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FAQs on Neotropical Cichlid Disease/Health 2

Related Articles: Neotropical Cichlids, Central American Cichlids by Neale Monks, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General,

Related FAQs: Neotropical Cichlid Disease 1, Neotropical Cichlid Disease 3, Neotropical Cichlid Disease 4 & Neotropical Cichlids 1, Neotropical Cichlids 2, Neotropical Cichlids 3, Neotropical Cichlid Identification, Neotropical Cichlid Behavior, Neotropical Cichlid Compatibility, Neotropical Cichlid Selection, Neotropical Cichlid Systems, Neotropical Cichlid Feeding, Neotropical Cichlid Reproduction, Convicts, Oscars, Firemouths, Texas Cichlids, Severums, Triangle Cichlids, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Reproduction,

Re: Cichlids? 1/5/10
<Not here unfortunately... and you've sent some 17.5 megs of pix... we ask that folks limit such to hundreds of Kbytes...>
Here are some pictures it was really hard to take pictures of the dark one.
<I can barely make out anything but in the one image>
I also wanted to give you a look of the big guys landscape
<Can't see any of this>
If they are not a spawning pair and "she" is sick, how long can they be sick for?
<Can't tell from the information presented... See below>
My husband tested the ammonia level, ph test and a nitrite test. I hope this helps.
Thank You
<... the one fish appears to be a Cichlasoma festae... the other? Maybe a Trimac... These may breed, but are more likely to kill one or the other...
Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/neotropcicfaqs.htm
ALL the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Cichlids?
New World Cichlids Not Getting Along 1/5/10

Chuck, The big guy seems right, the other one has similar markings and different fins. "She" was just a little darker than him until we added about 15lbs. of black gravel from the store. Right away "she" got dark.
My husband and I rinsed off the gravel before adding it to the tank. Thank You Tiffany
< Your cichlids are Central or even South American substrate spawners.
These look like adult fish that are very difficult to get to pair up as adults. The female photo is not very good and I can't even tell if it is the same species as the male. The male will dominate the entire tank and will probably not get along with the female as she will always be hiding in the corner. She will never get enough food to become conditioned enough to spawn. I would keep the male by himself and give the female? back to the store. He will become very personable and actually start to react to you when you come up to feed him. If you really want to try and spawn them then that will take some effort on your part to force the pair to spawn.-Chuck>
New World Cichlids Not Getting Along 1/5/10
Chuck, The pet store that we got these fish from said that they came from the same place and lived in the same tank. They got along fine until her stomach got bigger and the big guy started attacking her. At that time he started rearranging the tank also. Thank You Tiffany
< The pet store you purchased these fish from should have been able to correctly ID these fish for you since they were in their tank. Where they came from means nothing. At this point we can make two assumptions. If you want to believe that these fish are a pair and the same species then we can go from there. The swollen belly on the female could be an intestinal infection. This is caused by stress , like poor water quality bad food or being picked on by a larger fish. To treat the fish with the swollen belly I would recommend that the fish be isolated in a hospital tank. Treat the tank with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>

Re: Cichlids?
Cichlid With Probable Internal Infection 1/6/2010

Chuck, If the fish is sick, how long can they survive this illness?
< You have a fish that is staying in the corner and does not come out to eat. This internal bloating infection can last for months.>
It has been over a month, going on maybe a month and a half. Or how long do they carry their eggs for?
< Usually eggs get reabsorbed or the female will lay them and just eat them right away.>
If we have to separate them, that's fine. She does spend most of her day in the corner and when the light is out he does not bug her nearly as much.
< Cichlids are visual creatures, out of sight then out of mind.>
Also, why would he be making nests in the tank if they are not a spawning pair?
< Cichlids define their territory by moving sand and gravel, moving plants and even filters. This nest may be no more than defining the limits of his territory.>
The pet store that we bought these guys from said that they did not know the species
< If the pet store cannot identify the species then they can possibly know anything else about them. Either they were too lazy to look them or just didn't care.>
because they were given to them from some guy who was moving. He supposedly gave them three. When we purchased them, they had been living in two different 10gallon tanks. We had them here for at least two weeks before all this belly action started. So, I told my Husband that he should test the water when we first noticed the belly and all three test came out fine.
< Water test result should be zero for ammonia and nitrites, then the nitrates should be under 20 ppm.>
also, they got along fine before this happened. The pet store owner also told has that they are mouth breeders and that if he goes after her mouth that that is how they(these ones breed), and y husband said it looked like they were kissing before. I just want to get as much info as possible. I don't want "her" to die on us.
Thank You Tiffany
< I can tell you for a fact that these cichlids are NOT mouthbrooders. Some cichlids do some lip locking, like a test of strength to determine the suitability of a mate. On the other hand, cichlids can do this also just when they are fighting.. I would recommend separating them and treating the female until the swelling goes down. Once she is cured you can try to reintroduce them together.-Chuck>

