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FAQs on African Cichlid Diseases 8

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,
FAQs on African Cichlid Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic, Treatments,

Related Articles: African Cichlids, Malawian Cichlids: The Mbuna and their Allies By Neale Monks, The Blue Followers: the Placidochromis of Lake Malawi by Daniella Rizzo, Cichlid Fishes,

Related FAQs: Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Disease 2, Cichlid Disease 3, African Cichlids in General, African Cichlid Identification, African Cichlid Selection, African Cichlid Behavior, African Cichlid Compatibility, African Cichlid Systems, African Cichlid Feeding, African Cichlid Reproduction, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Reproduction,

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

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

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

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

Need help with cichlid     8/15/14
Color Change in Lake Victorian Cichlid
I've aquarium about half year. I like cichlids a lot, I have 5 since I bought aquarium and I bought additional cichlid 1 months ago, but he started change color in bright red on the profile sides. But he eat very well and he's always very active. I'm so worried about him.. Is that skin disease and how to treat it? I attached photos. Thanks. I hope you can help
< Your Zebra Obliquidens from the Lake Victorian basin is a male and the reddish coloration is normal. No need to treat for anything. Chuck>

HELP...fish dead in 3 days... African Cichlids, no data, rdg.     6/8/14
I keep African cichlids and in the last 3 days i have lost half my tank stock. When it first started all the water parameters were good but i did a 50% water change anyway's. Now things seem to be moving even faster.
please help diagnose my problem.
<Need data... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/AfCichDisDiagF.htm
Bob Fenner>
I don't know if i am signed up with you guys any more but my email works also. Here are some pics.
<Nothing attached>

My Auratus Cichlid is sick     3/23/14
My female auratus cichlid seems to be struggling to survive. She is in the tank with a male auratus who has been harassing her attempting to mate but she doesn’t seem interested. She spends all her time getting away from him and is now completely exhausted. She lays in corners hiding and only stirs if i walk up to the tank. I’ve noticed over the past few days that she has stopped eating, and has stopped pooping, and that area has become swollen and red.
<These fish need to be separated. Now>

I’m wondering if there's
anything I can do to make her better? There are 3 other cichlids in the tank and 4 zebra danios. The cichlids eat Omega One Cichlid pellets
and the danios eat flakes. All the levels in the tank are healthy, I do regular water changes (once a week, about 50%) and it’s a 45 gallon tank. Please help! And thank you so much for your time!
<Let's have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichdisf8.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: My Auratus Cichlid is sick     3/24/14

Thank you so much for responding so quickly! I have temporarily elevated her in a large net in the same tank so none of the other fish can get at her, she's resting and in the past couple hours she seems to be feeling a bit better.
I don't have a proper hospital tank and everything is closed for the evening. what would be the smallest safe size of container I could put her in until I can get to the store in the morning?
I don't think I can leave her in the net.
<A floating plastic colander... READ where you were referred. B>

Sick Cichlid
Sick Ps. Acei      12/30/13

I have a mature male 5" acei experiencing extreme difficulties.  He was in a 55 gallon tank, with 5 electric yellows, a female Saulosi,  a neon chiwindi peacock, a sunburst peacock, and a Pleco, and a female mature acei.
I saw this before in a male Saulosi I bought from another enthusiast, for my female, but he started with the behavior after having him only 2 days.
This was over a year ago, and he was never in the main tank, but segregated with the female alone in a 30 gallon tank.  After he started to fail I removed the female and returned her to the main tank.
He starting having a slight "S" curve to his body, and swimming vertically when relaxed.  He would swim horizontally when he was feeding, or actively swimming.  No lesions,  no marks, no fuzz, no patches.  His tail is changing color now, after a month, but I think it's because he balances on it quite often.
I removed him from the tank and started searching the web for answers.
Thinking it was swim bladder related, I didn't feed for approx 3 days, then offered peas, which he wouldn't eat.  I haven't provided any medication.
I've started offering his usual food again, but he will lay at the bottom of the tank, on his side, until I go in to the room, and when he sees me he struggles to swim, and will eat, but can't stay coordinated enough to get much food.  He has been out of the community tank for over a month now, and continues to decline.
I saw this before in a male Saulosi I bought from another enthusiast, for my female, but he started with the behavior after having him only about a week.  This was over a year ago, and he was never in the main tank, but segregated with the female alone in a 30 gallon tank.  After he started to fail I removed the female and returned her to the main tank.  After several weeks of no improvement I put him down.
I had done a 50% water change in the main tank on Xmas day, and today found the female acei dead under a "bridge" and the Saulosi "missing".  Several months ago I lost another mature male acei, with the same symptoms, but I thought he had been injured in an ornament.  Before whatever it was could progress, he was killed by others in the tank.  I did a 75% water change today in the main tank, but didn't clean the filter, an HOB, to maintain beneficial bacteria.
Two days ago I went into my local fish store, to ask for help, they had no suggestions.  Believe it or not though, in one of their mixed tanks they had what appeared to be a acei with the same symptoms, early onset (S shape, vertical swimming).  I tried to explain to the 2nd guy what was happening, and although he agreed the fish was not acting normally, he thought it was because others were picking on it.  I strongly disagreed.  My fish has been segregated for over a month and continues to deteriorate.  The LFS fish was being harassed because of the behavior, but barely if at all even at that, from what I could see.
Help.  I'm at a loss.  Is there anything I can do to help my fish, should I put him down? Kathy
< The Ps acei is a schooling fish that feeds on algae that grows on logs.
Being from Lake Malawi it requires hard alkaline water and water temps in the mid 70's F. Internal problems usually are the result of a problem diet.
This fish should be fed a diet high in algae like Spirulina.  You provide no data on how you have been keeping your fish so I can't comment. Usually fish with internal problems are having problems digesting  proteins or the binders in the fish food. Herbivorous fish with long intestines sometimes have these food elements getting stuck in their intestines and the bacteria in the gut start to break theses blockages down.  Hopefully the bacteria can be inhibited and the blockage can be passed. Medications like Metronidazole and Furanace are absorbed into the fish and can have some effects on these bacteria. Unfortunately they can also cause problems with the fish's internal organs. So I would isolate the fish in a hospital tank and treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Furan 2. When the fish starts to eat again then remove the medication from the water with water changes and carbon. When it is strong enough you can place him back in the tank. -Chuck>
RE: Sick Cichlid
Sick Ps. Acei II      12/30/13

Thank you, Chuck';
He's been on NLS cichlid food since I got him as a juvenile, probably close to 3 years now.  Our tap water is typically hard, and I've keep the water around 76.  Will algae wafers help, any other food like the zucchini I feed
the Plecos? I'll get the meds you've suggested and start them right away.
Thanks!  Kathy
< I personally like the NLS fish food and don't think that is the problem.
The Ps acei is not normally aggressive and may be stressed being a single acei in a mixed Mbuna tank. besides the meds other things that will help will be adding some salt to the tank and doing frequent water changes. Good luck. Chuck>

Red zebra cichlid; usual lack of data      11/15/13
I have a baby red zebra. He is maybe just over 21/2 in long. He has been fine since I got him a year ago when he was a fry. Never had a problem besides him always redecorating lol.
He was fine this morning but I noticed him swimming slow and a lil wobbly so I put some food in to aw if he ate or not and while he was eating he did a complete back flip. He isn't bloated. Or showing any signs externally. He just went to the bathroom and it looks normal.
Tank is
Am. 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0 ( just carried out water change today but it never even makes it to 20ppm)
<No; as in zip NO3? Unusual>
He has been eating Cyclops, rotifer, Spirulina, zucchini, and an occasional bloodworm stolen from a Ropefish.
I have removed him from the tank so he isn't caused more stress. But need to know where to go from there.
Thank you so much for your help.
<Water quality? Tankmates are fine I take it; what are they? Do review what is archived on WWM re Mbuna, Malawi cichlid systems. Bob Fenner>
Re: Red zebra cichlid   11/17/13

It was 0 at that point when I tested cu
<.... what was zero? [NO3]? Not with the use of a canister filter... try another test kit. B>
I had just carried out a large water change few hours before.
The system is a 55 with a canister filter rated for double and an addition 2 job filters rated for up to 55.
I over filter due to the inhabitants mostly being Geophagus. Other than that are four Ropefish an one bicher. None of them are aggressive at all.
The zebra has been getting on great. Before he was in a 20g grow out tank and when I put him in the 55 he was ecstatic. Swimming back and forth and shoveling substrate everywhere lol.
I pulled him out and put him in a hospital tank with brand new water and prime overnight and he seems to be back to normal.
I was doing some reading on your site and was having trouble finding what I needed. And I just wrote cus I didn't want him to die while I was researching. I will continue to read on your site. You guys are an amazing resource. And are greatly appreciated.

Fin deterioration on African cichlids  10/11/13
First let me thank you in advance for the help.
 I have a 180 gallon African cichlid tank with a wet dry filter. pH 8.0, NO3 25,
<... I'd be checking this... And is this measure (supposedly) Nitrogen as nitrate or? I suspect the actual concentration is MUCH higher... I'd check with another test kit; a good one>

 NO2 0, NH4 0.  The fins on the fish have been deteriorating over the last 3 months. Recently, the scales on the head are eroding like HLLE. 
<I see this>
The fish are fed 2x a day New Life Spectrum cichlid blend.
<A fave; fab; what I fed my African Cichlids for years; both from Pablo Tepoot>
  I'm beginning to think there is stray voltage in the tank. 
For equipment there is an Iwaki 70 external pump, 40w ultraviolet uv, Hydor power head, and a chiller.  I tested the tank with a multimeter in the past but didn't get a reading with the multimeter.  In retrospect however the chiller may have been off during the test.  Would the chiller be a viable cause?
<Highly unlikely>
  How would I go about using a multimeter to test this (I want to be sure I used it properly the first time around)?
Thanks again,
<What you have is almost assuredly "classical" metabolite poisoning. I would either ditch the wet dry entirely or modify it, clean the mechanical media... Daily... yes; every 24 hours... Do search, read re trickle/wet-dry technology on WWM. Not appropriate for your setting. Sorry for my didactic-ness this AM. Am running short... as usual. Please do write back if you have further questions, need for clarification. Bob Fenner>

Five Bar Cichlid Missing Bottom Jaw/Fungus Infection (Bob, another Melafix *fail* for your collection!!!)<<sigh...>>   3/25/13
I have a single juvenile five-bar cichlid (Neolamprologus tretocephalus) living alone with 2 Synodontis catfish that are around the same size as him. I believe that mine may have injured his lower law due to his aggression (he likes to bite at rocks, glass, etc.) At first, it was a small injury, but due to my neglect at realising the issue's severity, the injury started growing white fuzzy stuff all over the lower law, disintegrating it and leaving him barely able to eat. I've been treating him with strong doses of MelaFix, but the situation has gotten worse and worse over the last few days. The water temperature is at 78*F, pH is 8-8.2, and nitrite is at 0. After the injury, he has become more and more withdrawn, hiding in a cave most of the time, but he still appears physically healthy besides the mouth area. Any help would be more than welcome, as I just want to know if there is a chance to save him. If not, should I euthanise him? I would only euthanise him if it was the last option though, but he is struggling more and more to eat food.
Thank you,
<To be honest, yes, I'd euthanise this fish. Without jaws, the fish cannot feed. Melafix is, at best, a preventative, and shouldn't be used as a direct treatment for infections once they become visible. Think of it more like an antiseptic than an antibiotic, something you use on a kid with a cut, but not someone who has gangrene (which is, effectively, what Finrot, Fungus and Mouth "Fungus"/Columnaris are). So once you see an infection, use a true, reliable medication like Maracyn or whatever. You'll find 30 drops of clove oil in one litre of aquarium water will create a useful killing bath that sedates the fish quickly, and then kills the fish within a few minutes (but leave the fish in the bath for 20-30 minutes, since fish death is determined as 10 minutes after the last gill movements). Cheers, Neale.>

Skin issue with coral twain reef cichlid. Please help!  12/31/12
I hope you can help me. I have had this wild caught coral twain reef
<I assume you mean Protomelas sp. 'Steveni Taiwan' , also known as the Taiwan Reef Cichlid.>
now for a year and he has always seemed healthy and still does besides this skin issue.
<Yes, I see. Looks like there's some erosion of the skin plus excess mucous.>
As you can see from the picture, he's got a moldy fuzz appearance on his eye as well as forehead, bottom fins, and side. It started with just the discoloration on his side and now has progressed to what you see. The tank parameters are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrates and nitrates. Ph is 8.0. I do 20 to 30% water changes every 2 to 3 days. I use 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon,
<Why? You do understand that careless use of salt causes problems for Malawian cichlids; do read up on Malawi Bloat.>
water conditioner, Malawi buffer,

<Assuming this is Malawi (or Rift Valley) salt mix, then you shouldn't need to add the tablespoon of salt. If the buffer is simply pH 8 buffer, then you are creating a problem. The pH of Lake Malawi is around 8, that's true, but your job is to raise carbonate and general hardness through the use of an appropriate mineral salt mix; do read here:
The Rift Valley Salt Mix is cheap and easy to make at home.>
stress zyme
<To the tap water?>
and ammonia neutralizer when needed.
<Ah now, this is worrying me. Are you adding ammonia neutralizer to tap water? That's fine. But if you have non-zero ammonia levels in the aquarium and think adding ammonia neutralizer will help, then you have a problem.
Ammonia in aquaria should ALWAYS be managed through filtration, typically, biological filtration.>
It wasn't always like this as up until 3 weeks ago, I always had .25 ammonia.
<Then your tank is overstocked, overfed, and/or under-filtered. It's also why your Protomelas is sick.>
The tank has been setup for 1 year. I have searched everywhere and have no clue. Anyone  I have spoken to has never seen anything like it.  Please respond.
<Protomelas inhabit extremely clean water. They are sensitive to poor water quality. They are also rather shy and peaceful, so you MUST NOT keep them with aggressive fish like Mbuna or they will be stressed. I'd bet all the money in my pockets that the problem here is environmental: the tank is too small and/or under-filtered (hence the non-zero ammonia) and that you've stressed this fish through the wrong water chemistry (see above) and poor water quality and perhaps the wrong tankmates. Review, and act accordingly.
As for medication, a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone works wonders with cichlids, ideally, used in your quarantine tank (which I presume you have if you've bought an expensive wild-caught cichlid like this). Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Skin issue with coral Taiwan reef cichlid. Please help!    12/31/12
Thanks for the reply. After reading over my question again I realized I put that I use a tablespoon of salt per gallon. This is incorrect. I use a tablespoon per 5 gallon. It's regular aquarium salt. Not cichlid salt. Should I not use it?
<Absolutely not; at least, not by itself. Aquarium salt (also called tonic salt) is sodium chloride. This is the major salt that makes seawater salty (there are actually dozens of other salts in seawater, though in smaller amounts). Rift Valley cichlids are specifically adapted to the minerals of the lakes; in the case of Lake Malawi, it's calcium salts that are the majority, not sodium salts like sodium chloride. The real issue is the way they effect osmoregulation, which is the process whereby the fish get the right balance of minerals and water inside their cells. The wrong sort of minerals outside the body, or the wrong amount of minerals, and the fish either dehydrates or gets continually "flooded" with water (kind of like a fish drowning, if you can imagine such a thing). If you go back and read the Practical Approach to Water Chemistry article, you'll see that there's a "salt mix" that includes baking soda (which is sodium bicarbonate), Epsom salt (which is magnesium sulphate), and marine aquarium salt mix (which includes both sodium salts and calcium salts). The amounts you need of each is very small, teaspoon or tablespoon quantities per 5 gallons. So the mix costs pennies a month. But the benefits for your Rift Valley cichlids will be substantial and long-term. Don't change all the water chemistry at once, but over the next few weeks, as you change out 20-25% of the water, replace with new water that has this Rift Valley salt mix added. Cheap, easy and effective -- not often I get to recommend something that's so simple!>
Also, it's a 75 gallon tank filtered by an Eheim pro 350 filter. There's currently 16 fish in the tank. 2 yellow labs,
<Labidochromis spp. should be okay with Protomelas, but watch them.>
1 short body Flowerhorn, 1 blood parrot,
<Neither of these belong in here; remove them ASAP. Their behaviour is somewhat milder than the Mbuna, especially the Blood Parrots which can be easy targets for fin-biters like Pseudotropheus zebra>
3 red zebras,
<Pseudotropheus zebra; potentially extremely aggressive and incompatible with Protomelas spp.>
1 red empress,
<Protomelas taeniolatus; another peaceful species.>
<Nimbochromis venustus; another peaceful species.>
1 red jewel,
<Hemichromis bimaculatus; doesn't belong here. A West African rainforest species that does better in soft to medium-harm, around neutral water. Not especially aggressive outside of breeding.>
1 blue Melanochromis, 1 albino Melanochromis and 1 regular female Melanochromis,
<Melanochromis males can be psychotic, especially Melanochromis auratus; Melanochromis johanni is somewhat less aggressive and could cohabit with Protomelas in a large aquarium.>
1 socolofi,
<Pseudotropheus socolofi; not as psychotically aggressive as Pseudotropheus zebra or Melanochromis auratus, so potentially viable with Protomelas given lots and lots of space.>
1 female balloon Flowerhorn,
<See above; simply doesn't belong here.>
1 peacock.
<Aulonocara spp. should not be kept with most Mbuna, especially Pseudotropheus zebra and Melanochromis auratus. Usually wind up battered or simply so stressed their lifespan is appreciably shortened.>
The ammonia neutralizer is only put in once a week after a water change added directly to the tank.
<Why? Do review water quality management, i.e., filtration and stocking, and thereby ensure ammonia sticks at zero. Do understand "false positives" for ammonia are possible with certain types of tap water (containing chloramine) even after treatment. Does tap water register an ammonia level of zero before and then after adding water conditioner? If there is *no* ammonia detected in *both* those tests, but you *do* detect ammonia in the aquarium, then filtration and/or stocking are wrong.>
All fish were added at the same time when they were babies so they have all grown up together and there is literally almost no aggressiveness besides for the 2 yellow labs chasing each other.
<Very surprised, to be honest, but every tank is different. That said, your Protomelas is clearly stressed and that's why it's making extra mucous (the white stuff) and collecting in "scars" or "pits" on the head (cf. Hole-in-the-Head and Head-and-Lateral-Line diseases). In any event, your aquarium sounds overstocked to me, and will be once some of these fish reach full size -- an adult Flowerhorn needs a 75-gallon tank just for itself. Hmm… what else… do get and read something on cichlid-keeping by the likes of Paul Loiselle or Ad Koenig. "The Pocket Professional Guide to Cichlids" by David Boruchowitz is another good book. If you're on a budget, "Fishkeepers Guide to African Cichlids" by Paul Loiselle can be bought on Amazon.com for a measly $0.03 plus shipping; while a bit dated in style and content, it covers all the basics and Loiselle really knows his stuff. Once you've decided you want to get serious about cichlids, then find "The Cichlid Aquarium" by Paul Loiselle; not an easy read and not for beginners, but if you know fishkeeping moderately well, this is the absolute bible on cichlid-keeping and cichlid-biology. Out of print for years, but on Amazon for under $20.>
<Welcome, Neale.>
Re: Skin issue with coral Taiwan reef cichlid. Please help!    12/31/12

