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FAQs on Dwarf Ram Cichlid Disease/Health

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Why do my German Blue Rams keep dying?     8/11/14
Hello,
I have a question that I am at odds with: I have been trying to keep GBRs alive for a few months now and they keep dying on me.
<Mmm; not a hardy species (anymore)... their genetic stock is weak; have become less aquarium suitable with inbreeding, hybridization>
I am an experienced aquarist with decades of home fish keeping experience.
I currently have a 90 gallon planted discus focused tank. Driftwood, 4- 3-5 inch Discus, 1 mature female Angel, 9 cardinal tetras, 3 bushy nose Plecos, a few Corydoras, 4 pentazona barbs, 2 clown loaches, 2 Siamese algae eaters, 2 glass catfish. I've had some of these fish for 3 years, and all are thriving.
Feeding varied, nutritious diet of Hikari frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, tetra bits, cobalt Mysis flakes, omega one flake food, Hikari discus gold, north fin krill pellets, and Hikari algae wafers.
<I'd drop the Bloodworms... significant health issues implicated; and add more frozen, live foods to this mix>
I'm running 2 Eheim 2217's, temp is between 83 and 84,

<Hopefully with the discharges mixing air and water. I'd add more agitation, circulation. Too little DO may be a factor here>

T5 HO lighting with LED morning and evening graduated lighting to ease stress on fish. Light gravel vacuum water changes every 3-4 days, replenishing with 40% aged, heated and aerated tap water.
<Great!>
Treated with Seachem Prime, Excel and Flourish and API Amazon Extract.
PH in tank and out of tap is 7.2-7.4.
<Mmm; a little high for Microgeophagus... I'd keep 7.0 and under>

Hard water, don't have reading at the moment, but know it's not "very hard" on tetra strips, just "hard."
My LFS gets rams from local breeders,
<They're to be congratulated, shopped for their efforts here>
and water in the store is hard also with PH of around 8.0.
I've also purchased rams out of town from stores using RO water.
<I'd get, use your own RO device (I do and have done for decades)>
It's been running for 6 months. Water parameters have been consistent, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 2-5 ppm. Nitrogen cycling time during the first 2 months was different as the bio filter was becoming established but stable since then.
In my estimation and experience there is no reason why GBR's shouldn't thrive in my aquarium, but they keep getting skin lesions and then rapid breathing and then dead. I've gone through many, like 8, and don't get why this keeps happening. I have treated my tank 2 months ago with tank dose Praziquantel and metronozidole soaked food
<Just once w/ the Metro/Flagyl... too toxic (nephro-) to keep over-exposing>

with focus and garlic guard to deworm my discus, other fish were treated, but no losses or ill effect on fish during that time. I'm attaching pics, if you have any idea what is causing this, I would greatly appreciate it.
<Do appear to be "breaking down"... bacterial likely... But what cause/s, or more importantly, what can be done to prevent? Better nutrition and water quality are the areas I'd emphasize. MOSTLY, I'd contact your stores supplier of the Rams and ask them what they're doing re both these>
Since most of these rams have been kept for weeks at LFS in 8.0 ph very hard water and look great when I bought them I don't get what is wrong with my conditions. I'm suspecting they are so inbred they've become extremely susceptible and weakened?
<This for sure; I agree>
Help please! I give up!
Another fish...
Another...
<Again; I'd contact your LFS, get their breeders contact info.; in turn contact them re foods/feeding and water quality.
Do please report back your further experiences, findings. Bob Fenner>

Re: Why do my German Blue Rams keep dying?    8/11/14
Thank you so much for your insight and speedy reply.
<Welcome>
I forgot to add the sponge filter I've also been using to pre-filter and clear fine particles (including bacteria I assume?) and at the same time provide aeration that is needed for DO (I noticed a positive difference
when the initial airstone went in, and a month ago decided to add the sponge filter to be a dual purpose improvement.)
<Ahh>
RO is not a practical option for me at this time.
<Mmm; not to be argumentative; but IF you have pressurized source water, not "that" expensive to procure gear, easy to install... MUCH more reasonable in long/shortish time frame than driving, buying, hauling otherwise>
I understand I would still have to mix it with tap water since it's stripped of all dissolved minerals,
<Or add back purposely via a commercial product, or one of your own devising (MgSO4 and sodium bicarbonate likely principally)>
and since all my fish (except GBR's) are thriving in my current routine, I need to keep these things the same. Peat to lower PH leaves me with the issue of PH swing when I do the necessary 40%water changes (I've tried it) causing too much stress on my fish. I was advised at my LFS to work with
what I have to maintain stability over and above what the PH and hardness "should" be. That makes good sense to me.
<Real good>
Great idea to inquire with their breeders to find out more on how they are kept/fed while at the breeder.
It sounds like GBR's have an issue in their genetics at this time, very unfortunate since they are amazing fish. I suppose there will need to be a slow process of selective breeding for hardiness to change what breeders have (unintentionally) done to their immune systems over time.
<Ah yes; the tried and true method of adding back heterogeneity via introduction of wild stock/s>
I may have to give up on them for the time being:(
Thanks again for your help.
Regards,
Kathryn
<And you, BobF>

German Blue Ram with Cauliflower Head   2/28/12
Hi Crew,
<Monika>
Firstly, my apologies for asking yet another question about dwarf ram cichlids.  After scouring your site and the rest of the internet for an answer to this question, I've learned now that I should stay away from these fish.
<Yes; many inbred problems... I only endorse these if they can be purchased via a local breeder>
 That said, I still have to try to save him. Everything useful I've learned about fish has been from your website, so here goes.
I have a 72 gallon Bowfront that has been running since January of 2009.
The tank has one angelfish, 4 German blue rams, 12 rummy nose tetras, 10 harlequin Rasboras, 6 Kuhli loaches, 5 Julii cories, 1 panda Cory, 7 blue moon platies, 12 cardinal tetras, 3 African dwarf frogs, assassin snails and a few Ramshorn snails.  It is fully planted in EcoComplete and filtered with a Fluval FX5.  I have an Aquaclear 30 powerhead and a bubble wall running 24/7 right now.  I do weekly water changes of 30%-40% with a gravel vacuum.  The parameters I test are:  ammonia - 0, nitrate - <5, nitrite - 0.1,
<Mmm, I'd be checking this... if not spurious, some added circulation, bio-filtration is good to add>
phosphate - 0.25, pH - 8.2, and the temp is 81 F.
About two weeks ago, I noticed that the angelfish had developed a small scab by its right eye.  After doing some reading, I learned that it was hole in the head disease.  I ordered Seachem's Garlic Guard, Nourish, Metronidazole and Focus and began feeding the recipe on the bottle of Garlic Guard daily 10 days ago.  The angelfish looks better but is not fully healed.
<Mmm, some types of "neuromast destruction" are very persistent, hard to cure... Recently some folks have speculated that some element of using carbon (as in charcoal filter media) may be implicated...>
During the treatment, the ram developed white pimples in a perfect "v" from the tip of its head, back over its eyes.
<Yes; I see this. Involvement in the nares, part of the head lateralis system... What is this? Viral? Mucus?>
 The pimples turned into reddish growths (they looked to be filled with blood), then his head got swollen above his eyes, like a Flowerhorn (again, as if filled with blood), and now he looks like he has cauliflower growing from his head. 
>... the generic term Lymphocystis...<
His right eye is bulging out, but the swelling on his forehead has gone down.  He is interested in food but cannot eat because his lips seem swollen and won't open wide enough.  He has been hiding for a couple of days.  Since I received the Metronidazole, I have dosed the water directly three times with 11 scoops each time, in addition to feeding the medicated food.
My apologies for the picture.  I simply couldn't get the camera to focus fast enough after I flushed him out of the plants.  The streaks in the water are flake food.  I've been alternating frozen blood worms and brine shrimp with TetraMin Pro Crisps soaked in the recipe.
<Do switch to New Life "Spectrum" brand pellets of small size... see WWM re>
 Those flakes seem to hold together best after being soaked for a few minutes, but they still turn into small mushy bits.  I also soak HBH Super Soft Spirulina and Krill foods, but the smaller fish need the flakes.
<Mmm, not very nutrifying>
I'm at a loss and don't know what else can be done.  What is wrong with the GBR?  Will the angelfish get better?
<I suspect both these fish/diseases are related... but what, how? I wish you lived nearby... to take a look microscopically. There may be a researcher at a college/institution proximal to you that can/will take a look... Alternatively/otherwise, simply trying different medications is not usually efficacious>
  Was I wrong to start the medicated food?
<Mmm, no. I would likely have done the same. Metronidazole can be very effective...>
 Please be brutally honest if I'm being a complete dimwit.  I hope I've given you enough information to avoid frustration in trying to answer my questions.
Thank you for your help,
Monika
<Glad to assist your efforts. If this were my system, my livestock, I'd try really kicking up the water change regimen... adding/soaking food/s in HUFA and Vitamin product (e.g. Selcon)... Bob Fenner>

Re: German Blue Ram with Cauliflower Head 2/29/12
Thank you for the quick response.  I have ordered the New Life Spectrum small pellets for better nutrition and will do my 30%-40% water changes twice a week to help deal with the nitrites.
<Nitrates>
 I haven't been able to find Selcon.  You could be right about the spurious test results.  I find that test hard to read so I get my husband to tell me what range is the correct one.  I'm told that I must be colour blind!
<Mmm, nah... these colorimetric assay standards are a pain for all to decipher>
I have standard bio balls, Fluval BioMax, and the Fluval prefilter ceramic rings in the FX5.  Is there anything better I could be using for more biofiltration?
<All these and more for denitrification... archived on WWM>
For how long should I continue to dose the Metro?
<... this as well. Please use the search tool...>
  I don't want to cause
other problems. 
Your advice is again greatly appreciated,
Monika
<Welcome. B>

Blue Ram, need data, better pix   -- 1/3/12
Hello, I have been looking all over your website and I can't find what my fish may or might have. I currently have a 10 gallon with 2 Rosey Barb's,
<Mmm, need more room and individuals... a shoaling species, to be happy>
2 Phantom Tetra's, 2 Minor Tetra's, 2 X-ray Tetra's,
<These small characins as well>
and 2 Blue Ram's (One died from the same issue I'm seeking your advice for). The Phantom's showed signs of Ick so we are treating the tank.
<W/ what? How? Apistogramma spp. are sensitive to many treatments>
I also have a 29 gallon tank with 6 Ram's in it. So I am aware they are a fragile fish.
<Ah, good>
 The reason I did not put them into my 29 gallon is because of the speck's they both have on their back fin. I have attached pictures of the speck on the fin
<Can't make out... Your images, at 8 and 10 Kbytes each are too small...
Need ones of a few hundred Kbytes>
 and I am also concerned with the ram having the red spot on his head. I also sent a picture of that. Please any information is better than none.
The levels of the tanks are all good. I have never dealt with sick fish all my fish have been healthy until I purchased the ram's and the phantoms.
<... Need data re water quality... Please read here for input and examples:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/ramdisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

full size pix

Jaundice in blue ram cichlids?   6/10/11
I have a 29 gallon tank, which has two Corys, six neon tetras, a plecostomus, live plants, and I had five blue ram cichlids but I am now down to three.
<This species, its sport mutations are not hardy at all nowayears>
The tank has been established for more than 6 months and other than some
<Define, quantify>
nitrates (no ammonia or nitrites) the water quality meets all I can find for rams. I had angels in the tank before but I sold my mated pair as I wanted more than two fish in my tank. My problem is my rams are dying off one by one, and it looks like they are jaundiced.
<Define as well... "they are turning yellow?" Better still; define and send good pix>
I cannot find anything about jaundiced cichlids and am frankly at a lose.
I separated one which was floating/swimming out of the big tank yesterday and placed it in a hospital tank that has water which is ideal, as in no nitrates, but he is lying on the gravel now gasping. Any ideas of what I might be dealing with?
<Too many possibilities to re-key. Likely environmental, and genetic as prev. noted. Have you seen/read on WWM re Mikrogeophagus? Bob Fenner>
Re: Jaundice in blue ram cichlids?... Not reading, using WWM...  6-10-11

