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FAQs on African Cichlid Diseases 6

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 10, 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 WorldCichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Disease Cichlid Reproduction,

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


Can you identify this?   4/24/08 Lake Victorian Cichlid With Growth On Forehead Hi everyone, I really need help with trying to identify what ailment my fish has and how to treat it. The fish is a SP44 Lake Victoria Hap. He had developed what appeared to be some sort of fungus on his lower lip and on his head. I set up a 10G hospital tank and after making sure he was acclimated properly and was comfortable in the 10G,I began treatment with Jungle Fungus Eliminator. His lip cleared somewhat but the patch on his head would not get better. After a month I did some research and decided that maybe the problem wasn't fungal in nature. So after doing a water change, running carbon, and waiting a couple weeks I began to retreat using Seachem ParaGuard. The fish has been in the QT tank now for 3 months and although his lip has completely healed the patch on his head will not go away. I have stopped treating him last week, and I am not sure what to do now. He has been active, with good color and has been eating very well al this time. I noticed tonight the patch seems to be getting worse, and he is now flashing, rubbing the infected area on rocks and gravel in the tank so its beginning to really bother him. I began the ParaGuard treatment again, but I hope you can help me with diagnosis and a proper course of treatment. Attached are a few pics. I do not want to lose him. Thanks for your time Eric < After reviewing your photos I think that you male hap has scar tissue from either fights or from foraging in very coarse substrate. As he forages through the sand the abrasive edges scrape up his mouth and face. This trauma to the face opens up wounds that can get infected. These start out as a bacterial infections. Things like fungus feed of the dead and sloughing tissues. These diseases can be treated using antibiotics like Furanace but they will comeback as long as the abrasive materials are still in the tank. I would consider changing the substrate in the main tank. Another possibility is fights with other cichlids. Cichlids are very aggressive and if your Victorian hap is sharing an aquarium with a lake Malawi Mbuna, then the teeth on the Mbuna can cause lots of damage on the opposing fish. Try the Furanace while he is in the QT tank and keep up on the water quality.-Chuck>

Great pix! RMF.


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


Black calvus breathing really hard for air   03/19/2008 I bought a black calvus and it is breathing really hard for air. <... Mmm, all fishes (in fact all livestock) is damaged, stressed in shipping/moving... hence one part of the suggestion to quarantine, allow it to "rest up" before being placed in a community setting where it may be harassed, have to compete too hard for food...> I put him in well established tank, 80 degrees PH 7.9 nitrites and nitrates are in a normal parameters. <... need data, not subjective evaluations> The other cichlids he is with are doing fine and breathing normal. He just sits on the substrate doing nothing. He does not have any signs of disease no white spots or no cloudy eyes all fins are good he sits right side up no swaying or anything what do you think Troy <... Read more widely on the Net re fish physiology, husbandry, particularly the value of quarantine... there is very likely nothing "wrong" with this Cichlid than that it's new. Bob Fenner>


can you help me identify this disease, no info.   3/6/08 Im am currently treating this with Melafix. <Worthless> Last night I also realized that another fish has this also, along with his fin almost missing. please help me. David <... not with the lack of data presented... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichdisfaqs.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Cichlid question Treating Sick Cichlids  3/6/08 I am sorry to have to ask you busy people for help but at this point, I just have to do it. I am certain that I know nothing about my fish. I thought that I was ready after 3 years of having 1 beautiful bright yellow cichlid in a 55 gallon tank, that I could handle 5 more. I purchased 3 and put in a 10 gallon tank for 3 weeks. All seemed great. Moved them to the 55. 2 weeks later, purchased 2 more. The lady at PetSmart said that I had chosen Jewel Cichlids. They looked fantastic! I put them straight away in the 55 gallon tank, big mistake. I have had the tank for 10 years. During that time I kept easy fish, community fish really. Then we moved and I gave away all my fish, broke down the tank and relocated to another state. Got settled into new place and began rebuilding my tank environment. Set up tank and left it empty for months. Then friend gave me a tiny little yellow fish that I loved! Turns out it was the Electric- something or other- yellow cichlid that I have now and he is big he is about 3 or 4 inches long and 2 or so wide... Beautiful fish! I had only had 1 cichlid for 3 years, I have had fish and lots of sicknesses and realize that I am still a novice. I have tested the water and all was well there. My fish started to act strange. They eat good and always have. However, they would dart wildly around the tank and appeared to be bouncing themselves off the tank decor, what I thought could be considered scratching... first thought was Ich. I watched my fish more closely. I noticed them kind of jerking, but no spots of any kind. No visible anything's. I frantically search the web and decide that it must be bacterial or parasitic. Flukes was my final diagnosis. I made a plan to treat with a broad spectrum parasitic hoping that I would nail the problem even if I was just a touch off. I purchased a medication called Quick Cure for parasites. Upon coming home and checking out the fish, I noticed some frayed fins which I thought could be fin rot or just typical fish fighting I had Melafix on hand as always. So, after I used the Quick Cure that morning as the package directed, I used the Melafix about 12 hours later thinking all should be fine to mix the 2 as long as I didn't do it like right together. Well fish haven't been doing the jerking thing, and they still eating well but they are still occasionally bouncing off the tank decorations and have begun to change color. I had a blue striped cichlid, I think I may have identified him as some sort of peacock blue cichlid but I am still learning there too. He looks like a ghost right now, he has became pale sickly looking totally not what he was yesterday. He eats good and doesn't hide, swims well and all that. As for the Jewel's they have went from mostly red and yellow to brownish or black. They look dirty if that helps any. My water levels have changed just a bit, but still nothing to worry about there I don't think. But a new finding is that one of my Jewels has a white spot on his head just above his eye. That was not there when I first noticed signs of something amiss. I have been treating for 3 days now and planned to do partial water change at day 7 and gravel vacuum. I have changed about 10% today. I have no idea what's going on with these fish but I know something isn't right. I seriously hope I don't kill them. :) If there is any advice you could offer me at this point, I would greatly appreciate it and again, I know you are busy and hope I haven't disturbed you too much. Thanks! -Jerriesue < Your electric yellow and the peacock cichlid come from Lake Malawi. They like hard alkaline water that is about 77-79 F. These fish are usually pretty resistant to Ich but sometimes come down with protozoa infections that cause them to dart around. The best treatment is to check the water quality and treat with Formalin. The Quick Cure you are using is a copper product that in my opinion is very dangerous to use. The levels of copper needed to kill parasites are very close to the same levels that kill fish. I would recommend doing a 50% water change, treat with the Formalin and add a tablespoon of rock salt per 10 gallons of water. The jewel fish comes from African rivers but can handle the same water conditions and treatments.-Chuck>


