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FAQs on African Cichlid Diseases 10  

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, African Cichlid Disease 9, African Cichlid Disease 11, African Cichlid Disease 12,
FAQs on African Cichlid Disease by Category: Diagnosis, 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,

About to give up; Mbuna stkg., beh., disease f's        4/4/20
Hi there,
It was suggested that I forward you guys a post I put up on cichlid-forum.com today, in hopes you may offer some advice. Here it is. Thank you.
Hey guys, new here. Been keeping fish for about 20 years and am so frustrated the last year or so I’m about to abandon ship. I’ll try to give the full story. About a year and a half ago I had a thriving 75 gallon Mbuna setup. Beautiful tank with happy fish. Then, I got the bright idea to upgrade to a 125 gallon and have had problems ever since.
<Oh dear.>
During the move about a year and a half ago, a couple of the fish got stressed obviously but all made it until one came down with what I believed to be columnaris or fin/mouth rot.
<I am glad you've made the connection between stress and disease. What I'd further throw into the mix is social behaviour. Mbuna operate best when overstocked. That's because no one fish can actually secure a territory, and paradoxical as it might seem, the fish are more aggressive when they hold a territory than when they're trying to claim a territory. Net result, overstocking doesn't stop aggression, but it does dial it back. In the wild, the fish live in huge numbers and have the space for weaker fish to be pushed out into less desirable areas where aggression is less. For sure those fish won't be able to breed, but they aren't outright killed. In captivity, the weaker fish can't do that. Anyway, if your fish had been overstocked in 75 gallons, and you switched them to a new, bigger tank, two things would happen. First, all the territories would be disrupted, so they'd all be struggling to claim a patch. Secondly, with more space, it's easier for more aggressive individuals to claim and hold a territory. Their aggression would go up a notch now, because they'd switch from "house hunting" to "actively attracting a mate", and that means they'd be even more aggressive than before. At least, this is how I understand it!>
It quickly spread and I vigorously tried everything to cure my beloved Mbuna. After a long battle and numerous antibiotics and treatments, the majority died and the few remaining were horribly sick and I euthanized them. At that time I took down the entire tank and cleaned everything and drained it completely. It all sat in my garage completely empty in -30 degree weather as I live in Minnesota.
<Well, that should deal with any parasites, but bacteria are well able to go dormant through such cold, especially if dry.>
Now, a year and a half later I just set up the 125 gallon again and performed a fishless cycle using Dr. Tim’s ammonia. Cycled in about a month, and conditions were pristine. Nice hard water, ph around 8.5, no ammonia or nitrites obviously and very low nitrates. Temp is a steady 77 degrees. I introduced 20 Mbunas from <vendor name removed> on Tuesday this week. They all appeared healthy but took cover as expected. None would eat or come out and now it is day 3 and same story. However, upon closer inspection tonight it appears that several of the fish have symptoms of the columnaris or fin rot yet again. Could it be that the crap survived on my rock or tank walls with no water in sub zero temps for over a year?
<Bacteria? Yes. Bacteria are not killed by cold (hence why freezing food delays spoilage, but doesn't stop it). Furthermore, the bacteria involved in Finrot and Columnaris are opportunistic and latent in all aquaria. There's really nothing you can do to stop them getting into the tank. Even a course of antibiotics diminishes them, and allows the fish's immune system to clear them out of the fish's body -- but they will always be present in the aquarium. If nothing else, their spores get into the tank from our hands, from the air, likely even in new water unless we're sterilising buckets and pipes each time we use them.>
I just don’t believe that is possible. I’m so incredibly frustrated that I’m considering just giving up on the hobby. <vendor name removed> will refund my money but that’s not the point. I just don’t get it. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
<When it comes to this sort of mass death, my gut reaction is to leave the tank running, fallow, for a couple of weeks. This will break the life cycle of many parasites. I'd carry on adding fish food, of course, to give the biological filter something to work on. A bit of fish fillet or a prawn works just as well, decaying away over the days, releasing ammonia for the filter bacteria (nitrifying bacteria) and keeping the good bacteria that start the decay process (ammonification bacteria) happy as well. If you have a tank where plants are suitable, and there are plants in Lake Malawi, these are really helpful too, because they bring in lots of good bacteria on their leaves and roots. They also help balance the tank a bit, removing waste and providing a bit more oxygen. Anyway, either way, let the tank sit for a while. Then sit down and be realistic about things like water chemistry, water quality, and the frequency of water changes. I don't often recommend carbon, but if you've had a mass die-off, the use of carbon (replaced every few days) is one way to remove dissolved organics that might have been toxic, such as paint fumes. Even better are the high-end chemical adsorbents like Purigen. Basically, treat the tank as if it had fish, but do your best to clean it without killing off the good bacteria. Now, after a couple of weeks, think about introducing a few fish. Obviously pick robust species, but the key things with Mbuna are to choose the least aggressive species first, working upwards through the pecking order. Juveniles often (always?) travel better than adults, but the flip side is sexing juveniles can be hard. Finally, and this can be a bit brutal, if you've utterly failed with one group of fish -- perhaps they aren't the right ones for your water chemistry, time/budget, etc. Maybe think if some other type of fish might not be easier. In a big tank, Aulonocara for example might well be a lot easier to keep than the more aggressive Mbuna, or there may be some Haplochromis-type fish that would work even better. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

