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FAQs on African Cichlid Disease Diagnosis

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: Environmental, Nutritional, Social, 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,

African Cichlids wasting away   2/26/19
<Hello Mike,>
I am taking care of a tank (180 gallons) that recently has had problems with assorted African Cichlids. The fins on the fish are looking ragged, the fish are lethargic, most hovering over the same spot, have had quite a few losses, now all other fish are not really affected, have Synodontis cats, several Bichirs, some clown loaches, and two Parrots.
<This is not exactly a textbook community, is it? Even if it isn't overstocked -- though "some" Clown Loaches could easily fill 180 gallons on their own -- it's a mix of fish with different needs. Hard to imagine the conditions are ideal for them all, simply because they cannot possibly be.
Clowns need soft to medium hard water with a slightly acidic to neutral pH.
Such conditions would be toxic to Rift Valley cichlids. Furthermore, "African cichlids" covers a lot of different types. West African cichlids like Kribs are happiest in soft water, while Malawian and Tanganyikan species want hard water. Given you have a number of predators (in the form Bichirs) then chances are you're offering meaty foods (please, no live feeder fish!) and that in turn means high levels of nitrate are very likely. Nitrate is very toxic to cichlids, much more so than for most other fish; 20 mg/l can stress then, and 40 mg/l will noticeably increase mortality via things like Hexamita and HLLE/HITH infections.>
No new fish were added. I have tried to treat with Seachem Kanaplex as it appeared to be a bacterial infection which did not help or stop the progression. Due to increased feedings I have had to adjust my water change schedule to every two weeks and I am removing thirty to fifty percent of the water, will email the water parameters upon demand, but have increased the water temperature to 80 just to see if it would help, I am at a loss with this (I am maintaining this tank but not responsible for the feeding and additions). Please help. Thanks, Mike
<Cichlids are very much the miner's canary when it comes to high nitrate, low oxygen, and overstocking. They're exactly the fish you'd expect to see becoming stressed and sick. I can't pin down the exact problem here, certainly not without things like water quality test results (nitrite and nitrate in particular) not to mention water chemistry (general hardness and pH, for a start). But I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the problem is environmental, not a specific pathogen that's sneaked into the tank. A thorough review of stocking, feeding, aeration, filtration and water changes will need to be carried out. I'd be looking to clear out the tank a bit, ensuring it's optimised for one particular set of conditions --
whether softish rainforest type environment or a hard, alkaline Rift Valley setting. I'd then be aiming for the usual zero nitrite and ammonia, and for a cichlid tank especially, nitrate levels below 40 mg/l, and ideally below 20 mg/l. While the classic Metronidazole plus an antibiotic combo is a useful one with cichlids showing vague, but severe, sickness, I'd still only be doing this alongside a complete environmental review. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: African Cichlids wasting away   2/27/19

Crew, Thanks for the prompt reply,
<Most welcome.>
will run the water tests, the problem has been that this tank is in the local YMCA and the feeding has been erratic, no live foods only flake and pellets for African Cichlids.
<Flake and pellets safest, so likely not a problem here, though some fresh greens (such as cooked peas and spinach) do help many types of cichlid, including Mbuna.>
Yes they are almost all Lake Malawi Cichlids. The aeration is good, oxygen in the water should not be problem, filtration is performed by two Aquatop 500 with UV canister filters. I can only perform so many water changes
since they are paying and will only authorize so many.
I am removing 30 to 50 percent of water each time.
<Sounds good.>
The parameters have not been ideal as far as feeding but the pH is set up for African Rift Lake Cichlids especially for Malawi Cichlids.
<Understood. But bear in mind that not all fish will handle such conditions well. Conversely, Rift Valley cichlids won't thrive if the hardness and pH aren't right.>
Will run water tests this weekend while I have access to the tank and let you know.
pH was at 7.6 with Ammonia and Nitrite at 0,
<pH is far too low for either Malawian or Tanganyikan cichlids -- and just to be clear, mixing them is a really bad idea with one or two exceptions.
You really want to make sure the general hardness is high, and the carbonate hardness is high. The old Rift Valley Salt Mix is a cheap and effective way to provide this:
Per 5 gallons/20 litres, add --
1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
1 teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements)
Stir into the bucket until all dissolved, and then add to the tank. The baking soda should stabilise the pH around 8, while the Epsom salt helps avoid bloating. The marine salt mix, while optional, is helpful in adding tiny amounts of a few other chemicals that keep cichlids in good shape. You can of course use commercial Rift Valley salt mixes, often called 'cichlid salts' or similar. But the recipe above is good 'n' cheap!>
however the Nitrates have been high in the past but will retest this weekend for updated parameters.
<Anything above 40 mg/l can easily explain unexpected cichlid deaths.>
Originally the crew that put this tank up had this scheduled for maintenance once a month and we reduced it to every three weeks, when that was not enough now we do it every two weeks. Thanks
<If time/money is an issue, the easiest option is to reduce stocking level.
This will slow down the build-up of chemicals between water changes, making it much more easy to maintain good conditions. Tanks often experience problems after a few years, so if the tank is old, with a lot of muck in the substrate, pipe work and/or filter, and thorough break-down and deep clean can work wonders. Do, of course, think about how you're going to keep the fish and the filter bacteria happy while doing this! Cheers, Neale.>

Adult Male Livingstoni Possible ulcers? Need a Fish Vet    1/3/19
Hello I'm hoping someone can help me and my Adult Male Livingstoni.
His home is my 6ft 110g. It also houses 1 Male OB 2 Female OB 1 Juvenile Banga, 1 Juvenile Lawanda, 1 juvenile Walteri, 1 Juvenile Mylandi Sulfurhead 1 Juvenile Malawi Eye Biter 1 Juvenile Firecrest All the Juveniles are roughly 2 inches and once they are large enough will be moved to my 220g. He is by far the largest cichlid in this tank and has also started allowing a few of the smallest Juveniles "clean" his ulcer/wound.
Which I do have on video and is a site to see.
<Sending 30 MB of files in an email clogs up our system; as we repeatedly do ask, please do crop files to keep them under 1 MB using the online or offline image editors of your choice.>
My parameters are 0,0,15.
<Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, I take it.>
I perform weekly 50% water changes, syphon daily any uneaten food.
Filtration is an FX6 and I also have a UV-C sterilizer and a 900 MaxiJet powerhead. The tank is decorated with petrified wood and an artificial plant, black sand. My town water is awful, from tap it reads PH 8.4,Gh 4, KH 2. I do use Seachem lake Malawi buffer, salt and Trace, otherwise my PH
crashes almost immediately. My GH is 7 Kh 7.
<Assuming the pH is steadily around 8.0 to 8.2, this should be fine.
Personally, I'd be upping the KH a bit.>
I think I covered everything?
<So far!>
So my question is regarding my Livingstoni approximately a month ago, I had to remove him from my 220g. Him and my Venustus decided they couldn't live together anymore. They lip locked once and my Venustus nipped him on his side a bit. Once in the 110g I started treating for his lip which was actually bleeding a bit, he fully recovered in a week but where he got nipped on the side has grown and gotten worse, then better, then worse then almost gone, then what the heck it will not go away.
<Nimbochromis livingstonii, like most Haplochromines, do extremely badly when kept with Mbuna. So that was your first mistake. Sooner or later they're harassed or nipped by Mbuna, and absolutely should not be mixed.>
His fins are perfect, eats great, activity level is normal but these ulcer looking spots. At first I thought oh no Columnaris, etc.. But I'm starting to think it might be viral? Due to the amount of time this has been an issue and NOBODY in any of my tanks, including his tank mates have or had anything similar or wrong, even the juveniles that are cleaning the site have no signs of whatever this is on their mouths. I so wish there was more Fish Vets available, I've talked to an assistant and she told me Melafix and Pimafix but it did nothing.
<Useless products.>

I've tried Kanaplex in water and feeding, I've fed Metroplex.
<Indeed, Metronidazole and a reliable antibiotic would be good choices when treating sickly cichlids.>
I'm now performing water changes every 3 days and I'm ready to either clout the tank or use CopperSafe. I live in Massachusetts, if I could find a vet I'd be more than willing to pay for a house call. He is so big and smart that he sees me go to the cabinet with my nets and immediately starts swimming in a frenzy ready to attack it. So in my mind at least, catching him will only add more stress and most likely injury.
<The video suggests he's being pecked at by other fish. This will prevent any effective healing, and will certainly be adding to his stress.
Isolating, and medicating as per Finrot and probably Hexamita will help.>
Thank you Liz
<Cheers, Neale.>

2 dead kenyi cichlids in 3 days     4/2/15
Hi there, I bought four juvenile kenyi cichlids one of the males was already turning yellow so I bought it as I wouldn't have to wait long for them to pair up. Now the main problem is that I have got two cichlids dead with same symptoms. Before the first one died it started sinking and couldn't stay upright and rolled to its sides and died within three hours of showing these symptoms.
<Something very wrong here... environmentally or socially>
The second one too showed these symptoms
<Which are?>
and died in the same time period, in the second death I noticed that their bellies became a little orange/reddish/brownish. I can't specify the exact colour but the main thing is that it looked like swim bladder disease
<.... there really is no such thing. Like "cold symptoms">
so immediately transferred it to a jar and started the fasting treatment where it died now I want to know how could have I saved them so that I could tackle any situation like this in the future.
<... I'd be checking the water quality here. As two of the four are living, am given to suggest that the other two are culprits.
Bob Fenner>
Re: 2 dead kenyi cichlids in 3 days     4/3/15

I do a 10percent water change everyday
<Do you have measures for Nitrogen compounds?>
and I haven't seen any fighting now as you said that the other two might me culprits they are not as the third one died today showing the same symptoms (lethargy, sinking to bottom, inability to be upright, loss of appetite, staying in the corner).
So, I did a 100 percent water change and added rid-all general aid
<Not a good idea>
the last one is a male kenyi cichlid and has now started to show the same symptoms and yes I also have a breeding pair of swordtails they eat energetically but cichlid stay at the bottom and usually hides behind the filter what should I do I don't want my last cichlid to die. Could the reason of deaths be starvation as the last cichlid haven't fed for about 36 hours now
<Let's have you read.... starting here:
and the linked files above.... to give you insight into what might be going on here. BobF>
2 dead kenyi cichlids in 3 days     /Neale        4/4/15

Hi there, I bought four juvenile kenyi cichlids one of the males was already turning yellow so I bought it as I wouldn't have to wait long for them to pair up. Now the main problem is that I have got two cichlids dead with same symptoms. Before the first one died it started sinking and couldn't stay upright and rolled to its sides and died within three hours of showing these symptoms. The second one too showed these symptoms and died in the same time period, in the second death I noticed that their bellies became a little orange/reddish/brownish. I can't specify the exact colour but the main thing is that it looked like swim bladder disease so immediately transferred it to a jar and started the fasting treatment where it died now I want to know how could have I saved them so that I could tackle any situation like this in the future.
<Almost certainly an environmental issue. When a bunch of fish die within a short space of time, and the symptoms are generic, you can usually blame the environment. Obviously water quality is important. As with all cichlids, tolerance for nitrite and ammonia is minimal, but Mbuna generally have a relatively low tolerance for nitrate too, so frequent water changes are as important as filtration and aquarium size. Since these are Rift Valley cichlids, water chemistry is the second factor of crucial important.
Hard, alkaline conditions are essential. Some folks think adding salt will do the trick, but that's not true. You need a full range of mineral salts.
There's a cheap Rift Valley salt mix that's been around for decades that makes a fine alternative to store-bought equivalents.
Do bear in mind that moving a fish from a main aquarium to a "hospital" aquarium is ONLY useful if the hospital aquarium has BETTER conditions than the main aquarium. Sticking a fish in a jar because you recognise it needs to be isolated will in fact do more harm than good. Isolate a fish, for sure, but do so in an aquarium with a mature filter, heat, and sufficient
space (for small fish, a 10-20 gallon tank works well for hospital tank use).
Finally, can I state clearly that THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS SWIM BLADDER DISEASE. Gosh, that felt good to get out! What I mean is that fish roll over, swell up, and find it hard to swim for all sorts of disease-related reasons. For sure, sometimes there may well be a bacterial infection in the swim bladder alongside infections of other internal organs. But there isn't a common aquarium fish disease specific to the swim bladder, and when fish roll over or swim oddly, it's time to review the environment and ALL aspects of fish health, not Google "swim bladder disease". Make sense?
Cheers, Neale.>
RE: 2 dead kenyi cichlids in 3 days       4/4/15

Thanks it helped a bit as when I changed the water, raised the temp.and siphoned the gravel it showed a little movement and haven't died till now anyway it pooped today a little after a lot of time but still isn't completely healthy could it be constipation? Thanks
<Like all Mbuna, Maylandia lombardoi is predominantly a herbivore. So assuming you're providing a diet based on greens (Spirulina flake, cooked spinach, slivers of cucumber, etc) with only occasional zooplankton treats (brine shrimp are ideal because they contain algae!) then constipation shouldn't be a problem. On the other hand, feed them standard flake, bloodworms and other meat-based foods, and yes, Malawi Bloat is a real risk. Cheers, Neale.>