My frontosa swimming sideways Frontosa Swimming Sideways 3/2/08 Hey guys, My husband and I have had a 7 stripe frontosa and we think he is going on thirteen years old. When I test my water I test mainly for the ammonia, the nitrates and the pH. The ammonia is ppm. <You did not include a number but the ammonia should be zero.> The nitrate is ppm. < Once again you did not include a number but the nitrates should be under 20 ppm.> The pH is between 7.8 and 8.0, the temp is 80 degrees F. He is in a 55 gallon tank with a cat. He has had a bulged eye for almost a year, I tried to treat it several different times but it didn't get any better, I don't know if that has anything to do with the way he is swimming, (kinda of sideways) I am sending you a short movie clip that I just took of him and that way you can see exactly what I am talking about, I hope that is OK, I thought it would be more help to see then to try to explain it, and was hoping you could suggest a treatment for him, I just put Maracyn-Two in his tank but I have no clue if that is going to help. Thank you for your time. Michelle < You fish is very old and has an internal infection. Try treating him with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. If he is still eating then try getting him to eat a medicated food with Metronidazole in it.-Chuck>

Re: My frontosa swimming sideways   3/5/08 Getting Medications Online Hi Chuck, This is Michelle again, you said to use Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace, Do you know what website I could purchase it on ? I really would appreciate it, Thank you so much. < DrsFosterSmith.com will have what you need.-Chuck>

Re: My frontosa swimming sideways   3/5/08 Old Cichlids Getting Sick Thank you Chuck, I have a few questions, How do you know if your fish is sick or just old? < In the wild these fish rarely live past a couple of years. As they slow down they are usually picked off by predators.> If they are old do they always get sick before they die, Or does there organs just give out and they pass on ? <In a long term captive situation they are probably not exposed to too many pathogens. In this case as organs start to deteriorate normal bacteria that feed on waste may start feeding on the decaying tissues.> And does a old fish act different from a young fish? <Young fish get sick too except they have a greater resistance to fight off diseases and recover more quickly.> If yes, How? < Old fish past their prime may not respond to medications and never get well.> I just need to know because I have a brichardi that is nine years old and he sitting on the bottom of the tank. Is that old for a brichardi? < Yes, both your fish are well past their prime.> I have been feeding him the Anti Parasite food by Jungle ,He is eating but scoots on the bottom. I need to get the Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace, Thank you again! < Old fish like this can be hard to cure, especially after so much time has past. Good luck.-Chuck>

My African cichlids... hlth.? Env.    2/19/08 hello I have a question. my cichlids are rubbing against the rocks and shaking what do I do?. I have just added CopperSafe how long will it take before I could do a water change?. and if this works how long will it take before the sickness will go away?. I have a 72 gal bow with 50 cichlids and my tank is about 1 month old. please help. <Hang on a second. This tank is one month old, contains 72 US gallons for water, and contains 50 cichlids? Given that even with small fish you wouldn't keep more than an inch of fish per gallon, with African cichlids this stocking density is insanely high. So first things first: tell me about water chemistry and water quality. Fish 'flash' (as this rubbing or scratching behaviour is called) when they are irritated. Sometimes the irritation is caused by parasites, but often by sudden changes in pH or poor water quality (ammonia and nitrite especially). Assuming these are Rift Valley cichlids, how are you stabilising the pH? What is the pH level immediately after a water change, and what is the pH a week after a water change -- this will tell you how stable the pH is. All aquaria become acidic over time, and with African cichlids slowing this acidification is essential. So you need to ensure you have lots of carbonate hardness. What is the carbonate hardness in your tank? That's measured in degrees KH, and shouldn't be confused with general hardness (degrees dH) although you need to know that, too. For African cichlids, a general hardness of around 20 degrees dH and a carbonate hardness of at least 7 degrees KH is required. Next up, what about filtration? What is the nitrite concentration in this tank? What about the nitrate? How much water do you change per week? (Should be at least 50%.) What is the capacity of the filter? Minimum should be 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, but realistically 10 times the volume is what a heavily stocked cichlid tank really needs. I'm asking you all this stuff because your fish are likely irritated/ill because of environmental issues rather than disease by itself. In any case, I feel your tank is massively overstocked, and unless you're a very expert fishkeeper rearing large numbers of juvenile fish that will be sold before they get too big, this tank just won't work. Cheers, Neale.>


Tropheus With Bloat 1-22-08 Hi WWM, I have a Tropheus duboisi which I believe has swimmers bladder. Its stomach got large and the area where it poops was swollen. I wasn't sure what it was so I started to put in medication since its a juvie. MelaFix) I've been doing this for over a week and the fish finally took its first bite after 2 weeks of not eating. So far the fish's swelling as decrease but its stomach is staying round but not to the sides as much as expanding downward. I don't think it's dropsy since its scales aren't sticking out at all even at its largest point. Any ideas on what to do now since its half way to recovery I think? Plus I noticed that my tanks nitrates were very high around 80-100ppm. Can this cause the fish to become ill like this? I did a 35 % change the other day and it was still high so I did another 50 % so its back to normal. When I add the water to the tank I pour it in from a gallon container, now can pouring the water to quick cause harm to the fish? I don't know if it contributes to the fish's illness. My tank is 46 gallon with other Tanganyika cichlids mostly different Tropheus. Thanks, Chris <When algae eating cichlids become stressed or are fed food too high in protein they sometimes get an internal infection. This infection usually results in a bloat or dropsy type symptoms. The usual treatment is to improve the fishes overall conditions and treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. If the fish is eating you can feed a medicated fish food with Metronidazole in it. Big changes in pH and temperature can stress a fish and increase its chances of getting an infection.-Chuck>  


