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FAQs on Parrot, Jelly-Bean... Cichlids, Disease/Health 2

FAQs on Parrot Disease: Parrot Cichlid Health 1, Parrot Cichlid Disease 3, Parrot Cichlid Disease 4, Parrot Cichlid Disease ,
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 Cichlids 1, Parrot Cichlids 2, & Parrot Cichlid Identification, Parrot Cichlid Behavior, Parrot Cichlid Compatibility, Parrot Cichlid Selection, Parrot Cichlid Systems, Parrot Cichlid Feeding, Parrot Cichlid Reproduction,

Jellybean Parrot has bumps/white spots, please help me identify
Jellybean Parrot Cichlid With HITH   11/21/10

I have a jellybean parrot fish that is about 7 years old. It has recently developed white bumps/spots on its head. My husband thought the change in her appearance was due to age and so he dismissed it. He thinks he first noticed them about a week ago. I've attached two photos. The large bump in the center of her head is actually a cluster of bumps. It is white on the surface and somewhat fluffy in appearance with a red coloring underneath. As I'm hoping you can see in the photo, it is a protruding growth. There is a line of smaller white spots along the back of her head.
The top of the fin on the left side of the second photo also appears to be abnormal in shape/color. The pale areas of the body are her normal coloring. She is eating and behaving normally.
She is in a 55 gal tank with a rainbow, a catfish (I don't remember what breed) and several tetras. The last water change was 5 days ago and may have been a little overdue but not much. We do not have a quality test kit, only the simple strips. The water had not been tested in a long time and when I tested tonight the levels were not good. The nitrate level was 80, nitrite 3, pH 7.2, alkalinity 80 and the water was hard 150. My husband is doing a 25% water change now. The temperature of the tank is 76 degrees.
I've tried to research the problem online but have only become more confused. I do not want to treat her for the wrong thing and cause more problems. I'd greatly appreciate your opinions.
Thank you! Kim
< Your cichlid has Hole-In-The-Head Disease. First get a nitrate test kit.
Get the nitrates down to under 20 ppm with water changes. The lower the nitrates the better your fish will be. In a hospital tank treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. If you fish is still eating
then start feeding medicated foods with these medicines in it. I would still treat the water too. The key to a full recovery is an early treatment.-Chuck>

Drastic action to save Red Parrot Cichlid
Red Parrot Cichlid Egg Bound - 10/10/10

My 6 year old Red Parrot Cichlid, for the second time in two years, has become egg bound and/or constipated. She is in fine health at other times, laying every two weeks or so. But these two times have almost killed her.
I've resorted, both times, to catching her in a net, placing her on a towel, and literally pulling the clog (which is a gel, incased in a rather strong, clear skin...and in which I can see eggs) out of her with tweezers.
Afterward, she has huge bowel movements for two days, but immediately seems to feel much better. When I say huge, I mean they are as big around as a pencil, and almost as long. I have tried lower protein foods, and she seems fine until...Is there anything you can suggest that I can do to prevent this? I've just had my water tested, my numbers are good, her only tank mates are a Tropheus and a Peacock cichlid, and they've all been together for years. My water temp is constant. I feel like I need to add something to
her diet. Can you please help me?
< Usually internal infections cause a blockage of the intestinal tract. I usually recommend a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. If you fish is still eating then this combination can be found in medicated foods.
It is interesting that you found eggs in the clog you removed. The infection is sometimes caused by stress or food that the bacteria in the gut cannot break down.-Chuck>

Parrot Cichlids in trouble...
Parrot Cichlids Sick After Tank Cleaning  6/8/10

Hi there, I have two 7" Parrot Cichlids who were in a 40 gal tank with many other fish. They were crowded but doing great. So I had a chance to put them into a 60 gal tank and did so, changing over the substrate and rocks,
but I guess I cleaned it too thoroughly. Lost all but the two Parrots and a smaller blue cichlid, a white albino frog and several tiny but older Corydoras Catfish.
<Probably wiped out all the beneficial bacteria that provided the biological filtration.>
The two parrots are now barely breathing, hiding in their caves, or along the sides of the tank. Once in a while they seem to come out drift around and then go back like they feel like hell! I have checked the chemistry and it tested out OK in all regards, but the chemicals are old. Getting new tomorrow. Changed the water partially about 3 times because It got cloudier after the tank change.
< Probably ammonia spikes.>
Using a Fluval 300 (is it big enough or up to cleaning 60 gallons?) and two aerators running full tilt. If I give them a course of Metronidazole (thinking they probably now might have some bacterial infection, will the medicine harm the albino frog and the catfish? Temp in tank is/has been steady 75-80 degrees (even tested both "ends" of the larger tank)...substrate in the bottom is about an inch and a half in the new tank. Thanks for any help...I love these silly fish...
< Go with Dr Tim's "One and Only " to quickly replenish the bacterial you have washed away. You essentially have a new tank. Medications will only suppress any bacteria, good or bad. This tank starter can be found online at

Acne, Parrot Cichlid 5/14/10
I have a rather large Parrot Cichlid that recently sprouted what looks like pimples. It is otherwise healthy but the growths on it's head and face worry me. Could you please explain what this condition is and what I need to do to help my friend. Sincerely, Patrick
<Most likely "Hole in the Head" disease. Treatment is Metronidazole, sometimes known as Flagyl. In the US this may be available from your pet store; elsewhere it is usually a prescription-only drug that requires you to talk to your vet. Without treatment the fish WILL die. This DOES NOT get better by itself. http://wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm Hole-in-the-Head is almost always caused by poor maintenance. In the case of cichlids, non-zero nitrate levels are commonly to blame, typically through over-stocking and not enough water changes. Do read on the needs of these hybrid cichlids, here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Identifying a freshwater (brackish?) goby -- 3/14/10
I'm hoping you can help me identify a goby purchased recently from my local petstore. The fish in question came in the bag with a special order of loaches I placed and the fish dept head was unable to ID what kind of goby it was.
<"Mystery gobies" are very difficult to identify. The family contains about 2000 species, and many of them are very difficult to tell apart unless viewed under a microscope. Bumblebee gobies are the classic examples, being virtually impossible to identify reliably to species level without access to dead specimens and a dissecting microscope. In any case, if you go to Fishbase, choose to display species, and then select Asian Inland Waters from the pull-down menu (assuming it was captured with the loaches) you'll get 360 species to choose from. Yes, we're talking big numbers here.
For what it's worth, it might even be a Sleeper (Gudgeon) rather than a Goby; Sleepers lack the fused pelvic fins typical of most Gobies. There are a few hundred of those, adding to the trouble identifying mystery species!>
I said what the heck I said I'd take it too. But I'm running out of ideas for identification. At least one person has suggested possibly a female desert goby, but the coloration & head shape doesn't seem quite right,
<It's not a Desert Goby (Chlamydogobius eremius).>
though I'm pretty sure its a female of some kind as its lacking in the extra coloration that males seem to have.
<Actually, it could very easily be a male, since it is quite nicely marked. For what it's worth, rather few gobies are truly sexually dimorphic; in most cases, males and females are very similar.>
I've attached a couple pictures, the one titled "goby1" taken right after I purchased the fish, its color has darkened up significantly in the intervening months, the other was taken today. Whatever the breed it is tolerating freshwater with apparently no problems.
<For now, at least. I'd recommend keeping it in a low-end brackish water tank, around SG 1.003-1.005. This will be tolerated by freshwater species, and appreciated by brackish water species, and since it's much more likely to be a brackish water than freshwater species, that's the best way to play the odds. Keeping this fish in purely freshwater is risky.>
It does not appear to have grown significantly in the mean time, but since I've no idea which type it is I may not be feeding it correctly.
<These small gobies tend to feed on small invertebrates, and compared to community fish, they're not easy to feed. Live daphnia, bloodworms, and to a certain extent brine shrimps are all good foods (brine shrimps are nutritionally poor, so shouldn't be anything other than a treat).
Wet-frozen equivalents may be accepted. Forget about flake or pellets; these won't be eaten.>
<You could find the Goby Group on the Yahoo Groups and see if someone there can identify this fish. For what it's worth, going by the probabilities, this is likely a small (to 5 cm) brackish water species that feeds on zooplankton and benthic invertebrates. You'd have to be unlucky/lucky to have a species that didn't match these requirements since most Gobies sold as "freshwater" fish do these things. Kept in a low-end brackish system with surface-feeding livebearers (like Guppies) it should do well. Shrimps and Nerite snails would make good tankmates, too. Cheers, Neale.>

