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FAQs on African Cichlid Diseases 2

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: African Cichlid Disease 1, African Cichlid Disease 3, African Cichlid Disease 4, African Cichlid Disease 5, African Cichlid Disease 6, African Cichlid Disease 7, African Cichlid Disease 8, & Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Disease 2, Cichlid Disease 3, African Cichlid Disease 5, African Cichlids in General, African Cichlid Identification, African Cichlid Selection, African Cichlid Behavior, African Cichlid Compatibility, African Cichlid Systems, African Cichlid Feeding, African Cichlid Reproduction, Cichlids of the WorldCichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

My  Nubilis is sick! Hi BOB, My name is Michelle W. <Hi Michelle, Ronni here today answering the freshwater questions.> and I have some serious problems with my Haplochromis Nubilis, He was in a 135 tank with my other fish and a female Nubilis and he was getting real aggressive with the other fish, it could have been because of the female, she was holding and I took him out of the 135 gallon tank  for reason no. 1, I didn't want no more fry and no. 2 he was chasing every thing that went by him, but he was just fine when I took him out. The photos that I sent are not so great but the first photo where he is really dark, he looks great, I moved him into a 30 gallon breeder that was available. About four weeks ago, I just noticed the other day that he has a lump under his mouth, chin? and his gills are looking funny, they look like they are folding up on the edges and in side is really red, I sent some pictures and drew a line around the areas where the problems are, he is in a 30 gallon tank , I know these pictures are pretty bad!! <The pictures are fine and were a great help!> But I hope you can get an idea any way. That is not a stripe, that is the gap where his gill plate is suppose to be, please help, I tried to medicate him first for bacterial and then for parasite, now I am feeding him tetra food for bacteria and for parasites. He is still eating thank god!! <First off, how is the water quality in the tank he's in? Are any of the parameters different than they were in your main tank (or have they been different since you put him in the new tank?) It really looks and sounds as if he has some sort of a parasitic infection though. What parasite medication did you use? Check your LFS for medications to treat internal parasites. If you can find one that treats both internal and external parasites I would recommend using that.> I would really appreciate it if you could get back with me on this ASAP! Thank you again! Michelle W. <Good luck! Ronni>

Re: My Nubilis is sick! Thanks Ronni, <You're welcome> I had used Paragon II , but I didn't use it long enough, <When using meds, it's always best to follow the directions exactly.> since then I did a water change, I have some clout, but first I will check the water  and use the clout, I hate doing that but, I know sometimes you have to. I will let you know, he seems strong enough, I hope. Wish me luck! Thanks!!!! Michelle W. <Good luck! Ronni>

Re: My nubilis HI Ronni, <Hi Michelle> I told you I would let you know how my nuby is doing, and it doesn't look good, when I feed him some of his food is coming out of his gills!  I still have clout in with him and he is eating but I don't know what to do now, poor thing, I can't figure out what happened to him! I hate when this happens!  I will probably have to freeze him, I don't know how old he was when I got him, he was an adult when I purchased him so I don't know if old age is part of it or what, thanks for listing to my problems. Michelle W. <I am very sorry to hear this. Age could be a factor but I've never heard of the food coming out of their gills because of age (or illness for that matter). Wish I could have helped more. Ronni>

Re: My nubilis Hi Ronni, I didn't mean that the food is coming out of his gills because he is old, I just meant that he got sick so fast, and maybe he was more prone to diseases, I keep my water clean, when I clean my tanks I always gravel clean them, I don't just do water changes.  Have you ever heard of this before? (The food coming out of the gills?) Michelle Wrathell <My mistake, I read your last message wrong. But actually, the only fish I've ever heard of that has food come out of his gills is a friends Puffer and then only when he eats Mysis shrimp. He doesn't do it with Brine or other frozen foods; just the Mysis and we've never been able to figure out why. While we're talking about foods though, have you recently changed the food this guy has been getting? And has he been getting a good variety including some blue-green algae (like Spirulina)? Ronni>

Re: My nubilis Hi again Ronni, I feed my fish a variety of foods from color bits tropical granules from tetra to tetra crisps and the flake foods and now and then I get those frozen variety packs, the one that has blood worms and shrimp. I do have some of that green algae because I also have Tropheus moorii that likes it, I also have Spirulina flakes, I will try some of that algae on him, I am not giving up yet! I did a water change to  give him a break for a while and maybe medicate one more time just to be sure, he does look better today, his gills are looking smoother and not so curled up and red, (a great thing)  why did you ask about the blue green algae? Are my fish lacking something maybe? Michelle Wrathell <Hi Michelle. I'm very glad to hear that he seems to be doing better! The blue - green algae (Spirulina) is an important part of the diet for any African Cichlid in captivity. Every breeder I've talked to recommends that they be offered this several times a week. In the wild, these fish are omnivorous. While a major potion of their diet consists of small crustaceans and larval insects, they do graze on the algae quite a bit and need this for proper health. In captivity, the lack of this can lead to many different health problems, one of them being 'Malawi Bloat'. Even though it's called Malawi Bloat and most often happens to fish from Lake Malawi, it can and does happen to Cichlids from other lakes (like Lake Victoria where yours is most likely from) and occasionally even the S. American Cichlids. Since your fish readily takes flake or floating pellet food he should do just fine with the addition of the Spirulina flakes. Try supplementing him with them a couple of times a week and see what happens. This may be what you meant by the green algae that your Moori likes but you can get dried algae that can be clipped to the side of your tank with a lettuce clip or that can be attached to a rock, this allows them to graze on it a bit more than the flakes do since it doesn't foul quite as fast. Basically, try feeding the Nubilus just like you do the Moori and see if it helps. Ronni>

Re: Cichlid color fade Three weeks ago I purchased a African cichlid that was a baby blue with black stripes.  Now it is light brown with dark brown stripes, it is active and eats well.  It is about 2 in long, and I currently have it in a 10 gallon with one other African cichlid that is about an 1 1/2 inches long.  (That one was light brown with dark brown stripes when I purchased it, it's color hasn't changed.) I have been feeding them Tetra Cichlid Mini Granules.  I do a water change once a week.  What could be causing my cichlid to lose his color?  Is there a way to get the color back? <<Many cichlids will change colors as they get older and this is what this sounds like. This is a completely natural occurrence and cannot be reversed. Ronni>>

Re: African Cichlids itching Hi, <<Hello!>> I have a 55 gallon African Cichlid tank which has been running for approximately 6 months now.  I have 18 fish in it with the average length being 3" long. <<Whew, that's a lot of fish in a 55g. You *might* be OK for now but if these fish get any larger (and they will quite rapidly) you're going to have to move some of them. Crowding tends to be the norm in African Cichlid tanks because it helps cut down on aggression but on the other hand it's not as good for your Cichlids health and can cause water quality problems.>> They consist of mostly fish from Lake Malawi and a few from Lake Tanganyika. I run a Fluval 404 filter with bone charcoal, media and cotton in it.  I change 25% of the water faithfully every 2 weeks and the filter approx. every 6-7 weeks.  The pH is stable at 8.2 and the hardness is on the very hard scale on my test kit.  I use the African Rift salt in the water (1 tbls. Per 5 gallons).  The ammonia test kit shows a very slight trace of ammonia in the water.  The nitrites are very low and the nitrates are in the safe zone.   <<What are you considering slight trace and very low? Both the ammonia and nitrites readings should be at 0ppm. These being any higher than 0 could be caused in part by the amount of fish in there (Cichlids can be quite messy) and most likely overfeeding.>> Now that all being said, I've started to notice that some of the fish glance off the gravel and some of the decorations in the tank as if they are itching themselves.   <<This is not an entirely unheard of thing in Cichlids. Some of them do it just for fun, others do it because something is wrong. When I used to keep Africans I had a couple that did this a lot (in between them re-arranging their tank!). In your case this could possibly be the start of an outbreak of ich but my best guess would be that it's caused by some other discomfort such as the ammonia and nitrites or the crowding.>> I went to my local pet store where I purchased most of the fish and they said there could be some sort of parasite in the water which could be causing them to itch. They gave me some drops to add to the water to treat the tank. They have a chemist make this medication up which has a wide variety of uses.  You could use it to treat ich, fight fungus, fight parasites. it could be used every time new fish are added as a preventative purpose.  Well I have treated the tank 3 times (did partial water changes in between) and some still occasionally itch themselves.  Now is this normal behavior or do I have a real problem?  I read somewhere else that fish shimmying or shaking are tied in with the itching, this isn't the case with my fish though.  They just glance off of objects in the tank.  Please help. <<See above for possible causes. My suggestion would be to get the ammonia/nitrites down and move some of the fish to a different tank if possible, if not, sell them. Try to get the tank down to about 12 in it for now. You may have to move more later but for now this would work. I think this will greatly help their comfort and they'll be much happier. Keep an eye on them for any other symptoms of disease but I doubt you'll see any. Also, read thru http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afrcichlids.htm and the related FAQ's for more info on Africans. If you do the steps above and the fish keep glancing off items but still show no signs of disease then don't worry about it, they're just having fun. Just enjoy watching them as this behavior can often be quite comical, especially in Cichlids!>> Thanks, Dave <<You're welcome! Ronni>>

RE: African Cichlids itching Thank you Ronni! <<Glad I could help.>> I actually have one more cichlid tank with only 2 fish in it (Juveniles).  They are almost 2 inches now so they should be able to take a couple non-aggressive tank mates. <<Sounds like a good place. One thing I should have suggested earlier and forgot, (never answer e-mail before your first cup of coffee!) I would highly recommend quarantining any that you move before you put them in with other fish. This is just to be on the safe side and make sure that the scratching you're seeing is not being caused by the early stages of ich or some other disease. I also keep a tropical tank which I have no troubles with. <<Sounds like you're having fun. Keep up the good work! Ronni>> Dave

Enquiry (Tilapia parasite fauna information request) Sir/Madam: Greetings!!!!!! I'm a fourth year Bs Biology student and I'm having a thesis entitled " helminth parasites in the gills and guts of tilapia". In connection, with this I would like to acquire a copy of any published article concerning this subject or any related literature about this topic. hope you could offer a few time to read and could give a positive response of this request. Through your positive reply my future will be brighten and it could give assistance to my study. Until here, and I'm waiting for your reply. God blesses you ! Respectfully yours, Andre Aggasid C/O College of arts and sciences Central Mindanao University Musuan 8710 Bukidnon PHILIPPINES <Hmm, good topic (Tilapia, Oreochromis cichlids are very important food fishes in many places of the world). I don't have such pertinent literature, but will post your message on our site (www.WetWebMedia.com) in hopes that others may be able to help you. Bob Fenner>

African Cichlid Losses Hello Bob. I am Eric Rood's Nephew, and he told me about your website and how you are the man that can help me.  <Ahh, glad to make your acquaintance> I have had a 75 gallon tank set up for about 11 months. I have a magnum 350 filter system. I have been having trouble with deaths in the tank. one here or there, but now I just had one die, and two are looking very skinny and breathing quite rapidly. I only feed the fish New Life SPECTRUM Cichlid Formula and I am wandering what am I doing wrong. Am I getting bad fish with copper poisoning from a pet store? <Mmm, maybe... sounds like a "general environmental" problem of some sort. Do you have copper testing data? I would check this, dissolved oxygen, other physical variables here> Do I need a different food regimen. Uncle Eric said you were the one to talk to so I would greatly appreciate any help that you could give my way. email back any questions you have for me. Thanks for reading this email and have a great day. PS I had 11 fish in the tank. Nathaniel Rood <Do write back with what sorts (cichlids I take it) of fishes you have lost. I do suspect the root problem/cause here IS environmental. Need to know more about your source water quality, history of maintenance. Bob Fenner>

