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FAQs on African Cichlid Social Disease

FAQs on African Cichlid Disease:
African Cichlid Disease 1African Cichlid Disease 2, African Cichlid Disease 3, African Cichlid Disease 4, African Cichlid Disease 5, African Cichlid Disease 6, African Cichlid Disease 7, African Cichlid Disease 8,
FAQs on African Cichlid Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic, Treatments,

Related Articles: African Cichlids, Malawian Cichlids: The Mbuna and their Allies By Neale Monks, The Blue Followers: the Placidochromis of Lake Malawi by Daniella Rizzo, Cichlid Fishes,

Related FAQs: Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Disease 2, Cichlid Disease 3, African Cichlids in General, African Cichlid Identification, African Cichlid Selection, African Cichlid Behavior, African Cichlid Compatibility, African Cichlid Systems, African Cichlid Feeding, African Cichlid Reproduction, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Reproduction,


dying fish, generic stmt.s re African Cichlids, no data, rdg.,       11/5/2015
using WWM
Good day
<And you>
Im hoping i get an answer to my question. Okay so i started of with a 3foot fish tank only to realise after 3months its way to small for my African cichlids so decided to go bigger and hooked up a 5 foot fish tank, ever since i did the tank swop i am losing at least 3 fish a week could you please advise me to why this is happening.
<Mmm; very likely to territoriality issues.... "African Cichlids" (Mbuna likely here), don't "get along" well, and have to be either tenuously over-crowded or quite under-crowded.... There are other possibilities... water quality, system issues... even some possibility of pathogenic disease. You offer no data or imagery of any>

Your feed back would be highly appreciated.
<Let's have you read: HERE: http://wetwebmedia.com/AfCichDisDiagF.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Thank you.

My Auratus Cichlid is sick     3/23/14
My female auratus cichlid seems to be struggling to survive. She is in the tank with a male auratus who has been harassing her attempting to mate but she doesn’t seem interested. She spends all her time getting away from him and is now completely exhausted. She lays in corners hiding and only stirs if i walk up to the tank. I’ve noticed over the past few days that she has stopped eating, and has stopped pooping, and that area has become swollen and red.
<These fish need to be separated. Now>

I’m wondering if there's
anything I can do to make her better? There are 3 other cichlids in the tank and 4 zebra danios. The cichlids eat Omega One Cichlid pellets
and the danios eat flakes. All the levels in the tank are healthy, I do regular water changes (once a week, about 50%) and it’s a 45 gallon tank. Please help! And thank you so much for your time!
<Let's have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichdisf8.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: My Auratus Cichlid is sick     3/24/14

Thank you so much for responding so quickly! I have temporarily elevated her in a large net in the same tank so none of the other fish can get at her, she's resting and in the past couple hours she seems to be feeling a bit better.
I don't have a proper hospital tank and everything is closed for the evening. what would be the smallest safe size of container I could put her in until I can get to the store in the morning?
I don't think I can leave her in the net.
<A floating plastic colander... READ where you were referred. B>

Poor Electric Yellow Lab Girl 11/9/12
Hi Crew! I have been coming to your website for many years now, and just love it! Thanks for that and I hope you can help me. I have a 90 gal Mbuna tank that has mixed cichlids in it. All the popular ones, I guess you'd say. I have a current resident number of approx 50 of those that I can see. They're breeding like crazy and I have a "rock cliff" with lots of cracks and cranny's for babies. But that's a whole other email. I actually have a more pressing problem. I have a poor Elec Lab and a Mixed Blue female. I have had them since I got the tank 2 yrs ago. They're my original inhabitants. The Elec Lab has always been healthy although timid and the blue mutt did suffer from a bad bout of hole in the head when she was about 1" big, but was always healthy after, as well. Both mothers were prolific breeders. Often carrying about 2 or 3 weeks after spitting. I let nature take it's course in my tank. Basically it's sink or swim in there. I do an 80% water once a week and make my own rift lake buffer salt. Chemistry is always near perfect. The situation is both moms are wasting away. My blue's head is half white and both mom's cheeks are so sunk in. Their bellies are so super skinny. They are swimming and behaving as they normally would. They eat a little more then they usually do. But they just aren't recovering at all. My Lab has been like this for a month and has blood under the skin between her upper lip and my blue just isn't gaining anything. They both have always recovered quickly after a brood. Are they just done? Has old age or breeding stress claimed my poor little girls? Is there anything I can do at this point? Is there really any point to saving the ole girls? Thanks for any help you can give me.
<Assuming these fish are with males, and that the females don't outnumber the males by at least 3 to 1, the stress of breeding is very likely a key factor here. In the wild females wouldn't be carrying eggs all the time. They'd be able to choose when to breed, so they'd be able to spend some weeks between broods feeding themselves. Remember, while carrying eggs they can't eat, so if they're always carrying, they're never feeding. Isolating the females after breeding is very important, and while the "sink or swim" makes sense in terms of controlling the number of fry, it makes no sense at all if the females can't remove themselves from the males. Your tank is small -- by Mbuna standards -- so the fact females can't avoid the males is likely a major problem. So, what you want to do is isolate the females, medicate with Metronidazole, and feed them well for a couple months. The alternative is what you often see in "generic" Mbuna tanks -- females dying prematurely because of the stress, so you end up with just males. Cheers, Neale.>

African cichlid dying... Malawi bloat? Beaten      9/4/12
Hello there. I have a red zebra cichlid who is suffering from what I thought was Malawi bloat
<Mmm, no; don't thinks so>
but I am unsure and now think the treatment may have exacerbated the problem.
She is a female red zebra in a 55 gallon African Cichlid set up. I have had her for about two years since she was only about 3/4"! She is now about three inches long, has made it through two sets of offspring with the dominating male of the tank, has made it through multiple brutal attacks by the males in the tank
<Not this one though>
 where I thought she would dye <die>
because her fins were all gone.. ultimately, she is generally a very tough fish!! And my favorite fish in the tank! I currently have 8 fish in the tank. I want to increase the number to decrease aggression, but every time I add new fish, they are killed within a couple of days.
<Too late to add more here>
About two weeks ago I added three new fish. Two of the new ones were attacked to death and killed within the first week. I of course removed them immediately and followed with water changes. Yesterday morning, my red zebra wouldn't eat. I was thinking maybe she was holding fry again but I couldn't see into her mouth and her jaw didn't look extended, so I just kept an eye on her. By the afternoon her fins were all frayed and she had some white areas on her body that looked like scales had fallen off. She was hovering near the top of the tank, stiff looking, and smaller fish were swimming up to her and nibbling at her. She wasn't even fighting back or trying to swim away. I removed her, put her into a 5 gallon bucket filled about 2/3 with tank water and 1/3 new water, with a heater and bubbler. By the evening, the white patches were spreading, she was laying on her side at the bottom, breathing hard, and her chest area on her underside looked very swollen. I did some research and thought her symptoms sounded like Malawi bloat
<... no; this fish was beaten to death. A 55 gallon isn't enough room for what you have in mind, Mbuna need space, habitat to get away from each other>>

 so I ran out to the store to find some Metronidazole or Clout. Of course my LFS did not carry anything useful... all I could find was Tetra Parasite Guard which was the only product containing Metronidazole but unfortunately it doesn't say what the percentage or mg of the ingredients are. I put a half tablet into a cup of water, let it dissolve, and added it in. I also added 1 tsp Epsom salts as I read it is helpful to clean their bowels if it is truly Malawi bloat.
This morning when I left for work, she seemed okay. She was at least sitting up right instead of on her side, but the white patches were spreading more and were kind of slimy looking. By the time I got home from work this evening, the water was very cloudy, and she has some areas that almost look like blood blisters on her fins and body. I can even see some small vessels. She was also floating upside down.
I filled a clean 5 gallon bucket with new water, moved the heater and bubbler, added some more salts, no antibiotics this time, and once the water got to temp, moved her over. Within minutes she was back on her side instead of floating upside down. She looks terrible though.
I'm very upset because she is my favorite fish and I would be sad to see her pass. At this point I don't know if there is something else I can try in order to help save her or if it is better to just humanely euthanize her :(
Any insight would be great
<As stated, I don't see much promise here... maybe the removal of this one fish will "re-set" the social dynamic in this tank, allow all to live together for a while longer. Bob Fenner>

