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FAQs on Cichlid Disease 4

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

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FAQs on Cichlid Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, 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

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.>

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 - growth coming out of nares      4/19/15
My 4 year old cichlid seems to have something coming out of its nares. This has been going on for nearly a month. About a week ago, it was only on one side of the face and I noticed it disappeared after I cleaned the tank. But
it came back and on both sides of the face and instead of being grayish in color like the first time, this time it is pink. This fish is always reclusive, but he seems more so now and I don't ever see him eat. The only other fish in the tank is a plecostomus and it seems fine.
I can't seem to find anyone else with this problem. Please, any advice would be great. I have attached a photo.
Thank you,
<It's a prolapse of some kind. Not uncommon among cichlids and catfish, and typically associated with prolonged exposure to less-than-perfect water conditions, such as infrequent water changes coupled with high nitrate levels. Metronidazole plus Nitrofuranace (ideally, used alongside Epsom Salt, 1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres) should help reduce the swelling and eliminate the bacterial infection responsible for the swelling, but you'll also need to fix the environment and/or diet: review water chemistry, increase regularity of water changes, and add more green foods to the diet of your fish (few cichlids are purely carnivorous, and lack of fresh greens is a major cause of ill health). 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.>

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


Over Night Cichlid Death   3/5/13
 I'm not quite sure what type of fish I had, my girlfriend bought it for me about a year and a half ago, but I fed my 7 cichlids two herbivore blocks last night. The fish in question, see attached photo, usually eats most of one block, and he did. I also added some Stress Coat last night before I went to bed. At about 5 this morning I woke up to what sounded like a pool party in my tank, but I didn't think anything of it. When I turned on the tank lights an hour later he was floating at the bottom. He didn't seem to have any visible damage marks on him which leads me to believe that he either had too much to eat and choked or a chemical imbalance. I'm asking this to try to prevent my other fish from dying. Thank you!
   P.S. Sorry for the ..somewhat informal.. picture, I found out that it was the only picture I had of him! He looked more gray than the picture
About chemical makeup currently:
pH: 7.7
Ammonia (NH3 / NH4+): 0.22 ppm
Hardness (GH): 300 ppm
Total chlorine: 0.2 ppm
Total alkalinity (KH): 320ppm
Temperature: 22 degrees Celsius
< You cichlid probably choked on something in the middle of the night. When he panicked he probably thrashed about and knocked himself out and drowned.
If the fish is still around try and peek down his throat and look for an obstruction to confirm.-Chuck>

Mystery Texas Cichlid Death  11/11/11
I just had my Texas cichlid die. He was very healthy one day and I found him dead this morning. No noticeable illness in my tank. I have a few cat fish and convicts and they look a little depressed but no visible disease. What causes premature death in healthy looking fishes? Can you help me understand this? Thank you for your time. Kelly
< Look for trauma around the head. He may have jumped and hit his head. A second cause may be he choked on something like a plastic plant leaf.-Chuck>

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>

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>

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>

Re: Cichlids slowly dying   5/10/11
Dear team,
I just wanted to thank you so much for your help. Since keeping up the water changes, my fish have been great and grown about a centimeter each.
Thanks again and great work- I love your site!
<Congratulations Kiara, on saving your animal's lives/health. Bob Fenner>

Suspected Septicemia
Cichlids With Red Mouth Possible Septicemia    6/29/10

Hi WWM Crew, I'm seeing redness at the mouth area, at the joint between body & pectoral fin and some parts of the body on my cichlids. I've been using API Furan-2 (following these steps):
Day1: 3 packets of Furan-2 powder + Pimafix + Melafix
Day2: 3 packets of Furan-2 powder + Pimafix + Melafix
Day3: nothing
Day4: 25% water change + 3 packets of Furan-2 powder + Pimafix + Melafix
Day5: 3 packets of Furan-2 powder + Pimafix + Melafix
Day6: nothing
Day7: 25% water change
I've been doing this cycle for 7 days now, not much of improvement. So I've just started tonight to mix 1 pack of API T.C Tetracycline powder with a small amount of water, to soak some pellets into this mixture for about 15
minutes, then feed my cichlids. They are still eating fine.
- I would like to know if this mixing of Furan-2 (externally) and T.C Tetracycline (mixed with pellets) is advisable.
< If the Furan is not working then discontinue it. The Tetracycline is worth a try but I have found it not to be a big help in my own situations.>
- How long does it take to cure septicemia?
< You should see some improvement in a few days if it is working.>
- Should I keep this up or is there something else you can advise me to do?
< See below>
Thanks in advance. Hope to hear from you soon.
Regards, Roger
< Check the water chemistry to make sure that it is compatible with the fish you have. Rift lake cichlids like hard alkaline water. Soft acidic water may stress them and leave them vulnerable to disease. I like to use the Furanace based antibiotics but sometimes they are over used and some bacteria become resistant to them. I would try Erythromycin and forget the "fix's".-Chuck>

weird acting fish
Clamped Orange Cichlid  2/16/10

My orange cichlid is not swimming all over. The fish seems to stay in one spot and move his head back and forth and shake. Its dorsal fin is mostly held close to its body. I can't see signs of Ick. The eyes are bright. No white dots any where. What do you think?
< This is a case of the shimmies. It is usually seen on mollies. Check the water quality. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be under 20 ppm. The term "Orange Cichlid", is not a great descriptive term. If you have a yellow Labidochromis from Lake Malawi, then the fish requires hard alkaline water. If you have an orange Chromide then you have a cichlid that comes from brackish water and requires some salt. Check out these fish names on the internet and see if you can match up a photo with your fish. Once you identify the fish and match the water conditions the disease can then be treated. My guess is that you have an orange Chromide in a salt free tank. The other fish in the tank may not like the salty conditions. Most fish can handle some salt, exceptions are some soft water catfish.. I would recommend adding a tablespoon of sea salt per 10 gallons of water and see how the fish responds. The water temp should also be around 78 F.-Chuck>

Water changes, cichlid sys., hlth.  2/1/2010
I made the mistake of changing all the water in our 37 gallon tank now the cichlid hasn't eaten much of anything it's been 5 days. will he come around he seems to keep his mouth open now more than before .mark
<These two things are likely unrelated. While changing too much water can cause problems if the new water has a very different chemistry or temperature, in general this big water changes aren't a problem. Provided the biological filter remains operative, and the variation in temperature and chemistry was slight, you can change as much water as you want. Now, cichlids fight using their jaws, and dislocated jaws are common when aquarists make the mistake of keeping fish together that shouldn't be kept together. Firemouth cichlids for example are famous for suffering
dislocated jaws when kept with more aggressive Central American cichlids.
This is because Firemouth cichlids have special jaws evolved to sift sand (which is why you keep Firemouths in tanks with a sandy substrate). To avoid fighting, Firemouth cichlids bluff and puff out their red throats, but Convicts don't play along with this game, and can do some serious damage when fighting with Firemouths. Anyway, your stocking is much more likely to be the problem here; if there are other cichlids in the tank, then this one with the broken jaws may well have been on the losing end of a fight. You can try to re-set the jaws by very, VERY carefully pulling the jaws forwards and then hoping that when you release them, the jaws click into place. You may need to do this a couple of times. A vet could do this for you if you prefer. But otherwise, the fish will not be able to eat, and will eventually starve. That being the case , if attempts to re-set the jaws don't work, then the cichlid will need to be painlessly destroyed. It will not get better by itself.
In future, think carefully about what you keep in a community of cichlids, and don't keep species likely to fight, or very different in fighting ability.
Cheers, Neale.>
re: cichlid

Thank you for your quick response, we have only one fish in the tank ,he was flapping around a lot when I tried to catch him to get him in the pail do you think he good have dislocated his jaw at that time?
<Possibly, but doesn't sound very likely. Most dislocated jaws are caused by fighting; to become dislocated, the jaw needs to be firmly pulled, and it's hard to imagine what other circumstances might cause this. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlids With Cloudy Eyes -- 1/27/10
I have 2 cichlids in a 29 gal tank. We've had them 5 or so years. (They ate all the other fish that were in there within a week and anything else we would try.) One of them developed a cloudy film over its eye. I thought it looked as though his eye had rotted out. Pretty gross! My husband is the primary care taker of the tank. I let him know and he put some salt in the tank. I just kept watching the fish. Then I realized the eye was still there. It was just a film over the eye. The film had come loose on one side and it looked like it was getting better until it spread to the other eye.
The first infected eye now has a cotton ball looking stuff on it. The fish is pitiful. It stays in one spot usually, doesn't act interested when fed (or doesn't know there is food) and today it just runs into the walls/plastic plants like its blind (which I'm sure it is). Now the other fish has the film over its eyes. I don't' know what to do or where to start.
I have read everything I can get my hands on, but nothing I've read fits exactly. Is it fungus, pop-eye, TB, bacteria, or what? What do I do about it? .... and I hate to ask this, but when is it too late to do anything?
And if it's too late, just exactly what do I do? These poor fish are just getting worse and I can't wait for someone else (who is supposed to be taking care of the tank) to do something about it. Please help me to help them. Thanks!
< First thing is check the water quality. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should be under 20 ppm. It is probably bad so do a fifty percent water change and clean the filters. Next week do a twenty -five percent water change and vacuum the gravel.. If no improvement is seen then treat with Nitrofurazone. It treats both bacteria and fungus. When the cloudy eyes clear up you will be able to determine if your fish is blind or not.-Chuck>

Cichlid Sick or Non-compatible  12/28/09
Hello, My husband and I just got two cichlids from a pet store that got them from a guy, so we are not sure what kind they are. I went to the pet store owner on 12-6 of this year with my camera, cause our females belly is a little bigger then normal, and she said that one is a male and one is female. And the one that is female has the bigger belly. She has been hiding in the corner, and when the light is off the male doesn't seem to attack her as much. We are worried as it has been close to a month and her belly has not gone down. Please help us. Thank You Tiffany
<If they are a pair then the female is not ready to breed and the male will chase her until she becomes ready to breed. You did not mention the species so it is difficult to make recommendations on how to get her ready. If she has an intestinal infection then the belly will become larger as the parasites in the gut multiply and expand the gut. This can be treated with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>

