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FAQs on Parrot, Jelly-Bean... Cichlids, Disease/Health 6

FAQs on Parrot Disease: Parrot Cichlid Health 1, Parrot Cichlid Disease 2, Parrot Cichlid Disease 3, Parrot Cichlid Disease 4, Parrot Cichlid Disease 5, Parrot Cichlid Disease 7, Parrot Cichlid Disease 8,
FAQs on Parrot Cichlid Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic, Treatments,

Related Articles: Blood Parrots & Flowerhorn Cichlids: maintenance and healthcare of two popular hybrid cichlids by Neale Monks, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Parrot Cichlid Identification, Parrot Cichlid Behavior, Parrot Cichlid Compatibility, Parrot Cichlid Selection, Parrot Cichlid Systems, Parrot Cichlid Feeding, Parrot Cichlid Reproduction,


Another constipated Blood Parrot?      6/29/17
Hello Crew! OMG-I’m sorry this is so long.
<When it comes to sick fish, we're kind of used to it!>
I am getting more and more worried about my female Blood parrot.
Here’s the background. My husband (good intentionally) grossly over fed my fish (for likely a month). I have a four year old pair of Blood Parrots and a 11 year old Pleco in a 47 gallon pie/bow front tank with an Eheim 2215-temp 80.My male is a very large boy(slightly larger than my hand) and the female 2/3 his size. I had employed a lackadaisical approach to tank housekeeping but until the over feeding, there had never had an (obvious) problem .The parrots appeared energetic, dark orange and healthy. I have always judged their health and happiness by their color as when there is a problem they become quite pale. I was feeding them Omega One cichlid pellets (alternating on occasion with thawed frozen peas). I had always soaked and dropped in 1 pellet at a time to encouraged quicker and cleaner eating habits (and I just like to interact with them). My female had a HUGE appetite easily eating twice that of the male if allowed.
The over feeding /polluted water was noticed at the end of May,(I guess he was just tossing a bunch in- I DID NOT KNOW HE WAS DOING THIS!). It was my female’s reaction to the water that alerted me that something was amiss. I did a massive water change, dropped and broke my filter, ordered a new online and added an air pump to tank. It took a week to get the filter and set it up. My female looked great, my male took about 7 days to “orange up again”.
For the past four days my female has been pale and her belly does look a bit plump- but I honestly can’t say if her belly size has changed- just that it looks more round than the male. From what I have read on your wonderful site- I believe she constipated. Yesterday she did spend the day almost entirely dark orange and I thought we were through the worst of it. But came home from work at midnight and she had paled again. Since paling 4 days ago, I have only been feeding her par boiled peas and Nori seaweed (in fact that is all she will accept). She acts basically normal- but much less of an appetite. She energetically comes for food but goes to back of tank to eat her peas and is a while before she comes back looking for more. The male is completely normal, color, activity, and hunger.
Since the polluted water business I have been much more attentive to the water quality. I keep the pH around the 7.0 level with a bit of baking soda as needed and have vacuumed and water changed since she paled to ensure the water was not the problem. I tried to purchase a nitrate test kit form the local pet store but was shamed out of it “you don’t need that for fresh water” I did order it on line- but it won’t be in for another day or so.
<Not the most helpful aquarium shop, but broadly, if you've got a lightly to medium stocked tank with standard community fish (tetras and whatnot) and do regular water changes, then yes, nitrate is something you probably don't have to worry about. Cichlids, unfortunately, are sensitive to nitrate, which makes a nitrate test kit more useful.>
I have read on your site to add Epsom salts, but am horrified that I will add the wrong kind or too much or that all the changes will add increased adjustment issues for her. Should I just use regular Epsom salts from my local pharmacy or is there a different kind? I added about 4 tbl “API aquarium salt “ but water changed ½ out and am now nervous to add more.
<Epsom Salt, used correctly, is not dangerous. Pharmacy grade stuff should be excellent. The Epsom Salt section is towards the end of this article:
Follow the links to examples of situations where Epsom Salt has been useful.>
Please advise- the longer this goes on the more worried I become. I am starting to worry that she has a bacterial gut infection that has just been brewing since the horrid water.
<The problem for you is that Hexamita is another threat to cichlids, and often triggered into a flare-up by high nitrate levels. Some argue Hexamita lurks in all cichlids, but provided they're not stressed, it's not an issue. Don't know if this is true, but certainly keep an eye for things like lack of appetite, lack of colour, and especially white stringy faeces and the development of pits on the lateral line around the head and on the flanks.>
Also- I have never seen these fish poop. Ever- and I watch them all the time. The Pleco poops like a pro… but these parrots must do their business after lights out.
<In good shape, cichlid faeces are small pellets, easily missed, particularly if fed high protein, low fibre foods. Plecs, being bulk feeders, do indeed produce huge volumes of faeces because they're shoveling down a bunch of inedible stuff (such as wood and cellulose) alongside the stuff they actually digest. It's like comparing cats with cows; cats produce small quantities of waste because what they eat is mostly digestible; cows, on the other hand, take in a lot of poor quality foodstuff in the form of cellulose, so produce a heck of a lot more solid waste.>
Someone on your site referred to their Blood parrots as “water dogs” and that IS exactly how they seem to me… my water dogs. I just completely adore them. I am in deepest appreciation for any advice. Gratefully yours, Lisa W
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re constipated/bloated Blood Parrot       7/1/17
Neale, thank you for such a quick response!
My Blood Parrot remains unchanged. Continues to be pale, hangs out at the surface by the heater, eats (peas and nori seaweed) but much less appetite than norm, continues to interact with other BP but only in bursts.
<Oh dear.>
Regarding poops- I would be able to discount seeing longer white strings floating about.
<That's good.>
I see from the link you shared that I can safely add Epsom salt 1-3 tsp /5 gallons depending on severity.
I added 8 tsp for my 47 , not filled to the top, gallons. In the event that I am actually dealing with this "Hexamita" what course of action do you recommend?
<Oh, do read on WWM re: Hexamita and cichlids; you'll find many instances of this particular problem. Let me start you, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/hexoctfwfs.htm
Follow the links for more.>
My local shop talked me into an API product "General Cure" which is combo Metronidazole 250mg and Praziquantel 75mg.
<This should do the trick! Praziquantel is a de-wormer. This particular product is not one I've used; the folks at WWM tend to recommend a Metronidazole plus antibiotic (Nitrofurans in particular) for best results.
But if the API product is handy, then I'd be happy using it.>
I have not administered ( was waiting for your response!)
Thank you Thank you Thank you ~warmest regards, Lisa-
<Good luck! Neale.>

