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FAQs on Neotropical Cichlid Disease/Health 1

Related Articles: Neotropical Cichlids, Central American Cichlids by Neale Monks, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Neotropical Cichlid Disease 2, Neotropical Cichlid Disease 3, Neotropical Cichlid Disease 4 & Neotropical Cichlids 1, Neotropical Cichlids 2, Neotropical Cichlids 3, Neotropical Cichlid Identification, Neotropical Cichlid Behavior, Neotropical Cichlid Compatibility, Neotropical Cichlid Selection, Neotropical Cichlid Systems, Neotropical Cichlid Feeding, Neotropical Cichlid Reproduction, Convicts, Oscars, Firemouths, Texas Cichlids, Severums, Triangle Cichlids, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Disease Cichlid Reproduction,

Green terror, hlth./beh.  12/9/07 I have a 55 Gallon tank, 2 fairly large tin foil Silver dollars, 2 Bala Sharks good size, 1 Gold Gourami, 1 Blue Acara, 1 Gold Severum about 6 inches...Recently my Green Terror (who has not grown at all in 6 months) suddenly started spinning out erratically and would bang himself into the tank then look like he was dead and eventually died. This happened about 5 months with a Red Devil., and I was told it can happen and it is like an aneurism effect... Any ideas? and given the fish I have any thoughts as to what new fish I could add? Thank you Eric <Hello Eric. Well, an aneurism sounds a bit implausible. Normally when fish develop strange behavioural quirks out of thin air, it's more likely to be other factors, such as toxins in the water or sudden changes in temperature. Both of these things will make cichlids act "loopy", rolling over and losing balance. Now, Green terrors (Aequidens rivulatus) are incredibly aggressive fish, and so are Red Devils (Amphilophus labiatus). Neither should be sharing an aquarium as small as 55 gallons, and certainly not with fish as benign as Severums (Heros severus) and Blue Acaras (Aequidens pulcher). Keeping these four cichlids together is just risky on so many levels. So, assuming water quality and chemistry are acceptable (which for this mix of cichlids means neutral to slightly alkaline, moderately hard water) my gut feeling is that behaviour is the key. A Red Devil would probably take down a Green Terror if the two got to fighting, though that would depend on size and sex. I'm not convinced your collection of fish is a good one. While all the fish you have are nice, they're from different environments and have different temperaments. Silver Dollars and Bala Sharks are peaceful schooling fish that prefer soft/acid water conditions. Trichogaster trichopterus gouramis are small fish (compared to the others anyway) that want similar conditions and could work well with the Silver Dollars and Bala Sharks. Blue Acaras and Severums also prefer soft/acid conditions though both are highly adaptable. Both are relatively peaceful outside of breeding. The Red Devil is the odd man out in your remaining stock: it's a hard, alkaline water fish with an incredibly high level of aggression (males especially, but breeding females as well). I've kept this species and it can easily dominate even a 200 gallon tank. Green Terrors want similar conditions to Blue Acara but are closer to Central American cichlids in terms of aggression. My advice would be to swap out the Red Devil and add something like a suitable soft water catfish, perhaps some type of Plec, Pimelodid (such as Pimelodus ornatus), or maybe a Doradid (e.g., Platydoras costatus). You could also add one of the smaller Snakeheads (if legal in your area). I used to keep Channa asiatica in a robust cichlid community tank and it worked great. Intelligent, personable fish provided not mixed with anything they can eat! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: green terror   12/11/07 Thank you for your prompt reply. As fate would have it this morning when I went to the tank my 2 bala Sharks were dead one of which I cannot even find in the tank. Checked the water and the PH was low around 6.7 and yesterday I completed a water change and cleaning...Someone once told that Bala's don't do well when changing water but this seemed off to me any thoughts? Eric <Hello Eric. I've never heard anything about Bala sharks being killed by water changes. Let's be clear about something: provided the water chemistry stays constant, big water changes are better than small ones, and frequent water changes better than infrequent ones. If you're finding the pH doesn't stay steady, than you other problems do deal with. Aquaria all have a natural tendency to become acidic. This is caused by a variety of factors, including the production of organic acids through decay and the dissociation of nitrate into nitric acid. What resists this is the amount of carbonate hardness. What exacerbates pH instability is overstocking, overfeeding, and inadequate water changes. So before we can understand precisely what's going on, you need to establish the carbonate hardness (measured in degrees KH) and then compare the pH and KH of the aquarium with the pH and KH of your local tap water. Remember, the general hardness (degrees dH) has very little influence on stabilising pH, because the minerals measured there don't "mop up" acids nearly so effectively. Aquarists often confuse carbonate hardness and general hardness, not realising that the two things are very different and have very different properties in terms of fishkeeping. General hardness affects osmoregulation of fish, i.e., biological systems, whereas carbonate hardness is more important in terms of pH stability, a physical system of the aquarium. Rapid pH changes can stress or kill most fish, not just Bala sharks. When pH rapidly drops, the fish needs to quickly alter its blood chemistry otherwise it will die, effectively through the inability to carry oxygen around the body properly. Some fish can adjust their blood chemistry faster than others, but most are stressed to some degree by doing it, so the ideal for anything other than species adapted to variable habitats is a steady pH. Big, frequent water changes are best because they "reset" the pH to the original value after only a short period in which time the acidification of the aquarium will not have progressed very far. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Bolivian Ram... mis-stocked, salt use, env. dis.  12/7/07 Hi - <Hello Laura> I have an 80 gallon FW tank that cycled for 6 weeks prior to adding fish. I added one tablespoon of aquarium salt per gallon of water when I set up the tank <Why? That is, for what purpose?> and continue to add salt at the same rate when I do water changes. <Again, your rationale?> The LFS suggested I try 3 Bolivian Rams, 2 Rubber Nose Plecos, 2 Botia Angelicus, 3 Kribensis, and 3 Neolamprologus Sexfasciatus. <... suggested? Mmm, these fishes "like" quite different water conditions... some soft/acidic, others hard/alkaline... Mmm, maybe see all these species ranges for such posted on Fishbase.org> They told me the fish would be OK together in an 80 gallon tank with plenty of rocks and plants so I created 3 separate groupings of rocks/caves and plants then added all the fish to the tank at the same time. They were doing great the last 3 months until now. <Okay> The female Ram stopped eating 2 weeks ago. She hides in the plants or hovers near the heater, she doesn't seem to be eating and is getting thinner, her feces are thin and pale, looking more like empty casings than anything else. She doesn't swim with the other Rams the way she used to. Also, today her breathing seems to be more labored and I thought I saw some swelling inside her gills. <Mmmm, could be internal parasite issue... perhaps (a smaller likelihood) the water conditions, salt catching up with it metabolically... even psychological reaction to hassling... by the Botias or African Cichlids...> The only other sick fish is one of the Plecos - it has a strange looking spot on it's tail that looks like a chunky ball right on the middle edge of the tail fin. Could that be a fungus? He seems healthy otherwise - swimming and feeding as usual. <Seem WWM re funguses/infectious disease of FW fishes... and of Loricariids... True fungus is rare... very much more likely here is trouble with your water quality... Again, the salt, too hard water...> I'm sure these problems were created by poor water conditions <Oh, I agree> and overfeeding which I have hopefully rectified. I fell behind on water changes and the nitrates spiked to almost 80. I've been doing small water changes every 2 days for the last 10 days. <Mmm, this may be too much... what percentage are you changing out?> Water quality seems to be ok now - nitrites and ammonia are zero, nitrates are down to 15, temp. is 81 degrees F. I will be maintaining the tank with a weekly schedule of small water changes from now on. <Good> Is there anything else I can do to make the Ram healthy again or is it too late? <Never too late as long as the animals are alive...> What do you suggest for the Pleco's tail? <The same as for the Rams...> Should I treat all the fish at the same time in the 80 gallon tank? <Mmm, no> If I need to move the Ram and Pleco to a hospital tank, can they be in the same tank for treatment? Thanks, in advance, for your advice! Laura <Not advice per se... but systematically this is what I would consider: Moving the soft/acidic animals (the Rams and Plecos) into another system, or the hard/alkaline water (the Africans and Botias)... into another system (they're not compatible physically or psychologically)... Next, giving up on salt... See NealeM's input here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm Reading before taking anyone's advice (mine, ours inclusive)... The mix you have now, salt use are untenable... won't work. Bob Fenner>

Hi please help with my South American Cichlid   12/2/07 <Will certainly try.> I don't know what to do anymore. My husband died in Sept and I have his Emerald Cichlid in a 20 long by herself and I really don't want to lose her. <Please accept my condolences. I used to keep Emerald Cichlids myself, Hypselecara temporalis, and they're lovely fish. So your husband had excellent taste in fish.> I 'd check every morning to make sure she ate and she was doing fine. I did a water change and cleaned the gravel. 2 weeks later Tuesday before thanksgiving she was not acting right so I checked the ph and it was sky high 8.8 and her body was on the dark side. I was told to do a water change and add 1 teaspoon per gallon of non iodized salt. (20 teaspoons). <Hmm... the salt probably won't do much either way. These are soft water cichlids and don't really need or appreciate salt, though small amounts won't harm them. The pH is a little high though.> Since then I have done a couple of water changes, not always doing the salt and started using a buffer. <What sort of buffer? The high pH can be caused by two different things. The first is ammonia. If the tank has ammonia in it (caused by, for example, a blocked filter or overfeeding) the ammonia will cause the pH to rise. The second is limestone. If you put limestone objects in the tank, such as dead corals or seashells or certain sorts of rock, the pH will go up as the limestone dissolves. Both are bad in this case.> I believe the store was treating her as a African and not a South American Cichlid because I was told to keep the ph at 8.2. I was also told the salt was too much, it should have been a teaspoon per gallon of what was taken out or changed and not the size of the tank. I still do not have a straight answer on the salt issue. <I'd do two things first: check the ammonia, and check the CARBONATE hardness. These will tell us what is causing the pH to rise. In the meantime, stop feeding the fish and check the filter is working properly (these will help the ammonia to go down) and look over the tank to see if there is anything limestone in the aquarium (if there is, remove it). If you don't have these test kits, your local aquarium store will certainly have them, and most will do the test for you if you bring in some water.> She still's not eating and is laying on her side, she will sometimes move from one side to the other side of the tank once a day or so. <Do a 50% water change every day until you know precisely what's happening. What is your local water chemistry? If you have hard, alkaline water the pH will probably be around 7.5 to 8.2 right out the tap. That's well within the tolerances of these fish. So doing big water changes will dilute the problems, and for the next couple days will be a real life-line for the fish. Once you know the problem, you can fix it, and all will be well! My gut feeling is you may be overfeeding the fish and/or the filter needs a bit of a clean. Cleaning a filter is easy, but it is also easy to mess up. The "art" is to squeeze out the sponges (or whatever) in buckets of aquarium water. The aim is to keep the bacteria in the filter happy, while rinsing away the solid wastes.> I don't see any marks or anything on her body or anything . Her body is a little lighter in color but she still is not standing straight up. Please any advise <I hope this helps, and if you can get back to me with some water chemistry results, we can perhaps pin the problem down. It's also worth mentioning your tank is a little on the small size for an Emerald Cichlid; these fish get to about 8-10", so ideally you want a tank 40 gallons upwards. Cheers, Neale.>