Help my cichlids suddenly sick & dying 1/24/12
I am hoping that you guys can help me. I have a 125 gallon fresh water Cichlid tank. I have had a cichlid tank for several years. I have just restocked my tank about 3 months ago because my old fish service killed almost my whole tank of adult beautiful cichlids by changing my underground filter
<A poor choice for filtering these systems>

this past spring by sterilizing my tank. It has been recycled & I have had about 15 small healthy fish for over 4 months. It is powered by 2 separate Marine land 360 filters,
<Ahh, much better>
3 power heads with an underground filter.
I had 15 small 1.5-3 inch various African cichlids all healthy. The new fish servicing company who cleans my tank talked me into buying there 17 much larger (5-6 inch)

various cichlids because they wanted to start a salt water tank. I agreed, since my tank was so big and appeared half empty.
<Mmm, better (by far!) to start all small and have grow up together... Now you have Mbuna wars!>
This took place about 2 ½ weeks ago, all went well with the move. His fish were acclimated to my water, I had done a 40% water change about a week before and rearranged the tank the night before. All the fish appeared healthy for the first week. Then last week all of a sudden 4 of his fish had white covered over one of their eyes. I started treating with Melafix
<Worse than worthless. Might have killed off your bio-filter. See WWM re this product by API>
& added more African cichlid salt as per directions. However the next day a couple of other fish suddenly developed ulcer looking sores on their bodies, I have had several other fish die with white patches on their heads mostly & others have developed rather extensive ulcers in a matter of 12 hours. When the other fish were noted with ulcers I started treating with both Melafix & Pimafix.
The cloudy eyed fish look a little better, however many of the fish that look healthy are not eating along with the cloudy eyed fish. Also 2 of the cloudy eyed fish have developed ulcer looking lesions on their head by the cloudy eye. Please help me figure out what is going on, what is it? & how do I treat it?
<Can't tell what it is from the data proffered, hence, no way to suggest a treatment>
Do I continue Melafix & Pimafix?
<I would never use these period>

My water parameters were good & remain good. Ph 7.5-8.0, Nitrites negative & Nitrates 10. I have been doing water changes about every 3 days since the health problem.
<A good reflex defensive mechanism>
I have also attached pictures to help give you a better picture of what is going on with my fish.
<... I see the scarring... looks to me to be from aggression>

Thanks so much. I am anxious to hear your response. I would love to save my fish & I don't want to add the wrong medicine & stress them out any further.
<There may be a secondary (decomposer) mechanism at play here, but my best guess is the new, larger fishes are simply killing each other off principally. Best never to add to established African Lake Cichlid communities. Bob Fenner>

bald patches, but not sores... 5/16/11
Love the site, I browse it every time I have a question.
<Ah good>
On my issue tho, after a few minutes of searching I didn't find anything matching my fishes symptoms.
I have a female turquoise peacock cichlid (she is in a 6' 120 gal Malawi all peacock/hap tank). She was bought as a male for an all male tank, but turned out to be female.
<I have kept, and currently have Aulonocaras as well>
I realise she is likely stressed as one of two females in an all male tank (I've tried to rehome them without success) but I don't think that is the cause of her symptoms as the other female looks fine.
She has bare patches of skin on her body, where it looks like she has rubbed her scales off. She doesn't flash any more than any of the other fish, so I don't think its caused by excessive flashing. The patches are not red, bounded by red, or rubbed raw thru to tissue. She is skinny, but not so's anyone not "fishy" would notice.
She eats well and swims fine. She's not as active as the others, but I figure it's because she needs to hide a bit for a break from her tank mates.
<The third "strike"... some one/s is/are bothering this fish here. That its missing scales, is skinny, and "needs to hide" calls for re-moving this fish to elsewhere>
I've had her for over a year now and after a few parasite treatments in the beginning I kinda gave up on it, thinking it was just some weird thing she did at night. However, a year later, I have another fish who is skinny, tho again, not so much that anyone but an aquarist would notice. No bare patches tho. I have noticed a bit of flashing, and one or two instances of head shaking over a few weeks time. This causes me to rethink the worms/parasites issue, unsuccessfully treated previously. I also read that it might be fish tuberculosis. I see now I should have pursued it further back then.
Your thoughts please? It's so hard to diagnose fish. Also, whatever she has, being in the tank a year leads me to believe that, even tho they show no symptoms, the other fish all have to be infected as well?
<Pat, what you so well describe is very common in keeping these types of fishes... the "odd fish out" trends to poor condition, behavior and ultimately perishes. This is NOT an infection, nor pathogenic at all, but a social phenomenon... The only real solution is to move such "Beta" fishes, keep them apart from the "Alpha" ones. Bob Fenner>
Re: bald patches, but not sores... 5/16/2011

Thanks very much for your reply, Bob - its a relief that its not parasitic/infectious and endangering the whole tank.
I will keep on trying to rehome her, and in the meantime, pick up a smaller tank that I can relocate her to.
WEBSITE PROBLEM: Not sure if you know or not, but when I visited your site today, it was reported as an "attack page" and its very difficult to use it, and I'm sure newcomers would simply quit.
<Yes, thank you... we are "working on this" feverishly.>
<<Is one of the rotating banner ads... we're trying to isolate/determine which...>>
thanks again
<Cheers, BobF>