Mysterious cichlid sickness       2/5/15
Internal Lake Malawi Cichlid Disease

Hi, I have been looking all over the internet for an answer to my tank troubles but have yet to find an article that can explain what I am currently dealing with. I'm going to attach a picture of the fish I lost yesterday morning. I had 3 cichlids and an algae eater in a 20 gallon tank. Our white cichlid, not exactly sure what kind of cichlid sorry, died suddenly but for a few weeks he was acting a bit strange. He was constantly twitching, flopping on the pebbles, darting across the tank etc...Then I noticed his tummy looked almost black and I figured maybe he is actually a she and she's pregnant. Over about a weeks time the fish dug itself what I thought was a nest in the pebbles. He dug all the way down to the glass, this nest was about the size of a baseball around. He became territorial of that spot and wouldn't let the other 2 cichlids near it. He was eating normally and everything. I woke up yesterday morning to him floating upside down with a perfect hole in his stomach (or I guess anus) almost as if something ate him from the inside out....and on the bottom of the tank there were these weird jelly like balls about the same size as the pebbles. There were purple ones and see through ones, which I'll also attach a picture of. Now that same morning I woke up to the dead fish, my yellow cichlid who naturally has a black stripe down his top and bottom fins, is also struggling to stay alive. He has dark stress stripes down his body, his mouth was pushed as far open as he could get it as if he's gasping for air, and he was staying at the bottom of the tank in one corner. The lady we get our fish from told me its definitely ammonia poising but doing a water change did absolutely nothing. We put the yellow cichlid, our blue cichlid, and our algae eater in a makeshift hospital tank with an air pump for the time being until we set up a new tank and let it cycle thoroughly. The yellow guy seemed to thrive when we switched them over to the hospital tank but now after just one night he's not looking so good again. I have added some Melafix to the water and because there's no filter on this tank am doing frequent water changes and keeping an eye on the temperature keeping it around 80. Should also mention the yellow guy now has a "lump" under his mouth as if he's got something growing inside of his throat. This lump has a small diagonal "cut" through the middle of it that some what resembles the open wound found on the dead white cichlid. His mouth is not pushed open as far as it was yesterday morning but you can tell he's still having a hard time breathing. Love these little guys, this is the first time we've had a problem with the fish in this tank since we established it back in august of 2014. Hoping you can help me out here any info you may have helps!!
< Your Lake Malawi cichlids are vegetarians and should be fed a diet high  in vegetable matter. Foods that are too meaty will rot in their gut causing  the jelly belly affect you are seeing. They should be kept in the mid 70's.
The 80 F temp is way too high and that by itself could cause some of the  problems. Read up on Lake Malawi cichlids and how to care for them.-Chuck

Gill problems    /RMF  12/2/14
I noticed that one of my older Neolamprologus multifasciatus was sort of gasping and looking stressed. I did an extra change to see if that would help and when it did not I decided to move her to a clean highly oxygenated hospital tank.
<Good moves>
I gently scooped her up with the net (there is no way she was injured by this) and when I put her in the new tank she was bent and her gills seemed to be turning inside out. I have never seen anything like this, she was fine one second and the next bent and struggling to swim with her gills exposed. Do you have any idea what may have caused this?
<Can only guess of course... I take it that no other livestock was/appeared, appears mal-afflicted... Which rules out most all water
quality possibilities. Perhaps this one "ate a bad bug"... that somehow got into the system (can be opened w/ a sharp single edge razor if dead); or somehow swallowed gravel? Am referring this email to Neale for his independent response.
Bob Fenner>

Gill problems  /Neale  12/3/14
I noticed that one of my older Neolamprologus multifasciatus was sort of gasping and looking stressed. I did an extra change to see if that would help and when it did not I decided to move her to a clean highly oxygenated hospital tank.
I gently scooped her up with the net (there is no way she was injured by this) and when I put her in the new tank she was bent and her gills seemed to be turning inside out. I have never seen anything like this, she was fine one second and the next bent and struggling to swim with her gills exposed. Do you have any idea what may have caused this?
<From what I can see this little chap looks beyond stressed. She looks like she's on the way out, to be honest, and rather underweight, as if starving for a while, perhaps from lack of food or else chronic disease of some sort. But in any case, Neolamprologus, like all Tanganyikans, react badly to all sorts of environmental stresses. So review the obvious. Sudden changes (drops) in pH are lethal to them. Ensure the water has adequate buffering capacity (carbonate hardness) and mineral content (general hardness). Make sure the pH is solidly stable in the right range, anything between 7.5 and 8.2 is fine, but the number shouldn't vary much. Exposure to toxins such as paint fumes, insecticides, herbicides, etc. can all be extremely lethal to cichlids, something I learned the hard way when keeping Nanochromis. Review exposure via sprays in the air and accidental contaminations via buckets, pipes, etc. Nitrate is the slow killer with cichlids, so keep below 20 mg/l, through water changes and moderate stocking, but do also check ammonia and/or nitrite (I favour nitrite as the more reliable of these two). Velvet is a parasite that often affects the gills before it's visible on the skin, so that's another consideration.
I've cc'ed our cichlid expert here, Chuck, in case there's something he'll want to add. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Gill problems      12/4/14
Thank you for your help. She was a very small female but other than being old had no health issues whatsoever until this happened out of no place. female "Multies" rarely reach over .75-1" and she was ten which put her well over her expected lifespan.
<Indeed. But keep an eye out for other fish behaving oddly.>
She may have been a bit smaller than normal as she just laid eggs just over a week ago and didn't eat much when guarding them in her shell. I put her down shortly after sending the email. It looked as if her gills had swollen into big red protruding bubbles. And it happened in an instant. So sad as she has been with me a long time.
<I can well imagine. Neat cichlid to keep, these.>
Thank you so much for your help.
<Welcome. Neale.>

White cyst - like bump on cichlids nostril   7/5/14
Dear WWM Crew,
We have been in the fish business for about 1.5 years. The question I have pertains to our 120 gallon cichlid tank. We have 22 cichlids from Lakes Victoria, Malawi, and Tanganyika. Some of our fish are 6 inches all the way down to 1 inch. We check our water every week or 2 and we do 10-20% water change every week. Currently, our water tests perfect in every category. It has been the same for the last 2 months (prior to that it was cycling). We just purchased a 6 inch bumblebee (Pseudotropheus crabro) 2
weeks ago. It has been acting fine and feeding well. All of our other fish appear themselves and very normal. Three days ago I noticed a white pimple/cyst on its right nostril. It has grown a bit since then. It is
about twice the size of an O. I am unsure of what to do. I don't like using medicines, but of course I will if that is what he needs. I have researched and could not find any descriptions or pictures that matched our
bumblebees situation. I would really appreciate your advice and I thank you so much for your time.
<Looks like an infected nostril, with a prolapse or similar causing internal tissue to expand outwards. May clear up in time, but I would definitely treat with an antibacterial or antibiotic (don't forget to remove carbon, if used) as per Finrot. The use of Epsom salt at 3 teaspoons per 5 US gallons/20 litres would be beneficial. Have bcc'ed our resident cichlid expert, Chuck, to see if he can chime in here. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: White cyst - like bump on cichlids nostril   7/5/14
Thank you so much for responding! We will get him into our hospital tank and begin treatments. What medication do you recommend?
<Whatever's sold in your area that's good for Finrot would be a good first choice. Seachem Kanaplex or the old favourite Maracyn 1 + 2 combination are two options. Basically, avoid the "natural" (read: unreliable) treatments such as Tea-Tree Oil. On the other hand, using Epsom salt often helps reducing swelling, and a modest addition of sea salt can be beneficial to cichlids if they're under the weather a bit, though don't go nuts, a teaspoon or two per gallon is ample.>
He's a lovely fish and we don't want to lose him. Thank you again.
<Most welcome, Neale.>

White cyst - like bump on cichlids nostril    /Chuck's go      7/7/14
White Bumps On Cichlid's Nose

Dear WWM Crew,
We have been in the fish business for about 1.5 years. The question I have pertains to our 120 gallon cichlid tank. We have 22 cichlids from Lakes Victoria, Malawi, and Tanganyika. Some of our fish are 6 inches all the way down to 1 inch. We check our water every week or 2 and we do 10-20% water change every week. Currently, our water tests perfect in every category. It has been the same for the last 2 months (prior to that it was cycling). We just purchased a 6 inch bumblebee (Pseudotropheus crabro)
2 weeks ago. It has been acting fine and feeding well. All of our other fish appear themselves and very normal. Three days ago I noticed a white pimple/cyst on its right nostril. It has grown a bit since then. It is
about twice the size of an O. I am unsure of what to do. I don't like using medicines, but of course I will if that is what he needs. I have researched and could not find any descriptions or pictures that matched our bumblebees situation. I would really appreciate your advice and I thank you so much for your time. Sincerely, Allison Hicks
< You crabro has an infection in its sinus cavity. Sometimes cichlids dive into the sand and gravel sifting for food and a small particle of the substrate gets lodged in the sinus cavity. This particle can irritate the
lining causing and infection even after the particle becomes dislodged. The infection seals off the sinus cavity and no circulation comes through making it difficult to treat. This infection may work its way to the surface where it can be treated. At one inch it is going to be difficult to really clean the area. I would recommend placing the fish in a small hospital tank and treating with a Nitrofuranace (Furan-2) type of compound. It has any bacterial and anti-fungal properties.-Chuck>

African Cichlid Trouble, Compatibility, And Reading - 10/15/2012
Hi Team,
<Hi, Sandeep!  Sabrina with you tonight.>
I went through your website and the faqs. You guys are doing an awesome job. Thank you guys for being there.
<Thank you so much for these kind and encouraging words.>
I wanted to consult you for this issue. I had 6 Blood parrots in my previous set up (tank 6X2X2).
<Is this in....  feet? inches? or?  If in feet, then that's a great sized tank.>
They all died due to some issues with their lungs.
<Gills.  No lungs in fish, except for very rudimentary lung-like structures in some few very strange fish (like, as the name implies, lungfish).  The blood parrots, a hybrid of South American cichlids, have just ordinary gills.>
I had consulted my nearby dealer to check what was happening , and tried all those things like cleaning the gavel, cleaning the filter and changing the water.
<This was good advice from the dealer.  I only wish they'd suggested you test your water....>
Then applying ocean free's different kinds of medicines (almost in all colors).
<Medicating is ALWAYS dangerous, unless you know EXACTLY what you're treating....  Mixing medications can have disastrous effects, both on the fish and on the biological filtration of your tank, which then worsens the water quality, thereby reducing the fishes' chances for survival and recovery....>

They died after around 3 months one by one. I couldn't eat or work for days.
<Sorry to hear it, Sandeep.>
Now I have that tank in a new setup, all African cichlids.
<A very vague statement....  Africa, as you know, is an enormous continent, with many, MANY different fishes from different places with different needs.  Typically, however, when folks say "African cichlids", they're usually referring to the fish of the great rift lakes - Malawi and Tanganyika.  For the moment, I'll assume that's what you mean.>

They all seems to be healthy. But they too are dying without any reason.
<By definition, then, I think it's safe to assume that they're actually not healthy.  There is something "wrong" here, either with the fish or with the water.>
No bacterial or fungal infection that one could see from outside. No change in behavior. However almost every day the juvenile ones keep dying and this is something which I would never expect. I have a red dragon Flowerhorn as well in a 3X1.5X1.5 tank
<I'm still not sure exactly what unit of measurement you're using, but if this is in feet, then this tank should be considered very small, especially for a Flowerhorn, and even more so if you're mixing species of African (rift lake) cichlids.  And I do very much hope that the Flowerhorn is not in the same tank as the African cichlids; please do be aware that Flowerhorn, a hybrid of South American cichlid species, has VASTLY different water requirements from those of rift lake cichlids!  Water that would be good for the Flowerhorn would ultimately weaken or even harm rift lake cichlids, and vice verse.>
he is with me for a month now. He is nearly 2 inches long. But he wouldn't come out at all. He would always hide behind the filter. He eats well otherwise.
<Hopefully just acclimating....  However, at his small size, if he is in with rift lake cichlids, he may just be trying to hide to stay alive. 
Really, these fish can't mix; their water requirements are just far too different.>
Now I am afraid if it's the same issue that my parrots had is happening to my African cichlids as well? How do I diagnose the issue, and how do I fix it?
<Sandeep, your first and most important step is to have a very good understanding of the "health" of the water in the tank.  You will need to test the water for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and pH, at a minimum. 
Ammonia and Nitrite must always be ZERO, and Nitrate as low as possible, at least below 20ppm.  If you do not have test kits for this, see if your local fish dealer will test them for you.  Ask them to tell or show you the readings; don't settle for an answer like "Your water is okay" or "pretty good"....  you need to know the actual values to have a clear idea of the quality of your tank's water.  As far as pH goes, most South American cichlids want soft, slightly acidic water, though many will tolerate a very wide range, as long as the pH is stable, and the Flowerhorn is no exception to this.  The rift lake cichlids, on the other hand, have VERY specific pH and hardness requirements, and can suffer if those are not met.  I would advise you to read, on WetWebMedia and other places, about the needs of the fish you are keeping.  As you gain a better understanding of the animals, where they come from, and what they need, you'll be better prepared to provide for them - and you'll enjoy them more, too.  They're great fish, and learning about them is almost as much fun as watching them!>
Please forgive me if my question is not clear , or if you had already answered these before.
<The only lack of clarity is a lack of detail....  Without information like the readings for water quality, number of fish in the tank, how long the tank has been established, etc., there's unfortunately not a lot that we can tell from a distance.  Your best move is going to be to test your water, have a better understanding of the needs of your fish, and keep learning and enjoying.  Your fish will thank you for doing a little bit more research.  Here are just a few links to help you get started:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm (a listing of articles and FAQs on maintenance, water quality, disease....  Scan through and see which of these might be most helpful, and start reading....)
Please also note the other links on those pages to other FAQs that may be of interest, and also be aware that there is TONS of information available via a simple Google search - not just at WetWebMedia, but all over the 'net.  Rift lake cichlids are a very well-loved and enormous group of fish that is written about quite often.  You might also enjoy Ad Konings books, which you might find here: http://www.cichlidpress.com/ .  He's a cichlid "hero" of sorts, and his books are quite nice.  I hope these leads will get you started in the right directions, and I'm sorry I can't give you a short and simple answer to your problem.  The only "real" answer, like so much in life, is to learn.>
Thanks & Regards
Sandeep MK
 My best wishes to you and your fish.  -Sabrina>
African Cichlid Trouble, Compatibility, And Reading - II - 10/15/2012

