FAQs on Parrot,
Jelly-Bean... Cichlids, Disease/Health 2
FAQs on Parrot Disease:
Cichlid Health 1, Parrot Cichlid Disease
3, Parrot Cichlid
Disease 4, Parrot Cichlid Disease ,
FAQs on Parrot Cichlid Disease by Category:
Nutritional (e.g. HLLE),
Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...),
Related Articles: Blood Parrots & Flowerhorn
Cichlids: maintenance and healthcare of two popular hybrid
by Neale Monks, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General,
Related FAQs: Parrot Cichlids 1, Parrot Cichlids 2,
& Parrot Cichlid
Identification, Parrot Cichlid
Behavior, Parrot Cichlid
Compatibility, Parrot Cichlid
Selection, Parrot Cichlid
Systems, Parrot Cichlid
Feeding, Parrot Cichlid
Jellybean Parrot has bumps/white spots, please help me
Jellybean Parrot Cichlid With HITH 11/21/10
I have a jellybean parrot fish that is about 7 years old. It has
recently developed white bumps/spots on its head. My husband thought
the change in her appearance was due to age and so he dismissed it. He
thinks he first noticed them about a week ago. I've attached two
photos. The large bump in the center of her head is actually a cluster
of bumps. It is white on the surface and somewhat fluffy in appearance
with a red coloring underneath. As I'm hoping you can see in the
photo, it is a protruding growth. There is a line of smaller white
spots along the back of her head.
The top of the fin on the left side of the second photo also appears to
be abnormal in shape/color. The pale areas of the body are her normal
coloring. She is eating and behaving normally.
She is in a 55 gal tank with a rainbow, a catfish (I don't remember
what breed) and several tetras. The last water change was 5 days ago
and may have been a little overdue but not much. We do not have a
quality test kit, only the simple strips. The water had not been tested
in a long time and when I tested tonight the levels were not good. The
nitrate level was 80, nitrite 3, pH 7.2, alkalinity 80 and the water
was hard 150. My husband is doing a 25% water change now. The
temperature of the tank is 76 degrees.
I've tried to research the problem online but have only become more
confused. I do not want to treat her for the wrong thing and cause more
problems. I'd greatly appreciate your opinions.
Thank you! Kim
< Your cichlid has Hole-In-The-Head Disease. First get a nitrate
Get the nitrates down to under 20 ppm with water changes. The lower the
nitrates the better your fish will be. In a hospital tank treat with a
combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. If you fish is still
then start feeding medicated foods with these medicines in it. I would
still treat the water too. The key to a full recovery is an early
Drastic action to save Red Parrot Cichlid
Red Parrot Cichlid Egg Bound - 10/10/10
My 6 year old Red Parrot Cichlid, for the second time in two years, has
become egg bound and/or constipated. She is in fine health at other
times, laying every two weeks or so. But these two times have almost
I've resorted, both times, to catching her in a net, placing her on
a towel, and literally pulling the clog (which is a gel, incased in a
rather strong, clear skin...and in which I can see eggs) out of her
Afterward, she has huge bowel movements for two days, but immediately
seems to feel much better. When I say huge, I mean they are as big
around as a pencil, and almost as long. I have tried lower protein
foods, and she seems fine until...Is there anything you can suggest
that I can do to prevent this? I've just had my water tested, my
numbers are good, her only tank mates are a Tropheus and a Peacock
cichlid, and they've all been together for years. My water temp is
constant. I feel like I need to add something to
her diet. Can you please help me?
< Usually internal infections cause a blockage of the intestinal
tract. I usually recommend a combination of Metronidazole and
Nitrofuranace. If you fish is still eating then this combination can be
found in medicated foods.
It is interesting that you found eggs in the clog you removed. The
infection is sometimes caused by stress or food that the bacteria in
the gut cannot break down.-Chuck>
Parrot Cichlids in trouble...
Parrot Cichlids Sick After Tank Cleaning 6/8/10
Hi there, I have two 7" Parrot Cichlids who were in a 40 gal tank
with many other fish. They were crowded but doing great. So I had a
chance to put them into a 60 gal tank and did so, changing over the
substrate and rocks,
but I guess I cleaned it too thoroughly. Lost all but the two Parrots
and a smaller blue cichlid, a white albino frog and several tiny but
older Corydoras Catfish.
<Probably wiped out all the beneficial bacteria that provided the
The two parrots are now barely breathing, hiding in their caves, or
along the sides of the tank. Once in a while they seem to come out
drift around and then go back like they feel like hell! I have checked
the chemistry and it tested out OK in all regards, but the chemicals
are old. Getting new tomorrow. Changed the water partially about 3
times because It got cloudier after the tank change.
< Probably ammonia spikes.>
Using a Fluval 300 (is it big enough or up to cleaning 60 gallons?) and
two aerators running full tilt. If I give them a course of
Metronidazole (thinking they probably now might have some bacterial
infection, will the medicine harm the albino frog and the catfish? Temp
in tank is/has been steady 75-80 degrees (even tested both
"ends" of the larger tank)...substrate in the bottom is about
an inch and a half in the new tank. Thanks for any help...I love these
< Go with Dr Tim's "One and Only " to quickly
replenish the bacterial you have washed away. You essentially have a
new tank. Medications will only suppress any bacteria, good or bad.
This tank starter can be found online at
Acne, Parrot Cichlid 5/14/10
I have a rather large Parrot Cichlid that recently sprouted what looks
like pimples. It is otherwise healthy but the growths on it's head
and face worry me. Could you please explain what this condition is and
what I need to do to help my friend. Sincerely, Patrick
<Most likely "Hole in the Head" disease. Treatment is
Metronidazole, sometimes known as Flagyl. In the US this may be
available from your pet store; elsewhere it is usually a
prescription-only drug that requires you to talk to your vet. Without
treatment the fish WILL die. This DOES NOT get better by itself.
Hole-in-the-Head is almost always caused by poor maintenance. In the
case of cichlids, non-zero nitrate levels are commonly to blame,
typically through over-stocking and not enough water changes. Do read
on the needs of these hybrid cichlids, here:
Identifying a freshwater (brackish?) goby --
I'm hoping you can help me identify a goby purchased recently
from my local petstore. The fish in question came in the bag with
a special order of loaches I placed and the fish dept head was
unable to ID what kind of goby it was.
<"Mystery gobies" are very difficult to identify.
The family contains about 2000 species, and many of them are very
difficult to tell apart unless viewed under a microscope.
Bumblebee gobies are the classic examples, being virtually
impossible to identify reliably to species level without access
to dead specimens and a dissecting microscope. In any case, if
you go to Fishbase, choose to display species, and then select
Asian Inland Waters from the pull-down menu (assuming it was
captured with the loaches) you'll get 360 species to choose
from. Yes, we're talking big numbers here.
For what it's worth, it might even be a Sleeper (Gudgeon)
rather than a Goby; Sleepers lack the fused pelvic fins typical
of most Gobies. There are a few hundred of those, adding to the
trouble identifying mystery species!>
I said what the heck I said I'd take it too. But I'm
running out of ideas for identification. At least one person has
suggested possibly a female desert goby, but the coloration &
head shape doesn't seem quite right,
<It's not a Desert Goby (Chlamydogobius eremius).>
though I'm pretty sure its a female of some kind as its
lacking in the extra coloration that males seem to have.
