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FAQs on Cichlid Environmental Disease  

Related Articles: Cichlid FishesFreshwater Fish Diseases, Freshwater DiseasesIch/White Spot Disease, Freshwater Medications

FAQs on Cichlid Disease:  Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease 2, Cichlid Disease 3, Cichlid Disease 4
FAQs on Cichlid Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Nutritional, Social, Pathogenic, Parasitic, Trauma, Treatments 

Related FAQs: African Cichlid Disease, Oscar Disease/Health, Aquarium MaintenanceFreshwater MedicationsFreshwater Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish ParasitesIch/White Spot DiseaseCichlids in General, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Reproduction, Dwarf South American Cichlids, African Cichlids, Angelfishes, Discus, Chromides, Neotropical CichlidsOscars, Flowerhorns

Freshwater tropical parrotfish; HITH      9/10/17
Could you tell me of something called Hith my fish has a tiny white spot on top of its head and someone on another website says it looks like hith but I've never heard of it
<HITH is an abbreviation standing for "Hole in the Head" disease. The "holes" go into the head of the fish, as opposed to the white pimples characteristic of Whitespot (Ick) so it is generally easy enough to tell the two diseases apart. HITH is a difficult disease to treat unless you use Metronidazole, which is the best medication available for the disease. HITH may be related to a parasitic organism called Hexamita, which infects and destroys the sensory pores in the skin, but the trigger is invariably environmental stress. In the case of cichlids -- which are more prone to HITH than any other freshwater fish -- low oxygen, high nitrate, and a poor diet (no fresh greens) seem to be the "holy trinity" of causal factors.
Prevention is better than cure, but in its early stages, HITH can be treated with Metronidazole, as mentioned earlier. Follow the instructions carefully, including removing carbon from the filter during medication.
Cheers, Neale.>

Rescued cichlids... Please help; hlth., comp. issues/questions     4/15/17
Hello Crew,
I rescued a bunch of fish from somebody who was letting them die in 29 gallon long tank, severely over stocked tank because he no longer wanted to care for them.
I'm dealing with fin rot, fungus, Ich, and pop eye,

Most of the fish had clamped fins, All of the fish were crashed on bottom of tank, none of them tried to swim away when I netted and bagged them... I brought home four yellow labs, jewel cichlid, two green Severums, 9 angels, 3 large blood parrots, female kenyi, rainbow shark, iridescent shark and a monster Pleco. All crammed into 29 gallon with filter and heater not working. There was several dead fish in the tank. When I got home I tested water and was horrified to see 8.0 ammonia, 5.0 nitrite and 160 nitrate.
How on earth did they survive with water that bad? I'm surprised anything would be alive.
I juggled my fish around to get 2 quarantine/hospital tanks 40g and 29g.
Now my other tanks are over stocked but I had to have room for rescued fish to have tanks! sigh. I put angels and iridescent shark (he is small, 3 inches) in 29 g tall and rest of fish in my 40g. Sadly a lot of the fish passed, some within hours of being placed into clean water. The fish I'm still determined to save and are fighting to live is...The jewel cichlid he is in worst shape, he has horrible pop eye, his eyes are so cloudy. He had Ich and I'm still treating for fungus. Poor guy.
Three angels with sever fin rot, 1 quarter size Koi has no tail fin, only tiny dorsal and anal fin, About 80% of her fins are gone. another angel her ventral fins are pointed upward on sides of her body. (The ventral fins touch her dorsal fin) What caused the ventral fins to do this?
<"Poor water quality' mostly>
Will they ever be normal?
<IF the fins aren't burnt too far to the body; they may regenerate>
3rd angel is not so bad. She is missing an eye and about 30% of fins are gone. The angel without an eye will be able to be moved into my 180 angelfish tank without other angels picking on her?
All 3 angels will go into my big 180 gallon. Angels are improving! The angel with no tail is starting to get her tail fin. Yay! I read that angels should not be kept with more aggressive cichlids. Maybe the angel lost her eye to one of the other cichlids?
<Likely so>
Not sure how any survived with the jewel, labs, or kenyi cichlid...
Green Severum had big time fungus, seems to be gone. Two yellow labs survived Ich and fungus, The Pleco has grey looking faded areas no him, not
sure what's going on, maybe fungus?
<Deterioration period>
I lost two yellow labs, one green Severum, six angels, three blood parrots, kenyi, rainbow shark and iridescent shark. I tried so hard to save them.
My question is, the jewel cichlid showed improvement few days ago but the I caught him rubbing his eyes against the sand, since then his eyes are terrible like pop eyes and grey fog on them, his Ich is gone but still has fungus near the eyes and I'm treating the fungus and pop eye. I'm using API fungus cure, it also treats eye cloud. What else can I do?
<Just be patient at this point; provide good care>
I have salt in the tank, temp on 83 to kill the Ich, Afraid to turn temp down, Don't want Ich to come back. I have had him almost a week and if I cant figure out what else to do, He might be blind?
He swims around now and is defiantly the BOSS, He can still see because he chases the labs and Severum when they get within 18 inches from his cave...lol He is a feisty one! I tested water in both hospital tanks, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 0.
How long would you suggest I keep the rescued fish in quarantine/hospital tanks after all signs of illness is gone?
<After... no time further>
I don't want to infect any of my tanks and god forbid I get my 180g tank sick. That would be a nightmare!
Last question, I never had cichlids other than angels and rams. The guy gave me the 29g long that all the fish lived in. I cleaned it and it is cycling. Once it is cycled will the jewel cichlid, 2 yellow labs and green Severum be able to live together in it or will I need to upgrade them at some point?
<Will need to upgrade. Severums need much more space. See WWM Re>
Are they compatible?
<Not really; no. The Labidochromis should be apart entirely>
The jewel is 5", labs 3" and 4" and Severum 4". So far the fish have gotten along. The jewel swims around and bothers nobody, He will dart out of his cave if the others get to close , Once he chases them away he returns to
the cave.
Can the Severum live with angels in my 180g?
<Possibly for long term... yes>
I have 2 blood parrots, 2 Bala sharks, Pleco, 4 angels, 4 Bolivarian rams , black ghost knife and the 3 rescued angels will be going in there. I read some Severums work out with angelfish.
Any advice would be appreciated and helpful.
Thank you!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Rescued cichlids... Please help       4/17/17