Hi Sabrina,
<Hi again, Sandeep!>
Thanks for the quick reply. Sorry about the confusion.
<No worries.>
1st tank: Malawi and Tanganyika (all measures are in feet). Nearly 20 of them in it.
<I see.>
2nd one : Flower horn. Alone in the tank. Again the measures are in feet.
<A good tank for him to start out in.  Hopefully he is just acclimating, but do keep a close eye on him and his behavior.  Water changes won't hurt, either.>
I am located in Bangalore India, and we don't have much options to test the water (at least not available in common, however will check all the options available )
<Is it an option (and affordable) to purchase test kits online?  With shipping costs, etc., perhaps this is cost-prohibitive, I don't know.  But if it's possible, it might be worth your while.  In the US, one of the best "easy" (and easily available here) test kits are those made by API (not the test "strips", the liquid reagent kits).  Let me know if you want/need a link to see what kit(s) I mean.  In any case, if it is not possible to get test kits (or even if it is, it'll be a while before they get there if you have them shipped), your only current course of action that is really useful (aside from reading, of course!) is water changes.  Possibly big water changes, too, since we can't currently know what exactly is "going on" in your tank water.  What you describe sounds more environmental than anything else, and fixing the environment (with water changes) is perhaps the best thing to do.>
Thank you for all the links.
I'll read through them and will get back to you if I have more doubts.
<I do hope you'll find helpful information as you read.>
Thanks & Regards
Sandeep MK
<Best wishes always,  -Sabrina>

Mysterious Deaths. 9/24/11
A few months ago I decided to turn my 100gal community tank into an African Cichlid tank. I was very excited and started with about 10 small
1"-2" Assorted Africans
<A very bad way to start. Did you have a plan? Lots of Rift Valley cichlids won't cohabit for long. Peacock Cichlids for example shouldn't be kept with Mbuna, and not all Mbuna get along with each other, some being notably more aggressive than others. Throwing together a bunch of cichlids will simply result in successive deaths through stress and fighting until the bullies, usually Zebra Cichlids and Melanochromis auratus, end up ruling the tank.>
a 6" Pleco
<Doesn't belong.>
and a 4" Featherfin Catfish.
<Will be damaged and likely prone to diseases and stress. Synodontis euptera is an African catfish, yes, but from soft water rivers not the Rift Valley lakes. Africa is a big place, bigger than, for example, North America, and yet you wouldn't dream of assuming a fish from California would want the same conditions as a fish from Alaska. The same here. The bland name "African cichlid" is as meaningless as saying "American fishes" because it simply doesn't reflect the sheer diversity of species in the continent. There are African cichlids from rainforests, from swamps, from estuaries, and yes, from a variety of lakes, some of which are hard water lakes but certainly not all of them. Do, please, research your fish first.>
Everything was fine for about 2 weeks and then a cichlid died and it was all down hill.
<Not surprised.>
I lost a fish a day until I had no cichlids left. My PH is at 8.4 Ammonia is 0 Nitrates and Nitrites are 0 Temperature is about 79 degrees. The fish (who had very hardy appetites) one by one stopped eating, then would hide and stay very close to the bottom of the tank, didn't swim around much and their gills would go crazy like they weren't able to breath.
<Poor water circulation, lack of water chemistry control, social behaviour issues'¦ all sound possible. You haven't mentioned water chemistry yet, just pH. How hard is your water? How are you buffering the pH? What's the carbonate hardness?>
There were no other physical signs of being sick, and I did treat with Clout before I lost the last 3 and it was ineffective.
<Randomly adding medications prior to diagnosis almost never works.>
After that experience I moved my Pleco and Catfish to a Q-tank and observed them for any signs of illness for one month (they are perfect). I cleared out my 100gal and completely started over. My water quality is exactly the same as before. This time I started with 4 Acei cichlids 3",
<Pseudotropheus acei, a fairly mellow species.>
one week later I added 2 Electric yellows 3",
<Labidochromis caeruleus, another mellow if nippy species; should work with Pseudotropheus acei just fine.>
and one week later added 2 orange blotch peacocks 4".
<A hybrid between Aulonocara species and a Pseudotropheus species. Not highly regarded by advanced hobbyists because it's a hybrid more than anything else. Isn't a bad fish though, and most specimens are fairly easy-going. Does need a rather different diet to Mbuna though, and combining the two types of fish, Mbuna and Peacocks, in one tank means neither is going to get the "right" diet all the time, so you have to be extremely careful what you feed them.>
They had lived in harmony for exactly one week then I noticed 2 of my Acei's exhibiting the same behavior as the previous batch of assorted cichlids. (Bottom of the tank, not active, breathing heavy, not eating) and the next day both were dead.
<Sounds like lack of oxygen and/or unstable pH. The dismal quality of "Mixed African Cichlids" in North American pet shops especially makes life even more difficult, so mail-ordering in the US has much to recommend it. In other parts of the world the selection of Rift Valley cichlids is often rather better, e.g., in England, where you should be able to get wild-caught or at least good quality farmed specimens that are genetically purer and much more robust. City aquarium clubs can be another good source; the US in particular enjoys large numbers of fish clubs and these promote cichlid breeding among their other fine attributes.>
I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I have owned fish for a few years now and I work at a local fish store, its extremely frustrating not knowing what's happening in my own tank! please let me know what you think!
<Do start by reading:
Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Question on African Cichlids
Dying African Cichlid -- 02/25/10

Hello all. I have a question in regards to African Cichlids. At work there is a tank that has these little critters. There a number a brown and orange ones which I think are a Pseudotropheus according to your ID section if I have that right. There are also some blue ones that might be partially from the Mbuna group. I guess this depends because of the fish farms do all that mixing. The blue on these fish are not as rich as the one in a photo I saw on your site under the ID page. These guys are a little more faded. There is one other one that is largest in the tank. It is albino and it has the same patterns on its sides as the blue ones. I am guessing it belongs to a different group of African Cichlids. My issue is that one of the blue one developed what I believe to be cataracts a few weeks back and it is completely blind. In addition, it has a severely arched belly. My guess is that it has had no food as it cannot see where the food is. It color has gone from that blue I described before to a dark gray color. It swims mostly vertical against the side of the tank looking for food. From my observations, it has to be suffering from hunger pains and is becoming an annoyance to the other fish. The others will peck at if it has invaded territory. From what I read about this guys, they are territorial and protective of breeding areas. They can be mild aggressively as well.
Unfortunately, I think this fish is going to die at some point within the next week or so. I think it might be beyond saving. I spoke with the employee at our company that feeds the fish the other day and related to her that she should contact the party in charge of coming in and caring for the fish. I spoke with her today and she said she
spoke with the party. She stated that the party was aware of the fish's condition the last time they were in to maintenance the tank.
She said the guy did not seem to care as if he was not going to do anything about it. What an idiot. I mean the tank is always clean and well maintained. The fish are always in good health. My question, what can we do if the fish dies. We have no equipment to catch it. It spends all of its time on the side of the tank opposite to the side that has
the only opening into the tank to feed them. Thanks for your help on this.
I really enjoy your site and reading on these little critters. Neal Hammersmith
< Unfortunately fish are only objects to sell by many people in the fish business. An African cichlid that has been squeezed out by a lack of available territories really has no place to go. Have the service remove the fish and let the fish die on him and not on you. A dead fish may create ammonia spikes. It will be unsightly and smelly. Next time they come in have then remove the fish so you don't have too. The fish will probably just be thrown away in the trash.-Chuck>
Re: Question on African Cichlids
Dying Fish In Display Tank 2/28/10

Thank you for the heads up. I believe the service has been notified.
In addition to ammonia spikes, is there anything else that you would suggest mentioning to the service?
< If everything else is fine then it appears that they are doing their job.>
I was observing the tank some more and the blind fish is definitely limited on space. I believe from past observations that this guy was #2. The #1 slot going to the albino. Since the fish is blind and so forth I can see how he has down to last fish on the pole, especially with this species territorial behaviors.
Is it true that these type of fish prefer a more basic or alkaline pH level?
< Your fish come from Lake Malawi. The water there is hard and alkaline with a pH around 7.5-7.7. You may want to check the water temp. At above 75 F they tend to be more aggressive because they want to breed all the

Electric Yellow with Sunken Belly 2/4/2010
Hello, I've been running a Malawi Cichlid tank at work for just over a year now, containing plenty of caves and a mixture of Electric Yellows, Rustys, Royal Jewels, C. Afras and Cuckoos. The additional Bristlenose catfish pair I put in there to keep the algae down have liked it so much that they've bred several times, although the fry never seem to last long once they start wandering out of their crche, so the inhabitants generally seem quite happy with the setup.
The fish are fed once daily an Eheim automatic feeder that drops enough Hikari Cichlid Gold (baby size) pellets to be consumed within two minutes and they receive a manual dose of Omega One shrimp pellets once weekly. No Tubifex worms and definitely no blood worms (I put signs on the tank to dissuade well-intentioned employees).
The tank is cleaned weekly, including a gravel vacuum and about 30% water change. Local council water is quite variable in quality ranging from about pH 6.7 to 7.9 out of the tap on any given day (as tested with a digital pH meter). Water going into the tank is treated with Seachem Prime to de-chlorinate and Seachem Cichlid Lake Salt and Malawi/Victoria Buffer to get the pH to around 8.2 and dGH/dKH to around 6 (as tested with API GH&KH and High Range pH test kits). Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0 and Nitrate is less than 10ppm (again measured with API kits).
Most of the fish have put on significant size since being introduced (some nearly doubled). This one Electric Yellow, however, hasn't really put on much size and has a slightly concave/sunken belly. On the assumption that he was shy and not getting enough food (Cichlids are quite voracious eaters) I took him home a couple of months ago and
isolated him in a spare tank to give him some peace and quiet. After going through a house move a couple of weeks ago, though, he has been living in a pH 6.8 tropical community tank. He seems quite happy in there, staying and eating with the Clown Loaches as they shoal and dance back and forth along the front glass, but still he has a sunken belly. The community is fed a mixture of Omega One Super Color flakes, Sera Catfish chips and Omega One shrimp pellets nightly. He's visibly getting enough food now so I'm wondering if he has an internal parasite/bacterial problem. Do you have any suggestions on what condition he may have and how to
treat it? Thanks and kind regards, Anthony.
< You are right in assuming that he is being pushed around in the bigger Malawi tank. In the wild they come from very deep water with not much competition. In the community tank the water temp is probably too high for a Malawi cichlid. Lake Malawi runs from 73 to 77 F. At higher water temps the metabolism may be too high to gain any weight. Being a Labidochromis, he doesn't really eat algae off the rocks like the other Mbuna do. They are more of a picker, than a grazer, You have the right idea with the baby pellets, this gives all the fish a chance to eat and get something. Your fish are larger now so it may be time to increase the amount of food. In public aquariums they would hand feed this fish to make sure he gets enough food, at least once in a while. If you thing there is an intestinal infection, then treat in a hospital tank with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>
Re: Electric Yellow with sunken belly
Treating a Sunken Belly On An Electric Yellow 2/4/2010

Hi Chuck, Thank you for the advice. I'll try sourcing some Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace to treat the little guy in a hospital tank and keep my fingers crossed. I'd like to see him put on condition so that I can put him back in the Malawi tank with the other electric yellows (territorial disputes excepted).
I'm not sure temperature is a problem here, although I admit it hadn't occurred to me as a possibility before. It makes sense that it affects their metabolism and digestive processes, however, both tanks are very close to the 73-77F (23-25C) range that you've recommended.
The Malawi tank at work is in an 24/7 air conditioned environment (our developer/server room area) so the ambient air temperature stays close to 23C/74F all year round. The tank itself is only slightly warmer than this (26C/78F) due to heat generated from its pump and lighting systems.
There is an electric heater in there, too, but it is set to 21C/70F to act as a safeguard should the air conditioning fail during winter. I also test it occasionally during tank maintenance by turning the dial up until it comes on and then setting it to 21 again.
At home, since I don't have air conditioning, the spare that tank he was in and the community tank that he's currently in are hooked up to Hailea chillers so they never get above 26C/78F.
Thanks and kind regards, Anthony.
< These medications can be found online at Drsfostersmith.com .-Chuck>