Re: African Cichlid Losses I have African Cichlids, <Ones that appreciate hard, alkaline water likely> I use water from the tap where I add Nitromax and the prime which removes chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia. I remove a 1/4 of the water once a month and use a gravel cleaner hooked up to the intake. The water is clear and I check each month for the nitrate and the ammonia levels which have been 0ppm. I have fake plants and corral in the tank. The light is on for about4-6 hours a day. On the exact cichlids that have been lost I don't know there specific names. I hope this is helpful. Let me know if I missed something. I use the Black Diamond product in the filter. <All related is fine... Do you know the pH, DH of your tank, tapwater? Bob Fenner> Thanks Nathaniel

Re: African Cichlid, System, Mystery Losses Just use the city water for the tank. I don't know what the ph is now, but I have tested it in the past and it was in the range for Cichlids, but I don't have a new reading. Most of the stores around here just test ph, nitrate and ammonia levels and that is it. <I would still test, assure it's in the upper 7's, low 8's... likely add a bit (a teaspoon per gallon over a few days time) of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to bolster the alkalinity, safely elevate pH. Other than this, I would definitely increase aeration in the system. Bob Fenner>

Re: African Cichlid, System, Mystery Losses What type of aeration would you get for my 75 gallon tank? So get a ph kit and drop the baking soda in as you directed. Thanks <Please read through our websites (start here: www.WetWebMedia.com) re set-up... Likely airstone, long, set along edge-bottom of the tank. Bob Fenner> NSR

Re: African Cichlid, System, Mystery Losses Thanks for all your help. Going to get Baking Soda, Ph tester and one last question is the Nitromax ok are should I be using items like the Cichlid lake salts or buffers? Thanks again. <Nitromax the product is fine... does different "things" than salts and buffers though. You should follow your inquisitive mind here, study a bit re practical water chemistry. Likely the use of salts and buffers is a good idea. Bob Fenner> Nathaniel

RE: Tumors on my Kribensis? Thank you, I have separated that fish from the tank and am taking him to a local fish store where I hope I can get some information. I fear it may be parasites because yes, I did add new live plants (water lettuce) from an outdoor pond and have had a small snail population building. The fish appear to eat the eggs and some of the smaller snails. I also have 2 1 inch Ram's Horn snails from the fish store. So, while none of the other show any signs of this if it is a parasite carried by the snails I suppose I may need to treat the entire tank, not just the sick fish.  <perhaps not... begin with the sick fish separated to a QT tank> My problem is I have so many types of fragile fish. 5 Cory cats, 1 upside down catfish, 5 neons, 1 killifish, 2 mini dwarf Gouramis, 2 German Rams, and now just 2 Kribensis (since I took the sick one out). Plus, I have a floating bowl with about 20 honey Gouramis fry and I throw their old water out by about 1/3 per day and replace it with tank water. PLUS, the Kribensis are broody and may have already spawned so there may be fry in the main tank. I guess depending on the diagnosis I may need to kill off all the snails. <hmmm... I don't follow or agree. > If it is a parasite that the snails are a vector for would it be likely that the Ram's horns have it too? I don't mind getting rid of the little wild ones but I'm fond of the Ram's horns. <I don't think you have to rid either. The vector cannot maintain the pathogen indefinitely. Once the tank is clean and all new entries are properly QT'ed, all will be fine> If I do make the decision that the origin of the problem is the snails what treatment do you recommend to kill off all snails (in view of the fish I have). <good heavens... don't kill anything! Especially not the innocent. The plants and water are more likely carriers> Oh, tank is 40 gallons. Ph is 7.2, ammonia zero. Filter is Magnum canister and an under gravel. Just remembered, last partial water change I sucked up some one inch living red skinny, skinny worms from the gravel. I did feed black worms (live) once months ago,  <also a VERY risky food... in fact, that is the most likely import of the pathogen at this point. There presence after one month suggests a nutrient problem in the tank (overfeeding and/or lack of water changes that allowed them to survive in the gravel> the Rams got ick and I learned my lesson. I treated the tank and all the fish recovered except I lost several neons (I understand they are fairly fragile, I tend to lose them a lot. When I try to build the school up I'll typically lose 50% of the new introductions. I get similarly sized ones so they can compete for food, they seem to be accepted into the school and they never look sick. They just disappear and I never find the bodies so I suppose the other fish eat them after they die. I don't think they eat them alive because I get large neons. My killifish MIGHT eat them but I doubt it, he is about 3 inches and can eat some pretty big bugs but he seems to only grab things near the surface. None of my other fish are over 2 inches. Speaking of bugs, I do feed bugs from the yard to the killifish. Maybe I should stop that.  <terrestrial are OK and most FW aquatics are cool too... the blackworms simply come from cess pools!> Plus I maintain 2 containers of green water that attract mosquitoes and flies and I feed those larvae to the fish.  <very fine food> I also feed the micro dots swimming about to the fry. This water was originally tap water with lettuce in it that I left in the sun to grow algae, it did not come from a pond. <also safe/fine> I love to see spawning behavior, that is why I choose the Kribs, rams and Gouramis. I've had all of them spawn plus angels, blue Gouramis, guppies and Bettas in the past but all those sources of live food help may be a source of illness. The fish love it and some pair is always spawning but it may be causing more diseases too. I hate to raise brine shrimp (messy) but maybe I'll get a daphnia culture going and stop all the wild bugs. <wise, yes> What are your thoughts on any area you'd care to comment? Thanks in advance for your advice. Fish store employees seldom have much to say that I don't either already know or worse, that I know is wrong. I probably should join a local aquarium club and will look into that. <indeed one of the most helpful things you could do!> Carla <best regards, Anthony>

Tumors on my I have a trio of Kribs, 2 males and 1 female. One male and the female have formed a bond and I expect will be making babies soon. I've had success with breeding Kribs in the past so am familiar with the behaviors I am observing. My question is about the unpaired male. He has bumps near his tail that appear to be tumors.  <could be parasites too... added any live plants?> By this I mean they seem to be under the skin, and pushing it up in bumps. There are 4 or 5 of them. Some are whitish, others more brown. They are small, maybe the size of a pinhead except where several sort of blend together. The fish is under a lot of stress, he is definitely a target fish for the mated pair. They ignored each other until the "sick" fish was introduced to the tank. They then almost immediately pinked up and claimed a territory. They both chase him unmercifully, my tank is a 40 gallon and is not crowded plus has lots of hiding caves, tunnels, etc... so he basically hides out a lot with the Corys. On top of all that my honey Gouramis recently spawned and the male of that pair also chases him out of "his" corner. The "sick" fish's appetite is good and I make sure he gets food while the mated pair is distracted with their own food. I'm wondering what these bumps are. Do you have any idea?  Also if you do know if you have information on treatment I would appreciate that too; plus information on contagiousness. Thank you, Carla D'Anna <alas... too difficult to diagnose via e-mailed description. Do look into Dieter Untergasser's Handbook of Fish Diseases for a better ID and treatment. Best regards, Anthony>