Sick Lake Malawi Cichlids  1/14/08 Hello WetWebMedia. I just recently bought 3 assorted African cichlids and they are about an inch to an inch and a half long. I have a 55 gallon tank with a 48" hood with 3 t8 bulbs (about 32 watts each), ammonia = 0, nitrite = 0, nitrate = lower than 20, I'm guessing like 10 (between the 0 and the 20), pH = 8.5 ,temp = about 78 F, kH = 75, alkalinity = 300, chlorine = 0. So the water seems fine. I have the Tetra Whisper Power Filter 60 and filled the filter bags with Ammo-carb to help control the ammonia better. So Anywho. I bought an Electric Yellow Cichlid (Labidochromis caeruleus), a Elongated Mbuna (Pseudotropheus elongatus), and a Snow White Socolofi (Pseudotropheus socolofi) but more on the brown side and not so albino looking. Here are some picts if they work and links if they don't. [image: Snow White Socolofi][image: Elongated Mbuna]<javascript:OpenWindow('http://www.petco.com/Shop/AlternateImages.aspx?FamilyID=101074&sku=', 420, 510, 'AlternateImages', 2);>[image: Electric Yellow Cichlid] http://www.petco.com/product/101074/Elongated-Mbuna.aspx http://www.petco.com/product/101083/Electric-Yellow-Cichlid.aspx http://www.petco.com/product/101097/Snow-White-Socolofi.aspx Ok back to my problem. I noticed when I brought the blue African cichlid home it had white things hanging off its mouth, and I thought they were an external parasite of some sort, so I was expecting him sadly to be the first to pass away and he was. The Socolofi and the electric yellow seemed really happy and were swimming around together checking out the new surroundings like best buddies. Then I noticed the next day that the Socolofi was sitting under the rock formation I had not really moving and kind of gasping. Now today I found him partially on his side and gasping even more. My water conditions seem perfect so I don't know if those are the problems. I treated the water with conditioning salt because that said it helps protect gills from toxic nitrates if that was my problem and he seems to be doing a LITTLE bit better but not much. I am wondering if he has a parasite of some sort or if there isn't enough oxygen in the water or what. My Electric is still zipping around the tank all happy. So I don't know what's up. Right now my Socolofi is sitting my livebearer breeding container, because that has seemed to be magical with my other fish that have been sick and brought them back to life just being in there hahaha. So yes he is separated from the yellow one right now. Any help would be great. Thanks. < The problem is in the food you are feeding them. The two fish that have already died eat algae off the rocks in the wild. The electric yellow actually eats small invertebrates. You fish food you are feeding has too much protein in it for the algae eating cichlids. They have problems digesting this food and tends to plug them up. The electric yellow can handle this food so he is fine. The sick fish should be treated with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck.>

Growth On Gill Of Jewel Cichlid   1/9/08 Hi. I have 4 cichlids I think their Jewels. They've had a pretty rough life so far. My brother rescued them from a neglectful owner. Anyways I have suffered losses of old age and power outages (no air flow or heat) but now one of my females has developed a growth (?) in its gill. I have had a really bad algae bloom for quite sometime but I had two pumps to try and minimize it to no avail (although my breeding pair really seemed to love it and they breed continuously). I transferred all my fish into an entirely new tank 2 days ago and I noticed just how bad her gill has gotten and I have searched the internet and haven't been able to see something similar. She has been eating fine, her colour is bright and swimming fine although slightly terrorized by the breeding pair, and this seems an odd way to describe a fish but a little mopey? I chalked the mopyness up to her mate dying about 2 months ago, but she's been hanging out with the other single male now. Back to the growth, it looks like her organs are coming out of her gill and has been like that for I would say a month and a half and looks like its been getting bigger. All the other fish are fine. I am by no means even slightly knowledgeable about these fish and I really need some help!! Thanks! Mandy < I would recommend isolating the affected fish and treating for parasites with Fluke-Tabs. This would take care of any worms or fish lice that would be attacking the fresh blood in the gill tissues.-Chuck>


Pseudotropheus socolofi albino holding? Breeding Ps. socolofi or Bloat -- 1/04/08 I was just researching Pseudotropheus socolofi albino. I have one and by the day "her" abdomen is growing larger - I have not officially vented for sex. I thought maybe she had Malawi bloat however research indicates that bloat is a very pronounced area in the abdomen - a bump. "Cracker's" abdomen is pushing out - girth is getting bigger all around by the day. Is she holding? <Unfortunately it sounds like your fish has bloat. When a female Lake Malawi cichlid is "holding" it refers to the fry or eggs being incubated in her mouth. The extended belly and labored breathing is a sign of stress and that your fish needs help.> There are 12 other Malawi Mbunas in the 55 gallon tank and none of them exhibit signs of illness i.e. bloat. I even have Ad Konings book and still can't figure out if the indications of holding. Oh and another telltale sign of holding is her fins are frayed - perhaps from the breeding male's aggression? < The fins are frayed from other fish biting them. This has nothing to do with breeding.> No other fish's fins are disturbed - all are perfect. Cracker is now almost laying down, hovering a couple inches above the substrate, respiration seems somewhat strained. When I was cleaning the tank about a month ago (I do 25% water changes on a weekly basis), I found a baby! I tried to rescue it but it didn't survive...The tank is full of rocks and hiding places - when I found the baby, I also placed a terra cotta pot in the tank. I would so much appreciate your advice please!! Thank you!! Lisa. < Typically albino fish are not as hardy as normally colored fish. They are usually picked on by other tankmates and this causes stress. The stressed fish become ill and then are picked on even more, making things worse. I would recommend that you isolate this fish and treat for bloat with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck.>


Malawi Cichlid Wipeout! 12/26/07 Happy Holidays! I had a tragedy over the holiday season that I am trying to find an answer to. I had a tank full of Malawi cichlids and all in the same day EVERY single fish in the tank were on the bottom dead except for a few. <Water quality, chemistry, air pollution, or temperature are the only issues likely to kill all the fish at the same time very quickly. Check all and act as required.> I thought maybe it was a water quality issue so I did two fifty percent water changes and put some tiger barbs in. Before I knew it, they were covered in small white spots all throughout the body including eyes. <Likely common Whitespot/ick, caused by stress. So whatever was at a lethal level when the Malawians died is now merely at a stress level after the two water changes. Transportation of new livestock can often trigger these sorts of infections too.> What I am trying to understand is why not a single white spot of Ich or velvet showed up on any cichlids, they were completely asymptomatic. <Which is why it's a water issue. Things like paint fumes, pesticides, alcohol, etc., can cause the rapid death of lots of fish. Blocked filters, overheating, etc., can also cause sudden and otherwise asymptomatic deaths.> Have you ever heard of African Cichlids being completely resistant to fish parasites/protozoan? <Nope.> Or is it a coincidence and did they die from something else and the barbs happened to get Ich? <Coincidence is two fish dying in the same week. All the fish dying at once isn't a coincidence.> Thanks <Cheers, Neale.>


