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FAQs on Red Devil Cichlids: Disease

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Related FAQs: Red Devils 1, Red Devils 2, & Red Devils Identification, Red Devils Behavior, Red Devils Compatibility, Red Devils Selection, Red Devils Systems, Red Devils Feeding, Red Devils Reproduction, & Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World,

Large Red Devil Cichlid with possible internal tumor       9/12/19
<Hello Terri,>
I've been reading your forum for awhile now and doing some research on my own, but I haven't found anything quite like the issue that is affecting my fish. She is a Red Devil cichlid and we've had her for about 12 years.
<A fair age, and assuming she's been healthy otherwise until now, yes, a tumour is certainly possible.>
Over the last few months she has developed a significant bump on her left side. I first noticed it about 4 months ago. It has always been about the same diameter (about 1") but has slowly grown so that it protrudes more and more from her side. The bump does not seem to affect her eating or swimming habits and she is just as feisty as always! I'm wondering if she might have some type of tumor, and if so, can anything be done about it?
<Likely not. If benign, as most of these tumours are, there's no immediate threat. The bump looks like it's on the muscle (flank) of the fish rather than the abdomen -- check yourself to see if it is behind the vent. If it is behind the vent, then it's likely a tumour in the skin or muscle, and there's really not much to be done. Neither is there much risk to the fish, beyond gradual incapacity if swimming ability diminishes. If the tumour is on the internal organs, as could be the case if the tumour is within the abdomen (and so in front of the vent) then things are more serious. Again, no real treatment, but the issue is that tumours can quickly obstruct the digestive system and other internal organ systems, and this can cause the
premature death of the fish, even if the tumour itself doesn't spread (metastasize).>
We moved and went from city water to well water about 6 months ago. We checked out the water thoroughly (for the fish and for ourselves!) The well water is of excellent quality. The tap water does go through a water softener with salt that has an iron-reducing additive in it.
<You should never use water from a domestic water softener in an aquarium, and indeed, it's generally not recommend you drink water from domestic water softeners either. RO water is fine, but anything that uses, for example, salt to soften water isn't going to produce "soft" water as
aquarists think of it.>
I don't know what the iron-reducer is composed of. I've looked on the bag of salt and online and can't find an answer. The city water that we used in the past was also softened water, but did not have the iron-reducing additive. The city water had chorine, and we used chorine remover before adding water to the aquarium.
<I don't actually think the water softener is the problem here, but rather age and inbreeding, which make tumours more likely. That said, the extra sodium ions in water from domestic water softeners is a stress factor.>
Other than the water change, she is in the same 75 gallon tank (alone) with the same filter, gravel and decorations that have been in her tank for years. The tumor might be something that cannot be treated, but I'd like to know if anyone has seen something similar that could be treatable.
<These tumours aren't treatable as such, but if slowly developing, the fish may well live a normal life.>
<Sorry this can't be more hopeful. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Large Red Devil Cichlid with possible internal tumor
Thank you so much for your quick response.
<Most welcome.>
I kind of figured that if it is a tumor, there's not much to be done about it.
But I thought there might be a chance that the bump could be caused by something else, so why not ask?
<Understood, but I'm struggling to imagine it's anything other than some sort of cyst or tumour.>
The tumor is behind the vent, so hopefully it will be slow-growing.
My husband reminded me that when we do a water change every 2 weeks we use water from the outside spigot which comes straight from the well and does not go through the softener.
However, when I top-up the aquarium with 2-3 gallons of water to offset evaporation (about once a week), I have been using indoor tap water so I will stop doing that.
<Ideally, evaporation is topped off with pure (RO, rain or deionised water) because otherwise you're adding minerals. While I don't believe the softened water is the problem here, the use of domestic water softener water is risky because such water contains sodium ions, and the more you use, the more sodium gets into the water. It's the same reason people instructed to avoid sodium in their diet are told not to drink softened water. For sure the amount is very low, and for most people not a problem, but it's one extra factor getting in the way of a balanced aquarium, so best avoided.>
Please let me know if you have a blog or other source of information that I can tap into and learn more about freshwater fish and aquarium care, and thanks again for the help!
Best Regards,
<Cheers, Neale.>

My fish has white spots on his skin and a white spot on his eye     3/22/18
<Umm; is this the totality of your msg.? Need data... like water quality tests, set up, feeding, tankmates.... Useful information. This appears to be one of the few Red Devil Cichlids... can make out a whitish dot mid-center on one eye... is this bilateral? On both sides? Could be due to a trauma... a physical injury, a bump into something... But more likely environmental... Too low pH, hardness... too high metabolites... ammonia, nitrate.
Send data... And not large files. Bob Fenner>


Red Devil not doing well      2/20/15
I have a red devil, "Spot", who is over 8 years old. About two weeks ago he developed two lumps on his side, one in the middle on his left side and one below it on the same side just above his stomach area. They started pretty
small but have become much larger over time (probably about the size of a grape).

<Yikes... you mean, "developed" as in just in this short period of time?>
Spot is in a 125 gallon tank with a vast assortment of African cichlids (best estimate is 80). I know that's not typical but he will not tolerate any other species as he grew up with them since he was small. I did a massive water change about a week ago (60-70%) because I thought it could be nitrate/nitrate related. Well at this point he doesn't seem to be doing any better.
<Perhaps the NO2, NO3 exposure is at fault/play here>
For the last week spot has just lied in his cave on his side. The lumps seem painful as he can only turn in one direction on the rare occasion when he does come out. I haven't been able to get him to eat the last few days. 
<... what do you feed this fish, these fishes? Am wondering if something pathogenic has been introduced>
Do you have any idea of what this could be?
<Only guesses with the info. provided... "tumors" are "caused" in fishes by the same mechanisms as in dogs, cats, humans... various parasites, infectious agents, chemical exposure, water quality insults; nutritional

Any suggestions that may help him? I've brought him back from the brink a couple of times, he's a tough fish. I would hate to lose him now.
Thank you,
<I'd focus on improving water quality, move this Red Devil elsewhere if you have another stable environment of size.
Bob Fenner>

Red devil      11/17/14
I have a red devil fish and her stomach has slowly gotten bigger over a 2 month period. If she was pregnant wouldn't she have laid eggs by now? I have two male fish in the same tank and they are fine. One side of her belly is bigger than the other. Any ideas on what is wrong with her?
<No specific answers here, but no, this isn't normal, and egg-binding isn't likely. Do review aquarium conditions (nitrate, in particular, is a suspected cause of many problems with large cichlids such as Hexamita infections and you should to keep it below 20 mg/l and certainly never allow it to go above 40 mg/l). As with any Central American cichlid, alkaline water is critical to long term health, so check the pH and hardness are where they should be. Finally, constipation is very common with large cichlids that we often forget consume a large quantity of "fibre" in the wild. Review diet, increase the amount of greens and unprocessed (ideally, shelly) invertebrates, and use Epsom Salt as a laxative. As a general rule, the old Metronidazole + Nitrofurantoin combination is a good one-two punch for a wide range of ailments, with relatively little risk to the fish (though watch the filter bacteria). Have cc'ed Chuck, our cichlid expert, in case there's something I've missed.
Cheers, Neale.>

Worried about my Red Devil.      2/27/14
Thank you in advance for your much needed help! I have a Red Devil in a tank that we assume is a 80 gallon tank. He is about 12 inches long, 6 inches high and about 1 and a half inches thick. When we moved into our new house about 3 years ago, he was left behind for us so we do not have the slightest clue on how old he is. He is fed by an automatic feeder twice a day. We like to average his feeding to about 10 pellets a day but because it is a automatic feeder he sometimes get more or less than 10 a day. We started noticing about 3 weeks ago that he had a lose of appetite and is eating less and less as the days go by. About 3 days ago, we noticed that he has a blister like lesion (white puss looking inside a red ring) on the tip of his nose. I have attached so,e pictures for you to see what we mean.
What can we do to help him and make him feel better?
<It looks like physical damage of some sort, likely bumping into something in the tank, perhaps even the glass. Medicate as per Finrot, and I'd recommend against using tea-tree oil type medications (Melafix and the like) in favour of antibiotics or at the very least antibacterials of known, established reliability. Don't forget to remove carbon (if used) while medication, keep up with water changes, and keep an eye on how things go. Cheers, Neale.> 


Two small growths on Red Devils head    2/15/13
Hi I have a red devil that's about 9 yrs old. He has been fine all of these years but now there is two growth on its head and they are getting larger.
Does anyone have an idea as to what they are ?
<These are growths of some sort out of the nares... some folks have attributed to viral causes mediated by water quality issues, lack of nutrition (deficiency syndrome)... other parasites as intermediates. There is no real "cure", but they don't seem to be too debilitating. Bob Fenner> 

can you help with my red devil... hlth.      5/30/12
hi i have a red devil that is about 5yrs of age, for the past 2 days he has been nose up in the corner of the tank and has white stuff on his body, his has also gone off his food and is lacking energy..he will have burst of energy but he then goes back to being nose up. i didn't by his food where i usually do and I'm wondering if maybe this has caused it..could you please tell me what it might be…
<Hello Natalie. Need some information here. How big is the aquarium? Presumably at least 75 gallons (anything smaller isn't viable for Amphilophus spp.) but if there are other fish in there, you'd need more than 75 gallons. So are there any other fish in there? What about water chemistry and water quality? How often do you do water changes? The bigger the cichlid, the more waste it creates, and the higher the nitrates go between water changes. Nitrates are the "silent killer" in cichlid tanks, and in my experience, high nitrate levels coupled with "old" aquarium water is a major source of mortality among cichlids, particularly mature specimens. Food is unlikely to be a problem -- healthy cichlids have huge appetites -- but all bets are off if you use feeder fish or known dirty foods (Tubifex for sure, though possibly bloodworms as well). But if you're feeding sensible foods appropriate to this species -- good quality pellets plus occasional greens like spinach or peas -- then he should have a hearty appetite once his healthy and/or living conditions improve. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: can you help with my red devil...    5/31/12

hi Neale,
i am not sure how many gallons my tank is but its about 200 litres its not a big tank,
<Indeed not, and one reason for your troubles.>
we were given the red devil a few months ago off a friend cause it kept eating all his fish...i didn't do a water change for a while because i lost my chlorine neutralizer
so it was about 1 months before his water got changed…
<Oh dear.>
i give him feeder fish or feeder goldfish.
i also buy him yabbies or shrimp and buy bloodworms as well...i also have pellets for him..at the moment he has one little goldfish that was meant to be food but he hasn't ate it,
<Feeder Goldfish are parasite bombs.>
there are also 3 or 4 yabbies left that he hasn't eaten...i was gunna do 50 percent water changes every 2 weeks but the pet store where i buy my food usually said do only do 25 percent water changes every month..is that right?
<No. Change 25% at least once a week for a normal, sensibly stocked aquarium. But your tank is probably overstocked, so I'd change 25% twice a week. I bet your nitrate levels aren't that good -- cichlids quickly become stressed when exposed to nitrate levels above 20 mg/l.>
his water is at 27 degrees Celsius..and when i got up this morning he has more of the white stuff over his body…
<Fungus or Finrot perhaps? Your aquarium is overstocked, the livestock fed the wrong things, and your water changes are insufficient. All sorts of reasons why things aren't working out. Do read, learn from what's here at WWM. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: can you help with my red devil...    5/31/12

thanks for letting me know i have never owned a red devil before and that's the food i was recommended to feed him
<Oh dear. In the wild, Amphilophus species (including Red Devils and Midas Cichlids) sift the substrate for things like insect larvae and snails. They do eat some very small fish, fish fry really, as well as algae, but "feeder fish" aren't a natural or safe thing for them to eat. A good quality flake or pellet food is the best way to keep cichlids, with some greens like spinach or cooked peas to avoid constipation.>
so they obviously know nothing about the fish themselves :( unfortunately he died early this morning which i didn't expect cause last night he actually had a bit more life about him he started swimming around again and looked better...but i will be making sure if i ever get another red devil i have taken everything you have told me into account…
<Real good. They're lovely fish, and the one I kept at university was my pride and joy. He shared a 200-gallon tank with a Jaguar Cichlid, some Convicts, a couple of Gibbiceps Plecs and a Channel Catfish, and they made a fantastic display in the foyer of the zoology department. Red Devils have loads of personality, and this was the fish that would swim to front and interact with anyone standing or sitting nearby. Like Oscars, these are fish that really can be pets, not just dumb animals swimming about the tank.>
i actually feel really bad now cause everything i had been told was wrong...and i have 3 kids i kept the chlorine neutralizer on top of fridge and i think that one of them slammed the door causing the fridge to shake a bit which caused it to land in our recycling and we did realise before emptying it....but the next pay day i went and brought more just not the same brand...i really do appreciate you taking the time out to help me thanks heaps :)
<Always happy to help.>
i have learnt a lot of you which will help me next time around..thanks Neale from Natalie…
<Best of luck, Neale.>