Hi Bob, Thanks for the reply! I have noticed since the labs feel better they pester the jewel and Severum badly. They chase, they lunge, they nip. To the point that the jewel now chases them frantically. He kind of chases the Severum occasionally, maybe out of frustration? I have 10 g hospital tank, a male Betta lives in it when not in use. I was wondering if I moved the Betta to daughter's tank with platies, Neons, and cories, (this is where he lives when a small fish needs the hospital tank)
<Should work to place the Betta; unless the Neons are very small>
Could place the two labs in there till I can get a pet store to take them?
<No... the Labidochromis are not compatible here>
Or is 10 g to small for just a few days? I don't want to stress them out! I hate to do that but they are kind of bullies. The 29 gallon long would be ok for the jewel?
<... yes>
If so, Do u think I could get him a buddy or should I leave him by myself?
<... alone for now>
If I can get him a friend, Can you suggest one? I'm going to try the green Severum in my 180g tank with my angels. I just seen the jewels eyes look a lot better, his eyes are pretty much clear but the one eye has a white spot near his pupil, Could that be because the day after I got him he was going nuts scratching his eyes in the sand? The skin around eyes and his black spot still are somewhat a grayish color, Is it fungus? He is turquoise jewel (I think) and his color is very drab. He looks olive green and his turquoise spots are dull looking. I just tested water, ammonia 0, nitrite
0, nitrate 0
The tail less angel who's tail rotted away all the way to her body, Is regrowing her tail fin. Her tail will never regrow fully?
<Already answered>
Is there anything I can do other than keeping her tank water clean to help her tail grow out a little quicker? I put some salt in the water. She has very little dorsal and anal fins as well.
<See Neale's piece on WWM re freshwater salt uses>
She looks pitiful but seems happy and swims all over and gets excited when somebody approaches the tank. I can add the three rescued angels to 180 gallon tank now? Or should I wait till fins start to grow out a little more?
<I'd likely move them. B>
The fin rot is gone. Thanks for your help Bob!

Cichlid problem. Need info. of use     2/10/17
TI have two large cichlids that were given to me over six years ago. One hides most of the time and yesterday I noticed that the other one has a black spot under his chin. Today the other one emerged and the black is under the skin and spreading to the gills. We're changing the water right now but have no idea what's wrong. Please help.
<Need data... how large is this system? Can you send a well-resolved photo of the fish, system per our requirements? I'd be separating the two... What re water quality, tests? What are you feeding? Bob Fenner>
Re: Cichlid problem     2/10/17
It's a 29 gallon tank
<For how large.... Cichlids?>

and we recently changed food to Tetra Cichlid by Tetra. (Floating cichlid pellets) They don't seem to like it as it's all over the bottom of the tank and sticking like concrete to the gravel, etc.
<Pollution ville. What's the ammonia?>

We had been feeding Wardley Goldfish flake food and they did really well for years. I'm sorry I can't send pictures.
<Can you give these fish to someone who can/will take care of them? Like the local fish shop? Bob Fenner>

cichlid dorsal fin closed     12/18/13
I have four baby orange cichlids in a holding tank. Recently,  two of the fish have a dorsal fin that is closed so I took out the fish and I cleaned out the tank but only put back the two healthy fish. Meanwhile, the two fish with the closed dorsal fin are in a bucket. please tell me why the fins are closed and whether I can do anything about it.
<... Need information on water quality, history of maintenance... I would NOT leave fish in an unfiltered, unheated bucket for any length of time.
Bob Fenner>
Re: cichlid dorsal fin closed    12/18/13

The water was .1% ammonia before the tank was cleaned.
<Toxic. Must be 0.0. Read... on WWM re. BobF>
 There is a separate part of the tank parceled off by a piece of glass.  The 4 baby orchids were kept in this separate holding area within the tank.  Two of the fish kept in this separate holding area within the tank got collapsed dorsal fins.
I cleaned the tank right after I saw this.  I cleaned the regular tank, but never cleaned the holding tank before, but I cleaned the holding tank after.
Is there any way to cure these two fish?
<Fix the environment, time going by>
Re: cichlid dorsal fin closed    12/19/13


serious disease in my cichlids they are dying in numbers
Cichlid Tank Die Off    9/30/11