My tap water has 0 ammonia,
<Before and after adding your water conditioner of choice?>
as well as the 75 gallon tank. I know the test is correctly measuring ammonia as I have 5 other tanks and a couple are at .25 at the moment.
<Which implies the livestock are producing ammonia faster than the filter can process it (i.e., convert it to nitrite and then nitrate). Review stocking density, filter capacity and feeding regimen, then act accordingly. One of these factors, perhaps more than one, is wrong.>
I have been using the Aquino ammonia neutralizer in the other tanks to make the ammonia and nitrates less harmful until it comes down so I guess I just got in the habit.
<Easily done.>
You are correct, I should not be using it if I don't need to.
<It's harmless in itself. But if you have persistent ammonia in your aquaria, the problem is with water quality management. So rather than adding chemicals, establish what the problem is (why there's more ammonia in the tank than the filter can handle) and adjust the tanks accordingly.>
Now forgive me for questioning you as I know you have many more years of experience then I do.
But if the setup currently works and everyone is getting along meaning the 5" male and 4" female Flowerhorns and 1 parrot then why remove them.
<Because the Flowerhorns won't be 5 inches for long and the Parrot won't be small for long either. Flowerhorn Cichlids are hybrids as you probably know, so their precise adult size can be difficult to predict, but it will be around the 10-12 inch mark (males tending to be a little bigger than females). Remember that the overall size of an animal (i.e., its mass) increases as the cube of any changes in length. So while a 10-inch Flowerhorn may be only twice as long as a 5-inch specimen, it's mass will be EIGHT times than of the 5-inch specimen, and therefore it needs EIGHT times the oxygen and produces EIGHT times the ammonia. Make sense? In any case, a Flowerhorn singleton needs no less than 75 gallons, and a pair (inasmuch as pairs exist with these very aggressive fish) will need twice that amount of water, if not more -- and even then there are no guarantees the male won't decide to murder the female one day.>
They keep to themselves and don't bother anyone or the Taiwan reef.
<These fish are all still young, by the sounds of it. Hmm… you know the game of Russian Roulette? Let's say you play it once, and survive. Does that make it a safe game? Same thing here. Because your young cichlids have so far gotten along doesn't mean they will do indefinitely, and the odds are NOT in your favour. You have a poor combination of species that reveals little understanding of what particular cichlids need, i.e., not enough reading. Mixing Aulonocara with Mbuna is a classic beginner's mistake. You may have come across Mary Bailey in your reading on African cichlids. We've got a trio of her articles here at WWM that you'll find useful:
Mbuna occupy a very specific niche that makes them both fun to watch and difficult to mix with other cichlids. You may decide to try out your own combinations and wait to see what happens. That's fine, but do be aware of the problems, and when you see signs of stress or damage, be prepared to make adjustments. Do understand that mixing Aulonocara with Mbuna, for example, may not result in the immediate death of the Aulonocara, but rather the Aulonocara tend to live shorter, less happy lives than if they were properly kept.>
The issue you see on the Taiwan has always been there since I bought him a year ago, besides for the eye part. You say it's excess mucous but there is no white color to this. It's the same color as the purple scales. It's bumpy and mold like looking.
<Yes. Do see previous e-mail with suggestions on medications. But the immediate problem here is stress of some sort. More the Protomelas species you have to a suitable "peaceful" Mbuna community and it should recover with little if any need for medication.>
It looks like fungus but the same color as his body. Thanks again!
<Welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Poor Electric Yellow Lab Girl 11/9/12
Hi Crew! I have been coming to your website for many years now, and just love it! Thanks for that and I hope you can help me. I have a 90 gal Mbuna tank that has mixed cichlids in it. All the popular ones, I guess you'd say. I have a current resident number of approx 50 of those that I can see. They're breeding like crazy and I have a "rock cliff" with lots of cracks and cranny's for babies. But that's a whole other email. I actually have a more pressing problem. I have a poor Elec Lab and a Mixed Blue female. I have had them since I got the tank 2 yrs ago. They're my original inhabitants. The Elec Lab has always been healthy although timid and the blue mutt did suffer from a bad bout of hole in the head when she was about 1" big, but was always healthy after, as well. Both mothers were prolific breeders. Often carrying about 2 or 3 weeks after spitting. I let nature take it's course in my tank. Basically it's sink or swim in there. I do an 80% water once a week and make my own rift lake buffer salt. Chemistry is always near perfect. The situation is both moms are wasting away. My blue's head is half white and both mom's cheeks are so sunk in. Their bellies are so super skinny. They are swimming and behaving as they normally would. They eat a little more then they usually do. But they just aren't recovering at all. My Lab has been like this for a month and has blood under the skin between her upper lip and my blue just isn't gaining anything. They both have always recovered quickly after a brood. Are they just done? Has old age or breeding stress claimed my poor little girls? Is there anything I can do at this point? Is there really any point to saving the ole girls? Thanks for any help you can give me.
<Assuming these fish are with males, and that the females don't outnumber the males by at least 3 to 1, the stress of breeding is very likely a key factor here. In the wild females wouldn't be carrying eggs all the time. They'd be able to choose when to breed, so they'd be able to spend some weeks between broods feeding themselves. Remember, while carrying eggs they can't eat, so if they're always carrying, they're never feeding. Isolating the females after breeding is very important, and while the "sink or swim" makes sense in terms of controlling the number of fry, it makes no sense at all if the females can't remove themselves from the males. Your tank is small -- by Mbuna standards -- so the fact females can't avoid the males is likely a major problem. So, what you want to do is isolate the females, medicate with Metronidazole, and feed them well for a couple months. The alternative is what you often see in "generic" Mbuna tanks -- females dying prematurely because of the stress, so you end up with just males. Cheers, Neale.>

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

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

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

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

African Cichlid Tumor?    10/8/12
Cichlid Tumor Treatment

Hi Crew! I’m hoping you guys can provide some advice or insight regarding a sick African cichlid- “Bumblebee” (Pseudotropheus crabro) that I have had for almost 4 years now. He is just over 5 inches in length.
Tank Info- 75-gallon freshwater tank; Marineland Emperor 400 HOB filter; 2 airstones powered by Whisper air pump; Tahitian moon gravel/sand which replaced pebble gravel over a year ago. AquaSafe water conditioner used during all water changes.
Tank mates- 1 acei cichlid (approx. 5.5 inches in length) ; 1 electric yellow (3.5 inches in length); all 3 cichlids bought within 2 weeks of each other and were at similar sizes at purchase; no other tank mates ever.
Bumblebee has generally been in the middle hierarchy of the tank as the acei is the most dominant tank inhabitant and the electric yellow as the least dominant with no major incidents- just the usual territorial/chasing behaviors exhibited by all 3 over the years. There are also a number of Anubias plants in this tank that have been in the tank for just over 2 years. The system has been quite stable with no major environmental concerns outside of a submersible heater that went bad early in 2011 and water temps dropped for a few days before I noticed.
Water quality is tested at least monthly with 15-25% water changes completed every 2-3 weeks or more frequently on some occasions. I feed daily Hikari Cichlid Gold medium floating pellets and Omega One Super Color small sinking pellets simultaneously to help with aggression during feeding- no changes over the last couple of years in terms of diet.
In July of 2012 I first noticed 1 then 2 small “pimples” developing on Bumblebee’s nose between the eyes (see first image). No other concerns noted at that time- no changes in activity; appetite still great, etc.. Water quality was tested and was in range of the tank norms (pH 7.6; 0 Ammonia; 0 Nitrites; 5-10ppm Nitrates; 81.5 degrees F). I have always added a low amount of aquarium salt during water changes (1 tbsp per 10 gallons or half the recommended dose due to the plants in the tank) but I increased the salt to the recommended 1 tbsp per 5 gallons at that time hoping that the pimples were just the result of scratching against décor or an aggressive tank mate. No changes observed whatsoever with tank mates to date.
Over the past month the 2 pimples have begun to grow quite rapidly with no other changes noticed in activity except that the bumblebee has been the least dominant tank mate since mid-August. Appetite has been great/no changes in activity levels.
Last Monday (10/1) Bumblebee began flashing against the tank decorations rubbing the large tumor-like growth and removing some of his skin showing the inner pink ulcer/tumor. I immediately removed him to a 20 gallon hospital tank with that change in his behavior. Water quality in the 75-gallon tank was fine upon testing (pH 8.0; Negative for ammonia and nitrites; 5-10 ppm nitrates; 82.2 degrees F)
I have treated him for the past week with API’s T.C. Tetracycline powder- 2 packets per day due to 20 gallon quarantine tank with 25% water changes every 2 days.. I used that treatment for 6 days with no results (see other 2 images attached).
Bumblebee continues to flash against the corners of the tank and has debrided some of the ulcer/tumor- there are no décor or substrate in the hospital tank only a heater, airstone, and AquaClear 50 HOB filter.. I removed the tetracycline and it’s brownish water discoloration by placing activated carbon in the tank and have done significant water changes to the hospital tank.
Many of the FAQ’s on WWM that seem similar to my cichlids issues have suggested the use of Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole. The products in my area containing those ingredients that I could find this weekend are the API products “General Cure” and “Super Ick Cure”. I added today to the clean hospital tank the “General Cure” for a 20 gallon treatment since the active ingredients are 250 mg Metronidazole and 75 mg Praziquantel per packet.
I am attaching a couple images to clarify what this looks like because this seems to perhaps be a tumor issue as opposed to a bacterial, fungal, or parasitic condition.
The ulcer/tumor is quite large now and looks like it might be spreading just below his right eye and my other concern is that it might be growing inside of Bumblebee’s mouth and I can see a slight pink growth near the top of the mouth (but this is difficult as you can imagine to see definitively). There do not appear to be any changes in his breathing at this time.
Appetite during and since the completed Tetracycline treatment has been very minimal but that seems to be the norm with antibiotic use as I understand.
I appreciate your input and perhaps someone has had some experience in this type of concern- if not I will continue to run the current course of treatment and if unsuccessful I will enjoy the time remaining with Bumblebee unless it causes him distress as I’m really concerned about what could be growing inside of his mouth and how that might impact his quality of life.
Sorry for the length here but I wanted to describe everything I could to aid in your input- to clarify my questions now are as follows..
1. Any thoughts as to the epidemiology of this growth?
< I have had this same situation before and was lucky enough to have a fish vet friend of mine do a biopsy and take a look under a microscope. It turned out to be cancerous tumor.>
2. Should I continue the “General Cure” treatment over the next 4-6 days?
< Probably not effective.>
3. Should I simultaneously use the “Super Ick” powder with the “General Cure” to combine 3.6mg malachite green and 60 mg Nitrofurazone per packet along with the Metronidazole?
< I would recommend that you surgically remove it. I have done this before with mixed results. I would place the fish in a wet towel and hold him still. Take a single edged razor blade and trim the tumor flush with the contour of the head. be careful to only cut into the tumor and not into the head tissue. Treat the wound in a hospital tank with a Nitrofuranace type of antibiotic. It may grow back. Watch for secondary infections.-Chuck>
Thank you so much for your time in this regard!
Mark King

African cichlid dying... Malawi bloat? Beaten      9/4/12
Hello there. I have a red zebra cichlid who is suffering from what I thought was Malawi bloat
<Mmm, no; don't thinks so>
but I am unsure and now think the treatment may have exacerbated the problem.
She is a female red zebra in a 55 gallon African Cichlid set up. I have had her for about two years since she was only about 3/4"! She is now about three inches long, has made it through two sets of offspring with the dominating male of the tank, has made it through multiple brutal attacks by the males in the tank
<Not this one though>
 where I thought she would dye <die>
because her fins were all gone.. ultimately, she is generally a very tough fish!! And my favorite fish in the tank! I currently have 8 fish in the tank. I want to increase the number to decrease aggression, but every time I add new fish, they are killed within a couple of days.
<Too late to add more here>
About two weeks ago I added three new fish. Two of the new ones were attacked to death and killed within the first week. I of course removed them immediately and followed with water changes. Yesterday morning, my red zebra wouldn't eat. I was thinking maybe she was holding fry again but I couldn't see into her mouth and her jaw didn't look extended, so I just kept an eye on her. By the afternoon her fins were all frayed and she had some white areas on her body that looked like scales had fallen off. She was hovering near the top of the tank, stiff looking, and smaller fish were swimming up to her and nibbling at her. She wasn't even fighting back or trying to swim away. I removed her, put her into a 5 gallon bucket filled about 2/3 with tank water and 1/3 new water, with a heater and bubbler. By the evening, the white patches were spreading, she was laying on her side at the bottom, breathing hard, and her chest area on her underside looked very swollen. I did some research and thought her symptoms sounded like Malawi bloat
<... no; this fish was beaten to death. A 55 gallon isn't enough room for what you have in mind, Mbuna need space, habitat to get away from each other>>

 so I ran out to the store to find some Metronidazole or Clout. Of course my LFS did not carry anything useful... all I could find was Tetra Parasite Guard which was the only product containing Metronidazole but unfortunately it doesn't say what the percentage or mg of the ingredients are. I put a half tablet into a cup of water, let it dissolve, and added it in. I also added 1 tsp Epsom salts as I read it is helpful to clean their bowels if it is truly Malawi bloat.
This morning when I left for work, she seemed okay. She was at least sitting up right instead of on her side, but the white patches were spreading more and were kind of slimy looking. By the time I got home from work this evening, the water was very cloudy, and she has some areas that almost look like blood blisters on her fins and body. I can even see some small vessels. She was also floating upside down.
I filled a clean 5 gallon bucket with new water, moved the heater and bubbler, added some more salts, no antibiotics this time, and once the water got to temp, moved her over. Within minutes she was back on her side instead of floating upside down. She looks terrible though.
I'm very upset because she is my favorite fish and I would be sad to see her pass. At this point I don't know if there is something else I can try in order to help save her or if it is better to just humanely euthanize her :(
Any insight would be great
<As stated, I don't see much promise here... maybe the removal of this one fish will "re-set" the social dynamic in this tank, allow all to live together for a while longer. Bob Fenner>

Help my cichlids suddenly sick & dying 1/24/12
I am hoping that you guys can help me. I have a 125 gallon fresh water Cichlid tank. I have had a cichlid tank for several years. I have just restocked my tank about 3 months ago because my old fish service killed almost my whole tank of adult beautiful cichlids by changing my underground filter
<A poor choice for filtering these systems>

this past spring by sterilizing my tank. It has been recycled & I have had about 15 small healthy fish for over 4 months. It is powered by 2 separate Marine land 360 filters,
<Ahh, much better>
3 power heads with an underground filter.
I had 15 small 1.5-3 inch various African cichlids all healthy. The new fish servicing company who cleans my tank talked me into buying there 17 much larger (5-6 inch)

various cichlids because they wanted to start a salt water tank. I agreed, since my tank was so big and appeared half empty.
<Mmm, better (by far!) to start all small and have grow up together... Now you have Mbuna wars!>
This took place about 2 ½ weeks ago, all went well with the move. His fish were acclimated to my water, I had done a 40% water change about a week before and rearranged the tank the night before. All the fish appeared healthy for the first week. Then last week all of a sudden 4 of his fish had white covered over one of their eyes. I started treating with Melafix
<Worse than worthless. Might have killed off your bio-filter. See WWM re this product by API>
& added more African cichlid salt as per directions. However the next day a couple of other fish suddenly developed ulcer looking sores on their bodies, I have had several other fish die with white patches on their heads mostly & others have developed rather extensive ulcers in a matter of 12 hours. When the other fish were noted with ulcers I started treating with both Melafix & Pimafix.
The cloudy eyed fish look a little better, however many of the fish that look healthy are not eating along with the cloudy eyed fish. Also 2 of the cloudy eyed fish have developed ulcer looking lesions on their head by the cloudy eye. Please help me figure out what is going on, what is it? & how do I treat it?
<Can't tell what it is from the data proffered, hence, no way to suggest a treatment>
Do I continue Melafix & Pimafix?
<I would never use these period>