Bloated Texas Cichlid 11/5/07 Hello! I have been searching/researching info on my sick TX cichlid for over a week now on your excellent site, and treating the problem to the best of my abilities with advice from y'all and my local aquarium stores. However, I am not seeing much change and would like to know when/if I may need to euthanize her (i.e., what signs should I be looking for to feel certain that the end is near). OK, so here's the situation in a nutshell: 10 days ago, I noticed my 4-year old, female TX cichlid (20-gallon long tank, she's 6", feeding is primarily Hikari Gold staple with 1 frozen bloodworm block every few days; I have since STOPPED all bloodworm feeding and have given her Spirulina flakes and the Hikari staple every few days; she's still eating, but barely due to bloat discomfort, I assume) was looking very bloated and her anus was slightly prolapsed. I am pretty sure I caught it within 24 hours, so I began the treatments (see next paragraph). But, despite the efforts, 10 days later and the bloating has slightly increased, the anus has gone inside more, but a horrible fungus has grown all over the prolapsed region. All I see now is bloat and a dangly fuzzy/dark nastiness on her anus area, with slight prolapse. Here's the medical treatment as of Day 2: 30% water change, filter/gravel cleaning. Removed the carbon filter and treated her with Epsom salt and Metronidazole powder (which I really don't think she ate much at all as I soaked her pellets/flakes). I did this every other day for a few days. No change, and then the fungus appeared, so started using Maracyn Plus, Epsom salt and a 50% water change + gravel cleaning. 2 days later, switched to Epsom and Maroxy for the obvious fungus problem. The bloat has not changed, but the prolapse has decreased, and the fungus is still around it, not as poofy white, but sickly darker, and her anus region does look rather red). Should I be more patient? I am trying to be sensitive to not over-medicate, and let the carbon filter cycle in between medicine days. I am due for another water change soon, but am curious if I am being too aggressive? not aggressive enough with the meds? Also, she is still "acting" like herself, but I am sure the bloating must feel horrible, not to mention the fungal growth (I wonder if it's gone internal now and is slowly killing her?). She eats a little still and is fairly active in her swimming around. I definitely don't want her to suffer, but also heard that these infections can take a while to go away. I am wondering about the 'point of no return' when I need to recognize that the fungus is not clearing up and her bloat is not decreasing. Thank you for your help!! Attached are some photos (the best I could get), Amy < The Metronidazole is effective if the problem is a protozoan infection. I usually recommend adding an antibiotic like Nitrofurazone for bacterial infections too. You are starting to see signs of recovery with the shrinking of the prolapsed tissues. I would recommend using the Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace together and doing a 50% water change in between the days you don't medicate. Don't overfeed. The antibiotics have probably affected the biological filtration and excess uneaten food would lead to a serious ammonia spike. In your fish's stressed condition this could be deadly.-Chuck>

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.>

Strange Cichlid With Hump On Its Head -- 06/16/07 Hi, I've got a question bout my Jack Dempsey. Recently I've notice he hits his head on the tank by running into it on purpose. I was worried and looked up a Jack Dempsey and I found that mines totally different. Well he has a huge thing on top of his head, I mean its big and I've been thinking its a tumor can you please help me out and tell me what it is. Thank You <Most Central American cichlid males develop a fatty tumor on their head. this stores fat and probably helps them attract a mate and store energy to defend territories and attract females. A hybrid called a Flowerhorn has been specially developed to emphasis this trait. Some foods are suppose to enhance it too.-Chuck>

Texas Cichlid With Internal Infection  - 3/7/07 My 6"-long Texas cichlid has stopped eating and has been very inactive for several days now.  He will swim a little only if disturbed, prefers to lie still with his head elevated.  He also appears to be opening and closing his mouth a lot--'gasping'?  There are no other symptoms.  I've contacted local aquarium shops and followed their meager advice with no success: 1.  Gradually changed tank water and cleaned filter.  (Water was slightly elevated in nitrate level, but he's been OK in much water conditions previously...) 2.  Tempted him to eat with frozen bloodworms.  (He never ate cichlid food, ate only tropical fish flakes!) He is at least 10, perhaps 12 years old, and I am also being told he is 'probably just reaching the end of his life span'.  Do old cichlids typically linger like this for several days before they expire?   If he is ill and I can try to do something about it, I would like to.   With this scant info provided, is there a medicine I might add to the water that might help?? (He is the sole occupant of his 25-gallon tank, will not accept any other fish...) <Your fish probably has an internal infection. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. Due to your fish's advanced age, a complete recovery may not be possible but it is till worth a try.-Chuck>

Convict is pooping weird   3/3/07 I have a male and female convict about 3inches each, they tried to have babies about one month ago and failed.  Days later the males poop started to turned white and stringy.  He stopped eating for about 3 days. After the 3 days he started to eat again and his poop went back to normal so I thought nothing of it.  Now about four days ago they laid a second batch of eggs and today they hatched and are hidden under a rock, but the male is pooping white again, and he also didn't eat this morning.  I have 3 other convicts in the tank and he still protects his territory, but when he wins the battle he goes right back to his spot and does nothing.  The female protects the babies all day and still manages to eat.  If it was a parasite then why would it go away and then come back, <Maybe...> that doesn't make any sense.  No other fish are displaying any of the same symptoms.  Thank you for you time. <Does seem odd that the other Convicts aren't affected... If it were mine, I might treat all of these fish... with Jungle's Parasite product containing both Metronidazole and Praziquantel... Bob Fenner>

Convict Cichlid With Swimming Disorder    1/10/07 Dear Crew, My friend needs help with her female black cichlid with gold undertones (adult) < Female convict cichlid, Archocentrus nigrofasciatus.> which cannot swim down from the surface. She is feeding well. She is upright and not bloated, but the dorsal fin remains above water level and is suffering damage. When she tries to swim downward she has a strange "bobbing" motion. The pH is 7.3  Hardness is -190  All others in tank are fine. Would really appreciate your help. Kind regards, Nola, for friend Janie < Your fish has an internal infection. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone or Clout.-Chuck>

Curviceps Cichlid With Swimming Problem  1/9/07 Hello Crew. I recently went on a 2-week holiday, leaving the fish in my community tank fed using an automatic feeder. I used mainly floating pellets (Hikari Cichlid Gold baby size) with a smaller proportion of sinking granules (Tetra Colorbits). All my fish were fine when I returned, except for my L. curviceps, which was exhibiting buoyancy problems and seems to be swimming with it tail up. It has swelling on one side. Any recommendations on what the problem would be and how to fix it? Is it internally infected? < Your cichlid has an internal infection. Probably from eating too much. Cichlids are very efficient feeders. When the automatic feeder dumped the food in the tank , the curviceps went on to feed from the surface like the other fish. When that was gone he went down to the bottom and continued to feed from the pellets. The other fish may have tried to join him but I bet he chased them away.> I have a feeling it could be the result of coming to the surface to eat the floating pellets since these tended to float around for a longer time (it normally eats sinking granules) and swallowing air - is this possible or is it just a myth. Thanks Tim   <There is air in the floating pellets, but cichlids have a second set of jaw called a pharyngeal bone and actually chew their food. During this chewing process the air is probably allowed to escape through the gill openings and I don't think too much is swallowed. I think the food was eaten faster than the fish could digest it and bacteria in the gut started to break the food down and create the gas/air problem. Try treating with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone or Clout. Early treatment is the key to a complete recovery.-Chuck>

Need help!!! Severum sick with large sore that won't heal...   12/10/06 Hi. <<Hello. Tom with you.>> I acquired an 8-inch green severum from a pet store where he was suffering from ick.   <<A healthy, stress-free fish is highly unlikely to come down with Ich. The purchase was an act of mercy on your part, perhaps?>> The ick has cleared up but he has since developed a large sore on his side.   <<May have been the root cause leading to the Ich infestation, or a result of it, even if the sore wasn't clearly visible at the time.>> It is increasingly getting worse (red is showing thru now) even after I was advised to use tetracycline along with MelaFix and PimaFix.   <<This is too much medication at one time, in my opinion. It's likely to be keeping your new pet stressed even more. Also, Tetracycline has a couple of shortcomings that, as a Cichlid owner, you need to be aware of. First, Tetracyclines are light sensitive and turn brown as they decompose. Second, they bind with calcium and magnesium, found in harder water conditions that Cichlids are frequently kept in, rendering them useless medicinally.>> I have salt in the water and the temp is at around 90 degrees to keep the ick in check.   <<Okay.>> I do water changes everyday to keep the tank clean. <<How large? On the surface this may seem appropriate but daily water changes without an overwhelmingly compelling reason such as high ammonia or nitrite levels can be counterproductive to the health/well-being of the beneficial bacteria and, ultimately, your fish. Are more medications being added with these changes? If so, we're back to potential stress-related issues.>> He is currently being medicated in a 20g tank. <<Very good.>> He hasn't eaten anything since I brought him home. <<Almost certainly stress-related here.>> I am attaching a picture of the sore.  Sorry for the quality of the picture but the medication in the water conceals the true image. Thank you so much for anything you can advise. <<My recommendation would be to stop medicating your Severum. I'm suspicious that the coloration of the water is the Tetracycline decomposing. By way of explanation, medications, in and of themselves, don't cure. They merely 'control' until the fish's own immune system kicks into gear and facilitates the actual healing process. This isn't going to take place until the fish is free of stress, whatever the cause. Stick with the salt and higher temperatures for now and keep the light levels low in the tank. Also, make sure the tank is well-aerated. Warm water holds less oxygen than cooler water and it's imperative that the fish isn't struggling for oxygen right now. With good care and a spot of luck, this will turn itself around and your fish will return to good health. Best of luck to you and your pet. Tom>>
Re: Need help!!! Severum sick with large sore that wont heal...   12/11/06 Thank you for the advice Tom. It is much appreciated. <<You're quite welcome, April.>> After doing a water change to get the deteriorating tetracycline out, and adding a filter with some charcoal to get out the remnants, this morning he ate for the very first time. I was so ecstatic!! <<Who wouldn't be? I'm happy for both of you!>> I shouldn't get my hopes up quite yet, but that certainly is a sign his stress factor went down alot. <<Certainly heading in the right direction, April.>> I am doing what you suggested and just keep salt in there and temp up. He has two filters for circulation and two airstones for oxygen. He is acting normal again and taking quite an interest in his reflection (flaring) unlike before with all the meds, he would sit in the corner and sulk. <<All sounds great.>> I will keep you updated on his progress. <<I'd appreciate it very much if you would.>> Thank you again so much. April <<Once again, you're welcome. Best regards, April. Tom>>