Hi WWM, Please!! Please!! Help. My fish are dying & looking worse. I am hoping that you can help me. I have a 125 gal aquarium that was housing about 17 small cichlids about 1-2 inches. They were all healthy, getting along & eating well. The fish man that changes my water & cleans my tank every month, wanted to get rid of his larger cichlids. So I allowed him to add his healthy bigger 4-5 inch, 15 varied cichlid fish. My tank has 2 large 360 Marineland filters, 3 power heads for the underground filter and 3 large air strips. The problem I started having late last week is that 4 of the bigger fish came down with one cloudy white eye, in varying degrees. I have seen this before with another tank I had, so I did another water change & started treating with Melafix as directed on the back. Also I tested the water before I did the water change and the pH was 7.5-8.0. nitrites were 0, and the nitrates were 10, GH was 180 & KH was 180-240 which is where the water has been for the last 6 months. However, day by day the cloudiness has been getting worse, progressing to white patches on other fishes mouths & faces and open ulcers on the sides & bellies of other fish.2 days ago when I seen the first white patch I was suspecting a fungal component, so I added Pimafix along with the Melafix. Unfortunately today was day 7 of treatment & they look worse. In fact I lost 3 fish, so I am even more worried. Could the Pimafix & Melafix been harmful?
< I think you had am ammonia spike when you added the new fish. The waste generated by the new fish exceeded the bacteria's ability to convert the excess ammonia into nitrite and nitrate. This would account for the cloudy water. As the fish die their decaying bodies add additional ammonia into the water. When you added the Melafix it probably killed or at least impaired the bacteria to convert ammonia..>
As I have read in your many blogs I am suspecting that is was really a bacterial infection I will attach pictures.
I am hoping that you can recommend a medicine that can cure this problem.
I don't have a qt tank & believe that the symptoms are arising on fish that didn't look sick the day before I should treat the whole tank. Thanks in advance, Pam
< Check the ammonia with a test kit that gives numbers in PPM. Kits that say "fine" are worthless. Any ammonia reading is harmful to fish. This stresses the fish and makes them vulnerable to infection. I would recommend a 50% water change, clean the filters. Add Dr. Tim's One and Only. It is a bacterial additive that works very well. The ammonia should be under control very shortly. Feed only enough food so that all of it is gone in a couple of minutes. Remove any uneaten food. Once the ammonia gets under control you can add some rock salt to the water to increase the slime coating on the fish. Cichlids are pretty tough. Once the water gets cleaned up they recover pretty quickly. The other approach is a little more drastic. Clean the tank and the filters and do a 50 % water change while vacuuming the gravel. Treat the tank with a antibiotic like Erythromycin or Nitrofuranace for the bacterial infection. This will probably wipe out your biological filtration. so you will need to water changes to keep the ammonia under control. Once the fish have recovered you should add some quality carbon to remove the medication, do a 50% water change and then add the Dr. Tim's One and Only. This should get the tank back ob track in a few days.-Chuck>

Still Learning...Help my Cichlids please...........
Cichlid Shimmy    5/17/11

Hi there, I have a 60 gallon tank with the following Cichlid's. The issue is I know now after investigating so many things, that either 1 my water is not where it should be and or the fish have a internal or external disease. Maybe both at this point? I have tested the water and here are the results:
Nitrate 160 - 300 - DANGER, I assume? I know I need to do a water change but to lower the Nitrite, what should I get to boost biological filtration? Or do I need to buy anything? (Nitrifying bacteria?)
< Do a 50% water change, clean the filters and vacuum the gravel. Check the tap water too. In areas where there is lots of agricultural activity the nitrates can be high in the tap water.>
Nitrite - safe per test
< Safe means nothing. Get a kit that gives you actual readings in ppm. Reading should be zero.>
Hardness - 300/good?
< Ok for the fish you have.>
Alkali 180-300 not sure hard to tell on test stick, Isn't this high though? What do I need to do to bring this down?
< Fine for the fish you are keeping.>
pH 7.5 to 8.0 - normal/good?
< Fine for the fish you are keeping.>
Ammonia - normal per test kit as well.
< Get a kit that reads actual numbers in ppm. Zero is what you are looking for.>
We have treated the water with Maracide for starters. I see a cotton like fungus on the Oscars pectoral fins and on body. That is the ONLY visual I see on any fish. I also think these fish may be suffering from bloat. We were told all of them were carnivores and now know that is not true. They are omnivorous as well.
What can I buy to treat that - that these pet stores/shops will actually have on hand?
< By reducing the nitrates you should see a reduction in the body fungus and overall improved health of all your fish. Medications may not be needed.>
Two of the fish are not eating and one of them is sooo bloated looks like it is going to pop! - this is the one I now cannot find today.
< Bloat may be caused by stress or by diet. In Lake Malawi cichlids it is probably caused by a diet with too much animal protein.>
Fish Listing: Most of the fish are scratching themselves on the bottom, acting weird, shaking, etc.
Last water change: 2 weeks ago. Need to change again today 50% but need to know what else I should treat with? No hospital tank available.
>> 1 Tiger Oscar - has cotton stuff on pectoral fins and one white spot on body.
>> 1 Mbuna - (blue fish) - now starting to go to the top of the water where the filter is, just like the one that died did prior.
à 1 Melanochromis Chipokee - this one died recently - nothing on scales or body to identify death. Bloated though..
à 1 Turquoise one that's like the Genus Henucgrinus died or hiding still? Not sure
< Not aware of any fish in this genus.>
2 Electric Yellows
2 Metraclima Estherae (Red Zebra) - orange fish
1 Convict Cichlid - stays to itself
1 Genus Henucgrinus
1 Tin Foil Barb (Orange fin)
1 Metraclima Callainos?? Or Petrotilapia, or Pseudotropheus/Metriadima? - the purple dolphin looking one & a caramel one
1 Bumblebee
1 Albino Pink -don't know real name light pink with red eyes and gold around it. Looks like the Red Zebra but Albino pink
1 Algae Eater
1 Jewel fish
Food Questions: I know what they eat but what is the best form of feeding to use for the spinach, vegetable matter, seaweed, etc?
< Spirulina flakes or pellets are fine for the Lake Malawi fish. The others can handle it as well.>
Do they sell any of this in a pellet form?
< Sold as wafers for Plecos.>
What do you think is the main cause of the fishing shaking, rubbing themselves on the rocks, etc.?
< High nitrates. Reduce the nitrates add a teaspoon of rock salt per 5 gallons of water to increase the slime coat and reduce the skin irritations.-Chuck>
Thank you, Kathleen Zavala
Re: Cichlid Shimmy
Cichlid Shimmy II   5/17/11