Sick Red Devil Cichlid; perhaps from Ich "medicine", no rdg. 4/16/12
My red devil has had ick for a few days. We gave her medicine, and she appeared to be getting better.
<No medicine necessary. Can be cured w/ temperature elevation; some would add salt... See WWM re
and the linked files above>
This evening we found her laying on her side at the bottom of the tank.
<Likely effect/s of the "medicine"; many are quite toxic/dangerous... you may have killed off your nitrifying filter... I'd be checking (measuring)
nitrogenous waste accumulation>
Her gills are inflamed, she only swims sideways and bent to one side, and her anus is not visible. We did a 75% water change
and put in more ick medicine,
but are very worried. What could be causing this and is there anything more we should do?
<As stated... and READ re the contents/make up of the Ich medicine, READ re these components on WWM... You may benefit from the use/addition of carbon in your filter flow path. Bob Fenner>

I need some advise Bob <Is this a product?> or whoever possibly has the time......... Bloated Red Devil    3/20/12
I need some advise if anybody has the time.  I have a  female Red Devil she's 2 yrs old.  She lives alone in a 75 gallon  tank.  I am not new to this hobby and have always kept her water  pristine.  She always laid her eggs in her clay pot and I know when her  belly gets rounded and her ovipositor protrudes it's time for the eggs to  come.....This time around NO dice, she is still rounded and no eggs are being  laid at all.
<Perhaps egg-bound>
  I thought at first it was constipation and treated the  tank with Epsom but this isn't bloat, I do believe she is egg bound from all the  years alone with no male to fertilize perhaps?
<May be>
  Is there  anything......anything at all I can do to get her to lay these eggs?
<Laxative type foods, more Epsom>
   I rescued this fish and she is like my pal.   My water parameters are  in great shape,
<Values please>
 I over filter this tank, she eats very little protein and NO  feeder fish have ever hit her lips.  Please Bob or anybody, can you suggest  anything at all.  I do water changes twice a week and just did another for  safe measure, what else to do!   Thanks,  Julia
<Mmm, and perhaps a read here:
Bob Fenner> 

Re Red Devil, follow up to post    3/11/13

Please post this for me can you Rick? 
I have no idea where to go Rick/Neale/Bob Fenner
<Will add Julia; thank you. BobF>
I am writing to you because you were the one who responded to me when this  first came up with my Red Devil.  I do see my entire conversation was  posted at the page below, and I am happy that was done for me.  I have a  follow up story to say and I have NO idea how to get that to show up under my  original situation so I am coming to you directly and perhaps you can post it  for me in the proper place.   Again thanks for the help when this came  down with my Devil.  Here is the ending of that story  Rick/Neale/Bob it's below, please post for all to see it and hopefully one  day it might help somebody.   Thanks, Julia
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/anchorwrmfaqs.htm  <~~ MY STORY IS FIRST ON THE PAGE.
Thanks again to my first responders on this problem, Rick/Neale/Bob.  
Below is a follow up to my predicament with my Red Devil Bubba B back in early 
December 2012.
Bubba B video showing his sore  _http://youtu.be/dOd5jmjETyo_ (http://youtu.be/dOd5jmjETyo) 
Bubba B sort of mending    _http://youtu.be/n-HNLfjSHLA_ (http://youtu.be/n-HNLfjSHLA) 
Bubba B finally healed       _http://youtu.be/4TyWSA26j1c_ (http://youtu.be/4TyWSA26j1c) 
As you can see from the above vids this sore was ugly and I could not get  rid of it. I would dose him with meds for a few days and run the course as  directed on the package but nothing was touching it, I switched back and forth  between Furan 2/Maracyn Plus/Melafix/PimaFix and Parasite Guard which did the  trick FINALLY ( never mix them together though and large water changes in between)  or course NO Charcoal in filters. I had to do two more additional surgeries on  him. I do believe my fish somehow got a anchor worm in his lower gill or a  parasitic worm of some kind, that is all I know for sure now but didn't know at  the time exactly what it was or how on earth he got it. Anchor worms are in ponds  not aquariums.
First I want to tell you that if you ever need to get your  fish out of water and into anything to work on it do NOT even fiddle around with  stupid buckets, I learned the hard way, what I did was I went to KMart and got  a WHITE shallow dishpan container, it works the best. Fill it with tank  water and just enough to cover the fish so he doesn't splash or struggle. I  used eyebrow tweezers and I lowered my fingers down into the water and slowly  pulled out the parasite that was hanging out of the sore, he was oblivious to  what I was doing......remember this, if you lift the fish out of the water the parasite will immediately go back into the sore and your up the creek so never  lift him out unless your done and you want to put meds on it, hydrogen peroxide  could be used as well but I used the A&D. After I pulled out the necrotic  tissue/worm whatever, anything that I could see hanging out etc, I lifted the  fish up and had a Qtip prepared with A&D ointment on it, I swabbed him good  and put him back into the fish tank. I did this procedure 4 times over the  course of many months. I pulled it out slowly but surely, I do think the last  time I got the head of this parasite out. Also I want  to mention this big time, had that sore been closer up into the actual gill  area, I never would have pulled tissue out, that would have been extremely  dangerous to my fish. I would have just done the medication and that alone would  have taken me a year to mend a sore this size fcs.
I also want to mention  that I am not big on keeping salt into a fish tank over long periods of time but  I did with my RD, 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons of water. I feel that it helped  him in the long run to heal and mend and perhaps helped with any other  infections he might have picked up, remember worms or parasites can thrive in  the tank, they drop off and thrive like mad and the fish can become re-infested  until you know that the parasites are gone for sure. Anchor Worms are  crustaceans not like a worm you would imagine being rubbery, they are hard to  the touch. Pics of anchor worms are below so you can see them and read up on  them.
The biggest mistake I made was this.....I didn't continue on with  the treatment of medication. I just did what was recommended on the package,  that was a HUGE mistake, especially when you are trying to save a fish  with this type of sore. No sooner did I stop medication, a few days later that  sore became worse. So I knew at that time that I had to keep his tank medicated  until this damn thing was gone. It took 6+ rounds of Parasite Guard to mend and  clean up this sore, once I realized PG was the best medication I was home free.  It took months and months of twice a week water changes @60% each change to save  my fish. He is in a 110 gallon fish tank so do the math on that. Thank GOD  Parasite Guard isn't that horribly expensive, I went thru tons of salt as well.  The Salt is stopped now though, no more salt is needed for him.......unless  something else would pop up. I also kept his tank water at 80 degrees during all  this.
In spite of his sore he did continue to eat but he was off in  a very big way, he was sullen and hiding and no tank banging was going on at  all. Red Devils are famous for ripping up decor and banging the tank around with  their tails, I imagine all big fish are tank bangers. He was just not right at  all. In closing this war and peace I will say this again....CHECK YOUR FISH
DAILY, this sore popped up in a matter of two days but I had NO idea that this  parasite was inside his gill area working it's way to the surface.
I  also will mention that you might be scared to keep your fish medicated as  heavily as I did, you have to remember here, I had no choice, it was trying to  save my fish or watch him die. I did what I had to do, either he was going to  die from being over medicated or he was going to die due to a severe parasitic  infection. It was a no brainer and water changes, that saved my fish and also  ABSOLUTELY no substrate at all, it helped keep debris visible to my eye for good  suctioning.
Below is my Bubba B, he's back to his old self now. After  many months of care my fish is back to his tank banging ways, unfortunately my  dog Bogie runs and hides when that fish bangs around and the water goes flying,  at night he's a demon fish but still lives alone with one lone buffalo head  cichlid from one of the first batches I ever raised, he was one that hid and  never got sold and after so long I don't have the heart to ditch the damn thing, I love them so these odd little fish. It's funny because Bubba B knows I need to  see both sides of his face now on a daily basis, so it's like this fish does a  no no no back and forth so I can check him out good.
Enjoy the  vid, you can see the sore area is now gone, the only marks left on my fish are  two areas that his cartilage is broken a bit on his fin and tail......vids don't  do him justice, he looks so small in the vids. I hope somebody can use any  information I have posted here perhaps to save a fish one day, I can't say it  will work for you but it did for me, and it seems that bigger fish like Red  Devils always pop up with some thing on their skin, actually I hate to say this  but I will, big fish like these should not be stuck in fish tanks in a home,  many times I look at him and wish I never dabbled with a fish this size but he's  a member of my family now in ways you can't imagine, he looks for me constantly  to rub his hump lol, my fish demands my attention morning/noon and night, he's  worse than a kid! When and if I ever lose this fish I will never ever go back  into a larger fish again, nothing could ever replace him with his personality  and crazy swimming upside down antics. I love my RD!!!!!!!!!!!! PS. Yup I can  still clean his tank with my bare hands ;-) The  End

Re: red devil issues
Growth On Red Devil 10/11/11

Here's the picture of my Red devil's growth......any idea's as to what it might be?
< If appears to a prolapsed colon coming out of the anus of the fish..
This is caused from pressure in the gut. Could be from overeating, parasites or bloat.-Chuck>

Re: red devil issues
Red Devil Prolapsed Colon Treatments -- 10/12/11

Hi Crew, So with that said about the prolapsed colon, I'm feeding him veggies (though he's not happy bout that) and the meds I'm using are Metronidazole and Furan-2.
Would it be wrong to use Epsom salt in his tank also? Is the anything else I can do for him? Thank you for your time, Tim Kittle
< Find something that he will eat and then feed him in small meals many times a day. This will reduce the sudden trauma to the digestive tract and allow the colon to recede back into the body cavity. The Epsom salts may help prevent the extruded tissues from becoming infected.-Chuck>

Re: red devil issues
Red Devil Prolapsed Colon Follow Up 14/10/11

Hi Crew, I really want to thank all of you for your help, wish I found this site sooner. I have another question though, I put Epsom salt in Red's tank and it seems to have helped a lot. Red is up now and seeming to be doing better.
With all the meds and other things we put in his tank we need to clean it?
My question is do we add more Epsom salt after we clean his tank? Again you
guys rock and helped my Red Devil a bunch. What do you think? Thank You again for your help, Me and my wife are grateful
Tim Kittle
< Thank you very much for your kind words. I would not go wild and crazy with the cleaning. I would recommend a 50% water change and add some good quality carbon to the filters. This should reduce the level of medication in the tank to almost zero. Don't add any more salt. Watch for ammonia spikes. The medication may have affected the biological filtration.-Chuck>

