Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on African Cichlid Diseases 7

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 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,

Questions re cichlid pop eye and tank KH level Red Empress With Pop Eye 2/11/09 Dear Bob, < You have Chuck here this time.> I have read your cichlid disease FAQs through Google search and found they are very informative. But I could not find the answer for mine so I am thinking giving it a try by emailing you. Thank you very much in advance. I am a new cichlid lover. I have a red empress (female, 5'') whose right eye appears cloudy and protruding gradually for about one week now, and a red patch on the lower gill (same side). I checked on the internet and saw pop eyes' picture, looked very alike. Now I have put the fish in a 5 gal hospital tank. My questions are: 1) is the tank too small for her? < I usually recommend at least a 10 gallon hospital tank. Most medications have dosages in 10 gallon increments.> 2) I have bought antibacterial (API Melafix) and I also have amoxicillin (for human) at home. I was wondering which one I should use? I heard antibiotics works better, if so, what dosage should I use? < Melafix can be used as a tonic and has been found to be useful in some infections in wild Anabantoids. I would recommend getting some Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. The Metronidazole is effective against Protozoans while the Nitrofuranace is effective against bacterial infections as well as an antifungal treatment.> I tested my tank water (120gal), CH=180, KH=80, pH=7.0, Nitrite=0.2, nitrate=40, ammonia = 0. (My tap water has similar CH, KH and PH.) I have read from some websites that African cichlid need Alkaline water such as KH over 200, pH over 8.0. I was wondering if it is necessary to increase KH level artificially, if so, what product would your recommend? Can I use baking soda? Thank you very much Jessica < The nitrates should be under 20 ppm. This may be part of the problem. Do a 50% water change and treat as recommended. Your red empress is from Lake Malawi and the pH and hardness requirements are not as demanding as the Lake Tanganyikan cichlids. I would recommend a Lake Malawi buffer to slightly increase the pH and hardness. Make sure that you mix the buffer outside the tank and check it before placing it in the tank. I usually recommend adding the newly buffered water when doing small water changes.-Chuck>


Haplochromis Help Victorian Haplochromis With Problems 2/7/09 Hi, Just wondering if you might know what is wrong with our Thick Skin ( Red Tail). His eyes are milky and puffed up and one of them has a white spot on the film of his eye. Regular water changes are being done and the pH levels are about 8.2. His tank mates include 5 females and 1 male & 3 female Lombardoi. Both males are same size and we have yet to witness them being aggressive in anyway, but I don't want to rule it out if there is a possibility that one doesn't like the other. Any ideas as to what we can do to fix the red tails eyes? He is the only one with this condition. Thank you in advance! Matthew & Angela < Your Haplochromis red-tail is from Lake Victoria. The Ps. lombardoi are from Lake Malawi. The Ps. are usually bigger faster, have thicker scales and more teeth that the Victorians. If there was any serious fighting then the Victorians would surely come out on the short end of the stick. Victorian cichlids do not like elevated water temps. Anything over 80 F and they start to get sick. It sounds like you male has come down with a bacterial infection. I would recommend isolating him in a hospital tank and treating him with either Nitrofuranace or Erythromycin. Keep the water at around 75 F. Follow the directions on the package.-Chuck>


All my cichlids are dying Cichlid Tank With Big Die Off  8/10/08 I am so very sorry if this question has already been answered. I did go over them and while there was some that where close I'm not sure if it was actually covered - so here is my problem. I had an African cichlid in a 20 gal tank for like 2 yrs and then my husband bought me a 55 gal. tank and I moved my cichlid in there after the tank was set up for 2 days (sorry I didn't know about cycling at the time). He and a black fin catfish was in there for about a week and then I added 5 more African cichlids, all doing fine. About a week later I added 4 more African cichlids and then a few days later one of them got sick and died, then another and then another and so on. I checked my water and it was fine so I went to the LFS and they recommended cycle and PimaFix and aquarium salt. I added the salt and the cycle and then started the PimaFix as directed, removed the charcoal filter and dose 5 ml to every 10 gal for 7 days then do a 25% water change). Tonight is the last dose of PimaFix and then I change water tomorrow, but my fish are not getting better and more have died. I went from 10 cichlids to 6 but 3 of those 6 are sick. One of them is about to die and another one looks bad but not as bad. Tonight I noticed that my 2 yr old