Hi Chuck, Thank YOU so much for getting back to me. I really appreciate it. Did a 50% water change last night, removed filters (for now) due to the med's in the tank (Maracide) and cleaned gravel etc. Added the Nitrifying bacteria solution per instructions, and added what I had left of the Maracide not enough for the 60 gallon tank but will have to do till I can get more today.
How long should I treat the fish for with the Maracide for parasites, etc?
< As per my first response, I would recommend not treating the tank until the nitrate levels are under 20 ppm. The Maracide probably wiped out the biological bacteria that were in the tank and the ones you just added.>
Should I add more Nitrifying bacteria to the tank today?
< I would recommend replacing the filters with carbon to remove any medication still in the water. After the medications are gone I would check the water quality for ammonia and nitrites. If you get any readings then the biological activity has been disrupted and I would add Dr. Tim's One and Only to quickly replace the biological filtration.>
After the water change I tested the water again. The nitrate was then between 40 and 80.
< Much better than before.>
I then added the Nitrifying bacteria. Do I need to now take another reading?
< Since you medicated the tank I would test the water for ammonia and nitrites. Continue to do water changes to get the nitrates under 20 ppm.>
As of last night, I now see other fish with white spots but bigger than just a dot. (not looking like the normal Ick or velvet dust) Or, what would be your recommendation, please?
< Get the nitrates under 20 ppm, add the salt like I recommended. Feed only enough food so that all of it is gone in 5 minutes. Remove any uneaten food. Give the fish a few days to recover.>
They seemed to appear happier but still shaking. I mean, this was really freaking me out. They were shaking like they are about to have a nervous breakdown. (no kidding!!) scary! Then, they swim and "act normal" I've never seen a fish act this away. And, I found the other fish that I couldn't find. It was dead. Removed from tank.
< Check the water temp. with a thermometer and add the salt. The shimmy should go away as conditions improve.>
I value your input and advice. Thank you, Chuck! Kathleen
< The crew here at WWM is always happy to assist aquarists in keeping their organisms alive.-Chuck>

Sick and Dying Cichlids, Not Much Info To Go On   05/19/08 Hi WetWebMedia, I am having a bit of trouble with my fishes, and I was wondering if you could help me out. I have a 40 gallon tank with cichlids and many fishes have been dying. This is an established tank and has been there for almost a year now. I do consistent water changes and use tap water conditioner. No aggression has occurred so I believe it is because of my water quality. I test my water every week, and ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are all at 0 ppm. My pH is in the acidic zone, but I heard that I should leave it alone as my cichlids will adapt. I think the main problem is the hardness of the water. It is in the soft zone and my cichlids thrive in moderately hard water. I tried adding crushed coral in a net bag and I put it in my filter, but it didn't really work. Another problem I get is green water. This never happened before. I do not overfeed and I make sure they finish all their food. I do not place the tank in a sunny area and because of the green water, I have to do water changes almost every other day, which is very tiring. I vary their diets with shrimp pellets, flake food, brine shrimp, blood worms, veggie cubes, shrimp, crickets, and beef heart. Please help me out as I do not want my fishes to suffer. Do you think it is the hardness of the water that is causing all this? I used to have plants in there but they all died and floated up. I also used to have a piece of driftwood in there but I removed it because I read that they lower hardness and pH. Please give me any advice you have. Thanks so much, Chris < There are thousands of species of cichlids found in South and Central America as well as Madagascar and India. They come from the very soft acid waters of the Rio Negro in Brazil to very and hard alkaline waters of the rift lakes in Africa. You did not mention the types of cichlids you have, other than they thrive in moderately hard water. This covers a great many species. Your fish are dying yet you describe no symptoms. Are they bloated? Loss of appetite? Color changes? Frayed fins? Open sores? Heavy breathing? Anything? If you are concerned about the water hardness I would recommend that you get a reading for your tap water with a hardness test kit. Modify the hardness you desire in a separate container with commercial buffer and salt additives. Do a water change while vacuuming the gravel and cleaning the filter. Add the new buffered water to the aquarium. You want to make these changes very gradually. Eventually you will get the water in the aquarium to the hardness you desire. Green water comes from excess light and nutrients in the water. I would recommend that you feed you fish once a day and make sure that all the food in gone in a couple of minutes. The floating green algae suspended in the water may be absorbing all the waste in the water thus your zero readings for nitrogenous wastes.-Chuck>

Kribs And Exophthalmia - 11/25/2005 One week ago, I noticed my female Kribensis eyes were popped out of her head. She lived for about 2 weeks and then died.  Two days ago, I noticed that my male Kribensis had the same problem. I need to understand what is happening.  Thank you,  -Sherry <Thanks for correcting and re-sending your question, Sherry.  Exophthalmia, or "pop-eye", is usually caused by poor water conditions.  First, you need to test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate; ammonia and nitrite should be ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm.  If any of these are higher, you'll need to do water changes to get them back to normal.  Also, please read here for more information:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwpopeyefaqs.htm .  One to two tablespoons of Epsom salt per ten gallons of water may help a great deal, once the water quality is back to good.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Green terror Lost His Head 11/3/05 Hi, I have a question regarding my Green Terror. He suddenly died yesterday. Our cichlids started scratching a lot and we thought they were getting Ick. < Probably high nitrate concentrations. Should have checked the nitrates. If they were over 20 ppm then you needed to change some water instead of add medication.> We started treating on Monday with Super Ick. Yesterday we added another dose and not 30 seconds after that our Green Terror was at the top floating and then dropped to the bottom. When we got him out of the tank, my fiancé noticed that the bottom of his head was not attached to the bottom of his body. Don't know if that makes sense. I was wondering if you could tell me perhaps what happened. < Neither ich nor any medication can account for your green terror's cut throat. I suspect that he cut it on something in the aquarium or on the top of the tank while thrashing about.> Nothing else seemed wrong except for the scratching. He was eating fine. We have a 26 gallon tank with yellow cichlid, electric blue cichlid, OB peacock, 2 parrots, 1 Texas, 1 albino zebra and a common pleco. The terror was in there to. All of the other fish seem fine. I cannot understand what happened. Thanks for your help. Lori Michalski < Do a 50% water change and add some carbon to the water to remove the medication. Then add some BioSpira to get the nitrification cycle started again and check for ammonia spikes.-Chuck> 
Green Terror Died Losing His Head II - 11/4/05
Hi Chuck, Thanks for the reply. The terror was not trashing around it was the other fish that were doing the scratching. Sorry if I was unclear. We are going to do the water change tonight. What causes the nitrates to rise? < A build up of uneaten food and fish waste.> How should I add the carbon? < Place it in the filter. Many filters now require the purchase of an additional carbon cartridge.> Do you mean just drop some in. < No, add it to the filter.> I do believe we just put an new filter in. Also, do you think that the bio wheel not spinning all the time would cause any of this? Thanks, Lori < Some Marineland filters have little baskets that the carbon can be placed. Others have the carbon in the filter cartridges. The BioWheel contains the bacteria that breaks down the fish waste from toxic ammonia to less toxic nitrites and then to the even less toxic nitrates. Nitrates are converted to nitrogen gas by anaerobic bacteria or absorbed by plants. In the aquarium without plants the must be removed and reduced with water changes. Some chemical compounds claim to remove them but they have yet to be tested over a long time.-Chuck> 

