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FAQs on Cichlid Parasitic 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, Nutritional, Social, Pathogenic, 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


Re: cichlid question Disease Treatment Recommendations -- 03/07/08 Thanks for the info but before I got the reply, I got desperate and called the local petstore (which might I add that here in the mountains where I live good pet stores are few and far between) and she told me to use Jungle brand Ick Guard to treat for Ick. I told her that it didn't look like Ick and she said that it was the advanced stages of Ick, and insisted that I use the Jungle brand Fungus treatment along with the Ick Guard. < Ich is a common parasite but usually shows lots of white spots. The Formalin I recommended also does a great job on Ich.> So Tuesday, I did a 50% water change... Wednesday I tested my water 10ppm nitrates, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and the pH was 7.6 I know this needs to come up but I was afraid of putting too many chemicals in the tank. I treated with the Jungle brand products and the fish still look bad, but eating well today on Thursday morning but after reading your reply today, I am afraid that I am wasting time. I have not had any deaths yet, still have 6 fish... but one of the Jewel cichlids has become anti-social and hangs out at the top of the tank about 2 inches below water line. I have no idea if its a male or female but I like to call "IT" a her because she seems so petite and girly to me.. :) but anyway, she hangs out at top just below water line and still eats but not with the enthusiasm as her tank mates. She is the one looks the worst. She is covered in black patches and is very dull in color now. After treating with the Jungle products I plan to do another water change tomorrow or this evening. So would it be ok to treat my fish again with the products you suggested even after all the chemicals I have already used? < When I make a recommendation it is based on the info supplied by the writer and what has worked for me the best in the past. Jungle products usually have lots of salt in them. Salt increases the slime on the surface of the fish and this could be some of the improvement you are seeing. If you don't feel that the current treatment is doing any good then do a 50% water change and treat as per my suggestion.> I am sorry to sound like such a "noob" but I really want to prove my husband wrong, he said that I need to flush my fish and raise guppies. Not only is this a mission to save my beautiful fish, it has become a mission to prove I CAN survive fish other than goldfish and guppies. As for the rock salt you suggested isn't just regular non-iodized salt? Like table salt? Sodium chloride? < You can use rock salt or aquarium salt.-Chuck>
Re: cichlid question Cichlids With Ich Treatment  3/9/08
OK, so far so good! Fish are still alive! They are looking much better with just the salt that you recommended. I am having a hard time finding the Formalin, pet store didn't have it. So, I treated with the Jungle product for Ich. I have used the Jungle medication until is all gone. I was wondering how often I should treat with the salt and should I replace my carbon in filters when doing so. Color is beginning to come back it appears on my Jewels, and their black patches have faded almost completely away. Unfortunately for me, the more petite Jewel has something going on with her eyes. They don't appear to be bulging out really but more like growing light fuzz or fur? She doesn't seem to be blind, both Jewels still occasionally "scratch" the head/gill area of their bodies as well. The only new symptom is the eye thing at this point. < The white fuzz is a fungal infection.> My tank tests are pH 8.4 , ammonia 0, nitrates are 10 ppm, nitrites 0. water temp is 78/79ish. I don't have any carbon in the filters at the moment and have been relying on 50% water changes about every 2-4 days during this sick time. Also, I have a spotted cichlid, reminds me of a leopards spots, that has done amazing through all of this. He has never lost any color or shown signs of any sickness. I was wondering if I should purchase a smaller tank just for him and stop medicating him if he doesn't look or act sick. I know you all are so busy and I hate to bother you with my fish problems since I am sure you get tired of answering the same questions time and time again. I have really tired to search the web for answers as well as your site. It is just hard to read so much information and think well that fits, oh no wait that one fits and so on. I am so unsure of what I am doing at this point, I just find it more comforting to actually discuss it with someone if possible. Thank you again for your time. < Look for Rid-Ich at the local store. If you cannot find it then look at DrsFosterSmith.com for either Formalin or Rid-Ich from Kordon. The disease may have caused a secondary bacterial infection. This can be treated with Nitrofurazone. This medication is also somewhat successful against fungal infections.-Chuck>

