Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Koi with Popeye - Exophthalmos

The picture above shows a koi with Popeye or more properly know as Exophthalmia. It can look like air or fluid trapped inside or behind the eye causing it to bulge out of its socket. This koi shows similar symptoms to mine, with the koi's eyes only appearing affected. All the fish in this pond were similar but in less than a week they made a full recovery. The owner was unable to pinpoint an answer for the outbreak as water quality seemed good, other than it was a new pond and the fish were still suffering from stress. Given optimum conditions they improved on their own.

My koi in quarantine seems slightly better and has even started taking an interest in food again. So far the only treatment has been regular daily water changes of 10% and the addition of a very small amount of salt. The condition is still worrying but the improvement is encouraging. I am thinking of trying Kusuri-Sabbactisum to increase its immune system and kill any internal infection. Even with the best efforts and treatments Koi can still die. One of the problems with trying to diagnose fish diseases is that they often exhibit similar symptoms or secondary infections mask the underlying causes. This is a problem when looking for answers to Popeye.

Popeye or Exophthalamia is not a disease but rather a symptom of many possible causes. For this reason you can become confused by the varied and apparently contradictory advice. Make sure any treatment is the right for your fish before rushing to administer something which only makes the problems worse. The best course of action is to immediately provide your koi with the best conditions such as water quality and to lower stress. Get these right and you can then begin identifying what medications to use if any. Reading many books and websites, Popeye is associated with many diseases and I have found myself believing my koi has all of them. Some are very nasty diseases and are often a cure comes too late. The best advice is to look at the most common reasons and compare with your own koi's symptoms.

Here is a list of possible popeye causes or diseases seen together starting with the most common :
  • Bad conditions eg. Lack of water changes or inefficient filtration, extreme PH levels and fluctuations or waste build up - bacteria levels can build up in fish waste and stress reduces koi immune system so they get the diseases listed below.
  • Trauma -Usually caused by damage such as leaping out. Treatments including antibiotics but can affect filter bacteria. Kanamycin sulfate based antibiotics are absorbed through the skin but are best given in food.
  • Bilateral Exophthalmia and Ascites (a swollen abdomen from fluid build up) is often seen in kidney disease - salt and anti internal bacteria treatment should help.
  • Icthyophonus hoferi (fungal disease) symptoms as above.
  • Vibrio (bacterial disease)symptoms as above usually with ulcers.
  • Dropsy - Possibly the same problems as above with body swelling but very hard to treat once the scales start 'pineconing'. The eyes aren't always affected with Dropsy.
  • Fish TB - Mycobacteria- Warning! Always wear gloves if you suspect this disease as it can pass to humans. This infection affects the koi's internal organs, often the gut causing similar osmotic imbalance and wasting. Some say not to treat this disease but antibiotics can be tried.
  • SVC Spring Viremia of Carp- Luckily quite rare and a notifiable disease with all fish needing to be culled. Usually infected koi display similar symptoms like dropsy with haemorhaging.
  • Gas Bubble Theory- Its possible that too much oxygen or nitrogen can bubble in the cells of a koi like a diver with the bends.
  • Nutritional Deficiency- This is unlikely with modern koi food.
This is by no means every disease but hopefully helps point you in the right direction. Speak to an expert if not sure. Most trouble starts from the same route cause of stress from the koi's environment and the many diseases are similarly treated.


At 2:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Super color scheme, I like it! Keep up the good work. Thanks for sharing this wonderful site with us.

At 8:39 PM, Anonymous M Savage said...

thank you for the best article I have read on popeye. I have a new Koi as of 3 weeks ago 7 inches long and appeared very healthy until 3 days ago when she developed what looked like brown spots above both eyes, then 24 hours ago she develped a puffed eye one side only. She is swimming fine using all fins equally well, running with the others, and a very good appetite. Can not figure out what has happened to a supposedly very healthy, happy Koi, all water parameters are very good, pond is clear, and not overstocked. Can you help or refer me to a knowledgeable source with this problem. Thank you MS

At 12:52 AM, Blogger Alex-san said...

Thanks MS, sorry to hear about your koi. The prognosis for one eye being effected is usually better than both. Normally I would think this was caused by damage but you mention both eyes having brown spots. This could well be parasites but I would expect the others to have them as well and they would be scratching. It's more likely bacterial or fungus.

If you can, isolate the koi and add a little salt. It's hard for me to give you anymore specific advice without knowing everything about your pond and seeing photos. Try to find the cause before adding any treatments. Sometimes just by making the pond more hygienic by cleaning filters and changing some water which lowers bacterial levels can be all thats needed.

I'm sorry I can't be of anymore help but a very good site for koi health advice is

At 2:47 AM, Blogger 黄老板 said...

hon said..
May i know will this desease spread to others fish.


At 11:10 AM, Blogger Alex-san said...

Hi Hon..
Popeye can affect all fish tropical and marine, but as it's a symptom of inbalance in the fish's body, not a disease as such, it doesn't spread. This is not to say that fish living together cannot display similar symptoms as they can, usually due to bacterial infection caused by bad water quality.
Hope this answers your question.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger kathy said...

One of my fish in an established pond developed overnight, a cloudy and slightly protruding eye. I immediately treated for flukes and started ten days of anti-bacterial food. It was cleared up in a couple of days. Not for sure what worked but I was happy. The anti-bacterial food is something of a cure all for me.

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, the first 3 of my koi i got were fine for the first week or two then one by one they all started to get popeye and dying. They were the first batch of koi in the pond store so idk if that affected it at all. Also there is a lot of poop at the bottom of the pond. Do you think i should keep getting plants. Also i got 2 new koi the other week and they seem to be fine to this day.

At 9:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a mysterious growth on my fishes head, making its eye pop out.
I have a Goldfish that is about 12 years old and has developed a large growth or bulge behind one eye. This bulge is purplish in color. It hasn't affected the fishes appetite and it dosn't have any other symptoms beyond being a bit depressed. It has had some infections in the past but has always fought them off. But this dosen't go away and I am not sure what to do about it.

At 7:17 PM, Blogger JoyBRT said...

My 7inches Koi had a bubbled eyes for almost 5 years now. Seems to be happy about it and I do not think that as a disease because there is no difference after all those years.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Bloggeries Blog Directory Find Blogs in the Blog Directory Blog Flux Directory