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FAQs on Cichlid Social 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, 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


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!

My sick fish... Cichlids... need data     6/8/11
Hello. Thank you for taking the time to listen to my concerns. I have two cichlids, one yellow (Oscar) one blue (Diggs) I noticed about 2 weeks ago that Diggs' tail fin was looking ragged, but assumed that it was Oscar biting him since I've seen him chase him around. However for about a week now Diggs has stayed in one spot in the tank and not eating. Today Diggs did come to the top and ate some food, but when he did I saw that he had a white bump on the side of his mouth. Oscar hasn't been acting weird and is eating just fine. I've had the water tested and everything was in normal range.
<We need the actual numbers for what was tested>
I have two questions; 1) is there anything a broke recently graduated college student still looking for a job do to help my sick fish (cheap medications, general advice)
<Need data re the size, mechanical make up, foods/feeding, decor, the species involved here...>
and 2) will Diggs' illness spread to Oscar?
<Likely this is simply a psycho-social issue... the one fish mechanically damaged from trying to avoid the other... More decor may dissipate the antagonism>
I was thinking about moving Diggs away from Oscar and into a little tank I have but was worried he wouldn't tolerate the move because he was sick.
<Better to isolate in some way...>
Thank you again for taking the time to listen to me, I am very grateful and appreciative.
Jasmine Teats
<Jas, you may benefit from reading re Cichlids en toto on our site. Start here:
scroll down... Bob Fenner>
My sick fish cont.    6/8/11
Hello, sorry about the second email. After reviewing more FAQs I noticed I forgot some important information. My fish are in a ten gallon tank,
<Too small for African Cichlids and most Neotropicals... THIS is your root problem>
and I've had them for a little over 8 months. The only supplements or additives I use are Top Fin ammonia remover, bacterial supplement, and tap water dechlorinator. Their food is Omega One cichlid flakes. These are my first fish and I'm really hoping to keep them for as long as possible.
Thank you again for all your time, please feel free to email me at this address.
Jasmine Teats
<Welcome. BobF>

