Popeye on Emperor Angelfish: Causes and Treatment

Are you noticing popeye disease on your saltwater fish? This condition is when a fish’s eye protrudes strangely. A few different reasons can cause it. You will want to correct these issues right away, so your fish can stay healthy.

Like the Black Moor goldfish, some fish naturally have large protruding eyes which is normal and healthy for them. However, not all fish have those types of eyes. The Emperor Angelfish should have mostly flat eyes. If you notice large, cloudy, protruding eyes on your fish, they likely have an infection. 

Be sure to keep reading if you want to learn how to treat popeye!

What is Popeye Disease in Angelfish?

Exophthalmia, also known as popeye disease, is a condition where a fish’s eye becomes swollen. The eyes usually become cloudy and make it difficult for your fish to see. Reacting as soon as you notice is essential since the angelfish might lose its sight in that eye.

Emperor Angelfish also tend to hide when they have an injury. You want to keep an eye on your tank and take note of your fishes’ habits. If you notice the personality of your fish is “off”, then they may be hurt or sick.

Can a Fish Recover from Popeye?

Angelfish can recover from popeye. You will want to react quickly and effectively to get the best outcome. In severe cases of popeye, the eye can rupture and cause your fish to be blind in that eye. Angelfish can recover from this, but it’s much better to save their eyes!

So, whether your angelfish recovers will be determined by how fast you react. It is best to inspect their tank daily. Test their water, watch the fish closely for signs of sickness, and check that their decorations are safe. If you see an infected fish, immediately put it in a hospital tank away from others.

How you treat the fish will depend on the source of their popeye. There are a few leading causes of this condition.

Causes of Popeye Disease in Angelfish

Several different factors can cause popeye in angelfish. Although, the two main causes are the following:

  • Physical injury
  • Infection from bacteria or parasites

If the fish bumps something too hard or gets into a fight with another fish, it can cause swelling behind the eye. It should start to go back to normal as it heals, but you will need to be wary of infection. 

However, if you notice several fish showing popeye disease, there may be a problem with the water quality. Especially if you see that more than one has swollen eyes or one fish has two cloudy eyes. Make sure to test the water to see what is causing the issue.

There are other ways to tell between the two main causes. If your angelfish also has dropsy, it most likely has an infection. Dropsy can be a symptom of many diseases; it causes fluid to build up in the fish, making it appear swollen. This condition is challenging to treat on your own, but not impossible.

How Do You Treat Popeye in Saltwater Fish?

How you treat popeye will depend on the cause. Your fish will not heal if you use the wrong treatment, so it is vital to know beforehand what caused their popeye. Here is what you should do:

Physical Injury

In the case of physical injury, you don’t need to quarantine the fish. Using amoxicillin treatments can prevent the eye from becoming infected. The popeye should go away on its own with treatment.

If you do quarantine the fish, you can try using small amounts of Epsom salt to help with the swelling. When quarantining an Emperor Angelfish, you need to be sure the tank is large. Then, move them as little as possible to prevent stress. It is usually better to leave this fish in their current tank, but you would need to use Epsom salt in a separate one.

You may want to bring your fish to the vet, if it shows no signs of improvement. Vets can drain fluid that gets trapped behind the eye. This process allows the fish to heal faster and reduces the odds of an infection in the injured area.


Angelfish are sensitive to bad water quality, so you will want to check on that first. Start by testing the water for ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. You also want to be sure the pH level is where it should be for the fish in your tank.

Ensure you change the water right after, whether or not there were signs of it being off. You should only change about half the water each day for about five days.

If the cause is an infection, you should remove the fish and add it to a quarantine tank. Once it’s settled down, treat your angelfish with amoxicillin. You should be able to find this medicine at most pet and fish shops.

Popeye caused by infections is treatable. However, the earlier you spot it and provide antibacterial medicine, the more likely your angelfish is to recover.

How Do You Prevent Popeye Disease?

Many different issues can cause popeye. You will want to take several preventive measures. If you maintain the tank well, they should stay healthy. You need to perform partial water changes, feed them healthy food, and put species together that don’t fight. Doing all this lets you avoid popeye disease.

As long as you follow all the proper steps to fish care, your fish shouldn’t get an infection. Even if it does, the fish will survive when taken care of correctly. Adding vitamins and healthier food to their diet should help the fish build stronger immune systems.

While many people don’t take their fish to the vet, it’s a good idea if you notice signs of popeye. Since there are many different causes, it may be hard to figure out what’s causing the symptoms on your own. A vet will be able to determine the exact cause and give treatment.


Many different factors can lead to popeye in angelfish since they are sensitive to water changes. Actively monitoring their tank will help you catch the signs early to begin an efficient treatment. 

Accidents can happen with angelfish. If you notice something is wrong, you will want to quarantine it. Plus, it is always a good idea to have your vet take a look at the fish. They will be able to check for signs of infection by bacteria and parasites. Once you know what’s causing popeye, it is much easier to treat.

Overall, prevention is the best medicine! Keep an eye on your angelfish and test their water regularly.


Popeye Disease in Aquarium Fish https://www.thesprucepets.com/pop-eye-symptoms-and-cure-1379917

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