Blue Tang With Popeye: How I Fixed It

It’s probably any aquarium owners nightmare. You have a healthy aquarium. It’s in good balance. Things are working well, you’re feeling good about your aquarium.

Then, for some reason, you decide you need to add another fish to an already balanced equation. The new fish is added to the tank and it gets sick! What to do?

This happened to me. I recently added a Blue Tang (Hippo Tang) to my balanced and healthy 75 gallon saltwater aquarium. The fish got sick right away. Popeye.

Oh no!

My immediate reaction wasn’t fear of losing the new Blue Tang. My initial reaction was fear of losing my other fish. How could I be so stupid to introduce something bad into my otherwise healthy aquarium setup?

How it started

The Blue Tang developed popeye at about the 2 day mark. He had been rubbing on rocks a bit before developing the popeye, but I thought that might have been stress related since he was new to the aquarium.

The first night after he developed his condition, I spent a late night Googling all kinds of aquarium fish illness information. To tell you the truth, as a first step it’s hard to recommend Googling fish illness at 2am. I pretty much convinced myself that my fish were all going to get ich and die. The whole situation was pretty much a case study on using the overwhelming load of information on the Internet to convince myself of a worst-case scenario and induce paranoia!

How I handled the situation

By the next day, I had picked up a few tips regarding how to maybe handle this sick Blue Tang situation:

  • Add tiny amounts of garlic extract to food or water to encourage eating and other things
  • Hook up a UV sterilizer to kill nasty parasites and organisms
  • Add a cleaner shrimp to help clear the fish of parasites and organisms if there are any present
  • Continue to feed the sick fish liberally if it is still eating to keep it full of nutrients
  • Check water parameters and adjust to target values accordingly
  • Do a water change if needed
  • Quarrantine the sick fish if it gets worse – or even do it right away

So, I pretty much prepared to do all those if needed. Starting with the cheapest and easiest things, of course!

What did I start with?

I bumped up feeding frequency, keeping a good mix of food going. I started adding a couple drops of garlic extract, from Kent Marine, to seaweed feedings. This kept the sick Blue Tang eating, and eating well by the looks of it.

I also checked my water parameters and found my nitrates to be up a little. Nothing bad but enough to register on the test. That needed to be squashed so I did a quick water change and that actually cleared it up right away. I also did
some good substrate vacuuming when removing the water.

After performing those tasks, I kept up good feeding and garlic on the seaweed for a couple more days.


Guess what? The popeye disappeared after about 3 days, and the fish is rubbing a lot less. He also looks a lot more relaxed, and is still eating well. There are still couple bruised looking spots on his body but they are lessening each day.

I will keep up the garlic use and am planning on doing some 5%-10% water changes ever couple days just to keep the nitrates down. I’m thinking maybe the recent addition of a new chunk of live rock might be causing a mini-cycle, so I’m not too worried about it. I just need to make sure I keep on top of testing and adjusting and I’ll be just fine.

As I type this, I look at the Blue Tang again. He’s looking really healthy at the moment, and I’ve only seen him rub on the rocks once in the last hour.

About Luke

the owner and caretaker of a 75 gallon aquarium in his home studio. Good times.

, , , , ,

4 Responses to Blue Tang With Popeye: How I Fixed It