Paralyzed African cichlid - 11/20/07 Hello Crew, I just wrote you last week about identifying a Floridian killifish (thanks for the lead, Neale! I am still looking) but now I am hoping you can help me with an unrelated problem. <Okay, fire away!> First, a bit of background. I broke down and redecorated my 55 gallon cichlid tank on Saturday. I started a bit late, so by the time the tank was drained and ready for the decor to be put in, I was ready for bed and too tired to continue. I figured that the cichlids would be all right overnight in a 15 gallon holding tub, since there was plenty of filtration (two hang-on backs rated for 50 gallons each plus an Eheim canister rated for 60 gallons) and aeration (a 16" bubble wall) circulating the water in the Rubbermaid tub. Also plenty of plastic plants for hiding. <Ah, I think I see where this is going...> Well, I guess that 20 African cichlids are not too happy about sharing a 15 gallon tub for that long together, because two of them jumped out during the night. <When I store fish in buckets, I always put lids on, with towels on top to make it nice and dark.> One was totally dead - it had a bit of blood near the gills, which makes me think that the cats might have investigated the flopping fish - and the other was entirely grey and washed out, dry and crispy. I felt awful! I washed the two fish under the cool running tap (my tap water is well water, not chlorinated, incidentally) and to my amazement, one of them actually started to breathe, ever so slowly! I couldn't believe it, because he must have been on the laminate floor for a while to become completely desiccated. <Yes, it's amazing how resilient fish can be. There are many stories similar to this, and only last month I rescued a goby from a similar level of dryness. He's fine now, swimming about normally with nothing to show for his accident but a few missing scales.> I put the fish in my biggest net and draped the net across the tub, and in about 5 minutes the fish was struggling, so I let him back in along with the rest. After the tank was finished, I put him in with the 55 gallon tank along with all the others. Since he struggled to be caught just like the rest of them, I figured he might pull through. I didn't realize how serious his condition was... <Oh.> After about two hours of laying on his side in the front corner, I gently prodded him and he sprang to life, but he swam so awkwardly... as though the back half of his body were frozen. He hid towards the back, and I removed him and put him back in the tub because I feared he might bury himself somewhere in the display tank and die there. Again, he struggled to be caught, but after I put him in the tub he just laid on his side, which is what he has been doing ever since. <Does sound as if he's damaged somehow.> His fins are red and frayed and he looks so uncomfortable. <They will heal.> He still looks dry, even underwater. I thought he might be coming down with Finrot or fungus so I put some API General Cure in the water. <The "dryness" you see is damage to the skin and loss of mucous, often along with missing scales that fall out after exposure to air. In any case, while it looks rough for a while, it will heal.> I was too hasty and realized afterward that this medication is for parasitic infections, not Finrot or fungus - the active ingredient is Metronidazole and Praziquantel. The medication is not concentrated in the water, I only put 1 packet (which is supposed to treat 10 gallons of water) in the 15 gallons of water. I also did a 1 gallon water change this morning when I vacuumed the bottom of the tub. Would you recommend absorbing the medication with carbon? <No point. It'll be metabolized by the filter bacteria in a few days anyway, and water changes each week will dilute it.> I added Epsom salt to the water in case it could make him more comfortable, 1 tablespoon diluted in the new gallon of water I added back. I know that this fish is probably beyond hope, but when I take him out thinking it is time to bring out the clove oil, he struggles wildly - which makes me wonder if maybe there is hope. Is there anything more I can do? Should I add tonic salt or any kind of remedy? <Assuming he hasn't sustained serious damage to the spine or nerves, the skin and fins will recover, and to some extent so will mild damage to the muscle blocks on the flank and caudal peduncle.> Do you suppose it was the desiccation that made him paralyzed, or could he have broken his back on the floor when he fell? <Either or neither.> He fell from quite a few feet onto the laminate floor. <Ouch.> When he swims, it almost looks like his back fins are stuck together, but it seems more likely that his spine is damaged. In any case, I would love to know whether you advise euthanasia or not, because my gut feeling is that this is the most humane thing to do...I'm just not absolutely sure. <It's a personal choice. If the fish is steady, swimming, and feeding, then I'd give the guy a break and see how things turn out. If he obviously can't feed himself and gets harassed by his tankmates, then moving to a hospital tank for a couple of weeks might be a good idea. If even after that there's no sign of recovery, then certainly euthanasia may be the best option. But fish have amazing healing abilities, far beyond anything seen in mammals, so I'd certainly wait a while before doing anything rash.> I included a picture in case it helps. I hope you don't mind, but I also included a picture of his tank, because in the photo he looks so awful and seemingly emaciated, I would like you to see that I really do take good care of these fellas! <It's a nice tank, and your fish doesn't look that bad. Traumatised and a bit beaten up, but nothing fatal.> They get fed a variety of foods, including blanched vegetables, New Life Spectrum pellets, Spirulina flake, cichlid flake and algae wafers, very rarely frozen brine and bloodworms, and a couple times a week a frozen mash of mussels and peas. <Sounds nicer than what I had for dinner! You obviously take good care of your pets.> I know 20 cichlids is a lot for a 55 gallon tank, but these are a spawn from an accidental pairing of an Eduard cichlid and a yellow lab. <Ah, this explains it. When I saw the fish, I thought "Yellow Lab" but couldn't quite confirm.> Since they are mixed, I can't trade them in, and this is the biggest tank that I have room for without sacrificing furniture and appliances! <You're doing the right thing here. While "accidents happen" with cichlids just as much as with careless teenagers, not everyone does the right thing afterwards. I'm glad you've chosen to do so.> Thank you so much for listening, and I apologize for writing such a lengthy email. I am just so distraught by this. <Don't be too distraught. Take these things as learning experiences.> I believe I speak for all of us who are immersed in the hobby...we are enormously grateful for your website, made possible by your generous donations of time and effort. Thanks again. Nicole <Thanks for writing, and good luck! Neale.>