Re: Cichlids?
Cichlid Spawning?   12/31/09

Chuck, Thank you for responding. I do not know the species of these cichlids. He is making nests and she just hangs out in the corner most of the time. I tried to send you a video of this, did you receive it? He also does not like people to close to the tank, kind of like he is protecting her. I am unsure what to do, cause it has been close to a month of her acting like this and having a swollen belly. But when she does swim, she seems to be swimming good. Am I missing something though? Thanks Tiffany
< Videos take up a lot of space so a simple photo would work just fine.
Cichlids usually have two spawning strategies. One is called substrate spawning. The pair usually look similar except the male may be larger and have more pointed fins. The pair usually have some spawning ritual with flared fins and some jaw locking. Once a pair bond has been established they settle down and prepare a spawning site, usually on something solid like a rock, log or even the side of the aquarium. The female lays the eggs in a row and then the male follows close behind to fertilize them.
After a few days the eggs hatch and then a few days later the fry absorb their egg sack and become free swimming. Both parents defend the eggs and fry. The second method is mouthbrooding. Mouthbrooding cichlids usually are very sexually dimorphic. Males are larger and very colorful while females are drab and smaller. The male builds a spawning site by usually digging a pit. He then dances around trying to attract a fertile female to the site willing to spawn. She will lay an egg in the pit and then pick it up in her mouth. She will then pick on the males anal fin. When he does this he fertilizes the eggs in her mouth. When they are finished the male chases the female away and then looks to attract a new female. Either way it doesn't sound like you have a spawning pair.-Chuck>

New Tank Cichlid Problems 12/11/09
Hello, I need help to figure out what is wrong with my African cichlid. I just bought my tank 2 weeks ago and I got two African cichlids, two Oscars some sucker fish. One of the cichlids was acting funny then it started to turn silver from the belly to its back. When the fish is usually blue it started swimming up side down and having trouble breathing. I took him out when he died than I noticed a little white kinda translucent bubble on one of my Oscars. I have looked at many different internet sites to try and figure out what the problem is with no good out come. Please help me if you can and thank you for your time
<Check the water quality. When tanks are new they have no biological filtration so ammonia and nitrites can be a major problem. If they don't kill the fish outright then they weaken the fish to a point that they get very sick from all kinds of diseases. Control the nitrogenous wastes with water changes or add Dr. Tim's One and Only to get the bacteria established. In about 30 days or so ammonia may start to be broken down by some bacteria but then the nitrites will become a problem. If you treat now then you will kill all; the bacteria and your tank will not get cycled and you will have problems all over again.-Chuck>

Cichlid help please
Cichlid With Eye Trouble   12/3/09

Hi, Today when I got home I noticed that one of my cichlids had a bubble in his eye (under the lens). It is perfectly clear and the eye itself is not bulging. Do you have any idea what is causing this or, more importantly, how to fix it? Thank you so much for your time.
Sabrina L.
<Almost every circumstance that involves a gas bubble usually is a symptom of some bacterial activity. The bacteria's metabolism can be treated with antibiotics, even under the lens. I would recommend using a Nitrofurazone type antibiotic in a hospital tank. Once the bacteria have been treated the gas bubble may be reabsorbed by the fish's system.-Chuck

Geophagus brasiliensis
Cichlid With Infection  11/11/09

Hi guys, hoping you can help! About 3 months ago I purchased a pair of large Geophagus brasiliensis. They took a bit of a knock in the shop the careless guy allowed the bag to drop to the floor but I still had them as they were such beautiful fish. Within a couple of days of having them, one started to develop a lump on the side of its head. I put this down to the bump they received and thought I would wait and see if this 'bruise' went down. The lump never disappeared or got any better or worse and as the fish seemed perfectly happy otherwise, eating, healthy and constantly flirting with its mate. It didn't really concern me too much. In the last week or so the lump has developed a sort of red pimple in the middle, a bit like a white head on a normal spot. I've enclosed the best picture I could take. I'm hoping you can cast some clarity on this as I cant seem to find anything online and im really hoping this isn't HITH. My fish are in a 850 litre tank with a few other new world cichlids, there is no aggression between any of the fish and all my water parameters are normal Many thanks
< Thanks for the photo. The bacterial infection is coming to a head. When it pops like a pimple, There will be some redness. At that time I would do a 50% water change and watch the site closely. It doesn't heal right away or look like it is getting better then treat with an antibiotic like Furanace. I don't think it is HITH.-Chuck>

Cichlid problem, hlth.   8/17/08 Hello again, My T-bar cichlid has got hole in the head, all my fish are scratching, twitching and have all there fins down. <Likely caused by Hexamita, and almost always trigger by environmental or dietary deficiencies, i.e., overcrowding, high nitrates, lack of fresh greens. Treatment is only possible via Metronidazole, couple with correction of water quality/diet. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm > They are all eating normally except my T-bar with hole in the head and they have been doing this for 3 days now and they have no signs of any spots so it cant be white spot. <Hexamita is most common when cichlids are overcrowded. Quite possibly latent in all cichlids, when their immune system becomes weakened the Protozoans spread from the digestive tract into the body and out to the lateral line. It's the ones in the lateral line that cause the distinctive pits and lesions.> What could be wrong with them all? Thanks <Review environment, diet, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: cichlid problem  08/18/2008
Hello, When you said "review environment" what did you mean? My tank has lots of bogwood and a few plants with fine gravel. Thanks. <Simple. Take a look at all the requirements for the fish you have. Look in an aquarium book (or search this web site) to find out more about each species. Note things like water chemistry (pH, hardness), diet, space requirements, compatibility with other fish, etc. Write all these things down. Then compare them to the environment in your aquarium. Any differences between what your fish need and what you are providing will be likely sources of potential problems. Also check nitrite and nitrate; nitrite should be zero at all times, and with cichlids nitrate should be as low as practical, ideally less than 20 mg/l. Cheers, Neale.>  

Crayfish, cichlids; health ... English... "Buttons are not toys"    7/31/08 ok so I have had my electric blue crayfish for about 5 months now. he's appx. 5 inches long. <Cool. Now, make sure you don't keep him with any fish.> doing well until I accidentally introduced a seemingly well cichlid into the tank. <Oh dear.> he blew up and died about a week ago. I think the Cray may have eaten it! <Well, fish don't "blow up and die" for no reason. Crayfish can catch living fish and eat them, and they certainly will consume fish that are sick/dead for other reasons.> he's pretty lethargic now and he sits cocked up to one side and his legs on top just sway back and forth. he really wont eat and I know he's dying. is there anything I can do?? <No information here to work from. How big is this tank? What filter are you using? What is the water chemistry (at minimum: the pH)? What is the water quality (at minimum: the nitrite concentration)? Almost certainly water quality is an issue, if not THE issue.> pet smart gave me 'gel Tek' 'ultra cure PX' <Pointless, unless you know what's wrong and how you cure it. Since you have no idea what the problem is, how can you treat the animal?> they said it would be ok for him to eat too, but he really wont. and now my other cichlids are getting blown up looking too. <Ah, definitely water quality.> I noticed when the other cichlid died her scales were like coming up. don't know if any of that helps, but what can I do to save my Cray and my cichlids!??? I know by the way everyone looks I don't have long! thank you! <I'm assuming this is an overstocked, under-filtered tank, quite possibly with the wrong water chemistry for the species being kept. Without names for these cichlids, it's impossible to say what conditions they require. Some (e.g., Mbuna) need hard, alkaline water. Others (e.g., Severums) need soft, acidic water. All cichlids need spotlessly clean water with zero ammonia, zero nitrite, and ideally as little nitrate as possible, certainly less than 50 mg/l. In any event YOU CAN'T MIX CRAYFISH WITH FISH. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: crayfish, cichlids; health 8/2/08 well the cichlids are African Kribensis, and I've had them since birth. still have the parents in a diff tank. the water is fine, for all, checked it over and over. <If you say so!> the cichlid I introduced was already sick, I know that, now) and when he died, the kribs ate it and I think so did the crab. <Letting fish eat dead fish is asking for trouble. Many diseases are spread that way. Remove fish as soon as they die, and ideally isolate them when they're sick.> they were all fine till about 3 days after the Wal-Mart fish died. he seems to be fine with my fish, I've never seen him raise a claw to them. not that it wont or cant happen! <Indeed. Many cichlids become territorial only once sexually mature, which may take 6-12 months, depending on the species.> I am well aware of that. so total in the tank I have 2 cichlids, and 5 small tetras, and the Cray. the cichlids are still juvenile, only about an inch and a half. all were fine until I put the seemingly fine Wal-Mart fish (which I didn't buy, a friend did.) in. <If you can't quarantine new fish, then you should be very carefully about selecting additional livestock -- so accepting fish from friends really isn't a good idea.> I have a 50 gal tetra filter, with two filters, and a 20 long, which will soon be a 30 long. I know I need at least a 50, but funds are low right now. there's plenty of room for them, the Cray doesn't seem to mind, he's usually busy and healthy, molted about 4 times successfully. <Seems as if you're aware of the potential problems but depending on luck. While we've all done that one time or another, it's hardly the best strategy.> its definitely a sickness from the Wal-Mart fish. <Why do you say that? Post hoc ergo propter hoc? Unfortunately, there's no guarantees that just because you've _added_ a new fish, the aquarium has _developed_ problems because those new fish were sick. While it can happen, it can also happen that the additional fish overwhelm the filter, or break up the social structures, or a variety of other possibilities.> I think by eating the dead sick fish they got sick. <OK, if you say so. Can't say I'm convinced.> the tetras I don't think ate any because they are fine and Im sure the cichlids didn't let em get to eat any of the dead fish. <Hmm...> I noticed though that the cichlids scales look funny too. this just started. they seem to be itching on the rocks. no Ich though. can you think of anything??? <Many things. If they're itching themselves, then Ick/Velvet are both possibilities, and both can make a fish sick *without* obvious external symptoms, because both diseases attack the gills before the skin. If the fish are breathing heavily, for example, as well as itching, that's a good clue that Velvet is in the tank. Saying the "scales looks funny" doesn't help much. Are we talking excessive mucous, making the body look cloudy? That's usually a water quality/water chemistry issue. Are the scales sticking outwards, like the scales on a pine cone? That's Dropsy (oedema) a symptom of a variety of things from internal bacterial infections through to inappropriate use of "tonic salt". Cheers, Neale.>