ongoing Blood Parrot issue     7/7/17
Hello Crew-Neale,
Thank you for your previous information regarding my constipated and/or Hexamita 4 year old Blood Parrot. I have done what was advised. I've added Epsom salts(16 tsp for 47 gallons), have been feeding only par boiled peas,
Nori seaweed, and kelp pellets.(she has had a poor appetite) I also completed 2 dose tank treatment with API "General Cure" ( Metronidazole and Praziquantel- add treatment wait 48hrs add second treatment wait 48hrs
do water change25%) on Sunday 7/2(day of second treatment). My fish appeared much better by 7/3 - she regained all color, was active, and came for food. On Wednesday 7/5, she has started to pale again in spots and is
hiding. She will eat a pea if it is dropped directly in front of her, but otherwise very uninterested.
<Some fish will go for them quickly; others take a while. Starvation will help a bit here -- feel free to not feed for 1-2 weeks. No harm will be done. Remove uneaten food promptly, and fish generally get the hint that what's offered is dinner, and they can't be picky! Failing that, live brine shrimp and daphnia both have a laxative effect. Not the freeze-dried versions though! Maybe not so useful as peas, but both are more readily taken by fish that refuse peas.>
What do I do now? Her water is: pH 7.5, 80 degrees, nitrate around 20%. 47 gallons with another BP and an 11 year old Plec.
I have ordered more API general cure as well as Furan2 (which contains Nitrofurazone) from Amazon and should have in 2 days. Should I retreat???
<I would wait 7 days to see if the medicine you've used has had any effect, plus the Epsom salt/laxatives. If there's no sign of recovery after a week or so, then by all means re-medicate.>
Your help has been invaluable. Had she been a dog she would have been back to the vet's three times by now, but being a fish, I just sit and watch- not knowing what to do. I am in deepest appreciation of your continued assistance.
<You are most welcome. Treating fish can be difficult, and being smaller
animals, it's often "too late" by the time you see something amiss.>
Gratefully yours,
Lisa W
<Good luck! Neale.>