Need your help 3 deaths  I hope you can help! Before my question. Here is my equipment and fish list. 90 gallon (regular size), two emperor 400 filters I change the filters and add carbon black diamond brand) to the extra media containers every 25-30 days, 350watt Won "pro heat II" titanium heater, shop light fixture, with one normal 40 watt light and one special 40 watt aquarium bulb,  <At this point I have concern if the Emperors are your only filters... especially with the regular cleanings (purging biological activity necessarily). Is there no other biological filtration? Wet/Dry, Canister with coarse media, UG, etc?> For food I use Hikari "Cichlid Complete" and "Cichlid Excel" and every 3-5 days I feed frozen brine. African cichlid fish I have (all about the same size 3") 1 red zebra, 1 blue zebra, 1 male and female Kenyi, 1 rusty brown, 1 tetracephalus, 1 yellow lab (Labidochromis caeruleus). OTHER FISH,1 2" Synodontis petricola , 1 male and 1 female three spot Gouramis 4"-5" ( I know I will probably have to get rid of these Gouramis in the future when my cichlids get bigger!), and 4 tiger barbs (medium size)  <yes... the Gouramis and barbs should be removed... incompatible size, water quality needs and aggression> I also keep my tank at 79-80 degrees. I have an accurate temp gauge in the tank. <very fine> I do 20-25 percent water change/vacuum the gravel every 7-10 days,  <excellent> I also use a .5 micron carbon filter to filter my tap water before it goes into the tank. The filter is an inline filter that goes in-between two garden hoses, I hook the garden hose up to my bathroom sink faucet, turn the water on to the right temp (about 78 degrees) then fill the tank back up. Right before I fill the tank I put Amquel and Novaqua in the tank for the replacement water, enough for about 30-40 gallons. Is it OK to treat the replacement water in this way?  <a little risky but not a big concern with smaller water changes (under 30%)> I put the conditioner in the tank then put the replacement water in. (I read that it will not hurt the fish to add a little more than needed), <agreed> then start to fill the tank back up. I have done it this way for the last 4 months and has worked perfectly. I also add one table spoon of salt for every ten gallons. <very good> How I acclimate: Float bag for 15 minutes, then open bag and pour about 5-8oz (depending on the size of the bag and amount of water in it) of water from the tank in every 4 minutes, I do that three times then empty about half the bag, then I do it again. after that I pour the water out of the bag kinda quickly in to a container being careful to keep the fish in the bag, then after the water is out of the bag I turn the bag upside down and the fish goes into the tank, I was told never to get much of the water from the bag in to the tank or to touch the fish, it can hurt there slime coat.  <yes... all good acclimation, by me> The fish is without water for no longer than 2 seconds. Is this a good way to acclimate? If not could you tell me the right way? < a fine method... no worries here> My existing fish are doing unbelievably well, with a TON of color (twice what I see in store fish) and seem VERY VERY alert and healthy (They eat like pigs, I do not over feed though, I make sure no food gets to the bottom and feed 2-3 times a day only as much as they can eat in about 2 minutes). I have had my tank now for about 4 months and have read allot of material on the net about fish keeping so I know a little bit about African cichlids and there needs, Higher ph, lots of hiding places and so on. I live in an area (Fargo, ND) where all of our water around here has a higher PH so it works out good for the fish. QUESTION! OK, Here's what happened, I went to PetCo and they had JUST gotten in that day (Friday) ten (LARGE 3-5 inches) albino zebras/redtops (at that's what I think they were, the sticker on the tank said assorted Cichlids), anyways I picked up two and got them home acclimated them the same way I did all my other fish. I did a water change/vacuum the day before. They appeared to be fine, although not readily taking food after a few hours, I thought, hmm that's strange. Then after about 6 hours in the tank one of them started to eat a little bit (I thought GREAT, if a fish is eating it's a good sign "usually") Then the next day (sat.) the one that did not eat the day before started to sit at the top for about 5 hours with his head towards the top of the water and tail a little lower at about a 30 degree angle. I started to think there was something wrong? So I tried feeding it again and it was NOT interested, moving slowly unlike my other cichlids. Then he sat on the bottom for about two hours, freaked out for a minute then died. <could have been a stressed fish from a rough import or there could easily have been some exhaustive chasing by the other cichlids at night for sleeping territories> It was my first death, so I read up on hypoxia and though that that's what happened. I took fish #1 (dead) and a water sample in to PetCo and they tested my water and said my water was great and replaced the fish with one that was swimming around and looked perfectly fine in there tank (this is now Sunday and I bought the two fish on Friday). I also purchased a penguin 1140 power head, thinking that I needed more aeration.  <more is better indeed> I thought maybe the larger fish (4-5 inches) needed more oxygen in the water then the smaller ones (2-3 inches)? <true in theory> So I brought fish #3 (replacement fish for 1) home and got him in the tank and got the power head going full blast (that is allot of bubbles). Then fish #2 started to act the same way sitting at the top. NOW I WAS STUMPED, I could not figure out what was going on or wrong?? About 2 hours later #2 fish died. Then about 12 hours later #3 fish started doing the same thing at the top then 6 hours passed and he died. I NEED HELP? What is wrong?  <it may simply be the source of the fish... try a different supplier. And whenever possible, quarantine all new fish in a separate 10 gallon QT tank to protect your healthy established fishes from risk of disease> I tested for nitrites again (I do not own any other testing stuff other than a nitrite test kit) and it was 0. PetCo tested for a few other things not sure exactly what, but seen them do about 4 dif. tests to my water sample, with test strips. I did ask how my nitrates were and they said that it was very low to none. Question: do the two Emperor filters have enough aeration for the 90 gallon?  <quite possibly not... maybe not enough biological filtration in the long run for the heavy bio-load of cichlids> I do NOT have an under gravel filter, I only have about 1/4" of gravel in the tank and assorted plants and caves. THANK YOU! Dave <QT new fishes and try a new source to eliminate variables... if not... perhaps a Polyfilter with concern for an untestable contaminant (unlikely). Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Need your help 3 deaths Thanks so much for your response! I love your site and I am going to donate the next time I'm there!  <thanks kindly:) > I noticed you were concerned about only having the Two emperor 400's. Was that because of Just bio-filtration or mechanical filtration too? <mostly concern for enough biological capacity with the heavy load that cichlids can bring> I was thinking about adding a Fluval 404, Would this help or would it be overkill? Would adding this filter add to much current? <a very fine choice... not overkill or too much current. Excellent> Also if I get a canister filter I would probably add a UV filter in the near future, Is there a need for UV filter in my tank or would it be a waste of $? < a complete waste of money for so many reasons. A fraction of that money would be better spent on having a 10 gallon QT tank for all new/sick fishes> I hate to bother you with SO MANY questions but here is one more.  <no worries... our pleasure> About a two months ago 1 of my cichlids got ich (1-3 tiny white dots on there skin) then the next day that same fish had no sign of it any more. Then every few days a different fish would get it then the same thing would happen, it would get the 1-3 tiny spots then they would go away. I NEVER treated for ich and it seems that it has went away on it's own?  <yes... this does happen in otherwise strong healthy fishes. Temperature fluctuations are a common cause. check out night time drop in temp... no more than 2F ideally> I have not seen any white spots on any of the fish for at least 2-3 weeks and the fish seem to be doing fine (A couple of the fish still itch on the rocks and gravel sometimes for-10 seconds at a time?), acting the same as always, accept my Yellow lab (Labidochromis caeruleus), he does not eat that well? Could ich just go away with no treatment or is it still effecting the fish with no white spots?  <still lingering no doubt but your fishes have good immunity. Still... watch carefully> I have read a ton of stuff on the life cycle of this parasite and it always tell how to treat it but I have yet to read about the parasite just going away with out treatment. Should I treat the tank with Kordon rid ich+ Or just leave it alone?  <small daily water changes from the bottom for 8 consecutive days can essentially break the life cycle... better than hostile meds in this case> I am concerned about some of the fish itching themselves on the decorations and gravel? I bought some of the new herbal Kordon brand "Prevent-Ich" It says it prevents Ich so I figured it couldn't hurt? Should I use this stuff or is it just hype? <complete crap IMO... Ha!> Sorry for all the questions. <no worries!> Again Thanks.... Dave <best regards, Anthony>

- Is this Bloat or perhaps something else? - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I have a 29gallon tank with 7 Mbuna Africans and one pleco. <Egads.> I recently realized they have white stringy feces and one stopped eating.  I am worried they might have Malawi bloat and was wondering what advise you might have for me. <I would cut the number of fish in this tank by at least half, if not more. The problems you are experiencing are most likely brought on by a lack of water quality which would be hard to improve with this many fish in the tank. Cheers, J -- >

Sick African Cichlids Dear Crew, This is the best site on the internet. (it is almost as good as email). I have one of my eight fish, with a missing back fin for maybe 2 months now. Tank Facts: 60 gallon trickle filter 10 gallon sump Activated Carbon Many Rocks and Tree stump for hiding I use: SeaChem's rift salt SeaChem's Trace element SeaChem's buffer I don't know what type of African Cichlids my fish are b/c all I can buy at the LFS is from an assorted tank.   <start searching on the internet, I am sure you will be able to ID them. http://malawicichlidhomepage.com/ > All the other fish look great. I don't know if this fish's fin has been nipped or if he has some sort of disease. The fish does get picked on and the top and side fins look good or at least better hard to tell. all the poor fish has is a nub on the back. To treat the problem I took out the activated carbon from my wet/dry trickle filter and used a bottle of Melafix in accordance with the directions on the box a month ago. I can't tell that it has helped at all. <did the fin grow back?> The fish still has a healthy appetite and struggles to swim but still competes for food.  What should I do to further diagnose the problem and solve it? <put the fish into a separate tank, see if it grows back.  The injury is probably from being bullied, if possible send us a picture of the injury.> I consider euthanasia, but one I couldn't catch the fish and two if it has that much fight why not let him live. <Good Plan>   Should I get a quarantine type shelter to put in my tank to let it heal if it is being picked on? Should I get a quarantine tank to protect the other fish?  being a poor student money is a factor so for now I prefer the shelter. <a QT tank does not have to be elaborate, bare bottom 10 gal, some pvc for hiding and a sponge filter.  If that is not possible I would consider adding some more hiding places to the main tank.> Thanks in advance I have used and loved the site for over a year now, <Awesome, -Gage> Rusty Bennett

Salt treatment for African cichlids I have some African cichlids that are scraping against rocks, have been for some time.  I can't convert the salt bath recipe on fishdoc.com  to tspn/Tbspn per gallon.  Do you have recipe handy? Thanks Daniel Heller <Hello Daniel, I could not get the fishdoc.com page to load.  Salt is usually added at around 1Tbspn per 10gal, depending upon what you are using it for.  Are there any noticeable spots on these fish?  You may be dealing with some parasites, in which case I would treat with more than just salt. -Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm  >

Scratchin' Africans Hi, <Hi! Ryan with you> I have a 55g African cichlid tank that has been set up almost a year and seems to be doing very well.  It features a dozen Africans with aragonite substrate. <Very cool> Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate all zero.  Emperor 400 filter, lots of lava rock  and former marine live rock (re-cured in fresh water) to provide caves and medium for bacteriological cultures. <Nice>  I add a half cup of sea salt to each 5g weekly water change. <Great!> For many months many of my fish seem to "scratch" themselves against rock or substrate.  This doesn't happen a lot, but it has been happening regularly for at least six months.  It hasn't gotten better or worse; every few minutes some fish in the tank will intentional rub or scratch himself against something hard.  Also, I notice that a few of the fish seem to occasionally get a sort of  a 10-second "twitching attack", like a little seizure.  <Yes, I have observed similar behavior in my African Cichlids.  Seems to fade away with age.> Other than this low-key-but-not-improving issue the aquarium is doing fine.   Should this be treated? How? <No, it's a common behavior that will always leave you second-guessing.  As long as you don't see any signs of infectious disease, no reason to worry.  Best of luck!  Ryan> Thanks for your guidance.  Jeff

Bubble Eye - And Not a Goldfish! Hello there, <Hello, Husnu, Sabrina here> My male Pseudotropheus acei gave me a scare today. He's less than 2 inches long and is doing fine with three females and another male acei (smaller). The tank is 60 gallons. I make a 25% water change weekly. Parameters are OK. Temperature is around 28 degrees C due to the warm weather. My female ahli (smaller than 2") had her first babies about three weeks ago, and now she's carrying new eggs. Both my Aulonocara nyassae females had their first eggs two weeks ago, but swallowed them, I guess due to the stress of being carried to a new tank. I started with a crowded all baby tank, and the extra males are leaving as I figure out their gender. <Everything sounds great so far> The problem:  The right eye of the male acei is a little cloudy with a small air bubble like transparent thing protruding from the surface. It wasn't there when he was looking at me yesterday. He seems ok, showing off, eating, trying to figure out why the ape like creature is looking at him through the glass. What can it be? <Well, it could be nothing, and the bubble just got stuck there one way or another, or it could be a sign of gas-bubble disease.  Gas bubble disease happens when the water is supersaturated with gas (mostly nitrogen) and can be fatal to the fish.  It usually only happens when water changes are done with cold, unaerated water that is quickly heated to aquarium temperature.  It is also thought that powerheads using venturis *might* contribute, but I'm not so sure on that.  Typically, a fish afflicted with this problem will be extremely lethargic.  Also, if there are bubbles stuck to the aquarium glass and decor, gas bubble disease is suspect.  If this is the case with your fish (which I rather doubt, as you said he seems to be in excellent condition, no mention of lethargy), the way to try to correct it would be to aerate the water vigorously, and when making water changes, do so with water that's been aerated for a good 24 hours and brought up to temp with an aquarium heater.  Rubbermaid containers are perfect for this purpose.  Also, just a note, cloudy eyes are typically a sign of poor water quality, but you mention that your water parameters are fine - I assume this means pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate check out okay.> What should I do? I really like this little one, although he likes to bite off the new anubias leaves. His eye looks weird. I'd hate to see him loose the eye.  Thanks to all at WWM,  Husnu  <For now, watch him closely; hopefully the bubble will be gone on its own (if it hasn't already, by the time you receive this email).  If things worsen or other symptoms show up, then perhaps a diagnosis will be easier to come to.  Do keep us updated.>

Twitching African cichlids - 8/5/03 Water changes are going on and the filter media has been changed. <Has the twitching ceased? Have you increased the water change regime? Did you change out all the filter media or just the mechanical? You should be careful about removing the biological media. I rinse mine in tank water, never in sink water. You could probably get away with rinsing it in prepared water (for your water changes)> There are no obvious signs of anything parasitic, but the fish do appear to be "rubbing" against rocks, plants, etc.  Could they be scratching?? <Well, it is within their behavior patterns to "glance" off rocks and such. The twitching, is it the rapid movement from side to side, is also witnessed when sexual maturity is reached. The males sometimes do this "courtship" behavior even when a female is not present in the tank. Do a search on "African cichlids" against your favorite search engine (google is a great search engine) and read about cichlid courtship behavior. Very fascinating. Also, check this out: http://www.cichlidrecipe.com/ I love this site!  In any event, keep me posted! -Paul>