Parrot Cichlids Stressed By High Nitrates  9/19.5/05 I had 2 parrots and a pleco in a 30 gal. tall tank.  They were all about 5 inches long.  Unfortunately, I let the nitrates get too high!  The parrots started hovering around the bio-wheel filter like they couldn't breath and then sunk to the bottom of the tank. I started with an aggressive water change of about 40% to reduce the nitrates and the gravel was cleaned and filter changed.  Nitrites were non-existent, PH was good. The only problem seemed to be the nitrates.  The next day 1 of the parrots was dead and the nitrates were sky high again!  I did another water change and headed to my neighborhood aquarium and fish store.  They specialize in fish and their tanks and fish always look clean and healthy. Their answer was the nitrates removed the oxygen from the water.  They recommend not adding any meds for ich or internal bacterial infection although parrots are prone to infection with bad water quality, because this too will remove oxygen from the water.  They recommend adding an aerator powerhead to add oxygen and also aquarium salt to help with the stress. Since then I have continued testing nitrates and making water changes and the tank seems to be stabilizing to 10 to 20 ppm in nitrates, but the parrot is still not eating, spends most of it's time on the bottom of the tank seeming to gasp for air, or perhaps just too weak to swim. It also seems to be showing slight signs of ich.  The pleco doesn't seem to have been effected by any of this. The tank is about 82 degrees (normal for this tank).  It's been about seven days since this all started and about 6 water changes later.  Will the parrot recover?  Could there be anything else wrong?  Have I done the right things, or can anything else be done?  When should I treat with meds for ich or bacterial infections, if at all? Thank you, Angela < The 82 F will take care of the ich. You parrots have been stressed by the high nitrates and probably have an internal bacterial infection. Keep the nitrates down and treat with Metronidazole for internal bacterial problems.-Chuck>

Hole in Severum hello please bear with me as I ask this question as I am new to this ok I have a 55 gallon tank with a Severum in it that looks like an Oscar I have a smaller version of him as well and two cat fish ones a shark like and the other looks black velvet and one jaguar cichlid now they have been awesome since January recently like oh maybe month or 6 weeks ago I added the jaguar now my problem my bigger Severum has these little holes that look like pinholes behind his right eye and on the left eye tonight I noticed a larger hole behind it the one behind the left eye is probably 7 mm in diameter and the ones behind the right eye are problem 1-2 mm and there's like 5-6 of them in a row like someone poked him with  a safety pin now he's my baby and I'm new to the whole fish tank thing (I'm 34) love the aquarium its my little place to watch another world and so far so good till this can you please advise me on what this may be the only thing new to my tank in the past 6-8 months are 2 things one the new jaguar who is maybe 3 inches and my BioWheel has kind of stopped spinning but I mess with it so it runs probably 12 of the 24 hours a day still filters water it just the wheel that doesn't turn I feed the fish the normal medium sized pellet food and also treat them to frozen brine shrimp 3-6 times a week and also add feeder fish regularly and they eat em up so please help and I hope I gave enough info look forward to your response soon before anything goes awry thanks Dan <Do a 30% water change and clean the filter. Take it all apart and rinse everything off very thoroughly and reassemble it. It should be working fine with the wheel continuously turning. Vacuum the gravel when you do your water change to remove all the stuff that has accumulated there. The hole-in-the head disease your fish has does not have a specific cure. There are many medications that say they cure it but none so far have been found to be guaranteed. This condition is associated with poor water quality or a vitamin deficiency. Regular weekly maintenance and a varied diet should help. Try some washed earthworms instead of the feeder goldfish.-Chuck> Dan Gies

Cichlid rubbing several of my cichlids are rubbing against things what should I do? <Do a 30 % water change and service the filter. When you change the water try and vacuum the gravel to remove the crud that has accumulated there. Check the nitrates too. Add a teaspoon of rock salt per 10 gallons of water to aid the fishes to create a protective slime on their skin.-Chuck>