My water parameters were good & remain good. Ph 7.5-8.0, Nitrites negative & Nitrates 10. I have been doing water changes about every 3 days since the health problem.
<A good reflex defensive mechanism>
I have also attached pictures to help give you a better picture of what is going on with my fish.
<... I see the scarring... looks to me to be from aggression>

Thanks so much. I am anxious to hear your response. I would love to save my fish & I don't want to add the wrong medicine & stress them out any further.
<There may be a secondary (decomposer) mechanism at play here, but my best guess is the new, larger fishes are simply killing each other off principally. Best never to add to established African Lake Cichlid communities. Bob Fenner>

Having babies has upset my tank and now I have two dead cichlids. Need advice.
Lake Malawi Tank Deaths 1/5/12

I started with 4 different cichlids in a 50 gallon tank. The fish had been very healthy and survived a move from Kansas to Texas spending a day in a 10 gallon bucket. My fish included:
Male Metanochromis auratus - Very territorial
Male Pseudotropheus Socolofi - Easy going but gave nothing up to the Metanochromis if bothered.
Female Metriaclima Estherae - Was fish who had babies
Female ? Nimbochromis Venustus - Keeps to itself - not aggressive -
Doesn't have a blue face so I think it's a female.
I didn't know anything about cichlids when I bought them for my son, I just thought they were pretty. I didn't know what I was getting into. I learned that the fish were very territorial, but they seemed to divide up the tank and mostly got along. I have had the fish for well over two years. The issue started after my female Metriaclima had babies. I didn't realize she was pregnant. She would disappear for long periods of time and then just show up again. Anyway, babies showed up in the tank one day. I tried getting the babies into another tank, but they were so tiny and hiding up inside my rocks and I couldn't get them out without fear of killing them.
I thought mom must have been defending them because she was suddenly flailing on the bottom of the tank one day. I got her out and put her in the other tank but couldn't save her. She looked like she had been beaten up as her fins were all messed up. To make sure it was not a tank issue, I did a water change, etc. Nitrate was a bit high but came down after I did the water change. The rest of the levels looked fine.
Yesterday I noticed that my male Pseudotropheus was not coming out for food but eating from the bottom of the tank. He is always building a nest down under the rock and stays there most of the time, but not coming out to eat was new. This morning he was at the top of the tank in a vertical position looking beaten up. I immediately moved him to the other tank. But I don't think he's going to make it.
I have about 4 babies that have survived and they seem to be growing and doing well. I'm concerned that I have two dead fish. I assume my aggressive male is killing off the other fish, but I'm concerned I'm missing something and maybe something else is going on disease wise. I'm still going to try and get my babies out and into a smaller tank, but that leaves me with only two fish left of my original four. Any suggestions? Am I on the right track or should I be looking for something else.
Thank you, Christine
< Lower the water temp to the mid to low 70's. Add some dither fish like giant Danios, or other large schooling fish. This should lower the aggression levels.-Chuck

my African cichlid has two perfectly round balls on the bottom fin 12/11/11
<Be quiet! If the other cichlids hear about it, they'll want some too! But seriously, sounds like Lymphocystis. Quite common when Perciform fish like cichlids aren't kept in perfect conditions. What's the aquarium like? How big? What's the water chemistry? How low do you keep nitrate? That's nitrate with an "a" -- I assume nitrite with an "i" is zero. A photo would help with the diagnosis. Cheers, Neale.>
<<Egg dummies? RMF>>
Re: my African cichlid has two perfectly round balls on the bottom fin 12/11/11

My filter had went out I bought a new one the fish is in a tank all alone what medicine should I go buy
<If this is Lymphocystis, there's no cure. It'll go away by itself in a few weeks or months. Lymphocystis is a viral disease. The swellings are usually some sort of off-white to cafe-aut-lait colour, and may have a rough texture. Do look online for photos. Another possibility is some sort of Finrot, quite common when fins are damaged and water quality is poor. There are many medications for this; consult your retailer, but avoid the "preventative" type medications like Melafix, Pimafix, Stress Coat and so on. You want a reliable antibiotic or antibacterial. Again, look online for photos of Finrot.>
Lol u r a trip needed that laugh
Glad I could amuse. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: my African chiclid has two perfectly round balls on the bottom fin 12/12/11

<<Egg dummies? RMF>>
<<<Possibly, Bob, but those should be obvious yellow-white oval shaped markings on the anal fin, rather than balls. Totally out of left field, but I did also think about Ophthalmotilapia ventralis, a species with males that have very weird egg-shaped structures at the end of their pectoral -- not anal -- fins. Anyone keeping this expensive, rarely-sold species would know they had one, surely? Cheers, Neale.>>>
<Ah, one never knows. C and B, B>
Re: my African chiclid has two perfectly round balls on the bottom fin

It is such a beautiful fish he is blue and black
<Doesn't really narrow things down, I'm afraid. Photo? Cheers, Neale.>
Re: my African chiclid has two perfectly round balls on the bottom fin

Yes this fish was expensive ! Money isn't an issue we u by things you enjoy and yes I knew what kind of fish I bought it is my second one !
<A photo will help. Meantime, review Lymphocystis, Finrot, egg dummies on male Pseudotropheus, and what Ophthalmotilapia looks like. Cheers, Neale.>

Copadichromis azureus with Long Stringy Feces 10/27/11
Hello team!
The background (apologies if it's too much detail): I currently have 3 tanks, 75 Gallon, 55L Gallon, and 20L Gallon, with Lake Malawi Cichlids.
My 55L gallon (the only tank with a problem fish) has been cycled for a couple of months. I perform 2 25%-30% water changes per week. I am running an AquaClear 70 filter with a filter-max III prefilter (along with a 36" bubble wand across the back for increased water movement, aeration, and aesthetics. Water parameters are normally 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrate, and 0-20 Nitrate (depending on how close it is to the water change).
I add 1tsp of Instant ocean, 1 tsp of Epsom salt, and 1 tsp of baking soda to maintain GH and KH and my pH is a steady 8.2. My feeling is this helps to replicate the conditions in Lake Malawi. I use Prime (2 drops per gallon) as a dechlorinator and to bind with the ammonia released from the Chloramine in my municipal water. All additives/conditioners are added to a 5-gallon bucket with tap water that matches tank water (~80 Fahrenheit) during water changes. Water is removed from the tank via a gravel siphon with hose and venturi attachment for the sink.
Food includes: New Life Spectrum Cichlid formula, Hikari sinking carnivore pellets, Spirulina 20 flakes.
Feeding schedule: 2-3 times a day. Different foods during the day (perhaps pellets in the morning, flake in the afternoon).
Tank mates: 4 Labidochromis caeruleus (sex unknown), and one Synodontis eupterus.
Problem fish: 4.5 inch male Copadichromis . He is a very strong blue and otherwise healthy. He eats well, especially the Spectrum Cichlid formula, and Hikari sinking carnivore pellets (which is fine as the flake is mainly for the Yellow Labs). However, I have never seen him have a "healthy" feces. It is always long and stringy.
When I noticed the issue, it was a white long stringy "poop." I assumed it was intestinal parasites, so I treated with Jungle (now Tetra) Tank Buddies.
I treated the whole tank in case this was widespread. I treated twice in 48 hours with a 25% water change in between (per the directions). I have not seen any worms protruding from the fish's anus while inactive. As a side note, the largest male lab seems to have gotten a bit thinner in the face (but nowhere else), so I think perhaps he had some sort of irritation to his gills cause by flukes.
I followed up with Jungle Parasite Clear fish food per the directions.
It's now several weeks later, and he continues to have long stringy feces; however, they are not white.
I am concerned this is a sign of some sort of health issue, and I would like to address it before it's too late. He appears otherwise healthy and active, and I'm looking forward to introducing three females that are currently under quarantine (will be moving most of the labs to the 75 gallon at that point). I'm nervous about adding the females and moving the labs if his health issue is contagious.
I have another Copadichromis (a pet store hybrid) in the 75 Gallon who has normal feces with the same feeding schedule, so I'm not sure it is entirely dietary in nature.
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
< Your fish is fine. The water temp is a little high for Lake Malawi. I would suggest lowering it to 75 F. In the wild this fish is found in the mid water column feeding on plankton and doesn't get much algae directly.
The additional fiber of the Spirulina flakes are probably making up a larger portion of the diet than the sinking pellets.-Chuck>

African Chiclid
Red Spots on African Cichlid 10/24/11

I was wondering if you have any idea what the red spots are on my cichlid if they are dangerous to it and if so how to cure it.
Thanks Ben
< You have some sort of Lake Malawi cichlid. It is possibly a cross and the red spots could be normal coloration and not a disease at all. If he is acting normal without clamped fins or showing any discomfort then I would just make sure the water is hard and alkaline, and the nitrates are under 20 ppm. Add a little rock salt to the water and he should be fine.-Chuck>

Re: African Chiclid
Red Spots on African Cichlid II 10/25/11

The spots just appeared a couple of days ago and they look like they are raised bumps
the only thing is he's not really eating. the ph is 6.0 but it always has been and the nitrates are fine
Thanks Ben
< Raised bumps are not part of this cichlids normal coloration. The fact that he is not eating and raised bumps means we might have an internal infection. This fish does better in hard alkaline water. Long periods in acidic water may have affected the immune system in your fish. In a hospital tank raise the pH to at least neutral and treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Furan-2.-Chuck

red sore on head with scrape & a white dot on left fin of African cichlid
Africa Cichlid Care 10/21/11

Hi...my name is Kim & I have a 21 month old African Cichlid that has been staying at the top of his 10 gallon tank for the past 2 days or so. Today I noticed he has a red sore on left side of face & what looks like a circle, as if a scab would have fell off. Also, a white dot on the left fin & redness under same fin. Did notice a red line on top of body, on both sides. His mouth looks bigger to me, noticed him gasping once & last night, as I turned out the lights, I heard a big splash! I just did a 25 percent water change. Prior to this, the pH was 6.2 (which has been for a long time & he has been fine), the nitrite was 0, alkalinity was 0, hardness was 75 & the nitrate was 20-40 ( yesterday it was 20). My test kit does not include ammonia. He is usually in his cave, (which, I'm hoping, he may have just rubbed his face because he is getting big), or he is usually picking up the gravel & moving it around, his name is Hades. Yesterday I had added a bit of distilled water, since it was getting low & I have been sick, so I am about a week late doing the monthly cleaning & 50 percent water change. I also just added the 5 ml amount of Stress Zyme+ & a teaspoon of AquaSafe, which are the only chemicals I ever use. I feed him flakes every other day, but got confused & may have fed him a small amount 2 days in a row, didn't feed yesterday, fed today but he didn't eat. He is my only fish & part of my little family. Can you please help? I can't even eat or sleep. He has had me scared in the passed & always pulled through. I always have used distilled tap water, but if I have to clean tank & do another water change tomorrow, is it alright to use the water you buy in the stores? Thank You!
Kim & Hades
< There are a couple thousand species of cichlids from Africa so African Cichlid can mean many different kinds of cichlids with different requirements. I assume you are referring to a rift lake cichlid. Cichlids from Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika require hard alkaline water. They are pretty tough and can probably handle your distilled water treatment but would do better with water that is more like the waters they come from. If your tap water is in the alkaline range then start by doing water changes with treated tap water. This should bring the pH up into the alkaline range. Add a teaspoon of rock salt to the tank too. This will increase the body slime and help fight off the bacterial infections you are seeing. If no improvement is seen in a week then treat with an antibiotic like Furan-2 or Myacin.-Chuck>

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

Dying Tropheus duboisi 6/30/11
Greetings Crew! I write in at a loss as to what is killing to my Tropheus Duboisi. I currently have 6 (down from 8) young adults ranging from 3 to 3 1/2" in a 55 gal tank with lace rock and a 3 in DSB for just about a year.
Last Thursday I noticed that one had died (without my permission). So after a minor panic attack I tested the water and did a 15% water change. The only variance from my normal water readings was the nitrates (1ppm) were a little higher then usual which come to find out that my Pleco was not eating the algae tabs so they were rotting on the bottom. After removing the Pleco and changing the water and sucking up the leftovers I figured that I had the issue solved till another one died on Saturday. As of Monday they weren't eating so I tested the water again and found the nitrates were .5 ppm, 0 nitrites and chlorine, KH 150, pH 7.5. So not sure what else to do I removed all the rock and did a thorough cleaning and changed 50% of the water. As of this morning only 3 will eat, 2 have no interest in food and one is way pale sitting on the bottom looking like its about to expire (again with out my permission). I have 8 other tanks ranging from 10 to 125 gal all running with various Rift Valley Cichlids that are eating and not dying. The only thing I have done to the tank is add another basket of crushed coral to the Emperor 400 filter I have on it to raise the pH up a bit but I did that several weeks ago. As far as fish food I use Omega One algae flakes and kelp flakes. Kind of at a loss as to what I should do?
When I took the dead ones out they weren't bloated or chewed up, with out being a vet I didn't see anything abnormal. Would having that uneaten food in there cause that much of a disturbance that they would stop eating altogether? Should I just keep doing 10-15% waters changes every couple days? What would prevent them from eating or at least trying to eat beside swim and breed its all they have to think about. if only our life was that easy :)Thanks Paul
< There should never be left over food in a Tropheus tank. Feed only enough food so that all of it is gone in 5 minutes. Let some algae grow on the rocks. Tropheus have very long digestive tracts. It is easy for a problem to develop in such a long gut. Everything else looks fine. The rest of the Tropheus could be treated with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. Once they start to eat again you are fine.-Chuck>

bald patches, but not sores... 5/16/11
Love the site, I browse it every time I have a question.
<Ah good>
On my issue though, after a few minutes of searching I didn't find anything matching my fishes symptoms.
I have a female turquoise peacock cichlid (she is in a 6' 120 gal Malawi all peacock/hap tank). She was bought as a male for an all male tank, but turned out to be female.
<I have kept, and currently have Aulonocaras as well>
I realise she is likely stressed as one of two females in an all male tank (I've tried to rehome them without success) but I don't think that is the cause of her symptoms as the other female looks fine.
She has bare patches of skin on her body, where it looks like she has rubbed her scales off. She doesn't flash any more than any of the other fish, so I don't think its caused by excessive flashing. The patches are not red, bounded by red, or rubbed raw thru to tissue. She is skinny, but not so's anyone not "fishy" would notice.
She eats well and swims fine. She's not as active as the others, but I figure it's because she needs to hide a bit for a break from her tank mates.
<The third "strike"... some one/s is/are bothering this fish here. That its missing scales, is skinny, and "needs to hide" calls for re-moving this fish to elsewhere>
I've had her for over a year now and after a few parasite treatments in the beginning I kinda gave up on it, thinking it was just some weird thing she did at night. However, a year later, I have another fish who is skinny, though again, not so much that anyone but an aquarist would notice. No bare patches though. I have noticed a bit of flashing, and one or two instances of head shaking over a few weeks time. This causes me to rethink the worms/parasites issue, unsuccessfully treated previously. I also read that it might be fish tuberculosis. I see now I should have pursued it further back then.
Your thoughts please? It's so hard to diagnose fish. Also, whatever she has, being in the tank a year leads me to believe that, even though they show no symptoms, the other fish all have to be infected as well?
<Pat, what you so well describe is very common in keeping these types of fishes... the "odd fish out" trends to poor condition, behavior and ultimately perishes. This is NOT an infection, nor pathogenic at all, but a social phenomenon... The only real solution is to move such "Beta" fishes, keep them apart from the "Alpha" ones. Bob Fenner>
Re: bald patches, but not sores... 5/16/2011

Thanks very much for your reply, Bob - its a relief that its not parasitic/infectious and endangering the whole tank.
I will keep on trying to rehome her, and in the meantime, pick up a smaller tank that I can relocate her to.
WEBSITE PROBLEM: Not sure if you know or not, but when I visited your site today, it was reported as an "attack page" and its very difficult to use it, and I'm sure newcomers would simply quit.
<Yes, thank you... we are "working on this" feverishly.>
<<Is one of the rotating banner ads... we're trying to isolate/determine which...>>
thanks again
<Cheers, BobF>

Salt Treated Tank 5/6/11
Good Morning Crew,
I am happy to say this is the first time I have had to write in regarding poor fish keeping on my part. I recently set up a new 55 gal tank in my basement and much to my surprise during the spring thaw we had all sorts of water problems coming up through the floor and walls in my basement.
<No fun for sure>
During my panic to try to save the rest of my tank stands I neglected the new tank because it was not in dangers way, which is no excuse but it happens. After the danger was over and started the clean up I realized that the heater and filter had not been plugged in for a couple days and the 2 out of the 3 Aulonocara Lwanda that are in there had what looked like a white fuzz on them. So I did a 40% water change and added some aquarium salt (1 tablespoon per 10 gallons) and turned the heat up to 80 degrees.
Left it run for 3 days and did another 40% water change and treated with salt again. The fungus its gone but one of them has a bad cloudy spot on his eye which I doubt will ever go way but I am hopeful.
<Will likely go away in a few weeks time>
This weekend I will be doing my regular maintenance without adding the salt.
<Mmm, rather than "Aquarium Salt", see Neale's formula here for these Great African Lakes fish:
I am getting a breeding set of 3 4"-5" Mpimbwe Frontosa
<Need more room than this...>
pretty soon and I would like to put them in this tank. How soon should I wait before I can move these fish around?
<A few weeks>
And when/if I do move them should I do almost a complete water change or will the salt have no lasting effects in the tank?
<I'd change the "saltiness" out over time... no more than 50% changes in a week>
<Bob Fenner>
Re: Salt Treated Tank 5/6/11
Thanks for the fast reply! I should of looked into what the salt was going to do to the water but I needed to treat these fish with something other then harsh chemicals.
<Mmm, well, actually, combinations of metals and non-metals (salts) can be very harsh indeed>
Thank you for pointing that out to me. I know that the Frontosas should be in a bigger tank but I have 4 Synodontis multipunctatus in my 125 gal that from what I have read can interrupt cichlid breeding and I have high hopes to get them to spawn.
<Perhaps another system? You don't need that sofa! Cut that bed in half length-wise! Shower in the sink and fill up the tub! Cheers, BobF>
Re: Salt Treated Tank, African Cichlid Repro./Breeding 5/6/11

