A Complete Guide To Cure Popeye In Betta Fish

Your fish may get sick even when you give it the safest living conditions. Popeye is one of the most common diseases among fish, especially bettas.

If your fish suffers from this infection, you can quickly tell by observing its eyes and behaviors. None of them are positive signs for a fish’s health.

What causes this illness in your fish? How to cure it and prevent it from occurring again? Let’s follow our post for the ultimate guide to Popeye betta treatment.

What Is Popeye?

Popeye refers to a disease that makes a fish’s eyes swell or seem swollen. The eyes may sometimes look like they have white rings around them.

This illness may happen to any kind of fish, but many fish owners notice the symptoms, like red or irritated eyes, in their betta.

Because the causes of the disease aren’t always the same, it’s essential to observe your pet and seek extra stress or health indicators if you notice the signs.

If left uncured, Popeye can result in other serious health issues, such as blindness or eye rupture. In the worst case, your pet may die.

There are two kinds of Popeye in fish: bilateral and unilateral. Fish develop bilateral Popeye as a response to terrible tank water conditions. On the other hand, unilateral illness in fish results from physical damage.

The unilateral disease will lead to more severe consequences. Such physical damage happens when two fish collide aggressively. Hard handling and unsuccessful predation attempts can also be the causes.

popeye betta

Popeye is a common disease among fish

What Are The Main Symptoms Of Popeye In Betta Fish?

Popeye sickness has several symptoms to which you should pay close attention:

  • A white ring or splotches around the eye;
  • Bulging eyes (one or both eyes);
  • Color changes;
  • Strange swimming pattern or even no swimming;
  • Hiding from their tank mates;
  • Lack of appetite;
  • Not reaching the surface as often.
  • A lot of time swimming in the bottom of your tank;

Causes Of Popeye In Betta Fish

The living environment causes this illness in your pets. It may be from the water condition, decoration, or the fish’s tank mates.


Bilateral infections may result from bacterial infections, parasitic infestations, fungal infections, and anxiety factors that make your betta susceptible to diseases.


Physical trauma is the leading cause of unilateral infections. Whether your betta gets hurt by scratching its eye on a sharp object or during a battle with one of its mates, the injury will make it susceptible to Popeye.

How To Cure Popeye In Betta Fish?

Bilateral and unilateral diseases differ. After checking what problem your pet is facing, you can find the proper solution.


Whether you can determine the underlying problems that your betta is enduring, the treatment method requires a particular sequence.

To treat bilateral Popeye, follow these steps:

  • Take your betta from the communal aquarium immediately and isolate it in a “medical” tank. Popeye may or may not spread across the water, but the root illness may.
  • Change the water in the tank you have just taken your fish out of. Start by draining 70% water on the first day, and make small daily changes after a week to keep other species in the tank from getting sick.
  • Move other sick fish to the same isolation aquarium as your infected betta if it isn’t the only one infected.
  • Add Epsom salt or aquarium salt to the isolation tank to aid inflammation and swelling while giving your pet’s medicine.
  • Use over-the-counter antibiotics to treat the isolation aquarium. You can buy exact medicines and dosages with the help of a pet shop or veterinarian.
  • Change 100% water in the isolation tank every day or at least every three days. Remember to add salt or antibiotics if the vet recommends so.
  • Check up the fish for about ten days while keeping them in the isolation tank.
  • If the sickness that caused the bilateral infection is a parasitic issue, you may also need to cure the betta’s communal tank with a vet-suggested medication.

sicked betta

Isolate the sick fish and treat it separately


There isn’t an underlying problem that causes this infection. As a result, when bettas get this sickness after an accident, they are simpler to cure.

Some of your bettas are fortunate enough to recover the popping eye back to its natural form by itself. However, it would be best to give your pet the best treatment. Here’s what you should do:

  • Add water to a new tank.
  • Add Epsom salt or aquarium salt. It would help if you knew the water volume inside the tank because you need 1 tablespoon of salt for every gallon.
  • After the salt has dissolved, put your infected betta in the tank and set it aside for 15 minutes. The “salt bath” can help with pain, edema, and infection relief.
  • You can put the clean tank inside the betta’s aquarium to keep the water at an adequate temperature, much like you do while adapting to a fish.
  • Repeat this therapy several times each week to the swollen eye returns to its original condition.
  • Some fish keepers use aquarium salt in their tanks to maintain their immune systems in the best condition. If the tank is prone to fluctuations in salinity, don’t use this method.

How To Prevent Popeye In Betta Fish?

It’s simple to prevent Popeye as you already know the causes. Please check the steps below and apply them to your tank.


The best tips to protect bettas from bilateral Popeye are reducing stress levels and allowing your pet’s immune system to function correctly.

Optimize water quality

Water quality is the most important environmental factor affecting a tank fish’s immune reaction to illnesses, bacteria, and fungus.

Low water quality stresses your betta’s immune function, making it susceptible to Popeye and many other illnesses.

The ideal water conditions for the betta tank are as follows:

  • pH level: 6.8 to 7.5
  • Temperature: 76 to 85°F
  • Water hardness: 3 to 5dKH
  • Nitrates: < 20ppm

Freshwater test kits can help you monitor and ensure that those water parameters are within acceptable limits.

