What Does Fish Eyes Turning White Mean? {Are They Going Blind?}

Have you noticed white or cloudy fish eyes in your tank? What does fish eyes turning white mean?

Are your fish going blind? Is this only temporary or do they have a disease?

I researched and wrote an article for all of us who are concerned about fish eyes turning white. Some facts will surprise you.

What Does Fish Eyes Turning White Mean?

Fish eyes turning white usually means they have parasites on them. These parasites will cause cloudy white eyes for your fish. The best way to remove parasites from your tank is to use a anti parasite treatment.

White eyes in older fish may be cataracts. Cloudy eyes may also be a symptom of poor water quality or improper acclimation.

What Does It Mean When A Fish Eyes Turn White

Why Does My Fish Have Cloudy Eyes?

Cloudy eyes for fishes is a terminal disorder that causes the pupils of fishes to become white and opaque. This is a condition commonplace among freshwater fishes such as:

  • betta
  • catfish
  • discus fish

Saltwater fish also experience cloudy eyes but in extremely rare conditions such as:

  • yellow tang
  • ocean sunfish
  • queen angelfish 

Cloudy eyes may not be a contagious condition or parasite. Rather, it is only a symptom of a disorder that if untreated will result in blindness and inability to find food.

Reasons Why Your Fish Has White Eyes

1. Poor Water Quality in the Tank

One of the common reasons behind cloudy eyes is poor water quality in the aquarium. When the water these fish are living in increase in levels of nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia, it will make the fish eyes to come cloudy.

This condition is worsened when there are also:

  • increased levels of chloramine and chlorine
  • too much salt
  • pH shock
  • medications
  • temperature changes
  • high TDS levels

This causes the immune system of the fish to be vulnerable for any and all forms of diseases.

2. Bacterial Infection

The bacterial infection is also another cause of cloudy eyes for most freshwater fish. This is usually a result of the infrequency in changing the water in the tank.

It should be noted that white eyes in older fish may be cataract and occurs as a result of old age. But if you notice whiteness in the pupils of the younger fish in your tank, it is definitely the cloudy eyes condition.

3. Malnutrition

When fish are not properly fed, their systems will not receive the necessary nutrient, giving rise to dietary deficiency. This leaves the fish exposed to a number of harmful diseases—including cloudy eyes.

If you notice in your aquarium, it could mean you’re aren’t feeding your fish well enough.

These are some common causes of white eyes in fishes. Early detection is key in giving your fish a shot at survival, and a treatment that will be successful.

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White Growth on Fish Eye

The white growth on the eye of a fish can be also referred to as White Spot Disease. It is most likely due to the parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, simply known as Ich or Popeye


Ich Commonly occurs in tanks and small white spots appear on the skin of a fish. Sometimes it can happen in the eye of your fish. The parasite burrows underneath the surface and can begin to consume the flesh of your fish.


Another condition that may cause the white growth on the eye of a fish is known as Popeye. This is when the eye of your fish’s face swells and bulges from its socket. If you notice the eyes looking cloudy, there could be an infection, injury or poor water conditions.

White Spots on Fish Eye

Unfortunately when your fish is carrying white spots in its eye, a parasite that has penetrated into it known as Ich. This is a very common issue with freshwater aquarium fish.

The ciliate protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis or Ich parasite, infects plenty of fish in aquariums due to parasites being brought from other tankmates who were introduced into your tank.

What To Do About White Spots On Fish Eyes

  1. It’s always best to quarantine new tankmates in order to prevent them from bringing in parasites such as Ich.
  2. Examine your fish closely to make sure that the white spots are only localized on the eye.
  3. Specifically look around the mouth and gills to see if it has spread further.
  4. You will need to apply a aquarium salt and raise the temperature to counteract the effects of this parasite and eventually kill it off before it kills your fish.

Why Do Fish Eyes Turn White When They Die?

If your fish died from a parasitic infection known as Ich or another condition called Popeye, the eye itself may have become filled with the white parasites that eventually consumed the life of your fish.