Blood Parrot -ongoing paleness
Dear Crew-Neale

I'm so sorry to be taking up so much of your time, as this is now my forth correspondence to you. To recap- I have a 47 gallon wedge tank inhabited by 2 (4year old) blood parrots and a Pleco(11 years old)on 5/25/17 became aware of over fed polluted tank- broke filter while cleaning, waited week for new filter (Eheim 2215).
<An effective and reliable if old-school unit.>
In the beginning male BP showed more stress than female until around 6/19 and then female became pale , hanging by heater and poor appetite. Male now fine, with no further issue. Pleco fine.
<Good and good.>
I have been keeping the water with Nitrate at or below 20%, pH 6.5-7.5
<Sounds fine, but would make the observation that pH 6.5-7.5 is an odd range, slipping between acid and alkaline. Parrot Cichlids, being Central American in origin, are best kept in medium hard, slightly alkaline water.>
6/29/17(per your advise) added 16 tsp Epsom salt and I treated tank with" API- General Cure"(Metronidazole 250mg and Praziquantel 75mg) which is a 2 dose product -treat wait 48 hr, 2nd treat wait 48 hrs, do 25% water change. I replaced nearly 50% of water and I replaced 8 tsp of Epsom salts at that time.
7/3/17- my female BP appeared much better dark orange color returned and was hungry!-
until 7/5 when she went pale again. Now no appetite (she will catch a skinless par boiled pea, chew for a few then spit out. I have been removing uneaten food immediately)
<Indeed, remove food, then wait and see. Is the female isolated from the male? If not, if they're together, what are their interactions like? Cichlids aren't 'nice' animals, and will sometimes bully weakened specimens.>
7/9/17- I began second round of API General Cure (waited a week between last treatment per your advise)
7/13/17-today- I did an almost 50% water change. My water, before change, was; nitrate <20% and pH 6.5 water temp 82. My water following change- nitrate between 5-10% and pH 7.0 .
<Do feel the water is a bit too warm, and a bit too acidic. I would aim to optimise -- use sodium bicarbonate to raise the pH and hardness (around 7.5 is an ideal pH) using a dosage of maybe 0.5 teaspoons per 5 US gallons. Experiment with buckets of water, and once you get something useful, do this for all new water changes. And yes, Epsom salt and sodium bicarbonate can be used together -- the first affects general hardness, the second affects carbonate hardness.>
What now? As you can see from photo- she is still pale, still hovers by heater, still with no appetite, but will swim to greet me at front of tank(occasionally)and will still harass the Pleco occasionally( she is not completely with out energy). Since I changed nearly half of water, how much Epsom salt should I replace(if any)?
<Replace added minerals pro rata -- per 5 gallons/20 litres, up to 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and up to 1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate). So if your bucket contains 2.5 US gallons, then add up to 0.5 tsp sodium bicarb., and up to 0.5 tbsp Epsom salt, to that bucket of water. These minerals aren't 'used up' in any meaningful way, so you don't re-dose for the whole tank. Just the bucket or buckets of new water being added!>
What I see when I look at her is a pale fish with a slightly rounded abdomen(compared to male). Abdomen appears firm. Scales appear smooth. I do not see any visible fin, scale, or gill issues. I do not see white stringy poop- I do not see poop of any sort-and I have been watching. Well, I did see her pooping following the original application of Epsom salts(6/29/17) but none since.
Should I now treat with" API Furan 2"(Nitrofurazone 85mg)- If I do, will this product negatively impact my filter bacteria?
<It shouldn't do, but keep an eye on ammonia or nitrite levels, whichever test kit you have.>
Additional, not sure if this has any relevance but these BPs are a pair and up until this began routinely, about monthly, laid egg clutches( cleaned up nicely by Pleco).
<I bet!>
I know how difficult it must be to diagnosis and treat a fish by the information presented in writing . Please let me know if I can provide any more data or photos to assist you.