Help with blood parrot fish fungus -- 3/14/10
Dear Sir/Madam
One of my Blood Parrots Fish, who is about 10 years old,
<A good long time to be alive for this sport/hybrid>
has developed what looks like a white fluffy fungus in the inside of the lower lip.
<I see this in your pix>
He is off food and doesn't really move much..
I have a 400 litre tank with 3 parrots fish and never really had any problems with them.
What could it be?
<I do think it/this is an infection (bacterial likely rather than fungal/mycological)... resultant from a mechanical injury>
Could it infects the other 2 fish?
<Only if they suffer the same sort of physical trauma, the system water quality fail>
Can you help me?
Kind Regards
<I would urge patience here... Just "waiting" while assuring optimal conditions would be the best approach to a cure. Use of chemical medicines is likely to prove more detrimental. Bob Fenner>

Re: Help with blood parrot fish fungus -- 3/14/10
Dear Bob, thank for your prompt reply...I must be doing something right as my other 2 parrots are almost 14 years old and never really had any problems with them.
I spoke to my local fish store's manager and he gave me Protozin.
<Mmm, again... I would not use anything...>
Since using it, I must say I have noticed a huge improvement.
<Likely would be the same sans treatment... perhaps better>
For start the fluffiness has gone done a lot and the fish is no longer hiding . I think I'll carry on with it as it says it is not harmful to the fish or the plants.
Thanks you so much for your advice though
<Thank you, BobF>

Sick Blood Parrot
Bloated Blood Parrot 3/2/10

Hello! My blood parrot is around 5 years old and has been sick for the past 3-4 days. He is in a 55 gallon tank with one other parrot, 2 pictus catfish, a striped peacock eel, and a Plecostomus. The temperature of the tank is in the 80s and he has always been a brightly colored orange, but he has been very pale since I noticed he was sick. He has a swollen belly that has not changed in size and its quite large. He also has a bit of poop hanging out that he hasn't been able to get rid of, the strange part is that I did a 50% water change and cleaned the tank very well but overnight there is poop all over the tank, more than usual. I can't tell if it is from him or the other fish, I just know that there is more poop than I have ever seen before in a short amount of time. I don't know if I should try cleaning the gravel again because of the sick fish. He also has a dark grey/black color that started on his stomach and has now spread to some spots around his mouth and eye. The spot on him stomach has grown to cover the entire bottom of his stomach. His gills also seem to have some white tissue like substance floating off of them and he is swimming with his head tilted towards the bottom or the top of the tank depending on which direction he is going, he cannot swim straight though. I started treating him with Maracyn since it was recommended by a fish shop near my house. I have been treating him for 2 days with no difference other than he isn't eating now. I tried to feed him peas but he refused them. I have also treated the water with aquarium salt. I am not sure if he has dropsy because his symptoms don't seem to match all the ones for the disease.
Please advise! Thanks! Kelly M
<Isolate the sick fish in a hospital tank and treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. The heavy fecal load is probably the fish's response to an internal infection.. Treat on the 1st, 3rd and 5th day. Do 50% water changes in-between treatments.-Chuck>

Enlarged belly in parrot cichlid
Parrot Cichlid With Enlarged Stomach -- 02/25/10

As you can see in the picture, my blood parrot's been having that enlarged belly from 2 months. Initially we thought it was just overfeeding, but even after we lessened the quantity of food, the belly remained. And to add to our worries, it looks like its papilla is always out, or maybe something's wrong with its anus (honestly, its been worrying me a lot).
Its tank mates are 2 sharks and another parrot. Recently I had to transfer 2 gouramis and a Pleco to this tank from another, as the Oscar in the other tank used to beat the hell out of these fellows. Diet is pellets, freeze-dried worms once a month, and occasionally steamed rice from our dinner (the steamed rice may be the culprit, please advise).
One more thing. about an year back, I almost lost the parrot due to asphyxiation. We were moving from our old place, so we had kept him and another parrot in a bucket. and they were without air for almost 5 hrs. We lost one guy, but this guy was almost gone but we put him in fresh water in the nick of time and he lived. Since then his growth rate has slowed drastically. After the other parrot died we got another small one for his company. the new guy was almost half the old guys size. but now both are of the same size. any reason for this stunted growth?. Water quality is good but is a bit hard. tank size=>3ftX1ftX1.5ft sharks are 8 inches long, parrots are 5 n half inches long. Please suggest a good remedy.
Thanks A Million!! Sharath, INDIA
P.S-We don't get good branded fish medicine here, so bear this in mind.
< Do a 50% water change, clean the filters and vacuum the gravel. Treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace, you might get these from a vet in your area. They are available online from Drsfostersmith.com. Treat every other day and do a 50% water between every treatment. Feed after the treatment. If he is eating then that is a good sign.-Chuck>