I possibly have sick cichlids   5/30/08 Hi, my name is Emily. <Hello Emily,> I have a 65 gallon fish tank with two AquaClear 110 filters. Ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, pH are at the correct readings, and the temp is always around 80 degrees. <Slightly on the warm side; aim for 25C/77F unless you expressly keep fish that need other conditions. Do also remember that pH is largely immaterial; fish care about a stable pH but the number itself isn't important (within reason). What matters is hardness, particularly carbonate hardness where cichlids are concerned. Lots of aquarists make this mistake and test pH but have no idea what the hardness of their water supply is.> I have had this tank for over a year, the fish I started with were tiger barbs, a blue African cichlid, a Firemouth, a jewel, and Chinese suckers. <Not really a compatible selection of fish. The Jewel needs soft/acidic conditions; the Firemouth moderately hard, neutral to slightly basic; and "African Cichlid" covers a lot of ground but I'm assuming Pseudotropheus zebra, a species that needs a high level of carbonate hardness and a pH around 8. Chinese Suckers (Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) don't belong in this system because of their aggressiveness and tendency to suck the mucous from large fish; and really neither do the Tiger Barbs because of their predilection to nip fins.> Basically since I put these fish in they have been flashing (they had no signs of Ich, parasites, velvet, or any disease at all). <When fish "flash" for no obvious reason, assume an issue with water chemistry and/or water quality. The water irritates their gill membranes, and this is what makes them "flash", i.e., dart about, scratching their bodies against the sand or rocks.> About 3 months ago, my Firemouths eye turned bright red, almost magenta. <A secondary infection; possibly caused by water quality, but likely a direct result of fighting. Firemouths are *not* fighters: they use bluff almost entirely when settling territorial disputes among their own kind. Their jaws are relatively weak, being adapted for sifting sand (which is why you keep them in tanks with sand, never gravel, substrates). When they get into fights with other, more aggressive cichlids, they invariably lose out. Firemouths are best kept on their own or with cichlids that are smaller and/or less aggressive than they are. Jewels we beat the heck out of them, as will virtually any Mbuna.> He, nor any other fish, showed any signs of discomfort or loss of appetite, however the flashing still continued. I then removed the tiger barbs into a different tank because of my high interest in cichlids. <A wise move; it's now time to decide how to streamline this collection by adding compatible species while removing incompatible ones.> About a month into the Firemouths eye issue, the red turned into a silver color (must be blind in that eye). <Indeed.> All of my fish eat Hikari cichlid pellets, frozen blood worms, wafers, and feeder fish. <Stop with the feeder fish! Unless you're deliberately trying to make them sick, feeder fish serve no purpose. None of these cichlids is a fish-eating species in the wild. All of them feed on algae and small invertebrates, particularly insect larvae and small crustaceans. Goldfish and Minnows are loaded with Thiaminase and fats that make predatory fish sick in the long term, and unless you are breeding something like killifish or livebearers at home, the cheap feeders aquarists tend to use are "parasite time bombs". Think about it: if fish are sold for a few pennies a piece, just how much effort do you think the producer is putting into keeping them healthy? Once you start feeding even standard tropicals like Neons and Guppies week after week, these are likely to bring in Whitespot, bacterial infections, Camallanus worms and so on. In short, one of the most foolish things any aquarist can do is use feeder fish.> Their colors are still vibrant, they still have a great appetite, and still show no signs of disease, however they are still flashing once in awhile. A few weeks ago, I put a barracuda in the tank... <Do you mean a "freshwater barracuda", Ctenolucius hujeta? This is a *schooling* and extremely gentle fish that must not be kept with aggressive fish. Best kept in trios (at least) in tanks with lots of floating plants because they don't like bright light and are prone to jumping. This species does not need live fish as food, and there are lots of advantages to not using them. They "go" for movement, especially things in the water current. So use live shrimps and earthworms initially, and then wean them on to safe marine-based food items such as prawns and lancefish. Bloodworms and other insects are also popular, especially with juveniles. When kept singly they often pine away, especially if bullied by things like cichlids. Goes without saying that since they're Amazonian fish, their water chemistry requirements are completely different to your Central American and Mbuna cichlids.> ...and two high finned Plecos who are very healthy and don't flash. <The two Plecs will likely fight eventually, the dominant one skinning the weaker one alive. Do understand most Loricariids are territorial, and unless you know a species is sociable, they must be kept singly.> A few days ago I introduced a Julidochromis "gombi" into the tank and is doing great. <You're mixing Mbuna with Tanganyikans? Whoa... someone needs to sit down with a cichlid book. This is in the top ten list of no-no items. Mbuna can, will destroy Tanganyikan cichlids; the difference in temperament is just too extreme. Maybe not right now, but once the fish become sexually mature you're inviting trouble, especially if the Mbuna is a male.> I want to know if I should be aware of this flashing that the other fish have experienced and why I haven't seen any sign of disease. <Review water chemistry/quality. There's no way you have ideal water chemistry for all four species since they all have different requirements. So someone isn't getting what he needs. Check your carbonate hardness in particular, and get back to me if you need to discuss this further.> Like I stated before, all my fish are presumably healthy and eat great. <So far...> I know that the fish that are flashing aren't just itchy, even though they don't constantly do it, and if no signs of unhealthy behaviors are seen then how can this be treated? Should I bother treating it? Will it spread to the other fish? The barracuda, gombi, and high finned Plecos have not been flashing. <Yet... though to be honest the Barracuda will simply die in this tank at some point, and the Plecs really don't have the speed to flash! I'm trying to visualize my Panaque swimming fast enough to scratch... difficult. When she builds up any speed at all, she tends to just knock stuff over.> And the biggest question is what happened to the Firemouths eye and why???? <No mystery at all there. Likely fighting and/or water quality.> I have been looking for answers for hours now and have received no input what so ever. Please write back!! Thanks so much!!! -Emily <Well, I've done my best. Not sure you'll like the answers, but at least they are honest and detailed. Do consider buying a book on cichlids so that you can understand their needs. Cichlids have a woeful track record when just thrown into aquaria... they are demanding fish for expert fishkeepers. For less experiences aquarists, Central American cichlids probably represent the best balance of hardiness, adaptability, bright colours and aggression. The milder species, like Firemouths, can work well in decent sized groups together with robust dither fish like Swordtails or the larger Tetras (such as Astyanax spp.); they also work well with Plecs. Mbuna are simply far too aggressive for anything other than a Mbuna tank, and then you have the problem of dominant males exterminating everything they don't like anyway. Mbuna are also very prone to hybridising, so you have to choose species extremely carefully. Mbuna are herbivores largely, and need a very mixed diet to do well. Tanganyikans are probably the single most difficult group of cichlids because they are extremely sensitive to poor water quality. You really need a marine-grade filtration system and extremely stable water chemistry to keep them happy. Aggression can be a problem with them as well, though to a lesser degree than Mbuna. Jewels are lovely cichlids, but incredibly aggressive when they start breeding, and are notorious for killing everything in the tank once that happens. Best kept as matched pairs in their own tank, or perhaps in very thickly planted tank with surface-swimming dither fish of some kind. Hope this helps, Neale.> Parrot Cichlid help 05/23/08 Possible Gill Flukes On Parrot Cichlids Hello, I need help. I have 4 Parrot Cichlids in a 75 gallon tank, looks like the youngest one has red like worms hanging out of his gills on both side. Everything I read stated that it was Flukes. When I checked the water, yes my Ammonia was a little high, so I pulled the carbon filters out and treated with a medication that states that it treats all types of worms. I did everything I was supposed to but nothing changed.  The fish seems to be "normal" , he's eating, breathing as normal as the other ones , but I do not know what else to do to get rid of them.  I treated the entire tank because I figured that if one had it , then the others were susceptible to getting it also. Please help! Thanks! < You could have anchor worm. It is a parasite that attaches to the fish via a hook into the flesh. Thus the name anchor worm. The medication may have killed it but it may take awhile for the dead worm to slough off. Another approach would be to net the fish out and remove the parasite with a pair of tweezers.-Chuck>