Re: Cichlids?
Treating Bloat In New World Cichlids 1/7/10

Chuck, How long do you think it will take to get her well?
< The key to a successful recovery is to treat the symptoms early, with both Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. It has taken a few weeks for her to get this big, so it may take awhile for the swelling to go down.>>
Also, how do we go about getting her well, besides separating them? I know that they can not live (or should not live) in a 10 gallon tank, but do you think that that will be fine until she feels better? That is all we have. Thank You Tiffany
< We have given you the best advice on how to treat this problem. If you cannot follow all the advice then do what you can. If it is impossible to treat her in a separate tank then she may not recover. You have a long shot at saving her, even in a separate tank. Keeping her with other fish will diminish her chances at recovering.-Chuck>

Re: Cichlids?
Finding Medications for Cichlid Bloat -- 1/8/10

Chuck, I have tried to look for these medications and I am unable to find them. Do you guys sell them off of your web site? If not, do you know where we can purchase them.
Thank You Tiffany
< Check out Drsfostersmith.com -Chuck>

Re: Cichlids?
Bloated Cichlid Starting To Eat 1/11/10

Chuck, I wanted to say thank you, I did order the medicine. Also, I wanted to tell you that last night and today she has been swimming around as long as the light is off and she did eat last night. We will not get that medicine until the end of next week. Thank You Tiffany
<If the female is eating and starting to swim around then this is a good sign.-Chuck>

Re: Cichlids?
Cichlid With Large Stomach 1/23/10

Chuck, Hello, We put the females fish into a separate tank, and she seems ok. We are not sure if she is even sick. She attacks the tank when we go up to it. She also seems to be eating, but her stomache is still bigger than when we bought her. Thank You Tiffany
< Glad to hear that your fish is acting normal and eating. Cut back on the food. Feed once a day and only enough food so that all of it is eaten in a couple of minutes. Remove any uneaten food. This may reduce the stomach size.-Chuck>

Tank help
Cichlids With Hole-In-The-Head 7/1/09

Hello WWM crew, My name is Ryan. I was referred to your site from Brian MacDonald "The Fishman".
He came out to look at my tank and get my water chemistry back on track, (my pH and alkalinity were always bottoming out) which we got to a 7.0 for pH and a good rating (120-180) for the alkalinity. My tank is 210 gallons, with 2 Xp4 Filters (added an extra one almost 2 weeks ago now as per Bob's advice to Brian) 2 Power heads, 2 heaters. Water temp is always 80. One of the filters has a snorkel attachment on it which I use on full tank till I get any scum on the surface then I switch it for about 30 min to full skim then put it back, while the other Xp4 has the factory blue downspout.
My Fish include: 2 Tiger Oscars, 4 Jack Dempsey (3 female 1 male, which have had eggs 3 times now) 2 Green Terrors, 1 Convict, 1 Green Severum, 1 Parrot, 1 Royal Pleco, and 1 Leopard Sail-fin Pleco.
2 Pictures of my tank with the canopy off are on Brian's site http://www.carefreeam.com/testimonials.html (these pics were taken before I added the 2nd filter)
I feed them Hikari Bio Gold Large pellets, Hikari Gold smaller pellets, Tetra Pro Flakes (the ones that don't break apart) Hikari Blood Worms, Sally's Brand Frozen Krill, and Hikari algae wafers for the Pleco. I feed 2 times a day the pellets (which I switch up day to day to keep them interested) and sometimes instead of pellets the second time of the day I will add one of the frozen food, a few blood worms or some krill. When I turn off the lights I wait for about an hour and then I will throw in some algae wafers, but that is only maybe 2 times a week.
Also I feed them live earthworms as a treat when I get them from the gardens, with my worm catcher. My cleaning schedule is 2 times a week Monday and Thursday water change and gravel clean, service the 2 filters every 2 weeks, and change the micro filter pads and the 4 bags of carbon (2 in each filter) every month to a month and a half depending on how dirty they both are in the rinse off process.
I was using a lot of Cycle product but after reading on your site I have stopped using it and as well as the Nitra Zorb pouches I was using in the past.
(Great info on your site)
Now with the stepped up water and gravel clean, those two products are not needed. Thanks for saving me lots of money.
OK after all of that back story this is my problem, after keeping the tank nice and clean and doing this scheduled maintenance for about 2 months now, If and when would I notice the fish to recover from Hole in head disease?
The 2 Tiger Oscars were given to me around a year ago, and they were kept for about 7-8 months in really poor conditions at the other guy's house, which I rescued them from. They both were in bad condition, but the whole time I have had them they have come back and have grown double in size. They both suffer from Hole in Head disease, and I am worried my other fish will get it or are getting it from them or my water. Brian suggested that I send in some pics and contact you guys direct for some help because he thought with my new schedule of water cleaning, they should have started to heal up. Also I forgot to say but every month I add some API aquarium salt to help them with the electrolytes and healing. I am including 4 pictures of close up night shots so they aren't moving, 1 of the 2 Oscars which you can see there hole in head, 1 of the Severum with a line running down his body I am not happy with, 1 of the female Dempsey with the same
line forming as the Severum and 1 of my bigger Green Terror who never seems to heal his 2 Pectoral fins, and he has them always ripped and fluttering.
Every time one side seems to heal for him his other is torn. So thanks for letting Brian know I needed better
filtration already. I am so glad to have people who know what they are talking about helping me since I was lied to and pretty much screwed by the Big Al's people of Brampton into spending about $2000 in chemicals and Nitra Zorb and Cycle and pretty much anything else they could sell me, and not ever get my tank into proper standing, as your site and Brian's help did. So Please let me know what to do from here, and thanks again.
< Check the nitrates regularly. You are feeding lots of different foods which is very good, but these materials create lots of nitrogenous waste. The ammonia and nitrite concentrations should always be zero. The nitrates should always be under 20 ppm. If the levels exceeded this limit you need to do more frequent water changes, change more water when you do your water changes or reduce the bioload by having fewer fish. The alkalinity issue you are having may be a sign of your problem. You fish may not be getting enough calcium in their diet. I have a theory that calcium is not found in soft acidic water. Fish found in these areas need to get the calcium from their diet since there is none to be found in the water. If you water is very soft and you have alkalinity problems then the problem may be that their is not much excess calcium to build and replenish bone structure. The skull is s very large bone on the fish and may be the first sign of a calcium deficiency. Many people who make their own fish food have added calcium to their fish food recipe and have had some success. Many of the foods you are feeding are very high quality but usually have high protein amounts that encourage grow. Growing fish need lots of calcium for growing bones. You could try to add some crushed coral to the tank to increase the calcium content of the water and try to get the alkalinity up to 200-300 and see what happens. This disease is very common on large new world cichlids but seems very rare on African Rift lake cichlids of similar size. The pH of the lakes is well above 7 with alkalinity well above 300. Some treat the fish with Metronidazole. This may he a case of treating the symptoms and not the disease.-Chuck>