Thank you for answering so quickly! I tested the water again this morning and these were the results: temp 82 F pH 6.6, Total Alkalinity between 0-40, Soft at 75 GH ppm, Nitrites 0 and Nitrates about 80 (these have been my nemesis).
<Whoa! Much too high. See WWM re NO3, control>
I did read your site and turned the light off and did not feed them last night.
They look a little better, though the smallest one still has hardly any marking and is a pale yellow in color. He also appears to be developing an ulcer on the side of his head...Carey
<... read, fix your nitrates. BobF>
Re: Jaundice in blue ram cichlids? 6-10-11
Thank you, the nitrates were not that high last time I tested ( about 40).
<Still too high by two-four times>
I went ahead and pulled my remaining three rams and placed them in my ten gallon "hospital tank", not ideal but the nitrates are 10 in that tank.
<Good>
I have read about decreasing nitrates <?> but have not had much success, is there a particular method that will decrease the nitrates quickly. I am unfortunately not having much success. (Have tried plants, water exchange (20%), and filter change...)
<... what is it about people not helping themselves... there are 30-40k of you per day... and precious few hours of "us". Use the search tool, the indices on WWM. B>
Re: Jaundice in blue ram cichlids? 6-10-11
I beg your pardon, if it is too much trouble to give some advice, don't waste your precious time answering. If I found the information on the site clear I would not have asked. No one is making you answer my questions. You seem a little stressed, please take a break and have a great weekend.
<Thanks. WWM is NOT an "advice service"... Read... here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm
Learn to/use the indices, search tool...>
Re: Jaundice in blue ram cichlids? /Neale (thank goodness, him)  6-10-11
I beg your pardon, if it is too much trouble to give some advice, don't waste your precious time answering. If I found the information on the site clear I would not have asked. No one is making you answer my questions. You seem a little stressed, please take a break and have a great weekend.
<Hmm'¦ what Bob's getting at, I think, is that questions about Mikrogeophagus ramirezi almost always come down to their acute sensitivity to environmental conditions. Although there is much written about them in aquarium books, it's a fact that are more are sold to people who don't read books (or reputable web sites) prior to purchase. So here at WWM we tend to get an *awful* lot of messages about this dwarf cichlid that basically come down to people keeping them badly. Let's recap. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi needs very warm, very soft, and very acidic conditions to do well. In other words, it almost certainly won't live in tap water, and it almost certainly won't work in your community tank. You're aiming for 1-2 degrees dH, and a steady pH around 5.5 to 6. Water temperature needs to be around 28 C/82 F. Such conditions will require at least the use of an RO filter or rainwater to dilute your tap water. Realistically, you'd be better off using RO water buffered with what's called Discus buffer salt mix, useful in tanks with Discus, but essential here too. Turning the heater up to 28 C will stress, perhaps kill, other types of aquarium fish with a very, VERY few exceptions (Cardinal Tetras are perhaps the only commonly traded fish that work well with Rams). On top of this, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is extremely sensitive to nitrate. You need nitrate levels far below 20 mg/l, realistically less than 10 mg/l. That's marine aquarium quality water. Oh, it should go without saying that ammonia and nitrite will need to be zero at all times. Because low pH reduces the effectiveness of biological filtration, an aquarium with Mikrogeophagus ramirezi needs to be very understocked and the fish should be fed very sparingly. As if all this wasn't enough, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is very sensitive to diseases, with Hexamita and Hole-in-the-Head infections being exceedingly common in tanks with poor water quality and low oxygen levels, as well as various bacterial infections caused by stress, typically Mycobacteria infections that are untreatable. Fish farms "juice" their Mikrogeophagus ramirezi with antibiotics to keep them looking good in the shops, but those drugs wear off once the fish is sent to the retailer, and by the time folks like you buy them, these cichlids could well be incubating diseases that will strike the moment environmental quality dips below what's required. Anything else? Yes! Your "Blue" Mikrogeophagus ramirezi are inbred fish, bred for a colour pattern rather than for quality or hardiness. They're EVEN more sensitive than the plain vanilla ones. Now, I don't want to be too hard on this species. In the right tank it's a lovely fish, and easy to breed too. But beginners buy more of these fish than experts do, with the inevitable result the VAST majority end up dead within a few months. Do please review this page:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/ramdisfaqs.htm
You'll see Bob and the rest of us WWM crew members get a lot of messages about this fish, and the "cures" really do come down to a small set of things: fixing the environmental conditions, understanding the needs of the species, and treating with antibiotics (or Metronidazole for Hexamita) as required.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Jaundice in blue ram cichlids? 6-10-11
Dear Neale,
<Carey,>
I deeply appreciate your response as you have cleared up a lot for me.
<No problem.>
I am sorry for the trouble I have caused, I obviously did not know what I was getting into when I bought rams.
<Hmm'¦ not sure you caused any trouble. But we do get a lot of messages each day, and we're all volunteers, and sometimes we do get a bit exasperated writing out the same replies to questions we've received a dozen times already! We're only human, after all.>
I have done angels for 5+ years and thought I knew cichlids but as you said there are plenty of sites for information and it is hard to find reputable ones as they all seem to contradict each other.
<Angels and Rams can actually get along rather well, sharing the same requirements. But Angels have been made much more adaptable over the decades, so few people keep them in the soft, warm, acidic water they'd experience in the wild. Rams, for whatever reason <<More heterosis and what this implies. FW Angels are a dihybrid cross. B>>, haven't become more adaptable, and if anything, the farmed ones are more problematic than the wild ones.>
I actually buy distilled water for my tanks as the local water is unbelievably hard.
<Do be sure not to keep fish in pure distilled water. That'll cause problems of its own. You do need to mix in some Discus buffer to get at least 1 degree dH and a steady pH.>
I will try my best to keep these "mutants" alive, but I next time I will bypass the "sale" at PetSmart. I will look to your site for questions in the future as you all definitely seem to know what you are talking about. Thanks, Carey
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Jaundice in blue ram cichlids?     6/11/11

<Angels and Rams can actually get along rather well, sharing the same requirements. But Angels have been made much more adaptable over the decades, so few people keep them in the soft, warm, acidic water they'd experience in the wild. Rams, for whatever reason <<More heterosis and what this implies. FW Angels are a dihybrid cross. B>>, haven't become more adaptable, and if anything, the farmed ones are more problematic than the wild ones.>
<<<Thanks for this Bob. Yes, makes sense. Angels haven't been a single species for decades, and you may well be right that hybrid vigour has helped them improve. I wonder if this holds true for Discus? Mary Sweeney was telling me that modern Discus aren't anything like the Discus traded in the 60s and 70s, and with sensible care, aren't difficult to maintain, even in community-ish settings. Cheers, Neale>>>
<And you my friend. B>

Sudden Lumps/Growths on Ram's Head - Please Help??   6/9/11
Hi WWM Crew!!
<Sonja>
Your web site is great! I have been extensively reading through your pages and have seen the great advice you have given to others. I was hoping you would please help me as I cannot find a definitive answer, but can only suspect early HITH as a possibility??
<Mmm, not definitive unfortunately>
Have included as much info as I could think of and the last couple of week's events leading up to my current problem.
I try to keep my water quality pristine - Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, and never let my Nitrates get above 10ppm (it generally tests around 5ppm). The PH is stable at 7.6. I test my water once to twice a week (with API drops) and perform 50 - 60% weekly water changes (temperature matched) - more if I feel it necessary. I only have a thin layer of fine gravel which I vacuum weekly and thoroughly and only ever rinse my filter media in tank water.
Tank temp is 27 Celsius.
For the last seven months I have been running a 250 litre tropical tank without any problems at all. Inhabitants were 11x cardinal tetras, 3 blue rams, 1 yellow balloon ram (who has paired up with a blue and they often spawn), 2x sterbai cories, 2x albino cories, 2x dwarf gouramis and 2x angelfish (which I have grown out since they were tiny).
Less than three weeks ago, I purchased a brand new 300 litre Aqua One tank which came with an Aqua One 1250 canister filter and I basically transferred everything from the old tank into the new one - gravel, silk plants, a couple of ornaments, the filter and about 10% of the water. The new tank had everything the old tank had in it and I ran both the old and new filters simultaneously. I tried to make it so the move to the new tank would be no different than doing a huge water change on the old one, but over the next few days, I suddenly lost 8 of my cardinals and 1 of the dwarf gouramis. All other fish seemed unaffected.
My little balloon ram then became very ill, losing all its colour, hiding and not eating. I was sure I would lose it too, when it suddenly occurred to me that I had added a couple of new live plants to go with the new tank (which I shamefully didn't sterilize) and am thinking they could be the cause of the sudden problems???
<Maybe... but I more suspect some sort of chemical contamination from the new tank, water...>
I immediately removed the plants and did an 80% water change. This seemed to have helped the sick ram because by the next day it regained its full colour, appetite and activity. Then yesterday, I noticed these protruding white lumps appeared on its head and around the eyes! I now have all four rams in a 60 litre quarantine tank and have started with salt at 0.1% and raised the temp to 30 Celsius. The ram Is behaving and eating normally, and even looks like its getting ready for another spawn with its mate. Could this be the start of HITH disease??
<I don't think so>
I have attached some photos of these lumps. Perhaps they are something else entirely.
<Yes>
I don't know what course of action, if any, I should take. Should I medicate and what with?
<I would not "treat">
Should I treat the whole community tank or just the quarantine tank?
I also keep discus and fancy goldfish (not together!) and would hate to cross-contaminate to their tanks with whatever this is.
Sorry for the novel, but am feeling pretty lost right now and really hope you can help me help my little fish!
<Not to worry... thank you for providing as much info. These bumps may be some sort of "pre nuptial tubercles" (hormonal happenings w/ quite a few neotropical cichlids)... Could be something pathogenic (Microsporidean, other protozoan), but I discount this, as your other Mikrogeophagus have not shown similar... And again, the fact that you state this male has been involved in spawning, the stress of the changes you list... I would leave all as is, not even continue the salt exposure. This situation will likely resolve itself w/in a few weeks.>
With many thanks,
Sonja
(Australia)
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

 

Re: Sudden Lumps/Growths on Ram's Head - Please Help??     6/11/11
Hi Bob - thank you so much for your reply and for sharing your expertise! I am very grateful. I've never seen such tubercles on a ram before - fascinating!!
<I do sometimes wish I were back in academia/the ivory tower... Would REALLY like to study hormones and behavior of various organisms>
Thanks again for your help,
Sonja
<Cheers, BobF>

