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FAQs on Freshwater Popeye, aka Exophthalmia, Other Eye Issues

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: Trauma/Mechanical Injuries, 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,

Clown loach eye     11/8/13
Hi guys,
 I have two 8" loaches in a 220 gal with a fx5 & an 8 watt sterilizer. 
The perimeter of the tank are good.0 ppm of ammonia, nitrite. 20 ppm of nitrate.  Ph are 7.0. Temp at 87°. There are about 13 other fish including a 16" streams,

6" red spotted Severum,  etc...all hi end odd balls. Nothing really aggressive. I do 100 gal water changes every two weeks with r/o and adjust the ph as needed.
<... what is the hardness (GH, KH) of the water here?>

I've been in the hobby for 25 years and own an aquarium service Co. I put it in a qt tank 3 days ago when I noticed the
<It's just the one side, and the other loach unaffected I'll take it>
 It was white so I put it in API fungus cure and it went away but now it has something else on it. I enclosed a pic,  plz help. Thanks
<Mmm, don't know that I'd move this fish, keep it out of the main system; which is likely more stable. My bet if this is unilateral, is that it's just a mechanical injury... that will heal on its own in time; given good water quality and nutrition. Bob Fenner>

re: Clown loach eye... injury, env.      11/8/13
Thanks for ur input. I meant arowana after 16" and the hardness is 0.
<... not good.
Do read re the needs of the life you're keeping and adjust your water for all w/in range>
 I keep it soft. Did u get the pic?  It's no longer white obviously and it's in a qt 15 gal tank.
<... move this fish>

 With heater and air pump of course!  Are there any other meds I could try? 
<.... see WWM re. B>

Clown loach eye; Neale's confirming input     11/9/13
Hi guys,
I have two 8" loaches in a 220 gal with a fx5 & an 8 watt sterilizer. The perimeter of the tank are good.0 ppm of ammonia, nitrite. 20 ppm of nitrate.  pH are 7.0. Temp at 87°.
<Seems very high... do you really mean this? Few fish appreciate such warm water. For Clowns, 28 C/82 F is ideal. Do remember that while warmer water may be tolerated by this species, such water also contains less oxygen, and that affects not just the fish but also the filter bacteria. Lower than ideal oxygen levels will persistently stress the physiology of your fish, and that in turn makes them more likely to become sick. It can also increase certain behaviours (such as breeding-related or territorial aggression) and increases appetite, both of which can cause problems.>
There are about 13 other fish including a 16" streams,
<What are "streams"?>
6" red spotted sevrum,  etc...all hi end odd balls. Nothing really aggressive.
<I see. But do be careful... this tank sounds quite generously stocked. Fish may not be overtly aggressive, but they can still physically harm one another if cramped or squabbling over hiding places. Catfish and loaches are notoriously defensive about their caves, for example, but catfish tend to be better armed and better protected, so frequently come off worse in such arguments. Once they get scratched, loaches can easily become infected with ambient bacteria, and these in turn can cause more serious problems.>
I do 100 gal water changes every two weeks with r/o and adjust the pH as needed.
<Okay. Unless there's a good reason to do otherwise, I tend to recommend a pH level a little above 7, somewhere between 7.2 and 7.5 being ideal for filter bacteria. Also hardness, often overlooked, should not be ridiculously low unless there's some darn good reason (i.e., you're keeping blackwater fish). So something middling is ideal, between 8-12 degrees dH being best. Again, this favours the filter bacteria, and it also helps to moderate pH drops between water changes. Remember, the aim is to keep a stable pH and hardness level between water changes, rather than to aim for some nominal pH and hardness value you think your fish would like best (and if you have a community of fishes, chances are there isn't one "ideal" pH and hardness value for them anyway). With the exception of true blackwater fish, most soft water fish will thrive in low to medium hard, pH 7-7.5 water, even if they can't breed successfully in it (and even this generally only applies to the more picky tetras and rasboras). I know I'm rambling a bit here, but experience has told me that when fish are kept in soft water, they're often a little bit more difficult to keep healthy, and opportunistic infections are a little bit more common. My assumption is that this has something to do with the rate of biological filtration, which has been comprehensively demonstrated to work better in alkaline rather than acidic conditions.>
I've been in the hobby for 25 years and own an aquarium service Co.
<Ah, I may be teaching my grandmother to suck eggs then!>
I put it in a qt tank 3 days ago when I noticed the eye.  It was white so I put it in API fungus cure and it went away but now it has something else on it. I enclosed a pic,  plz help. Thanks
<I'm fairly sure this is an opportunistic infection of the eye following some type of physical damage, e.g., a confrontation between the Clown Loach and, for example, a Thorny Catfish or Plec. Perhaps even the two Clowns. The cornea looks to have been damaged, and until it heals, this Clown will suffer some type of bacterial infection. I'd treat accordingly, using for example a Maracyn 1 and 2 combination (as you'd do for Finrot) but I'd also use the Epsom Salt treatment (1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres) as this can often help reduce Popeye and other fluid-retention problems. I will observe that severe damage to the eye often never heals and the eye is eventually lost, but Clowns, being adapted to murky water and largely nocturnal, don't rely on their eyes to any great degree. Do also try contacting Loaches.com; they have a good forum and generally offer very helpful, Loach-centric advice. Cheers, Neale.>

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>

Flowerhorn with cloud eye turning into a puffed up cornea     1/16/13
Evening crew@WetWebMedia.com
my Flowerhorn experienced 0.25 ammonia for about three days (spike).
<Toxic; burning>
Since then water parameters have been fine with no ammonia, no nitrite etc.
Since after the 0.35 ammonia it developed cloud eye on both eyes. Spoke to few people and concluded it was a bacterial infection.
<... no; at least not primarily; initially. This is a chemical burn>
Treated it with
bacterial medication (two different courses) but cloud eye remained.
Decided that it might be fungus and got some new medication for it.
<Only time going by, good water quality and nutrition will "cure" this condition. Medications are much more likely to cause troubles... e.g. disrupt nitrification. I'd remove all>
 Fish is healthy eating well, very active, looks happy, no pop eye, stomach looks normal, fins and scales also look normal etc. However just before  started the fungus treatment the Flowerhorn's eye cornea seemed enlarged. Today, which is day two of the course and meant to run it for one more day, the cornea of the eye is almost like a bubble, fish still behaves as before.
Could you please advise and tell whether you think the fish will loose <lose> its eye.
Many thanks
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpopeyefaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Flowerhorn Popeye      12/10/12
Hello WetWebMedia Crew,
I have a large Flowerhorn cichlid in a 40 gallon aquarium (I know that this is far too small, and probably the reason that the infection happened).
Yesterday I noticed that he very abruptly developed a severe case of PopEye. It is bilateral, and both eyes are cloudy. He still responds when I approach the tank and is still eating, so I have hope that he may recover.
<Me too>
 I have begun the treatment with Epsom salts, as has been frequently suggested, but I have added 1/2 the recommended dose because I didn't want to overwhelm him with that and with medication. I have also added "Bifuran +" to the water since it indicates that it can treat bacterial/protozoan diseases. I am wondering if Bifuran has been shown to be successful with this disease, and if my method of dealing with the problem is acceptable.
<I do think it's worthwhile; of use in these cases/circumstances>
 I've read that you can mix it with food, but I am not certain how much of  the powder to use. I've also increased the temperature of the tank to 86 F.
Do you have any additional recommendations, critiques?
<Mmm, no; not really. Other than to encourage you to read re others' experiences; here:
and the linked files above. Other than time going by, what you are doing... there's naught else to do>
It is obvious that the problem is environmental (to me) and ideally he would be in a tank that is 70 gallons, not 40.
Thank you,
<Steady on. Bob Fenner>

Swordtail, Epsom Salts and Pop-eye    6/23/12
Hi folks, first of all what a fantastic site.  I've found bits of answers to my question, but not an overall solution, so I'm hoping for some clarification.
The problem:  A female swordtail who has developed pop-eye in both eyes.
<Mmm, but no other fish/es I take it>

Feeding and swimming as normal.  Usually an aggressive little lady, definitely the alpha in her group.
The tank:  240 litres.  Bogwood, heavily planted around the edges and on the wood, clear space for swimming in the centre.  Ph of 7.  Temp 26.5 deg Celsius.
Nitrites, Nitrates, Ammonia at 0.  10% water changes weekly; gravel vacuum each week (partial - not the whole tank at once).  Fluval 204 canister filtration with carbon, noodles, and balls as media.  No noticeably sharp objects to cause injury, and I'm aware that water quality is a common cause of this issue - the only thing I can think of in that regard is that I have insufficient filtration.
Tank running for over 2 years.
Occupants:  8 neon tetras; 4 female swordtails; 1 male swordtail; 6 rummy nose tetras; 5 female platies; 2 male platies; 2 peppered cats (Corydoras) - I know this is less than recommended; had a couple of deaths a while back and have not yet added any more.
Food:  Cooked, shelled, crushed peas in the morning.  Frozen brine shrimp or daphnia in the evenings, alternated with frozen bloodworms about once per week.
A couple of algae wafers after lights out for the cats (who also like the peas).
The dilemma:  How to treat the swordtail.  My quarantine tank (40 litres) is currently doing time as my fry-tank, as the platy I had recently been given was in quarantine - and helpfully had babies.
Q1: I have read that Epsom salts can be used to treat this problem - as long as the cause of the problem is identified and remedied - is this broadly true?
 If so, how?  e.g. recommended dose, duration of treatment, water change regime during treatment, addition of further salt at water change...
<Epsom can/could be used; but I wouldn't here... The small tetras don't like extra salt/s>

Q2:  Ideally I'd isolate her, but I suspect that my psychologist husband will start looking at me as a prospective client if I set up yet another tank.
  Can I treat her in the main tank?  Obviously concerned here about the effect on the other tank residents.  And would I need to remove the carbon from the filter for the duration?
<Again... I suspect the cause of the pop eye here is mechanical injury... from the one fish bumping into objects... Will resolve on its own in time just as well as by treating>
Q3: Actually, I don't think I have another question.  I just have an overwhelming need for some concise, informed, definitive advice :)
Apologies for the length of this - I've tried to give as much pertinent information as possible but it's turned into a bit of a book.  My grateful thanks in advance for any help you can offer.
Kind regards
<Mmm, yes; most cases of bilateral exophthalima are due to bacterial et al. environmental issues... but your other fishes are non-affected... I'd just wait here, be patient. Bob Fenner>

Betta channoides with cloudy eye   3/30/12
I've been treating a Betta channoides with cloudy eye using Acriflavine and erythromycin.  It will not go away completely, it's been about ten days of treatment.
<Mmm, no more exposure is of worth here>
Will using a uv filter give the fish a chance to fight off the disease, or should I try another medicine?
<You could... is it just the one eye, unilateral? I'd try Epsom Salt>
I thought that it had finally cleared yesterday, but saw that there were still small white tufts on its eyes today.  I know antibiotics are easily misused, so I don't know if I should keep using the same dose of erythromycin (three API packets for a tank slightly under 30 gallons) or increase it, or use a different medicine, or if I'm in the process of making the bacteria I'm trying to kill even stronger and harder to treat.
<Can be very persistent>
It was much worse looking before I medicated, but it just won't clear completely. 
All the other fish in the tank have no sign of disease, only the Betta.
Thanks for any help.
<Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Betta channoides

The substrate in the tank is either or bare or made up of decaying plants. 
There are blackworms living in the plant matter and the water is clean, but is that liable to get the Betta sick?
<Could be indicative of a contributing cause... I'd vacuum them out>
  The possible bacteria in all the decaying plants?
<Maybe also>
There are Corydoras and Crenuchus spilurus which don't seem to mind it but I wonder, if the slow moving Betta might be at risk of spending too much time in close proximity to the rotting plants.
Even with antibiotics could that keep aggravating its eyes?
<... can't say. BobF>
Re: Betta channoides with cloudy eye   3/30/12

It doesn't look like PopEye, it is cloudiness and some tufts of white on both eyes.
<Yes... one-sided... likely resultant from a physical trauma... a "bump" into something. Can/will heal with just "good conditions", nutrition over time (or not)>
  I was told it's bacterial, there was a large mass on the eye and a water change made it temporarily disappear completely- evidence it's bacteria I was told.
Even if it's cloudy eye and a bacterial infection, not PopEye, should I use Epsom salt? 
<Yes I would>
Epsom salt and not normal aquarium salt? 
Sorry to be so redundant, thanks for the advice.  I will read the PopEye entry.
<Real good. BobF>