Green terror 6/25/09
Don't know if there is anything wrong' but my terror looks like he is cut on both sides of his body. Here is a pic
<Difficult to say, the images are too blurry. What is your Aequidens rivulatus living alongside? They are aggressive fish, but there are fish that are more aggressive, so in a small aquarium without room for all the
territorial fish, injuries are likely. In any case, I would hold off treating if the damage was purely superficial, i.e., just a scratch and a few lost scales, but keep your eyes open for signs of Finrot or Fungal infection, and if those arise, treat as necessary. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid Tank... induced troubles 6/17/09
Hi Crew
I have a friend that has a 210 gal cichlid tank, he has 2 Oscars, 4 jack Dempseys, 1 convict, 1 parrot, 2 Plecos & 2 green terrors.
<Quite a mix>
He has water issues of course, he was only doing water changes & gravel clean every 2 weeks.
<I'd do weekly>
His Oscars have hole in head disease which of course is probably caused by poor water quality.
<Very common cause, along with nutrition>
We did a 25% water change & gravel clean and i told him to step up his water changes & gravel clean to twice a week till he cycles his tank then do it weekly.
<... the system is not cycled?! I'd do more to move this ahead... have him read on WWM re.>
He has an XP4 Rena canister filter with a flow rate of 450 GPH which I think is not enough.
<It is not>
He has 2 power heads & surface skimmer hooked up to his filter.
<Of help, but...>
We live in Toronto which has good water quality Ph 7.0 and moderate to hard water out of the tap.
Now he has a feeder tank for feeder fish which I told him to stop because of the chance of disease in his main tank, with that being said his feeder tank has a white fungus around the top of the tank on the top framework of the tank.
<... dismantle this tank, eschew using feeder goldfish...>
He also said that when he put in his feeder fish, within an hour the fish were infected and covered with this fungus.
I told him to empty the tank and scrub it with a stiff brush and leave it empty for a month or so, will this kill the fungus.
<Leave it empty period>
Also his filter in his main tank he had it jammed with 4 Nitra Zorb packs & 6 Chemi pure charcoal bags along with his sponges & bio media, we took out 2 Chemi pure bags but keep the 4 Nitra Zorb packs. I am not a fan of Nitrate remover media I figure regular water changes will take care of the Nitrate with his almost overcrowded tank & his cichlids are large! Oscars probably close to 8" long!
<... Please... see WWM re NO3... You are in the service business... should know better than this...>
Have any suggestions on filtration & the fungus problem, I figure he should add another XP4 filter which would give him 900 GPH.
<See WWM re the first two and yes to the last>
Thanks everyone & keep up the good work, as usual!!!
Brian Macdonald
PS How was Bob's Trip to London, Ont?
<A very nice time, the 50th anniversary of the CAOAC... Gary Lange, Heiko Bleher and I gave presentations, good folks to chat with... and not-too-cold weather. To my scant awareness, very similar to Toronto.

