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FAQs on Jack Dempseys Health 1

Related Articles: Jack Dempseys, Oscars, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Jack Dempseys 1, Jack Dempseys 2, & FAQs on: Jack Dempseys Identification, Jack Dempseys Behavior, Jack Dempseys Compatibility, Jack Dempseys Selection, Jack Dempseys Systems, Jack Dempseys Feeding, Jack Dempseys Reproduction, & Oscars 2, Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Ailing Jack Dempsey - Please Help Diagnose Treatment      5/5/16
Dear WetWebMedia Crew,
My beautiful old Jack Dempsey Jabrobro has fallen ill and need some guidance. I purchased him and his mate Eloise 4.5 years ago and confirmed recently that they were both around/at least 3 years old when I got them, so they're getting up there (7-8 years old). Anyways, about Jabrobro:
Ailing Jabrobro <https://youtu.be/2tWtFAtx0CU>
<Age may be part of this, though the crooked back suggests something longer-term has been going on for a while.>
He's been acting odd for the past 2 weeks or so, and I've copied the above
video link that will do my description justice. He's been laying on his side down by the substrate or on top of live plants, swimming a little labored, kind of wobbly and ending up kind of sideways while swimming. In the past couple of days he's definitely gotten a little bit worse: ending up sideways and generally it looks like he's having some difficulty swimming upright, and seems to show some kind of bend to his body. Some positives are that he is rather alert, has been eating pretty normally, has decent color, and will show some courtship behavior with Eloise (e.g. gill
flaring, circling around, etc.).
I did a 40% wc last night and added 5 teaspoons of Epsom salt (all I was willing to put in) which I recall doing for sick tanks back when I worked in a pet store in Austin a decade ago and it always seemed to help. I read through different sets of FAQs on your site and ended up doing 1 teaspoon per 10 gallons of Epsom salt as I was too worried about overdoing it.
Please let me know if I should do more or and how often. I haven't upped the heat, though we used to do that as well. They're sitting at 80-81 degrees right now. Also, the tank lights will remain off to de-stress.
<Will direct you to some reading re: Epsom salt, dosages; here...
Would be leery of raising the heat too much. More heat means less oxygen, and at the same time, fish respire faster in warmer water, so they need more oxygen while placing more demands on the filter. Unless there's a darn good reason to change the thermostat setting, your standard 25 C/77 F is fine.>
*Anyways, I need some guidance here*. It certainly doesn't look great, but I'm hoping he's treatable. He doesn't appear physically bloated, but that's the only concrete disease that seems to kind of match his behavior. I unfortunately have to travel for the weekend tomorrow night and wont be back till Monday night. I will likely do another small wc tonight (10-20%) and add some more salt, which will be the last aid I can administer. I can direct my roommate to act if need be in my absence.
I'm definitely a little distressed over this and could certainly use any ideas from you. Any idea what's ailing him, and more specifically, how to treat, would be greatly appreciated. I can make a run to PetCo to grab any suggested medicine if you all think I need to go that route. I also have some MelaFix but don't really think that can help in this scenario.
<If it ever helps; can cause problems. Not sure this fish has something that can be treated easily.>
Other stats: He lives in a 55 gallon planted tank with his female mate and a large common Pleco. I haven't run any water tests (never do), but I stay on top of water changes every two weeks and they have been happy and healthy for years.
<Really do need some water chemistry and quality stats. This fish looks stressed, perhaps from its environment, perhaps from something else, like diet. Whirling Disease for example comes into aquaria via food, specifically live food, and thiamin-deficiency can cause all kinds of problems with predatory fish. If your fish has only eaten flake and frozen, these two issues are unlikely, but "feeder" goldfish for example completely through everything out of the window. They're a great way to get who-knows-what parasites and pathogens into your fish, while containing fat
and thiaminase that cause serious health problems. In the UK nobody uses feeders any more, but in the US for some reason they persist, so I'm mentioning this for our American readers. Cichlids do need some fresh greens, and again, lack of vitamins and fibre can cause real problems. The bottom line is your fish is obviously sick, but not from anything immediately diagnosable. That being the case, I'd be reviewing the environment and diet first of all.>
Thanks for your help and here's to hoping Jabrobro recovers!
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Dempsey......? /RMF      12/17/15
I have a male and female Jack Dempsey they have been in the same tank for months now and everything was good but today when I got home my male was rolling around on the bottom of the tank is something wrong with him did she hurt him?
<.... Please read, re-read what you've sent here. There is NO data.... how could anyone tell anything from what has been presented? Have you read on WWM re Jack Dempseys? Bob Fenner>
Jack Dempsey /Neale      12/17/15

I have a male Jack Dempsey that is laying in the bottom of the tank sometimes he just lays there sometimes he does barrel rolls. I don't know what happened everything was fine yesterday morning.
<If this really has come out of the blue, and he's been in perfect health up until now, suspect a sudden change in the environment. For the worse, obviously! Lack of heat is one, and poison of some sort is the other.
Review, and act accordingly. Poisons are best dealt with via substantial water changes and installing fresh carbon in the filter. Otherwise, if there's been a gradual decline in health, perhaps with the fish being less interested in food, hiding, or displaying weaker colours, then a slow decline in water quality is probable. Nitrate needs to be as low as practical, ideally below 20 mg/l, and certainly below 40 mg/l. Cichlids are very sensitive to nitrate. Again, review, and act accordingly.
Cheers, Neale.>

Jack; hlth.       11/18/14
Hello Crew!
Just recently came across your website. Thank you for providing such great information.
My Jack Dempsey is about 2 years old. He lives alone (chased his sister to death) 50 gallon tank.
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed what looked like a couple scales were "flaking", like our skin peeling after a sunburn.
Now, it looks like he may have lost the scales, or rubbed them off??
<Mmm; something amiss here... NO3? Other metabolite/s? What added recently? Anything live? What decor used?>

I have no idea what it could be or how best to treat it.
I'm really hoping you all may have an answer for me. Please see attached photos.
Thank you,
Jodee Adkins
<Do you have water quality test kits, results there from? In the meanwhile... water changes. No medicines to use here; yet.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Fwd: Jack      11/18/14
Hi Bob!
Thank you for your response. I was slack on the water changes....Just did a big cleaning of the tank and the decor.
<Ah, good>
The Jack seems happy. I give him blood worms once a week, other than that - there has been no changes to the tank in over 6 months. I could do a water test, but since I just changed more than 50%, I'm not sure how
accurate it would be or provide an answer. I'm sorry I didn't test it before I changed the water.
I don't think it's "ick" because it hasn't spread. It's the same few scales.
<Not a biological disease; but environmental>

I thought I could do another water change in a few days??
<Yes and yes>
Thank you,
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Fwd: Jack
Thank you, Bob. I appreciate your help!
Thank you,
<Certainly welcome Jodee. B>

Jack Dempsey problem     5/29/14
I have 2 Jack Dempseys which have been living in the same tank, with the same water source, for 10+ years. I recently returned from a 3 week vacation (office mates were feeding them for me) & found the female in bad shape. The male was normal. The water temp was high, almost 80. I took a water sample to the aquarium shop & found that the WQ parameters were ALL bad, low pH, high nitrate and ammonia. Have corrected temp, completed a 25% water change with gravel wash, and another 10% water change 24 hours later. WQ parameters are improving, but nitrate still high (nitrite & hardness are OK). Tank is 30 gal, both fish are ~ 6" in length. Fish's apparent condition is improved, but she's still not eating. I feed cichlid
pellets (this is all they have ever gotten) My immediate concern is that she's not moving around much & staying right at gravel level in the tank. She has a "blister" or " bubble" at the tip of her tail fin. The outside is clear but appears to be filled with a red fluid & is about the size of a sweet pea. Girl at aquarium shop suggested waiting to start any meds until after a few more water changes....any info/suggestion would be
<Looks like classic environmental stress to me, Emily. In other words, provided they're breathing normally and swimming about, they should recover under their own steam. Keep water chemistry steady (should be moderately hard and alkaline for this species) but do a series of water changes, 25% to 50%, every day for the next 3-4 days. That should freshen things up significantly. Give the filter a decent clean, taking care of course not to stress the filter bacteria (if in doubt, just dunk the sponges or noodles in a bucket of aquarium water, squeeze out as much dirt as you can, then return to the filter). Now, as for the blister, there's not a huge amount you can do for this. Antibiotics are a good idea, so that once the blister bursts, it won't get infected. With luck, antibiotics could lessen the underlying causes of the blister too, but that's hard to guarantee because not all blisters are caused by infections. In any event, your retailer made a good suggestion with regard to the "wait and see" approach. In this situation, water quality was almost certainly the problem, likely your fish-babysitters were overfeeding dramatically, and nitrate levels (at
least least) sky-rocketed. Cichlids react appallingly quickly to nitrate levels above 40 mg/l and you really do want this to be below 20 mg/l if possible. Since fin tissue heals quickly even after being damaged (or even bitten away) the problem with your fish here shouldn't be fatal -- provided the infection doesn't spread. As with Finrot, fix the underlying cause -- water quality -- while medicating for the infection (if necessary). So
waiting a few days to see if the fin is healing is not unreasonable. If the fin isn't healing after a few days, or is getting worse, then medicate as per Finrot. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Jack Dempsey problem     5/29/14
Thanks, Neale!
<Most welcome.>
e: Jack Dempsey problem      5/29/14
Hello again....another question...Today the water is better, but the fish is worse. She hasn't eaten anything all week & won't swim up off of the gravel...it seems like the thing on her tail is immobilizing her. Is it OK to feed something live, like brine shrimp? Just so she might be able to get something to eat.
<With cichlids, the basic rule is this: if they're healthy, they will eat.
If they don't want to eat, then something ails them. They can go without for food for weeks, so starving simply isn't an issue -- these are cold-blooded animals, so unlike us and other warm-blooded animals, they
don't need X calories per day just to keep their high speed metabolism going. In other words, review the situation in terms of water quality and chemistry, step up the oxygen level if possible (adding an airstone for example), and possibly raising the water temperature by a degree or two.
The addition of salt can be beneficial to stressed cichlids, around 3-4 gram/litre shouldn't cause your fish or your filter bacteria any problems if done in stages across, say, an hour. The use of antibiotics may also be useful at this point. As/when you want to offer live food, the most tempting seems to be earthworms; they're like crack cocaine for most fish.
Cheers, Neale.>
e: Jack Dempsey problem (RMF, opinions on taking scissors to fins?)      5/30/14
How bad of an idea is it to excise/lance the thing on her tail?
<Has been done with sharp (e.g., dissecting) scissors and afterwards medicating with Bio-Bandage (neomycin) gel. Sedating (e.g., with clove oil) would surely be essential. But this would stress the fish and cause some degree of pain (yes, fish get their fins bitten all the time in the wild, but they don't like it!). I'm cc'ing Bob Fenner here in case he has a better opinion. Cheers, Neale.>
<<I would definitely NOT do this... there's very little potential upside...
won't cure or make the regrowing easier, more likely... and the trauma may well kill this fish. From the photo... I agree wholeheartedly with your (Neale's) statements re likely issues w/ environment... possibly nutrition. FIX these and maintain optimal conditions and this fish will be fine.

Possible Envenomation of Jack Dempsey Cichlid     5/3/14
Greetings WetWebMedia Crew, Just wanted to report an unusual occurrence.
I've recently been given(few months ago) a large red Oscar and Jack Dempsey. Upon receiving these fish they were bloated with pop eye. I've had them living outdoors in 250g acrylic half dome filtered by an aquaponic growbed. To deal with bloat they have been treated with Epsom salt and "pealax"(green pea diet). I've also cut off all feedings, aside from pealax and other veggies. Now I've noticed these fish have reverted to active hunting of insects. They sit high in water column and pick off bugs as they land and throw gallons of water in the air in process. I thought this was pretty cool as there are a ton of bugs around. Until I saw a spider, some how blown into tank. Before I could remove it, the JD devoured it. Now I've researched online and found conflicting reports. Spiders seem like a natural prey item, maybe even venomous spiders. I've tried to identify spider and think it maybe a brown widow, a spider that carries a neurotoxin. We have had an outbreak in the area. Well, bottom line my JD looks sick. Within 24 hours he has become very inactive. He seems to of
stopped feeding and hunting. Probably not a lot of options as far as treatment. What are your thoughts? Thanks again. Aloha Brandon
<Most ingested arthropods aren't, but might be toxic, toxified... naught to do but wait; provide good conditions. Bob Fenner>