Re: Paralyzed African cichlid - 11/20/07 Thank you so much for your reply again, Neale! <You're most welcome.> Yes, I have certainly learned my lesson. I've been very fortunate, as I have two "lidless" aquariums with large openings in the front where the fish could jump out, and so far (knock on wood) I haven't had any kamikaze fish! <Hmm... matter of time, I suspect. At the least, get two bits of glass cut at your local DIY store. Make them wide enough to rest on the tank, but maybe 1-2 cm short at each end, so there's a free flow of air. This is cheap way to make a tank safe for acrobatic fish.> I guess they must feel comfortable in their tanks. The lighting is subdued, and they're in a dedicated room so no one startles them. It makes sense that the cichlids would jump out of a holding tank though, since it must freak them out to be netted and whisked out of their tank and into a little tub! <Indeed. This is exactly right.> I had the tub on two chairs because I didn't want the cats peering in, since I know that they love nothing more than drinking straight out of the filter output! I guess they think of them as little drinking fountains just for them. <It's the lack of chlorine. Cats hate the taste of it. That's why they ignore clean water in their bowls, but drink for fish tanks, puddles, ponds, etc. It's no problem. The water in a properly managed aquarium will do a cat no harm.> I also thought the canister filter might work better with the intake and output at a higher elevation. From now on I will cut little notches on the lid to allow the equipment to make its way in there. <Just putting the lids on loosely with the pipes sticking in and out should do the trick (in my experience). Newspaper or towels can also be used effectively.> Just one more thing...and I'm so sorry if this is a dumb question! But wouldn't the fish suffocate if they were in a container with a lid on it for very long? <If the lid was airtight, yes. But I don't advocate that. Just rest the lid loosely on the container. All it needs to do is "bounce" an airborne fish back into the tank. Nothing more. In situations where fish slither out (like eels), then half-filling the bucket and putting the lid on tightly becomes a better approach.> Sort of the way we would eventually suffocate if we were trapped in an elevator? <Not sure this would happen. Elevators surely aren't airtight.> I figured a towel would be okay since it is breathable. But when you put a lid on your buckets, the fish don't run out of air? An update on the cichlid, by the way. He is still laying on his side, not eating, and some scales have definitely fallen off because he looks like he's speckled with bloody marks. <The bloody patches are dead skin and lost scales. Assuming you treat for Finrot and fungus, the skin and scales *will* recover.> I put an algae wafer right near his head but he didn't touch it for an hour, so I removed it. Every so often I find him in different places, always on his side, so I know he is ambulating himself somehow. I just changed three more gallons of water, because in the 15 gallon tub where he is isolated, nitrates were a little high (20 ppm, my water has 0 nitrates out of the tap) and I definitely saw him "wagging" his front fins the entire time the new water was pouring in. So it's not much of a hopeful sign, but it is something. I'll keep him isolated for at least a week, and I'll do daily 3 gallon water changes. <Really, it's a question of time. If nothing improves after a couple weeks, then consider humanely destroying him. But otherwise, just let him heal naturally.> If he gets better, I'll be sure to let you know! <Cool.> Again, thanks so much for your prompt and extremely helpful reply. Nicole <Happy to help.> P.S. Thanks for the encouragement! I too am dismayed by how many people turn their mixed Malawi's in to the fish shop, who for some reason accept them without qualms. <Because they sell...> Even worse is that it seems sometimes these crossbreeds are not just an accident. Just last month I went to a fish shop with a tank full of twenty or so of some kind of hodgepodge African cichlid. This cichlid looked like a bag of Skittles! It looked to be some sort of a mix of Pseudotropheus and Haplochromis, and sure enough the store "didn't know what they were, but they were really colorful" and definitely African. Ugh! <And it's this that makes the African Cichlid hobby look bad. When you see pure-bred stock, the colours are amazing. Coral reef brilliant. Top-notch Yellow Labs and Blue Zebras are just as vivid as, say, Yellow Tangs or Blue Chromis damselfish. This is why we love African cichlids. But when you see generation after generation of crossbreed fish, you end up with vaguely blue, vaguely orange, vaguely yellow fish in the stores, and people say "why bother?". I hope we see the market change for the better here, with people concentrating on keeping and breeding decent stock, so everyone gets to see African Cichlids at their best. Cheers, Neale.>

I really need your help. African cichlid hlth.  -- 11/17/07 My I have a pale blue African cichlid, whom I've had for 2 and a half years, I'm really worried about him because he's recently developed a growth coming out of his genitals (I attached a similar picture, although it isn't my fish.) I just treated the tank for Ich, and stopped the treatments about 2 weeks ago. He's been eating fine, and swimming around regularly the whole time until just a few days ago. Now he's being very immobile, staying the corner under the filter and not coming to the spot he usually eats at. What should I do? I've grown so attached to him, and I don't want to lose him! -Amanda <Greetings. Your fish has a prolapsed anus, that is, a secondary bacterial infection has caused the back end of its colon to swell up and become inflamed, such that it now extends out of the vent. While the causes for this are difficult to pin down in every case, mostly its due to problems with diet (as you'd perhaps imagine). The majority of cichlids are herbivores or omnivores adapted to eating a high fibre diet; in the aquarium, we think we are being kind by giving them high protein food like flake, pellets and frozen bloodworms. While adequate as a treat, for many cichlids this is the wrong staple and ends up causing problems just like this. Rift Valley cichlids of the Mbuna type are all either exclusively or primarily herbivores that feed on algae in the wild. So what we should give them is algae, algae, some more algae, and then algae for pudding. Maybe once a week we can then add some zooplankton or insect larvae. This point really cannot be stressed strongly enough: the reason your fish is sick is almost certainly not enough fibre in its diet, so you need to be switching to things like Spirulina flake, tinned peas, Sushi Nori, sliced softened vegetables, and other green foods. Most cichlids adore fresh Spirogyra and other green algae straight from the garden pond, if you can supply it. To actually deal with the prolapsed anus right now, you need to treat with Epsom salts. A dosage of one tablespoon per 5 gallons should do the trick. Make the "potion" up in a jug and then add it to the tank; don't add the Epsom salt straight to the aquarium! This is a laxative and will help the swelling go down and the alimentary canal sort itself out. Don't feed anything other than "greens". Tinned peas are ideal. Oddly enough, LIVE daphnia and brine shrimp also work well, too. Do not feed anything else. Not flake, not pellets, not nothing!!! The idea is to use the fibre and the laxative to get things sorted out. Flake and other dried foods will simply work against you. Continue this regimen until the fish is healthy. And once it is, revise what you feed your fish. Remember, with Mbuna, green food good, meaty food bad, and dried food worst of all! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: I really need your help. -11/18/07 I can't thank you enough! -Amanda <We're happy to help. Good luck, and if things don't improve, let us know. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: I really need your help. Do I add the salts everyday? or just once? -11/19/07 I've only added it once because I wasn't sure.. He seems to be getting better, but the anus seems to be getting worse and protruding even more, and he isn't eating. <Amanda, you add the salt only once to the tank, and then to each new bucket of water added. So if you take out one bucket of water, you add one new bucket of water with the proportional amount of Epsom salt added. The idea is to maintain the concentration of Epsom salt for days, weeks as required. Cheers, Neale>