Green terror Lost a Gill Plate  - 01/09/2006 Hi crew. Read the instructions on contacting you. About  4 weeks ago I lost my Texas, at the time he had some small red sores on his side. Hopped online and came across your site. Did the water change, scrubbed everything, ensured levels stable, temp was at 25C. I have African cichlids mostly so trying to find middle medium on pH at 8.0. Added salt to stimulate skin protection, treated with Melafix. Lost him anyway (he was 13cm so was pretty harsh to lose). Tank since seamed great. Went on holiday returned after 5 days from Sydney. Still tank was 100%, all levels right. Adjusted pH to 8.2 for the Texas is no longer in the tank. My Green terror has now just had his right gill detach at the base. I have removed him and placed in hospital tank. Separation of gill happened in 2 days 1 night. I have him in stable hospital tank but cannot find anything online that comes close to what has happened. I'll treat with Melafix until I get better advise on what I can use. Awaiting your response. Thanks Lisa < Your green terror probably got into a fight with one of you African cichlids and got it ripped off. African cichlids have incredibly strong mouths with lots of teeth to back it up. They eat by scraping algae off of rocks. These same teeth and mouths make pretty good weapons. In the wild obviously these fish never see each other so the green terror really didn't expect such an opponent. This is why I recommend never to mix rift lake cichlids with other cichlids. Keep the water clean and treat for infections if needed. The gill cover probably won't grow back.-Chuck>