Jack Dempsey with White Scales    3/27/14
I'm hoping you can help me treat my female Jack Dempsey who has developed large patches of white scales over the past week.
<Mostly extra mucous but probably with some bacteria and dead skin mixed in. Fish do this when their skin is irritated, the mucous being a first line of defence against many parasites and pathogens.>
She has been in a 10 gal hospital tank for about a month after receiving a very bad beating during mating. She lost most of her tail and pectoral fins and had several open wounds on her body. I moved her to the hospital tank and treated with salt and Melafix.
<Salt isn't really a treatment for anything
other than Whitespot and perhaps Velvet, so unless you suspect these, don't expect much from using salt. Melafix is of dubious value, and while it might be useful as a preventative in some situations, the balance of opinion seems to be that it's pretty much useless once fish become seriously injured or sick.>
After a week she began recovering and started to show healing on her wounds and her color was brightening.
Then last week she had what looked like sand stuck to her sides and her color had become dull again. I did a water change and began the Melafix, salt treatment again and added some Stress Coat. Her scales looked rough, a few days passed and she developed white patches on her side. The patches have continued to increase in size and she has stopped eating and is not swimming vigorously any longer.
<The thing with mucous production is that it is often an indicator of stress. In a small tank water quality can plummet quickly, especially with a fish of this size. My suspicion would be that for the first couple days she healed under her own steam thanks to the respite offered by her own aquarium, but without (daily) water changes, water quality slipped, and after a few days she was getting stressed again and healing stopped.>
I have added Pimafix to the water over the past three days, but I see no improvement.
<Indeed; much like Pimafix; I'm not a fan.>
I would appreciate any suggestions you might have to help treat this Jack.
She is one of two classroom fish and she has 22 first graders hoping she will be better soon.
<I would eschew these "new age" medications like Melafix and Pimafix that have little/no history of being reliable medications. In this case, treat as per Finrot, since opportunistic bacteria infecting physical damage is likely the fundamental problem here. In the US, I know the Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 combination is much favoured; here in the UK, I prefer a medicine called eSHa 2000. Either way, you want something old school. Ensure optimal water quality, and while adding salt won't do any harm, don't expect salt to do the trick entirely on its own. Assuming this fish is basically healthy, she should recover from "rough wooing" without too much trouble.
Quite possibly, move the male to the quarantine tank, and let her enjoy the better conditions in the main aquarium.>
Thank you for your time
<Welcome, Neale.>

beaten. RMF

Sick Jack Dempsey       2/20/14
My Dempsey has been sick for a while now. I have treated tank.  Also tryed aquariumn salt and higher heat with no luck. Feed some peas ect. His white spot on the head is getting bigger amd his body curved about 6 months. He is in a 50 gallon tank with a smaller jack Dempsey and 3 firemouth cichlids. They all get along. Could this be because he is getting to old?
He is about 8 yrs old or so. We got him after he was grown up all ready so it's hard to know how old he is. I thought about going ahead and put him down.
Thank you,
<Hello Carlene. This looks like classic Hole-in-the-Head disease. Do start by reading here:
In a nutshell, "HITH" is some sort of secondary infection of the sensory pores on the head. It's widely believed to be connected with a combination of parasitic Protozoans (known as Hexamita), poor environmental conditions (high nitrate and low oxygen levels especially), and poor diet (lack of certain vitamins, typically those normally obtained from fresh green foods). The classic situation is a large cichlid in a tank too small for it, and for one reason or another that tank hasn't received as many water changes as it should have. The good news is that HITH is easy to prevent, primarily by keeping cichlids in spacious tanks and doing regular, large water changes; a good benchmark for the number of water changes is if nitrate levels are usually kept below 20 mg/l and certainly no higher than 40 mg/l. At 8-years old your JD is middle aged rather than old, and what worries me is that the tank is a bit small for 4 large Central American cichlids and you've got another warning sign in the appearance of a bent spine, Lordosis, I'm assuming in a JD that was otherwise normal for the rest of its life. Why's that worrying? Because we can rule out genes if this fish had a normal spine for the previous 7 years of its life, which again points the finger at environmental conditions being less than good.
In any case, treatment is straightforward: Remove the affected cichlid to a hospital tank if possible, but otherwise medicate with Metronidazole and a Furan antibiotic (the Metronidazole treats the Hexamita, the antibiotic the secondary bacteria causing the hole to rot). While all this is going on, substantially improve the environment. You need much more than 50 US gallons for this collection of fish; 75 gallons wouldn't be generous, and the more the better. Upgrade filtration, choosing a (substantially) bigger filter than the tank you have (a "for 55 gallons" filter assumes that 55 gallon tank is stocked with little fish, Neons and Guppies, not big messy cichlids, so for a 55 gallon tank you'd want a 75 or 90 gallon filter, if not more). Review your maintenance regime too, aiming for 25% water changes a week, at minimum, and more while you're still using this little 50 gallon tank. If nitrate is much over 20 mg/l, then you're overfeeding, overstocked, and not doing enough water changes. If your tap water has nitrate levels above this level, then things become complicated, and under-stocking aquaria becomes even more important, as do regular water changes. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Looks like a physical trauma to RMF.

Re: Sick Jack Dempsey     2/21/14
I went and bought a nitrate tester kit today. We never had a problem. I was thinking it was all due to the city water. The old house we had well water.
The nitrate is way past high I'm surprised my fish are even alive.

<Ah, yes, nitrate can be surprisingly high. Here in southern England nitrate levels of 40-50 mg/l are far from rare, and that's well above what many (most?) cichlids will tolerate in the long term without at least some disposition towards disease.>
I've set up hospital tank for the big demsey and have medicine for the tank. I'm waiting for the water to heat up and I added live bacterial to it.
<Do bear in mind that filter bacteria in the water do nothing useful; they do need a sponge at the very least to colonise.>
Also used well water. When I get him moved I will do a major water change and then 20% water change everyday till my levels are normal again.
<Sounds good.>
I've had my tank for 6 yrs. Another question is should I have carbon in filter or not during treatment? 
<No carbon in the filter. Carbon removes chemicals from the water -- including medicine! About the only exception is if you're using salt, which isn't affected by carbon.>
Thank you so much for your help! :-)
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Re: Sick Jack Dempsey      2/28/14
5 days of treatment now. Water changes everyday and he looks better.
He does not seem to have a healthy appetite today.
<Don't worry; cichlids will eat once healthy. Zero risk of starvation for some weeks.>
Been feeding very light. Also frozen pea thawed and shelled. His poop last night was long stringy and part of it was white.
<Ah, may be a good sign that mucous is being shifted out of the digestive tract. Often a symptom of Hexamita infections; treated with Metronidazole.>
It did all come out and I got rid of it with water change again today.
After reading about that I have added a little bit of Epsom salt to his water today and plan on partial water change tomorrow.  I noticed he has what may be Ich on his fin. I have always done aquarium salt and higher heat for Ich. Not sure if I can mix the two salts.
<Is safe to do so.>
One more dumb question is two jack Dempsey fish in the 50 gallon be fine?
<Two females should be fine; a mated pair likewise.>
I was thinking I could move the fire mouths to a different tank.
<Firemouths should not be kept with aggressive cichlids; their "bluff" display is necessary because of their delicate sand-sifting jaws, and they often dislocate their jaws when fighting with stronger cichlids.>
Thanks for all you do,
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Need information on my jack dempsey asap. So do we     2/16/14
I got a jack dempsey had her a while now her eye have popped out and gone cloudy and her belly has started to bloat can ya help plz
<Without some information about its aquarium, Danielle, really can't say much. What you've said here suggests some combination of poor environment, poor diet and physical damage. So let's review. Jack Dempseys (like all cichlids) are sensitive to poor water quality, not just the usual requirement for zero level ammonia and nitrite, but also very low nitrates too, certainly below 40 mg/l and preferably below 20 mg/l. Obviously robust filtration is essential, and because these cichlids are so much bigger than Neons and Guppies, don't choose a "55 gallon filter" for a 55-gallon aquarium -- choose a filter at least a size or two up in the range, so something rated for, say, 75 or 100 gallons for a 55-gallon tank.
(Retailers don't always make this clear, but if a filter says it's for "55 gallon tanks" that means a 55-gallon tank container little fish like Neons, not cichlids or plecs.) Regular water changes are the next piece of the puzzle. Weekly 25-50% is the ideal, and certainly no less often than 25% every two weeks. Diet should be varied, never "feeders" or other suspect live foods, but a good quality pellet (like Hikari Cichlid Gold) with occasional safe treats like brine shrimps, earthworms or even small bits of seafood. Occasional greens are useful, and things like cooked peas will be taken if cichlids are starved for a few days. Greens minimise the risk of constipation and some types of bloating. Physical damage usually comes from fighting but interior decor can be a problem too, especially if the tank is too small. 55 gallons is the absolute minimum for Jack Dempseys if kept with anything else, and even a mated pair would be a tight kept alone in, say, 40 gallons. Water chemistry should be moderately hard and alkaline; aim for 10-20 degrees dH, pH 7-8. Once cichlids get sick they can be difficult to treat, so prevention is invariably the best approach. So check through what's been mentioned above, then write back with some specific details, like ammonia or nitrite values, nitrate value, pH, hardness, aquarium size, diet, etc. You may also want to peruse recent cichlid disease FAQs; believe me when I say that 99 times out of a 100 the causes of problems with cichlids come from that short list of requirements listed above:
Cheers, Neale.>

Electric Blue Jack Dempsey, Not eating and almost no poop. No rdg.      2/11/14
<Mmm, why? And what conditions, foods...>
Short story, through my own ignorance and incompetence (and I thought I was doing everything right) my EBJD suffered a bout of HITH or HLLE about 1 1/2 to 2 years ago (yes, tank was overstocked then, and probably still is). I then changed the lighting fixture last year and had an algae bloom from hell (nearly 9 months).  During this time, I did perform weekly 30-50% water changes with gravel vacuuming - a couple times up to 75%. Mind you, I did not have a test kit at this time. I cleared the bloom just recently utilizing a UV sterilizer, and noticed that he wasn't eating. Prior, if his appetite was decreasing, which may have gone unnoticed, I didn't clear the uneaten food and this probably contributed to the bloom along with my stupidly rinsing filter media in tap water. I now have a test kit, and have determined I must do a minimal 30-50% water change with vacuuming twice a week to keep nitrates from going over 20,
<? Read on WWM re NO3 control... why not? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/NO3ContrF.htm
and the linked files above>
 instead of the once weekly that I had been doing.  The holes from his HITH or HLLE seem to have healed.  No new pits.
<Do you use vitamins?>
He has not been eating anything or pooping anything (until a little bit now-pooping that is), though he looks and acts okay. He will not eat anything. I've tried cooked peas soaked in garlic.
... try somethings more palatable... Worms of many sorts, insect larvae, crustaceans...>
 No go. He does go to the back of the tank when the lights are on but swims around a bit when they're off. I finally saw some poop and I have attached the photos (best I could get). It isn't what I would call stringy, but it is a translucent very pale green. He also has a slight bulge on his left side. I don't want to just throw meds at him willy-nilly as usually this causes more problems or even fatalities. I currently have SeaChem Metronidazole**on hand but have not used, yet.
<IF you go this route, make it a one-time administration. See WWM re why, dosing, dosage>
I like this guy and I hope being a survivor of my what I thought was care, he can pull through.
I do not have a quarantine tank.
*Current Parameters:* 36g bowfront corner, Temp: 78d, PH 7.8, Ammonia: 0, Nitrites:0, Nitrates: 5, T5HO twin 24" lighting, Fluval 305 filter currently running one basket carbon, one polishing pads, one ceramic biomedia, River stone gravel, 4 plants.
He is now about 6" from nose to end of tail.
Tank mates: 1 6" plecostomus(will probably have to re-home), 2 Mystery snails
Thank you,
<.... search, read... think, act. Bob Fenner>

Re: Electric Blue Jack Dempsey      2/11/14
Thank you for your response. Again, ignorance was/is at play. He was being fed primarily Hikari Gold pellets and he would snag algae wafers. At times freeze dried bloodworms and occasional flake food. No I haven't given him vitamins. I'll hit the lfs for some worms of some type and see if they have vitamins.
<Do dig about in your yard for earthworms... a fave. See WWM re Feeding of Dempseys period>
Do you feel there is any significance to the bm of that color?
<Not really; no.>
I do hesitate on medicating and will hold off for now. I may change the water 3 times per week. I'll check out the no3 link you provided when I get home from work.
Thank you.
<And I would move that Pleco... may be harassing. BobF>
Re: Electric Blue Jack Dempsey      2/11/14

Again thanks.
I'll dig out in the yard when the temp gets above 12F average we've been having and there isn't 2' of snow :)
<Yeeikes. Down to the seventies F. today in San Diego. I even had to put on a long-sleeve tee!>
And I've already spoke to the lfs about rehoming the Pleco, and they'll take him in trade for some worms and other goodies.
<Ah good. B>

Re: Electric Blue Jack Dempsey      2/15/14
Mr. Fenner:
I brought the Pleco to the lfs and picked up some earthworms.
Mr. Dempsey seemed interested and did try to eat the worms.  He would repeatedly pick it up and spit it out and after doing this a few times  he would swim away.  I've tried giving him the worms a few times.
<Keep trying; daily>
Each attempt, I would make the worm smaller and smaller and the result was the same.  I then tried Mysis shrimp and he would spit them out.  I'm at a loss really.  Do you recommend the Metronidazole? 
<Mmm; not unless there's good reason to believe it would be of benefit>
I read the info on WWM regarding dosing.  Since he isn't eating, I assume I have to add to the tank water, but according to the site, this is not very effective. 
I guess I don't have too many options.  :(
<Patience; hope... and frequent partial water changes! BobF>

Re: Electric Blue Jack Dempsey   2/25/14
Still not eating and still in the bottom near the filter intake. :(.  I was at first hopeful as when I removed the Pleco, he seemed much more comfortable and swam around.
<Good; I was not aware of the Plec. Do understand that Plecs are known/confirmed "attackers" at times, latching onto weak/stupid fish big enough to support their weight. My guess is they do this when hungry (we often under-feed Plecs, leaving them to scavenge, when they really need good quality "meat-and-vegetable" diets, and lots of it).>
The bite taken from his tail appears to be healing and filling in (guess the Pleco knew he wasn't well).
He did seem to want to eat.  I've tried  earthworms, pellets, myssia, and bloodworms everyday twice daily.  All he would take in a spit out repeatedly.
<No rush. Leave him be. Will eat when healthy; will take many weeks before starvation is a risk.>
Then he seemed rather dejected and went back to his corner.
<Do freshen the aquarium up when this happens. A water change, for example around 20-25% every day or two while he feels "blue". Turn down/off lighting. Add a bubbler for extra oxygen. Install a decent sized cave for him to hide in, if he lacks one.>
I've decided to treat the water column with Metro per the instructions on the Seachem vial.  The amount seems low, works out to 11 mg per gallon. 
Should this be increased?
<Go with the packaging. But double check your calculations!>
I'll do three treatments, one every other day, alternating with a 50% water change on off days.
<Sounds good.>
I'm wondering if the bump on his left side may be a tumor.
<Perhaps; hard to say without examination, a biopsy.>
Prior to my algae bloom (9 months ago), it was perhaps the size of a dime.
It is now a quarter.  Although, it may seem larger due to his weight loss. 
If this doesn't work, I guess I'm out of options.
<Indeed. At some point euthanasia may be appropriate, but do consult with an expert fishkeeper or a vet about how to do this if you're unsure. With big fish especially this can be stressful, traumatic for both you and the fish. I recommend the "30 drops of clove oil per litre of aquarium water" approach, done using a bucket. So if it holds 5 litres, add 5 x 30 drops = 150 drops. Works well.>
Thank you for your time and consideration.  Your website is an invaluable resource.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
Best regards,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Electric Blue Jack Dempsey   3/2/14
Mr. Fenner:
I though I would update.  After trying worms, Mysis shrimp, and bloodworms, he still didn't eat as of 2/21/14.  He seem to want to, but kept spitting them out. I decided to treat the water with Metro three times every other day and on the off days performed a 50% water change, starting on 2/24/14.  On 2/28/14, he finally ate some Mysis shrimp and two pellets  (Hikari Gold floating type).  He's comes to the front of the tank now even with the light on.  I'm glad I re-homed the Pleco.
<I as well>
 I believe the damage to Mr. Dempsey's tail and one pectoral fin was from him. These are healing well. He has eaten a bit everyday now, and I'll give the earthworms another go. He doesn't really go for the sinking pellets which seems to be all NLS Thera A come in.  The bulge on his left side is about the size of a quarter which may appear to be larger to me than before due to his weight loss.  He had some mucusy (is this a word?)
<For you and I at least; yes>
 poop.  I did give him a one time dose of Metro today in Mysis shrimp thinking that there maybe a parasitic presence in his gut.  We'll see how it goes.  Water changes will be twice a week with testing to determine if another is needed, but without the Pleco, I'm vacuuming up much less debris.  I'm looking into getting a larger tank which was my plan before my mother-in-law moved in - maybe 85 gallons.  I'm just trying to figure out where I can squeeze it in.  Attached is a photo from today.
Thank you for your advice.  Meds for me are a scary thing, as I have unintentionally killed fish with them years ago.
Do you see the heart shape spot on his side? 
<I do>
I don't recall that being
Best regards and fingers crossed,
<Thank  you for this follow up. BobF>

'Electric Blue' Jack Dempsey; beaten up by...?     1/11/14
Hi Crew-
I have read through your website and can't seen to find what I am looking for.  I have a 110 gallon tank with about 20 fish in it.
<? What are the other fishes?>

 2 of my favorites are my male and female Electric Blue Jack Dempsey.  About a month ago I noticed one of them floating upside down in the tank.