African Cichlid Fin issues      6/5/19
I have a question for Bob Fenner, after reading through many if the help topics on the website.
<He's on his travels right now, but will cc him in case he has any input.>
I have a mixed group of African Cichlids, 150gal tank, two Fluval FX6 canister filters. I have about half a dozen fish with a charred, burnt black looked section on their dorsal fin. I don't think it's fin rot exactly?
<Black patches that appear out of nowhere are usually ascribed to ammonia burns or similar. Remember, at high pH levels, ammonia is much more toxic than in acidic pH. Something to do with the ratio of ammonium ions to ammonia molecules being different in acid vs. basic conditions. Anyway, the
point being that even 'trace' ammonia/ammonium levels that you'd ignore in, say, a soft water community aquarium would be much more lethal in a Mbuna community because of the high pH levels. While we tend to "overcrowd" Mbuna especially to reduce their territoriality, that does mean filtration has to be absolutely top-notch, and there's no point having lots of bacteria if you don't also provide them with plenty of oxygen. I'd also make the point that Rift Valley cichlids are a mixed bunch, and mixing Mbuna with, say, Tanganyikans or Aulonocara invariably causes problems eventually, and it should go without saying you'd not mix any of these Rift Valley cichlids with soft water species like Kribs or Jewel cichlids from West Africa.>
All the rest of the fins are in perfect condition. Looking for some help, I can also send photos once in contact with someone. Thank you so much
<Hope this helps. Neale.>
Re: African Cichlid Fin issues      6/5/19

By mixed, I meant the species, however, all are lake Malawi Haplochromis. I treat my tap water with Seachem Prime, Malawi pH Buffer and Cichlid Lake Salt. Attaching a photo of one of the fish. Hope this helps.
<Would still suspect environment, with the possibility of aggression between the fish causing some of the physical damage. Do check the pH and water quality; without these information, we can't really help much.
Cheers, Neale.>