Re: Cichlid Tank 6/18/2009
Hi Bob
Think there was a misunderstanding in my email about the cichlid tank The poor guy dealt with a company that did everything wrong from installation to their service & advice so he is a little gun shy
<I see>
This was my first visit so I did my thing and he was very happy so I told him about your site and said I would contact you about the fungus & filtration so he could hear it from the BEST!
<Ah yes... best to have him search, read... write us directly with his questions and concerns>
I am forwarding your e-mail to him cause he is fairly new to this but really has a passion for his tank & wants to do the rite thing
Thanks Bob
<Welcome. BobF>

Black growth on bottom of Cichlid 2/23/09 Cichlid With Black Belly Growth Hi there, Been reading all sorts of great info on your site. Much appreciated. However, I'm having a hard time finding my exact problem... We adopted a single cichlid (perhaps midas or parrot? not sure) from a neighbor who is having to split time between her place and her elderly mom's place. At any rate, this cichlid named Quesadilla (or Casey, for short) lives in a basic tank by itself and seems relatively happy. However, it has developed a black growth all along the bottom of the fish. It is acting relatively normal and seems healthy, but it seems like sometime it is trying to rub up against the plastic plants or the side of the tank. It doesn't seem like it's ich (which seems to be described as white or black spots). I would describe it as a "beard" and I did a search and found "black beard" algae, but that seems to be something that affects thinks like driftwood and other objects in the tank instead of the fish itself. It isn't too fuzzy -- the fish just sort looks dirty. We've changed the water recently, and put in a fizzy tablet for fungus a couple days ago, but it still has this black stuff on the bottom of the cichlid. Any ideas? Much appreciated. Thanks. regards, Ewan < Never heard of algae growing on a cichlid. Sometimes when fish get bacterial attacks their nervous system is affected and the fish turn black where the attack is occurring. It could also be genetic. The black color could be genetic but a "growth" can't be genetic. A photo would be a big help. Fungus growth is usually white to grey. Do a water change, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel to see if that helps.-Chuck>

South American Cichlids With Bubble Like Parasites Hi, I've been reading about all these people with sick Severums, but none of them seem to have the problem I do. I have one adult female green Severum and she has small bubble like bumps on her fins. Roughly three on the dorsal, one on the anal, and twelve or majority on the tail. They sort of look like small air bubbles underneath the skin of the fins. They are almost white in color and can vary in shape. These bumps never really worried me for years. Then two of my fist died, and traded a third for some new fish. None of these fish showed bumps or any real sickness. So then the new fish were added in the 55 gal where I keep this green Severum with bumps. It was outbreak. One of the new fish, a young Uaru, started showing signs of the same bumps. I quickly pulled two other fish I had recently bought, and put them in a separate tank. This left me with a green Severum and a Uaru both with some sort of parasite and a royal Pleco (showing no signs of disease) in a 55 gal. First I treated with copper safe. The copper treatment was monitored very closely by me and the local advanced aquarium specialist. The owner and very experience fish aquarium hobbyist, if you can call it a hobby even though its a business, said he had seen it before but on some needle nose gar. The copper treatment failed but did manage to stop progression cure some of the spots. Deciding to try something a little less stressful on the fish I bought some General Cure or Metronidazole and treated the tank. This had no effect. I was now determined to get rid of these bumps, not really knowing if it had something to do with the two fish deaths I mentioned earlier. I pulled both the Uaru and the Green Severum putting them in a 20 gal. hospital tank with a sponge filter. I treated with Formalin. I did this quit accurately and according to package directions using a small syringe to measure. This I did for at least a week but stopped when no progress or bumps were removed. At this same time the fish store owner received on trade two Severums, one gold and a green, both with similar bumps on the tail and fins. I gave my fish a rest and he treated his with formalin, with no result, and then with fluke tabs. I think after the third dose, and a very high dosing, he managed to knock them all off even to his own surprise. I decided to try it on my fish, but with no result on the green Severum. The Uaru only had two or three to begin with, but appears to be rid of them. I'm unsure what my fish is infected with, and if there is some cure or remedy I'm unaware of knowing. The aquarium shop owner is curious as well if I'm able to find any information. Any knowledge or help would be much appreciated. < I suspect that you have a parasite that is imbedded in to the flesh and fins of the fish and is in somewhat of a dormant stage. The only way to know for sure is to take a sample of the infected area and have a qualified vet look at it under a microscope. This can be expensive and troublesome. Usually when the parasites are under the skin they are protected from medications until they emerge. I see this in wild fish more often than captive bred fish. The key to a successful treatment may be in getting the parasites to emerge so they can be exposed to the medication. You mentioned that the store got rid of these bubbles using Fluke-Tabs but that it didn't work on your fish. It may be that these parasites are hibernating until they are stimulated by something to make them emerge. Try raising the water temp to 85 F for a few days and then treat them with the Fluke-Tabs. At this temp the water will have less oxygen carrying capacity so monitor your fish and increase aeration as needed.-Chuck>

