Common Name: Popeye
Scientific Name: Exophthalmia
Description: Symptom of infection
Symptoms: swelling and protrusion of one or both eyes
Cause: bacterial, viral or parasitic
Medications: Maracyn, Maracyn-Two combined
Ingredients: Erythromycin, Minocycline, Tetracycline
Popeye, also called exophthalmia is a symptom, not a disease in itself and has many possible causes. Popeye is characteristically diagnosed by the swelling or protrusion of one or both eyes.
Curing popeye can be difficult if the source is unknown. The origin can range from bacterial, viral, parasitic or as an effect of fish tuberculosis. It’s often impossible to determine which has infected a given fish. Answers may lie in other symptoms. When you first notice popeye it’s best to observe your sick fish and other tankmates for other signs of disease that may offer a clue. For example, if the popeye is accompanied by redness under the scales you may deduce that the source is bacterial. There is no sure way to determine the cause and your best guess may be all you have.
Generally when the origin is unknown aquarists begin by treating with a broad-spectrum antibiotic like Tetracycline or a combination of gram-positive and gram-negative antibiotics like Mardel’s Maracyn and Maracyn-Two that contain Erythromycin and Minocycline respectively.
Exophthalmia itself is not contagious but the infection that caused it may be so it’s best to treat any sick fish in a hospital tank away from other healthy tankmates. The original infection is most commonly caused by poor water quality and measure to improve the tank water should be taken immediately. Poor water quality does is not usually obvious to the naked eye. Your water may seem to be clean in appearance but there could be toxins present like ammonia, nitrite and elevated nitrate levels. The only way to determine the presence of these toxins is to test with the appropriate water test kits. Other stressors may have contributed to the infection like fluctuating temperature or pH or harassment from other tankmates.
To avoid diseases like popeye, keep up with your water changes, frequently test your water and never introduce new fish to the tank without first quarantining them in a separate tank for 3 – 4 weeks before exposing them to healthy fish.
The lasting effects of popeye vary from a full recovery to cloudy, swollen or even a missing eye. It’s not believed that these effects inhibit the quality of life for the fish. Even in the case of a missing eye, the fish can live a full and normal life. If your fish looses his eye be sure to keep your water very clean to avoid any further infection while the socket is healing.