Re: crayfish, cichlids; health 8/2/08 ok so Im not god, I don't know for absolute sure that the Wal-Mart fish did it but here's my evidence... got 2 cichlids (don't know what there were, just they were yellow.) <Likely Yellow Labs, Labidochromis caeruleus. A smallish, fairly well behaved Mbuna.> kept em quarantined for month and a half. one got fat, and died. <Right. If this happens *in the quarantine tank* then you obviously don't put the survivor into your display tank. You run through all the possible diseases, or ideally, and what I would have done, you take them back to the store. This of course assumes the water conditions in the quarantine tank were appropriate to the species in question. For a Mbuna, that would mean hard, alkaline water with zero ammonia/nitrite, and low levels of nitrate (less than 20 mg/l if possible). There is *absolutely* no point quarantining in a tank that isn't cycled or doesn't have an appropriate chemical filter to remove ammonia directly. You can't just stick in a new filter and hope for the best. If new fish are exposed to a cycling tank, OF COURSE they're going to get sick and die. You may known this, but I'm just putting this out here fair and square so other people reading this can understand things.> thought it was because of the water, they were in with goldfish, I know, but it was the only thing I could do at midnight (drunk friends do dumb but thoughtful things). I wasn't going to risk putting em in my good tank. not fair for the goldies I know, but what else could I have done??? <Hmm... no idea.> so when one yellow fish died, after being fine for a month I figured it was indeed the water. <Why "the water"? Think about this logically for a moment. Fish live in water. They like water. So why would water kill them? There are really only two ways that water *conditions* can kill them -- either the wrong chemistry or poor water quality. Pick and choose. If 50% of your new livestock die, then your plan of action is firstly to see if the environment was right. At minimum, you check nitrite and pH. In the case of Mbuna, you'd need zero nitrite and a pH around 8.0. If this tested fine, you would then look for possible symptoms of disease. But you would absolutely NOT move the remaining "healthy" 50% into the show tank until you'd at least checked off all the possible diseases and perhaps treated proactively.> so I moved the last yellow cichlid to my good tank in hopes it wouldn't die too. after about a week he did die, at night. <I'm concerned that these "mystery yellow fish" are Mbuna, and you're exposing them to completely inappropriate water chemistry and quality. Just to reiterate, Mbuna need water with a high level of carbonate hardness and a high pH. Adding "tonic salt" will not work. Kribs will tolerate -- but don't appreciate -- such conditions, and South American cichlids will be positively stressed by them.> nothing I could do. by the time I woke up he was already being consumed...Im not depending on luck, but Im trying to do the best I can with what I have. <We've all been here. Which is why I'm stressing research and water chemistry/quality so strongly. You have very little scope for error and seemingly no Plan B, so you have to get things right first time. This demands a slow, methodical approach rather than hoping for the best. In other words, carefully identify all your livestock. Write down what conditions they require. Determine whether you can provide those conditions. We can help with all of these things. But so too will a good book. Libraries are full of them.> I did not ask for these fish nor did I want them. like I said drunken present at midnight. not something I would have ever done. didn't need any more fish. now, the velvet thing sounds like what I have. a lot. would this cause my Cray to be sick too?? <Crayfish won't get sick from the disease, but they certainly can carry the infectious stages of the parasite life cycle on their bodies. In any event, any Velvet medication can, likely will, kill the crayfish because they contain formalin and/or copper, both highly poisonous to invertebrates.> and what do you recommend to fix it? <Remove the Crayfish to a quarantine tank. Treat the tank with a Whitespot/Velvet combo medication. Nothing tea-tree oil based! Remember to remove carbon from the filter (if you use the stuff). http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwfishmeds.htm Once I'd finished that course of medications, I'd perhaps run something for systemic bacterial infections, for example Maracyn.> thanks for being prompt, I don't think I have much time! <Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlids Breathing Heavy And At The Top Of The Tank 07/07/08 Hi there , I am relatively inexperienced when it comes to cichlids , although my water quality is checked regularly I am worried about the behaviour of some of my fish. My tank is 6 foot in size and I have many cichlids of varying size and colour. I recently added 4 new cichlids to the tank, and after doing so almost my entire population are constantly swimming near the surface of the water ? Why are they doing this is this common or not ? And what can I do to prevent them from doing this as they all seem to bunch up , so you cant really see them , kind of defeats the object of having them ! Any advice given would be greatly appreciated Many Thanks. < The fish are at the top of the tank because they are not getting enough oxygen. Start by increasing the aeration. If you use a power filter then make sure the return breaks the top of the water to increase the oxygen exchange at the surface. Check the water temperature. The higher the water temperature the water has less oxygen carrying capacity. Lower the temperature to the lower part of their acceptable range. Check the ammonia and nitrites. They should be zero. If these are present then they can "burn" the cichlids gills and impede their ability to absorb oxygen from the water. Treat for gill flukes with Fluke-Tabs. These parasites attack the blood rich tissues of the gills and block the water from coming over the gills and interfere with respiration.-Chuck>

My Frontosa, HLLE tissue damage  - 7/1/08 Hi, I wrote you before about my Front, Georgie and his hole-in-the-head problem, and that I treated him with Medizole and Furnace, I then noticed it looked like fungus so I treated him again with just the Furnace, It looked like it went away but his holes didn't look any better, so I then treated him with some medication called Hole-in-the-Head by JUNGLE, and he still looks like this, is there any hope? <To heal the wounds from the neuromast destruction? Mmm, yes... with time, good nutrition, water quality...> ( I sent you a couple pics) I have had him for a long time( we think he is around thirteen years) and he has always been healthy but know I am at a loss, usually when I treat my fish I have good luck if I catch it right away, I am sending you a few pics and see if you can see what you think, Thank you for your time, John Cline <Have seen worse cases remit. Do try feeding Spectrum pellets exclusively, being religious re weekly water changes... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs3.htm and the linked FAQs files in this series above. Bob Fenner>

sick cichlid, poor English, reading   6/27/08 hi there <Micaela... the beginnings of sentences, proper nouns like your name, the pronoun "I"... are capitalized...> i have a 55 gallon tank with three parrot fish, a ghost fish, <What is this?> and a electric blue Johanni, <Not a good idea to mix Mbuna with neotropical cichlids> which i got about 3 months ago. usually the electric blue runs the tank and is very active. yesterday he began to be very listless and didn't eat when i fed them frozen bloodworms, which is very unusual. he continues to defend his area of the tank, but does not swim around much any more and even let a parrot fish get close enough to nudge him. also, not normal. I did a water change about 4 days ago and added ammonium remover, <... water should be pre-mixed, stored. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm the second tray on "treating tapwater"> as I always do. I did not add anything else after the water change. This is obviously not the first time I've done a water change since I got him. Do you have any ideas as to why he might be acting this way? there is no physical evidence on his body. thank you Micaela <Read. Bob Fenner>
re: sick cichlid 6/27/08
thank you for the advice. p.s. as an english teacher who just received a master's degree, i won't take offense to the grammar advice. <... !? Set an ejemplo amiga! RMF>

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>

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>

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>

Cichlid Blister/Pimple   2/15/08 Hello. I have a cichlid tank and one of my cichlids seem to have gotten a "pimple" or blister on their fin. Do you know what disease this may be? The "pimple" is a pinkish reddish color. Also, it is only on one of the fins, the other one is completely fine. Do you have any idea what this may be? Thanks so much. <Likely a localized expression from a physical injury... getting poked by a fish spine of another fish for instance. No real treatment advised other than good care, nutrition and water quality. Bob Fenner>

Cichlid cut/wound???  2-05-08 Please help me. I have a Firemouth cichlid who has what looks like cuts, or wounds near his dorsal fins. It is right below his dorsal fins and not exactly on his dorsal fins. The "cuts" are a pink/whitish color. He still is very active and eats fine and has no discolorations. What is this "cut". I am not sure if it is fin/tail rot. His fins and tail do not seem ripped and seems perfectly fine. Is it normal for him to have "cuts" below his dorsal fins? Thanks for your help. <Yes, this sounds exactly like Finrot. Treat at once with a medication such as a Maracyn or eSHa 2000. Finrot doesn't cause fish to lose their appetite until it infects the body cavity, at which point the fish will likely die regardless of treatment. So treat now! Do also try an establish the cause: Finrot almost never comes out of nowhere, but is usually associated with poor water quality and/or physical damage. Firemouths are gentle (by cichlid standards, anyway) and easily damaged by more aggressive species like Convicts and Red Devils, so mixing these species isn't a good idea and often ends with the poor Firemouth getting hammered. As for water quality, at the very least do a nitrite test just to see what the situation is on that front, even if everything looks fine. Cheers, 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.>

Cichlids playing dead???? 01/08/2008 Hola, I have a quick question for you. Do cichlids play dead? <No. Very few fish "play" at all (the sole exceptions recognised in the scientific literature are among the Mormyridae Elephantnoses) and usually when fish look like they're dead, they are dead, or at least in a state of shock. A few fish roll onto their sides as part of their natural behaviour. Clown Loaches do this when resting, for reasons as yet unknown. A few fish 'pretend' to be dead, so they can eat any small scavenging fish that swim too close.> The other day, my convict played dead and I was so scared. Why did they do that? <Might be a physical problem. When cichlids are quickly shocked or stressed, for example by adding to much cold water to their tank, they go distinctly loopy and will lose balance. They will roll over and drift about for a while. Once they warm up, they get back to normal. So consider things that could have 'knocked them out' for a while -- a badly handled water change, someone banging on the tank, loud noises, etc.> They were laying down, looking as if he was dead, and a second later, he swam across the tank perfectly. What happened? Is this normal? <Not normal, no. But if your fish has recovered now, I wouldn't worry too much. If it becomes a habit though, then you might want to reflect a little more on what's going on. Cheers, Neale.>

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.>

Convict Cichlid has bulge in stomach  12/12/07 Hey, <What?> I have had two convict cichlids for 5+ years, and just recently one of them got a sort of bulge in the stomach. It actually seems to have appeared randomly. A while ago I had a feeder fish that I am assuming was eaten (not quite sure) <... a very poor idea. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm and the linked files above> and I thought that it might have been the fish with the bulge that ate it, but it seems odd for it to still be there (and the bulge is rather large). So for the past couple of days, I have been watching them eat and it looks like the fatter one is eating the majority of the food. It still acts normally, but the bulge looks very odd and I'm afraid something could happen to it. I have considered separating the fish in the tank to feed them separately and make sure they both get the same amount (they are always together, so I don't want to completely separate the two). The fatter one seems to always rush to the food and beat the other one to it. Why do you think the bulge is present? It seems like even though it is eating the food, it should be able to digest it and not have the bulge. Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks so much! -Chantal <... no useful data re water chemistry, foods/feeding... I suspect there is something amiss here environmentally... But it could be a disease, parasite introduced inadvertently with the "feeder". Keep reading. Bob Fenner>
Re: Convict Cichlid has bulge in stomach - 12/13/07
Sorry that was of no help. Here is some extra info, and basically all the info I have left. I moved about an hour away from home in August and took my fish with me. They are also in a new (bigger) tank now, but their environment is the exact same. They have a better/new filter, and I used a lot of their old water for the new tank. The bulge appeared around early November. My fish don't typically eat feeder fish, and the one that was in my tank was not meant to be eaten either. I had goldfish and feeder fish living in the new tank before I moved my fish in there so that it wouldn't be squeaky clean and brand new once they got in. The one feeder fish disappeared, so I am only assuming it got eaten, but that happened probably around September/early October, so it was a pretty long time ago. That is really all I have on my fish. I am definitely going to start feeding the fatter one less once I find a way to separate them during feedings. It just still seems odd that a bulge would appear. I have been feeding them the same amount of food for the longest time. Thanks again! <... could also be a tumour/tumorous growth of some sort... Only way to be sure is to sacrifice, necropsy the specimen... Otherwise your proposed changes, good maintenance are about all that can be done. Bob Fenner>

