Popeye Fishdisease

If the eyes of fish come out of their sockets, their facial expression appears astonished. The cause of this symptom should always be thoroughly investigated.

Definition of the disease and symptoms

Popeyes are not an independent disease. They appear as a symptom in various diseases. The eyes of fish stick out and the surface of the eye appears cloudy. Often the impression is created that there is a thick, greyish-white layer over the eye. In addition, the eye may be reddened by an inflammation. Often the feed intake is refused or reduced, the fish look tired.

Summary of the main symptoms

  • ooze
  • gloomy eyes
  • reddened eyes


Many different causes are responsible for the appearance of pop-eyes.

1. Gas bubbles

If the water change is carried out too quickly, escaping oxygen causes gas bubbles to form which are deposited in the fish’s body. The oxygen bubbles are also formed when the irradiation is too strong or the oxygen content is too high. If the gas bubbles reach the eye sockets of the fish, they block smaller blood vessels. The eyes are pressed outwards.

2. Infections with bacteria

Inflammatory diseases, such as fish tuberculosis, increase the internal pressure of the eyes.

3. Restriction of kidney function

Reduced kidney function causes fluid to be deposited in various parts of the body. If fluid deposits develop behind the eyes, the eyeballs are pushed out of the eye sockets.

4. Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia

The disease caused by a rhabdovirus occurs mainly in pond fish. Due to damage to the kidney and bleeding behind the eye, the eyes swell out.

5. Infectious ascitesis

Infection with bacteria, Aeromonas hydrophila and pseudomonads, and viruses damages the liver and kidneys of fish. Fluid accumulates in the abdominal cavity and other parts of the body. Liquid in the eye sockets pushes the eyeballs outwards.

6. Parasites

Flagellates (Cryptobia branchiales, Trypanoplasma) live in the blood vessel system of fish. The parasites cause damage to the kidneys and googly eyes.

Summary of the causes

  • Gas bubble disease
  • Damage to kidney and liver
  • Inflammations


The course depends on the cause of the symptom “pop-eyes”. If fish tuberculosis or infectious dropsy is present, the disease is quickly fatal. If the cause is posture-related, the pop-eyes can recede again. If too many tissue parts and blood vessels are already destroyed, the fish dies. A disturbance of the kidney function is also fatal. If bacterial inflammations are not treated, severe consequential damage occurs.


The treatment depends on the basic disease that causes the pop-eyes.

1. too much saturation of the water with oxygen or carbon dioxide

The gas bubbles accumulate on the panes and plants. In case of a supersaturation with oxygen, you can wait and see. If the water contains too much carbon dioxide, a slow water change is necessary. Additionally the immune system of the fish is supported by vitamins and avoidance of stress.

2. Inflammations

Sick fish must be isolated and treated with medication. Alder cones and sea almond leaves have an anti-inflammatory effect and kill bacteria.

3. Kidney damage

A progression of kidney dysfunction can be prevented by high-quality feed. Treatment is not possible for severe kidney damage.


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