Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Convict Cichlid Health

Related Articles: Convicts, Freshwater Angels, Discus, Juraparoids, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Asian Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Convicts 1, Convicts 2, & Convict Identification, Convict Behavior, Convict Compatibility, Convict Selection, Convict Systems, Convict Feeding, Convict Reproduction, & Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Please help...      6/3/19
Help I own both albino and zebra convicts cichlids and have for 2 years I have 3 running tanks and can't figure out for the life of me what is going on with my albino cant seem to narrow it down he has growth on pectoral fins and underneath his bottom gills it's always been there and never spread there are 3 others in the tank as well please help me possible diagnose what wrong so I can properly deal with it thanks in advance amber
<Most likely viral, though the blurry photo doesn't really help. If you can send a sharp photo up to 500kB in size, that would help. (We do ask for small images because our crewmembers are all around the world and reliant on mobile phones even satellite links, and really can't handle big image files.) In any event, viral infections are essentially untreatable. They tend to be caused by environmental stresses, such as chronically poor water quality or exposure to heavy metals. That said, inbreeding does seem to
make them more likely because viral infections are particularly characteristic of things like Bettas, Angels, and Koi carp, so there's probably an element of genetic predisposition at work here as well. Many viral infections will clear themselves up eventually, but this may take years, and of course optimal water quality and diet. On the other hand, viral infections are rarely lethal; while there are some exceptions that do kill fish quickly, these do not seem common in the tropical fish hobby. So provided the fish is not in distress, and it can move, feed, ventilate its gills, and defecate normally, there's no immediate danger. Of course secondary bacterial and/or fungal infections are a risk and will need to be
treated accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Convict Cichlid; toxified        4/4/16
So as of last night my cichlid hasn't been doing good. I've had her for over 2 years or so I got her when she was a fry. I cleaned her tank
<Mmm; what do you mean by this? How did you clean it? Have you read on WWM Re?>
the other night because a snail I bought for the tank brought worms into it so I cleaned it. Now my cichlid hasn't been acting right, she started thrashing around,
<Poisoned... by too much water change? Something added? Soap, other toxic cleaner residue?
tried jumping out of the tank, at one point she jumped out and I didn't know it was maybe 15 minutes before I found her on the ground she lived but is still acting out she just lays on her side sometimes moving around. I think she's going to die but I still have a little hope. I cleaned the tank the same it's never happened before.
<Need to save at least half the "old water" and put it back in... source water is not consistent... sometimes has too much (pulsed) sanitizer (chloramine), other chemicals in it to be safe to use>
She will start turning a pale silver almost white and then turn black then back to the pale color. What should I do?
<Move the fish to another established system if you have one. Add a triple dose of "dechloraminator" (new water conditioner)... Add activated carbon in the filter flow path.... Bob Fenner>

1.6 megs of beaten Convict       3/31/16
We've gotten to convict a couple months ago and the one I picked on the other
<What they do>
so we place the one that was picked on in a different tank. Well today I noticed that the one that we placed in a different tank about a month ago is all white and looks kind of swelled. Was wondering if you had any insight I'm not sure what's going on was wondering if you had any
<From the beating.... Let's have you read here:

and the linked files above. Write back later w/ what you've found, what your plan is for review.
Bob Fenner>

Convict Cichlid; bloating; treatment?       2/21/16
Okay well I don't have a salt water issue I couldn't find my related email or whatever so I just picked the first one I have Convict and I have a breeding pair in a tank all by themselves they bred probably 10 times herself and she hasn't bred in like 2 or 3 months and she's really really fat and she's fat on the other side one side than the other so I was wondering what that could be if I could help her I don't know so please get back to me thank you
<Bloating in cichlids typically caused by a combination of poor environment, lack of oxygen, and the wrong diet. Let's go through these in turn. So far as environment goes, the normal 0 ammonia and nitrite apply, plus the right water chemistry for the cichlid in question (in your case, hard, alkaline water and a pH between 7 and 8). But low nitrate is also important, below 20 mg/l if at all possible, which means plenty of water changes, as well as the right temperature. This leads us to the second
point, oxygen level. Cichlids are much more sensitive to low oxygen than many other aquarium fish. Overstocking will lower oxygen levels, as will over-heating the water (in your case, 25 C/77 F is ideal), and of course water turnover is crucially important for drawing oxygen from the surface all the way down to the bottom of the tank. Finally, diet. We tend to give
cichlids far too much protein and not nearly enough green foods, and that causes them to become fat, vitamin-deficient, and constipated. Most cichlids are omnivores in the wild, shoveling into their mouths lots of algae and decaying plant material alongside the worms and other small prey they most enjoy. You need to replicate that in the aquarium. Treating bloating in cichlids is hard, so prevention is better than cure! But if you do have a bloated cichlid, your first thing is to review the environment and make any changes necessary. Reducing stocking levels can be done at once, but changes to water chemistry should be gradual, perhaps over a few days depending on their severity. The use of Epsom salt is a cheap way to
treat very mild bloating, and works best when the fish is otherwise healthy, i.e., swimming about, showing proper colours and feeding normally.
But if your fish is not behaving normally, Epsom salt alone won't work. Metronidazole is what you need, ideally alongside the antibiotic of your choice for best results.
Instead of Metronidazole and an antibiotic you can use Trichlorfon (for example, in "Clout") instead. It also works well, but is much more toxic and not tolerated by some types of fish. Cichlids are fine, but loaches, catfish, and pretty much anything delicate won't be happy (i.e., likely stressed or even killed by it). Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Convict cichlid is sick.... ? Yes; but....        5/3/15
<6.6 megs of pix sent twice? Two strikes....>
Sorry haven't gotten back to u phonetic playing up,, I did 50 % change, don't seem much better though ph is 7.0_7.4 , temp 74 -76 f. Hi is very pale an puffy scales are sticking up across his belly an sides now an looks
kinda grose,,, makes skin crawl a bit,, eww,,, poor dude,,, his anus is bulging out to,, sorry best pics I can get the antiseptic Makes water go fluoro green