Re: I really need your help. Cichlid dis. 11/23/07 Hi! I emailed you about a week ago about my cichlid, he has a prolapsed anus. I've been treating him with Epsom salts consistently, and he's been eating the recommended food (Brine shrimp is all I could find around here.) But the bulge only seems to be growing, I haven't seen him poop yet! I don't know whether it's not working or I should try another food? He seems alright physically (swimming around, eating normally, etc.) but I'm worried about the bulge. Is there anything else I can do? Is he going to die? -Amanda <Hi Amanda. Difficult to make a clear recommendation here. The first thing I'd do if this was my fish is stop feeding it. If tinned peas and brine shrimp aren't helping, there's no point ramming more stuff down it's throat! Leave things be for a while, sticking with the Epsom salt dose though. See if that helps. If things don't improve in a few days, we might be beyond a simple cure. Antibiotics may be required to bring down the infection and the swelling. Cheers, Neale.>

Constipated angelfish (severe), FW  - 11/20/07 HI Bob, Your site is awesome! I've taken the advise of using Epsom salts @1tablespoon per 10 gal. in order to free up the blueberry sized intestine of my 8 yr. old, 5 black angelfish. It's a 20 gal. tank shared with 2 very small catfish and one large plant. I've had the angel and the plant for 2 ½ years, there have been no sudden changes to the tank. The water condition is fine. I use TetraMin pro, but noticed the worm and shrimp diet recommended on the site. However, today I'm going to stop putting any food at all in the tank until this fish relieves itself. The problem looks severe, the anal is so swollen that it's becoming slightly red. All the fish behave normally except that yesterday I saw the angelfish twitching its 2 lowest fins and making small jerking motions with it's body. I've tried different things with a skinless smashed green pea, but the fish won't eat. It still rushes to the top of the tank always anxious to eat whenever I approach the tank though. Today I'm going to begin slowly upping the dose of salt. Any other suggestions? Thank you! <Greetings. Constipation in cichlids is very common, much more common than people might think. Pellet and flake food is especially bad at causing this, as will freeze-dried foods. The best foods for clearing up constipation are peas, algae, live Daphnia, and live brine shrimp. It does sound as if your fish has developed a prolapsed anus. This will heal by itself once the infection caused by the constipation subsides. Not feeding the fish at all for a couple of weeks will do no harm whatsoever, and if you starve the fish a bit, it might eat the tinned peas more readily. Alternatively you may want to provide live Daphnia or brine shrimps every day or two, as few angelfish turn their snouts up at these. Raising the Epsom salt concentration will also help. Cheers, Neale.>

Neglected Cichlids With Hole-In-The-Head  7/21/07 I have been bad. Over the summer I neglected my 150 gallon cichlid community. I was busy expanding my perennial garden. I only recall doing three 50% water changes in the past four months. The glass was covered with crusty hard algae which took forever to scrape off. Now my Geophagus has HITH syndrome. I have been doing partial water changes every three days. Is 25% too much of a water change? Should I do less more frequently? I had been testing my water once a week and all parameters were normal except the nitrates were about 40 ppm all summer. My test kit says this is high end in the safe zone. I do have hard water and my pH is approx. 8. <Most Geophagines require warm soft acidic water that is very clean and low in nitrogenous wastes. Keep the nitrates under 20 ppm with water changes.> My major question relates to a large 8" gold Severum. He is about 1.5 years old. He looks great except for one thing. For the past 6-7 months I have noticed that he has a "divot" behind one of his eyes. Like a very small thumb print indentation (about the size of a pea).. I never really thought much about it. It wouldn't be the first time I have seen a cichlid with a deformity. For the longest time I watched it and there has not been any changes in it till now. Now the impression actually looks like a hole. It is much deeper. It is not white or fuzzy or pussy like the Geophagus' holes. I could try and send you a picture of it if that would help. He is still eating and swims normal with not other signs of distress other than that divot/hole. < A photo would be helpful.> Also, I feed my fish a variety of foods, including flakes, pellets, frozen blood worms and brine shrimp. Also shrimp pellets and algae wafers. Will the improved water quality reverse the HITHS alone, or will I need to treat with Metronidazole? < If you see no improvement then I would add the Metronidazole.> Should I add vitamins? < Won't hurt.> One last question, would it even help to use a hospital tank or should I keep everyone in the community? <Medications may affect the biological filtration. It is always best to treat sick fish in a hospital tank unless all the fish in the tank are effected.-Chuck> The rest of the residents include two rainbow cichlids, two Laetacara curviceps, four large unknown tetras, three clown loaches, five sajicas, Cory catfish three tiger barbs, one Danio, and a large chocolate cichlid. Thanks for your help, Linda

Cichlid Blood blister  7/26/07 I have a breeding pair of Jaguar Cichlids (eggs hatching tomorrow) and the male (10") has a blood blister/clot in the middle of his pectoral fin. It appeared a few weeks ago and has grown to about 3mm in size, with a blood streak running the length of the fin to the clot. Is there anything I can do? Your help will be greatly appreciated, I struggled for almost a year to find a suitable male. Great site! Heinrich <Hello Heinrich. Fabulous fishes you have there. Kept them while at university, and easily among my top three cichlids. Good looks, nice personality, and a high degree of intelligence. And their fangs are rather impressive, too! Anyway, there's nothing much you can do directly to fix this problem. There are three causes I can think of. The first is Nodular Cyst disease. This is a catch-all term for any parasitic infection where the parasites form cysts under the skin. When the cysts burst, they release the next generation of parasites that can infect other fish or the other host in their life cycle (such as some sort of invertebrate). There's nothing reliable on the market for these, though isolating the fish and treating for external parasites might help. Nodular Cysts are off-white and opaque. Because the parasites tend to have complex life cycles involving more than one host species, this isn't a common problem in ornamental fish. The second disease is Lymphocystis, a viral disease that seems most common among cichlids (and indeed advanced fish generally) rather than things like barbs and tetras. Although viral, the trigger seems to be water quality, both in aquaria and in the wild. It doesn't kill fish unless some organ system is blocked or damaged, but it takes a long time (years) to go away. Lymphocystis tumours have a characteristic rough texture and cafe-au-lait colour that makes them easy to spot. Being viral, there's no treatment; optimise aquarium conditions and let the fish's immune system do the work. Finally, your fish could be suffering from Gas Bubble Disease. This is where over-saturation of the water with oxygen causes bubbles to develop in the blood vessels, and these damage them, leading to swellings. While it eventually goes away by itself, it is important to fix the underlying problem because damage to blood vessels in the gills or brain will obviously be very serious indeed. Of course, your fish may simply have mechanical damage from rough handling or fighting, in which case adding anti-Finrot/fungal medication on a prophylactic basis could make good sense. Sorry I can't be more specific with the diagnosis. Perhaps a photograph would help? Cheers, Neale>
Re: Cichlid Blood blister -- 07/26/07
Thanks for your prompt response, Neale! I'll try to take a picture. In the meantime please note that the clot is bright red, but with a matt finish (that's why I refer to it as a clot, rather than a blister). Heinrich <Hello Heinrich! Yes, I did see your description of the blister, which was why I described the diseases I knew about that resembled it in detail, so you could see for yourself that nothing was precisely the same. As it is, it sounds like there was some sort of fin damage and then a clot set in afterwards, but without a photo, it's difficult to know 100%. Fin damage of all types usually heals very well, assuming everything else is good. Cheers, Neale.>

Chocolate Cichlid With Hole-In-The-Head Disease   3/27/07 Hello; I thank for the great website. My experiences as an aquarium keeper have been greatly enhanced by what I have learned on your site. I purchased a 4 inch black ghost knife, and a 3 inch chocolate cichlid two days ago. They are both in quarantine in a 30 gallon tank;  79F, 0 ammonia & nitrites, nitrates 10-15. The tank has been running with a Pleco and Synodontis (and a few other temporary 'guests') for about a year an half. The BGK and chocolate cichlid are to eventually move into a 100 gallon Amazon tank. The problem and question:  After looking at the chocolate cichlid closely, he appears to have HLLE small lesions behind the eyes on both sides of his head. Three or four holes on each side. If I do a treatment with Metronidazole on this tank will I be endangering the black ghost knife? < The BGK should be unaffected by the treatment.> I've read about their sensitivity to medications. < They are mainly sensitive to dyes.> I plan to treat the tank every two days, after 30% water changes, as the package instructions state, for ten days. Then, follow up with a good diet and added vitamins. Any other suggestions or information greatly appreciated. Thank you very much in advance, Anna < Should like a solid game plan.-Chuck>  

Sick Cichlid, or just old? Hi, love the site. Michael <Thank you Michael... trouble with your letter here... Spaces twixt your sentences, commas... but I will make allowance for your email as I see the suffix .fm on your addr.... Where are you writing from?> I think my convict cichlid is sick, I bought him from a "Big" LFS who I won't name, he looked pretty unhealthy when I got him, flushed color, white spots. Anyway I nursed him back to health and he was doing fine until about a week ago when he started developing a big reddish brown patch on his tail fin (see pic) <I see this> IDK what it is, I thought it was just his age not sure how old, bought him fully grown) until I noticed the fry, and my Texas Cichlid (mother) constantly picking at it. <These fish may not be compatible> He's also acting a bit strange ,laying on the bottom of the tank, shallow breathing and he seems to be lacking energy I've been doing partial water changes every other day I've treated him for parasites and ick  Is he sick, or just old thanks for any insight you can give me sorry about the poor pic, the spot is a lot darker --   Michael McLaughlin <I would separate these cichlids, treat the Convict with a Furan compound... See WWM re Cichlid Disease... Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Cichlid, or just old? thanks for the reply!  2/1/07 Hi guys <Michael> Thanks for the timely reply I will remove him from the tank and treat him ASAP Thanks for the help <Real good and welcome. BobF>

Jewel Cichlid Acting Strange  1/2/07 Hi- I have a 55 gallon tank with 1 Kenyi cichlid, 1 Bumblebee cichlid, 1 hybrid cichlid, 1 orange cichlid (?), 1 red tip shark, 1 Pleco and a jewel cichlid.  The jewel cichlid (which is a pearl color with blue dots) has been acting strange lately.  She does not swim around only stays at the top of the tank.  Her fins are all down and she curves her tailfin.  She eats a little but not like she use to. She does not swim around although she has always kept to herself but now she is not acting normal.  I have isolated her in a tank but I am at a loss as to what to do for her.  Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks! Leslie < Clamped fins are a sign of a disease. Treat with Rid-Ich and salt for now. Crank the temp up to 82 F. If not better in three days then do a 50% water change and treat with Nitrofuranace and salt.-Chuck>

