How to Treat Popeye in Betta Fish? (Treat And Rescue)

Popeye is one of the most dangerous diseases, and it is a rare disease infection from bacteria. So you should not ignore Popeye-infected betta fish and need to start treatment as soon as possible. The good thing is Popeye is not categorized as difficult to cure. But betta fish need some time to rescue from this illness.

Here is the quick answer,

How to Treat Popeye in Betta Fish? Do 50% water change, and adding Epsom salt is the initial step, and secondary, you can add antibiotic or antifungal medicine proper amount into the fish tank. Don’t forget to add Indian almond leaf in the tank; it releases tonics that help to heal your betta fish soon.

How to Treat Popeye in Betta Fish?

Sometimes, it takes more than expected time to recover betta because it depends on the treatment and betta immune system. Treatment is necessary; without treatment, betta will not recover. 

If you do not start treatment, it will lead to your betta fish being blind or dying. So read the article, watch the videos and gather facts about Popeye’s illness behavior.

Table of Contents

What is Popeye in betta fish?

It is an eye disease infection from bacteria. The Popeye scientific name is exophthalmia. 

 Fish with this illness develop pressure behind their eyeballs, causing them to swell and eventually bulge out of their sockets. It almost always results from a bacterial or fungal infection, so you must separate your betta fish if he lives in a community tank. 

Various symptoms are usually present with Popeye’s disease, so it is almost impossible to misdiagnose the condition.

How do you know if your betta has Popeye?

How do you know if your betta has Popeye?

You can quickly find after inspection your betta fish’s both eyes. If you see one eye bulge than the other eye, that is the initial symptom of Popeye. It is also possible to have swollen, cloudy, or red and irritated eyes as a symptom of betta Popeye.

It is not hard to identify because it looks unnatural, and your betta fish try to hide and avoid his feeding time

So don’t try to feed if your betta with Popeye illness. If fish foods sink, it will raise water pollution and ammonia levels. Do not worry; this illness is under the cure illness group. Separate your pet fish into another tank and start proper medical treatment soon. 

What are the Symptoms of Popeye Disease in Betta Fish?

Popeye shows a few symptoms you can easily find without expert knowledge. If you suspect your betta fish has an infection of Popeye disease, first quarantine the fish from others if betta lives in a community tank.

What are the Symptoms of Popeye Disease in Betta Fish?

Start your investigations and watch betta fish behaviors closely. First few days, it will be hard to make a final decision due to fewer symptoms. Here is the list of symptoms to which you should pay attention.

  1. Swollen eye 

As you know, betta fish does not have big eyes like black moor fish. So you can quickly notice one eye is swollen unnaturally. If you did not start treatments soon, betta fish lost his eyesight. 

This swollen eye starts to bleeding and damage betas eyeball. 

  1. White cloudy eye

If you closely watch your betta’s eye, you will see a white ring inside his eye. Yes, it is coming with a bulging eye. You cannot see his eyeball due to this white ring.

This symptom only affects one side eye, and another eye looks normal. So check both eyes properly before starting your treatments.

  1. No swim or unusual swimming 

If your betta fish does not swim, sitting at the bottom of the tank is another signal that he has something wrong with his body. Usually, betta swims top and gets breathed and swims down. But if you see any unusual swim, you need to pay extra attention to him. 

Sometimes your fish come onto the surface and breathe, and then he falls to the bottom instead of swimming. This is not a good sign, and you need to start treatments immediately to rescue your fish. Otherwise, fish will die to the difficulty of breathing and lack of oxygen.

  1. Starts to hide

Betta fishes are not hiding fish or fear fish; they are attacking and aggressive fish breeds. Primarily they are attacked if any other fish reach their territory. This is how betas behave in regular times.

But if your fish starts to hide behind the filter, rock, or other ornaments, it is a suspect thing, and you need to monitor his behavior closely.

If the fish is not flaring gills with a fin to show fish dominance, he needs to start treating some illness. Flaring gills with the fin is a natural thing to bettas.

  1. Avoid fish foods

If your betta fish is healthy, he never missed his feeding times. This tropical fish actively participate when you are feeding him. If you provide live feeds, betta fish shows dominance in flaring tails and gills. 

So if your betta avoids fish food and tries lying at the bottom of the tank is another clue that he is not living well.

  1. Lying at the bottom

Betta fishes are not the bottom living fish species, so this species does not like living at the bottom of the tank. They like to live in shallow tanks because they always come on top of the surface, breathe, and swim down.

So when you notice betta sitting or lying bottom of the tank or falling to the bottom of the tank, that tells fish need early treatments until you identify the proper disease.

 So if you see any of the symptoms mentioned above in your fish, it is better to quarantine as soon as possible to stop spreading the illness to the other fishes. 

How do betta fish get infection Popeye illness?