My Flowerhorn has a prolapsed anus, please help!  1/7/08 Hi WWW Crew, <Hello,> Your web site is so great and informative. Now, I really need your help to save my FH. He has a prolapsed anus (see the attachment) hanging there about 3 weeks and there some dead white tissues come out sometime. He doesn't eat much and not happy as he was. I tried to clean it with Epsom salt solution, but not improved. Please tell me what to do with it. What medicine should I use to help him to pull his prolapsed anus back inside his body as normal. Is it ok if I cut it off from him??? I am looking forward for your help. Please answer me ASAP. Attached is his pix. Your time is my appreciation. Thank you very much, Tony <Hmm... the problem with this condition is that it isn't caused by any one thing, and it isn't easy to cure. The most important thing to do is identify the possible causes and reverse them. For a start, what are you feeding your Flowerhorn? Like virtually all other cichlids, these fish are omnivores and need a balanced diet that includes at least some plant material and algae. Tinned peas, cooked spinach, and Sushi Nori, as well as algae wafers, all work well. Just as with humans, a lack of green food can create constipation, and over long periods this makes the gut of the fish more sensitive to bacterial or protozoal infections. Ultimately, it's the "bloom" of micro-organisms in the bowel that causes the anus to become exposed in this way. Anything that increases the chances of bacterial or protozoal infections -- such as poor water quality or the use of "feeder fish" -- can trigger the problem. So, the three things to check are as follows: [1] How much green food does your fish get? Regardless of what it wants to eat, only feed green foods from now on until the fish gets better. The fibre will help the muscles of the bowel get back to normal. Soft foods (like shelled prawns) and dried foods (like pellets) must be avoided at all costs. Never, ever use feeder fish or unclean live foods like Tubifex. Brine shrimp and Daphnia are also "high in fibre" and can be used, though I suspect your fish is too big to eat them. Oh, and if your Flowerhorn ignores the tinned peas and spinach, don't worry! Starving this fish for a couple of weeks will get him hungry again, and will do NO HARM at all! [2] What's the water quality like? Cichlids are notoriously sensitive to dissolved metabolites, including nitrate. 50% water changes each week, minimum, are important. A big Flowerhorn needs a big tank, and you're going to have a hard job keeping it healthy in anything less than 200 l/50 gallons. [3] Keep using the Epsom salt treatment, adding it to each new batch of water during water changes. Understand that this may take weeks, even months, to get better, and during that time you must keep water quality 100% perfect and the diet as rich in fibre as possible. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: My Flowerhorn has a prolapsed anus, please help!  1/7/08 Hi Neale, Thank you very much for your quick reply. <You're welcome.> Actually, this fish got an internal infection with stringy white feces which caused his anus prolapsed I think. <Quite possibly a protozoan infection, as I said; something like Hexamita, which will require a very specific treatment. In the UK, we'd use something like eSHa Hexamita.> I treated him with mediated food and his feces is normal color now. <Good.> However, his prolapsed anus is still there. <Does take a while to go back; fibrous foods will help.> I keep very good water quality and all parameters are fine by changing 1/4 water in the tank twice a week. <Good.> He doesn't eat tinned green peas at all, but bloodworms. <Bloodworms are very soft and not good for this. Try Daphnia or Brine shrimp, but honestly peas are the best. If a cichlid is starved for a while, it will usually devour peas!> As you advice, I am going stop feeding him for couple days. I just worry that he'll be ok with his prolapsed anus that's hanging there for a long time. <Can be a site of secondary infection, so is something "not good".> Will it get back inside his body soon? <Not soon, no. Takes time to heal.> <Cheers, Neale.>

White Worms With Baby Fish  12/1/05 Hi, I am currently breeding Ps. demasoni. Tonight, when I stripped the female of her fry (still with egg pouch attached), into a small, plastic breeding container, what I noticed with the babies was tons of these little white worms. They obviously came out of the mothers mouth with the babies. My question is, is this a parasite, and if so, will it hurt the babies or other fish, and should I expect this parasite to be in my tanks, i.e., in my other fish as well? What do I do? < This is not normal. I am guessing that these may be gill flukes. Treat with Fluke-Tabs. This will get rid of any invertebrates in the tank.-Chuck>  
Fluke-Tabs With Fry  12/2/05
Really cool. Thanks. I'll try that. But will fluke tabs hurt my babies?  They still have the egg pouch. <I have not heard of any problems with fry, but to be safe you could put the fry in another container while you treat the main tank.-Chuck> 