 I have isolated the fish in a breeder tank suspended in the main tank.  It spends most of the time on the bottom upside down.  It has a healthy appetite
<... what are you feeding?>
and when active, is very active.  I believe that the swim bladder problem is de to a fight because some if it's fins were missing.
<Ah yes>

 Most have grin back.  I have tried the pea, not sure what else to do. Please helpŠŠ
Thank you,
<Good water quality; time going by... and placed in a different system. Some folks might advise the use of an anti-bacterial... IF you use one, perhaps a Furan compound... Bob Fenner>

My jack demsey... markings, scant data – 09/10/13
I have a jack demsey he is about 4 years old he has gotten what appears to be white blisters or pimples on his tail on both sides he is still acting normal and eating please help I don't no what to do I have read so much stuff but can not find out anything on this these blisters are getting larger but they are not on his whole body thank u for your help
<Mmm, can/could you send along a well-resolved pic/photo of this? My guess is that these white blisters might be grub parasites (am hoping you don't feed live freshwater foods, e.g. goldfish... notorious carriers)... The markings might be due to simple bad reaction to some aspect of water quality... you offer no data re... What is your NO3 for instance? What décor items do you have here? What re the set up? Have you searched/read on WWM re the species?
Bob Fenner>

EBJD in distress, env....     3/20/13
Hi, very sorry to bother you but I don't know what else to try with this damn fish. Over the past three or fourth months he's acted strangely, head shaking, fin twitching, scratching lower jaw on the glass. Lately it seems to be getting worse, loss of color etc. So, I've tried every type of parasite medication on the market
<These can be more a source of cause than cure>
 and it doesn't improve anything, none of the other fish show any symptoms at all, a whole array of community fish.
<... what sort of community? Jack Dempsey... look him up>
I've even installed a UV filter, operating at parasite kill level. water change weekly, nitrates never above 30ppm.
<Should be under 20; see WWM re NO3, control>

The weirdest part is it seems to be related to pellets. He used to gobble up his NLS food, but since the strange behavior, sometimes he eats sometimes not, but always reluctantly, almost hating every bite. I've tried other kinds, he absolutely is revolted by anything else, including other NLS formulas. Still chases the fish a bit and has healthy weight. I have an order of black worms coming in Thursday, after the omega one pellets I tried and he freaked out I think he may me allergic to something in pellets?
<Mmm, no; highly unlikely>
Going to test this this Thursday. Any other ideas, ever seen anything like it? At my wits end with this fish, want the fish he used to be back.
<When, where in doubt, successive partial water changes... remove/replace about a fifth of the water per day for a week... Bob Fenner>
Re: EBJD in distress    3/20/13

Hi bob,
<jess... proper nouns are capitalized>
 I think you may be getting grumpy with all these emails you answer. When I say nitrates never over 30 ppm, I mean that's the max he's been in since I've had him as a fry.
<... stop writing and read where you've been referred. B>

It's usually never over 10 through the use of external plants and plenty of water changes, I guess I need to be more specific. When I say community, I mean larger gouramis, a large school of large adult Cory cats, a flying fox, fish easily kept in semi aggressive situations, aggression isn't the problem. I've tried meds on and off, not constantly. Water changes are not going to help this fish, it's something else. Going to try a salt bath, and switch to HBH Spirulina super soft. Sorry I ever asked. 

Sick Jack Dempsey     9/7/12
Hello, <Hi Sheri>
 I am a fairly new aquarist and just recently bought a used 90 gallon tank. The tank came with two fish.
<Next time, ask for a discount on the tank if the seller makes you take the fish!>
One was a Tilapia and the other a Jack Dempsey. The tank water was in really poor condition.<Not surprising> There was algae growing inside the tank and the ornaments inside the tank were dark brown from all the algae covering them. <The least of your problems.> The Jack Dempsey dug a hole under some of the ornaments that were crowded in one corner and hid there while the Tilapia roamed freely around the tank. <Dempseys will hide in caves. Proper setup accommodates them.>After getting the tank home, cleaned up and running with clear water, the fish were somewhat okay. I realized why the Jack Dempsey hid all the time as the Tilapia would constantly pick on him and bully him. I ended up taking the Tilapia to the fish store and gave him to them. I didn't want a fish that was so aggressive. 
<Good call taking in the Tilapia. As a beginner, I think you have enough to worry about with the Dempsey.  Keep in mind that when healthy, the Dempsey can be a bit aggressive, too, but I think recovering this fish is a good project for you.>
I moved the Jack Dempsey to a 5 gallon hospital tank.
<How big is the Dempsey? As the fish starts recovering, it will get more active. 5 gallons is very small. for a fish that can get 8 inches long. How much space the fish will need for a quarantine tank depends a lot on its size.  From the photo, he seems to be fairly decent size already, so you might want to see if you can find a used 20-gallon long to use as he becomes more active while he recovers.>
The poor fish was so stressed out. He had fin rot and one of his fins was stuck to his side to where he
couldn't use it.<Clamped probably.> I asked the guy at the fish store about him and he suggested this stuff called Microbe-Lift - Gram Negative/Gram Positive. <I've not used this myself, but it sounds like a good start.>
I have been changing the water 50% ever day and adding this stuff to the tank along with aquarium salt. His fins are looking better and he has use of all of his fins now. <Good, making progress. Use as directed.>
My question is what is this other condition he has where it looks like his scales are flaking off and how do I treat it?
<My guess is fungus, perhaps combined with some mechanical damage. You should be able to get an anti-fungal treatment at the same shop. Beware that many of these can permanently stain the silicone in your tank blue or green.  But, if the white substance is slimy, it could be something like Costia. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/CostiaF.htm >
I have included a picture. <I can see the white substance.>
 It looks like I could take him out of the tank and literally just scrape all this stuff off of him.
<But don't.>
I would like to save this fish and eventually put him in his own good size aquarium with other like fish.
<Must start getting ready for this now. The fish should recover before you can get a new tank through the nitrogen cycle.>
My 90 gallon is housing Angel fish, loaches and gourami fish so I know he won't work in there. 
<Dempseys definitely need different conditions than angelfish-hard water, caves for hiding. Educate yourself. .>
Thank you for your time and expertise!! Any help is appreciated.
<If you go here and search for "Jack Dempsey" you will find a lot of material. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm >
Sheri Kibbe
<Good luck. - Rick>
Have a*´¨)
      ¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)      
     (¸.•´  (¸.•` ¤ Wonderful Day! ¤
<That's cute.>

Re: Another check in    7/13/12
Hello Neale and crew,
<BobF here now>
Thank you so much for such a speedy response last time! I got some African Frogbit and it's doing well in my tank. I've got my Nitrates down even lower to under 5 ppm. My Plecs though have been having white stringy feces, I know probably from having higher Nitrates in the past; not so great water quality and an overcrowded tank. My Jack also seems to have a bloated tummy. All the fish have been acting normally and eating regularly, no signs yet of any behavioral changes. I researched and found that soaking food with Metronidazole is my best bet, especially at an early stage. Is this correct?
<Mmm, depends on the root cause/s here... IF protozoal, bacterial to some extent, yes... IF worm-based, a vermifuge like Praziquantel... these can be administered at the same time... BUT the only way to accurately assess what is really going on is through sampling (and/or necropsy) and microscopic examination. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm
and the linked files above>
I've been feeding them soaked food for three days now and the Plec feces is looking much more normal, so I believe it's working. I do want to make sure I'm feeding them the right dosage though. I have packets of 250mg Metro with 75mg Praziquantel (API General Cure here in the States). My LFS said one packet would treat enough food to fill up a baking sheet. True?
<Depends on the size of the baking sheet and food...>
Also they said that the antibiotic is only good in the food for about 3 days.
<Keep the food refrigerated>
 Any more specific information would be helpful in treating my food/fish. Also, should I just feed them the food until it subsides?
<Yes I would>
I've read that this can take weeks. I included a pic of my Jack, hopefully the size is small enough and doesn't cram up the inbox! Thanks so much again in advance. Best to you, Craig
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Re: Another check in
Medicating Cichlid Food    7/15/12

Hello Neale and crew,
Thank you so much for such a speedy response last time! I got some African Frogbit and it's doing well in my tank. I've got my Nitrates down even lower to under 5 ppm. My Plecos though have been having white stringy feces, I know probably from having higher Nitrates in the past; not so great water quality and an overcrowded tank. My Jack also seems to have a bloated tummy. All the fish have been acting normally and eating regularly, no signs yet of any behavioral changes. I researched and found that soaking food with Metronidazole is my best bet, especially at an early stage. Is this correct? I've been feeding them soaked food for three days now and the Pleco feces is looking much more normal, so I believe it's working. I do want to make sure I'm feeding them the right dosage though. I have packets of 250mg Metro with 75mg Praziquantel (API General Cure here in the States). My LFS said one packet would treat enough food to fill up a baking sheet. True? Also they said that the antibiotic is only good in the food for about 3 days. Any more specific information would be helpful in treating my food/fish. Also, should I just feed them the food until it subsides? I've read that this can take weeks. I included a pic of my Jack, hopefully the size is small enough and doesn't cram up the inbox! Thanks so much again in advance. Best to you, Craig
< For internal protozoa infections I have used 1/2 tsp of Metronidazole to 4 oz of fish food for 10 days with good results on discus . I am sure it will work for your jack Dempsey too in the early stages.-Chuck>
Cichlid Food II    7/15/12

And thank you Chuck! I was having a hard time finding smaller recommendations for dosages as the medicated food loses it's potency after a few days, even when refrigerated. For precautionary sake, if my fish don't improve after ten days is a microscopic identification and water/feces sample my next move? Thanks for additional response Chuck! -
< The medication is in a dry form. I think as long as the food container is moisture proof it should be OK for the duration of the treatment when refrigerated. An examination of the fecal matter would give a better diagnosis.-Chuck.>
Re: Another check in, FW    7/15/12

Thank you Bob! I got the Praziquantel yesterday, am doing a big water change and starting treatment today along with the medicated food. Happy weekend :) - Craig
<And you. Please do follow up w/ your observations. BobF>

Jack Dempsey 4 yrs. old... need data  -- 1/3/12
I have a Jack Dempsey that has decided to stay on the gravel bottom for the past couple months.  He eats when they food sinks down and he churns up the gravel to eat....but its like he has a weight on him....he just stays on the bottom.
I tried the Epson <Epsom, not the printer co.> salt therapy....no improvement.
His color and looks are completely normal....breathing fine...no outside anatomical oddities.
He just doesn't swim anymore period.
What should I do next???
<Provide data... re water quality tests, maintenance, tankmates, set-up...
Read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dempseydisf.htm
and the linked files above for examples, input... Bob Fenner>
Re: Jack Dempsey 4 yrs. old    1/4/12

Aquarium is 55 gallons........just this 4 year old Jack Dempsey and 1 parrot fish (2 yrs old).
Ammonia 0.01.....ph 8.5
<Much too high>

.....nitrite 0.05....nitrate 10 mg/l.......water temp 79 degrees....
Alkalinity 80.......Hardness 75.....chlorine and chloramine 0.......salinity 0.1.....
Jack Dempsey can't swim off the bottom....moves around like a eel to swish up food on gravel to eat.   I had him eat 2 green peas yesterday....don't know if that will do anything.
He's been this way for months!!!  Ironically he looks great....except can't swim.
Also started as of 8pm yesterday. a dosage of Fungus Guard (Nitrofurazone/furazolidone)
<Of some use as a means of lowering pH only...>
and will keep it in with no charcoal filters for next 4 days.
Any ideas????
Thanks for your help,
C. Childs
<Read where you were referred? B>

My Jack Dempsey has a white stringy "poop" stuck on his anus
EBJD with Internal Problems   11/20/11

Hi, first time on this site, I hope I'm doing this right. I just recently (2 weeks ago) purchases an EBJD. He is about 1 and 1/2 inches long at tops. The pet store got him in and I purchased him right away because I had been waiting for 3 weeks for him to come in. He would not eat spectrum formula pellets, tried 2 different sizes, and I tried to get him to take them for 5 days but he wouldn't so I gave in and fed him blood worms to get him to eat. Now he has probably been eating the bloodworms (10 a dayish only one feeding per day). I tried a new Hikari brand pellet for cichlids as well, only tried it one time and he wouldn't take that either. So I had try to starve him for the last 3 days to get him to accept the new pellets but in the last 3 days he has started staying in the top right hand corner of my tank, slightly pointed upwards, with his mouth near the surface, and he sits there most of the day. Yesterday I noticed a small white stringy looking "poop" thing coming from his anus area that is attached to him, this grew about 1 inch long the next day so it is now like 1 and 1/2 inches long coming from him. Jack is keeping to himself, sometimes hiding in a ship for most of the day or isolated himself near the top corner (this is not his normal behavior). I'm worried about his behavior and also the white stringy poop that is stuck on him and seems to be growing. I tried feeding him some bloodworms today, he ate 1 of the 10( he had to chew them up and spit it out a couple times which seemed odd cause usually he devours it whole). There are 2 small Danios (1 inch) 1 Rafael catfish (2 in) and the EBJD (roughly 1 and 1/2 in) in my 29 gallon tank. The tank has been cycled for about 2 months now. Started the cycle 4 months ago. I also checked the water today and everything was perfect in the tank. Did a water change 4 days ago and did a 25% water change today. Please help me, I love my jack and don't want to lose him.
< I am not a big fan of bloodworms or glassworms. Most of the problem questions I get like this involve feeding these food items. I don't know exactly why. Could be they pick up toxins out of the environment they live in or the makeup of their exoskeleton. Either way I would recommend a treatment of Metronidazole and Furan-2 in a hospital tank.-Chuck>
Re: My Jack Dempsey has a white stringy "poop" stuck on his anus
EBD with Internal Problems II    11/22/11