I am ,as always , so very grateful of your efforts. Thank you. ❤
Lisa W.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Blood Parrot -ongoing paleness (RMF, any last-ditch ideas?)     7/23/17
Dear Crew-Neale
<Hello Lisa,>
I realize my Blood parrot is going to die, but I am in agony watching it.
<Understood, and I sympathise with your situation.>
She BP is still alive and still relatively active (considering). She looks like she is working harder to breath than the healthy male, gills opening wider and faster. She is still pale, still refusing food, still bloated but still with smooth scales. She usually just hangs out by the heater. My water perimeters are spot on. To answer your question about aggression from other BP- he occasionally hassles her- but it is infrequent. I scooped her up ( very surprised at how "spiny" her fins are!)
<Oh, yes; a major defence that cichlids have against their predators.>
her bloated abdomen is firm ( I was very gentle )
<Does sound like Dropsy; can you medicate with an antibiotic? Ideally, antibiotic food, as that's the best way to deliver such medicine into aquarium fishes. Various commercial products of this type available in the USA. Most other places, a vet will need to help.>
I don't understand why a couple of weeks ago she returned to normal color and activity and even ate with vigor.
<Nor I. The problem with diagnosing sick fish via the internet, or even as an aquarist, is that real diagnosis is done using tissue samples and microscopy. What we're attempting here is what a GP would achieve if you were sick, but only able to give symptoms over the telephone. Better than nothing, sure, but still approximations based on experience and the law of averages. So while we're pretty good much of the time, there will be situations where a fish doesn't suffer from "the usual suspects" and our best guess approach isn't going to help.>
Now she might be over by front of tank and when I feed the other BP she swims away -over to heater .
<Sometimes sick fish will seek out warmer water; comparable to running a fever in cold-blooded animals. Presumably stresses the metabolism of their pathogens, as fevers do for us, hoping their own enzymes and cellular
processes are able to tolerate high temperatures better.>
I was wondering if since fish don't swallow the tank water which can be treated, and since she is not eating, could I make up a solution of Nitrofurazone 85 mg per packet and syringe it into her mouth.
<Nope. Adding antibiotic to the water will be taken up via the gills, and in any event, in freshwater situations, fish are continually soaking in water from their environment because their tissues are more 'salty' than the surrounding water. Their bodies aren't watertight (like ours are) so anything in their environment will, by definition, diffuse into their tissues if it can. That said, this approach is very rough and ready, which is why vets prefer to administer antibiotics in known concentrations via foods or, exceptionally, injections. Aquarists lack the skill and tools for
the later, and the former isn't always an option if the fish is not eating, hence we fall back on the adding medicines to the water approach instead.>
The problem with this idea is that I have no idea what ration of sterile water to powder I should use. The packets directions state 1 envelope per 10 gallons. The product I have available its "API- Furan-2". It is designed to treat a tank.
<I would always (unless you're a vet) recommend you go with the manufacturers instructions.>
Is there anything to be done? To refresh your memory this all began with an overfed-polluted tank (the pollution was event rather than a "life style"- though they lived with nitrates higher than 20% previously-I water changed
and fed cautiously) I'm sorry to keep taking up your time.
<Not a problem.>
Gratefully yours-
Lisa W
<Good luck, Neale. Will appeal to RMF for his insight, if any.>
<<The Furan compound is what I would use (25 mg/gal, change half the water, retreat every three days, three times) and Epsom Salt. BobF>>