African cichlid fin loss -- 01/12/2010
I have a 178 Gallon African cichlid tank. I only have 6 small (about 2 inch) fish. I've noticed they have been losing there fins.
<Two obvious issues. First, social behaviour. Malawian cichlids are notoriously aggressive, and casual aquarists often have no idea how to choose species to avoid problems. Something like a male Melanochromis auratus will "hold" a territory about 55 gallons in size, and ANY other fish in that amount of space will be viewed as a threat. Weaker males of this species, other members of the genus, or really any other cichlid with similar colouration WILL be attacked and eventually killed. Likewise, Pseudotropheus zebra is another seemingly psychotic cichlid. Of course in the right tank they're fine, but if you throw these super-super-aggressive cichlids in with milder species, don't be surprised if some end up dead.
The second issue is Finrot. Whereas fighting results in obvious tears to the fin, Finrot goes along with the appearance of bloody sores on the mouth and body. Typically, fin erosion removes the membrane first and the fin rays second, so the fins look ragged rather than cut. Finrot can follow on from fighting, but more often it is a result of chronically poor water quality or inappropriate water chemistry.>
I'm not sure if it is an illness or if they are nipping each other. Some have small chunks missing and some have the entire top fin gone. I've had 2 fish die last week.
<Not good.>
What do you think is going on?
<Review environmental conditions, check the species installed are compatible, and act accordingly.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Jewel Cichlid help 12/31/09
Hey guys great site very informative! I was hoping you could help me with my African Cichlid he's about a year old and he's not been himself as of late.
<Start with the obvious: review water quality, water chemistry, temperature and tankmates. Just to recap, Hemichromis spp. need clean, fairly well oxygenated water that isn't too warm. They're riverine fish and sensitive to stagnant conditions. Around pH 6.5 to 7.5, 10 degrees dH is ideal, with a temperature of 25 degrees C. Nitrite and ammonia should be zero, and nitrate less than 20 mg/l. Tankmates should be big enough not to be viewed as food, but not substantially larger and more aggressive either, otherwise bullying can occur. Aquarium size is crucial with this species as it becomes shy if it feels cramped; I'd go with something upwards of 180 litres for a pair, and proportionally larger if kept alongside other species.>
I have been trying to determine what the problem is so I can fix it before it's too late for him but have had no luck searching for the symptoms. It started off with loss of appetite, loss of color and then he began hiding all the time. With no interest in food for about 3 weeks I began to get worried because he is (was) the most ferocious fish in the tank at feeding time and just in general.
<Generic symptoms of stress, really.>
This morning was a complete change I noticed that he was back to his aggressive self when it came to eating also with putting his larger tank mates in check (this fish is unbelievably tough) and he had some color. I was very happy until I noticed that he is actually not really eating because he is spitting the food out after chewing it up and I am not sure if he's getting any of it at all.
<Try switching to something else. These fish are largely carnivores, so a mix of wet-frozen foods including occasional offerings of lancefish or whitebait would be sensible.>
I dropped a few cichlid gold pellets in the tank tonight and he rushed to the surface to get them but then he just spit them back out again. He began to get some color back and is now more active so I guess that's some improvement right? All the other fish in the tank are fine and I have checked my water parameters they are ok too. Their diet consist of Hikari gold pellets, Hikari frozen blood worms, Hikari Cichlid staple, Hikari frozen brine shrimp, live earth worms and backyard insects (which I haven't feed in a while since its winter time here) not all at once of course.
<Sounds fine.>
Any suggestions on what could be wrong with my fish and what I have to do
to help him would be greatly appreciated by me and even more by my sick Jewel L. The picture attached is when he was healthy and normal about 1 month ago.
<Difficult really to say anything specific. Provided the fish is still rounded and not showing signs of starvation, I'd not be worried overly.
Don't feed the tank for a couple of days, maybe longer, and then offer something fresh, like chopped shrimp of white fish fillet. Assuming you haven't caused problems by using feeder fish (which can introduce parasites) or foods too rich in thiaminase (see WWM re:) there's nothing obvious wrong with the diet you've been using so far. If all else is equal, a little hunger might spur your Hemichromis into eating something in a few days' time. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid problem 7/27/09
Hi Crew,
One of my Mbuna stopped eating about two weeks ago, started "gasping" a bit, and began to lose his color only near the dorsal fin. None of the other fish showed any symptoms at all. I tested the water as soon as we noticed he was having a problem (ammonia: 0, nitrite: 0, nitrate: 30).
Since the nitrate levels were a bit high, I did 30% water changes every other day and then continued doing frequent small changes after the levels got down to about 10.
<Very good. Do also check water chemistry. As you doubtless know, Mbuna need hard, alkaline water to do well. Aim for pH 7.5-8, hardness 15+ degrees dH, and a carbonate hardness upwards of 5 degrees KH. Slight variation from week to week shouldn't cause problems, but they are sensitive to acidification, and if the pH drops below about 7.2, they tend to get ill very quickly.>
Since doing so the nitrate levels have consistently been between 10 and 25, everything else at 0. I also tried feeding him peas in case there was a blockage. Still, his health continued to decline and he still refused to eat. He at times would sway from side to side while swimming (kind of like a waddle) and stayed in one of the rock caves at all times.
<May simply be genetic or old age; these symptoms are pretty nondescript, and if the other fish are fine, would tend to adopt a "review the basics" approach. Check things like water chemistry, diet, social behaviour and so on are all within the ranges required by the species you are keeping. A typical Pseudotropheus cichlid should live at least 5 years, though 7-8 years is typical for healthy specimens maintained under good conditions.
But inbreeding can mean that some simply aren't as robust as they should be, while hybridisation throws up all sorts of variables that are difficult to predict.>
Finally, today I found him hanging at the top of the tank and some of his scales appeared to be peeling off on their own. His body had a wrinkled appearance, and since he looked like he was suffering I decided to euthanize him. I inspected him closely after and there was no bloating, no red patches, no visible external parasites, etc. Any idea what this might have been?
<Not really, no.>
<Sorry couldn't offer more help. Cheers, Neale.>

Novice Makes a Ton of Mistakes That May Kill Fish. Is the problem fungus? FW 7/21/2009
Hi. Great site!
<Hello and thanks.>
I really hope you can help me with some of my many problems, though you already have with a few! I'm sorry this is still so long'¦ I've done my best to edit it, but I'm really trying to be as thorough as physically possible. It seems like I've so far done a very, very BAD job with my aquarium, mostly because I rushed into it before thinking anything through. I'm going to see the lady who runs the local pet store soon, and she has always been helpful, but I'm hoping to receive either new ideas or consolation that whatever she tells me is true. Sorry to say I'm feeling a little cynical, and overwhelmed.
I'm super new to aquariums, and have a lot of questions about a 'problem tank' I seem to have brought upon myself, so prepare to roll your eyes, but keep in mind that I've only had a beta (lived three years!) who came in his vase/glass jar, and didn't know any of the rules except that I needed to feed them'¦ (I know I should have researched it now, but it was a split second decision, which landed me with a 55g tank, light and filter system for $20, for my 'lake fish' (his name was Herman, caught him a net myself, he was less than an inch long'¦) who died before I got the tank home.)
<I see.>
First of all, you should know that my tank is roughly 55g, freshwater, 20 with aquarium salt,
<Don't know what this means. "20" what?
The thing with salt is you either have a brackish water aquarium, or you don't. Unless you're using salt for treating Ick, there's no need to add salt otherwise, and any amount of salt adequate for brackish water fish will eventually kill freshwater fish. There's no "middle ground". It's a binary thing, like being pregnant. You either are pregnant or you're not, there's nothing in between. Likewise you either have a brackish water aquarium with sufficient salt for those brackish water species, or you don't.>
and currently a dosage of methyl blue, pH stabilizer, and the anti-ammonia crud; all of which I am adding in accordance with the directions, and slowly, because I really don't need any more problems with the tank.
<Why are you adding any of these? Let's review. Ammonia-remover removes ammonia from tap water; it will not, repeat, will not, remove ammonia produced by fish. So if you have some amount of ammonia in an aquarium because there are too many fish or an immature filter, adding ammonia-remove will have no useful impact. Secondly, pH stabiliser is almost always a bad idea unless you are an expert fishkeeper. A brackish water aquarium will have a stable pH because you add marine salt mix. A hard water aquarium for Malawi cichlids or livebearers will have a stable pH because you add Rift Valley salt mix (which you can make for pennies at home). The only situation where most aquarists need pH stabiliser is where soft water fish are being kept in a (typically small) soft water aquarium. Once the pH goes below 7, the chances are carbonate hardness is very low, so pH tends to drop between water changes. Unless you're doing that, using pH stabiliser is not really going to help, because you're not tackling the water chemistry problem head-on.>
I have 1 single waterfall, 1 double waterfall, a bubbler that is currently going through a curtain, and a heater, which I'm not sure I should run (the temperature is about 80F, which is ok, (I think) for cichlids, and I'm afraid of the heat fueling the fungus, if it's cotton mouth?).
<Fish need a certain temperature to be healthy; above or below it their immune system weakens, and Fungus and Finrot become probably. For things like Malawi Cichlids, that temperature is 25 C/77 F, and anything above or below that value becomes increasingly stressful. Summertime highs a few degrees above shouldn't do any harm because the tank will cool a bit at night, but do try and avoid temperatures above 28-30 C/82-86 F for any length of time.>
I'm planning on taking out all of the gravel so I can sit it out, let it dry, bake in the sun to hopefully kill the fungus, (will that work?)
<Not really, no.>
and rewash it, and replace it when (fingers crossed!) my fish are finally healthy. I'm also going to take out the live plants and various ornaments.
So here is the list of fish and their ailments. I have in total seven fish and two fiddler crabs, that I have moved to another tank because they need land, and do not tolerate most fish meds as well as others. (I have 1 Green Spotted puffer, one orange African cichlid, one grey convict (who my friend is sure is some other type of cichlid, he's grey with vertical black stripes, and shiny blue-ish green lines and dots), one I believe is a green terror, a long dark blue one with horizontal light blue stripes, and a mystery cichlid that is purple wi th darker purple vertical lines and orange fins.
<These fish are largely incompatible. The Green Spotted Puffer absolutely must be kept in brackish water; 1.005 at 25 C, around 9 grammes marine salt mix/litre is the absolute minimum for long-term care. Extended exposure to such conditions will kill the cichlids.>
All but the puffer were sold under the name cichlid with some list after them, but I can't remember them all. All of the fish I have bought from the local PetSupermarket have passed on (and I think it was those feeder fish who brought the diseases too, they have warts, but the lady at the store assured me they were eggs'¦ later to find the guppies are live birth! Not that it's not my fault'¦ but I'm going to be stubborn about it and boycott'¦ at least until I get a quarantine tank'¦ which, only having one fish, I didn't know about.) I'm going to make up genders for them, because though I think I know some, I'm pretty sure most of them are wrong.
Green Spotted Puffer: Her name is Afragorica (ugly'¦ I know, but I was trying to say something else and it stuck.) I got her from Wal-Mart (didn't know it would be a problem'¦ and I don't believe it was this time. Got lucky, I guess) and haven't had a problem until yesterday, wayyy after some of the others went downhill, even though she was among the first added to the tank. Unfortunately she now has a slimy white fungus? (like the stuff on Oink (the mystery fish's) eye) on parts of her body and mouth. She may have a dark spot on her belly, too, but it comes and goes with the lighting, and I can't tell if it's there or not (if it is, it's minor, hardly noticeable, and possibly a color marking, because it is only seen near the borders on her white belly, and does not grow.) There does not appear to be any kind of rot yet, and it's not grainy enough to be ick. What is it?
<Fundamentally, the standard reaction of GSPs to being kept in freshwater tanks. Putting her in brackish water as outlined above should prevent the problem happening again, and treatment with an anti-Fungal should fix what she has now.>
Should methyl blue fix it?
<Methylene blue should work, yes, but in conjunction with improved environmental conditions.>
I gave her a 30 minute bath in the 10g 'hospital tank' with twice the dosage (as directed'¦ good or bad? Is methyl blue ok for scale-less fish?) and she seemed happy enough, but there seems to be little improvement, though I've done it twice over the course of the day. She's eating well'¦ though she's disappointed because I haven't put in much live food over the course of the last week due to the ailments, and bad water. There's one (wart free!) feeder guppy left, and she chases it, but it's about her size so she hasn't managed to catch it yet.
<Do not use feeder fish.>
I'm guessing the fact that she's still making the attempt is good. She's been eating the flakes, and some cichlid crumbles. Where she is not infected she seems very shiny. What can I do?
<GSPs should eat a mix of seafood plus some greens. I'd recommend a bag of frozen seafood from the grocery store (cockles, mussels, squid and prawns here in England). You can also use wet frozen fish foods including lancefish, bloodworms, krill, etc. Offer cooked or tinned peas occasionally. Make the diet as varied as possible to avoid problems with Thiaminase (mussels and prawns have high levels of Thiaminase, and over time, this causes severe health problems.>
Orange African Cichlid: Her name is Starshine. She seems healthy, eating, and swimming normally, BUT she has developed green 'eyebrows' and 'half a mustache.' It's not fuzzy, and doesn't seem to be growing (I noticed it a week ago, but it's too small, and I don't ha ve a clue what it is'¦) Is it possibly new coloring, or is she sick? Would you like a picture? I'm pretty attached to her, and would hate to see her go, especially because it seems like it's just starting, if it's anything at all.
<Again, likely an environmental issue. Malawian and Central American cichlids need hard, basic water.
Aim for pH 8, general hardness 15+ degrees dH, carbonate hardness 5+ degrees KH. See here:
There's a Rift Valley salt mix; use it! Also treat for fungus.>
Convict: His name is Moonus'¦ No problems for now, though he did have some tail-rot just after I got him. Should I take him out and treat him separately? Can I leave him be if I take him out? He doesn't seem to be sick at all.
<As for the Orange cichlid.>
Green Terra: I named him Oliver, because he's an orphan fish, I adopted him from another tank because, though he's bigger than my fish (probably two inches long), he's very timid and was getting his behind kicked by another fish. No problems still, but I still gave him a bath. Can I take him out too?
<Aequidens rivulatus and Aequidens pulcher are widely confused, so check which you have. Adult Aequidens rivulatus can get along with Convicts rather well, given space, but Aequidens pulcher is a big, fairly peaceful community fish. Aequidens pulcher is a soft water fish by the way. Aequidens rivulatus is as well, given the choice, but does just fine in moderately hard water.>
The 'big blue one:' He's not so big as he is long, but hasn't got a name yet. He's very aggressive, and still likes to chase the other fish, but seems like he may have the fungus on the edges of his fins, though it's not fuzzy or filmy like the others, and seems opaque'¦ This has not grown or receded, though he is too fast for me to catch to put in the bath, and the 'fungus' may even be faded coloring'¦ because I'm sure if the illnesses don't get these guys the stress I'm putting them under might. Is this possible? Or is it the fungus? Do you want a picture?
<It's all pretty generic really. Fungus and Finrot (and indeed Columnaris, called Mouth Fungus) often occur together and are caused by the same things: poor water quality and the wrong water chemistry.>
The mystery-PetSupermarket-Cichlid- Oink: Firstly, I realize that Oink is probably going to be lost, but I'd really like it if he didn't die, because he's quite nice when he isn't busy being sickly. The first indicator of illness (in all of my fish), Oink began his plight two days ago, when I noticed he had an extremely cloudy eye, but it seemed to be a fuzzy film, identical to many fungus pictures, but on his eye. I am guessing it came in the night, because I didn't see it beforehand except as 'eyebrows', (which I suspected were Ich, due to the amount of itching all of my fish had been doing before I added meds'¦ and put in an anti Ich called 'QuIch') and found it early this morning covering his eye so thickly that I couldn't see the eye through the film. Can a fish get fungus on its eye? I did a water change and added methyl blue to the tank (too much?).
<You are likely medicating without logic, and used carelessly, medications will interact with each other, or else poison the fish. Do identify the problem first, the attempt to remedy the causative factors, and finally treat -- sparingly -- using the correct, not random, medication.>
Everyone still seems fine, but the eye was still terrible, so I did some research and gave him a bath, which cleared it up so much that I thought he would be clean the next time I did (decided to give him some time between the baths though he seems to enjoy them more than he does the tank, because he does more swimming and less floating.) I gave him another bath a few hours later. Unfortunately, whatever it was grew back within five hour s, so I gave him another bath (though the recommended dose is two a day'¦ he was looking so bad I thought he may die if I did, or if I didn't.) I'm afraid he may lose his eye, in which case I'm lost as to what to do'¦ Do I need to catch it, to keep the others from eating it?
Can I somehow make it easier for him to deal with his loss? (Seriously, I have been warned, but I think it may devastate me. I can't stand thinking it's going to happen and I can't do anything for him.) It's apparently a little bulgy, but, in all honesty it looks the same to me as the other, and no different than hours before. I mentioned he likes to float which brings me to the fish that Oink was meant to replace.
<Fish live just fine with one eye. I'm sure they'd like both, but they manage fine. Their lateral line system is a sort of "radar" that helps them to a degree we really can't imagine. That's why fish are perfectly happy in water so dark or murky they can't see anyway.>
I had a cichlid, who seemed fine in his PetSupermarket tank but very very ill in my own. As soon as I brought him home he began gasping (like possible gill flukes?) and spent much of his time on top of the water. He died within 24 hours, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with him (aside from the gasping) until another one of my fish died from the same thing, eventually laying on the bottom of the tank and letting the others eat him until I pulled him out of there and put him in an empty 10 gallon my boyfriend's brother had gotten the day of, and graciously lent me in hopes of saving his favorite fish, and is now serving as a hospital tank. He died wi thin hours, but I'm wondering if the flukes were caused by a parasite or something equally as contagious, because the other fish was extremely healthy before the new one was put in. What's going on? How can I fix it? Is it over, or is it hiding somewhere in my tank?
<I honestly doubt a "mystery disease" is the thing here. It's all so generic that it simply screams "water quality/chemistry issues".>
Currently I am doing LOTS of water treatment, with the antifungal, the aquarium salt, and 50% water changes. Can I do anything else for them? There are (what I believe to be) actual fungus spores floating in there and I scoop those out too'¦ I think they come off Oink's eye'¦ but Oliver likes to eat them, which scares the daylights outta me. Speaking of lights'¦ on or off for fungus? I realize I messed up, and really, really, need help, and have, in fact been researching fish ailments until two in the morning three nights in a row, (once again, great site!), in addition to spending most of the day on water and fish treatments. HELP ME!
<Do really need [a] water chemistry, at minimum pH, and ideally carbonate and general hardness too; and [b] water quality, at minimum nitrite, but ammonia and nitrate useful too.>
Hoping for anything'¦
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
On an unrelated side note, I'm watching my friend's fish, which include a black molly, and a sunset molly. A different molly died before everyone left, and I believe it's because her bubbler is not only out of the tank, but unplugged (?) I wanted to know how long the two could stay that way...? Her tank is really small, I think probably a travel tank of about a gallon (give or take half). Should I put the bubble r in the water for a little while everyday, or leave it in?
<Mollies will die in tanks one gallon in size; really need 20+ gallons to have any chance of survival, and the water needs to be warm (around 28 C) and slightly brackish (5 grammes/litre upwards). Frankly, would put this poor fish out if its misery... it has no hope.>
She said not to worry... but they're pretty new and one already died, and the oxygen situation is looking bad. The fish are pretty sluggish, they hide and ignore food... I've put the bubbler in once, should I do it again?
<Read, have your friend read.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Novice Makes a Ton of Mistakes That May Kill Fish. Is the problem fungus? 7/21/09