Blood Parrot Fish I have three blood parrots that are about 10 years old so they are fairly good size.  Last week they started lying on the bottom of the tank.  If I feed them or knock on the glass they swim and seem OK.  On of the fish has a dark underside, like something is dark and fairly good size under the skin.  I enjoy these fish and don't want to loose them but haven't a clue as to what to do. I had the water checked and it is good, no problem.  I have started raising the temp (I don't know what it was), it is hovering around 76. Do you have any suggestions??? < Try raising the water temp to 80 degrees and change the diet. Add some live washed earthworms every once in awhile. If that doesn't get them going then I would treat with Metronidazole and assume that they have an internal bacterial infection. Ten years is a very long time and you are to be congratulated for keeping them going this long.-Chuck> Linda Bernard
Re: Blood Parrot Fish
Thank you for the assistance.  Unfortunately, every fish including the parrots, died over the weekend. < What happened? Did the heater stick? -Chuck> Linda Bernard
Re: Blood Parrot Fish
I really don't know what happened.  They all got the eye problem, where they were bug eyed and glassed, laid around the bottom of the tank.  I put Epsom salt in trying to revive them and they perked up for a day but then bit the dust. I lost two Oscars, 3 kissing Gouramis, 2 sucker fish, 5 parrots, and a couple of others.  The only thing I can think of was I had changed the water about a week and a half prior to the fish getting sick, a day or so after changing the water I got a notice from the city of bacteria in the water.  I'm guessing it was just too much. < I am guessing it may have been a pH shock. An old established tank in an area with soft water could have easily gotten very acidic in a short period of time. When you changed the water the new water could have been more alkaline and the pH shock weakened the fish and they began to get sick. As the tank became acidic again the fish had a difficult time adjusting to the change. On the other hand there could have been something added to the water to treat the bacteria that had an affect on the fish. Hopefully you will set up the tank and be back at it in no time at all.-Chuck> Thank you for your help. Linda Bernard

My Ocellaris Hello WWM, I have a 72 Imp. Gal. tank. its running for over 2 weeks now and I've originally purchased 2 ocellaris the smaller one died because of stress so I bought more ocellaris the three were in harmony for a few days when I noticed one had his mouth wide open and looks like he's in a lot of trouble. He wouldn't eat and days later he died.  Now a day after an ocellaris died another ocellaris showing the same symptom-open mouth!- now he's not eating.. it's almost a write off :( when my fishes often show signs of stress they die. No ammonia is present, low nitrite and nitrates all other fishes seem to do just fine.  I've lost so many fishes over the couple of weeks (mainly due to the ammonia spike) that I'm thinking of giving up the hobby!  Just because i feel like I'm a bad caretaker! But all i do is worry about them. I'll send a picture < Cichla ocellaris (peacock bass) are South American Cichlids that are actually quite sensitive to water conditions. Just by looking at them you think they would be bullet proof and easy to care for. Actually they are one of the most difficult cichlids to keep. They require soft acidic water similar to discus! Water temp should be around 80 F and a pH of 7 or lower. They almost always require live food and extremely clean water with no ammonia or nitrites and a nitrate level no higher than 25 ppm with 15 ppm and lower even better. These are pretty tough requirements for a fish that gets close to 2 feet long. Try and find an easier fish at first and work up to a peacock bass later after you have become more experienced.-Chuck>

Congo and a disease I have a 29 gal good water quality, 4 fish in a tank one being a cichlid (Conga)  it recently grew a large "cyst" or bump in it's belly.  It's growing rapidly on one side.  This is day 3 and intense research has produced no known cause or treatment.  At first I thought it'd eaten rocks but the Conga has not eaten in a few days now and the tumor continues to grow.  Can you help? Also we noticed he has holes in his head but did not eat any live fish lately(1yr)  (as I was told this was the cause of such an occurrence) Please respond A.S.A.P.  we are desperate for information and local pet shops and vets are no help thus far. V. Michels, Florida < Your white convict is commonly referred to in the aquarium trade as a White Congo. The hole in the head disease and swollen belly indicate that the water quality may not be as good as you think. Do a 30% water change, service the filter and treat with Metronidazole. Follow the directions on the package. When the swelling goes down, after the internal bacteria have been killed, and he begins to eat again try feeding some washed chopped earthworms or brine shrimp.-Chuck> 
Re: Congo and a disease
Our "convict" is doing better, we already considered and did a water change, but his belly "burst" for better lack of a term and he is still alive. Today I saw a thin string hanging from the hole (about 1 -2 inches long) and some eroded flesh I believe (about 2 millimeters in diameter and 3 millimeters long) from his side.  He ate today and appears healthy/active otherwise. His belly started to swell on the other side yesterday but is better today. Swelling almost all gone, The area where the large bump was is discolored blackish now.  The type of treatment is helpful though, we had him on a different treatment. The bursting seem to be the turn around, however, because nothing I did made it better. We do care for our fish, I wonder why you referred to him as a "convict" < Look at "Cichlasoma" nigrofasciatum in a book and you will see a grey striped fish that is the same as yours except he isn't white. This common name for the striped fish is convict and the white version is called the white Congo. It is a good thing that no internal organs seemed to be affected. The white stringy stuff is connective tissue as the fish begins to heal itself. Keep the water clean so it doesn't fungus and there is a good chance for a full recovery.-Chuck>

Cichlid disease, environmental Dear crew, I have only been into fish for about 6 months. I have fresh water fish such as Electric Blue cichlids, Electric Yellows, Ghost Knife, Livingstoni, Venustus, two 20cm Oscars, and a colony of 20 fuscus (which I have been successful in breeding!) I have 4, 4ftx2x2ft tanks, and 12, 3x1x2ft tanks as a breeding bank.                                  I've learnt about temp, regular water changes and Ph testing but unsure what else I need to check, (and how?) Also I have noticed a cotton-wool type of growth in a filter. I use internal foam filter/aerator.) And now on a rock in another tank. Please help if you can!!   <Check for nitrates. This will let you know when and how much water to change. The cottony grow may be from fungus attacking uneaten food like pellets. Feed only enough so all the food is gone after a couple of minutes.-Chuck>   