Cichlids slowly dying   3/27/11
Dear WWM crew,
First off, thanks for such an excellent site.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
It has been a useful reference point for many of my fish questions. However, I am now stumped by my cichlids' deaths. My tank is 150 liters or 39gallons (50x50x60cm or 19x19x23in) planted, running with an Eheim professional 2224 (700l/h or 55gal/h) and was set up 3 months ago. The spray bar is set in a way that makes a lot of bubbles but the fishes can swim easily. Temperature is 26'C / 78'F. I feed TetraMin crisps (gone through 40mL so far, expires 09/11) and occasionally thawed frozen daphnia or boiled vegetables. The tank is stocked with juvenile fishes (3-4cm): 9 Rummynose tetras,
<Can be a good, reliable species.>
5 livebearers,
<What sort'¦?>
and 3 peppered Corys.
<An excellent species.>
Also, I tried stocking it with a few German rams, but they died off one by one over 2 months.
<Ah, yes, a fairly delicate species to begin with, and inbreeding plus antibiotics on farms has only made things worse.>
I got 3 batches trying to replace them, alternating stores. However I went through 10, but each time they didn't make it.
<Unfortunately a VERY common experience.>
The symptoms weren't really noticeable at the time, they would just sulk in a corner and gasp, not eating, so I separated them (one at a time as they fell ill) in a home-made breeding box made of netting so they could stay near the surface to get more oxygen. I turned the lights off so they wouldn't be so stressed or have problems from being too warm. It went like this for every fish, with about a week between deaths. The first couple I didn't really notice that much and just netted them out and got new ones. I assumed the batch was bad (hence went to a different store for the replacements). But they kept dying so I would separate them as above, but they never made it. None of the other fishes in my tank ever had any problems, it was only ever the cichlids. I gave up on Rams and decided to get angels instead (2-2.5cm diameter)
<Although Angels are fairly hardy, at this size they are delicate. I would recommend the ones at 5 cm/2 inches body length.>
Originally 6, the angels did fine for the first weeks and had no problems just like with the rams. But then two weeks in one of them started having the same problems (lying in the corner, if swimming then always sideways, obviously trying to get to the top, not eating).
<Interesting.>
I separated him the same way as with the rams, but unlike them the angel made it through the night. He looked worse so I got desperate and set up another tank to put him in, with a kind of hammock for the fish so he could lie gasping near the surface and otherwise strong aeration. It was a 30L tank (8gallons). I just siphoned water out of my main tank to fill it and put in the fish (so he wouldn't have to adjust to new parameters), then medicated with TetraMedica+ Gold Oomed (out of desperation, it was all I had and is supposed to medicate against everything). I used the prescribed 'high' dose according to instructions. The fish didn't survive another 6 hours.
<Indeed. In general, medicating "randomly" rarely does good.>
I wanted to separate the angels to observe them individually, so I immediately set up a 70L / 20 gall tank, and put all the angels in there separated into 15cmx15cmx35cm compartments by netting. Two weeks later the same symptoms started showing up in another angel just before I went to school, and when I got home he was dead. Out of curiosity, I took him to school and dissected him at 10x magnification, he was tiny (Bio student...what can I say) but everything seemed pretty normal.
<Likely so at this magnification.>
The only slightly off thing might be that there were two darker patches in the intestines, but it didn't look clogged up or anything. I don't know about the swim bladder, though, because I've never dissected an angel before and don't know what's normal. If you want I have pictures but they're kind of gory and you may not want them on your site... Now, one week later another angel is showing the symptoms again: lying on the bottom of his compartment, not eating, if I try to net him he struggles a lot even though he was usually very peaceful when netted before, when I let him out to 'exercise' which I do twice daily for 10min or so (I'm using these fish for a science experiment involving 'shaping' their behavior with food to swim through a simple up-down maze). Anyway a few days ago he stopped being so enthusiastic over food, but when I reduced feeding to once a day he really went for it and started eating again. Today he isn't doing so well though and refused eating completely, was lethargic, exact same symptoms. I'm really worried now because this keeps happening to my cichlids, and is somehow not contagious but keeps affecting them.
<Hmm'¦ rather than being contagious I would instead think about what it is cichlids are sensitive to. Cichlids are very sensitive to non-zero ammonia and nitrite levels. I would never keep them in an aquarium less than 3 months old, and ideally one that was more than 6 months old. Cichlid aquaria should be under-stocked and over-filtered. Water changes should be substantial and regular. Cichlids are also more sensitive to water temperature changes than most fish I've kept, so check your heater is working properly.>
I did two 20% water changes today because I just don't know what else to do. This disease thing has me stumped. I tend to feed 3-4 flakes, soaked a bit prior to feeding; could it be a digestion problem?
<Unlikely if the flake food is good.>
How can I save my poor angel? Should I feed something else? And why are none of my longer-bodied fishes affected while the deep bodied fishes/cichlids are? Also I live in the Ukraine right now and it's really hard to come by some supplies. All my test-kits have expired by now and readings are all over the place, but I can't get new test kits.
<Do check nitrite and nitrate levels if at all possible. If not, then assume they're not zero and act accordingly: feed as little as possible, skip every 2nd or 3rd day, and perform regular water changes: 20% daily if you can. Check the filter is up to the job, and put as much biological media in the filter as possible. Don't use carbon or Zeolite. Don't medicate. Don't add salt. Clean filter media every 6-10 weeks, but very gently, in a bucket of aquarium water.>
Please help. I'm really desperate here!
Thanks so much,
Kiara
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Cichlids slowly dying  3/27/11

Thanks for your fast reply. Although that Angel didn't make it, I've changed my maintenance routine to include the daily water changes and hopefully that'll do the trick and the rest of them live long, happy lives.
<Certainly for the first 2-3 weeks, doing small water changes every day will help offset any water quality problems. Afterwards, 20% water changes
once a week should do fine.>
Thanks again,
Kiara
<Cheers, Neale.>

Blue Ram is acting strange 10/10/10
Rams Need Help
Hi Crew, I was hoping someone could help me. I bought three rams about 3 weeks ago from my LFS to go in my community aquarium (2 angel fish, red tail shark, shoal of penguin fish, Bristlenose, 3 rainbows - 190 litre corner tank) and one died last week and now another is acting strange. It is swimming and staying just in the corner of one tank and seems to be moving its mouth quickly. It is still eating but I really want to help out and make sure this one does not die too. My tank water is regularly tested by my lfs and it is fine
and all other fish are acting as normal. Its a shame as I would like to have my rams breed at some point and don't want to lose this one.
Of the two left this one is slightly bigger than the other (I'm guessing its a male and the other is female due to the markings on them)
Any help would be much appreciated...Thanks Mark
< Rams come from the open water savannah areas of the Orinoco River basin.
There is no cover and the water gets very hot, well into the 90's F. I would check the temp to see if the water is at least 82 F. This is a good place to start.-Chuck>

Re: Ram Cichlid Pairing  9/18/10
Ok, I'm starting them on Bloodworms and Daphnia today.
<Cool.>
I have another enquiry. Is it normal for them to dash against the gravel a few times everyday?
<If every day, several times a day, no, not normal, any more than persistently scratching yourself wouldn't be normal. Usually the problem is Whitespot or Velvet, but sudden changes in pH can have the same effect.>
The male did this a few days ago, did it again just now and the female did the same a minute later. I am quite sure there is no Ich in the aquarium, as I have not seen any spots. None of the other fish do this.
<Review conditions required for this species, check water quality and chemistry, observe the fish for signs of stress or laboured breathing, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ram Cichlid Pairing    9/19/10
Yes this morning I now see numerous flat white spots (well actually, they look light grey to me) primarily on the fins. Especially noticeable on the caudal fin. I will treat it with salt.
<See, I'm good at this! Does sound like Whitespot; treatment with salt/heat should work, as should most commercial Whitespot medications, cichlids not being especially sensitive to either copper or formalin. Cheers, Neale.>

Popeye / Tumour on Ram Cichlid  7/13/10
Hi Team,
<Percy>
Your website has provided me with a wealth of useful information and learning resources. However now I must seek your help with my Ram cichlid.
<Ok>
Following on from the learning of others in WWM, I *was* treating this ram in a hospital tank before finally deciding to put it bank in the main tank based on other Googled resources from forum users indicating Popeye for a single eye is not contagious.
<Almost always this is correct>
While I was treating this ram in quarantine, I initially used Methylene Blue for 7 days with a 10% water change daily but no improvement.
<Not expected on my part>
Maracyn is not sold in Australia so my other option was Trisulfate and Tetracycline.
<Mmm, also not often efficacious. I would ask a doctor or veterinarian for the Maracyn/Erythromycin>
Following that 7 days, I allowed ram to have a day rest in fresher water (50% WC). I then treated it with Trisulfa for a week and Tetracycline another week. During treatment, the eye just got bigger and turned out like a whiter. I found a resource on Google search where I followed it by proceeding to try to suck out the white stuff using a hypodermic sterilised needle which I purchase from a pharmacy/chemist.
<Mmm, browsers, please don't do this>
I found the white stuff was like a blob and the needle could not suck it out.
So after this attempt I put it back into quarantine with Methylene Blue as antiseptic. 5 days later I Google searched and found that one Popeye is not contagious so I thought the fish would be happier to live in the main tank for as long as it can.
<Yes>
(the hospital tank was next to main tank so the fish was always looking into the main tank saying hi to friends maybe??).
<Perhaps>
Now it's in the main tank for past 10 days and the eye looks like a tumour.
Only yesterday, the fish breathing has increased while the other tank inhabitants are breathing normally. Fish continue to eat well, very active, very curious, and responsive when it sees me. There are also 3 holes developing on the head (HLLE?).
<Could be Neuromast destruction>
I feel sorry and guilty when the fish rushes to the front of aquarium to greet me. It looks happy but I know it could be suffering. What's your suggestion as I do not want to kill this fish because it has the biggest personality for such a small fish!?
<Really to just keep doing what you are. Good care, patience, hope.>
Would it be worth taking to a fish vet? But what would a fish vet do --- remove the eye or *heal* the eye?
<Mmm, I might try Epsom Salt... Please read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/SaltUseFWArtNeale.htm
but a minimal dose. Bob Fenner>
Thanks.
Percival
Re: Popeye / Tumour on Ram Cichlid  7/13/10
I just realised I should provide you this information:
pH: 7 to 7.2
<High for this species...>
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 5ppm
Filtration:
Eheim Pro2 canister filter with bio-noodles, Substrat pro (bio balls), white foam media. No charcoal or other chemicals in the filter.
Planted tank with CO2. Lighting is on 5 hours per day as there is ample light from the windows during the day.
<Oh! Do check re the tolerance of the plant species you have to salt exposure. BobF>