Red devil issues 10/6/11
Hi Crew,
I have looked through many pages but think my Red Devil just might be old.
<Could be! Lifespan is between 5-10 years for this medium-sized cichlids, though older specimens can be found, 12 years or older.>
He eats fine by hand (Tetra Cichlid Jumbo Sticks) I do not feed him live food.
Red is in a 125 gallon tank by himself. PH is 7.5, temperature is 80 degrees F and nitrates, nitrites and ammonia are all good.
<I.e., zero ammonia/nitrite; nitrate below 20 mg/l.>
He is approximately 15 to 16 yrs old. His symptoms are that he lies on his side at the bottom of the tank. When he does move he seems to have trouble staying upright and will stay vertical, head up. This has been going on for over a month. During this time I dispensed, Lifeguard (2 treatments), General Cure (2 treatments) - my local petstore suggested Kanaplex (7 treatments.) The Kanaplex seemed to help but not for long as he is back to the bottom of the tank. Also, I am not sure how well he is defecating - rarely see it happen.
<Do try the peas/Epsom salt treatment described elsewhere on this site.>
He does have this small fuzzy like growth on his belly near where he would defecate which has been there for a very long time.
<Doesn't sound good. Prolapsed anus is not uncommon among cichlids. Again, Epsom salt and peas, plus antibiotics, can help.>
It never seemed to bother him and up until a month ago he was acting fine. He is great pet. Any clues or suggestions will be appreciated. Thank you for your time. Tim
<Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Red Devil After Tank Change 7/27/11
Hi Crew,
I have a 3 yr old Red Devil, he has been very active, however, about a month ago we went on vacation and our neighbor overfed him and I came back to a very cloudy tank coupled with an explosion of Algae. I've done weekly 20% water changes, used water clear and algae clear meds, nothing has worked to bring the tank back to its clear clean crispness, however he has remained in great condition, eating his pellets, and playing. Now here's my dilemma, I tried a 30% water change, but I used the hose to fill the tank, it created a lot of bubbles and now for two days, my fish has been on his side with labored breathing. I used the necessary water conditioners and added some Nutrafin Cycle to help re-establish the tank. that hasn't worked either and my water is still cloudy, he still wont eat and falls to his side. Please help...'¦
<This isn't uncommon when a "bad" tank is suddenly put right. Among other things, the pH can rise dramatically, because old water tends to become acidic thanks to the accumulation of metabolic wastes and decaying organic material. So you do a big water change, returning the water chemistry to the hard, alkaline conditions your Central American cichlid requires (i.e., 10+ degrees dH, pH 7.5-8.5). What you don't realise is that fish can adjust to "bad" conditions over time, and even though prolonged exposure to such conditions can stress or kill them, suddenly returning them to "good" conditions can be stressful too. On top of this, deep cleaning a dirty tank can release muck from the gravel into the water column, as well as, potentially, gases produced through anaerobic decay. Furthermore, replacing more than 50% of the biological media, or incorrectly washing biological media, will set back filtration in the tank so that the tank is effectively not properly cycled any more. All these things will eventually settle down, but in the meantime, do 10-20% water changes each day to flush out any ammonia or nitrite if the filter has been upset (use an ammonia or nitrite test kit to check!) and don't feed or otherwise disturb the fish. More than likely everything will settle down within a week, and you can go back to normal. Finally, do remember that a big fish can go 2-3 weeks without food, and if you throw in a good-sized clump of pondweed to eat, you can leave your fish pretty much unattended for a month. That'll be less risky than having a neighbour feed your fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Red Devil Fish Possibly Dying... env.... 6/23/11
I have a Red Devil fish who is about 8-9 years old. About a month ago he started laying on one side at the bottom of the tank. Now he is floating at the top of the tank on his side, curled over, under the filter spill. I have been doing water changes, added an oxygen stone, and an extra power filter to no avail. Last time he was laying at the bottom of the tank a water change and opening the top of the tank did the trick, but not this time. He also has oxygen bubbles stuck to him and his fins are looking a little ragged.
<Environmental... Change out a good part of the water again... measure for nitrate/s...>
This started while I was on vacation and a friend was taking care of him for two weeks and may have overfed him. I am lost as to what to do next. I'm worried he could have the bloat because one of his sides is sticking out further than the other significantly.
Thank you for any help!
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtoxicenvdisfaqs.htm
and on WWM re this fish's system needs... Act now. Bob Fenner>

Please please somebody help me- 2/16/11
I have a female red devil, she is only a year old. She lives alone in a 72 gallon tank. She has been in perfect health for almost a year. Her water param.s are Zero Nitrites, 10 Nitrates. No ammonia present it tests all yellow from the kit. I do not feed her feeder fish, she eats a varied diet, Hikari pellets, flake, shrimp pellets, she loves algae wafers.
About four days ago, I noticed under her chin area, a small mark it almost looked like a poppyseed embedded in her skin. In two days it turned into a blood blister, it is the only way I can best describe it.
<A physical injury. Not to worry>
I immediately put salt into her tank and started her on Maracyn two,
<I wouldn't do this... start some water changes to remove both>
I am into day two only. I made a YouTube video of her and tried to get it to show as best as I can.
Can somebody please look at my YouTube and tell me what you think this is?
It almost looks like a pimple and its watery inside. Please somebody can you pls take a moment and look at my video. Can this be squeezed possibly? I am besides myself. Thanks very much. Julia
_ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RQuvZTdPfQ_
<A very nice piece of video... Again, your fish will be fine in time w/ simple good care. Bob Fenner>
Re: Please please somebody help me
Hello again,
I got a message back and your response to my email was. Simple Good Care?
Please please somebody help me- 2/16/11
I don't understand this. Am I missing the help response back to me.
What do you mean simple good care? What care, I didn't get any help but three words. I am missing something, I need help please. Thanks, Julia
<Re-read the response and please read here:
the linked files above... Patience. B
Asking for help please in regards to my Red Devil 2/17/11

* I am sending this again, I did get a response from a Bob Fenner and he left me three words "some simple care"
Now I am not sure exactly if this is a joke or what here.
<More like brevity rather than humour.>
I came to you all for some help, am I missing something?
<Well, it isn't for me to second guess Bob, but I think his point is that your fish isn't in a life-threatening situation, and give good water quality, the right temperature, the right diet, and the right water chemistry, it should get better without any further fuss. Medications like an antibiotic or anti-Fungus/Finrot could be used, but even without them this fish should heal just fine. Ulcers are typically a sign of [a] physical damage and [b] some slight secondary infection by opportunistic bacteria. So start by removing anything sharp in the tank, and do make sure the fish doesn't slam into the glass walls or the hood when the lights come
on. The bacterial infection is similar to Finrot, so Finrot medications can clear them up, and if it doesn't start to heal in, say, a week, or you see some sign its getting worse, then medicate as per Finrot, remembering to remove carbon (if used) from the filter.>
Do I look elsewhere for the answer to my question below at the website? I woke up today dreading to look at my fish, and I was looking forward to hearing a response back from somebody at WetWebMedia. All I got was "simple good care" I find this hurtful.
<I'm rephrasing in longer sentences what Bob was saying: provide simple good care, and your fish should heal.>
Can somebody other than Bob Fenner please respond possibly with some help for me and my fish Tootsie. Sincerely, Julia
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Asking for help please in regards to my Red Devil 2/17/11
Neale thank you dearly for responding with some words of wisdom and comfort to me as a fish keeper.
I am going to continue the Maracyn tho as I am in day three already.
I will say she is a voracious digger, I am wondering if she came upon something that picked her mouth area and it got infected.
<Could be. Amphilophus species are "earth eaters" in the wild, sifting mud and silt for decaying plant material, worms, insect larvae, and the occasional fish egg or fry. It's in their nature to dig. Sharp gravel or sand can cause harm. While I doubt that's the issue here -- you'd expect such damage to be on the chin or lips rather than the cheeks -- it's a factor to consider. Do also look at the rockwork in the tank, exposed heaters (these should be fitted with plastic heater guards to prevent burns) and so on.>
I will take your advise about the Finrot in a weeks time if she has not improved. I do have a rock in her tank that will come out tho, it does have sharp edges.
<Ah! Loud noises and sudden lights can, do alarm cichlids like these that normally inhabit deep or murky water. Check for banging doors, noisy hi-fis, and that sort of thing.>
I feel much better hearing this information that you have provided me in detail thank GOD. Sometimes we need a little hand holding, and you provided that to me with assurance that my fish will be alright, and you also offered me a second course of action if my current course doesn't work.
<Glad to help.>
Cheers Neale and many many thanks for responding, I am very attached to this fish because I rescued her as a baby from a dirty very overcrowded tank at a pet store that is long closed, she was ripped to shreds and bruised and torn lip and fins from the fights in the tank. Now I am rambling, ty sincerely. Julia
<Good luck to you both! Cheers, Neale.>

Red Devil Egg laying tube problem
Old Red Devil Female Possibly Egg Bound
Hi. I Have a 11 year old female red devil named Angel. She is in a 90-gal tank alone. For the last few years she has laid eggs every other month. I noticed that her egg laying tube was out about a month ago and she hadn't been eating. She still won't eat, and the tube is still out and appears slightly larger in size. I had my water tested at the local fish store and they told me it was "dirty". All other levels were "normal". They recommended I change 25% water and wait 48hours to change the another 25% water. Also, I was told to replace the filters since I hadn't done so in around 9 months. Tonight I replaced the filters and also did a gravel vac with a 25% water change. Many debris polluted the water when I switched the old filter for a new one. My red devil is now swimming more labored.
She rubbed sideways on a piece of wood in her tank. I fear I may have just made it worse. She is still aggressive when I approach the tank and flares her gills; this is what she usually does during egg laying time.
She hasn't moved any of her rocks around in at least a month though. Her orange is fading. I was feeding her Cichlid pellets a few times a day. I have an emperor filter, a fan, and an air wand. The temp is at 78-80 degrees F. What can I do for her? We all love her very much and want her to live.
< Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filters. Check the water quality for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be under 20 ppm but the lower the better. The term "dirty" means nothing. I would recommend that you get these test kits and learn to test the water yourself. Once the water is clean try feeding a medicated food with Metronidazole in it. It can usually be found online if your local store does not carry it. If your fish is not eating then treat the water with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace for internal infections. Your fish is old and the key to a complete recovery is an early treatment.-Chuck>

Red Devil Cichlid, HLLE 7/25/10
Hello there. Thanks for the help you guys have given me before, and thanks for all the help you give everyone on a daily basis. What you have going on is a great service to the aquarium hobby. I have had a red devil cichlid for about 7 years now, and he is about 11 inches. I am embarrassed to admit it, but up until a year and a half ago, he had been seriously neglected and in a 29 gallon tank. Because of this, he started to get HITH. As soon as I noticed this, I did everything I could to stop the damage (including Metro+)
<Not helpful in cases caused by poor environment>
that was being caused by my laziness. I got him a 55 gallon (of course for only him...no other fish) which is the largest I am able to afford and keep in my house.
Anyway, in the year and a half he has been in this 55 the HITH has not progressed...however the holes have not healed either. Is this to be expected?
<The damage may not heal>
Water parameters are: 78 degrees Fahrenheit, 0 ammonia and nitrites and I try to keep the nitrates under 20, but by water change time it is usually around 30. The nitrates have me concerned, I am doing 50 percent weekly water changes, sometimes 70 percent. He eats two of new life spectrum 7mm floating pellets daily. Should I be
feeding him more than that?
<Yes... I'd think he'd eat a few times as much>
Should I increase the water changes?
<I would increase the amount of filtration, not change more than a third of the water at one go>
I realize that the tank is small for him and will make controlling nitrates more difficult, but it is the best I can do for the time being and I am willing to change water as needed. The other question I have is about my water hardness, I just found out that it is 330ppm.
I am finding conflicting information as far as if they need hard or soft water, and saw one thing that said hard water may lead to HITH.
Is this true?
<Not as far as I'm aware, no>
I would appreciate any advice you could give me, and thank you again for the service you provide.
<You may gain by reading others reports on FW HITH:
and the linked Related files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Red Devil Cichlid 7/26/10