45-40 then back to 45 New Cichlid Tank Problem... Poss. Silicone sealant poisoning 1/16/2009 Hi WetWebMedia, I have a bit of a problem. I have two tanks. One is about a 45 gallon and the other maybe a 40 gallon. I have a blood parrot, bushynose Pleco, one jd, and one yellow lab in the 45 gallon tank. Unfortunately my 45 gallon tank had a leak, so I had to fix it. I moved my fishes into the 40 gallon tank with the cycled water and they seemed fine, eating and active. I tried fixing the original tank and it took me about a month to fix it and I used clear silicone glue. After I fixed it, I added in the cycled water from the 40 gallon tank to the fixed 45 gallon and then added 5 more gallons of tap water, which I treated with tap conditioner. I put the fishes in the 45 gallon tank and they seemed fine. However, I checked on them today again and they seemed very lethargic. They sit at the bottom with their fins drooping down. They don't eat and look sick. They do still respond when I tap on the glass however. Is this do to the sudden change and stress they had to go through, or i did I accidently kill too many of the beneficial bacteria in the tank. What should i do? Thanks so much for all your help and time. ~Chris < I would first do a water quality check and get readings on the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. The ammonia and nitrite should be zero. The nitrates should be under 20 ppm. All of these can be reduced by doing water changes. Adding Dr. Tim's One and Only will establish the needed bacteria to break down the fish waste to nitrates very quickly. The silicon needs to be used specifically for aquarium use. Hardware store silicon usually has some sort of fungicide or mildewcide in it that can be toxic to fish.-Chuck>

please help New Cichlid Tank II 1/16/2009 Please help WetWebMedia. My fishes are swimming upside down now and I don't know what to do. In my previous e-mail, I told you about the 45 gallon tank to 40 and back to 45 again. However, I forgot to mention that before I switched the 40 gallon to 45, I did a 20 percent water change, then added the 40 gallon water into the 45 and then added the 5 gallon tap. Sorry if this is confusing you. Anyway, I am really worried and I don't know what to do, my fishes are going to die, without help. thanks <I would recommend a 25% water change to see if that makes any difference. Please to check the ammonia and nitrites. I suspect that these are your main problems right now, especially if the filters were cleaned between transfers.-Chuck>

Re: 45-40 then back to 45 Buying Silicon For Tank Repair 1/16/2009 Hi again, i was just wondering, what types of silicone are toxic, and what should i do? Will it eventually fade away and be fine, or do I have to redo the whole tank? Thanks. < When you buy silicon you need to look at the labels for a silicon that is stated that it safe for aquarium use. This is usually sold at aquarium shops and sometimes sold at hardware stores. Most of the silicon sold at hardware stores is for use around bathrooms and sinks. It is used in areas that are prone to mold. They add an ingredient to prevent mildew and fungus from growing. Look at the brand of silicon you bought and look for a website. Look up the website and try to find a contact. Ask them about the their silicon and if it is safe for aquarium use. I would still do water changes to dilute any toxins and probably add some good quality carbon to the filter.-Chuck>