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.>

Pseudotropheus zebra - pH related illness       6/11/17
I have a 55 gallon tank that I set up on 5/26/17 for young Pseudotropheus zebras that I am raising from fry. I have many tanks and have had tanks for nearly 50 years since I was a kid.
Everything was going great until I did a partial water change.
I did a partial water change (20 gallons) on Tuesday (6/6/17) and on Wednesday they were stressed out. I am a geologist and work with biologists and engineers. Through a series of tests with meters etc... I figured out that I got a batch of acidic water which was used for the partial water change.
The water that was used had set for 4 days before using, so I did not use any Dechlor. I avoid using Dechlor unless I have to..
<Hypo, Sodium Thiosulfate; olde timey prep. for the simpler time of chlorine-only use as municipal sanitizer. Chloramines are used almost universally in the USA nowayears... Dechlor won't remove/change these. Best to do as you suggest and let water sit or aerate days (or week) ahead of use>
I dumped the water from the buckets on Thursday 6/8/17 and filled them with fresh water. The pH and all other parameters tested well and that water has been used now for 2 partial water changes... ( 10 gallons each)... one on
Wednesday 6/7/17 and one on Friday 6/9/17.
I kept the light on from Wednesday night until this morning at 6:00 AM and turned it back on at 1:30 PM today.
My questions involve my approach from here on out. Some of the fish are eating... about half of them... but not with the normal intensity. The others have no interest in eating. Some are scraping themselves occasionally and a couple have what looks like damage to their slime layer. It is not white fuzz and does not look like ich... but more like bubbles.
<Mmm... am wondering what this is>
I am old school and have a Marineland emperor 400 outside filter and two 550 powerheads with and undergravel filter. The setup is only 15 days old, so the carbon and the media in the filter is pretty new.
I am very concerned about the health of the fish. I have cared for these fish since I harvested from their moms and setup the 55 gallon just for them.
The quality of the aged water I have is back up to par with what it should be and I am preparing to do water changes in my other 7 tanks.
<I would stick with your water S.O.P., but add testing it ahead of actual use... and depending on its composition, add some salts and alkalinity blend (commercial or DIY) ala the "Malawi Mix" detailed by Neale here:
What are your recommendations to improve the health of my African cichlids?
<Per the above; addn. of the bicarb., MgSO4, NaCl>
I am planning another partial water change today (10 gallons only) and thinking about replacing the carbon in the emperor 400,,, even though it is only 15 days old. I think that I am going to leave the light on since they seem to do better at this point...
<Mmm; am not such a fan of GAC use in freshwater systems... better to leave "a unit" or more in and transfer out a new one every month or so. Many years back our service companies used a huge number of ChemiPure packets in
this way... in the years of Eheim canister filters and in sumps>
I have various types of medicine, but II fear that removing the good bacteria would be more harmful than the medicine would be helpful....
<Agreed. I would NOT treat the current situation with medicines; particularly antimicrobials. More likely to interrupt nitrification, make matters worse than better>
Thanks for any help that you can give me.
<Glad to share and hope this helps. Bob Fenner>

Please help me help my bumble bee       1/14/16
I've purchased my bumble bee cichlid from my avid fish loving brother a couple of months ago. Along with a blood parrot and currently small green terror. Bumblebee had these growths before i brought him home for quite some time, although, nearly half this size.
<Apparently some sort of infection of the nares>
Not sure on age but he's around 5 inches long. I have been doing water changes accordingly. His health is declining and in his weakened state he's being easily chased into hiding from the blood parrot when in the beginning they all did well together
with ample hiding places he seemed completely healthy aside from the unsightly growths. I've noticed today he did not eat. Came out long enough for me to snap this picture. Im worried. Im hoping its not a tumor but with it only seeming to grow i am not sure what else this could possibly be.
<Likely some sort of infectious agent, proceeding from environmental stress.... "poor water quality" of some kind/s>
His color no longer seems to change mostly remains faint. I thought maybe the growths could fall off but nothing in all this time. in the last week a bump has formed in between the nostrils under the skin. Only looking worse. If there is ANYTHING i can do to save him please please let me know.
<Well; if it were mine.... I'd likely euthanize this specimen (see WWM Re)... but if you're willing to try.... I'd subject the entire system to a modicum of "Malawi Salts" (see Neale Monk's works re on WWM); and trying a "Furan" drug (Nitrofuranace my choice) here per SOP statements on WWM. Bob Fenner>

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

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

Newbie again. Cichlid issues, crappy water        9/27/15
Thank you for the advice on my koi. She's healing well and doing great.
Now I have a question on my cichlids.
60 gallon, 14 cichlids, parameters have been running: 76 degrees, 0 nitrites, 0.25-1.0 ammonia,
<?! Needs to be zero, zip, nada>

0 nitrates, (yes that is nitrates NO3), high PH is less than 7.4, and PH is running 6.0.
<This varying pH makes no sense to me>

All are pissed off at each other, which I've heard means they are happy.
One has two white dots, which look like bubbles in a photo so I've attached a video as well. Any idea what this could be?
<.... environment. Read, fix this.... boost alkalinity/reserve. Bob Fenner>