Oscar fish 8/21/11
My Oscar's eyes are sticking out of his head more than normal, is this a disease.
<Yes. Pop-eye is a related condition where the eye has been sufficiently damaged that infection behind the eyeball causes swelling. Treatment is largely "wait and see" plus the use of Epsom salt, and optionally,
antibiotics. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwpopeyefaqs.htm
If one eye is damaged or popping, that's commonly physical damage, e.g., by clumsy netting or a frightened fish bumping into the walls of the tank. If both eyes are damaged or popping, that's often to do with poor water quality. Either way, Pop-eye is extremely common when Oscars are kept in poor conditions, typically tanks that are too small, too few water changes, poor filtration. Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oscar fish 8/21/11
Is popping eye a deadly disease?
<As stated in my last message, in Oscars, it is usually an indication of chronically poor environmental conditions. Without knowing anything else about your aquarium, that would be assumption here. So yes, it's a sign the Oscar is in very poor health, and without fixing both the environment AND treating the symptoms, the Oscar could well die. Not from the Popeye, but from other infections and stresses brought on by the poor environmental conditions. Sadly, this is all too common with Oscars because people keep
them in tanks that are too small, feed them too much, feed them the wrong foods (e.g., "feeder fish", thiaminase-rich foods, not enough green foods), don't supply enough oxygen, don't do enough water changes. Cheers, Neale.>

Ghost -- 05/30/11
Hi Crew,
<Hello Laura,>
I have another situation that I am not sure what to do. First the facts; 56 gallon tall tank. 6 dime size angels.
<Do beware of these very small Angels -- they don't travel well, and the more inbred forms can be delicate.>
5 Glowlight tetras
<Angelfish food in the wild.>
20% water change every week. Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, Ph 6.
<A low pH like this is beneficial in some ways, but do understand its effect on biological filtration. Also, the need to buffer the pH at low carbonate hardness levels can be a chore, especially once fish get big and messy.>
Gravel vacuum once a month. When I went to feed this morning, the gray angel came up to feed as vigorously as the rest but I noticed that one eye is swollen.
<Likely physical damage -- fighting, usually, but can also be clumsy netting by the retailer or you (if the popped eye appeared in the last 24-48 hours) some point between being purchased and settled into your tank.
Alarm reactions, e.g., bumping into sharp rocks, can also cause this sort of physical damage.>
No other damage on the fish or any of the other fish. I remember reading one post in which Bob suggested that the damage could be from fighting over territory. I watch these fish like a nervous mother and I do not see any one fish being dominant. What do I do for this fish? It is now gasping for air, and I noticed little white spots on its back fin. The angle does stay with the other fish, but does not forage like the other ones do.
<Does sound like any physical damage is either a result of stress or causing stress. Sometimes a fish is weakened somehow, and then the dominant fish attacks it, and then you find damaged fins or popped eyes. Review water quality, make sure pH is absolutely stable (I'd be aiming for a steady pH 7 with generic angels rather than 6, but altering the pH is a whole other can of worms -- don't be one of those folks who dumps in "pH down" potions without understanding how carbonate hardness works and what buffering solutions to use instead.>
Thank you for your time and wisdom
<Do read here:
Epsom salt in the water at a dose of up to 3 teaspoons per 5 gallons can be useful, together with optimised water conditions. Review social behaviour -- Angels school when young, and only become territorial pair-forming fish once mature. But even as youngsters dominant members of the school can be aggressive. Cheers, Neale.>

re: Ghost -- 05/31/11
While waiting for your instructions, I netted the angel and put it in a breeder box so if there was a dominant angel picking the box would protect until I could treat. Within a few hours the angel died. There was no other damage on the fish, so I am not sure what happened. The other 5 angels are fine and still not showing any aggression. Thank you for such a wonderful site and for your time in answering my questions. You all are wonderful and are truly appreciated.
<Sorry to hear things ended badly, but not altogether surprised. These very small Angels are not easy to keep, and I don't much recommend them for beginners. In any case, do expect aggression among your Angels as they mature. Singletons are usually harmless to mixed community fish, but a pair will need a 20 gallon tank, and in anything smaller than, say, 55 gallons, they will often be very aggressive towards any other Angels. In the wild Angels only school when [a] young and [b] outside of spawning, and because
aquarium conditions are so favourable, mature fish are in spawning mood pretty much constantly. Cheers, Neale.>

Ich, cloudy eyes and poor water quality. 8/2/10
I have a 55 gallon tank in trouble. I have a mild case of ich going on, cloudy eyes on 2 of my fish and really bad water quality.
<Meaning what precisely? Is the tank newly set up? Or massively over-stocked?>
I just changed 50% of the water, am lowering the PH and put in Nitra-Zorb to help with the ammonia and nitrates.
<Uh, no. Understand this. Randomly changing the pH will severely stress your fish. Usually a fixed pH is best, and the value itself doesn't matter much so long as it doesn't vary. Exceptions exist for those fish such as livebearers that MUST have a specific pH, in this case a basic pH between 7 and 8.5, and if kept below the pH range will quickly sicken. Now, there's nothing much you can add to remove ammonia and nitrite. Nitrate -- with an "a" -- is not the same thing is as nitrite -- with an "I". Nitrate is not especially toxic. Nitrite and ammonia are very toxic. Nitrite and ammonia can be reduced -- diluted -- through water changes but essentially the only way to remove them is via biological filtration.>
Do I need to remove the Nitra-Zorb in order to begin treating with Maracyn and Quick Cure?
<Nitra-Zorb will physically remove ammonia, but in doing so slow down maturation of a biological filter. It is almost NEVER a solution to a poor water quality crisis. You'll see it's usually marketed for use in reef tanks as a chemical filter to remove nitrate, in other words, to improve already good water quality. It's not a replacement for biological filtration.>
I can not find any information telling me if that will absorb the medications.
<It shouldn't do, but it isn't relevant here anyway.>
The fish are definitely stressed and a few are not eating.
<I bet.>
I am confident that I can get the water quality back to normal (which I believe was disrupted from previous ich medications),
<Some medications can, will stress biological filtration, and if that's the issue here, you need to treat the tank as if it's cycling. Don't feed the fish at all, do 25-50% water changes daily, and if your fish are salt-tolerant species like Guppies and Mollies, add a little salt to the water, 0.5-1 teaspoon per gallon should be fine. Medicating without
restoring good water quality is pointless. I will point out that therapeutic doses of salt and Epsom salt can be used to treat Ick and Pop-eye respectively, and in both cases WILL NOT affect filter bacteria at all. Do read:
but I do not want to wait to start treatment with the Maracyn as the cloudy eyes are very concerning to me.
Thank You,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ich, cloudy eyes and poor water quality. 8/3/10

Hi Neale, the tank is not newly set up or overstocked.
It had a spike in PH (it is not normally this high), ammonia and nitrate.
<Ah, but why? Ammonia shouldn't really rise above zero once an aquarium is cycled. Whilst all aquaria experience slight pH *drops* between water changes, pH *rises* are rare, and usually imply the addition of some sort of calcareous material such as limestone to the tank. The pH will also go up if ammonia levels rise appreciably, ammonia being a basic substance when dissolved in water.>
I am doing the daily water changes to try to reduce all 3, but the fish health and appetite remain poor.
Immediately following water changes, they all seem to be much happier, but it is if the tank is cycling as suggested and by morning they are miserable again.
<Sounds as if that's exactly what's happening. Your job is to figure out what's wrong with this tank. Let's assume there's nothing calcareous in the tank. Let's also assume your tap water contains no ammonia, but check that.
So we'll put down the pH rise to non-zero ammonia levels. Now, why would a mature filter stop working properly. The four factors are these: [1] the size and number of fish; [2] the amount and types of food being used; [3] the correct functioning of the filter; and [4] the health of the filter bacteria on the biological media. So, review critically how many fish are in the tank and how much they've grown. Reduce the amount of food you normally give, and don't feed at all while non-zero ammonia levels persist.
Look to see that the filter is adequate to the task at hand, and consider adding another filter. Finally, rinse off the biological media, and if its irredeemably clogged, replace up to 50% of it.>
I've been down this road before and I think it's a combination of my tap water and an older aquarium.
<I don't see why.>
The ich and cloudy eyes are a new addition to this nightmare though.
<Both of these could be a result of stress caused by non-zero ammonia levels.>
I will try to treat both with the aquarium salt versus other medications.
One question for you, what are your feelings about ammo-lock?
<It's a fine WATER CONDITIONER. It is not a cure-all or a magic bullet. By all means use it on tap water that has non-zero ammonia levels. But do not for a nanosecond imagine it will help lower ammonia levels in your
aquarium. It has absolutely nothing to do with the ammonia produced by your fish.>
Will it help keep the fish less stressed during this "cycling" phase?
I should also tell you that I am using stress zyme to try and boost the biological filtration.
<Largely useless. I presume you already have some biological filtration going on, which implies happy bacteria somewhere in the tank. These will be infinitely more useful than any bottle of anything sold in your pet shop.>
Thank You,
<You're welcome. 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>

Oscar with HUGE eye -- 7/7/10
Oscar With Popeye

Hello, Can you tell me what is wrong with my Oscar? It has a huge eye and swelling underneath the eye as well. Went to the LFS. One said search the web and the other has me currently treating the tank with Maracyn. Today is the 3rd day of treatment and it's looking bigger. All the water chemistry is fine. I don't know what else to do. Charlie
<There is an internal infection behind the eye ball. As the parasites multiply they displace the eye out of its socket. Place in a hospital tank with clean water and treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. The eye may be damaged beyond repair.-Chuck>

3YR old Red Devil with eye bump 7/3/10
Hi I have a eye problem with my red devil named Redd that is 3 years old.
First we noticed that there was a white Flem on his left eye, then it turned into small bubble we went and had our water checked everything checked out fine but the pet store suggested we get something for stress.
We did get the stress relief but the bubble seemed to get worst and bigger after a week on his eye. Please help me with this problem I don't wont to lose my Red Devils eye or have him go blind. Please tell me what I need to do to help him. He eats his pellets good and he still has all of his spunk he's very active in the fish tank.
<Hello Tony. Pop-eye like this is down to one of two things, water quality or physical damage. When just one eye becomes swollen, the odds nudge towards physical damage: fighting, running into rocks if the tank is too small, clumsy netting when the fish was moved about, etc. There's no "treatment" as such; all you can do is [a] optimise water quality and diet; and [b] use an antibiotic to minimise any infections (a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace alongside Epsom salt is recommended, but if in doubt, ask a vet).
In all likelihood this chap will lose his eye, but as you've noticed, this doesn't affect most fish at all seriously. Since freshwater fish especially live in waters where visibility is often minimal, they are very good at using their lateral line and other senses to compensate for partial blindness. Cheers, Neale.>

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.>

Balloon Ram and Popeye? 5/23/10
Hi Guys,
Great site!
I'm having some problems with one of my balloon rams - he appears to have developed Popeye.
<Need to know the conditions. Mass produced Mikrogeophagus ramirezi are weak fish at the best of times, and this is made worse because many aquarists are mislead (or don't research) about their requirements. To wit, they need very warm (28-30 C) water that is very soft (1-3 degrees dH) and very acidic (pH 5.5-6.5). Try to keep them in hard water and you're essentially taking a gamble. Balloon Rams are inbred and deformed, so they're obviously even weaker than the standard sort, and like farmed Rams, they're exposed to bacterial infections and "juiced" with antibiotics and hormones. I routinely recommend people don't buy them, and I know lots of pet store managers who dislike stocking them, but the market for Ram cichlids is huge.>
As I'm from the UK then I'm kind of limited to the treatments I can apply. To date I've been treating him with Interpet 9,
<Yet to see/hear this cure anything.>
but his condition hasn't improved!
This includes dosing as advised and also a 3 day 'intensive' daily dosing in case of a 'hardened' bug!
No change! I'm currently trying a treatment of Epsom salt in an attempt to 'draw' the infection.
<Doesn't do anything of the sort. "Drawing" infections is a mediaeval concept, so let's put it to one side. Epsom salt changes the water chemistry, and draws out fluid from the body of the fish while relaxing muscles. This can help reduce swelling, though in and of itself, it isn't a cure or a medicine. It's like taking a hot bath with Radox salts: makes you feel better if you have 'flu, but isn't actually curing you any.>
I'm getting a little concerned that he may have fish TB!!
<Fish TB is very rare in freshwater fish, but unfortunately more generic Mycobacterium infections are far from uncommon among specimens of Mikrogeophagus ramirezi. If the careless fishkeeper exposes Ram cichlids to
water that is too cold, too hard, and not sufficiently acidic, they often become subject to these types of infections. These is very well known in the hobby, and much discussed in the cichlid literature; for example, I have a copy of Baensch's Aquarium Atlas dating from 1989 that mentions this. It eludes me why people still buy this species.>
I am keeping him in a small hospital tank in a darkened quiet room.
<Make sure you're not moving him from bad to worse conditions. like all cichlids, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is extremely sensitive to ammonia and nitrite, so you must keep tabs on water quality. And also like all cichlids, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is very sensitive to nitrate, and nitrate levels above 20 mg/l can be virtually guaranteed to cause dropsy and pop-eye, which together can be easily mistaken for Mycobacterium infections.>
He seems quite perky when I check on him 3/4 times a day, although he doesn't seem to be eating much (I just put in 1 or 2 single flakes daily)
<OK. But do be careful that the hospital tank stays healthy. If the filter is not cycled, he'll be perky while ammonia and nitrite levels are low, but then health deteriorate quickly once conditions worse.>
I have read that a treatment containing copper sulphate my help - however I am a little concerned about treating the little guy with a barrage of medicines (Melafix next perhaps)!
<Copper isn't the thing here. Almost certainly going to need Metronidazole,
which in the UK is something you buy from a vet. Not expensive, but it's an extra hoop to jump through.>
The other thing that I'm thinking is that as 'balloon' fish are man-made (so to speak) then perhaps this is his genetic appearance - however his tankmate doesn't sport the same look.
Else perhaps the Popeye has been treated OK and he shall just be left like this??
<In dwarf cichlids, poor environmental conditions, especially non-zero nitrate levels, are strongly associated with type of thing. Do be sure to read Paul Loiselle's 'The Cichlid Aquarium' for more on dwarf cichlids.>
I don't want to keep returning/removing him from my main community tank and stress him further.
I can send a pic if it would help (don't want to load your inbox!)
<As we state, keep images to 500 KB.>
Grateful for any comments.
Best Regards,
<Cheers, Neale.>