Thank you very much for your help. They all seem to be much better this morning, the puffer is completely clear, and only the mystery fish seems to be having any trouble at all, but also seems to be much better. Currently the only thing in the water is methyl blue, and the chemistry seems better.
<Good news.>
I was under the impression that cichlids like aquarium salt because the lady at Petco told me they could be kept together, and the cichlids in the store also used the salt. Do I need to get it out, or let it run its course?
<Just do regular water changes, and over the weeks, the salt will be flushed out safely. Over the long term, salt seems to be a triggering factor for Malawi Bloat in African cichlids. Salt doesn't harden the water
or raise the pH, which is why it's of no use when keeping cichlids from Malawi, Tanganyika, or Central America. (Though that said, some Central American cichlids tolerate brackish and even saltwater conditions very well, but none actually need brackish water, and adding a teaspoon of "tonic salt" per gallon doesn't make brackish water anyway; you need marine salt mix for that.)>
I think I've learned a lot, and I won't make the same mistakes again.
Thank you again!
<Happy to help.>
As for my friend's fish, I've tried to explain it to her, but she's not hearing it... I don't know what to do, but feed them, and maybe fix up the tank, but I'm sure they'll die because I'm only watching them this week, and will not listen about the tank size. :[
<Ah, the same frustration as I often feel here, when I tell someone their Goldfish needs a 30 gallon tank, or their Betta needs to be kept warm, or their turtle needs dry land and a basking lamp. You do what you can do; the rest is up to them; call it Karma, if you will. Cheers, Neale.>

Auratus distress?? 5/6/09
Greetings Folks:
<Hello James,>
I'm a beginner with a 29 gal fresh water Cichlid tank purchased from a local fish supplier, not a chain store. He buys directly from a long known, to him, breeder.
<A nice practice.>
I had done some reading about the hobby beforehand and asked the obvious questions about the cycle, feeding, and cleaning, etc. He assured us that we could enjoy the hobby without a lot of technicalities and to start with inexpensive fish until we had some experience and might want to upgrade.
<It's true, up to a point. Does depend very much on the size of the tank and the fish chosen.>
So, I have to this point relied on his guidance. We have now had the tank in operation for just over three weeks without any obvious problems, except the one about which I will soon describe and is the reason I am writing.
Anyhow, the glass tank is equipped with a Tetra Whisper EX 45 filter. I have also put in an air stone and a Mini-Jet sub pump for water circulation. The tank is decorated with plastic plants and structures for cover. The bottom is rough gravel, about .5" to 1.25" diameter, about two inches deep across the entire bottom.
<If you don't have (live!) plants with roots, you really want to minimise the depth of gravel. Gravel is "dead space" whereas additional water moderates pH variation and dilutes water quality problems. So in tanks with no plants (or just floating plants and epiphytes) you use just enough gravel or sand to cover the glass and stablise any rocks/ornaments.>
We started with three African Cichlids.
<Ah, major mistake here. With few exceptions, none of the widely traded Rift Valley cichlids (which is surely what you mean) are viable in 29 gallons. Yes, you could stick 'em in there, but chances are they'll tear each other to bits, or else end up with assorted problems caused by water quality/chemistry issues.>
I wish I could identify them all to you but searching bleary eyed through four internet photo sites devoted to Cichlids, I could only ID several ( I will continue my search, though I guess the easy way would be to just ask the LFS). Of the first three, one was a female Melanochromis Auratus about 1.5" long, an albino about 2" long, and an small, inquisitive orange fellow with a few random black markings.
<Also, another mistake. The hobby is inundated with hybrid Rift Valley cichlids, which have poor colours and unpredictable behaviour and adult sizes. Never, ever buy a Rift Valley cichlid that doesn't come with its Latin name, and even then, be alert to possible hybrids, and only pick fish that precisely match the photos in your book. While there are rare varieties of, say, Pseudotropheus zebra different to the blue specimens you'll see in your book, such fish will be pricey, so you'll know they're genuine. Cheap Malawian cichlids (by which I mean Mbuna costing under £5/$7 a pop) are highly likely to be hybrids, and almost certainly so if sold as "Mixed African Cichlids"!!!>
My LFS said that cichlids were pretty hardy, that the cycle would take care of itself, and to come back in a week with a water sample. We did as he said. The water tested "perfect" and he said we could add three more fish if we wanted to. Of course we did, since the first three fish seemed to be doing quite nicely. We added a male Auratus, a Pseudotropheus Saulosi, and an additional albino.
<Now, Melanochromis auratus is possibly the most psychotic fish in the hobby. Males will dominate 55 gallon systems, by which I mean they can/will kill other fish they don't like. Pseudotropheus saulosi is a "dwarf" Mbuna and consequently easier to house, even though it isn't especially peaceful; you can simply expect to keep a group in a slightly smaller tank than, say, Pseudotropheus zebra, and fights are less likely to end in death, merely mayhem.>
After an evening of getting acquainted, they all seemed to be getting along famously.
<Often seems to be the case when immature; I cannot stress too strongly the point that it's the sexually mature males of all these fish that cause the problems. Just because your juveniles get along when they're an inch or two in length, there's no reason at all to imagine they'll stay tolerant of one another.>
The next week the water again tested "perfectly" and we added three more fish. Another Saulosi and two larger fish about 2" long, a white guy with a couple of black horizontal stripes from mid-torso to the top, and a blackish purplish brute with a gorgeous purple horizontal stripe mid-torso. Curiously, the two larger fish
immediately sought shelter and seemed generally disagreeable for a couple days. About a week later, I noted some brown spot algae, so I did about a fifteen percent water change, using Tetra AquaSafe in the added water, getting the temp as near as possible to the existing tank water, about 78 Dg F., and changed out the Tetra charcoal filter (which was filthy). About ten days later, we went back to the LFS. The water tested "perfect" again.
<Do really want to encourage you to use numbers, not concepts, when talking about water quality/chemistry. At minimum, buy a nitrite test kit and a pH test kit; you're after 0 nitrite and a pH around 8 for these fish. Ideally, you'd want a carbonate hardness (KH) test kit as well; on this, you're after around 10 degrees KH.>
He said that the brown algae was normal for the stage of the tank and not to fret about it.
<Up to a point, true.>
He said we could add a couple of Clown Loaches and a Pleco, so we did.
<No, no, no... not in this tank. Clowns need an entirely different habitat, and the Plec is redundant. Mbuna eat algae, and so do Plecs; at best, the Plec is competing with them for food, and at worst, competing for space and filtration capacity too. I'd take all the loaches and catfish back.>
The Pleco and the big purple guy had some issues about who was going to occupy the shelter of the sunken pirate ship, but by the following evening peace and harmony reigned. The Loaches are a delight, the Pleco is hard to find most times. Overall they are all fascinating and ever ready to eat. I've tried to keep my wife from feeling sorry for the little beggars and not to overfeed them.
Food: the LFS recommended using pellets used by the breeder, Extreme Aquatic Foods Inc, Cichlid Diet pellets. Since adding the Loaches and the Pleco, I also use Top Fin Algae thins.
To the problem: This past Monday, I did a 20% water change because it is becoming obvious that these guys and gal are not bashful about their bodily functions.
<Plecs defecate constantly; they're herbivores, and that's what herbivores do. If you've ever spend time with horses or cows, this won't be news. To a degree, it's true for herbivorous cichlids too. This is why you need a heavy duty filter; I'd install something rated at 8-10 times the volume of the tank in terms of turnover per hour; so for s 30 gallon tank, your filter should be between 240 and 300 gallons per hour in capacity. Anything less isn't going to work, long term.>
All seemed right with their world, except yesterday we noted that the male Auratus was sort of isolating himself, hiding under plant leaves, or in the corner of the tank. He did not engage in the usual chasing activities with the female or other fish. Today is more of the same and he is not eating. Additionally, after watching him closely for an hour, it seems that he is not using his right side fin/flipper as he meanders slowly from spot to spot. He is not lying on the bottom or on any structure but seems to prefer the under-leaf hideout or to keep his right side near the side of the tank. None of the other fish are acting strangely, or exhibit any outward indications of problems There is a lot of debris in the water and I will do a water change tomorrow.
<My gut reaction is a water quality issue. All Malawian and Tanganyikan cichlids are hypersensitive to nitrate, and even trace levels of ammonia and nitrite will severely stress them. In addition, busy aquaria (i.e., overstocked ones) will experience much faster pH changes than lightly stocked tanks, and unless you have a very high level of carbonate hardness, Malawian and Tanganyikan cichlids should only be kept in water that has been "hardened" with cichlid salt mix; see here:
Specifically, you're after 0 ammonia; 0 nitrite; less than 20 mg/l nitrate; a stable pH 8; general hardness 15+ degrees dH; carbonate hardness 10+ degrees KH. Temperature isn't critical, but around 25 C/77 F is about right; avoid higher temperatures unless you specifically increase water circulation as well; these fish are sensitive to low oxygen levels, and the warmer the water, the less oxygen it holds.>
I can't give you water chemistry because to this point I have relied on the LFS for the technicalities.
<Without the numbers, it's really difficult to say anything useful. It's sort of like expecting a doctor to diagnose something on the basis of you saying you don't feel good, but without him checking your pulse, temperature, red blood cell count or whatever. It all comes down to cold hard numbers! But to keep you going for the moment, have a read of this:
I intend to change that but the LFS says more problems are created by adding "treatments" and to just be sure to keep the water clean and not overfeed.
<Up to a point, yes, adding treatments or chemicals to the water -- such as the mindless addition of aquarium salt -- at best does nothing and at worst complicates things. But in the case of Malawi and Tanganyika cichlids, it's virtually impossible to keep them properly without adding a cichlid salt mix to each bucket of water. You also need to be using coral sand -- not gravel -- and the tank should be decorated with limestone such as tufa rock -- not plants, wood, etc. Strong filter turnover is also important. Every aspect of the aquarium should be tailored towards increasing carbonate hardness, buffering against pH changes, and optimising water flow.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