"Failure to thrive" in female Blue Ram cichlid... -- 7/7/10
Hello Crew! I'd say Good Evening, but seeing as you're dotted all over the world, it might not be evening for you....
<Hello,>
Let's get straight to the nitty-gritty, shall we?! I have a 10 gallon well-planted tank containing a Betta (shorter-finned variety so as not to tempt nipping, and it seems to work), two Blue Ram cichlids (male and female),
<Garbage fish.>
and a Dwarf Gourami.
<If you believe it, even more worthless.>
That's it - I've been told I can have more but I'd rather they all had plenty of space to swim around in.
<Who told you this? Ten gallons is a trivially small amount of space. A pair of Ram Cichlids would be pushing your luck. It's not about the "inch per gallon" rule but about oxygen, nitrate dilution, pH stability, and just plain psychological need for space.>
And the different species have always ignored each other really, with the exception of the male ram occasionally getting a bit territorial with the Betta.
<Indeed.>
Ammonia and nitrites nil, nitrate at worst <10ppm when it's due a change.
<Ram Cichlids are very sensitive to nitrate, especially when other factors aren't 100% perfect.>
I religiously do a 30% water change twice a week as I'm a bit obsessive about the idea of my fish swimming around in their own filth - I'd hate it, so why should they have to put up with it?...
<Indeed.>
Oh, and temperature is a constant 26.5 degrees C.
<Too cold for Ram Cichlids; these really need 28 degrees C minimum, and 30 degrees is better.>
Tank is just under a year old.
<Nothing said about water chemistry. Be crystal clear about this, Ram Cichlids need virtually no hardness and a very low pH; 2-3 degrees dH, pH 5.5-6. One thing many people don't understand is that in very acidic water bacteria barely grow. This has two effects. It makes biological filtration unreliable, which is why Zeolite is used instead. But, and this is central, it also means fish used to such acidic conditions hardly need much of an immune system. There's nothing for them to get sick from. Move them into harder, less acidic conditions and BAM! they get overloaded with bacteria.
This phenomenon is very well understood now, and has been demonstrated as the reason why wild-caught "blackwater" fish such as Discus, Chocolate Gouramis, Liquorice Gouramis, Pikeheads, and yes, Ram Cichlids have failed so often in captivity. To some extend this has been bred out of Discus, but the solution with Ram Cichlids has been to "juice" them with antibiotics on fish farms. Once the poor cichlids are removed from fish farm conditions and they aren't receiving antibiotics, they get sick. Every single bloody time as far as I can figure. I wouldn't waste my money on them unless [a] I was buying quality fish, preferably wild-caught or F1 stock; and [b] I had a very soft, very acidic aquarium to move them into.>
Anyway. My problem is with the female Ram. I've had the pair of them for nearly 5 months now.
<Oh dear...>
They both started off a similar size and colour - the male obviously slightly brighter, with longer dorsal spines, and the female with the pinker belly. With time, the male has become positively gorgeous (and doesn't he know it - the tart!) and almost doubled in size, whilst the female is almost white - the only colour being a broken horizontal stripe from mouth to tail, with a very slightly pink belly. I can only describe it as a "failure to thrive", in that she's stayed pretty puny in size compared to her Mr. Flashy Pants partner!
<Indeed. Could be anything; a bacterial infection and of course Hexamita, a very common dwarf cichlid disease, would both cause these symptoms, especially at a chronic rather than acute level. I'd start assuming it's Hexamita and use Metronidazole.>
Her appetite is fine - they all eat heartily on a diet of tropical granules, with treats of freeze-dried bloodworm and brine shrimp twice a week. But I'm convinced she's thinner than she should be (definite concavity to the belly). I've quarantined her on 2 occasions, treating her for internal bacterial and parasitic infections separately,
<Useless. Metronidazole is the only thing useful against Hexamita.>
but no improvement. And then I thought it might be that she's being slowly harassed to death by the randy male in the tank who wants to breed 24/7 (she does unfortunately have to seek shelter amongst the plants and ornament fairly often) - only she didn't improve when quarantined on her own.
<Obviously social stress will make a bad situation worse. She needs quarantining, medicating.>
I've read soooo many articles trying to work out what might be wrong with her, but haven't yet reached a conclusion. Please help?! I really value the WWM crew opinion above all others (seriously - not just being a suck-up, honest!) so would really appreciate any suggestions you might have to offer.
Thanks,
Kat
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Balloon Ram and Popeye?   5/23/10
Hi Guys,
Great site!
<Cool.>
I'm having some problems with one of my balloon rams - he appears to have developed Popeye.
<Need to know the conditions. Mass produced Mikrogeophagus ramirezi are weak fish at the best of times, and this is made worse because many aquarists are mislead (or don't research) about their requirements. To wit, they need very warm (28-30 C) water that is very soft (1-3 degrees dH) and very acidic (pH 5.5-6.5). Try to keep them in hard water and you're essentially taking a gamble. Balloon Rams are inbred and deformed, so they're obviously even weaker than the standard sort, and like farmed Rams, they're exposed to bacterial infections and "juiced" with antibiotics and hormones. I routinely recommend people don't buy them, and I know lots of pet store managers who dislike stocking them, but the market for Ram cichlids is huge.>
As I'm from the UK then I'm kind of limited to the treatments I can apply. To date I've been treating him with Interpet 9,
<Yet to see/hear this cure anything.>
but his condition hasn't improved!
<Indeed.>
This includes dosing as advised and also a 3 day 'intensive' daily dosing in case of a 'hardened' bug!
<Misleading.>
No change! I'm currently trying a treatment of Epsom salt in an attempt to 'draw' the infection.
<Doesn't do anything of the sort. "Drawing" infections is a mediaeval concept, so let's put it to one side. Epsom salt changes the water chemistry, and draws out fluid from the body of the fish while relaxing muscles. This can help reduce swelling, though in and of itself, it isn't a cure or a medicine. It's like taking a hot bath with Radox salts: makes you feel better if you have 'flu, but isn't actually curing you any.>
I'm getting a little concerned that he may have fish TB!!
<Fish TB is very rare in freshwater fish, but unfortunately more generic Mycobacterium infections are far from uncommon among specimens of Mikrogeophagus ramirezi. If the careless fishkeeper exposes Ram cichlids to
water that is too cold, too hard, and not sufficiently acidic, they often become subject to these types of infections. These is very well known in the hobby, and much discussed in the cichlid literature; for example, I have a copy of Baensch's Aquarium Atlas dating from 1989 that mentions this. It eludes me why people still buy this species.>
I am keeping him in a small hospital tank in a darkened quiet room.
<Make sure you're not moving him from bad to worse conditions. like all cichlids, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is extremely sensitive to ammonia and nitrite, so you must keep tabs on water quality. And also like all cichlids, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi is very sensitive to nitrate, and nitrate levels above 20 mg/l can be virtually guaranteed to cause dropsy and pop-eye, which together can be easily mistaken for Mycobacterium infections.>
He seems quite perky when I check on him 3/4 times a day, although he doesn't seem to be eating much (I just put in 1 or 2 single flakes daily)
<OK. But do be careful that the hospital tank stays healthy. If the filter is not cycled, he'll be perky while ammonia and nitrite levels are low, but then health deteriorate quickly once conditions worse.>
I have read that a treatment containing copper sulphate my help - however I am a little concerned about treating the little guy with a barrage of medicines (Melafix next perhaps)!
<Copper isn't the thing here. Almost certainly going to need Metronidazole,
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm
which in the UK is something you buy from a vet. Not expensive, but it's an extra hoop to jump through.>
The other thing that I'm thinking is that as 'balloon' fish are man-made (so to speak) then perhaps this is his genetic appearance - however his tankmate doesn't sport the same look.
<Indeed.>
Else perhaps the Popeye has been treated OK and he shall just be left like this??
<In dwarf cichlids, poor environmental conditions, especially non-zero nitrate levels, are strongly associated with type of thing. Do be sure to read Paul Loiselle's 'The Cichlid Aquarium' for more on dwarf cichlids.>
I don't want to keep returning/removing him from my main community tank and stress him further.
<Indeed.>
I can send a pic if it would help (don't want to load your inbox!)
<As we state, keep images to 500 KB.>
Grateful for any comments.
Best Regards,
-Steve
<Cheers, Neale.>

Ram w/ speckles...  4/30/10
Hello, my 1year old gold balloon ram has White sprinkles of sand like substances on it's tail n fins but not on the body, I suspect ich and have him in a 60litre tank with a male Siamese fighter n 2 female fighters Who are showing no signs if illness...I've treated with risen temperature n salt with big water changes & also with Protozin several times now over the past 6 weeks with no result, I don't know what else to do, he seems healthy enough and is eating fine with no signs of any other irregularity..I'm running out of ideas now, could I be treating him for the wrong illness?
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...
Thanks in anticipation
Lindsay
<Hello Lindsay. This species, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, is a difficult fish to maintain. To have any degree of success you need to ensure the following. Firstly, a tank at least 15 gallons/60 litres in size. Water temperature must be 28-30 degrees C (82-86 degrees F). The water must be extremely good quality, zero ammonia and zero nitrite, and the nitrate level must be below 20 mg/l. On top of that, the water must be soft and acidic, pH 5.5-6.5, and between 1-5 degrees dH. Unless you're an expert fishkeeper, it's almost certain you aren't providing these things, which is why most casual/inexperienced aquarists who buy these fish end up dealing with sick fish. Do read:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/rams.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/ramdisfaqs.htm
Unfortunately for shoppers who don't read books (these problems have been known for years) the retailers suggest these fish as good community tank fish. They're not. Breeders "juice" them with hormones and antibiotics, making them seem hardy and colourful for a few months after purchase, but sooner or later, something goes wrong. At the very least, you can make sure the water is warm enough. You can also treat for Ick using a standard method or medication; like most other cichlids, they tolerate Ick medication well. But without at least trying to provide somewhat soft and acidic water, and also ensuring perfect water quality, maintenance of this little cichlid is usually doomed to failure. Cheers, Neale.>

Ram with resistant Ick? 4/16/10
Hi I recently contacted you about a Koi Angelfish I was having problems with, unfortunately she died. Thank you very much for your help on that issue.
<Sorry to hear things didn't work out well.>
But....I have another one in a different tank. I have 2 German blue Rams in a 20 gallon tank, I have noticed for quite some time now that they have had white spots on there fins, none on the body what so ever, so I assumed
it was Ich.
<Perhaps. But might also be Velvet or for that matter Lymphocystis, both of which have vaguely similar symptoms. Velvet is finer than Ick, and tends to have a golden sheen, hence the name. Lymphocystis is a viral disease the causes distinctive, often quite large, nodules to develop on the fins and body.>
I treated with quick cure and raised the temp a few degrees to 84F. <<The treatment occurred in the main/display tank... Likely materials in the system absorbed the medication. The formalin in the QuickCure, if treated at therapeutic dosage, will have killed off the nitrifying microbes... RMF>>
<Raised? You do realise that Mikrogeophagus ramirezi needs to be kept between 28-30 C/82-86 F all year around? It gets sick when kept cooler, and this is one reason it's a poor choice for community fish.>
I treated for a couple weeks but the spots did not go away. They don't seem to be bothered by them but lets face it they are ugly to look at, the spots not the fish, and I would love to get rid of them. Do I need to treat longer?
<Ick cysts should only last a few days. The cysts themselves burst, releasing "larval" parasites that swim about and then affect the fish again, so what you have is a succession of generations. Now, the cysts can leave behind wounds, and these can become infected with Finrot. Curing Ick depends upon breaking the cycle. You CANNOT treat the cysts at all, so by raising the temperature you cause them to burst more quickly. Then whatever you put in the water kills the larval forms, and hopefully that puts a stop to the whole thing. Standard Ick medications work well provided carbon is removed from the filter.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfishmeds.htm
Note that some Ick medications are toxic to catfish, loaches, and certain other species, so check the instructions carefully before use. Alternatively, the use of salt at up to 2 g/l can work well and is less risky. Do see here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/SaltUseFWArtNeale.htm
>
Maybe change the meds I'm using? I use QuICK cure. Water parameters are excellent: PH6.5, nitrate 0ppm, Nitrite 0ppm. Let me know your thoughts <Cheers, Neale.>