Re: Need help!!! Severum sick with large sore that wont heal...(Happy follow-up)  2/18/07 Hi Tom!!   <<Hi, April. Good to hear from you!>> I promised you an update on my severum, since named Ichybod :), and here it is...he didn't seem to be doing well in the smaller tank I had him in so I moved him to my 55g planted tank where I had lots of plants (not expensive ones) he could chew on from time to time and have more room.   <<I like the move you made here, April.>> I must say, he has totally healed. The open sore has since closed and now his tissue has regenerated so that it matches the rest of his body. You can also see bars forming when he gets angry at a plant or something lol.   <<Wonderful news!>> I am sorry I no longer have a camera to take a photo of him but your advice to me was a godsend. You saved his life. I will forever be grateful to you and wetweb media for helping me save him with the proper advice I needed. <<Thank you most kindly, April. Don't forget to give yourself a lot of credit, though. I merely offered advice. You did the 'hard' part. :) >> The story behind acquiring the fish was that I found him suffering in a "drop off tank" at my local fish store where he was housed with a largemouth bass and a Tilapia butikoferi who was beating him relentless. he was covered in ick and suffering. <<The store might have put him in with an even worse tank mate, April, but not a lot worse! Ichybod couldn't have lasted much longer without your kind intervention.>> I know it was a huge decision on my part to try and rescue him and I am glad that I did (with your help).  He is a beautiful fish and sadly must have been someone's beloved pet at one time or another.  Thank you again for all your help. You are the best!! <<It's posts like yours that brighten my day, April. Thanks a million for the follow-up. My best to you and Ichybod! Tom>>

Firemouth Deaths    11/27/06 Hi Bob, I hope you could help me out with some problems I have with my aquarium. First of all I should mention that I own a 100L tank, with biological filtration, normal heating, lighting etc, decorated with 3 pieces of driftwood (about 30cm each) and lava rock. I also keep track of the water parameters on a regular basis and I have never experienced a sudden deterioration of the water quality so far. The tank is running for almost 2 years. My water parameters are pH=7.4, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 5-10mg/L nitrates, and a temperature of about 25,5 deg Celsius. The tank was populated with 4 male Firemouths (sizes: 7,5,4 and 3 cm) and a leopard Pleco (4 cm in size). They all got along quite well, except for some occasional fights (none of them was severe). However, two months ago (24/9/2006) the smallest Firemouth died of no apparent reason. I checked the water parameters and found nothing alarming. The fish didn't seem to have external injury nor any parasitic infection (at least one that could be visible to the naked eye). On 21/11, a second Firemouth died. Having removed the dead fish I checked the water parameters and found 0.5mg/L ammonia (probably due to the dead fish), 0 nitrites and 20 mg/L nitrates. I have to mark that I noticed brown wool-like patches growing on the driftwood. I performed a water change, I vacuumed the gravel and removed the patches from the driftwood. Ammonia dropped to 0, and the nitrate concentration dropped to 10 mg/L. However, the brown patches started to grow again on the driftwood. Is it possible that the wood is rotting? (note: the wood is submerged in the aquarium water for 22 months, pH is 7.4) How often should I replace the driftwood? < The wood is actually rotting and the fuzzy growth is actually a fungus. Good hardwood does not do this. Softer woods are really not good in an aquarium.> In a week's time (26/11) another one of my Firemouths died. Like the previous case, the dead fish did not show any signs of severe injury (it did have tiny bites on its fins) or skin parasites. However the last two fishes died with their mouths widely open (the lower jaw was strikingly protruded). Is this any particular sign? As I didn't see any signs of infection I thought that the deaths were due to increased stress level, caused from the larger Firemouth (which after the death of my second largest Firemouth is claiming all the tank as his territory, bullying the other fish). What's your opinion? Are there any other parameters that I should check? What may have caused the deaths and why are the fish dying one after another? If they had an infection, wouldn't the dominant male also have the signs of a disease? What should I do next? I am planning to buy 3 new Firemouths and maybe get a pair out of them. How long should I wait for the situation to clear out (in order to see if all this is due to an infection)? Thank you in advance for your trouble answering all those questions Spyros Argyropoulos Athens, Greece < As far as Central American cichlids go, Firemouths are real pussycats. They are more sensitive than most of the other cichlids. There are external infections and internal infections. Both are caused by stressed induced by aggression from bigger meaner fish. Treat with Metronidazole for internal infections. Get a group of six fish and let them pair up. The other non paired fish will be pushed away and you will need to give them away or try and take them back to the store. The pair will lay eggs and raise a batch of babies that will need baby brine shrimp when they get free swimming. The pair may breed every couple of weeks. Lots of fun to watch.-Chuck>

Please Help...Gold Severum is sick!   11/24/06 Good Afternoon <<Hi, Geri. Tom here.>> OK, I am new to this site and so far have found it very helpful. <<Welcome and I'm glad to hear we've been of some assistance.>> I have a fish that I thought was a goldfish (won it at a carnival about 5 yrs ago). He was in my tank with another fish. There was never a heater in there and I just fed it tropical flakes. Well, the other fish started turning black and then died. <<What kind of 'other' fish? Other than normal changes in coloration, the most common cause of 'blackening' is exposure to ammonia and/or nitrites which causes burns. As the healing process takes over, the burned flesh turns black. It's also possible that low pH and high nitrate levels can cause the same problem.>> I took the dead fish to a store along with pictures of the fish I have now. They informed me it was a Gold Severum, not a goldfish. <<Hello? That's the most upscale "carnival" fish I've heard of yet. :) >> I asked what is compatible with them and she told me parrot fish. <<Among others'¦>> I bought 2 parrot fish and then put them with this Gold Severum. She told me I needed to get a heater in there and slowly up it every few days to get to about a 78 degree temperature...OK, so my problem is this...My Gold Severum looks very sick. It has (I think from reading your sight) Ick...It also looks like his fins are chewed up. <<The advice you got on adding the heater is sound enough on the surface. It doesn't take into account, however, that your Severum had been acclimated for five years to an unheated environment. Extra aeration via an air stone or two is needed since warmer water holds less oxygen. The Parrots were added, I assume without quarantine. You don't say whether, or not, any acclimation procedures were followed prior to placing these in with the Severum. I can only surmise that water that the Parrots were transported in might have been introduced into the tank. Last, an adult Severum is a good-sized fish but you don't mention how large the tank is. Any, or all, of these factors can contribute to stress which your pet is certainly suffering from. For now, it would be best to begin a regimen of treatment with aquarium salt to handle the Ich problem and likely the fin rot as well. Two to three tablespoons of salt per five gallons of tank water is recommended. Raise the tank temperature to 80 degrees but no higher at this point. The mid-80's would be more appropriate for fighting Ich as it speeds up the parasite's life cycle but higher temperatures may contribute to even more stress right now.>> The two parrot fish hide so I never see them... <<Not all that unusual. These are typically shy animals.>> The Gold Severum used to be very active and now stays at bottom of tank right near the heater and seems to gasp for air. <<Again, due to stress and, probably, lower oxygen levels.>> The fish don't seem to be eating the food anymore either. The parrot fish seems to be turning a little black. <<Lack of appetite can be expected. The coloration changes in the Parrots is probably somewhat normal provided it doesn't go to an extreme. All things being equal, this will likely fade away in a fairly short time. It may repeat this process from time to time, too.>> I took the water to go get tested and they said it is fine. <<'Fine' isn't very descriptive for you or for us, unfortunately. As I mentioned earlier, low pH coupled with high nitrates (over 20 ppm) can be problematic in some cases. Might appear 'fine' if other factors aren't taken into consideration but could provide a clue as to what's going on in your tank.>> I think something was wrong with the food. It is the same thing the Gold Severum has always eaten. I just got a new container about a week before the original fish died.....So please if you have any advise I would appreciate it...THANKS a MILLION !! <<The food issue might simply be coincidental but I'd replace it nonetheless. Let's eliminate as many possibilities as we can. Also, you need to change up on the diet to provide variety. Fish need a variety of foods in order to thrive. A monotonous diet of even high quality food can lead to problems in the long run. Make sure that you keep up with regular water changes to optimize the conditions your fish live in. I really can't over-emphasize this. Under ideal conditions, fish are FAR less likely to become subject to disease/infestation. By far, it's the best thing you can do for your guys.>> Geri <<Don't be shy about following up with us, Geri, even if the information doesn't seem overly significant. The more detail you provide, the easier it is for us to help. Best regards. Tom>>