African Cichlids scratching 5-1-08 Malawi Cichlids With Stubborn Itch Hi Chuck, We wrote to you back in January 2006 about an issue with our fish scratching on rocks, gravel, etc. I've included the e-mails below. Just wondering if we could ask for your advice one more time! I'll give you an update... After your advice we treated for Ich/ Protozoa infection on two separate occasions. The first dose didn't stop them scratching so our local fish shop recommended a second, prolonged treatment with a different brand (i.e. 2 treatments back to back). That proved to be a disaster; it not only failed to stop the scratching, but also killed many fish. We were left with a few P. saulosi, P. acei and some Synodontis catfish. We spoke to many fish shops and no one could help us or suggest any further treatments. One said it could be the water conditioner or that it could just be natural behaviour. Having lost so many fish we had given up on treating them any further and just thought we'd see how things go. Over the past 2 years we've completely changed the rock, the sand, all water conditioners/hardeners/etc., tried different foods, got a bigger canister filter, put in some powerheads, added Seachem Purigen to the filter (changed monthly) and maintained good water conditions throughout. (Phew) All the fish seemed very healthy. They bred many many times (to the point that there were far too many for the tank) and even our Synodontis population tripled using the saulosi as hosts. Everything was perfect...except they were STILL scratching! A week ago we sold all the fish except the Synodontis and bought a colony of 5 large venustus (1 male 25cm, 4 females 20cm). Unfortunately I noticed the male scratching last night. I can't see anything visually wrong, no spots or anything. We checked the water conditions and got the following: GH = 22 deg., KH = 10 deg., pH = 8, ammonia = 0, nitrites = 0, nitrates < 5ppm (didn't register any on the test). I'm absolutely stumped and very frustrated. It seems obvious that it's a parasite... Do you have any ideas on what it could be? Is there any way of testing the fish before trying to treat them? Any natural remedies that won't kill the fish? Any non-parasite ideas? Sorry about the long e-mail! Thanks in advance. Carl & Monica < Ideally you take a sample of the protective slim from the skin of the fish and look at it under a microscope. Look for parasites that may be causing the irritation. If you tried the Rid-Ich, then I am surprised that it didn't work. Generally new fish are stressed and they produce lots of this protective slim. Sometimes they produce enough to overcome the parasite and the organism becomes less of a problem. To increase the slim you could add aquarium or rock salt. You don't want to add too much because the slim will coat the gills and impede respiration. Other natural remedies would be to increase the water temp to the mid 80's F. Higher temps increase the metabolism of the organism and they cannot keep this up. Think of it as giving your tank a fever to fight a cold. I would start by adding a tablespoon of salt per 5 gallons of water and raise the water temp to 83 F. If the fish act too stressed then reduce the water temp until they feel more comfortable. If the eyes are also cloudy then it could be bacterial. Try Furanace, it works well on both bacteria and funguses. Minerals and metals may also cause the irritations. You could set up a quarantine tank and fill it with treated R/O or treated distilled water. That way you are in control of the minerals/metals in the water.-Chuck>

New African Cichlid Tank Problems  3/8/07 Hi guys, My story begins with a 29 gallon tank purchased as a kit at the local super store. Got home, couldn't wait to get it together so I started putting everything together and a hour later I had set up my very first tank. I filled the tank with tap water and conditioned the water with the packet that came in the kit and let the tank cycle for 24 hours. The next day I went to the LFS to get some new wet pets. I went and picked up three African cichlids 1/2'' or so in size. The guy selling me the fish also recommended that I use stability which is a bio filter starter to help along the nitrogen cycle, so I purchased the stability along with some good water conditioner. I get home put in the stability per directions on the back, let the fish float in the tank for 20 minutes then put them in a small bowl and added tank water every 15 minutes till the bowl was full. Netted them out and put them in there new home. The fish are doing fine and all is well watching those little guys swimming around brought a nice new atmosphere to the living room. While I was at the LFS I saw a Columbian catfish that I wanted to get but didn't want to overload the tank in the beginning. Two days go by and I really want the catfish so I packed up the kids and head down to the LFS to get my new catfish. Luckily for me they were out, but my kids picked out a cool looking blue African cichlid so we got him instead. I decided to do some research on the Columbian catfish and that's when I found this very helpful and informative site. I am glad that the LFS was out of the catfish cause thanks to you guys I learned it would be a brackish water to marine fish. Another day passes the fish seem to be getting more distant from each other and not looking well so I come back to you're site to research new tanks and *boom* a whole new world of info am learning about ammonia and pH levels, nitrite and nitrate. I make a quick run to PetSmart to grab a test kit. I find a master test kit with the liquid, vials and color cards. I get home and start my tests ammonia first wow it was at 2.0, then my pH 7.6 nitrites 0 and nitrates 0.I test my tap water 1.0 ammonia 7.6 ph. I run down to the super store and grab 15 gallons of spring water and a Python I got home and did a 50% water change. That got my ammonia down to .50, pH stayed the same around 7.6, nitrites 0, nitrates 0.It was late and I thought I did everything I could that night. I go to work the next day and come home to find my water temp at 68F so I turn up my heater the little light comes on and think it would heat up over night well it never did. I woke up the next morning and it was still at 68F.No big deal I will just go buy a better heater. So I go to the LFS to get a heater I picked out the most expensive one. I spared no expense for my little wet pets am really starting to get attached to the little guys. My girlfriend picked up another 20-40G power filter from the super store. Well I get home find one dead and another acting just like the one that just died. I removed the dead one and did a 20% water change and refilling back with the same type of spring water I used in the 50% water change. I installed the new heater and the new power filter because I hear 2 is better than one. Yes, the new heater is working and the water is warming up. I do another water test ph 7.6 ammonia down to .25 nitrites 0 nitrates 0. I get down to inspect the fish close up and noticed one with white spots and my girlfriend says its Ich. I noticed the orange one had white fuzzy stuff around his mouth and has had a lot waste hanging from, him not like the others and he looks very sick. I go ahead bite the bullet and flush the orange one he just looked very sick I couldn't stand to see him like that. I hop back on to this wonderful site to read up on Ich. Decided to go with the salt and heat method so I added 2 tablespoon of aquarium salt to 5g and turned the heat up to 82F.Now to my question, is there anything else I can do to make these fish more healthy and to make sure the Ich is gone for good? <The cool water temps has stressed your fish and made them prone to diseases. Your fish actually like hard alkaline water. The spring water may not have enough minerals in it for your fish. Many biological "starter" cultures don't work too well. I would recommend Bio-Spira from Marineland to make sure that the bacteria are established for the biological filtration that you need. Your fish eat algae in the wild. Stick to foods that are algae based. Foods too high in animal protein tend to cause internal infections. If you like cichlids then I would recommend a book by Ad Konings titled "Enjoying Cichlids". Great book for aquarists just getting in to all kinds of cichlids.-Chuck>

Bloated African Cichlids Dear Experts, Craig started a big 75 gal tank w many beautiful African Cichlids, 3 at first, then he bought some through the mail and added more from a store., They were all happy and had many many babies. Then, one at a time over a period of weeks, one of the big ones would die-and they all died one at a time.. He put the babies in a small tank and they continue to grow until today a baby is dead mysteriously, just like the big ones we would find lying in the morning. They do seem to have bulging eyes, somewhat bloated. I understand it could be bacteria or parasite. But do these strike one fish at a time? What should we do? Thank you for your time! Craig and Marian, Raleigh, NC < Lake Malawi cichlids are mainly vegetarians and require a diet with lots of Spirulina algae. Many aquarists feed them a diet rich in protein and this is too rich for them and they get internal bacterial infections. Clean the tank by doing a 30% water change, clean the filters and vacuum the gravel. Treat with Metronidazole. This will work for both the bloat and the Popeye. This medication may affect the good bacteria so watch for ammonia spikes.-Chuck>
Bloated Cichlid Better
Hi Fellas, Just wanted to give you some good news for a change.  I had written earlier about my bloated Tanganyikan Cichlid that got better with Clout but still had a prolapsed anus (as you had determined to be the case).  Well just wanted to let you know the final outcome of the issue. I fed the fish numerous small feedings as you suggested, but the prolapse continued to worsen.  Fearing eventual death, I decided to take matters into my own hands-literally.  While the fish was still spry and healthy-looking, giving him the best chance of recovery (I read somewhere that manual intervention is 50/50% at best) I relocated the hernia.   I first netted the fish, drizzled some Stress Coat over his tail end while he was in the water and in the net, then firmly palming the fish, I used a wet Q-tip (wet with aquarium water) to gently fix the prolapse.  I held direct pressure, outside in, for 5-10 sec. at a time, rotating around the prolapse as needed.  Within 20 sec. I had successfully gotten the prolapse back inside. For the first 24 hours "Sting" was again bloated, but only around the belly and anus (not like when he had the Bloat) which I figured to be normal since I had just pushed his guts back inside. After a day, he was back in action, swimming like usual.  Now, a week later, he looks fit, trim and is back to normal. I know that I took a risk, but I figured he would eventually die from the prolapse, so I thought I'd give it a try.  The risk paid off....Thanks again for all your earlier help < Always good to hear a success story.-Chuck.>

Cichlid color fade Three weeks ago I purchased a African cichlid that was a baby blue with black stripes.  Now it is light brown with dark brown stripes, it is active and eats well.  It is about 2 in long, and I currently have it in a 10 gallon with one other African cichlid that is about an 1 1/2 inches long.  (That one was light brown with dark brown stripes when I purchased it, it's color hasn't changed.) I have been feeding them Tetra Cichlid Mini Granules.  I do a water change once a week.  What could be causing my cichlid to lose his color?  Is there a way to get the color back? <<Many cichlids will change colors as they get older and this is what this sounds like. This is a completely natural occurrence and cannot be reversed. Ronni>>