black spots and black colouring in red parrots body and upper lips -- 1/27/10
I bought 4 red parrots and 2 Oscar babies four days back .... they are good and eating well and fighting well .... hiding well also in this four parrots one parrot was having a black spot on its upper lip when I was getting it ... and now I noticed they are having similar spots on its belly also and is black in colour...I never noticed this when I was getting this.... but the fish is normal in eating and playing ... but its a bit aggressive than other fishes its always fighting and butting other fishes .... it is the biggest fish in all the fishes ... I don know weather its a disease or just colour of the fish . pls help .
<Hello Kareen. Before going any further, can we please remind you to send image attachments each less than 500 KB in size? We have only limited e-mail storage space here, and if people send us 11 MB of images -- as you did -- that storage space gets filled quickly. That means other people's messages will be bounced back. We do specifically state this on the page where you found our e-mail address. Anyway, "Black Patch Disease" on Blood Parrots is fairly common. Unfortunately, it isn't one specific thing. Since these cichlids are hybrids, they are genetically variable. One of the ancestor species of the Blood Parrot was Amphilophus citrinellus, a species that often changes colour. So sometimes Blood Parrots develop odd "calico" patches, just like Amphilophus spp. Obviously, there's nothing you can do about this. On other occasions, black patches are likely ammonia burns, just like you see on Goldfish. If you have non-zero levels of ammonia, this could very easily be the problem. Fixing the water conditions will prevent this, and over time, discoloured scales MAY be replaced. Finally, opportunistic infections such as Finrot can cause discoloured patches, just as they can on any other fish. Certainly fighting can lead to damage, and wounds can become infected, especially if ammonia and nitrite levels aren't zero. Ironically given how big your photos were, they're actually too blurry to be 100% sure what's going on. I'd plumb for either genetics or ammonia burns. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: black spots and black colouring in red parrots body and upper lips -- 1/27/10
thank you very much . I reside in India in my place the local pet shops do not have any instrument to check water quality ... what else can I do ...
pls help ...
<If you cannot check water chemistry and cannot check water quality, you must be conservative. Do the following:
[1] Keep the tank lightly stocked. Allow 80-100 litres per Blood Parrot.
[2] Add Rift Valley Salt Mix to each bucket of water to raise the pH and hardness levels. Add to each 5 gallons/20 litres of new water the following:
* 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
* 1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)
* 1 teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements)
Stir into each bucket of water, and then do your normal water changes. Do not add directly to the aquarium, and do not change all the water all at once!
[3] Use a robust filtration system. Aim for a turnover rate of not less than 4 times the volume of the tank per hour, and ideally 6 times the volume of the tank. In other words, if the aquarium is 200 litres in size, the filter should be rated between 800 and 1200 litres per hour.
[4] Do weekly water changes of 25%.
[5] Do not overfeed; ideally, skip a day. Use food sparingly, and remove uneaten food within 5 minutes. Better to feed two small meals per day than one big meal.
[6] Do not use any sorts of live foods; only use pellet foods, vegetables, and things you'd eat yourself (like little bits of prawn or tilapia filet).
Hope this helps, Neale.>

my parrot fish turns upside down and does not eat food.  1/02/10
Hi, I am Nalin
<Hi, Nalin, Melinda with you here tonight.>
I have parrot fish which does not eat anything and is always lying in a corner upside down. It has been with me since the last year but since last month it is behaving awkwardly. The average temperature of my tank is 28
degree Celsius. All the fishes are keen to eat the pellets but it does not eat.
<Are the pellets all you are feeding?>
I had put it into the hospital tank for about 16 hours but nothing seems to happen.
<What did you do while the fish was there (treatments/medication?).
the other parrot fish is plump and easily eats food. I have provided it with antibiotics but the matter is still not improving. it is not able to swim properly and sometimes pant at the surface. I also increased the oxygen supply. Please tell me a solution.
<I think we need more information before a solution can be revealed. Are you feeding wet-frozen foods, or only dry? What are your Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate levels? If you'd provide information as to what you are
feeding, as well as water quality, I think we can get this guy "fixed up."
Does your fish look bloated at all? Please read here on Blood Parrots (I'm assuming this is what you mean, as opposed to a True Parrot Fish -- please correct me if I am wrong!:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/FHParrotCichArtNeale.htm and those linked pages below the title of this article.

Re: my parrot fish turns upside down and does not eat food. -- 01/03/10
I am feeding them pellets, blood worms <Are these wet-frozen or freeze dried?> and coz <not a word...> I have turtles I am giving them turtle food. The other fishes also like to eat turtle food.
<It's best to mix wet-frozen foods/vegetables in with those dry foods to avoid constipation/digestive problems.>
When the fish was there in the hospital tank I dissolved general aid medicine anti itch
<Do you mean Ich? Why are you treating for that?>
and an antibiotic which the local fish dealer told me about
<What antibiotic? Didn't you say the fish was only in the tank for sixteen hours? Even if your fish has a bacterial infection, what you did wasn't long enough to help it. Most antibiotics prescribe a treatment period of at least a few days, not a few hours.>
Did you get the photos
<Yes, I did, but these aren't especially revealing.... looks like an upside-down fish. You're not giving me some of the information I need in order to help you. I really need to know what your water parameters are (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate). Did you read where I referred you? Please read where I referred you and use the search bar available on WWM to help yourself. You're treating this fish for illness he does not have, then throwing him in a tank full of antibiotics for less than a day, etc., and what you need to be doing is reading so that you can make educated decisions. What you're doing now isn't going to help your fish. Please feel free to write back after you've read where I've referred you and you can provide me with numbers for those levels I mentioned earlier. In the meantime, you can feed your fish the inside of peas -- take cooked peas and squish the insides out of the shell, and feed to your fish. This may help if the problem is constipation. I'm hesitant to tell you to do anything because I don't have the whole picture right now -- you're not providing data re: water quality, and most problems fish encounter are directly related to water quality.

Re: my parrot fish turns upside down and does not eat food. -- 01/03/10
Thanks Melinda
<You're welcome.>
I read in the web page how to care for the blood parrot. Actually I cannot check the water level quality because the testing equipments are not available at the local aquarium shop. But I do regularly change water after15 days or so. I have two internal filters and one under gravel biological filtration unit. The tank capacity is 85 litres and the fishes are pair of Koi carps, pair of silver dollar, pair of Gourami an iridescent shark and a sucker mouth catfish and 4 turtles. The foods which are mentioned in the previous mail are freeze dried. Also the other parrot keeps pushing this parrot. the picture showed an upside down fish, it is the real problem .Thanks for your advice.
<This tank is 85 liters? I hope that is a typo. All of those fish are in there? This tank is seriously overstocked. I would find a shop with test kits as soon as you can. How long have you had this setup with these fish?
I'm really very surprised that this is the first problem you've seen! As for the food, you really should be feeding the wet-frozen foods as well; switching over to wet-frozen bloodworms rather than your freeze dried would help, and feeding the peas like I mentioned earlier would help. I think your problem here is water quality. Turtles are very, very messy, and it's usually advised not to mix them with fish due to that fact. Other than that, you don't mention how large these fish are, but some of the fish you have can grow to one or two feet long. Are you planning an upgrade? I would begin to plan this as soon as you can, and try and come up with a plan to separate the turtles from the fish. Please read re: each of the species you're keeping here on WWM using the Google search tool if you have any questions about the ultimate needs of the animals you're keeping.

Re: my parrot fish turns upside down and does not eat food.  1/4/10
Thanks Melinda once again.
<You're welcome!>
My parrot fish has eaten boiled peas as you have said.
<That's good!>
It has also started swimming properly but when it eats the other parrot attacks him and he sways to the other end.
<These can be aggressive fish, and you've got two of them, rather than a larger group. The weaker of the two has become a target for the stronger one.>
I have made plans to separate the fishes and the turtles and I am also planning to make a bigger aquarium for my fishes of 172.5 litres.
<This is not large enough -- you have the Koi who will need much, much more than this all by themselves.> I cannot afford a bigger aquarium due to lack of space but its twice bigger than the older one and the turtles will also not cause any problem.
<The turtles may be perfectly nice and friendly to the fishes, but their waste is what's going to cause the problems, and probably already is. You can't see this because you're not testing, but I strongly advise you to purchase tests and see what effect overcrowding and mis-stocking is having on your water quality, and understand that water quality directly affects your fish.>
Please advise me how I can stop the war between the two fish because and I think it is the secondary problem. The first has been solved.
<I suspect the first problem has not been solved. You will begin to see more problems in more fish because this tanks is an accident waiting to happen! As for the secondary problem, I would remove the sick fish to a cycled hospital tank and allow him to get better in good water quality, and return him once he's strong enough to handle the aggression of the second fish. However, these are Cichlids. As they grow and mature, problems with territoriality and aggression are going to worsen. Again, I ask that you look into the needs of these fish on WWM -- you'll find that many fish you keep do not mix -- in terms of required temperature, water chemistry, "attitude" -- territoriality/aggression, needs as far as behavior (single-specimen vs. schooling), etc. I would read, and then pare down my stock accordingly until you have fish which can actually live in this tank.