Please Help...Gold Severum is sick! Follow up...   11/26/07 Thanks, Tom, for all your information... <<More than happy help, Geri.>> I did the Ick treatment and things started looking better on my Gold Severum. He died today and I am heartbroken.... <<I understand and I'm most sorry to hear this.>> Who would have thought I would be upset about a fish? He was part of our life for 5 years. <<Like losing a little part of yourself, I think. All of us here know the feeling.>> Anyway...Thanks for the help and I will spread the word about your site and how wonderful and quick your team responds !! <<Again, Geri, I'm sorry we couldn't save your pet but I thank you, for all us, for your kind words. My best to you. Tom>> Lumps on Firemouth Cichlid  9/27/06 I have a Firemouth that has two tiny lumps with a white center on it's back right where the top fin starts, and I noticed the same near it's left side fin.  They look exactly like white-headed human pimples.  I don't know  if it is a coincidence or not, but a week before the bumps appeared someone ate  my baby crawfish. I have a female Haplochromis who has a bump on her head, which looks exactly like the tip of a pencil eraser slightly sticking out of the back of her head.  The lumps on these two different fish do not resemble each other.  I thought since they were the culprits in eating the crawfish, they  got parasites. I treated my 55 gallon with jungle clear parasite remover, but the lumps are still present.  They both are acting perfectly normal, both  eat and act normal, with the exception of the weird lumps that suddenly  appeared.   I don't know what to do, should I buy medicated food?  I'm  not even sure what the lumps are, I thankfully hope you will help  me. < Since you have already treated the tank for parasite and the lumps are still there they are probably bacterial. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Cichlid... spot/markings... and FW carbon use  -- 03/20/08 Hello, Neale <He's on holiday> I have 55 US gallon FW tank with 5 fishes in it: 2 parrots (hybrid), 2 Severums and 1 Sailfin leopard Pleco. I have two questions about my tank. 1) One of my Severums had been in the tank for about 7-8 months. When I bought him he was about 2 inches long. After few days I noticed that he has 3 white spots on his body and occasionally scratches himself. I thought it is ich <Mmm, no... not w/ just three spots, and not just on the one fish> and treated the tank with the salt and high temperature for 2 weeks. He stopped scratching but those spots never go away. Now this fish about 4 inches long, acting normal, but I can see same white spots that probably even bigger. Do you have any idea what is that? <Possibly an embedded worm complaint, maybe a microsporidean... there are a few possibilities here... None really treatable, nor tremendously debilitating> It still looks like ich to me, but definitely it is not. 2) I followed your advice on WWM and stopped using carbon in my filter. After that I noticed that pH of my water drops from 8.0 to 7.6/week between 50% water changes. I don't think it is overfeeding because my nitrates change only from 10 to 20ppm. Do you think I should use carbon again? <I would. Not all our opinions on WWM are identical... but for the reasons/observations you make, I am a fan of periodic carbon use.> Thank you for your help, Mark <Cheers! Bob Fenner>

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.>

Midas Cichlid with black pimples on lips and cyst looking materials near gills Midas Cichlid With Possible Infection 12/20/07 Hi crew! I've been reading a lot of postings and articles at your website and I found them really helpful so thank you. I just recently lost a 3 year old Albino Oscar from Hole in the head disease and lateral line erosion, bacterial infection such as dropsy and fin and tail rot (yes it was that bad).. Now I am left with a Pleco and a 12'' Midas Cichlid (named Borat due to his funny attitude) I do not know how old because he was just drop off on PetSmart about 1 1/2 years ago. He is in a 55 gallon that is bare with one Fluval 350 filter, and Bio Wheel. I've been feeding him Hikari Staple Cichlid and superworms for snacks and I've grinded a multivitamin that I bought from Costco and diluted it in water and had been mixing Aquadine Spirulina and protein based food that I got from Jack's in this solution. I've made this mixture in small balls and had been feeding Borat twice a day. I've checked his water parameters and they are 7.2 pH, 0.25ppm nitrite, 40 ppm nitrate and 0 ammonia. ( I have also attached pics) My worry is that he got infected with some kind of internal parasite from my late Oscar and had formed some kind of internal bacterial infection. I've noticed about a week ago that Borat had some kind of black pimples (2 of them) in his lips. I cant really touch them because he is so vicious that he will bite me. Then I've also noticed that he has some kind of white cyst looking material near his gills and I believe it is a hole near his left gill too. I do not know that this is a start of hole in the head for Borat or some kind of fungus. He also has a crater near his nasal passage on the right. I am just worried that I would lose Borat like I did to Bino. I've read some of your articles and I've been treating the tank with 250 mg Metronidazole from Fish Zole that I bought online. Please crew, I really need your expertise on this. thank you so much. ----> much appreciation, Claudine from Ohio <Do a 50% water change and clean the filter. The nitrates are too high and this stresses the fish so it comes down with these weird symptoms. Try and keep the nitrates under 25 ppm all the time. Add a teaspoon of rock salt per 10 gallons. This will create a slim that will help your cichlid develop a slime coat to fight off infections. If you don't see any improvement in a few days or it starts to look worse then treat with Nitrofuranace as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Re: Midas Cichlid with black pimples on lips and cyst looking materials near gills Furan 2 Similar to Nitrofurazone 12/26/07 Thank you for your past reply Chuck. I've been searching online where to but Nitrofuranace and I only came upon a medication called Furan 2 by aquarium pharmaceuticals. Is that good for my Midas? < Yes, use that medication.> I can get it quickly because a LFS has them. So I will follow the dosage from the package and should I still medicate the tank with the 250 mg Metronidazole? < Yes, both are needed in this case.> I've been doing about 30 % water change every other day. Are there other medications with Nitrofuranace that will work better? Does my Midas have internal bacterial infection that I should be aware about? Thank you-----> much appreciation, Claudine from Ohio <The water changes are very helpful. The medications I recommend are the ones that I would personally use if my fish were sick. The internal infections may or may not be present. The Metronidazole will treat it if it exists.-Chuck>

Something is wrong with my 6yr old Texas Cichlid...   8/21/06 I am hoping that you can help me.  I have a 40 gallon aquarium with a 6 year old Texas Cichlid (which I've had since she was a baby, she is now ~7" long), she shares the tank with only a Plecostomus (she was too aggressive as a toddler and killed the convict cichlid we bought with her so decided she would have to live alone). <A common situation> She is normally a very happy active Cichlid. She normally swims near us if my husband or I are near the tank; she comes up to the top of the tank and takes food from my fingers.  She has a lot of color, which normally changes with her mood. <Very nice> She enjoys moving her rocks around so that the tank is the way she wants it to be. <Heeee! Oh, yes> She has laid eggs like clock work almost monthly for the past several years.  She has been acting very strangely for the past 2-3 weeks and I am starting to get nervous.  This may be a coincidence however the strange behavior started just after the last time she laid eggs; she typically hovers over them for several days until they turn whitish and then she and the Plecostomus eat them up, live then goes on like normal until the process starts again in another month or so.  (the laying eggs part may have nothing to do with her behavior changes however I did not want to omit it in case it mattered - since the changes did start just after the last time). <Understood> Our George (that's her name - we didn't know she was a female when we named her) is not acting normal at all.  The only thing normal is that her coloring looks good.  Otherwise, she acts as though she doesn't have much energy, swimming slowing around, staying on the bottom of the tank in the back corners most of the time.  She isn't very interested in eating, nor does she come up to the front of the aquarium when we are near her.  She also has not been moving any of the rocks around which is typically a real hobby of hers.   When she first started acting like this I did a 30% water changed. <Good>   Her behavior may have improved very briefly but not really.  I've cleaned and replaced the filter, and did another water change last weekend however her behavior is still the same.  I am really worried about her.  The pictures I've attached are the best I could get today.  I sent the one showing her eyes because the only thing I could possibly say which may have changed physically on her is that maybe her eyes are sticking out farther then they did in the past, but then maybe not...   I am really worried about her...  Can you help? <Mmm... do you have water quality test kits? Something anomalous does seem to be going on here... perhaps a transient "mini-poisoning" from an aerosol in the house... Maybe a toxic insect that made its way into this tank/system and Georgina swallowed... At any length, I would have done as you have stated... and continue to do so... the thirty or so percent water changes weekly, testing for ammonia, nitrite... perhaps employing a chemical filtrant like activated carbon or Polyfilter... and offering some novel food items... my choice, earthworms. I wish you and your Texas Cichlid well. Bob Fenner>