Please Help... NEED info.!       2/19/15
I have a convict cichlid that is losing his color and his stripes. All he does is lay on the rocks he will not move or swim around and he will not eat food either.
I had one of my other cichlids go through this same thing and about three weeks later he eventually died. I do not know what to do or how to make him better again and I really do not want to lose all my fish as they were all in the same tank together but right now I do have the sick on alone in a different tank that just cleared out for him. If you have any information or suggestions that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much
<... need data; useful information... Re the system, history, water quality, other livestock, maintenance, foods/feeding... HAVE you read on WWM re this species care? Bob Fenner>

Convict cichlid is sick. Are we not men? We are EMO!    1/15/15
Hi,, need help my convict was fine yesterday an now he is quite pale and lethargic an his a bit bloated and his anus seems a bit swollen, he also has at the base of the tail on one side looks like his scales are sticking up a bit and his have gone fluoro orange an slightly bulging also breathing quite quickly also he isnt eating,, so wierd he was totally fine 8 hours ago playing n dancing with his girl,,
<Do a 50 percent water change NOW. What water test kits do you have. What do they read?>
I've had him for 4 years now same as his girlfriend she is fine as is the bristle nose and the Albino cat fish, there is nothing new in the tank all water is as normal, filter is clean rocks r clean, have just done a 30% change
an put some aquarium antiseptic in,, what do I do I love this stupid fish don't want to loose
him,,, please help
<Data; not emo. Bob Fenner>

Help! dying pink balloon convict.       12/13/14
Hello good people, i am writing to you because i am worried my pink balloon convict is on the verge of death. First I'd like to introduce my self I'm Eddy, i love your website it has guided me so much through all my problems and questions with my tank, what you do is amazing.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I am writing for the first time simply because i cannot find an answer to this anywhere, and i really don't know where else to turn to. I have a pink (balloon/short body) female convict, I've had her for about 6-8 months now in a 1 year old well cycled and maintained 20 gallon tank. I got her when she was a small baby, labeled as a baby parrot fish in the store.
Eventually i learned of her true identity as a pink convict with the short body gene.
I have taken excellent care of her for the past months, she grew extremely big and beautiful, she lost all her green dye and grew out her pink.
<Quite possibly oversized for a 20 US gallon tank.>
Now only recently about a month i thought she was getting lonely in the tank, taking into account that cichlids are social fish,
<"Cichlids are social fish" is a meaningless statement because we're talking about some 2000 species, with many different types of behaviour.
Some are schooling fish for sure, like Cyprichromis spp, which live in schools at the surface of Lake Tanganyika. But most, the vast majority, are either social when young or never social at all, at most forming pairs or harems, and even then, only for the purposes of breeding. Angels for example form schools when young, but pair off for breeding. Most don't even do that, and while they might stay together when very young, they quickly become territorial as they mature. If in doubt, keep cichlids singly. A singleton cichlid, even an Angel, will be happy enough in its aquarium, and inasmuch as it needs company, dissimilar fish such as tetras or catfish will keep it entertained.>
i looked it up extensively and found it possibly to not only get a partner for her but also breed her. So i did, about almost a month now i got her a slightly bigger black convict, immediately that same night they both paired after a small scuffle.
<Yikes! I would not, repeat would not, have added another Convict to this aquarium. A singleton in 20 gallons is pushing your luck -- two is far too much!>
Now it's been about a whole 3 weeks, she laid the eggs they hatched, and both are taking good care of them, i feed the babies a baby formula and the adults Hikari gold.
<Do you have a home for these fry? Convict fry are essentially worthless, at least in the UK, because the supply of them (hundreds per brood) vastly outweighs the demand for them (almost zero). I strongly recommend against breeding Convicts except to demand. Otherwise the fry end up being euthanised, disposed of as feeders, sold to aquarists ill-prepared for such big/aggressive cichlids, or simply languish in a pet shop, unloved and unwanted.>
I noticed that the male always ate readily, she on the other hand seemed crazy in a sense always after her children taking care of the egg never leaving the cave, and once the fry hatched she never stopped taking care of them constantly moving/fanning etc, and slowly eating less with each passing day, i took it as a sign of parenting, you know like no time to eat taking of the kids kinda of thing.
<Sort of. Among most pair-forming cichlids, "chores" are divided between the parents. Where the parents look identical, as with Angels and Discus, the chores are equally divided and both do much the same jobs. But where the parents are dissimilar, as with Convicts and Kribs, the sexes do different jobs. Typically the male defends the territory while the female protects the fry. In practise, the male generally is less serious about his jobs. In the wild he may well have multiple females in his territory, so he would naturally only spend a small amount of his time interacting with one specific female and her brood. You can see this very clearly with Kribs, Apistogramma and other dwarf cichlids which we keep as pairs but are really harem spawners in the wild. So your male is a bit casual about his jobs, feeding up, swimming about, and generally doing only a half-assed job when it comes to the brood of eggs. Your female, on the other hand, is much more focused. And yes, such females eat less and lose weight. In the wild they might only breed a few times during the breeding season. But in an aquarium where there's ample food and warmth all year round, the strain of breeding more or less all the time can/will weaken females. It's a great idea to remove the male after the fry are swimming about, and leaving her alone with them for a couple months.>
But for the last 2 days she has not eaten, she does not pay attention to the pellets, the male as always a gluttons monster eats everything, today though, i woke up and she was lethargic! She was breathing very hard, and would just lay on the gravel or anywhere in between swims, with labored breathing, she comes up goes about taking care of her babies and then falls to the gravel. Tonight i came back worried thinking the worst, but luckily she is still alive but in the same condition! again with short burst of action and then lethargy and laying on the gravel, even sideways sometimes!
My water parameters are pristine, no nitrates no ammonia nothing!, perfect temp, never have encountered any type of sickness, i have an amazing filter, (MarineLand) perfect PH, my substrate is crushed coral. Please i don't know what to do, the male is completely fine any advice any help you could offer i would great appreciate it! I really don't want her to die, any response from you guys i would forever be grateful.
<Remove male, check water chemistry (moderate hardness, pH between 7-8), check water quality (nitrite/ammonia zero; nitrate ideally below 20 mg/l, certainly sub-40 mg/l). With space, time the female should settle. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Help! dying pink balloon convict.    12/14/14