Is my Melanochromis sick? Reading 4/27/11
I bought "pretty" a month ago or so. We did our water change and now she continues to be a top swimmer by the filter area. Why is this?
<Mmm, most likely trying to avoid some "alpha" organism>
She never swam or stayed at the top of the water, she was always a bottom swimmer or hiding out in a cave. She was rubbing herself on the rocks then the other fish started to do that too.
<Could be indicative of a parasitic situation, or nothing. I take it you didn't quarantine your new/incoming livestock>
We did a 50% water change and added chemicals to the water for Ick and all of that. She is acting weird to me. Any suggestions?
Thank you
<To read, more in hopes of discovering what might be wrong here environmentally and give you insight as to the data we're looking for, as you don't mention water tests, the set up, foods/feeding, tankmates...
Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichdisfaq5.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Is my Melanochromis sick? 4/27/11
Thank you so much, Bob. Sorry for not including all the details. I'm at work and only had a quick minute to type that up.
I really appreciate you and your forum.
Right, we started w/ a few fish now we are up to like 15 in our 60 gallon tank.
<Fifteen... of what?>
Didn't quarantine all the other fish when we added the new ones one by one.
Thanks to your site though, I have been reading a lot about things and other folks questions/answers and so on. I now know much more thanks to your site!! Yes, I need to get a kit to test the water. I was thinking maybe the ph is not hard enough still.
<pH, perhaps not high enough, along w/ hardness>
The other fish are no longer "scratching" since we did the water change and treated the water for Ick and chlorine.
<... w/ what?>
It's just weird since she is always hanging out now by the two filters/pumps that are hanging in the back of the tank. Never did that before and was never scared of anyone either. She would chase some of the other fish at times and so on.
<Keep reading. B>
Re: Is my Melanochromis sick? - Fish details and pics for u
<Have deleted your pix... we ask that such be limited to hundreds of Kbytes...>
Okay on lunch break. Here is a list of my fish. See photo's too. Maybe to help me figure out what some of them are?
<This mix is incompatible and way too much for the 60 gal.s of volume>
We have all African Cichlid's with the exception of 2. We have 1 South American Convict and 1 Tropical Tin foil barb
2 Electric Yellows
2 Metriaclima Estherae (Red Zebra) - orange fish
1 Melanochromis Chipokee - the one I think may be sick
1 Convict Cichlid - stays to itself
1 Genus Henucgrinus
1 Tin Foil Barb (Orange fin) - the cichlids try to eat him sometimes and have taken bites out of his scales so that is why he looks like that. :(
1 Tiger Oscar
1 Mbuna - (blue fish)
1 Metriaclima Callainos?? Or is this the Petrotilapia, or the Pseudotropheus/Metriadima? - the purple dolphin looking one & the caramel one
1 Bumblebee
1 Albino Pink -don't know real name light pink with red eyes and gold around it. Looks like the Red Zebra but Albino pink
1 Turquoise one that's like the Genus Henucgrinus but not spotted, bright though. Not in the pics it was hiding
1 Algae Eater - the Cichlids ate its eyes off but still living.
Treated the water with a bottle of Ick treatment and water conditioner. The Ick is called Quick Cure
<... Formalin... too toxic... may well have "killed off" your bio-filter bacteria. See WWM re this as well>
fast relief for Ick and protozoan parasites by Aquarium Products, the other water conditioner is called Aqua Safe by tetra Aqua. I have used them before never any problems. Due to the scratching I treated the water. We never seen any white spots at all on any of the fish. I just panicked.
Thanks, Bob
Re: Is my Melanochromis sick? - Fish details and pics for u
So no luck on the determination of what fish I have? Did u see the pics?
Did I get most of the right? - Oh I see you only can have a few. I have reattached 1 photo only.
And you state that this mix is incompatible?
<See WWM re each species>
Why is that cuz of the Convict in there? Or other reasons? And you are saying that we need at least 130gallon maybe for the amount of fish in there as they will outgrow the tank persay? <per se>
And what does this mean? <... Formalin... too toxic... may well have "killed off" your bio-filter bacteria.
<See WWM re>
Is that why the fish tank already smells even though we just changed the filters And changed out the water by 50%?
Where is this that u are asking me to go to? See WWM re this as well.

Cloudy mess... trouble ahead

Re: Food? 4/27/11
And due to our mix, what should we feed them? We give them Cichlid Gold, B. Shrimp and Cichlid pellets. All of them eat all of this and I do not see bloat at this time.
Re: Is my Melanochromis sick? -Apologies 4/27/11
And, I just wanted to say, Sorry, Bob. I just now went to the home page and actually read the tips on asking the questions and things you guys ask for BEFORE sending in questions. I will make sure I do that going forward.
I just got so caught up on wanting to know all the answers from the pro's I didn't think. Plus, being at work makes this kind of hard. I will do this after work from now on as well.

African Cichlid - bosses fish - dying. HELP!! 8/5/10
Hi - my boss had a tank full of healthy cichlids before he left for vacation last Thursday.
Friday of last week I noticed the larger yellow one hiding in the corner.
It does that sometimes when the smallest one decides to go all bitey.
<Sounds like your boss has some work to do establishing a healthy community tank. If fish are attacking one another, there's something wrong. His fault, not yours, for making poor choices in terms of aquarium residents.>
Anyway - he's still there and he looks BRUISED all on the inside! His tail even looks like it has blood in the end of it by the fins. He has no open wounds, no major "puffing" except where it seems blood has pooled.
<Could very easily be haemorrhaging or simply damaged. Finrot commonly follows on from physical damage. The sick fish needs to be isolated and then treated with an antibiotic. A tank divider can work in the short term
-- not a breeding trap, too small! -- perhaps until your boss gets back.
Use an antibiotic to help the fish recover. Lowering the temperature down to 22 C/72 C may also help by cooling their ardour a bit.>
These are the CEO's fish, any idea what I can do to help them?
<In terms of just adding a magic potion -- nope, not much will suddenly make aggressive fish nice again. It sounds like the bully has decided to kill this weaker fish. One or other will need to be removed. Your local fish club may be able to help; if you're in a city, see if your local club can come rescue this fish. A pet shop might take the fish, but I wouldn't bank on it. Euthanasia is an option, though not a desirable one.
Unfortunately a lot of these Malawian cichlid office tanks are put together rather unwisely, and even if the fish are fine for a few months, eventually something goes wrong. If there's a contract for maintaining the tank with the aquarium designers, perhaps they can come help. If your boss created the tank, he clearly needs to review the species stocked and act accordingly.>
<Good luck, Neale.>

New 330L tank with Cichlids
Stressed Out Lake Malawi Cichlid Tank 8/2/10

Hi, I just acquired a tank with about 8 Cichlids of which one is an Albino.
Water Stats below:
Amm = 0
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = 5
pH = 7.4
Hardness = Unknown
I use Seachem Prime, but will be getting a water conditioner suited to cichlids this week, as the LFS in my area (all 3 of them) do not sell products specific for cichlids.
I have the lights on at most 3 hours per day - no plants (except for silk), no driftwood, about 25kg limestone.
I have a large external canister filter, but I am unsure if it contains carbon as I have not cleaned it yet as when I got the tank the person who brought it did not leave the water in the tank, but only the media and some poo in the gravel, so I had to replace the water completely. I conditioned all the new water but I imagine it would have gone into a cycle of how big I do not know, so I left all media in there to assist with the cycling.
I left the tank for just over a day and collected the fish. It has now been two weeks and most fish look good, there is what appears to be some fighting, but I have a feeling the Albino Cichlid is injured. Since I got him his appearance has not changed much, and not owning Cichlids previously I am unsure if anything is wrong and how serious. I have attached a picture.
His fins are very ratty and his tail fin is not that great either. Overall he is not very attractive, but he does have bursts of energy. The main thing I am very concerned about is he is always at the top, so much so you can see
his body bobbing above the water. I have been doing weekly water changes of around 10 - 20% and I have bought a heap of limestone (as mentioned above), added some Epsom salt (3 teaspoons only to a container first then gradually introduced). The others do chase him a bit, but they all chase each other, and it seems they are playing most of the time. I am just really concerned about the gasping, none of the others are doing it.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Thank you Teresa
< Albinos are typically weaker than normal colored fish. I suspect that this one is getting picked on and has a corner refuge picked out where he sits and takes a beating from the other fish. Floating plants, plastic tubes etc.. provide hiding places near the surface away from the territories of the meaner fish below. Keep the water at 73 to 75 F to keep the cichlids from wanting to breed and this should reduce the aggression.-Chuck.>