I've lost nearly all my African Cichlids! Help! <<Metronidazole toxicity? RMF>>Hi, your site looks very informative & it appears that you have helped a number of people.  I'm hoping that you might be able to help me as well... I have an African cichlid 55 gallon (mostly Mbunas (15) & a few of peacocks (3) from Lake Malawi).  Recently I had an outbreak of what I thought was 'Malawi Bloat' (I thought this because someone fed my fish the wrong food, & far too much, while I was on vacation).  A few days after I came home, I lost 2 fish (ps. socolofi).  They showed some tell tale signs by hiding, not eating, & exhibiting string white/clear feces.  I had this disease in my tank 6 months earlier so I immediately started to treat with Metronidazole (I treated & eliminated this disease in 5 days last time).  I did daily water changes & also began soaking their food in this medication.  I decided to treat the whole tank because the last time I had this disease it hit hard & fast (I lost 3 fish).  Well, to make a long story a little shorter.  I continued to lose  fish (approximately 2 per day)  on a daily basis through out the treatment (250mg of metro per 10 gallon, every other day for 5 days).  I used a mix of Epsom salt & aquarium salt.  I bumped up the temp & increased surface agitation for more oxygen.  I was still losing fish after the first treatment so I did a second treatment & kept the water clean & food medicated once per day.  Unfortunately, I continued to lose fish through the 2nd round of medicating (this time I treated w/ metro daily).  It's been 2 weeks & I am out of metro & nearly out of fish!  I've lost 12 fish so far. My tank is nearly empty & I am devastated.  So much money, time, energy & more money went into this tank. I am at a total loss about what is going on. I lost 2 fish just today.  My tank parameters are ph 8.0, GH 300, KH 300, nitrites 0, nitrates 20.  the temp is 78.  The other thing that could have kicked this disease off is the fact that I put in 3 new fish about 3 weeks ago.  These were the peacocks.  2 of them died today.  I didn't quarantine them.  I know that I probably should have (hind sight 20/20).  The only other symptoms that I can describe (besides stringy white/clear feces, hiding, not eating & lying on the bottom) is a rapid breathing & a bizarre behavior that a few of them exhibited right before they died - a fast mad, erratic, swirling, darting, freak out swim and then they just dropped dead (???).  I'm hoping that I can save my last few fish, but I highly doubt it at this point.  I'm about ready to give up on 3 years of fish keeping because of this catastrophe in my tank.  Can you help?  Do you have any ideas?  Thanks, ahead of time!  MM. <I normally only feed them a Spirulina flake, but I had run out.  So my 'nice neighbor' gave them a tropical flake & too much of it (by the looks of the filters when I cleaned them).  Next time I won't have anyone feed them.  That was a hard lessoned learned!  Right now, I'm feeding them metro soaked Spirulina pellets.  Should I not medicate them?  Should I just stick w/the flakes?  I have not had bloat for over twenty years. It is mainly caused by stress. I have heard that the fish get stressed and developed ulcers in their stomach.  The bacteria in the stomach run through the fishes blood stream through the ulcers and are stopped in the liver where they multiply and grow. The fishes immune system reacts by diluting the liver with water and thus causing the bloat type disorder you can plainly see. The bloat may have been caused by you well meaning friend who overfed the fish while  you were gone.> They may have been stressed, because I added the new fish about a week before I left.  But everything seemed fine before I left...  <I suspect the ammonia levels were elevated with lots of leftover food and the fish began to get sick. You probably have lots of rock work in your tank too. There were probably some dead bodies lodged under rocks and ornaments that added to the problem.> Actually, the ammonia levels were fine.  I didn't have a single fish die until I got home.  I watched them wane & then I would remove them immediately from the tank & followed up w/ a water change & vacuum.  <If you have any fish left, I would stop feeding and continue to do your scheduled maintenance.> How long should I stop feeding them for?  I generally do a 25% water change once per week.  Should I change filters at this point?  I've treated for 2 weeks & I'm not seeing a huge change in their behavior.  Like I said, I had 2 of them just kill over on me yesterday.  ):   <The medicine has a tendency to kill good bacteria too.> Should I no longer give them medicated food.  I was going to do this for a 7 day total. <Make sure your nitrogen cycle is still good by checking on the ammonia levels. Any remaining fish should be fed a good quality fresh Spirulina food. Some aquarists make the mistake of buying food in bulk and it lasts them all year. If you do buy food in large quantities, I would freeze most of it and just keep a little in a can that can be fed in a week. This way it will not lose the vitamin content or go bad.>  <Good advice on the bulk food! When should I start giving them the flakes?  should I "fast" them for a few days first? <as you well know Mbuna like to be crowded. If you add new fish and some of the older ones are still around you need to add the fish at night before you turn off the lights. Rearrange the rocks too. Mbuna set up territories and guard them very well against new fish.> I did just this.  I actually rearranged, fed the original fish, turned out the lights & slowly added the new ones.  I read on several different sites that you should never add new fish w/o quarantining them first.  I'm a member of the cichlid forum - they are huge on the quarantine thing.  but it's a lot of work & money!  Do you think that new fish often bring diseases into your tank?  <Bloat is a common problem with Tropheus from Lake Tanganyika. I would recommend a website called JDTropheus.com for a second opinion on how he handles his bloat problems with his fish. The same advice could be applied to Mbuna. <I'll check this site out.  I guess my fear is that they didn't have 'bloat' after all and perhaps I was treating them for the wrong thing.  I mean, I have been tedious about caring for these fish & I've been losing them for 2 weeks!  I just wondered if there was something else that I can do.  Do you know anything about fish that freak out & dart around just before they die?  that was weird. <As far as replacing your fish, Mbuna are easily bred and are very common all over the country in pet shops and at aquarium society meetings. Stay away from the newer more expensive fish for now until things settle down. You fish are very active and your filter should turn the water over at least 3 times an hour but 5 times and hour would be much better. I would recommend a book, Enjoying Cichlids by Ad Konings for a good reference on keeping all kinds of cichlids. Good luck.____> Thanks, but I wonder if I'm cut out for this fish keeping thing.  losing 12 fish is kind of a downer... <Dear McCall, Sorry to hear about your tank. You are correct about the main causes of bloat. For future reference, when you go on vacation I would not have anyone come feed my fish unless I would be gone longer than a week. I would lower the water temp. to 74 degrees and make sure my filters were clean and running well. For food I would recommend a Spirulina flake only.  In the wild they eat algae off the rocks. A little brine shrimp flake every once an awhile doesn't hurt either. > <Dear McCall, I would recommend that you discontinue all medication. They are dying faster from the medication then they ever would from the bloat. Wait one week before feeding and let everything settle down. Do a 25% water change and do your maintenance on your filter and change the carbon with a good quality brand. Dump the pellets. Get some OSI Spirulina flake. At the end of the week check the chemistry of the water. All the nitrogen levels should be normal and the remaining fish should stabilize. Even if fish are still dying I would not add any medication at this time. The medication you are using should have been used once at the first sign of symptoms and another time one week later. Not continuously. I suspect they have been poisoned or the medication has totally wiped out the bacteria in their gut and they can no longer digest any food. This would cause the frantic dashing around the tank that you describe. Really Mbuna are some of the easiest fish to keep. Stick with me and we will get you through this and make sure this never happens again and we will make you a successful aquarist. The quarantine thing is good but Mbuna really don't get sick. The biggest problem with them is aggression. Let things settle down and email me in a week. Let me know what you have left and how things are going. We will take it from there and get you back up and going in no time. Chuck.>
Re: I've lost nearly all my African Cichlids! Help!
I haven't really been medicating them continuously.  This is what I did: I did my first round of metro when I first suspected bloat. I treated w/250mg of metro per 10 gallons of water, every other day for 5 days (as the instructions on the box read). I cont. to lose, approx. 2 fish per day, during & after this treatment. I then read that I should/could treat daily instead of bi-daily. so I did my 2nd round, with probably a 3 day break in between rounds, & medicated w/ 250mg per 10 gallons for 3 days straight. all the while doing 20 - 25% water changes daily (as well as keeping the temp up 82 degrees, adding Epsom salt & surface agitation for air). it was either during or just after my 2nd treatment that I started to feed w/ metro soaked flakes & or pellets. I've done that for approx. 5 days now. I'm out of metro so I won't be feeding them that anymore anyhow... do you still think that it was poisoning? < It could be that or a combination of things. We just may never know because we were not there when it was going on. One other thing I would do is reduce the temperature to 77 degrees. Last year when I was diving in Malawi I measured the water temperature and found it to be no more than 77 to 78 degrees. Lake Victorian cichlids seam to bloat up like balloons when the water temp gets above 80 degrees. It is a real problem in the summer without air conditioning.>  well, I'll follow your advise & try to get back on track.  first, I'll have to win a lottery to replace all of those fish!  ): < Your tank is already set up. After awhile the fish will either die or get better. If you want to stick with Mbuna then it would be best to add the fish all at the same time. It is better to save up your money and get them all at once rather than spread your purchases out over a few weeks or even months. Small fish (1")should cost around $5.00 each. Twenty fish would do well in a 40 to 55 gallon tank depending on your filtration. > thanks for sticking it out w/ me!  P.S. Here is my whole sob story along w/ the advice & support that I received from the good members at the cichlid forum: http://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=33777 not to put two pros against each other, because I know everyone has their own opinion when it comes to dealing w/ fish, but what do you think? < All so called experts rely on their past experiences and knowledge to help answer questions. In many cases there may be many different solutions because not two aquariums are exactly alike. Look at all the books out there! I would recommend you get a journal and record everything you do to your tank. Daily water temp., water changes , type of food, what kind of fish were added and when. etc... After a while you will see a pattern developed. When something goes wrong you will probably see some sort of variation from your normal routine. This variation may or may not be the cause of the problem but it is a good place to start looking. You could even set up a spread sheet on your computer. Next time you have a question you could attach the file for some one to review and see if they can find any problems. -Chuck>

Yellow "Lab" Question - Itchy Dogs?  No, Silly.. Labidochromis cichlid! Dear Magnus, my lab seems to be scratching itself against the gravel.  what is this queer behavior? <When a fish does this it's referred to as "Flashing".  The fish has something that is either irritating his gills (parasites) or it has agitating his skin (bacteria, fungus, parasites).  The fish is trying to "rub" the parasite off.  Which it won't be able to.  Most likely the fish will hurt itself in doing so, or scratch itself and then allow the infection to get into the skin.  He is in need of medication (suggest Maracide, since it is a broader base medicine) to rid him of the problems.  I suggest that you also pick up a book on the general health care of fish.  This will be handy for you so you can turn to the book and learn about issues rather than waiting for email replies.  I find that having a nice library of a few good books on hand is extremely valuable.  Good luck. -Magnus>

African Cichlid Losses I have African Cichlids, <Ones that appreciate hard, alkaline water likely> I use water from the tap where I add NitroMax and the prime which removes chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia. I remove a 1/4 of the water once a month and use a gravel cleaner hooked up to the intake. The water is clear and I check each month for the nitrate and the ammonia levels which have been 0ppm. I have fake plants and corral in the tank. The light is on for about4-6 hours a day. On the exact cichlids that have been lost I don't know there specific names. I hope this is helpful. Let me know if I missed something. I use the Black Diamond product in the filter. <All related is fine... Do you know the pH, DH of your tank, tapwater? Bob Fenner> Thanks Nathaniel
Re: African Cichlid, System, Mystery Losses
Just use the city water for the tank. I don't know what the ph is now, but I have tested it in the past and it was in the range for Cichlids, but I don't have a new reading. Most of the stores around here just test ph, nitrate and ammonia levels and that is it. <I would still test, assure it's in the upper 7's, low 8's... likely add a bit (a teaspoon per gallon over a few days time) of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to bolster the alkalinity, safely elevate pH. Other than this, I would definitely increase aeration in the system. Bob Fenner>
Re: African Cichlid, System, Mystery Losses
What type of aeration would you get for my 75 gallon tank? So get a ph kit and drop the baking soda in as you directed. Thanks <Please read through our websites (start here: www.WetWebMedia.com) re set-up... Likely airstone, long, set along edge-bottom of the tank. Bob Fenner> NSR
Re: African Cichlid, System, Mystery Losses
Thanks for all your help. Going to get Baking Soda, Ph tester and one last question is the NitroMax ok are should I be using items like the Cichlid lake salts or buffers? Thanks again. <NitroMax the product is fine... does different "things" than salts and buffers though. You should follow your inquisitive mind here, study a bit re practical water chemistry. Likely the use of salts and buffers is a good idea. Bob Fenner> Nathaniel