- Healing an Open Wound - Hi WWM, <And hello to you, JasonC here...> I have an Aulonocara chipokae (approx.7-8cm) that is suffering from an open wound at the base and slightly forward of his pectoral fin. The fish exhibits no obvious signs of being hampered by the wound (swimming normally, eating) and has only lost some colour. <The eating part is encouraging.> I expect that the wound would heal itself, however the clown loaches that also occupy the tank appear to graze / eat the wound area while the Chipokae is not moving. <No good... probably won't encourage the healing.> Is this behaviour considered normal or does it point to other problems. <Which? The behavior of the loaches? Hard to say for certain... but not a behavior that should be encouraged.> The Chipokae would be on the bottom  of the Aulonocara pecking order in the tank. Some background info - 700 L tank - 3 Aulonocara sp. - 2 Lamprologus brichardi - 1 electric yellow - 1 electric blue - 1 pleco - 2 Synodontis sp. - 3 Clown loach - Twin 1800 lph external canister filters (SeaChem matrix media in each) - 25% monthly water changes (should be fortnightly, but always end up 3-4 weekly) - pH 7.5, nil detectable nitrate, nitrite <If I were you, I would isolate this fish to a quarantine/hospital system and give it time to heal in peace and quiet. You will need to maintain more frequent water changes, but I do think the isolation will help.> Congrats on the excellent site. Cheers Craig <And cheers to you. J -- >

- Problems with Tropheus duboisi Cichlids - Hi hope you can help <Hello, JasonC here... I hope I can help too.> I bought duboisi about 9 about three weeks ago.  Yesterday one died, before he died these where the main stages. First day - He spat out his food while others where eating. Then he remained at the bottom of the tank for the day and moved really slowly. Second day - Didn't attempt to eat his food. Started to swim awkwardly. Loss of colour and couldn't keep balance. Then died. <Sorry to hear of your loss.> I tested my nitrates ammonia and ph and all are perfect. No trace of nitrates No trace of ammonia And Ph of 8.8 <Do also test your alkalinity, dKH - these fish need rather alkaline water, between 10 and 12 on the dKH scale.> Now today another of my duboisi is showing the same symptoms spitting food, etc. I only feed them vegetable flakes and once a day! and its a pinch full they eat it up in 3-5 min.s. <Do make sure this food is 100% vegetable matter as proteins can cause them big problems. Also, I would look to water quality issues as everything I've read says these fish are pretty resilient, but get grumpy when their water isn't right.> Please help me thanks <Cheers, J -- > African cichlid owner-worried about Electric Yellow >Hi Crew, >>Good morning, Marina here. >What a wonderful website!!  I have a 55 gallon tank with a Penguin 330 Biowheel filter, and also an Aquaclear 200 filter. (No undergravel filter). I am also running a power head for circulation and oxygen. The pH level is currently at 8.2, the temp is 79 degrees. There are no plants in the tank, just some lava rock, Tufa rock and some rainbow rock for hiding places for the fish. There is also a fine gravel on the bottom - natural colored. >>Sounds like a great starter set up, well thought-out and executed, in my opinion.  You clearly understand the general needs of most African Rift lake cichlids. >I currently own 4 electric yellows, 2 electric blues and 2 red top afras. They are all juveniles (about 1.5-2" long). The yellows were my first fish, and had them 2 weeks before adding the blues and afras. (I did water changes, and waited for the nitrate level to drop back to zero before adding the blues and red tops.) >>I'm assuming that you didn't mean nitrite readings, and am impressed that you're getting zero nitrate with such filtration. >My nitrates have risen some (12.5 mg/l) with the new addition of fish, and am currently doing water changes to lower them. >>Are you vacuuming the gravel when you do these changes, or cleaning the biological cartridges when you perform the water changes? >When I do the water changes, I add Amquel to the water before adding it to the tank. I also use Bio-cycle during the water changes. >>I've not used this product at *all*, and African cichlids being what they are (which is hardy to the Nth degree), I see no need to add bacteria from a bottle (assuming they're live).  It could also be a source of nutrients. >I noticed yesterday that one of my electric yellows is starting to sit on the bottom of the tank more, and not as hungry as he used to be. Could this be due to stress? >>Absolutely, stress that could cause depression of its immune system.  However, I believe that, because with each new addition there's a rearrangement of hierarchy, he's found himself in a lower place on the pecking order.  Being still and quiet at the *bottom* is far better than being harassed up top.  Do consider having a small hospital tank for him in case he shows other signs of disease. >He is still eating- but just doesn't seem as excited about eating. I am currently feeding them Spirulina flakes twice a day (a small amount in the morning, and a small amount in the evening). Once a week I feed them a shrimp mix made by Hikari- only one feeding on the day they get the shrimp mix.  I am being very careful not to over feed them. My question is this - could the water changes, water treatment or just the addition of new fish be causing the yellow to act this way, or is this a normal behavior? >>More likely than not, the addition of the new fishes.   >He does still swim around some, but not as much as before. Thank you in advance for your help!!   >>You're quite welcome.  Another small tip--when experiencing aggression problems, try rearranging the rock structure when adding new fish.  (Some fish are *so* aggressive that they need to be removed for a period of time.)  Best of luck!  Marina

Re: African cichlid owner-worried about Electric Yellow >Hi Marina, >>Good morning, Carolyn. Thank you so much for your quick response. You had asked if I was vacuuming the substrate or cleaning the biological filter. I am not doing this at this time. I was told to wait awhile before doing this.   >>Good advice. As for a "hospital tank" I am in the process of setting up a 29 gallon tank for that purpose.  I will rearrange the rock with my next water change on Tuesday. Thanks again for the reassurance and help!!  Have a great day!  -Carol Goodall >>Quite welcome, I'm glad I could help.  Marina

Sick Julidochromis Hi Ronni, <Good morning Jesse!> Our Julidochromis pair just spawned a few weeks ago and we have about 8 fry who are doing well.   <Congrats!> Unfortunately, now the parents seem to be ill. The male is very pale and stays under a rock and seems to be breathing rapidly.  The female is more active but has occasional white feces which seem to cling to her body.  Neither fish is eating at all. <Hmm> We've done a 30% water change and the PH is around 8.2.   <Very good> Does this sound like bloat?  Is there any treatment we should try?  I'd be concerned about the fry if we add medicine to the water. <I don't think it's bloat because it's generally a faster killer from what I've heard. I'm not sure what it is but I would isolate the parents into a QT tank (trying not to disturb the fry) and medicate them with a general antibiotic to begin with.> Thanks for your help! Jesse <You're welcome! Ronni>

African Cichlids Hello <Hi!> My name is Tim my question is some of my cichlids seem to be standing straight up and gasping for air. It started with one and now there is a couple more. I have taken water sample into be checked and this seem to be ok ph about 7.2 -7.5 I added some salt to take filter system as suggested. And shut one filter down we are running a pair of penguin 170. One thing I have noticed is there seems to be a large amount of clear slime algae.  Sorry forgot to say it is a 55 gallon tank. Any help or suggestion would be helpful. Thank You, Tim <You said your water 'seems to be OK' but what exactly were the readings. Ammonia and nitrites should both be at 0ppm. Also, your pH is WAY too low for African Cichlids. It should be up around 8.2. This needs to be brought up but it needs to be done gradually. You should have both filters running and what kind of salt did you add? To what salinity? Was it done gradually or all at once? The clear slime is probably just detritus and should be vacuumed out. Ronni>

Dying fish Hi there, I stumbled across your page and I saw that you do not mind getting emails from people looking for help. Well I'm definitely looking for some help. <We love getting e-mails and will help as much as we can.> Here is the background info perhaps it will help you in solving my problems. I have a 66 gal tank with African cichlids. Currently I have 4 electric blues, 5 red top zebras, and down to 2 nkali, and one unidentified orangish colored fish, and of course 1 Plecostomus. Tank temperature is 79 degrees. <Sounds good> About 2-3 months ago I purchased some fish from a local supplier, I got 7 Labidochromis 'nkali' , and 6 red top zebras, I was sure my other fish would eat them because these new ones were much smaller. To my surprise everyone got along fine and things were good. All of a sudden 2 nkali died. I immediately tested the water for nitrites and nitrates as well as ammonia and all levels were great. I did a water change anyways and everything seemed fine. The following month I had another 2 deaths, and the week after another. I have examined the fish and I can see no signs of disease at all. I also took my water into a pet store and they tested it and it was fine. The only thing that they suggested was my ph was perhaps low for cichlids. The ph was at 7.5 and they suggested it should be at 8. <Did the fish get bloated at all when they died? There is a certain disease called Malawi Bloat that may be the culprit. Are they being offered a good mix of both proteins and vegetable matter? Although they're mostly carnivorous, these fish need quite a bit of vegetable matter in their diet. Spirulina flakes or wafers are a good way to provide this, so are the frozen 'Fish Gum Drops' that are available in vegetable (My Cichlids used to love these!). Is there salt in the tank? For proper health there should be some Rift Lake or Cichlid salt added to their water. If there isn't any right now, get some and gradually (over several weeks or more) bring the salinity up to the level recommended on the package. Both improper feeding and wrong salinity can lead to Malawi Bloat in some cases. Your pH is a bit low but not too bad. The pH should be at about 7.8 to 8.2 for these guys. This shouldn't have caused these deaths though.> He also asked if I had any driftwood in the tank and I said yes I had 2 pieces, he says that the driftwood decomposes and leaches material and reduces the ph level. <To a certain extent, yes.> Do you have any suggestions as to why my fish are dying? <See above, those would be the main things that I can think of immediately.> Is it bad to have driftwood in the tank? I have had the driftwood in the tank for over a year already. <Many people use driftwood, especially in Cichlid tanks but to be on the safe side you may want to remove it and see if your pH goes up. If so, leave it out.> Thank you for your time and I enjoy your website. Ron Villeneuve <You're welcome! Ronni>

Re: dying Cichlids Thank you very much for your quick reply.   <You're welcome> To answer some of your questions/suggestion on most of the dead fish I can't really say I noticed bloating except maybe the last one so perhaps they do have Malawi bloat. <It's hard to say for sure but it's a definite possibility.> When I first bought cichlids the guy at the pet store told me the fish were vegetarians, and he sold me some fish food that he said was mostly vegetable matter.  I don't have a list of ingredients because he had a 50lb box that he took one big bag full out for me, but he did mention that most regular food wasn't good for cichlids. <This is probably a good food for them but needs to be offered along with some other higher protein foods. Cichlids seem to love frozen bloodworms and I also used the Cichlid foods made by New Life Spectrum with great results.> Yes I do have salt but it is not special cichlid salt I will go buy some today along with some food that has a higher protein content. Hopefully this will help me with the recent deaths. <Some people do use other salts but the salts made specifically for the Cichlids are formulated to provide the other necessary nutrients so they do work better.> Also I forgot to mention I bought a couple pounds of crushed coral to raise the ph. <Very good> Thx again  Ronnie lol <You're welcome! Ronni *G*>