is starting signs. Here is the water levels - pH 7.8, water is soft, nitrites 0, nitrates lower than 10, ammonia below .5. Here are the symptoms -, 1st it starts with a little spot somewhere on the body (the 1st 4 started on their body before the tail fin) that looks like the skin is rotting and it has a like a moss or cotton look around it. Then it starts to attack the fins and they do not eat during this. I have noticed some scratching on the rocks and erratic swimming like darting here and there real fast. I have three fish that have no signs and would love if they would survive and I would love to be able to save my 2 yr old. I don't have an idea what to do and I don't think that the LFS has a clue. If you could tell me what to do. If the worst happens and all of them die what should I do to my tank before trying it again - here are some pics of 2 that are sick now - thanks in advance http://s110.photobucket.com/albums/n93/little_angel81881/?action=view&current=100_0878.jpg  http://s110.photobucket.com/albums/n93/little_angel81881/?action=view&current=100_0887.jpg  http://s110.photobucket.com/albums/n93/little_angel81881/?action=view&current=100_0872.jpg  http://s110.photobucket.com/albums/n93/little_angel81881/?action=view&current=100_0868.jpg 
<After reviewing your photos it appears that you have cichlids from Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is a rift lake where the water is very hard and alkaline. Your pH is OK but you may need to get the hardness up. Many manufacturers sell rift lake salts to increase the hardness of your water and help buffer the pH. If you are using a water softener for your house then don't use the same water for this fish tank. Get the water from a hose bib before it goes into the water softener. Adjust the water in a container first and then add this water to your aquarium when making water changes. Never add the chemicals directly into your aquarium. I would recommend a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filters. The holes in the flesh of the fish appear to be bacterial infections. The fuzzy stuff is a secondary fungal infection that is feeding off the dead flesh that the bacteria are killing off. Now that the tank is clean I would recommend treating with Nitrofurazone as per the directions on the package. It is a serious antibiotic with antifungal properties. I would also add a cup of regular rock salt per 20 gallons of water. This increases the fish's protective slime. After treatment the antibiotics will have probably affected the biological filtration. Add carbon to remove any excess medication and do a 50% water change. feed the fish once a day with a food that is high in algae. Remove any uneaten food within five minutes. You tank needs to develop the bacteria back in the system to convert ammonia and nitrites to nitrates. I use to recommend Bio-Spira from Marineland, but they discontinued the product and the stuff on the shelves is old and probably doesn't work any more. Other products that say they are adding the needed bacteria haven't lived up to my expectations. I would watch the ammonia levels and watch for spikes until the system got back on track. New fish should be quarantined before being added to the main tank to prevent further problems.-Chuck>

Cichlid, pop-eye please assist   8/1/08
Hello, I have read through many of your postings but really feel I need guidance concerning my yellow cichlid. <Fire away!> I set up a freshwater 55gallon tank on July 4, 2008. I am new to cichlids, but I have been spending hours researching online about them. (And finding that I have done SO many things wrong, but 5 out of 6 cichlids are now currently very happy.) I have Mbuna cichlids. I realize I have done so much to my cichlids, but please help guide me to what I should do for my little yellow one. <Ah, the cichlids we call Mbuna run the range from relatively easy to keep, tolerant fish (such as Yellow Labs, Labidochromis caeruleus) through to extremely aggressive, potentially tankmate-killing monsters like Blue Zebras (Pseudotropheus zebra/Maylandia zebra). Contrary to what you might imagine because of their similar water chemistry requirements, you can't throw them all into the one tank and hope they'll get along. They won't. The aggressive, potentially hyperdominant (read: nasty) fish will systematically bully and potentially kill anything it doesn't like.> At first, I bought four 1" to 1 1/2" cichlids, but one wasn't eating or swimming and died within 72 hours. I took that cichlid back to the store, replaced it, and bought 4 more (for a total of 8.) I noticed my tank was starting to smell, so I did a 10 gallon water change which sadly killed 4. I bought 3 more and an algae eater (for a total of 7--I should have just left my tank alone and let it cycle.) <The algae-eating fish is redundant in the Mbuna tank. Mbuna eat algae, and without it won't do all that well. Mbuna are also super-sensitive to poor water quality. While not *quite* as sensitive as, say, marine fish, they aren't far off. You need nitrate levels 20 mg/l or less, and zero ammonia and nitrite. All this recommends against keeping anything as messy (and big) as Plec.