Sick Red Devil   8/19/06 Hi. <<Hello, Alex. Tom here.>> I'm in a bit of a panic right now, I think my Red Devil is dying. The Problem: red devil's got some fungus thing (it's semi translucent and white and is mainly around his gills now) he's having trouble breathing and his swim bladder is all outta whack, he really struggles to swim and stay balanced, right now he's at bottom of tank not moving much. <<Not fungus, Alex. It's Columnaris, which is a bacterial disease. The fact that it doesn't appear to be contained as an external infection at this time (re: the swim bladder issue) leads me to believe the disease is advanced in your Cichlid.>> The Tank: Its a freshwater tank, 90L I think. Inhabitants are one red devil (about 1yr old), eel-tail catfish, 2 clown loaches and a bristle-nosed catfish. <<A 90-liter tank is too small for these fish, Alex. Please, do consider upgrading soon. Could/probably is leading to poor water conditions.>> Don't know pH, nitrates etc, temp. is about 26 degrees Celsius. <<Secondary point here, Alex, but you've got to get yourself a test kit for water parameters. Columnaris, for one, will never stop being a problem until you get the tank's conditions squared away, i.e. pH stable, ammonia/nitrites 0 and nitrates below 20.>> I've turned light off to keep him out of shock but I think he's fading away. I'm trying to keep tank warm with heaters and I did a 25% water change yesterday and cleaned my filters (one's submerged, the other isn't) and I've treated tank with anti-fungal stuff and also swabbed the red devil's afflicted areas with a cotton wool bud dipped in the anti-fungal stuff (to little avail so far). <<First, warmer temperatures will accelerate the spread of Columnaris. (One of those situations where it's a "good idea" in the wrong application.) Better to keep the tank at around 23-24 degrees C (75-76 F). Second, you need to treat with a broad-spectrum antibiotic like Kanacyn, Spectrogram, Tetracycline or Furan 2. Ideally, you'd be able to treat with food containing Nitrofurazone or Oxytetracycline but I'm suspicious that your pet is eating little, if anything, at this point making this a doubtful way to go. Finally, while always best to treat an animal in a separate hospital tank, Columnaris is highly contagious - as you've seen - and I would recommend treating the entire display tank in this case. (Catfish are highly susceptible, by the way.)>> I should also mention that I've had two catfish die after coming down with this fungus so I'm really worried. <<Sorry to hear this, Alex, but, again, not a total surprise given what you're dealing with.>> Help?! What should I do? <<Immediate action? Another 25%-30% water change and gravel cleaning. Start treating with one of the medications recommended. Also, remove any carbon you might be using in your filters. Keep the water temperature in the range mentioned above and, by all means, get your hands on a water test kit so that you can monitor your parameters. You're "flying blind" without knowing what's going on in your tank. If the Red Devil succumbs to this, remove it immediately. Less immediate but no less important, try to upgrade the size of your tank once everything is settled down. Your Red Devil may not have displayed aggressive behavior in the past but this fish has been known to wipe out entire tanks single-handedly. Very best of luck, Alex. Tom>> A disease?  Mean cichlids...   8/16/06 I've been reading lots on your website, and it is just awesome! I've yet to find the info that I am looking for, as it is pretty specific... I have a 180 gallon tank, that I have had for 2 years. I have moved once since then, but it has been set up now for a year without anything changing drastically. In my tank I have a 6 year old Red Devil Cichlid (approximately 13 inches long), <Yikes! A big boy!> a 6 year old pleco (about 15 inches long), a 2 year old Jaguar Cichlid (although, I don't know that I believe it really is, but that is what I was told) <Perhaps: http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=4684 what used to be called a "Managuense"> (he is about 9 inches), and I have an Oscar that I've only had for about 3-4 months (about 6 inches long). I wouldn't normally put these fish together this way, but I have inherited all but the two 6 year olds from friends who were getting rid of them. They all seemed to get along ok until the last month. Now the Oscar is getting picked on by the jag. <Oh yes...> At first I thought he would be killed, but they seemed to have calmed down a bit now. So, my first issue is that the Oscar still seems to have a lot of wounds that are not healing well. But they never seem to show any signs that they are infected by anything. He still eats well, he doesn't seem to have the common sense to hide, he is always near the top of the tank! Is there something I can do for his wounds to make them heal better? <Yes... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/neotropcichdisfaqs.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/oscardisfaqs.htm and the linked files above.> My second issue is with my Red Devil. He keeps getting these things that resemble boils over his eye. <Water quality issue very likely... probably measurable as too-high nitrates> They aren't very big, and it is always only one eye or the other and they go away in a week or two. But they have some sort of white puss leaking from them sometimes. He doesn't seem otherwise affected. He eats normally he doesn't seem to hide out or act sick in any way. Then they just go away. I have done a lot of water quality tests, and they come out in the normal ranges. <Non-informational... need numbers> But these are just strip tests and I am thinking I need to invest in some real, more accurate testing equipment. <A good idea> For filtration I have 2 Fluval 404 canisters and 2 Fluval 2 pluses with only biological filtration. I fluctuate gravel sweeping, water changes and filter cleaning regularly. <Good> I generally do one of these every weekend, or sometimes I will wait 2 weeks. <I would do the gravel vacuuming, water changes weekly. Check for alkalinity/reserve... pH> Any advice? Thanks so much for all of your help!!! Kendra <I do hope all these neotropicals learn to get along... do keep your eyes open for too-much over aggression toward the Oscar, be ready to move it. Bob Fenner> Laetacara curviceps - split tail fin   7/25/06 Hello Crew <Tim> I recently bought a pair of Laetacara curviceps (actually suggested by Chuck), <Wish he'd get back from the ACA, American Cichlid Association get-together> currently in a tank with a pair of Blue Rams and a pair of Apistogramma cacatuoides, and other fish. They both have split tails - the tail is almost split in half, all the way to the flesh. They both are very shy, although the male is eating better than the female. The female seems to only eat when food conveniently drops in front of it, though the male would actually slowly swim after morsels of brine shrimp or flakes. Do you think they are simply naturally shy or stressed/sick at the moment? <They're a bit of both> Ammonia is currently zero, nitrite zero and nitrate 20 - will do a water change shortly. <Good> The tail problem does not seem to be fin/tail rot. Would you be able to advise what possibly could be the cause of this? <Likely some bit of tussle> Would Melafix help? <Not worthwhile IMO> What would you suggest to help the tails heal given that it does not seem like fin/tail rot? <A bit of salt, patience, good maintenance and close observation. You may need to separate these new world cichlid species...> What are the chances of complete recovery? <Very good. The family has tremendous powers of regeneration> Thanks again! Tim <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Laetacara Curviceps - split tail fin   7/27/06 Thank you Bob, for your reply. <Welcome> In fact, the female has started to actively swim around and is eating very well. <Good to hear/read> Now, it is the male that I am worried about. It has developed a reddish cut/lesion under its mouth (on its chin, if fish had chins) <Equivalents> that looks like it has some skin or flesh protruding from it. From this vague description, do you have an idea what this may be? <Not directly> I have looked through all the fish diseases, and could not find a disease that fits this description. Best regards Tim <Likely a bacterial infection... secondary... from? Initial health issues? Genetic? Environmental? .... etiology? Who knows? BobF> Re: Laetacara Curviceps - split tail fin. Repro.   8/3/06 Hi Crew/Bob <Tim> Unfortunately, the male did not make it. However, I bought a replacement male, and before you know it, the newlyweds have taken over a piece of rock, gone really dark and now chasing everyone else away! <Wow! "Out with the old, in with the new!"... Unusual to have new matchings occur so quickly, easily> So, my question has now changed to a completely different topic! Since this is a community tank, I want to move the fry (if the spawning is successful) to their very own fry tank. At what point would it be safe for the fry to net out to the fry tank - at wriggler stage or free-swimming stage? Or do you recommend a different method to achieve this separation? Thanks Tim <Mmm, please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/neotropcichreprofaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Lumps On a Gold Severum  6/20/06 I've had a gold Severum for about 3 years in a 60 gallon tank with a Boesemanni rainbow, some golden barbs, Synodontis eupterus, clown Pleco, 2 Siamese flying fox, Bolivian ram, albino red sword, golden wonder killifish, and (until recently deceased) a large Geophagus haeckeli.  The Severum has had a recurring area of pinkish lumps near one of its side fins.  I treated with a medication on the advice of an experienced aquarist, and that seemed to clear it up the last 2 times.  I'm sorry I don't remember the name of the medication, and they've since discontinued it.  Now, the fish has the lumps again, and I'm not sure what to do.  The aquarist suggested earthworms for now, and is also researching a solution.  Any ideas?  Thanks for your help. < Try treating with Fluke-Tabs if they are caused from parasitic worms. If that doesn't work then try Nitrofurazone for bacterial infections. As a last resort you could try Metronidazole for internal protozoa infections.-Chuck> Texas Cichlid/Swim Bladder Problem? Env.   6/2/06 I've had a male Texas Cichlid for about 11 years now, same tank, same setup, nothing much has changed other than when he wants to re-arrange things himself. He is a loner and won't let anything else in the tank. Go figure. <Not atypical for a specimen of this species raised solitarily> I recently took a vacation and had a friend feed him and upon returning the tank had definitely been overfed as a lot of excess was laying around on the bottom. Cleaned it up, partial change etc. A couple of days later I wake up from bed and the fish is laying on the bottom, sideways in a Upside down U shape with a bloated belly. Called some local shops brought in water, nothing un-usual. Im wondering if this is a swim bladder problem, old age or something I'm not seeing? <Most likely just poor environment> They all had no idea what to tell me, they thought it was Ich, <... no> which I treated for that and various other things they mentioned. Also used some sea salts and raised the temp slightly. What can I do, this is my buddy for a long time and I hate to see him like this especially since he cant eat. Were 4 days into this with no sign of disease. He will try to swim and can for a few moments, I can see in his eyes he wants to be back to normal. But alas, after a few moments he looks winded and back to the bottom in the upside down u shape. Anything you all can tell me to try would be much appreciated. Sincerely Jeremy Robertson <Monitor water quality, try Epsom salt (detailed on WWM), keep changing water... Bob Fenner> Flowerhorn With Head Trauma   5/27/06 Hi! I am emailing to ask if you have any  idea what we can expect when a Flowerhorn has had a head injury. I have read  through the questions on your site and I understand that this fish has the  capacity for overexerting itself when agitated or playing and hitting its head  on the cover of its tank. My sister was teasing the fish and  the fish got very excited I saw it jump from the side of the aquarium then it  seemed to hit the cover of the tank and in slow motion, it slowly drifted down  the side of the tank and it settled on the floor. It seemed to be  hyperventilating for a bit and then we tried to see what was happening to it.  You can imagine the scene of chaos when 4 women were screaming in terror ( going  around in circles in panic) because of the fact that their mom's beloved fish  now resembles the goldfish in the other tank which had a ruptured air bladder.  The goldfish seems to be in a better position because at least it is floating  compared to the head down fins up tilted fish on the floor of the tank. Two of  us went to the fish store to see if there was any advice from them they just  gave us a stress reliever, while the other two hit the internet and I found your  interesting site with scenarios similar to ours. Right now it is about an hour later  and the fish has shown some capacity to propel itself through the water.  Unfortunately it still would not stay right side up. At one point it even looked  like it was spiraling down to the floor, it stood on its mouth vertically and  then for a couple of seconds it went tail down vertically before sinking back to  the floor. It seems to be asleep now and shallowly breathing it is breathing  very lightly and still tilted with its head down, body at an angle and pelvic  fins up in the water. Please, please tell us what signs  and symptoms we should look out for in the next few days whether or not the fish  will get better and what to look out for if it gets worse. Thank you, 4 panicked  daughters < Many fish experience trauma to the head like this and don't make it. They can linger on for awhile but soon stop breathing. You can try to increase the aeration and add a cup of rock salt per 20 gallons. If you have ever gone fishing before you will notice the first thing they do with a freshly caught fish is knock him on the head to stun or kill him. Sorry I can't be of any help. Good luck.-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>