<Actually, it could very easily be a male, since it is quite
nicely marked. For what it's worth, rather few gobies are
truly sexually dimorphic; in most cases, males and females are
I've attached a couple pictures, the one titled
"goby1" taken right after I purchased the fish, its
color has darkened up significantly in the intervening months,
the other was taken today. Whatever the breed it is tolerating
freshwater with apparently no problems.
<For now, at least. I'd recommend keeping it in a low-end
brackish water tank, around SG 1.003-1.005. This will be
tolerated by freshwater species, and appreciated by brackish
water species, and since it's much more likely to be a
brackish water than freshwater species, that's the best way
to play the odds. Keeping this fish in purely freshwater is
It does not appear to have grown significantly in the mean time,
but since I've no idea which type it is I may not be feeding
<These small gobies tend to feed on small invertebrates, and
compared to community fish, they're not easy to feed. Live
daphnia, bloodworms, and to a certain extent brine shrimps are
all good foods (brine shrimps are nutritionally poor, so
shouldn't be anything other than a treat).
Wet-frozen equivalents may be accepted. Forget about flake or
pellets; these won't be eaten.>
<You could find the Goby Group on the Yahoo Groups and see if
someone there can identify this fish. For what it's worth,
going by the probabilities, this is likely a small (to 5 cm)
brackish water species that feeds on zooplankton and benthic
invertebrates. You'd have to be unlucky/lucky to have a
species that didn't match these requirements since most
Gobies sold as "freshwater" fish do these things. Kept
in a low-end brackish system with surface-feeding livebearers
(like Guppies) it should do well. Shrimps and Nerite snails would
make good tankmates, too. Cheers, Neale.>
Help with blood parrot fish fungus --
One of my Blood Parrots Fish, who is about 10 years old,
<A good long time to be alive for this sport/hybrid>
has developed what looks like a white fluffy fungus in the inside
of the lower lip.
<I see this in your pix>
He is off food and doesn't really move much..
I have a 400 litre tank with 3 parrots fish and never really had
any problems with them.
What could it be?
<I do think it/this is an infection (bacterial likely rather
than fungal/mycological)... resultant from a mechanical
Could it infects the other 2 fish?
<Only if they suffer the same sort of physical trauma, the
system water quality fail>
Can you help me?
<I would urge patience here... Just "waiting" while
assuring optimal conditions would be the best approach to a cure.
Use of chemical medicines is likely to prove more detrimental.
|Re: Help with blood parrot fish
fungus -- 3/14/10
Dear Bob, thank for your prompt reply...I must be doing something
right as my other 2 parrots are almost 14 years old and never
really had any problems with them.
I spoke to my local fish store's manager and he gave me
<Mmm, again... I would not use anything...>
Since using it, I must say I have noticed a huge improvement.
<Likely would be the same sans treatment... perhaps
For start the fluffiness has gone done a lot and the fish is no
longer hiding . I think I'll carry on with it as it says it is
not harmful to the fish or the plants.
Thanks you so much for your advice though
<Thank you, BobF>
Sick Blood Parrot
Bloated Blood Parrot 3/2/10
Hello! My blood parrot is around 5 years old and has been sick for the
past 3-4 days. He is in a 55 gallon tank with one other parrot, 2
pictus catfish, a striped peacock eel, and a Plecostomus. The
temperature of the tank is in the 80s and he has always been a brightly
colored orange, but he has been very pale since I noticed he was sick.
He has a swollen belly that has not changed in size and its quite
large. He also has a bit of poop hanging out that he hasn't been
able to get rid of, the strange part is that I did a 50% water change
and cleaned the tank very well but overnight there is poop all over the
tank, more than usual. I can't tell if it is from him or the other
fish, I just know that there is more poop than I have ever seen before
in a short amount of time. I don't know if I should try cleaning
the gravel again because of the sick fish. He also has a dark
grey/black color that started on his stomach and has now spread to some
spots around his mouth and eye. The spot on him stomach has grown to
cover the entire bottom of his stomach. His gills also seem to have
some white tissue like substance floating off of them and he is
swimming with his head tilted towards the bottom or the top of the tank
depending on which direction he is going, he cannot swim straight
though. I started treating him with Maracyn since it was recommended by
a fish shop near my house. I have been treating him for 2 days with no
difference other than he isn't eating now. I tried to feed him peas
but he refused them. I have also treated the water with aquarium salt.
I am not sure if he has dropsy because his symptoms don't seem to
match all the ones for the disease.
Please advise! Thanks! Kelly M
<Isolate the sick fish in a hospital tank and treat with a
combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. The heavy fecal load is
probably the fish's response to an internal infection.. Treat on
the 1st, 3rd and 5th day. Do 50% water changes in-between
Enlarged belly in parrot cichlid
Parrot Cichlid With Enlarged Stomach -- 02/25/10
As you can see in the picture, my blood parrot's been having
that enlarged belly from 2 months. Initially we thought it was
just overfeeding, but even after we lessened the quantity of
food, the belly remained. And to add to our worries, it looks
like its papilla is always out, or maybe something's wrong
with its anus (honestly, its been worrying me a lot).
Its tank mates are 2 sharks and another parrot. Recently I had to
transfer 2 gouramis and a Pleco to this tank from another, as the
Oscar in the other tank used to beat the hell out of these
fellows. Diet is pellets, freeze-dried worms once a month, and
occasionally steamed rice from our dinner (the steamed rice may
be the culprit, please advise).
One more thing. about an year back, I almost lost the parrot due
to asphyxiation. We were moving from our old place, so we had
kept him and another parrot in a bucket. and they were without
air for almost 5 hrs. We lost one guy, but this guy was almost
gone but we put him in fresh water in the nick of time and he
lived. Since then his growth rate has slowed drastically. After
the other parrot died we got another small one for his company.
the new guy was almost half the old guys size. but now both are
of the same size. any reason for this stunted growth?. Water
quality is good but is a bit hard. tank size=>3ftX1ftX1.5ft
sharks are 8 inches long, parrots are 5 n half inches long.
Please suggest a good remedy.
Thanks A Million!! Sharath, INDIA
P.S-We don't get good branded fish medicine here, so bear
this in mind.
< Do a 50% water change, clean the filters and vacuum the
gravel. Treat with a combination of Metronidazole and
Nitrofuranace, you might get these from a vet in your area. They
are available online from Drsfostersmith.com. Treat every other
day and do a 50% water between every treatment. Feed after the
treatment. If he is eating then that is a good
black spots and black colouring in red parrots body
and upper lips -- 1/27/10
I bought 4 red parrots and 2 Oscar babies four days back ....
they are good and eating well and fighting well .... hiding well
also in this four parrots one parrot was having a black spot on
its upper lip when I was getting it ... and now I noticed they
are having similar spots on its belly also and is black in
colour...I never noticed this when I was getting this.... but the
fish is normal in eating and playing ... but its a bit aggressive
than other fishes its always fighting and butting other fishes
.... it is the biggest fish in all the fishes ... I don know
weather its a disease or just colour of the fish . pls help .