Hello (African cichlids, mysterious deaths...) -- 11/10/09
Hello....i have a 75 gallon African cichlid community tank. I have about 50 cichlids give or take...
<That's a lot of fish for a tank this size.>

recently I lost two fish with no sign of seeing it before hand..the fish were not stressed and did not look like it was caused by aggression...they died out of no where about 5 days apart...
<Fish rarely die for no reason. It's worth remembering that "African cichlid" and "community tank" are contradictions in terms, and poor choices when selecting species can end up with dominant males killing off any fish they view as rivals. Mbuna in particular are hyper-aggressive, and can be very, very hard on most Tanganyikan cichlids as well as the less aggressive Malawian species. Non-dwarf Mbuna will batter dwarf Mbuna, so again, you have to be careful even then.>
I recently been adding new fish...I make my weekly water changes and maintain a good environment, and feed them once daily...
<Adding new fish is fine, but almost always, new fish are viewed with more hostility than fish that are already there. Standard operating practise is to remove all the fish and/or rocks, rearrange the rocks, and then add the new and old fish together. This way, you reset the balance of aggression and territory holding. Obviously, if you add small fish that bigger fish will view as threats, those small fish will be killed.
I have two filters and good oxygen
<I'm concerned your tank is very heavily stocked, and given that, water quality may be less good than you think. Double check your water chemistry is between pH 7.5 and 8.2, the hardness is above 15 degrees dH, and the carbonate hardness is around 7 degrees KH. Water quality must be excellent:
0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and nitrate levels less than 20 mg/l.>
do you think you can help me and maybe give me advice on prevention so it does not happen again, and I could keep my fish healthy... Thank you, Sal
<Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Orange cichlid - whitey kinda fungus mouth 9/29/2009
Hi team! (and great site btw!)
We have a 4ft tank with cichlids and two Bristlenose Plecos (who are breeding at the moment). We also have two electric yellows who have mouths full of eggs and fry. So clearly a happy tank...
<Seemingly so, but I wouldn't read *too* much into whether or not Labidochromis and Pseudotropheus spp. are breeding -- they tend to do that readily, even when other factors, such as social behaviour, are amiss.>
We have two orange cichlids who have developed little white fungus lips.
The fungus isn't big, but we wanted to check your thoughts anyway.
<Usually means fighting, and often alongside water quality issues. Your Orange cichlids, if Rift Valley cichlids, are likely Pseudotropheus estherae or something similar. When males fight, they wrestle with their jaws, and if the skin is damaged, it can become infected. Ordinarily this isn't too serious and heals quickly, but if the males can't stay apart (i.e., the tank is too small) and/or the water quality isn't perfect, the wound won't heal quickly enough, and a secondary infection sets in.
Bacterial and fungal infections are both common. True fungal infections look like white cotton threads, but Columnaris (also called Mouth Fungus) is a bacterial infection that looks somewhat similar, though off-white to grey and the threads are shorter.>
One looks like he has a very short and landscaped white moustache (very minimal growth), the other looks like he just has a white coloured lip as opposed to orange (i.e. no fungus growth).
There are no other fish in the tank who have it, and they are all still eating really well, they all seem to get along really well.
<As I say, this is likely from fighting. Review stocking, separate the males, and treat with a suitable anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.>
Could this be from the fish foraging through the rocks on the bottom, or possibly continually doing their shimmy dance (clearly another happy couple) and chasing each other?
<The "Shimmy Dance" is likely fighting. Do check the sex of the fish concerned. Male Pseudotropheus estherae and in fact virtually all male Pseudotropheus spp. are hugely intolerant of one another. A four-foot tank isn't going to have sufficient space for two males of the same species.
Normally Pseudotropheus are kept as a harem (one male, two or more females) or else in very large groups (including at least five males of each species). As harems, they're easier to keep and observe, but big groups allow "overstocking" which is where the aquarist does massive amounts of extra work so that more fish can be kept. Do see here:
We do a weekly water change , there's no excess food in the tank, and the Plecos keep it spotless. Its not an aggressive tank either.
<If these are Mbuna, then the tank is much more aggressive than you think it is.>
This is the first instance of fungi / sickness that we've had.
<Likely wasn't much fighting when the fish were young... they're older, maybe sexually mature now, and that's when the trouble starts.>
It hasn't spread to fins or skin or tail etc, and doesn't appear to be from a wound or dead flesh.
Any suggestions as to what this could be and the best way to fix it?
From all the way Down Under
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Cichlid Injury or Disease? Former 6/23/09
<Hi there>
I've recently started up a new Lake Malawi Mbuna Cichlid tank. I've been a hobby aquarist for a few years now and this is my first stab at a cichlid tank.
<Some fun!>
Here is my setup:
4 Electric Yellow Labs
4 Red Zebras

36 gallon,
<Mmm, going to be some tussling>
with crushed coral substrate, plenty of river bed rocks and slate arranged for plenty of hiding spaces and territory markers. The tank has been fully up and running for about 2 months. The 4 labs were added first, then the zebras a couple weeks later.
Water parameters:
Temp: 80F
pH: 8.2
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: < 10 ppm
KH: 11
GH: 6
Here's my concern. A few days ago I noticed one of the red zebras has a milky white patch
<Told you so>
on the bottom-left side of its body just above it's pelvic fin, very easy to see given its deep orange coloring. The fish currently measures about 3 inches long, with the patch being about half the size of a dime. Nearby the patch are a few "frayed" scales that are also white, looking similar to someone who starts to peel after a bad sunburn. Now, the patch appears to be spreading along its underbelly.
There are also a few more of the frayed scales.
Most of the time the fish in question will hide, except during feeding.
Its behavior is otherwise normal.
Originally, this fish did not hide. However, b/c of the excessive hiding I can't help but think it's gotten in a few fights, lost, and is now just scared.
<An accurate assessment>
Its fins do not appear to be nipped, nor any eye damage or growths around its mouth. I've tried to find pictures of common fish diseases, but haven't been able to find anything to make a definitive diagnosis. The closest possibilities I have found are Velvet or Costia.
Unfortunately I cannot supply a pic as I stated that the fish is usually hiding making it very difficult to photograph.
- Aaron
<Much more likely just secondary infection from physical injuries... You may want, need to isolate the one fish... ultimately a few others... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichdisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cichlid Injury or Disease? 6/24/09

Thanks for the response.
You stated that it's most likely a secondary infection. Is there anything I need to do when I isolate the fish (medicate, etc)?
<Nothing I would do, no... other than move the damaged fish where it can heal of its own accord, and feed in peace>
Also, I was planning on getting 4 more fish (most likely electric blue johanni's) to complete the stocking scheme.
<No my friend... this system is already over/mis-stocked>
I figure with 12 fish in a 36 gal aquarium, there will be a large enough population to spread out any aggression so that individual fish are not bullied.
<Mmm, can work... with very careful feeding... attention to the arising of an "alpha" bully>
I'm using a 60 gal canister filter which (hopefully) should be enough to handle the larger bio load.
<Am not such a fan of canisters for African Cichlid systems... or I'd at least add some more/redundant filtration. Perhaps a hang-on power filter of size>
Thanks again.
<Welcome again my friend. BobF>