Re: Blood Parrot -ongoing paleness (RMF, any last-ditch ideas?); plus Furan cpd. use f'     7/24/17
Neale & Bob,
Thank you for this info. Let me see if I understand it correctly; I have a 47 gallon tank. You are advising that I dose furan compound at 1175 mg. The API Furan2 doses 85 mg/packet- I will need just over 13 packets. I will add the antibiotic- wait 3 days and change half the water.
I will than do the exact same thing 2 more times.
Should I add new dose of furan the same day as water change?
Re Epsom salt; If I change 50% water how much Epsom salt do I replace for 47 g? (approx 16 tsp in prior to water change) and shall I add the amount you recommend following each subsequent water change?
<Add half, 8 tsp., per the half of water removed/replaced>
I actually added Furan2 dose per packet instructions last evening ( 425mg ). I will add the remaining 750mg today. I am leaving now to locate more antibiotic This dose far exceeds the package directions.
<Mmm... as per here?
I completely trust your advise but just to be sure, this dose will not be too much for my healthy male?
<Hopefully not... You've read over the MSDS for this API product?
<Lisa; I am concerned re the concentration of Nifurpirinols in this product as well. I advise going with the manufacturers dosing instructions. Bob Fenner>
I am sorry to require such defined instruction, but the devil is in the details.... I am so grateful for your advise and assistance, thank you for patience with me.
Lisa W
p.s. it is hard to believe that I have kept these lovely fishes alive and well these past 4 years with out issue, when I now feel so very incompetent.
<This "cross" has many issues... too much inbreeding... Bob Fenner>

Re: Blood Parrot -ongoing paleness (RMF, any last-ditch ideas?)     7/25/17
Thank you Bob and Neale!
<Hello again Lisa, and you're most welcome.>
You have given me some hope that she may recover. I feel like, in the least, I am "doing all I can". Thank you again for your patience (Neale )
I have been boring you the details of our plight for over a month! I can honestly say that I have learned a tremendous amount regarding tank hygiene and water perimeters, my male BP will benefit greatly (as I hope I will be able to say she will as well!) You are the best:)
<We certainly try!>
I will keep you posted on her progress,
<Please do.>
Ever gratefully yours
Lisa W
<Good luck, to you and your fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Blood Parrot -ongoing paleness (RMF, any last-ditch ideas?)<<I would stop "treating">>  7/27/17
Hello Neale and Bob!
I think things are improving. Last evening was the 4th and final dose of Furan-2(each dose = 425mg Nitrofurazone). Today my female, though continues to be pale, ate for the first time in over a week (thawed) frozen Hikari brand Krill. Last evening I noted her pooping( brown pellets attached by what appears to be a mucus strand). Her behavior is more energetic and more within her usual with some tossing about of rocks and
visiting me at front of tank.
<All sounds good.>
What next? The Furan-2 directions states "treatment may be repeated if necessary" Should I begin second round of 4 dose treatment?
<Personally, I'd wait a couple days to see if things continue to improve on their own; but there should be no harm done beginning another course of medication immediately afterwards.>
Should I re-dose API General Cure-Metronidazole 1,250 mg/dose ( this would be a third round- the last given 2 weeks ago)
Should I add both together?
<Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone work well together; indeed, the combo is "standard operating procedure" for medicating cichlids suffering from Hexamita.>
Should I do nothing?
<See above.>
FYI-My ammonia level today (pre-water change) is climbing a bit and is now somewhere between .25 and .50% and Nitrate remains around 20. Tank water is due to be changed at 8pm tonight.
<You MUST keep ammonia down, e.g., by substantial water changes prior to each daily dose of medication -- no point changing the water after you add the medication, as you can well imagine. On the other hand, after 24 hours
most medication will have done its work, and been broken down by the microbes, so a water change 24 hours after adding medication usually does no harm. Alternatively, use commercial ammonia remover (such as Zeolite)
and/or reduce food input to ensure ammonia stays low/zero.>
With kindest regards...and ongoing gratitude,
Lisa W
<Good luck! Neale.>