<Hello Kareen. Before going any further, can we please remind
you to send image attachments each less than 500 KB in size? We
have only limited e-mail storage space here, and if people send
us 11 MB of images -- as you did -- that storage space gets
filled quickly. That means other people's messages will be
bounced back. We do specifically state this on the page where you
found our e-mail address. Anyway, "Black Patch Disease"
on Blood Parrots is fairly common. Unfortunately, it isn't
one specific thing. Since these cichlids are hybrids, they are
genetically variable. One of the ancestor species of the Blood
Parrot was Amphilophus citrinellus, a species that often changes
colour. So sometimes Blood Parrots develop odd "calico"
patches, just like Amphilophus spp. Obviously, there's
nothing you can do about this. On other occasions, black patches
are likely ammonia burns, just like you see on Goldfish. If you
have non-zero levels of ammonia, this could very easily be the
problem. Fixing the water conditions will prevent this, and over
time, discoloured scales MAY be replaced. Finally, opportunistic
infections such as Finrot can cause discoloured patches, just as
they can on any other fish. Certainly fighting can lead to
damage, and wounds can become infected, especially if ammonia and
nitrite levels aren't zero. Ironically given how big your
photos were, they're actually too blurry to be 100% sure
what's going on. I'd plumb for either genetics or ammonia
burns. Cheers, Neale.>
|Re: black spots and black colouring
in red parrots body and upper lips -- 1/27/10
thank you very much . I reside in India in my place the local pet
shops do not have any instrument to check water quality ... what
else can I do ...
pls help ...
<If you cannot check water chemistry and cannot check water
quality, you must be conservative. Do the following:
 Keep the tank lightly stocked. Allow 80-100 litres per Blood
 Add Rift Valley Salt Mix to each bucket of water to raise the
pH and hardness levels. Add to each 5 gallons/20 litres of new
water the following:
* 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
* 1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
* 1 teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements)
Stir into each bucket of water, and then do your normal water
changes. Do not add directly to the aquarium, and do not change all
the water all at once!
 Use a robust filtration system. Aim for a turnover rate of not
less than 4 times the volume of the tank per hour, and ideally 6
times the volume of the tank. In other words, if the aquarium is
200 litres in size, the filter should be rated between 800 and 1200
litres per hour.
 Do weekly water changes of 25%.
 Do not overfeed; ideally, skip a day. Use food sparingly, and
remove uneaten food within 5 minutes. Better to feed two small
meals per day than one big meal.
 Do not use any sorts of live foods; only use pellet foods,
vegetables, and things you'd eat yourself (like little bits of
prawn or tilapia filet).
Hope this helps, Neale.>
my parrot fish turns upside down and does not eat
Hi, I am Nalin
<Hi, Nalin, Melinda with you here tonight.>
I have parrot fish which does not eat anything and is always
lying in a corner upside down. It has been with me since the last
year but since last month it is behaving awkwardly. The average
temperature of my tank is 28
degree Celsius. All the fishes are keen to eat the pellets but it
does not eat.
<Are the pellets all you are feeding?>
I had put it into the hospital tank for about 16 hours but
nothing seems to happen.
<What did you do while the fish was there
the other parrot fish is plump and easily eats food. I have
provided it with antibiotics but the matter is still not
improving. it is not able to swim properly and sometimes pant at
the surface. I also increased the oxygen supply. Please tell me a
<I think we need more information before a solution can be
revealed. Are you feeding wet-frozen foods, or only dry? What are
your Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate levels? If you'd provide
information as to what you are
feeding, as well as water quality, I think we can get this guy
Does your fish look bloated at all? Please read here on Blood
Parrots (I'm assuming this is what you mean, as opposed to a
True Parrot Fish -- please correct me if I am wrong!:
and those linked pages below the title of this article.
Re: my parrot fish turns upside down and does not eat
food. -- 01/03/10
I am feeding them pellets, blood worms <Are these wet-frozen
or freeze dried?> and coz <not a word...> I have turtles
I am giving them turtle food. The other fishes also like to eat
<It's best to mix wet-frozen foods/vegetables in with
those dry foods to avoid constipation/digestive problems.>
When the fish was there in the hospital tank I dissolved general
aid medicine anti itch
<Do you mean Ich? Why are you treating for that?>
and an antibiotic which the local fish dealer told me about
<What antibiotic? Didn't you say the fish was only in the
tank for sixteen hours? Even if your fish has a bacterial
infection, what you did wasn't long enough to help it. Most
antibiotics prescribe a treatment period of at least a few days,
not a few hours.>
Did you get the photos
<Yes, I did, but these aren't especially revealing....
looks like an upside-down fish. You're not giving me some of
the information I need in order to help you. I really need to
know what your water parameters are (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate).
Did you read where I referred you? Please read where I referred
you and use the search bar available on WWM to help yourself.
You're treating this fish for illness he does not have, then
throwing him in a tank full of antibiotics for less than a day,
etc., and what you need to be doing is reading so that you can
make educated decisions. What you're doing now isn't
going to help your fish. Please feel free to write back after
you've read where I've referred you and you can provide
me with numbers for those levels I mentioned earlier. In the
meantime, you can feed your fish the inside of peas -- take
cooked peas and squish the insides out of the shell, and feed to
your fish. This may help if the problem is constipation. I'm
hesitant to tell you to do anything because I don't have the
whole picture right now -- you're not providing data re:
water quality, and most problems fish encounter are directly
related to water quality.
Re: my parrot fish turns upside down and does not eat
food. -- 01/03/10
I read in the web page how to care for the blood parrot. Actually
I cannot check the water level quality because the testing
equipments are not available at the local aquarium shop. But I do
regularly change water after15 days or so. I have two internal
filters and one under gravel biological filtration unit. The tank
capacity is 85 litres and the fishes are pair of Koi carps, pair
of silver dollar, pair of Gourami an iridescent shark and a
sucker mouth catfish and 4 turtles. The foods which are mentioned
in the previous mail are freeze dried. Also the other parrot
keeps pushing this parrot. the picture showed an upside down
fish, it is the real problem .Thanks for your advice.
<This tank is 85 liters? I hope that is a typo. All of those
fish are in there? This tank is seriously overstocked. I would
find a shop with test kits as soon as you can. How long have you
had this setup with these fish?
I'm really very surprised that this is the first problem
you've seen! As for the food, you really should be feeding
the wet-frozen foods as well; switching over to wet-frozen
bloodworms rather than your freeze dried would help, and feeding
the peas like I mentioned earlier would help. I think your
problem here is water quality. Turtles are very, very messy, and
it's usually advised not to mix them with fish due to that
fact. Other than that, you don't mention how large these fish
are, but some of the fish you have can grow to one or two feet
long. Are you planning an upgrade? I would begin to plan this as
soon as you can, and try and come up with a plan to separate the
turtles from the fish. Please read re: each of the species
you're keeping here on WWM using the Google search tool if
you have any questions about the ultimate needs of the animals
Re: my parrot fish turns upside down and does not eat
Thanks Melinda once again.
My parrot fish has eaten boiled peas as you have said.
It has also started swimming properly but when it eats the other
parrot attacks him and he sways to the other end.
<These can be aggressive fish, and you've got two of them,
rather than a larger group. The weaker of the two has become a
target for the stronger one.>
I have made plans to separate the fishes and the turtles and I am
also planning to make a bigger aquarium for my fishes of 172.5
<This is not large enough -- you have the Koi who will need
much, much more than this all by themselves.> I cannot afford
a bigger aquarium due to lack of space but its twice bigger than
the older one and the turtles will also not cause any
<The turtles may be perfectly nice and friendly to the fishes,
but their waste is what's going to cause the problems, and
probably already is. You can't see this because you're
not testing, but I strongly advise you to purchase tests and see
what effect overcrowding and mis-stocking is having on your water
quality, and understand that water quality directly affects your
Please advise me how I can stop the war between the two fish
because and I think it is the secondary problem. The first has
<I suspect the first problem has not been solved. You will
begin to see more problems in more fish because this tanks is an
accident waiting to happen! As for the secondary problem, I would
remove the sick fish to a cycled hospital tank and allow him to
get better in good water quality, and return him once he's
strong enough to handle the aggression of the second fish.