I am pretty new with the fish business. I went down to my local shop and they recommended "praziPro" it has Praziquantel in it. I treated my tank yesterday with it but a couple days ago he only ate like 1 or 2 of the bloodworms I fed him, and he hast eaten in like 5 days, and I tried feeding him today and he would spit out the worms and not eat them, and only went after 1 of the worms and spit it out. The worms were the only food I could get him to eat. I tried Hikari gold and full spectrum pellets, big and small types, but he wont eat either. I tried some lettuce floating at the top and he won't eat that either. He is so picky, he is not in good shape and I can't starve him to eat the right stuff cause he will keep on starving himself and he is unhealthy right now and I just want to get food in him. Any recommendations? I heard EBJD have very bad eating habits and don't take to most foods. Also did I medicate right? or should I try the stuff you mentioned earlier? Thanks again!
< EBJD is a line bred fish that is not found in nature and generally found to be weaker than a normal Jack Dempsey. The internal problem will probably prevent him from eating. I would still recommend the treatment I recommended. When he starts to act like he is hungry then offer a few spectrum pellets once a day. Then remove any uneaten food after a couple minutes. I would not offer any blood worms since I think that they are contributing to the problem.-Chuck>

Water cloudy and electric blue jack Dempsey, bloat    9/13/2011
I have a recently established 40 gallon tank and I am currently getting a 75gallon started. I have a tiger Oscar that is 3.5 inches and a 2 inch and 2.5 inch ebjd's. I also have a golden nugget Pleco. I am looking ahead to having to find a home for the Oscar ,in the future, but so far he is thriving and is not very aggressive.
<They are generally not, outside of breeding.>
I do not test water more than once a week but last week it was all zeroes as for a nitrogen related molecules.
<An odd way to state this!>
I have been using treated tap water from Tampa, Florida. It is hard, slightly basic, and full of organic dissolved solids. I have been doing three 12 percent water changes per week. My water has been slightly cloudy for two weeks. As if someone spilled a little milk in it.
<If the tank is new, likely diatoms or a bacterial bloom; should settle down in time (perhaps weeks, or a couple of months) if you provide good water quality, regular water changes, and adequate mechanical filtration (i.e., fine filter wool, replaced often).>
My theory is that my recently treated tap water has so many dissolved solids that it is feeding bacterial blooms when I do water changes.
<Diatoms thrive in unstable conditions, and in a new tank, water changes can exacerbate the problem, yes. They aren't feeding on the minerals, but rather the fluctuating conditions favour the diatoms over other life forms.>
My fish do not seem to be gasping and my marine land 200 gph filter drips into tank creating high surface agitation for oxygenation. My alpha ebjd seems to be a bit bloated in rib cage but is active and aggressively pursues food.
<Bloating may be caused by constipation, but with cichlids, the wrong diet is always a problem. Obviously "feeder fish" shouldn't be used, EVER, for all sorts of reasons, but you also need to watch out that you're offering things like krill and brine shrimp (good for constipation), plant-based foods (cooked peas are ideal), as well as the dried foods that are nutritious but do seem to cause bloating. Do be aware of Hexamita infections and other failures with cichlids caused by overstocking, high nitrate, lack of oxygen, lack of green foods.>
I fear treating with antibiotics will cycle my already tentative grip on water quality. Temp is 74 f. Any help on water cloud and possible bloat?
Buying that much ro water will be cost prohibitive....
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Water cloudy and electric blue jack Dempsey     9/14/11

Thank you for your time:)!
<Most welcome! Neale.>

please help   6/20/11
Hello, I have a 55 gallon fresh water fish tank. It contains one Jack Dempsey, one African Cichlid,
<What sort? Some sort of Pseudotropheus zebra hybrid? Will be rather aggressive, and does need a much different (i.e., plant-based) diet compared to the largely carnivorous (e.g., insect larvae, crustaceans) preferred by Rocio octofasciata.>
and my pride and joy an electric blue Jack Dempsey. The electric is about three inches long where the other two fish are between 2-2.5 inches. I woke up this morning to find that front part of my electrics face had turned black and lost its shiny blue color??
What have I done wrong?
<Can't tell from your data, but could well be stress caused by behavioural problems. Two male Rocio *will not* cohabit in 55 gallons.>
These fish are prone to be very aggressive, but they have lived in harmony for over six months now.
<They're sexually mature now, and likely physically stronger, too.>
I have already tested the water today and all the levels came back normal.
<Meaning what? What is the hardness? The pH? The nitrite level? The nitrate level?>
I just do not want to cause any more harm to the my electric.
<Review aquarium conditions, review the needs of these two species, and act accordingly. This is very likely a social or environmental problem you've caused, so easily fixed by making the appropriate changes. Cheers, Neale.>

Advise on treating Electric Blue Jack Dempsey
ELJD Needs Treatment After Heat Wave   6/12/2011

Hello! I had come to your site a several times now - each time getting extensive advise that worked ! :) It is great! Now the problem that I have is with a sick EBJD, 2-2.5 inches long, housed in a 55g with: - 1.5 inch EBJD- 4-4.5 inch Salvini Cichlid- 7 inch Polypterus Senegalus - 5 inch Polypterus Endlicheri (destined for a larger tank eventually, but he exhibited no signs of aggression so far, even when Senegalus chases him)- 5 inch Plecostomus
Environmental conditions:1. 55 gallon tank is with Eheim 2213, powerhead for 750 g/h (it is on only 4 hours a day), heaters and light. Weekly 12 to 18 US Gallons weekly water changes 2. Currently Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates at 0 - water change happened couple days ago.3. City where I live was hit by a week-long heat wave during which temperature in the tank rose to 85 -88 degrees. I added a Whisper airpump to the set up to help circulate the water and turned of the powerhead. I did a 12 gallon water change every 2 days during that week. Fish were fed less to reduce amount of waste they may produce.4. Right now temperature is back to 78 degrees.
Water changes are weekly, bubbler is on, fish are back to feeding of 1 bloodworm cube, 1 spirulina-enhanced brine shrimp cube, cichlid pellets (crushed so that they sink - or fish refuse to take them). All food is gone within 30 minutes (takes longer because polypteruses are slow at "smelling out" the food)
Large EBJD is behaving sick, since the heat wave:1. He stays at the bottom in one place
< Excessive heat about a fish's normal temperature range will stress a fish..>
2. While the heat was higher he breathed hard, now he is breathing normally
< The higher the waters temperature, it will have less oxygen carrying capacity.>
3. He scratches at the objects and jerks when he swims.
< The skin may be attacked by parasites that are irritating.>
4. He has trouble eating, even bloodworms - seems to not be able to catch them mid-fall and is acting skittish toward bloodworm cube if dropped in the tank (prior to sickness he tore at the cube that I would hold underwater and took crushed Cichlid Gold pellets from my palm)
< Trouble eating may be a sign of an internal infection.>
5. He is loosing weight.
< Also a sign of an internal infection.>
6. His eyes seem darker and a bit cloudy.
< The cloudy eyes and color changes may indicate a bacterial infection over the skin.>
7. Offset of illness was rapid - about 1 day from normal to this.
This have continued for over a week now. I was cautious about medicating the tank until the heat wave passed. While all fish except for Polypteruses seemed affected by heat, Large EBJD is the only that did not recovered yet.
I haven't seen any feces so cannot for sure say if it is Hexamita. Scales look normal, there are no torn fins or discoloration. Of medications I only have Aquarium Pharmaceuticals General Cure (250 mg Metronidazole, 75 mg Praziquantel per dose). instructions recommend using 1 dose per each 10 gallons. I afraid that this does can be too high for a fish that is already weakened. Or that there could be something better that I could do. Please advise, I'm trying to grow out both EBJDs after which I will keep one for myself. Large Dempsey so far is the favorite as you can tell (hand feeding and the time spent observing him, and etc). I would hate to see him not recover.
Thank you, Elena
< Your fish have obviously been stressed by the higher water temperature.
Next time increase the aeration of the tank. The tank cools quicker by evaporation if their is a high water flow. Lower the heater to 73 F. This gives the water a chance to cool down more and will not be at the higher water temps for as long a time period. when it gets hot again. The EBJD is a line bred cichlid not normally found in nature. It is not as hardy as your other fish. I would isolate the sick fish and treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. Stop feeding bloodworms. They come from muddy river bottoms and may pick up some toxins from the mud and give your fish problems. When I get these questions there seems to be a link to bloodworms and mysteries internal problems. The Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace will cover a wide range of potential parasites. The key to a complete recovery is a quick treatment.-Chuck> 

Sick electric blue jack Dempseys    6/7/11
I obtained a 29 gallon quarantine tank and filled it with water and a seasoned Marineland 400 power filter from an established larger tank. I introduced eight one inch electric blue jack Dempseys, one small severum, and two small Oscars. As a preventative measure, I treated with General Cure and added marine salt of about one tablespoon per five gallons to help with stress. My water parameters tested at a pH of about 6.6 with zero for both nitrites and ammonia and eight for nitrate. My temperature is set at 78 degrees and the fish were eating just fine. The severum and Oscars were slightly aggressive towards the Dempseys but not too much at least what I could tell.
After doing a water change of about ten gallons to remove some of the medication at the end of the treatment process, the Dempseys started to scratch themselves continuously, especially near the gill area. They also were breathing heavily and clamping their fins in. I couldn't see any signs of skin damage or the presence of Ich or velvet even though it is hard to see the Dempseys well with their light coloration. They became skittish and did not eat. I tested my water again and found the pH at about 7.8, nitrate at six, and zero for both ammonia and nitrite. I turned off the lights and added two powerheads near the water's surface to increase aeration. I added more salt to the aquarium after reading some suggestions from another website. The fish tank now has a salt content of about one tablespoon per gallon of water that I slowly added over three days. The severum and Oscars were behaving normally and still eating and not scratching. I removed the Oscars and severum to alleviate stress. The condition for my Dempseys only improved slightly over a week after showing the stressed symptoms but still hide and show little interest in food.
They still scratch and have their fins tucked in and swim along the bottom but not as much. A few of the Dempseys also dart around the tank and wiggle back and forth instead of typical swimming motion.
Is it possible that a pH increase of one unit could cause a bacterial outbreak from stress or that much salt could cause skin irritation? Any suggestions, actions I can take, or medication to use I would really appreciate.
Thanks for the assistance
<Hello Steve. Jack Dempseys require hard, alkaline water; 10-20 degrees dH, pH 7-8. As such, they're not going to do well in the same conditions as Oscars or Severums that need soft, acidic water, so there's no way this combination of cichlids could be maintained in the same aquarium. Set up an aquarium with the correct water chemistry, adapt your Jack Dempseys to those conditions slowly (i.e., using some variation of the drip method, as if you were introducing a new fish), and your Jack Dempseys should be much healthier. The addition of salt does nothing to alter hardness or pH, so do be sure you have read and understand water chemistry. It's common for beginners to misunderstand what salt is all about, and often those beginners also confuse pH (which isn't terribly important) with hardness (which is critical).
Exposure to soft, acidic conditions will stress Central American cichlids, and ultimately lead to increased susceptibility to disease. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick electric blue jack Dempseys    6/7/11
Thanks Neil
I will follow the recommended changes slowly for my Dempseys.
<Glad to help. Do be sure to understand that your JDs need different water chemistry from the other two cichlids, so you'll need two tanks. Cheers, Neale.>
Sick Electric Blue Jack Dempsey's    6/8/11

Hi, I obtained a 29 gallon quarantine tank and filled it with water and a seasoned Marineland 400 power filter from an established larger tank. I introduced eight one inch electric blue jack Dempseys, one small severum, and two small Oscars. As a preventative measure, I treated with General Cure and added marine salt of about one tablespoon per five gallons to help with stress. My water parameters tested at a pH of about 6.6 with zero for both nitrites and ammonia and eight for nitrate. My temperature is set at 78 degrees and the fish were eating just fine. The severum and Oscars were slightly aggressive towards the Dempseys but not too much at least what I could tell.
After doing a water change of about ten gallons to remove some of the medication at the end of the treatment process, the Dempseys started to scratch themselves continuously, especially near the gill area. They also were breathing heavily and clamping their fins in. I couldn't see any signs of skin damage or the presence of Ich or velvet even though it is hard to see the Dempseys well with their light coloration. They became skittish and did not eat. I tested my water again and found the pH at about 7.8, nitrate at six, and zero for both ammonia and nitrite. I turned off the lights and added two powerheads near the water's surface to increase aeration. I added more salt to the aquarium after reading some suggestions from another website. The fish tank now has a salt content of about one tablespoon per gallon of water that I slowly added over three days. The severum and Oscars were behaving normally and still eating and not scratching. I removed the Oscars and severum to alleviate stress. The condition for my Dempseys only improved slightly over a week after showing the stressed symptoms but still hide and show little interest in food.
They still scratch and have their fins tucked in and swim along the bottom but not as much. A few of the Dempseys also dart around the tank and wiggle back and forth instead of typical swimming motion.
Is it possible that a pH increase of one unit could cause a bacterial outbreak from stress or that much salt could cause skin irritation? Any suggestions, actions I can take, or medication to use I would really appreciate. Thanks for the assistance Steve
< Could be Ich or a bacterial infection. Treat with Rid -Ich and follow the directions on the label. If that does not seem to be working after a couple of days then try Furan -2 for bacterial infections. Your general cure may not have enough of the right medication to cure the problem.-Chuck
Re: Sick electric blue jack Dempseys   6/8/11
Sick Electric Blue jack Dempsey II

Hi Chuck Is the Furan-2 from API the medication that you recommend?
Thanks for the help Steve
< Check the ingredients on the box. Look for Nitrofurazone.-Chuck>

Electric Blue Jack Dempsey 
Bacterial Infection On Electric Jack Dempsey  1/26/11