Open mouthed Oscars Hi, I have been looking for information on what could be wrong with my Oscars. I have searched all your postings and while I did find one that related to open mouthed Oscars, it did not give me much information. I have a black Oscar and a white one. The black one's mouth has been opened continuously for about 6 weeks now. The white one for about a month. They are hungry and try to eat but cannot close their mouths to keep the food in. I have done a couple of 25% water changes in the past 2 weeks but no change in the fish. I have never tested the water as I do not know how but am looking to learn. I must admit that I have not changed filters and water at optimum rates in the past. Any ideas? < If they are gasping for air then you probably have some waste build up that needs to be addressed. Change the filter and do a 30% water change every other day for a week. Next week vacuum the gravel to get rid of all the junk accumulating in the sand. Your water should be in pretty good shape by now. If no improvement is seen then there may be an obstruction in their throats. Catch one of the fish and look down the throat with a flashlight and see if there is any visual signs of problems. If not then their mouths may have been damaged from trying to eat materials that are too hard to chew, then try and pre-moisten the food to soften it up and see if that helps.-Chuck>                                       Thanks, Brad
Re: Open mouthed Oscars
Chuck, thanks for the quick response. I went to my local fish & aquarium dealer today and I told him about the open mouth symptoms that my Oscars are displaying. He told me that they have developed a disease that is similar to "Lock Jaw" and that it is rare but that he himself has dealt with it. To his knowledge, there is no cure and very little info out there on it. He also said that he did not know it was contagious and could not understand why both had developed the problem. In his experience just one Oscar in a tank of several had developed the condition. He said that the Oscars would eventually starve to death. Does this make sense to you Chuck? Ever heard of "Lock Jaw" leading to starvation in an Oscar? < Never heard of "Lock Jaw" disease before in Oscars. Some cichlids with producible jaws I have seen over extend their jaws and become stuck out but they are still able to feed. This is a new one on me and my friends. Another reason may be a damaged pharyngeal bone. These bones act as a second set of jaws that may become damaged while eating hard foods like pellets. Look down their throats and see if you find anything .-Chuck>    Thanks again,    Brad PS   I am beginning the treatments you prescribed to see if that will help.


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

Sick cichlids Hello, I have two cichlids...one a tiger and the other one I am not sure of the type.  They both have large areas with a white, fuzzy substance in the center.  The areas are start between the eyes and continue up the head to almost the top fin.  The fish appear to be lethargic and often lay on the bottom of the tank floor.  There are no other fish in the tank with them, or any other species.  Any ideas on what we can do to make them feel and get better?  I hope you can help.  Thank you, LB < Do a 30 % water change and service the filters. Vacuum the gravel as you do your water change. Treat with Furanace. This will kill the fungus (White cottony stuff on the head), and treat any bacteria that may be attacking the areas too. -Chuck>

