White spots/cataracts over eyes - is he blind?

  • #1
I have a male betta in a fully cycled tank. I have had the fish for between 2-3 months. For the majority of the time he has been very active and appearing healthy. However, in the last week or so, his behaviour has changed, as he has become quite reclusive and less active. I have also noticed that he has what I would term as "white spots" that look like cataracts over his eyes - his behaviour seems to suggest that he is having trouble seeing things. I don't think he is completely blind, because he moves around and appears to be trying to move his head in a way so that he can better see what he is trying to look at (ie: food). However, he is now often hiding, is much less active than previously, and seems to find it difficult to see food in the water (either that or he just isn't hungry - which once again, would be a considerable change from previous).

Does anyone know what could be wrong and what can be done?
  • #2
check the water and make sure there's nothing harmful in it
  • #3
I'm sorry I have no idea how to help but :'( just wanted to say sorry!
  • #4
Older Bettas do often get cataracts and sometimes become blind. He may have been old when you bought him. There is nothing you can do except make sure there are no sharp objects in the tanks including plastic plants that he could run into and injure himself. Try to put food directly in front of his mouth so he can find it easier. Make sure no loud noises startle him as he may become more nervous if he cannot see well. Make sure he is the only fish in the tank so he will not be bullied. It would stress him a lot if he cannot see the little threats coming at him all around him if he is in a community tank.
I'm sorry...
  • #5
Oh no..... how extremely sad.
  • #6
Now we know why you have a fishtank... just something to watch!
Yea, cuz TV sux nowadays
  • #7
lol I'm watching Kathy Griffin D-List
  • #8
  • #9
No offense, but could we get back on topic of the sick fish? To the original poster this is a very serious matter.

Are there white spots anywhere else on his body? Or just his eyes? Small white spots could be a sign of ich. Is his tank heated to at least 78 degrees? From what I understand ich is a cold water disease and can be treated, tho I haven't had to deal with it personally.

Hope your little guy gets to feeling better!
  • #10
Sorry, you're right. Sick fish is the main concern here.

However, all it takes is for you to comment and not do the whole "no offense" thing.
If anything, we started with the best of intentions, and then playfully kept the post alive so someone helpful like you could read it and help.

Have a nice day.
  • #11
Here is what I found on one site if it helps any...

Various organisms (nonspecific), Severe Stress, Malnutrition, Cataracts, Old Age, Hyperproduction of slime due to poisoning, bad water quality, or irritation

Physical Signs:
A cloudy white or grey "haze" over the eyes that may cause blindness.

Potential Treatment:
Investigate if water quality is high first (water changes), then if nutritional needs of that species are being met. Wait at least a week or two before trying any antibiotics, it will often clear on its own if water quality is high. Frequent water changes a must to improve quality. Test for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates. Cloudy eye is a sign of a number of things, rather than a disease in its own right.
  • #12
Lets do keep on topic here Too many things going on that are off topic can be confusing. Thanks
TheBaron- as was mentioned he may have been old, and good advise was offered as how to make him comfortable if this is the case. Please keep a close watch on his water parameters (ammonia,nitrIte, and nitrAte) so he will be comfortable there also.
  • #13
I've heard of cloudy eyes going hand in hand with popeye, so you might want to look for slightly protruding eyes too. This could be an early symptom of disease ... though I hope not!

Also, you can test if your fish has gone blind by holding up a small mirror to his tank, and observing if he reacts to his reflection. Most fish will swim towards or away from their reflections (depending on whether they are scaredy-fish, I guess) and may flare at their reflections.

You can also hold your finger or another object up to the tank (but don't actually touch it), and if he reacts to it, he can probably still see.

Even if he is blind, your fish still has many senses left. He can sense movement in the water and still has his sense of smell, so hopefully he will still be able to lead a fairly normal fishy life. If your fish seems to have trouble finding food, I guess you could use a "smellier" kind, like live or frozen instead of pellets, or you might be able to attract his attention by bumping the piece of food with a toothpick or something, as he will be able to sense the vibrations.
  • #14
dipping his food in garlic juice would also be a way to help him find his food, should he need that help in time. We wish you both the best.
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
The water should be alright, as I have done a large change recently and the readings are ok.

Unfortunately the fish's behaviour is looking worse, as he is very lethargic and looks as though he is only capable of moving in order to go to the top to breathe. There is now only one eye that has a "white spot" over it, but having a closer look at him, I can see that his upper lip is going whiteish now too. He keeps opening his mouth as if he has choked on something - but obviously this isn't the case, otherwise he would have already passed away after this length of time (and it wouldn't explain the other symptoms).