> All of the fish were happy for a good week and a half. Then I noticed my little blue one had a white patch on his side, was not eating, and was isolating himself. I thought maybe his fin was torn off, but the next day I noticed it had gotten worse. I did not have a spare tank at that time and was worried that my other fish might have the same infection, so... <The white patch was very likely Finrot or Fungus, and this would be caused by either poor water quality and/or physical damage. Let's recap: clean water has no smell, or if it does, the water should smell sweet thanks to all the plant life. If the tank smells offensive in any way, that's a very bad thing. It usually means there's decay in the tank, e.g., from uneaten food. Mbuna absolutely must not be overfed, and their diet should be biased towards green foods rather than anything high protein. Feed sparingly, from a mixed menu, and not just pellets/flakes. I'd recommend greens (tinned peas, cooked spinach, Sushi Nori) along with whole (i.e., low protein, high fibre) invertebrates like bloodworms and brine shrimp. Now, you also have to have lots of filtration and generous water changes or the water conditions will be poor. I'd recommend a filter offering not less than 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So if you have a 55 gallon system (the minimum for Mbuna in all honesty) you'd get a filter with something over 330 gallons per hour turnover. External canister filters work great for this, but you can also use a undergravel with powerheads at each end of the tank. Read any book on Rift Valley cichlids for more on this topic. Water changes should be 25-50% per week. The more the better. Obviously the fish need hard, alkaline water, so understand water chemistry and manage this aspect accordingly. Again, a book on Malawi cichlids will help.> I treated the whole tank. With Melafix (which seemed to do no good, as I have seen you do not recommend it either) and Pimafix. <Both products may have value as preventatives, but aren't reliable as cures once the infection has set in.> I also treated the whole tank with Jungle Parasite Buddies because I saw the blue one had long stringy thin feces. Now my tank is a wreck. The other 6 were fine, but just stayed on one side of the tank. The blue cichlid got worse by the day and after 3-4 days(?)the fungus/bacteria (that I thought Pimafix would help) had eaten him. <At the moment you're wasting your money. In fish healthcare, just as with humans, you must identify the disease first, and then buy the treatment. You're randomly adding stuff here, hoping something will work. Slow down. It's better to work logically, step by step. So far all these symptoms are fairly generic, and tend to imply a reaction to poor water quality. Stringy faeces can be a symptom of poor diet, Hexamita, and many other things. So let's slow down and try and get to the bottom of things!> That same day my little yellow one started isolating itself on the other side of the tank where the blue one had been and would not eat. <He's being bullied. He has no place in this system.> Its mouth seemed to have white cottony fungus/bacteria on it. <Quite possibly Finrot, Mouth Fungus (actually a bacteria), or plain vanilla Fungus. All three follow on from physical damage. Think of them as the "gangrene" of the fish world. Easy enough to treat using products like Maracyn (in the US) or eSHa 2000 (in Europe). But treating them won't stop them coming back, so if this fish is bullied -- as it is -- and getting damaged, you'll cure one round of infection only to have to deal with again a few days or weeks later.> I quickly bought a 2 gallon tank with a filter, put the yellow cichlid into it, and treated the hospital tank with Jungle Buddy Fungus Clear and aquarium salt, and kept the temperature stable at 80. The next day, I noticed she was getting white cottony growth on her cheeks. <Needs treatment as stated above. Also note that "aquarium salt" is harmful to Mbuna, and known to cause something called Malawi Bloat. Again, any book on Mbuna will explain this.> By the 3rd day, the cottony growth on her cheeks was gone and her mouth looked very good. She was still not eating, and on the 4th day (yesterday) I noticed one of her eyes is bulging a bit (pop-eye, I assume.) I read that it could be from unclean water, trauma, bacteria, etc. <Pop-eye tends to work two ways. If only one eye is bulging, then physical trauma is the likely cause, with bacteria having set in secondarily. If both eyes are bulging, the infection is more likely to be systemic and caused by serious problems with water quality. Either way, treatment with an antibiotic (such as Maracyn) can help, but recovery is often very slow and depends on the fish otherwise being maintained in ideal conditions.