Re: I really need your help.   12/5/07 So nothing has been working, I've tried feeding him and not feeding him, keeping the Epsom salts at consistent levels, I called the local vets and they weren't sure what to do, and I don't know if my fish is suffering or not. Do I have to put him down? Or can they live that way? -Amanda <Amanda, can you send a picture? Might help to understand what's the score right now. At some point you may need to review the welfare of the fish. If the fish is suffering, unable to swim about, and looking lethargic and unstable, the painless destruction may be appropriate. If the fish is simply bloated but otherwise normal, you can probably afford to wait. Do check background conditions in the tank: pH, hardness, etc. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: I really need your help. 12/5/07 He really didn't like the camera in his face! The quality isn't very good, but that should give you an idea of whats going on. - Amanda <I can't see too much, but it does look pretty bad. I'd be watching the fish and seeing if it is in distress. If it is, and there's been no sign of repair in the last two or three weeks, then I'd likely painlessly destroy this fish. Never a nice thing to do, and certainly not something to do because you can't be bothered to follow through with the time, expense required to heal a fish. But you do seem to have done everything you can, and if the fish is in pain, then destruction might be the right move. But if its swimming about happily enough, and feeding and defecating normally, then time may be the issue. Some sicknesses can take months to clear up. Cheers, Neale.>

Dying Fish! Malawi bloat Strikes Cichlid Tank  11/13/07 Dear WetWebMedia, I sincerely hope someone can help me! A few month's months ago, my 6 yr old son received a 29 gallon aquarium set-up for his birthday. After some research, we decided to stock it with Malawi Cichlids. Initially, everything went fine. We slowly stocked the tank until we had 7 fish. The day after our fist 1/3 water change, my son dumped a lot of food into the tank. I immediately scooped it out with a spoon, getting all that I could see lying on the gravel. I also feel that for some time we had been over feeding the fish. I have now adjusted our feeding schedule to 2x / day with only as much as they can consume in 45 seconds. Regardless, a few days / weeks after this episode, some of the fish started to die off. I noticed that right before the fish would die, they would stop eating, become lethargic, and their bodies became covered with white material that looked like a cross between crusty and white cotton. I initially wrote this off as stress, but as more fish started to die, I knew it must be something else. I consulted with a person who raises cichlids and he thought the fish had a fungus due to overfeeding. Even as this email is being written, 2 more are dying! Unlike the other fish that have died, the 2 that today, are fading rather quickly, do NOT have anything growing on their bodies. However, just like all the fish that have died so far, the 2 that are about to pass are laying on the bottom of the tank. They will try to swim and end up just sinking to the bottom. Of notice is the fact that they are breathing very rapidly using both their mouths AND their gills. It is important to note that in addition to the filter, I have 3 air stones running in the aquarium, so oxygen should not be a problem. All of the fish that have died so far have done this rapid breathing. In regards to the tank itself, I am dosing 15 ml once daily of the Melafix and 15 ml of Pimafix. The carbon filter has been removed. Before starting the med's, I did a 1/3 water change. I bought test strips and am testing the water a few times a day, and everything is well within optimal range. To be sure, I took a sample into the pet store today and everything checked out fine. My tank is negative for nitrates and nitrites. The tank temperature is a steady 80 degrees. Does any of this lead you to believe I might have something else going on in the tank? Should I treat for something else? I am so frustrated I just don't know what to do. As a matter of fact, I just checked on the fish and have lost another just in the time it has taken me to write this email! On another note, I am using the filter that came with the tank, however, I am thinking of upgrading to Fluval 305 or an Aquarium Pharmaceuticals filter system. I will buy one that changes out 200 gallons per hour. Any advice as to my selection of filters will be appreciated. Thanks to all in advance for your time and consideration to my fish woes! I look forward to your response(s). Sincerely, Joe < You cichlids come from Lake Malawi in Africa. The water there is very hard and alkaline. Lower the water temp. to 75 to 77 F. They make a living by eating algae off of rocks and require a food high in vegetable matter. Try a flake food that has spiraling algae in it or a good vegetable flake. I suspect that the food you are currently feeding is too high in protein. These fish can't handle too much protein in their digestive tract and it blocks them up. The bacteria in their gut starts to feed on the food and it bloats them up and stresses them out. if you wanted to try and cure them you could try a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. treat them on the first, third and fifth day. Do 50% water changes in between the days you medicate and vacuum the gravel. This disease usually hits the fish when they are about two inches long and are just becoming sexually mature. I would recommend an out side power filter that moves at least 250 gph. -Chuck>


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


Flashing in Mbunas 10/14/07 Hi Neale, <Lisa,> I was just reading through the website. I noticed many Mbuna owners spoke of their fish "flashing." In just about all accounts, the crew attributed this to a high nitrate or ammonia problem. <Or Whitespot, or any number of other things that irritate the gills. Like dropsy, flashing is a symptom rather than a specific disease or syndrome. Think of it as a heads-up that not all is well I your aquarium.> I've noticed some of the Mbuna flashing however the nitrates are steady at 10-20 ppm, ammonia and nitrite levels are 0. I assumed their flashing was due to quirky Mbuna behavior. <It can be. Flashing as a mating behaviour is where the cichlid zooms in front of another, either as a threat or to display itself to a potential mate. Flashing as a result of disease or irritation is where the fish zooms against a rock or some sand, to scratch itself deliberately. In the wild, this behaviour presumably dislodges external parasites, and the fish is doing this in response to a similar stimulus, i.e., irritation.> The only water chemistry challenge I have is increasing the carbonate hardness (I'm adding cichlid salts to partial water changes as you recommended). I religiously change 25% of the water every other week and take a full set of readings every weekend (nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, pH, kH). <Very good. I'd personally do more water changes, at least 25% per week, but if your water quality is good, it's no big deal. But as a reminder to others reading this: the great advantage of buying fish that *prefer* your local water chemistry is you can do big, regular water changes without the expense of modifying the new water each time beyond adding dechlorinator.> Should I be concerned about the flashing Neale - it is not too frequent however I do notice the fish doing it from time to time. <Look to see what they're doing. If they're just darting about, then it's not a problem and likely behavioural. If they're scratching against objects (something fish otherwise avoid, for fear of damaging their scales and mucous coat) then you may have a problem.> Also regarding water chemistry - in both my livebearers and goldfish tanks (i.e. guppies, Plecos, Corys, variegated platys, tetras) despite incorporating crushed coral into the canister filters, the kH will not increase beyond 4 or 5 however the pH has gone up to 7.8-8.0. <I'd leave things be for now. While on the low side for guppies and goldfish, it's fine for tetras and cats. The main thing is that the crushed coral will inhibit any pH crashes. The pH will stay alkaline and probably very steadily around the 7.8-8.0 mark regardless of what happens.> Is there a buffer I can use that will slightly increase the hardness of the water without making the pH exceedingly alkaline? <Don't worry about it for now. Over the long term, see how your fish do. What I'd expect to see is that all the fish are happy, and the pH doesn't change much at all, implying the water chemistry is nice and stable. At the end of the day that's the important thing. At some point, it's a case of diminishing returns.> Looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you so much. Lisa. <Cheers, Neale>