Sick fish and cloudy water Hello All, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.> I have to say I love your guys' website. A lot of useful information. I've gotten a lot of help previously when I had an ich outbreak that wiped out half of my tank. <Glad the site was helpful. It has certainly helped me.> Which is the reason for me writing this to ensure I do treat them in time and correctly and to find out some more info.  All 5 of my blood parrots have died but my cichlids are still alive!!!! They were Jellybean parrots which I found out later that they were all injected/dyed <A horrible, barbaric practice indeed> which made them susceptible to disease, but we won't get into that.  They've been replaced by more cichlids and catfish. With that said, I think I have too much information stored in my brain in a short period of time and now I'm somewhat lost in which direction to go.  Let me tell you what I have before I get started. I currently have a 90 gallon freshwater tank, nothing but fake plants, gravel and some driftwood. Inhabitants are no more than 2 inches <Fish grow you know.> big except for the catfish. I have 1 of each species/genus: Electric Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Kenyi, Auratus, Red Zebra, Bumble Bee, Snow White Socolofi, I think it's a Labidochromis Textilis, can't really find much info on that species though since it's not as popular, Albino Fairy Cichlid, and Daffodil. <I'll be shocked if you can get this many (10!) cichlids to grow and thrive and get along in a tank of this size. You have too many.> I recently purchased 2 Synodontis upside down catfish about 2-3 inches big. A common Pleco about 5 inches and a chocolate Pleco about 3 inches. (I think it's a chocolate/rusty Pleco, it has the closest resemblance to what I can find on the web) I had quarantined all 4 of them for about a week <1/4 of the time recommended.> and acclimated them slowly into the main tank. They disappeared for several days. They've been in the main tank for about a week now. Didn't realize that they were nocturnal. <I often didn't see my Synodontis for weeks at a time.> I've had them for about 2 weeks. Up until a few days ago, I started seeing them chase the cichlids out of the caves they were hiding in. I was starting to get worried that they were dead or something.  I did have some algae growing on the wood, the fake sword plant and along the sides of the tank, but now they're spotless!! So I assume they're eating, not only that, they're poop is soo long so they are definitely eating something. Ammonia 0.25 ppm (probably due to overfeeding or from adding the catfish) <And having too many messy fish in your tank.>  I did cut down feeding to half now and will continue to do so until zero, maybe even stop feeding them if anything. Nitrite 0 Nitrate 40 ppm  Is this level okay or should it be lower? <I'd try to keep it under 20 with a good regimen of frequent water changes.> What is considered to be a safe level of nitrate? What is enough to keep algae growing? <Keep at 20 or less.> pH is at 7.6 Water temp is at 75-78 I've been doing weekly water changes since about 4 months ago I tore down the main tank due to all the parrots dying. At the time I had 5 cichlids left which I ended up using to get the tank to start cycling again. After about a month, I purchased bumble bee, snow white and the Textilis cichlid and added them to the tank. (I know I shouldn't have done that because I didn't know at the time that the tank hasn't fully cycled yet PLUS me had no test kits either...I'm so bad...) A week later I bought the 2 fairy cichlids and added them too. This is when I started doing my research on the Nitrogen cycle and then I went out and bought test kits. About 6 weeks went by and test readings dropped to zero and Nitrate was at 20 ppm that's when I started adding the quarantined catfish. I resisted the temptation of adding more fish. yay!!! <Yes, you already have too many.> I've been changing about 30% of the water weekly <good>, vacuuming the gravel <good>, adding Amquel <bad>, Stress Zyme <not very useful> and Stress Coat <why?>. Last time I changed the water was on Monday 1/26/04, 2 days after the catfish were added. I WAS using aquarium salt when ammonia and nitrite levels were peaking to aid the cichlids in breathing. <not really much help> I knew that this were to help during my research and the cichlids were all at the surface gasping for air so I added extra aeration too. <a better choice> But after getting the catfish I wasn't too sure if they were sensitive to salt so I didn't add any when doing the last water change.  Up until last night I noticed that my chocolate Pleco had one white spot on his tail. I checked again today and it wasn't there. Without panicking, I knew it was ich but the source of it was a mystery to me. <One spot may not be ich, but wise to be cautious.> I'll be trying to catch Mr. Pleco tonight and move him to a separate hospital tank which is housing a baby black Dalmatian molly (Nemo) about 1cm, the ONLY survivor out of 15-20 fry and the mommy died the day after. <What are you going to do with the Molly?> All the other fry were probably eaten by the bigger mollies or from the red worms hanging from the mommy's butt. Eww I know. Sad to say I tried to save her but I couldn't. I ended up inheriting her when all of my boyfriend's family's fish had died except a few mollies and gouramis. That's a whole different story, won't get into that.  Anyway the cichlids are displaying A LOT of scratching which is starting to worry me. <I'd worry too. Could be ich or perhaps irritation from high nitrate.> Bumblebee is scratching itself against anything non-stop and it's not looking too pretty. And the Lab Textilis is swimming in a funny circular motion. A few of them also hang out by the heater and water current. And they're colors have been changing as well. The chocolate Pleco was the only one who had any ich visible on his body but all other fish seem to be displaying infection as well but no spots.  Should I treat the whole tank since they all seem to be showing signs of distress or should I just remove my chocolate Pleco into a hospital tank and treat him there for ich? <Start with the Pleco and getting the nitrates way down with a big water change. Stop using Amquel. It is only a stopgap measure.> I know if I treat the whole tank, the meds might destroy most if not all of my good bacteria but since I've been doing weekly water changes and is in that MODE, <more like DAILY if you kill your biofilter.> I wouldn't mind to continue for a few more weeks...just a few weeks.  <Do it forever.> BTW, I haven't changed the filter in the water pump yet, but will do so soon. It's been about 2 months since we cleaned it. <Could be pumping out a lot of nitrate.> What about the catfish, are they sensitive to medications or salt? <Salt is not helpful in with this problem. I suggest you read through the FW Ich FAQs for info on correct treatment.> They seem to be fine, no scratching or spots.  Can high levels of ammonia cause ich outbreaks? <Can weaken fish immunity> Right now it's at .25ppm What about cloudy water? <Bacterial bloom. If green, then algae.>After I did the water change, my tank got cloudy, it was cloudy even before the catfish were added....I haven't used activated carbon before but I did purchase a box of AmmoChips. Would this help? <Will absorb ammonia.> In case the cause is from the ammonia. I know it might help with my cloudy water situation.  Can ich occur when other fish are picking/nipping at the new inhabitants? <Yes, or perhaps they already had it.> I'm asking this because I've been seeing Bumble bee nip my Pleco's fins which are raggedy and torn right now. Will Maracyn used to treat fin and tail rot help? <Antibiotics will help with fin rot.> The catfish are good "fighters" so none of the cichlids are bothering them and the common Pleco is the biggest fish and I don't think they bother him either.  I do have Rid-Ich from my previous experience, which didn't go too well because by the time I found an answer, it was too late to save any parrots. <Check the FW Ich FAQs for the best options.> But the cichlids still lived through it!!! Poor fish, they've been through a lot in the last few months...the good thing is that they're growing pretty rapidly. <And soon will not fit in your tank.> I apologize for slapping you guys with a rather long email and it's been months since I've had an ich outbreak. I have somewhat of a clue of what needs to be done but I'd rather be safe than sorry. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you!!! Sandy <My main advice is to stay away from the fish store. Don't buy any more fish until you have another or a bigger tank. You are going to need one just for the fish you already have. Do you have some good aquarium books to read? Hope this helps.> 

Twitching Cichlids - 7/31/03 I have a 29G African Cichlid tank that has been running for a couple of years. <Very well.>  The tank currently has 5 Cichlids (It had 6 until last night). <Sorry to hear, my friend> Two are approximately 2.5" long and the other three are just over 1" (they are fairly new).  All of the sudden all of the fish have developed an uncontrollable twitch of the whole body, not just the head or fins. <Whoa. When you say uncontrollable should I take that to mean constantly? Do they scrape against rocks or anything else (heater maybe?)>  Ammonia and PH are correct, but the Nitrate level appears to be high. <Water changes my friend. Do it ASAP! Condition your water and make sure PH and temp are exactly the same. We don't want to stress the fish any more than we have too. I keep a bucket of water aerating and temp'ed constantly for my cichlid water changes. You should look into what is causing the nitrates to climb. Change your filter media and rinse the other filter medias that are not being changed out in some tank water. If you have substrate it might be time to start changing it out a bit at a time. The only thing is be sure to keep your water changes as consistent as possible. 10-15 percent of the water.>  There are also two live plants in the tank.  I don't know if the Nitrate could be causing this, but I also don't know what else to look at. <Possible. Nitrate is not an obligate killer but could cause stress over time and exposure. Not sure what is causing the twitching. Could be parasitic. If there are no other outward signs of distress or parasites, then I would not treat them if you don't have to. -Paul> Please help! Thank You, Shad Steward

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