However, these are Cichlids. As they grow and mature, problems
with territoriality and aggression are going to worsen. Again, I
ask that you look into the needs of these fish on WWM --
you'll find that many fish you keep do not mix -- in terms of
required temperature, water chemistry, "attitude" --
territoriality/aggression, needs as far as behavior
(single-specimen vs. schooling), etc. I would read, and then pare
down my stock accordingly until you have fish which can actually
live in this tank.
Parrot fighting 1/4/10
I have two parrot fishes and the bigger one always keeps
attacking the smaller parrot. When the smaller one eats it
attacks him and pushes him into the corner. To get saved the
other parrot pretends as if it is dead and keep lying in a
corner. And now it has been his habit to lie in a corner. The
other parrot also attacks other fishes. It disturbs the whole
silent atmosphere of the aquarium.
<Please refer to my other response to you today -- I think
these problems stem from over- and mis-stocking and the
aggression and water quality issues which accompany those
Re Parrot Eating 1/6/2010
This was the first time my weaker parrot was eager to eat food
since the last two months I was giving all the fishes boiled peas
and they seemed so tasty to him that he snatched all the pieces
for himself even after he was suffering attacks from the bigger
parrot. I am so happy!! I want to ask weather it is safe for the
carps to eat peas? How much peas are sufficient for a parrot fish
of size 3 1/2 inch? He ate at least 6 pieces.
<I'd feed him three or four over the course of a day. The
peas are supposed to help his digestive system -- to assist him
in passing any blockages he may have. They're just fine for
the Koi, as well. If your fish will eat them, it's a good way
to introduce some moist foods into their diet. Also, getting them
onto the wet-frozen bloodworms, rather than freeze-dried, will
Blood Parrot Problems 10/22/09
Found your website yesterday, newbie with gifted aquarium here, having
some problems with my adopted Blood Parrots.
First, some background: Two medium size Blood Parrots, rescue fish from
a relative, were swimming in 6 inches of water with no aeration,
filtration, or food for approx. 10 days. They had been there under
deteriorating conditions much longer than that. Tank had one large
piece of driftwood and several large aquarium rocks (don't know
what type) suitable for making caves. "Good" news was that
the tank was 45 gal. with enough space for them to survive. Rinsed
tank, rocks, wood, and gravel out with tap/hose water (bad move I think
with hindsight and a little research, but at least I didn't use
detergents), set up at my house with same wood, rocks, and gravel,
treated tap water with AmQuel Plus from local pet store. One airstone
in back right, heater in back right set to 76 degrees F initially.
Both Parrots were shy and retiring at first, but then started coming
around quickly. After one week and no problems, added six 1.5"
zebra Danios which the Parrots promptly ate four of, the remaining two
must have been tops in their gene pool (no pun intended).
<Do bear in mind that the use of live fish as food isn't a good
idea, and can cause a variety of problems. There's nothing to be
done about accidents, but don't repeat the mistake by adding more
Fed both Danios and Parrots with goldfish flakes exclusively, approx.
every 12 hours. No water changes (I didn't even know about water
changes), no topping off, no gravel vac. No problems (or so I thought)
with anything for the next two weeks.
Then, three days ago, I noticed the larger BP (approx. 5" long)
staying in top left corner of tank, seemed to be breathing heavier than
usual. Did a little reading (always a dangerous thing). Next day did
approx. 33% water change treated with AmQuel Plus. Planted 5 groupings
of Elodea/Anacharis (multiple strands in each grouping) at same time,
partly for aesthetic reasons, partly as attempt at "natural"
waste remover. Set heater to 78 degrees F. No change in larger BP
behavior, but still responding to feeding and external motion (wiggling
fingers, etc.). Smaller tugged a bit on some of the plants, maybe ate a
very tiny portion. Bought Ammonia test kit and pH test kit (both API
brand). Tested water, got ammonia reading of either 0 ppm or b/w 0 ppm
and 0.25 ppm, exact color code was hard to tell.
<Typically, ammonia test kits go from a clear liquid (no ammonia) to
steadily more coloured (as more ammonia is present). While ammonia
becomes more toxic as concentrations go up, any ammonia above zero is
dangerous. So if the test kit isn't registering zero, if
there's any doubt at all that it isn't clear, then assume a
The pH test color coded at 7.6 (although it could have been higher and
not registered, 7.6 was as high as the color chart went).
<Blood Parrots are just fine, indeed happiest, between pH 7.5 and
Next day noticed my other smaller (4") BP sidling up to larger in
top left corner, thought maybe trying to stimulate it in some way.
Later that same day then noticed both had gone down to bottom of tank
and inserted themselves into a favorite cave slot, together. Larger BP
was now lying on its side or leaning over at a 45 degree angle. Soon
smaller one shifted to adjacent cave slot very near and turned itself
completely sideways and shimmied into the slot. Today both still
hanging out at bottom, larger either at 45 degrees, on side, or pointed
down at various places in bottom of tank, also less responsive, made
attempts to eat, then sank/swam back down to bottom and is staying
there, on its side. Smaller BP more responsive, swimming around more,
more interested in eating, but still inserted most of the time into
various slots in the rocks. Danios still darting around with no
problems. Went to local (non-chain) pet store, described behavior and
setup, and was told to add something called TLC Super Water Conditioner
as they used it in their tanks on a regular basis.
<Can't think of any reason why this would help. Provided you add
water conditioner to each new bucket of water added to the tank,
there's no obvious reason to add extra water conditioner between
water changes. It doesn't do anything all that clever.>
Told to try to feed larger BP some water sprite to aid in digestion.
Also told to vary diet with vegetables such as zucchini, shelled peas,
and cichlid pellets.
<That's certainly good advice.>
My questions: What's wrong, obviously. I've quickly discovered
that I've used up my knowledge base for this particular set of
problems. This site has so much info just on BP treatment that I'm
afraid to just pull out bits of recommendations that fit some of my
symptoms. Did I kill all the beneficial bacteria with my cleaning and
hit an ammonia spike with the aquarium trying to cycle back to
<Probably not. Unless you put old media under a very hot tap or
clean with something like detergent, the bacteria are generally quite
tough. They might be knocked back by certain things, like being left in
a switched-off filter for a few hours, but they normally bounce back.
That said, if you detect non-zero levels of ammonia, and recently did
something to the filter, then it may well take a few days, perhaps a
week, for the bacterial population to grow back to its original level.
In the meantime, cut back (maybe, stop) feeding and do some extra
little water changes, 10-25%, every day or two through the
I bought/was sold a sponge filter today but haven't put it in yet
as I 'm unsure (obviously) about starting a new bacteria process
without addressing the existing problems.
<Don't replace all the filter media at once. But it is safe to
replace up to half the filter media per 6 weeks. Why 6 weeks? Because
that's how long it'll take for the bacteria on the old half of
the media to colonise the new half of the filter media.>
Did they get constipated from exclusively eating the wrong food?