Parrot fighting  1/4/10
Hello crew
I have two parrot fishes and the bigger one always keeps attacking the smaller parrot. When the smaller one eats it attacks him and pushes him into the corner. To get saved the other parrot pretends as if it is dead and keep lying in a corner. And now it has been his habit to lie in a corner. The other parrot also attacks other fishes. It disturbs the whole silent atmosphere of the aquarium.
<Please refer to my other response to you today -- I think these problems stem from over- and mis-stocking and the aggression and water quality issues which accompany those problems.

Re Parrot Eating 1/6/2010
<You're welcome!>
This was the first time my weaker parrot was eager to eat food since the last two months I was giving all the fishes boiled peas and they seemed so tasty to him that he snatched all the pieces for himself even after he was suffering attacks from the bigger parrot. I am so happy!! I want to ask weather it is safe for the carps to eat peas? How much peas are sufficient for a parrot fish of size 3 1/2 inch? He ate at least 6 pieces.
<I'd feed him three or four over the course of a day. The peas are supposed to help his digestive system -- to assist him in passing any blockages he may have. They're just fine for the Koi, as well. If your fish will eat them, it's a good way to introduce some moist foods into their diet. Also, getting them onto the wet-frozen bloodworms, rather than freeze-dried, will help too.

Blood Parrot Problems  10/22/09
Found your website yesterday, newbie with gifted aquarium here, having some problems with my adopted Blood Parrots.
<Fire away!>
First, some background: Two medium size Blood Parrots, rescue fish from a relative, were swimming in 6 inches of water with no aeration, filtration, or food for approx. 10 days. They had been there under deteriorating conditions much longer than that. Tank had one large piece of driftwood and several large aquarium rocks (don't know what type) suitable for making caves. "Good" news was that the tank was 45 gal. with enough space for them to survive. Rinsed tank, rocks, wood, and gravel out with tap/hose water (bad move I think with hindsight and a little research, but at least I didn't use detergents), set up at my house with same wood, rocks, and gravel, treated tap water with AmQuel Plus from local pet store. One airstone in back right, heater in back right set to 76 degrees F initially.
Both Parrots were shy and retiring at first, but then started coming around quickly. After one week and no problems, added six 1.5" zebra Danios which the Parrots promptly ate four of, the remaining two must have been tops in their gene pool (no pun intended).
<Do bear in mind that the use of live fish as food isn't a good idea, and can cause a variety of problems. There's nothing to be done about accidents, but don't repeat the mistake by adding more feeder-sized fish.>
Fed both Danios and Parrots with goldfish flakes exclusively, approx. every 12 hours. No water changes (I didn't even know about water changes), no topping off, no gravel vac. No problems (or so I thought) with anything for the next two weeks.
Then, three days ago, I noticed the larger BP (approx. 5" long) staying in top left corner of tank, seemed to be breathing heavier than usual. Did a little reading (always a dangerous thing). Next day did approx. 33% water change treated with AmQuel Plus. Planted 5 groupings of Elodea/Anacharis (multiple strands in each grouping) at same time, partly for aesthetic reasons, partly as attempt at "natural" waste remover. Set heater to 78 degrees F. No change in larger BP behavior, but still responding to feeding and external motion (wiggling fingers, etc.). Smaller tugged a bit on some of the plants, maybe ate a very tiny portion. Bought Ammonia test kit and pH test kit (both API brand). Tested water, got ammonia reading of either 0 ppm or b/w 0 ppm and 0.25 ppm, exact color code was hard to tell.
<Typically, ammonia test kits go from a clear liquid (no ammonia) to steadily more coloured (as more ammonia is present). While ammonia becomes more toxic as concentrations go up, any ammonia above zero is dangerous. So if the test kit isn't registering zero, if there's any doubt at all that it isn't clear, then assume a problem.>
The pH test color coded at 7.6 (although it could have been higher and not registered, 7.6 was as high as the color chart went).
<Blood Parrots are just fine, indeed happiest, between pH 7.5 and 8.>
Next day noticed my other smaller (4") BP sidling up to larger in top left corner, thought maybe trying to stimulate it in some way. Later that same day then noticed both had gone down to bottom of tank and inserted themselves into a favorite cave slot, together. Larger BP was now lying on its side or leaning over at a 45 degree angle. Soon smaller one shifted to adjacent cave slot very near and turned itself completely sideways and shimmied into the slot. Today both still hanging out at bottom, larger either at 45 degrees, on side, or pointed down at various places in bottom of tank, also less responsive, made attempts to eat, then sank/swam back down to bottom and is staying there, on its side. Smaller BP more responsive, swimming around more, more interested in eating, but still inserted most of the time into various slots in the rocks. Danios still darting around with no problems. Went to local (non-chain) pet store, described behavior and setup, and was told to add something called TLC Super Water Conditioner as they used it in their tanks on a regular basis.
<Can't think of any reason why this would help. Provided you add water conditioner to each new bucket of water added to the tank, there's no obvious reason to add extra water conditioner between water changes. It doesn't do anything all that clever.>
Told to try to feed larger BP some water sprite to aid in digestion. Also told to vary diet with vegetables such as zucchini, shelled peas, and cichlid pellets.
<That's certainly good advice.>
My questions: What's wrong, obviously. I've quickly discovered that I've used up my knowledge base for this particular set of problems. This site has so much info just on BP treatment that I'm afraid to just pull out bits of recommendations that fit some of my symptoms. Did I kill all the beneficial bacteria with my cleaning and hit an ammonia spike with the aquarium trying to cycle back to normal?
<Probably not. Unless you put old media under a very hot tap or clean with something like detergent, the bacteria are generally quite tough. They might be knocked back by certain things, like being left in a switched-off filter for a few hours, but they normally bounce back. That said, if you detect non-zero levels of ammonia, and recently did something to the filter, then it may well take a few days, perhaps a week, for the bacterial population to grow back to its original level. In the meantime, cut back (maybe, stop) feeding and do some extra little water changes, 10-25%, every day or two through the week.>
I bought/was sold a sponge filter today but haven't put it in yet as I 'm unsure (obviously) about starting a new bacteria process without addressing the existing problems.
<Don't replace all the filter media at once. But it is safe to replace up to half the filter media per 6 weeks. Why 6 weeks? Because that's how long it'll take for the bacteria on the old half of the media to colonise the new half of the filter media.>
Did they get constipated from exclusively eating the wrong food?
<Can happen. Green foods like peas, plus live foods with lots of chitin (live brine shrimps and live daphnia) work great as laxatives. Don't use any dried foods at all, since these have the reverse effect, obviously.
(Think what would happen if you just ate dried beef jerky...)
Can they be showing excess ammonia symptoms with it being so close to zero?
<Yes; cichlids are extremely sensitive to ammonia.>
Don't I need to test for nitrate and nitrite amounts next, to determine if those levels are high?
<You could do. Personally, I consider the nitrite test kit the most useful.
By definition, if you have non-zero nitrite, then the ammonia half of the biological cycle must be happening. By contrast, you can get ammonia from tap water, in which it tells you nothing about the filter. Furthermore, an immature filter may produce lots of ammonia but little/no nitrite. That said, either test kit is better than none at all.>
BTW, now I'm obsessively testing the water and still getting either 0 ppm or less than 0.25 ppm ammonia, I still can't make out color wise if it's reading zero or just slightly above zero, neither can other people I've asked to eyeball it. The pH is still reading 7.6 (or possibly higher).
<As I say, this pH is fine, provided the water is hard as well. Fish care rather more about hardness than pH. Blood Parrots want a hardness above 10 degrees dH, and a pH between 7.5 and 8.>
As an aside, I do agree with other posters/comments that the Blood Parrots do seem to have distinct personalities and I hope I haven't mucked things up for them so much as to be irreversible. This post sounds a bit long winded, but it seems you all need as much information as possible to make an informed analysis. Thanks for your time and help. Ed F.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Parrot Cichlids, beh.  -- 09/03/09
Hi there!
Sorry to ask a question very similar to another that's already been asked but I'm really worried about our two parrot cichlids.
They've always been pretty outgoing and spend a lot of time swimming up and down their tank as we walk through the room. Lately, however, they've become really nervous and dive for their hiding places to the point where they've almost knocked themselves out a couple of times.
<Can be various things. Most commonly environmental stress, so check ammonia, nitrite, temperature. Since these are basically Central American cichlids, you need to make sure the water isn't acidic or too soft, since both of these things will cause them to become skittish (and ill). Aim for a pH around 7.5 to 8, and 10-25 degrees dH. But other factors to consider are ambient noise, since this carries into fish tanks and scares them. Loud TV sets, slamming doors, general child-induced mayhem are all the kinds of things that make fish go loopy. Next up, think about sunlight. Direct sunlight isn't something most fish appreciated. On the whole, they like shady conditions. Have the fish grown much since you've bought them? These cichlids certainly need something around the 55 gallon/210 litre size upwards given their adult size of 8 inches/20 cm, and in small, cramped tanks fish become nervous. Finally, did you add anything to the tank?
Ornaments for example? Cute bubble-blowing mermaids might appeal to you, but some fish find them very distracting. Likewise additional air stones, new filters, etc.>
They are eating without problem, they're not lethargic, we've tested the water quality and all is well within range. We've tried changing the water as well. The tank isn't in direct sunlight and there's no exterior noise.
The temperate is 79 degrees.
They are sharing the tank with a Bottlenose Catfish and a Royal Whiptail - these are pretty small just now and certainly don't bother the Cichlids.
<Assume you mean a Bristlenose Catfish, and if that's the case, I agree, neither it nor a Whiptail should be causing problems. However, you get the odd specimen of some Loricariidae that takes to scraping the mucous off the flanks of large cichlids, typically Otocinclus but I've heard Hypostomus have pulled this stunt, too. If you see scratches on the sides of your fish, then that's a possibility.>
Could there be anything else that we could / should try? I would really appreciate your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Parrot Cichlids, hlth.-env.  9/5/09