Parasites on Oscar-help needed I recently- as in a week ago- purchased a huge Oscar.  say, the size of a good panfish. anyways, he had some spots on him in the pet store; they looked like scars, since he/she was kept in a ten gallon aquarium, I assumed it was from hitting the glass. I was SO wrong!!! today (the 18th) a friend was looking at her and said "are these parasites?"  sure enough, she has little parasites.  they look like water fleas of some sort.  clear, many legged, tails.  almost microscopic. They stay next to their particular 'hole' in her skin, and don't scrape off.  Its scary, but I did try to scrape one off of her with my fingers (and a big glove... she's a little testy). I have a saltwater tank, and did try a very short saltwater dip.  I don't know if that will hurt her long term, so it was either too short to do anything, or I didn't have high enough salinity.   So, can you think of anything?  the other fish in the tank is a violet goby (I know, supposed to be brackish) couple goldfish (feeders and one big one) and guppies.  THEY WERE ON HER  when I got her, I just didn't see them.  I'm looking for name and treatment of these suckers. < You probably have fish lice. Clean the filters and do a 30% water change. Treat with fluke tabs or parasite clear. Follow the directions on the package regardless of which one you choose.-Chuck> TIA!!!

Oscar problems Hi, I think cichlid fishes are cool, tough and colorful. When I bout 15 of cichlids like 5 of them died and the remaining ones had some white spots smaller that a cube of salt. Right now  some are surviving and eating while the other ones are not eating anything and just lying on the rocks. They are also loosing their color. I talked to the person who owns the store and he gave me a medicine called "super ick cure" he told me it will cure that parasite and if I put the heater higher they will be cured in no time but that white thing still is there (locations I notice were in there lips and next to there fins.). If u no what to do please reply my mail. < Clean the filter and make sure that all the carbon has been removed. Do a 30% water change. Follow the directions on the bottle. Raising the water temp to 82 degrees F will help but may take as long as a week to completely cure your tank. In the meantime the medication may affect the good bacteria that break down fish waste so watch for ammonia spike. Water change done often will help.-Chuck>

Parasite in Parrot Gills Hello I have lost two parrot fish in the last three months.  They all have long red tubular growths coming from the inside of the gills.  The gill area has busted open since they got this and is growing out of the gills.  The aquarium store told me it was most likely gill flukes and so I treated them repeatedly with no cure.  They told me that they were a hybrid fish and if they appeared to be OK them let them go.  I did and I lost one parrot 3 months ago and 1 last night.  I noticed last week that the red tubular growths had purple tips on them and that the rosy barb in the tank was sticking its head into their gills and eating it.  Please help.  I've had these fish for over three years and I am very attached.  The aquarium seems to think they may be anchor worms.  There are two angel fish, a Pleco and a rosy barb in the tank and they do not have these growths.    Kathleen < To get rid of either gill flukes or anchor worm I would recommend Fluke-Tabs. If your local store does not carry them then you can order them online at drsfostersmith.com.-Chuck>

