How to Prevent and Treat Popeye in Your Betta Fish

If you have ever woke up to your siamese fighting fish staring back out at you all bug-eyed, you are not alone. Congratulations. Your Betta fish has something known as exophthalmia aka Popeye. And the new bug-eyes that your betta is sporting is the symptom of two potential problems:

  • mycobacterial infection (which is easily treatable)
  • tuberculosis (not so treatable)
  • parasitic infection
  • Ichthyophonus or Ick (another bacterial infection and highly treatable)
  • eye flukes
  • internal metabolic disorders

Either way, the reason why your betta’s eyes are protruding is because there is likely an abscess behind the eye.

How to Treat Popeye in Betta Fish

If the cause of Popeye is a mycobacterial infection, you should go ahead and first treat the root of the bacteria itself. This is easily done by cleaning the tank water and ensuring that the pH balance of the water is just slightly acidic. On a side note, nearly all bacterial infections found in bettas and other fish that are pets can be prevented or in the very least you can reduce the risk of them by doing keeping the water clean and monitoring the pH balance.

Additionally, you can treat the water with Tetracycline or Terramycin, two very popular antibacterial medications that you can purchase at your local pet store. The standard is to add this in the water…100 mg of the antibiotic for every 4 oz. of food.

If this doesn’t work, you can try these other methods for a quick fix that also work well as a preventative measure for your betta…

  • Warm the water to 86 degrees. You will want to do this gradually at a rate of 1 degree per hour. The water temperature should already be in the high 70 degree range.
  • Add a little salt to the water- The key is “little”. Don’t give your betta fish a salt bath. The percentage of salt added to the water should be no higher than .6%

Both of these quick fixes will help to keep bacterial infections at bay. It is important to note that if your fix is exhibiting signs of Popeye, you should avoid contact. Although it is unlikely your betta has tuberculosis, it is transmissible to humans through open sores.

In conclusion, Popeye is treatable and like most bacterial infections, the cause is normally dirty water or a low pH. The best way to prevent Popeye is to make sure your betta fish is in a stress free environment. That means clean water, good food, and nice warm water.