Hello again!
Thanks very much for the advice.... I really appreciate you taking the time to reply.
<Not a problem.>
We've checked all of the levels, including ammonia, nitrate and temperature. Temperature was showing to be around 74 degrees so we've increased it a little.
<Good; around 25 C/77 F suits most cichlids well.>
The pH and water hardness is within limits.
<By which you mean a pH around 7.5, and hardness somewhere on the "moderate hard" to "hard" range? I mention this because acidification is one common reason fish become jittery. You might care to test the pH at different times of the day, at least before the lights go on and then at the end of the day. See if the pH is stable. This is more of an issue with tanks that have live plants than tanks without, because photosynthesis can have a profound impact on pH.>
There is minimal noise in the room - its mostly quiet as I tend to read rather than watch TV and there is no direct sunlight.
We've only had the fish for around 8 weeks and they've not really grown in that time.
<Surprised; in a couple months, juvenile cichlids should grow fairly substantially.>
The largest Parrot Cichlid is around 4 inches and we have two of them in a 180 litre tank. The catfish are just an inch or so, so pretty small at the moment. The only think we have added recently (about a month ago) is some wood which is especially for aquariums. We've a couple of plastic plants and a couple of ornaments which were in the tank at the aquatic centre where we bought them.
I did mean Bristlenose (oops!) and there's no sign of any scratches on the Cichlids. They are out and about in the tank at times but dive for cover when we walk past. This is really unusual behaviour for them as they
normally swim to the side of the tank when we walk past.
<Catfish often are jittery, especially in tanks with lights but little in the way of cover. By "cover" I mean things like floating plants; the odd rock or plastic plant won't do much to make a catfish feel secure. They
really need to be constantly covered by some source of shading.>
I'm really concerned because we did have 3 Bamboo Shrimp in the tank until a week or so ago and these seemed fine but died suddenly.
<These shrimps are sensitive to poor water quality, in particular a lack of oxygen, so review filtration. For Parrot Cichlids, I'd want a filtration system rated at 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. So
assuming a minimum suitable tank size of 55 gallons, this would be 6 x 55 = 330 gallons per hour. Check water circulation is adequate as well.
Hang-on-the-back filters for example tend to have the inlet and outlet close together, and a single unit is often a bad choice for big tanks. If you put a bit of flake on the substrate at the far end of the tank, does it
quickly get washed away, or does it kind of sit there? If the latter, you likely have poor circulation, and that means oxygen isn't being evenly distributed. For cichlids, there's a good argument for either having two or
more HOB filters, one at each end, or a big canister, with the inlet at one end and the spray bar at the other.>
Having checked everything in the tank and the water quality, etc, I am really at a loss as to what to try next.
<Honestly sounds like water quality issues. Try doing a nitrite test after feeding the fish, say, 30 minutes later. Check the nitrate as well. Have a look how clean the substrate it: if it's dirty, then filtration might not
be as good as you think, and oxygenation could be an issue because the lower level of the tank is receiving less circulation than it needs.>
We have taken water samples from the tank to the aquatic centre and they have confirmed that all of the levels are well within limits.
<Depends how they define "limits". A lot of test kits and retailers suppose "low" levels of ammonia and nitrite are safe, or at least tolerable. They are not. You MUST have ZERO ammonia and nitrite at all times, and for cichlids, the nitrate level should be well under 50 mg/l, and preferably less than 20 mg/l. For whatever reason, cichlids are peculiarly sensitive to nitrate, and while it doesn't kill them immediately, it does make them prone to diseases, particularly Hexamita and Hole-in-the-Head, neither of which are easily treatable but commonly fatal.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Parrot Cichlids 9/5/09
Hi there
<Hello again,>
We've done another test for General and Carbonate Hardness. The GH (General Hardness) is 2dH and Carbonate Hardness (KH) is 11dH.
<Odd combination. Are you sure these are right? It's important to understand that what aquarists call "hardness" isn't (usually) the total mineral content of the water, but selected bits of it. General hardness is
a measurement of (chiefly) calcium and magnesium salts, whereas carbonate hardness is specifically carbonate and bicarbonate salts. Adding the two gives you something called Total Hardness, and that's somewhat equivalent to the total mineral content of the water (Total Dissolved Solids, or TDS).
Anyway, my point is that your overall hardness is fairly high, and the carbonate hardness level at least is very high, and should secure very stable pH levels.>
Our pH levels can sometimes go up to 8 and so we've been adding 7.2 Buffer to the water on a regular basis.
<Ah, have you by chance been adding the buffering salt mix to tap water? Is your tap water passed through a domestic water softener? Or perhaps simply soft anyway? A pH-up buffer will typically raise the carbonate hardness since this is what maintains a basic (i.e., above 7) pH. However, adding pH buffers without fully understanding what you're doing and why can lead to problems.>
The pH is 7.4 currently. Its looking as though the water is way too soft.
<What's the hardness of your tap water, before you treat it?>
Might you possibly have some advice on how to redress the balance?
<What I suggest you do is have a read of this article:
About halfway down there's a recipe for Rift Valley salt mix. It raises both carbonate and general hardness, and fixes the pH nicely around 7.5 to 8. For Central American cichlids, like your Parrots, you should find a
half-dose ample, though the full dose would be fine too. Either way, it's very easy to make, costs pennies, and works better than adding buffers.>
Thank you so much for all your help. We really appreciate it.
Kind regards
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Parrot Cichlids, sys.  9/6/09
Hello again!
<Hi Debbie,>
We've tested our tap water and the GH is 15 dH. KH is 10 dH.
<Ideal for Parrot Cichlids.>
The pH of our tapwater is 7.5.
We don't have a water softener built in.
What we've been doing is adding 'Tap Safe' to the tap water and then adding the buffer to that water and storing it in containers so that we can change the water on a regular basis - we change the water at least once a week, sometimes more - could we be overdoing the water changes?
<Weekly water changes are fine for most fish. More than weekly can be good, provided water chemistry and temperature are stable. But if you're "noisy" when doing the changes, then overdoing such things might alarm them. That said, I don't find water changes stress fish unduly, and usually find them readily taking food again within an the hour.>
I'm wondering if we are stressing out the fish by changing the water too often?
<Doesn't seem terribly likely to me, to be honest. But there's an easy test: for the next month, do just weekly 25% water changes, and see what happens.>
Thanks for the article and the recipe for the Rift Valley Salt Mix - we will give that a try. Should we do a major water change using the Salt Mix?
<No; just do your regular water changes, let's say 20-25% this week, adding to each bucket of water you add the appropriate amount of Rift Valley salt mix.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Urgent problem with Gourami   6/26/09
Thought you might be able to help me with a new problem!
First of all - that baby Gourami is still swimming about and the abscess appears to have healed! I'm thrilled that "Piglet" has made it - didn't take too long to get attached to her/him!
NOW THEN - my new problem is with our blood parrot cichlid Paulie - I just went in to feed everyone and noticed that Paulie has developed a lump on his head just above and between his eyes - he looks like he's sprouting a horn or something! I've become especially attached to our "parrot head" cichlids Paulie and Buffet - please help if you can.
<Blood Parrot cichlids are hybrids, and as such, they're much less predictable that true species and much more prone to developmental abnormalities, so things like simple deformities are a possibility. Other
things to consider are physical damage caused by fighting, and a disease called Hole-in-the-head. Blood Parrot cichlids are large, territorial cichlids, and you'll have problems keeping two males in a tank less than, say, 55 gallons, and if kept in a too-small tank they may fight, and in the process damage themselves. Finrot is a bacterial infection that sometimes sets in when fish are physically damaged, but is more often caused by water quality problems. It looks like what it is: patches of dead skin and blood.>
These are actually my son's fish which I "inherited" care of when he went off to college. He's home now & just took care of vacuuming and a water change in just the last couple of days. I noticed the temperature is
slightly up but still within the "safe" range - no food changes - not sure where the ph & alkaline levels are at.
<Can't really advise without knowing about the environment, and a photo is essential when talking about lumps and bumps on fish. But please, keep photos at less than 500 kb each.>
My son will look into this when he returns tomorrow - but I'm not content to wait - I have to be sure Paulie will be ok!
Thanks for your time & expertise.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Parrot Cichlid With Strange Growth on Throat  5/11/09
Hello. If you could help me I would be ever so grateful. I have a beautiful red parrot fish and not everyone on another forum is happy to answer any questions on its health that I have.
His water conditions are perfect but for 8 days he has not eaten anything and shies/hides away from me. I put this down to a knock on his tank but I now fear it is something more sinister.
Under his mouth in the loose folds of skin that Parrot fish have he has a white lump. For all the world it looks like gravel but I fear it may be a tumour are perhaps fungi. I have been treating the tank with Melafix and Pimafix since I noticed this lump. I have also done gentle water changes to see if that helps. On the whole I am leaving him alone as I don't want to stress him out. He was never a shy fish before and would attack you through the glass if you walked in front of his tank. I have included some pictures for you to ponder over. I thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and look forward to hearing from you in due course. Regards
Ann, Scotland.
<Thanks for the photos. Very interesting symptoms on your little parrot fish. There may be a tumor on the thyroid gland. This is caused by lack of iodine. If you have soft water then you may need to add some minerals to the water, especially if you have very pure water. The second cause may be a problem to the second set of jaws called the pharyngeal bone. They may have been damaged or gotten infected from eating something in the tank. Net the fish out to see if there is something blocking the mouth and throat. A
last ditch solution would be to isolate the fish and treat with a broad spectrum antibiotic like Furanace. The parrot cichlid is not a fish found in nature and sometimes comes down with unusual problems.-Chuck>