Re: dying Cichlids Help!!!    Now that I started I'm more confused then before.   Anyways here's where I stand now.  I went to the local pet store looking for Cichlids salts.  I was directed to "Kent" AF cichlid chemistry and AF cichlid rift lake trace elements.  On the directions for the cichlid chemistry it said I should test the GH of the water so I bought a GH and KH test kit.  My GH came out to 240 mg/l (ppm) which from what I can figure out is 13.4 dGH.  The container says "using this product, adjust the hardness to desired levels for the type of fish" and it shows for 7Dgh for Malawi.  (Here's a quick recap of my fish I have a 66 gal tank with African cichlids. Currently I have 4 electric blues, 5 red top zebras, and down to 2 nkali, and one unidentified orangish colored fish, and of course 1 Plecostomus. Tank temperature is 79 degrees).  So according to this product my GH is twice what it should be.  Is this correct?  My KH came out to 120mg/l which my test kit says is high.  Unless I'm misunderstanding this whole thing I should not add the AF cichlid chemistry. <Nope, these are not the right products. I've actually never heard of these but I generally don't use the Kent line myself.> Now I'm wondering about the AF rift lake trace elements product.  Should I be using this?  It suggests using the other products first then to "use this product weekly to maintain trace mineral levels which can be depleted by fish and plants and by carbon, resin, and pad filtration." <Nope, this isn't it either.> Is any of this what you were referring to when you suggested I buy salt for the cichlids?  It's the only product they had.   <The one I had in mind was Cichlid Lake Salt by Seachem. I know for sure that Dr's Foster & Smith carry it because I happen to have one of their catalogs handy but I'm sure many other distributors also have it. It should work the best for what you need.> Should I be concerned with lowering my GH and if so how?   <Should be fine but watch to make sure it doesn't go up much when you add salt> There were no other salt related products for Cichlids at all in the store. <Doesn't surprise me. Many stores don't carry this since it's more of a specialized item. I wish more of them would, I think it would save a lot of Cichlids in the long run.> Thank you once again for your help <You're welcome> Ron PS. I bought them bloodworms and they do seem to enjoy them.  pH is back up to 8 after adding the crushed coral. <Great! When you can, try some of the New Life Spectrum Cichlid pellets. They should really like those too.>

Re: dying Cichlids HI again, Sorry to be a pain in the ass but I just spent the last 90 min looking at every article I could on your site and reading all the FAQ's and I could not find the info I need.  This must have been my second time doing so and I do learn more and more every time.  Perhaps I should do it again lol.    <Not a problem at all. :o)> I have a few direct questions for you and perhaps it will put my mind at rest.  I wouldn't be so worried but I notice one of my red top zebra is doing a lot of lying on the bottom hidden in a plant; he doesn't seem interested in eating either. <Hmm'¦ I'm still at a loss as to what could be causing these exact problems. Do try removing that chunk of driftwood and see if the problems go away. Also, do you have any colored rocks or anything else that could be leaching chemicals/dyes?> 1) My GH is 240mg/l   13.4 dGH (if I figured it out right)   is this high or normal?  You mentioned it seemed fine but to watch it if I add the cichlid salt. <It's a little high but not abnormally so.> 2) My KH is 120mg/l    6.72dKH   is this high or normal?   The box seems to say both these number are high however I value your opinion more then Hagen's. <Same as above> 3) If I do manage to find Cichlid Lake Salt by Seachem and it does raise my GH at which level should I be concerned? <You probably don't want it to get above 15 or 16. Keep in mind that chemistry is really not my forte' so I'm not positive on this but many people are successfully keeping Cichlids at this level.> 4) And how do I correct it? <Go to http://www.wetwebmedia.com and do a search for 'lowering dGH'. You should find some advice there. You might also search the web with your favorite search engine.> 5) Generally is GH and KH a big concern? <Not for me. I have never tested these levels in my tanks. I regularly test pH, Ammonia, and Nitrites and on any tanks with salt I also test the salinity. I've never worried about the others but I do have very good (albeit hard!) water here and never even have to worry about chlorine or other additives so I'm one of the lucky ones.> Unfortunately I don't think I will be able to find Cichlid Lake Salt by Seachem locally I was at our biggest pet store today and they had none.   Also because I live in Canada a lot of online stores do not ship here.   Ahh I just had a quick look at http://www.bigalsonline.com and I see they have the salt you suggested I order and they do ship here.  Well that will take care of that problem. <Very good.> I noticed in one FAQ the mention of making a donation to the site, how does one go about doing this or should I just purchase something from the store.  I have also noticed mention about books and your new book coming out, do you have a list of books for sale or are they in bookstores?  Once again due to the fact that I'm in Canada they may not all be available to me. <We would certainly appreciate this! On the Daily Photos page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dailypic.htm there is a box for donations thru the Amazon Honor System or you can go to http://www.cafeshops.com/cp/store.aspx?s=wetwebmedia.0 and order one of our products there. Shipping to Canada is available on the WetWebGear offered at Cafepress. The books by Robert and Anthony are available at many different places.> Thanx again for all the help. Ron <You're welcome! Ronni>

Cichlid troubles? Hi, I have a 30 gallon tank.  There are four fish total and two of them are cichlids.  About three days ago the largest cichlid (some type of African) started to shake or convulse every couple of seconds.  this died down and he now only does it when I put food in the tank.  But this seems to scare him away and he has stopped eating. I don't understand why.  I have done a massive water change, and ph is good (7.1-7.2).   <This is probably at least part of the issue....  Rift lake cichlids are adapted to very high pH levels - depending upon what area they're from, 8.5 or higher is not unheard-of.  Please try to find out what species this is, or at least what lake it's from, so you can decide if it will prosper in your tank, or whether it's compatible with the other fish you have (in terms of water requirements).> A zero on the nitrate levels, the temp is steady at 80.   <What about ammonia and nitrite?> and the  water is very slightly brackish.   <Urm, *how* brackish do you mean?  Do you know the salinity/specific gravity?  This, too, might be an issue.> There are no visible signs of disease, and all the other fish including the other cichlid (bumble bee cichlid) <Ah, Pseudotropheus crabro - a Lake Malawi native - fishbase.org says this should be in a pH range of 7.5-8.2; 7.2 isn't terribly far off that, so this fish might not be affected by the pH issue.> show these signs.  thanks for your time  Dan Guziec <Please do try to identify, research this fish - this really sounds like irritation due to environmental conditions.  Hopefully can be fixed.  -Sabrina>

African cichlid illness? I have African Cichlids that shimmy left to right with no forward movement.  I have already lost 2 fish.  My water temp is 80 degrees. PH is 7.8, <you did mention that these are African cichlids - do you know which species you have?  Or at least what lake (Tanganyika, Malawi, Victoria?) they're from?  The rift lake cichlids like rather high pH - along the lines of 8.5 or so - so that might be part of the issue.> no nitrates and no ammonia.   <What about nitrite?  Also, just to check, are you using a water conditioner for chlorine and chloramine?> Fish have not lost appetite, they eat twice daily (pellets) occasionally brine shrimp and bloodworms.  I have made 60% water changes monthly.   <Do smaller changes more often - 25% every couple weeks would be good to aim for.> I tried several treatments of Parasite Clear.  It doesn't seem to be working.   <This doesn't sound like a parasite to me; rather, it sounds like an issue with the water.  I know there are special 'salts' available for rift lake cichlid tanks, this and a higher pH may help (hopefully eliminate) the problem.  Other than that, I'm rather at a loss, I'm afraid; not sure what else you could do.> Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I am new to the Cichlids and have only had the tank about 3 months.  Thanks in advance for your help. <I do hope making the water a bit closer to their natural conditions is all that treating this takes.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Sick cichlid I have 5 African cichlids and 1 of them is an electric yellow. The electric yellow has had some sores appear on him over the course of two months. These sores start with a red spot that turns into a red ring. Then the flesh starts to be eaten away within the red ring. After, it clears it leaves an indention on his body. I went to the fish store and explained what was wrong and they said it was a bacteria that will only affect electric yellows. <All the looking that I've done has yielded no fruit as to any illness that is specific to electric yellows.  It sounds to me like septicemia; I would isolate the fish in a quarantine tank and treat with Kanamycin sulfate (can be found as "Kanacyn" by Aquatronics); I have used this before with exceptional results on goldfish with septicemia.> They gave me neomycin that seemed to work at first but the sores keep coming back. <Possibly recurring from water quality issues - neomycin will wipe out your biological filtration, causing the tank to cycle again.  Do please be testing your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate daily with such meds, and do water changes to fix problems.> Can you please help me, he seems to be getting worse! <As above - I think this is septicemia from the description, but it is altogether possible that there is some sort of 'electric yellow' disease out there that I don't know about and can't find info on.  Even still, if the neomycin is supposed to work for it, I would tend to believe that Kanamycin would, too; I prefer the Kanamycin as it does not mess with the biological filtration much, and yet seems to be highly effective against bacterial fish illnesses.  Wishing your fish a smooth recovery,  -Sabrina.> Thank you, Karalea

Sick-lid hi <Hello> am hoping you can help me.. my 6" beautiful African cichlid is dying... looks as if scales are ragged with white tufts or patches on them, looks like missing scales, white film over eyes, & the fins are frayed & he's swimming upside down at top of water. 3 have died like this w/in the past 6 months. <Sounds like bacterial infections....  perhaps fungus, possibly in conjunction with some other problems.  I'd recommend to medicate with Kanamycin sulfate, preferably in a separate quarantine tank.  If all the fish are infected, there may be no escaping treating in the main tank.  Kanamycin sulfate can be found under the name "Kanacyn" by Aquatronics.> I have 55 gallon tank, 12 cichlids varying from 3 to 6 inches. <That's waaaay to much bioload for a 55 gallon tank....  might want to upgrade tank size to prevent future issues like this.> ammonia is ok <By 'ok', what do you mean?  Can you tell us your readings for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate?> & ph is at 7.6. <This is probably way, way too low for your cichlids; this low (for rift lake cichlids) pH is likely at least partly responsible for your recent illnesses....  find out what species you have (or at least be certain whether they are Tanganyikan/Malawi cichlids) and adjust accordingly; a pH of 8.5 is probably closer to normal for these fish.  More info here:   http://www.tropheus.info/riftlakes/cichlids/tangan_e.html  and do some google searches for Tanganyikan cichlids; look up your species in fishbase.org, as well.  There are plenty of books available on rift lake cichlids, as well; please consider reading up a bit.> I feed them tetra cichlid sticks, Hikari gold pellets. could you email me please ASAP? thanks so much  DW <I do hope your fish pull through this - wishing you well.  Sabrina>

Skinny Africans <Hello! Ryan with you today> Today when I was feeding my Cichlids, I noticed that one of my African cichlids stomach was sucked in.  It looks like it is starving to death, but I feed them the same food at pretty much the same time every night.  I have 2 Zebra cichlids, 1 blue cichlid, 1 yellow cichlid, and 2 Plecos in a 55 gallon tank. They have been in this tank for around 6 months now.  The Zebra that has the sunk in stomach is also constantly chased around by the blue cichlid.  This is nothing new though.  They have been that way for around 2 years now.  Can you help me? <Sure!  You want to quarantine the fish, and give him an opportunity to recover without further torture.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm Then, you can feed him properly, and ensure that he's eating his fair share.  Once he's back to a healthy shape, re-introduce him.  Best of luck! Ryan>