Rams
Sick Ram Cichlids   1/11/10

To the Crew, Recently I have noticed 'small red spots' on my German Blue Rams and Yellow wild rams.
< Yellow rams are a color form from Asia and are not found in the wild.>
Yellow Rams:
I have one that actually appears blind, he know food is in the tank but cannot seem to see it. He dives into the sand at the bottom looking for food, but often comes up empty with just gravel and spits it out, even though food is inches away on the bottom. Another seemed to have Popeye the other day and was severely bloated before he/she died.
Blue Rams:
Yesterday I noticed another blue ram having issues and he had a red spot on his side, and this morning I found him sitting on the bottom, very unusual.
I had my water tested last week at my local fish store (I trust them since they do an extensive job on testing the water) and everything was perfect according to them.
Water Conditions:
82 degrees
pH 7.0
All other readings for ammonia and nitrates were excellent according to the fish store.
My question is am I doing too large of a water change? I remove 20 gallons out of a 50 gallon tank which probably equates to a 50% water change each week, considering rocks, plants and sand in the aquarium. Is this causing stress to my fish?
< The ammonia and nitrites should read zero. The nitrates should be under 20 ppm. I recommend that you get test kits and learn to take these tests yourself, especially the nitrate kit. Water changes are needed when the nitrates get over 20 ppm. Check your tap water and then check the aquarium water. If the nitrates in the aquarium were at 20 ppm and you did a 50% water change then the nitrates would be at 10 ppm. Check again in a week.
If the nitrates are back at 20 ppm, then you know your tank produces about 10 ppm per week. You will need to change 50% of the water once a week or keep less fish in the tank to prolong the water changes. These water parameters may give you some insight to the bacterial infections you have been seeing. on your rams. Isolate the rams in a hospital tank and treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.>
Second questions, is their a chemical treatment that every aquarist should have in their tool kit that is safest for most fish?
< The only real chemical I would recommend is a good quality water conditioner that removes both chlorine and chloramine from the water. I only buy fresh antibiotics when I need them to treat fish in my quarantine tank.>
My tank consists of:
6 Ram
3 Angel Fish
4 tetras
2 Cory cats
1 Plecostomus
Thanks Steve
< The rams fit in with the other fish in your tank.-Chuck> 

Blue ram flesh wound? 8-23-2009
Last night I was watching my pair of blue ram cichlids and something is not right. They have been inseparable since I got them about a month ago, their colors have been amazing, the female has been red in her belly after a week of having her and last Tuesday they even laid eggs. After the male did not become territorial in terms of the female, they took turns guarding the eggs and worked together as a team, the eggs ended up not producing fry.
<Does happen... may require a few "attempts" to get things right. Sometimes adding a few surface-swimming dither fish can help.>
Last night I noticed my female had a red spot near her tail, I thought I was seeing things and it was just her belly, but I looked closer and it appeared as though a piece of her was ripped off.
<Whatever the immediate cause, does appear to be a secondary bacterial infection. Usually caused either by water quality issues or physical damage, but with this species, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, other factors come into play. Their quality just isn't good to begin with, and if you've had them less than a couple of months, they may be infected with something they caught on the fish farm or in the retailer's tank. Mycobacterium spp. infections are a particular nuisance. Hard water causes real problems with its high bacterial count, and these fish really do need very, very soft water to do reliably well: pH 5.5-6.5, general hardness 1-5 degrees dH. If a biological filter works, then it's likely the water is too hard and basic for Rams to do well, and they're best kept in soft water tanks filtered with zeolite and carbon.>
Also, when I looked at her straight on there was like a weird mark around her eye, almost appearing as though she had a 3rd eye. As I watched her and the male interacting, the male was being very aggressive to her, actively looking for her then pushing her out of the way'¦ basically bullying her around.
<Can, does happen; if a male decides a female is too sick to be worth mating with, he may well drive her off to make space for another female. Remember, these fish likely don't form stable pairs in the wild, and may be, to some degree, harem spawners.>
For the first time since having them they are separated and the female is basically hiding from the male. Oddly enough the male is not bullying the 5 cardinal tetras at all.
<Again, reinforcing the idea that his behaviour is "normal", even if not attractive or desirable.>
This afternoon I went to check on the female again while I fed them and she just sitting at the bottom near the corner and did not even move; her not eating is a huge concern for me because they beg for food normally. Is it possible that the male has bit her?
<Judging by the wound, no, I think not.>
I have included pictures and I'm sorry about the quality, I tried to get the best ones I could. Also, I just want to note that there is NO way this is an issue involving water quality, it's a 10 gallon/81-82 degrees F, and I do water changes basically every day (5%) to every other & I use stress coat.
<The thing with water quality is that at very low pH and hardness levels, biological filtration doesn't work properly, so if you're using a biological filter at all, the water is too hard and basic. Therefore it's always a risk under such circumstances that Rams will contract opportunistic bacterial infections. It's a similar situation to that with other black water fish: wild Discus, checkerboard cichlids, chocolate gouramis, Hemirhamphodon, pikeheads, and so on.>
I just need some help/insight as to what is going on asap, love these little guys, they are the most beautiful ones I have yet to see. I greatly appreciate your help, thanks again.
<A general antibiotic such as Maracyn or Maracyn II may help, but do review the general issues with Mikrogeophagus ramirezi.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/rams.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/ramdisfaqs.htm
Not a cichlid I recommend, and well known for being difficult to maintain, despite being widely sold.
Cheers, Neale.>  

Re: Keeping Rams and Neon/cardinal tetras. 2/25/09 When/if I get them should I use jungle parasite clear on them when they go into the main tank, or should I use a separate, tank.? Also is it better to use fake plants then live?- I know if I did so it would save on lighting and help reduce care in an already "Demanding" setup. <This is apropos to what? I don't keep track of my WWM correspondence! But if we're talking about Mikrogeophagus ramirezi, yes, quarantine them first for 4-6 weeks, and if they show signs of disease, treat accordingly. But no, randomly dumping in medications without good reason is pointless. As for plants, they couldn't care less. Floating live plants will help the most though, since they remove nitrate as well as provide shade. Nitrate is the big killer with dwarf cichlids, and the thing you should worry about almost more than anything else. Cheers, Neale.>

White fleshy lump on my Ram! 05/11/08 Hi WWM crew, <Greetings.> I am truly hoping you can help me. Having scoured the web for an answer I am at a loss. First up - tank statistics: 63L, 4 rummy nosed tetras, 3 albino Cory's, 3 female + 1 male guppies, one Male and one Female dwarf gourami, and finally one Male + one Female German Blue ram. <Hmm... somewhat overstocked, and more to the point not all these fish are reliable investments. Dwarf Gouramis and Rams are very low down the scale of "good value" fish thanks to a combination of poor farming practice and very specific requirements. For example, Rams need soft, acidic *very warm* water (around 28-30C) to do well; anything else and they become very disease prone. Your Guppies would hate you with the heat of a nova if you put them into sufficiently soft and acidic water for the Rams to do well, while the Corydoras would be severely stressed by the high temperatures Rams like, being essentially subtropical fish. Now, whilst all these fish are sold as "community tropicals", my point here is that that's more a marketing gimmick than a reflection of biological reality.> My problem lies with my male Ram. A few weeks ago he developed a white lump on his back, just at the join of his dorsal fin. At the time he was guarding the latest batch of eggs that the female laid. I had removed a few of the eggs to raise myself (left them suspended in the main tank in a net near the water flow from the filter), as the eggs left with the parents succumb to fungus. In order to feed the fry that hatched from the eggs I had removed, I used green water from an outside "pond". <Whilst I'm thrilled your fish are spawning, I'd suspect that the cyst is somehow related to the fact your fish is (presumably) not in ideal environmental conditions. There's really no two ways to put this: Rams require conditions that *aren't* those enjoyed by most community fish. When kept in community tanks, they sooner or later manifest a problem because their immune system isn't working 100%.> I was slightly concerned about the lump on the male ram, but as he was feeding and acting normally I just hoped that it would resolve itself. It didn't seem to bother him at all, in as much as he guarded another batch of eggs a couple of weeks later. The lump hasn't resolved itself and has recently got much larger and is rather "fleshy" looking now (not cottony). It is cream coloured and lately has red streaks through it, making me think this is blood. <Could be one of at least two things. The first is Lymphocystis, a disease that is reasonably commonly seen with "advanced" fish like Cichlids. It's a viral disease the causes of which remain unclear, but in the wild at least, biologists usually put the appearance of Lympho as being related to water pollution. For the aquarist, the best that can be said is that it's a sign that all is not well. Lympho isn't treatable, but under good conditions will clear up after a few months (or years!). The second option is a simple secondary infection similar to Finrot; i.e., damage to the superficial tissues has allowed bacteria to form a mass of necrotic (dead) tissue. Because the "lump" is red and sore-looking, I'm favouring this latter.> He seems to be in some distress now, as he isn't feeding and seems to be "breathing rapidly" with a wide open mouth (not a the surface of the water though). He is clearly off colour as the female laid eggs last night and nothing she could do could get him interested. <Ah, if the infection is spreading, then yes, that would account for respiratory or other distress. In any case, definitely need to assume Finrot (or similar) and treat with a suitable antibiotic/antibacterial.> I have now seen the appearance of 2 red dots on him (looks a little like blood blisters), one further forward than the fleshy lump on his dorsal but still at the fin/body join; and the other dot on his anal fin, where it meets the body. <Blisters are commonly associated with Aeromonas/Pseudomonas infections of the type that cause Finrot. Put simply, the immune system is overwhelmed by the bacteria, allowing tissue to die. Blockages in the blood vessels result in the red colour.> Having now realized that this is not going to fix itself, I am currently treating him with Bactonex (1ml: 1.66mg Aminacrine hydrochloride + 0.025mg Methylene blue). I have a feeling that perhaps he's picked something up from the pond water that I introduced in order to feed the young fry - He is the only one in the tank that is sick however. I've attached 2 photos that I took (as best I could) that show you the lump, and the two red spots. <While it is certainly possible "something" came in with the pond water, in reality these secondary infections are typically caused by bacteria in the aquarium anyway. Aeromonas for example are "good" bacteria when the fish are healthy, playing a role in the nitrogen cycle by breaking down feces and uneaten food into the ammonia the filter can deal with. But when the fish is weakened (e.g., by being kept too cold) the bacteria can become troublesome. This is *prime* problem with Rams, simply because they have evolved to live in very warm water.> I do hope you can help me identify what disease or parasite he has so that I can treat him appropriately. He is my favorite fish as he is stunning and has grown into a great dad :( <Rams are indeed lovely fish. But they do need warm (28+C), soft (1-3 degrees dH), acidic (pH 5-6) water -- which is not what most of us keep our community tanks at. Because of this, the vast majority of specimens die a few months after leaving the fish farm. For aquarists after a hardier "ram" cichlid, I'd heartily recommend the Bolivian Ram Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, a species that lives in cooler, harder, and more neutral water conditions. Not so pretty perhaps, but easier to keep. Apistogramma cacatuoides is another superb little South American dwarf cichlid ideally suited to "normal" water chemistry.> I look forward to hearing from you soon! Worried Ram Owner. <Hope this has helped. Cheers, Neale.>
RE: White fleshy lump on my Ram! 5/15/08 Hi Neale, Unfortunately my ram was dead last night when I returned home from work. <Sorry to hear that.> Strangely, his white lump had disappeared... <Likely decayed away...> Thanks heaps for your advice, I'll take it onboard and redistribute some of my fish! <Very good. Trust me on this... keep fish that *all* like the same conditions, you job is a lot easier!> Saddened Ex ram owner <Cheers, Neale.>
More fish issues... Ram et al fish dis.... env. and "medicine" derived   4/7/08 Again I come to you. I don't know if I will be "talking" to the same people that I did last week but the Black Sailfin Molly Passed away :( And he succumbed really really fast. It was less than 48 hrs after first sign of fin rot (turned into body). I started treating with fungus cure about 10 hrs before he died but I am guessing it was too late. Well, I don't know if it was because I moved him back into the main tank from my QT (thinking he was doing better, it all started with just a shimmy that stopped) or what (I actually think he might have caught the fungus in the qt tank because I have never "disinfected it" I only changed the water. At any rate...the humpback Danio and possible neon tetra diseased tetra are still alive and seem okay (not eating well but a little) and I have developed more problems in my main 100 gallon tank. UHoh. Well, a few weeks ago my Bala sharks (3 out of 4) started showing fin slits and pieces missing. <Something/s awry here...> They were otherwise healthy so I just added some salt and they haven't gotten any worse. <Not all animals, plants... tolerate salt/s> BUT on of my German Rams and possibly on my giant Gourami there are signs of fungus and/fin rot. (attached photos) <I see this/these> Due to the size of the tank Maracyn treatment would be way too expensive <And not efficacious> and I cant put them in the qt tank for fear they will catch what those other two fish have (I don't know what to do with them) I do have a 20 gallon with 3 guppies, 2 neon tetras, 2 dwarf Gouramis, 4- 3 month old molly fry, <See WWM re... Mollies are not compatible here... need "other" water conditions> and 1 platy (I am thinking about moving them to the 100 gallon and using this as a qt tank and crossing my fingers). I am currently treating the 100 gallon with PimaFix and MelaFix <... see WWM re... my copious opinions re... these are junk products... Cause far more problems than they'll ever be worth> because it was the only thing I could find that wouldn't kill my plants, wasn't too expensive and wouldn't mess with my biological filter <... this is not so> (although after taking out my carbon filter media I did have a slight ammonia spike despite my 3 bio-wheels) My parameters have been fine (0,0,10)up until yesterday (when I had the slight (less than .25) <... toxic> spike and I did a 25% water change) so I am not quite sure WHY I am having "outbreaks" but I need to help my Ram and the 3 still split fin Bala's (like I said haven't got any worse) any recommendations? And how exactly will I know when it will be safe to put my neon tetra back into my 20 gallon and give my dad back the hunchback Danio to re-enter into his tank? Thank you SO for your time <... The vast majority of your issues here are environmental and secondly psychosomatic/"medicine" derived... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm and the linked files above to gain valuable insight and perspective... and on to the further input archived on FW disease/health... Fix the environment of the life you have and its health will improve. You don't likely have a "very" pathogenic situation... Bob Fenner>