<Can happen. Green foods like peas, plus live foods with lots of
chitin (live brine shrimps and live daphnia) work great as laxatives.
Don't use any dried foods at all, since these have the reverse
(Think what would happen if you just ate dried beef jerky...)
Can they be showing excess ammonia symptoms with it being so close to
<Yes; cichlids are extremely sensitive to ammonia.>
Don't I need to test for nitrate and nitrite amounts next, to
determine if those levels are high?
<You could do. Personally, I consider the nitrite test kit the most
By definition, if you have non-zero nitrite, then the ammonia half of
the biological cycle must be happening. By contrast, you can get
ammonia from tap water, in which it tells you nothing about the filter.
Furthermore, an immature filter may produce lots of ammonia but
little/no nitrite. That said, either test kit is better than none at
BTW, now I'm obsessively testing the water and still getting either
0 ppm or less than 0.25 ppm ammonia, I still can't make out color
wise if it's reading zero or just slightly above zero, neither can
other people I've asked to eyeball it. The pH is still reading 7.6
(or possibly higher).
<As I say, this pH is fine, provided the water is hard as well. Fish
care rather more about hardness than pH. Blood Parrots want a hardness
above 10 degrees dH, and a pH between 7.5 and 8.>
As an aside, I do agree with other posters/comments that the Blood
Parrots do seem to have distinct personalities and I hope I haven't
mucked things up for them so much as to be irreversible. This post
sounds a bit long winded, but it seems you all need as much information
as possible to make an informed analysis. Thanks for your time and
help. Ed F.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Parrot Cichlids, beh. -- 09/03/09
Sorry to ask a question very similar to another that's already been
asked but I'm really worried about our two parrot cichlids.
They've always been pretty outgoing and spend a lot of time
swimming up and down their tank as we walk through the room. Lately,
however, they've become really nervous and dive for their hiding
places to the point where they've almost knocked themselves out a
couple of times.
<Can be various things. Most commonly environmental stress, so check
ammonia, nitrite, temperature. Since these are basically Central
American cichlids, you need to make sure the water isn't acidic or
too soft, since both of these things will cause them to become skittish
(and ill). Aim for a pH around 7.5 to 8, and 10-25 degrees dH. But
other factors to consider are ambient noise, since this carries into
fish tanks and scares them. Loud TV sets, slamming doors, general
child-induced mayhem are all the kinds of things that make fish go
loopy. Next up, think about sunlight. Direct sunlight isn't
something most fish appreciated. On the whole, they like shady
conditions. Have the fish grown much since you've bought them?
These cichlids certainly need something around the 55 gallon/210 litre
size upwards given their adult size of 8 inches/20 cm, and in small,
cramped tanks fish become nervous. Finally, did you add anything to the
Ornaments for example? Cute bubble-blowing mermaids might appeal to
you, but some fish find them very distracting. Likewise additional air
stones, new filters, etc.>
They are eating without problem, they're not lethargic, we've
tested the water quality and all is well within range. We've tried
changing the water as well. The tank isn't in direct sunlight and
there's no exterior noise.
The temperate is 79 degrees.
They are sharing the tank with a Bottlenose Catfish and a Royal
Whiptail - these are pretty small just now and certainly don't
bother the Cichlids.
<Assume you mean a Bristlenose Catfish, and if that's the case,
I agree, neither it nor a Whiptail should be causing problems. However,
you get the odd specimen of some Loricariidae that takes to scraping
the mucous off the flanks of large cichlids, typically Otocinclus but
I've heard Hypostomus have pulled this stunt, too. If you see
scratches on the sides of your fish, then that's a
Could there be anything else that we could / should try? I would really
appreciate your help.
Re: Parrot Cichlids, hlth.-env. 9/5/09
Thanks very much for the advice.... I really appreciate you taking the
time to reply.
<Not a problem.>
We've checked all of the levels, including ammonia, nitrate and
temperature. Temperature was showing to be around 74 degrees so
we've increased it a little.
<Good; around 25 C/77 F suits most cichlids well.>
The pH and water hardness is within limits.
<By which you mean a pH around 7.5, and hardness somewhere on the
"moderate hard" to "hard" range? I mention this
because acidification is one common reason fish become jittery. You
might care to test the pH at different times of the day, at least
before the lights go on and then at the end of the day. See if the pH
is stable. This is more of an issue with tanks that have live plants
than tanks without, because photosynthesis can have a profound impact
There is minimal noise in the room - its mostly quiet as I tend to read
rather than watch TV and there is no direct sunlight.
We've only had the fish for around 8 weeks and they've not
really grown in that time.
<Surprised; in a couple months, juvenile cichlids should grow fairly
The largest Parrot Cichlid is around 4 inches and we have two of them
in a 180 litre tank. The catfish are just an inch or so, so pretty
small at the moment. The only think we have added recently (about a
month ago) is some wood which is especially for aquariums. We've a
couple of plastic plants and a couple of ornaments which were in the
tank at the aquatic centre where we bought them.
I did mean Bristlenose (oops!) and there's no sign of any scratches
on the Cichlids. They are out and about in the tank at times but dive
for cover when we walk past. This is really unusual behaviour for them
normally swim to the side of the tank when we walk past.
<Catfish often are jittery, especially in tanks with lights but
little in the way of cover. By "cover" I mean things like
floating plants; the odd rock or plastic plant won't do much to
make a catfish feel secure. They
really need to be constantly covered by some source of shading.>
I'm really concerned because we did have 3 Bamboo Shrimp in the
tank until a week or so ago and these seemed fine but died
<These shrimps are sensitive to poor water quality, in particular a
lack of oxygen, so review filtration. For Parrot Cichlids, I'd want
a filtration system rated at 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover
per hour. So
assuming a minimum suitable tank size of 55 gallons, this would be 6 x
55 = 330 gallons per hour. Check water circulation is adequate as
Hang-on-the-back filters for example tend to have the inlet and outlet
close together, and a single unit is often a bad choice for big tanks.
If you put a bit of flake on the substrate at the far end of the tank,
quickly get washed away, or does it kind of sit there? If the latter,
you likely have poor circulation, and that means oxygen isn't being
evenly distributed. For cichlids, there's a good argument for
either having two or
more HOB filters, one at each end, or a big canister, with the inlet at
one end and the spray bar at the other.>
Having checked everything in the tank and the water quality, etc, I am
really at a loss as to what to try next.
<Honestly sounds like water quality issues. Try doing a nitrite test
after feeding the fish, say, 30 minutes later. Check the nitrate as
well. Have a look how clean the substrate it: if it's dirty, then
filtration might not
be as good as you think, and oxygenation could be an issue because the
lower level of the tank is receiving less circulation than it
We have taken water samples from the tank to the aquatic centre and
they have confirmed that all of the levels are well within limits.
<Depends how they define "limits". A lot of test kits and
retailers suppose "low" levels of ammonia and nitrite are
safe, or at least tolerable. They are not. You MUST have ZERO ammonia
and nitrite at all times, and for cichlids, the nitrate level should be
well under 50 mg/l, and preferably less than 20 mg/l. For whatever
reason, cichlids are peculiarly sensitive to nitrate, and while it
doesn't kill them immediately, it does make them prone to diseases,
particularly Hexamita and Hole-in-the-Head, neither of which are easily
treatable but commonly fatal.>
Re: Parrot Cichlids 9/5/09
We've done another test for General and Carbonate Hardness. The GH
(General Hardness) is 2dH and Carbonate Hardness (KH) is 11dH.