Re: Cichlid Injury or Disease? (Update) 6/27/09
Thanks again for you input. It's been quite helpful.
The fish in question is no longer hiding. It's now swimming around normally with the other fish.
I did manage to get a few pictures (albeit a *little* fuzzy for some) to help give you a better idea of what I've been describing.
<Looks like a true fungus... Yikes!>
Needless to say the area in question has spread since I first e-mailed you.
I still agree with your diagnosis of fighting wounds.
<I too>
There's nothing around the fish's eyes or mouth, and nothing on its fins. I just want to be as certain as possible.
<This fish may heal of its own accord... but I'd at least be reading:
and the linked files above... BobF>

Re: Cichlid Injury or Disease? (Update) 6/27/09
Thanks again for replying. It's been quite helpful.
I've moved the fish to a hospital tank and am treating it with Pimafix to help treat the fungus.
I'll be sure to read the link you passed along.
- Aaron
<... Aaron, please read where you were referred to... I would not use this API product, nor any of their other "fixes" period. B>

Re: Cichlid Injury or Disease? (The Final Update) 6/27/2009
Bad news. No sooner did I receive your last response that I found the fish belly up.
I appreciate all the help you gave me. I always try to research what the best course of action is whenever a problem arises. Unfortunately, a lot of time you get conflicting advice (to medicate or not to medicate, etc).
<Yes... and what is/are the choices one has, must make here? To discern fact from non-... set upon a path of your choice>
I guess you just have to base your actions on previous experience, of which I only have a few years worth.
<Mmm, not so... our civilization is built upon the vast experiences, efforts, trials of our forbearers... Mostly recorded as writing... some of it extant in the working memories of others (e.g. the WWM Crew)>
Every incident is a learning experience. I only wish this one would have worked out for the best.
Thanks again.
<Well... thank you for your (conciliatory) follow-up... I do wish you well.

African Cichlid Help  4/1/08 Hi, I have a 65 gallon tank and my only female is gasping for air and hiding at the top the tank by the filter/heater. <Do check water quality and chemistry: these are classic signs of distress, and sometimes certain individuals or species respond to problems faster than others.> I can't lose her - she gives me babies! Don't know what to do. I added water conditioner and cycle by Nutrafin. The other fish seem to be swimming around a little faster than usual. Never had this happen before. What can I do. should I add medicine Maracyn??? Think the PH is okay but ph reader is on the fritz. Just changed the water as usual yesterday. <As I say, check water. But if you have the right water chemistry and good water quality, the social behaviour may be an issue. Unreceptive females (perhaps simply because she's getting old, or not eaten enough recently) often get hammered by sexually active males. This is extremely common with cichlids, and indeed other aggressively promiscuous fish like livebearers and halfbeaks. If this is the case, removing the female to a quarantine tank for some rest-and-recuperation might be just the ticket. Female African cichlids are often quite mild, so depending on the species, you may even be able to keep her for a while in a standard community tank.> Help Please <Cheers, Neale.>

Mbuna milk mustache? -- 10/18/07 Hi Neale, Quick question for you. One of my Mbuna has a perfectly symmetrical white triangle that has formed around his mouth and "chin." Unfortunately I don't have a digital camera and not able to send along a photo. The water quality is good (nitrites and ammonia - 0; nitrates below 20ppm; pH 8.0). Do you suppose this may be a fighting wound? I've never observed the Mbuna "mouth fighting." No other fish exhibit any fungus-looking attributes... Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you! Lisa. <Hmm... assuming that this isn't normal colouration (you never know with the more obscure Mbuna) then it could be simply dead skin following a fight. In which case, I'd personally use some mild antibacterial like Melafix just to be on the safe side. If things got worse, then Finrot medication would need to be used. Cichlids do indeed fight with their jaws, and what you describe is not uncommon. Presumably the teeth damage the skin. Anyway, keep an eye out for secondary infections, and if they occur, treat for Finrot. Good luck! Neale>
Re: Mbuna milk mustache?  10/19/07
Thanks Neale, shall I then move the injured fish to a separate tank to medicate? (sorry if this is an obvious question) Lisa <I'd treat it in the tank. If the problem is minor (which seems to be the case) you may as well avoid problems with stress and damage caused while capturing the fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Oscar/Bumblebee Cichlid/Ich   12/15/06 Hey Guys <Andrea... "woman of the sea"> First of all, you have the absolute best site there is regarding fish. It's unbelievably helpful! Unfortunately, I didn't find my dilemma on the forums. I   have a 10 gallon tank. In it until yesterday was an Oscar, 2 Plecs, a Bala and a  Bumblebee Cichlid. <Yikes... going to be incredibly crowded... if not already... Oh, I see the solution below> We currently have a 55 gallon on it's way here. My boyfriend  came home from work yesterday to find a Plec had died. <Not surprising... need more room> He described it as being  covered in cotton. I didn't notice anything different when I left for work and  found this to be a little strange. He took the Plec out, did a 50% water change,  vacuumed the gravel and cleaned the filter. All was well until I noticed my  Bala, Jack, had half of his tail missing. I saw the Bumblebee, Wanda, picking on  him <Yes, also to be expected> so I moved him to a different tank to get away from her. I also got him  another Bala, Will, because I know they do better when there is more than one.  All that was left in the 10 was Wanda, Oscar the Oscar (haha I know it's a very  original name) and the Plec. I fed everyone this morning and went to work.  Nothing was strange. When I got home I noticed Wanda biting at Oscar <Ditto...> so I looked  closer and he was laying in a plant. I tapped the glass to make him move and saw  that he was covered in white spots. I think it's Ich but I'm not sure. Could he  get Ich that fast? <Yes... is omnipresent usually... able to infest in "stressful" circumstances> We keep the tank very clean. Also, should I keep Wanda, the  Bumblebee and Oscar separated? <Yes> I think it's a territory thing as well. I moved  everything around and she's still being a bully. Thank you for any help.   Andrea <Mmm... I suggest a bit more reading re the Compatibility of the species you list... and the tank upgrade ASAPractical. Bob Fenner>
Re: Oscar/Bumblebee Cichlid/Ich   12/17/06
Hey Bob (And Crew) <Andrea> Thank you SO much for the fast reply. My Oscar died last night, as did  Jack, one of my Bala's. After doing some research, I found that the Bumblebee Cichlid and Oscar couldn't go together. <Correct> Our LFS said they'd be just fine and  "any cichlid can go together". <... dismal> Mhmm, right. Wanda the Bumblebee went back to the LFS. Now we only have a lone Bala and a Plec. We decided to just get a 100 or 120 gal tank right away instead of doing 2 upgrades. <Wow!> It's easier and then we don't have to move the fish more than once. Knowing what we do now, we plan on  getting another Oscar as soon as we have the bigger tank all set and cycled. I  learned 99.9% of what I know now from your site. Again, thank you so much! Andrea <Thank you for the update and acknowledgement. Bob Fenner>