update     8/2/17
hello. I am sending you an update on my ailing BP. It has been exactly 1 week since the final Nitrofurazone treatment. My girl is acting and eating more normally.
<Good news!>
She remains pale. I am continuing to check water perimeters and water changes weekly.
<Excellent; subdued lighting and a diverse diet with crustaceans and algae will help restore colours, but to some extent she may be showing subdued colours simply because she's unwell. Cichlids do this to communicate to
other cichlids that they aren't engaged in territorial or breeding activity, which means that fish that are engaged in such don't waste time interacting with them. Or so I believe! Once recovered she should regain her normal colours.>
Do you recommend that I continue to monitor or do you feel I should begin another round of Metronidazole? It has been 3 weeks since last treatment?
<If she's eating normally now, yes, I would keep tabs on water quality, but no, I wouldn't do another round of medication just yet. I'd wait at least another week, but if she's healing under her own steam, and eating
adequately, her immune system should be able to finish the job. She's out of intensive care, and moving into recovery!>
Your guidance has been invaluable. I feel as though I have a new friend across the Atlantic. Thank you.
Lisa W
<You are most welcome, and thanks for the kind words. Neale.>

Blood Parrot remains pale       8/9/17
Hello Crew-Neale
Yes , it is me AGAIN. I am terribly sorry to be a continued bother. My BP remains pale and relatively listless, continuing to spend time by heater but will come to front of tank for food.
<Where there's feeding, there's hope!>
She has refused all pelleted foods (will take in but spits out), will accept an occasional pea but mostly eats Hikari frozen brine shrimp. (
Hikari's 3-step sterilization process ensures unequalled product quality.
<I agree; Hikari foods are consistently excellent. There are other good brands out there, but they are my personal favourite brand.>
Free of parasites, harmful bacteria, and foul odor, Bio-Pure frozen diets are another example of Hikari's product quality commitment. Packed in pure water and available in "no touch" cube packs or flat packs, Bio-Pure frozen
foods provide maximum nutrition with minimum mess to you when feeding.)
<Of course the environments where many fish feed are less than pristine, but I agree with you that we don't think about the quality of fish food as much as we should. There's some speculation that bloodworms are really no safer than Tubifex are, and both should be avoided. Brine shrimps are probably the safest food because they come from briny lakes where fish, and therefore their pathogens, cannot live.>
It has been 2 weeks since last Nitrofurazone treatment. Water perimeters are within what you have advised. I have been doing weekly water changes of
30%-50%. Do you recommend I treat again?
<If she's still feeding, and not obviously getting worse, I would not treat just yet.
I would vary diet as much as practical, perhaps using vitamin supplements if available (often sold for marine fish, but perfectly safe
for freshwater fish) or else using "enriched" brine shrimps that contain things like Spirulina algae.>
Would you advise me to treat concurrently with both Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone products ( would be API "Cure All " and API "Furan 2"-the package directions for both medications, regarding dosing and water changing, match up nicely)?
<I would indeed use both medications as/when. They seem to work very well together.>
Keeping in mind I have a healthy Pleco and male BP in tank.
<Quite so; but these medications shouldn't harm healthy fish -- although I wouldn't overuse medications if the fish is healing itself, even if only very slowly.>
I am ever grateful for you ongoing assistance.
Lisa W
<Welcome. Neale.>

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