discovery...? Popeye, FW... 3/21/10
Hi there folks,
<Hi! Melinda with you here tonight!>
I made a new discovery on my fish that has Popeye and one that has cloudy eye in different tank, they are flashing and sometimes dart, like they itch, no white spots but maybe flukes?
<Hmm... can you provide Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate readings for these tanks?
Have them tested separately, though, in case only one is having issues with water quality. You should find Ammonia and Nitrite at 0, and Nitrate under 20. If you don't, then that's likely the problem.... if you have any
questions about the results you do get, I'd be happy to answer them.>
I will get new med but worry about the darting, will this hurt them until I can get them treated?
<If this is a symptoms of Ammonia burn or other issues with water quality, it's constantly hurting them. Please, before you treat, test water quality. The Popeye and cloudy eye are also symptoms of the same problem,
and that problem begins with their water. I'd like to help, but you've given no really useful information here -- if you'd like to write back, please do so with tank sizes, filtration specifications, stocking (types and numbers of fish), and water parameters (mentioned above). Thanks!

Problems with Goldfish (RMF, does Pop-eye ever get better?) 3/11/10<<Oh yes, there are many cases of complete remission. Just try Epsom Salt and better water quality here>>
HI I have been chatting with you off and on about a goldfish I have with Popeye, it seems to be getting bigger, he still eats good etc. Will it burst?
<Yes, and then fall off, leaving a hole in the side of the head. More often than not, the fish survives (which tells you something about how tough fish are) but there's the potential for secondary infections, septicaemia, etc.>
Is there a medicated food I could give him to cure this or any suggestions on how to help it to improve, He has had it now for about 2 months?
<Pop-eye is exceedingly difficult to cure once established. I have never seen any fish recover from it without first losing that eye. I'm asking Bob here if he's seen fish recover; he may well have done. One difference I should mention is that here in the UK antibiotics are prescription-only medications, so unless you go to a vet, you won't be able to (legally) use them in your fish tank. Trips to the vet are time consuming and expensive, and so when people here in the UK have fish with Pop-eye, they usually don't use antibiotics, and the eye has little chance of recovery. If your fish hasn't shown any signs of recovery even after 2 months of antibiotic treatment, and with optimised water quality and a good diet, I'd have to say a trip to the vet is really the only logical way forward if you want the eye to recover. Antibiotics sold in pet stores in the US are a bit hit-and-miss, and vets I've spoken with consider them largely useless because so much depends on the body mass of the fish when it comes to dosing antibiotics, something aquarists rarely think about. So aquarists typically provide too little of the antibiotic for medium to large fish, and unless you add enough antibiotic, it'll never effect a cure. A vet will be able to weight the fish (or at least hazard a reasonably guess) and from there draw up a sensible prescription. You may well carry on using the store-bought Erythromycin or whatever, but at least you'll be adding just the right amount to the water. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Problems with Goldfish (RMF, advice on finding fish vets in the US) 3/11/10
<<Ask the local veterinarians re... and if there's a regional/County Veterinary Association or such... Also inquire at colleges w/ life science departments, fish and game State civil servants>>
I have never heard of a fish vet around here?
<It's just a regular vet. Here in England at least, many will have at least one surgeon on the staff who handles goldfish and Koi carp. Again, I have to ask Bob here what the best listing site or trade body is in the US for finding a "fish vet" near you. They are certainly out there; local or national Koi clubs would be one place to start, since Koi keepers are the prime market for fish vets.>
If there is one it is probably 8 or better hours from me!! Do they usually die once they get Popeye?
<No, not in my experience. Usually just the eye falls out. I have one female Ameca splendens with a missing eye following Pop-eye about six months ago, as well as a Ctenolucius that lost one eye seemingly from a fight with another of its own kind while bagged and being carried home from the pet store. In either case, no long term health problems at all.>
I have tried some Maracyn 2 but certainly not enough I know as I really didn't want to use it so I just pour a few drops of powder in for a few days, I have something called triple sulfa and wondered what you might think of that, I did see online that medicated marigold fish food containing Kanacyn can be purchased, or another from jungle labs, it says it is broad spectrum food?
<The broad spectrum stuff is what I'd probably avoid. If this was me, and I had access to a range of antibiotics, I'd be working my way down the list of likelihoods, in each case choosing an effective, if narrow spectrum, antibiotic. The thing with broad spectrum medications is they tend to be "jack of all trades, master of none" products that sound good but often turn out to be unreliable. Instead, try a gram-positive antibiotic first.
If that doesn't work, a gram-negative. Use antibiotic foods if you can, as these deliver much better dosages than anything added to the water. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Problems with Goldfish (RMF, advice on finding fish vets in the US) 3/11/10
Okay, Then Do I just keep water clean and wait till eye falls out> It sounds more as if your saying not to try to medicate as this is not fixable until eye falls out? Is this what I do then , just wait? I got a bit confused as you said one of yours had this problem and it is okay, what did you do?
<... Please read here re the use of Epsom:
and the linked Related FAQs file above, and here:
re eye complaints of FW fishes. Bob Fenner>
Re: Problems with Goldfish (RMF, advice on finding fish vets in the US)
Okay, Then Do I just keep water clean and wait till eye falls out> It sounds more as if your saying not to try to medicate as this is not fixable until eye falls out? Is this what I do then , just wait? I got a bit confused as you said one of yours had this problem and it is okay, what did you do?
<Keep reading. BobF>
Re: Problems with Goldfish
I am sorry I am confused, if this cannot be fixed should I try antibiotic food or just wait till eye falls out?
<Bob seems to think that optimising water quality (which may including providing a bigger tank or better filter) and keeping up with the addition of Epsom salt in the water (at a dose of up to 3 teaspoons per 5 gallons) should help. I would further recommend an antibiotic formulated for use against internal and systemic infections (as opposed to one for external infections like Finrot). Nitrofurazone and Tetracycline appear to be the antibiotics usually recommended. Provide the antibiotic via food if at all possible, at the dose suggested on the packaging or by your vet.>
It just sounds like in most of the replies that in most cases the Popeye is not fixable once they get it?
<That has certainly been my experience, but thankfully I've only had two fish in 25 years that have had Pop-eye as a syndrome all by itself (as opposed to damage to the eyes via fighting, poor handling, etc). It isn't a common disease when fish are kept properly, which is why we keep stressing the need for clean water, adequate space, proper filtration, balanced diet, and so on. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Problems with Goldfish
Would this help along with some Epsom salt, I cant find any Nitrofuranizole??
<Try online; mail-order.>
Medi-Gold Ormetoprim, sulfadimethoxine, Kanamycin and oxolinic Acid AquaMeds USA medicated food
<Haven't come across these as recommendations, so they probably won't help.
Not all antibiotics are the same, whether you're treating fish or people.
In situations like this one, it's best to stick with what's known to work rather than trying to be imaginative! I'm not a vet, so I can't give you anything more than what I've learned from others or read in fish health books. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Problems with Goldfish
I am sorry to keep bothering you, However I only see that they have Maracyn 2 and Binox at my pet store with the two problems I will tell you will either of these work ,
<Not read/heard anything to suggest these will help against Pop-eye.>
I will keep trying to find Nitrofuranizole but wondered about these, I do have some triple sulfa here at home but haven't used any yet, need more advice before I start anything.
<As I said a day or two ago, there are two antibiotics that seem to work against Pop-eye, Nitrofurazone and tetracycline.>
I talked about the one fish I have in a tank with 3 others with the bulging eye, and in another tank I have one larger one with cloudy eye and now has 2 tiny red slightly raised red sots on the top of body near fin at top, I did bump him with a net a few days ago, don't know if that would have done it.
<Sounds like you have multiple fish exhibiting signs of opportunistic bacterial infection, i.e., Finrot or similar. Treat accordingly, but also find out why they're sick. Almost always, it's either poor water quality, the wrong water chemistry, or physical damage from careless handling.>
I changed water and added stress coat plus,
<Pretty useless stuff, really.>
(have never used the plus before,) could that have caused his red bump?
Thanks again for the help
<Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlids With Cloudy Eyes -- 1/27/10
I have 2 cichlids in a 29 gal tank. We've had them 5 or so years. (They ate all the other fish that were in there within a week and anything else we would try.) One of them developed a cloudy film over its eye. I thought it looked as though his eye had rotted out. Pretty gross! My husband is the primary care taker of the tank. I let him know and he put some salt in the tank. I just kept watching the fish. Then I realized the eye was still there. It was just a film over the eye. The film had come loose on one side and it looked like it was getting better until it spread to the other eye.
The first infected eye now has a cotton ball looking stuff on it. The fish is pitiful. It stays in one spot usually, doesn't act interested when fed (or doesn't know there is food) and today it just runs into the walls/plastic plants like its blind (which I'm sure it is). Now the other fish has the film over its eyes. I dont' know what to do or where to start.
I have read everything I can get my hands on, but nothing I've read fits exactly. Is it fungus, pop-eye, TB, bacteria, or what? What do I do about it? .... and I hate to ask this, but when is it too late to do anything?
And if it's too late, just exactly what do I do? These poor fish are just getting worse and I can't wait for someone else (who is supposed to be taking care of the tank) to do something about it. Please help me to help them. Thanks!
< First thing is check the water quality. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 20 ppm. It is probably bad so do a fifty percent water change and clean the filters. Next week do a twenty -five percent water change and vacuum the gravel.. If no improvement is seen then treat with Nitrofurazone. It treats both bacteria and fungus. When the cloudy eyes clear up you will be able to determine if your fish is blind or not.-Chuck>

Cichlid help please
Cichlid With Eye Trouble 12/3/09

Hi, Today when I got home I noticed that one of my cichlids had a bubble in his eye (under the lens). It is perfectly clear and the eye itself is not bulging. Do you have any idea what is causing this or, more importantly, how to fix it? Thank you so much for your time.
Sabrina L.
<Almost every circumstance that involves a gas bubble usually is a symptom of some bacterial activity. The bacteria's metabolism can be treated with antibiotics, even under the lens. I would recommend using a Nitrofurazone type antibiotic in a hospital tank. Once the bacteria have been treated the gas bubble may be reabsorbed by the fish's system.-Chuck