Medicating a tank after aggression - 6/3/05 Hi, <Hi Lina> I have a question about my cichlids. <What kind of cichlids do you have?> Bigger cichlids killed one of my little brown ones.  They ate part of it. <Actually not unheard of and somewhat natural order of things> I am very concerned about the health of other cichlids. <Why is that?> Should I medicate the rest of the fish? <Why would you do this? I am not sure I have enough information to establish a concern or condone the use of medication. Let me just say that if you are concerned because they ate half of another fish, I would not medicate the tank. Use medication only after proper diagnosis of symptoms. Not as a general anesthetic for anything that could be/go wrong. Take medicating seriously. Now, I would do a water change after pulling out what is left of the deceased fish, that is what I do in the case of death. This is in addition to my regular weekly water change schedule. No need to be too concerned about the after affects but I would be concerned about the aggression in the tank. Thanks for being part of it all and let me know if I can be of anymore help. ~Paul> Thanks for you help Lina

Damaged Fins Help!!!  Hi there just a quick one. I bought 4 red Oscars (about 3-4cms long) and put them in my Cichlid tank till morning when my new tank would be ready for them. As i found out to my horror this morning the poor little Oscars never lasted as well with them as i thought: 1 has only 1 fin intact and 2 have 1 shorter fin  they were ok when i went to bed, they had got them selves all laid together in the corner as per usual but obviously their tankmates had set upon them when i shut the door or before i got up!  Do they grow back??? < Yes the fins will grow back if they have not been fungused. Keep the water clean and they should grow back although they may not be as straight or as long as undamaged fins.-Chuck>

Re: white patches: ich, velvet, both, neither? Before I start, here's the background: Two 5-6" Oscars, one 5" Pleco, 39 g tank (which I now know is wayyyy too small and am diligently saving toward obtaining a 120 g tank ASAP).  Two HOB filters (Penguin 125 w/BioWheel & a Millennium 1000).  Biweekly 25-50% water changes depending on the amount of crud. Try to keep Ph no higher than 7.0 and ammonia is at a "safe" level according to the ammonia alert card in the tank (can those be trusted?).  I put in 1 Tbls of aquarium salt for every 5 gallons of water I add during water changes. I use tap water treated with aqua safe & try to get it as close to the tank temp as possible.  1 or 2x daily feedings of Oscar pellets, dried brine shrimp &/or occasional live earthworms (rinsed).   Please see the attached pics of my Lilo's spots and tell me if this looks more like ich or velvet or just injuries from fighting. <After reviewing the photo it looks like wounds from fighting> It doesn't look fluffy like velvet or pinpointy like ich.  Stitch has recently started ramming Lilo's sides and I noted a scale pop off yesterday.  Obviously I need to get a much bigger tank ASAP.  In the meantime, I put a plastic screen in to separate them, which unfortunately only makes the habitat smaller for each, but at least they aren't tormenting each other at the moment. The pic has a greenish tint because I added 3 tabs of Tank Buddies Fungus Clear (Nitrofurazone, Furazolidone, potassium dichromate) and per the instructions, took out the carbon cartridges from the filters. < You should have removed the BioWheel from the penguin filter too. Medications can kill the bacteria on the wheel sometimes.>   How soon before I can put them back in?  The box says do another treatment and 25% water change in four days if it hasn't cleared up. Does that mean the cartridges stay out for that long? I don't want to poison them!  They are each quite lethargic right now & didn't swim up to greet me at feeding but did each eat a red wiggler this morning.  Thanks in advance for your assistance. < Do a partial water change and try using a conditioner with some wound control in it. The Oscars will recover from the wounds since they don't look too serious and Oscars are pretty tough customers to begin with. I would not remedicate if the fungus does not reappear. The fungus likes to live on dead tissue. Watch you ammonia levels since the bacteria may have been harmed by the medication. Add the carbon back after 24 hours to clear things up and get you tank back on track.-Chuck>

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