Hi, I have some concerns about my electric blue jack Dempsey. Starting about 3 months ago, I noticed what looked like a couple of missing scales on his body, close to the dorsal fin. Since then, the area has continued to decay and he now has a similar area on the other side of his body. At first I thought that he might have bumped into one of the ornaments, but the spot has become worse. On close examination, it looks like the scales are there but they are gray and irritated. Over the last month, I have taken care to
do 25% water changes weekly and I've kept an eye on the water quality. So far I've tried General Cure, Maracyn, and I have been adding a fish protector coat. Nothing seems to be helping my Dempsey. He has not exhibited any kind of strange/sick behavior and has a healthy appetite so is this just an aesthetic problem? Or is it internal? None of the other tank mates (Rasboras, rummy noses, Pleco) seem to have the same problem.
< The trauma to the area sounds like it got infected. Keeping the water clean is a good idea but I would try a different antibiotic like Furan-2.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey cichlid problem 1/9/11
About two weeks ago my Jack Dempsey cichlids where fighting and it resulted in them both loosing teeth and inside there mouths where red. Their mouths started healing but then after a few days it looked like warts where starting to grow in there mouths. I was told by a pet shop that it was a bacterial infection so I did a water change then treated the water but
nothing happened.
I have attached two pictures of the worse Jack Dempsey to try show you what it looks like.
They are eating fine and the other one is colourful and is still acting normal, but the one I have attached pictures of has lost its colour and only comes out to eat.
What should I do?
Thank you for your time.
<Hello Joe. Jack Dempseys fight and should not be kept together. They are named after a boxer, Jack Dempsey, precisely because they are so aggressive. Keep either a singleton or a matched pair. If you keep a pair, ensure that their pair bond is strong, and keep an eye out for damage to the female. It is often (perhaps usually?) necessary, isolate her outside of spawning (though breeding JDs isn't really recommended because the market for fry is trivially small). Anyway, while I doubt your fish has warts, it is certainly possible for fungal and/or bacterial infections (such as Finrot and Mouth "Fungus") to set in after fighting. I'd recommend a medication called eSHa 2000, widely sold in the UK and very inexpensive. It treats both fungus and most external bacterial infections, removing the need to diagnose the problem. Obviously, without good water quality and the right water chemistry the fish won't heal. So make sure you're providing clean water (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and less than 20 mg/l nitrate) and moderately hard, basic water chemistry (10+ degrees dH, pH 7-8). Keep JDs slightly on the cool side, 22-24 C being about right, outside of breeding. JDs are "diggers" and while they can be kept in tanks with either sand or fine, smooth gravel, sharp gravel can damage their mouths. In my opinion JDs are poor aquarium fish and only recommend for expert fishkeepers able to provide them with their own tank, 200 litres being the minimum for a single specimen alongside some catfish and/or other robust Central American cichlids. One last thing. Please do note we specifically ask for images be resized down to about 500 KB in side, rather than 1.5 MB you sent, presumably raw from the camera. Applications such as iPhoto can be used to resize images down to, say, 640 x 480 pixels, and that should do the trick nicely. Cheers, Neale.> 


Severely Sick Electric Blue Jack Dempsey 12/5/10
I'm having trouble with my Electric Blue Jack Dempsey. She's only about 5 inches total length in size and lives in a 30 gallon tank equipped with an Aqua Clear 50 gallon filter,
<Do understand that manufacturer's rating filters by aquarium size is a misleading, like the "18 servings" on boxes of cereal, "54 miles/gallon" fuel consumption stated for cars. What matters is turnover, and for
medium-sized cichlids like Rocio octofasciata, you need 6 to 8 times the volume of the tank per hour. So for a 30 gallon tank, that'd be 180 to 240 gallons/hour. Your Aquaclear 50 is rated at 200 gallons/hour, which is at the low end of the required range.>
and an Aqua Clear 10 gallon filter which I use strictly as a biological filter.
<For cichlids, most of the filtration should be biological. Nitrite and ammonia are extremely toxic to cichlids. DO NOT waste filter capacity with garbage like carbon or Zeolite, and limit the use of mechanical media as far as possible.>
I've had this tank running about two years and I've raised her in there with 2 small Corys.
<Amazed they're still alive, really.>
The PH is a steady 7.2, temperature of 78 degrees, I always use aquarium salt,
<Why? Aquarium salt has NO PART in proper aquarium maintenance.>
her water tests was always within the proper regions, low nitrates, no ammonia.
<Please give me the numbers, not your perceptions of them!>
She's fed a variety of foods including various Hikari pellets and different kinds of Omega flakes.
<But no feeder fish, I hope.>
I was traveling with school for a bit over a month so her tank wasn't getting cleaned like usual, when I came back she developed a clouded eye.
<Unfortunately, ABSOLUTELY classic when cichlids are kept in small tanks.
Nitrate and to some degree low oxygen concentration seem to be the keys here. Skip one or two water changes, and you can almost put money on cichlids getting sick from things like Pop-eye and Hexamita. It's very, VERY common. Your 30 gallon tank is about half the size required for Rocio octofasciata, so you're already on thin ice doing the 25% water changes per week. Skip a couple of those, and nitrates will go up and very likely water quality generally, including pH and oxygen, will go down. Net result, the
cichlid is stressed.>
(I'm wondering if she was being over fed and the water became badly contaminated?)
<Could very easily be part of the problem. If you're gone for up to 2 weeks, it's best simply to not feed the fish. Leave some floating Indian Fern or Common Pondweed in the tank, and a hungry cichlid will eat those. Even without plants, a healthy fish will easily go 2 weeks without food.>
I immediately did a 50% water change and treated her with Pima-fix which she didn't respond to, a week later I did a 25% water change added extra salt and treated with a combination of Pima-fix and Mela-fix.
<Both useless.>
She just continued to get worse.
<No surprise at all.>
I talked to people at my local pet shop and they said to treat her with API General Cure.
<Also useless.>
She's gone through 2 full treatments of this complete with the required 25% water changes. She developed a tuft of white growth on her fin so I'm adding Pima-Fix in to treat that as well.
She's really fighting this but I have no idea what to do now. Also, I have not run carbon in her filters at all during treatment.
<Carbon is pointless in most types of freshwater fishkeeping. Do read MODERN books on the subject. Carbon had a role decades ago when people avoided water changes. But if you do 25% water changes weekly, then the carbon has nothing to do.>
Since her eye cloud she progressively got worse, she has white fecal matter,
<Hexamita; white stringy faeces classic symptom.>
scales have fallen off her side (but not in patches and there is no bloating), she's very dark, she has excess body slime,
<Classic signs of environmental stress.>
her fins are developing little pin sized holes in them,
she isn't eating much, and today she's swimming oddly. I've tried reading around on the internet but there's nothing that encompasses all of these symptoms that I can find. Today I noticed a bit of bright red in the bottom of her unaffected eye.
Also the tuft of white on her fin actually fell off. I have absolutely no idea what's wrong or what to do, I've treated for bacterial and fungal infections. She's hanging in there, sometimes she even acts normal, but I
don't know how much longer she'll hold out. What should I do? I've even tried to entice her to eat with garlic drops on her pellets and she still isn't interested.
<Don't feed her at all. Treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace as per instructions. Other antibiotics and medications will be a total waste of time; GET THESE TWO and used together. Also add 1 tablespoon Epsom Salt (not tonic/aquarium salt) per 5 gallons to help reduce swelling of the eye.
Obviously you must upgrade the aquarium and filtration to ensure long-term success. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Severely Sick Electric Blue Jack Dempsey 12/5/10
Thank you, Neale.
<You are most welcome.>
I am glad you were able to point out aquarium keeping flaws that I hadn't even known were problems. I thought the only issue was the size of her tank which I plan to rectify when I can afford to do so.
I thought that due to her size that it wasn't a hurry, however, if she'd been in the proper sized tank with adequate filtration this may not have happened.
<With cichlids, the size of the aquarium really is important, in ways you can't always establish with test kits. Nitrite and nitrate can both seem fine, yet the cichlids develop problems with Hexamita, Dropsy, Pop-eye, and other difficult to treat syndromes. There are surely a combination of factors at work, but it's now reasonably well established that overcrowding cichlids causes health problems unless water changes are large and very regular; in the case of things like the aggressive Mbuna cichlids, often kept at high stocking levels, weekly water changes of up to 50% are not uncommon. Diet is another issue, with many people ignoring the fact that most cichlids consume some fresh plant material, so when you give them just pellets, flakes or meaty live foods, you end up with fibre and Vitamin C deficiencies, among other problems.>
Her water quality was : roughly around 10ppm on the color pallet for nitrate,
<Should be fine, but note that above 20 mg/l, cichlid health rapidly worsens. The aim is for as close to zero as is practical.>
0ppm nitrite, 0ppm ammonia,
<No problems here.>
I use an API test kit that goes by color cards and test tubes so it's a pinch of guesswork. I add aquarium salt to my tank as a general tonic and preventative measure for any type of parasites. I guess this is an old way of thinking.
<Indeed. Salt *was* useful in the past because it reduces nitrate toxicity and, in the case of hard water cichlids, was believed to offset problems with osmoregulation, i.e., the balance of salt and water between the body of the fish and its environment. In practise salt doesn't provide a long-term cure for keeping hard water cichlids in soft water, and in fact is strongly implicated -- by vets, not just hobbyists! -- as a cause of Malawi Bloat, a Dropsy-like condition that plagues cichlids. In short, while salt is harmless used occasionally as a medicine, and in such cases less dangerous than traditional Ick medication, salt shouldn't be used long-term unless you're keeping brackish water cichlids, of which there are many.>
I've read and been told so many different approaches when it comes to my fish that it's no surprise that I've been making mistakes.
<Indeed, and one of the reasons aquarium books and magazines stay in business is precisely because the hobby keeps changing as people discover methods that work better! If you looked at the fish kept in the 50s and 60s, they were very different species to the ones we keep now, with things like Spanner Barbs and Port Cichlids being popular. Why? Because among other things these species could tolerate poor water quality and low water temperatures better than many of the species we keep today. As the hobby gets better at keeping fish, the "standard" species change from these bullet-proof species to prettier, but more delicate, ones instead. Angelfish are the classic examples -- until the 70s considered very difficult to keep, but thanks in part to domestication but also to much better heaters and filters, they're now among the most common fish kept, and arguably easier to keep than Goldfish!>
I will find an updated aquarist book in the hopes that it can prevent any future misconceptions.
<There are a great many. Do have a read here:
Some of these can be picked up for pennies on Amazon.com. The "Manual of Fish Health" is a particularly good book if you want something about how aquaria work, about filtration and water chemistry, and about diseases, diet and medicine. As such, it's a book that isn't tied to a particular sort of fish, so will be useful no matter what sort of aquarium or pond you maintain. It's one of my Bibles!>
I generally don't use carbon in my tanks as I've never had a need for it, I put it in her tank in hopes to remove any of the Pima/Melafix before I treated with the General Cure because I didn't know if the combination would overwhelm her.
<A wise precaution, and precisely the *right* way to use carbon.>
I have added Metronidazole tonight and tomorrow will purchase the Epsom salts and Nitrofuranace.
<Very good. While there are no guarantees in life, this particular combo is one of the best for a wide range of cichlid problems.>
I have to look up those products now and see where to buy them locally as far as the Nitrofuranace goes. Also, I have an old Aqua Clear 100 gallon filter from one of my other tanks, I replaced it with a newer model but it still works fine, would this be adequate to put on this tank for now?
<I wouldn't change the filter right now, since water quality looks fine. For now, medicate the fish and wait for things to improve. Changing the filter would merely add *another* variable. Much better to keep things simple.>
One last question: Would it be safe to move the Corys to an established 20 gallon planted tank with no fish in it, or should I treat them with her in the event that they have any of these diseases but aren't showing symptoms?
<An interesting question. None of these medications should harm your Corydoras. On the other hand, I doubt the cichlid has anything "catchy" but rather has succumbed to a generic cichlid ailment of some sort caused by cramped conditions or lack of water changes. So moving the Corydoras shouldn't cause problems. If the 20-gallon tank is planted and I assume has a running filter, it should have a small population of filter bacteria. Adding two Corydoras will cause a mini-cycle, yes, but I doubt a lethal one. Move the catfish across if you want, but feed them very lightly, and do nitrite tests every 2-3 days to see how things are going. Be prepared to do one or two extra 20% water changes per week through the first 2-3 weeks if the nitrite level rises above zero.>
They're acting fine and happy. still alive as surprising as that is.
<Corydoras paleatus is a very hardy species and one of the best catfish for beginners. Because they enjoy quite cool water, they're ideal companions for Danios, Platies, Swordtails, Neons and Black Phantom Tetras that also enjoy quite cool conditions. They can also work very well with fancy Goldfish!>
Thank you for everything. I'm not sure how long my fish will hold on,
<Do read here:
Clove Oil at 30 drops in a litre tub of aquarium water is a painless method for destroying sick fish. At some point, there's a decision to be made whether treating a sick fish is helping, and I for one prefer to destroy them before their lives become intolerable.>
but I will expend all available options. I greatly appreciate your help Neale. Sláinte
<My pleasure to help, and good luck. Cheers, Neale.>

Electric Blue Jack Dempsey Health Problem   8/26/10
Electric Blue Jack Dempsey Thin

Hello, just wanted to say I think your site is great and I'm glad you all take so much time to help people out with their fish dilemmas.
< Thank you for your kind words.>
I have a dilemma of my own...I recently moved my young Electric Blue Jack Dempsey into a 75 gallon tank
that has been cycled for nearly a year now. She is the only fish in there. I have had the EBJD for nearly a month now, and I noticed today that it appears her "rib cage" is bulging and then tapers up all the way to her tail, as if she is not eating. I have been feeding her high quality flakes and pellets (like I do all of my Jack Dempseys) and have recently started feeding her frozen brine.
I do not know much about parasites/disease other than ICH which I have successfully treated before. Is it possible her physical appearance is due to a parasite, or just being a finicky eater? Any thoughts would help out tremendously. The tank is fully cycled, planted, amm 0, nitrates 0, and pH acceptable. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Best Regards, Ryan
< The rib cage is bulging but the rest of the fish is tapered to the tail. Sounds very strange. Could be your young fish is having trouble finding enough food in a big tank. I would skip the flakes and frozen brine and concentrate more on feeding pellets. Feed enough so that all the food is gone in five minutes. The bulging rib cage worries me though. You might try feeding a medicated food that has Metronidazole in it.-Chuck>