New Malawi Cichlid With Damaged Dorsal Fin  9/6/06 One of my redtop kimpuma's has something wrong (looks eaten, fin rot, diseased, etc.) with his dorsal fin (see pic's). Not sure what it is, any idea's?   He is acting normal and eats normal. What size is your tank and what SPECIES of fish do you have? (This helps identify potential aggression or overstocking problems.) 55g w/ AC110 & Eheim 2028: (3) Electric Yellows (3) Yellow/Red Zebra's (2) Red Top Kimpuma (1) Unknowns (Lake Malawi vegetarians) (1) Blue Lobster (2) Golden CAE's (1) SAE How long has it been set up? Is it CYCLED? (This can rule out cycling issues.) 4 years, and yes it is cycled What are your water parameters: Temperature: 77 F GH: 13 KH: 13 How long have you had the fish? I've had the fish for about 2 months. What do you FEED them? Frozen Brine Shrimp Frozen Blood Worms New Life Spectrum Cichlid Formula And every great now and then, Wardley Essentials Tropical Flakes Have you introduced any new fish recently? Yes, all fish that are in there are within 2 months new. Replaced old livestock with this new batch. Most recent fish are (1) redtop Kimpuma (not this one) and (2) golden CAE's What is your MAINTENANCE schedule, and what product/s (if any) do you use to neutralize chlorine or chloramines in your TAP WATER? 50% water change every week Use Amquel Plus to dechlorinate / de-ammonia / de-nitrate < When new Lake Malawi cichlids are first introduced together, there is a pecking order to be established. From the list you have provided The zebras are probably the dominant fish in the tank assuming that they are all nearly the same size. When an aggressive cichlid approaches a non-dominant cichlid , the non-dominant cichlids takes on a submissive posture of turning their dorsal area towards the aggressive fish. As the aggressive fish attacks, the dorsal spines of the submissive fish are exposed and take the brunt of the attack. This leaves the vital organs alone. The teeth of the aggressive cichlid takes its toll on the dorsal spine of the Red Top. There are red topped zebras, the other zebras are probably assuming that the Kimpuma is a red top zebra an are being extra aggressive towards it and not the other fish. Try rearranging the tank and cool the water down a couple more degrees. I would not recommend feeding these fish bloodworms.-Chuck>

It's A Cichlid-Eat-Cichlid World - 08/26/2006 Hello, <Hi.  Sorry for the delay, your message came to us in a format that very few of us are able to view and respond to, and since I've been out, I didn't get to respond until just now.> Your site has been invaluable for my marine endeavors, but I've a question about one of my large (8" long) haplochromine cichlids.   <I'm glad the site has proven useful to you!> She has been bitten quite severely by another (and on its way to the LFS!!) aggressive cichlid right below her eye.  The wound is pretty large, almost the size of a dime and seems to be sloughing.   <Yeeee-ikes!> It's not as red as it was a couple of days ago but I can't tell if it is healing or not.  I have removed her from the tank and put her in a small iso tank and would like to treat her to ensure that she doesn't develop any secondary infections.   <I would encourage this in your case.> What can I use to help her heal?   <Something with Kanamycin sulfate and/or Nitrofurazone would be my preference.> Everyone else in the tank (which is well established and has been running with almost no deaths for the last 5 years) is fine.   <Very good.> Thanks much,  -Sheena <As I'm sure you know, maintain water quality at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and less than 20ppm nitrate (as close to 0 as possible) while you help her recover.  Hopefully, in your good care, she will heal quickly.  All the best to you,  -Sabrina>
Cichlid-Eat-Cichlid World - II - 08/26/2006
Hi Sabrina, thanks for the response, and my apologies for the message format. <Don't apologize - it's our funky webmail system that causes the problems, and my lack of timeliness that delayed the response.> I appreciate your advice, but unfortunately it's too late.   <Argh!  My deepest sympathies....> I did treat 'Big Mama' with Melafix as suggested by my local LFS.   <I am not a proponent of MelaFix....  It's only Melaleuca ("Tea Tree") extract, and not a good substitute for "real" medications.> The water was good and she seemed to be doing okay but then she upped and died on me - fine in the morning and eating (voraciously, but then what cichlid is not voracious?), then dead when I got home from work.   <Yikes!  So sudden, and surprising!> I think possibly the stress did her in, as she has never lived anywhere but her original tank.  Of course the ammonia was up when I found her dead, but it had been 0 when I left for work, so it was a sad loss.   <Agreed....  Again, my sympathies to you.> Another fellow at the LFS suggested in the event of future bites, I should remove the wounded fish from the tank, apply Vitamin E to the wound <.... not sure I would do this....  Perhaps iodine or another "tried and true" product....> and put the fish back in the tank, <.... and am *certain* I would not do this....  You were right to quarantine.> suggesting the move did more harm than good in this case, essentially agreeing it was stress that killed her.   <Though I agree she was likely stressed by the move, leaving a damaged fish in a tank full of other aggressive fish is a good recipe for fish food.> I am of the opinion that a maimed cichlid is a cichlid at risk from further attacks, but now I also, of course, regret my decision to move her.   <Don't.  Can you imagine how much *more* stressed she would have been as her buddies continued to pester her wound?  Ouch.  No, you really *did* do the right thing by quarantining her.  I am fairly certain of this.> The big tank maintains excellent water quality consistently, and possibly she may have recovered in there.   <Or, possibly she would have been damaged further, contracted disease, died, and spread disease to your other healthy livestock.  Either way, what's done is done; learn from your experience and apply it.  That's all we can do.> Well, we live (some of us anyway) and learn.   <Exactly.> I appreciate your help though!  Thanks again,  -Sheena <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Cichlids floating vertically - need your help!   6/2/06 Hello, Our office has 15 Cichlids in a 55 gallon tank. Two of the fish are floating vertically, with their head up and have been doing so for several days. However, when we feed them, they eat and swim normally. It does appear they are being picked on - they have chunks missing from their fins. <Sounds like submissive behavior... other fishes beating them up, their signaling that they "give"> The service that cleans the tank says they are probably dying and we might just want to flush them but we have trouble doing that when we don't even know what is wrong. It is sad to watch them "float" and we don't want them to suffer. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you! <I would move these servile fishes, but you need to carefully observe the others, remove the bully, bullies as well. Bob Fenner>