Thank you very much for the reply Neale, i truly appreciate it, i know my tank isn't the most ideal size, but it's far from bad, atm that's all i can truly afford for them, what they lack in space i make up in quality and care, i can assure you that.
<It is what it is then. But still, I'd not keep two cichlids in this tank.>
I knew what i was getting my self into once i introduced the male, i plan to take complete care of the fry, and i also have a good home for them, (and hopefully future gens) once they grow, i don't do it for the money, i
simply enjoy taking care if them all.
<Glad to hear.>
Now for the female, today once again i came back and she is still in the same state, since yesterday all i have done is a raised the temp on my heater to the max, it being 89, i have also checked the parameters once again and everything is perfect and PH ideal.
<I would not keep her too warm. Warm water contains less oxygen, and that's the last thing you want. 25 C/77 F is optimal.>
As you recommend i will remove the male once i am able to find a home for him.
<Prudent. Short term, a tank divided can work; egg crate, cut to size, is an old standby.>
Once again thank you, i hope this will truly help her back to good health.
<Good luck. Neale.> 
Re: Help! dying pink balloon convict.      12/17/14
Thank you Neale once again for your continuing support, two days ago shortly before i removed the male i decided to try and feed her one last time, this time blood worms. To my great surprise she ate!
out of the bunch i would throw in, she would eat a couple! i didn't want to overdo it since she hasn't eaten in some days and she's still weak, so i only let her have a few.
Afterwards as you first recommended i removed the male, my friend agreed to hold him in his hospital tank for the moment, followed by 40% water change to my tank. Now it's been 2 days since then, the female, I've managed to feed her 3 times ( all bloodworms) since then, i truly hope that's a good sign, for she is still in the same condition, she had completely stopped
taking care of the babies 5 to 6 days back, it was all the male up till i removed him.
<Priority is the female really; get her back into shape and you can always breed more baby fish.>
All she does is go and lay where ever the babies are currently schooling.
But again she still seems in the same condition, maybe, maybe a bit more active, but that could be my hopes up, she still shows no signs of physical deterioration, just lethargic and what seems to be hard breathing.
<Likely so.>
Well again thank you for all your helpful information, i truly hope this is the road to recovery! I'll keep you updated on further developments, thx again!
<Most welcome, and yes, look forward to hearing more. Cheers, Neale.>

Convict Cichlid, hlth.       8/6/14
So, I can't really get a picture of what is going on with my convict, however I know that my convicts (that I got as babies) are now about 6 months old and are at their prime breeding age. Just the other night I saw
two of them "kissing" (or so it looked like).
<Tussling... play behavior or... trying each other out; dominance, fitness for reproduction if twixt sexes>
I know that I have more males than females (or so my sister-in-law says), though I am not completely sure as to how to tell the difference between male and female...
<Easily done. See WWM re the species; reproduction FAQs>
Anyways, now one of them seems to have a big white spot on the corner of its mouth, and it doesn't seem to be able to close its mouth although that doesn't really seem to keep it from eating. I just want to know what's wrong so I can try and help it.
<Might be nutritional; possibly just genetic; rarely water quality issue....>
Every time an issue has occurred that could be potentially hurting my babies I have fixed it as fast as possible and gotten them promptly healed back up with no further issues. This is the first one I can't seem to figure out and don't want to treat it in the wrong way and risk hurting them worse. I have 7 convicts and a Pleco in the same tank, and it has more or less been like that the entire time. At one point I also had 2 and then 1 African cichlids in with them,
<Not compatible>
but removed them as one was significantly older and would beat them up, and then with the ones that were left getting more agitated as it came closer to breeding time I re-homed the last African I had. now it is all the same breed of Cichlid in the tank and I didn't think there would be much issue. What's wrong with my convict?
<READ here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm
scroll down to Convicts.... Bob Fenner>