Chuck help my Jack Dempsey (Monster) 8/16/2010
Sick Old Jack Dempsey

My JD is very sick. He was laying sideways at the bottom of our tank behind a rock. He had labored breathing, he looked bent, his bottom fins looked smashed under him, his anus was whitish, he turned all black, and he had a popped out eye. I read some Q&As and they (Chuck) answered many of my questions. So I started treating him with Metro and Nitro in a hospital tank. Today is the second day of treatment. He (which is probably a she after reading about having more blue coloring) has started to feel better.
His color is back, his bottom fins are down, he is more balanced and splashing around some. But he still is having the other problems mentioned above. My questions are, do I do a water change daily before treatment?
many days of treatment? If he get better when can he go back to his regular tank? Can the other fish get sick from him? He is eight years old. If he gets better how many more years can I expect to enjoy him? He has been there since the very start of our tank. Thank you so much! I love the site! You probably saved his life!
< This web site is all about saving organisms. This is why I do it. I would recommend treating every other day and doing a 50% water change on the days you don't medicate. When he starts to eat then I would stop medicating and slowly feed a high quality flake a pellet food. At this age it may be tough to get a full recovery. When he starts to eat I would still keep him in the hospital tank for awhile until he seems to be close to normal. I would check the water quality of the main tank and change the diet. You still might get a few more years out of him. Glad to hear our advice is helping.-Chuck>

Floating Jack Dempsey  5/1/10
Hello! First off, I wanted to let you know how helpful your website has been in the past and that the time you guys (and gals) take to help people like me is really appreciated.
< Thank you for your kind words.>
That being said, I hope that you can help me with a problem I can't seem to find the answer to. I have a breeding pair of Jack Dempsey's, about 3 years old. This is not my first go at having these fish, but is the first time I've had this problem. My male Dempsey became bloated about three weeks ago. He is still eating, but his appetite has seriously declined. The bloat is causing him to struggle with swimming, fighting to stay away from the surface. After awhile, he'll just float at the top, still upright, but top fin out of the water. His abdomen is noticeably enlarged and I am finding undigested food at the bottom of the tank. I have tried treating with meds for bacterial, treating with salts, and trying to feed skinned peas, all to no avail. After doing research about this there are so many varied answers, much of which make no sense at all.
Since I trust your websites knowledge I'd appreciate it if you could give me some options as to how to take care of this. I'm contemplating euthanasia at this point simply because he's not showing any progress and I feel like his quality of life is going downhill. I would love to avoid doing this at all cost. My female is healthy and completely unaffected by whatever is ailing my male. I have separated the two (they are in a 55 gallon - no other fish) by "fencing" off about a third of the tank since in his obvious state, she has begun attacking him. I have been doing water changes, keeping everything clean and doing every trick I know and I still can't seem to make it any better. I'm willing to try anything, but if euthanasia is the final option, could you please include a humane way of doing so? I've heard of using Alka Seltzer, but am skeptical of this. Again, I appreciate your reply, and the time you take to answer questions. I look forward to hearing from you.
< Your male Dempsey has an internal infection. Treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone. You may need to look at the ingredients on the box to actually see these medications listed. You could also buy them online at Drsfostersmith.com. The medication works best during the early stages of the disease. If you don't think it is getting better then place in a small container and add Alka seltzer to the water. The CO2 put out by the Alka seltzer displaces the O2 in the water. The fish sleeps then dies.-Chuck>

Re: Floating Dempsey 5/11/10
Jack Dempsey Recovered From Boat
Good Morning Chuck, I wanted to thank you for the advice that you gave me regarding my Dempsey. I was able to get the Metronidazole, but could not find the Nitrofurazone. Either way, my fish is coming around quite nicely. The bloating has gone down and he's swimming around regularly with no apparent struggles. He's still pretty thin, but seems in much better spirits and his appetite is increasing. I am extremely happy to report that I do believe that he is going to pull through this. Once again, thank you for sharing your knowledge with me, it proved invaluable. Hoping you enjoy your day, Elizabeth
< Sometimes the disease is caused by bacteria, in this case it was caused by a protozoan and it appears that the Metronidazole was effective. Thank you very much for your kind words and we are vey glad we were able to help keep your fish alive.-Chuck>

Electric Blue Jack Dempsey acting strange 2/22/10
First off, I greatly appreciate your work and visit your site often for your helpful information as I am a beginner when it comes to the fish hobby.
<Kind of you to say so.>
This is the first time I am writing with a question of my own.
<Fire away.>
I have a year old electric blue jack Dempsey (about 4 inches) and is not his usual self. I woke up today and he was  moving up near the top of the tank by the heater.
<With cichlids, this is a common reaction when living conditions aren't as they should be. Cichlids are peculiarly sensitive to things like low water temperature and poor oxygenation. High nitrate levels and pH changes can cause similar effects.>
Usually he swims all around and is very active. For most of his life he was living in a 10 gallon tank (which I know I kept him in for too long but had problems setting up my 36 and did not want to put him in there until the tank was ready and properly cycled) and recently was moved into a 36 gallon community tank.
<Jack Dempseys are hardly community fish...>
He is in there with a couple tetras and a red tail shark which he gets along fine with.
<For now.>
About 4 months ago, my heater in his 10 gallon malfunctioned and brought the temperature up to 98 degrees overnight.
I was very upset because the heater practically cooked him, but luckily he is a fighter. After that happened, he had a slight case of fin rot but I treated that quickly with Melafix. Ever since the heater malfunctioned, it seems as if his eye sight has deteriorated.
He is just bad at catching food when it is falling through the water but can still pick it up off the sand.
<So long as he's able to eat something, and has at least one good eye, I wouldn't worry unduly.>
Just a week ago I changed the filter pad in the 36 gallon tank. The temperature is 79 degrees, ammonia and nitrites 0, nitrates 10, but my Ph is in the high 7's. This high Ph is normal in my tanks due to the water quality where I live, so my fish are used to the slightly higher Ph levels.
<Not likely an issue here, since JDs need hard, basic water. You should be aiming for about pH 7.5, 10-20 degrees dH.>
I have sufficient filtration and aeration in the tank.
<Ah, but do you... Do check water quality; cichlids are among the first fish to react negatively to non-zero nitrite/ammonia levels, and they also despise nitrate levels above 20 mg/l.>
Yesterday he was completely normal when I checked on him before work around 4pm. Then around 8pm my mother started noticing him acting strange. He is not bloated, he is eating fine, and his poop looks normal. If I seem too concerned, forgive me. He is my buddy and I just want to hear your thoughts. If you think he has a specific problem, I just want to know as soon as possible to start treatment or precautionary measures.
<Difficult to say what's the issue here. Start with possible social behaviour factors. Is he being bullied or nipped? You have at least one Shark Minnow (known to be aggressive) and some tetras (some of which, like Serpae and Black Widow tetras are confirmed fin-nippers). Check water quality. Check water circulation, and if you can, do a water change today. Change out 25%, and if the fish peps up, that's a clue water conditions are at fault. Do read up on Central American cichlids:
Thank you for your time,
Rick and "Jack"
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Electric Blue Jack Dempsey acting strange
Thank you for your advice and I caught the culprit in the act.
<Good news.>
Problem was my red tail shark.
<Am I good or what!>
My electric blue is not an aggressive fish and was being bullied and chased by the shark when I cam home from work today.
<Tables may turn once the Jack Dempsey gets larger.>
Shark is now out of the tank and placed in 10 gallon "prison" for the time being so I can figure out what to do with him because I do like it.
<Red-tail Sharks need large tanks; certainly the tank should measure at least 120 cm (about 4 feet) from left to right. They have considerable territorial instincts, and will defend that patch of land against all comers. They aren't really community fish, unless kept with small, schooling minnows and tetras that they generally ignore. In cichlid tanks they tend to cause problems.>
My Jack is now swimming around like normal with the tetras, he is not flashing anymore and all is well. Thank you again for your help and for taking the time to help others like me with their finned friends.
<Always happy to help.>
Rick and Jack
<Cheers, Neale.>

Electric Blue Dempseys need an ophthalmologist
Electric Jack Dempsey With Whitish Eyes  7/14/09

I recently received 2 Electric Blue Dempseys. I realize the heavy-inbreeding makes them weak, but can you help with a particular problem: While both are rather bug-eyed (perhaps over-pressurization when shipped to me?), one has a white coating over at least ½ of one of his eyes, extending beyond the back of it. The attached photos aren't very good, but there's a clearer video at
Any suggestions for treatment?
< Check the nitrates. They should be under 20 ppm. This is a bacterial infection that can be treated with clean water and antibiotics like Erythromycin.>
Is it likely a fungus or a genetic defect?
< A bacterial infection brought on by stress.>
And regarding their pop-eyes, would raising the salt level create some osmotic pressure to help deflate the bulging?
< The pop- eye is a bacterial infection behind the eye socket. Treat with a combination of Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole.>
The water quality is excellent � canister filter, undergravel filter, periodic water changes, and biweekly diatom filtering.
Their diet is varied and includes earthworms, frozen krill, and dry fish food. Thanks for any help. And incidentally, you've got a great website!
Mike Roland Waldorf, MD
< You actually may be over cleaning the tank and removing the beneficial bacteria needed for biological filtration. Check the ammonia and nitrites. They should always be zero. Like I said before the nitrates should be under 20 ppm. The diet looks fine.-Chuck>

Gasping Jack Dempsey
Jack Dempsey Looking Ill 6/1/2009

Hi, I have a blue jack Dempsey that has been breathing harder for a couple of days and today is gasping more and faster, it is about 6 cm and I have only had it for a week. It is still swimming but not as much and is slightly paler in colour, also hasn't eaten in 2 days. I have tested the water and everything checks out fine, no ammonia, nitrite or nitrate, I have done a 30% water change yesterday and did my weekly change a few days ago. The tank is 250 liters and has a external canister filter and a internal power filter, also a air stone. Tank mates are 2 blue Acaras 9 cm, butterfly ram, ghost knife, chocolate stripe catfish, Synodontis, and a few small tetras. I had a dwarf flag cichlid that died about a week ago with a swollen stomach and gasping but scales looked fine, unsure of what was wrong with it and local shop couldn't help either, not sure if these are related issues or not? Can you please help as I don't won't the jack Dempsey to die and I don't want to miss treat.
Thanks in advance for your reply Carl, New Zealand
< It is very unusual to have no nitrate readings in an established tank.
Your flag cichlid that passed away may be giving us a clue as to what is wrong with your Jack Dempsey. The gasping is a sign of many things. The bloated stomach of the flag cichlid is a sign of an internal infection.
Loss of appetite is also a sign of an internal infection. The internal infection may be caused by stress or diet. Sometimes a diet with land based plant matter or too much protein stresses the digestive system and blocks
the gut. Bacteria in the gut multiply and cause swelling in the gut as well. The best treatment is in a hospital tank with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey Mouth Open (Gasping)
Jack Dempsey With Difficult Breathing - 06/05/09

Hi first off thanks for all the help and info that I've found, this site has been priceless although it is extremely difficult to find the problem I specifically have in this blog fashion. So I apologize if you've answered this and I just didn't find it. Ok on to the issue. I have a small Jack Dempsey in a 20 gallon now until this weekend or
the next were I get a 75 gal to transfer most of my fish into. Lately my Dempsey has kept his mouth open and seems to be gasping, sort of how kissing gouramis do or goldfish. He didn't do this before and I'm
worried because I don't know what that could be. Could it be lack of oxygen or maybe too much oxygen?
< Usually lack of oxygen or your fish cannot pull the oxygen from the water due top some trauma to the gills.>
I have an air pump and can regulate it, or is it his tankmates?
<Extreme over crowding can pull more oxygen out of the water than can be absorbed from the atmosphere, but needs to be really extreme.>
At the time I have all my fish together in this tank and I had a parrot fish that was extremely territorial
and would swim after all the fish in my tank. I think he basically wanted to own the entire tank.. Could it be my water quality?
< Probably>
But he was fine when I first brought him,
< He's not fine now.>
He got really light in color and would swim all over the tank. He originally was really dark at the LFS and has now returned to that dark coloration. So I know I've set up some scenarios but what exactly could the problem be and more importantly what can I do to fix it?
< Check the ammonia and nitrites. They should be zero. Check the nitrates.
They should be under 20 ppm. If all these tests check out ok then it could be gill flukes are attacking the gills and can be treated with Fluke-Tabs.
The water temp should be between 75 and 80 F. Water that is too hot cannot carry as much oxygen as cooler water.>
And not have my Dempsey die I love that fish. Oh I also added some plants, 2 purple Cabombas and a wort, not sure what kind it was the shop said it might be moneywort. Anyways it's the tall one I added these as cover from the parrotfish that I now have sequestered as I figure out what to do.
< Plants that are not growing are going to die and add to the ammonia and nitrite problems. If they are thriving then they will absorb some of the nitrogenous waste.-Chuck>

Bloated Jack Dempsey 3/15/09
My JDs is about 2 inches long and one has a swollen white belly can you tell me why this might be i thought maybe it may be pregnant
with eggs wasn't sure? Thanks, Shawn
< Probably an internal infection caused by stress. Could be poor water quality, food, etc... Recommend treatment in a hospital tank with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. May be cheaper just top replace the