Terrified for my Terrors I have been viewing your site for a few weeks now and it has been soooo helpful to me, however, I can't seem to find the answer to what is wrong with my Green Terrors. I have searched all over the web and one site says one thing while another says something completely opposite! So I came to you for help!  The very first fish my husband and I bought was a green terror. We had him in a 55gal. We fell in love with him instantly and decided to by his tank mate at the store we bought him. About a month after we started to noticed long white stringy feces coming from one of them. We had other cichlids in the tank at the time, but they did not seem affected. They both had an excellent appetite. Then slowly, the smaller of the two started refusing food.  During this time we upgraded to a 125 gallon and as soon as we transferred them, both their appetites diminished. Slowly they started acting scared of us and they started hiding in corners and rocks. Our LFS told us they were probably a mating pair or they were stressed from moving and that was the reason why they were acting strange. We questioned them on the abnormal feces and they asked us if we had changed their diet. We did try feeding them a variety of things just to turn them back on to food. The LFS then told us the change in fecal matter was most likely due to the change in food.  Not knowing at the time much about fish and sicknesses we thought the LFS was right, after all, they make a living in the fish world. Boy was I wrong! And needless to say, we have learned our lesson that when it comes to the slightest change in fish behavior or appearance, chances are something is wrong.  I started doing my research online a couple of weeks ago when I really started to worry that they hadn't eaten in a long time. That is when we also started treatments with Internal Parasite Clear after finding the info online that we had internal parasites. During this time, we had moved them both into a hospital tank. That was 3 weeks ago. After trying 3 other medications there is still no improvement in the fish.  I have called around to several different fish suppliers, and found tons of info online on what they could have. I was told they could have Hole in the Head, Spironucleus, Hexamita, or wasting disease, and to treat with treatments such as salts, Metro, Pimafix etc. I have tried them all with no success. It has been well over a month since they have eaten any food, yet they are still hanging on, although I know they have got to be suffering. I am asking you please for some advice on what I can do. Is it hopeless that these fish can be treated? Do you know what they have? The symptoms other than white stringy feces are not eating, and just basically lethargic. We love these fish. They used to be so full of life and my heart now goes out to them...please help :( < Green terrors are really pretty hardy fish but I have an idea with others that have written with similar problems with their green terrors. First of all lets make sure that the tank is OK. Ammonia , nitrites should be zero. Nitrates should be under 25 ppm. Service the filter and do a 30% water change. The new water should perk them up. Make sure you water temp is around 80 degrees. Then offer some washed earthworms. If they mouth the earthworms but do not eat them then there make be a problem with their pharyngeal bones. These act like a second set of "jaws" and allows cichlids to chew a large number of food items. If these jaws are damaged then they would be reluctant to eat. Try and pre-soften the food by wetting it slightly to make it softer and try that. If there is still no appetite then they have an internal protozoa that has shut their gut down. In a separate tank treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the box. If you can only treat them in the main tank then I would watch for ammonia spikes because some medications will harm the good bacteria that break down fish wastes in an established tank. If they are intimidated by the other fish then I would separate them until they were able to build up their strength and return to the main tank.-Chuck>
Terrified for my Terrors
Thank you very much for your help.  I will try the earthworms.  What would cause the pharyngeal bones to become damaged and on both fish?  Their condition seems to be getting worse.  The feces is now about 6 inches hanging from them.  I just have one more question for you... do I use straight Metro (if so how can I get it) or do I keep using the Parasite guard which has Metro in it?  I really appreciate your help.  Thank you so much! <The bones may be damaged by the fish picking up pellets that are too hard or else mistaking gravel for the pellets and trying to chew them. The Metronidazole is found under a couple different trade names. You will just have to look at the ingredients listed on the package. Usually it is used at 250mg per 10 gallons of water. Watch out for ammonia spikes because it may affect the good bacteria in the tank. Remove the carbon in the filter too. If you can't get the metro straight then you will have to use the parasite guard.-Chuck>

