Betta Fish Popeye: How to Treat & Prevent Bulging Eyes

betta fish swollen eye popeye
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Last Updated: August 22, 2023 by Flora Gibbins

Even in the safest aquarium, fish can be injured or contract an illness. Popeye is one of these afflictions.

Betta fish popeye can be an alarming sight, and instantly owners wonder, can betta fish die from popeye? Figuring out what’s causing the betta popeye can help aquarists find the best cure, ensuring the fish’s lasting health.

What is Popeye?

Popeye is a catch-all term for any condition that causes a fish’s eye or eyes to bulge or appear swollen. Sometimes the eye may also seem to have a ring or splotches of white around it. Betta popeye symptoms can also include a cloudy or red and irritated eye. It can occur in any fish species, but many people notice it in their betta.

What causes popeye isn’t always the same, so if you see that your betta fish has popeye, it’s best to observe the fish and look for other stress or illness symptoms. Figuring out what’s causing the popeye can help you quickly find a cure and solve the problem.

Betta Fish Popeye -

If left without a cure, popeye can lead to other health issues, including an eye rupture and blindness, and may eventually lead to the fish’s death.

Popeye Caused by Injuries

If a betta fish has an eye bulging, first check to see whether only one eye appears affected or if both eyes have swollen. If only one is swollen, the popeye may be due to an injury.

It can sometimes be difficult to figure out what caused an injury leading to popeye in a betta. Watch your fish as it swims around the tank. Take note of any sharp or rough surfaces it brushes into or otherwise comes in contact with.

Hard rocks or sharp plastic plants can often cause an injury. Replace anything that could be responsible for the betta fish popeye with something smoother or softer, such as live plants.

If your betta is housed with tank mates, you will also want to make sure that the betta isn’t being bullied. Other fish often injure each other, and bettas are solitary fish that can become territorial, so you shouldn’t rule out a fight being the cause of popeye. Separating fish that aren’t getting along is often the best cure for injury-related popeye.

Popeye Infections

Infections can also cause popeye in bettas. In fact a bacterial or fungal infection is the most common cause of popeye. The infection can occur in one or both eyes. If your betta is in a community tank and other fish also have popeye symptoms, the condition is almost certainly caused by an infection. You should seek a cure and treat the infection as quickly as possible (see below).

If you suspect the betta popeye is due to an infection, check for other signs of illness. If the betta seems lethargic or isn’t interested in eating, chances are the fish is sick and the popeye is indeed an infection and not something caused by an injury.

How to Treat Popeye

Once you’ve diagnosed your fish, the next logical step is to figure out how to cure popeye in betta fish.

Treatment for betta fish popeye depends on the cause. If it’s an injury, the best cure is generally to move the betta to a calm, solitary aquarium and let the eye heal independently.

If an infection causes the popeye, you may need to use a popeye medicine. Antibiotic or antifungal medications can help to treat popeye. The exception to this is if the fish also appears to be bloated. In this case, although some medications may help to treat the popeye, the fish may have an internal illness that can’t be cured

Will Melafix cure popeye?

Melafix is an antibacterial medication, so it can often help to cure betta popeye.

Can Epsom salt cure popeye in betta fish?

Epsom or aquarium salt can often be helpful when it comes to reducing inflammations, swelling, and infections.

To cure popeye with salt, move the fish to a separate aquarium, away from any other fish or plants that might be disturbed by the salt. If you’re using Epsom salt, use one tablespoon for each gallon of water. Leave the fish in the salted water for between 10 and 15 minutes, but no longer.

To treat with aquarium salt, use the same amount of one tablespoon of salt per gallon of water. Aquarium salt is quite a bit harsher on fish than Epsom salt, however, so only leave fish in this solution for between five and eight minutes.

Preventing Popeye

Although you can often treat popeye, it’s best to avoid popeye to begin with.

Infections that lead to betta popeye are mainly caused by dirty aquarium water, so perform frequent partial water changes, avoid overfeeding, and install a filtration system to keep your tank as clean as possible.

You may also want to isolate any new fish in a quarantine tank before introducing them to a community tank to ensure their health. It’s also best to avoid overcrowding, so only place as many fish in a tank as acceptable for the aquarium’s size.

Bettas are mostly solitary fish, so it may be best to keep the betta alone so no fights occur. You may also want to use smoother natural objects and real plants in order to avoid any injuries.

If you see a betta fish eye bulging, it may be a sign of an underlying disease, injury, or infection. Treat these issues as soon as possible so that they don’t become worse and threaten the betta’s life.

Steps to cure popeye:

  • Determine if the popeye is due to an injury or infection
  • Remove rough or sharp objects from the aquarium
  • Keep the betta away from any bullying fish
  • Treat infections or injuries with aquarium or Epsom salt for betta
  • Treat infections with antifungal or antibacterial medications

Comment below to ask us any questions about betta popeye!

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