Believe it or not I have had this discussion with my wife and she feels that the tub should be off limits. No sense of imagination I say.
Should of seen the look on her face when I first said that a 55 gal was too small. I might have to put my Aulonocaras in the 55 with the Synodontis.
<A better use of space; yes>
They take to<o> long to grow
<Lots (daily) water changes and frequent (several times daily) small feedings...>
and color from fry and I'm running out of floor space for grow-out tanks.
On a different note I have a 72 gal bow front tank that currently holds 12 Tropheus Ndole Bay that I am trying to get to breed, so far they haven't spawned yet (not for lack of trying on the males part). Is it safe to let these release them on their own in the tank?
<I would not... IF you're desire is to optimize/maximize "output" you'll need a separate grow out system>
There is to much rock work in there to try and catch the holding females for me to even think about trying as well as the stress it causes on the whole system.
<Mmm, well...>
I also have a 90 gal tank that holds 12 juvenile Tropheus Ikolas, 12 Eretmodus cyanostictus and 4 Cyprichromis Leptosoma with a gravel substrate. I would dearly like the Eretmodus to spawn but I am afraid that there is <number> to <again> many other fish<es> in the tank as well as the wrong kind of substrate (sand I read is preferred). What do you think the odds of successfully spawning and the survival rate of the fry would be?
<With a bit in the way of provided habitat: http://www.cichlidae.com/article.php?id=222 easily enough>
Thank you
<Velkommen, B>

Is my Melanochromis sick? Reading 4/27/11
I bought "pretty" a month ago or so. We did our water change and now she continues to be a top swimmer by the filter area. Why is this?
<Mmm, most likely trying to avoid some "alpha" organism>
She never swam or stayed at the top of the water, she was always a bottom swimmer or hiding out in a cave. She was rubbing herself on the rocks then the other fish started to do that too.
<Could be indicative of a parasitic situation, or nothing. I take it you didn't quarantine your new/incoming livestock>
We did a 50% water change and added chemicals to the water for Ick and all of that. She is acting weird to me. Any suggestions?
Thank you
<To read, more in hopes of discovering what might be wrong here environmentally and give you insight as to the data we're looking for, as you don't mention water tests, the set up, foods/feeding, tankmates...
Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichdisfaq5.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Is my Melanochromis sick? 4/27/11
Thank you so much, Bob. Sorry for not including all the details. I'm at work and only had a quick minute to type that up.
I really appreciate you and your forum.
Right, we started w/ a few fish now we are up to like 15 in our 60 gallon tank.
<Fifteen... of what?>
Didn't quarantine all the other fish when we added the new ones one by one.
Thanks to your site though, I have been reading a lot about things and other folks questions/answers and so on. I now know much more thanks to your site!! Yes, I need to get a kit to test the water. I was thinking maybe the ph is not hard enough still.
<pH, perhaps not high enough, along w/ hardness>
The other fish are no longer "scratching" since we did the water change and treated the water for Ick and chlorine.
<... w/ what?>
It's just weird since she is always hanging out now by the two filters/pumps that are hanging in the back of the tank. Never did that before and was never scared of anyone either. She would chase some of the other fish at times and so on.
<Keep reading. B>
Re: Is my Melanochromis sick? - Fish details and pics for u
<Have deleted your pix... we ask that such be limited to hundreds of Kbytes...>
Okay on lunch break. Here is a list of my fish. See photo's too. Maybe to help me figure out what some of them are?
<This mix is incompatible and way too much for the 60 gal.s of volume>
We have all African Cichlid's with the exception of 2. We have 1 South American Convict and 1 Tropical Tin foil barb
2 Electric Yellows
2 Metriaclima Estherae (Red Zebra) - orange fish
1 Melanochromis Chipokee - the one I think may be sick
1 Convict Cichlid - stays to itself
1 Genus Henucgrinus
1 Tin Foil Barb (Orange fin) - the cichlids try to eat him sometimes and have taken bites out of his scales so that is why he looks like that. :(
1 Tiger Oscar
1 Mbuna - (blue fish)
1 Metriaclima Callainos?? Or is this the Petrotilapia, or the Pseudotropheus/Metriadima? - the purple dolphin looking one & the caramel one
1 Bumblebee
1 Albino Pink -don't know real name light pink with red eyes and gold around it. Looks like the Red Zebra but Albino pink
1 Turquoise one that's like the Genus Henucgrinus but not spotted, bright though. Not in the pics it was hiding
1 Algae Eater - the Cichlids ate its eyes off but still living.
Treated the water with a bottle of Ick treatment and water conditioner. The Ick is called Quick Cure
<... Formalin... too toxic... may well have "killed off" your bio-filter bacteria. See WWM re this as well>
fast relief for Ick and protozoan parasites by Aquarium Products, the other water conditioner is called Aqua Safe by tetra Aqua. I have used them before never any problems. Due to the scratching I treated the water. We never seen any white spots at all on any of the fish. I just panicked.
Thanks, Bob
Re: Is my Melanochromis sick? - Fish details and pics for u
So no luck on the determination of what fish I have? Did u see the pics?
Did I get most of the right? - Oh I see you only can have a few. I have reattached 1 photo only.
And you state that this mix is incompatible?
<See WWM re each species>
Why is that cuz of the Convict in there? Or other reasons? And you are saying that we need at least 130gallon maybe for the amount of fish in there as they will outgrow the tank persay? <per se>
And what does this mean? <... Formalin... too toxic... may well have "killed off" your bio-filter bacteria.
<See WWM re>
Is that why the fish tank already smells even though we just changed the filters And changed out the water by 50%?
Where is this that u are asking me to go to? See WWM re this as well.

Cloudy mess... trouble ahead

Re: Food? 4/27/11
And due to our mix, what should we feed them? We give them Cichlid Gold, B. Shrimp and Cichlid pellets. All of them eat all of this and I do not see bloat at this time.
Re: Is my Melanochromis sick? -Apologies 4/27/11
And, I just wanted to say, Sorry, Bob. I just now went to the home page and actually read the tips on asking the questions and things you guys ask for BEFORE sending in questions. I will make sure I do that going forward.
I just got so caught up on wanting to know all the answers from the pro's I didn't think. Plus, being at work makes this kind of hard. I will do this after work from now on as well.

Cichlids Dying Rapidly-- 03/20/11
Cichlid Tank Die Off

Hello. I have a 90gallon cichlid tank. I am running 2 Fluval filters a 405 and 305. I have sand from home depot and about 70 lbs of live rock and couple lbs of other rock. I also have a Rena air 400 for air supply. my pH is around 7.8. Nitrates are higher around 60-80ish, nitrite is 0 and ammonia is 0. I have 25 African cichlids currently from yellow labs, peacocks, scats and few others. I have never had and problem with fish dying until the last few weeks. I purchased a 4 yr old Calvus from a friend and seemed fine. The next morning I woke up and found 3 fish dead.
I immediately brought him back because I figured he killed them. They had no bite marks on them or anything noticeably wrong. Over the next couple of day I lost another 5 cichlids all were fine the day before and found dead with nothing wrong with them. It has been 2 weeks now since anything else has happened.
What could of caused the death of 8 fish in little over a week? Could the calvus had brought some sort of parasites to the tank? I keep the salinity around 1.008ish brackish. I lowered it a little thinking maybe the salt was burning their gills please help. Thanks Adam.
< Nitrates become a problem at anything over 20 ppm. Nitrates are less toxic but they are still very harmful to your fish at these very high levels. As your fish died the levels of ammonia and nitrites continued to rise and added to the problem. The new fish could not handle the nitrate level and died pretty quickly. The salt was not helpful, in fact probably inhibited the FW bacteria needed to convert the ammonia and nitrites to nitrates.-Chuck>
Re: Cichlids Dying Rapidly
Cichlids Quickly Die 3/21/11

I was able to scoop the dead fish out right away and my ammonia levels and nitrites never changed from 0. None of the fish that died were new either the tank has been set up for little over a year now. So does more salt make the nitrates higher? I am unclear about the last sentence sorry. Thanks for the fast response
< The high nitrates are the major cause of the tank crashing. The new fish could not tolerate the excessive nitrate levels and quickly died. When they died the ammonia levels had the potential to spike. This only adds to the stress. The rift lakes are not brackish. They are hard and alkaline. Salt increases the slime coat over the skin and gills. This may have made your cichlids more tolerant of the high nitrate levels. salt does not increase the nitrate levels. -Chuck.>
Re: Cichlids Dying Rapidly
Cichlids Dying Rapidly III 3/22/11

There were NO new fish added that died. And I am unsure how long the nitrites had been high for because I had never tested them. They are still high. There are still 25 cichlids and there have been no problems for about 2 weeks. I don't believe nitrates had anything to do with this because they are still high and always have been. Most people are. The ammonia and nitrites never changed.
< There are two different scenarios, sick fish or sick tank. When a fish is sick the pathogen usually only affects old or weak fish that become vulnerable to disease due to stress. A sick tank, one that water conditions are not favorable to keeping aquatic organisms in an optimum level is a sick tank that stress fish. When fish are stressed then they are vulnerable to organisms detrimental to their overall health. Nitrates in the 60 to 80 ppm is a problem. It may not have been a problem in the past but it is one now. Losing 8 fish in a week would be very rare due to a single disease. It is a sign that something is wrong with the tank. You may live in an area with high nitrates in the tap water due to living in an agricultural area where fertilizers have leached into the groundwater. Check the nitrates of your tapwater. If they are less than 60-80 then start to change the water to bring the nitrates down. You asked the question and this is the best answer based on the information you have provided. I would like to recommend the book "Enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings. this book will help you with all aspects of cichlid keeping.-Chuck>
Re: Cichlids Dying Rapidly
Cichlids Dying Rapidly IV 3/24/11

So the calvus may have contributed to the start of the overall health problems is that what you are saying?
< The nitrates were already very high. The additional fish elevated ammonia, nitrites and nitrates to the aquarium water. When you added the new fish it just added to the problem and the levels just reached a toxic level with the addition of the new fish sooner than if you had not added the new fish.>
He bothered no one and he was gone after the 1st day because I thought he killed 2 fish but 6 more died after he was gone.
< Big calvus can be killers if they are breeding and defending a female in a shell or protective cave. If the calvus was a killer you would have seen very obvious aggression towards the other fish.>
Nitrates out of my tap are 0 tested them and it is also the law you can get sick from nitrates if you are to constantly drink water that has them.
< There are limits to how high the nitrates can be in domestic drinking water. >
I have done several changes and nitrates have not changed.
< Your tap water is zero and the aquarium water is in the 60-80 ppm range of nitrates. A 50% water change should have cut then in half just by a matter of dilution. Something in the tank is contributing to the excessive nitrates. This week clean the filters and change 1/3 of the water. Next week vacuum the gravel and change another 1/3 of the water. Dead fish, uneaten food and decomposing plant matter can increase nitrogenous waste.
Also feed the fish once a day and only enough food so that all of it is eaten in 5 minutes. Over a couple of weeks you should see a decrease in the nitrates.-Chuck>

African Cichlid injury
Lake Malawi Cichlid Injuries 12/14/10

Hello! I have read through as many of these as I can and I think a few seem have come close to answering my question, but I want to make sure so that I do not mistakenly neglect any needs of my fish that may jeopardize it's health. I have an electric yellow male African cichlid and a smaller brown cichlid. They were once in separate tanks because they are both highly aggressive, although the larger yellow fish is much more so. The second tank was damaged in a move and they are now in a 20 gallon partitioned tank together until the new 50 gallon tank arrives. Now that they are in the same tank, they both have been healthy despite their cramped living conditions. Last week I came home to find the brown fish some how escaped and was on the side of the yellow fish. They were not bothering each other, but the startling thing was that the yellow fish was laying on the bottom of the tank in the rocks gasping. It stopped gasping once I moved the other fish back to it's side, but it remained laying on the bottom of the tank for four days with little to no movement. I was certain it would not make it. Then today, it began swimming again and it is clear it has quite a bit of fin damage. It appears that the brown fish must have been nipping at the yellow fish, although I did not see that happen. One other post I read suggested that neurological damage can occur when a fish runs into the side and it may take several days to recover. I cannot be certain this is what happened, but now that the yellow fish is back to swimming, I wanted to know if there are any specific measures I should take to ensure its recovery? Thanks! Sincerely, Tamara
< I suspect that something startled the tank and both fish responded by attempting to jump out. One made it to the other side and the other probably hit its head on the top of the tank and suffered some trauma. Look for signs of fungus on any damaged areas. Keep the water clean. Treat with Furan-2 or Erythromycin if any fungus starts to appear.-Chuck>

Fish out of water 9/13/10
Hi! I have a 3-inch African cichlid in a 10 gallon tank.
<Overstocked, I'm sure. What sort of cichlid are we talking about? Hard to imagine any three-inch Mbuna doing well in 10 gallons. Of course not all African cichlids are Mbuna, but for some reason a lot of people equate them.>
I was cleaning his tank last night and he was in a bowl while I was cleaning. After the tank was clean, I left him in the bowl with a towel over it for a couple of hours so the water would have a chance to get to room temperature. I left him alone for those 2 hours so I could go to the store and he was on the floor when I came back. (He jumped from the bowl onto my desk, then onto the floor). He was still breathing, but there was no water around the bowl, so he must have been there for a while. I picked him up with the net and put him in the tank and he swam around a little bit, but he's been laying on the bottom of the tank, still breathing. It's been about 14 hours since I found him and I've tried to leave him alone and not stress him out.
<By now, I'm guessing he'll be fine.>
I do check on him every hour or so, except when I was sleeping. He hasn't had much food (I was gone on Saturday and couldn't feed him till yesterday and I only gave him one meal) and he can't make it up to the top of the tank to get his food. I'm not sure how to feed him or what I can do to make him better. Please help!
<There's not much you can do either way beyond watch. The use of a slime coat supplement like Stress Coat would be a plus, but otherwise just wait and see. If you see signs of infection, you may need to treat against Finrot, but I wouldn't do that pre-emptively, wait until there's reason to do so. As always, make sure water quality is good and that the temperature is right for the species concerned. Obviously water chemistry should be optimised, but don't make any sudden changes because this fish is already stressed, and even "improving" things could make him even more stressed.
Cheers, Neale.>

My African Cichlid, lack of data, reading 9/11/10
Please help. My African Cichlid is acting funny. I am not sure what kind of cichlid it is. But, today I noticed that it is resting at the bottom of the tank, and seems very scared. It's fins are kind of close to the body, and the tail fins a tight together. They are not spread apart like they normally are. It seems like there may be a couple white spots on the fins, but I am not sure if this is normal or not. This cichlid is usually very active swimming with its mate. All my other cichlids are just fine.
<What species?>
But a couple of them scratch them selves on the rocks (including its mate, and I think it used to do the same).
What may be wrong with it?
<What water quality tests/gear do you have?>
Is there anything I can do to help it?
<Where, when in doubt, water change>
I attached a photo of the cichlid. as u may be able to see how its tail fin is all together and how is it laying at the bottom of the tank. It does swim around a little, but seems like it is having troubles doing so.
<History of adding livestock, freshwater foods, anything else here? Read:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

what's wrong with my yellow labs?
Lake Malawi Cichlids With Mystery Deaths 8/25/10

I have a tank of 25 Mbuna including 3 yellow labs (2m/1f)
ammonia/nitrite/nitrate all good
<ammonia and nitrites should be zero. Nitrates should be under 20 ppm.>
ph, temp, hardness all good
<pH should be well above 7. Water temp should be in the mid 70's F. Water should be hard and alkaline.>
I had a random Ps. demasoni death a week ago. He was hiding and wouldn't eat or come out of his spot. The next day I found him, well I found his spine - the fish ate him to the bone after he died. Didn't know how he died A few days later I found out my female yellow lab was holding. I didn't know who it was from - I had 2 yellow lab males.
A few days later my yellow lab male wouldn't move out of his hiding spot or eat or come out. The next morning he was dead.
Thinking maybe my labs were being harassed (because the female was holding?)
I put the remaining female and male in their own 20g tank (same water, filter, gravel) so it was not stressful and it was already established. My male started acting similar to the way the other male did before he died so I thought I better take him out
Its only been 24 hours, but the male isn't eating, He's breathing heavy, rarely moving and laying on his stomach/side. He is weak and exhausted.
He looks fine. His color is good, and there are no signs of aggression or white/black/gold flakes on his body, he looks physically normal
What are your thoughts?
< Too much food or the wrong kind of food. Feed only enough food so that all of it is gone in a couple of minutes. They should be fed a food high in vegetable matter. No earthworm flakes or foods like that. Look for something with Spirulina in it.-Chuck>