Thank you very much for you quick response.
<Welcome Kel>
Sorry I forgot to mention the filtration, his water is turned over 10 times per hour (550 GPH) between a Fluval 404 (which does the bulk of the work) and a Whisper HOB (I figured it is better used as a supplement than not at all).
<Good to have such back-up, alternative filtration>
I have increased his feeding to six of those pellets daily, and done some more reading on your site, including the link you referred me to.
As far as nitrate control goes, it sounds like I need to vacuum the gravel better as well as service the filters much more frequently.
Even with the large frequent water changes I was doing, not doing this often could still give me high amounts of nitrates, right?
<Yes... do see WWM re other means of NO3 control:
and the linked files above>
Previously I was thinking if you have x amount of waste, it releases y amount of ammonia (which is turned into nitrites than nitrates) than stops.
<Mmm, no... more dynamic, other factors at play here>
But if I understand correctly, ammonia (eventually nitrites than nitrates) is being released into the tank constantly by the waste that accumulates in the filter and gravel, not just the most recent (week's worth) of waste, but all of it in the system?
<Yes, w/ the exception of some that is converted into other materials that stay in the system and some that leaves as gasses above>
Regarding the my large frequent water changes, in your article on the red devil cichlid profile, you recommend 35%-50% water changes for that specific fish. So should I be shooting for the 35% range, with only occasional 50% changes? Or because he is in a 55 gallon, should I just do 50%?
<IF you can "trust" your source water, half changes should be (note the qualifier) okay... I would at least store the change-out water for the week in advance...>
So anyway, here is my plan...I would really appreciate it if you could let me know your thoughts on it and if you think that the nitrates should then be under control.
-Feeding 6 of the 7mm floating New Life Spectrum pellets daily.
-Vacuuming gravel every other week.
<I'd do half, one side per week... i.e., alternate weekly>
-Rinsing filter media in tank water on the weeks I am not vacuuming gravel -Water changes as you recommend
Thanks for all your time, and I hope I am not a bother. I cannot express to you enough how valuable your site is to fish keepers.
Thanks again,
<Thank you for seeking clarification, and sharing. Bob Fenner>

3YR old Red Devil with eye bump 7/3/10
Hi I have a eye problem with my red devil named Redd that is 3 years old.
First we noticed that there was a white Flem on his left eye, then it turned into small bubble we went and had our water checked everything checked out fine but the pet store suggested we get something for stress.
We did get the stress relief but the bubble seemed to get worst and bigger after a week on his eye. Please help me with this problem I don't wont to lose my Red Devils eye or have him go blind. Please tell me what I need to do to help him. He eats his pellets good and he still has all of his spunk he's very active in the fish tank.
<Hello Tony. Pop-eye like this is down to one of two things, water quality or physical damage. When just one eye becomes swollen, the odds nudge towards physical damage: fighting, running into rocks if the tank is too small, clumsy netting when the fish was moved about, etc. There's no "treatment" as such; all you can do is [a] optimise water quality and diet; and [b] use an antibiotic to minimise any infections (a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace alongside Epsom salt is recommended, but if in doubt, ask a vet).
In all likelihood this chap will lose his eye, but as you've noticed, this doesn't affect most fish at all seriously. Since freshwater fish especially live in waters where visibility is often minimal, they are very good at using their lateral line and other senses to compensate for partial blindness. Cheers, Neale.>

Red Devil sick 5/10/10
Good Evening,
<Hello Karen,>
My Red Devil is 8 inches long, and we purchased her that size 3 years ago-Would you know an approx. age?
<Eight inches/20 cm is about adult size for a captive-bred specimen, so that specimen would have to be at least a year old. Lifespan for these medium-large cichlids is around 10-15 years.>
She is alone in a 75 gallon and has always done well until recently.
She has slowed her eating, is not aggressive in trying to get her pellets and has tiny white-like cotton pieces over her body.
<Now, white specks on the body can be one of two things, Finrot or Fungus.
Both are caused by water quality issues, so that's the first thing to check. Some medications treat Fungus and Finrot together, for example eSHa 2000 and Seachem KanaPlex, so you might choose to use such medications.
Fungus looks like cotton wool, while Finrot is more patches or flakes of dead white skin, typically associated with red or sore-looking areas of skin. Finrot commonly affects the fins first, making them look raggedy, hence its name. Whichever medication you use, remember to remove carbon from the filter, if used. If water quality is poor, there's a good chance the fish will heal itself given good conditions, but the addition of salt to the water can help significantly:
Tea-tree oil medications like Melafix and its close relative Pimafix are sometimes used in situations like this, but their reliability as treatments is, at best, mixed:
There seems to be a snot-like (please excuse the example) whitish goo throughout her tank. I have cleaned the tank today.
<The white gunk could be bacteria or fungus, not disease-causing ones, but simply ones the feed on organic matter in the aquarium. In all likelihood the tank isn't adequately filtered, and you may be making things worse by providing too much food and not enough water changes. For a medium-large cichlid, you want a filter with a turnover rate 8 times the volume of the tank, i.e., for a 75 gallon tank, your filter should be rated 8 x 75 = 600 gallons per hour. The gravel bed should be very thin and regularly stirred so any detritus can be siphoned out during water changes.>
I started to notice these changes in her behavior yesterday and then noticed the whitish cloudy material. Thank you and appreciate your time.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Amphilophus labiatus
Sick Red Devil 4/21/10

Hello, I have a Amphilophus labiatus - I believe he is a true Red Devil.
Turbo is approximately 8 years old (I have had him over 7), and the very coolest fish ever. I am worried about him, as he appears sick and I am not able to find any info online that matches what is happening with him.
He lives in our office in a 100 gallon tank. I change out the water and have it tested regularly - the only problem we've ever run into it a slight dip in the pH. Last Monday, I came into work to discover that he was RED - an color and intensity I had never seen before. His normal coloring is a light pumpkin color. This resolved in one day; his behavior did not change, and I didn't worry.
This past Monday (yesterday) I came in to find that the intense red color returned. His face is a very deep red, and his body a deep orange. It also appeared he did not eat his food over the weekend, and certainly did not eat yesterday or today. He has also developed a large bump between his eyes, that has a yellow spot on it (as though
pus or something is under the surface). I can tell the lump is soft as it retracts when pushed against the glass. In addition, he is not active (extremely uncommon for him), his dorsal fin is lowered, and he is hiding (he is generally very social). He will come to the glass when I approach, but slowly.
Yesterday I performed a 30% water change, and added Melafix. However, now I am concerned that this was not a good idea since I don't actually know what is wrong.
There have been no changes at all to his environment or food, nor anything else I can think of. Turbo truly is part of our family, and I am just so upset over this. Any advice you may be able to offer would be so appreciated.
Thank you in advance, Sarah
<The spot on the head could be caused by some trauma that has now gotten infected. The bump sounds like a bacterial infection. Keeping the water clean with water changes is a good idea. Usually that would take care of
most infections. In this case it sounds like some antibiotics are needed. I would recommend using Nitrofuranace. Follow the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Re: Sick Amphilophus labiatus -- 04/22/10
Finding Medication
Hi Chuck, Thank you so very much for your response!
A google search for Nitrofuranace came up empty, and my LFS didn't know of it either. Any recommendations on how to obtain some? Also, what about his coloring? I'm concerned I did not emphasize it enough - it is a profound change, to the point that people who see him regularly think he is a different fish! Would an infection cause this?
Thank you again! Sarah
< When cichlids don't feel well they have a tendency to change colors to express their mood. Many medications these day call themselves "cures".
Look at the ingredients for Nitrofuranace. If you cannot find it then it can be purchased online at Drsfostersmith.com.-Chuck>

Red Devil with Pimple?
Red Devil Getting Hole-In-The-Head -- 02/02/10

Hi. I have a 14in. 1and1/2 year old Male Red Devil. He has always been in perfect health until recently. He seems to have a white pimple-like thing on the side of his head just above his eye. It is not swollen out like a pimple but rather has a white "head" that looks like a clogged pore (I know fish don't have pores in the traditional sense but that's what it looks like). This thing has been there for about 4 or 5 days and tonight I noticed there is another one developing above his eye (same side as the other one). He is behaving normally (for him). Still aggressive and
fighting with me through the glass, eating some but less than normal. I thought it might be the beginning of hole in the head but then he has no other symptoms of that (lethargic, refusing to eat, white poop) none of that. Just these "clogged pores". Any suggestions? It looks like the first one has gotten bigger. I appreciate your help. Grace
< You are correct to be concerned with the beginning stages of Hole-In-The-Head. Usually we get these questions months after it has started. It is good to catch this early. First check the water quality.
Ammonia and nitrites should be zero The nitrates should be under 20 ppm.
Change the diet. Your fish is already an adult and high protein foods may not be needed. Try to feed a high quality food that is about 30% protein.
These white pimples may pop leaving a hole or a cottony growth. Treat in hospital tank with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>

Gizmo our Red Devil... health... env., nutr. 12/28/09
I have a 8 Year old red devil that has not had no trouble at all during his life in the last couple of months we have noticed him slightly losing appetite and sinking to the bottom of the tank and laying sideways.
<May be getting old, though this species should live a little longer without problems.>
PH is 7 Tank temp is 30 degrees Celsius, tank size is 270 Litres.
<The pH is too low, and the temperature a bit too high. Indeed, if it's been at 30 C all its life, it may well be "old" before its time. These fish do need hard, basic water -- you're aiming for 10+ degrees dH, and pH 7.5. I mention these specifically because tanks that rely on coral sand and Tufa rock for hardness may be fine for a long time, but eventually algae and bacteria so encrust the sand and rock that the buffering ability drops to zero. Replacing some/all of this material will help. Otherwise, simply add something like a Rift Valley salt mix at 50-100% dosage to provide the conditions required.
We had our filter not running efficiently by the time we realised the water quality wasn't very good over the last 2 weeks
<Well, that's one possible cause of problems.>
I have done a 2 x 50% water changes, cleaned the filters re leveled out his Ph level and put some live fish in their for him.
<Why have you added live fish? Let's be clear here: one of the silliest things any aquarist can do is use cheap, store-bought feeder fish. Goldfish and minnows contain too much thiaminase and fat, and over time will cause chronic vitamin deficiency and degeneration of the internal organs.
Cheap feeder fish can also internal parasites, some of which can infect predators that eat them. The information about thiaminase is increasingly widely known now, but the problems with fat and parasites have been known for years, which is why no aquarium book advises aquarists to use live feeder fish.>
We went away for 4 days came back and he had no colour at all but he would come out and say hello then go hide in his log again. When he swims it sometimes is sidewards then when he stops he hits the bottom fairly hard.
What can I do to help him?
<See above. Optimise water chemistry, check water quality, use a proper diet. Amphilophus labiatus evolved to eat small invertebrates from the mud; that's what its thick lips are all about. It also eats things like algae and organic detritus. I mention these because aquarists often assume feeding their cichlids feeder fish is good for them. Almost all cichlids are omnivores that feed primarily on algae, organic detritus, invertebrates, and plants. Very few are "predators" in the sense of eating smaller fish, though to be fair, Amphilophus labiatus does occasionally eat small fish. So once you have water chemistry and quality optimised, concentrate on things like cooked peas, earthworms, wet-frozen krill, insect larvae, etc. Good quality cichlid pellets are extremely useful, perhaps augmented with things like Spirulina flake and Sushi Nori. Small portions of thiaminase-free fish fillet (e.g., tilapia) can be added, perhaps once a week.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Very sick Red Devil
Red Devil Won't Eat 7/13/09