Kribensis with swim Bladder Disorder I have a female Kribensis that appears to have developed swim bladder disorder.  She is staying on the bottom of the tank and she has all of the symptoms of swim bladder Disorder. <What symptoms is she exhibiting.> I had a very busy schedule that I did not take care of my fish like I regularly do.  Unfortunately my ph level dropped to 6. instead of 7. <A slow change is not as bad as a rapid swing in PH.> I did a 1/2 of a water change and noticed that the female Kribensis was gasping at the bottom of the tank.  I have not seen anything like this in my tank before and all of the other fish are fine.  I have a 56 gallon tank with a variety of fish.  What is the best way to treat this?  I have read the pea method is useful with bettas.  Would this also maybe work with the Kribensis?  How do I know that I am not too late.  (has had for 4 days) <I am not convinced that it is a swim bladder problem, the lethargy and labored breeding sound like a problem with the water quality.  Have you tested your water for Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate?  Water changes will fix water quality issues and hopefully turn the fish around.  Let us know what symptoms she is exhibiting, maybe we can come up with a more specific fix.  Also, try searching on wetwebmedia.com for swim bladder, I am sure you will find a ton of information.  Best Regards, Gage>

Kribensis with Swim Bladder Disorder II She is swaying back and forth as if she does not have her balance.  The other day she was bloated and I thought she might be getting ready to lay eggs.  Then she is back to normal size.  She is also gasping.  Her normal bright colors are not as pronounced as normal and I have now placed her in a holding tank by herself but she is still in the same tank so as not to stress her out by changing water conditions.  We normally keep our tank very well.  Now we have done a 1/2 of a tank change and added our normal salt to the water and the PH is back to 7.  I have placed a couple of peas in with the female Kribensis and unfortunately she is not eating them. <I would be best to remove this fish to a separate quarantine tank for treatment and observation.  I would start adding Epsom Salt to the water, around 1 tablespoon per 10gallons to see if that improves her condition.  Are her scales protruding at all, like a pinecone? Were you able to get the Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate readings? It would be good to rule out water quality issues.-Gage>

Blue Ram / Kribensis with swim bladder disorders? Thanks for your quick response Gage.   <Sabrina here this time - Gage and I have been working together on this one, and he's asked me to respond as he's busy at work right now, and we wanted to get back with you quickly.> Unfortunately my ram died this morning.   <I'm so sorry to hear that....> About 10 days ago when the problem of the ph was taken care of we did do a spectrogram treatment two times.  We did not do a third due to the sensitive nature of the rams.   <I'd give it another go; spectrogram is a combination of Kanamycin sulfate and Nitrofurazone, both of which are mild on fish and shouldn't be harmful to your rams.  Even better, though, would be if you could find some medicated antibacterial food, if this is a bacterial infection of the swimbladder, that'd be more likely to help.> Unfortunately the problem is still there.  When I did a nitrite, nitrate test my levels were low/undetected <Any nitrite at all is dangerous.  If it's not zero, please do try to get it down (water changes).  Nitrate is much less harmful, and doesn't get to be a problem until it's quite high, so no worries there.> the ammonia was between 0 and .25 level.   <Again, this must be zero, do water changes (daily, perhaps) if it's anything above zero.> I am at a loss for solutions....  It is something that I do not know.  Tonight when I came home from work my male Kribensis was acting strange.  He was displaying some of the same symptoms.  He was not bloated but he was gasping and pale.  He was not floating up or laying on the bottom of the tank.  When I isolated him in a little floater tank inside my 58 gallon tank he was upset he did not like being confined.  He did sit still with his tail slightly up above head level.  Do you think another treatment of Spectrogram?   <Perhaps, or possibly try Maracyn-Two from Mardel, since the spectrogram doesn't seem to have had an effect.  My preference, though would be to find an antibacterial food.  Jungle makes a stuff called "Pepso Food", which may help, but in and of itself, I don't think it'll do the trick.  Aquatronics used to make an antibacterial flake, but I don't know if it's still produced or not.> I have heard not to medicate too much.  Would this be over medicating our tank or affecting our under gravel biofilter?     <Most meds do affect the biological filtration of a tank.  It has been my experience that spectrogram doesn't affect it much at all, but prolonged use might, I'm not sure.  I'm also not certain how the Maracyn-Two would affect things.  Just test your water every day, maybe twice a day, if necessary, and be prepared with water for water changes if anything goes out of whack.> Thanks Debbie <Gage and I wish you luck, Debbie.  -Sabrina>

Prolific cichlids and a problematic UGF? Good day, I'm Andrew and I can use your help in an effort to solve problems that I have been having for a long time in my overstocked African Cichlid Malawi Tank. If you would be so kind as to read my information and reply with your suggestions I would be grateful .. Thanks. <Sabrina here tonight, shivery and cold (and refusing to acknowledge it and turn on the heater)> PROBLEMS:  Africans develop growths in their mouths, nose, and face area. Some get clamped fins, others have red streaks, fin rot has occurred, and fungus. All over a period of years. <So, what are the problems *right now*?  Whatever the deal, it most certainly all sounds like the issues have been/are stemming from environmental conditions in the tank.> No outside fish have been added since the original fish in August 2000.15 fish started the tank between June - August 2000. 5 males,10 females.  Yellows, Orange, Blues, Kenya, Fullebornii were the choices.  After many deaths, births, and removals, there are 35-45 fish 1" in size or more.  Weekly fry additions from 10-20. <Holy moly.  You did say overstocked, didn't you!> TANK AND EQUIPMENT:  135Gal. Filtration; Fluval 404 canister with Chemi-pure, Emperor 400& Penguin 170 power filters. Hagen under gravel filter (could this be the problem?) <Could be a contributor, with such a fish load, I'm sure there's gobs of gunk under the plate, lots of nitrates....> 2 Aqua clear402 power heads. Ebo heater, 100 plus pound of gravel. Plastic plants, large rocks, 2 Tetra Tec deep water pumps. Canopy with 2, 24" & 2, 48" fluorescent light fixtures. MAINTENANCE:  Weekly water change of 25-30%....Amquel, Jungle start right, Proper ph 8.2 added after. <Mix up your water change water in a container before adding to the tank, so you can adjust the pH before putting it in to avoid shocking the fish.  Might want to consider more natural means of raising pH and/or buffering capacity of the water, as well.> **Note** Because of the fry, and the plastic mats that the hide under, I do not use my Python to gravel vac. This could be one of the problems.. <Definitely.> But to disturb the plastic mats that the fry hide under, they will run and become a meal for a larger fish. <Why not remove those fry to a separate rearing tank?  Poor water quality is just as much a threat as hungry adults> WATER LEVELS:  Water is in the proper range based on readings from my test kit. <What are the exact readings, especially for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH?> Here in Anaheim California we have very bad water. White calcium deposits are on the back of the tank and equipment. <Being that rift lake cichlids prefer super hard, alkaline water, that's probably perfectly okay.> MEDICATION USED:  Melafix, Jungle fungus eliminator and Pepso medicated food have been used quite a bit. <Is that what you're *currently* using?  To treat what, specifically?  All the things listed above?> FEEDING:  Overfeeding is a problem due to my desire to make sure the big fish have enough to not go after the fry. Cichlid Attack is a favorite, Hikari pellets and some flake food are their diet. <Again, if you get those fry outta there, you'll be in a much better position to see to it that environmental conditions are improved....> Water is always clear, but I know the fish are not healthy. <Indeed, clarity of the water does not necessarily indicate health of the water.> Solutions I came up with and your thoughts; 1. Ultimately I am looking to purchase a 300 gal. tank. but until my wife and I agree on when, I have to put that on hold. <Until then, sell your fry, earn some money to put back into the hobby - and do it right away, get that fish load down, and you can start in on cleaning under that UGF....> 2. I think a lot of the problem is that there is excess waste in the gravel. What would happen if I reversed the flow of the power heads to force the waste out of the gravel and into the tank while doing a water change? <At this point, I think you'd be headed for disaster.  Before you even consider that, first you'll need to thoroughly clean your gravel and get an air hose down one of the lift tubes, try to siphon gunk out from under the filter plates.> 3. Adding a UV Sterilizer <I don't think this will help you at this point; it sounds like your issues are from water issues, too much dissolved organics in the water.> 4. Removing the power heads from the under gravel filter. <I'm really not sure whether that would help or make things infinitely worse....> 5. With the rocks and plants, I would only be able to Gravel vac a maximum of about 25% of the tank. I don't think this is enough to help a great deal. <Agreed.  I really, really dislike UGFs for this (and many other) reasons.  They certainly have their uses, but not in a heavily decorated tank; anywhere with large rockwork or that doesn't get vacuumed, there will be huge accumulations of, uh, grunge (that's a technical term) that'll just sit and rot, causing any or all of the problems you've experienced.> What do you think ... <My opinion?  Get the fry out and into a separate, bare-bottomed rearing tank, and as soon as they're saleable, sell 'em to make room for more fry and help pay for your hobby.  Next, thoroughly clean the gravel, try to siphon under the filter plates with an air hose down the lift tubes, then remove the UGF altogether (or if you're feeling bold,  switch the flow instead as you mentioned above).  Have a *lot* of water change water ready, in case you need to do mondo water changes afterward.  Now, do please understand, this is what *I* would do in your case - some people swear by UGFs, and I certainly like them for some applications.  I do believe, however, that it is a real hindrance to your setup.  I think the problems you're having are related to water quality issues (likely super high nitrates going on) and will begin to correct themselves once things are healthier in the tank.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Prolific Cichlids and a Problematic UGF? - II  Thank you Sabrina for your help. I keep wishing for another answer other than the truth which is what you gave me. I hate UGF also.  <UGF do most certainly have their uses, and can be assets in some systems - or major drawbacks in others. It might benefit you to try the reverse flow technique (I might, in your case), but whatever you do, removing the fry is probably going to be the biggest, hardest step, but don't worry. You'll get there.>  I got it because when I set the tank up, I needed biological and all I had was an Emperor 400. Any way talk to you soon.  <I wish you well in your fishy endeavors! -Sabrina> 