Miracle Cure or Snake Oil? Mira/Mela-fix... Eye maladies f' as well, FW 8/13/2009
Good day, I am a 2 month fish owner and I have a specific problem but also a more general question.
<Fire away.>
I have a 2 inch black moor and 2 inch fantail in a 20 gallon tank, and the black moor has pop-eye I can't seem to get rid of (good nitrate, nitrite, ammonia levels, Ph 7.5, 65 degree tank), and a day after adding a golden apple snail one of its popped eyes got cloudy (not sure if related to snail intro).
<Unlikely to be related to the snail. Pop-eye is typically associated with either water quality issues or physical damage, e.g., careless handling of the fish, or the use of coarse rather than soft netting. Do see here:
In terms of water quality, if you don't have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, then that's likely the problem right there. Your tank should be big enough for juvenile Goldfish, but I will make the observation that adult Goldfish need 30 gallons upwards.>
Being relatively new to this, I consulted several pet stores and online forums and some recommended salt, and some Mirafix.
<Do you mean Melafix?>
I have tried both, and this has not seemed to do much other than upset the snail who is now doing poorly, but has not helped the eye on the moor. I am wondering if the snail is more of an added stress on the tank than the helper I was led to believe he would be in cleaning the tank.
<Melafix shouldn't harm invertebrates, but then, there's little testing either way. Apple snails do poorly with Goldfish for a variety of reasons, and the most common is that the Goldfish peck at them, thinking their
tentacles are edible. Eventually, the Apple snail is so stressed and unable to feed normally it dies.>
I am concerned I am not doing the right treatment however, because it seems that for so many problems the answer I get is to do a salt bath and or use Mirafix, no matter what the problem is. It is like if I went to my doctor and he gave me the same pill to treat the 10 different things I had wrong with me. Are these really good products (especially for fresh water goldfish), or are these the equivalent of the pet store placebo that earns them a little money but does no harm (or help).
<We get a lot of messages from people who have used Melafix, but without any improvements. It is, at best, a mild antiseptic that may well help prevent secondary infections. But as a cure for established disease, it's so unreliable as to be worthless compared to the other products on the market.>
I am also confused, because some prefer sea salt and some prefer Epsom salt, but can not tell me why or what the difference is, and in any case it seems like a LOT of salt by dosage for a fresh water fish.
<Now, salt (sodium chloride) and Epsom salt (Magnesium sulphate) are different things and used for different diseases. Salt is used to combat certain external parasites, particularly whitespot; at the low doses
recommended for treatment, it is sufficient saline in the aquarium that the free-living stages of the parasite cannot survive. Salt can also be used to treat velvet, flukes and lice. Epsom salt is used sometimes as a laxative, a muscle relaxant, and to reduce swelling. It's usually used when fish are bloated or have pop-eye. So, you pick one or the other depending on the situation.>
Also, I see that the Mirafix is listed by the State of CA as a carcinogen.
Is this just the case if ingested, or if it comes in contact with skin? I am always bare handing it when it comes to the tank after washing my hands first, and my young daughter helps, so I don't want to take chances.
<Do you drive? You're more likely to die in a motor accident than to get cancer from a bottle of Melafix. It's tea-tree oil, and on the scale of things, pretty harmless. I mention the driving thing because humans are
just hopeless at measuring risk. People worry about trivial risks while happily eating meat rather than vegetables, skipping exercise, smoking, drinking liquor, and any number of things that clearly and obviously reduce health. We're a funny species.>
In short, are salt and/or Mirafix helpful for cloudy eye,
<Likely not.>
and in general how do you think they are most beneficial (as opposed to the pet stores who claim the salt will cure my baldness and the Mirafix will help my liver).
<As ever, for medical advice, consult your doctor. The best I can offer here is advice about your fish.>
Thank you, Tessy
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Miracle Cure or Snake Oil? 8/13/2009
Thank-you, this is helpful. A couple follow-ups if I may, because I feel like I am trapped in several catch-22s.
If the Popeye is caused by the water quality or stress, I seemed a little darned if do and darned if I don't in several cases. For example, you suggest Epsom salt (not the aquarium salt my pet guy recommended!) could help with pop eye, but the guy also said that the salt in general, and the Melafix could also kill the good bacteria in my filter (which will result in poor water).
<The pet shop guy is clearly ignorant. For a start, bacteria are obviously fine in marine tanks, so salt in itself clearly doesn't kill them. Yes, it's true you shouldn't make dramatic changes, but adding a small amount won't harm the bacteria at all. There's no such thing as "salt in general".
Potassium cyanide is a salt, but clearly deadly poisonous. Sodium chloride is another salt, but one we can safely eat each day. A salt is merely a kind of chemical; what matters is which salt, and how much. Sodium chloride in small amounts is a useful nutrient and enhances the taste of food; sodium chloride in massive amounts will kill you very quickly. Again, as I said, you use different chemicals depending on the situation. There's no reason at all you should be using sodium chloride. But magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt), at a dose of around 1 teaspoon per 5 to 10 gallons, will relieve swelling and bloating, and this may help, in conjunction with antibiotics, the Pop-eye you're dealing with.>
How do I use these products without having to recycle the tank?
<See above.>
How much will they increase my nitrates, or do I just do a lot of water changes at the same time, knowing I am getting rid of product I just paid to put into the tank?
<Why would magnesium sulphate increase nitrate? There's no nitrate in the chemical. Just do your usual water changes, adding the right amount of magnesium sulphate per bucket of water to replace what you've taken out. If you remove a 3 gallon bucket of old water from the aquarium, then make sure each 3 gallon bucket of new water you draw from the tap has about half a teaspoon of Epsom salt in it.>
Another one, the same guy who sold me the big filter said the stress of the Popeye may be caused by the current in the tank being too rapid for these little guys (2 inchers at most including tail, 20 gallon tank, mechanical filter is a Stage 3 size Fluval). Even when I have it on the lowest flow setting, and try to dig out a hollow in the gravel to settle in, they seem to find a hard time finding a spot to truly rest.
<Use a spray bar to spread out the water current. If necessary, angle the spray bar at the glass, so water pressure is diffused against the glass.>
My solution was to turn the filter off at night, to give them a true rest, but I was told this will kill all the good bacteria in the filter and send the nitrates through the roof.
<Turning the filter off at night is crazy. Yes, the bacteria will die.
Nitrate would be the least of your problems! Ammonia and nitrite will rapidly rise because the filter bacteria aren't getting a constant flow of water to clean.>
Is this true? I think the constant swimming is probably the most likely cause of stress for the pop eye.
Will putting the filter on the ground and shoot it straight up, as opposed to on the side and across the tank, be helpful?
<Can help, but a spray bar is better.>
Or can I just turn it off at night like I have been?
Based on what you wrote, I think maybe my netting caused one of his pop eyes to 'pop' or get abraded, making it cloudy (for three weeks now). I thought I had bough the best net they had at the store, but I could see how pop eyes are fragile things. Is there a specific super safe most gentle net you can recommend?
<The safest is a plastic carton, like an old ice cream carton. Use the net or your hands to drive the fish into the carton, and lift out. Otherwise, if you want a net, look for the finest ones you can buy, typically white nylon, rather than the coarser ones, often green nylon.>
One last newbie question, I do seem to have a testing quirk no one can answer. I sometimes have a situation with 0 ammonia, some nitrites (very low), but 0 nitrate (I laugh at this, because the strips have color ranges from say 0 to .125 to .25 to .50, etc., and most readings are never at exactly the exact color as pictured), but you have mentioned that ANY nitrite level is bad.
<Correct. My guess would be that the filter "dies back" at night, so you detect high levels of ammonia and nitrite, and then "recovers" somewhat during the day, and you detect lower levels of ammonia and nitrite.>
Well, I have never been able to get to total zero nitrite, it is always above a little light blue, but never gets truly purplish in any way, but my nitrates do appear to be true zero.
<Test kits can be faulty, and to be honest, I wouldn't worry about nitrate anyway. Nitrate is more of an issue with marines and certain freshwater fish like cichlids. Goldfish are largely indifferent to it. But ammonia and nitrite are issues.>
Some have said what I am saying is impossible, as you get nitrates from converting all the nitrites, and that they only convert back to nitrites when the nitrate level gets super high. Even my worst nitrate reading is still mostly yellow. So long story short, how can you still have any nitrite in your tank (long term) when you have no nitrates (long term).
<Nitrate can be consumed by things like plants, and anaerobic bacteria in a deep bed of gravel will also use some of it up. But as I say, I wouldn't worry too much.>
And if that is possible, but any level of nitrite is bad, how do I get rid of that nitrite if the normal cycling process does not seem to want to convert that list little bit?
<If you constantly detect trace levels of nitrite, it either means your filter is overwhelmed by the amount of fish being kept, or the fish are being overfed, or the filter hasn't cycled completely. All three could be issues in your case, so be open-minded. Review filter maintenance. In short, you don't need carbon in your type of tank, but you do need biological filtration. Make sure your filter contains lots of biological media (typically sponges and/or ceramic noodles). Wash the media once every 4-6 weeks in buckets of aquarium water, never under a hot tap. Never switch the filter off. Don't replace more than 50% of the biological media at any one time.>
Oh, and if the cloudy eye can not be helped by salt or Mirafix, what is the next attempt? Patience?
<No, use something like (in the US) Maracyn or (in the UK) eSHa 2000. Some medication designed for Finrot and bacterial infections. Don't expect a rapid recovery.>
Is cloudy eye painful, or does it really blind them?
<Painful? Difficult to say. Does it blind them? Yes, eventually. But the problem is that Pop-eye isn't a disease of the eye, but a sign fluid has built up behind the eyeball. This means there's a systemic bacterial infection. It's a step away from septicaemia, and yes, that kills pretty quickly.>
Or is it more a cosmetic thing that bothers us?
Thanks again
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Miracle Cure or Snake Oil?-- 08/14/09
Wow, amazingly helpful. The only comment for what it is worth is that the pet store guy said the salt would kill the fresh water "good" bacteria, and replace them with salt water "good" bacteria,
<This in only true if you raise the salinity above a certain point.
Freshwater contains 0 grammes/litre marine salt mix, whereas seawater contains 35 g/l marine salt mix. Freshwater bacteria are fine up to about 9 g/l. Since I'm suggesting you add much lower doses than that when treating whitespot (typically less than 3 g/l) and for Dropsy/Pop-eye you aren't using marine salt mix but Epsom salt, none of this matters.>
which helped tropical fish but not fresh water fish as much, particularly when Melafix is getting used at the same time as the salt.
<Melafix may work, but it just isn't reliable. If you have some, and the disease isn't life-threatening, then feel free to use it. But if you're shopping for a medication now, or your fish is clearly in distress (as is the case with Pop-eye) then you want to be using something much more reliable.>
At this point however I am more likely to trust your judgment on all this, this seems to be very good advice from your site overall, very helpful.
Not having to be anal about monitoring nitrate with goldfish saves me a lot of money alone!
Changing only one of the sponges in the filter at one time is also brilliant.
<Likely mentioned this in the instruction booklet that came with the filter, so can't really claim brilliance on this ones!>
Thanks again.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Rainbow shark with Popeye 7/25/09
Hi Crew,
8 days ago I noticed my rainbow shark swimming abnormally - hanging in one place rather than moving about the tank. On closer inspection I noticed that his left eye was popping, and that he had a small gash about 1cm behind the eye. I immediately removed him to a hospital tank in case the injury was caused by another fish, though I don't think anything in there would be likely to cause the damage.
<Just a physical trauma highly likely... Minnow sharks are very susceptible to jumping, damaging themselves. That the exophthalmia is unilateral/one-sided is strong evidence that the cause here is not biological>
I dosed the tank with Wunder Tonic
<... I would not do this... Not likely to help, and too likely to hurt... cause a check/loss of nitrification>
to prevent any fungal infection until I could get to the LFS the following day and get some furan 2, then removed the carbon, raised the temp in the tank, added an airstone, did a partial water change and dosed the furan 2 and aquarium salt.
<Nor this...>
Next thing I knew, poor Feargal Sharkey was swimming on his side at the top of the tank. He stayed there for a full day then when I awoke the next morning he was looking greatly improved. He was swimming normally, albeit at the bottom of the tank and acting far better, though the eye is another story.
The eye is obviously dead, and seems to be slowly working its way out of his body. It seems to be healing up behind itself and I was hoping it would work its way out and kind of fall off. The wound looks a little bigger and started to show a little red rather than being the white patch on his skin it was before.
I finished dosing him a full course of Furan 2 a couple of days ago, and when I got home tonight I checked him to find he looked different again.
The eye looks fungused and he seems to have developed a case of ich.
Having cleared the Furan 2 out of the tank already (via water changes and carbon), I decided to dose him with Wunder Tonic for the ich/fungus. An hour after I put the treatment in the tank, he was back to swimming on one side at the top of the tank!
I have no idea what to do now.
<I do... stop "treating" the system... and leave the temp. at what it usually is>
I did another partial water change have replaced the carbon in the filter to remove the Wunder tonic as fast as possible, but he's not looking good.
I am at a loss and would love any suggestions you have.
Thanks, Jenna
<... Where to direct you... Here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

sick Texas cichlid
Old Texas Cichlid With Eye Problems 7/22/09

Hi I'm from Australia an I have a very large 35cm Texas cichlid who has an eye disease. I have been treating with Flagyl a very strong human antibiotic [penicillin] for the past 5 days.
< This is actually treats Protozoans and not bacteria.> <<Mmmm; no... RMF>>
The eye is healing but there is a lot of fungus forming around the eye. Its a very thick fury fungus. He is still very active an swimming around but not eating. He is over 10 years old he is healing except for this thick
white fungus. His other eye is fine. I have sent some pics. Can you suggest anything that I could do as I don't want to put him to sleep... Thanks
regards Jess
<I think that your old Texas cichlid may be in trouble. The lack of appetite makes me think that he may have an internal infection as well. The Metronidazole will help. I would recommend a treatment of a combination of Metronidazole (Flagyl) and Nitrofuranace in a hospital tank. Do a 50% water change, clean the filters and vacuum the gravel. Use both medications on days 1,3 and 5. Do a 50% water change on days 2 ,4 and 6. Offer food on the 6th day and see if he will eat. The Nitro is an antibiotic that works well against fungus too.-Chuck>

