Exopthalmos - Fish

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Also Known As: Pop-eye – Exophthalmia


Exopthalmos or “pop-eye” in fish is the most common ophthalmic pathology and can be the result of many diseases, injuries and infections.

Potential infectious causes include trematode infection when flukes reside subretinally, Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis, Infectious Haematopoietic Necrosis, Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia, Icthyosporidium infection, Tuberculosis, Aeromonas spp. and Pseudomonas spp. infections, Vibriosis, Enteric Redmouth Disease, Channel Catfish Virus and many more.

Non-infectious causes include Gas Bubble Disease, renal disease and ammonia toxicity.


Any type of fish, commercial or ornamental, can be affected.

Clinical Signs

The eye/s of affected fish appear to be larger and bulging/protruding from the head. Traumatic injury often occurs as a result.


The condition can be diagnosed clinically upon visual examination of the fish. Underlying diseases may require serology, bacteriology, parasitology or other investigative techniques.


Treatment is highly dependent upon the cause and may or may not exist. Removal of excess gas may resolve minor gas bubble disease or movement to a different tank may allow recovery from ammonia toxicity. Bacterial causes may respond to antibiotic therapy. Treatment is usually ineffective once significant damage is done to the globe.


Biosecurity and disease prevention protocols are imperative for control of infectious causes of exopthalmos. Traumatic injury can be prevented by environmental design.

Exopthalmos - Fish Learning Resources
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Test your knowledge using flashcard type questions
Exopthalmos - Fish Flashcards

Ornamental Fish Q&A 22


Lewbart, G.A (1998) Ornamental Fish Self Assessment Colour Review Guide. Manson Publishing. Question 22.

Noga, E. J (2010) Fish Disease. Wiley & Sons. Various sections.

Ribelin, W. E (1975) Pathology of Fishes, Symposium Proc. Univ. Wisconsin. pp386-388.

Roberts, H. E (2009) Fundamentals of Ornamental Fish Health Wiley & Sons. Various sections.

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