Lake Malawi Cichlid Mayhem   5/25/06 I'll lay out my question and then give some background details.    I have read your site extensively and am following the advice "it's  hard to give too much information".   Here's my question:  Why would a pair of Pseudotropheus yellowfins  suddenly both turn up with nasty wounds on their backs and mouths and  die in the same night when they had (seemingly) gotten along well with  all tankmates for months? I am a 6-month aquarist novice.  I have a 65 gallon cichlid tank  with a male and female (carrying fry) Pseudotropheus Kenyi, male and  female pseudo. albino red zebras, male Melanochromis johanni, male  melano. auratus, female yellow Labidochromis (just got done carrying  fry), a Pleco and a Synodontis multipunctatus.  The male yellow  lab got beat up and is in our 12 gallon hospital tank now.  There  are four pseudo. yellowfin fry growing up (they're about 1/2" long now)  in the adult tank.  Their parents are the source of my  question.     We used to have one male and two female pseudo. yellowfins (they're a  dark purple-gray color with bright yellow top and tail fins). < Sounds like Ps. aurora.> Six  weeks ago one female yellowfin disappeared and we never any sign of her  again.  Weeks of peace and harmony went by.  The remaining  pair of yellowfins did well, and their fry are scattered in safe  crevices of the main tank.  We resigned yourself to the notion that  when I had the tank lid open for several hours to catch the male yellow  lab on the sly and put him in the hospital tank, the female yellowfin  must have jumped out and gotten eaten by our dog or something (we were  at a loss for any other explanation of the instant and total  disappearance of a 2.5" long fish). < Could have easily died and been eaten by the Pleco.> Thinking all was now well, we  decided to buy the last fish we wanted:  a female johanni and  another female Kenyi.  My husband did the shopping ten days ago  and came home with a female Kenyi and a "female johanni".  The  moment I saw the "female johanni" my husband bought, I knew it was  actually a male Melanochromis of some other sort -- turns out it's an  auratus (good grief, if the cichlid expert is out for the day, don't  take the word of just anybody at the pet store!!). <Big difference between a yellow female johanni and a black and yellow auratus.> He's doing  great as the smallest non-fry fish in the tank, but the female Kenyi  died the night she got home from the pet store.  She had no  visible wounds upon her death.  Seven days went by without  incident, but two days ago I came home to find both our adult  yellowfins, one female and one male, with nasty wounds around their  mouths and what looked like one huge, circular wound right on top of  their back.  Both fish had the same kind of wound on the back  which spanned approximately 1/3 the length of their bodies and was  semicircular upon side view.  They both died that night.   When I (heartbroken) took their bodies to the "cichlid expert" at our  pet store, his opinion was that the male auratus, only a resident for  one week, was the primary suspect for such aggression.  The other  fish experts at the store offered two contradictory opinions:  one  said that since the male yellowfin normally shares a large synthetic  log with the Synodontis, perhaps the female yellowfin tried to move in  to spawn and the Synodontis aggressively kicked them both out.   The third theory was that we have some sort of bacterial infection  (this was espoused in part by the fact that the other fish hadn't been  as aggressive to feed that morning and the night before).  Ammonia  and nitrites are 0 and pH is 7.8.  (We'll be adding crushed coral  to the gravel during our next cleaning to help keep the pH a little  higher). Temp is 78 degrees F.  We bought the medication the store  recommended (PimaFix) but did not administer it yet because that  evening the fish ate voraciously again and we saw no other afflicted  fish.  The only other thing out of the ordinary now is one very  cloudy eye on the female albino zebra.  The male albino has been  excavating gravel, so perhaps she received a mating injury, but that's  just a guess.  Can you help me understand what might have so  suddenly killed my pair of parent yellowfins?  I'll admit I get  very emotional about our fish and this incident has made me question  whether I will be able to remain a cichlid keeper for long.  If  there's an eminent danger lurking in our tank, I want to know and  remedy it!! Sincerely, Kristy, Raleigh, NC < There are basically only a couple of things that really are a problem with Lake Malawi cichlids. One is aggression. Usually you see weaker fish being chased by more dominant fish and the tails of the loser are being slowly bitten off. These fish do have teeth and can do some damage but it is usually not overnight. It happens most often after a few days. Now a fish that is being aggressively chased can attempt to jump out of the tank and kill itself by striking the glass top and knocking itself out. This may explain the mouth damage that you observed. The second reason is internal infections. Your fish really need an all vegetarian diet. Fish that are fed too much protein have problems with internal blockages. These blockages feed the bacteria and protozoa in the gut and they start to fed on the food and not the fish. the microorganism grow and distend the belly area. The fish stops eating and usually hangs out in the corner until it dies. Other fish can eat the carcass of the dead fish and this can cause others to bloat up and die. The distressed fish is usually pretty well colored and is the prettiest , and easiest fish to catch at the store. This may explain the female Kenyi's death. The marks on the back are done by the Pleco eating the bodies of the dead fish.-Chuck>

Sick African Cichlids Dear Crew, This is the best site on the internet. (it is almost as good as email). I have one of my eight fish, with a missing back fin for maybe 2 months now. Tank Facts: 60 gallon trickle filter 10 gallon sump Activated Carbon Many Rocks and Tree stump for hiding I use: SeaChem's rift salt SeaChem's Trace element SeaChem's buffer I don't know what type of African Cichlids my fish are b/c all I can buy at the LFS is from an assorted tank.   <start searching on the internet, I am sure you will be able to ID them. http://malawicichlidhomepage.com/ > All the other fish look great. I don't know if this fish's fin has been nipped or if he has some sort of disease. The fish does get picked on and the top and side fins look good or at least better hard to tell. all the poor fish has is a nub on the back. To treat the problem I took out the activated carbon from my wet/dry trickle filter and used a bottle of Melafix in accordance with the directions on the box a month ago. I can't tell that it has helped at all. <did the fin grow back?> The fish still has a healthy appetite and struggles to swim but still competes for food.  What should I do to further diagnose the problem and solve it? <put the fish into a separate tank, see if it grows back.  The injury is probably from being bullied, if possible send us a picture of the injury.> I consider euthanasia, but one I couldn't catch the fish and two if it has that much fight why not let him live. <Good Plan>   Should I get a quarantine type shelter to put in my tank to let it heal if it is being picked on? Should I get a quarantine tank to protect the other fish?  being a poor student money is a factor so for now I prefer the shelter. <a QT tank does not have to be elaborate, bare bottom 10 gal, some pvc for hiding and a sponge filter.  If that is not possible I would consider adding some more hiding places to the main tank.> Thanks in advance I have used and loved the site for over a year now, <Awesome, -Gage> Rusty Bennett

African cichlid owner-worried about Electric Yellow >Hi Crew, >>Good morning, Marina here. >What a wonderful website!!  I have a 55 gallon tank with a Penguin 330 BioWheel filter, and also an Aquaclear 200 filter. (No undergravel filter). I am also running a power head for circulation and oxygen. The pH level is currently at 8.2, the temp is 79 degrees. There are no plants in the tank, just some lava rock, Tufa rock and some rainbow rock for hiding places for the fish. There is also a fine gravel on the bottom - natural colored. >>Sounds like a great starter set up, well thought-out and executed, in my opinion.  You clearly understand the general needs of most African Rift lake cichlids. >I currently own 4 electric yellows, 2 electric blues and 2 red top afras. They are all juveniles (about 1.5-2" long). The yellows were my first fish, and had them 2 weeks before adding the blues and afras. (I did water changes, and waited for the nitrate level to drop back to zero before adding the blues and red tops.) >>I'm assuming that you didn't mean nitrite readings, and am impressed that you're getting zero nitrate with such filtration. >My nitrates have risen some (12.5 mg/l) with the new addition of fish, and am currently doing water changes to lower them. >>Are you vacuuming the gravel when you do these changes, or cleaning the biological cartridges when you perform the water changes? >When I do the water changes, I add Amquel to the water before adding it to the tank. I also use Bio-cycle during the water changes. >>I've not used this product at *all*, and African cichlids being what they are (which is hardy to the Nth degree), I see no need to add bacteria from a bottle (assuming they're live).  It could also be a source of nutrients. >I noticed yesterday that one of my electric yellows is starting to sit on the bottom of the tank more, and not as hungry as he used to be. Could this be due to stress? >>Absolutely, stress that could cause depression of its immune system.  However, I believe that, because with each new addition there's a rearrangement of hierarchy, he's found himself in a lower place on the pecking order.  Being still and quiet at the *bottom* is far better than being harassed up top.  Do consider having a small hospital tank for him in case he shows other signs of disease. >He is still eating- but just doesn't seem as excited about eating. I am currently feeding them Spirulina flakes twice a day (a small amount in the morning, and a small amount in the evening). Once a week I feed them a shrimp mix made by Hikari- only one feeding on the day they get the shrimp mix.  I am being very careful not to over feed them. My question is this - could the water changes, water treatment or just the addition of new fish be causing the yellow to act this way, or is this a normal behavior? >>More likely than not, the addition of the new fishes.   >He does still swim around some, but not as much as before. Thank you in advance for your help!!   >>You're quite welcome.  Another small tip--when experiencing aggression problems, try rearranging the rock structure when adding new fish.  (Some fish are *so* aggressive that they need to be removed for a period of time.)  Best of luck!  Marina
Re: African cichlid owner-worried about Electric Yellow
>Hi Marina, >>Good morning, Carolyn. Thank you so much for your quick response. You had asked if I was vacuuming the substrate or cleaning the biological filter. I am not doing this at this time. I was told to wait awhile before doing this.   >>Good advice. As for a "hospital tank" I am in the process of setting up a 29 gallon tank for that purpose.  I will rearrange the rock with my next water change on Tuesday. Thanks again for the reassurance and help!!  Have a great day!  -Carol Goodall >>Quite welcome, I'm glad I could help.  Marina

