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FAQs on Cichlid Nutritional 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, Environmental, 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


Sunken belly     1/9/20
Hi Crew
My electric blue Acara, Finn (so named because of a piece missing from his dorsal fin), whom I've had for 8 months has been off his food for past 3 to 4 days. His color is good, no clamped fins, not hiding but he is ignoring his usual favorites (cichlid flakes. Brine shrimp cubes and frozen Blood worms) and his belly seems a bit sunken in. I've not seen any white feces. Tank set up is 55 gallon heavily planted with driftwood and rocks, Fluval canister 206 and sponge filter (rated for 80 gallons) and Aquaclear 70. Lots of filtration. Water parameters: pH 6.6-6.8, temp 77-78°F, gH 8°, ammonia and nitrites are 0 ppm and nitrates are around 20 ppm with weekly water changes. Tank mates are Columbian tetras and small school of Corydoras. I recently upped the temp from 75-76° to 77-78° as he seemed sluggish. He seemed more active in warmer temps.
My first thought was parasites. I don't think its stress related as he's pretty mellow. I have API General Cure on hand and since he is not eating I was wondering if best course of action would be to treat the whole tank? I have two Angel fish currently in my quarantine/hospital tank (one of whom I was planning on adding to his tank). I do have a 20 gallon tote I could put him in with a cycled sponge filter but I would need to buy a heater first. Any thoughts?
<Electric Blue anything tends to be a risky purchase, with few of these fish being as healthy as their regularly coloured ancestors. In this case, since your tank sounds broadly about right, I'm guessing the environment is basically fine. I'd be tempted to treat as per "mystery ill cichlid" scenario; i.e., metronidazole alongside a nitrofuran antibiotic. This tends to catch the usual problems cichlids waste away (i.e., Hexamita-type infections) but doesn't unduly stress the fish or filter.
Cheers, Neale.><<Totally agree. RMF>>

Re: Sunken belly (RMF?)<<Wish I had one; oh! Again, in total agreement>>   1/10/20
Thanks Neale for getting back to me so quickly!
He was treated when I first got him as a juvie with Metroplex in food (once a day for recommended treatment period). He was very skinny and spitting out his food. He seemed to bounce back and he's grown and filled out (over 5 inches). He has continued to be a picky eater, however.
<Does happen with cichlids; to some extent, you need to experiment, but good quality cichlid pellets should be taken.>
I have Furan-2 by API on hand along with SeaChem Metroplex. So, do you recommend dosing the volume of water with each med as per directions on each box?
<Medicated food is, by far, the best approach if viable. Dosing the water is less reliable, so should be Plan B.>
With this combo can I treat him in my planted tank thus avoiding the stress of moving him or should I set up a hospital tank for him? I know Metroplex won't crash my bio-filter but I wasn't sure about Furan 2 as I've never used it.
<Metronidazole shouldn't cause any problems for plants or filters. However, Furan-2 does seem to have a mixed reputation, and the manufacturer states that it WILL harm filter bacteria. So the ideal is to use Furan-2 (alongside the Metro) in a hospital tank with a zeolite-filled box filter.
If you must medicate the main tank because it's the only one you have, remove some of the filter media and keep damp, while also removing any irreplaceable plants, just in case (or at least some cuttings, so you can regrow them if needs be).>
It's one of those meds I bought to keep on hand. Also, is this combo safe for corydoras and nerite snails?
<Should be fine for catfish, but snails likely not. Remove them. They'll be fine in a large plastic container kept somewhere warm. Change the water every couple days, but otherwise just make sure the lid is on safely to keep them from escaping.>
I'm reading online that a lot of owners of EBAs are having similar issues.
Too bad.
<Indeed. As stated before, the Electric Blue varieties of pretty much everything are unreliable, at best. The relevant genetic selections that have produced these strains seem to be connected with the genes that provide disease-resistance. While the varieties may improve over time, there are some selected strains of fish that never really recover.>
He has a great personality. I hope I can pull him through this. Thank you again for your help and expertise.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: EBA with Sunken belly   1/11/20
Hi Neale
<Hello again, Susan,>
Well, I decided to dose General Cure until my heater arrived and I could set up his hospital tank. He appears to be responding somewhat to this treatment as he is coming out of hiding to greet me and he ate a small amount of blood worms mixed with Metroplex last night. I'm finishing the second dose of General Cure today.
<Sounds promising.>
SeaChem says they usually recommend not to do both (treat water column and do medicated food, they said General Cure is comparable to Metroplex with some Prazi added).
<Would seem logical; doing both would be an overdose, with perhaps unhelpful results to either fish or filter.>
Do you think it would be wise to continue with medicated food (straight Metroplex) after I've finished with the General Cure if I don't see 100% improvement?
<Yes, but I tend to favour waiting a day or two between the end of one course and the start of another. Certainly, doing a decent water change at this point gives the filter bacteria a breathing space.>
I want to knock out whatever bug he has but I don't want to over medicate.
SeaChem says to feed for 3 weeks which tells me the dose in the food, while effective, is on the low side.
<Possibly, but remember: when fed as food, you're getting all the medicine into the fish; when added to water, only a tiny fraction is absorbed through the skin because its so massively diluted by the aquarium water or metabolised by other organisms in the tank. So feeding the fish generally ensures a closer-to-optimum concentration of the medicine inside the fish.>
Thank you for tip on using Zeolite in the hospital tank filter to control ammonia. I usually use Prime but I know it can reduce O2 levels especially when medicating. Zeolite is a better alternative.
<Indeed it is. A simply box filter will do.>
Thank you again! I can't count how many times your site and advice has saved my fish and made me a better fish keeper.
<And thank you for these kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid Troubles      7/13/14
My sherbet orange knot head cichlid is very old and has been swimming upside down for a while now. I'm guessing that the problems is his swim bladder. I took a photo of it or I think I did. Notice there seems to be a mass inside it at the tip. The green lines are scratches in the glass.
What is the problem and how do I fix it?
Thank you in advance
<Hi Angie. It's hard to see what this thing is from the angle of the photo and because of the way it's been cropped. But it looks like an anal prolapse. Quite common in cichlids. Essentially the back part of the colon gets infected, expands out of the anus, and what you see is a funny looking "growth" attached to the cichlid. It's treatable for sure, using Metronidazole. Do have a read of the relevant FAQs on the pages linked below; use your browser's search facility to look for the word "prolapse" and you'll go right to them, plus some photos:



Environment and diet are the two causative factors, so review and act
 accordingly alongside any treatment. Good luck, Neale.>

My Jewelfish... beh., hlth.    2/1/08 Hello, My female Jewel seems stuck to the bottom. She feeds normally and immediately sinks back to the bottom. She swims around as if magnetized to the bottom. No other symptoms. Any advice? Thanx Jay <Greetings. One of the most common reasons fish become sluggish or unable to swim is constipation. Hemichromis bimaculatus feeds on a variety of foods, but insects are a major part of their diet, and the skeletons of insects act as a sort of dietary fibre. In the aquarium, things like live Daphnia and brine shrimp make a very good alternative. What doesn't help is dried food and flakes, which contain little fibre. Many cichlids will eat plant material, particularly tinned peas, as these have an excellent laxative effect. Adding Epsom salt to the water can help: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/epsomfaqs.htm Otherwise, if these remedial actions don't help, you have to consider a systemic bacterial infection or a genetic problem. Bacterial infections often come under the banner of "swim bladder disease" but can be a variety of things. They are usually caused by water quality issues, and with cichlids, nitrate is something to watch, not just ammonia and nitrite. Bacterial infections are difficult to treat once established; antibiotics probably work best, so you'll need something like Maracyn-Two. As for genetics, that's something that is essentially not fixable. Inbreeding of cichlids is incredibly common, and swim bladder deformities are typical of this. Often this becomes worse as they fish matures. In any case, there's nothing to be done. Provided the fish is otherwise happy, it isn't something to be concerned about, but obviously a deformed fish shouldn't be used for breeding purposes. Cheers, Neale.>

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

Holes in Severum head I have a Green Severum and it has very small holes around its eyes and face that just showed up what are they and what should I do? < Do a 30% water change , service the filter and vacuum the gravel. Change the diet and include some live food like washed earthworms. Make sure your fish food has not gone stale and lost some of its vitamins.-Chuck>

Severums with HLLE? I have a gold and green Severum and I notice they are slowly developing more holes (pit-like) around their head regions. <Sounds like hole-in-the-head/HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion).> I treated them with fungus and parasite tablets as well as Maracyn-two but no improvement.   <This condition is usually brought on by either poor water quality or improper nutrition; can you tell us more about your tank?  What are your ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels?  What other fish are in there?  How large is the tank?  How often/how much do you change water?  Do you vacuum the gravel?  What do you feed?  Lots of questions, I know, but it'll help us help you if we know more about your system.> However, the other fish in the tank appear fine.  Is there something I can do to treat the Severums? <Not treat, really, but improving the water quality will hopefully halt the pitting.  Maintain excellent water quality and feed with a good, varied diet, and you might possibly see some improvement.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

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