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Betta Fish Eye Bulging: The “Betta Fish Popeye” Guide

Betta Fish Eye Bulging: The “Betta Fish Popeye” Guide

Finding out your Betta isn’t doing well in her tank can be troubling for most owners. You already know they are Hardy freshwater fish, but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible. If you have noticed your Betta’s eyes looking funny as of late or appear to be protruding from its head, your Betta may suffer from a condition known as Popeye. In this article, we will discuss what exactly betta fish bulging eye or betta fish popeye. 

In bettas, this is an actual problematic infection that causes vision loss. This severity and the degree of vision loss entirely depend on how things go with your fish. You will want to take action immediately when you notice issues like this. Therefore, take your fish to your nearest veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Five well-known diseases strike betta fish frequently and are easy to recognize: itch, hole in the head, fin & tail rot, bloating, and Popeye disease. In the article, we will discuss betta fish bulge eye, also known as betta fish Popeye. 

Many new Aquarius get shocked & anxious when they see my betta fish eye is bulging or my better Fish eye has Popeye. Without knowing what causes Popeye in Betta fish, they hassle to look at how to cure Popeye in Betta fish. 

Before you question how to treat betta fish Popeye, you should Look at the causes and contact their veterinarian as soon as possible. Let’s first talk about what Popeye is.

What Is Betta Fish Bulge Eye or PopEye?

What Is Betta Fish Bulge Eye or PopEye?

Betta fish Popeye is generally caused by a bacterial infection. It can also be due to poor water conditions or underlying injury. A betta fish’s injury will cause significant swelling, impacting their vision. Betta fish bulging can affect just one eye or both. 

It is not unusual to notice one of your Betta’s eyes to have a popeye protruding from its head. The swelling tends to be the leading cause of eye bulging. If you don’t get the help to your Betta quickly, it will soon wind up losing eyesight completely. If addressed early, this is a treatable condition, but you should be quick before it gets too bad. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Betta Fish Pop Eye?

Any betta fish suffering from Popeye will have one or both eyes bulging out from their eye sockets. The protruding eye is quite noticeable and can’t go ignored easily. The eyeball can also be discolored in some way due to the presence of blood in it.

If you notice their eyes rupturing, it is Popeye’s disease. It can also make its eyes cloudy. If Betta starts hiding a lot, then it’s not usual. Depending on the severity and the cause of Popeye, the Betta may also show other signs of illness. Below are 13 symptoms of Popeye/betta fish eyes bulging. 

13 Symptoms Of Popeye In Betta Fish

  1. Clamped Fins. 
  2. Loss Of Appetite. 
  3. Inactivity. 
  4. Swollen Body. 
  5. Behaviour Changes. 
  6. Hiding A Lot. 
  7. Cloudiness In Their Eyeballs. 
  8. Rupture Of Their Eyeball. 
  9. Discoloration In Their Eyeballs. 
  10. Protruding Eyes From Its Head. 
  11. Stretching Of The Eye Socket. 
  12. Blood In The Eyeball.
  13. Lethargy Or Not Eating

What Causes Popeye In Betta Fish? 

What Causes Popeye In Betta Fish? 

There are many causes of Popeye in bettas, and sometimes the underlying cause is never determined. Hence, Popeye is caused in betta fish by an infection, poor water chemistry, or an injury in the aquarium. 

It would help if you considered some potential causes of bettas eye bulging and cloudy. If your Betta is suffering from a unilateral Popeye disease, then below, we have explained what causes Popeye in betta fish.

Unilateral Popeye 


If your betta fish suffers from Popeye in one eye, the injury might be the leading cause. An eye swelling is generally caused when your Betta bump into something or gets into a fight with another tankmate. 

When you catch him in a net, your betta fish can also get an injury-causing unilateral Popeye. If your Betta is living in a communal tank or lots of tank makes, with unilateral Popeye, it is likely to be caused due to physical damage. Getting your fish checked at the nearest vet is recommended as it is curable in most cases.


Do you know aquarium salt or Epsom salt is very effective in healing betta fish injury? You need to add some tank water, including a pinch of Epsom salt or the one aquarist would use in a saltwater tank. Add one tablespoon of Epsom salt to a gallon of water and let it dissolve. Now, move your infected fish into that container. 

This salt bath of 10-15 minutes will reduce swelling and inflammation and aviate your betta fish infection. Do keep the container’s water temperature at an acceptable degree. 

Repeat this process until your betta fish protruding eyes go back to normal. Did you know salt bath is not harmful to betta fish? In reality, adding a pinch of aquarium salt to their water is healthy to keep their immune system healthy.

Bilateral Popeye 


If you notice betta fish suffering from bilateral Popeye or bulging in both eyes, it is undoubtedly due to an infection. Both parasite fungus and bacteria can be the culprit of disease. But your fish needs a veterinarian more than anything else. Get your betta fish to your nearest veterinarian immediately for proper treatment. It is only treatable if addressed at an early stage.