"Bumps on FW Fish"  - 1/22/07 A quick note for today's post "Bumps on FW Fish" in which Chuck suggested treating the fish with Nitrofurazone.  The querior had mentioned already having treated the fish with Jungle Fungus Clear Tank Buddies tablets--just wanted to mention that these contain Nitrofurazone as their primary active ingredient.  (The other active ingredients are Furazolidone and potassium dichromate.) Thought it worth a mention!  I have these myself, that's why I know. Rachel <Thank you for this... will post next to the related corr., share with Chuck. BobF>

Re: Bumps On Keyhole Cichlids   1/23/07 Mr. Rambo, thanks for your quick reply!  I remember you answered a question for me before.  I just want to double check with you.  These don't look anything like the pictures I've seen of fish lice.  The pictures I've seen look like bugs crawling on the fish - these look more like nits (eggs) you'd pick out of a kid's hair (sorry lol), not like bugs at all.  There are no visible body parts, legs, eyes or anything.  They aren't moving on the fish, but seem to be stuck fast to them, like tiny (1mm) sesame seeds you could scrape off with your fingernail.  Does this sound typical?  I wish I could send you a picture, but my camera just can't handle anything that tiny. It's so frustrating trying to compare these to pictures on the internet, which seem to always be the most extreme cases.  Thanks again for your time - I'll add the Clout as soon as I get the go ahead. The fish still seem to be doing okay, there are possibly a few more bumps today but they are still eating well and swimming around. Jessica <Wild South American cichlids sometimes carry a parasite that has a very complex life cycle. The "bumps" are actually little parasites that stay on the fish in a suspended animation state. When the fish is eaten by a bird the parasites come to life and are excreted in the bird droppings. The parasites then go to an aquatic snail and then to a fish again. They don't really hurt the fish but are very unsightly. The Clout may not kill them while they are in this state but usually aren't contagious. Go Ahead with the Clout. If the medication is effective then these little spots will die and may fungus or become infected. Try the Clout first. If the spots start to rupture they may become infected and need to be treated with Nitrofurazone. I like your last name.-Chuck>

Red Devil Cichlid With Internal Infection  1/2/07 Hello I have a Red devil cichlid that I got that has swim bladder for the purpose of trying to save him. The pet store gave him to me free because someone brought him in. He is a nice looking fish and is about 6inches and I have put him in a hospital tank and then added Epson salt raised the temp to 84F and treating the water with poly guard as well as trying to feed the fish with Metronidazole and garlic guard mixed in with some food as well as some green peas and doing daily 20% water changes and carefully replacing  the salt and poly guard. But the problem is that the fish stays on the bottom of the tank and cannot swim but only scoot's around on the bottom of the tank on his belly. He sometimes will go over to the food that I place in the tank but can't get the food in his mouth because he can't seem to raise up to pick the food up from the bottom of the tank. He often lays on his side until he see's me in the room then he sits back up on his belly. I noticed as well that yesterday and today that there was some blood in his stool. I have been treating him for about three day's now. Do you know anything else that I can do to get this fish better and how long do you think it will take before he gets better? Thank you for any help. <Remove any sand or gravel that can be abrasive to the skin of the fish. The infection has affected the swim bladder. Even if you cure the disease the swim bladder may not recover and become functional again. I would add Nitrofuranace to the mix and continue to treat for another week. These medications are not cheap. You probably could have purchased a healthy red devil for the money you will spend trying to save this one.-Chuck>

Cichlid May be Getting Hole-In-The-Head 10/10/06 Thanks for taking this question, I have a tank of various Cichlids and I noticed a round hole on the surface of the gill on my Brown/Black Cichlid. He seems to act fine and is eating well. Any idea what it might be? The hole looks pretty deep and I worry it may spread to other fish. Thanks for the help. Shaun < Many cichlids come down with hole-in-the-head disease. It starts as little clear openings around the gills and head. Sometimes the entire head erodes away it not treated. The cause is not clearly defined. Some say water quality while others think it could be nutrition. Cover your bases by doing a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Change the diet and try to include more nutritious foods. Try to add more vegetable matter to the diet in the form of veggie flakes or pellets. It starts to get really bad then treat with Metronidazole.-Chuck>

Unknown Cichlid With Unknown Disease   9/30/06 Hi There. I hope you can help.  I will start off by admitting that I am not the most conscientious aquarium keeper, but my fish seem to have adapted to me and my habits. I have cichlids but do not know what they are.  There is this one that is one of my favourites because he seems to be smiling all the time (a more rounded head than the others) and he was a beautiful blue/gray stripe.  He is about 2 years old but the other week seemed to stop eating and then went a very dull grayish colour.  He is now swimming in a vertical position, tail down - head up.  Every day for the last week I expected to find him dead but he is such a fighter that I am now wanting to do everything I can to help him.  I did a 30% water change, filter change and gravel vacuum 4 days ago and will do the same this weekend, however I don't know if I should be treating him with something.  Do you have any suggestions?   Lynda < After waiting a week to decide to do something did not help. Your fish is showing many symptoms. If possible isolate him in a hospital tank. Treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. Add some salt to the water too. This will take care of many internal and external infections. If these are not available then you could try Clout instead.-Chuck>

Cichlids slowly dieing/dying  8/8/06 For the past 8, 9 months my cichlids are dieing. Every month one fish dies, I have to get my water tested and then I'll get back to you. But until then what else could be wrong? < Start with water quality tests. Keep nitrates to under 25 ppm with water changes. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero.> I have one cichlid that I have had from my first set of cichlids and I really want to keep him. Will a Lake Malawi cichlid be good with a fire mouth cichlid? < No. Lake Malawi cichlids come with a very good set of teeth to scrape algae off of rocks. These same teeth do a a lot of damage on other fish.> Also (this has to do with my Pleco) he and the other Plecos I have had seem to be lazy. This one just stays, oh no, he just moved! But now he's back, but usually he's where he is now, upside down on a rock that I bought for my cichlids. Why do they do this? < They are nocturnal and are usually only active at night.> When I was looking at pics of convicts I saw clay pots in some of the pics, if I were to get a pot how big should it be (my tank is 10 gallons) and should I maybe break a piece off of the pot? < The flower pot should be twice as big as the fish regardless of tank size. So a two inch convict gets a four inch flower pot. Turn the flower pot on its side or notch out a hole in the side.> The ones in the pic were on their side but some that I saw on eBay for cichlids had holes in them and they were supposed to be upside down. My last question. It's very, very random, what is the plural for discus? < A school, shoal, pair or couple  of discus. There is no discuses.-Chuck>

Flowerhorn With Stubborn Popeye   7/25/06 Hi.. a pleasant day once again to you. Its me again, I consulted you before about the problem of my Flowerhorn. If you still remember, my fish has an internal infection and pop left eye. Well, I followed your advice. I apply the proper medication for my fish. But it seems he's not feeling better. He even got worse because his right eye got infected too and now his eyes both popping out and both are turning white. I am really worried because he's also not eating for days already. I think I've done everything to help him but I still want to know and try if there is anything else I can do to save him. Aside from giving him Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole and water changes, is there any other ways to help him get well or make him eat again. I am afraid to ask this but .. will my fish die? <This disease can be fatal.> What do you think is the percent for his survival? < The key to a complete recovery is early detection and early treatment. Something has stressed your fish to the point that he is susceptible to this disease. It could be food, sanitation, temperature and even tankmates. You need to find out what had changed before he got sick. You could try to add some rock salt to the tank too. About a teaspoon per 5 gallons would be worth a try.> I hope he'll gets better,.. because he is my beloved pet.. hope you help me again. Thanks in advance and for your time going through my letter. good day. RHEA from Philippines. < These medications are usually pretty effective if the disease is caught early. Keep the tank clean by vacuuming the gravel and cleaning the filter often.-Chuck>

Lionhead Cichlid With Bloat  6/21/06 Why is my lionhead floating on his back?  Every time he goes to the bottom he floats back to the top. Other than that he likes fine.  He just started this today(06-17-06).   Will he die  or will this effect my other fish which is common gold.  Please help. Thank You Nancy <Gas pockets within the fish are probably infections within the digestive tract. I would recommend a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. If possible I would recommend that you treat him in a hospital tank with a double dose of Nitrofurazone and a single dose of Metronidazole. Add about a teaspoon of rock salt per 5 gallons. The key to a complete recovery is early treatment. This can be lethal.-Chuck>

Big Cichlids Getting Cloudy Eyes   4/30/06 I have a 12" Gibbiceps and 2 female Jaguar cichlids, 1x6" (S) and 1x8" (L) in a 280 liter tank. PH=7.5, Nitrite=0, Temp=26°C. "S" laid eggs on Wednesday. At about the same time she developed a single small white spot on each eye. One eye has now grown slightly cloudy also. "L" has now developed it also, although very small. The rest of their bodies and fins are clean with no signs of any problems, and their behaviour seems normal. "S" is not eating much (I think it's normal when she's with eggs), "L" is still eating well. I'd appreciate your help before their conditions get worse. Regards, Heinrich < Usually these body /eye fungal problems are because of excessive nitrates. Do a 50% water change, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel. Give it a couple of days and see if things get better. Add some salt if it looks like there is no improvement. If it continues to get worse then treat with erythromycin but watch for ammonia spike because the medication may affect your biological filtration.-Chuck>

Cichlid Caught In A Decoration I have a Cichlid that was stuck in one of my aquarium decorations  for about 2 days, I finally had to break the boat to get him out, he has scrapes  on top his head and some red areas on his body.  I put him back and he just  sank to the bottom, I swished him around in the water and it revived him but he doesn't look good.  Can anyone recommend anything that I can do?  I  don't have a hospital tank set up and the aquarium store is closed for me to get  a divider to keep him away from the other fish.  Can you give me an idea  about how I can keep him separate from the other fish for now? Thanks, Bobbi < Place him in a large dip net and place the net so it gets some water flow from the filters or airstones. Add a tablespoon of rock salt per 5 gallons of water and add some MelaFix to prevent bacterial and fungal infections.-Chuck>