Other reasons why fish lose color in their eye and around their body when they die is due to:

  • a lack of oxygen and nutrients
  • air stops circulating through their body
  • your fish is unable to absorb sunlight or the lights from the tank

Take a look at the rest of your the fish’s body and see if it is losing color as well when when it is dying. This condition may not just be localized to the eye, but also across the entire body. A fish that is in poor health usually has cloudy eyes before they die.

Why Does My Fish Have a White Film Over His Eye?

Sadly, when your fish has white film over its eye, it is usually caused by an injury or infection that could lead to its death. Poor water conditions also lead to aquarium fish having cloudy eyes or a white film over there eye.

  1. One such condition is called Popeye, but you will most likely notice it over both eyes. Where there is swelling or bulging, they are coming out of its socket as well.
  2. Bacterial, fungal or parasitic infections are a very common disorders found in aquarium fish.
  3. Another condition is known as a columnaris, which is due to the amount of fungus in the tank. It can also spread to the eye and appear to be a film coating over it.

The usual responses are to start over with a clean and healthy cycling to ensure that beneficial bacteria are consuming the ammonia build-up in your tank.

How Do You Treat Cloudy Eyes In Fish?

There are a few things which you can do which include:

1. Carry Out Nitrogen Cycles Frequently
2. Change The Water Regularly
3. Carry Out Regular Cleaning
4. Be Mindful of Medication Overdose
5. Don’t Overfeed Your Fish
6. Get a Good Filtering System

1. Carry Out Nitrogen Cycles Frequently

Nitrogen cycles are essential in keeping the ammonia level in the tank as low as possible. They also neutralize the toxins, converting it to harmless substances and reducing bacteria inside the tank.

Nitrogen cycles are to be carried out when the tank is emptied of fish. You can follow these simple steps below.

  • Pour chlorinated freshwater into the empty tank
  • Spray pieces of flake foods daily in the water till you discover an increase in ammonia
  • Continue to put food into the tank until you can detect an increase in nitrites. By then, the ammonia level will be reduced somewhat. As the ammonia and nitrite levels decrease, nitrate will start appearing.
  • The nitrogen cycle has been completed when the ammonia and nitrite levels are at 0 ppm.

2. Change The Water Regularly

Since poor water quality is a major reason for whiteness of eyes, you owe your fish the responsibility of changing their water regularly.

Frequent water changes will keep the pond clean, crystal clear and oxygen-abundant for the fish to stay healthy.

3. Carry Out Regular Cleaning

As you change the water in the tank, ensure you’re also cleaning it to good condition. You can use a gravel vacuum to clean out toxins including rotten feces and food stuck in the tank.

You can also take out the ornaments and other decorations. Give them a smooth shine before putting them in place.

4. Be Mindful of Medication Overdose

If you’re applying medication to the fish through water immersion, be careful not to overdose. Medications such as formalin in high doses can cause cloudy eyes.

5. Don’t Overfeed Your Fish

Another way to treat this condition to properly give your fish the required nutrient and vitamins-filled food.

You can spice things up by adding live foods like mosquito larvae, bloodworms, and daphnia once a week. You should ensure that you’re getting the best pellets for your fish to feast on.

6. Get a Good Filtering System

It is important to get an efficient filtering system for your aquarium. This filtering system features mechanical, biological and chemical functions.

While the mechanical filter removes debris, the biological filter sucks up biological waste while the chemical filter gets rid of harmful chemical substances.

Also, you should change your filter cartridges when and if necessary.


Taking care of the fish in our aquariums should be a priority. It is therefore important to carry regular checks on the fish to easily spot the cloudy eyes condition and respond before it gets out of hand.

The aforementioned control measures will guide you on what to do should such conditions arise or if you’re currently experiencing it.


Thank you for stopping by at HelpUsFish.com. We have plenty of articles on a wide variety of aquatic and marine life that may also pique your interest. See you again soon!


Hello, I'm Jason. I'm the guy behind HelpUsFish.com. I volunteer at my local fish shop and I created this site to offer tips and advice on the fish I care for.