Similarly, after going to the top, he no longer stays around the top in a quiet place in the tank any longer, but virtually dives straight down into the gravel into any spots that have a shallow or quiet area. Most often when he dives, it is as if he can't judge where the ground is, and bangs straight into it.

Unfortunately I don't hold out much hope for the fish - as some of you have suggested, perhaps it is just old age - although, his decline has been quite quick, considering the dramatic change in his behaviour over the last week or so.

I have had him in a communal tank with some Neon Tetras, and he has gotten along with them quite well. He was actually taken out of a larger community tank when I purchased him, and was getting along quite well with the other inhabitants there as well. Ah well.
  • #16
Could it not be a fungal infection? Are the edges of the white stuff looking frayed? Do you have a chance to isolate him?
  • #17
I think you bring up a good point there armadillo.. it does sound like a fungus in many ways. if you can get some Rid-Fungus , it would be a pretty safe med to give him and gentler than other products for fungus treatment.

Do you have a pic that you can post for confirmation of fungus?
  • #18
suggests that columnaris can present itself as a white spot right above the eye that grows slowly bigger, and also matches the mouth spot symptom. I mention this because apparently labyrinth fish are prone to the disease, and the disease is actually caused by a bacteria, and is not fungal in nature, so you may want to take that into account when treating.

If not, is a great diagnostic chart on some other things it could be. These are specifically diseases which affect the eyes of fish. They also suggest some treatment options.

From the sounds of his symptoms and the sudden onset, it is sounding more and more like a disease to me. When I was reading about blind fish, some fish owners said that other than the whole blindness thing, their fish seemed totally fine and healthy, and your guy definitely sounds very under the weather at the moment.
  • #19
What a great link, Carillon. Thanks for that. Am definitely adding that to my favorites. Especially that one of my mollies died recently and one of the symptoms was swollen, bloodshot eyes.
  • #20
hmm.. yea, columnaris is a possibility. The symptoms I find for it are: Grayish-white film on skin, damaged fins, ulcers, yellow to gray patches on gills, tissue on head may be eaten away. If it is columnaris, then the recommended actions are: Must be treated immediately with Over-the-counter antibiotic medications. Very contagious ? disinfect tank, rocks, net, etc.

Trisulfa might be the best bet, it would cover both possible diseases, but hopefully a more conclusive answer can be found with a look at a pic of him.
  • #21
I had a betta who became blind and the biggest symptom I found with her was that she went to the top and swam in a constant circle and even if you put the food directly in front of her she would sometimes just run into it with her nose and keep on swimming. She did not react to any stimulI whatsoever and would not eat anything even if it was right there for her.

All day long she just swam in a circle though and could not quit though, it was so sad. I was thinking of euthanizing her but she died before I got the job done.

  • #22
:'( um, how would you euthanize a fish??
  • #23
  • #24
Flushing down the toilet isn't the recommended way to euthanize a fish. They would continue to live until the ammonia/chemicals in the system or its disease killed it.
There several ways th euthanize a fish. (1) put in water then in the freezer (2) clove oil
either one is more human than flushing it.
  • #25
eek. putting it in the freezer doesn't sound so nice but better than flushing it alive. I'd be crying the whole time it was in the freezer.

So after, you take out your little fishy cube and toss it? flush it?
  • #26
the freezer does sound bad doesn't it but they would just go to sleep.
It will be dead so in the garbage or what ever feels ok with you. a lot of people I know bury them. A friend has a special flower bed they bury theirs in.
  • #27
My bro-in-law usually gives his dead fish to his cat...unless the fish has a disease or something.

Well, atleast my way, they might survive, remember, all drains lead to the ocean!!!
  • #28
I really hope you are not serious! : Flushing a live fish is beyond cruel! The toilet drain leads directly to the sewer which is filled with human waste not the ocean! No fish would survive that and you would only add to it's suffering!

The best way to euthanize a fish is with this product which uses a specially blended clove oil that mixes with water (regular clove oil doesn't mix well with water like any oil). It gently puts the fish to sleep and then the second dose stops it's heart. That is how you help a much loved pet, not flushing or freezing.
  • #29
Heres an article about euthanizing fish-
A word of caution- Don't put clove oil in a styrofoam cup. the cup will melt. A friend did this and set the cup on the edge f his aquarium and noticed just in time the cup was melting. It almost ran into his tank
  • #30
wow. I suppose I never thought of having to euthanize a fish but I am happy to know there are some ways!
  • #31
wow. I suppose I never thought of having to euthanize a fish but I am happy to know there are some ways!

yea, it's hard enough to do but if you don't have a gentle way to do it, you feel even worse about it.

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