Oscar With Eye Problems 7/3/09
I am writing in desperation for my 2 year old Oscar "Diesel". I awoke last Wednesday to find both his eyes covered in what appears to be fungus. I tested the water and the nitrate levels were 200ppm, all others normal, I did a 25% water change. Thursday, it spread to his fins, tail, and face. I did another water change, took out activated charcoal, added ammonia remover insert to filter, and treated with Pimafix, nitrate levels still 200ppm. By Sunday, fungus was no longer on his body but still on his eyes, nitrate levels still 200ppm. I did a water change, switched medication to API fungus cure and by Monday the majority of the fungus came off his eyes but now appears like his eyes are rotting. Wednesday did a water change and added activated charcoal, and still no improvement with eyes. Today, water is still green from medication, no improvement with eyes, the nitrate levels are still 200ppm. He hasn't eaten anything since last Wednesday, even if I try to hand feed him and his eyes look like their rotting. He doesn't appear blind and has been more active the last few days but I don't want to lose him. Please help!
**the first two pictures are from today and the second two are from last Thursday.
< The bacterial infections have taken their toll on your poor Oscar. It is difficult to cure infections with nitrate levels this high. I would recommend a 50% water change vacuum the gravel and clean the filters. The bacterial infections may have penetrated the lenses of the eyes and lifted them off. Treat with Nitrofuranace or Erythromycin as per the directions on the packages.-Chuck>

Oscar With Eye Problems II - 7/6/09
I really appreciate your help. I did as you said although it was difficult to get the medication, but I have noticed he now has a brown discolouration all on his underside, should I be treating for parasites as well?
< For now just go with the antibiotics. If you actually see parasites then they can be treated later with Fluke-Tabs.-Chuck>

Cloudy Eye ... Or? 5/1/09
Hi WWM team,
I have a question for you - I have 'inherited' a 250litre tank which houses African Cichlids, already in love with their antics, however straight after I got the tank (tank, filter, gravel etc had been running at my brother in laws place for a few months before I brought it off him) one of my Cichlids seemed to have developed
What I can guess at being cloudy eye.
Basically one eye appeared 'flat' and had a solid white 'pucker' mark over his eye, the other eye appeared to be the normal concave appearance (when viewed from the Front) but just clouded over - as a result I have been treating the tank with Melafix (which I have been told is a great idea anyway for when your essentially setting the tank Up for the first time)
The eye that had the normal appearance cleared up and he is now roaming the tank mostly happier (still doesn't come up to the top of the tank to feed though - but will eat if I get Food down to him), however after almost 2 weeks the 'flat' almost punctured looking eye is still clouded over (and well still flat).
Then this morning I woke up to find one of my other fish (different subspecies of Malawi Cichlids) to have the same appearance. Have I identified it being the wrong issue, is it something else?
I have been trying to take a photo - but both those fish appear shy.
Additionally in terms of aggression the first fish was never involved in any of the territory grabbing / random chasing that's going on in the tank.
I hope that its something that can be fixed and both can return to full vision.
<Hello Michael. When fish get Pop-eye on just one side, it's usually trauma, either fighting, or else damage caused by scratchy ornaments, careless netting, etc. In the case of Mbuna, fighting is a probable cause.
Now, I'm not a big fan of Melafix, largely because it doesn't work as advertised. It's more an antiseptic than a genuinely useful antibiotic. In any case, I'd be using 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt per US gallon (3.75 l) to
reduce the swelling, and after a couple of weeks, I'd add Maracyn as a more relevant antibiotic if things showed no signs of recovery. The bigger picture though is that 250 l (66 US gal.) is really not a lot of space for Mbuna, and some of the more aggressive species, such as Pseudotropheus zebra and Melanochromis auratus will simply own that tank, should they decide to. Cheers, Neale.>

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.>

Black clown knife with pop eyes? 2/25/09 Hi! Hopefully you can help me with a problem..within the last week. my black clown knife's eyes have been bulging and they are getting worse. I have done a 50% water change. but the BCK is now swimming by the top and I want to help him. but don't know what meds to give him. Can you help? Thanks! Karen <Hello Karen. With Popeye, there are usually two causes. If there's just one eye popped, it's likely physical damage or aggression, so you need to look at things from that angle, checking the tank is big enough for the fish, doesn't contain aggressive tankmates, and so on. If both eyes show a similar degree of swelling, it's usually an environmental issue, in which case you need to review water quality and water chemistry stability. Clowns are big, messy fish and need extremely generous filtration to stay in good health. For an adult specimen (at least 60 cm/24 inches in length) you'd be looking at a tank around 750+ litres (200+ gallons) in size and equipped with a filter rated at 8-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. 50% weekly water changes would surely be essential. I'm mentioning all this because unless the environment is fixed, the eyes won't heal. So far as treatment goes, an antibiotic like Maracyn coupled with Epsom salt in the water at 1-3 teaspoons per gallon should do the trick. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/popeyefaqs.htm Cheers, Neale.> Thank you for your help! :0) I do appreciate it! :0) -Karen <Happy to help. Good luck, Neale.>

Questions re cichlid pop eye and tank KH level Red Empress With Pop Eye 2/11/09 Dear Bob, < You have Chuck here this time.> I have read your cichlid disease FAQs through Google search and found they are very informative. But I could not find the answer for mine so I am thinking giving it a try by emailing you. Thank you very much in advance. I am a new cichlid lover. I have a red empress (female, 5'') whose right eye appears cloudy and protruding gradually for about one week now, and a red patch on the lower gill (same side). I checked on the internet and saw pop eyes' picture, looked very alike. Now I have put the fish in a 5 gal hospital tank. My questions are: 1) is the tank too small for her? < I usually recommend at least a 10 gallon hospital tank. Most medications have dosages in 10 gallon increments.> 2) I have bought antibacterial (API Melafix) and I also have amoxicillin (for human) at home. I was wondering which one I should use? I heard antibiotics works better, if so, what dosage should I use? < Melafix can be used as a tonic and has been found to be useful in some infections in wild Anabantoids. I would recommend getting some Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. The Metronidazole is effective against Protozoans while the Nitrofuranace is effective against bacterial infections as well as an antifungal treatment.> I tested my tank water (120gal), CH=180, KH=80, pH=7.0, Nitrite=0.2, nitrate=40, ammonia = 0. (My tap water has similar CH, KH and PH.) I have read from some websites that African cichlid need Alkaline water such as KH over 200, pH over 8.0. I was wondering if it is necessary to increase KH level artificially, if so, what product would your recommend? Can I use baking soda? Thank you very much Jessica < The nitrates should be under 20 ppm. This may be part of the problem. Do a 50% water change and treat as recommended. Your red empress is from Lake Malawi and the pH and hardness requirements are not as demanding as the Lake Tanganyikan cichlids. I would recommend a Lake Malawi buffer to slightly increase the pH and hardness. Make sure that you mix the buffer outside the tank and check it before placing it in the tank. I usually recommend adding the newly buffered water when doing small water changes.-Chuck>

Cloudy eye on fish 9/5/08
I have a large a (7 inches) gray/black catfish type thing and it started out 10 days ago with a cloudy eye. For the last 10 days I have been treating with Pimafix and now both eyes have gone cloudy and maybe a tiny tiny patch on his whisker.
<Pimafix/Melafix don't work reliably. That's why we don't recommend them. So, stop using them, and instead switch to a reliable combination Finrot/Fungus medication. In Europe I'd recommend eSHa 2000; in the US Maracyn is the drug of choice.>
Maybe I'm imagining that one. Anyway, both eyes are cloudy after 10 days on Pimafix so I put a dose of cooper safe in because I can't figure out what it is and nether can anyone else. SSSSSO, the ph is 7.0 and temperatures is around 72-74. What do you think?
<See above.>
<Treat with suitable medication, following instructions carefully, in particular remembering to remove carbon from the filter. Your fish should recover. Do also try and figure out the source of the infection. When both eyes turn cloudy, it's usually a water quality issue, so review ammonia/nitrite levels and act accordingly. Extremes of pH, or sudden changes in water chemistry, can cause problems too. Finrot/Fungus almost never "come out of nowhere". Cheers, Neale.>

Re: cloudy eye on fish 9/15/08
I have already done a round (5 days) of the Maracyn and I'm 3 days into a second round. My fishes eyes are a little better but nowhere near cleared up.
<Rinse and repeat, as they say in the shampoo manufacturing industry. Or put it this way, if things are getting better, albeit slowly, that's the direction you want. Complete a course of medication, do a big (50%) water change, and then repeat. Keep doing this until it's better.>
I was the problem to begin with by not cleaning the tank as frequently as I should.
<Ah, well, now you know.>
Should I try a different medication like tetracycline?
<Can't comment on this; haven't used either antibiotic myself. So would tend to recommend you stick with what's working. Fundamentally, eye infections are reactions against physical damage and/or marginal water quality. As the skin tissues heal, the eye will "get better". The job of the antibiotic is to prevent the infection getting deeper into the eye tissues (which would cause blindness) and to prevent any other infections from becoming established.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: cloudy eye on fish 9/16/08 Thanks, Now I need a valium since I have been a neglectful mother sniff sniff. <Oh?> I will continue to take care of my fish and thank you for all your help. One more thing. Food. I have been feeding lately with frozen cubes of bloodworms, brine shrimp etc.. muti pack. How often do I do this and do you have a better idea. <It's easier to overfeed than under-feed. I figure a single cube will be one meal for tanks in the 20-40 gallon range, and would tend to offer small meals this size maybe two or even three times per day depending on the number of fish and the size of the aquarium. Frozen food contains a lot of water, and is only about 5% protein; compare this with 30% or more protein in flake. Since protein is (ultimately) the stuff that makes ammonia, you're less likely to cause problems with frozen food than with flake food. In any event, the idea is to provide enough food the fish are obviously healthy, i.e., have gently rounded convex bellies. Overfeeding doesn't kill the fish by fattening them up to have coronary heart attacks, but by polluting the water; so provided ammonia and nitrite are zero, you're basically fine. Of course gross overfeeding can push the nitrates upwards, and that's bad for lots of reasons. But otherwise don't worry too much, and go by instinct.> I heard that if I feed with feeder fish, my smaller zebras will go missing and once they get the taste of live food that's all they will want. <Pretty much. You should never use live fish as food for any ornamental fish if at all possible. There are just to many costs/risks involved. Since catfish will eat just about anything, and in the wild even predatory catfish will be consuming stuff from fruit through to baby birds, coming up with a healthy diet for them isn't hard.> Lisa <Good luck, Neale.>