> While all of this was going on with my yellow cichlid in her own tank, I have done plenty of water changes to the main tank, and they are SO happy. Nitrites and Nitrates are 0, ammonia is minimal, temperature stays at a constant 80F, ph is staying constant at 7.5 and very slowly raising to the appropriate ph level for cichlids thanks to Cichlid Salt and crushed coral in my 2 filters, and my very soft tap water is now hard and in cichlid range. <Understand this, there is no "minimal ammonia". All ammonia, any ammonia, is bad. Saying "minimal ammonia" is as meaningless as saying someone is "almost pregnant". So, here's at least one fundamental problem -- the ammonia. Mbuna have ZERO tolerance of ammonia, and long term it WILL cause harm. If you have ammonia in the aquarium, then one (or two, or three) of the following is true: [a] the tank is overstocked; [b] the tank is under-filtered; and [c] the tank is overfed. Pick and choose as seems appropriate, and act accordingly.> The Jungle Buddies Fungus/Bacteria medicine said to not retreat until after 4 days. Since it had been the 4th day, and I noticed the pop-eye and all cottony growth gone, I did a very slow and gradual water change in her tank (after checking the ph on both and they were almost identical) using the main tank's water to fill her tank. She seemed fine with the change and maybe a little happier too (aside from not eating and the pop-eye and being weak) so I put her into a small breeder tank inside the main tank while I rinsed her small tank with hot water, then cool water, and used the main tank water to refill it. <Cleaning the hospital tank is pointless if you're killing the filter bacteria as well. Be sure you understand what's going on here: hot water will kill filter bacteria, and the resulting ammonia crisis will stress/sicken any fish put in here.> I put the Jungle Buddies Fungus/Bacteria medicine back into the small tank and put her back in it last night (it says it treats pop-eye as well as fungus and bacteria.) <Oh good.> Her eye is still bulging. I do not see any cottony growth or abnormalities on her anywhere aside from the eye, no appetite, and weakness. (I can't tell if both eyes are bulging, but one is definitely larger than the other and I can see the skin(?) covering over it.) <This does happen with cichlids, and is usually a very good sign that not all is well in their tank.> I'm going to leave my main tank alone for good, but keep checking ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, ph. My question (after my long novel) is what should I do about my yellow cichlid? Should I leave her in the hospital tank with the Fungus Clear (that says it treats pop-eye) for the full 4 days? <Isolate from other fish, yes. Not sure 2 gallons of water is safe, but if that's all you have at the moment then so be it. Long term this fish needs to be re-homed.> Should I leave her in her own tank with just water from the main tank? Should I add some Epsom salt to her tank to help the swelling? <If you want.> I think my main concern is that she has not been eating for at least 5 days and is weak. <I'd be getting worried too. She won't eat if water quality is bad though, so check you have zero ammonia/nitrite first before you even think about offering food.> I am glad that all of the cottony white is gone and her mouth and cheeks look clear. <Good.> Thank you so much. <Hope this helps, Neale.>  
African Cichlids, hlth. and Betta comp.  - 7/2/08 Hey everyone! Hope your having a good day. I actually have two questions about two separate cichlid tanks. First, I have a ten gallon with a pair of Kribensis, two Cory cats, two female guppies, and an Oto. I recently got a male Crowntail Betta (I fell in love when he swam over to me as I was looking at all the "dead" Betta in their little cups). Right now he is living in a breeding net (about 6" by 4") hooked on the side of the ten gallon. I was wondering if I could let him out with the cichlids, guppies, and catfish? <In a word, no. Fancy Bettas are not good community fish. They are too slow because of their ridiculous fins, and so can't feed properly. They can't swim away from nippy tankmates, and they can't swim away from defensive cichlids. So they usually end up getting battered and beaten. You could mix a Betta with Corydoras in their own system, but that's about it. Do also bear in mind Otocinclus are schooling fish that feed almost entirely on green algae and need perfect water quality. So unless you're keeping a group of them in a large tank with strong lighting (to encourage green algae) your Otocinclus will very likely be dead soon. Something like 99% of the Otocinclus sold to aquarists die quickly because they are NOT "mini Plecs" despite what the shopkeepers might say. They are extremely demanding fish, and worse, when they get hungry they parasitise other fish by scraping the mucous from their bodies.> I don't want to put him in an unheated, unfiltered bowl, but I worry the net is still too small for him. He doesn't show any interest in the Kribs when they swim by. Would they damage his fins? <Yes.> My second question is in regards to my large show tank. I keep several adult Haplochromis, peacocks, and Labidochromis (yellow morph) together and everyone gets along fine (all male, I don't want any hybrids). <Good stuff! Do bear in mind hybridisation doesn't occur between (most) genera, so you could keep Labidochromis, Aulonocara, and Haplochromis together with zero risk of hybrids.