Giant Venustus Sinking Uncontrollably       8/14/15
I wonder if you have heard of this, and would greatly appreciate any input you may have for me. I'm growing concerned about my giant male venustus, or at least I assume he's male since he has the bright blue face. I've probably had him for 7 years, and he's between 7 and 8 inches long. He's always been a big pig, with a pretty big belly(while all my other cichlids
over the years have had completely normal bellies), and he's always been on a pellet mix diet; floating and sinking. He is still wanting to eat, but just recently has been acting like he's got a lead weight in him. He went from leisurely cruising the tank at the upper - mid regions, to sitting on the bottom constantly, however, very alert. If I walk up to the tank, he gets excited for food, swimming around at the top like he always has, but as soon as I move away, he drops - literally - like a rock to the same spot on the bottom, as if it's extremely difficult to stay up. Oddly enough, his color and eyes still look good...and if he was just getting old I would expect him to be fading. After doing a little reading, it seems as though it's a common problem for fish to float uncontrollably, but I have yet to read anything about sinking uncontrollably. I've been trying the peas, which he won't eat, and switched to a green 'veggie' pellet, in the hopes of loosening any possible constipation, and I've added a couple small doses of salt,
<Epsom salt, not regular salt!>
which I have never done on a regular basis. All the other fish seem to be doing just fine, although not too happy about the peas, and there are currently a handful of tiny babies in the tank, which has never happened to me before in the 11+ years of having cichlids (the babies don't resemble the venustus at all).
<They often won't in a mixed species set-up. Unless you separate Malawian cichlid species, you tend to end up with various hybrids from the closely related species. Such fish are often rather drab in appearance.>
Even though he seems to be doing pretty good right now, my biggest concern is the damage he'll inflict on himself and to his belly and fins, repeatedly hitting/landing on the bottom that hard.
Let me know what you think, and thank you,
<Seven years isn't especially old for a cichlid this age, though certainly middle-aged and perhaps a bit more prone to problems because of that. I think you're right about constipation being an issue, but since this fish a carnivore, you're unlikely to get much interest in cooked peas. Instead try live or frozen brine shrimps and daphnia, both of which have a laxative effect, and be sure to use Epsom salt (not regular salt) alongside it. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/gldfshmalnut.htm
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Giant Venustus Sinking Uncontrollably        8/15/15
Thank you very much for your quick response and advice.
No, I certainly wasn't using regular salt, but I was using some API aquarium salt, as that's all I had.
<Despite the packaging, this is not much different to table/regular salt, as in sodium chloride. I'm told it's made from seawater, but whatever it is, it's mostly (if not entirely) sodium chloride, with some other calcium salts added. Nothing special, and not worth paying a premium for!>
I will try Epsom salt if that's the better choice. I only mentioned the babies, because I didn't know if his behavior would have anything to do with that. I believe the babies look like an exact mix between a pale blue socolofi or a williamsi...... and an electric blue or a masoni... that's the best guessing I can do as to which species they are.
<As stated earlier, likely hybrids. No resale value, and many in the hobby get angry about them, but as pets, provided you don't sell them to someone else as a particular species, no harm done. Most of the common fish (Angels, Goldfish, Mollies, Platies) in the hobby are hybrids, by the way, so hybridisation isn't evil. But people who keep Rift Valley cichlids tend
to want to know what they're getting because each species has specific requirements, adult sizes, and crucially, behavioural traits. Hybrids aren't predictable, so if you buy some, you might end up with a psycho fish or a giant fish or who knows what.>
You know how it is; most fish stores label their tanks "assorted cichlids" so it's difficult to figure out exactly what you've got.
<For sure. Would not recommend anyone buying "assorted cichlids" as they're almost always hybrids.>
Either way, those 2 fish look like the culprits for making babies; not the venustus.
I'll try the brine shrimp in the hopes that this is a constipation issue.
The only other thing I've ever fed, more or less as a treat once a week, are the frozen blood worm ice cubes (pre-thawed in water of course, because this big pig will grab a whole one if you let him).
<Bloodworms are a favourite, for sure, and my fish love them. But they have been implicated in a variety of health issues. Fairly or not I can't say, but I would lay off them if your fish are ailing in anyway. They're cultivated in sludgy sorts of ponds, whereas brine shrimps (and to some extent daphnia) are indicative of clear, clean water.>
Everybody in the tank loves the blood worms, but I haven't done that in the last couple weeks since he started sitting on the bottom.
<Ah, good move.>
I'll admit though, it's quite shocking to see him sink so fast, and hit the bottom so hard, when he's done hanging out at the top waiting for food. He literally acts like he has a lead fishing weight in him or something. Have you honestly ever heard of or seen this?
<Many times. Problems with buoyancy are commonly related to constipation, especially when fish are otherwise healthy (i.e., active and feeding).
Occasionally swim bladders become infected or damaged, but this is much rarer than people believe. On the other hand, when fish are truly sick and infected with internal bacteria, loss of buoyancy is often one of the more dramatic symptoms. Fish have to have just the right amount of gas in the swim bladder, too much or too little causes them to float or sink.>
As opposed to fish that floats uncontrollably, which seems more common?
Thank you again,
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Giant Venustus Sinking Uncontrollably         8/15/15