Cichlid, pop-eye please assist 8/1/08 Hello, I have read through many of your postings but really feel I need guidance concerning my yellow cichlid. <Fire away!> I set up a freshwater 55gallon tank on July 4, 2008. I am new to cichlids, but I have been spending hours researching online about them. (And finding that I have done SO many things wrong, but 5 out of 6 cichlids are now currently very happy.) I have Mbuna cichlids. I realize I have done so much to my cichlids, but please help guide me to what I should do for my little yellow one. <Ah, the cichlids we call Mbuna run the range from relatively easy to keep, tolerant fish (such as Yellow Labs, Labidochromis caeruleus) through to extremely aggressive, potentially tankmate-killing monsters like Blue Zebras (Pseudotropheus zebra/Maylandia zebra). Contrary to what you might imagine because of their similar water chemistry requirements, you can't throw them all into the one tank and hope they'll get along. They won't. The aggressive, potentially hyperdominant (read: nasty) fish will systematically bully and potentially kill anything it doesn't like.> At first, I bought four 1" to 1 1/2" cichlids, but one wasn't eating or swimming and died within 72 hours. I took that cichlid back to the store, replaced it, and bought 4 more (for a total of 8.) I noticed my tank was starting to smell, so I did a 10 gallon water change which sadly killed 4. I bought 3 more and an algae eater (for a total of 7--I should have just left my tank alone and let it cycle.) <The algae-eating fish is redundant in the Mbuna tank. Mbuna eat algae, and without it won't do all that well. Mbuna are also super-sensitive to poor water quality. While not *quite* as sensitive as, say, marine fish, they aren't far off. You need nitrate levels 20 mg/l or less, and zero ammonia and nitrite. All this recommends against keeping anything as messy (and big) as Plec.> All of the fish were happy for a good week and a half. Then I noticed my little blue one had a white patch on his side, was not eating, and was isolating himself. I thought maybe his fin was torn off, but the next day I noticed it had gotten worse. I did not have a spare tank at that time and was worried that my other fish might have the same infection, so... <The white patch was very likely Finrot or Fungus, and this would be caused by either poor water quality and/or physical damage. Let's recap: clean water has no smell, or if it does, the water should smell sweet thanks to all the plant life. If the tank smells offensive in any way, that's a very bad thing. It usually means there's decay in the tank, e.g., from uneaten food. Mbuna absolutely must not be overfed, and their diet should be biased towards green foods rather than anything high protein. Feed sparingly, from a mixed menu, and not just pellets/flakes. I'd recommend greens (tinned peas, cooked spinach, Sushi Nori) along with whole (i.e., low protein, high fibre) invertebrates like bloodworms and brine shrimp. Now, you also have to have lots of filtration and generous water changes or the water conditions will be poor. I'd recommend a filter offering not less than 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So if you have a 55 gallon system (the minimum for Mbuna in all honesty) you'd get a filter with something over 330 gallons per hour turnover. External canister filters work great for this, but you can also use a undergravel with powerheads at each end of the tank. Read any book on Rift Valley cichlids for more on this topic. Water changes should be 25-50% per week. The more the better. Obviously the fish need hard, alkaline water, so understand water chemistry and manage this aspect accordingly. Again, a book on Malawi cichlids will help.> I treated the whole tank. With Melafix (which seemed to do no good, as I have seen you do not recommend it either) and Pimafix. <Both products may have value as preventatives, but aren't reliable as cures once the infection has set in.> I also treated the whole tank with Jungle Parasite Buddies because I saw the blue one had long stringy thin feces. Now my tank is a wreck. The other 6 were fine, but just stayed on one side of the tank. The blue cichlid got worse by the day and after 3-4 days(?)the fungus/bacteria (that I thought Pimafix would help) had eaten him. <At the moment you're wasting your money. In fish healthcare, just as with humans, you must identify the disease first, and then buy the treatment. You're randomly adding stuff here, hoping something will work. Slow down. It's better to work logically, step by step. So far all these symptoms are fairly generic, and tend to imply a reaction to poor water quality. Stringy faeces can be a symptom of poor diet, Hexamita, and many other things. So let's slow down and try and get to the bottom of things!> That same day my little yellow one started isolating itself on the other side of the tank where the blue one had been and would not eat. <He's being bullied. He has no place in this system.> Its mouth seemed to have white cottony fungus/bacteria on it. <Quite possibly Finrot, Mouth Fungus (actually a bacteria), or plain vanilla Fungus. All three follow on from physical damage. Think of them as the "gangrene" of the fish world. Easy enough to treat using products like Maracyn (in the US) or eSHa 2000 (in Europe). But treating them won't stop them coming back, so if this fish is bullied -- as it is -- and getting damaged, you'll cure one round of infection only to have to deal with again a few days or weeks later.> I quickly bought a 2 gallon tank with a filter, put the yellow cichlid into it, and treated the hospital tank with Jungle Buddy Fungus Clear and aquarium salt, and kept the temperature stable at 80. The next day, I noticed she was getting white cottony growth on her cheeks. <Needs treatment as stated above. Also note that "aquarium salt" is harmful to Mbuna, and known to cause something called Malawi Bloat. Again, any book on Mbuna will explain this.> By the 3rd day, the cottony growth on her cheeks was gone and her mouth looked very good. She was still not eating, and on the 4th day (yesterday) I noticed one of her eyes is bulging a bit (pop-eye, I assume.) I read that it could be from unclean water, trauma, bacteria, etc. <Pop-eye tends to work two ways. If only one eye is bulging, then physical trauma is the likely cause, with bacteria having set in secondarily. If both eyes are bulging, the infection is more likely to be systemic and caused by serious problems with water quality. Either way, treatment with an antibiotic (such as Maracyn) can help, but recovery is often very slow and depends on the fish otherwise being maintained in ideal conditions.> While all of this was going on with my yellow cichlid in her own tank, I have done plenty of water changes to the main tank, and they are SO happy. Nitrites and Nitrates are 0, ammonia is minimal, temperature stays at a constant 80F, ph is staying constant at 7.5 and very slowly raising to the appropriate ph level for cichlids thanks to Cichlid Salt and crushed coral in my 2 filters, and my very soft tap water is now hard and in cichlid range. <Understand this, there is no "minimal ammonia". All ammonia, any ammonia, is bad. Saying "minimal ammonia" is as meaningless as saying someone is "almost pregnant". So, here's at least one fundamental problem -- the ammonia. Mbuna have ZERO tolerance of ammonia, and long term it WILL cause harm. If you have ammonia in the aquarium, then one (or two, or three) of the following is true: [a] the tank is overstocked; [b] the tank is under-filtered; and [c] the tank is overfed. Pick and choose as seems appropriate, and act accordingly.> The Jungle Buddies Fungus/Bacteria medicine said to not retreat until after 4 days. Since it had been the 4th day, and I noticed the pop-eye and all cottony growth gone, I did a very slow and gradual water change in her tank (after checking the ph on both and they were almost identical) using the main tank's water to fill her tank. She seemed fine with the change and maybe a little happier too (aside from not eating and the pop-eye and being weak) so I put her into a small breeder tank inside the main tank while I rinsed her small tank with hot water, then cool water, and used the main tank water to refill it. <Cleaning the hospital tank is pointless if you're killing the filter bacteria as well. Be sure you understand what's going on here: hot water will kill filter bacteria, and the resulting ammonia crisis will stress/sicken any fish put in here.> I put the Jungle Buddies Fungus/Bacteria medicine back into the small tank and put her back in it last night (it says it treats pop-eye as well as fungus and bacteria.) <Oh good.> Her eye is still bulging. I do not see any cottony growth or abnormalities on her anywhere aside from the eye, no appetite, and weakness. (I can't tell if both eyes are bulging, but one is definitely larger than the other and I can see the skin(?) covering over it.) <This does happen with cichlids, and is usually a very good sign that not all is well in their tank.> I'm going to leave my main tank alone for good, but keep checking ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, ph. My question (after my long novel) is what should I do about my yellow cichlid? Should I leave her in the hospital tank with the Fungus Clear (that says it treats pop-eye) for the full 4 days? <Isolate from other fish, yes. Not sure 2 gallons of water is safe, but if that's all you have at the moment then so be it. Long term this fish needs to be re-homed.> Should I leave her in her own tank with just water from the main tank? Should I add some Epsom salt to her tank to help the swelling? <If you want.> I think my main concern is that she has not been eating for at least 5 days and is weak. <I'd be getting worried too. She won't eat if water quality is bad though, so check you have zero ammonia/nitrite first before you even think about offering food.> I am glad that all of the cottony white is gone and her mouth and cheeks look clear. <Good.> Thank you so much. <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Kribensis with Popeye, hole in the head, a proto or fluke spike protruding from between two scales & ich..... 2/21/08 Sorry for the length of this submission- But, this is a complicated matter- I have a Kribensis with Popeye, hole in the head, a proto or fluke spike protruding from between two scales & ich..... A crazy combination that I would think all stems from poor conditions. This however is not the case. He came out of a healthy 55 gallon community tank with a balanced load of fish (including other Kribs), under gravel filtration & a more than sufficient canister filter. The #'s are 0(ish) Ammonia, 0(ish) Nitrites & 8.2-8.4ph. Water changes are frequent. Diet is varied and high quality. The other fish did not pick on him. In all, it is a healthy, stress-free tank.... My first suspicions of cause(s) were based on the fish being a recent addition: The fish was only in the tank for 14 days- He came from a planted display tank at a good LFS, he had been there 6+ months, had always looked healthy & had recently spawned- (his mate came home with us too.) After 14 days the Popeye developed. Again, I thought stress of transport & netting. Other possible causes / stressors may have been: New (well rinsed) carbon (could have contributed to the HITH too?)- And / Or, new beads in the filter- Or, a new plastic spray bar on the filter contributing toxins that the fish is sensitive too.....? No other fish showed, or have shown (5 days later now), signs of any illness. I moved the sick fish to a quarantine tank and began medicating / treating with Maracyn Plus (replaced % after water changes), adding Aquarium salt at 1tblsp per 10 gal (replaced % after water changes), 20% daily water changes and a temperature of 82 degrees F. The fish has now developed hole in the head (some scarring indicates it might have been effected before) that also extends to the gill plates, a spike near the tail that looks like a fluke / proto & ich flecks in 3 areas...... This little guy is a hot zone. The last part of this whole confusing ordeal is that he is fighting so well- The fish stays mid tank at the bottom, upright, fins up / out, eyes are clear, colors are bright as ever, is attentive and eats (though challenged by impaired vision through 'popped' eyes...) Aside from all the measures being taken, can you make additional suggestions as to the cause(s) and / or treatment? I am considering augmenting the current treatment(s) with copper for the ich as it is acceptable to use in conjunction with Maracyn. Any insight or info is appreciated. Thank You- Matt <Hello Matt. Dwarf Cichlids across the board are sensitive to dissolved metabolites. Your fish certainly has HITH/HLLE. There are few reliable cures (Metronidazole is most recommended), so it is one of those things you try to avoid that fix. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm In any case, once fish are infected, even if you cure the symptoms, the disease often comes back again. It is widely believed that there are a combination of factors involved, but water quality is the trigger even if there is a specific pathogenic organism that does the harm. In other words, it's a lot like Finrot. The best I can recommend is treating the fish with Metronidazole, ideally in its own aquarium. But I haven't seen small cichlids with this amount of damage recover, so can't offer much hope in the long term. Do please remember carbon removes medications from the water, so if you treat a fish, remove the carbon. The addition of salt is probably not necessary either; contrary to myth, Kribs aren't especially associated with brackish water, and long term exposure to salt can damage freshwater fish. Cheers, Neale.>

F. Betta with Popeye 11/5/07 Hi Everyone, <Elizabeth> My female Betta has Popeye and it seems as though she is now blind. I have her in quarantine and am treating her with Ampicillin GEL-TEK, following the bottle's instructions. She isn't eating (I think) and is losing her color. I know fish have a really good sense if smell but I put in a pellet and she swims right past it. She lays at the bottom of the tank, then jets up to get some air then settles back down. Three times I have seen her swimming like crazy in a circle (her quarantine bowl is round) then she stops and hangs out at the top. Are her eyes sensitive to light? <Perhaps> How can I treat her if she won't eat the gel? <Need to use something that can be applied to the water> I can't find Ampicillin in capsule form. <Is about... on the Net> And how is she still alive after 7 days of this? Her bowl is one gallon, heated with a heating pad to a perfect 76 degrees. <Is it filtered?> I have to come clean and say that even though her main tank (6 gals) is filtered, water changed and vacuumed, while I was recuperating after an accident, I didn't get to REALLY clean her tank they way I usually would as I had reconstructive shoulder surgery. I feel awful. Very awful thinking that I have caused her sickness. <Is possible> What is your suggestion? <I would return this fish to the six gallon... the better, more stable conditions are much more likely to bring about a cure than those presently. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Elizabeth

Re: F. Betta with Popeye 11/07/07 Hi Bob, <Elizabeth... would call you Liz if I knew you better...> Found capsule Ampicillin online, thank you. She will be returned to her big, heated, filtered tank ASAP. Thank you, Elizabeth <Ahh! Good. Thank you for this news. Bob Fenner>

Re: F. Betta with Popeye 11/13/07 Hello Bob, <Liz...> Returning Nigella to her big tank was an excellent idea. She may be hard of seeing but she seems happier. Fins finning, blowing bubbles and being back in her home has already helped. Her Ampicillin just came and the water has been treated. <Ah, good> It seemed logical to take some tank water in a small clean jar, add the dose of Ampicillin in that water and shake it up then add it back to the tank. In any case, that's what I did. Now we are waiting to see how well she reacts to her real medicine. <Good> I'll keep you posted on her recovery. Cheers, Elizabeth, Liz, Betty, Libby, the list goes on. Feel free to call me Liz:) <Thank you for this update! BobF>