African Cichlid - bosses fish - dying. HELP!! 8/5/10
Hi - my boss had a tank full of healthy cichlids before he left for vacation last Thursday.
Friday of last week I noticed the larger yellow one hiding in the corner.
It does that sometimes when the smallest one decides to go all bitey.
<Sounds like your boss has some work to do establishing a healthy community tank. If fish are attacking one another, there's something wrong. His fault, not yours, for making poor choices in terms of aquarium residents.>
Anyway - he's still there and he looks BRUISED all on the inside! His tail even looks like it has blood in the end of it by the fins. He has no open wounds, no major "puffing" except where it seems blood has pooled.
<Could very easily be haemorrhaging or simply damaged. Finrot commonly follows on from physical damage. The sick fish needs to be isolated and then treated with an antibiotic. A tank divider can work in the short term
-- not a breeding trap, too small! -- perhaps until your boss gets back.
Use an antibiotic to help the fish recover. Lowering the temperature down to 22 C/72 C may also help by cooling their ardour a bit.>
These are the CEO's fish, any idea what I can do to help them?
<In terms of just adding a magic potion -- nope, not much will suddenly make aggressive fish nice again. It sounds like the bully has decided to kill this weaker fish. One or other will need to be removed. Your local fish club may be able to help; if you're in a city, see if your local club can come rescue this fish. A pet shop might take the fish, but I wouldn't bank on it. Euthanasia is an option, though not a desirable one.
Unfortunately a lot of these Malawian cichlid office tanks are put together rather unwisely, and even if the fish are fine for a few months, eventually something goes wrong. If there's a contract for maintaining the tank with the aquarium designers, perhaps they can come help. If your boss created the tank, he clearly needs to review the species stocked and act accordingly.>
<Good luck, Neale.>

New 330L tank with Cichlids
Stressed Out Lake Malawi Cichlid Tank 8/2/10

Hi, I just acquired a tank with about 8 Cichlids of which one is an Albino.
Water Stats below:
Amm = 0
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = 5
pH = 7.4
Hardness = Unknown
I use Seachem Prime, but will be getting a water conditioner suited to cichlids this week, as the LFS in my area (all 3 of them) do not sell products specific for cichlids.
I have the lights on at most 3 hours per day - no plants (except for silk), no driftwood, about 25kg limestone.
I have a large external canister filter, but I am unsure if it contains carbon as I have not cleaned it yet as when I got the tank the person who brought it did not leave the water in the tank, but only the media and some poo in the gravel, so I had to replace the water completely. I conditioned all the new water but I imagine it would have gone into a cycle of how big I do not know, so I left all media in there to assist with the cycling.
I left the tank for just over a day and collected the fish. It has now been two weeks and most fish look good, there is what appears to be some fighting, but I have a feeling the Albino Cichlid is injured. Since I got him his appearance has not changed much, and not owning Cichlids previously I am unsure if anything is wrong and how serious. I have attached a picture.
His fins are very ratty and his tail fin is not that great either. Overall he is not very attractive, but he does have bursts of energy. The main thing I am very concerned about is he is always at the top, so much so you can see
his body bobbing above the water. I have been doing weekly water changes of around 10 - 20% and I have bought a heap of limestone (as mentioned above), added some Epsom salt (3 teaspoons only to a container first then gradually introduced). The others do chase him a bit, but they all chase each other, and it seems they are playing most of the time. I am just really concerned about the gasping, none of the others are doing it.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Thank you Teresa
< Albinos are typically weaker than normal colored fish. I suspect that this one is getting picked on and has a corner refuge picked out where he sits and takes a beating from the other fish. Floating plants, plastic tubes etc.. provide hiding places near the surface away from the territories of the meaner fish below. Keep the water at 73 to 75 F to keep the cichlids from wanting to breed and this should reduce the aggression.-Chuck.>

Sick Malawi cichlid 7/29/10
I would appreciate your help with this one. One of my cichlids has developed a series of cysts on both sides at the base of her top fin.
<I see this in your images>
The tissue on both sides is being destroyed and looks like it will eventually create a hole at this site as it progresses. This is one of my most colorful fish, so I would like to save it, if possible. He is eating well and appears to be suffering not at all from whatever this is. He lives in a 125 gallon tank with about 40 other cichlids.
<Mmm, of what species mix?>
The water tests fine and there are breeders in the tank, so I don't think it's the water. I have enclosed pictures of the fish and close-ups of the growth[s] as clear as possible. Many thanks for your help. JBH
<I would move this fish to a separate treatment system (use two nets to catch it), and treat it w/ Nitrofuranace... Can't tell "what" the specific cause/s might be from photos, your lack of information on water quality, but this should stop this from progressing. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick Malawi cichlid 7/29/10
Thank you. Unfortunately, it died.
<Ahh, sorry to read/realize. Sometimes these sorts of (apparent) injuries become systemic, bacterial et al. involvements, that can bring about death quite quickly. This and your other fish appear healthy otherwise. BobF>

Hello, bulging side Af. cichlid 7/24/10
I have a 15 year old cichlid African I believe. She has just started developing a bulge in her side and the tail is very warped to the right side. She still has a great appetite but seems to have trouble swimming properly! I checked your site but couldn¹t seem to find an exact similar case. Please help!
<Hard to say without a photo, Christopher, but at 15 years old it's very likely this is probably "old age", what biologists refer to a gerontic growth. There may be a tumour, benign on otherwise, pressing against the abdomen. Or perhaps there's simply a skeletal deformity of some kind. Unlike mammals, fish grow throughout their lives, but in captivity they can live longer than in the wild, and sometimes the growth of elderly specimens becomes screwy. Fifteen years is a very good age for a Pseudotropheus cichlid for example, which would likely live less than 5 in the wild. Because they don't live to get so old in the wild, evolution hasn't worked to suppress such developmental problems. In any case, if the fish is still happy and feeding, I'd not worry overmuch. Cheers, Neale.>

Protomelas taeniolatus still flashing 7/22/10
As I was working on the 55gal tank I was keeping a eye on my 72 with the Protomelas taeniolatus female that had been flashing and scratching her head on the gravel and I saw her doing it again, this time with a little more vigor. So I checked the water parameters again and found the following results nitrites and chlorine at zero and the nitrates at 10 ppm. The water for all my fish tanks come from the same source and none of my other cichlids are showing any signs of stress. Water conditions were my first thought but everything is within the desirable parameters for these fish.
My second thought would be Ich but I haven't seen any white spots on her or the other fish. No labored breathing like it's in their gills. They have been in the tank for 2 months now which should of been more then enough time for a out break of Ich to occur. I'm not going to start dumping chemicals in there just to see what might happen without knowing what is the most likely cause. What else could cause her to do this?
<Hi Paul. It does sound like either Velvet or Ick might be an explanation, and a low-impact approach might be to use the old salt/heat method. This shouldn't bother cichlids at all in the short term -- though I'm sure you know about the possible connection between sustained use of salt and the appearance of Malawi Bloat. I do agree, the use of formalin, copper, etc. is generally best avoided where possible. Do also look to see if the water is silty, and check the sand you're using is "burrower friendly" -- some aren't, and these will irritate their gills if used in cichlid tanks. Carib Sea are good about stating which are safe to use in such tanks, and you can find the info on their web site, but other manufacturers are not so transparent. One reason I recommend smooth silica sand is precisely because it's always safe to use. The same can't be said about Tahitian Moon Sand and the like. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Protomelas taeniolatus still flashing 7/22/10

Thanks for the quick response!
<No problems.>
The substrate in this tank is aquarium pebbles so the water is quite clear.
I'm going to try the heat salt method. The correct salt to use would be sea salt or kosher salt?
<Kosher or non-iodised "cooking" sea salt is fine. What you don't want is marine sea salt mix as that has added carbonate that will affect the pH and hardness. Actually, for the fish you're keeping it probably could matter
less! But I'd still use tonic, kosher, or non-iodised cooking salt.>
As I understand it the mixture is 2-3 tablespoons per gallon with elevated temp to about 84-86, leave heated over a period of three weeks correct?
<Pretty much. I prefer to make up a jug of water with the amount of salt required added to it, and then dribble this "brine" into the tank in stages across a couple of hours. Minimises any shock to your fish. Not that cichlids are much phased by salt, but some fish are. I'd bump up the aeration if possible, because higher temperatures means lower oxygen solubility.>
Then a 50% water change weekly, vacuuming the gravel well each time and adding the salt/water mix with the new water? Is there anything that I'm forgetting?
<Nope, sounds fine. I tend to do my usual water changes rather than extra-large ones, especially when salt-tolerant fish like cichlids and livebearers are concerned. But if you're sure you won't otherwise change the pH or hardness by doing a 50% water change, sure, do that instead.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Could it be the rocks?
Lake Tanganyika Cichlid Die -Off -- 06/9/10

Dear Friends, I have had fish tanks for over 30+ years and I recently decided to change my 150 gallon tank from salt to fresh water.
Water in my area is hard and I was planning a Tanganyika tank. I had some interesting rocks I found in a nearby quarry, the rocks were actually pieces of stalactites (or stalagmites), and they looked nice. I also had a few pieces of lava about the size of large softballs. To first test the water I had introduced a few mollies and then a few weeks later, just to be sure, I added a few angel fish. All was fine for a few weeks. I did water changes and things seemed fine so I finally introduced about 15 small Tanganyika cichlids. After about two weeks, within a 3-4 day period all the cichlids, who lived all around the rocks, started to die off, not the angels and not the mollies. I had my water checked at my local fish store and all seemed okay so I am stumped what caused the sudden deaths. I was wondering, could it be the stones? Either the stalactites or the lava rocks? I read that stalactites are primarily limestone. Could this be my problem? Thanks for your help. Great site. Mark
< Thanks for your kind words. Lake Tanganyikan cichlids like hard alkaline water around 82 F. A water test that comes back "fine" is useless. Ammonia is very toxic at high pH levels. With only a few weeks of cycling your tank
may not have the bacteria needed in sufficient numbers to adequately deal with those toxins. Lake Tanganyikan cichlids are very diverse with many different feeding requirements. Tropheus for example are vegetarians and do not do well on a diet too high in animal proteins. Check out the book "Enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings to help you select cichlids once your tank is tested.-Chuck>
Re: Could it be the rocks?
Cycling Problem In New Cichlid Tank 6/10/2010

Chuck, Thanks for your prompt reply.
So you don't think it's the limestone or the lava rocks, but rather the tank has not properly cycled enough?
< Limestone type materials and lava rock are commonly used by cichlid keepers in the US with no ill effects. One way to check on the cycling is to check the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates yourself.>
I have a 150 gallon with an overflow to the sump, the overflow tower is filled with bio-balls and I have the sump filled with pond matrix and then the water circulates back to the tank.
So if it's a problem of cycling then I will have to work on that.
Any other suggestions?
Check the pH. of your tap water. If it is soft then the changes in pH are a problem for the Tanganyikans.-Chuck> Thanks, Mark

African Cichlid Floating Upside Down 4/10/2010
Good afternoon, My name is Kim and my boyfriend and I are worried about our fish. For the past three weeks our fish has been floating upside down.
The first week It was floating upside down on the bottom, since then he/she had enough strength to float to the top.
It (fish) appears that its belly is swollen, yet it's still swimming, but upside down.
The fish is over 10 years old with a 29lbs tank. There are 2 other cichlids in there too.
Do you have any advice? Could you please help. Thank you so very much.
< Your cichlid probably has an internal infection. The bacteria in the gut are producing gas and it cannot escape the intestines, It maybe too late. Try treating with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone.-Chuck>

T duboisi Breathing Hard 4/9/2010
Hi, I have searched your site for an answer and still haven't found anything. I have added 4 small cichlids to an established tank one of them being a duboisi. All of the new additions are fairing well except the duboisi. He doesn't move much and displays rapid gill movement. I hate to lose him and am at a loss on what to do. My parameters are fine I have checked and double checked. I have raised cichlids for the past 2 years and have never had a problem. Can you give me some advice??? Thanks in advance,
< The T. duboisi is a specialized algae feeder from Lake Tanganyika. He requires clean, 80 F ,hard and alkaline water. In the wild they eat algae. Animal based protein in their diet causes internal problems and blocks up the intestines. The blockage is then feed on by the bacteria in the gut.
The bacteria reproduce and extent the gut causing a bloated look. Treated early it can be cured with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. If the fish is still eating then a medicated food is the way to go.-Chuck>

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nemo the Red Zebra Cichlid 1/6/10
You guys may not remember me, but in late April of 06, I came to you for help with Nemo, my Red Zebra Cichlid, after he'd had his fins ripped off by his previous tankmates, and developed a big infection. I just wanted to thank you again for all your help, and he's still doing awesome at 4 years old :) I attached a picture of him. He's a good looking little guy.
<Oh yes>
He lives in a 30 gallon tank ALONE. He's too aggressive with everything else. He did have a Tiger Barb friend for about 2 weeks while my mom was setting up a new tank, and surprisingly, they got along. I'm thinking of
buying a large Pleco for Nemo's tank since the algae gets so bad. I'm thinking if it's a big one, he'll leave it alone...
<Likely so. Perhaps an Ancistrus species... will "do the job" and not get too big here>
Thanks again! I recommend you to my fishkeeping friends all the time. All my friends love Nemo, and I can't imagine my life without him. :)
<Thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>

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

Epsom Salt Dosage - safe level for African cichlid fry
Rusty Cichlid Injured/Diseased 12/22/09

Hello Crew, I have a Iodotropheus sprengerae (Rusty) cichlid that appears to have damaged it's eye - I noticed it a week ago - it was scarily swollen but he was acting normal and the swelling seemed to go down so I thought I
dodged a bullet. Over the weekend, he was appearing to not feel well - not eating, just hanging amongst the rocks and the eye, although not nearly as swollen looks cloudy. Today while feeding the rest, he got chased out of the rocks and ended up at the top corner of the aquarium - amazingly enough I was able to pop a hatch and get him netted. It's a 240g with 70 cichlids and full rockwork - netting him was incredibly lucky.
So I carted him over to my 10 gallon that has one inhabitant, a Astatotilapia latifasciata (Obliquiden Zebra) fry that is about 3/8" long.
His name is Lucky as I found him the day after Thanksgiving floating at the top of the tank (Oh Noes - dead baby) but when I netted him, he started doing back flips! I have lots of Pseudotropheus sp. demasoni (Pombo Rocks)
fry that are surviving in the main tank but the Zebra fry just don't seem to be smart enough to make it. Anyway,
I was thinking on using Epsom Salt on the Rusty but am concerned that a concentration enough to aid him might cause harm to the fry. (Could not find in the FAQ on Epsom salt and fry).
In observing the Rusty, he is seems to be gasping. He has a couple of areas on his side that appear to injuries to his scales (very very small but noticeable) His dorsal fin looks like it's been nipped in a couple of spots and he's currently got his head stuck in the stream of bubbles from the airstone! His fins are not clamped but he's not swimming very much and the tail fin seems to be curving up. He's not well. He is about 3" long.
What would you recommend for dosing level and for how long? Should I consider treating with Ethyromicin also? And if I did use an antibiotic, the same question comes up as to enough medicine to treat him could possibly be harmful to the fry. My well water from the tap is pH 8.2, KG/GH 12 so frequent water changes are not a hassle.
Main Tank: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 20 nitrate (time for the weekly wc). QT: 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10 nitrate
Thank You in advance. I LOVE this website and all the good that you do.
Dawn Gulick
< Thank you for your kind words. Forget the salt as a treatment. At this stage you need some serious antibiotics. I would recommend Nitrofuranace or another Furazone type antibiotic. The eye problem s probably a symptom of an internal infection as well. When you treat the tank, the antibiotics will probably not affect the fry directly. It will or may affect the biological filtration so there may be deadly ammonia spikes. Any nitrogenous wastes have an affect on the growth rate of young fish. Try and keep the water quality as good as possible after the treatment until the biological filtration get back up and going. It may be almost like starting from scratch.-Chuck>

Pseudotropheus acei - parasite?
Parasites On Ps Acei 12/18/09

Hello WWM Crew, I hope you are well this morning (or whatever time of day it is on your particular slice of earth).
My Pseudotropheus acei cichlids have white "things" (descriptive, yes?), clinging to their fins. I have researched various diseases/parasites, but I am completely flummoxed as to what this could be. They look like white lines, approximately two-to-three millimetres long, mostly clinging to the Aceis' pectoral fins, although today I noticed two new ones on the dorsal and anal fin of a mouthbrooding female (photo attached). They are much larger than Ich. The one on her dorsal fin looks like a little oblong egg. Yesterday, this particular female had one attached to each pectoral fin, but today they have disappeared, leaving only faint white traces. They seem to hang on for a couple of weeks, then disappear. None of the other Cichlids have them, only the Acei females. There has been only a total of six of these white things over the past three weeks or so; it is not something that is spreading fast. Do you have any idea what this is?
Here are my tank specifics:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5 - 10
kH: 9
gH: 13
pH: 8.0 - 8.2
50 gallon breeder aquarium
50% weekly water changes
Temperature: 25 C
Food: New Life Spectrum pellets, frozen Mysis, Emerald Entre, various flake, Sushi Nori, cooked/shelled peas.
Decor: lots of hornwort, Vallisneria, rocky hiding places
Inmates: four Pseudotropheus acei (1M/3F), four Labidochromis caeruleus, (1M/3F), three Aulonocara stuartgranti (1M/2F).
Thanks so much, as always, for your help! Carla
< A treatment of Fluke-Tabs should remove the parasites from the fish.-Chuck>