<Odd combination. Are you sure these are right? It's important
to understand that what aquarists call "hardness" isn't
(usually) the total mineral content of the water, but selected bits of
it. General hardness is
a measurement of (chiefly) calcium and magnesium salts, whereas
carbonate hardness is specifically carbonate and bicarbonate salts.
Adding the two gives you something called Total Hardness, and
that's somewhat equivalent to the total mineral content of the
water (Total Dissolved Solids, or TDS).
Anyway, my point is that your overall hardness is fairly high, and the
carbonate hardness level at least is very high, and should secure very
stable pH levels.>
Our pH levels can sometimes go up to 8 and so we've been adding 7.2
Buffer to the water on a regular basis.
<Ah, have you by chance been adding the buffering salt mix to tap
water? Is your tap water passed through a domestic water softener? Or
perhaps simply soft anyway? A pH-up buffer will typically raise the
carbonate hardness since this is what maintains a basic (i.e., above 7)
pH. However, adding pH buffers without fully understanding what
you're doing and why can lead to problems.>
The pH is 7.4 currently. Its looking as though the water is way too
<What's the hardness of your tap water, before you treat
Might you possibly have some advice on how to redress the balance?
<What I suggest you do is have a read of this article:
About halfway down there's a recipe for Rift Valley salt mix. It
raises both carbonate and general hardness, and fixes the pH nicely
around 7.5 to 8. For Central American cichlids, like your Parrots, you
should find a
half-dose ample, though the full dose would be fine too. Either way,
it's very easy to make, costs pennies, and works better than adding
Thank you so much for all your help. We really appreciate it.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Parrot Cichlids, sys. 9/6/09
We've tested our tap water and the GH is 15 dH. KH is 10 dH.
<Ideal for Parrot Cichlids.>
The pH of our tapwater is 7.5.
We don't have a water softener built in.
What we've been doing is adding 'Tap Safe' to the tap water
and then adding the buffer to that water and storing it in containers
so that we can change the water on a regular basis - we change the
water at least once a week, sometimes more - could we be overdoing the
<Weekly water changes are fine for most fish. More than weekly can
be good, provided water chemistry and temperature are stable. But if
you're "noisy" when doing the changes, then overdoing
such things might alarm them. That said, I don't find water changes
stress fish unduly, and usually find them readily taking food again
within an the hour.>
I'm wondering if we are stressing out the fish by changing the
water too often?
<Doesn't seem terribly likely to me, to be honest. But
there's an easy test: for the next month, do just weekly 25% water
changes, and see what happens.>
Thanks for the article and the recipe for the Rift Valley Salt Mix - we
will give that a try. Should we do a major water change using the Salt
<No; just do your regular water changes, let's say 20-25% this
week, adding to each bucket of water you add the appropriate amount of
Rift Valley salt mix.>
Re: Urgent problem with Gourami
Thought you might be able to help me with a new problem!
First of all - that baby Gourami is still swimming about and the
abscess appears to have healed! I'm thrilled that
"Piglet" has made it - didn't take too long to get
attached to her/him!
NOW THEN - my new problem is with our blood parrot
cichlid Paulie - I just went in to feed everyone and noticed
that Paulie has developed a lump on his head just above and between his
eyes - he looks like he's sprouting a horn or something! I've
become especially attached to our "parrot head" cichlids
Paulie and Buffet - please help if you can.
<Blood Parrot cichlids are hybrids, and as such, they're much
less predictable that true species and much more prone to developmental
abnormalities, so things like simple deformities are a possibility.
things to consider are physical damage caused by fighting, and a
disease called Hole-in-the-head. Blood Parrot cichlids are large,
territorial cichlids, and you'll have problems keeping two males in
a tank less than, say, 55 gallons, and if kept in a too-small tank they
may fight, and in the process damage themselves. Finrot is a bacterial
infection that sometimes sets in when fish are physically damaged, but
is more often caused by water quality problems. It looks like what it
is: patches of dead skin and blood.>
These are actually my son's fish which I "inherited" care
of when he went off to college. He's home now & just took care
of vacuuming and a water change in just the last couple of days. I
noticed the temperature is
slightly up but still within the "safe" range - no food
changes - not sure where the ph & alkaline levels are at.
<Can't really advise without knowing about the environment, and
a photo is essential when talking about lumps and bumps on fish. But
please, keep photos at less than 500 kb each.>
My son will look into this when he returns tomorrow - but I'm not
content to wait - I have to be sure Paulie will be ok!
Thanks for your time & expertise.
Parrot Cichlid With Strange Growth on Throat
Hello. If you could help me I would be ever so grateful. I have a
beautiful red parrot fish and not everyone on another forum is
happy to answer any questions on its health that I have.
His water conditions are perfect but for 8 days he has not eaten
anything and shies/hides away from me. I put this down to a knock
on his tank but I now fear it is something more sinister.
Under his mouth in the loose folds of skin that Parrot fish have
he has a white lump. For all the world it looks like gravel but I
fear it may be a tumour are perhaps fungi. I have been treating
the tank with Melafix and Pimafix since I noticed this lump. I
have also done gentle water changes to see if that helps. On the
whole I am leaving him alone as I don't want to stress him
out. He was never a shy fish before and would attack you through
the glass if you walked in front of his tank. I have included
some pictures for you to ponder over. I thank you in advance for
taking the time to read this and look forward to hearing from you
in due course. Regards
<Thanks for the photos. Very interesting symptoms on your
little parrot fish. There may be a tumor on the thyroid gland.
This is caused by lack of iodine. If you have soft water then you
may need to add some minerals to the water, especially if you
have very pure water. The second cause may be a problem to the
second set of jaws called the pharyngeal bone. They may have been
damaged or gotten infected from eating something in the tank. Net
the fish out to see if there is something blocking the mouth and
last ditch solution would be to isolate the fish and treat with a
broad spectrum antibiotic like Furanace. The parrot cichlid is
not a fish found in nature and sometimes comes down with unusual
Blood red parrot fish with white pimple under
Thanks for this site, it has helped me out so many times. . Here is my
question. I have a 46 gallon bow front freshwater tank. I add 1 table
spoon of marine salt to it per 5 gallons.
<Why are you adding marine salt mix? By itself, salt can cause
problems for some cichlids in the long term, such a bloating. Would
recommend a "cichlid salt mix" you could make very cheaply by
adding a little Epsom salt and
Baking soda to the marine salt mix. The result is something much
healthier for cichlids. See here:
Also much cheaper than using salt by itself!>
I do a 20% water change biweekly. My recently purchased BR parrot (
have had for about 3 weeks) acts fine, eats fine but has a white
bump/pimple on the left side under the mouth, it has red dots on it
(the bump) like it is irritated.
<Such bumps are typically abrasions caused by digging into gravel or
more often fighting.>
I know that my fish likes to dig in the substrate for leftover sinking
pellets I use to feed my loaches, so I have assumed it is an injury
<Could be; cichlids like smooth pea gravel or smooth silica sand
best of all. Avoid coarse gravel if your fish likes to dig, and
certainly don't use anything jagged.>
I also know that it is a hybrid and thought it was maybe a unique
condition due to it being a hybrid
Should I be worried and treat with Melafix or leave alone as the BR has
had the bump for at least a couple of weeks, and it doesn't look
<If there's dead white skin but no red, chances are the fish
will heal quickly. Melafix might help, but good water quality is
essential. If you see any redness, then I'd treat a bit more
aggressively, e.g., with Finrot medication that works, such as Maracyn
or eSHa 2000.>
I don't want to rush in and put unnecessary chemicals in a tank,
however, I want to be responsible and give the best care possible.