Fire eel with pop eye and cloudy eye -- 10/30/2007 Hello All- <Emily.> I am so glad I have found WWM! I happened to stumble upon your page while doing research for my sick Eel. I'll try and keep this short. For the last 3 weeks my fire eel has had cloudy bulgy eyes. (almost looks like he's wearing goggles) Is this pop eye? <Yes sounds like a bacterial infection of the eye.> His appetite is a little decreased but he is still nibbling at his blood worms each day (not as much so in the last 2 days). He has also gone pale in color over the last week. I really don't want to loose him, I'm a novice fish owner! He's in a 75 gallon tank and I've had him for about 6 months. He has lots of hiding places and none of the other fish bother him. Last week I started treating him with Ampicillin <...is for gram negative bacteria.> every other day for 5 days since Erythromycin <...is for gram positive bacteria.> and tetracycline <...treats gram negative as well negative bacteria of some types.> has not helped. I have also done two 50% water changes within the last week. His color has improved a little but his eyes are still very cloudy. He just lays on his side hiding in his cave all day. He has always been a pretty mellow eel. I had my water tested at a local fish store and everything seemed fine. <Numbers would help, especially hardness and nitrates.> What should I be doing for my eel? <Although fire eels most commonly occur in soft water habitats like some streams, swamps and even flooded rice fields and only rarely are found near estuaries, they may do much better in hard to slightly brackish water in captivity. The exact reasons therefore are unknown and may be related to some interaction of ions (hardness, salinity, carbonate hardness) and the accumulation of possibly toxic compounds in the tank water (e.g. nitrates), that, due to dilution, does not occur in nature to such extent. Although adding salt to the standard fish tank can well be considered an antique technique from times when the need for partial water changes was unknown, I'd suggest to increase the salinity of the water to reach a specific gravity of 1.002 (roughly 3-4 grams marine salt from the pet store per litre). That should improve the constitution of the fish and won't kill your filter bacteria. In addition I'd try to improve the diet by offering a variety of foods, because if he only ate bloodworms, he may also suffer from a lack of vitamins. Try earth worms, little shrimps and also soak the blood worms in vitamins from time to time prior to feeding. You have already used a lot of antibiotics, so I'd get a test kit and check if nitrites are 0 all the time. Nitrates should be below 20 ppm for good healing conditions. If another antibiotic has to be used (I hope not), try Maracyn.> Thank you and warm regards! -- Emily <Also have a look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/matacembelids.htm and the linked files above. Hope that helps and your eel gets well again. Marco.>

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>

3 spot Gourami w/ pop-eye; not enough useful information, poor grammar, etc... 7/28/07 Hi crew <Hello there, Jorie here today.> i <I> ...was looking at my fish today and i <I> saw my 3 spot Gourami as <with?> ...pop eye with blood at the bottom of the eye. is <Is> ...there anything i <I> ...can do? What is happening none of my other fish are all fine <I assume you mean none of your other fish are affected or ill, right?> <OK, first off, when you write us, please take a few additional moments to use proper grammar, capitalization, sentence case, etc. Since your query was so short, I fixed it to make it readable (we do publish our responses to queries on the Daily FAQs site - see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/daily_faqs3.htm and in order to make the Q&As understandable to all, we do request that our writers comply with these requests: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/faqstips.htm More to the point, now: I need a lot more information to be able to help you here. Facts like how large your tank is, how long it has been setup, what type of filtration is used, what livestock you have, water temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate readings, water change schedule, etc. are all necessary information. Generally speaking, what I can tell you is that pop eye is caused by poor water quality, so do check your water parameters with a quality liquid reagent test kit. I suggest isolating the sick fish into its own hospital tank (filtered and cycled; as to the latter, use water from the main tank so as not to shock the ill fish's system) and treating with Epsom salt (1 tsp. per 5 gallons of H20) and pristine water conditions. I'm betting your tank has a harmful, if not lethal buildup of toxins which are causing your problems. The Gourami may just be the first fish to exhibit symptoms, but if the water quality's poor, the others will soon follow suit... I can give you better/more specific suggestions if you give me the information I've requested above... Best regards, Jorie> thank you <Thank you!>

Re: 3-spot Gourami w/ pop-eye; still not much useful info...recommend reading, increasing water changes - 08/05/07 Hi Jorie <Hi again; sorry for the delay in responding, I've been traveling around a bit and haven't had much time to check in here...> Ok, my tank is 5ft by 4ft <In order to calculate the volume, I need the depth measurement as well; it does sound like this is a good sized aquarium, though.> ...and it has been set up for 4yrs now. <Great.> I have never had this problem before. <Sometimes issues are cumulative...> I have one catfish, 4 barbs and the others are all types of tetras. <It would be helpful to know the species of each here.> And I have fresh weeds in the tank <Again, species?> The water gets changed every 3 months <Ideally, once a tank has established its nitrogen cycle, you should be performing a 10-20% water change every week or two (this depends on how heavily stocked the tank is, how good the filtration is, how messy the species of fish you have are, etc.; without more information, it's impossible for me to make a more specific recommendation.)> ...and the temperature is 82 <A bit high, but so long as it is stable, should be OK.> ...the pH and ammonia are good <Useless info. I can't tell you what's an ideal pH for your tank, as I don't know really what you are keeping. As for ammonia, it should be at zero, as should nitrite levels.> ...nitrate is a bit low; could this be the problem and if so how do I change it? <I think you are confused. As far as nitrates go, the lower the better; as high as 20 ppm is acceptable, but more towards zero is ideal. Do read here for info. on cycling a tank: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm Also, I recommend getting a copy of David E. Boruchowitz's "Simple Guide to the Freshwater Aquarium" - it's a very comprehensive, clear book geared towards beginners. I know you have had your tank for several years now, but you don't seem to have a good grasp on Fishkeeping 101, which you and your fish could very much benefit from. Also browse here for many helpful articles on freshwater fishkeeping: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm > Thanks <I don't know how much I've helped. Again, Popeye is generally caused by poor environmental conditions. As recommend before, I would isolate this fish into a cycled, heated, filtered aquarium and treat with clean water and Epsom salt. Aside from that, the best thing you can do for your critters is read and learn... Best wishes, Jorie>

Cory With Popeye - 03/20/07 Please help me, My favorite fish is my Corydoras catfish. He recently came down with Popeye. I am not sure what type of treatment I can use for him. I've been reading online, but most of the advice is for other fish and not Cory's. I don't know their tolerance to meds. He's 7 years old. I did about a 30% water change last night. He's in a 150 gallon freshwater planted aquarium. The water is in good condition and I am not sure if he poked his eye, or what exactly happened. What would you suggest I do? I need help ASAP. I'm 25 and love fish. I know some people must think I'm nuts, but this little guy is my buddy and he needs to live. Please, can you give me some advice? Thank you. Gina <Place the sick fish in a clean hospital tank and treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck.>

Re: Cory Cat With Popeye II 3/21/07 Okay, Where do I get that? < Local fish store or online.> Is there a certain brand? < Brand type is unimportant.> My QT tank isn't cycled. Should I take water from the main tank and place him in it with that? Please, suggestions. Thank you. < Take 50% of the water from the main tank and don't worry about the hospital tank being cycled. All you need is a heater and an airstone. Place the fish in the hospital tank with 50% new treated water. Place the fish in the tank with the medication. Do a 50% water change every day and replace with new treated water. The medications would probably kill any biological filtration and that is why an airstone is needed. After three treatments you should start to see some results.-Chuck>

Re: Help help help. Corydoras with Popeye....this fish is 7 years old. Medication Not Recommended 3/22/07 Hi Chuck. This is concerning my Cory catfish. He has Popeye. You recommended this treatment Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. I was not able to find this at my LFS. I asked for a brand name because that is all they carry. I have PetSmart and Petco here. They do not, at least mine, do not carry that. I looked. So, I opted out and bought Maracyn. Do you think that this will help? I hope so. I love my little Cory. Let me know. Thank you. Gina <Your fish has a real problem. The medications I recommend are what work best for me. I don't think the medication you have purchased will be as effective. I believe I said that you may need to look online for these medications. Drsfostersmith.com has both of these in stock and can ship out overnight if needed. Typically these large chain stores don't carry a lot of medications.-Chuck.>

Betta and Popeye... 3/13/07 Hi there, <Hello Megan, Brandon with you tonight.> I've recently setup a 3 gallon eclipse system with a Betta and a couple live plants. <This is a very small volume, easy for things to get quickly out of hand. I would opt for a larger system sometime in the near future.> It's been going great for almost 3 weeks now, I've done water changes each week (1 gallon or so), and when I last tested the water (last week), there was virtually no ammonia or nitrites/nitrates. <Virtually is not quite the same as 0. A healthy aquarium has NO ammonia or nitrites.> I have a heater and keep the tank around 80 degrees (although the heater I added seems a bit wonky in this little tank, and it can vary from 75-80). <This is because of the size of the tank. As I mentioned before, get a bigger tank.> I just went out of town for 4 days, with the Betta being fed by a friend on day 1 and 2, no food on day 3, and I fed him when I got home on day 4. When I got home, I immediately noticed he has what I'm assuming has to be pop eye (and temp was down to 75). <Likely related.> It's worse in one eye than the other, but appears to be in both. The eye is noticeably bulging out, and there are white rings around each eye. Other than that, he seems fine and is eating. Researching your site, I see suggestions for Epsom salt, Nitrofurazone, and Metronidazole, and am not sure which to try. I was going to try the Epsom salts first, since that seems like the least obtrusive and most natural approach (and although I think this is pop eye, I'm certainly no expert and maybe it's just really irritated). My question is, if you recommend using the Epsom Salt first, how long should I let it try and work before resorting to something else? <The Epsom Salt should work. I would get the temp back up to, and CONSTANTLY in the mid eighties, and use the Epsom Salt. A little less than the half teaspoon. Give it about three weeks.> Also, according to what I read here, it sounds like about a 1/2 tbsp would be the right amount to add for a 3 gallon tank? <A little less than this amount.> And that won't harm my plants or bio filter, right? <Nope. Might actually help the plants as they require Manganese.> Then, at what point should I then try one of the other medications? <You shouldn't need to. Stable environmental conditions, NO ammonia OR nitrite, and the Epsom Salt.> And which of the two, between Nitrofurazone or Metronidazole? <Please see above. These two medications are likely to harm your bio filter.> I also do not have a quarantine tank, and don't want to harm my bio filter or plants. How long is the usual treatment with those medications? <There should be a recommendation on the back of the bottle. At a guess I would say two weeks.> Would it be ok to put him in a bowl or jar for 1 or 2 days with the medication, and then move him back to his regular tank, or would I be better off just adding the medicine to his main tank? <Honestly, I would wait until the B. splendens was better, and then go to Wal-Mart, buy a 10 gallon tank with a florescent hood, and an appropriate power filter, as well as some water conditioner such as stress coat. I would also ensure that I had an appropriate heater for this volume. My next step would be to go home proceed to set up and fill the 10 gallon with conditioned water, and allow it to heat to an appropriate temperature. The next day, I would cut a section out of the filter in the old tank, and place it in the new filter. I would then transfer the three gallon's occupants to the 10 gallon. This is a rather inexpensive way to keep your fish happy and disease free.> Thanks for the help! <You are welcome, and good luck! Brandon.> Megan

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>>

Popeye, Goldfish - 07/26/06 Hi. <<Hello, Angie. Tom here.>> We have a ten gallon tank with a filtration box and an oxygen pump fitted with two tubes. In this tank we have three goldfish. Will give you their approx. sizes of their bodies, not including tails: a potbellied Ryukin 3.2"; black moor 3.2"; and telescope eyed probably Yosakin 2". <<First, the part you don't want to hear...your tank is far too small for these fish. The part you won't believe - or, at least, want to believe - is that they need to be in a tank in the 45+ gallon range. I'll, hopefully, clarify this as we continue.>> After initial parasitic treatment for a white cyst on the black moor; the smaller Yosakin fish named Dean started to lay at the bottom. Tried aqua salt...nothing...then his eye began to swell. After calling every major fish store in town, and trying all recommended products and their subsequent protocols i.e.; Maracyn; t.c. Tetracycline; Melafix - then Melafix/PimaFix cocktail (currently on day 2 of this treatment). Dean's eye is bigger than ever. <<Did anyone discuss water conditions with you? Unless the eye has swollen due to trauma (injury), the very first culprits I'd suspect are poor water conditions and/or overcrowding. A 10-gallon tank isn't large enough to support even one of these fish from either a qualitative or, quantitative, standpoint. Goldfish produce relatively large amounts of ammonia either through waste products or breathing. (Yep, breathing!) They excrete ammonia through their gills in order to rid their bodies of this toxin. A double whammy, if you will. Tie this in with the fact that they are particularly sloppy eaters or, at least lousy scavengers, and you've got a "triple play" on your hands. Might sound like I'm being glib but I'm deadly serious. So, what to do? Large living quarters and heavier filtration. Come as close to, if not right on, the same level of dilution of toxins in their home as they would enjoy in nature.>> Poor little guy, he eats well and grabs food like mad during feeding times. I keep promising him we're going to do whatever we have to get him well. Nothing is working. His eye has now even sprouted more blood vessels to keep up with the rapid growth. It also appears the black moor still has parasitic feces. I really don't want to add anything else to the tank until Dean is better. Is there any hope of him recovering...how would I know if he's had enough and whether I should have him euthanized. <<No way do I give up hope on a fish with a healthy appetite! Unfortunately, I can only supply you with my best advice which is to get your pets into an appropriate-sized aquarium with an equally appropriate filtering system. I won't blow smoke at you and tell you this will save Dean. I wish I could. I will tell you, however, that you will have done as much for them (and more) than medicating the bejeebers out of them has done thus far.>> This has been real traumatic for us all as we suspect his suffering must be great; has been going on for almost two months. <<I appreciate the efforts that you've made here, Angie. Many, sadly, wouldn't have given a fraction of the care that you've provided.>> Thank you so much for your time and compassion. Angie S. <<If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to know how things turn out. My best to you all. Tom>>