Hello (Cichlidae; red tube from the anus) 11/13/09
I recently wrote to you about my tank and want to say you have great advice. I have another question for you..one of my female peacocks has some type of clear reddish tube coming out one of her reproductive holes...does this mean she is pregnant or sick??
<Difficult to say without a photo. The spawning tube (or genital papilla) on female cichlids looks like short, blunt tube with a rounded tip. It almost looks like a little wart. It's very different from the equivalent structure on the males, which are longer, usually angled, and have a pointed tip. Anyway, female cichlids normally show their genital papillae for very short periods, at most a day either side of spawning. Males will show there for longer periods, often several days. If your female is showing her spawning tube, she will either be spawning or just about to, and she should be obviously engaged in spawning behaviours of some kind.
Now, a prolapse is very different. This is where a bacterial infection of the colon causes it to expand and protrude from the anus. This is very serious, and is a good sign that environmental conditions and/or diet are very wrong. Treatment with antibiotics, fixing the environment, and feeding exclusively high fibre foods (e.g., cooked peas, live daphnia, but nothing dried) can help. The use of Epsom salt in the water may also help speed up recovery. Chuck outlines the basic therapy on this page, about half-way down:
Finally, there are Camallanus worms. These are red, clearly wriggling worms protruding from the anus like little red threads. You will need an anti-helminthic medication to treat them.
Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Cichlids please help
Sick Cichlid Tank 11/11/09

Thank you for taking my question.
< No problem.>
I have two remaining African Cichlids (of 3 ) I have had for 5 years or better. They are 4 inches long and live in 25 gallon tank. Recently we added the algae eaters to reduce the algae in the tank.
< The algae problem can be traced to high nitrate levels. Keep the nitrates to under 20 ppm. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero.>
The fish became erratic, swimming lifeless, barley holding on. We did a complete water change and complete cleaning of everything.
< Bad idea. You have now lost all the bacteria that break down nitrogenous wastes. You now have a new tank and probably need to cycle it all over again like a new aquarium.>
The two algae eaters died as well as one Chiliad. <?>
The water has been tested over and over again. The water numbers are perfect.
<Perfect equals zero ammonia and nitrites. Nitrates should be under 20 ppm.>
With n hours the fish are standing on there noses or laying on there side and their fins laid back. If we transfer them into another tank with fresh water they come around for about 4 to 8 hours and then back to previous condition. Both have started to develop brown on there fins and one has brown around its nostrils. Then after a while there skin turns white in color. They are orange. This has been going on for three weeks they are trying so hard to hold on and the sadness is they try to help each other in the tank and recognize us. We have been back and forth to the pet store they have run out of suggestions, we have read on your site the diseases and some symptoms are the same but can not cure them .Please please Help.
Thank you so much,
Jim and Carie Scott in Raleigh NC
< Lets start by checking the water. African cichlids like hard alkaline water. The pH should be at least 7.0 or higher. The water temp should be between 73 and 77 F. Use a very good water conditioner that removes both chlorine and chloramines. Check tithe water source as well as the aquarium.
The brownish coloration is a bacterial infection. If it is causing these kinds of symptoms then the infection is very advanced. I would recommend treating with Erythromycin or a Furanace antibiotic. Add about 1 tablespoon of sea salt or rock salt to the aquarium. to increase the slime coat.-Chuck>

Hello (African cichlids, mysterious deaths...) -- 11/10/09
Hello....i have a 75 gallon African cichlid community tank. I have about 50 cichlids give or take...
<That's a lot of fish for a tank this size.>

recently I lost two fish with no sign of seeing it before hand..the fish were not stressed and did not look like it was caused by aggression...they died out of no where about 5 days apart...
<Fish rarely die for no reason. It's worth remembering that "African cichlid" and "community tank" are contradictions in terms, and poor choices when selecting species can end up with dominant males killing off any fish they view as rivals. Mbuna in particular are hyper-aggressive, and can be very, very hard on most Tanganyikan cichlids as well as the less aggressive Malawian species. Non-dwarf Mbuna will batter dwarf Mbuna, so again, you have to be careful even then.>
I recently been adding new fish...I make my weekly water changes and maintain a good environment, and feed them once daily...
<Adding new fish is fine, but almost always, new fish are viewed with more hostility than fish that are already there. Standard operating practise is to remove all the fish and/or rocks, rearrange the rocks, and then add the new and old fish together. This way, you reset the balance of aggression and territory holding. Obviously, if you add small fish that bigger fish will view as threats, those small fish will be killed.
I have two filters and good oxygen
<I'm concerned your tank is very heavily stocked, and given that, water quality may be less good than you think. Double check your water chemistry is between pH 7.5 and 8.2, the hardness is above 15 degrees dH, and the carbonate hardness is around 7 degrees KH. Water quality must be excellent:
0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and nitrate levels less than 20 mg/l.>
do you think you can help me and maybe give me advice on prevention so it does not happen again, and I could keep my fish healthy... Thank you, Sal
<Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Orange cichlid - whitey kinda fungus mouth 9/29/2009
Hi team! (and great site btw!)
We have a 4ft tank with cichlids and two Bristlenose Plecos (who are breeding at the moment). We also have two electric yellows who have mouths full of eggs and fry. So clearly a happy tank...
<Seemingly so, but I wouldn't read *too* much into whether or not Labidochromis and Pseudotropheus spp. are breeding -- they tend to do that readily, even when other factors, such as social behaviour, are amiss.>
We have two orange cichlids who have developed little white fungus lips.
The fungus isn't big, but we wanted to check your thoughts anyway.
<Usually means fighting, and often alongside water quality issues. Your Orange cichlids, if Rift Valley cichlids, are likely Pseudotropheus estherae or something similar. When males fight, they wrestle with their jaws, and if the skin is damaged, it can become infected. Ordinarily this isn't too serious and heals quickly, but if the males can't stay apart (i.e., the tank is too small) and/or the water quality isn't perfect, the wound won't heal quickly enough, and a secondary infection sets in.
Bacterial and fungal infections are both common. True fungal infections look like white cotton threads, but Columnaris (also called Mouth Fungus) is a bacterial infection that looks somewhat similar, though off-white to grey and the threads are shorter.>
One looks like he has a very short and landscaped white moustache (very minimal growth), the other looks like he just has a white coloured lip as opposed to orange (i.e. no fungus growth).
There are no other fish in the tank who have it, and they are all still eating really well, they all seem to get along really well.
<As I say, this is likely from fighting. Review stocking, separate the males, and treat with a suitable anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.>
Could this be from the fish foraging through the rocks on the bottom, or possibly continually doing their shimmy dance (clearly another happy couple) and chasing each other?
<The "Shimmy Dance" is likely fighting. Do check the sex of the fish concerned. Male Pseudotropheus estherae and in fact virtually all male Pseudotropheus spp. are hugely intolerant of one another. A four-foot tank isn't going to have sufficient space for two males of the same species.
Normally Pseudotropheus are kept as a harem (one male, two or more females) or else in very large groups (including at least five males of each species). As harems, they're easier to keep and observe, but big groups allow "overstocking" which is where the aquarist does massive amounts of extra work so that more fish can be kept. Do see here:
We do a weekly water change , there's no excess food in the tank, and the Plecos keep it spotless. Its not an aggressive tank either.
<If these are Mbuna, then the tank is much more aggressive than you think it is.>
This is the first instance of fungi / sickness that we've had.
<Likely wasn't much fighting when the fish were young... they're older, maybe sexually mature now, and that's when the trouble starts.>
It hasn't spread to fins or skin or tail etc, and doesn't appear to be from a wound or dead flesh.
Any suggestions as to what this could be and the best way to fix it?
From all the way Down Under
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Lake Malawi Cichlid problem
Malawi Cichlids With Indented Stomachs 9/29/2009

I have an 80 gallon tank with eleven full grown Malawis (ice blues, labs, red zebras, etc.) that has been set up for 2 years. I do regularly scheduled water changes and cleanings, never alter food and the conditions
in the tank have remained the same for at least a year. I have had no sick fish at all. I am noticing a strange phenomena now though, and I'm not sure how to describe it. I tried to take a picture and my camera won't
focus. I've browsed all over and can't find anything like it. About five of my fish have a markedly "indented" or "inverted" abdomen! It started with one and seems to have spread slowly to the others in the last few
weeks. They are all eating and behaving normally. Any ideas? Thank you so much - Jennifer Brown
< Could just be age. In the wild they usually only live for a couple of years. In the aquarium they get bigger and live longer, then sometimes develop body abnormalities like indented stomachs, curved spines etc...
Just to make sure I would recommend a water change and try changing the diet to a pelleted food.-Chuck>

Lake Victoria Cichlids - Still sick? 9/11/09
I just want to thank you in advanced. Here is my situation: I purchased a group of 7 Pseudotropheus flavus Chinyankwazi and a group of 7 Pundamilia nyererei Ruti Island.
<Not in the same tank, I hope. Pseudotropheus come from Malawi, which has different water chemistry to Lake Victoria, which is where Pundamilia nyererei come from. So while often sold in the "African Cichlid" section, they need different conditions to do well. There are also substantial differences in temperament. While both aggressive, Pseudotropheus flavus is much more aggressive than Pundamilia nyererei, not to mention twice the length.>
The day I put them in, a noticed 1 of the Flavus swimming kinda funny along with having a bloated stomach. The next morning, I caught him and put him in one of the floating internal breeding houses; I worked all day and came home to find him dead. I assumed it was bloat based on how large is stomach was.
<Could be a variety of things. Physical damage could be one, i.e., internal bleeding, if coupled with bruises and damaged fins. If you put these two species together, then that's definitely a possibility. Another very
possible explanation is a negative reaction to water chemistry changes.
Since the two fish need different water conditions, putting the Victorian cichlids into Malawi water chemistry could be a shock, or vice versa, exposing Malawians to the less hard, slightly above neutral conditions
Victorians want. Careless use of salt can also cause problems: see Malawi Bloat. Back in the day, people used to put "tonic salt" in Malawi tanks, and it seems to have been a major cause of mortality. Again, there are other issues to consider: nitrate concentration, oxygenation, etc.>
There was one more flavus that was breathing hard and laying at the bottom doing nothing - I treat with Metronidazole (using Jungles Parasite clear) which seemed to do nothing.
<And will do nothing, unless the problem is specifically Protozoans of the type treated by this medication, e.g., Hexamita.>
So I went and bought "General Cure" from API and the Flavus made a come back and started to swim and eat.
<Again, no particular reason to expect a cure without knowing what you're treating. Indeed, throwing in multiple treatments without understanding why can do more harm than good. Much to be said for removing sick fish to your hospital tank, observing, and then treating, once you have a diagnosis.>
The whole tank was treated, however I noticed most of the Ruti Islands with a white "nub" sticking out around the anus. There is no red coloration, it is just white and almost looks like a bubble.
<Could be a prolapse; does happen. A common mistake with Mbuna and especially Victorians is to give them mostly meat-based foods (e.g., flake) rather than what they really need, greens! Constipation leads to digestive tract problems, that leads to bacterial infections, and in the infections cause the prolapse.>
Each Ruti has this bump, and for some reason, it is not going away. I want to say it's bloat, but the fish do not appear bloated. They are swimming and they are always, always hungry. I have been doing 30% and 50% water changes along with adding aquarium salts AND Epson salt.
<What do you mean by "aquarium salts"? A Malawi tank should only, repeat ONLY have proper Rift Valley salt mix used; see here:
Salt by itself, i.e., NaCl, can lead to problems, e.g., bloating. Do review the literature on these two cichlid fish groups: there are countless books out there.>
Nothing I do is getting rid of these little white nubs on my Rutis.
Any suggestions? I am sorry I cannot attach a picture, they just wont stay still and catching them among a few hundred pounds of rocks is nearly impossible. I do not want to stress them anyway.
<Do review the needs of the two fish groups being kept here, especially in terms of diet, water chemistry. Likely some mismatch responsible, either directly or in terms of susceptibility to ambient bacterial infections.
Antibiotic treatment and a greens-based diet should help with the prolapse.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Lake Victoria Cichlids - Still sick? 9/13/09

The Flavus and the Ruti can both be put into the same tank, see the following:
http://www.cichlid-forum.com/profiles/species.php?id=1664 http://www.cichlid-forum.com/profiles/species.php?id=889
<These two links say nothing of the kind! If you look, there are differences in size, aggression, and, if you read anything about Lake Victoria versus Lake Malawi, water chemistry. Every single book or magazine ever written about these two groups of fish recommends they not be kept together. Sure, you can try, but it's dollars to doughnuts that the much bigger and much more aggressive male Pseudotropheus will bully, perhaps kill, the Pundamilia unless the aquarium is of truly vast size (by which I mean 200 gallons upwards). I've just finished editing an article by an experienced cichlid keeper all about Lake Victoria cichlids. It'll be out in the upcoming Conscientious Aquarist magazine, and I strongly suggest you have a read when that happens.>
As you can see, water hardness, water PH, and temps are all relatively the same.
<I'm relatively the same thing as a chimpanzee, but I don't invite chimps to family reunions. The devil is in the detail, and it's getting the details right that separates expert from casual fishkeepers.>
Both groups are fry, measuring around 1-1.5". There is no aggression between the groups and there is no aggression within each group.
<Still sexually immature. I'm talking about once the males become big enough to stake out territories.>
The fish were shipped to me in separate bags, so the chances that the Flavus died because of injuries do to damage caused by other fish is unlikely. Again, they were shipped in separate bags, so the Rutis and the Flavus were never with each other until put into the tank. When I did put them in, as I said, no aggression or fighting occurred within or among both species.
I do, however, think that its possible that damage happened during shipment; however, if this is the case, why did it only effect 1 fish out of 14?
<The weakest fish is usually picked off first, then the next weakest, and so on.>
I must say, that I do not think water chemistry has anything to do with this. My PH is 8.2. My temp is 82 degrees F. 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, and Nitrate is around 5-10.
<The pH is a bit high for Victorian cichlids; the optimum is around pH 7.5, 10 degrees dH. I note you're not mentioning either carbonate hardness or general hardness, but merely pH. As you hopefully realise, pH is largely unimportant when keeping fish except so far as it is stable from week to week. Hardness and carbonate hardness are substantially more important.>
The aquarium salt I used is the one that API sells (API Aquarium Salt). I have never used table salt, and never will.
<API Aquarium salt is merely repackaged table salt. It's not the same thing as Rift Valley salt mix. By all means combine with Epsom salt and Baking Soda to produce a Rift Valley salt mix, but once the box is done, for gosh sakes buy some marine salt mix; only the latter has the full mix of trace elements, whereas aquarium salt has virtually nothing useful. This issue has been discussed so many times, there's really no need for you to reinvent the wheel.
Plain aquarium salt -- what you're using -- seems to one factor leading to Malawi Bloat. Before aquarists understood the importance of water chemistry, they did what you're doing, added aquarium salt to Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika aquaria, and Malawi Bloat was a very common problem.
Since switching to proper Rift Valley salt mixes (which you can buy, if you don't want to make yourself) the incidence of Malawi Bloat has become a lot less common. So please, just pick up a book on African Cichlids (anything by Loiselle or Konings is good) and read the darn thing, cover to cover.
Save yourself, and your fish, a lot of grief. You're making beginner's mistakes here, and while I'm happy to help each and every time, you'll be a lot more pleased with yourself if you can pre-empt some of the possible problems.>
I have only fed them one thing, and one thing only: Omega One Super Veggie:
I do not believe this food would cause any harm to either species.
<It's a good food. But do mix things up a little. Dried foods, used constantly, can cause dietary problems. Fresh green foods are the make-or-break additions to the diet with a lot of cichlids, reducing the risk of vitamin deficiency and constipation.>
I have read some of your input to other people and will try to feed smaller portions a few times a day. Maybe this will help?
<This is actually recommend practise, because at least some of these cichlids have relatively short guts, being adapted to constant grazing. So one or two big meals per day is largely a waste. So yes, a good idea.>
Should I try treating the tank with Nitrofurazone and see what that does?
<Yes, this can help treat a prolapse anus; as discussed here:
but do think carefully about what the triggering factors might be, and act accordingly.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Reply to Victorian Cichlids... 9/15/09

