Betta Fish Eye Bulging – Pop Eye Disease – Causes & Treatment

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Realizing that your betta fish has bulging eyes is never an easy sight, but there is no need to immediately panic. Indeed, betta fish eye-bulging may seem really bad at first glance, but it is usually not that severe and can be treated successfully when diagnosed during its early stage.

And the best part is that pop eye disease is quite simple to distinguish from all other diseases, and there is basically no risk of performing the wrong diagnosis.

Causes of Eye Bulging in Betta

As the name itself suggests, the disease mainly consists of bulging eyes. This usually happens due to the accumulation of fluids behind the betta’s eyes, causing too much pressure and forcing the eyes to protrude.

What causes such an unwanted state is either physical damage or an infection. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish these two, however, there is one main point of reference to apply. Indeed, if only one eye is affected, the reason hiding behind it is almost certainly physical damage.

Your pet may have brushed itself either among a rough or spikey surface across the tank, injuring its eye severely. Alternatively, it may have got into a fight with other fish across the aquarium, leading to one of the eyes bulging.

On the other side, if both eyes are affected, you are surely facing some sort of infection. These can be caused by bacteria, fungus or even parasites.

Symptoms of Pop Eye

If your betta is affected by an infection, there is a common symptom to spot even before the eyes have popped out. Indeed, if you notice white rings appearing around its eyes, this is already a good sign that pop eye is about to occur.

This is also the earliest stage of the disease, and if you start treating your pet immediately you may successfully avoid the following stage from happening.

However, if such symptom is disregarded, more obvious and visible signs will start showing very soon.

The main symptom is certainly one or both eyes being visibly protruded. This is always an undoubtedly sign of the pop eye disease, with basically no or extremely rare exceptions.

Furthermore, if your pet has been injured by another tank mate, you may see bloodstains across its eyes as well. Alternatively, infection pop eyes are usually accompanied by cloudy or even milky eyes. Particularly, milky eyes occur once the cornea has already raptured.

If your pet is suffering from an infection, bulging eyes will be just one of the many distress it may be experiencing. Indeed, please carefully observe your pet’s behavior, as there must be other clear signs of illness.

Mostly, affected betta fish become very weak and even lethargic, and they will certainly not be able of feeding normally as they have until now. Furthermore, constantly resting at one place or spending time at the bottom of the tank are also common symptoms of an infection.

How to Treat Pop Eye in Betta?

How to treat your sick fish depends on what caused such state in the first place.

If your pet was injured and has one bulging eye, there is nothing much to do other than helping it to disinfect the wound and to let it heal on its own. Simply collect a smaller amount of your aquarium water and place it into a provisory isolation tank.

Add some Epsom salt to such water, strictly following the recommended dosage from the manufacturer. Next, once it is well dissolved, you may add your affected betta to the tank for about 10 minutes, before returning it to its tank.

Please ensure to remove any rough object or substrate from the aquarium and consider separating your fish if they got into a fight, to avoid such injuries happening in the future.

To treat a betta fish that is suffering from an infection, the procedure is somehow different. Indeed, in such cases, you will basically need to treat the entire aquarium, because bacteria or fungus or parasites can be literally anywhere.

However, if your betta is part of a community tank and other fish do not seem to be affected, the next best solution is to quarantine your sick betta. You will probably need antibiotics to treat your pet and its home, but the type of antibiotic depends entirely on the infection cause. You will also have to perform multiple water changes to speed up your pet’s recovery.

How to Prevent Pop Eye In Betta?

As always, preventing any kind of disease is much easier than having to cure it at a later point. Non depending on the cause of pop eyes, you may avoid such unwanted situation by following this super-simple guidance:

  • Avoid placing any rough decorative objects or substrate in your betta tank, as well as spikey plants (especially plastic ones).
  • Quarantine your new fish before placing them into a community tank and avoid overcrowding it.
  • Separate your fish if they are showing signs of aggressive behavior towards each other.
  • Constantly monitor tank water parameters and intervene whenever these go out of the ideal values.
  • Perform partial water changes on a regular basis and consider installing a simple filtration system.
  • Feed your betta fish with high-quality meals to boost their immune system and always avoid overfeeding it.
  • Carefully observe your pet and never disregard early signs of illness or behavioral changes.

Can Betta Fish Die from Popeye?

Popeye itself is not a deadly disease and your betta fish can almost certainly fully recover if this is spotted during an early stage. However, the infection which led to bulging eyes can often be deadly, so this is certainly something to treat as soon as possible.

If the disease is very advanced and you can’t cure it anymore, you might want to consider euthanasia, to avoid any further pain for your fish.

Wrapping Up

If your betta has a protruded eye, this may look extremely scary, but it can be treated with no complications if there is no major infection occurring. Indeed, if you manage to spot the symptoms during an early stage and treat your pet immediately, there is a high chance of full recovery.

Therefore, please always carefully monitor your pet’s wellbeing as well as its water conditions.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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