Re: Popeye - 07/26/06 Tom, <<Hi, again, Angie.>> Thanks so much for your considerate and well thought out reply. No, nobody seemed concerned with tank size when I mentioned it. But was starting to suspect it by now. We change the water at least once a week, due to the murky nature. Finally took the substrate out for hoping that might help. <<Then you've seen, firsthand, what I've described. For what it's worth, I'm glad. No doubt there are many who think we're concocting some type of hoax where this topic is concerned. I assure you, as you are now aware, we're in earnest.>> A 45 gallon tank, though???... Oh boy. I never wanted fish in the first place; however bought this tank after my daughter bought the orange Ryukin and a little bowl to take to college! Oh...the fish never stepped foot in the dorm, daughter said it was too noisy. <<The dorm or, the fish? :)>> Holy Mackerel! What if I buy this big ole' tank and it breaks?? <<Not trying to help you spend your money, Angie, but you might research acrylic aquariums if breakage is truly a concern. Acrylic is not without disadvantages, cost being one of them, but it does have distinct advantages over glass that may interest you.>> Seriously, though - I guess I'll get it. It'll be worth it to see Dean happy. <<If you have any further questions, we'll be here, Angie.>> Angie <<Tom>>

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>>

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>

Community Tank With Bloat/Pop-Eye Issues 5/27/06 Hi there, You guys have been an awesome resource! And, it's time for another question from me. I have a 35g that's been set up since February with a Penguin 300 bio filter. I have 1 White Tetra, 2 Pristella Tetras, 10 Harlequin Rasboras, 10 Neon Tetras, 3 Black Mollies (1M,2F), 3 Platies (1M,2F), 1 Pleco and 1 Gold Snail. I do water changes every 2nd week of about 25-30%, but my last couple changes have been closer to 50% to try and combat my problem. Ammonia is 0, Nitrites are 0. I don't know the pH or Nitrates (no test kits yet...just ordered them). 1 female platy seems to have dropsy or some type of bacterial infection. Her scales are sticking out a bit on one side, she doesn't seem to "poop" often, and I can see a white spot at her vent (constipated?). 1 female molly appears to have the same condition, but has a much larger belly. 1 Rasbora has a little (white?) bump on his bottom lip and has been this way since Feb. 1 Rasbora has a slightly bulging right eye. With these different conditions, I don't know how I should treat the tank. Any ideas/suggestions are welcome! Please help a novice trying to get this right. Thanks. Donna < Sounds like bloat on the livebearers and pop-eye on the Rasboras. The white lower lip thing is probably a benign growth. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. As few ways to go here. The bloat/pop-eye may be caused by the same organism. If it is bacterial then it may respond to a double dose of Nitrofuranace. This will affect the biological filtration and you may need to get it restarted. If it is a protozoan infection then either Clout or Metronidazole may work. The trouble with small fish like this is you probably only get one guess. If you guess wrong the fish is rarely around long enough for a second try. If it was me I would place the infected fish in a hospital tank and treat them with he double dose of Nitrofurazone and with the Metronidazole. Add a teaspoon of salt per 5 gallons to help get the medication into the fish.-Chuck>

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>

Kribs And Exophthalmia - 11/25/2005 One week ago, I noticed my female Kribensis eyes were popped out of her head. She lived for about 2 weeks and then died. Two days ago, I noticed that my male Kribensis had the same problem. I need to understand what is happening. Thank you, -Sherry <Thanks for correcting and re-sending your question, Sherry. Exophthalmia, or "pop-eye", is usually caused by poor water conditions. First, you need to test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate; ammonia and nitrite should be ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm. If any of these are higher, you'll need to do water changes to get them back to normal. Also, please read here for more information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpopeyefaqs.htm . One to two tablespoons of Epsom salt per ten gallons of water may help a great deal, once the water quality is back to good. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

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>

Treating Popeye Without Olive Oil 11/4/05 Hi, I recently purchased these two medications. I have had several fish come down with pop-eye and I was advised from the folks at wetwebmedia.com to use Metronidazole and that I could combine it with Focus to better target the fish. I have a couple of questions that deal with the administration of these medications. 1. The directions on the Metronidazole say that you can add it to the tank water system to medicate the fish. I have an 800 gallon system, so it would take quite a bit to treat the whole system for the time suggested. So if I put the infected fish in a smaller tank, are they just going to get re-infected once they are returned to the big system? < Popeye and bloat are internal bacterial infections caused by stress. It could be dirty water, water temp too high, a vitamin deficiency, etc... You need to find out what the problem is and correct it. Everybody keep their tanks differently so you will have to figure out what the problem is in the big tank and fix it. No matter how much medication you use on your fish, they will continue to become reinfected as long as the problem exists. A separate tank will help cure the fish because it makes it easier to treat them. But unless you have solved the tank problem you are right and they will continue to become infected.> 2. How do I combine the Metronidazole with the Focus and get the fish to eat it? I currently feed the fish thawed blood worms, brine, and Mysis shrimp. Thanks Nick < Metronidazole quickly breaks down in the aquarium. The best way to medicate is to get the medication inside the fish with the food. I would crush the tablets into as powder and mix them with the food and Focus. Then feed it right away.-Chuck>

Cichlid With Popeye 9/17/05 Hi, guys, I desperately need help with a Popeye. My sajica has developed a Popeye within 2-3 hours. I isolated him in the q-tank that had aquarium/Epsom salt 1 tablespoon/5 gal. with a dose of Maracyn plus. A few days later I don't see any improvements in his condition. (Water is changed daily) Now his eye got cloudy as well. He doesn't eat anything so medicated foods are out of the question. I am not sure what else I can do. Would you have any suggestions Thank you, < Treat with Nitrofurazone and Metronidazole in a hospital tank. Change 30% of the water while vacuuming the gravel in the main tank. Clean the filters too.-Chuck>

Oscars and Exophthalmus - 09/16/2005 Hello, <Hi.> I have a question I hope someone can help me with. <Okay.> I have a Tiger Oscar about 5-6 inches long, and it's left eye is pretty messed up. It started last week with a white mass of some sort collecting right behind the left eye and ever since then it has gotten worse. The white mass got larger and began pushing the left eye out. Now, there is still a large collection of sort behind the eye and it is also red, like I can see flesh or muscle coming out. <Exophthalmus.... "pop-eye". Can find more here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/popeyefaqs.htm > I have been doing water changes, testing the parameter and treating with Melafix, I thought it may have been Popeye. <Melafix will not help/affect this ailment.> I used this medicine before when my fish were acting very sickly and breathing very rapidly and it worked and brought it back around. He is still pretty active although he is swimming a little on it's right side. Does this sound like Popeye or could something else be wrong? What else can be done? Please help me! I cringe every time I look at him. <Check your water quality. Maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm, and add Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to the water at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons. This should help with the swelling. You can re-dose this in a few days after a large water change.> Desperate in Texas <Please do take a look at those FAQs. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Flowerhorn, Exophthalmus - 09/10/2005 Hi, <Hello.> I have a Flower Horn called Y6 ( Breed : Red - monkey), about 1.5 years old. It's a beautiful fish and it likes to play with us. However, I found one of its eye has been expanded. But it is still red in colour and play with us as usual. What's wrong is it? <Something has caused a fluid buildup behind the eye; perhaps physical trauma (very likely) or an infection. This is called Exophthalmus, or "pop-eye". I bought a medicine called : Waterlife - OCTOZIN because I asked some people that in the fish store of Flower Horn. <I would likely not use medicine for this condition. Instead, add Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to the tank at a rate of one tablespoon per five gallons. In a few days, you can do a water change and add Epsom again. This will help relieve the fluid buildup.> I want to ask : 1) Will Y6 die easily? <I doubt the fish will die. He looks to be in excellent condition aside from this problem. It is possible that he will lose the eye, and if he does, you might want to use an antibiotic like Nitrofurazone or Kanamycin to prevent infection - but even then, if he's in otherwise good shape, he'll probably pull through okay.> 2) What's the name of the disease? <As above, this condition is called Exophthalmus. Any major swelling of the eye can be called this.> 3) How can I save him? <Keep caring for him very well; keep his water quality perfect. Add the Epsom, and watch to see if it helps.> P.S : I took 4 photos of Y6, hope you can reply me as soon as possible cause I love him very much, THANKS A LOT!! <Thank you for the images, they are VERY well done and show his condition very well.> Vienne from Hong Kong. <Wishing Y6 a swift recovery, -Sabrina, from California, USA>

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>

Popeye--differentiating injury from bacteria Hi Bob, <Hello Angela> You've given people lots of great advice and I think it's fantastic stuff. I've read through your FAQ's but am having a problem identifying the cause of my fish's pop-eye. <Ahh!> I have two fish (unidentified... my dad bought it) in a new 29 gallon tank. It has only been cycling for 8 days now. Ammonia is at 0, Nitrite at 0.25 ppm, and Nitrate at 5 ppm. pH is at 7.8 - 8.0 and temperature at 79 Fahrenheit. <Okay... would have been better to not have the fish in a cycling system...> One of the fish developed pop-eye slowly. The pop-eye is only on one eye, not both. I read in the FAQs that it's most likely injury related then. <Yes> However, the fish is not eating. Furthermore, it's developed cottonmouth. My sister says a black spot developed in her abdomen. I am worrying it is bacteria related, although it is only one eye that developed pop-eye. Furthermore, her buddy is doing well. He eats all the time and loves to swim around...so I am hoping it's an isolated injury. <Me too> I am not medicating right now, but have added some bio-support to boost the filter's bacteria to improve water quality. I also added some Aquarium Pharmaceutical's Melafix to the tank as well. The next day, she was doing much better. But by nightfall, she resorted to hiding behind a rock again. <I would discontinue, not use the "Fix"... it may forestall or eliminate your nitrifying bacteria... perhaps the root cause, but definitely a contributing factor here (the lack of biological filtration)... and perhaps add a bit of salt...> Can you please help me identify if the pop-eye is injury or bacteria related? And what steps should I take to curing it? <Can't tell the cause here... very likely environmental primarily, bacterial perhaps secondarily... to cure? A bit of Epsom is all I would try> I've read that pop-eye is not contagious, <Depending on its cause/s> but if it is caused by bacteria infection, then what can I do to improve the water quality to prevent other fish from becoming sick? Please help as she hasn't eaten for days! Thanks so much, Angela <You can do what you can to "speed up" the establishment of nitrification. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and NOT do things that will cause more trouble... like adding "medicines", "herbal remedies"... DO feed sparingly, and NOT add more livestock... Do please learn what types of fish/es you have... as they have different needs, tolerances... Bob Fenner>

Oscar with Popeye I Have an Oscar which appears to have Popeye. By the advice of the first Pet Store I treated the tank with a partial water change, aquarium salt and tetracycline tabs for six days....The fish still had Popeye. So by the advise of a second pet store I again treated the tank with a partial water change 50%, aquarium salt and penicillin every other day for three treatments. Still the fish has Popeye. what else can or should I do. I have had aquariums for 15 years or better and never had a fish with Popeye. I would be appreciative of any advice. You can e-mail me at
<Thank you for writing. Popeye (fancy name exophthalmia) is a hard condition to cure... when "one sided" (unilateral) the cause is typically "mechanical injury" (a bump in the night)... Treatments per se are not necessary... but does take a good long time for the bulging to subside (weeks to months). Keep the system clean, maintenance up and you should see improvement in a few weeks. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/popeyefaqs.htm and possibly the "Neotropical Cichlid FAQs" posted on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> THANK YOU, K. JACKSON

Re: Oscar with Popeye Since I received your information on the subject of Popeye with my Oscar. I have kept a good watch on the tank and Oscar for any changes. My Oscar originally had her eye popping out and another bump on the upper back of the eye. Since I stopped treating the tank with antibiotics the bump has gone and another one has appeared her eye is still popping out and there is now blood in the eye chamber. What should I do if anything? And If there is no treatment will her eye eventually hemorrhage or will it go down. Any information you have will be helpful. <Do your best to keep the system optimized and stable... and the fish fed with nutritious foods... This and patience is all that is needed, desired. The eye will improve or not otherwise. Bob Fenner> Kelly

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