Pimple on ram's forehead 12/20/07 Hello Crew, <Nicole> I know you are all very busy, so not to worry if I don't get a reply right away. <I wonder where everyone is? Oh! Shopping, visiting...> I've noticed this growth on the head of my blue ram now for a few days now. I thought it would go away on its own, but it seems to be growing... <I see it> though I am not positive about this, it could just be my imagination. It looks like a pimple on a person, that is, it looks like a pustule with something in the middle. I took pictures, but none came out so well - this one was actually the best I could do! At least it gives you an idea of what it looks like. Any thoughts? I thought at first he might have bumped into something. Now I am just starting to worry that it might be a louse or parasite, although this would be very odd since I have not added any plants or fish to the tank in a couple of years. The aquarium he is in is a well established 29 gallon, with two other gold rams, the rest of the fish are tetras and a few Corydoras. I'm just a bit surprised, since I've never had any problems with any of the fish in this tank. Could this lump just be a sign of old age? He's about 3 years old, and I've heard rams are short lived. Mostly, I just wonder if I there's anything I can do to help... <Mmm, it looks like a growth following an injury... though might be a tumour of some sort, perhaps the manifestation of some type of internal protozoan, or...? Not much, anything to do other than good care... If a trauma, will likely heal in time (weeks). Cheers, Bob Fenner> Well, thanks so much, and happy holidays to you all! Nicole

Sudden death of blue ram  7/5/07 WWM Crew, <Scott> Yesterday morning I noticed that one of my blue rams was hiding in a corner which is not typical behavior. Then in the evening when I returned from work she seemed to be resting behind a piece of drift wood (also not typical). When I fed them last night she came out but this is where things get strange. She seemed to be hungry, but kept eating the same little speck of food over and over again alternately spitting it back out. It is the only piece of food she paid any attention to even though there was many floating past and landing nearby. This morning I woke to find her lethargic with frequent trips to the surface for air. Then within minutes of the light coming on (it is on a timer) she went belly up. <Yikes... frightening> The other ram seems to be in terrific health, as do the other occupants in the tank, including 4 silver dollars, 3 Corys and 1 bushy nose Pleco. The water seems fine (0,0,<10) Ph-6.8 and temp-78. It's a 75 gallon tank with an EHEIM Pro II filter drawing water from the bottom and from a surface skimmer, and pumping it back in via a 3 foot spray bar just under the water line so it agitates the surface. The only (possible suspicious) recent introductions are two pieces of Malaysian drift wood that was boiled several times over 3 day period before putting into tank 4 weeks ago. Another mishap at the same time as introducing the driftwood was that Vacuumed all the gravel at the same time (since I removed all the decor to rearrange with new wood) which is something I usually do not do because the water always clouds up when I do that, and yes the water clouded up and is still cloudy. I do not have live plants, and only allow algae to remain on the back wall for the Pleco. I can't think of anything else to tell you. Should this be something to be concerned about (further fatalities?) my fault?) or does it sound like an isolated event? Scott <I'd almost bet large sums on the latter... Had you had the/se Microgeophagus long? Perhaps the one just got something "stuck" (like a piece of wood) somehow, somewhere in its buccal cavity or alimentary system. Bob Fenner>

German Blue ram problems  6/20/07 Hi WWM Staff! <Ave!> I have a 55 gallon south American Community tank. It has 2 angel fish, 2 German blue rams, a couple cardinal tetras (working on getting to 6), 5 green fire tetras, 3 red phantom tetras, 4 black phantom tetras, a handful of guppies (male) and some Otos. <Apart from the guppies (which need hard/alkaline water) an excellent set of fish ideally suited (or requiring) soft/acid water. The only question marks are the Otocinclus, which personally I have found to be troublesome, and the red phantom tetras, which are subtropical fish. In other words, the Otocinclus I have seen suck the mucous from the sides of larger fish, in doing so causing serious damage. Others have seen this on discus, so I wouldn't be the least surprised if they went for angels as well. Red phantom tetras prefer fairly cool water, around 20-22C, and will be noticeably less hardy when kept in warmer water. At the least, ensure the tank is clean, not overstocked, and has adequate oxygen for these tetras to be happy.> A few months back I had an outbreak of a fish plague which wound up killing off quite a few fish. <Fish plague??? Never heard of it...> I think it may have been neon tetra disease mixed with some internal parasites. <No, doesn't work like that. Internal parasites are shorthand among hobbyists and retailers for "damned if I know" explanations. Internal parasites are relatively rare for a variety of reasons, but primarily because these parasites often have complex life cycles that cannot be completed in aquaria, and so they die out. The #1 source of internal parasites is people feeding feeder fish to predatory fish, and after that parasites infecting wild-caught fish. Beyond that, don't get too hung up on the idea. Now, Neon Tetra Disease *is* a serious problem, but to be fair it is only somewhat dangerous to cardinal tetras and almost never seems to trouble other common tetras. NTD is best dealt with by removing infected fish *on sight* since the bacteria goes from the corpse to healthy fish when the healthy fish nibble at the corpse or are otherwise exposed the bacteria as the corpse decays. If you do this, you can short-circuit NTD relatively easily. Naturally, any neons infected at the retailer will die, but at least any neons you buy that are currently healthy will stay that way.> I got that cleared up 2 months ago and have only added 2 fish since then. It has been a month since any fish were added, and those fish were quarantined for 5 weeks prior to introducing them into the aquarium. <Very good.> Currently, I am having a problem with my oldest German blue ram. I got her (I think it's a her) about 5-6 months ago. When I got her, she had a white fuzzy growth on her dorsal fin that has been cleared up for 3 months. <Likely fungus.> Within the last couple of days, her behavior has changed. She is hiding more often, seems to have some trouble staying horizontal (sometimes her face is tilted toward the ground and sometimes her tail) and she has stringy, whitish clearish feces trailing from her anus. <Almost certainly Hexamita ("hole in the head") disease. Treatment is extremely difficult, and relies on antibiotics, which may be available either at your retailer (primarily the US) or from vets (most other places). See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm > She does eat and will occasionally "defend" her territory...but is acting strangely. Her belly looks like it is slightly sunken in. The temperature is at 82-85 degrees, the ph is 8.4, nitrate below 5, weekly 50% water changes. <Well, the pH is far too high for most of your fishes. Rams are notoriously sensitive to the "wrong" water conditions, and despite their wide sale and low price, they are actually very difficult fish. You need soft/acid water, certainly less than 10 degrees German Hardness (dH) and a pH around 6.0-6.5. The guppies cannot tolerate such conditions though, and will get sick very quickly if exposed to such conditions. The other fish should be fine, though as mentioned earlier the red phantoms will resent the high water temperature.) I feed daily a mix of a New Life spectrum small fish formula .5mm sinking pellet along with a pinch of Wardley's Total Tropical flake. I have really become attached to this fish and would like to save her, but I have no idea what is wrong with her. Any suggestions would be helpful. Yours truly, Jamie <Hope this helps. Neale>

Red, Protruding Spine-like things... Ram hlth.  -- 06/08/07 Hi there, <Hello.> I have three Bolivian rams in my 40 gallon tank along with some other tank mates and I just recently lost one of my rams. He had these red spines that were protruding from his underside. Now I am noticing that the surviving three also are beginning to show signs of this. <Hmm... are these spines associated with the fins, or sticking out of the body far away from the fins? Without a photo, it's difficult to identify the problem.> Do you know what it is and if so, how would I go about treating this? <My first guess would be Finrot. When the fins decay, the membrane goes but the spines remain, and these could be the red spines you're seeing. Untreated, Finrot will kill fish. It is treatable using a variety of commercial medications. Ideally, choose a remedy that treats fungus as well, as the two things often happen together. Now, Finrot is 99% of the time a symptom of poor water quality, so check the ammonia and nitrite levels especially. Bolivian rams (like most other dwarf cichlids) are also very sensitive to high levels of nitrate. You should be doing 50% water changes weekly, and the nitrate level should be well below 50 mg/l. Ideally, as close to zero as is practical. Hardness and pH aren't terribly important, but you're aiming for low to moderate hardness and a pH around between 6-7.> I really like these fish and I don't want to lose anymore. <Yes, they're lovely animals.> Thanks and I look forward to your reply, Trish <Good luck! Neale>