Jack Dempsey hemorrhage 10/29/08 Hello there, <Hello,> I am having a bit of trouble with my Jack Dempsey and after multiple fruitless searches both online and in my books I am unable to find a suitable diagnosis. <Oh?> Background: six fish in 160 US gallon (605 L) aquarium fully cycled filtered by a wet-dry with no chemical media. Water parameters are all within range. Fish include Oscar, two Green Severums, Pleco, Jack Dempsey, and Congo Puffer (puffer rescued from neglectful owner about 8 months ago). Weekly water changes and mechanical filter media inspections. None of the fish show signs of aggressiveness to other tank mates. <Hmm... the Congo Puffer, Tetraodon miurus, is extremely territorial, and apart from perhaps the Pleco, none of these fish are "safe". It is also a known "biter" -- in the wild it lurks at the bottom of rivers, swimming upwards to take chunks out of large fish or to eat small fish whole. By no means a good community species. Puffers do vary of course, and you may have a friendly specimen, but do keep an eye out for signs of bites and/or fin damage.> Recent illnesses: Ich. Treated with Formalin and Malachite Green for 14 consecutive days, no reoccurrence has been observed. <Again, the Puffer is the Joker in the pack -- Puffers can react badly to certain copper and formalin medications. Not been my experience, but has been reported with the species I've kept, but I have no personal experience of Tetraodon spp. so would urge caution and observation.> Symptoms of disease: Jack Dempsey about 5in long showing ulceration or hemorrhage with protruding mass in thoracic region between pelvic fins and anus.. <Sounds horribly like a Pufferfish bite. Is it circular? Did the wound suddenly appear out of nowhere? Perhaps as a bite, and then becoming infected as the days passed? Or did it start as a small ulcer that gradually got bigger. If the former, I'm fairly sure Mr. Puffer is to blame. If the latter, it's critical to know if the ulcer is ahead of the anus (i.e., on the skin) or around the anus itself (i.e., possibly an infection of the digestive tract).> Mass is pink in color and smooth in texture approximately .5in long and .25in in diameter. The mass shows no unusual discoloration and no signs of infection. The region surrounding the mass is unremarkable no loss of color no apparent swelling and no signs of infection, no emaciation. The fish shows no signs of stress fins are not clamped and subject is mobile, appetite seems to be hindered and gill function seems normal, no flashing or sensitivity to the affected area has been observed. Diet normally consists of pellet food (Hikari Gold) sometimes eats thawed uncooked unshelled shrimp normally fed to the puffer (live food can carry infection and is usually avoided) puffer shows no unusual behavior or physical abnormalities. All other fish show no symptoms of disease or illness. <Since the fish is healthy otherwise, I'd immediately treat with antibiotics if possible, for example Maracyn or Maracyn 2 (try the first, and if that doesn't help, the second). If were talking about an infected wound, with luck clean water and antibiotic treatment will help turn the tide. Isolating the fish, if possible, will help significantly.> Dempsey has not been observed excreting feces since onset of symptoms. Pink mass appears to increase and decrease in size by all dimensions at random, no correlation to feeding has been positively established. Although mobility has not been visibly affected the fish seems to be lethargic and remains in one place (front of tank mid-depth) most of the time, no sensitivity to light has been observed, position and buoyancy is normal establishing there is no injury or illness affecting the swim bladder. <Do really need to see a photo to put these comments in context.> Thoughts: Possibly hemorrhagic enteritis or an intestinal bacterial infection. Also considering internal parasitic infection. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide a picture of the fish in its current condition. Hopefully you can assist me in a diagnosis and treatment for this condition or at least point me in the direction of the answer. If more information is required I will respond as soon as possible. Thank you for your time and assistance, Eric <Isolate the fish in a hospital tank, treat with antibiotics, and look for signs of the infection dying down. Good luck, Neale.>

Rocio octofasciata; health  -- 7/30/08 I have a jack Dempsey. His body looks broken or something. he still swims. but the front of his body is bigger than the back. he looks bent. What's wrong.. <Difficult to say without a picture. If this is something he's always had, then likely genetic and if he's swimming and feeding fine, don't be too concerned. If it something that has suddenly occurred, then that's much more serious. Cichlids can exhibit a range of symptoms in response to physical damage (e.g., fighting), poisoning, poor diet, wrong water chemistry, etc. They are really among the most sensitive fish kept by aquarists. So, how about sending a photo and then telling me more about the conditions in the tank: pH, hardness, nitrite, temperature, aquarium size, tankmates, filtration, etc. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Dempsey  lump between eyes  our fish before lump hi there...our Texas cichlid developed this fluid filled lump between his eyes and appears to be under its skin.  any ideas as to what it is? we have had him for 5 years. about a month ago he had orange stuff (looked like the food we give him) come out of one of his nostrils. we didn't treat it in any way and he seemed to get over it. now      this cyst or something...the pet store said to look online at parasites, but I can't find descriptions or pictures. just microscope pictures of parasites... any help would be appreciated.  I will try to send a picture. < Your old male jack Dempsey has a case of bloat. It is caused by anaerobic bacteria that starts in the gut and has moved to between the eyes. The only treatment is Metronidazole. Treat the fish in a hospital tank if possible. Change 50% every other day after treatment. When you fish begins to eat then he is getting cured. You have an old fish an this may be hard to cure.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey Hello I have a Jack Dempsey's that is very ill.  I think he has pop-eye.  His eyes are bulging but he is also very bloated.  I was gone for several days and my grandson fed him frozen red worms but I really don't think that is the problem.  I moved the tank out of bedroom into the living room.  I drained water level down and then refilled ...I took a female smaller Dempsey out because the larger one was so aggressive.  He had a vase that he stayed in but now he won't enter into it. He has labored breathing and mouth is open.  I changed air filters around when setting the other tanks when I returned the air stone was not working properly but filter was running.  Everything I have read so far says to use antibiotic such as penicillin where do I get this?  I have applied Melafix twice...1 teaspoon each time.  this is a ten gal. tank.  I put the female back in do to air problem in 2nd tank. there is also a large catfish in the tank and he is fine < Your fish have been suffering from poor water quality. Catfish in general are more tolerant that some others. Overfeeding has caused the waste to build up faster than the filter could handle it and it has made your jack Dempsey sick. Change 30% of the water, vacuum the gravel, and service the filter. Treat the tank with Metronidazole and follow the directions on the package. You should see some results one way or another in a few days.-Chuck> Open for any suggestions thanks Coletha  
Re: Jack Dempsey
Thank you for your reply. I had gotten some medicine and treated the tank and then cleaned it out ..he is very much back to normal, but I'm very glad to find out what caused the problem.  Will blood worms for fill the need for live fish? < Live food always helps but you should also feed washes earthworms too.> Do I need to leave the smaller Dempsey in the tank? < As long as the fish are getting along then size is not a problem. It is when the bigger one starts inflicting damage that you have to keep them separate. Make sure the smaller fish is getting enough to eat by spreading this food around.> I'm not sure if she is a female or not. < Female Jack Dempsey's Have lots of blue on the lower jaw while males have hardly any at all. Males also get bigger and have more blue spots on the body with longer fins. Females have less blue speckling.-Chuck> Thanks again

Jack Dempsey Hello Crew, I just found your website this morning...it's wonderful and full of information.   My question is regarding my Jack Dempsey.  I have had him for almost 2 years.  I am not sure how old he is because he was full grown when I purchased him.  The last week he has had some white things growing out of his head.  I'm not sure if they are worms or what.  Also he just sits on the bottom of the tank and his stomach is bloating...like he's pregnant.  Do you have any insight on what it is and what I can do for him?   Thank you, Kristie < Your old fish is stressed and needs some attention. Cichlids from Central and South America sometimes come down with a condition called hole-in-the-head. These are little lesions growing from the forehead. It sounds like he has developed bloat too and is no longer eating. Do a 30% water change and service the filter. Treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Nervous Jack Dempsey Hi my name is Anette and I have a question for you regarding my jack Dempsey. Lately his behavior has been unusual. He tends to twitch, like a jerk back and forth and then scratches against the rocks. Now I have checked to see if he has a parasite or any changes in his color. He looks the same. He eats and doesn't seem to isolate himself from the other fish. He seems fine on the outside. Now he doesn't do this on a constant basis, but when he does it is very strange. I don't know what to do or how to detect what is wrong with him. If you can help me that would be great. Thanks Anette < Check the nitrates. If they are over 25 ppm then they need to come down with a water change. When the nitrates are elevated the bacteria that are harmful to fish begin to multiply and start to overwhelm the fishes natural defenses. I would do a 30% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Wait a few days and watch and see if he gets better.-Chuck> 

Sick Jack Dempsey I have an 11 ½', eight year old Jack Dempsey. In the past three months we have moved for New Mexico to Arizona. My fish seemed to be doing fine until the last few weeks. He is in a 50gal tank by himself. All of the water tests that I have ran are fine. But he has not eaten in the past three weeks. He has been on and off his food since the move. I have recently become concerned though because he has never gone this long without food. There is no apparent reason for this change in the fish. His color is good, no sings of illness or fungus and all his scales and fins are in good condition. He is starting to lose weight but is still swimming around the tank like normal. Any recommendations would be great.  Thanks Stacy <Please, when writing us include what tests you have run and the results. This sounds like a water quality issue. The numbers for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH would tell the tail. Or maybe tale. You are looking for zero ammonia and nitrite, nitrate below 20ppm. The actual reading of pH is not very important as long as it's not off the charts, high or low. You just want to maintain a steady pH close to your tap water's value so you do not shock him with a water change. Which I hope you are doing. The water changes, not the shocking. If all is good with the water, try tempting him by holding an earthworm up to the tank. I've had Dempseys try to break the glass for a worm. Don> 

Re: Sick jack Dempsey Thank you for the advice he's doing better but my water is still red from the tetracycline. <Keep doing water changes, add some activated carbon ("charcoal") to your filter flow path...> The patches on his sides have now turned into a kind of cotton looking fiber.  I've started doing water changes and the water is  improving.  He's eating again but still sits on the bottom, when I walk up to the tank he does however swim to the front to look at me.  What should I  be feeding him, I feed him the cichlid sticks, and sometimes crickets that escape from my lizards cages.  He does have hole in the head I've seen a  few pin holes above his eye and a couple on his nose.  I do have the medication for this however.    Thanks again. Dina <Please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dempseyfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Dempsey Down for the Count My Jack Dempsey has been sick on and off for months now. I've had him about 5 years. He started off in a 5 gallon tank he was about 3 inches long, know he's in a 55 gallon tank and is about 11 inches long. I've never kept a tank other then him, we've got reptiles and cats and whatever else my two boys bring home, but we've become attached to Dempsey. Lately he's been scratching him self on the rocks, I treated him for parasites and it seemed to get better, I don't change the water but every couple of weeks. Know he has small pin holes in between his eyes and one above his right eye, I believe that's hole in the head which I've got medicine for but the problem is he's know sitting on the bottom of the tank he had small blue dots yesterday, but today those dots look like they have popped open and are sores, He's darting around the tank like a mad fish and is breathing rapid. I've treated him for bacterial infections, and fungal infections, I've added salt before. All my efforts and its keeps coming back. I think my water quality probably has a lot to do with it since I don't know what I'm doing. I don't what I should treat him for. We've become really attached to this guy and it's killing us to watch this. Please help <First you need to get this guys house in order. Stop all medication and start some heavy water changes. 40 to 50% daily for a week or more. Use a gravel vac to remove all the old organics from the system. Move rocks and other decorations and clean under them. When you treat with meds you kill off the beneficial bacteria needed to control your water quality. So don't do that! Remove him to a QT tank if you must treat. Don't worry about the flashing. In this case I'm 99% sure it's from high nitrates. Pristine water should help clear up the Hole in Head. If not treat with Metronidazole, in a QT. Don>

Dempsey not up to fighting 9/19.5/05 Hello, <Hi, Catherine here> Just a quick question.  I have a 35 gallon tank with one Jamp Dempsey that I  have had for 6 to 7 years.  <Jack Dempsey>  He just started hanging upside down.  <Yikes, what are the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in that tank?  Do a few big water changes and see if that makes him feel better.> I am sure that I need a bigger tank.  <You do.>  The fish is approximately  10-12 inches. <I'd at least double the tank size.  That guy needs room to swim.> Thanks, Judith <You know what you need to do.  Catherine> Sick Black Jack Dempseys  08/08/2005 Hello. I have a pair of Jack Dempseys. I am not sure what sex they are. They are about 3 years old. One is about 7 inches long and is definitely the dominant one in the  tank. The other is about 5 inches long. They used to get along great but the larger one is dominating the tank as they have matured. My question is: the smaller of the two has lost most of its color on its body HOWEVER... its head is very dark... almost black. Is this normal? Thanks for your time, Tom < The black is usually a sign of nerve damage caused by trauma or a bacterial infection. I would isolate and treat with Nitrofurazone.-Chuck>

Question about my twitching jack Dempsey cichlid 7/30/05 Hi, I spent hours yesterday researching the faq's on your site and found a couple things that seemed similar/helpful but am still not quite sure on what the problem is. <When do you think you might be ready to help us respond to queries?>   My Cichlid is doing this weird twitching/shaking thing but he isn't scratching himself... just twitching and sometimes he will float sideways a teensy bit and then jerk back to normal and keep swimming around. <Summat very wrong with your water quality or the neural make-up of this fish> I found a couple articles, one suggesting this is a nitrate problem in the tank and I found on marineworld.com changing 25% of the water every 2-3 days can help alleviate that. <Always a good idea... "when in doubt, change water"> So I've started that but the second article was asking about a shimmy (which I don't know what exactly that is <A descriptive term... like the dance... not a label for an actual causative mechanism> so I cant tell if that's my lil guy's prob or not) and the response to it said it is perhaps a parasite. So this is where I am lost because this is a new tank (still in it's initial 30 day cycle) <Ahh... likely to do then with the actual cycling process... very, very common... and often deadly.> so I know using medication in it can cause more harm than good, <Yes> and I don't know how to tell exactly if it is a parasite and if so which one. His color is still great, there is no bloating or funny growths or bulging eyes... he looks great and he's still eating just fine, he's just twitching.  Thank you so much for your help!!!!!!! Sara <Sara, please read on WWM re establishing biological filtration: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Likely your fish is suffering from ammonia and/or nitrite poisoning. Bob Fenner>

Sick Jack Dempsey, dearth of useful info.  11/12/2005 I have a 6-8 year old Jack Dempsey that is really sick. The back half of him is black, he's been hiding in the corner and is rapidly breathing.  <Bad symptoms> He also hasn't eaten in a week. <Very bad> I notice today that he has a few small ulcers. I think maybe it's a bacterial infection but not sure.  <...? What?> I've started changing the water everyday. The first day I changed 75%, now I've been changing about 1/3. I also put Erythromycin in the tank and Melafix. Please help he's a strong fish and were very attached to him. Dina <... need much more information re the system, its history... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dempseyfaqs.htm and the linked files above, and write back with particulars re this animals environment, testing, your care. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick Dempsey  11/14/05 Regarding his care I usually change the water 1 to 2 weeks. He's the only fish in the tank which is a 55 gallon. I have a filter with 2 bio-wheel and an undergravel filter. <This all should be fine> As far as testing, I seldom check because I didn't realize I was supposed to our water is from a well and there is no chlorine in our water. <Mmm, might be other things in the water...> I feed him cichlid sticks and normally he's okay. I've been changing the water everyday about 1/3 to 1/2. And I did a 75% water change about 4 days ago. I'm worried that he hasn't eaten for about 6 days. Is there anyway I can feed him? <I would try earthworms (from your garden or the "bait store" (for fishing). These they find hard to resist> He seems to do better when I change the water or at least it gets him up and swimming. I've been putting MelaFix in everyday without carbon. He's still holding on but he's been rapidly breathing. Also I added salt one day. Please let me know ASAP what I can do. We are really attached to this fish. Dina  <I would look into changing out some water from another source other than your well first here, perhaps raising the temperature a few degrees F., and using activated carbon, removing/stopping the tea/Melafix. Bob Fenner>  