Change water regularly

Changing water is essential in a betta tank, especially if you use an unfiltered system and a nano aquarium (less than 20 gallons).

Weekly 20% water replacements can maintain the nitrate levels in the tank within a reasonable level, preventing the freshwater from becoming poisonous to your vibrantly colored pet.

This video shows you how to clean the tank and change the water properly:


Avoid overcrowding

If you introduce many species in the same place, your community tank will become overcrowded. Then, the fish waste will convert into ammonia faster than the beneficial bacteria inside the aquarium.

Moreover, if you overcrowd your tank, the water quality will suffer. When water quality worsens, the danger of disease increases significantly.

Clean filter media

Filter media is a fantastic breeding habitat for healthy bacteria in a betta aquarium, but you have to clean it regularly and replace it when needed.

Filter sponges may get clogged with trash, leftover food, and waste materials, decreasing the effectiveness of the filtering system.

It would be nice to replace the filter media every three to six months because its efficiency drops then.

Quarantine new fish

Although the disease isn’t contagious, the underlying illnesses may enter the tank and annoy other creatures in the tank.

As a result, keep new fish in another container for about two weeks before introducing them to a communal aquarium.

Clean new additions

Live plants may also transmit parasites. Hence, remember to clean thoroughly before planting in the aquarium.


Follow some of these measures to prevent possible injuries to your pet:

Keep mismatched tank mates away from your betta

This fish is a semi-aggressive tank creature. It is possessive and may battle with other fish who invade its territory. You’re going to cause problems if you have two male bettas in the container.

If you raise your betta in the aquarium as infamous fin nippers, your betta will be a target of bullying. Angelfish, barbs, and tetras like to eat them because of their long fins.

If any circumstance sounds similar, it’s time to consider moving your betta to a new tank to prevent future injuries and Popeye diseases.

Remove fake plants

Some fish owners choose fake plants over live plants for the tank because the fake ones require low maintenance. However, they pose a danger to your betta.

These plants might trap the long delicate fins of your pet. These sharp tips scratch against a betta’s eyes, causing severe injury.

Any part of your betta’s body injured by artificial plants is susceptible to many bacterial diseases, including Popeye disease.

If you want to decorate your tank, choose the silky live plants instead. Your bettas like to take a nap and hide among those plants.

injured betta

Only put silky live plants in the tank

Transfer the fish using cups

Transfers are nerve-wracking for your pets because their thin fins may easily tear. Their eyes will also get hurt during the transfers, resulting in Popeye.

When transferring a betta, use a cup instead of a net to avoid such injuries. They reach the surface often so that you can catch them easily with a cup.

Do not change the fish’s environment suddenly.

Bettas can rush across their aquarium when frightened, banging into anything which comes in the way.

They may become shocked by things you wouldn’t consider as unexpected as they seem to be for the betta, such as switching on the tank light in complete darkness or anything dropping into their aquarium.

Even small movements outside can cause your bettas to crash into plants, ornaments, or walls. As a result, avoid frightening your pets to protect them.

Use a filter to adjust the flow.

Bettas can’t withstand strong currents. As a result, an aquarium filter with an overly high current density can injure your pet.

You don’t need a powerful filter to hurt your betta, particularly if you use the nano tank. But, to be careful, install the filtering system with flow control.

If the betta lives with other fish and they have suffered from the current, try adjusting the filter’s position.

Obstacles, such as plants or decoration, preventing the flow are enough to keep your pet from being tossed around in the aquarium.

Frequently Asked Questions

Betta owners have sent us a lot of questions about Popeye disease. Here are the most frequently asked ones.

1. How long do betta fish need to recover from Popeye disease?

The popping eyes of a Popeye-infected fish can take several weeks, if not a month, to fully recover.

You won’t have to be worried about your pet’s protruding eyes if it reaches full of its appetite and returns to its usual exercise intensity.

2. Is it possible to rush a betta’s recovery from the Popeye disease?

When your pet is recovering from the disease, you should maintain a strict and frequent tank cleaning schedule to avoid subjecting it to any stress.

To enhance their betta’s immune function, some fishkeepers change to a higher quality diet for a while.

3. Is Popeye disease contagious?

The Popeye diseases themselves are not contagious. However, they still have a spreading risk due to the conditions that cause the disease. As a result, quarantining the affected betta is highly suggested.

4. Can a betta die from Popeye?

This disease can be lethal to betta fish if:

  • The water condition is terrible.
  • Your fish has a weak immune system.
  • The illness lasts for too long without any treatment.

Because inflammation-alleviating saltwater is critical in both unilateral and bilateral Popeye infestations, many Popeye-related betta deaths occur when the eye bursts due to swelling.


Since there are two kinds of Popeye diseases, you need first to determine the particular situation of your fish and then come up with the proper treatment.

Please note that both unilateral and bilateral Popeyes require you to clean the tank and pay attention to the water quality.

Hopefully, you will find this article helpful and deal with your pet’s sickness at ease. Thank you for reading, and see you in the next post!