Sudden dying fish advice! 10/3/07 Hi <Hello.> I hope you can help me, am a bit of a novice fishkeeper and after a promising start am slight concerned about the goings on in my tank! <Oh dear.> I have a 35gallon freshwater aquarium, which ive had for three weeks (originally my brothers and kept for 6yrs). It had 5 Malawi's and one Plec and I added another 8 Malawi's, another Plec and 5 red claw crabs (about 2cm each). <Red-claw crabs are brackish water animals, and shouldn't be kept in a freshwater tank. They are also amphibious animals, and keeping them permanently submerged is cruel. Kept properly, they are more like frogs, rooting about on land, but dipping in the water to moisten their gills periodically.> Everything was going fine but then in the last 24hrs both my catfish and the alpha male (a 2.5inch blue zebra) of the tank have died! <Check water quality when two fish suddenly die.> I have checked all the levels and everything is normal. <Define "normal". I'm assuming you aren't using brackish water, so the conditions aren't normal for your crabs at least. More specifically, have you tested the nitrite level? Also, what's the pH and hardness? Malawi cichlids need fairly hard water to do well (at least 10 degrees KH, and a pH around 7.5-8). I don't know what Malawi cichlids and Plecs you are talking about, but 13 Pseudotropheus zebra and two common Plecs such as Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus simply cannot be kept in 35 gallons of water. There is no way water quality will be acceptable for them all. Even a single common Plec needs around 50 gallons of water, at least.> My concern is that, could this be the work of the crabs and should I really get rid of them? The shop said they could live together but now am not so sure <Crabs shouldn't kill most fish, though they will certainly catch and kill very small fish like guppies. But unless you are keeping them in a brackish water vivarium with a sand-bank and wood for them to climb about on, then no, this isn't an acceptable home.> Advice would be most grateful as I don't really want £80 stock all to die off! <Indeed.> Best regards, Lester <Lester, you need to sit back and review the aquarium conditions. A 35 UK gallon tank is simply too small for all the fish you are keeping. What will happen is that the fish will die, one by one, until the aquarium reaches its "carrying capacity". You can delude yourself into thinking the aquarium is fine, but Science doesn't work that way, and until the population reaches a sensible level, fish will keep getting sick and die. For 35 gallons, you should be thinking about, say, one or two Ancistrus Bristlenose catfish along with maybe three cichlids (one male, two females). Nothing else will work in the long term. Hope this helps, Neale>


Mysterious African Cichlid Deaths -- 08/01/07 Hello! First off for you I have a big thank you for the wealth of information I have in the past found on your site! It has saved me many times in the past, and many more times at the very least satisfied my curiosity. For the first time, though, I've been unable to find the answer to my question via the great Google god. I am having mysterious deaths in my African cichlid tank. It's a 75g tank, with a Rena FilStar xp3 filter. It's been running for about 6 months. I used a fine gravel for substrate as a compromise between sand and gravel -- it's probably about 3 or 4 mm diameter. I decorated with some Texas holey rock and a few pieces of driftwood. I've got 2 plants in there that have managed to be tough enough -- one Anubias, and one java fern. Inhabitants: 1 Copadichromis borleyi (4" ish) 3 Labidochromis caeruleus (1"-2") 3 red zebras (2") 4 sunshine peacocks (2"-3") 1 German red peacock (2") 2 Kribensis (3") 1 rubber lip Pleco (2") 4 jacobfreirgi (sp?) peacocks (2") 3 Pseudotropheus acei Water tests show pH 8.2, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and under 20 nitrate. Temp stays at 78F. The problem I'm having is this...every 3 weeks or so, 1 fish dies. They die in the same way. They are breathing heavily, lying on the bottom or up in a corner, no marks on them, no fins shredded, no nothing... but within a day of my noticing that behavior, they die. When I find the body the whole ventral side is generally white. Peacocks die in this manner more so than the Mbuna, or at least it seems like it. *All* remaining fish in the tank continue to act normal and look great. Water tests always look fantastic. I'm out of ideas :(-heather < The yellow type peacocks generally don't do well in Lake Malawi community tank situations. That are easily stressed and come down with internal infections. The yellow type peacocks do better in a species only tank. You can isolate them and treat them with Metronidazole as with a bloated cichlid. It may cure them now, but placing them into the main tank may be delaying the inevitable. I would also look into changing the diet to one high in Spirulina algae.-Chuck>