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Fwd: Giant Venustus Sinking Uncontrollably       8/16/15
Thank you again Neale, Ill try some brine shrimp and switch to some Epsom salt.
Yeah, I'm a little surprised by the babies; I can't believe I've never had any before now. I'm kind of hoping the larger fish will control the population a little for me, but everybody in my tank is fairly non-aggressive, and nobody really seems to care about the babies. The babies are actually very hardy and are very quick to find a good hiding place . I'm going to have a very 'blue' fish tank if they all survive!
I think Phoenix, AZ might be slim pickings for fish stores. We pretty much get PetSmart, PetCo, and the occasional fish and aquarium store where some of the tanks are labeled appropriately, but some just have a ton of mixed fish. I try to avoid the drab ones that seem to be hybrids, and go for the ones that i recognize as being more pure, but I'm sometimes limited to the 'assorted' tanks because of the size of fish I need. If I'm adding a fish to my tank, they have to be big enough to hold their own.
<Is mail order not an option?>
Well, I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me, I've actually enjoyed this very much. Thank you.
<Most welcome.>
Just for kicks, I'll attach pictures of the fish I was describing that I believe to be the parents of the tiny blue babies. Maybe you can see if the adults look like hybrids or if they're each legit.
<Certainly Pseudotropheus of some sort, Pseudotropheus zebra perhaps for the pale blue one, maybe for the darker one too, but hard to be sure. Not an expert on identifying Pseudotropheus species I'm afraid!>
Thank you again,
<Cheers, Neale.>


Intermedius cichlid... hlth.        8/9/15
I'm writing to inquire about what appears to be a cluster of red lumps on my intermedius cichlid's fin.
<Looks like Lymphocystis or some other viral infection.>

The fish is a few years old and has been living in my 125 gallon tank with about 20 tankmates. No one else is exhibiting anything similar. He is fine in regards to eating and swimming normally. Aggression is minimal and water parameters tested fine as far as nitrates, nitrites, Ph, etc.
<Please don't tell us "fine" but instead give us the numbers. To be clear:
most of these viral infections are triggered by environmental shortcomings. Actually quite a body of research into this because wild fish with viral cysts are potential indicators of environmental pollution. So something's amiss. Either review yourself and act accordingly, or send us some numbers. To recap: Malawian cichlids like Tramitichromis intermedius must have hard, alkaline water (15+ degrees dH, pH 7.5-8.5). Ammonia and nitrite must be zero of course, but nitrate must also be as low as practical, ideally below 20 mg/l. Water temperature should be middling to warm (25-26 C/77-79 F is fine) but there must also be lots and lots of oxygen, so heavy duty filtration is critical, water turnover rates of not less than 8 times the
volume of the tank per hour (so for a 125-gallon tank, the filter should provide at least 1000 gallons/hour turnover). Tramitichromis intermedius is one of the open water, non-Mbuna cichlids. It must never, EVER be combined with Mbuna except perhaps the very mildest ones (Labidochromis and Iodotropheus). It's a peaceful species that works well with Aulonocara-type things, and will get stressed with Mbuna, and yes, that sort of stress can/will cause diseases such as Lymphocystis. Finally, since he's a sand-sifter, you'll want a sandy substrate but check you use a good quality kind that isn't sharp and is kept clean with periodic stirring and siphoning.>
I've attached a few pictures if you could please advise what you guys think it may be. Sorry for the quality, he wasn't listening when I said to sit still.
<They don't tend to, no.>
I really don't have a hospital tank big enough to suit him at the moment, he's quite a large boy. If need be I can purchase a 20 gallon.
<There's no real treatment to viral infections, and they tend to go away after a few months (or years!) of good care. Not contagious in any meaningful sense, but what has stressed this fish might stress others, so review and act accordingly.>
Thank you,
<Welcome. Have cc'ed our cichlid experts in case they have other ideas. Neale.>

