Q: Anonymous wrote:
Help. My bettas eye was really swollen when I woke up this morning. I think it might pop out. Is there anything I can do to save him?
A: It sounds like you are describing Exophthalmia, commonly known as Popeye. Popeye is a symptom easily identified by the swelling or protrusion of one or both eyes. While it’s easy to recognize it’s cause can be very difficult to distinguish. Popeye is a symptom of an infection and not a disease in itself. Its cause can be bacterial, viral or parasitic and treatments for each are different. Unfortunately, viral infections can’t be treated easily in hobby fish because the resources to treat them just aren’t available. Bacterial infections, however, are fairly common and there are a variety of medications accessible to hobbyists at most local fish stores. It’s not always obvious if your betta has a bacterial infection but you can look for other symptoms like redness under the scales or bloody streaks (septicemia) as a sign of an internal bacterial infection. If you believe your betta’s Popeye was caused by a bacterial infection you can treat him with a wide spectrum antibiotics like Tetracycline. I have had good luck using a combination of Maracyn and Maracyn-Two sold at most local fish stores.
Remember most fish become susceptible to infections after their immune systems become suppressed due to poor water quality issues. Be sure to test your tank water for signs of stressors like ammonia, nitrite or high nitrate. Avoid fluctuations in temperature and pH and try not to fall behind on your regular water changes. If you don’t have the water test kits necessary to keep your fish healthy, you can bring a cup of your tank water to most fish stores including the large chains like PetCo and PetSmart where they will test it free of charge.
To learn more about Popeye and how to treat it and avoid future outbreaks, visit my Popeye page at Nippyfish.net.