Green Terror With Bloat   03/9/06 I have a 3 ½ year old Green Terror in a 40 gallon tank. His stomach is bloated and he has a white bubble that sometimes comes out of his "area" which is enlarged. I don't know what he has and I don't know how to treat him. This has been going on for about a week and a half and now he just stays at the top of the tank and he only moves around when we go to check up on him. Do you have any suggestions? Jenny Van Tubbergen <You green terror has an intestinal bacterial infection. As the infection swells and grows it actually may push out some of the intestines. Do a 50% water change , clean the filter and vacuum the gravel. Treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. The key to a successful treatment is to catch it early.-Chuck>

Pike Cichlid Beat Up And Hiding Hello, I have a 3 inch golden pike which has a  problem.  He was originally in a 55 gallon tank along with a 5  inch tiger Oscar, a 3 inch jack Dempsey, 2 inch Pleco, and a 2 inch  catfish.   The 55 gallon tank is temporary and eventually they  will be in a 90 gallon tank.  Yesterday I noticed that my pike had  some red spots on his side which I could tell were not part of his  colorization.  I spoke to a guy at the LFS who knows his stuff,  and he told me it is probably hemorrhaging, caused by the other fish who  are picking on him.  Then today I noticed that he would not come  out of his cave and when he did he got viciously attacked by the Oscar  and Dempsey.  I took him out of the tank and placed him a 10  gallon tank which I had bought recently as a quarantine tank.   However the tank has gotten a chance to cycle and has only been running  for half a day.  I placed the pike in there because I though he  wouldn't make in the 55 tank another day.  He has been in the 10  gallon for about four hours and hasn't moved at all, he's still  breathing but I don't know what to do.  Any advice that you could  lend me on this situation would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you. Jim <Pikes really don't do too well with other aggressive cichlids. The pike cichlids mouth is for catching smaller fish. It doesn't do too well against other cichlids that may bite it and break it. Your pike is pretty tough and will probably recover from the attacks, but the tougher question is where to put it. The other fish get big but your pike will not be able to tolerate the more aggressive cichlids. Your pike will get about 18 inches when full grown s will need at least a 55 gallon tank all on his own.-Chuck>

Pike Beat Up II     Thanks for your quick response.  However since I sent my email to  you the Pike while in the 10 gallon still hasn't moved, eaten and is  breathing  heavy and looks really stressed.  He still has the  red marking on his side. I even put so live food in the tank with him  and he didn't even acknowledge it.  When I took him out of the  other tank  (55 gl) I was treating it with quick cure for protozoan  parasites which some of the fish had especially the Oscar.  Can  the parasite from the 55 gallon be the reason for his heavy breathing  and stressed out condition.  I put PimaFix in the 10 gallon to  help him, but nothing.  Is there any medication that I should give  him that would help him recover.  Thank you in advance for your  help. Jim < Sounds like you pike really got beat up. The Nitrofuranace will help with both bacterial and fungal infections. If you pike is listless and non-responsive you could try adding a teaspoon of rock salt per 5 gallons, but after that there is not much you can do except keep the water clean and warm (80+F).-Chuck> Parrot fish questions I have a parrotfish cichlid tank (29 gallon) with 4 fish.  I have had the tank for about one year.  Except for a brief period of ick, which was successfully treated, the fish have been fine. <Depending on the species of Parrots, this tank may be way overcrowded. If they are Jellybeans then you are probably OK as these generally only reach sizes of 3-4 inches but if they are true Blood Parrots then you should only have one or *maybe* two in this tank as they can reach 10 inches.> This week, I noticed that one of the parrots has a pale mouth area, and another has a white circular patch on its side. I asked the fish store I purchased them from and they stated it was probably bacteria, and gave me penicillin. <It could be a parasite. Take a look at http://www/wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm > I finished the third treatment today, and the fish are not improved.  Should I worry about fungus?  Is there a better antibiotic to be used?  Should I do a partial water change and not worry about it? <I personally like and recommend and of the products made by Mardel as I've had the best success with them.> The water seems to be in good condition.  There have been no recent changes in the tank; NO3 and NH4 are in line.  Today the pH is approximately 9.0 so I am going to do a partial water change. Any ideas? <Ouch! This definitely needs to be brought down. These fish should be kept at a pH of 6.5 to 7.4; a higher pH can cause loss of color. So this may in fact be the problem. I found a lot of information on Parrots at http://www.geocities.com/parrot cichlid/main.html  and you can also go to http://www.wetwebmedia.com and do a search for Parrot for even more info.> Thanks, Brenda <You're welcome! Ronni> Re: parrot fish Thanks for the response!  You guys sure are quick! <Only after that first IV of java every morning!> A few more questions.... <Okay'¦> 1.  Since the pH was 9.0 according to my kit, I did a partial water change. That seemed to help. Why does the pH go up?  Is it the fish, or rocks, etc. in the tank? <Certain substrates will raise the pH but generally not this high. What is the pH of the water you are using for your water changes? Generally it's not recommended to mess with the pH much but in this case you do need to do something. You may want to consider using RO water; it's generally pretty close to neutral (7.0). You can also add driftwood or peat to your tank but these can and do release tannins that will color your water. Take a look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwph,alk.htm and related FAQ's to see what others have done.> 2.  You said it may be a parasite.  I looked at the links you sent, but can't seem to figure out what the best course of treatment may be.  The spot is round and white.  It isn't ick, as I worked on that.  I don't see any pits anywhere on the body or any parasite visibly. Should I just leave the fish alone and hope he improves, or treat anyway, with something else? <For now, work on the pH and see if that helps.> The last parrot I had had a hole in his head and no matter what I did, dipping, etc, he died.  I would like to get this one figured out before death becomes the only alternative. <Was he in the tank with these fish? If so, they may have contracted the disease that he died from.> 3.  You may be right.  Although the fish I have are no bigger than 3-4 inches and I have had 2 of them for over a year, I now think they may be the true parrotfish. Oops. Guess the store told me the wrong thing. I will see if I can take two back and make more room for the two remaining ones. First, though, I feel I must treat them so I don't infect any other fish. <That's a good plan. And even if they don't get any bigger they will probably be much more comfortable with just two in that size tank.> Thanks for all your information. Brenda <You're welcome! Ronni>

Texas Cichlid Disease Could not find answer on your site.  My Texas Cichlid died this morning.  Raised him from baby (1 1/4 inches to 5 inches at death, one year old).   I kept a log.  Day one:1st symptoms were  3 pink spots appearing near dorsal fin and 2 on lower jaw. Ran tests on water everything was normal.  Introduced 2 tablespoons of aquarium salt to water (he was in 10 gal. tank no other fish) spots cleared up in 3 days. At end of 3 days did 10% water change, he was not eating normally so stopped food for 2 days.  My regular maintenance of tank was 30% water change every 3 weeks, I use a Hagen Aqua 200 filter and a sponge filter and use Kordon water treatment, I'm on well water.  Day ten:  half dozen pink spots reappeared plus he passed a very long string of semi-clear whitish substance.  I again introduced salt, the pink spots cleared up to some degree, some remained grey in color. His appetite did not improve, it was time for regular water change and did a 30% change.  Ran water tests everything was normal.  (If it's important at this point my Ph runs a constant 7.4 and this is what he was raised in.  I have 2 other tanks with angels and silver dollars in one and black convicts in the other who are under same water and maintenance conditions and they are doing well.)  Day 15: He is staying near top of tank near airstone bubbles most of the time but does not appear to be gasping for breath staying level in the water and has not eaten for about 3 days.  His pink spots have increased, his normal color is only apparent around the head and gills the back part of his body is blackish in color turning to grey as it nears the head and he was passing another very long string of whitish substance.  I removed the sponge filter and the carbon filter and introduced Melafix and aquarium salt.  That was last night and this morning he was very weak and then died a short while later.  I know this has been a long letter but wanted to give you all info that I had as I would like to know if possible what killed him.   <It sounds as if it may have been a parasitic infection. Take a look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm for descriptions of many of them. Also, I have to wonder, was the 10g tank his normal home or just a QT tank? If it was his normal home, there were probably some problems caused by it. A 10g is *way* too small for anything but a dwarf Cichlid and especially one like the Texas who can reach an adult size of nearly a foot.> Thank you for your time. Wilma Hill <You're welcome! Ronni>

- Oscar and Myxosoma? - I have searched the archives and have found very little information about this. From what I have read, I suspect that my Oscar may have this "whirling disease". He has stopped eating for the last week or so. I normally do weekly water changes of about 15%. Because of his symptoms, I have done three water changes during the last week totaling probably about 60% I have been using Melafix for the last few days, but have seen no changes. He is breathing heavy, mouth opening and closing. The other fish in the tank (2 large tinfoil barbs and a Synodontis cat) remain normal. During the day when I'm not home, I don't suspect that he is doing the whirling thing because there is no water on the floor. At night when the lights are on, he will do the quick, one full turn around action, often splashing water out of the tank. This goes on every few minutes while I'm watching. I have done some research on the web and found that infected fish will often do the whirl when they are startled or fed (connection with the lights?). Almost no info exists on this disease in Oscars, some in reference to Discus, but most are about Salmon and Trout. <This is where it occurs most often... is bad news in aquaculture, in fact is a 'reportable' disease in the US because its spores can live in the mud for up to a year, and even survive being dried out.> There are no references to a cure. <Not really, is a seriously debilitating disease [cartilage is destroyed] and can only be addressed by making sure breeding systems/raceways are cleaned/disinfected.> One site even said to "immediately euthanize the infected fish and all other inhabitants and sanitize the tank...there is no cure!" ...and that was a discus site! Heck, I don't think I'd get too attached to a salmon or a trout, but Oscar is family! <I hear you.> Do you think that this is what I'm up against? <A possibility, a co-symptom of whirling disease is a black tail, so you might look for that too.> Do you have any information on this and a possible cure? <I have information, but none about 'curing' this problem in adult fish. Because it is a parasite of cartilage, it is very hard to treat directly.> I hate seeing this graceful creature suffer like this. <I'm sorry I don't have better news. I'd keep up the observation... perhaps Oscar has just learned a new trick and is trying to get your blood pressure up. Let's both hope for the best.> Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide. <Cheers, J -- >

