Important Tips About Betta Fish Popeye

betta fish popeye

Betta Fish Popeye, also known as exophthalmia, is one of the many betta fish diseases that your betta could (but hopefully won’t) contract in its lifetime. Although many people believe that bettas are low-to-no maintenance, it is important to realize that they still need properly maintained water and tender loving care, just like other fish. The Popeye disease for example, consists of the swelling of a single eye, or sometimes both eyes. This disease is usually caused by poor aquarium husbandry, which often means that you are not taking care of your tank properly. This disease is sometimes hard to treat because the root cause could be parasitic, bacterial or viral. However, in most cases, it is treatable.

Symptoms of Betta Fish Popeye

As I mentioned above, if your betta’s eye, or eyes are extremely swollen, then chances are that it’s Popeye and it’s usually the result of fluid accumulation. This could occur either behind or inside the eye. Here are a few images that will show you what it looks like:
betta fish popeye
betta fish popeye
You may also notice that the swollen eye has a thin ‟skin″ layer surrounding it. This is usually a hard tissue that surrounds the eye and its main purpose is to make sure that the eye remains inside the socket whenever it swells. Another symptom is that your betta will most likely become less active and will stop eating. As the disease progresses, fungus infections could show up.

Treating Betta Fish Popeye

If at all possible, quarantine your betta into a backup tank and treat it there. You don’t want the other fish in the tank (if there are any of course) to go through the same treatment and you don’t want the infection to spread.
Often times, you can get rid of Popeye with an Epsom Salt treatment. The process that’s worked for me in the past is using 1 tablespoon for every 5 gallons of water for approximately 5-7 days. Times may vary if the “bulging” is excessive. I also do 100% water changes every day.

If that doesn’t work, then I would recommend the use of medication. The products that have worked well for me in the past have been API Tetracycline and Mardel’s Maracyn. Follow the instructions carefully and only use one at a time.
If you catch the disease early enough, the chances of you being able to treat it is very high. Just don’t assume that it’s going to go away by itself, because it won’t. Start the treatment early and it should do fine. Also, as a friendly reminder, don’t slack off on your aquarium maintenance duties. Keep the water clean, change it regularly and do frequent water tests to make sure everything is ok and your betta should never get Popeye.
Have you ever had to treat Betta Fish Popeye or any other betta fish diseases? Do you have any advice that you would like to share? Please post your experiences and comments below!
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10 thoughts on “Important Tips About Betta Fish Popeye

  1. I feel so terrible. Somehow my betta got popeye. I clean the tank once a week. He’s in a 5 gallon tank with a filter, heater and no other fish.
    The popeye developed after my last big water change (75%), which I did this past week. During that change, I took the gravel out of the tank along with my decorations and scrubbed everything with hot water, including the tank. I don’t know what I did wrong…is it possible to get popeye from an injury? It seems to have developed within the last day, so I hope I caught it early enough…

    1. Hi. Sounds like you did every right. Unfortunately, even when we follow all the right steps, it can still happen. And yes, it’s possible that your betta got Popeye from an injury. Sometimes all they need to do is rub up against something gritty or sharp and it can develop. You are lucky though because you caught it early, so just follow the treatment and it should work out. Please keep me posted and good luck. 🙂

    2. Yes it is. My Betta actually got Popeye from bumping against a heater…usually there isn’t really much you can do but it’s not fatal usually. I don’t really know what to do, but I am giving her aquarium salt. Hopefully someone knows here…Try searching up unilateral Popeye. Oh-if Popeye is in two eyes it is called bilateral Popeye and is usually a fungal infection. It’s been 2 yrs so hopefully the Popeye cleared up, please tell me what you did if it cleared up.

  2. My betta fish Buddy has developed Popeyes’s in both eyes. I also have an Apple Snail in my 1 gallon bowl. Can I treat him with the empsom salt without harming my fish? Thanks

    1. I would definitely remove your snail while you are treating Buddy then re-introduce it back later when you know everything is ok and you’ve done enough water changes to remove the salt. Snails are not fans of salt and it can hurt them. I hope Buddy gets better! Good luck with the treatment. 🙂

  3. Question. My beta fish contracted fin rot a few months ago & then shortly thereafter Pop Eye. I was able to successfully treat the fin rot but have not been able to clear the Pop Eye. He’s had it for 3-4 months now. I change the water 100% weekly & use Aquarium salt in the water. Any suggestions?

    1. Hey Genny – Sorry to hear about that. If the salt isn’t working, then it’s probably time to try an antibiotic. Tetracycline, Mardel’s Maracyn and Maracyn-Two have been known to work well against popeye. Can you get your hands on one of those to try out? Good luck!

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