Electric blue Jacks... Chuck!   8/8/06 Dear crew,   Best website in the world for a fish enthusiast!  Thanks for all your help in the past.  I recently (7 months) bought a pair of electric blue jack Dempseys. <These are gorgeous> I've owned a tank or two for years and thought I did all the right things, cycled the 85g for about a month with some tetras, checked  the water quality constantly, etc..  When I purchased the fish they were about an inch long.  I put them in a 15g quarantine tank and gave them Coppersafe, <Mmm, why?> salt and tetracycline gradually for a few weeks.  I moved them to the 85 and all was great.  After about 3 months I noticed that they weren't growing. <This "sport" mutation does seem to grow slowly... and maybe the copper and antibiotic exposure had an influence here as well> One had a slight bubble over one eye but the behavior was normal.  About 2 months later, the other one just died.  No visible signs of disease or injury.  I'm now at the 7 month mark and I have an eb Dempsey that measures in at an inch and a quarter??? <Man, tiny!>   I've had other south American cichlids in the past and have been astonished at the rate of growth.  I currently have the fish in the 15g and had some leftover tetracycline I treated for a week.  I also use CopperSafe when I can with the other meds  I know that eb Dempseys are inbred, could it just be genetic? <Yes... to some extent... but I don't think this is the whole answer here>   Should I treat for worms or something I've missed? <... I would try not treating with some new individuals... just the quarantine period. Am going to place this query in our resident Cichlid expert Chuck Rambo's in-box (he's out right now), and ask his input as well here> Please help, I've been dreaming of keeping this fish for years.   Thanks again,   Sacramento fish hobbyist <Oh! And have been up to the Ca. State capital many times... the water is very good right out of the tap for neotropical cichlids... Bob Fenner>

Scratching Jack Dempseys  - 11/13/06 Hi, and thank you for all of the help you guys give. I have 2 electric blue jack Dempseys in a 60 gallon tank. They are about 2 inches each.  One of them has been seen flashing against various things in the tank. I have had them now for about two weeks, no sign of ich, and they are both eating bloodworms fine. I'm attempting to get them to eat pellets by introducing them with the bloodworms as one of you suggested because they have been refusing anything else.  I've been doing partial water changes due to some higher nitrates lately to keep that down.  They are active when I approach the tank and sit still most of the time behind plants or rocks when left alone. Should I be concerned about the flashing or is this some stress related to water changes or being in a new tank? Thanks. < The high nitrates are triggering the outbreak of bacteria that are attacking your cichlids. I would recommend a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter and see if things get better. Feed only enough food once a day so that all of it is gone in two minutes.-Chuck>

Floating Jack Dempsey  - 12/12/06 I don't know why, but I have a Jack Dempsey that is having troubles staying down... He tries to swim down, but ends up floating to the top of the tank. <Yikes... could be an internal disorder... or something it ate... > Do you know how I can fix this? And why it happened in the first place? <I would try a go with an Epsom Salt bath... See WWM (the search tool, indices) re. Bob Fenner>

Scales - will they grow back?  - 12/12/06 <<Hello, Gary. Tom here.>> I have a breading pair of Jack Dempseys. <<I bet your mean 'breeding', don't you? (Pulling your leg here, Gary. Work with me!) :) >> The female is full of eggs and the male pulled off some of her scales on the left midsection of her body and left patch of white where the scales are missing. I isolated her and checked to be sure I wasn't just seeing a fungus. <<Understandable and a good move'¦>> While I had her isolated the male went nuts trying to get her out of the isolation net box. <<So much for patience'¦ No time for romance any more.>> Later after I put her back in the tank he tore a patch of scales from the lower right rear side of her belly. He finally calmed down and is loving on her again. <<Reminds me of a line from an old movie. 'Americans don't make love. They commit sex.' Seems somewhat analogous here.>> Will these scales grow back? <<Back to being serious'¦ To answer your question, yes, they will grow back though smaller in all likelihood. Nothing to be alarmed about as this is fairly normal during mating. I would suggest that you keep an eye on her and look for signs of inflammation or infection, though. If you keep your water conditions optimal, I don't see that this is much of a risk.>> Thanks; Gary <<You're welcome, Gary. If you don't do this already, you may try adding a little aquarium salt as a preventative measure. Best regards. Tom>>

Parasites On A Jack Dempsey - 02/11/2007 I don't think I gave you enough information.  He shakes his head and his gills. One creature looks like a tiny jelly fish, one looks like a plum feather, one looks like a gill fluke reddish crab looking thing with a tail..  I don't have a computer at home if you are local and you cant reach me before 6pm and you want to call me at home. Sincerely, Ann < All of these parasites are easily controlled with Clout or Fluke-Tabs.-Chuck>

External Parasites On An Adult Jack Dempsey   7/17/07 Hello Crew, I have a relatively large Jack Dempsey (10") named Phin that lives with an algae eater in a 40 gallon tank. We've had him for just over a year and up to this point his behavior is fairly predictable but lately we have noticed some new patterns that were alarming. We introduce 10 feeder fish each week and it usually takes him just a few days to polish them off. About 2-1/2 weeks ago we introduced the feeders and he has only eaten two of them. In addition, he started to breathe more rapidly and he would dart around the tank and almost crash himself into the gravel. About two days ago I went to say good morning to Phin and noticed that he had about a dime-sized spot behind one of his eyes where it appears he has lost his scales. I also noticed one scale near his tail on the same side that was coming loose. I immediately went to the pet store to ask about possible problems and solutions. The "fish expert" at the store suggested that it may be a skin bacteria or infection and gave me "Maracyn" to treat the tank for five consecutive days. She also gave me frozen beef heart to provide Phin with some nutrition. I did the initial treatment on the tank and fed him some of the beef heart (which he absolutely devoured). A few hours later I returned to the tank to check on Phin and I noticed something new...he now has tiny little greenish things all over him. There are a few on his body and some on each of his fins. They are very small, I would say less than 3mm across, they appear to be round and they don't move around a lot, they seem attached to his body. I referred to the instructional booklet that came with the "Maracyn" and it didn't say that it treated any live, external parasites so I'm not quite sure what to do at this point. What do you think I'm dealing with and how should I treat it? Thank you in advance for your help! < When you feed your fish feeder goldfish you always have the potential to introduce parasites and diseases to your fish. treat with either Clout or Fluke Tabs. It sounds like you have fish lice.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey With Possible Hole-In-The-Head 9/6/07 Hello Crew, I wrote in on July 17, 2007 regarding my Jack Dempsey Phin who was having problems with Fish Lice. Thanks to your advice I have gotten the fish lice cleared up but we still have a significant health concern. At the time we were treating for fish lice, I mentioned that there was a spot near his head where the scales had fallen off. The spot has continued to get bigger and is now about the size of a nickel that is completely void of scales. In the last few days I noticed that the scales around the area are becoming extremely inflamed. I mentioned it to my local fish store clerk and he suggested a five-day cycle of Maracyn-Two. I have completed the cycle and the situation remains the same. To compound the problem our algae-eater has become very aggressive lately and chases Phin around the tank trying to latch onto his sore area. Do I need to separate the fish in order to give Phin time to heal? Is there anything that I can do to help him heal? Any suggestions would be helpful! Best regards, Emily <Separate the algae eater from the Jack Dempsey. The best option would be to place the Jack in a clean hospital tank. Treat with a combination of Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole. The Metro will treat the Hole-In-The-Head and the Nitro is effective against bacteria and fungus.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey Paralyzed?  12/1/2007 About 3 weeks ago, my normally calm Oscars went a little crazy and one of them struck the male Jack Dempsey - 8 in. and about 2-3 yrs old - on his side and ever since he has been laying on his side. Immediately after it happened, he was swimming up and down, trying to regain his composure. We moved him to a hospital tank so he could be alone and recover. His colour is great, he's a very nice black but he isn't moving, just lays on his side all day and night. He eats but only because food floats into his mouth. If he is paralyzed, is there something we should do? I mean, should we leave him the way he is or put him out of his misery? Thanks in advance for your help! <Hmm... difficult to say, but does sound as if your fish has sustained a serious injury. I'd leave things be for a couple of weeks though before making any serious decisions. If there are signs of open wounds, treat with the Finrot/fungus medication of your choice to prevent secondary infections. Obviously move the JD to another tank so it can rest and relax. Oscars are basically peaceful fish, so what you've reported is a little out of character, unless the Oscars are preparing to spawn, in which case they will vigorously defend their territory. Either way, the JD must be moved. Give the JD a flower pot or something to hide in, because he will certainly want to hide away for a few days. It may be that the swimming problem is more to do with damaged skin or muscles, in which case things will settle back to normal over time. So see how things go. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick jack Dempsey I haven't got a clue!!! Poor English, no reading...   2/8/08 hello, my jack Dempsey and 2 Plecos have something sticking out of their anus and he appears to have a white film on the top of his head. It doesn't appear to be nematodes its little (less then a centimeter) on all 3. The tank is a 75g with a1 one and a half inch flower horn, a one inch jewel, 5 or 6 inch convict,5 or 6 inch ob peacock, two 3 inch clown loaches, the 5 or 6 inch jack, one 1 or 2 inch Texas ,and a 4 or 5 inch Brazilian. The ph has been at 6.2 for 3 months plus <This is much too low... indicative of?> but everything else seems to be fine when I test the water. <... data> Iv been doing 20%water changes weekly and just noticed that they were sick a few days ago. His body isn't swollen but maybe a little sunken in and he is still eating. My fish now have ich. <Also indicative of poor water quality, stress> He and the convict are the only two that don't have visible symptoms I am using Maracide <...> and hope to get ether get Maracyn or Maracyn 2 but don't know what med. to treat <None> him with??? So the description as I see it is its white and short kind of stubby there is no sign of his anus being swollen as in swim bladder (which I had a case of also not to long ago which has been treated) if you could offer any help I would greatly appreciate it!! Iv been looking every where and have found nothing. thanks a lot, Kristin <Likely the root problem here is environmental stress... I recommend reading, water changes and the use of your spelling/grammar checker. Please start here with the second: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cichliddisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick jack Dempsey I haven't got a clue!!! 2/9/08 Thank you, <Kristin> I've tried chemicals and nothing seems to work for the ph. <Mmm, what did you use? We should start as far back as you think... to see what needs doing here> So I put some sea shells in Tuesday night. <Can we start with your tap/source water? What is the pH, and alkalinity or hardness?> and tested the water last night to see if there was any change, the alkalinity was up to 40 from 0 <!?> so I thought that was a good sign. I did use the spell check!! Thank you for your help!! I was also wondering I have a turtle also and I put one of his decorations from about a year ago in the fish tank sun. night after washing it off and Monday the fish had ich could it be that they got the ich from the decoration??? <Mmm, no... the ich had to have been in the tank, on the fish already... but in a low population... not a very infectious state...> Thanks again, Kristin <Will you please test your water again and report to me? In the meanwhile, do keep making partial (10-20%) water changes daily. Bob Fenner>
Re: sick jack Dempsey I haven't got a clue!!! 2-9-08
Hello again Mr. Fenner, <Kristin> In an attempt to get the ph up I used a ph increaser. when that didn't work I tried using a buffer. <Ahh... please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwph,alk.htm and the linked FAQs file above> my water in the fish tank is as it reads... nitrate 40ppm, <And here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm This is too high, by about twice> there is 0 nitrite, hardness is hard, 0 chlorine, alkalinity is at 40 ppm, and the ph is 6.2. <Too low...> I tested the water in the tap and here are the results from that...ph is 6.8, alkalinity is 40 ppm, <Mmm, dangerously high for human consumption... I would test your test kit (take it to a fish store...), and otherwise employ filtration means (RO likely) before using such water for potable purposes> nitrate and nitrite were 0. can I still make those daily water changes while using the ich medication. <Yes... just re-treat> one more thing do you recommend feeding south American cichlids vegetables and if so what types. Thank You so much for helping, Kristin <Please learn to/use the search tool and indices on WWM re all this: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm  BobF>

Thank you for your help!!! Re: Sick Jack Dempsey, Water Testing f'   2/14/08 hello, I contacted you last week about a sick jack Dempsey. I took a sample of water both from the fish tank and the tap to the LFS and everything was fine the ph is 7.2 the nitrates are fine!!! I was using a test strip which they said is inaccurate after a couple times of opening the bottle. I had no clue, the gave me some different ich med. because my fish are dying fast!! I would have not taken my water up if you hadn't suspected a problem so thank you very much for all of your help!!! Kristin <Welcome! BobF>

Help with electric blue jack Dempsey Electric Blue Jack Dempsey, fdg., hlth., repro.   -- 03/08/08 Hi, I was just reading your website and was very please by what I had read. Maybe you can help me. We got a young?, electric blue jack Dempsey about a month or so ago. We just love him to bits and pieces. I have been a freshwater tank keeper for about 8 years now and I also worked in a fish department at a local pet store so I'm pretty solid on the basics of fishkeeping. I know that different fish have different needs. I only have a few fish in a large tank so they have plenty of room. I check my water weekly and do to it what needs to be done. And really have no problems except I can not find any information other than basic useless info on the electric blue jack Dempsey. I know although they are the same, they are also different from the regular jack Dempsey. I cannot find anything about their preferred diet. I cannot find anything that gets more? detailed with health issues except that the electric blue jack Dempsey's are more disease prone and have problems with their eyes that the regular jacks don't. I also cannot find anything involving their color changing so that I know my fish is healthy and some of these spots and markings on him are normal. I understand that the electric blue has just recently been recognized as a fish and had previously been discarded being considered runts and what not. But I can't see why I can't find any helpful info on them, I've been Googling for weeks. Thanks for your time, Jessica < These fish are man made. They do not exist in the wild. I have seen them on price lists from South America. They are suppose to be sterile but I have heard of some unconfirmed reports on some aquarists spawning them. You will not find any info in any books that I am aware of because most man made fish like Flowerhorns, Parrot Cichlids and Electric Blue Jack Dempseys are not usually kept by experienced aquarists. I know that they are very pretty and very popular in stores. I would feed them a meaty diet and keep the water temp up around 82 F. Keep the nitrates under 20 ppm with routine water changes.-Chuck>

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