General Hardness (GH) is 300 ppm.
<Is this calcium oxide or calcium carbonate? Technically it should be calcium oxide, but for historical reasons many (most?) test kits quote calcium carbonate equivalencies. That being said, 300 mg/l calcium
carbonate would be ~18 degrees dH.>
Carbonate Hardness (KH) is 160 ppm.
<This is always calcium carbonate, and in this case, ~9 degrees KH.>
I do not know what these transfer in to as far as degrees, but I believe they are pretty spot on.
<For what? Lake Malawi has hard, basic water, whereas Lake Victoria is more neutral, moderately hard. It doesn't matter hugely, but my point is that these lakes *are not the same*, and Lake Victoria is in most regards a fairly typical large lake like many others in East Africa. Lake Malawi (and Lake Tanganyika) are different in that the geology of the area means their water picks up a lot more minerals as it drains into the basin. Lake Malawi has about twice the mineral content of Lake Victoria.>
Although I did not combine those 3 products (baking soda, marine salt, and Epsom salt) I did put them in separately minus the baking soda; I've been using marine salt and Epsom salt along with api's aquarium salt. Seems as if I should just cut out the aquarium salt and add the baking soda.
<Why? Rather than reinventing the wheel, I suggest you review the Rift Valley cichlid salt recipe described on WWM, as well as on other Rift Valley cichlid orientated web sites. The proportions of the minerals isn't
absolutely critical -- for one thing, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi have very different mineral contents anyway -- but I would use all three. The cost is negligible, so what's to lose? If you have hard water out of the tap, you might not need to use so much, and what is suggested for 5 gallons here at WWM might be fine for 10, even 15 gallons.>
2 different Flavus have created little round "nests" in the sand already.
However, I have yet to see any aggression thus far.
Im not saying that it wont happen, but for now they seem fine and are coloring up nicely.
I purchase the fish from Dave's Rare Aquarium Fish (in San Antonio) and I discussed the inhabitants of the tank before making my final decision. Dave was comfortable with the Flavus and the Ruti mix and noted that they should do well together.
He knows his fish, so I trust his opinion.
They're in the tank now, so its my problem if they start fighting...something tells me, however, that they'll leave each other alone (just as they are now).
<Let's see. The nature of my work here at WWM is to provide advice that works in as many situations as possible. I certainly do things at home I'd not recommend other aquarists do! So if I'm over-cautious, that's the reason why. But the flip side is this: I'm cautious because each day we get dozens of "problem fish" e-mails, and aggression is one of the most common problems. If I say that two fish might not get on, it's not because I'm trying to sell you another fish tank, it's because I know that there's a risk of things going awry. Please do understand this. With that said, by all means see what happens, and honestly, I do hope it works out. Both species you're keeping are colourful and interesting.>
Thanks again Neale,
<By the way, do stop by the new CA magazine, here:
There's a piece on Victorian cichlids by Daniella Rizzo in there you might enjoy.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Reply to Victorian Cichlids... 9/15/09

Yea, I'll hope for the best, and I'll keep you updated (hopefully with pictures soon).
<That would be nice.>
Where is the best place to get Nitrofurazone if you don't mind me asking?
<No idea; here in the UK, it's a prescription-only medication. In the US, Aquarium Pharmaceuticals market at least one version, called Furan-2 I believe. There may well be others.>
You have been most helpful. Much appreciated.
<Good luck! Neale.>

Persistent Ich
Cichlid Tank Going Bad 8/15/09

Please help. We have two tanks, one 30 gall tank with 8 healthy various cichlids. We have a 20 gal that we have used as a hospital tank in the past. Really, it's just a waiting room for death! No fish ever recover.
From all descriptions, it appears the fish have Ich (white spots/slime all over their bodies), but none of the products we've purchased have worked.
Three days ago we purchased a pair of cichlids (sorry, my husband does not remember what kind). They were young and the female had babies in her mouth. She released the young early and she is now dead. The male is on his way. The babies seem to be growing and we're churning out the brine shrimp, but I feel they are doomed. Before we put these new fish in, my husband put new everything in the tank after having hand cleaned it while it was dry. It's just this tank but we can't figure out why! Temp seems good, we've done multiple water changes, disc'd feeding bloodworms after reading some of your articles, feeding flakes, Cichlid Diet Pellets (small red balls that sink). We have used Ich Cure with Formalin by Aquatrol, Ampicillin (250mg), Metronidazole (250mg) and most recently ProSeries Fungus Cure by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. Aside from the money we are throwing away, and we're into the hundreds now, my kids are bereft every time one dies! Please, help before the babies go.
< The medications used in your hospital tank have probably affected the bacteria that provide the biological filtration required to convert deadly ammonia into less toxic nitrites and then finally nitrates. A true hospital tank has very little sand and no biological filtration. Once a fish is placed in the tank the water is medicated. The fish should not be fed during treatment. Water should be around 80 F.
During treatment the tank should get a 50% water change between treatments.
Siphon off any fish waste during the water change. Organics in the water can absorb some of the medication and reduce the dosage. Once the treatment is complete you can add a filter with carbon to remove the medication from
the water. Take some used filter media from the established tank and squeeze some of it into the hospital tank filter to get the biological filtration established. Continue with water changes to control the nitrogenous wastes. If the fish is healthy for a couple of weeks then it should be ok to be placed in the main tank.-Chuck>
<<And eight Mbuna or Utaka type cichlids is likely too many for this sized, shape system. RMF>>
Re: Persistent Ich
Persistent Cichlid Deaths 8/29/2009

Chuck, we continue to need help. Thank you for input on the hospital tank.
Our 30 gallon tank, which was previously healthy, experienced some sort of epidemic as well. We lost 4 fish, but not to Ich. They had no outward sign of disease, at all. Four are left and they've seemed healthy for
three days now. Our favorite, a large zebra cichlid now has red marks on his side and bottom fin, as well as his tail. It looks as if he's bleeding!!! His skin looks ok, but he is lethargic and not eating. Any ideas???
< Start by checking the water quality. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be under 20 ppm. Your fish like hard alkaline water. The pH should be well above 7. If these parameters are not met then the fish get sick and die from diseases that that the poor water quality makes them vulnerable too..-Chuck>

Cyrtocara moorii; damaged lips, infections 7/30/09
I really need help. I purchased some Cichlids from a gentleman that lives close to me. I bought them because they needed a good home and this man had just lost his job and such so he obviously needed the money.
<I see.>
I am really worried however. About two days ago I noticed one of the blue dolphins had what seemed like a busted lip, but I just figured it was from a fight.
<Can well be; when fish are moved from one tank to another, there's often a struggle to reassert dominance. It also depends on the size of the tank, and a fish used to a bigger tank moved to a smaller tank may take time readjusting to new boundaries. Yet again, water chemistry and water quality can be issues; with Malawian cichlids, clean, hard, basic water is essential, and if moved into a tank with soft and acidic water, or detectable levels of ammonia and/or nitrite, opportunistic infections such as Finrot can follow.
So there's a bunch of factors. That said, damage to the mouth is typically from fighting.>
Well it got worse today and now it seems like her bottom lip is rotting off and her fins are too. They look inflamed and dark red. It looks like a horrible infection, I hadn't noticed it, and maybe because it just happened, but another cichlid, that the gentleman called a Big Spot, has ruined fins also.
<Well, without some details on the tank it's difficult to say what's going on. At minimum, we need the pH and the nitrite levels so we can factor out environmental issues. You're aiming for 0 nitrite (as well as 0 ammonia, and nitrate levels no higher than 20 mg/l if possible). Water chemistry should be hard (10+ degrees dH) and basic (pH 7.5-8). Since Blue Dolphin cichlids (Cyrtocara moorii) are pretty big, your tank will need to be a generous size, and even a 55 gallon tank is at the low end of what these fish require. They're also fairly peaceful fish, and more aggressive species, particularly Mbuna, can cause them serious harm.>
One of my other dolphins has what looks like a "busted lip" now too!!! I don't know what is going on, but I need to fix it. I tried researching it on the internet and couldn't find anything that looked like it. Please help, what do I do? Or are my fish doomed?
<Doubt they're doomed, but do treat for Finrot (e.g., with Maracyn, eSHa 2000, etc.) and test, at minimum, the pH and nitrite. Review tankmates, aquarium space.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

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

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

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

Lake Malawi Tank Problems 7/11/09
Hi, my name is Chris and I've been keeping African cichlids for about 2 years. I have a 135 gallon tank witch is a little over stocked about 300 inches of fish. It has a Fluval FX5 and a Rena Filstar XP3 as well as 2 hydro sponge filter 5s for filtration. I do a weakly/every other week 40% water change. I feed mostly Kens fish cichlid pellets and occasionally soak them in a vitamin complex. Well last week after doing a 30 percent water change and complete gravel vacuum I started to lose about 3 fish a day. When I find them, they have their mouths wide open and extended and look a little bloated but not much and all there fins have red streaks in them(normally clear fins) even the pectoral fins. I tested the water and it read: ammonia .12, nitrite .3, nitrate 5 and pH is 7.6. I added a uv sterilizer and some aquarium and Epsom salt. but I'm still losing fish. also right before they die they swim upside down and listlessly for at least an hour. also only the fish 3" or bigger have died. the smaller fish 2-3" have bean ok.
any help would be appreciated..Thanks, Chris
<You may have wiped out our biological filtration when you cleaned the tank. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The high readings are weakening the fish and may be causing secondary bacterial infections. Try smaller water changes (20%) but do them twice a week. Don't feed for a few days until the readings start to level out.-Chuck>

Cichlid Injury or Disease? Former 6/23/09
<Hi there>
I've recently started up a new Lake Malawi Mbuna Cichlid tank. I've been a hobby aquarist for a few years now and this is my first stab at a cichlid tank.
<Some fun!>
Here is my setup:
4 Electric Yellow Labs
4 Red Zebras
36 gallon,
<Mmm, going to be some tussling>
with crushed coral substrate, plenty of river bed rocks and slate arranged for plenty of hiding spaces and territory markers. The tank has been fully up and running for about 2 months. The 4 labs were added first, then the zebras a couple weeks later.
Water parameters:
Temp: 80F
pH: 8.2
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: < 10 ppm
KH: 11
GH: 6
Here's my concern. A few days ago I noticed one of the red zebras has a milky white patch
<Told you so>
on the bottom-left side of its body just above it's pelvic fin, very easy to see given its deep orange coloring. The fish currently measures about 3 inches long, with the patch being about half the size of a dime. Nearby the patch are a few "frayed" scales that are also white, looking similar to someone who starts to peel after a bad sunburn. Now, the patch appears to be spreading along its underbelly.
There are also a few more of the frayed scales.
Most of the time the fish in question will hide, except during feeding.
Its behavior is otherwise normal.
Originally, this fish did not hide. However, b/c of the excessive hiding I can't help but think it's gotten in a few fights, lost, and is now just scared.
<An accurate assessment>
Its fins do not appear to be nipped, nor any eye damage or growths around its mouth. I've tried to find pictures of common fish diseases, but haven't been able to find anything to make a definitive diagnosis. The closest possibilities I have found are Velvet or Costia.
Unfortunately I cannot supply a pic as I stated that the fish is usually hiding making it very difficult to photograph.
- Aaron
<Much more likely just secondary infection from physical injuries... You may want, need to isolate the one fish... ultimately a few others... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichdisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cichlid Injury or Disease? 6/24/09

Thanks for the response.
You stated that it's most likely a secondary infection. Is there anything I need to do when I isolate the fish (medicate, etc)?
<Nothing I would do, no... other than move the damaged fish where it can heal of its own accord, and feed in peace>
Also, I was planning on getting 4 more fish (most likely electric blue johanni's) to complete the stocking scheme.
<No my friend... this system is already over/mis-stocked>
I figure with 12 fish in a 36 gal aquarium, there will be a large enough population to spread out any aggression so that individual fish are not bullied.
<Mmm, can work... with very careful feeding... attention to the arising of an "alpha" bully>
I'm using a 60 gal canister filter which (hopefully) should be enough to handle the larger bio load.
<Am not such a fan of canisters for African Cichlid systems... or I'd at least add some more/redundant filtration. Perhaps a hang-on power filter of size>
Thanks again.
<Welcome again my friend. BobF>

Re: Cichlid Injury or Disease? (Update) 6/27/09
Thanks again for you input. It's been quite helpful.
The fish in question is no longer hiding. It's now swimming around normally with the other fish.
I did manage to get a few pictures (albeit a *little* fuzzy for some) to help give you a better idea of what I've been describing.
<Looks like a true fungus... Yikes!>
Needless to say the area in question has spread since I first e-mailed you.
I still agree with your diagnosis of fighting wounds.
<I too>
There's nothing around the fish's eyes or mouth, and nothing on its fins. I just want to be as certain as possible.
<This fish may heal of its own accord... but I'd at least be reading:
and the linked files above... BobF>

Re: Cichlid Injury or Disease? (Update) 6/27/09
Thanks again for replying. It's been quite helpful.
I've moved the fish to a hospital tank and am treating it with Pimafix to help treat the fungus.
I'll be sure to read the link you passed along.
- Aaron
<... Aaron, please read where you were referred to... I would not use this API product, nor any of their other "fixes" period. B>

Re: Cichlid Injury or Disease? (The Final Update) 6/27/2009
Bad news. No sooner did I receive your last response that I found the fish belly up.
I appreciate all the help you gave me. I always try to research what the best course of action is whenever a problem arises. Unfortunately, a lot of time you get conflicting advice (to medicate or not to medicate, etc).
<Yes... and what is/are the choices one has, must make here? To discern fact from non-... set upon a path of your choice>
I guess you just have to base your actions on previous experience, of which I only have a few years worth.
<Mmm, not so... our civilization is built upon the vast experiences, efforts, trials of our forbearers... Mostly recorded as writing... some of it extant in the working memories of others (e.g. the WWM Crew)>
Every incident is a learning experience. I only wish this one would have worked out for the best.
Thanks again.
<Well... thank you for your (conciliatory) follow-up... I do wish you well.

African Cichlid problem
Malawi Cichlid With Hole In The Head 6/19/09

You have a great site, I have learned a lot browsing through it.
<Thank you for your kind words>
Please help me asap!
55 gallon tank
Inhabitants: One 6-7" female Fossorochromis Rostratus (6.5 years old),
1-inch female Aulonocaras
Filtration: Eheim 2213 canister filter
Nitrates: 5 ppm right before water change
Nitrites: 0
Ammonia 0
pH: 7.5
Water Change Frequency: 40-50% twice a week Food: homemade from internet recipe and Hikari Marine A Temperature: 76 F Symptoms: All inhabitants healthy with absolutely no prior medical problems.
The Fossorochromis recently began showing minor symptoms of hole in the head disease, much to my dismay. I went through a round of Metro+ and added liquid vitamins to her food with no discernible improvement, but no worsening either. Yesterday noticed a reddened area and "pimple" near her mouth and her fins were down. Suspected bacterial infection of some kind.
As I hadn't had time to research the situation fully (gram positive or negative or something else entirely) and haven't had to use antibiotics of any kind in the last 6 years of this hobby, I added the only thing I had on hand, Pimafix. Yes, I am aware that is like giving herbal remedies to an MSRA patient, but I had nothing else and live an hour from the nearest pet store. This morning her fins are back to normal intermittently but she is breathing very hard. I added an air stone and am in the process of changing the water yet again to increase oxygen content. She appears to be breathing easier now, but not back to normal. I own nine freshwater aquariums and fortunately have never seen this before so I don't know what is going on.
All the rest of the inhabitants in her tank are just fine. Any ideas are welcome! Thank you for your time and suggestions. Rebecca
< There are ideas about the causes of hole in the head disease without any scientific evidence to back them up to my satisfaction, but you have eliminated some of the theoretical causes. Some people think it is bad water. This is not the case because you water conditions are fine and you are up on your water changes so it is not nitrogenous waste either. This comes down to diet. Usually food with fish meal contains enough calcium for fish to build their bones as they grow. Since you make your own fish food it is hard to tell if your food has enough calcium in it. Larger fish need more calcium to replenish the calcium needed to build their bones. Try Spectrum New Life pellet food for awhile and see if this makes any difference. I have never had a problem with HITH while using this food. If this works then in your situation we may have found a possible cause and cure.-Chuck>
Update on African Cichlid situation... hlth.
Malawi Cichlid With Hole In The Head 6/19/09

Thought I would add an update. After the massive water change, which rid the tank of Pimafix, the Fossorochromis in question returned to breathing and acting normally, so maybe her problem was due to that.
I don't plan to use that product again.
<I would not>
However she still has the small raised red bump by her mouth and the beginning HITH situation.
<Likely best cured by providing ongoing optimized water quality and nutrition>
I will refrain from adding any more medication, herbal or otherwise, without strong recommendation.
for your time.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: African Cichlid problem
Cichlid With HITH 6/21/09

Thank you for your advice. The reddish sore resolved into another small HITH-like hole, but at least no infection. She is acting normally. I am purchasing Spectrum New Life pellet food online as I write this and implementing daily 25% water changes just in case. I will update you on the
results as soon as something changes. Thanks again. Rebecca
< Try to increase the calcium content of the water by adding some crushed coral to the filter. As it dissolves into the water it may be ingested by the fish.-Chuck>
Re: African Cichlid problem
Hole-In-The-Head Treatment 7/1/09

I purchased the recommended New Life Spectrum food. Until the food arrived, I added powdered calcium to the water and a little to her food as well as a big mesh bag of crushed coral. Since following your advice, one hole has gotten so small I have a hard time finding it, the other two don't seem to have changed too much yet (although all redness is gone), and no new holes are forming. She looks and acts normal and I have high hopes that she is recovering. Thank you for sharing your theory and giving a friend back to me! I will update again when something major occurs, such as (hopefully) her complete recovery. Rebecca
< Thank you so much for writing back. It is times like this that makes me glad that your question was asked and that all fellow aquarists and their pet cichlids might benefit from our WWM forum. Hopefully the recovery will continue and this disease will no longer become an issue.-Chuck>
Re: African Cichlid problem
Hole-In-The-Head Cured on African Cichlid -- 10/3/09

I apologize for taking so long to get back to you and I want to thank you again for your advice. My female Fossorochromis has fully recovered and does not seem to be having any further issues with hole-in-the-head. I am feeding her (and all my African cichlids) New Life Spectrum food along with krill and small shrimp. Once a week I supplement her food with a little calcium and glucosamine (which is apparently derived from shellfish and shrimp shells). I have also added crushed coral to her canister filter media. Everything seems to be going well now and has been for the last few months. Thank you, Rebecca
< Glad to hear everything worked out OK.-Chuck>