Blood red parrot fish with white pimple under mouth   4/26/09
Thanks for this site, it has helped me out so many times. . Here is my question. I have a 46 gallon bow front freshwater tank. I add 1 table spoon of marine salt to it per 5 gallons.
<Why are you adding marine salt mix? By itself, salt can cause problems for some cichlids in the long term, such a bloating. Would recommend a "cichlid salt mix" you could make very cheaply by adding a little Epsom salt and
Baking soda to the marine salt mix. The result is something much healthier for cichlids. See here:
Also much cheaper than using salt by itself!>
I do a 20% water change biweekly. My recently purchased BR parrot ( have had for about 3 weeks) acts fine, eats fine but has a white bump/pimple on the left side under the mouth, it has red dots on it (the bump) like it is irritated.
<Such bumps are typically abrasions caused by digging into gravel or more often fighting.>
I know that my fish likes to dig in the substrate for leftover sinking pellets I use to feed my loaches, so I have assumed it is an injury from this.
<Could be; cichlids like smooth pea gravel or smooth silica sand best of all. Avoid coarse gravel if your fish likes to dig, and certainly don't use anything jagged.>
I also know that it is a hybrid and thought it was maybe a unique condition due to it being a hybrid
Should I be worried and treat with Melafix or leave alone as the BR has had the bump for at least a couple of weeks, and it doesn't look any worse.
<If there's dead white skin but no red, chances are the fish will heal quickly. Melafix might help, but good water quality is essential. If you see any redness, then I'd treat a bit more aggressively, e.g., with Finrot medication that works, such as Maracyn or eSHa 2000.>
I don't want to rush in and put unnecessary chemicals in a tank, however, I want to be responsible and give the best care possible.
Thanks for all your help
<Happy to help, Neale.>