Re: Red, Protruding Spine-like things -- 6/8/07 Hi Neale, Thanks for your reply. <You're welcome.> Now, I would believe you except that my levels are all good and I always do water changes... Now the other thing is that these guys' fins are beautiful! There is nothing wrong with any part of any of them. <Okay.> This red spiny thing sticking out is protruding from the anus so is coming from inside the fish. The one that died had them really big and they would go in and out. The fish now just have a small piece poking out. Do you still think this is Finrot? <Ah, the plot thinnens. No, this doesn't sound like Finrot any more. More like intestinal worms. Rather rare in freshwater fish kept indoors, but they do occur. If these worm-like things are wriggling about and obviously alive, then they're definitely intestinal parasites. You will need an anti-helminth (anti-worm) medication to treat these. Depending on your local laws, you will either be able to obtain such drugs from your retailer or from a vet. In the UK for example, Flubenol is available over the counter from aquarium retailers but most of the others used by American aquarists are not. Your own mileage will vary, as they say. The only other thing they could be is stringy faeces. This is actually very common in cichlids, often through the wrong diet or as an additional symptom to things like Hole-in-the-Head disease. In this case, the stringy faeces hang out the back of the anus like threads, but are clearly inanimate. If this is the issue, it's a case of identify the problem, then treat. Diet can be fixed with, for example, more vegetables in the diet. Hole-in-the-Head usually requires antibiotics.> Trish <Hope this helps, Neale>

Problems with German Blue Rams  6/3/07 > Wet Web Media Crew, Hello - I just had all 10 of my German blue rams die, within an overnight 8-hour period. I have them in a 70-gal tank, with barbs. We have not had any problems - they just died overnight. I purchased them from an excellent breeder 7 days prior - he raises mostly angels and discus for sale in his home. Water temp is 80, pH is 7.4, no nitrites, ammonia or nitrates present. Any ideas? < Rams like warm (82 F), clean (0 ammonia or nitrites, 0 nitrates?) acidic water. If all these conditions are being met then it could be diet. The breeder may have been feeding something different. next time get some of the same food from the breeder and slowly accurate the fish to you food over a week or so.-Chuck> Two of my large barbs are now developing Popeye. One was listless, almost blind - so I just took him out of the tank. Any help would be greatly appreciated. The German blues were beautiful - I am very bummed! Thor < The bodies of the rams might have caused an ammonia spike and stressed the other fish. Check you nitrate levels again. I find it hard to believe that you have zero nitrates. treat the infected barbs in a clean hospital tank with Metronidazole.-Chuck>

Rams With Popeye. German Blue Ram with many symptoms  - 04/04/2007 Hello, I have a five gallon aquarium with two German blue rams and two Rasbora hets.  The ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and temperature are all ideal.  The pH, alkalinity and hardness are a little high (8.4, 200-300 and 300), but that doesn't seem to be a problem (or at least it wasn't).  I went on vacation and my dad fed the fish every other day, and when I returned, the larger of the two rams was showing signs of Popeye.  I began treating for ich and Popeye that same day (Maracyn 2), as well as using "Formalin MS" (active ingredient:37% formaldehyde for parasites.  After removing everything else from the tank, I have made almost daily 25-30% water changes (still ideal conditions), using a dechlorinator in addition to the other 3 medications. The ram has darkened considerably, his eyes have discolored from orange to black (I'm beginning to think that he can't see), and he's hanging out at the top of the tank behind the filter.  Sometimes, he's nearly vertical, and he can't swim hardly at all (he moves his whole body instead of his tail). This is day 12 and the Popeye still has not cleared, in addition to the other ailments.  The white stuff previously on his dorsal fin and between his eyes has disappeared.  I have only seen him eat once (just feeding flake food).  The only other thing to note is perhaps the rams fought while we were away.  The Maracyn is supposed to be treating for fin rot, as the smaller of the rams pectoral fins are shredded, but as it has not cleared up in so long, I don't know what else to think.  Should I try to bring down the hardness?  What should I use, Epsom salt?  Should I change the bio-filter? I removed the charcoal when medicating , so now the only filter left is the bio-wheel. Please help!  Thank you, Lucinda < Your rams were probably overfed and this caused an ammonia spike. The spike stressed the fish and all the diseases came out of the wood work. remove the Bio-Wheel and place it in a shallow pan of aquarium water. Check the tank temp. should be around 82 F. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. Treat every other day for three treatments. Change 50% of the water in between the days that you don't treat. At the end add carbon to remove the medication and then replace the Bio-Wheel.-Chuck>

Can't Keep Ram Cichlids Alive   12/21/06 People, Have done all the web searches etc, spoken to local aquarium owners and have been working on their suggestions without it stemming the deaths. I am after help with why my Blue Rams are dying. The fish live in a communal tank with around 150 other tropical fish (50 of these are Cardinal Tetra). Over the last 5 weeks I have lost at least 1 fish a week. The fish appear to lose colour, hide on the bottom and die within a couple of days. No other fish have died during this period. I have had a water sample to the local aquarium which has performed numerous tests with nothing found. Any assistance would be appreciated. Regards Veronica Pattison < Wild rams come from the open plains of the Orinoco river system in South America. The water is very soft, very clean and acidic. But one other strange observation is that the water is very hot. With no shade trees to cool the water it can easily get up close to 90 F but stays around 85 F most of the time. If you have your tank in the mid 70's to low 80's then it may be too cool for them. there is a genetic strain developed in Europe called "German Rams". These are a little darker in color but are much more tolerant of aquarium conditions than their wild counter parts. These are very popular in fish stores because they are attractive and much harder to kill. A third possibility is that you have purchased some old breeder rams indirectly from Asia. Many farms breed these fish extensively and sell the old breeders to the US. They are old and worn out and usually don't like too long because of the shipping stress. I would recommend that you try some young German rams next time. I would only keep wild rams in a species only tank. These are one of the favorite all time fish.-Chuck>

German Ram With Swim Bladder Problem 9/20/06 Dear WetWebMedia Crew, Can harder-than-desired water cause problems to a German Blue Rams' swim bladder? < It is possible.> I discovered the GH in my tank water was at 14 degrees or 250.6 ppm. A day before I discovered this my blue ram was acting kind of weird, staying near the bottom of the tank under some plant leaves. I have since done a water change with distilled water and brought the GH down to 7 degrees or 125.3 ppm, but it has been 3 days and the ram is still acting strange. It seems like he is having a hard time swimming. His nose points upward as he tries to swim. He no longer swims with conviction but coasts around the tank and he still sits at the bottom of the tank a lot too. Is it possible the hard water has affected his swim bladder? Or could it be something else I'm unaware of? Sincerely, Jocelyn < Internal infections are caused by stress. Poor food, water too cold, too hot, aggressive tankmates, wrong food, etc... You get the idea. Rams originally come from the Orinoco river basin in South America. Their the water is very soft ,acidic and hot! Sometimes close to 90 F. German rams are a line bred domestic form of their wild cousin that is supposed to be much hardier and easier to breed. If you are having problems then I would check the water quality. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be under 20 ppm. Less than 10 for wild rams. Try treating with Metronidazole while figuring out the cause.-Chuck> A Thank You ... using WWM!   7/28/06 Crew, <<Tom with you this time, Alex.>> Not a question, but a quick thanks for all of your work.  Story: One (not so) fine day I noticed some short red wormlike things trailing out of my Bolivian Rams' anuses.  After less than five minutes on WWM, I found a question from a person who had the same species of fish that also had Camallanus worms, and saw how to treat it.  Within a day of discovering the worms, thanks to your site, I had purchased PraziPro and started treating the fish in a quarantine.  Unfortunately, it was too late to save one of the rams, but the other, along with the Zebra Danios that shared the tank, appear to have turned the corner in terms of vitality, eating, etc.  The point?  Within five minutes of opening my web browser, I:  found someone that had the same problem, diagnosed the problem, found the actual ingredient to treat the fish, found a common product name containing said ingredient, and found how to effectively treat using the medication.  Many, many thanks for this great resource - my fish and I are in your debt! <<A wonderful testimonial, Alex. While I can't take credit for saving your fish, I assure you that I'm proud to be associated with this fantastic group of folks. For all of us, I thank you kindly for your complimentary post and wish you continued good fortune in this great hobby of ours!>> Alex <<My best. Tom>>

Ram Cichlid Disease, A Note To All Would-Be Queriors - 05/19/2006 <Before we get to the response, please note that I have had to correct ALL the capitalization in this query.  Please format your questions correctly before sending them!  We're all volunteers here, and really don't have time to fix things like this.  We're offering a free service of sharing information, please respect our crew and don't send in questions in ALL CAPS, no capitalization/punctuation, or other such problems.> Hi I <I....  At the very least, respect yourself and capitalize your "I"s.> wonder if any one can help me I am quite new at keeping fish. I have a male and a female ram in a 30 gallon tank with 12 other small tropical fish. <Numbers don't help us understand a problem if we don't know *what* the fish are.  I can tell you that 14 fish in a 30 gallon tank sounds pretty jam-packed.> I have had them for 2 months and every week they have had a batch of eggs that last for about 48 hours and die, but that's not the problem though. <It is "a" problem.> I clean the tank once a week roughly about 1/3 to 1/2 the water, temp is always at 27c. Today I noticed white patches on the female, on and near her fin and round her black circles on her sides.  What is it?  Is it treatable?  Can the other fish/ram catch it? <Without more information (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH readings, other tankmates, history/details of the system) and a very in-depth description or image of the problem, there's really no way we can know what it is, if or how to treat it, if it is something that can spread to the other fish....  There's just not enough information for us to go off, here.> Please help!!!! Amy <Please start reading, on WWM and elsewhere, maybe starting here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cichliddisfaqs.htm .  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Angels, Rams, and Maybe Ich - 05/10/2006 Good Morning~ <Good afternoon.> I recently purchased 4 small angelfish and also a Microgeophagus ramirezi  (because it was the only one in the tank/store-and very cute) to put in a long 20gal.   <Uhh, this is a quarantine system, I hope?  A single angelfish will outgrow a 20 gallon tank, let alone four of them....  They're rather territorial, too.> Did tests this morning: ph: 7.2-0-0-10. Did a water change. Temp is 80.  I noticed a small whitish spot on top of the head (the ram) <Possibly ich?  I do hope this is a quarantine tank.> I noticed that some of the other posts say these fish stay mostly near the bottom, but this little guy is more mid-tank-especially after the water change.   <Probably not a problem, but I would advise that you watch him closely.> Should I do a smaller water change with RO water... 1 gal with 1 gal tap?... <Perhaps.> or add salt... or medicate... <Only if you're confident of disease.> or just wait and see.   Any suggestions/ideas on what to do about this would be greatly appreciated. <I'd go with the "wait and see" for the moment, and be watching him very closely for now.> Thanks Again,  Judy <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