Dear Friends, We have a four year old Red Devil, " Nema ". She's a good 12 inches long and about 3 inches thick. Quite the hardy fish. The unusual behavior started a little over a week ago when we noticed she wasn't swimming right. Specifically, she was going around in a straight up vertical position, nose just above the gravel and when I gave her a "mini crawler", she would back up, while also rolling on her side. This uncharacteristic behavior led to another unusual behavior of which she would stay in one spot ( hovering above her sunken shipwreck home) a few inches below the surface. Now for the details.....She's the only inhabitant in a 55 gal tank. There's 2 - 3 inches of gravel covering the bottom of the tank ( no under gravel filter ) A couple of small volcanic like rocks, and her shipwreck home which isn't much bigger than she is but she loves it. No plants at all. She ripped them all out. We have two filters. A Penguin 350
BioWheel, and a Whisper hang on the back type filter that takes two cartridges. There's a new heater which is sufficient for the size of the tank, and two thermometers. I have always kept the tank at 80 degrees F.,
but have been gradually lowering it to a more popular range of 74 to 78. The current water parameters are as follows....( Using 5 in 1 test strips by Mardel) Nitrates: Under 40 ppm Nitrites: 0 Total hardness: 250 ppm Total alkalinity: 80 ppm PH:7.4 The food that we have been feeding her pretty consistently is, New Life Spectrum, Ex. Lg. Fish Formula, 7.5 mm floating pellets, and mini or large crawlers that we buy at pet stores or bait shops. She loves those worms and she gets them daily and I'm not sure if that's a good thing. We also give her an occasional raw shrimp. My first thought when this behavior began, was that it was caused by overfeeding and, as I discovered when I was doing a partial water change, the Penguin 350 was unexplainably unplugged. Unfortunately, at the time, I was out of test strips so I did a 20 gal. water change, and a couple of days later I got the test strips and about the only thing out of the ordinary was a slightly high nitrate reading.. ( 50 - 60 ppm ) At this time, I noticed that there was no trace of any fish wastes so I'm starting to think; definitely constipated. I've read different opinions regarding this. What would you suggest?
< Get the nitrates under 20 pm it water changes.>
Up until 2 days ago she would still eat a worm if I dangled it in front of her lips, but now she is in her house, kind of in the straight up vertical position, totally listless, and her tail seems to be curling around. Every time we look in there, she appears dead but then we can see her gills moving and she twitches a little when she sees us. Last night I put some Maracyn T C in the tank.( About a half dose. I only had three packets) and
took the carbon out of the filters. No improvement today so I did another 15 gal. water change and added Epsom Salts at 1 tablespoon per 10 gals.
I should point out that I also vacuum the gravel when I do the water changes. Immediately prior to this event, I had been doing 20 gal. water changes every two weeks along with a steady regimen of aquarium salt of 1 tblspn. per 10 gals. of new water. I have searched your FAQ's but haven't been able to find anything specific to the problem we're having. I totally trust, and value your advice, and hope you can put me on the right track to save our beloved "Nema" I feel like I've been rambling on for a while now but I think It's important that I tell you that only a couple of months ago, ( March 09 ) Nema had a similar problem which lasted about six weeks. In that incidence, she had also stopped eating and pooping, and when she swam,
it seemed to be very laborious for her and she would end each swimming attempt with a clunk at the bottom of the tank where she would stay until she absolutely had to move. During this six week illness we tried the green pea, and worms laced with an all natural baby laxative, none of which she would eat. Finally, after about the fourth treatment of Furazone she began to eat again and seemed to make a complete recovery with a very ROBUST appetite. I'm convinced that she suffered from a swim bladder problem along with constipation then, and it appears that she's suffering from some form of the same disease now.
What do you think? Thank You in advance for any help you can give us.. Sincerely, John & Kathy
<With those high nitrate levels I think you may be overfeeding your fish.
Feed only enough food that your fish will eat in only a couple of minutes once each day. Your water changes and gravel vacuuming procedures are fine.
Nitrates should not be a problem but they are. I have never heard of a problem with Spectrum bloating fish unless they are eating too much. Get the nitrate levels to under 20 ppm with water changes and get some medicated fish food with Metronidazole in it. Use it with the Nitrofurazone. If the fish has stopped eating all together then get some Metronidazole and add it
to the tank while treating with the Nitro.-Chuck>
Red Devil Won't Eat II 7/14/09
Chuck, Do you recommend a full dose of both medications?
< Yes, use them both at the same time at the recommended dosage.>
Do I remove the carbon filters?
< As with most medications they work best at full strength and carbon will usually will remove medications.>
How long should I continue this treatment?
< I would treat on the first, third and fifth day with a 50% water change in between.>
Are you suggesting an internal infection or internal parasite? Thanks Again !! J & K ! !
< This treatment will treat both bacteria and Protozoans.>
B.T.W., While reading through some FAQ's , I came upon one that asked Sabrina if she knew any Fish Vets in the S.F. Bay Area. I would like to tell her that I know of one. It is Wildwood Veterinary Hospital at 838 Portola Rd. in Portola Valley 650-851-9453. I didn't end up using them , but I spoke to them on the phone several times, and they were very pleasant and concerned about the well being of our "Pet Fish".
< Many vets have taken an interest in pet fish because the treatment of koi in large ponds can be expensive.-Chuck>

Red Devil Acting Strange After Large water Change II 6/1/2009
He has also injured himself last night. The skin is pealing of the side of his face.
< Keep the lights off and cover the tank with paper to calm him down. Watch for infections in the injured area. Check the water chemistry. Did you provide any shelter as recommended?-Chuck>

Red evil 4/22/09
hello, im very concerned about my red devil.
<Hello Shrhonda, thanks for writing. But please note, we usually bounce back messages that don't have proper grammar and spelling. It's the "currency" of the site; you give us well written messages, and we can
create web pages from them. Web pages turn into advertising, and that pays for the bandwidth. If you don't send us a clearly written message, that system is undermined. If you actually are 8 years old and don't know about grammar and spelling, or English isn't your first language, then accept my apologies; otherwise, fix your messages before you send them please! This is all stated up front where you found our e-mail.>
its about 3-4 years old, he/she is very active, and i have had no real problems with him except for the eating of other friends.
<If he's eaten his tankmates, that's surely a problem? In any case, Red Devil cichlids shouldn't be eating fish. They are "earth-eater" type cichlids, that naturally sift mud and debris to find food, particularly worms, insect larvae and bits of plant matter. The worst thing you can do for this type of fish is allow them to eat fish, either accidentally or deliberately. When animals eat the food they're not meant to, they get sick. Just look at the health of most of the humans around you! We should be eating mostly plants and a bit of meat, but instead we don't do that, and our health suffers through obesity, constipation, heart disease and all the rest. So, concentrate on the natural diet of your fish, and it will always be much healthier.>
anyhow the last two days he/she has been really weird. we did a partial water change on Monday, he/she has not ate but developed black around his/her lips and the edges of the fins and some on the body, but also is staying at the top of the tank on the right side. the a few times today i have watched and all the sudden he will jump up out of the water.
<Difficult to say what's the issue here without water chemistry parameters, specifically nitrite and pH. Usually when fish go loopy after a water change, it's because they've been exposed to some sudden change in pH, temperature, or perhaps even poisons such as detergents that might have been in the bucket. Toxins in the air, such as paint fumes, can also cause problems. If you cleaned the filter too aggressively, it's possible you've removed too many bacteria, and the filter has begun "cycling" again, in which case ammonia and nitrite levels will go up. Check these.
Discolouration around the mouth can indicate incipient infections, particularly Finrot and Columnaris, in which case an appropriate medication such as Maracyn will need to be used.>
his breathing seemed strange so i stuck a air brick in to get more oxygen but i don't really think that was the problem. im worried he/she is dying.
all my levels are in range and i adjusted my temp.
<What do you mean by "the range"? For a Red Devil, this should be 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0-20 mg/l nitrate, pH 7.5-8, general hardness 10-25 degrees dH, carbonate hardness 5-15 degrees KH, temperature 25 C/77 F. If you're not at these levels, then something is wrong, and you should fix them.>
he is moving all his/her fins. does not looked harmed. do u think he is just upset with us.
<No; never make the mistake of assigning human feelings to animals. Animals don't work the same way as us. Rather, animals prioritise their basic needs and drives, and the foremost of these is survival. If they are exposed to lethal conditions, they won't do their other things such as feeding and engaging in reproductive behaviour such as territoriality.>
he hasn't even done the normal as to rearrange, u no the plants float at the top and all the gravel to one side. has not done that.
<Review conditions, diet as noted above. For a Red Devil to *not* want to dig and act belligerently is rather unusual!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Constipated Midas Cichlid -
Hi, <Len> My normally ravenous Midas Cichlid lost interest in food over two weeks ago. She is about 25cm (10") long, about 14cm (5.5") "tall", and a good 7-8cm (2.5-3") thick. <Appears to be a very nice specimen> I don't know how old she is. Her stomach and the area surrounding her anus are very swollen. She has some asymmetrical damage to some scales around her anus that appear (to me) to be injuries after the fact. Her scales are flat against her body with no pine-coning even on the few damaged ones. I managed to get a picture of her despite her wanting to attack the camera through the glass. One of the cats distracted her for a minute. Her water quality is good with zero ammonia and nitrite, but nitrate is around 30-40 ppm at this exact moment. <Much too high... I'd be addressing means to keep this under at most 20 ppm. See WWM re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm and the linked files above> I'm just about to do a 30% water change. Maintaining proper water quality for her has been a challenge because I adopted her when her previous owners moved to another province six months ago, but I only had a 33 gallon tank for her. <Much too small> Needless to say she is alone in the tank. She would kill any other fish (even my 30cm (12") Pleco). She even tries to bite my cats through the glass if they get too close to her tank. It is nice to see the tables turned for a change. They are scared of her. I have to do a partial water change every four days or her tank smells up the place and nitrate rises fast. I make sure her tank is very well aerated and I keep the temperature at 80 Fahrenheit. The pH is a hair above 6.5. I know it is very cruel to keep her in so small a tank, but I am doing the best I can until I can get a new and much larger tank when I move in a couple weeks. I treated her with an anti-bacterial and an anti-parasite since she stopped eating with no results at least regarding the constipation. Right now there is a carbon filter in the tank and I'm concentrating on good water quality. <Good> I've fasted her several times, and then tried peeled peas, blanched spinach, and her usual algae wafers. She would only eat the algae wafers. The three top ingredients in the wafers are Spirulina powder, dehydrated alfalfa meal, and pea powder. The wafers seemed to help, and at one point she was eating a few of her favorite Hikari pellets and defecating a little bit. The poo looked normal for her, but thinner like her anus was half the diameter it used to be. It passed through her in the usual amount of time. Since about four days ago she has been corked up totally and completely uninterested in any food. Other than eating, she seems to be mostly fine. She is still interested in redecorating her tank, chasing the cats, and carefully watching everything that happens in the house. I can't help but feel like she is trying to tell me something, but I can't figure it out. I'm worried that she has eaten a bunch of the aquarium gravel from her tank. She is always moving gravel around with her mouth, dramatically sucking water from under large rocks and she was always a big eater. I feed her (sinking) shrimp pellets now and then for variety and I have wondered how she sorts the pellets from the gravel. I will get fine sand for her new tank just in case. I'm thinking 100-125 gallons should be okay for just her or maybe a pair if I get a male later. She looks like she has quite the hump on her forehead, but according to her last owners, she laid eggs every now and then so she must be a female. I haven't seen her lay any eggs myself. Please help me figure out how to help her. Despite her anti-social attitude and desire to bite everything, she is very sweet. She swims up to the top of the tank and eats algae wafers from my hands and allows me to touch her ever so gently when I'm trying to clean her tank. Of course she gets irate when I touch her rocks or rearrange anything, so I do that part very carefully. <I'll bet!> On a completely different subject... when I move to my new house I'm carrying her and my other fish in two large Tupperware-like plastic bins half full of water. I was concerned about how they would fair after seven hours in my truck in the August heat with low oxygen, but I came up with a clever plan. I bought a 12 volt power inverter that plugs into my car's cigarette lighter and outputs household AC current. I am going to plug a regular aquarium air bubbler in and bubble air through tubing (and check valves) into airstones at the bottom of the bins. I can control the temperature by bubbling air conditioned or heated air through the bins. My inverter can only output 75 watts, so if anyone needed to use a heater they would need a more powerful inverter. I thought somebody else might appreciate the idea. You can also plug in LED Christmas lights and string them under your car for a cheap but really cool lighting effect. <Thank you for this> Thanks in advance, Len. <I consider that the principal "cause" of this condition is environmental... the nitrate, too small a world... Solving these/this is really the solution here. Treating the symptoms, whether this might be a case of egg-binding, or some sort of gut blockage... with Epsom Salt, is a possibility, but only by improving this fish's world will a permanent solution be made. Bob Fenner>

Re: Red Devil Has Not Eaten in 1 Week! - 07/13/08 Red Devil Rolling Over Thanks. Every day it is fish fish fish all day! Yes the washing machine broke. Yes the teenager is giving me problems. Yes the house is a mess. Today it was evident that the goldfish have the ich so I had to learn how to take down the Magnum 350 and the Fluval without flooding the house and medicate them. Taking those down was a huge project for us. Now that I understand it will be easier in the future. But once again I am really concerned because their tank has not cycled and I do not know if the RidIch will harm the biological filter or the Plecostomus. On and on it goes. Hopefully in another 2 weeks we will be out of the woods. Plus now that I have the heater on the Red Devil and his water is a bit less cloudy I see that he is rolling over and flashing (?) and do not know if this is normal cichlid behavior or if I should look through the murkiness and try to diagnose a disease. He is moving about more than he has in days - doing the building, spouting rocks and so he seems a bit better. No-one really discusses their behaviors enough for me to determine if I should look for disease. Is rolling over common? Sad for me that the most tacky piece of decor that he came with - and that I was planning on replacing - he is most attached to - and when I move it his nest moves to be by that piece! Funny. < When fish turn on their sides and seem to dash against objects it usually means that something is irritating their skin. Could be parasites or pollution in the water. Some medications can harm the biological filtration, even when they say they are safe.-Chuck>