female convict cichlid with bloat?    7/3/12
I have a 6 year old female Convict Cichlid (Miss Stripes :) ). For the last several months I've noticed she's seemed to have labored breathing off and on.  Just this week she's been hanging out in weird places in the tank (instead of in her "rock house"), sinking to the bottom in odd positions, and she isn't interested in food.  Her scales are a little fluffy, but not pine coned.  I haven't noticed any feces.  She also seems to have a little bloatiness just under her gills (see pix below). After researching your website, I'm wondering if she has bloat? I know she is getting older so she is probably more susceptible to disease if I neglect tank cleaning (which unfortunately I have more in the last few months).
<And likely these are the causes at the root of this problem. I've seen this many, many times. In fact whenever I come across a cichlid with these nondescript bloating, HLLE and Hexamita-type infections, the cichlid was in a small, dirty, neglected tank or otherwise exposed to something that shouldn't have been a problem if the tank was bigger, equipped with a better filter, and provided with more water changes. This is bitter experience -- I've lost quite a few dwarf cichlids over the years by putting off a water change "for just one more week". Nitrate is often cited as the killer, but whether it's merely an indicator of the problem or the toxin itself is hard to say. Perhaps best to see Nitrate as part of the problem.>
I just ordered some Clout (as I heard this is even a better med than   Metronidazole--much stronger) and it should be here in a few days.  However, I'm worried that may be too long! I do have some Jungle Parasite Clear (has some Metronidazole in it) and Jungle Fungus Clear if you feel either is better than Clout.
My questions are 1) What are your recommendations for treatment? And 2) I don't have a hospital tank set up but I do have a free 10-gallon one I can use.  How can I get it ready for her as to not stress her out by putting her in a non-conditioned tank?  Is using water from her current tank enough?  The only other fish in the tank with her (a 20-gallon) is a large Pleco.  Can I treat them both or is it still a good idea to move her?
<Both in a 20-gallon tank? No wonder she's not well. Overstocked!>
Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much for your time. Josey (and Miss Stripes!)
<Hmm... do read:
And the links them. Since your fish is apparently mobile and presumably feeding, then using an oral medication (e.g., in the food) is much MUCH better than a medication added to the water. Your vet should be able to help here with specific advice on dosage. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: female convict cichlid with bloat?     7/3/12
Thank you for your quick response and the links!
<Most welcome.>
I learned a lot from the link talking about aquarium size, etc... I'm really bummed that having ONLY her and the Pleco in the tank is overcrowding! What is a good size tank for just one convict cichlid?
<I wouldn't keep a singleton is less than 30 gallons. It's not so much the fact a smaller tank would kill them instantly, but that anything smaller than 30 gallons will be a pain in the backside to maintain -- long term -- to the standard a cichlid the size of female Convict requires.>
I do have to admit I had NO CLUE the Pleco would get so big.
<Oh dear…>
It is about 11 inches long now and does produce a lot of waste that dirties the tank quickly  (was probably 2 inches when I got him and didn't start growing until I had him for 2 years!!) .
<Indeed. These fish are really an insane species for 90% of the aquarists in the hobby, and I wish they weren't so cheap or widely sold. The Bristlenose Plec is an infinitely better species, only getting to about 12 cm/5 inches in length, and a far better algae eater, yet they are far less widely sold.>
I would love to go to a 50g tank, but financially I may not be able to swing that at this time. I'll have to look into it. It seems the only thing to do other that that is find the Pleco a new home.
<For sure.>
If i put him in a 50g will he just get bigger and bigger?
<Yes. These fish get to about 45 cm/18 inches, and even in a 50 gallon tank they create murky, dirty conditions. They're the fish equivalent of sheep, constantly grazing and constantly pooping.>
Do you have a recommendation for bottom feeders/algae eaters that stay a small size? Or are the bottom feeders not even necessary?
<See above for recommendations. And no, they're not necessary. Quite the contrary in fact; adding any fish, even a "scavenger" or "algae eater" will only make the aquarium dirtier, faster.>
I haven't been able to locate straight up Metronidazole (Flagyl), so while I'm waiting for the Clout to arrive (which I may not use? what do you think?)
<Not an expert on either medication -- they're only available under prescription in the UK, so not widely used by aquarists -- but either should be helpful as it's the Metronidazole that seems to help..>
I decided on trying the Fungus Clear because it contains Metronidazole (plus Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone). I also made a 50/50 mix of table salt/Epsom and put a small handful in. That was all yesterday. I just did a 25% water change (Nitrates/ites are high--darn, I wish I would have kept this tank set up or had an extra bio filter running on the main!). Should I keep changing the water 25% a day until the levels are safe?
<Yes, but do wait a while after medicating; ideally, medicate one day, do water change the next, and each day after until the second dose of medication, in which case you (again) wait a day before doing a water change. Make sense?>
So Miss Stripes is in her 10g hospital tank. I set it up with no substrate (just a little from her original tank in a muslin bag), some plastic plants and her rock house. I am keeping it around 82F
<Too warm; warm water = low oxygen -- better to go for a more clement 25 C/77 F, the optimal for almost all tropical fish.>
and have a filter with only a bio filter (unfortunately not established, but I did add some Start Zyme to help out). The move to the hospital tank was interesting--she practically swam into the net and didn't flounder at all! I think she knew she was getting help :) She hasn't been eating for a few days, so the food with the meds is out. :(  She's swimming around quite a bit (but still not well) and I offered her one little pellet of food which she ignored, so I will wait a few more days until I offer it again.
I'm feeling pretty sheepish and guilty that I may have to learn this lesson the hard way. It really sucks! :( I am keeping my fingers crossed she will recover. I'll let you know how it turns out. Thank you so much for your time! In the meantime, I'm scouring more of the WetWeb site!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Ill Convict, using WWM    1/12/12
<Hello there>
I have two convicts (I'm not sure how to tell the gender)
<... read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/convictreprof.htm
and the linked files above>
 but they are about
3 years old (and have been living together with a large Oscar
<Mmm, not compatible>

 in a big tank
<... How large? See WWM re systems for both species>
for the duration of this time. In the last week one of the convicts has been
laying sideways but when disturbed seems to be able to swim ok.
<Likely sub-alpha behavior to the Oscar or other Convict>
 It has a sore on the middle of each side of it's body about 4mm in diameter (same and equal on both sides) and a little red colour on the tail.
<Evidence of fighting, getting beaten>
The fish never seem to fight each other,
<Not that you've directly observed>
 I guess they don't need to with the room they have, and the other fish are at 100% health.
Any ideas as to what this could be and how to solve it? I have had these convicts since they were the size of my fingernail, they have always seemed to live harmoniously even with Oscar and I have never had a single problem with them.
Kind regards,
Ben Atherton.
<Read where you've been referred to. Bob Fenner>

Help please! Convict Cichlid missing lower Jaw/Lip   1/30/11
I'm posting this for a friend. He has 2 Convicts in a 55 gallon. They are both males and are both almost 4 inches. NO FEMALES. They were lip locking and one lost his jaw/lip!
<Lost it completely? Or simply dislocated the jaw?>
Know he can't close his mouth (looks kind of like a parrot cichlid). This happened in the last few hours. We took out the other male so he is all by himself in the 55 gallon. My friend added some salt (very small amount of aquarium salt) and added water conditioner (has slime for fish).
<Neither of these will help much here.>
The convict is eating and doesn't seem stressed. I have some rid-Ich if that has anything that will help it heal.
Will the fish be okay?
<If he can eat, then yes, he'll live.>
Can he grow any of his jaw back?
If so, how long will it likely take?
<Usually, dislocated or lost jaws result in the cichlid not being able to feed. Gradually it starves to death. Hence euthanasia is necessary. Unless you have access to MS-222, the only humane way to kill a fish as large as this one will be using Clove Oil. Partially fill a bucket with aquarium water, then add 30 drops of Clove Oil per litre of water in the bucket. Stir well. Lower the fish into the bucket, and it should become sedated within seconds, and dead after a few minutes. Death is "official" ten minutes after the last gill movements, at which point the carcass can be removed and disposed of.>
Is there anything else my friend should do?
<Learn not to mix aggressive cichlids in the same tank? If this is what Convicts can do to one another, can you imagine how they abuse cichlids that can't fight back, like Firemouths? Really, Convicts are less than ideal for most aquarists despite their wide availability in my opinion, and I have no idea why they're so widely purchased. Stories like yours ARE NOT uncommon.>
What temp should the tank be set for (to help healing)?
<For Central Americans, keeping them slightly cool is beneficial, so 24 C/75 F is about right. Keeping them warmer than this heightens aggression and promotes spawning, neither of which is helpful.>
Thank you!
<You're welcome, Neale.>