Sick Redhead Cichlid (Vieja synspila; health) 11/18/08 Hello, I have a 75 gallon tank. I have had the tank established for approx. 8 months. I have a 6" Redhead, 3.5" Convict, 4.5" Green Terror, 4.5" Jack Dempsey, 3.5" Jack Dempsey, 3" Jack Dempsey & 3" Fire mouth. I test the water myself since I do not trust PetSmart for anything & water tests are good, I keep the temp at 80 degrees & I did a cleaning 2 weeks before my Redhead was ill. <Water is a bit on the warm side. Is there any good reason to keep it so hot? Remember, more heat = less oxygen. By default, 25 C (77 F) is fine.> Which was the first time I didn't include aquarium salt from a friends recommendation. <Correct. Central American cichlids don't need salt, though many tolerate salt extremely well, even to the degree of living/breeding in saltwater habitats such as mangroves. The main thing with Central Americans is water chemistry. Most need hard, basic water, not unlike the livebearers (which are from the same part of the world of course). Adding a bit of marine salt mix (rather than cooking/aquarium salt) can raise the pH and hardness, and may be useful in places where the water is soft and acidic. But I'd sooner recommend the use of something like Malawi Salt mix, perhaps at a half-dose, to harden the water. You're aiming for pH 7.5-8.0, hardness 15-25 degrees dH.> My Redhead is usually extremely stunning looking, a creamy color, with orange, pink, lavender with some black spots towards his tail. Three days ago I noticed my Redhead was eating, then spitting it out. I didn't think anything of it until the next morning when I found him shaped like a "C", in his house, very dark in color with a dark olive greenish face, very dark pink on his head & around the gills, up side down, breathing heavy at times & his eyes are usually a beautiful blue but now they are black in color. I did a little online research, the past 2 days I cleaned the gravel, did a 20% water change, added the normal chemicals, added aquarium salt, gradually turned up the heat to 82 degrees & darkened the tank with news paper on his side since it seemed like the light irritated him. <Hmm... would not normally have reacted to this by changing water chemistry. Almost always better to do a pH/hardness test, and then do a 50% water change, ensuring pH and hardness don't change. The exception here would be if there was a dramatic pH drop, in which case a series of smaller water changes across the day to revert the pH to where it should be is recommended. When cichlids go "black" suddenly, it's almost always an environmental thing -- temperature, pH typically -- and so your job is to compare the current readings with what they normally are, and then act accordingly. The other option is a social thing, with the "black" cichlid somehow suddenly finding itself at the receiving end of some major aggression.> Today I noticed his fins are a bit ragged but not fin rot & he either injured one of his eyes from the occasional roll over in his house or has some kind of swelling starting over it. <OK, when one eye gets damaged, aggression, or at least physical damage, is likely the cause.> Late last night I lost hope, I got the bucket ready with water & had the packets of Alka seltzer ready. I went to get him with the large net & to my surprise he rolled to the other side of the tank. I figured if he had that much fight in him that he deserved a chance. My other fish seem to be fine, I fed them a few pellets one day then blood worms the next & they all ate with no problems. I do not have another tank to quarantine him & he has not attempted to eat. I have been thinking of all the possible causes, the last week I have left the canopy open & I do not have a glass lid under it & the tank is about 10 feet from the front door, which the weather has been rainy & a bit chilly. I am very upset & looking for help for the big guy, thanks, Gina <Gina, I'd be running down the list of environmental and/or behavioural issues in the tank. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: sick Redhead Cichlid (Vieja synspila; health) 11/19/08
Thank you for your help.
<Happy to help.>
I did go to PetSmart before your reply & spoke to an employee that seems to know a lot about fish (I should I say a lot more me,) since she said she has 11 aquariums of her own. She didn't really know why my Redhead is sick, which is totally understandable, but she did suggest T.C Tetracycline.
<Tetracycline is a general purpose antibiotic. It's a "scatter-gun" approach, the idea being it'll cure a bunch of stuff (though not
everything) without you needing to identify the actual disease.>
I followed the instructions & treated the my tank once so far. Per the instructions I need 3 more doses, so I am going back to purchase them. The only change is that the water changed color & my Redhead is still not moving or eating, he is staying in his home on the bottom, but he did roll on his side & up right for a couple hours then he rolled on his back again.
<Do follow instructions, in particular remembering to remove carbon from the filter, if you use carbon.>
I am gradually changing the water to 77 degrees, today 79 degrees. I have been watching my fish to make sure they are not aggressive towards my Redhead & they have been with him a lot, but not at all aggressive even as sick as he is. His life long tank mate my male Green Terror still stays by his side. I checked the water myself & even though the sticks say "safe" or "ideal" they are not what you've recommended so I am going to bring my sample to PetSmart for them to give me the correct results & I can start to follow your instructions. The 1st nitrate is 0-20 (closer to 0), the 2nd nitrate is 0 (both state ideal), the hardness is 75 soft, the chlorine is 0, the alkalinity is 40, the PH is between 6.8 - 7.2.
<Ah, well, Central American cichlids across the board like hard, basic water. While I doubt this is specifically what's making the fish sick, it could *easily* be a stress factor that weakens the immune system of your fish, allowing secondary or protozoan infections. Vieja synspila has some tolerance of brackish water, so adding a small amount of marine salt mix (as opposed to tonic/aquarium salt) could be used to slightly buffer the water. Don't use more than 6 g/litre.>
I am going to attempt to add some photos for you to see, (my video was not very good), in case I am explaining things incorrectly or if you have seen this happen before. The 1st photo is 2 weeks before he was sick, 2nd photo is the 1st day being sick & the last two photos are 5 days sick after the 1st treatment of TC Tetracycline. Can you tell if he is getting better or worst? How long do I leave him in this condition & what signs should I look for that would tell me if he is getting better or worst?
<When fish roll onto their sides, that's normally not a good sign... In any case, continue treatment, and slowly, raise the pH and hardness by adding a small amount of Malawi salt (maybe a 50% dose) or else a little marine salt mix. With luck, the fish will recover. Good signs are normal rather than heavy breathing, proper posture, and normal rather than clamped fins.>
It is nice to know there are people that care enough to help, I can't thank you enough,
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: T-Bar Cichlid, hlth., sys., fdg.... English? 8/16/08 Hello, You told me to raise my water temperature he seems to be a little better, like him chasing other tank mates around. When I give him frozen brine shrimp he tres to eat it then spits it back out. He seems to be completely black in colour, really skinny and gets tired really easily. What could I do to help him? Thank you for your time. < Frozen brine shrimp has almost no nutritional value, so I would recommend a high quality pellet food instead.-Chuck>