Re: Red Devil Has Not Eaten in 1 Week! 7/15/08 Red Devil Scratching Yes, now that I have to medicate the goldfish I understand that it will take much longer to for their tank to cycle properly. Since we had a bit of a cold spell that brought on the ick I am going to put a heater on their tank and set it so it kicks in only with temperature changes. Would like to put a chiller on there too but the cost of that along with the R/O water is getting crazy for me. The cichlid has been coming out at night and not rolling or flashing so I do not know if he is better or not. Are they primarily nocturnal? < No not really. Chances are the irritation still exists.> We are keeping his area dark as much as possible and the cloudiness is finally starting to clear. Again, I have tried to research behaviors and have read of people wanting their fish to roll over like a dog but do not know if this might be normal happy behavior or evidence of his world gone awry with the bad chemistry upsetting his equilibrium. < I think it is more of the latter.> I know he is far from well because he is hiding in his corner that he built for himself and if he were well he would be far more curious about us and our activities. Even with the heater I see that the temperature still can fluctuate 3 degrees during the day and night. He rolled over while visiting with my husband who loves him and animals love my husband too. They can sense it. So maybe it was OK? < Central American cichlids can be quite responsive to people and things outside their aquarium.> I took his rocks out for examination to see if they were calcifying and possibly adding to cloudiness of tank but the fish store guy says no. I put them back in and he is not rubbing against them. (His gravel is somehow contributing to the cloudiness in combination with the bacteria I guess. I am told that when he stabilizes I need to replace it.) < Some substrates are not suitable for aquariums. Most of the sand/gravel from pet shops should be ok after it is rinsed.> Honestly I am having a bit of difficulty with your website because there is so much I suppose. When I try to follow the advice to read the Dr. on Marineland's' site I cannot find him. Trying to research R/O water and buffers brings up a zillion articles for me to read so I am overwhelmed to say the least. Thanks. Got to go make dinner now. < Dr. Tim Hovanec is no longer with Marineland and has taken his articles with him to start his own business. After I talked to him has agreed to repost his articles on his own website in the near future.-Chuck>

Red Devil Query I have a red devil in a 55 gallon tank, and he is about 25 cm long... I just noticed recently he likes going to the top of the tank and it seems like he's grabbing air, although I know that's no true cause that's just the way fish work, breath thru the water.. I was wondering why would it seem that he is always going up there and doing that?? is he healthy? he also doesn't eat anything some times. he's really picky... I was thinking of giving him to the pet store because I don't know if I can handle him not eating and such. >>>Hello Mike, First thing, please use proper grammar and spelling when you post a query here. Taking time to correct these things just means I have less energy to devote to your question. All of these questions are posted on the site FAQ, so bad spelling and grammar must be corrected. Now... These fish are large, messy eaters and will place a tremendous strain on the filtration system. Nitrogen cycle management is paramount with large cichlids such as these. Failure to do so can cause a myriad of health issues. I need more info. What is your setup? How is the water circulation? How often do you perform water changes? Lack of oxygen in the water can cause the behavior you describe. The fish is literally gasping for air. Regards Jim<<<

Red Devil Doesn't Move Thanks but now I have another problem! My red devil is not eating! He just sits in a pit he made and never really comes out! And I got a new Flowerhorn. It used to stay under my filter because the red devil was chasing it but then I read some of the stuff about other people cichlids chasing other fish from their territory and adding a fast fish to get off each other and so I put a Danio fish and the Flowerhorn chases it but after that the red devil just chases the Flowerhorn a little now but then that's when he just stays in that pit he made so please help. Sean Thanks < If it is a disease then it needs to be treated, but I don't think that is you problem. If your red devil is intimidated by the new fish then try this. Take all the rocks and ornaments out. Do a 30% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Rearrange all the rocks and ornaments in different areas. This will force the fish to establish all new territories and should stimulate their appetite as well. Add a few more Danios too. These are referred to as dither fish in this case.-Chuck> Re: My fish **red devil*** needs a hug** Hi there again, I don't know that I could thank you enough. Do you take donations or how can I support your company?? You are very prompt and obviously care about the well being of fish. <We try to save organisms and keep people in the hobby one question at a time.> This military family salutes you. < On behalf of Bob and the crew we thank you for your kind words.> I feel like I am making progress here, but I am still concerned as I narrow down my clues. I have been in a mad dash for education on my red devil. :o) I am praying and crossing my fingers that I am learning quick enough. My red devil is now sitting on the bottom of the tank turning on his side. *sigh** I can tell he doesn't feel well, and it is all he can do to come "kiss" at me and the children then he is right back in his safe spot. I had my water tested at the local pet shop. They had no testers available for me to purchase. I have to order one or maybe E-bay, I see you recommend Liquid Reagent test kits. In the meantime, I have to fix it. The pet store, although I did not get a number, says the PH is out of site, everything else is fine. Dropper turned my PH dark blue when it should be light blue. I sure hope I caught this in time. I changed 50% of the water and added bottled water. I see you recommend chemicals only as a last resort. I have not added any chemicals outside of what I have always done in the past. There is Stress Coat and Ick away in the tank. Should I add something else? Should I remove him? I know it takes time for the water change to take affect, but heck it only takes time for him to die too. In general how long does it take to see improvement on PH?? < The pH may change quickly or not depending on the minerals in the water. red devils are pretty tough customers and I don't think that pH is your problem.> We are on ten days now. He has quit eating, and lethargic. How are we looking?? Have I learned quick enough? Here is a photo of our Red Devil. yes he is very similar to the photos on the site you recommended, only he doesn't feel good. :o) Again thank you for your help. I think you are providing a prompt and a wonderful service. Jessica <Do a 30% water change while vacuuming the gravel. This gets rid of the crud and opens up your undergravel filter. It will reduce the nitrates too. Keep the water temp up around 80 degrees F. I would treat with Metronidazole and rid-ich as per the directions on the packages. Do not feed until he starts moving around. Don't worry about the pH for now. Look online at DrsFosterSmith.com for medications that you can't find locally.-Chuck>

More Red Devil Problems Chuck, Hello there, We still have no sign of difference in attitude. However, in observing him I have noticed a couple of other things. He does this darting business about 3-4 times a day. He seems to scrape himself on the rocks. He is taking short deep breaths and seems to flutter his front fins like shooing a fly or maybe shaking?? I think I am seeing a spot behind his right fin that is outlined with a red blotch. I feel inclined to add some Epsom salt. What is your recommendation?? I am still not feeding and plan to vacuum the tank today. Looking forward to hearing from you. Jessica < A red blotch is the sign of an external bacterial infection. This may have been caused by the dashing against the rocks and opening a wound or by bacteria eating away at a spot on the skin. Based on your tank readings your tank is pretty clean so I would treat with Nitrofurazone to get rid of the external bacteria and Metronidazole for any internal bacterial problems. I would not feed until the fish is cured.-Chuck>

Red Devil Doing Better Huuuggsss Chuck, Looks like he is going to make it! He is up and swimming again. :o) He has also eaten three times a day for the last two days. < Keep in mind to only feed him once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Too much food can have him back on his side in no time at all.> Thank you very much. I did not know of any of the tips you gave me, and I thank you for making it possible for me to help my fishy. < That is what we are hear for.> Those spots seem to be getting bigger. There are two of them now both about an inch behind the front fins. I don't know if they are bruising or what. Do you have any suggestions? Should I treat for external problems? I question further medication since he is doing so well now. Jess < Those red spots may just be a normal coloration change. Red Devils come in multiple colors and red is just one of them. Look at the spots closely. If there is a change in texture between the red spots and the rest of the body then I would treat with Nitrofuranace. If the texture of the skin appears similar then it just may be a normal color change. Glad to hear he is doing better.-Chuck>

Red Devil, Viral Infection - 08/17/2005 Hello, <Hi.> I just bought a Red Devil, and he seems to have this white cyst (Like a pimple) on one of his scales. He is bright orange in colour, and this white cyst stands out. It's not ich, since it's only one, and bigger than ich. How do I treat it? Does it go away? The previous owner said that its been there for approximately 1 month now. <Sounds like Lymphocystis.... A viral infection. Though this is not treatable, it usually does go away if the fish is kept in optimal water conditions (ammonia, nitrite = ZERO, nitrate = LESS than 20ppm). So be testing, and keep that water clean!> Thank you, Toufic <Wishing you and your new red devil well, -Sabrina> Red Devil, Viral Infection - II - 08/17/2005 Optimal eh? :-( <Should be no more difficult than maintaining the tank properly.... That's the least we can do for our captive fishes.> How about surgery on the actual cyst? <This will cause more harm than good, most likely. I would leave it as is, and let the fish heal on its own time. Proper care, proper water quality alone will help this to go away.> Extra salts in the tank? <Nope. Patience, much patience, and proper care. That's all. This will take time.... but can/should heal up on its own. Wishing you well, -Sabrina> Red Devils Dying We recently set up a 55 gallon fresh water fish tank (this past Christmas) and after getting all the appropriate bacteria and everything set up we bought two red devils and a third longer sword fish type thing. It turns out one red devil was a male and the other was a female. A month ago they had 400 babies but a day or two after they were born the mom died (the dad had been 'abusing' her for a few days). The babies continued to grow and the dad then began the same abusive behavior towards the sword looking fish, and he died a few days later. Now the babies are about a cm big each and the dad himself is beginning to show signs similar to the other fish before they died. He has not eaten in these past three days and is sitting on the bottom occasionally slightly tilted. We have had the water tested after each fish has died and a few times in between and nothing has been the problem. The babies seem to be nibbling at something on the dads fins. It looks like he has small whitish dots near and on the fin joints and he also has some blackish/greyish spots on his forehead. Is there anything we can do? Is there a reason why in these past three weeks all three fish have been dying? Any help would be great! I'd hate to lose another fish. Thank you. <I would have liked to know the actual results of the water tests. With the sudden increase in waste caused by 400 fry I would think ammonia or nitrite would spike. You also mention some white spots. That could be Ick. Either could be the cause. I would start with large water changes and watch for an increase in those white spots. Many treatments for Ick. I use salt and heat. Read here: http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32 Don>