Floundering Convict   1/11/11
Hi gang -First of all, I fail at life sometimes and did not thank you for the great advice about my Green Severum. Chuck - your recommendation was spot on and after some time in the hospital, he healed beautifully and rejoined his tank mates. I'll not fail to thank you for your help this time!
<I am glad we were able to help.>
Problem is this. I have a pair of breeding convicts that have been awesome parents. They have had two sets of fry and did their jobs wonderfully. After the most recent brood, the male suddenly wasn't anywhere to be seen. I found him laying on the bottom on his side. He was quite anxious to try getting away from me but swimming on his side and sort of backwards, he couldn't. I came to the site to read about possibilities and the thing that fit the symptoms was a swim bladder problem or constipation in that other than laying on his side at the bottom, there was nothing wrong. No spots, no swelling, no symptoms showing with any other fish in the tank.
tank conditions: Ammonia - 0, Nitrites - 0, Nitrates - 15-20, pH - 6.6 (I know this is low. I have 8.2 coming out of the faucet and I let the water sit prior to replacing in the tank and after treating with Prime - but for some reason, the pH drops. I have been carefully raising slowly so I don't shock the fish). I isolated him and didn't feed him for a few days (in the event of constipation and after two days gave him a cooked pea.) There has been no improvement. When I go into the hospital tank, he is laying on his side under the air stone I have hanging there and he swims backward away from my hand. If I hold him upright in my hand, he stays put but will not eat from my hand, nor will he stay long. He swims away, down to the bottom to lay on his side. I am at a loss. Is it possible that this is bacterial and I need to
treat with something? Advice please? Thanks a mil
<The stress of breeding may have caused an internal infection. Reduce the nitrates to under 10 ppm with water changes and treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. It may take awhile to see some recovery.-Chuck>

convict cichlid, repro. beh.    3/17/10
we have a breeding convict cichlid pair that are raising fry right now, about 3 wks old now, and just this evening the female is tipping over and wobbling around sideways, her reddish scales on her sides are a pale pink, and the underside of her body(ventral area) is turning completely black.
<Sounds/reads like typical reproductive behavior for this species>
Any Ideas what could be the problem? We were wondering if she perhaps got injured protecting the fry, but that seems like odd behavior for something of that nature. We have a 55 gallon tank, do regular water changes, etc.
<I don't think there is a problem. Please read here:
and the linked Behavior FAQs file above. Bob Fenner> 

Re: convict cichlid   3/17/10
this is her 5th set of fry, so I am familiar with their breeding habits. She isn't laying eggs or hovering over fry, she is in the back corner of the tank lying sideways and every so often tries to swim and then falls back over on her side. Her belly has never been black like this before now, and her sides were a bright reddish-orange.
<Mmm, well... this does have me worried a bit. It may well be that there is summat "wrong" with the pair this time... or twixt them. Though your tank is good-sized (55 gal., four feet long), the parents may be fighting or have had a fight. I would pay close attention to the behavior between them and remove one to elsewhere if aggression is too great here. BobF>
Re: convict cichlid
she died, thanks though.
<Yikes! Sorry for your loss. BobF>

Help Please ASAP!! Convict cichlid... hlth.  - 10/05/2009
Hi, I have a cichlid. She is gray and black striped, and she brightens in color when she gets excited or fed.
<Looks like a Convict Cichlid, Amatitlania nigrofasciata.>
I have had her for over two years. About 6 months ago or more, she started swimming side ways. After a few days, she just sunk to the bottom and stays laying on her side, mostly under her bridge.
<Well, I fear it's a bit late now... wish you'd written six months ago!>
I thought she had swim bladder or maybe swallowed a pebble.
<Swim bladder problems can be caused by a variety of things, typically either constipation or else systemic bacterial infections of the abdomen.
Let's review each of these. Constipation is where the fish doesn't get enough indigestible material in its diet. In the case of cichlids, things like live daphnia, live brine shrimp, and cooked (or tinned) peas,
squished, are the things to use. On the other hand, dried foods, particularly freeze-dried foods, cause constipation, so should be used sparingly. This article is about Goldfish, but the analysis and the cure
would work with a cichlid just as well:
System bacterial infections are usually caused by chronically poor water conditions, either in terms of water quality or else water chemistry.
Convict Cichlids come from Central America and need hard, basic water.
You're aiming for a hardness of 10+ degrees dH and a pH around 7.5 to 8.
Bacterial infections usually kill fish quickly, and if the fish has been like this for six months, my feeling is bacterial infection is relatively unlikely (though not impossible).>
I have researched everywhere! I check the ph, I change the water, I HAND feed her now (usually once every 2-3 days). I can't and won't get rid of her. I just want to help.
<My gut feeling here is that constipation is the issue, particularly if the fish is otherwise lively and feeding normally. Treat as per Goldfish in the article mentioned earlier, adding Epsom salt to the water and ONLY feeding high-fibre foods such as cooked peas, spinach, and live daphnia/brine shrimp. If that doesn't help, or you have good reason to suspect a bacterial problem, such as lethargy, disinterest in food, and abdominal
swelling, then an antibiotic will likely be required; Maracyn 2 is a good choice here.>
Please if you can or know anything, let me know asap. Is it normal for her to stay laying for so long and still survive?
Thank you for your time,
I attached a pic, I hope it helps.
<Good luck, and I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Convict with bumps 03/11/09
I have a Black Convict Cichlid. He is in a 30 gallon tank with a female that just had eggs hatch. He has these little reddish/white bumps at the base of his pectoral fins.
<I see this in your excellent photo>
It looks a little like the eggs that the female lays.
<Mmm, appears to be viral>
They have been there for at least a week. It looks like it may be getting worse. I have also noticed he has two symmetrical bumps on the front underside, almost in line with his pectoral fins. I have always done frequent water changes. I have API Pro Series Fungus Cure. I just don't know if this is exactly what I need to use in my tank.
<Mmm, nothing... Akin to "warts" on ones hands, this condition is not really "treat-able", nor debilitating...>
I think I may need the Fluke Tabs.
<No... toxic and not useful here>
I really don't have any idea. And it bothers me to know this is on my fishy fish. He eats fine and does not seem to be in any pain. But it just does not look healthy. I also have fry that hatched 2 days ago. So I was wondering if I can treat with Fungus Cure or Fluke Tabs ?
<I would not>
Its not a big concern if I lose the fry. But It would be nice to keep them. But I don't want to lose my adult male.
I would like to know what you think it may be and how best to treat my tank. I have included a picture (the best I could get) of my fish. I have photoshopped 3 white arrows to the areas of concern. Any help would be appreciated. I also would like to say I have looked everywhere on the web.
I have read through many fish forums until I get a headache.
Once I think I have began reading the right symptoms, something differs and makes me think this is not the right diagnosis. I appreciate all of your time and your knowledge.
<Do take a look/see on the net with the string: "Freshwater Lymphocystis"... I would emphasize good water quality (regular water changes) and nutrition, and not be bothered by these growths. Bob Fenner>