Re: T-bar cichlid problem thank you for your email so what type of pellet would you recommend thank you again for your help <Ditto this one! Please, use capital letters at the beginnings of sentences, full stops (periods) where they should be, and what the heck push the boat out and use commas if you want. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: T-bar cichlid problem What type of pellet should I get? Thank you. <There are many good foods for Central American cichlids. Since they're most omnivores, using a mixed diet is best. But as a staple pellet, try something like Hikari Gold. Augment with feedings of chopped mussels (good combo of meat and algae), tinned peas, cooked spinach and frozen bloodworms. Live brine shrimp are fine as treats, and provide useful fibre, but not much else. Once a week would be fine. Do remember not to overfeed your cichlids: they will always *seem* hungry, but they don't need as much food as they'll eat! Overfeeding, and consequent water quality problems, especially re: nitrate, are much more serious, leading to things like Hole-in-the-Head. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: T-bar cichlid problem Thank you for your email. <Happy to help.> Well I bought Hikari cichlid gold today and I have JMC high protein fish food an frozen brine shrimp. <Very good.> Do I need to get any other foods because they all seam protein foods? <As mentioned before: greens! These cichlids are all more or less omnivorous, which means they MUST have plant food as well as meaty foods. This is easy to cater for, as described earlier.> Thanks <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: T-bar cichlid problem Thanks for your email. Do t-bars eat lettuce and cucumber? Thanks <If they're hungry, cichlids will eat anything! But lettuce isn't recommended; it contains no nutrition at all. Much better to go with tinned peas, or better still, strips of Sushi Nori. You can buy Sushi Nori in bags of 10 sheets for about 1 UK Pound (convert to your local currency) and that'll last you months. Tear off small pieces, and attach to a lettuce clip or use a rubber band to attach to a stone. Both Sushi Nori and tinned peas are nutritious, safe, and very cheap (you can freeze any tinned peas you don't use, and just defrost a few whenever you need them). Sometimes cichlids will ignore plant foods: don't give in! Let them starve a day or two; it'll do them no harm and much good. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: T-bar cichlid problem 8/16/08 Thanks for your help I will get peas because if I got the sushi Nori my Uaru would eat it all and gard the place I put it (which it used to do with the lettuce). <So offer both! The Uaru is a very herbivorous cichlid, and does need regular feedings of green foods. If you must use lettuce, don't use iceberg or anything red or funky; use old fashioned green, curly lettuce.> How often should I feed them peas? <As often and as much as they want. Squishing the peas helps the cichlids figure out what they are. Green foods do little to no harm to water quality.> Thanks for all your help. <Cheers, Neale.> Thank you for your help. You have helped me a lot. Thanks again!! <You are most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid Mystery... Neotrop., sys., hlth., fdg., beh. 8/6/08 Re: Cichlid Mystery Wild Florida Cichlid Problems (Chuck's Second Opinion) 8/6/08 Hello Crew, hope you have some insight for me, for I am mystified. I have a 20 gal tank with a single specimen Mayan Cichlid (False Red Terror). <Are we talking about Cichlasoma urophthalmus here? Obviously this species, getting to 40 cm in the wild, is far too large for a 20 gallon tank.> < This fish is commonly found in Florida,-Chuck> I've had it since it was the size of a penny; he (theoretical; only going from how bright salmon red he gets when showing off) was netted out of the actual Everglades (where they are an invasive species), and he is now about a year and a half old, and about 5-6 inches long. He is fed a variety of foods: Hikari Gold cichlid pellets, dried Gammarus shrimp, dried bloodworms, live Ramshorn snails and occasionally, live Gambusia and Mollies from a large 65 gal Everglades tank I have in the Florida room, also the source of the snails (and home to a 8-inch Orinoco Sailfin Catfish that I thought was a tadpole once.) ALL his live foods are grown by me, so I have no fear of contamination that way. <Still, I'm leery of using wild-caught fish as food because you're running the risk of introducing parasites that don't normally occur in aquaria and so end up being difficult to treat. As you may/may not know, many parasites pass through multiple hosts, for example a small fish, then a bigger fish, and then a predator bird, then out with the birds faeces into the pond and back to the small fish. Because this cycle can't occur in aquaria or fish farms, these parasites don't normally occur in tropical fish tanks. If you have a fish that happily eats prepared and frozen foods, why take the risk?> So far he is the textbook definition of a Mayan, charging the side of the tank anytime you walk by, and sometimes attacking his own reflection for hours at a time, unless he is hiding behind the huge water sprite planted in there. <OK. These are nice fish; kept one in a high-end brackish aquarium for a long time. They thrive in brackish/marine conditions, and are arguably more mangrove swamp cichlids than anything else.> I went away for 5 days for vacation, so I stuffed his tank with snails and food fish, and had someone feed him some of his pellets about two days before I came back so he wouldn't starve. <OK, here's the first problem. NEVER, EVER "stock up" a tank with food. A healthy small fish like a Neon can go a week without food NO PROBLEMS. A big healthy fish like a cichlid can go two weeks or more without food, and in the wild would have to periodically anyway. In other words: it is better to leave your fish hungry during vacations than the alternative, which is to risk overfeeding them (or having them overfed). Too much food = too much ammonia/nitrite, and that leads to stress.> I came back only to find him lying on the bottom of his tank, in a hole he'd cleared out, looking the palest I've ever seen... his eye-spot was white, and he was still for hours. He had re-arranged his pea gravel extensively, which makes me think he might have been looking for snails. <Hmm... more likely displacement activity. When animals can't do one thing, because of stress or some other factor, they will sometimes do some other, unrelated activity. Humans biting their nails is the classic example: nothing to do with being hungry for protein!> Much testing of water ensued, to no answers... pH is 7.2, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates under 20 ppm, tank temp is 78, water is general hard, absolutely nothing happening there. <Ah, but you misunderstand. The nitrite/ammonia spike could have easily occurred day 1 after you left, and by now the filter has removed them both from the water, but the fish remains stressed.> The tank is acrylic 20 gal, has an Eclipse 2 (capacity much higher than 20 gal) filter top with bio-wheel in perfect working order and seeded with my own bacteria from other tanks., and there's plenty of aeration in the tank. The tank water gets changed weekly along with all the other tanks. <Still too small. These novelty filters that fit the hood are maybe fine for small tropicals like Neons but have no place in the cichlid aquarium. Too much space is given over to compact cartridges contains junk you don't need like carbon and Zeolite. Not enough space is given over to mechanical media and especially high performance biological media (ceramic noodles). Complete waste of space if you ask me. You should be using a decent canister filter rated at 6x the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. For this species of cichlid a 20 gallon tank makes no sense at all, and long term you're going to find this fish increasingly difficult to keep healthy.> After testing and re-testing and finding nothing to correct, I went and fished out a few snails and threw them in, in hopes that he'd become more animated. <No, doesn't work this way. When fish are sick or off-colour, you don't feed them. You run the risk of making a bad situation worse. A healthy fish -- particularly a cichlid! -- will be begging for food once hungry.> After a few hours and his lights turned off (on a timer, mind you), I could hear the clicking of snail shells against the tank, so I knew he must be feeling better. The next day, after the snails had been eaten, I tossed a few Gambusia in there. It's been 2 days, and he is back to normal, charging the side of the tank every time someone walks by, attacking his food and patrolling his tank, flashing his stripes when he's aggressive or just turning brilliant salmon if I get near... What do you guys think happened? My theory is he might have knocked himself out charging his own reflection, but any and all advice is greatly welcomed. Maybe he missed me? <Suspect a water quality crisis in your absence.> Carol <Hope this helps. Have cc'ed Chuck, our cichlid guru, for a second opinion. Cheers, Neale.> < Sometimes in the dark, fish get spooked by shadows. In a small tank where there is no place to hide it could have damaged himself on an object or on the tank himself. As per Neale's recommendation a larger tank is in order for the best concerns of your Mayan Cichlid.-Chuck>