Blue Ahli - Sad Story. Electric Blue Treated With Melafix -- 06/15/07 I had the pleasure of stumbling onto your site after trying to do some research for something that was affecting my Blue Ahli. (Like that past-tense...?) Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any medication that could help the little guy out, and after 4 days of care the little guy passed on. But, I wanted to pass this information on in case you guys might have a solution and someone finds their fish are affected by a similar problem. I apologize for the large pictures, but I wanted some detail for myself, and didn't have Photoshop installed to reduce the quality/size for you. Nonetheless, here's my story: I put my 80 gallon tank back together (it's been dry for 2 years) about 2 weeks ago and purchased a couple of small Jack Dempseys, two small Green Terrors, and two small Firemouths to start the tank. I also purchased a ProClear 120 Wet/Dry filter to replace my old Emperor filter that I had on there. To start the tank of with some bacteria my local aquatics store offers what they call GO-Juice... it's essentially just the crud they squeeze out of a used fish filter sponge. Works quite well and I've used it before to start this tank off several years ago. Well, the six fish were doing fine, but after about 1 week, I went back to the store and noticed several Africans which caught my eye. Since the store owner and I have known each other for quite some time, I asked if I could trade in my juvenile South American Cichlids and get 4 Africans. "No problem, just get the pH up, and you should be fine." Well, this last Saturday, I traded in my Amazonians and bought two Venustus, one Bleekeri, and a Blue Ahli. In order to get them used to the difference in pH, I performed a drip over a 5 hour period into a 5 gallon bucket that they were in. The pH in Florida is kind of high anyways, from the tap it sits at around 7.8 and the tank was probably at 7.4, so I performed a 15% water change to the tank to increase the pH a bit more during the drip. When I was finished with the drip, (that included taking out 50% of the water after it filled the bucket, and running the drip some more) I put them into the tank and they appeared to do well and seemed to get accustomed to the tank quite well. To aid in waste removal, and since the filter at this point still really hadn't built up the ability to remove ammonia or nitrites, I decided to also add 4 plants; two Amazonian Swords, and two other freshwater plants that have an onion like bulb at the bottom and are long and leafy. It seems on Sunday all seemed to be doing well, and I was quite sure everything was going to be alright. On Monday, I got up in the morning to look at the fish, and I noticed that the Blue Ahli had a white "mark" near the top of his right gill (see attached pic 1) and he didn't eat any of the Cichlid pellets. I didn't think much of it and I went back to the store and asked the folks there what they thought I should do since the fish weren't so happy about the hard Cichlid pellets, so I picked up some Super Soft Frozen Food Alternative by HBH and I also picked up some Brine Shrimp. When I got back to the house, I noticed the Ahli just wasn't going after the new soft tasty looking pellets. Heck... he was not even interested in the Brine shrimp... not one bit! I immediately took one of my 5-gallon buckets and prepared it with a double dose of salt and dechlorinator. I put an airstone in there and then put the poor sap in the bucket. Well, I went back to work for a couple of hours, and then decided to go back to the aquatics store and get their opinion the situation and one of the clerks hands me some Maracyn. Thinking, wow that's pretty stringent, I decided to stop at a PetSmart on my way back home, and listened what the aquatics folks there had to say. They recommended a bottle of Melafix made by API Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. Apparently this stuff is all natural and the aquatics clerk told me, it's what they use when they have problems with their fish. So, I decided to give this Melaleuca based (extracted from Tea Trees) stuff a try first. (Boy... it sure makes the water smell better... let's hope it works as well on the fish) After I put the Blue Ahli in the bucket, he seemed to pep up a bit and swim quite a bit more, so I thought this stuff should work quite nicely then. Tuesday... The Blue seems to be a lot more active, but no improvement in the physical condition. The white area now appears to have some redness in it, it's getting a bit fuzzy, and a patch of it seems to have developed near the poor guy's mouth. Well, I did a 10% water change to the water (since there wasn't a filter attached to the bucket), and re-dosed it with the Melafix and Lake Salt early in the morning. I figured that since he hadn't eaten in 2 days that the level of waste shouldn't be too bad, and I tested the water at 7.8, zilch on ammonia and nitrites... good to go I thought. Maybe this is just a part of the disease's stages... At lunch that Tuesday, I checked the Ahli... nope... seems to be little worse. Still active, but the infection seems to be spreading. I put in a 1/2 dose of the Melafix and a full dose of the Maracyn. I immediately busted out that old Emperor filter, cleaned it thoroughly and was looking around for something to put it on since I don't have an extra tank laying around. So, I found a 69 quart Rubbermaid plastic filing bin. I cleaned it thoroughly and set it up with some bagged aquarium sand I had sitting around (which I washed until the water came up clear) all in a two and half hour lunch period (I'm on Salary ok?!! :-) ). I also decided to stop by at the Aquatics store that evening and get the owners opinion about the Rubbermaid container vs. the Bucket. Well, he wasn't too happy about the fish's condition and he said that I was to use a half dose of this green and yellow capsule. He said the water will turn yellow which is a normal process. Keep the fish in the bucket, keep aerating it as I've been doing, don't change the water, salt it every morning with a normal dose, and bring him water samples. Well, that evening kept a close eye on the water. The temp was staying at around 80 - 81F and the chemicals hadn't changed either... 7.8, 0, 0. Lets see what the poor guy looks like Wednesday morning... Wednesday morning came around... not looking good for the poor guy... quite active, not darting aimlessly, just more active than when he was in the 80 gallon tank. But, the whole right side of his head was now affected! So, I changed 10% water, dechlorinated the added water, added a little salt... not much, and put in another dose of Maracyn. Lunch-time... no change, he seemed to be breathing in and out some skin from his lips now and along with his eye getting a little cloudy from the infection... looked quite sad really. Didn't make me feel good either. Even the water's edge on the bucket had a reddish tinged buildup on it... like his flesh was just liquefying and floating to the top. That evening... not much better. Checked water temp, chemicals... normal. I then had enough and popped in 1/2 of that green/yellow capsule, no more Melafix! Let's see if there's improvement the next morning. Today... Thursday. Woke up... checked the fish. Yellow water, reddish residue/buildup near the water level. Man... I'm not feeling good about today. I called the aquatics store and asked if the owner was around because I wanted to get his opinion about putting the fish down and out of his misery... well he wasn't there and the clerk advised me that he didn't think that the owner would want me to put him down just yet. "Call back in an hour or so... he should be back from lunch." So, I went home for lunch myself... as I was sitting at the computer, I hear splashing from the bucket every now and then. Didn't think much of it... maybe he's just getting restless in that bucket. A half hour later... more splashing. I got up and checked the bucket... he was darting about upside down before I got close to the bucket, and when I stood over it, he stopped. Lifeless. I got a net, pulled him out of the bucket, took my last few pictures (also attached) and was quite amazed with the speed of which this "disease" hit... and the fact that his anal region looked ulcerated...? I'm thinking Mouth Rot that progressed to the insides? I'm not quite sure... The other fish in the 80 gallon... watching them like hawks and they seem to be doing just fine. I make sure not to overfeed them, just trying to prevent The Bloat and excess waste. I feed them once a day now, ever since the Blue got affected by the disease... I was feeding once in the morning, once at lunch, and then at night... small doses. Now, just enough for each fish, like 1 - 2 pellets each. The Venustus are about two inches each, the Bleekeri is about 3 inches long and they are a joy to watch and feed. Just too bad the Ahli didn't have the same success these guys did... Anyways, there's my book and I'm sticking to it. Maybe this story will help some other individuals with a similar issue and hopefully this'll provide a better outcome for them. Do you guys have any insight on this situation? < Your Sciaenochromis ahli is an open water fish predator from Lake Malawi. I suspect that during a fight or being chased he injured himself on something in the tank. The wound got infected and a secondary fungus infection set in. These fish are actually quite delicate as far as these cichlids go. The stress from his injury and the high water temps caused him to probably bloat up. So now you had two problems. An internal and external infection. Although some people swear by it, I have heard that Melafix works better as a general tonic then as an actual cure for most diseases. I would of recommended placing the fish in a hospital tank with clean water at 75-77 F. Treat with both Metronidazole for the internal infection and treat the external infection with a full dose of Nitrofuranace.-Chuck> Other than that... you guys provide a great resource and you've helped me be more aware of treatment methods and medications. Regards, Mark
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