Treating An Old (and He Means OLD!) red Devil With Hole-In-The-Head 11/16/05 Hello, I have a 17 year old Red Devil Cichlid (Fred) who was in the peak of health until I stupidly (over) adjusted the pH a month ago, and he took quite a roller coaster ride before I was able to stabilize things. Unfortunately, even after I got the water back to acceptable levels, he would still not eat (he had stopped eating when all the water troubles began). It was suggested that I put feeder fish in with him to stimulate his appetite, but the feeder goldfish was in there 5 days and nothing happened. I was thinking that Fred (the Cichlid) might just be going crazy in the confines of his 40 gallon tank, so I got a 100 gallon tank for him and started it cycling. The other day I noticed that Fred had a couple lesions on his head. I'm afraid he has Hole in The Head disease, especially because he exhibits some of the symptoms associated with HITH disease: *A tendency to 'hang' in corners. *A tendency to stare at food but without eating it, or if it does take a sample it immediately spits it out again. *The decline in food acceptance, is often accompanied or followed by lethargy, and a reduction in muscle tissue which gives the fish a 'pinched' appearance behind the head and the skin 'texture' may take on a roughened appearance *White, jelly like excreta can often be seen trailing from the anal vent, on the floor of bare bottom aquaria, or sometimes white, stingy 'rotted plant-like material' is 'adrift' in the aquarium. *The wasted fish may develop a bloated stomach region. *Skin lesions may start to appear, especially on the body and the head, in the region of the lateralis system - these holes may eventually expand and connect to from considerable size 'craters' The only symptom here that Fred didn't exhibit was the 'jelly like excreta'. Thing is, this could also be Head and Lateral Line Erosion - HLLE, or both together, couldn't it? < They are often associated with one another.> I took the carbon out of his canister filter, gradually raised his water temp to 84 degrees F, did a 30% water change, and added 250mg of Metronidazole for each 10 gallons in his 40 gallon tank. About 12 hours later I did another 25% water change and gave him another dose of Metronidazole. I intend to do this for 3 days, based on articles I have read on the subject. Most of the fish store "Experts" that I have spoken to have rather heartlessly told me to give up all hope since he's so old. That is a little defeatist for me, thank you. If it's Fred's time to go, then so be it. Until then, I intend to give him a fighting chance. Period. As it is, he seems to be less 'sulky' than before, but on day 2 of the Metronidazole treatment, he is still not eating. Of most concern to me other than the not eating is that his stomach is distended only on the left hand side, and his tail tends to curve around to his left. I know that the Protozoan Parasites responsible for Hexamita (HITH disease) naturally occur in the fish's stomach, and just get out of hand when the fish gets stressed, as Fred was recently. It's just got me worried that it's only on one side, which he seems to be favoring, almost like it's a tumor. I know one of the symptoms of HITH is swelling of the stomach, but just on one side? <It depends where the infection has manifested itself.> And does it sound like I'm taking a reasonable course of action here? < Metronidazole breaks down very easily in dirty water. I would vacuum the gravel and clean the filter and medicate with Nitrofurazone as well.> I would hate to make any more big mistakes that might end up doing Fred in at this point! Speaking of mistakes, I made a big one when I removed the activated carbon from the canister filter. I squeezed out the sponge and washed out all the good goop that was in the canister, thereby destroying the biological filter. The gravel bed in the aquarium is still undisturbed, so I haven't killed the biological filter completely, but I know I screwed up. I have been adding AmQuel with the water changes, so that helps. Would it get in the way of the Metronidazole treatments to add Bio Spira, in order to get the biological filter back on track? < The Nitrofuranace will definitely affect the biological filter. Your fish is not eating anyway so discontinue to feed until a cure is achieved. When a cure is achieved then add carbon to remove any medication and then add the Bio-Spira to the water to get the tank cycled again.> And can I add NovAqua to ease Fred's stress a little? < Follow the directions on the bottle.> Oh, and I've read that feeder fish can infect a Cichlid with HITH. They get it through the feces of the feeder fish. Is this plausible? < Feeder fish can introduce many parasites but this is not one of them.> It occurred to me that he may have gotten it from the feeder fish I put in with him. There are 5 feeder fish in the 100 gallon tank that is now cycled and ready for Freddy when he gets out of hospital. I was planning on putting the feeder fish into the 40 gallon tank when I put Fred into the 100 gallon tank, but I would hate for Fred to get infected all over again when I put him into the 100 gallon tank that the feeder fish just left (infected from the feeder fish waste still in the tank). Would you share your thoughts on these things? < The feeder fish are not the immediate problem right now. Go to Cichlid-Forum.com and search the data base for a rather lengthy article on hole in the head. This will give you some insight on how hard this is to cure.-Chuck> Thank you for your help on this! Chris Haller pH: 7.8; Nitrite: 0; Ammonia: (I don't know because the AmQuel messes up the Nessler's reagent); Nitrate: negligible; General Hardness: 140 ppm; Carbonate Hardness: 5 German degrees

Old Red Devil Cichlid Losing His Eyesight 9/27/05 I am hoping you can help me. About a year ago I started noticing a white film on the right eye of my 7.5 year old Red Devil Cichlid. I treated it with various medications and remedies. These included Melafix and antibiotics that covered gram positive and gram negative bacteria. I put in appropriate amounts of aquarium salt. Water changes were done regularly and tests showed good range for Ph and nitrates. Unfortunately, none of this worked and my fish eventually lost site in the eye and the cloud remains to this day. Tonight I noticed what appears to be the beginning of the same process in his left eye. This time he also appears to have a bit of a bloody looking discharge in the eye. I am at a loss as to how to proceed to treat this. Water tests are fine and I do regular changes. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Eric < Usually these eye problems come from rough handling in a coarse net. Do a 30% water change , vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with erythromycin. If the water is clean the medication has worked well for me in the past. You devil is getting up there in age so it may take a couple doses to work.-Chuck>

Red Devil Swimming On His Side 1/30/06 Have my son's red devil still here and has been doing well. The last few days he has been swimming on his side and has lost a bit of condition. Seems to flop on his side when he is not moving rapidly. There are no marks on him and he is still eating well (both live and cichlid pellets). He is now about 10 inches long and son has had he since really small. Please help as I really don't want to lose him. Thanks Sue < When I hear of problems like these I think of internal bacterial infections. Sometimes food gets stuck in the intestines and the bacteria continue to reproduce causing gas and bloating. This sets off the equilibrium and causes fish to swim on their side, upside down etc... Do a 30 % water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package. It may stop the infection but the fish may not completely recover and be back to his old self.-Chuck>

Sick Old Red Devil 1/21/06 Hi-My 12 yr old red devil lives in a 120 gallon tank with some gravel, a few rocks and his baked ceramic plant pot. He gets fed jumbo min and some brine shrimp. For the past 2 weeks he has been very sick -laying down in his plant pot like a dog to rest and then getting up to patrol his tank when I come near. He won't eat. He swims sideways sometimes. I have siphoned the gravel and changed 25% of the tank water on 4 separate occasions (giving him a few days between each time). The ammonia level and the nitrite level test normal. The nitrate level tests high. I keep the pH at 7 although it keeps tending bluer - higher, which is the opposite of what it usually does. I keep the temp at 80 degrees. I have put kosher salt in the water. He is typically somewhat orange, but when he got sick he got quite pale. Now his color is more orange again. I read in your column about using Furanace or Metronidazole... is either one appropriate? Do you have any advice or suggestions? Thank you for your help-Julie < At 12 years old your red devil may be getting near the end and no longer can fight off infections. I would do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. If he is not eating then don't feed him. Sounds like an internal bacterial infection. Treating him in a big tank will be very expensive, especially if multiple treatments are needed. If you can, move him to a smaller hospital tank. Treat him with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. High nitrate levels over a long period may have stressed him to the point of becoming ill.-Chuck>

Red Devil, Injury? Disease? - 06/06/2006 Good afternoon, <Hello!> I have a Red Devil that is approx. 2 ½ years old and approx. 8' long. We recently went on vacation and had another fish friendly person take care of our tanks. Upon our return Pete (the fish) had developed a sort of blister on the top of his hump and on the lower section. He is in a 55 gallon tank with only a plecostomus with him. I am leaning towards the possibility of HITH but am not 100% sure. I have attached three pictures for your reference. <The images are a little small to tell, but I actually wonder if this might be an injury of some sort, if perhaps he got spooked and ran into something. For now, I would keep a VERY close eye on it. Maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate at less than 20ppm. If the wound appears to increase in size or shows any other sign of getting worse, I would suggest treating with a broad-spectrum antibiotic like Kanamycin or Nitrofurazone. I would lean more toward this actually being a wound than HLLE or Hole-In-The-Head, given the speed at which it developed.> Thank you in advance for your assistance. Regards, -Rebecca J. DeWitt <All the best to you, -Sabrina>

Sick Red Devil 8/19/06 Hi. <<Hello, Alex. Tom here.>> I'm in a bit of a panic right now, I think my Red Devil is dying. The Problem: red devil's got some fungus thing (it's semi translucent and white and is mainly around his gills now) he's having trouble breathing and his swim bladder is all outta whack, he really struggles to swim and stay balanced, right now he's at bottom of tank not moving much. <<Not fungus, Alex. It's Columnaris, which is a bacterial disease. The fact that it doesn't appear to be contained as an external infection at this time (re: the swim bladder issue) leads me to believe the disease is advanced in your Cichlid.>> The Tank: Its a freshwater tank, 90L I think. Inhabitants are one red devil (about 1yr old), eel-tail catfish, 2 clown loaches and a bristle-nosed catfish. <<A 90-liter tank is too small for these fish, Alex. Please, do consider upgrading soon. Could/probably is leading to poor water conditions.>> Don't know pH, nitrates etc, temp. is about 26 degrees Celsius. <<Secondary point here, Alex, but you've got to get yourself a test kit for water parameters. Columnaris, for one, will never stop being a problem until you get the tank's conditions squared away, i.e. pH stable, ammonia/nitrites 0 and nitrates below 20.>> I've turned light off to keep him out of shock but I think he's fading away. I'm trying to keep tank warm with heaters and I did a 25% water change yesterday and cleaned my filters (one's submerged, the other isn't) and I've treated tank with anti-fungal stuff and also swabbed the red devil's afflicted areas with a cotton wool bud dipped in the anti-fungal stuff (to little avail so far). <<First, warmer temperatures will accelerate the spread of Columnaris. (One of those situations where it's a "good idea" in the wrong application.) Better to keep the tank at around 23-24 degrees C (75-76 F). Second, you need to treat with a broad-spectrum antibiotic like Kanacyn, Spectrogram, Tetracycline or Furan 2. Ideally, you'd be able to treat with food containing Nitrofurazone or Oxytetracycline but I'm suspicious that your pet is eating little, if anything, at this point making this a doubtful way to go. Finally, while always best to treat an animal in a separate hospital tank, Columnaris is highly contagious - as you've seen - and I would recommend treating the entire display tank in this case. (Catfish are highly susceptible, by the way.)>> I should also mention that I've had two catfish die after coming down with this fungus so I'm really worried. <<Sorry to hear this, Alex, but, again, not a total surprise given what you're dealing with.>> Help?! What should I do? <<Immediate action? Another 25%-30% water change and gravel cleaning. Start treating with one of the medications recommended. Also, remove any carbon you might be using in your filters. Keep the water temperature in the range mentioned above and, by all means, get your hands on a water test kit so that you can monitor your parameters. You're "flying blind" without knowing what's going on in your tank. If the Red Devil succumbs to this, remove it immediately. Less immediate but no less important, try to upgrade the size of your tank once everything is settled down. Your Red Devil may not have displayed aggressive behavior in the past but this fish has been known to wipe out entire tanks single-handedly. Very best of luck, Alex. Tom>>

Red Devil Cichlid With Internal Infection 1/2/07 Hello I have a Red devil cichlid that I got that has swim bladder for the purpose of trying to save him. The pet store gave him to me free because someone brought him in. He is a nice looking fish and is about 6inches and I have put him in a hospital tank and then added Epson salt raised the temp to 84F and treating the water with poly guard as well as trying to feed the fish with Metronidazole and garlic guard mixed in with some food as well as some green peas and doing daily 20% water changes and carefully replacing the salt and poly guard. But the problem is that the fish stays on the bottom of the tank and cannot swim but only scoot's around on the bottom of the tank on his belly. He sometimes will go over to the food that I place in the tank but can't get the food in his mouth because he can't seem to raise up to pick the food up from the bottom of the tank. He often lays on his side until he see's me in the room then he sits back up on his belly. I noticed as well that yesterday and today that there was some blood in his stool. I have been treating him for about three day's now. Do you know anything else that I can do to get this fish better and how long do you think it will take before he gets better? Thank you for any help. <Remove any sand or gravel that can be abrasive to the skin of the fish. The infection has affected the swim bladder. Even if you cure the disease the swim bladder may not recover and become functional again. I would add Nitrofuranace to the mix and continue to treat for another week. These medications are not cheap. You probably could have purchased a healthy red devil for the money you will spend trying to save this one.-Chuck>