Bloated Green Terror -- 04/19/08 Hey chuck. Its me again. I have a female green terror. She been recently ill? Can you please tell me what kind of sickness she has? She normally swims around and eats. These past few days she's been looking very ill. Her stomach looks like its going to blow? Her scales on her stomach is peeling a bit. She just stay in one spot for ages. She gets scared by other fish really easy and get chased sometimes? Her stomach was never that big. She never eats at all now. Before illness she use to eat normally. What should I do with her to get her better? Is she going to die? do I need to put any specific medication? Is there A chance that she could be laying eggs? If so shouldn't she be really aggressive? She doesn't have a partner though..? She stays with 5 other cichlids, such as Flowerhorn and red devil. Thanks . eric (any information would be appreciated) thanks chuck. < Your green terror female has an internal infection. It could have been caused by poor water quality, poor diet or stress. Start out by doing a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Furanace. Do a search on the WWM website for bloat or dropsy to get opinions from fellow WWM crew members. This is fatal if not treated early.-Chuck>

Help with my fish please... FW... Neotrop. Cichlid... hlth. 3/30/08 Hi. I tried to find information on your website, but my English is not so good so I had problem finding the answers to my questions. <Let's see if we can help then. If I say something that doesn't make sense, please write back and I will try and explain better!> I have an Oscar and a Jack Dempsey. We changed aquarium 5 months ago for a 50 gal. At first, the fish were fine, but 2 months ago, some brown dirt start to "growth" everywhere in the new aquarium (see on picture) <This is just Diatoms. A kind of algae. Harmless. Wipe away with a clean cloth or sponge. Fish won't eat it, so adding a catfish like a Plec is pointless.> and the fish start feeling bad. Oscar stars having a wound on his head. <Yes, I see. This is a bacterial infection. Essentially an ulcer. Sera Baktopur should help. But I personally prefer eSHa 2000, a Dutch medication that seems to work very well against bacterial infections. If you were in the US, then you would probably be using an antibiotic like Maracyn (Erythromycin). You may want to visit a veterinarian to get some of this medication if you are not in the US.> I treat the water with "Baktopur" twice. (I send you picture of before and after the treatment.) <Certainly helping, and there's some new skin growing back. But this infection is caused by physical damage (e.g., a bite) or poor water quality. Perhaps both. So: check the fish are getting along. Also make sure the water is clean. Nitrite = 0 mg/l, Ammonia = 0 mg/l. Ideally the Nitrate should be < 20 mg/l but certainly < 50 mg/l. The filter must have turnover of at least 6 times the volume of the tank in gallons per hour. In other words, your filter should be rated at about 300 gallons per hour (or about 1200 litres per hour). Do lots of water changes, 50% per week.> Now, 2 weeks after the treatment, both fish are still sick, the brown thing is staying even if we clean the aquarium and even if we change water. They stop eating, they are about to die and I don't now what to do. <Stop feeding the fish for a few days so that water quality stays good. Keep using medication. Do big water changes!> thank you for your help Stephanie, Oscar and Jack <Hope this helps, Neale.>

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