Damaged Parrot Cichlid  - 04/19/2006 I have 3 medium sized parrots and 5 silver dollars in a 26 gallon tank.  My smallest parrot managed to wedge himself into a hole in a   rock, and it took some effort to work him back out - his face and side are fairly scraped up, and he had to be handled a bit more than   I'm comfortable with.  Now he can't seem to get upright, and is stuck upside down.  The other two parrots keep pushing him toward the top   of the tank, but he ends up back at the bottom, upside down.  He is working his gills, fins and tail, but that doesn't seem to be doing   much.  I'm in the middle of treating the tank for slime - using Furazone-light - but I don't think that would affect much.  I did a   30% water change 2 days ago.  The tank is a bit acidic at 6.0, nitrites are 0, nitrates are less than 20 ppm, and ammonia is less   than 0.25 ppm, and I keep the temp at 82 degrees.  I'm afraid I may have damaged his swim bladder while rescuing him.  I'm not sure what   I should do at this point - any ideas? Deb Jones <Your fish could have been damaged during the initial trauma or has suffered a secondary bacterial infection. Not much we can do with the initial trauma. Surface wounds can be treated quickly with MelaFix. If any secondary bacterial infections or fungus appear then you have already treated with Nitrofurazone. Internal bacterial infection can be treated with Metronidazole. Do a 50% water change, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel. Treat as directed on the package.-Chuck>

Re: more on Cichlid tank and Flagyl   4/16/06 The current sizes of the present cichlids are as follows, Oscar 8  inches, Dempsey 5 inches,  Pleco and angelic catfishes are both  around 3 inches.  Can I add another cichlid to the 75 gallon  tank.  Thanks again     Jim   Second, the tank these fish came from was a 30 gallon, my Oscar got  hole in the head and lateral line disease before the switch. I have  been mixing Metronidazole with his food. <... a very poor idea to "keep" mixing this protozoacide/administering it more than once, twice. Is toxic, will kill your fishes renal/kidney systems> His  behavior and appetite is fine, the only problem is the holes and scars  on his head and body. My water conditions are fine. will the extra  space in the 75 gallon solve this problem with my Oscar?   <Perhaps... see WWM re nutrition and HLLE... this is the root cure, along with improved water quality en toto>   Finally, I live close to the ocean and fish very often, can I feed my  fish live bait fish from the sea such as Killies and spearing?   <Yes>   Thank you in advance for your patience and help.   Jim <Keep reading... the materials archived on WWM re Oscars, other cichlids... http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm Bob Fenner>

Flowerhorn with holes in bottom jaw  Dear WWM crew, <Just a small part of it, Rod... Tom> About a month ago I noticed my Flowerhorn had ONE hole (or what appears to be a hole, could be circle sinks) under his jaw. I didn't think anything of it because I have never seen this kind of disease before, but now he has about 5 of them. I wanted to know what disease is this, and how can I treat him? Also he has a white spot on his left gill cover, it seems to be under the scales. <Your description seems consistent with HITH (Hole-in-the-Head) disease/HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion) disease.> I had treated him with PimaFix but I don't think that helped. <It won't. HITH/HLLE is multi-faceted in that there are several factors known to, or suspected of, causing it, i.e. water conditions, stress, vitamin deficiency, internal parasitic infection (Hexamita), carbon contamination. [The last two are "shaky" but haven't been totally discounted.] Please, research the WWM FAQ's/articles for more information on these diseases. You might look at this article, as well: http://www.worldcichlids.com/diseases/Adamhith.html>   I am sorry, but my digital camera broke. <Sorry about this, too.> But, if needed let me know and I will try my best to get a picture of it. <No worries, Rod. Clear photos certainly help us but concise, well-written and well-documented information is often worth just as much.> Thank you very much, Rod <Hope I've been of some help. Tom

Cichlid With Hole-In-The-Head    4/8/06 I have a 9' red flame cichlid that has developed raw spots on its head (above the eyes and below the dorsal fin, and between his eyes) they developed after his tank mate died about 3 weeks ago.  The spots seemed to have blood circulating to them because I see red within the areas. I do 25 -30 % water changes about every 10 days (55 gal whisper 3 filter) I have also been adding aquarium salt (1 tablespoon a day for three days now). I have had the water tested and is within the norm.  He is the only fish in the tank and has stopped eating for at least 4 days, spends a lot of time on the bottom.   When I turn on the light he comes to the top to eat, if he even bothers to take any Hikari cichlid gold pellets, he just seems to swim backwards any spits them out. These spots are not deep; they seem to be just on the surface.  The one above his eyes is approx ½' across and slowly getting bigger.  He has had these spots before but this big and not for this long. Any help you can provide would be much appreciated Thank you Dave < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. When he starts to eat , offer some live food live washed earthworms, and watch for ammonia spikes because the medication will affect the biological filtration.-Chuck>

Cichlids Really Breeding Or Just Sick  - 04/05/2006 Hi!  I have a 40 gal tank with a Convict pair, Jack Dempsey pair, and a Green Terror pair.  They are all about 1.5 to 2 inches each.  The Green Terror female and my Convict female both seem to be expecting.  I have never seen behavior like this.  They lay on the rocks and on top of the caves almost hovering.  They are also very plump.  Although I have seen not one egg from either, their respective males are right with them.  How long does it take to lay the eggs?  The convict has been this way for about a week, but the Dempsey I just notices today.  Thanks Chelle < A 2 inch green terror is probably too small to breed. If conditions are right, clean water, good food and good nutrition, then they should breed in a couple of weeks. Even with eggs the females should be up and about eating and defending a territory from the other fish. If they are not eating or acting normal then I would start to think that they are sick with an internal bacterial infection and need treating with Metronidazole.-Chuck>

Sick Gold Severum   3/19/06 I treated this Severum 5 weeks ago with furan 2 because he was hiding and not eating much and had red streaks on his tail fin, after 8 days he quit eating and I changed medication to Minocycline for 9 days. Some where in this time frame he developed a bump mid body a little on the left side the size of a quarter he had some trouble with balance but is still eating some every day. Yesterday his left fin was torn, he was holding it to his body most to the time. I put a little aquarium salt in and increased aeration. He still has  the red streaks on the tail fin, and his breathing is labored. There is only a clown loach and a little 2 inch Pleco in the tank. Possibly the loach was a little rough with his pectoral fin. The bump is the concern? < Your fish is being attack both externally and internally by bacteria. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. You probably have high nitrates too and that contributed to the problem. Cleaning the tank will help. Treat with Metronidazole for the internal infection and Kanamycin for the external infections. This will affect the biological filtration so watch for ammonia spike after treatment.-Chuck>

Severum With Lump  3/20/06 My Severum has a quarter size bump on his left side, he developed it some time in the last  5 weeks. He was being treated for red streaks in his tail fin with Maracyn 2 for 7 days , he stopped eating so I switched him to furan 2 for 10 days. He has a little bit of buoyancy problems as the bump is out about a half inch. he is still eating , but his gills seem labored so I added a little salt and have been doing a lot of water changes. Should I medicate him again, and if so with what? < Sounds like an internal bacterial infection. Keep up with the water changes and treat with Metronidazole.-Chuck

Bloated Flowerhorn   3/19/06 Hello WWM Crew, My Flowerhorn is around 6 months old. At first I thought the tube sticking out was his breeding organ but, I wasn't sure. After observing his behavior he looked unhappy , wasn't playing, and eating . So I did a water change . After reading on your site I think he has a digestion infection ? I took a few pictures so, maybe you could help me. What should I do ? Please help and Thank you. Aloha, Donald The message is ready to be sent with the following file or link attachments: Flowerhorn 001 Flowerhorn 002 Flowerhorn 003 Flowerhorn 004 < Sorry, Photos did not show up. But I can still tell from you description that your fish does indeed have an internal bacterial infection. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. This is best done in a hospital tank. These medications will affect the good nitrifying bacteria in the main tank.-Chuck>

Bloated Flowerhorn   3/19/06 Thank you Chuck, I'm trying to send you the pictures again because, I wanted to know if he still has a chance ? It's been about three days since I notice that hanging out. I won't be able to treat until 24 hours from now. Thank you for the quick response and I appreciate all the help. Aloha, Donald The message is ready to be sent with the following file or link attachments: Flowerhorn 001 Flowerhorn 002 Flowerhorn 003 Flowerhorn 004 Flowerhorn 005 Flowerhorn 006 < Sorry , no photos again. I still think you have the same problem. Keep the water clean with water changes until you are able to get the medications. He has no chance unless you treat him.-Chuck>

Parrot Cichlids With Hole-In-The-Head - 2/28/2006 HELP. About two months ago My 2 parrots who are around 2.5 years old - we had them from babies, started to develop fungus type 'sores' on their head (no where else, and none of my other Cichlids have this problem) then it disappeared only to return again and now I need help. I treated them for Velvet, Fungus, Hole in the head etc., to no avail. Although my water qualities etc., were fine, water temp was tried at between 24-28 (this was double checked by Maidenhead Aquatics) I changed to the fish shops own water in the hope it would make a difference - it didn't. I have not added any new fish, gravel, plants etc., Food is still the same dried in morning and frozen in evening (Krill, bloodworms, Mysis, Green food, Artemia etc). I do a water change every week, (sucking up all pop from gravel in process) I have tried to do it daily, every other day, weekly and even longer - no difference. The last month 'his' sore has got bigger and does not seem to be responding to anything. He is eating well and his stools are normal. For the last month, 'he' has started to hang round the top of the tank as if trying to get more oxygen, rapid gill movement (compared to the other parrot) and generally looking off colour doesn't really want to move, and when he dose it looks like he hasn't got full balance, although he eats well, and moves fast and straight into the caves when startled. The other parrot I am sure knows something isn't right as she is hanging below him instead of her usual haunt the caves. I have a 5' tank and an external Fluval 404 pump. I am an experienced Cichlid keeper but was given these fish from my son, they are magnificent and very clever and cunning. I have no trouble between my fish what's so ever, if anything the parrots rule the tank, or at least did. I have photos of his head if it will help anyone to help me. My local fish shop said that as they are a hybrid fish, they are not as healthy and tolerant to changes as the normal cichlid and that they don't know much about them as they don't and never will stock these fish. < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. The drug of choice is Metronidazole, but you need to get it inside the fish. Take some live Calif black worms or Tubifex and wash them very well. Place them in a disposable plastic cup or bowl. Drain off most of the water. Add Metronidazole to the worms. It should kill the worms. Immediately feed them to your affected fish. You know it is working when the pits turn black. This disease is thought to be caused by stress. Things like dirty water or a lack of minerals/ vitamins have also been thought of as a cause. If the fish are not eating then treat the water . It may help but will not be as effective as getting the medication inside the fish.-Chuck>
Hole-In-The-Head Cichlid Photos  - 3/1/2006 Thanks for this advise, did you see the second email I sent to you from home last night with photos on this fishes head - showing this complaint?  It may help, also do you think it is Hole in the Head or Fungus etc????  Many thanks  Sheena Jolliffe < We got the photos and the reply is still the same. They are posted on the site.-Chuck>