Losing Parrot Cichlids 4/18/09
I have 6 blood parrots. About a week ago they started getting white cluster bumps on their heads.
I did a 1/2 water change and started to treat them with Quick Cure for 5 days. I also put a new filter system on.
now I have lost 2 of them. They are in a 165 gallon tank.
What do you suggest I can do? Hope you can help me before I lose anymore. Thanks Bonny
< Check the water quality. When you changes the filters you may have lost your biological filtration and you fish may be suffering from ammonia spikes. The quick cure is a high copper solution that can be deadly to fish and also to the bacteria that provide the same biological filtration..
Check the ammonia and nitrites. They should be zero. The nitrates should be under 20 ppm. The white bumps may be a bacterial infection. Antibiotics like Nitrofurazone should work on this bacteria but once again affect the biological filtration. Do a 50% water change and vacuum the gravel. I would recommend treating the tank with the antibiotic as per the directions on the package. After three days do a 50% water change and add fresh carbon to remove the excess medication. Then add Dr Tim's One and Only to replenish the bacteria needed for the biological filtration..-Chuck>

Blood Parrot With Growth on Forehead 3/24/09
I attached a picture showing the growth The 1st day the fish looked like someone took a spoon and flattened out some mashed potatoes In between its eyes Then 2nd day a growth started to appear with white spots Then third day is the picture is attached I looked closely and when the fish got excited I noticed blood coming from the infected area.
The fish lives in a one hundred gallon tank with cichlids and other fish alike its own.
I raised the tanks temperature to 95 not sure if this will help or not.
I'm trying to keep this from spreading to other fish in the tank Any help would be greatly appreciated
Thanks Mark Byrns
< Looks like there may have been some trauma to the area. Could of bumped his head on an ornament the area got infected. I would recommend placing the fish in a hospital tank and treating with Nitrofuranace. If not better in a few days then send a better picture of the head if possible for a better assessment of the area.-Chuck>

Sick Blood Parrot Cichlid -- 03/02/09 Help! I have a large Blood Red Parrot Cichlid in a 55 gal tank with 4 other mixed cichlids, 2 Plecos and one Synodontis Catfish. All of my other fish are fine, but the Parrot has awful, gelatinous bubbles all over her face and her scales are lifting. This started with some black discoloration around her mouth and head several weeks ago. A few weeks ago it started getting worse with the scales lifting. I consulted with people at my local fish stores and they all thought it sounded bacterial or fungal even though they hadn't seen anything like it and suggested trying different medications. I tried treating with Kanaplex. Then when that didn't work, I tried Maracyn two and Maroxy. Those didn't work either and it's gotten progressively worse. I am now on my fourth and last dose of trying Erythromycin. The water quality is good and I have been doing water changes between treatments and as specified with each treatment. Still she is declining. I don't know when she last ate. She is still upright and defends her "cave" in an ornament, not allowing any fish in except the catfish or Plecos. She doesn't come out. She used to hide in there a lot, but would come out to eat and swim around. My other cichlids did pick on her some and she's missing scales on her sides. I thought that might be what started some sort of infection, but really have no clue. I've never seen anything like this. I'm attaching a photo. Sorry about the quality, but my digital camera isn't the greatest and I didn't want to stress the fish out by trying to get her out of her ornament. Can you advise, please? Thanks, Robin < Thanks for the photos. Your fish really has a very nasty bacterial infection. I would recommend a hospital tank with clean warm water around 82 F. Treat with a double dose of Nitrofuranace. Do a 50% water change and next day and then repeat for another day. Look for improvement on the third day to see if the antibiotics are having any effect. If it looks like things are getting better then continue treating as per the dosage on the package. If not then write back and ask for Chuck>

To Chuck - Re: Blood Red Cichlid Parrot sick Finding Nitrofuranace to treat Sick Parrot Cichlid 3/3/2009 Thanks for the quick response Chuck. So far I haven't been able to find Nitrofuranace at my local stores. I'm going to check more today. I was wondering if I could treat with a product call Furan2 ? < That is just a different form but should work as well.> It has a little bit different active ingredient, but the closest I could find in stock so far. I'm going to have them order what you suggested, but was wondering if I should try this while I'm waiting for that to come in. Unfortunately, I have to work today, but as soon as I get back I'm going to move her and start treatment. Robin < Start with the Furan -2 as per my recommendation.-Chuck>

Re: To Chuck - Re: Blood Red Cichlid Parrot sick- Treating Red Parrot Cichlid  03/07/09 Hi again Chuck, So far I've treated with Furan-2 for 2 double doses and one single dose per your instructions. Tonight I'm planning on a 25% water change and another single dose. The "bubbles" look like they may have gone down a little bit, but she now has pimple like growths in a few places on her body. I don't know if this is a sign of getting better or worse. She does come out and swim around some, but I figure that could just be that there's no one to pick on her now. I'm sending two pictures. Should I continue treatment as per label? Thanks a bunch! Robin < Continue as per the label and continue with the water changes. This takes time so give it a few days to play out.-Chuck>

Please Help!!!!! Jelly Bean Parrot Cichlids Not Eating and Passing Away   2/25/09 I had 4 Jelly Bean Parrots for 4 years up until 3 weeks ago and one died. It was paired with another one and now it has not eaten since. Now there is another one that is showing same problem. They show no interest in food, stay pretty much to their self. There is no visible signs of any problem, water condition all test fine, they are no sores no discoloration. My other fish 1 kissing Gourami, 2 tetras and a Pleco all are fine. I have a 75 gal. Tank. Do you have any idea on what the problem is and a solution. Thank You Sheree < You cichlids sound like they have come down with an internal infection. Usually this is caused by some stress to the fish. Water that is too hot or too cold, poor waste management or even a poor diet. I would recommend doing a 50^ water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filters. Treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone as per the directions on the package. Quick treatment is the key to a full recovery.-Chuck.>