Skinny Africans <Hello! Ryan with you today> Today when I was feeding my Cichlids, I noticed that one of my African cichlids stomach was sucked in.  It looks like it is starving to death, but I feed them the same food at pretty much the same time every night.  I have 2 Zebra cichlids, 1 blue cichlid, 1 yellow cichlid, and 2 Plecos in a 55 gallon tank. They have been in this tank for around 6 months now.  The Zebra that has the sunk in stomach is also constantly chased around by the blue cichlid.  This is nothing new though.  They have been that way for around 2 years now.  Can you help me? <Sure!  You want to quarantine the fish, and give him an opportunity to recover without further torture.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm Then, you can feed him properly, and ensure that he's eating his fair share.  Once he's back to a healthy shape, re-introduce him.  Best of luck! Ryan>

Tail rot or nipping stress Hello Is it possible that just one fish would appear to have tail rot . All the other cichlids ( 1 bumble bee , 2 electric yellow , 2 cobalt, 1 electric blue , 2 jewels and 2 Plecos in a 55 gallon tank ) appear to be healthy and fine . The smaller of the two jewels looks like he has tail rot but it is also very weary of the other jewel and the bumble bee and is hiding at the top of the tank and not eating . I did a 50 % water change and moved about a few hiding spaces , before having to leave for 3 days . When i got back i noticed the tail rot / nip? of the smaller jewel . Should i remove this fish for fear of spreading the tail rot to the others ? or this this just a territorial issue ? < Your Lake Malawian cichlids have teeth for scraping algae off of rocks. They also do a good job on scales and fins too. The jewel fish are pretty tough customers themselves but they are no match against the faster heavier scaled Malawians. I am sure that the Malawians have figured out that the jewel fish is no match and will continue to pick on him. The nips on the tail will recover if the water is clean and the other fish are not allowed to attack him any further. The bumblebee and Cobalts are the most likely culprits. If it is tail rot then it is unlikely to spread to the other fish as long as they are healthy.-Chuck>

African cichlids I have 6 fish in a 30 gallon tank all Africans all are fine except one. I have one African bumblebee cichlid who in the last few weeks spends his time head straight up hiding in a fake plant eyes cloudy and he is yellow but as he is hiding all day he turns a really dark and black he won't eat much and does not move his tail fins look a little ragged but the concern are his cloudy eyes and also his straight up stance sometimes he is head down but not moving much? I have treated the tank with antibiotics but everyone else is fine and swimming around healthy water test indicate no problems any help is greatly appreciated......<Dear Tyrone, You did not mention the other fish but I suspect the others are intimidating your little bumble bee cichlid. I would place him in a little breeder net that you can buy for a few dollars at the local pet shop. Make sure that the top is covered so he does not jump out. Place a small pvc or plastic tube in the net so he has somewhere to hide. Make sure the pH of your tank is above 7 and add a tablespoon of rock salt or sea salt_ for every 5 gallons of water to the tank. They sell a rift lake salt as well that will work. Follow the directions on the container. The salt will help generate a slime on the fish and will get rid of the cloudy eyes. The other fish are picking on this one and the tail will grow back quickly. When the bumblebee cichlid has his tail back and the eyes are no longer cloudy then he can be returned to the main tank only after you do a few things. Just before you turn off the lights at night, rearrange the rocks and do a 25% water change. Put the bumblebee back in the tank and turn off the lights for the night. The next morning they will be swimming around trying to establish new territories. Good luck. Chuck> 

African Wipe-out Follow-up (and Thanks!) Recently I  have asked you some questions and I've appreciated your fast reply.  My tank of African cichlids was doing well, but today I noticed my Iodochromis sprengerae (Rusty) had a single large white spot on its side. Its behavior is normal, but I am worried for its health.   <Mbuna like yours are fairly aggressive and occasionally get into fights. Wounds on the flanks may be caused by fighting or by the fish accidentally rubbing against some sharp object. You fish have teeth for scraping algae off of rocks and they can do some damage when used on other fish. I would recommend adding some African salts to the tank as per the manufacturers recommendations. This will inhibit secondary fungus and bacterial infections while increasing the fishes slime on the skin. There are also water conditioners that will increase the slime on a fish too. If the fish gets worse then I would put it in a separate tank and medicate for wounds. No need to treat the entire tank when just one fish needs the medication. Besides antibiotics can affect your biological filters and really cause havoc in your tank. Good luck-Chuck> Thank you, Rachel

Jewel Cichlids  >Have a question. I have a 45 gallon tank with 3 pairs of convicts and one pair of jewel cichlids. It seems that there was a huge festival of mating in the tank, with everyone spawning at the same time..  >>Oh my, a cichlid orgy as it were? Hee..!  >I just cleaned the tank yesterday! Any way, my jewels just spawned today, and this morning, everything was fine and dandy between the two jewels, as it has been always when they have spawned. Now, the male jewel has taken over the eggs, and the female seems a little beat up and wont come out from her hiding spot. The male will not let her back to her brood. When she does come out and some color returns, and she nears her spawning site, the male chases her away again, she turns grayish, and goes back to hiding. Please give me some advice as to what I should do, because out of all these fish, the pair of jewels are my favorite, and the female is a part of that prized possession.  >>Of course, as the male wouldn't be quite so brilliant if she weren't there to show off to. I'm thinking that, even though the constructs and confines of the tank with present mates (Convicts) were acceptable previously, for whatever reason this is no longer the case. If these were my fish, I would not hesitate to dedicate a tank to them, providing MANY places for the female to hide. I will also point you towards some sites I've recently discovered: http://www.african.uklinux.net/phpBB/index.php (COOL! I just noticed that it's a Linux construct!) Also, be sure they're both getting top nutrition.  >Thanks a lot! Crystal  >>P.S. Please accept my apologies for the late reply, the person in whose inbox your message was has had some computer troubles and it got past the rest of us. Marina 

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