Sick Convict Cichlid - not eaten in 3 weeks 11/15/08
Sick Old Convict Not Eating

Hello, I have a 8-9 year old Convict Cichlid whom I adore and am extremely concerned about. He has not eaten in over 3 weeks now that I can tell, and he's always been a voracious eater. I have tested his water, everything is where it should be. He did this about 3 months ago (not eating for a long time) and he got a large "dent" (not a hole) in his front forehead, reclusive behaviour, etc.. I treated him with Melafix for 7 days, religiously changed his water, began adding sea salt as directed and I have even gotten him a heater (his whole life he was fine without any of these things, but I am really trying to help him). He magically recovered one day, started eating and his dent grew back until it's as if it was never there. We thought we were in the clear and I went back to a 20% water change every week with a small amount of sea salt to just add back in what I had taken out.
This time he has NO dent, but he looks REALLY off. He has reclusive behaviour, when I come to the tank he hides under rocks, and his color is a bit off. He is also scratching on rocks and gravel, plants, anything he can reach, but it's not constant. i have added nothing new, and there is nothing else that I can see, no holes or wounds, nothing that looks strange on him, but I am really afraid we're going to lose him, I mean how long can a fish go without eating? I've asked pet store fish guys, but everyone of them has a different idea and I don't trust any of them. Most say he could just be at the end of his life, but I read online that Cichlids can live up to 20 years in the wild. I know I didn't do all the "right" things his whole life, but I would really hate to lose him if there is anything at all that I can do to help him. He's got such personality and he's really quite large... i just want to him to go back attacking anything that moves near his tank, digging fun holes, and eating like a shark attacking a seal.
Thank you for your help. Lynn and Greg Y ---------------
< You convict has lead a very long life. The Melafix is more of a general tonic than a specific cure. It has probably affected the biological filtration and you may be having spikes in ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. This may account for the scratching. Without seeing the fish I will assume from you description that you convict has an internal infection. This is basically a blockage in the intestines and the fish can't eat. I would recommend a 50% water change, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel. Treat with a combination of Nitrofurazone and Metronidazole. After treatment you can use a high grade carbon and remove the medication. I would add Dr Tim's One and Only to bring the biological filtration back on line. All these can be found online at Drsfostersmith.com. These meds will cost you a lot of money. It may make more sense ($) to get a younger convict that you will have for another 8-9 years.-Chuck>

Convict female, hlth.    10/20/08
I have a convict female that has gotten really fat all of a sudden and then I noticed that she developed a transparent sack under where butt what's wrong with her and what can I do?
<Sounds a lot like an anal prolapse, usually caused by a bacterial or protozoan infection of the gut. The triggering factor is typically water quality, though I dare say once in a blue moon there's something else going on, like careless use of live foods. Do in particular review nitrate, the "silent killer" in the cichlid world. Few cichlids tolerate concentrations above 50 mg/l for extended periods, and most want significantly less for good health. In any case, the best treatment is Metronidazole:
Cheers, Neale.>

Convict Cichlid 7/7/05 Hi there! Just have a quick question... I have a male convict whose eye appears to be peeling. The eye itself looks okay, but on one side the skin looks like it has been peeled back, and is still hanging on. My convicts just had a set of fry and have been protecting them against 2 Jewels and a Cobalt.( We are removing the convicts soon.) Is it possible that this happened in battle or is it something else i should be wary of? Should I treat him or will it repair itself?  Thanks for your time. Amy <Is likely an injury related to spawning, protection. I would add some aquarium salt, separate from the African cichlids pronto. Bob Fenner>