Re: Intermedius cichlid       8/10/15
As far as numbers go my Ph is 7.8,
<Any idea the hardness? Especially the carbonate hardness, which is involved with minimising pH changes between water changes. The addition of calcareous material to the aquarium (tufa rock for example) will raise carbonate hardness, as will the use of Rift Valley salt mix, which you can make thus:
Per 5 US gallons (20 litres) add the following amounts of each ingredient:
* 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
* 1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
* 1 teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements)
Stir well, add to the tank, and you're done. As always, don't make dramatic changes to water chemistry all at once. Across a serious of water changes, perhaps 20% per day, would be a good approach.>
ammonia and nitrite 0, nitrate is currently between 10-20 (the color in the test tube is between those two), and almost always under 20 except in rare cases like being away on vacation and not being able to do a water change that week, which might be the issue since I was gone recently for 10 days?
<Possible, and such "oversights" do sometimes trigger problems with cichlids. But I'm not convinced that we can explain away the problem.>
I did a water change and test as soon as I got home and parameters were almost identical to what I listed above.
Temp is 78. I run two MarineLand canister c360 filters and two large air stones. I do have a Carib sea sandy substrate. Most of the tankmates are Aulonocara, I have three Labs, and one Iodotropheus. Almost all of the aggression is between the two dominant male peacocks in the tank.
<Predictable! But otherwise sounds fine.>
So I don't know if he was stressed out by water issues or aggression when I was gone, but the cyst didn't appear until after I was home for a week.
<Hard to say. I'd maybe treat as per Finrot in case there's a bacterial infection, but otherwise optimise environment and diet, and see what happens.>
<Do have a read:
But also here:
And also follow the relevant links. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid with Popeye and Red Stuff (17 megs...)         5/22/15
<Your email has been deleted due to too-large file size.>
Cichlid with Popeye and Red Stuff... six Megs, no use of WWM          5/22/15

Hi! I have been reading for a few days now on how to fix PopEye,
<Mmm; this is a physical trauma... either the fish was attacked or swam hard into something
which is what I think one my cichlids has. His left eye is popped out and has something red popping out as well. I have attached a picture to see what you think. To give a little background, I have a 150gal Cichlid tank I got a year ago from a previous owner. It has 2 Eheim Pro 2 Canister Filters, 2 heaters, and a power head to move water. I have the API master test kit, and ammonia is always 0 nitrite is always 0 and nitrate is normally 10ppm
<Good values. I do hope/trust the water is hard and alkaline for this Mbuna
or lower, but lately in 3 out of the 6 tanks I have the nitrates have been 40ppm.
<Too high by twice>
I don't know how to get it lowered
<? READ on WWM re>

as water changes and keeping it clean have no effect. Is it the nitrates that is causing the problem with his eye?
<Could be related>
Is it contagious?
<No... unilateral exophthalmia... SEE READ ON WWM RE>

All the fish are full grown and very active I would hate to lose any. I feed them Wardley Advanced Nutrition Perfect
Protein and sometimes they get frozen bloodworms
<And this>

and brine shrimp with Spirulina. Sorry for the long email, just really worried about my tank. Any help you can give would be great! Also today with the water change I added 1cup of Epsom salt as I saw it was recommended Alot
<No such word>
is that okay? Or will it even help?
<Could possibly help. Again; ALL THIS IS GONE OVER AND OVER ON THE SITE>
Thanks again.
<Look for sharp objects in the tank and/or other mean fish/es... and remove. Bob Fenner>

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

My Electric Yellow is skinny between the fin and tail       1/29/15
I recently changed my tank from community fist to Chichlids and last Saturday I bought a couple baby African chichlids for my tank.
<Cichlids, not the gum sounding name>
The following day I noticed one of my electric yellows was looking really skinny. Between it's fin and tail it is very skinny.
<I see this in your pic>
Can you please help? I have spoken to the pet shop and they don't know what is wrong with it. I can not remember it looking funny when I bought it though I can not see how over night it would end up like this. I have attached a pic and in the pic you will see both my electric yellows. The bottom one is the one I am concerned about. I have since separated it from the tank incase it is bad but it is now only hiding and hardly eats. I am not sure if it was eating well when I first bought it. What should I do?
<Not panic... there might be some sort of pathogen, infectious or parasitic involved here, but more likely than not by far this one fish is simply "starved". Your good care (feeding and water quality) will see its rapid improvement. I'd be feeding a high quality small pelleted food (e.g. Hikari, Spectrum) three, four times per day; making sure the water is hard, alkaline and not too warm... as gone over and over for Malawians on WWM>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

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