FW Ram and Plant Questions  - 5/2/2006 1. My rams have been doing very well lately but I just have 1 concern. On the bottom of their bodies, they are fine but about half way to their tail and their body's curve inward. Is their stomach not full? Are they hungry or starving? They always eat but my other fish are really quick and I don't want to put more food in because if my other fish are full... the rest will go to waste and pollute my tank. What should I do? < Over feed them some live brine shrimp or Tubifex worms and see if they fill out. You may need to change the food to sinking pellets to make sure they get enough to eat.> 2. I have one Brazilian Sword and it has 4 open leaves and one that is in the process of opening. Will it grow more stalks with more leaves or is this how little it will be forever? < The Brazilian sword plant is actually not a fully aquatic plant. The leaves should be out of the water. You plant will slowly waste away after awhile. Try switching to a fully aquatic plant like an Amazon sword.> 3. If there is a slight tear and around that tear, brown spots on one of my swords' leaves, should I cut the entire leaf off because then my plant will look really skimpy? Also, I if I cut anything off, I should cut it as close as possible to the roots as with any plant right? Thanks < The Brazilian sword is already rotting away. Swap it out for an Amazon sword.-Chuck> Gold veil angel rams I recently purchased 5 gold veil angel rams from my LFS.. they normally get them twice a year and are gone as soon people realize the store has them in stock so I decided to go on ahead and buy them even though they seem to have what looks like as an internal parasite or tumors or something of the sort.  besides.. at this point I'm curious just to know what exactly is wrong with them and how to properly treat them or if it's even at all possible to treat them. the "tumors" as we'll call them are about 2-3mm in diameter, oval shaped and brown or gray in color.  you can see them through the body of the fish as they are somewhat translucent.  they don't show any signs of struggling.. they are responsive to stimuli, they eat regularly and are all housed currently in a 5 gallon quarantine tank with no substrate and a sponge filter as you would find in a fry tank.   they are currently being treated with a 1/4 teaspoon of paragon every other day with a 2-3 gallon water change every fourth or sixth day.  I've had them for about a week and they don't seem to be getting any better, but they aren't getting any worse either.  I was wondering if this really could be a parasite or infection and if I'm treating them with the proper medication.  I have also given them a salt bath using freshwater salt but could only do this for around a minute or so before they were beginning to float on their sides.. I thought I was sure to have killed a couple doing this but I quickly moved them back to the 5 gallon tank and to my surprise they all lived and returned back to their normal state.  if you have any suggestions I'd really appreciate it.. even some background information on the fish would be great as I know they are relatively new to the stores, or at least here on Oahu.. in fact.. this is the only LFS on the island that ever gets them.. hence why I thought I may risk buying these ones.  I have called the LFS since to check about the rest of the fish to find that they too aren't getting any better either. < Many of these parasites that infest the body of the host are difficult to treat because the tissues of the fish prevent the medication from getting to the parasite. The other problem is when the parasite dies then this dead thing starts to decay and rot inside the fish. Sometimes these things are parasites that have numerous hosts. They start out in a snail and then invade a fish. The fish gets eaten by a bird and excretes the eggs of the parasite that then hatches and lives in a snail for a while and starts the cycle all over again. I would quickly try and breed the rams and start a parasite free generation.-Chuck> thanks again Jonathan

SICK RAMS Hi Chuck (or whoever reading this today)  Thanks for the response. Unfortunately, those antibiotics are hard, if not impossible, to get hold of here in the UK, but at least I had an idea what's wrong with my fish and so I got an appropriate treatment (Octozin by Waterlife) and now my fish are better -- the female is eating like a pig again. Hopefully they will go back into breeding mode again. Thanks again for your help, Golan. < I am glad I was able to provide some help. Not all antibiotics are available all over the world or are all called the same thing.-Chuck>

Rams problems Hi there! I have had a pair of Blue rams (Microgeophagus ramirezi) for a few months now and lately something is wrong with both of them.  I hope you can help. I'll start with the male.  After buying it I've noticed that one of his eyes wasn't alright.  At first I just noticed that it was smaller than the other one and flatter too.  Then I noticed that it doesn't have a pupil either. The supporting evidence that this eye was "faulty" is that he only chases the female if she's on the side of the good eye.  The eye had the same colouration of the other one, and even moved with the other one, but he is definitely blind in that eye.  Now the eye is getting swollen and also loses its colouration.  It looks as if it's about to pop out of its socket.  I'm not sure whether it's pop-eye, or whether it's just because it's bad and I don't want to medicate without knowing for sure, as they don't like any chemicals (they even react badly to 1/4 dose of Melafix).  What do you think? As for the female, she has not eaten for the past few days.  She would either look at the food and then swim away or she would take something into her mouth, chew, and then spit.  She does come up for food when I approach the tank.  I have tried any possible food I could get my hands on: from live food (blood worms and brine shrimps) to flakes, to cichlid pellets, to granular food... nada. Both fish colours are intense, their fins are erected, the interact with each other, and until about a week ago they were displaying breeding behaviour (cleaning of a spot together, chasing the Corys away from that spot) for few days, but then it stopped.  They did that twice in the past, but got more serious every time, so I figured out they were still practicing. The male's symptoms started when they were still preparing to breed, while the female stopped eating about the time that they stopped preparing. Background information: Ammonia, nitrites: 0ppm Nitrates: 5 - 10ppm pH: 6.4 KH: 2.5 dKH GH: 4.5 dGH temp: 26.5 - 27c 96 litres tank tank mate: 7 Corys I use R/O water (with R/O right) for water changes, and I change 10% of the water every other day because I add co2 and I don't want to have a big change in pH.  I feed mostly with live food.  The water parameters have been consistent and the only problem lately was when my heater stopped working at night and the water temp went down to 24.5c and I immediately got a new heater and raised the temp again slowly.  This, however, happened after they started showing the symptoms, so I don't think it has anything to do with it. I'm sorry that this has been a long one, but I've tried giving as much information as possible. Many thanks in advance, Golan. < These internal bacterial infections are often caused by stress. Some fish break down when the water gets too hot. Your rams really don't like it when the water gets too cold as when you heater went out. Treat them with Metronidazole. If none is available then try Nitrofuranace at double the dosage. When they start to eat again then they are on there way to recovering. The Nitrofuranace will color the water green and is not as effective as the Metronidazole.-Chuck> Judging LFS, Fancy Rams 9/16/05 I usually deal with saltwater aquariums and reef aquariums, but a particular fish caught my attention one day while walking through my LFS.  This is generally a store that I hate as most the workers can't answer questions and the animals always seems to be dying (fish) and the mammals always suffering from dirty cage neglect. <It is usually best to avoid purchasing from such places, as they will only continue to replace the animals that you've bought....> Okay.. venting over.. so I came across a fish which they referred to as a gold veil angel ram.  Basically a long-finned gold ram with an angel fish shaped body.  The colorations and disposition of the fish caused me to immediately fall in love with the fish and I proceeded to plan my future purchase.  Originally I bought a few for my grandmothers aquarium that I take care of.. the 3 I placed I've had for over 3-4 months and they're doing great.  I also moved my aquarium at my parents house inside for my sister (as I don't live at my parents house) and got it up and running with plants and driftwood and fish.. the plants are really taking off.. but I have to focus on the pH as it's a little too basic for Microgeophagus. <Okay> Here's the problem.. I bought 5 of them from my LFS today and they came with a problem.   They have this little tumor like cysts in their bodies some of them 1 or 2 .. but no more than 3.. they are about half the size of a grain of rice.. probably even smaller, they react like normal and don't show any signs of being sick.. now.. here's the reason I bought them.. This fish I haven't been able to find online and this is the only fish store on Oahu that gets them in stock.   <Perhaps another/better store would order them for you?> And worse.. they only get them 1-2 times a year and normally by the time they get them in stock they're sold out.  So yeah.. I took the chance.. So.. back to the tumor like things.. they appear to be brownish in color.. they aren't translucent.. but you can see them clearly through the fishes body.. at the moment I have the 5 in a 5 gallon hospital tank being treated with paragon.  I wish I could get a picture for you guys but I don't have a digital camera.  I can try an borrow one and get one too you by next week.. but if anything I'm more curious as to if this is something fatal, curable, or whatever other possibilities there are.   <Chuck's archived response to you can be found here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/ramfaqs.htm .  Though I agree with Chuck's suggestion that they are digenetic Trematodes (that's, external parasites, similar to worms, that require different animal hosts at different stages in development - the snail/bird/fish parasite he suggests is one), I would also propose that these things could in fact be tumors or granulomas, possibly even from mycobacteriosis....  In any of these cases, treatment is of no help, and in the case of mycobacteriosis, treatment is very, very unlikely to effect a cure and may even be harmful.> Otherwise.. I'd also like it if someone could give some background information on them as I know they're probably a product of inbreeding.  Either way. Any info would be greatly appreciated. <Indeed, they are not natural in color or shape.  I can't find much on this "new" body shape; though, I've seen "balloon" rams (similar to balloon mollies) as well.> Thanks  -Jonathan <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Ram Now Has Popeye  2/18/06 Thanks for your quick response last week. I QT'd the fish and followed your advice with the Furanace. Unfortunately on day 3 of the treatment I noticed that the expiration date on the medication was 2 YEARS ago... the ram hadn't really eaten in 4 days and I didn't think he would survive another 4 days with new meds so I put him back in the main tank where he was eating and happy to be with his mate. His nares got better, I kept up with water changes and thought all was well. (My ammonia, nitrites are 0, less than 10 nitrates, water is RO with RO Right mixed to keep a lower pH and softness...) Yesterday he developed Popeye. I QT'd him again, added StressCoat and Epsom salts to his tank.  (His QT tank water is all at 0 as above).  I see no symptoms of anything wrong, just one eye bulging out.  The other eye may be swollen a bit, but not much I can tell. Is there anything I can do to help this poor fish? I just can't figure out what is wrong with him... is there an all purpose antibiotic I should try on him? Thanks again, Cathy G Oh, the expired meds all came out of a fresh shipment of meds to the store - somebody needs to get a better supplier me thinks... < The Popeye is an internal bacterial infection behind the eye socket. Treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck> Ram Cichlid With Bloody Nose   2/10/06 I have a Halloween Ram - commonly known as a blue ram. He has been living just fine with his pretty wife, (I performed the ceremony myself), they eat and spawn regularly.  Nothing has changed in this planted tank except that a week before this happened I rearranged a couple of plants and driftwood.  I do frequent water changes, everything is 0 except nitrates - these are less than 10. The water is soft,  pH is 6.8, temp is 82. My ram has developed  glow-in-the-dark red nostrils. 2 days ago he went into hiding and stopped eating. Now however, he is out and about, eating and exploring as usual. You can see him coming from a mile away - maybe I should have called him a Reindeer Ram as in Rudolph.  He has always flashed a bit here and there, I have never seen anything external on his body or in the water and I am always looking for potential trouble! I was thinking of using Clout - in case there is something in the water.  But perhaps I should use an antibiotic instead?  Maybe both, first the Clout?  What is your opinion? Do the nares actually have openings in the fishes body or are they just a membrane under the surface of the skin?  Any opening would probably be susceptible to an infection, yes? Thanks for all your time on this site. It is a wonderful resource that I scavenge daily! Cathy < The nostrils are actually functional. When then eat a food item that fills their mouth they can continue to breath. The red indicates a probable infection. You have a pretty clean set up and it may go away on its own in a few days. To be sure you should isolate the fish in a hospital tank and treat with an antibiotic like Nitrofuranace. If you treated the main tank then the antibiotic may affect the bacteria needed for nitrification and you might need to cycle the tank all over again.-Chuck>


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