Convict Cichlid With Strange Growth 7/20/05 I have a convict cichlid (relatively young, I'm sure) who has (seemingly overnight) developed a white round 3-dimensional growth at the base of his fin (at the joint if you will). The cichlid is only about 2 1/2 inches long and the growth is about 1/8 of an inch (perhaps a smidgeon less). Please let me know if you can figure anything out. The only thing I've come up with is maybe a tumor of some sort, but I really don't know. Thanks in advance.--Rachael <Could be fungus from a wound. Wipe the area down with a cotton swab. Put a little iodine on it and treat the water with Nitrofuranace for wound control.-Chuck> Convicts Suffering  9/19.5/05 Hey there, I read different articles for hours on your website, and am still trying to figure out what to do with my fish. I am clueless by the way. <Not so. You know to ask questions> Symptoms: I have a 30 gallon tank with four small convict cichlids. I have a filter meant for a 60 gallon tank, so the water is well filtered. I had many plants in this tank, but the fish kept attacking them, so I moved them to my Jewel Cichlid tank. No problems there. The convict tank started smelling, A LOT!! So I added some pink stuff meant to take away clouding and stinkiness It took away most of the stinkiness, I changed the filter, and did a 25% water change. The main problem: The smallest convict has been laying around on the new fake plants a lot, I thought he was hiding from the other fish, and left him for a week, laughing about his laziness, but he (I think it's a she actually) <Females will have a red blush on their sides when mature> has had a turn for the worse with heavy 'breathing'. I thought the water change would help. The pH level is perfect, brand new active carbon filter, so technically the ammonia level should be ok Can't seem to find any other tests at pet stores to put the water through. I guess they don't have nitrate testing kits here? I don't know. I have no idea what to do. Aquarium salt? Or do I have to go get some other kind of stuff? I thought convicts were the easy care quick to breed variety of fish to have? Got any ideas for me. Should I go back to guppy farming? <There are many reasons a fish may lose energy and start to pant. The first thing to check is water quality. You should be testing for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. If your LFS does not stock them, find a better LFS. Any ammonia or nitrite, or very high nitrate, could be the cause. The fix is more water changes. Big ones, 50% a day for a few days to lower nitrate. If it's an ammonia or nitrate problem you will have to do daily water changes until you have established bio filtration. Be sure you do not clean the "bio media" section of your filter. Ammonia and nitrite are not removed by charcoal or the particle filter, but by bacteria growing on the bio media. If you did clean it, then it is likely this is ammonia poisoning. Do those water changes and get the tests. Order online if you can't get them locally. For now I would not add anything to the tank except fresh, dechlorinated water. Discontinue the "pink stuff". Do water changes to keep the tank fresh. Don>       Old Convict Cichlid Can't See Well  9/26/05 Hello, I know you must get many of these e-mails from people worrying about their diseased fish. < That is what we are here for.> Here is yet another.  I browsed through many of your previous inquiries but did not find my problem.  I just noticed yesterday that my convict of approx 5 to 6 years has sunken in eyes.  I fed the fish.  All the others (convicts) did their usual scramble but he only attempted a few flakes with not much luck.  I don't know if he has loss of appetite or if he just can't see well.  He did try to attack me through the glass when I was looking at him per usual.  He is the king of the tank.  I'd hate to see him go.  Have any ideas? Thanking You in Advance, Donelle < Usually this is associated with trauma/damage to the eyes. He could have fought other convicts that have damaged his eyes during a fight or gotten weakened by a disease. I bet if you test him you will find that he is probably going blind and no medication will restore his sight. If you see pop eye or a white cloudy film on the eyes then these can be treated. At six years old your convict will have a difficult time in a tank with faster and younger convicts.-Chuck>

Belly Sliding Convict   6/16/06 Hello, I have a convict cichlid that is laying on the bottom of my tank a lot. It tries to swim around but seems to tire very easily. When it does swim, it looks as if maybe its "dragging its tail" so to speak. Not that it looks paralyzed but seems to swim at a 45 degree angle. I cannot see any spots on it anywhere and it seems like its trying to survive. Feeding time, it tries to eat like the rest of the fish but just doesn't have a lot of strength and stops to rest frequently. So far, none of the other fish are showing anything like this and I'd like to catch whatever this is before it spreads. My tank is a converted lobster tank like you see on a grocery store and its over 100 gals. Can you help me? < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Your convict may have an internal infection that has infected the swim bladder. Place the convict in a hospital tank and treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>

Convict Cichlid With Swimming Disorder    1/10/07 Dear Crew, My friend needs help with her female black cichlid with gold undertones (adult) < Female convict cichlid, Archocentrus nigrofasciatus.> which cannot swim down from the surface. She is feeding well. She is upright and not bloated, but the dorsal fin remains above water level and is suffering damage. When she tries to swim downward she has a strange "bobbing" motion. The pH is 7.3  Hardness is -190  All others in tank are fine. Would really appreciate your help. Kind regards, Nola, for friend Janie < Your fish has an internal infection. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone or Clout.-Chuck>  

Sick Cichlid, or just old? Terrible English no doubt though Hi, love the site. Michael <Thank you Michael... trouble with your letter here... Spaces twixt your sentences, commas... but I will make allowance for your email as I see the suffix .fm on your addr.... Where are you writing from?> I think my convict cichlid is sick, I bought him from a "Big" LFS who I won't name, he looked pretty unhealthy when I got him, flushed color, white spots. Anyway I nursed him back to health and he was doing fine until about a week ago when he started developing a big reddish brown patch on his tail fin (see pic) <I see this> IDK what it is, I thought it was just his age not sure how old, bought him fully grown) until I noticed the fry, and my Texas Cichlid (mother) constantly picking at it. <These fish may not be compatible> He's also acting a bit strange ,laying on the bottom of the tank, shallow breathing and he seems to be lacking energy I've been doing partial water changes every other day I've treated him for parasites and ick  Is he sick, or just old thanks for any insight you can give me sorry about the poor pic, the spot is a lot darker --   Michael McLaughlin <I would separate these cichlids, treat the Convict with a Furan compound... See WWM re Cichlid Disease... Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Cichlid, or just old? thanks for the reply!  2/1/07 Hi guys <Michael> Thanks for the timely reply I will remove him from the tank and treat him ASAP Thanks for the help <Real good and welcome. BobF>

Convict is pooping weird   3/3/07 I have a male and female convict about 3 inches each, they tried to have babies about one month ago and failed.  Days later the males poop started to turned white and stringy.  He stopped eating for about 3 days. After the 3 days he started to eat again and his poop went back to normal so I thought nothing of it.  Now about four days ago they laid a second batch of eggs and today they hatched and are hidden under a rock, but the male is pooping white again, and he also didn't eat this morning.  I have 3 other convicts in the tank and he still protects his territory, but when he wins the battle he goes right back to his spot and does nothing.  The female protects the babies all day and still manages to eat.  If it was a parasite then why would it go away and then come back, <Maybe...> that doesn't make any sense.  No other fish are displaying any of the same symptoms.  Thank you for you time. <Does seem odd that the other Convicts aren't affected... If it were mine, I might treat all of these fish... with Jungle's Parasite product containing both Metronidazole and Praziquantel... Bob Fenner>