FH, big red bump, no useful data 6/4/07 Here is a picture of my Flowerhorn it is aprox 6 years old what is this red bump? Jim <Maybe a tumorous growth, but looks more like a trauma injury... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/flowerhorns.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Sick Red Devil - Please Help FAST!!! 12/31/07 I have a Red Devil (roughly 11 inches in size) I have had this fish for about 5 years - I have grown VERY attached and am very worried about losing my fish. I have not kept good records/updates on the water quality - as my fish has tolerated the water without problems. Now "Syd" is losing color (turning very pale) - has stopped eating - and both eyes have grown VERY cloudy VERY quickly - <QUICK! Change some of the water out here, or even better, move this fish to another system that is established> *There have been many times that Syd has ignored food and gone a few days or more where the food has been played with but not eaten. ( I usually feed a veg. pellet mix in the mornings and an earthworm in the evening...again, has worked until now). Syd is now lying on the bottom horizontal and not breathing very good...this began in the corner in somewhat of a vertical position. I have changed the filters as well as a water change (approx. 40%) <Good> We have recently had power surges (due to weather) and I noticed that the tank is very cold (not what Syd thrives in) I am trying to warm the tank but not too quickly... <Also good> I am afraid that there is something internal (besides the tank temp. and the "not eating" etc.) <Not eating is not a big worry. A fish of this size, age, conditioning can go w/o food for many days> My question - is where to start? <Monitor water quality, raise temp.> The fins seem to look fine...Although Syd has had some holes it doesn't seem to be HITH - but I could be wrong. <Could you send a picture?> If I should medicate the tank - please suggest a general beginning point/medication that I should start with to help my fish... Again, I know I seem to sound like a "slacker" on the daily maintenance of the fish tank - I do care for my fish and DO NOT wish to see Syd suffer...or die. Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance, EN <Need more data, an image... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm re the sorts of input we're looking for... the third tray down, on Cichlids; their Health, Systems. Bob Fenner>

Please help me! Flowerhorn With Possible Blindness 6/1/08 Hi Crew, I have some problems to discuss with you. Last week, I got a male Flowerhorn as a present from my friend including all his accessories. First 2-3days he didn't eat anything and he didn't go anywhere but I can accept that as water changes. Then he continuously keeps silent but sometime he tries to swim. He's timing is not more than 5sec. then falling freely underneath the water and hit with glass. Mostly, he hit all the objects on his ways likes he didn't harm and seems he can't see anything. Last night, I realized that, it may be his problem, both of his eyes have some black shape, I attach his photos. His left eye is full with dark and the other is half. I haven't seen like that before in my experience because I have others 5 Flower Horns at my home. What should I do? Is he blinded? Is anything wrong? ? ? ? ? Please reply me as I feel sorry for him. Best regards, KMMK < After looking at your photos I don't know if your Flowerhorn is blind or not. I have never seen that kind of coloration in a fish's eyes before. Generally it sounds like you Flowerhorn has an internal bacterial infection that has affected his swim bladder. I would recommend treating the tank with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. I would also add a teaspoon of salt to the water for every 10 gallons of tank water. Keep the water temp up at 80 F too.-Chuck>

sick red devil 4/26/08 my red devil after a water change started swimming on it's side <How much water changed? How treated? Best to store... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/taptrtmnt.htm and the linked files above> and lay on the bottom then the next day started swimming upside down now he's hiding in the cave in the tank still swimming upside down i don't see no fungus or parasites is there anything you can do he's a ?young fish only about 4 inches long i have been treating for two days now with tetracycline but have not seen a change in him thanks ron <Poisoned... Please, fix your English before sending it (at least to us). Ignorance is not what we're about. Bob Fenner>

Red Devil Has Not Eaten in 1 Week! 07/07/08 Red Devil On Hunger Strike Hi! and Help! I recently acquired a Red Devil (? He has no nuchal hump) in a tank purported to be 75 gallons but only 48. Charlie is 10 inches long. I placed him by a sliding glass door by the dining table. He can see people in the kitchen. He can see people and critters at the dining table. He can see people and critters in both the front and back living rooms. He can see out the window when I draw the blinds and he can see out the back porch onto the back yard a bit also. He did very little typical behaviors his first 3 weeks here, seemed to smile a lot and was not shy with us. Then I finally got around to cleaning his tank. Prior to this I only had a small goldfish tank and still only have that antiquated siphon method. Charlie's' tank was quite dirty as I did receive it dirty as well. (Most of the water was removed for the move and I had to fill it with a hose while he was in another tank). My way of cleaning the tank means that I have to wait for the dirty water to settle down and then pour water from the top of the buckets back into the tank. (I only just learned that they need a 50% water change every week so I was doing the 25% goldfish rule.) So the cleaning occurred all day on Friday the 25th of June. As of Friday July 4th he has still eaten nothing. Since the cleaning he acts as if he has been violated. He no longer wants anything to do with us and he cleaned a spot to the mirrored floor of his tank and spends days just looking at his own image. He often ignores us when we talk to him and try to visit. We have tried to feed him and he has let the food rot. Last night I cooked chicken for the soft-shell turtles and gave Charlie a piece because I had read that they like it. This morning I fished it out untouched. Today I tested his water which was all fine except for slightly high nitrates - I put some chemical in and gave him a Rosie red minnow. He came a little alive and the poor tortured thing was eventually murdered but he did not eat it. The carcass is laying on the floor of the tank right where we can all see it and Charlie has eaten nothing. How long can this go on? This fish is starting to torture me because I feel so guilty for him and I am soon to purchase a more efficient cleaning machine to avoid this in the future. I have read that a fish cannot go more than 5 days without food. This has been 7. If Charlie refuses to eat something how soon should I remove it from the aquarium? What am I to do to make him happy again? I am not skilled with cichlid disease. Is there a disease that I should be looking for? < Start by checking the water temperature. It should be between 75 and 80 F. Get a thermometer and get a heater if needed. Next check the water chemistry. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be under 20 ppm. Big cichlids can be pretty messy so you should have a power filter that turns the water over at least 200 gph. An outside power filter would be best. Assuming everything else is fine then offer him a few high quality cichlids pellets once ech day at the same time. After five minutes remove any uneaten food. Repeat every day until he eats. If he doesn't eat after a week then try some washed earthworms. Feeder fish are notorious for contaminating big cichlid tanks with diseases.-Chuck> Re: Red Devil Has Not Eaten In A Week II -- 07/08/08 Yes there is a lot more but I went to a store called "Ocean Floor" in central Phoenix and got some better bacteria than these chain stores sell. < Many stores sell bacterial additives that claim to add the beneficial bacteria to a tank so you can put fish in right away. The one I recommended for years was Bio-Spira by Marineland. The item is no longer available. A new product by Dr Tim called "The One and Only" is working very well for a friend on mine who has a aquarium maintenance business and sets up tanks all the time. This product is available from DrsFosterSmith.com.> I also bought a new Fluval 450 and a bunch of other stuff. Placing him in the window was a mistake and the heat is spiking the ammonia and nitrates. < Heat by itself won't increase the ammonia and nitrates. Elevated water temperatures may have increased the breakdown of the fish waste.> Plus all the water changes were misadvised. We put a huge board outside the window for now because the store guy thinks he is too fragile to move the tank right now. So both my tanks are blooming right now with the good bacteria and the fish are starting to do a bit better. The company that makes these products is right here in Phoenix. It is called Tropical Science and the bacteria have to be kept in the fridge. These chain stores have inferior product and they think they have bacteria and the products even say so on the label but absolutely nothing happens. I was stuck in a position that I did not have time to cycle tanks properly. (What happens when you buy used tanks with fish in them.) I do need to learn how to do it properly since I need to get larger tanks for the cichlid and the spiny softshells. I had a product with live bacteria for many years. The bottle did not need refrigeration. Whenever my tank was in trouble I would throw a couple of drops in and get instant results. I have always kept my goldfish in windows and done great. When I finished the bottle I remember thinking to myself that I ought to save the empty bottle so I would know what to ask for. I threw it out. None of the stores have it anymore. It was fantastic stuff. I didn't even mention about Charlie being in the hot window when I first wrote because I did not know it was a problem. The city tap water is too high in nitrates and ammonia already. I had read to find another water source but had always learned that purified drinking water would kill the fish. The guy at the store said I could use purified drinking water but I am still leery. We get OPremium water and I don't know if I could use that or not. I need more feedback on alternate water sources. I would really appreciate if one of you could look at this OPremium water site and tell me if the water is safe for the fish. My first instinct is no - but maybe I am wrong. Please advise: http://www.owaters.com/10-step-purification.html Or do you have suggestions for other water sources? Thanks for asking Bob. <<Welcome. B>> And thanks for your initial response Chuck. < If your water is too high in nitrates you could always use R/O or distilled water. This water by itself is not good for fish because it is too clean and has no buffers in it. You have to add some buffers to keep the pH from going all over the place and stressing your fish. The R/o will reduce most of the nitrates. You could by an r/o unit for a couple hundred bucks and could filter water up to 50 gallons per day.-Chuck>

Red Devils Have Not Eaten IN One Week III 7/10/08 < First off. Stop injecting additional questions/comments within the text of formally answered questions. The crew usually injects their comments in response to multipart questions to try and not confuse the readers. When you add the additional comments it makes it very difficult to sort out if the questions have been answered or not. In the future please ask questions that you need help with.> OK. I do not know what R/O is so hopefully can Google. < Go to the WWM and Google R/O. This has been asked many times before.> This is getting insanely expensive and I don't think my husband will go for an R/O unit at this point. Also I don't know what "buffers" are. < Once again Google the WWM website for buffers.> I saw some pH stabilizing product somewhere - not sure if Dr Foster Smith or Austin's Turtle Page. < DrsFosterSmith definitely have buffers for R/PO units.> I am super frustrated right now because these Ocean Floor employees don't really know either and the guy we bought from is off work till Thursday and there is a lot of stuff he didn't tell us. < Unfortunately the retail tropical fish store employee typically doesn't have much more experience than the customers they are trying to help. The job usually doesn't pay that well so turn over is very high.> The Tropical Science product (Aqua Chargers) has no directions on the label - just lists of other product. So my idea is that they think they have designed the most fantastic surface for bacteria but it is the liquid in the container that has the bacteria? (The employees cannot even answer that - probably because they do not want to admit that I was stupid enough to pay $160 for a bottle of plastic doo-dads.) < In the past I have not been impressed with this brand of products.> Because I saw other plastic thingies on Dr Smith Foster for a hell of a lot less money. < Online retail stores are definitely very competitive with traditional retail stores.> My two tanks are acting very different with it and I told the employee about the water change and chemical soup added over the weekend with the AP products and this Tropical Science has been added on top of it. It does not seem to me to be very scientific when everything is so nebulous and proper written directions are not given. I called back the store and asked why one tank is super cloudy and the other one is clear. The employee told me to do a 25% water change. I said "WHAT!?!?! I just spent $160 (plus tax) on this stuff (never mind the hundreds of dollars of other product I purchased along with) and 24 hours later you are telling me to pour it down the drain?!?!?!?!" I called and asked to talk to the manager and she put a guy on who speaks hardly any English and he could not tell me anything concrete either or even speculate with knowledge - he told me not to feed any of my fish for 3 or 4 days till it clears up. I haven't even tested my water because I am getting too emotional about this now. All I can say is my 10 inch Red Devil is miserable in his cloudy tank and my 10 inch goldfish is miserable in his alternately cloudy and clear tank. I tried to ask about the life cycle of this bacteria I have added and of course no-one knows a thing. The rapid changes of cloudy and clear repeatedly over the course of the day means something and I would like to know what. But Charlie's tank is just deathly cloudy. Interesting to me is that the other fish in the goldfish tank are OK for the most part. I have small feeder goldfish, Rosie minnows and of course plecostomus. When the 2nd Fluval started up in their tank it emitted a huge white cloud - I assume from the aqua chargers that had been sitting in there while I was doing battle with the hoses. It was frightening to watch that cloud go into the tank and the little fish got all jerky for hours afterwards. They moved a lot but very jerky also. What does that mean? The Ocean Floor employees cannot tell me. Sorry for this long run-on line - I am very low-tech and do not know why this happens once in a blue moon. Thank you for the continued correspondence. I had been told years ago never to use distilled so I would need to know a lot more about what buffers are and how to use. Where can I learn? < Once again buffers and R/O water is well covered on the website. I would recommend trying to contact the manufacturers by either email or by trying to call them directly. Search for a web for a contact info.-Chuck

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