Thanks for all your help
<Happy to help, Neale.>
Losing Parrot Cichlids 4/18/09
I have 6 blood parrots. About a week ago they started getting white
cluster bumps on their heads.
I did a 1/2 water change and started to treat them with Quick Cure for
5 days. I also put a new filter system on.
now I have lost 2 of them. They are in a 165 gallon tank.
What do you suggest I can do? Hope you can help me before I lose
anymore. Thanks Bonny
< Check the water quality. When you changes the filters you may have
lost your biological filtration and you fish may be suffering from
ammonia spikes. The quick cure is a high copper solution that can be
deadly to fish and also to the bacteria that provide the same
Check the ammonia and nitrites. They should be zero. The nitrates
should be under 20 ppm. The white bumps may be a bacterial infection.
Antibiotics like Nitrofurazone should work on this bacteria but once
again affect the biological filtration. Do a 50% water change and
vacuum the gravel. I would recommend treating the tank with the
antibiotic as per the directions on the package. After three days do a
50% water change and add fresh carbon to remove the excess medication.
Then add Dr Tim's One and Only to replenish the bacteria needed for
the biological filtration..-Chuck>
Blood Parrot With Growth on Forehead
I attached a picture showing the growth The 1st day the fish
looked like someone took a spoon and flattened out some mashed
potatoes In between its eyes Then 2nd day a growth started to
appear with white spots Then third day is the picture is attached
I looked closely and when the fish got excited I noticed blood
coming from the infected area.
The fish lives in a one hundred gallon tank with cichlids and
other fish alike its own.
I raised the tanks temperature to 95 not sure if this will help
I'm trying to keep this from spreading to other fish in the
tank Any help would be greatly appreciated
Thanks Mark Byrns
< Looks like there may have been some trauma to the area.
Could of bumped his head on an ornament the area got infected. I
would recommend placing the fish in a hospital tank and treating
with Nitrofuranace. If not better in a few days then send a
better picture of the head if possible for a better assessment of
Sick Blood Parrot Cichlid -- 03/02/09 Help! I
have a large Blood Red Parrot Cichlid in a 55 gal tank with 4
other mixed cichlids, 2 Plecos and one Synodontis Catfish. All of
my other fish are fine, but the Parrot has awful, gelatinous
bubbles all over her face and her scales are lifting. This
started with some black discoloration around her mouth and head
several weeks ago. A few weeks ago it started getting worse with
the scales lifting. I consulted with people at my local fish
stores and they all thought it sounded bacterial or fungal even
though they hadn't seen anything like it and suggested trying
different medications. I tried treating with Kanaplex. Then when
that didn't work, I tried Maracyn two and Maroxy. Those
didn't work either and it's gotten progressively worse. I
am now on my fourth and last dose of trying Erythromycin. The
water quality is good and I have been doing water changes between
treatments and as specified with each treatment. Still she is
declining. I don't know when she last ate. She is still
upright and defends her "cave" in an ornament, not
allowing any fish in except the catfish or Plecos. She
doesn't come out. She used to hide in there a lot, but would
come out to eat and swim around. My other cichlids did pick on
her some and she's missing scales on her sides. I thought
that might be what started some sort of infection, but really
have no clue. I've never seen anything like this. I'm
attaching a photo. Sorry about the quality, but my digital camera
isn't the greatest and I didn't want to stress the fish
out by trying to get her out of her ornament. Can you advise,
please? Thanks, Robin < Thanks for the photos. Your fish
really has a very nasty bacterial infection. I would recommend a
hospital tank with clean warm water around 82 F. Treat with a
double dose of Nitrofuranace. Do a 50% water change and next day
and then repeat for another day. Look for improvement on the
third day to see if the antibiotics are having any effect. If it
looks like things are getting better then continue treating as
per the dosage on the package. If not then write back and ask for
To Chuck - Re: Blood Red Cichlid Parrot sick Finding
Nitrofuranace to treat Sick Parrot Cichlid 3/3/2009
Thanks for the quick response Chuck. So far I haven't been
able to find Nitrofuranace at my local stores. I'm going to
check more today. I was wondering if I could treat with a product
call Furan2 ? < That is just a different form but should work
as well.> It has a little bit different active ingredient, but
the closest I could find in stock so far. I'm going to have
them order what you suggested, but was wondering if I should try
this while I'm waiting for that to come in. Unfortunately, I
have to work today, but as soon as I get back I'm going to
move her and start treatment. Robin < Start with the Furan -2
as per my recommendation.-Chuck>
Re: To Chuck - Re: Blood Red Cichlid
Parrot sick- Treating Red Parrot Cichlid 03/07/09
Hi again Chuck, So far I've treated with Furan-2 for 2 double
doses and one single dose per your instructions. Tonight I'm
planning on a 25% water change and another single dose. The
"bubbles" look like they may have gone down a little
bit, but she now has pimple like growths in a few places on her
body. I don't know if this is a sign of getting better or
worse. She does come out and swim around some, but I figure that
could just be that there's no one to pick on her now. I'm
sending two pictures. Should I continue treatment as per label?
Thanks a bunch! Robin < Continue as per the label and continue
with the water changes. This takes time so give it a few days to
Please Help!!!!! Jelly Bean Parrot Cichlids Not Eating and
Passing Away 2/25/09 I had 4 Jelly Bean Parrots
for 4 years up until 3 weeks ago and one died. It was paired with
another one and now it has not eaten since. Now there is another one
that is showing same problem. They show no interest in food, stay
pretty much to their self. There is no visible signs of any problem,
water condition all test fine, they are no sores no discoloration. My
other fish 1 kissing Gourami, 2 tetras and a Pleco all are fine. I have
a 75 gal. Tank. Do you have any idea on what the problem is and a
solution. Thank You Sheree < You cichlids sound like they have come
down with an internal infection. Usually this is caused by some stress
to the fish. Water that is too hot or too cold, poor waste management
or even a poor diet. I would recommend doing a 50^ water change, vacuum
the gravel and clean the filters. Treat with a combination of
Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone as per the directions on the package.
Quick treatment is the key to a full recovery.-Chuck.>
Sick Blood Parrot Cichlid 12/30/08 Please help!
<Will try!> I have a large (roughly 8 inch long 2 inch thick)
blood parrot (Mr. Fish) that I have had for nearly 7 years. He is
presently in a 90 gallon tank with 4 other smaller blood parrots. The
tank had gotten somewhat neglected as my mother has been caring for
them (overfeeding them cichlid staple) during a recent move and
renovation of my new home. <Like any cichlid, these hybrid cichlids
are very sensitive to nitrogenous wastes, including nitrate. In
overstocked tanks, even if the filter takes care of ammonia and
nitrite, nitrate can quickly reach dangerous levels (i.e., somewhere
over 20 mg/l, with nitrate becoming quickly toxic to Cichlidae above 50
mg/l).> The first signs of trouble were Mr. Fish looking bloated and
pointing his mouth constantly at the gravel -- not being able to swim
horizontally. He also had a white fungus and grayish stringy material
coming off him. <Classic response to chronic poor water
quality...> His tailfin had nearly eroded and his other fins were
torn to shreds. His eyes were also swollen but clear. When I checked
the ammonia level it was off the charts. PH was also on the acidic
side. <Too low... although hybrids, these fish are essentially
Central American cichlids, so you do need water with a high carbonate
hardness, upwards of 5-7 degrees KH. So long as you take care of that
issue, pH should manage itself, assuming adequate water changes. It is
of course a complete waste of time to concentrate on the pH if you
aren't taking care of carbonate hardness, and if anything, it's
dangerous: water with a basic pH but little carbonate hardness will
quickly acidify between water changes, severely stressing your fish.