Hoping you can ID this disease for me... reading 6/16/09
I have done a lot of research and I'm having a difficult time figuring out what this is, I think its fin rot but not sure. My Cobalt Blue Zebra has had this for about a month now. I tried treating it with Melafix but this
did not seem to do anything.
<See WWM re this "fix"... worthless>

Any help would be much appreciated.
<Does appear to be a secondary infection... very close to the "egg dummies" of this male... could be due to "biting" near... Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Hoping you can ID this disease for me, Mbuna... 6/17/09
Thanks Bob my plan was to stop feeding for a week, do a large water change this weekend and purchase the Seachem KanaPlex. Thanks for your help these Fish infections are hard to figure out sometimes.
<Does read/sound like a good plan John... These fishes are really very tough... with good care (water quality, nutrition) they almost always "bounce back' w/o much in the way of medicating. BobF>

Cichlid Wound and salt use/cichlids 6/9/09
Good afternoon!
<And morrow to you>
I have a 130 gallon cichlid tank set up about 9 months ago, the tank itself has been running for around 5 years. One of the cichlids is a hybrid of Pseudotropheus Elongatus (as far as I can tell) and I originally saved him from somebody's dirty cichlid tank. They had over a dozen fish at one time but eventually only had two left due to neglecting their water changes, so I quickly put them into my tank.
<Too often a circumstance>
I believe in overkill when it comes to filters, so I have an old Eheim canister filter, Rena XP3, Fluval 404, and two Marineland Emperor 400's.
Ammonia=0, Nitrite=0, Nitrate<10, 250 GH, 100 KH, 7.4 pH (I'm also curious if that's alright or if I should really try to get the water to be more acidic), and water temperature at 78 F.
Ever since I first got him, the Pseudotropheus Elongatus has had a bubble-like "blister" on his face. It would slowly grow until it suddenly burst and opened up, revealing fleshy pink beneath. Within a few days it would heal over and became nearly unnoticeable, but a few weeks would go by and the routine would repeat itself. Keeping the water ultra-clean with 30% weekly water changes seemed to keep it at bay for awhile, but recently it is getting very bad. For the past two or three weeks, it has slowly grown into a large, fleshly, pink crater, about 1 cm in diameter. It doesn't resemble any hole-in-the-head that I've Googled for pictures of, and it doesn't seem to be red with any blood, and there's no white worms or anything on it, it's just lumpy and pink. It looks as if it's starting to spread to just above his mouth as well. It looks almost as if his flesh is slowly getting eaten away.
<Mmm, might well be an entrenched bacterial or protozoan issue... inherited from previous poor care>
I really don't want to lose this fish. Since I don't know exactly what it is, I'm thinking about trying Clout to see if it would help, but I wanted to contact you first. I also have two large crayfish in the tank and I'm worried the Clout will kill them.
<It might do so indirectly. I would instead look into the antimicrobial Nitrofuranace and antiprotozoal Metronidazole>
I can attempt to get a picture of the wound if you think it will help.
<Not really, no>
I also have a separate question: what is your take on using aquarium salt for cichlids?
<Salts, combinations of metals/non-metals are present in all freshwaters to extents, mixes... However, adding more is often of no use to counter-productive. One should know what the present/source water salt content is and the needs, ranges of tolerance/liking for salts for the species in question. Of a carte blanche answer, the Cichlid fishes et al. of Malawi and Tanganyika do better with a mix of some salts added in many situations... Those of the New World and Asia... as well as most all other bodies of water in Africa, not much at all>
I've read different thing. Some say don't use any salt. Some say use salt, but not normal aquarium salt as it won't help a thing. They then say to use salt used in salt water tanks or Epsom salt. What do you think I should use and how much?
<Please read here:
and elsewhere on WWM re Cichlid Systems...>
Thanks for your time!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Old Frontosa With Hole In The Head 06/03/09
Hi guys, I have a frontosa. He is about twelve years old. I have medicated him with every thing I can think of, Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole. If I am not mistaken it is hole in the head?, You cannot see it very well in the picture but that is a deep hole on the side of his face not just surface.
and he also has transparent grape like clusters by his eye and his face is pitted pretty bad, am I right about the hole in the head?
< That is definitely Hole-In-The Head.>
He has had this for a about two years, I have been thinking about putting him down with Finquel. I am sending you some pics. If the pics are to big, please let me know and I will try to make them smaller. Thank you Michelle
< Thanks for the pictures. Your frontosa is very old and may not respond to the medication. First lets start with the water quality. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be under 20 ppm. The pH should be as close to 8.0 as possible. The water temp should be around 82 F. The diet should include a high quality pellet with fish meal as a major ingredient. Now that he is sick you should try and feed him some medicated food with Metronidazole in it. Your fish has been sick for a very long time and his age makes recovery a very slow process. You used the right medications, it is just that in hard alkaline water these medications are not as effective.-Chuck>

cobalt blue cichlid emergency
Malawi Cichlid With Damage 6/1/2009

Hello, I've been searching around your site to find a similar problem, but have been unable to find anyone with what appears to be the same problem our fish is having. We have a 75 gallon tank, had two yellow labs and a cobalt blue. One lab was picking at the other, so we took out the one that was being picked at. He's doing fine now in our other 75 gallon, his fins and tail have all grown back nicely with color. He's happy there. The blue was always one to hold his own, so we weren't concerned that they would not get along. He was as clear as a bell, eyes, fins, scales...perfect health. Two days later, we found the lab picked at him so severely that his pectoral fins and tail were half gone, and a couple spots on his side; not sure if these were from the lab or damaged when he tried to get away, on some tank decorations maybe. And he has been unable to stay upright, and swim with much control; he's even rolling a bit, like a kayak. We immediately surrendered the bad lab to the LFS, that was yesterday. Put in some Metronidazole we had, but it wasn't quite enough.
Today, can't find any LFS with any meds at all. We may have to travel an hour to get some, but wanted to know if you had any thoughts on what the problem might be. This buoyancy issue began with the damage from the lab, so we don't think it's bladder disease, though I'm not completely sure.
Talked to my fisheries biologist brother, and he didn't think bladder could have been damaged by lab, and suggested checking the eye swim reflex, which looks good when he spins (referring to the fish looking toward his belly when he spins), so we don't think it's neurological. We changed out 50% of water, and figure we need to treat again...I tried attaching a video, but it's quite large (12.4 megs), so email probably wouldn't allow, or it would take days to download; I don't have anywhere to post to (maybe you have an
idea?). Hopefully you will have some ideas on how to treat based upon my description here...we are surprisingly attached to these guys...hope we don't have to euthanize. Thank you for any help you may be able to provide.
(Checked water yesterday: ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 20, pH 6, have maintained these levels for 5+ years now).Kim
< The internal damage could be from the physical trauma caused by direct hits on the flanks or by stress to the internal organs from the attacks. The loss of the fins could effect the fish's ability to control it's movements. Keep the water clean and watch for bacterial or fungal infections. As the fins grow back the swimming should improve. If the fish is not eating then medications like Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace should be tried.-Chuck>

Redness near pectoral fins...
Electric Yellow Cichlid With Reddish Sides 6/1/2009

Good Day WWM Crew, I'm a newbie & just started my first 195 litre freshwater aquarium. The aquarium has been operational for the last 1 month. It holds 5 yellow electric cichlids and 2 powder blue cichlids. It's
got lots of rocks & caves with white sand & crushed corals as the aquarium's base. Water pH level range is about 8.0 to 8.3, tested ammonia level is at 0. I feed the fishes twice a day. Chemicals added to the water
consist of standard anti-chlorine, standard aquarium salt, Ocean Free's Vitamin Complex, Ocean Free's Super Battle Bacteria. I feed my fishes Sera's Vipan flakes. Recently noticed that 1 yellow cichlid has an enlarged left eye & redness on both sides of the body that is connected to the pectoral fin. This fish looks slightly tired, still swims around, is still alert but eats less. I noticed the redness about 5 days ago. I have not
done any medical treatment as of yet. So far, I have changed about 15% of the aquarium water once every 2 days. Washed my 2 filters once a week. Been adding the Vitamin complex each time I change water. I noticed that the redness has changed to red-pink this morning on one side of it's body. The other 6 fishes still look ok, no signs of redness yet. Hope the 6 don't catch whatever this fish has. Appreciate if you can share your experience on how to solve this. I do not have a spare tank to be used as a treatment tank. And I'm worried that some meds might destroy the good bacteria that is part of the bio-filter.
Thank you in advance. Regards, Roger (Singapore)
< The reddish coloration is a sign of irritation. This could be a chemical imbalance or a bacterial attack. The pH is fine. I would check the nitrites and nitrates. The nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 20 ppm. The enlarged eye could be the start of pop eye. This is an infection behind the eye socket. I would recommend cleaning the filters on alternative weeks. Clean filter one on the first week then clean filter two one the second week. This will make sure that you don't wash away the biological filtration. Back off on the salt, it is not needed.-Chuck>
Re: Redness near pectoral fins... 6/1/2009

Lake Malawi Cichlid With Redness Around Fins
Hi Chuck, I checked the particular fish and noticed that there is some fine redness lines on the part above its mouth. I don't have nitrites and nitrates test kits at the moment, but I did manage to clean 1 filter. I have been doing daily 10% water changes since sending my first email to you on the 29th May. I visited my local pet shop and the owner sold me some yellow powder, which he said would cure the redness. I have no idea what the contents are, since the wordings on the pack are all in Japanese. But after doing some research on the Internet, I suspect he sold me some Acriflavine. I haven't used it yet though. As a precaution, I did purchase a bottle of Interpet's Anti-Internal Bacteria. Please advice if I should keep to the water changes, or if I should start to use the meds I bought.
Which one should I start with? Yellow powder or Interpet? Thanks in advance. Regards, Roger
<The yellow powder may be an antibiotic called Nitrofurazone. Check with the pet store to find out exactly what you bought. Acriflavine won't help.
The Nitro will work but may harm your biological filtration.-Chuck>
Re: Redness near pectoral fins...

Redness On Lake Malawi Cichlid II 06/02/09
Found out that the yellow powder is called m-nitrostyrene sodium salt, which is a fungicide. My fishes have been swimming in it for a few days now. I don't think it's doing the trick cos my sick cichlid is starting to change from yellow to black. I'm going to do a 10% water change again tonight and start with Interpet's Anti Bacteria. Regards, Roger
< Fungicides are useless when treating diseases on fish. A fungus will attack dead tissue and will usually not attack living tissue. A antibiotic is probably in order since the water changes don't seem to work. When using an antibiotic be careful because it may affect the biological filtration so watch for ammonia spikes.-Chuck>
Re: Redness near pectoral fins...
Medicating An Established Aquarium - 06/05/09

My 1 sick cichlid actually looked much better, 24 hours after I did a 10% water change & introduced Interpet Anti Bacteria to the tank. His body was turning slight more yellow now (still on the dark side) and his pectoral joints were not so red anymore. I felt happy and it looked like the Interpet was working. Plus the booklet for Interpet said that it was safe for bio-filters.
Then a new problem arose. I should not have listened to my LFS and used the yellow powder. Looks like the yellow powder killed off my bio-filter.
Yesterday at 6 pm, I noticed that another cichlid was looking tired and turning color from yellow to black. Oh no, another sick fish. This makes 2 now!!
I tested the water immediately and found 0.5 ammonia. My fishes were under heavy ammonia poisoning attack since my water pH is high. Plus the water smelled bad.
I quickly changed 20% water, added loads of bio-filter bacteria, anti-chlorine & vitamin complex, then I went to bed. This morning when I woke up, ammonia was back to 0 and nitrites were 0 too.
Questions:- How many days should I let my fishes recover from the ammonia attack before I start my 2nd dose of Interpet? Should I even continue to heal the internal infection now or just rely on water changes and vitamin?
Regards, Roger
< This is why we usually recommend treating fish in a hospital tank instead of an established aquarium. The antibiotics seem to be working but the ammonia spike can be deadly. If I did not have the option of a hospital tank I would recommend the following. First thing I would do is clean the filters, vacuum the gravel and do a 50% water change. Remove any driftwood.
One the first day I would medicate as per the directions on the package.
The next day I would do a 50% water change. One the third day I would medicate again. On the fourth day I would change 50% of the water. On the fifth day I would medicate for the last time. On the sixth day I would change 50% of the water and add a good activated carbon to remove any left over medication. On the seventh day I would add Dr. Tim's One and Only bacterial starter culture and resume lightly feeding the fish. Do not feed sick fish.-Chuck>.
Re: Redness near pectoral fins...
Ammonia Stress On Fish - 06/05/09

Hello WWM Crew, I came home from work today and checked on the fishes. The 2 still look tired. So I added an extra 5ml of bio-filter bacteria, just to make sure the ammonia stays at zero.
In all your years as aquarist, have you ever successfully manage to save a fish from ammonia stress? Did the fish eat, swim and have all it's normal body functions/looks again? What was the fastest and longest time it took for your fish to recover from ammonia stress? Regards, Roger
< The main physical trauma to fish is a severe reduction of the gill tissues. If too severe then the fish usually don't recover because they can't breath. The ammonia trauma depends on the concentration of ammonia and how long the fish are exposed to it. As you already know that the ammonia ion is more deadly at basic pH ranges.-Chuck>
Re: Redness near pectoral fins...
Fish With Redness Near Fins Slowly Getting Better 6/11/09

Hello again, It's been 7 days now, main tank has been on Interpet No.9 Anti Bacteria. My bio-filter has not been compromised in anyway, which is good news. I've been following your medication & water changes steps. My water's pH is on the 8.0 to 8.3 range. Ammonia and nitrites are at zero. Both fishes look slightly better.
- I notice that they are more willing to swim around with the others now, instead of just lying at the bottom of the tank to rest.
- The darkness on their skin has slightly faded off but they are not fully yellow again.
- Eating is still an issue. They grab the flake but spits it out.
- I still notice redness at the pectoral fin joints and around the mouth.
I've looked closely at them and found no other signs of sickness. Fins are ok, no worms sticking out of their bodies, lips are not rotting or swollen...etc
I really hope they make it and not die of hunger. I'm out of ideas as to what is causing the redness around the pectorals and mouth. Is there anything else I can do? Should I stop the Interpet?
Regards, Roger
< I am unable to find out what the ingredients are for the patented formula for Interpet No. 9,. Anti bacterial. It is difficult to tell if it is really working or the water changes and improved water quality are improving the overall health of your fish. The fact that the biological filtration wasn't affected makes me wonder about the effectiveness of the medication. In the U.S. I would recommend using a real antibiotic like Nitrofuranace or Erythromycin because I know what is in these medications . If one did not work then I could switch to another. If the fish is improving then I would continue with the existing treatment.-Chuck>
Re: Redness near pectoral fins...

Antibiotics May Affect Biological Filtration 6/13/09
Hi WWW Crew, I checked the Internet and found that API (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals) is an American company. After browsing their website, I found that they too sell medications that are bio-filter safe. Products like Furan-2, Melafix, Pimafix, Tetracycline and Triple Sulfa does not hard bio-filter. So would you question the effectiveness of these API products since they claim that these are bio-filter safe? Have you had successful experiences with them? Regards, Roger
< Medications can say anything they want on the package. Bacteria convert ammonia to nitrites and then nitrates. Different kinds of bacteria attack the living tissues of aquarium fish. Is it possible for some antibiotics to be selective enough to only kill the bacteria attacking the fish? Sure it is. In your particular situation you have a fish with some redness around the pectoral fins along with some other symptoms. Are you satisfied with the results of treating with Interpet #9? If you are, then continue to treat as per the directions on the package. If not, then it hasn't worked.
I would recommend treating with a known antibiotic like Nitrofurazone or Erythromycin. Regardless of what they say on the package I would recommend treating in a hospital tank. If you have to treat in the main tank then I would still caution you about ammonia and nitrite spikes.-Chuck>

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

Tropheus kiku has developed a bulge.
Wild Tropheus With Bulge 4/1/2009

The fish is a female wild caught Tropheus sp. Red .
She has been in the US for at least 17 months. Problem occurred around Oct/Nov 2008. (Arrived from the lake Nov/Dec 2007 I believe)
I bought this colony from friend who is a large collector of Tropheus here in Houston (where I live) in Jan 09, and he is keeping this female until we can resolve this. (as he has more of the facilities to do this for me, but I am doing as much leg work as I can, so I can take home my last fish)
She has developed a bulge on one side of her body. Pictures included see below. She is currently in a 20g hospital tank.
She has been medicated with a Melafix, Pimafix, Clout, Epsom salt and a few other medications. Nothing seems to help. She eats, poops and everything a fish normally does, including coming to the glass when someone is near, come to the surface to hit the food like any Tropheus does. I am most interested in a diagnoses, as this is something I have yet
been able to determine. Weekly 50% water change.
pH 7.75 electronically measured.
None of the other fish in the tank she was previously was in shows any signs of this issue. This fish was in a tank with 10 other and 35+ Ikola (all WC). Hopefully the pictures will assist the most.
There is a lot of them so please bear with me.
Thank you J Jesper, Jesper Houken Prairie Fyre Administrator
< Wild fish come in with all kinds of parasites both internal and external.
Dealers can medicate to get rid of some parasites but sometimes not all of them. Because you fish is wild there is no way to determine the age of the fish. Older fish have a much more difficult time with stress then younger fish. I have had wild A. calvus with the same problem. I would recommend a treatment of a combin ation of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace and raise the water temp to 82 F. This combination should treat both internal and external infections. While diving in lake Tanganyika in 2002 I actually found wild fish affected with this condition.-Chuck>

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