Flowerhorn Cichlids Don't Have Color   2/10/06 Hi! I'm Joan from the Philippines.  My husband and I are newbies in FH care.  We have 2 Flowerhorns that are almost 1 year old.  The thing is, both their colors are not as vibrant as other Flowerhorns that I see in the website.  They are mostly black with red along the gills but that's it.  I did some research but nothing that can possibly answer specifically to my problem.  1.What can I do/feed my FH to make their colors change? (the aquariums have coral backgrounds.  No gravels or sand. No decorations either.) < A Flowerhorn is a hybrid of three different cichlid species. Their colors can range from grey to bright red. This is determined by the genetics of the parents. If your fish do not contain the correct genes then they will never look like the web site photos.> 2. Can it still be remedied? They are almost 1 year already.  3. One of the FH's aquarium water becomes greenish in color after a few days.  What causes these things? (note: the aquarium is not in direct sunlight). < You can enhance what color they do have with good nutrition, but you cannot create color on a fish. The green water may be from the food or high nitrates in the water.-Chuck>

Cichlids Melting   2/6/06 I am writing to you because I have found nothing on a disease called cichlid melt. < First I have heard of it and I have been keeping cichlids for 38 years.> My young Oscar died.  I brought the body to the pet store to see if they could make sense of the Oscar's skin condition.  Both sides looked eaten away.  They told me it's cichlid melt and compared it to leprosy.  They said it's highly contagious and there is no cure.  They told me to take down my entire tank and wash everything with bleach.  I have a 72 gallon tank, so I'm hoping I don't have to get that aggressive.  I presently have 3 parrot fish who seem to be OK, as well as one pearl cichlid.  I have lost about 5 other fish within the past couple of weeks.  None of them seemed to have what the Oscar did, however, two of the cichlid's had puffy and deteriorating scales protruding out of its head.  I've had fish for years and never experienced such a thing. Any ideas or suggestions?  Have you heard of Cichlid melt? Thank you Shannon < You have a bacterial infection that is eating the skin of your fish. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Check the nitrate levels. They should always be under 25 ppm. Treat with Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the package.  After treatment, you will need to add a high quality carbon to remove the medication. When the water is clear add Bio-Spira to replace the good bacteria needed for biological filtration. Then feed your fish once each day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes.-Chuck>

Cichlids With Bacterial Infection  - 2/4/2006 My son brought home a blue cichlid, an Oscar, and one of those fungus eaters. (looks like a little shark, but I don't know what is called). I have a 39 gal. tank filled with fresh water, which I change weekly, two filters and an  air pump. I never heard anything about water chemicals until now. I feed them floating pellets two or three times a day. I don't know much about fish, but I have noticed the blue cichlid is growing orange wart like growths on the sides at the root of the fins.  It started showing about two or three months ago.  I didn't pay much attention in the beginning because I thought the fish was simply growing in size and that was part of it. they have grown a lot since we got them.  the Oscar is about 12 in, the cichlid is about 7 in and the other one is about 10 in), but the last few weeks, I noticed that one side is bulging out while the other seems to be "falling off in tiny chunks".  That's the best way I can describe it. What can I do? < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the package. Fed once a  day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. High nitrates contribute to bacterial infections such as these.-Chuck>

Oscars With Bacterial Diseases  - 2/4/2006 Hello, Can you please help me? We bought 2 Red Tiger Oscars about 5 months ago and have already lost 1 to this disease already. It started with these small indentations in their skin which have now got larger on the remaining one. Also the remaining Oscar also has a whole in his top fin which is slowly getting bigger and I think this will soon divide his fin into 2. We do a water change every 2-3 weeks. We were given a treatment called 'Melafix' which were told would get rid of it and if that didn't nothing would. We followed the instructions, took the carbon filter out, but nothing worked and this is how we lost our first through the treatment. Our local fish shop said to take a water sample in (which we haven't done yet) to see if there was a high level of acid in the water, but only the Oscars had this disease. We have different types of Parrot Cichlids but these are all fine If you could reply to my email that would be great, Thanks Rebecca < This is a bacterial infection brought on with water high in nitrates. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the package. Feed once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Check the nitrates weekly. They should not exceed 25 ppm. Reduce them with water changes.-Chuck>

Babysitting a 100 Gallon Aquarium   2/3/06 My son has me caring for his tanks until the spring when he will take them back.  The tank is either 95 or 100 gallons. Currently it is inhabited by the following:2 Jack Dempsey, I Albino Oscar, 1 Pleco, 2 parrot fish and a catfish.  Also when he fed the fish live food 2 of the goldfish survived and are about 5 in long.  I have BioPure filter and a Fluval 404 running, aeration etc.  I had trouble with ammonia and was treating it with Amquel, which I am not sure worked.  I invested in the python siphon so I cleaning the tank more often. Here are my problems; 1 the goldfish developed this black stuff as well a white fluffy around the mouth I also noticed some gray matter on the Oscar as well as on the parrot fish. I treated with Maracyn 2 and Copper Safe All was well 2. Suddenly the goldfish was a mess and subsequently died. Soon I found the other Pleco on its back dead and later in the day one of the catfish was swimming upside down and looked terrible 3.I cleaned the tank and treated it for body fungus because I saw white spots on a few of the fish.  Now I see that the goldfish has white over his eye, one of the Dempseys has a sore under his chin and one on his side and the Oscar looks as if he has a tumor. To add to my dilemma the 2 Dempseys are fighting one keeps chasing the other and I think that is where the sores originated and also the more aggressive Dempsey and the Oscar open their mouths wide and to at each other and then separate. I know that we need to separate the fish, but the only other tank has 18 convict cichlids we raised from fry. 1.What should I do to keep the fish from fighting-I cannot believe I am refereeing fish? < Lower the water temp to 75 to 77 F. Move all the rocks and plants around to make them establish new territories.> 2.What should I do with the Oscar who still has some grayish spots( perhaps its normal) to fix the large swelling? < Probably body fungus.> I feed them Hikari Cichlid Gold, but after reading your forums stopped giving them that and gave some spinach and brine shrimp. I know this is lengthy but I am at wits end and I don't think I should keep dumping chemicals. Peggy Geist Blass < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel with the python and clean the filter. Feed once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. In a couple of days if things are not better then you may need to medicate with an antibiotic like Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>

Green Terror, sick  1/31/06 Dear staff, I have a green terror with  a swollen stomach. I have recently learned that I have been mis- feeding him. he was fed one cube of frozen beef heart and like 8 small cichlid pellets everyday. I tried a few peas and a couple pellets soaked in castor oil thinking he was constipated. he did poop but that didn't reduce the size of his stomach. I have looked up fish diseases and ailments but haven't found one that fits. LFS told me could just be an enlarged stomach due to his food.... I don't know, please help, I love this fish. Jeff >> This fish is fat, likely its' liver is swollen and distended. Like a person would be on that sort of diet. Try switching him to a food that has a much lower concentration of animal protein! Feed this fish with some green Spirulina pellets every second day. I would even not feed him for a week to start. Oliver.

oh here is picture of my green terror with swollen stomach, forget to attach it. Jeff

Cichlids With Mouth Problems  - 1/30/2006 Hello. I tried to search your site, unfortunately, not everything loaded up for me. I'm having slight computer issues. Please bear with me if this question has already been answered. It was my 23rd birthday a week ago, and my father, knowing how much I love fish, got me a small 10 gallon to go on the dresser of mine and my boyfriends dresser. It was complete with heater, air stone, and filtration. I set up the aquarium. Washed everything before I put it in there and let it run for 2 days before I introduced anything to it, Just to make sure there wasn't any dust or anything in there from the stones. Upon feeling my tank was ready for fish, we went to  the fish store that I have gotten fish from since my very first tank when I was two. [ I do not trust PET stores, as most of the time, their fish have Ich, and they do not realize this, and with a community filter, I fear all their fish are tainted - fish stores give more attention to their tanks then say , PetCo, ever would. ] So, I bought 5 fish. Two Pearlscale Orandas for our 50g tank in the living room [ which already housed two gigantic Plecos and 4 other Orandas. ] and 2 blue ram cichlids and a Kribensis cichlid.  I am writing on behalf of my cichlids. They are very small, so a 10g is more then enough room for them to dart around and be happy. I keep the temp. anywhere between 74 and 76 degrees. < Too cold. They prefer at least 80 F.> All three were quite active after they got used to the new tank [about a day ] Within a day or two, I noticed the Kribensis' mouth looking quite swollen. The lips were quite puffy, almost like someone who had too much collagen  injected into their lips. It also started to develop a small white spot on the bottom lip almost directly in the middle. That almost resembled a tooth, though I know it was not one. I took out my other fish and dosed both tanks with Ich treatment.  Within a day, the Kribensis was very weak, it couldn't stay upright and would fall to its side. Over night, it died. Since it was albino, I noticed that the whole underside of the fish was bright red, as if it had bled out under its skin. I was very upset about this, as I had gotten the fish no more then 4 days ago. I cleaned the tank out and let it run for another day, with a clean filter, before I put my blue rams back in. Upon putting them back in, I also bought a Pleco and a snail.  It's been about a week and I was watching my fish and noticed that one blue ram likes to hang out at the very top of the water. < It is warmer there.> He also now has a white growth on the middle of his bottom lip. Though, he is not as weak or lethargic as the Kribensis was. It still darts around chasing and getting chased by the other blue ram. The eating habits have not be affected, nor do any of the other fish have any white spots on them. The white spot is not spreading, as I thought Ich normally does. It also doesn't look ' fuzzy ' as I have seen it look on the bodies of fish. It, again, resembles a little tooth on its lip. But, I'm worried. I can not find any information about this on any other fish site, and I was hoping maybe you could help me, even in the slightest. I'm not sure what to do, or why this is attacking my fish one at a time. Thank you in advance, KL. < Cichlids make a living by sifting through the sand looking for something to eat. It sounds like your sand is too coarse or abrasive. As they try to feed the sand is cutting and damaging their lips/mouths. They are becoming infected and killing the fish. Run your hand through the sand to see it this could be the problem. The infection can be treated with antibiotics like Nitrofuranace. But unless the sand is changed the fish will continue to have the same problems over and over again.-Chuck>