Need your help 3 deaths  I hope you can help! Before my question. Here is my equipment and fish list. 90 gallon (regular size), two emperor 400 filters I change the filters and add carbon black diamond brand) to the extra media containers every 25-30 days, 350watt Won "pro heat II" titanium heater, shop light fixture, with one normal 40 watt light and one special 40 watt aquarium bulb,  <At this point I have concern if the Emperors are your only filters... especially with the regular cleanings (purging biological activity necessarily). Is there no other biological filtration? Wet/Dry, Canister with coarse media, UG, etc?> For food I use Hikari "Cichlid Complete" and "Cichlid Excel" and every 3-5 days I feed frozen brine. African cichlid fish I have (all about the same size 3") 1 red zebra, 1 blue zebra, 1 male and female Kenyi, 1 rusty brown, 1 tetracephalus, 1 yellow lab (Labidochromis caeruleus). OTHER FISH,1 2" Synodontis petricola , 1 male and 1 female three spot Gouramis 4"-5" ( I know I will probably have to get rid of these Gouramis in the future when my cichlids get bigger!), and 4 tiger barbs (medium size)  <yes... the Gouramis and barbs should be removed... incompatible size, water quality needs and aggression> I also keep my tank at 79-80 degrees. I have an accurate temp gauge in the tank. <very fine> I do 20-25 percent water change/vacuum the gravel every 7-10 days,  <excellent> I also use a .5 micron carbon filter to filter my tap water before it goes into the tank. The filter is an inline filter that goes in-between two garden hoses, I hook the garden hose up to my bathroom sink faucet, turn the water on to the right temp (about 78 degrees) then fill the tank back up. Right before I fill the tank I put Amquel and Novaqua in the tank for the replacement water, enough for about 30-40 gallons. Is it OK to treat the replacement water in this way?  <a little risky but not a big concern with smaller water changes (under 30%)> I put the conditioner in the tank then put the replacement water in. (I read that it will not hurt the fish to add a little more than needed), <agreed> then start to fill the tank back up. I have done it this way for the last 4 months and has worked perfectly. I also add one table spoon of salt for every ten gallons. <very good> How I acclimate: Float bag for 15 minutes, then open bag and pour about 5-8oz (depending on the size of the bag and amount of water in it) of water from the tank in every 4 minutes, I do that three times then empty about half the bag, then I do it again. after that I pour the water out of the bag kinda quickly in to a container being careful to keep the fish in the bag, then after the water is out of the bag I turn the bag upside down and the fish goes into the tank, I was told never to get much of the water from the bag in to the tank or to touch the fish, it can hurt there slime coat.  <yes... all good acclimation, by me> The fish is without water for no longer than 2 seconds. Is this a good way to acclimate? If not could you tell me the right way? < a fine method... no worries here> My existing fish are doing unbelievably well, with a TON of color (twice what I see in store fish) and seem VERY VERY alert and healthy (They eat like pigs, I do not over feed though, I make sure no food gets to the bottom and feed 2-3 times a day only as much as they can eat in about 2 minutes). I have had my tank now for about 4 months and have read allot of material on the net about fish keeping so I know a little bit about African cichlids and there needs, Higher ph, lots of hiding places and so on. I live in an area (Fargo, ND) where all of our water around here has a higher PH so it works out good for the fish. QUESTION! OK, Here's what happened, I went to PetCo and they had JUST gotten in that day (Friday) ten (LARGE 3-5 inches) albino zebras/redtops (at that's what I think they were, the sticker on the tank said assorted Cichlids), anyways I picked up two and got them home acclimated them the same way I did all my other fish. I did a water change/vacuum the day before. They appeared to be fine, although not readily taking food after a few hours, I thought, hmm that's strange. Then after about 6 hours in the tank one of them started to eat a little bit (I thought GREAT, if a fish is eating it's a good sign "usually") Then the next day (sat.) the one that did not eat the day before started to sit at the top for about 5 hours with his head towards the top of the water and tail a little lower at about a 30 degree angle. I started to think there was something wrong? So I tried feeding it again and it was NOT interested, moving slowly unlike my other cichlids. Then he sat on the bottom for about two hours, freaked out for a minute then died. <could have been a stressed fish from a rough import or there could easily have been some exhaustive chasing by the other cichlids at night for sleeping territories> It was my first death, so I read up on hypoxia and though that that's what happened. I took fish #1 (dead) and a water sample in to PetCo and they tested my water and said my water was great and replaced the fish with one that was swimming around and looked perfectly fine in there tank (this is now Sunday and I bought the two fish on Friday). I also purchased a penguin 1140 power head, thinking that I needed more aeration.  <more is better indeed> I thought maybe the larger fish (4-5 inches) needed more oxygen in the water then the smaller ones (2-3 inches)? <true in theory> So I brought fish #3 (replacement fish for 1) home and got him in the tank and got the power head going full blast (that is allot of bubbles). Then fish #2 started to act the same way sitting at the top. NOW I WAS STUMPED, I could not figure out what was going on or wrong?? About 2 hours later #2 fish died. Then about 12 hours later #3 fish started doing the same thing at the top then 6 hours passed and he died. I NEED HELP? What is wrong?  <it may simply be the source of the fish... try a different supplier. And whenever possible, quarantine all new fish in a separate 10 gallon QT tank to protect your healthy established fishes from risk of disease> I tested for nitrites again (I do not own any other testing stuff other than a nitrite test kit) and it was 0. PetCo tested for a few other things not sure exactly what, but seen them do about 4 dif. tests to my water sample, with test strips. I did ask how my nitrates were and they said that it was very low to none. Question: do the two Emperor filters have enough aeration for the 90 gallon?  <quite possibly not... maybe not enough biological filtration in the long run for the heavy bio-load of cichlids> I do NOT have an under gravel filter, I only have about 1/4" of gravel in the tank and assorted plants and caves. THANK YOU! Dave <QT new fishes and try a new source to eliminate variables... if not... perhaps a Polyfilter with concern for an untestable contaminant (unlikely). Best regards, Anthony>
Re: Need your help 3 deaths
Thanks so much for your response! I love your site and I am going to donate the next time I'm there!  <thanks kindly:) > I noticed you were concerned about only having the Two emperor 400's. Was that because of Just bio-filtration or mechanical filtration too? <mostly concern for enough biological capacity with the heavy load that cichlids can bring> I was thinking about adding a Fluval 404, Would this help or would it be overkill? Would adding this filter add to much current? <a very fine choice... not overkill or too much current. Excellent> Also if I get a canister filter I would probably add a UV filter in the near future, Is there a need for UV filter in my tank or would it be a waste of $? < a complete waste of money for so many reasons. A fraction of that money would be better spent on having a 10 gallon QT tank for all new/sick fishes> I hate to bother you with SO MANY questions but here is one more.  <no worries... our pleasure> About a two months ago 1 of my cichlids got Ich (1-3 tiny white dots on there skin) then the next day that same fish had no sign of it any more. Then every few days a different fish would get it then the same thing would happen, it would get the 1-3 tiny spots then they would go away. I NEVER treated for Ich and it seems that it has went away on it's own?  <yes... this does happen in otherwise strong healthy fishes. Temperature fluctuations are a common cause. check out night time drop in temp... no more than 2F ideally> I have not seen any white spots on any of the fish for at least 2-3 weeks and the fish seem to be doing fine (A couple of the fish still itch on the rocks and gravel sometimes for-10 seconds at a time?), acting the same as always, accept my Yellow lab (Labidochromis caeruleus), he does not eat that well? Could Ich just go away with no treatment or is it still effecting the fish with no white spots?  <still lingering no doubt but your fishes have good immunity. Still... watch carefully> I have read a ton of stuff on the life cycle of this parasite and it always tell how to treat it but I have yet to read about the parasite just going away with out treatment. Should I treat the tank with Kordon rid Ich+ Or just leave it alone?  <small daily water changes from the bottom for 8 consecutive days can essentially break the life cycle... better than hostile meds in this case> I am concerned about some of the fish itching themselves on the decorations and gravel? I bought some of the new herbal Kordon brand "Prevent-Ich" It says it prevents Ich so I figured it couldn't hurt? Should I use this stuff or is it just hype? <complete crap IMO... Ha!> Sorry for all the questions. <no worries!> Again Thanks.... Dave <best regards, Anthony>

Dying fish Hi there, I stumbled across your page and I saw that you do not mind getting emails from people looking for help. Well I'm definitely looking for some help. <We love getting e-mails and will help as much as we can.> Here is the background info perhaps it will help you in solving my problems. I have a 66 gal tank with African cichlids. Currently I have 4 electric blues, 5 red top zebras, and down to 2 nkali, and one unidentified orangish colored fish, and of course 1 Plecostomus. Tank temperature is 79 degrees. <Sounds good> About 2-3 months ago I purchased some fish from a local supplier, I got 7 Labidochromis 'nkali' , and 6 red top zebras, I was sure my other fish would eat them because these new ones were much smaller. To my surprise everyone got along fine and things were good. All of a sudden 2 nkali died. I immediately tested the water for nitrites and nitrates as well as ammonia and all levels were great. I did a water change anyways and everything seemed fine. The following month I had another 2 deaths, and the week after another. I have examined the fish and I can see no signs of disease at all. I also took my water into a pet store and they tested it and it was fine. The only thing that they suggested was my ph was perhaps low for cichlids. The ph was at 7.5 and they suggested it should be at 8. <Did the fish get bloated at all when they died? There is a certain disease called Malawi Bloat that may be the culprit. Are they being offered a good mix of both proteins and vegetable matter? Although they're mostly carnivorous, these fish need quite a bit of vegetable matter in their diet. Spirulina flakes or wafers are a good way to provide this, so are the frozen 'Fish Gum Drops' that are available in vegetable (My Cichlids used to love these!). Is there salt in the tank? For proper health there should be some Rift Lake or Cichlid salt added to their water. If there isn't any right now, get some and gradually (over several weeks or more) bring the salinity up to the level recommended on the package. Both improper feeding and wrong salinity can lead to Malawi Bloat in some cases. Your pH is a bit low but not too bad. The pH should be at about 7.8 to 8.2 for these guys. This shouldn't have caused these deaths though.> He also asked if I had any driftwood in the tank and I said yes I had 2 pieces, he says that the driftwood decomposes and leaches material and reduces the ph level. <To a certain extent, yes.> Do you have any suggestions as to why my fish are dying? <See above, those would be the main things that I can think of immediately.> Is it bad to have driftwood in the tank? I have had the driftwood in the tank for over a year already. <Many people use driftwood, especially in Cichlid tanks but to be on the safe side you may want to remove it and see if your pH goes up. If so, leave it out.> Thank you for your time and I enjoy your website. Ron Villeneuve <You're welcome! Ronni>
Re: dying Cichlids
Thank you very much for your quick reply.   <You're welcome> To answer some of your questions/suggestion on most of the dead fish I can't really say I noticed bloating except maybe the last one so perhaps they do have Malawi bloat. <It's hard to say for sure but it's a definite possibility.> When I first bought cichlids the guy at the pet store told me the fish were vegetarians, and he sold me some fish food that he said was mostly vegetable matter.  I don't have a list of ingredients because he had a 50lb box that he took one big bag full out for me, but he did mention that most regular food wasn't good for cichlids. <This is probably a good food for them but needs to be offered along with some other higher protein foods. Cichlids seem to love frozen bloodworms and I also used the Cichlid foods made by New Life Spectrum with great results.> Yes I do have salt but it is not special cichlid salt I will go buy some today along with some food that has a higher protein content. Hopefully this will help me with the recent deaths. <Some people do use other salts but the salts made specifically for the Cichlids are formulated to provide the other necessary nutrients so they do work better.> Also I forgot to mention I bought a couple pounds of crushed coral to raise the ph. <Very good> Thx again  Ronnie lol <You're welcome! Ronni *G*>
Re: dying Cichlids
Help!!!    Now that I started I'm more confused then before.   Anyways here's where I stand now.  I went to the local pet store looking for Cichlids salts.  I was directed to "Kent" AF cichlid chemistry and AF cichlid rift lake trace elements.  On the directions for the cichlid chemistry it said I should test the GH of the water so I bought a GH and KH test kit.  My GH came out to 240 mg/l (ppm) which from what I can figure out is 13.4 dGH.  The container says "using this product, adjust the hardness to desired levels for the type of fish" and it shows for 7Dgh for Malawi.  (Here's a quick recap of my fish I have a 66 gal tank with African cichlids. Currently I have 4 electric blues, 5 red top zebras, and down to 2 nkali, and one unidentified orangish colored fish, and of course 1 Plecostomus. Tank temperature is 79 degrees).  So according to this product my GH is twice what it should be.  Is this correct?  My KH came out to 120mg/l which my test kit says is high.  Unless I'm misunderstanding this whole thing I should not add the AF cichlid chemistry. <Nope, these are not the right products. I've actually never heard of these but I generally don't use the Kent line myself.> Now I'm wondering about the AF rift lake trace elements product.  Should I be using this?  It suggests using the other products first then to "use this product weekly to maintain trace mineral levels which can be depleted by fish and plants and by carbon, resin, and pad filtration." <Nope, this isn't it either.> Is any of this what you were referring to when you suggested I buy salt for the cichlids?  It's the only product they had.   <The one I had in mind was Cichlid Lake Salt by Seachem. I know for sure that Dr's Foster & Smith carry it because I happen to have one of their catalogs handy but I'm sure many other distributors also have it. It should work the best for what you need.> Should I be concerned with lowering my GH and if so how?   <Should be fine but watch to make sure it doesn't go up much when you add salt> There were no other salt related products for Cichlids at all in the store. <Doesn't surprise me. Many stores don't carry this since it's more of a specialized item. I wish more of them would, I think it would save a lot of Cichlids in the long run.> Thank you once again for your help <You're welcome> Ron PS. I bought them bloodworms and they do seem to enjoy them.  pH is back up to 8 after adding the crushed coral. <Great! When you can, try some of the New Life Spectrum Cichlid pellets. They should really like those too.>
Re: dying Cichlids
HI again, Sorry to be a pain in the ass but I just spent the last 90 min looking at every article I could on your site and reading all the FAQ's and I could not find the info I need.  This must have been my second time doing so and I do learn more and more every time.  Perhaps I should do it again lol.    <Not a problem at all. :o)> I have a few direct questions for you and perhaps it will put my mind at rest.  I wouldn't be so worried but I notice one of my red top zebra is doing a lot of lying on the bottom hidden in a plant; he doesn't seem interested in eating either. <Hmm'¦ I'm still at a loss as to what could be causing these exact problems. Do try removing that chunk of driftwood and see if the problems go away. Also, do you have any colored rocks or anything else that could be leaching chemicals/dyes?> 1) My GH is 240mg/l   13.4 dGH (if I figured it out right)   is this high or normal?  You mentioned it seemed fine but to watch it if I add the cichlid salt. <It's a little high but not abnormally so.> 2) My KH is 120mg/l    6.72dKH   is this high or normal?   The box seems to say both these number are high however I value your opinion more then Hagen's. <Same as above> 3) If I do manage to find Cichlid Lake Salt by Seachem and it does raise my GH at which level should I be concerned? <You probably don't want it to get above 15 or 16. Keep in mind that chemistry is really not my forte' so I'm not positive on this but many people are successfully keeping Cichlids at this level.> 4) And how do I correct it? <Go to http://www.wetwebmedia.com and do a search for 'lowering dGH'. You should find some advice there. You might also search the web with your favorite search engine.> 5) Generally is GH and KH a big concern? <Not for me. I have never tested these levels in my tanks. I regularly test pH, Ammonia, and Nitrites and on any tanks with salt I also test the salinity. I've never worried about the others but I do have very good (albeit hard!) water here and never even have to worry about chlorine or other additives so I'm one of the lucky ones.> Unfortunately I don't think I will be able to find Cichlid Lake Salt by Seachem locally I was at our biggest pet store today and they had none.   Also because I live in Canada a lot of online stores do not ship here.   Ahh I just had a quick look at http://www.bigalsonline.com and I see they have the salt you suggested I order and they do ship here.  Well that will take care of that problem. <Very good.> I noticed in one FAQ the mention of making a donation to the site, how does one go about doing this or should I just purchase something from the store.  I have also noticed mention about books and your new book coming out, do you have a list of books for sale or are they in bookstores?  Once again due to the fact that I'm in Canada they may not all be available to me. <We would certainly appreciate this! On the Daily Photos page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dailypic.htm there is a box for donations thru the Amazon Honor System or you can go to http://www.cafeshops.com/cp/store.aspx?s=wetwebmedia.0 and order one of our products there. Shipping to Canada is available on the WetWebGear offered at Cafepress. The books by Robert and Anthony are available at many different places.> Thanx again for all the help. Ron <You're welcome! Ronni>

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