> I just got an adult albino peacock that I'm going to add. My problem is his eye. He was kept in bad water and one of his eyes stared to rot out. It's doing much better, but is there anything I can do to help it along? <The eye will likely fall out if the damage is severe, but beyond that clean water and (repeated) treatment for Finrot should help.> I saw this fish originally for $60 in my local LFS, and couldn't justify that much for a fish. Later that week, when I went back he looked terrible and they had taken down his price tag. <I bet.> A while later, I went back and he looked a million times better and they had him on sale for $15, so I gambled and took him home. All my levels are at 0ppm, the temp is 78F, and I do 30% water changes once a week. Would more frequent water changes help him? I've never dealt with this problem with any of my fish. <The more water changes the better, but realistically, treating for Finrot with something like Maracyn (in the US) or eSHa 2000 (in Europe) will be more important in the short term because you need to reverse the bacterial infection before the fish can heal.> Also, I've had him for two days, and he is not eating. It took me six days to get one of my haps to eat when I first brought him home and I lost sleep worrying about him. Is there anything I can do to encourage the peacock to eat? I've tried flake, pellets, and bloodworms but he doesn't respond to anything. He's not hiding, in fact he's out in front all the time, he just won't eat. I'm a college student, I can't afford to lose sleep! <Likely will take time to settle down. Live brine shrimp is often a good "bribe" even though nutritionally it is worthless. In any case, treat the eye infection first and don't worry about its appetite. Once it is healthy and settled into the hierarchy in the tank, it will feed.> Thanks so much for your time. Jessica <Happy to help, Neale.> \Re: African Cichlids and a Betta
Re: African Cichlids and a Betta    - 7/2/08
Thank you so much for a quick response. <You're welcome.> As far as the Betta goes, I will keep him in his breeding net for now until I can think of a better solution. <Very good.> I had no idea about the little Otos. I've had my little guy for several months now. Is there anything I can do to increase his chances of survival? I offer him blanched veggies a couple times a week and there is a lot of algae in my tank. Is there a reliable algae eater for a ten gallon system? <Best algae-eaters for small aquaria are shrimps (e.g., Cherry Shrimps) and snails (specifically Nerites, which don't breed in freshwater tanks). Together they do an outstanding job. I have a ~10 gallon planted tank with four Nerites and dozens of Cherry Shrimps and the thing is spotless.> Sadly, my albino peacock passed away last night. Thanks for all the help in regards to him though. Now I know what to do if I ever encounter this problem again. <OK.> One more quick question though. I keep an electric blue ahli cichlid with the others and I've been told that if there are any female peacocks present he will kill the males and hybridize with the females. He is the main reason there are no females in my tank. Is this true? (I don't have room for any girls, but I'd like to someday down the road). <At least some Mbuna will go for anything the same colour as males of its species. Sciaenochromis ahli is well known for this. Even putting aside the fact males are highly aggressive and territorial, you have to keep them only with similarly tough fish that *aren't* blue. Sciaenochromis ahli is best kept in a single-species set-up, one male, multiple females. You'd get to watch their interesting social behaviour as well as get lots of baby fish you can collect and sell!> Thanks again! Jessica <Cheers, Neale.>
My Frontosa, HLLE tissue damage  - 7/1/08 Hi, I wrote you before about my Front, Georgie and his hole-in-the-head problem, and that I treated him with Medizole and Furnace, I then noticed it looked like fungus so I treated him again with just the Furnace, It looked like it went away but his holes didn't look any better, so I then treated him with some medication called Hole-in-the-Head by JUNGLE, and he still looks like this, is there any hope? <To heal the wounds from the neuromast destruction? Mmm, yes... with time, good nutrition, water quality...> ( I sent you a couple pics) I have had him for a long time( we think he is around thirteen years) and he has always been healthy but know I am at a loss, usually when I treat my fish I have good luck if I catch it right away, I am sending you a few pics and see if you can see what you think, Thank you for your time, John Cline <Have seen worse cases remit. Do try feeding Spectrum pellets exclusively, being religious re weekly water changes... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs3.htm  and the linked FAQs files in this series above. Bob Fenner>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: