Popeye or exophthalmia
is a symptom, not a disease in itself and it can have a large number
of potential causes. Some of these causes are incurable while others
can potentially be cured on a sporadic basis. The bulging or protruding
eye(s), as the name 'popeye' implies, is symptomatic of this condition.
Potential causes include --- infrequent water changes which results
in a buildup of dissolved waste products in the water, Ichthyosporidium
-- a parasitic fungus, Ichthyophonus, 'worm cataract disease'-- a function
of the invasion of parasitic trematodes or flukes, bacterial infection,
parasite infestation -- eye flukes and internal metabolic disorders.
Since the causes of popeye are so varied, the treatment is difficult.
Some success has been noted in treatment of Ichthyosporidium using one
percent phenoxyethanol at about 50gm per gallon of water.
Treatment for bacterial disease would best be accomplished using Tetracycline
or Terramycin added to aquarium water every other day or mixing food
at the rate of 100 mg of antibiotic to 4 oz. of food. Feeding should
continue 10 days.
Fish tuberculosis can also be responsible for pop-eye. Since fish tuberculosis
is a bacterial disease caused by such as Mycobacterium the same antibiotics
can be used in the same manner for treatment if this is the suspected
cause. Other effective treatments for bacterial exophthalia may include
Chlortetracycline, Furazolidone, Nifurpirinol, Oxolinic acid, Oxytetracycline
or potentiated sulphonamide.
Unfortunately these treatments are most effective when injected into
the eye socket and less so when used as a bath.
If the fish has eye flukes, malachite green with formalin, metriphonate
or copper are good, as are most of the commercial preps for flukes and
This disease is rarely fatal and not particularly infectious. It often
disappears on it's own in 2-3 weeks leaving no residual trace or may
disappear leaving a cloudy eye and worst case, a missing eye.
Bear in mind that many of these treatments will negatively impact your
biological filter so treatment in an isolation tank is best.