Jack Dempsey & Swim Bladder (06/29/03) Hi, <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I hope you can help me the way you have helped so many of the people and fish from the letters I've read. <I hope so too...> I have a 6 inch Jack Dempsey (male). He's been staying in the corner of my 125 gallon tank for about a week standing on his nose. I went to the pet store to ask about medications and the staff told me that he might have swim bladder disease. I moved him to a Q/T tank this evening. <Ah, good. Much better to treat in a hospital tank than in a display tank....> Every now and then he'll be belly up for a few seconds and then gets into his vertical position. I've been reading in your Q&A's that Epsom salt is good if there is a blockage. Would this apply to a fresh water fish? <Most certainly. One tablespoon per five gallons should do it.> Another site gave me info about feeding him a defrosted frozen pea. Researchers at a N. Carolina Univ. found that this moves out the blockage. Is there any hope for my fish and if so can you give me some advice. I would greatly appreciate it. <Give him a couple of peas and dose his hospital tank with Epsom salts. If it's gas or a blockage, that should fix the problem.> Thank you so much for having such an informative and interesting site. Nancy <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Veterinarian for a sick convict I am sorry if you are not the right people for my question, but I was wondering if there are any fish veterinarians in the bay area who make house calls that you folks would know of.   <I assume you mean the San Francisco Bay Area, yes?  I live in the SF bay area, and I've been asking everyone that I know of to ask, and haven't found anything about any vets that deal with fish in our area.  My best recommendation is to head out to one of the local clubs and ask around; http://www.svas.info/ and http://www.cichlidworld.com/ are just a couple of them, both at which you'll run into me if you attend.> My 12 year old Convict Cichlid has stopped eating for a week, sits still all the time, without trying to threaten anyone, and when I siphoned out a couple gallons of water, and rinsed his filter sponge and charcoal there was none of the orangey organic sludge I usually remove.  I can't get him medicine because he has no marks, coatings or holes in his skin.  I am really worried Stripey may die if he doesn't see a vet, or if I try to transport him to one.  I would be most grateful for anything you could recommend to me. <I'm afraid there's not a whole lot I can tell you.  Please bear in mind that twelve years is a very long time for a convict to live; he's probably had a great life with you.  I'm afraid it may just be that he's old.  Though please do test your water for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, and see if everything's okay; the lack of filter gunk may suggest that your bacteria have suffered somehow, which would possibly leave the door open for an ammonia spike.> Thank You,  -Margaret Green <Best wishes to you, Margaret.  -Sabrina>

Sick Midas Cichlid I hope you can help me. About four months ago my cichlid tank got really cloudy. There are two 7 in Oscars, 1 6 inch Midas and 1 4 inch Jack Dempsey in a 55 gallon. I noticed that there were little brownish black "moving" specks in the bottom of the tank clustered in the gravel. I am pretty sure they are alive. I did a water change and added some parasite clear but that didn't take care of them. I saw them on the fish. I did another water change and they seemed to be gone for awhile but the tank has not cleared up. It was set up for 1 month before we added fish into it and it has been a year since we first set it up. The Midas Cichlid now looks as though there is something eating away at him. There are chunks missing out of his face and he has turned from a bright orange to a white color over most of his body. Do you know what this might be caused from and what should I do? <Hi Amanda, I would be willing to bet that all of these issues can be traced back to water quality problems.  Your tank is way over stocked.  A 55 gallon tank is a good home for 1 or 2 Oscars, until they get large.  All of the fish that you have are big, aggressive, messy eaters.  The first thing I would do is test your water for ph, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Some large water changes might be a good place to start also.  The holes in his face could be from HLLE (head and lateral line erosion) caused by nutritional deficiencies and poor water quality, if possible send us a picture to help us identify the problem.  You should seriously consider a much larger tank (hundreds of gallons) if you want to keep all of these fish, or reducing the number of fish in your tank.  You can also check out the cichlid disease FAQs to see if any of those issues sound like what you are experiencing http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cichliddisfaqs.htm Best Regards, Gage> Thank you, Amanda Terwilleger

Eye damage I looked through most of the questions about swollen eyes and couldn't find one that described this. I am sorry if this is a repeat. I haven't been able to find anything. <Well, we'll sure try to help out....  Sabrina here on this one> We recently "saved" a 6" Red Devil from a pet store.  This fish was obviously returned to the pet store and is very timid and beat up.   <Hopefully he'll recover so he can live up to his name....> Currently we have him in a 20 gal quarantine. <Excellent!> The problem is, he had a white spot on the outer membrane of his eye. It looked very much like ich. The eye and eye socket do not appear swollen. Just the membrane. I'm sure I'm not explaining this correctly, but I am not sure of the actual names. <I *think* I get what you're saying.> The swelling receded for a couple of days, but tonight it came back with a vengeance. It looks like it could burst.  Any ideas? <Well Lisa, my best guess is that the eye was injured, somehow; perhaps the white spot was a parasite like ich or something (so keep a watch for more!) and caused damage, or perhaps it was just damaged tissue from the injury.  Make sure there are no sharp things in the QT for him to scratch against (this includes plastic plants); plain terra cotta flowerpots or PVC pipes will provide cover for him without giving him something to cause further damage to his undoubtedly uncomfortable eye (which he probably wants to scratch).  I'd recommend treating with a medicated food (perhaps with tetracycline) to prevent bacterial infection as the eye (hopefully) heals; I recommend using medicated food mostly because it will be easy to discontinue use if you end up having to treat for ich....  I'm not entirely certain that the antibiotic will help to fix his eye problem, but hopefully, it will help.  Wishing your little devil a swift recovery,  -Sabrina> Thanks Lisa

Eye Damage Two Thanks Sabrina <Sure thing.> I should of let you know that we had already tried treating him for ich as he showed the signs. He had discoloration from it and I thought that was what the spot might be. I will try some medicated food and some smoother tank items to keep him from scratching. Thanks sooooo much. <You bet.  Hope everything goes well.  -Sabrina> Lisa

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

Can a fish have a stroke? In late July I was out of town when my husband called me saying our large Jaguar Cichlid had dug a hole in the gravel and was doing nothing but laying on its side. When they tapped on the glass the fish would move a little but that's it. It wasn't eating and unless you looked closely it appeared dead. This fish has always been very finicky and refuses to eat anything except feeder fish or salad shrimp. Since I dislike using feeders because of disease we fed "Vic" salad shrimp every other day. I assumed from the description my husband gave me that the fish was constipated. I told him to feed peas but the fish wouldn't eat them and I really figured the fish would be dead by the time I got home in mid August. When I got home the fish was still alive but also still displaying the same symptoms, laying on his side partially arched and when he did raise up off the floor of the tank his tail was always lower than his head. Since the fish hadn't eaten in several weeks my husband had placed a feeder in the tank to entice him but even that didn't work, the feeder swam around happily in his 110g home while the Jaguar laid on his side on the bottom of the tank. About a week after I got home the feeder was still in there but I looked over and the Jaguar was swimming around normally. That lasted about 1 minute and then he went back to the bottom, never touching the feeder. After a couple more weeks I started wondering if it might be something in the tank itself causing this so I placed the Jaguar and feeder into a 55g tank that normally houses tetras. That was approximately 10 days ago. On the 3rd or 4th day in the new tank the Jaguar ate the feeder. Since then I have been feeding one salad shrimp every 3-4 days and have finally gotten her to accept krill which I'm feeding 2-3 every other day. She is still showing signs of aggression but not as much as normal. Now she gets slightly active if a cat or dog walks by her tank, she used to attack the glass if one of them got near it. Her eating habits are slowly getting back to normal but she is still displaying the same symptoms. I've attached a few pictures, one showing her laying on her side, one swimming with her tail down, and one almost vertical which is her position when I feed her. Since it's obviously not constipation I'm at a loss as to what it could be. My thoughts are running along the lines of her being extremely weak because she went so long without eating, or possibly a stroke due to the position she's laying in. I also forgot to mention, she always lies on the same side (her left) and there is a slight indentation in the left side of her stomach. Old age is possibly a factor but I don't know for sure. When I purchased her slightly over 2 years ago she was 4-5" long, she's now reached a size of 10-12" long. She has been housed in the 110g tank for a year and was in the 55g for the first year I owned her. The water parameters in both tanks have always tested normal (0ppm ammonia/nitrate, PH 7.8, etc) and I use pea gravel as substrate in both of them. The 55g has more filtration per gallon than her normal 110g but it also normally carries a heavier bio-load (25-30") than just a single 10-12" fish. Both tanks have roughly 330gph filtration. The 110g has a few fake log aquarium decorations that were purchased at PetSmart, the 55g has a large handful of live Hornwort plants and 3 plastic aquarium plants. Any ideas and/or suggestions? < I think your fish crashed into the side of the tank and knocked himself out for a time. If you notice fisherman using clubs to knock out the fish they have caught by hitting them between the eyes. Well as your fish may have charged at something going by the tank and run into the side of the tank while you weren't there and suffered some neurological damage and it has taken some time for him to recover. This is not unusual with large Central American cichlids. If you think there is an interior infection you might try treating with Metronidazole. Try washed earthworms to get some protein in him quickly-Chuck> Ronni Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. Gold Severums With Black Ich  9/26/05 Hi guys, I'm sorry if this question has already been answered but I couldn't seem to find what I was looking for.  I work in the fish dept. of a pet store and we have several small (3") gold Severums who have developed a coat of small black spots.  They are mostly concentrated in the dorsal area.  I was able to find out that it's "black ich" but all other info I find leads to a Marine disease.  I've treated the fish with Copper twice but still little black spots.  Any suggestions??? Thanks a lot :) Mandi < There is a black spot disease that is associated with wild South American cichlids. It is not treatable but it is not contagious either since it has a fairly complex lifecycle that includes snails and birds. Your gold Severums are a genetic mutation created by fish farms. There are many commercial foods today that can create this darkening. Foods with too much spiraling for example can do this. On most fish this is not to noticeable and even desirable on some fish. Unfortunately it doesn't look too good on gold Severums. If the fish are showing no symptoms of disease I would recommend a change in diet and try a different quality fish food.-Chuck>