Parasite or worm infection in Blood Parrot I have a 5+ year old heart shaped Blood Parrot fish with a severe parasitic worm infection. It has been ongoing for a few years, I thought it was a fungus infection at first and treated it as such( the symptoms were white puffy blister like sore that would peak, as in come to a pointed shape after the eruption broke open). I noticed the fungus guard med would make the things seem to go away for a while. Now I think the worm was bothered by the med and withdrew back in to the fish's body tissue. The eruptions seemed to only appear on the meaty head area of the fish at first. They have spread out to the scaled areas near the head area. The Blood Parrott is a cross between a Cichlid and a Red Devil I believe, <A cross from Amphilophus citrinellum (Midas cichlid/Red Devil), and Cichlasoma synspilum (Redheaded cichlid), perhaps also with some lineage from Heros severus (Severum) and Amphilophus labiatum (another cichlid that goes by Red Devil).> and has the same scaleless head area as the Cichlid. <Not really scaleless; the scales are of a different shape and size than elsewhere on the fish.> The problem is worse now and I have noticed that it is definitely a roundworm of some sort. <Having talked with Bob about this, we agree that this is more likely a mono- or digenetic fluke (trematode) rather than a roundworm (nematode).  If it is a digenetic fluke, it may have been brought in (and still being transmitted) by snails - please look for and eradicate any snails in the tank, or if you have pet-type snails, move them to a separate (fish-free) tank.> The larger ones can be seen under the translucent orange skin of the fish. they move around under the head skin, they are white, from 1 to 2 or 3 centimeters long and 1/16 inch thick or so. I have seen them retract under the skin, and coil up when touched. They seem to stick out the nose or head section from under the skin for a day or two and then burrow back under for a few days and then do it again. <Ugh.  That's disgusting.> I have tried Levamisole, 6-7 mg/l  of water I think was the dosing I used. I got the dosing info from the internet. The fish turned pale, was skittish, would not eat till after the water was changed. I have tried the dosing at somewhat higher levels with same or worse reactions from the fish, with no results with the worms except that they all go under the skin and remain until the water is changed. I have left the medicine in for at least 7 days, with additional dosing on every other day. <At this point, a salt bath may very well be in order, to see if that will convince the parasites that your fish is an inhospitable place to live.  Evict them from their homes, I say!  Do the bath at full-strength saltwater (SG 1.024-ish), but use the stuff marketed as "freshwater" salt, not marine aquarium salt (this would alter the pH).  The bath can last anywhere up to five minutes, but you must be extremely observant of your fish, any signs of trouble (redness, difficulty breathing), you should remove the fish immediately.  The forums have had a lot of discussion on salt baths; you might want to come over and do a search: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ .  After the salt bath (or other than the salt bath, should you not do it), I would recommend Levamisole or Piperazine *in food* to try to help this situation.  One med available for use in food is "Discomed", made by Aquatronics and containing Levamisole, which can be used with live, frozen, or dried foods.  Aquatronics also used to make a medicated food with Piperazine, called "Dewormex".> We really are attached to this fish, He is alone in a 29 gallon tank, freshwater of course, and I am afraid that he will die soon. The infestation is getting worse, now his left eye is starting to protrude some, like the worms are behind it and forcing it out.   <It would be a very good idea to add Epsom salt to the water in his tank, at a rate of one tablespoon per ten gallons; this will help relieve pressure on his eye, and has other benefits in his time of illness, as well.> Is there any hope for this fish? <As long as there's still fight left in him, there's always hope.> Can you suggest any medications that might help and dosing.   <Just as above.> He is about 5" long, 3" tall and 1 to 2 " thick. I would appreciate any advice or help. I have no way to send a picture, I hope the description is enough.   <I hope so, too.  A very good description, indeed.> Thanks for your consideration.   <Sure thing.  Please keep us updated.  Good luck to you and your hybrid pal!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Patchy Severum I have a green Severum that has loss of color on his underside and fins in a patchy pattern.  I thought that it might be leeches so I treated them for that but the patches are still there and their not fuzzy or like cotton. <Though it is possible that these patches were caused by leeches, leeches are pretty uncommon in aquaria.  Marks that they would leave would be reddish and inflamed, and pretty uniform in size.  What did you try treating with?> The patches seem to be in different places at different times.  I would appreciate some advice if you have some.   <The first thing to do is test your water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH; loss of color is often a sign of stress, which usually comes back to water quality issues.  There are also quite a number of illnesses that cause a loss of coloration or a patchy appearance, including some protozoan parasites and many bacterial infections; more information is needed to help with a diagnosis.  Are the fish's fins clamped?  Breathing hard?  Any other visible signs of illness?  Are the patchy spots sort of "flaky" or "peeling" in appearance?  Are the marks uniform in size/shape?  How long has the fish been sick?  What other fish are in the tank with it?  How big is the tank?  And again, test your water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH, let us know those values.  I know it's an awful lot of questions, but it'll help us figure out what is wrong with your fish and help you decide on a treatment.> I have been working on water changes for the past 2 weeks. <Good to hear - water changes never hurt, and almost always help.  Hope we can help you get this figured out.  -Sabrina> Thanks DEE

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