane,>
Firstly, may I say a huge thank you for getting back to me so quickly regarding my poorly panda moor.
<No problem.>
Secondly I forgot to mention in my first e-mail what a great site you have and the wealth of knowledge is astounding!
<Kind of you to say so.>
Anyway, I have followed your advice and I have managed to get hold of some Metronidazole and I have administered it to him in a continuous bath, changing 25% of the water and adding another dose every other day.
I am very wary of adding it to his food, perhaps you would be so kind as to advise me further on this.
<Actually, adding via food is the BEST way to administer drugs; adding to the water is hit-and-miss. When put in the food, it's much easier to provide the dose required to heal the fish.>
After a few days of treatment he (could well be a female!), seems to have improved a little, certainly seems a little more lively and seems to have a better appetite.
His eye has gone down a little bit but it has got a white ring around its base now, is this just the overextended eye muscle?
<Not sure.>
How long should I expect it to be before the eye returns to normal?
<Oh, some weeks.>
I note your suggestion about putting him in my main tank but I don't want to cause him further distress by putting him into there when I think my small Lionhead is picking on and destroying the rear fins on my black fantail moor
<I see; in that case leave him where he is. He'll be okay on his own for a few weeks or a couple of months.>
I am rather compromised at the moment with tank space and I am unsure what to do for the best. I am looking into getting a bigger tank in the near future, so the current setup is only temporary.
Thank you so very much for all your kind help and advice, it is very much appreciated.
<Good luck, Neale.>

Popeye 12/12/06 Hello Crew, <<Hello, Geezer. Tom here.>> I just noticed my female swordtail's left eye is almost "popping" out of her head. What could cause this? <<Bacterial infection, typically, but there are a number of others'¦>> There are no noticeable sharp edges on any of the rocks that are in the aquarium... could her male partner have hurt her? They chase each other quite a bit. <<A possibility but the 'bulging' is more likely the result of infection than due to the possible trauma (injury). Though they 'chase' one another, it's not likely, as it would be in other cases of more aggressive fish, that the eye was an actual target of attack. Does happen unfortunately, though.>> What could I do to cure her problem? Her right eye is fine. <<Isolate her, if possible, and treat with Furanace or Kanamycin. Please understand that this 'assumes' a bacterial infection. 'Popeye' falls into one of those very 'gray' areas that's very difficult to pinpoint in terms of the root problem. In human terms, it's the equivalent of trying to treat someone because he/she sneezed. We start with a 'premise' and go from there.>> Thanks! <<You're welcome and, I hope this helps. Tom>>

Silver Dollar with one cloudy eye 6/6/06 Hello Crew <Jasmine> One of my Silver Dollars (I have 5 in total) has one cloudy eye. Water seems to be fine (ammonia=0, nitrite=0, nitrate=10ppm). Being on one eye only, what could be the cause? Is it bacterial or a result of an injury? Thanks Jasmine <Most likely originally the latter, possibly secondarily the former... If this is just "new" I would hold off on actual "treatment"... In all likelihood it will cure of its own accord. Bob Fenner>

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