Convict doing head spins, Convict Going Loop The Loop   8/23/07 Hi there. You guys really have a wonderful and quite often when I have the time I spend it here. I am relatively new to the hobby (about a year) and am quite fascinated with cichlids. I have 3 convicts, 1 male and 2 females. The male I have had since he was a toddler. The females I introduced later and there weren't any problems. It's been about 6 months and recently I think the one of the females and a male seemed to have formed a pair. They've been digging up the sand in a corner of the tank and they protect it as their own territory. My male convict suddenly started acting funny today. He started spinning quite energetically. Not horizontal in circles, but vertically, like he was doing head spins. I have seen fish with swim bladder problems and his spinning seemed too conscious to be a swim bladder problem, but I am no expert. He did this twice in a span of 10 minutes and after that he went back to being normal. I have been keeping an eye on him and he's not done it again (over the last hour and a half). Am a bit flummoxed by the behaviour. Could you please throw some light on the above. Thanking you in advance, warm regards. Sujay <It is not part of any spawning ritual that I am aware of. Never heard of this before. Check the water quality and offer some live food. Spawning can be stressful and you want to make sure your fish are in good shape.-Chuck.>

Re: Convict doing head spins   7/25/07 Thank you Have been keeping an eye on him and he's not done it again. Was wondering whether it could be the onset or symptoms of some internal energy? Regards... Sujay <Not sure what "internal energy" means in this context. But, as ever, keep an eye on water chemistry and water quality. Trying mixing up the diet a little, and offer some green foods and algae as well as the usual flake and bloodworms. Practically all cichlids eat some green foods, even if only incidentally to their normal diet, and just like any other animal, the vitamins and fibre in green foods are important. (Even cats, the most completely carnivorous animals on Earth, make a bee-line for the partially digested plant matter in the digestive tracts of the prey animals they eat.) When cichlids lose swimming ability, it's usually either environmental or dietary, so if you can cross those two things off, you've made a good start. The last time I saw "spinning cichlids" it was a tank full of baby Pelvivachromis taeniatus into which I'd poured some freezing cold water without thinking... they recovered within half an hour or so, but it was pretty scary to watch! Cheers, Neale>

Bloated Jellybean Convict  9/27/07 I have a female jellybean convict who has successfully bred, but due to aggression of the male was moved to a different aquarium. This female has recently blown up to a huge, uncomfortable looking state, she is not eating well and just sits in her cave gasping. Her scales are not opened up so I don't think she has a disease. I am afraid to move her back to the original aquarium in her "state" due to the aggressive nature of the other fish. Will she eventually lay the eggs with no male, absorb them or die? What can I do to help? Thank You, Carolyn < Your jellybean convict is a genetic mutation that has been bred to assume an unusual body shape. Unfortunately these body shapes have a tendency to create internal deformities as well. One of which is severely bent intestines. The result of this seems to be food particles lodged in the intestines. These intestines then distend and swell as the internal bacteria begin to digest the food. The extension of the gut stresses the other organs to the point to where they no longer may function. I recommend placing the fish in a clean hospital tank and treating with both Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>

Convict Cichlid has bulge in stomach  12/12/07 Hey, <What?> I have had two convict cichlids for 5+ years, and just recently one of them got a sort of bulge in the stomach. It actually seems to have appeared randomly. A while ago I had a feeder fish that I am assuming was eaten (not quite sure) <... a very poor idea. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm and the linked files above> and I thought that it might have been the fish with the bulge that ate it, but it seems odd for it to still be there (and the bulge is rather large). So for the past couple of days, I have been watching them eat and it looks like the fatter one is eating the majority of the food. It still acts normally, but the bulge looks very odd and I'm afraid something could happen to it. I have considered separating the fish in the tank to feed them separately and make sure they both get the same amount (they are always together, so I don't want to completely separate the two). The fatter one seems to always rush to the food and beat the other one to it. Why do you think the bulge is present? It seems like even though it is eating the food, it should be able to digest it and not have the bulge. Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks so much! -Chantal <... no useful data re water chemistry, foods/feeding... I suspect there is something amiss here environmentally... But it could be a disease, parasite introduced inadvertently with the "feeder". Keep reading. Bob Fenner>

Re: Convict Cichlid has bulge in stomach - 12/13/07 Sorry that was of no help. Here is some extra info, and basically all the info I have left. I moved about an hour away from home in August and took my fish with me. They are also in a new (bigger) tank now, but their environment is the exact same. They have a better/new filter, and I used a lot of their old water for the new tank. The bulge appeared around early November. My fish don't typically eat feeder fish, and the one that was in my tank was not meant to be eaten either. I had goldfish and feeder fish living in the new tank before I moved my fish in there so that it wouldn't be squeaky clean and brand new once they got in. The one feeder fish disappeared, so I am only assuming it got eaten, but that happened probably around September/early October, so it was a pretty long time ago. That is really all I have on my fish. I am definitely going to start feeding the fatter one less once I find a way to separate them during feedings. It just still seems odd that a bulge would appear. I have been feeding them the same amount of food for the longest time. Thanks again! <... could also be a tumour/tumorous growth of some sort... Only way to be sure is to sacrifice, necropsy the specimen... Otherwise your proposed changes, good maintenance are about all that can be done. Bob Fenner>

Sick Convict Not Depressed  1/14/08 Hey, I wrote about a month ago about my convict cichlid that had a bulge in its stomach. I think that is what killed it about a week ago. Now I still have one left, and it has been very light colored with brownish stripes (it does not look normal compared to its usual light color). She has definitely been a lot less active than usual as well. I was wondering if it is possible for her to be depressed and what I should do. The two fish were raised together, and now she is pretty much alone in a 30 gallon tank. Thanks, Chantal < The same factors that made the first convict sick are probably still making this convict sick. I would recommend some water quality tests and make any adjustments that are needed.-Chuck>

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