Sick Blood Parrot Cichlid 12/30/08 Please help! <Will try!> I have a large (roughly 8 inch long 2 inch thick) blood parrot (Mr. Fish) that I have had for nearly 7 years. He is presently in a 90 gallon tank with 4 other smaller blood parrots. The tank had gotten somewhat neglected as my mother has been caring for them (overfeeding them cichlid staple) during a recent move and renovation of my new home. <Like any cichlid, these hybrid cichlids are very sensitive to nitrogenous wastes, including nitrate. In overstocked tanks, even if the filter takes care of ammonia and nitrite, nitrate can quickly reach dangerous levels (i.e., somewhere over 20 mg/l, with nitrate becoming quickly toxic to Cichlidae above 50 mg/l).> The first signs of trouble were Mr. Fish looking bloated and pointing his mouth constantly at the gravel -- not being able to swim horizontally. He also had a white fungus and grayish stringy material coming off him. <Classic response to chronic poor water quality...> His tailfin had nearly eroded and his other fins were torn to shreds. His eyes were also swollen but clear. When I checked the ammonia level it was off the charts. PH was also on the acidic side. <Too low... although hybrids, these fish are essentially Central American cichlids, so you do need water with a high carbonate hardness, upwards of 5-7 degrees KH. So long as you take care of that issue, pH should manage itself, assuming adequate water changes. It is of course a complete waste of time to concentrate on the pH if you aren't taking care of carbonate hardness, and if anything, it's dangerous: water with a basic pH but little carbonate hardness will quickly acidify between water changes, severely stressing your fish. How are you hardening the water?> I immediately began partial water changes until the ammonia level subsided and corrected the PH issue. Tank also has been treated with salt at appropriate levels so salt was replaced with the water changes. I began treating the tank with Maracyn II and Maracyn. This treatment did nothing and Mr. Fish got worse. <Medication will fix bacterial infections assuming conditions have been fixed; if the conditions remain bad, then the fish will just keep getting sick.> He began laying down on the bottom of the tank and developed cloudiness in the eye that he way laying down on. In desperation and at the advice of my local pet store's inexperienced employee I began treating the tank with tetracycline (and removed the charcoal filter). Amazingly, after 4 tetracycline treatments Mr. Fish improved somewhat and has begun eating again but still has slight cloudiness over his eye and is still bloated (his eyes still look bloated to me also) and he is having trouble swimming upright although now he is floating rather than laying on the bottom of the tank. He has taken to sitting under the filter as the water coming down on him seems to help him to stay upright (smart fish). I've tried feeding him peas (which I peel the skins from) which he eats but the bloating has not subsided. Water temp is 78/79 degrees. Should I raise or lower? Should I treat with Metronidazole and/or Nitrofuranace and/or Clout in a hospital tank? <Do understand that each drug treats a specific thing; there's no point (and much risk) randomly adding stuff without understanding this point. Metronidazole for example is a treatment for Hexamita and other PROTOZOAN internal parasites; Nitrofuran drugs are antibiotics for dealing with internal BACTERIAL infections; and so on. In this case, environmental issues are the key, and I'd be ensuring zero ammonia/nitrite, low (sub-20 mg/l) nitrate, and high levels of carbonate hardness before anything else. A systemic antibiotic like Maracyn should take care of any casual infections like Finrot.> I'm really worried and don't know what to do next. I've had this fish for a long time (even had to battle to get him back in my divorce) and don't want to lose my favorite pet -- I'd like to help him get better but am worried that I might make a mistake next. Any help you could offer would be incredibly appreciated as I am heartsick over this. Thanks for any help, Dennis <Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Sick Blood Parrot Cichlid   12/31/08
Dear Neale, Thank you for your quick and detailed response. I checked Nitrite levels yesterday which were somewhat high and of course I'm having a hard time getting the Ammonia levels to subside (now about 1). I'll continue to monitor. I did not check the Nitrate level but will check it tonight and will work on getting Nitrite and Ammonia to zero with sub 20 Nitrate levels. I hadn't been focusing in on carbonate hardness at all, but prior to relocating the tank I had several large limestone rocks in the tank to address hardness -- right now they are sitting on the floor of my garage. I never expected to leave the tank at Mom's for long and went with a simpler setup. In fact I had forgotten why I'd put them in the tank in the first place. I will place them back in the tank immediately and will also pick up a commercial hardening salt to speed this along. I'm certain you are correct and that the water is too soft right now. Foolish for me not to think of. Thanks again and I'll keep you updated. In the meanwhile Mr. Fish continues to swim and eat so I am hopeful for his recovery. Wishing you a very Happy New Year, Dennis & Mr. Fish <Hello again! Your immediate problem is the ammonia and nitrite levels, both of which can be managed to some degree by massive water changes, not feeding the fish, and making sure that the filter is cleaned and working properly. Whenever the ammonia gets above 0.5 mg/l, change 50% of the water; realistically, this is likely to be every day or so, at least until things settle down. Within a week or so you should find the filter working normally and water quality settled. As for water chemistry, rocks alone tend to be pretty indifferent water chemistry buffers: buffering is proportional to surface area, and rocks are large and so have a small surface area to volume ratio compared with an equivalent mass of coral sand. The best approaches to water chemistry management are either to add Malawi Salt mix (or its homebrew equivalent) to the water, or else to incorporate a substantial amount of coral sand into an undergravel filter or within a compartment of an external canister filter. If you want to make your own salt mix to harden the water, a common Rift Valley salt mix is as follows. Per 5 gallons/20 litres 1 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) 1 tablespoon Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) 1 teaspoon marine salt mix (sodium chloride + trace elements) Stir in the bucket, and then when dissolved, add to the aquarium. Since you don't need water quite so hard as a Malawi aquarium, a half dose (i.e., this amount per 10 gallons) should be ample. Use your test kits to keep tabs on pH and hardness, and make adjustments as necessary. Make changes to water chemistry in small steps so as not to stress any fish. Do see here for more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm Be sure and understand that domestic water softeners produce water that is not useful for keeping fish, and also that salt by itself, often sold as "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt" doesn't raise hardness or pH. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sick Blood Parrot Cichlid 1/2/09
Thanks again Neale for all your help, <We're here to help.> I'd given some bad info earlier on the ammonia level -- it was at 0.25 ppm but is now at near 0. <Movement in the right direction!> Nitrate level is at 10ppm and Nitrite at 0.50 ppm. <Much better, though still some way to go. Ammonia really does need to be zero for any degree of success, and even trace amounts of nitrite make keeping fish much more difficult, at least under freshwater conditions (it's different in saltwater tanks).> Hardness level was at 3 and ph at 7.0 so I added a commercial hardener and am raising ph. <OK; but do concentrate on hardness rather than pH. Adding pH buffering "potions" will temporarily raise the pH, but in an unstable tank the effect can be very short term. If you raise the carbonate hardness, you'll find pH takes care of itself automatically.> Ultimately I'll replace I also added some additional stress zyme in hopes of jump starting the process of getting the biologicals back on track. <Personally, wouldn't waste money on anything like Stress Zyme. You likely have lots of bacteria in the filters; the problem is getting the tank stabilised. Once that happens, the bacteria will look after themselves. Fishkeeping is a cheap and easy hobby if you understand which bits you have to watch and which bits can be left on autopilot.> I'll check levels again later. Mr. Fish has however begun floating on his side with the bloated part of his body sticking out of the water when he is not active. When he does swim and eat he seems more active and stronger than he's been now that water quality is improving. <Likely will improve as water quality improves.> His eye continues to improve but I'm very worried about him floating. Is it possible he has some kind of an intestinal blockage I should be worried about? <Very possible; foods such as tinned peas and live brine shrimp can help clear blockages. Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/gldfshmalnut.htm> How long should I wait to see if he improves before taking any more drastic measures? Should I fast him for a few days? <Fasting his for 7 days would not only be safe but sensible.> Anything is appreciated. I'm still panicked out here... Thanks,
<Good luck, Neale.>

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