Disease and Frustration Greetings-  I was hoping you might be able to give me some advice.  I am new to the Cichlid  hobby and am having nothing but problems. This is going to be a bit long and involved, so if you don¹t have the time or inclination to read through it all then let me know so I can seek help elsewhere.  Thank you if you can, if not I understand- I have scoured the net looking for what this disease could be and have found a few possibilities but nothing that really come all that close. It could be a parasitic worm that I am mistaking for Planaria or it could be a fungus. Ok- if you are down for it then here it goes: My setup:             -55 gallon Tanganyika only tank             -5 fish: 3 Neolamprologus Daffodils 2.5-3², 1 3.5² Frontosa, 1 4² cylindricus             -Plenty of rock             -A LOT of air & surface agitation             -4 on the back filters: 2 whisper 4¹s, 1 Marineland 170 w/BioWheel  & 1 other             -Ph hovering around 9 using Seachem Tanganyika salt & buffer                 Having to add buffer occasionally to get the PH & KH back in line             -Tank STILL cycling after 1 month (high Nitrites, ammonia nil & Nitrates at 20)             -Water changes: 3-4 times per week alternating 20 & 50 %             *did not know enough about cycling when the setup happened- got 4 fish right                 after a week of the tank running empty, then another a week later. All fish                 were acclimated over a 2 hour period. I have no Quarantine tank.                 I know, I suck. Working on that... Cycling:         -Cycling process taking a long time         -Controlling the Nitrite levels during cycling using Amquel+- affecting cycling process? < Product is still too new but is worth a try. Kordon is a reliable company>         -Water changes affecting cycling process? < Depends on how much water and where you are within the cycling process. A 100% water change will remove all the ammonia and the bacteria will have nothing to eat and will stop reproducing. Small water changes should be ok.> Everyone says something different!         -Fish stress from cycling leading to disease leading to Treatment which leads to more cycling problems and then more disease?! < Ammonia and nitrite should be zero and the nitrates should be no higher than 25 ppm. Go to Marineland.com and look under Dr. Tim's articles . Especially the one called the first 30 days. This may help you understand what you are up against.> Disease Problem: - Disease: single large white spot mid-length on body (larger than Ick) on 1 Daffodil, flicking & rubbing occasionally by everyone but the Frontosa. The Daffodil¹s spot has shrunk and extruded almost imperceptibly with a dark pin-point center after 2 days treatment of Maracide- the surface of it remains white. Seems to be shrinking. Can this be skin flukes? Flicking going on for two weeks with no external signs at all, treated with 2 doses of ParaGuard and the problem stopped for almost a week. Resumed about 4 days ago. Treating with Maracide, day two right now. - Other symptoms:  Cylindricus just now seems to have small black line like mark on rear fin. All Daffodil¹s have frayed tips at the end of long tips on rear fin. 1 daffodil observed excreting very long, very thin colorless feces along with normal looking feces- not sure if that is normal or not- this one has no spot. Another is hiding as of today, showing 1 white spot larger than Ick almost identical to the first one mentioned in appearance & placement. No odd coloration to water (aside from Maracide), ­ Day 2 of treatment with Maracide from Mardel - Presence of very tiny white wormlike things-  Planaria? Only visible after the filter cartridges are disturbed - Filter cartridge since rinsed and cleaned- replace? - Algal bloom- scrubbed rocks & plants - Been feeding sparingly- once per day - Fish active and eating well - Feeding Sera ³granu-red² - Temp fluctuates by 1 1/2 degree between lights off & on - Fluctuating ph- can¹t get proper reading- around 9 - Nitrites fluctuate between .2, bring them down to .05 after water change and Amquel+ recommended treatment- sometimes daily -Using Cycle- no long run improvement as far as I can tell - Perhaps use combination of Mardel products to treat unknown Disease? -Mardel products affect cycling process? Internet says no Extra: Is adding aquarium salt beneficial when Seachem Tanganyika salt is already present? < All these medications and additives are affecting you nitrification process. You are chasing your tail. Get the tank right first. Small water changes to control waste. Small feedings that the fish will eat all the food in a couple of minutes. Service the filters  every other week. Vacuum the gravel when not servicing the filters on alternative weeks. All the little critters will disappear when there is nothing for them to eat. The little tears and wounds will heal with clean water. Put all the chemicals away for awhile and let the tank stabilize and settle down. You are making this harder than it needs to be. Your Tanganyika cichlids are very hardy.-Chuck>

Jewel Cichlid question: red fibers extending out of swollen anus I have two small jewel cichlids in a tank with a Plecostomus. The Plecostomus has been in the tank a few months and seems fine. The cichlids have been in the tank approximately two weeks. I have never observed the cichlids eating. They do not respond to either cichlid pellets or cichlid flakes. (I have tried both in very small amounts).  The cichlids are not active; they spend most of the day hiding in corners or under an ornament in the tank. Rarely (once every other day or so), I have observed a cichlid twitch rapidly (like a seizure) for a few seconds. Today, I observed that the anus of both cichlids appears to be swollen and red fibers are sticking out of the anal cavity.  Before I put cichlids in the tank, I tried guppies, but they died--and one of them died suddenly after developing a swollen anus with red fibers sticking out.  I suspect that there is some sort of parasite causing this, but I am new to the aquarium hobby--and the local pet store has not been helpful. Any advice you could share would be most appreciated. <This is pretty unusual. Jewelfish are usually fairly hardy for any aquarium fish. They may have become stressed during shipping and developed bloat or dropsy. The fact that you guppy had it too makes me think that your aquarium is sick. Check the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be no higher than 25 ppm. The water temp should be between 78 and 80. Change 30% of the water, service the filter and vacuum the gravel for excess food and junk. I would try and treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package. This is the ingredient you nee but it may be listed under a couple different commercial names. Treat every other day with a 30% water change until they start to eat.-Chuck.> Thanks for your help! --Brian E. 

Tail rot or nipping stress Hello Is it possible that just one fish would appear to have tail rot . All the other cichlids ( 1 bumble bee , 2 electric yellow , 2 cobalt, 1 electric blue , 2 jewels and 2 Plecos in a 55 gallon tank ) appear to be healthy and fine . The smaller of the two jewels looks like he has tail rot but it is also very weary of the other jewel and the bumble bee and is hiding at the top of the tank and not eating . I did a 50 % water change and moved about a few hiding spaces , before having to leave for 3 days . When i got back i noticed the tail rot / nip? of the smaller jewel . Should i remove this fish for fear of spreading the tail rot to the others ? or this this just a territorial issue ? < Your Lake Malawian cichlids have teeth for scraping algae off of rocks. They also do a good job on scales and fins too. The jewel fish are pretty tough customers themselves but they are no match against the faster heavier scaled Malawians. I am sure that the Malawians have figured out that the jewel fish is no match and will continue to pick on him. The nips on the tail will recover if the water is clean and the other fish are not allowed to attack him any further. The bumblebee and cobalts are the most likely culprits. If it is tail rot then it is unlikely to spread to the other fish as long as they are healthy.-Chuck>

Help Me, Help My Fish Dear WWM, I was referred to you by some people at Petco. I have an African Cichlid, I cannot say what type it is. It is kind of brown and has black vertical stripes. Today I noticed that it has been shaking its head as if something was wrapped around it. But later today, I noticed that he twitches and shakes his whole body, but mostly his head. He is about an inch and 1/4 long and only a couple of months old. The other fish in the tank are fine. The PH levels are fine and the nitrate level is also fine. My fish seems to be irritable and in discomfort. He'll chase every other fish away and doesn't seem to be able to be still, he darts around. I thought it might be ich, so I put in some medication. I am thinking about taking him out of the tank, although the others are not messing with him. Please help, I am very fond of my fish and hate seeing him in such a way. The temperature is fine, oh yeah, and he rubs up against smooth parts of the decor inside. What could he have, and what should I do? < I think you are on the right track. There is something attacking the skin of your fish. It may indeed be ich or some other protozoa. Rid-ich from Kordon works really well. It contains Formalin that coats the fish. Follow the directions on the bottle. Make sure the temp. is up around 80 degrees. Add a teaspoon of rock salt to each 5 gallons of water too. This will help create a slim on the fish to fight off the attack. Keep up on your water changes and check that the rid-ich has not affected the biological filtration. If the tank starts to get cloudy then check for ammonia. be ready for some water changes if the biological filtration becomes affected by the rid-ich.-Chuck>  Sincerely, Liza Castillo

Cichlid Disease Hi, I have a 46 gallon freshwater aquarium which formerly had nine large healthy African Cichlids. We feed them Cichlid flakes in small servings a fewtimes a day. < They may be fine on the cichlid flakes but Spirulina or algae flakes are better because your fish are vegetarians.> We recently have done a few things which might have altered the balanced system. We introduced a handful of new plants within the past 4 days (even after the break out). < The plants are fine. If your fish were healthy they would probably be eaten by the fish for the reasons stated above.> We also offered the cichlids thawed out bloodworms. <BAD IDEA!!!!! Your fish are vegetarians and the bloodworms are not easily digested by your fish. The worms are causing blockages in the guts of your fish, it is commonly called Malawi Bloat. Discontinue the bloodworms immediately!!!!! There use to be a medicated food by Tetra with Metronidazole in it. If you can find it , feed it to your remaining fish if they are still eating. If they are not eating then they probably will die soon. > And because of a slight algae problem we started using algae destroyer (which turns our algae brown). < The algae is a secondary symptom of excessive waste build up in your tank. Uneaten food, dead fish etc....Really not a problem. In fact your fish eat algae in the wild and would love to eat it> We started having a breakout in our cichlid aquarium this week. I think it is a bacterial infection that's spreading through our fish. It's horrible. So far 4 of our fish have been infected. With the first fish we didn't even notice any of his symptoms before he died. Then the second fish started exhibiting some weird things. He just kind of chilled out and stayed at the bottom of the tank. He keeps defecating and his color is really faded. Also none of the fish have their usual appetite. This fish is still going, but he definitely feels horrible. Third a large cichlid, which was one of our most beautiful and strongest fish, started having symptoms 2 days ago. He started darting around and swimming very erratically. He also was gasping for air and either lingering on the bottom of the tank or staying at the top by the filter. He died by the end of the next day. Now, another fish is darting around and exhibiting many of the same symptoms as the other fish. They seem to swim and turn very sharply before dying. It's frustrating, I know they're "just fish" but we get really attached. Have you heard of anything like this? < The Malawi bloat is common to aquarists new to Lake Malawi cichlids. The fish are suffering from the internal blockages that probably have begun to rot in their guts. As the bacteria break down the food in the gut they multiply and expand causing further discomfort to your fish like bloating or pressure on the internal organs.>   What should we do? < If they are not eating then they will probably die. Stop all feeding except for the medicated food if you can find it. Keep the filters clean and watch for dead bodies. Remove them immediately, look for bodies hiding in the crevices of rocks too. Other fish may feed on the bodies and then they will become infected too.> We've already changed the filter, changed out 10% of the water, and decreased the food we're giving them. We also have purchased some Nala-Gram and are going to introduce that to the tank shortly. Any help will be appreciated. < The Nalagram may have some affect and save the fish that are only marginally affected. . It may harm the beneficial bacteria in your filter. I would remove the filter and use an airstone while treating the tank. Good Luck and please email back when things settle down -Chuck> Please email me quickly! Thanks in advance.