How are you hardening the water?> I immediately began partial water
changes until the ammonia level subsided and corrected the PH issue.
Tank also has been treated with salt at appropriate levels so salt was
replaced with the water changes. I began treating the tank with Maracyn
II and Maracyn. This treatment did nothing and Mr. Fish got worse.
<Medication will fix bacterial infections assuming conditions have
been fixed; if the conditions remain bad, then the fish will just keep
getting sick.> He began laying down on the bottom of the tank and
developed cloudiness in the eye that he way laying down on. In
desperation and at the advice of my local pet store's inexperienced
employee I began treating the tank with tetracycline (and removed the
charcoal filter). Amazingly, after 4 tetracycline treatments Mr. Fish
improved somewhat and has begun eating again but still has slight
cloudiness over his eye and is still bloated (his eyes still look
bloated to me also) and he is having trouble swimming upright although
now he is floating rather than laying on the bottom of the tank. He has
taken to sitting under the filter as the water coming down on him seems
to help him to stay upright (smart fish). I've tried feeding him
peas (which I peel the skins from) which he eats but the bloating has
not subsided. Water temp is 78/79 degrees. Should I raise or lower?
Should I treat with Metronidazole and/or Nitrofuranace and/or Clout in
a hospital tank? <Do understand that each drug treats a specific
thing; there's no point (and much risk) randomly adding stuff
without understanding this point. Metronidazole for example is a
treatment for Hexamita and other PROTOZOAN internal parasites;
Nitrofuran drugs are antibiotics for dealing with internal BACTERIAL
infections; and so on. In this case, environmental issues are the key,
and I'd be ensuring zero ammonia/nitrite, low (sub-20 mg/l)
nitrate, and high levels of carbonate hardness before anything else. A
systemic antibiotic like Maracyn should take care of any casual
infections like Finrot.> I'm really worried and don't know
what to do next. I've had this fish for a long time (even had to
battle to get him back in my divorce) and don't want to lose my
favorite pet -- I'd like to help him get better but am worried that
I might make a mistake next. Any help you could offer would be
incredibly appreciated as I am heartsick over this. Thanks for any
help, Dennis <Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Sick Blood Parrot Cichlid 12/31/08
Dear Neale, Thank you for your quick and detailed response. I checked
Nitrite levels yesterday which were somewhat high and of course I'm
having a hard time getting the Ammonia levels to subside (now about 1).
I'll continue to monitor. I did not check the Nitrate level but
will check it tonight and will work on getting Nitrite and Ammonia to
zero with sub 20 Nitrate levels. I hadn't been focusing in on
carbonate hardness at all, but prior to relocating the tank I had
several large limestone rocks in the tank to address hardness -- right
now they are sitting on the floor of my garage. I never expected to
leave the tank at Mom's for long and went with a simpler setup. In
fact I had forgotten why I'd put them in the tank in the first
place. I will place them back in the tank immediately and will also
pick up a commercial hardening salt to speed this along. I'm
certain you are correct and that the water is too soft right now.
Foolish for me not to think of. Thanks again and I'll keep you
updated. In the meanwhile Mr. Fish continues to swim and eat so I am
hopeful for his recovery. Wishing you a very Happy New Year, Dennis
& Mr. Fish <Hello again! Your immediate problem is the ammonia
and nitrite levels, both of which can be managed to some degree by
massive water changes, not feeding the fish, and making sure that the
filter is cleaned and working properly. Whenever the ammonia gets above
0.5 mg/l, change 50% of the water; realistically, this is likely to be
every day or so, at least until things settle down. Within a week or so
you should find the filter working normally and water quality settled.
As for water chemistry, rocks alone tend to be pretty indifferent water
chemistry buffers: buffering is proportional to surface area, and rocks
are large and so have a small surface area to volume ratio compared
with an equivalent mass of coral sand. The best approaches to water
chemistry management are either to add Malawi Salt mix (or its homebrew
equivalent) to the water, or else to incorporate a substantial amount
of coral sand into an undergravel filter or within a compartment of an
external canister filter. If you want to make your own salt mix to
harden the water, a common Rift Valley salt mix is as follows. Per 5
gallons/20 litres 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) 1
tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) 1 teaspoon marine salt mix
(sodium chloride + trace elements) Stir in the bucket, and then when
dissolved, add to the aquarium. Since you don't need water quite so
hard as a Malawi aquarium, a half dose (i.e., this amount per 10
gallons) should be ample. Use your test kits to keep tabs on pH and
hardness, and make adjustments as necessary. Make changes to water
chemistry in small steps so as not to stress any fish. Do see here for
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm Be sure and
understand that domestic water softeners produce water that is not useful for
keeping fish, and also that salt by itself, often sold as "tonic salt" or
"aquarium salt" doesn't raise hardness or pH. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Blood Parrot Cichlid 1/2/09 Thanks again
Neale for all your help, <We're here to help.> I'd given
some bad info earlier on the ammonia level -- it was at 0.25 ppm but is
now at near 0. <Movement in the right direction!> Nitrate level
is at 10ppm and Nitrite at 0.50 ppm. <Much better, though still some
way to go. Ammonia really does need to be zero for any degree of
success, and even trace amounts of nitrite make keeping fish much more
difficult, at least under freshwater conditions (it's different in
saltwater tanks).> Hardness level was at 3 and ph at 7.0 so I added
a commercial hardener and am raising ph. <OK; but do concentrate on
hardness rather than pH. Adding pH buffering "potions" will
temporarily raise the pH, but in an unstable tank the effect can be
very short term. If you raise the carbonate hardness, you'll find
pH takes care of itself automatically.> Ultimately I'll replace
I also added some additional stress zyme in hopes of jump starting the
process of getting the biologicals back on track. <Personally,
wouldn't waste money on anything like Stress Zyme. You likely have
lots of bacteria in the filters; the problem is getting the tank
stabilised. Once that happens, the bacteria will look after themselves.
Fishkeeping is a cheap and easy hobby if you understand which bits you
have to watch and which bits can be left on autopilot.> I'll
check levels again later. Mr. Fish has however begun floating on his
side with the bloated part of his body sticking out of the water when
he is not active. When he does swim and eat he seems more active and
stronger than he's been now that water quality is improving.
<Likely will improve as water quality improves.> His eye
continues to improve but I'm very worried about him floating. Is it
possible he has some kind of an intestinal blockage I should be worried
about? <Very possible; foods such as tinned peas and live brine
shrimp can help clear blockages. Do see here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/gldfshmalnut.htm> How long
should I wait to see if he improves before taking any more drastic
measures? Should I fast him for a few days? <Fasting his for 7 days
would not only be safe but sensible.> Anything is appreciated.
I'm still panicked out here... Thanks,
<Good luck, Neale.>