Gold Severum With Mouth Problem.  - 1/30/2006 I have two gold 8" Severum fish in a 75 gallon aquarium. I have had them for a little over two years. One of them has developed a growth of some sort in its mouth. It protrudes from its top lip and looks like its gums or teeth or something. The growth is fleshy looking. I first noticed it about a week ago. I have seen this fish trying to spit it out by blowing air out its mouth. So far it has been able to eat around the growth, but today when I fed it, it could not get the food in its mouth. Now I am worried that it will starve to death. I don't know the sex of either one of them but they get along fine. I bought them both together from the same pet shop. Can you please tell me what this is and what I can do about it. I really love these fish. Thank you, Shirley Brand <Sometimes these big fish try to eat things that are not edible. Plastic plants, rocks pieces of wood etc.. I think it may have something stuck in its mouth that is causing an infection. Get a baking plan large enough to hold your fish. Get a large towel and fold it up so that it will lay  in the pan. Bail out some aquarium water and get the towel in the pan very wet. Catch the Severum with the problem and lay him on the towel. Wrap the fish up in the towel with just his head exposed. Now get a flashlight and look down the mouth to see it there are any obstructions. Use long tweezers to remove anything you see.  Put him back in the tank. If you didn't see anything then we can assume that he injured his mouth in a fight or trying to eat something. The injury might be infected so treat the fish with Nitrofuranace. Follow the instructions and watch for ammonia spikes in the tank because this medication will affect the bacteria needed for biological filtration.-Chuck>

Red Devil Swimming On His Side   1/30/06 Have my son's red devil still here and has been doing well. The last few days he has been swimming on his side and has lost a bit of condition. Seems to flop on his side when he is not moving rapidly. There are no marks on him and he is still eating well (both live and cichlid pellets). He is now about 10 inches long and son has had he since really small. Please help as I really don't want to lose him. Thanks Sue < When I hear of problems like these I think of internal bacterial infections. Sometimes food gets stuck in the intestines and the bacteria continue to reproduce causing gas and bloating. This sets off the equilibrium and causes fish to swim on their side, upside down etc... Do a 30 % water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package. It may stop the infection but the fish may not completely recover and be back to his old self.-Chuck>

Flowerhorn Trouble    1/25/06 Hi, I have a very big headache and is trying my best to save my Flowerhorn. My Flowerhorn hit very hard on the side of my fish tank while my mother is playing with it and stays on its side ever since at the bottom of the tank. It has been 3 weeks now and he is still alive. I tried very hard to push him upright vertical) but he seems to slip down horizontally to one of its side every time. All he can do now is move his eyes, slightly move his tail and flap one of its fin. For the other fin, he can only move it slightly and is seems to be infected and looks a bit small with white spots. He looks a bit inflated though. He is able to push himself by sliding on the bottom of the tank. About food, he is still able to eat slightly but he will to spit some of the food out sometimes. Before the incident we used to give him some guppies (found in the drain) to eat. I am really worried that he might have eaten some infected ones. Regards Josephine Lai < The trauma to the fish probably caused some permanent nerve damage. As he swims on his side the substrate is scrapping him up and it may now be coming infected from the guppies in the drain. Remove the substrate, do a 50% water change, clean the filter and keep mom away from the tank. Treat with Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the package. This will clean up the infections but I am afraid your fish may not fully recover from the trauma.-Chuck>

Sick Old Red Devil   1/21/06 Hi-My 12 yr old red devil lives in a 120 gallon tank with some gravel, a few rocks and his baked ceramic plant pot. He gets fed jumbo min and some brine shrimp. For the past 2 weeks he has been very sick -laying down in his plant pot like a dog to rest and then getting up to patrol his tank when I come near. He won't eat. He swims sideways sometimes. I have siphoned the gravel and changed 25% of the tank water on 4 separate occasions (giving him a few days between each time). The ammonia level and the nitrite level test normal. The nitrate level tests high. I keep the pH at 7 although it keeps tending bluer - higher, which is the opposite of what it usually does. I keep the temp at 80 degrees.  I have put kosher salt in the water. He is typically somewhat orange, but when he got sick he got quite pale. Now his color is more orange again. I read in your column about using Furanace or Metronidazole... is either one appropriate? Do you have any advice or suggestions? Thank you for your help-Julie < At 12 years old your red devil  may be getting near the end and no longer can fight off infections. I would do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. If he is not eating then don't feed him. Sounds like an internal bacterial infection. Treating him in a big tank will be very expensive, especially if multiple treatments are needed. If you can, move him to a smaller hospital tank. Treat him with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. High nitrate levels over a long period may have stressed him to the point of becoming ill.-Chuck>

Lots Of Cichlids In a Little Tank    1/19/06 I have a 30 gallon freshwater tank with 7 med- lrg cichlids in it. < Too many fish already.> I  have one highly aggressive little lady convict (I think) that spends most of her time picking on the others, even though some are bigger than her.  I have   battled fin rot sporadically in the past one fist at a time  in a sick tank  when necessary, however, last week it seemed as though it all went awry.  I  have 5 fish all starting to suffer from bad fin rot.  I immediately did a 25%  water change pulled out the carbon in the filter and started to treat with  Melafix.  I decided at that point it was better to treat the entire tank  with so  many fish sick.  I quarantined the aggressive convict in a  breeding net, to take some of the stress off the others.  Seems to be going  well with the treatment however, now a few of the electric yellows seem to be  getting darker tiny black speckles, is this a side affect to the meds? < Never used MelaFix to cure fin rot. I don't think it is the reason.> I  also ended up having to pull one of my Jack Dempsey's out because he seemed to be  suffering severely.  I put him in the sick tank with salt (all the fish  water is always treated with it) and meds.  He was listless for a few days,  staying under the filter and then he started to get more active.  Once he  came out where we could se him better I was shocked, his gills seemed to be  falling off, I am not sure if that is the best way to put it, but it was like he  was going bald.  I continued to treat the tank and the he developed a  mucusy film and within a day of the slime he passed away.  I am now finding  this cycle repeating itself with another of my fish, he is quarantined and is in  new water with salt and MelaFix. It seems as though the large tank is  doing just fine outside of the color change to the fish, but I wonder if I am  doing all that I can.  I am worried for my fish and want to do what is best  for them, please help with any info or advice you can give.  The sick tank  is 5 gal and it only has the one fish in it. ~Tricia < Check the nitrates. They should be under 25 ppm. Big cichlids generate a lot of waste in a little tank, add in the stress of the aggression from all the other fish and you are looking for trouble. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat the fin rot with Nitrofurazone. After the treatment then add good quality carbon to remove any leftover medication. then add Bio-Spira from Marineland to get the good bacteria up and going again. Check the nitrates and control the levels with water changes.-Chuck>

Parrot Cichlid With Throat/Mouth Problem  - 01/12/2006 I am Desperate to save my 9" Parrot Fish. Few chat forums have had any idea of diagnoses. I'm left unanswered by others because of my "hybrid." Please help me save my best friend. I'll describe then detail. The visible problem is his mouth. The first week it just appeared 'swollen.' No sign of fungus or columnaris. Just what looked like a tumor growing inside his lower lip, swelling the outer lip, and making it hard to eat. He (even now) is Always hungry. A forum suggested a med so I treated the first 4 days with Maracyn (along with water changes) and it only got worse. By worse I mean, at the end of the first week he only had a pinhole left in his mouth that food could get through. Smaller lumps formed on top of the larger one. I couldn't see any fuzziness. As you can see in the pics, there is also a small red dot on the outside of his lip. They were a little pink/reddish in color. (he is dark orange) His fins are lightly frayed by his gills. The dorsal and tail are healthy. I had posted his pictures on numerous forums and no one had a clue. My local LFS gave me Furan-2 meds and SUCCESS! Along with half dosage of Mela-fix and decreased temp to 75F he got better. For a full 5 days the lump went down, and he was able to eat efficiently but the lump had not completely gone away. So last night (now two weeks with mouth problem) I increased the temp back up to 78F but still issued Furan-2 and Melafix as usual. I figured he was getting better and didn't want to subject his tankmates to anymore cool waters. He was fine this morning. I come home from work, and its Worse Than Ever. Not only is his lumpy lump almost full size again, but he has a red pimple in the middle of his lower lip that looks like it could pop any second. He also has stringy hairs on the outside and inside of his mouth. Coloration and rest of body look fine. My water conditions as of today are; Nitrites 0, Nitrates 20ppm, ammonia 0, pH 6.8, water - a little hard, temp 78F (was 75F), The tank is 55 gal. - other tankmates 1:pictus cat, 1:pleco, 1:butterfly ram, 1:gourami, 1:babyparrotfish All the fish get fed a variety of pellets, dried krill, vegetable flakes, and tropical crisps. The photos are from before he grew the pimple and fuzzy hairs. I have yet to photograph his new 'state'. Please let me know if I'm leaving any info out and PLEASE... if you have any idea... help me save my fish =(-Jessica < Sometimes fish try to eat things that they are not good for them. I suspect that your parrot cichlid has an obstruction in his throat. As he tries to expel it , the movement of the obstruction has damaged the tissue in the area and it got infected and swollen. You treated the infection and the swelling went down. Now the fish tried to expel it again and has started things all over again and is swollen, maybe reinfected. remove the fish from the water with a wet towel and try and look down the throat to see if there is an obstruction. Usually it is a piece of plastic plant, a filter part or an odd shaped piece of gravel. If you do not see anything then it could be a broken pharyngeal bone. This is a second set of jaws that cichlids use to chew their food. Sometimes this gets broken from pellets that are too hard to chew. I would recommend that you presoak the fish food to soften it up.-Chuck>


Parrot Cichlid Problem II   1/13/06 That you so much for the quick response. I just wanted to add a quick update. The night I wrote that entry, I stopped administering meds and decreased the temp back down to 75F without my usual 2-day 15% water change. I figured, the only thing I did different before he got worse was increase the temp. And I'm tired of medicated my other healthy fish. The very next day... Swelling went down and the red pimple is gone! He still has a swollen lump and outer lip, but only about 40% of the previous days size. I was shocked! Not that he's totally better, but it gave me much more hope. Do you think the temp decrease had anything to do with the infection (fuzziness/red pimple) he had? < I think the temperature reduction has lowered the fishes activity level and it hasn't worsened the condition by trying to eat.> I also want to check his throat out but this is the largest fish I've ever owned and I don't want to damage his slime coat, fins or scales by mis-handling. I hear of many people handling cichlids when things get stuck in their mouths. I just want to know the proper and safest way to do it. You mentioned a wet towel. Any more tips to make sure I handle him with care? < Take a shallow pan and fill it about half full with aquarium water. Place a towel inside the pan to absorb the aquarium water. Take the fish out of the aquarium and place him on the wet towel. Wrap the fish in the wet towel with just his head exposed. Now that the fish is in control you can gently pry the mouth open to see if there is any problems.> One more thing. If it is something like a broken pharyngeal bone, does this ever heal? Or will I have to deal (which I would cuz I love him) with his lump and random infections forever? Thanks a million. You guys/gals must save a lot of fish. YOU'RE HEROS! < The bone may heal over time with a long term feeding program of soft mush foods.-Chuck>  

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