Lazy cichlid I have an African cichlid who acted like a normal fish for several months, then all the sudden one day it seemed he was very lethargic, struggling to swim, breathing heavy.  But its colors are brilliant, he still chases other fish around the tank, eats, but he just sits on a leaf of one of my plants most of the day, sometimes laying completely on its side. < Sounds like he may have contracted an internal infection that may have affected his swim bladder. Fish infected tend to stay on the bottom and hop almost like a buffalo head cichlid. There is no cure but he sounds like he is over it now. He may have chased the other fish right out of the tank by coming at them from underneath them. Your fish may live for years like this.-Chuck> I did water changes for slightly high nitrates for a few months but nothing seemed to change.  All other fish are fine. On another note, I've found 2 cichlids in the rug behind my tank, dead obviously. suicide? < Try to rearrange the rocks and let them establish new territories.> Please let me know if you can help Thanks Scott

Sick Julies In my main tank (50 gal) I have about 55 Julies, 2 Pleco's (3-4" long) and a catfish (5-6"- never been able to classify him as I inherited this tank....looks like a miniature Appaloosa).  Anyway, while I was gone for 4 days I had my autofeeder set as usual (for trips longer than 3 days).  I schedule 1 daily feeding at 8pm.   The Julies have always been a superbly hardy fish so I have never worried about food type that much ( in 3 years I've lost only 3 fish....not including an aged Pleco and a belligerent Clown Loach who probably picked his last fight). In this case my feeders are filled with what I usually give them - a mix of Tropical flakes (in this case Wardley's) and Tetra's Mini Granules (I like them because they don't get sucked up in the filters and the fish seem to like them too). Ph (after the fact) is about 7.6.  Little did I know my, well meaning roommate was putting....a lot of food in as well.  When I came home I noticed the cloudiness and accumulation of food at the bottom. < The good bacteria that break down fish waste were overwhelmed with the fish food and could not keep up. The cloudiness was caused by an ammonia spike in the water. This is very similar to what happens in a new aquarium. Next time add Amquel plus by Kordon and it will remove the toxicity of the ammonia while you clean the filters, vacuum the gravel and do a water change. You may still be experiencing a nitrite spike. This is not as bad as an ammonia spike but can still cause problems until it is converted into nitrates.> I vacuumed and swapped 10-15% of the water.   The next day I noticed several fish languishing at the at the bottom,  lethargic and breathing rapidly, < this sounds like the typical symptoms with elevated nitrites> not responding to my intrusions (Julies are usually skittish).  So I prepared a 10 gal quarantine tank and fished out the afflicted (about 6 fish - 2 adults, 3 'teenagers' and one youngster (1 1/2").  Both adults looked like they had been picked on, missing scales...).  In the quarantine tank I prepared as usual - conditioner and salt in appropriate amounts.  Today ( 2 days later) I notice one adult has white fungus-like cloud over his missing scales and has not improved. One youngster seems to be ok but is swimming upside-down on the surface?! < some Julies just do this naturally> ....brain damage perhaps?  Others are doing well and I plan on returning them to 'general population' in a couple days.  There is no indication of what I've seen described as 'bloat' but I am very curious as to what is 'on' the older one. < Elevated ammonia and nitrite levels have stressed your fish. The older ones usually can not handle this as well as younger fish. It sounds like your tank and most of your fish have recovered. The older fish are usually succumbing to a bacterial attack and is being followed up with a fungus infection. In the quarantine tank you reduced the nitrites and the flesh eating bacteria were stopped. Unfortunately an open wound needs treatment. Wipe the area with a wet cotton ball to remove the fungus. Treat the water with a wound control water conditioner. Add some salt to the water in increase the slime production of the fish.>    Several months ago I recall my catfish having a skin affliction that looked like 'fuzziness' all over his body and he was hanging out at the air-stones on the bottom.  For 3 days I thought I would lose him.  Then, In what I would describe as an amazing case of inter-species compassion, my 2 Plecos (I can only guess, sensing their elder cousin was in jeopardy) began relentlessly chasing him around the tank to attach to him... and clean him up?) This went on for an entire day or more.  Anyway, two days later my cat was squeaky clean and returned to normal behavior. < There are many different species of Pleco's that feed on many different things. Removing body fungus from affected fishes may be one of those things that is not too often observed in the aquarium. -Chuck> Maybe no relevance, just thought it was interesting!  So what's goin' on with my ailing Julies?

Mysterious death of cichlids Hi Chuck First, thanks for getting back to me so fast and glad you enjoyed your visit to the Lake. Malawi's a very small world and, having lived here for 11 years, we know Stuart Grant very well.  All our original fish came from his place, though many have bred prolifically since then. Since writing to you, I went to a local pharmacy to look for Metronidazole, which they didn't have.  When I explained to the pharmacist what it was for (expecting raised eyebrows), it was she who told me to take the tetracycline - on the grounds that Stuart Grant buys it from her in large quantities! We finally got hold of Stuart's right-hand man yesterday and followed his instructions, which were to add half a kg of salt per 1000 lts and empty the contents of 50 x 250mg Tet capsules into the water.  We did all that and, although it turned the water dark red, the fish seemed undisturbed and cheerfully demanded food. Thanks for all your other advice on food (we use the same as Stuart) and temperature (shouldn't be a problem judging from our lot's tolerance and that of all our friends' fish).  We've tracked someone down with a pH tester so will give that a try to see how the levels look.  As for nitrites/nitrates...?  We have a regular water change routine and will try to get some Metronidazole/formalin/malachite if Stuart's recommendations don't solve the problem. By the way, we're also avid divers (100+ dives in Lake Malawi) so have seen many of "our" fish in their natural habitat over the years.  We've done everything we can to recreate their natural environment in our ponds but I guess there's no substitute for the real thing. Anyway, thanks so much for all your help.  We'll see what happens in the next few days and I'll let you know.  If you do make it back to Malawi sometime, get in touch.  You'll get a warm welcome and can come and meet our fish! Thanks and regards Caz < You are right Malawi is a small world. If you can't find Metronidazole then check the pharmacy for Flagyl. It is the same thing and is used in human treatments. If and when I get back to Malawi I will definitely try and get over to see your fish. Good Luck and Zikomo for the invitation.-Chuck> Re: cichlid ?? I have an African Cichlid that is now swimming like his tailfin is paralyzed with his head pointing toward the top. It looks like his tail is weighed down. What might I have wrong, and what should I look to do? < Hard to say. Probably a bacterial attack. I would recommend isolating the fish into a hospital tank and treating with Furanace and some rock salt. About 1 tablespoon to 10 gallons of water. If it is protozoal then try treating with clout or rid-ich.-Chuck> Troy Whittle

Jewels doing it tough... Hi guys, Just refer to the last line.... this is a CC of a previous message with a PS added I read pretty much all the disease emails under the google search argument "Cichlids" Disease" and only one seemed at all relevant to my situation.  I apologize if I missed another that you have already answered.  Here's the situation. I have about a 120gal (460litre) cichlid aquarium.  Been running for about 9 - 10 months now.  I have had aquariums in the past but not for the last 2-3 years.  Currently I have 4 livingstoni, 2 electric yellows, 2 marble peacocks, 2 electric blues, 2 saulosi, one rusty ???, a few algae eaters and bristle nosed cats and 2 Jewell Cichlids.  None of them are over about 2" mo.s about 1- 1.5".  I have shell grit base and a bunch of limestone rock for decorative / fish home purposes.  Currently running two canister filters, a Fluval 304 and Eheim 2026.  Not sure of the exact rate of the Eheim but the Fluval is about 250gal / 1000litres per hour.  Eheim is faster but it isn't in the manual. Here's the thing.  I have had 4 Jewels in the tank and they all started off just fine but now with 2 down and 2 to go they are the only fish in the aquarium that have ever looked sick, and sick they look.  Smaller one looks skinny, isn't eating, fins all bunched up, sits at the top on a 45o angle - head up - all day every day.  Doesn't eat much but does eat.  Breathing is normal, colour is faded.   Bigger jewel sits around the top (last week sat around the bottom) doesn't eat, has lost all colour and looks bloated.  Fins also bunched up, breathing appears normal. Water changes don't seem to make any difference to them.  PH around 8.0, Nitrates < 25/1000000, nitrites nil, ammonia nil, water temp steady at 72 degrees. < Water temp should be up around 77 to 80 degrees F.>   Tried a medication with active ingredients Methylene blue, acriflavine and malachite green, didn't really effect them at  all. (turned some of the limestone green though!) I live 200miles from the nearest town where I can get practical help and I don't have a quarantine tank.  I have lost a few fish over the time but only due to a couple of aggressive fish I have had that were beating the others up.  No other sickness other than the 4 Jewels, 2 of which have already died.   What do you recommend? < The pH is fine for rift lake cichlids but your jewels actually come from African rivers and the hardness and pH is too high for them and causing there kidneys to work extra hard to remove all these minerals from the water. I would recommend that you remove the jewels to their own tank and don't use limestone rock or shells as part of the decorations. Feed then live washed earthworms or black (Tubifex) worms to build them back up.-Chuck> Please help me soon, or I may have 2 more fatalities on my hands. Thanks, Jeremy Shark Bay, Western Australia. PS - sorry, I forgot to add that the big jewel appears to have his scales sticking out in all directions, kind of looks like a porcupine!

Spots on my African cichlids hi there - I hope you can help me. for a couple months already my cichlids have had small dark spots on them. it doesn't seem to affect their behavior or feeding patterns.  they are not flashing or rubbing on the rocks and don't seem to be uncomfortable. on my Grasheki it is mostly around his mouth area and under his head region.  it is most obvious right under his mouth, almost like a little goatee.  on my rusty it is smaller spots, and some black streaks on his tail.  others have it too but those are good examples. when I increase the salt, the amount of spots that I see is less.  but then it seems to make a come back... is this black-spot disease?  if not, what might it be?  also, how should I treat this?  like I said earlier, it doesn't seem to affect them but it looks rather unsightly. < I don't think it is a disease. It could be genetics since many Florida breed fish seem to developed this black mottling pattern , although it seems to be more common in other species from Lake Malawi. On the other hand it could be scar tissue from scraps with other fish as they were growing up. The salt increases their slime so it would seem  that the spots are less apparent. -Chuck> thanks for your help Val

Re: spots on my African cichlids Interesting!  the thing is, when I put new fish in my tank they don't have it originally but invariably get it.  yet the person I get fish from has never had it in his tank... it's often smaller dark spots though sometimes, like in my Grasheki, it seems to cluster. you recommend to do nothing? < If it is a parasite then we could try a couple of things. First isolate the most infected  fish in a quarantine tank. Treat with rid-ich for a few days and see if there are any changes after a week. If the problem is protozoan then this should do the trick. If there is no result then try clout. If there still is no change then we could go after bacterial infections by treating with Furanace. If any of these medications seem to work then you could treat the entire tank. But watch out for ammonia spikes in an existing set up. These medications always seem to affect the good bacteria that break down the fish waste. If nothing works then write back and I will have to dig deeper with some fish pathologists.-Chuck> Re: spots on my African cichlids thanks for your help! right now I don't have a quarantine tank.  is it necessary to invest in one? < A small ten gallon tank with a heater and an airstone can sure make you aquarist life a whole lot easier. The QT tank will prevent the loss of fish in your established tank as well as the reduced cost of medication.>   what would the perils of treating the whole tank with rid-ich be? < Any time you add medication to a tank it will affect the bacteria that are needed to break down the toxic fish waste into less toxic substances. If your medication killed off these bacteria then you could have a deadly ammonia spike. The components of rid-ich are basically a formalin-malachite green combination, so look for these ingredients common found in ich medications.-Chuck> most, if not all, of them have a few dark spots anyway. I have already treated the tank with antibiotics for 7 days and it didn't get rid of it.   Val

Re: spots on my African cichlids sounds good.  I'll let you know how treatment goes.  I'll need to treat the whole tank as all of them have it and there is no way they'd fit into 10 or 20 G tank (mine is a 55).  I can get water from a friend's tank to replace the bacteria.  or is there a decent bacteria you can buy from the store like stress zyme for reasons like this?  here's hoping it works and doesn't kill the fish.. < Marineland's Biospira is the best. Get an ammonia test kit and keep the ammonia in check with water changes until the bacteria kick in.-Chuck> Val

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