Many reasons affect to sick your betta fish and infect the Popeye illness. Most of the time, all these reasons create the fish keeper’s Indifference. 

They do not maintain their fish tank properly. Water pollution, less oxygen, and many other reasons help to sick your betta fish.

How do betta fish get infection Popeye illness?

01. Bad water condition.

If you do not water change once a week in your betta fish tank, your betta fish is at risk. 

Betta comes from Asian tropical areas such as rice fields and shallow wild rivers. So always they need slow current fresh water to grow healthy. If your fish tank water gets dirty or dark, then betta fish is sick often.

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02. Green algae cloudy water.

Some people do not water change their tank until the water gets cloudy with algae. This is not good at all for your betta fish. 

Betta fish is not living in the dark or algae water; he needs fresh, clear water to live comfortably. Algae cloudy water helps to sick your fish soon because betta fish cannot breathe and live in cloudy dark water.

03. Temperature changes.

Bettas are tropical fish species, and they need fix range temperatures. If you suddenly boost or decrease the temperature, your fish cannot survive in that fish tank. 

Temperature plays a significant role in the betta fish tank; if you cannot provide a stable temperature using heaters, your fish is unsafe. 

Unstable temperature not only causes Popeye’s illness, but it also helps to raise many other diseases like white spots, gold dust, and fin rot.

04. A bacterial infection

If you do not recycle your fish tank water using filters or other methods, bacteria grow in your fish tank water and badly affect your betta fish.

Many fish keepers do not change half water and do not refill aged water in their tanks. Fish waste, dead plants, and sunk foods quickly raise bacterial infections in your fish tank. A Popeye soon spreads if you keep dirty water in your tank because many bacteria are not good for fish life. 

05. Ammonia level rise unexpectedly.

Ammonia is a toxin for betta fish bodies, and fish can’t live when the ammonia level increases. 

Dark and cloudy water always has a higher ammonia rate that cannot help to survive betta fish.

So higher ammonia level is another reason your betta can sick Popeye illness. 

Ammonia threatens your fish more than you think, especially if your tank has unusual ammonia. Betta fish badly face breathing difficulties too.

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06. Low oxygen level

Bettas live in shallow water tanks because they swim on top of the water and often come to the surface. 

Bettas do not expect an extra oxygen system like other fishes, but they need an average oxygen level in the water. 

If your fish tank gets dark and dirty cloud water, you can assume there is less oxygen, and hard to breathe your fish. 

Don’t place an air pump now because air bubbles cannot do anything to your betta fish this time. Immediately you should perform a 50% water change in your fish tank.

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How to start treating Popeye in Betta fish?

Popeye is physical damage in your betta fish, and it takes time to recover the eyeball, so don’t hurry at this moment and slowly start treatments for him.

How to start treating Popeye in Betta fish?

If you are doing things impatiently, betta fish can lose its eye or life. The immune system and treatment must work together to cure your betta fish soon.

The treatments depend on the situation, and the initial step is to reduce 50% water and refill aged water back to the fish. Next, you need to quarantine your sick fish. It is better to use a hospital tank for this case.

Use a glass tank to monitor your fish quickly and clearly. Don’t place your fish into plastic buckets or cement tanks because you cannot correctly monitor betta fish Popeye.

Here is the Popeye treatment process you should follow.

  • Once you place your Popeye-sick betta fish into the quarantined tank, add Epsom salt into your fish tank water. One tablespoon per gallon is recommended. Dissolving Epsom salt before adding it to the container is more important.
  • Adjust the temperature to the proper range and place your heater in the corner.
  • Add Catappa leaf (Indian Almond Leaf) to maintain and balance the ammonia level. Adding Catappa leaf is another correct method because it releases many tannins and works like medicine for betta fish. 
  • Do a 50% water change every three days and refill with aged water.
  • You can add Kanamycin medicine into the water; make sure it is well stirred in the water before adding Popeye betta fish. 
  • If you suspect fish can’t breathe properly, add air pump line into tank using air stone. During the sick time, betta fish does not need too much lighting at night, so turn off your LED light in the tank.
  • Within three days swollen eye slowly reduces, and it takes another couple of days to recover your betta fish.
  • Add live feeds into his diet because it’s good to reduce stress and make them stronger if they start hunting live feeds because live feeds have a high amount of protein.

If you follow the steps mentioned above correctly, you have a higher chance of recovering your betta fish from Popeye sick. You can use other antibiotic medicine under advisable experts or pet fish shop owners.


Popeye is not a high-risk disease if you handle it properly. Don’t keep your betta fish in unhealthy or polluted water tanks. 

Betta fish needs clean water with fewer ammonia-level fish tanks to live without problems and diseases.

If your betta with Popeye illness, then soon separate it and start the treatment process. Within a few days, your betta fish start slowly recovering and returning to regular life.

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