If you believe your Betta is suffering from a popeye caused by infection, you first need to perform a 100% water change to reduce the chance of other fish getting infected. Mix one ampicillin capsule for every 10 gallons of water with a small amount of aquarium salt. 

If you are unsure about the proper dosages, remember that different medications will be needed for additional dosages. Consult a veterinarian or ask a professional. It is essential to do a 100% water change every three days and add aquarium salt, including ampicillin. 

Remember that Popeye can take over a month before your Betta’s eyes return to normal. Be patient, and if possible, consult a veterinarian to take advice.

How To Treat Popeye In Betta Fish?

If your betta fish suffers from unilateral Popeye, it will heal soon. However, if your betta eyes have become infected, you should give it antibiotic treatment. Alternatively, I recommend you visit your veterinarian as quickly as possible with your fish. 

If your Betta suffers from bilateral Popeye, it is undoubtedly due to a bacterial infection. You will need antifungal medications if fungal infections cause it. It is recommended to visit a veterinarian to get the proper antibiotic treatment and medications. 

It has been noticed that people often treat betta fish with aquarium salt as it helps in healing faster. If you are betta fish Popeye has been caused due to an injury or fight; aquarium salt will help heal it faster. Always consider monitoring the water parameters and conditions carefully. 

Consider keeping high-quality protein-rich meals to your bettas. This should give enough strength to your fish to feel better. If your infected betta fish shares space with multiple tankmates, you must treat the whole tank using antibiotics. The entire tank will need a thorough treatment process. Thus, it will require a veterinary visit, checkup, and diagnosis.

How To Prevent Bulging Eyes In Betta Fish?

#1. Remove Plastic Plants From Your Tank If There Are Any. 

Plastic plants can easily cause damage to your betta fish’s whole body, including its Eyes. Go for silk or real ones instead of plants made from plastic.

#2. Remove Any Other Aggressive Fish In Your Tank If There Is. 

If you notice aggressive fish being dominant over other bettas, consider isolating them. Even if some species are seen as peaceful critters, some exceptions exist. Depending upon personality, some betta fish will also show aggressive behavior or fin nipping. Hence, Aggressive fish may also injure your Betta’s eye. 

#3. Avoid Handling Too Much Using The Net. 

If you need to scoop your bettas up, ensure you do it with extra care. While using a net can also damage your Betta’s eyes, causing them to bulge. Therefore, be extra careful when you plan on relocating or handling your bettas.

#4. Avoid turning on aquarium lights too much or quickly. 

If you turn on your aquarium light too quickly or frequently, it can put extreme stress. Thus, your betta fishes may swim frantically and bump into each other. Such anxiety, panic, and frantic movement also result in your bettas bumping into a heavy object like a hiding spot, filter, or even the tank glass. Hence, it may hinder their eyes too.

#5. Ask For Professional Help.

The best person to not only help you but also help your betta fish will be a veterinarian. Before you perform any home remedy, I advise you to seek professional help. You should never give any medications or antibiotics to your betta fish without consulting or supervision. Popeye is very much curable if treated early by a professional or veterinarian. Ignoring it will make it worse. It doesn’t take long before it impacts your fish’s full vision. Your fish can go blind anytime.


Will Popeye Heel On Its Own?

If it is a unilateral popeye, it is likely caused by an injury or a fight between tankmates. Or, your fish might have bumped into something causing the eyes to swell and bulge out. It will heal on its own. Adding saltwater aquarium salt helps in recovering faster.

How Long Does It Take To Cure Betta Popeye?

It can take up to a few weeks to a month, depending on the severity and the type of Popeye. If it is unilateral, it will heal on its own within a few weeks. If it is caused due to an allergy and bilateral, it can take more than a month for the protruding eyes to return to their normal position.

How Dangerous Is Popeye Disease? 

In general, Popeye infections are treatable and are not contagious themselves. It is a health condition triggered by a bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infection. If not treated early, it can cause blindness to betta fishes. Quarantining the affected betta fish is highly recommended.


Knowing the cause of Popeye in betta fish should make it easier for you to proceed. For all aquarists, it can be scary to find their fish dealing with such troublesome conditions. Addressing and catching things early will help you treat your betta fish effectively. At an early stage, Popeye is easily treatable using medicine and aquarium salt. 

Always maintain good water quality to prevent Popeye disease in the peaceful tank. Monitoring the condition of betta fish and ensuring they are in an optimal environment is a duty of a responsible aquarist. 

Now that you know what you can expect from a betta fish suffering from bulging eyes, it should be easier to treat this problem. I hope you can prevent it from happening in the future. Always try your best, and your betta fish will remain healthy if proper care and attention are given for a long time. 

I tried my best to give you all the necessary information around the question: what is betta fish popeye & why are my betta fish eyes bulging? If you find this article helpful, then consider sharing it. Sharing is caring, and your one share can help many people prevent such diseases to their fish. Do check our other articles on betta fish care. Till then, take care and goodbye.