Female Green Terror in Trouble 10/31/05 Hello, I have a pair of green terrors. For a while everything seemed to be going fine. They had eggs twice, both eaten unfortunately. After the second time the male started becoming more and more aggressive towards the female and I ended up separating them. After a while I put them back together but then I noticed the female started developing head in the hole disease. < It is actually referred to as Hole in the head.> I have medicated this and the wounds seem to have healed, since the openings closed and the color came back and just some scars were left. However, after observing my fish, I noticed the female fish can not see well or not at all, I'm not sure. Often she sits still and hides from the male (which is not as aggressive any more) but when she comes out she constantly bumps into objects. She really moves around as if she's blind or can hardly see. Her eyes look normal though. Furthermore, I haven't seen this fish eating since the start of the head in the hole disease...which is 2 months ago now???? I'm not really sure what I should do with fish. And now just yesterday I saw her egg tube is descending again? I thought only healthy fish would breed but since I haven't seen this fish eating this long, she sure does not seem healthy nor capable of breeding to me?  What can I do to help this fish? I keep them in a 250 liter tank with one small Pleco. All water measures read normal and I do a 20% water change weekly.  Any suggestions or help would be really really appreciated...desperately Henk Naert < If possible you need to isolate this fish in her own tank. Heat the water to 82 F. If the fish is not eating then it could be an internal bacterial infection. I would treat it with the Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone at the same time. Treat on day one, three and five. Don't treat on two, four or six but do a 50% water change on those days. Offer some food and see if she sees the food and eats after the 6th day. Put your hand in the tank and check to see if she can see it. Blind cichlids usually don't breed.-Chuck> 

Caring For a Blind Green Terror  11/29/05 Hello, Thanks for your help answering my questions about my female green terror a while ago. Her condition has slightly improved, in that she is more active.  However, she still seems blind or very poorly seeing. She never swims up for food, instead the only food she seems to get in is by taking mouthfuls of gravel in her mouth and spitting the gravel back out and keeping the food or part of it in. After I noticed this, I started feeding more sinking food, but still, she never goes straight for the sunken food, instead she can pass right by it taking up a mouth of gravel right next to it.  Obviously, she does not get in enough food.  Furthermore, she still keeps bumping into objects frequently (while not being chased by the male). Her egg tube has retracted and other signs of breeding disappeared as well, which did not surprise me much since I'm sure she does not get in enough food to breed. Is there anything else I could try to treat this fish? I used Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone as you advised, and did an extra cure with Metronidazole four days after the first series of treatment.  Also I was wondering if there's any possibility at all the Hole in the Head disease she was suffering from before might have damaged her nerves/ability to see? If her sight does not improve, is there any advice or feeding tips you can give me to make sure she gets in more food? Like it looks now, I think she gets in enough food to survive for some time. While the food intake is in my opinion enough to avoid a fast hunger death, I doubt the little amount of food she gets in is enough to sustain her health. Regards and many thanks, Henk Naert < Unfortunately your Green terror may never fully recover. Try and see if you can get her to eat out of your hand or feeder tongs. By directly feeding your fish you can control the amount of food she is getting. Large presoaked pellets will be very beneficial. The hole-in-the-head may have contributed to the problem.-Chuck>

Treating An Old (and He Means OLD!) red Devil With Hole-In-The-Head  11/16/05 Hello, I have a 17 year old Red Devil Cichlid (Fred) who was in the peak of health until I stupidly (over) adjusted the pH a month ago, and he took quite a roller coaster ride before I was able to stabilize things. Unfortunately, even after I got the water back to acceptable levels, he would still not eat (he had stopped eating when all the water troubles began). It was suggested that I put feeder fish in with him to stimulate his appetite, but the feeder goldfish was in there 5 days and nothing happened. I was thinking that Fred (the Cichlid) might just be going crazy in the confines of his 40 gallon tank, so I got a 100 gallon tank for him and started it cycling. The other day I noticed that Fred had a couple lesions on his head. I'm afraid he has Hole in The Head disease, especially because he exhibits some of the symptoms associated with HITH disease: *A tendency to 'hang' in corners. *A tendency to stare at food but without eating it, or if it does take a sample it immediately spits it out again. *The decline in food acceptance, is often accompanied or followed by lethargy, and a reduction in muscle tissue which gives the fish a 'pinched' appearance behind the head and the skin 'texture' may take on a roughened appearance *White, jelly like excreta can often be seen trailing from the anal vent, on the floor of bare bottom aquaria, or sometimes white, stingy 'rotted plant-like material' is 'adrift' in the aquarium. *The wasted fish may develop a bloated stomach region. *Skin lesions may start to appear, especially on the body and the head, in the region of the lateralis system - these holes may eventually expand and connect to from considerable size 'craters' The only symptom here that Fred didn't exhibit was the 'jelly like excreta'. Thing is, this could also be Head and Lateral Line Erosion - HLLE, or both together, couldn't it? < They are often associated with one another.> I took the carbon out of his canister filter, gradually raised his water temp to 84 degrees F, did a 30% water change, and added 250mg of Metronidazole for each 10 gallons in his 40 gallon tank. About 12 hours later I did another 25% water change and gave him another dose of Metronidazole.  I intend to do this for 3 days, based on articles I have read on the subject. Most of the fish store "Experts" that I have spoken to have rather heartlessly told me to give up all hope since he's so old. That is a little defeatist for me, thank you. If it's Fred's time to go, then so be it. Until then, I intend to give him a fighting chance. Period. As it is, he seems to be less 'sulky' than before, but on day 2 of the Metronidazole treatment, he is still not eating.  Of most concern to me other than the not eating is that his stomach is distended only on the left hand side, and his tail tends to curve around to his left. I know that the Protozoan Parasites responsible for Hexamita (HITH disease) naturally occur in the fish's stomach, and just get out of hand when the fish gets stressed, as Fred was recently. It's just got me worried that it's only on one side, which he seems to be favoring, almost like it's a tumor. I know one of the symptoms of HITH is swelling of the stomach, but just on one side? <It depends where the infection has manifested itself.> And does it sound like I'm taking a reasonable course of action here? < Metronidazole breaks down very easily in dirty water. I would vacuum the gravel and clean the filter and medicate with Nitrofurazone as well.> I would hate to make any more big mistakes that might end up doing Fred in at this point! Speaking of mistakes, I made a big one when I removed the activated carbon from the canister filter. I squeezed out the sponge and washed out all the good goop that was in the canister, thereby destroying the biological filter. The gravel bed in the aquarium is still undisturbed, so I haven't killed the biological filter completely, but I know I screwed up. I have been adding Amquel with the water changes, so that helps. Would it get in the way of the Metronidazole treatments to add Bio Spira, in order to get the biological filter back on track? < The Nitrofuranace will definitely affect the biological filter. Your fish is not eating anyway so discontinue to feed until a cure is achieved. When a cure is achieved then add carbon to remove any medication and then add the Bio-Spira to the water to get the tank cycled again.> And can I add NovAqua to ease Fred's stress a little? < Follow the directions on the bottle.> Oh, and I've read that feeder fish can infect a Cichlid with HITH. They get it through the feces of the feeder fish. Is this plausible? < Feeder fish can introduce many parasites but this is not one of them.> It occurred to me that he may have gotten it from the feeder fish I put in with him. There are 5 feeder fish in the 100 gallon tank that is now cycled and ready for Freddy when he gets out of hospital. I was planning on putting the feeder fish into the 40 gallon tank when I put Fred into the 100 gallon tank, but I would hate for Fred to get infected all over again when I put him into the 100 gallon tank that the feeder fish just left (infected from the feeder fish waste still in the tank). Would you share your thoughts on these things? < The feeder fish are not the immediate problem right now. Go to Cichlid-Forum.com and search the data base for a rather lengthy article on hole in the head. This will give you some insight on how hard this is to cure.-Chuck> Thank you for your help on this! Chris Haller pH: 7.8; Nitrite: 0; Ammonia: (I don't know because the Amquel messes up the Nessler reagent); Nitrate: negligible; General Hardness: 140 ppm; Carbonate Hardness: 5 German degrees 

Sick Albino Jack Dempsey Good afternoon Bob- I am hoping you can help me. I have a sick Albino Jack Dempsey and I can not figure out what is wrong with him. It started like 8 months ago when I notice what looked like something growing inside the tissue at the base of his dorsal fin and his tail fin. It looked to me like some kind of egg cases or something INSIDE his fins. I treated him with both Maracide and Maracyn 2 (2 cycles of the meds waiting like 2-1/2 weeks in between). It seemed to have no effect on him or the stuff growing inside his fins. Since whatever it was didn't appear to be bothering him or getting any worse I just left it alone. <Good observations... many cichlids that are bred, raised out of doors do show up with the trematode or nematode (fluke or roundworm) complaint you describe so well. Not easily cured as this is an internal parasite problem... There are anthelminthics of use... like Piperazine, di-n-butyl tin oxide... I would check with your veterinarian (who deals with fish problems) re what's currently being used> 2 months ago I thought it looked like he might be developing (the dreaded, well for me anyway...)Hole in the Head Disease so I treated him with Hexamit. It appears to have at least halted the growth of what I was thinking was the start of a hole in his head. (His head has always had some holes in it but, this one was one I hadn't noticed before.) <Yes, pores, parts of the lateralis system, nostrils...> Today I noticed that the bases of his fins (which have continued to look like they had something growing in them) seem very "puffy" and not as translucent as they used to be. I have taken a picture of the affected area (attached jpg). Also, I have attached a photo of the fish himself (this photo was taken like 7 months ago it's hard to see but, at the bases of his dorsal and tail fins you can see a "foggy" area that is where the growth was/is it is a lot "whiter" in appearance now). Feel free to post the photo on your site if you'd like, he is the only Albino Jack Dempsey I have ever seen, are they rare in the aquarium trade? <Yes, at least in the U.S.... more common in Europe, parts of the Orient> Sorry this is so long...any suggestions? Thanks for your time! Ann <At this point, to add vitamins to the fishes foods, possibly a teaspoon of salt per gallon (add over a few weeks time, replace with water changes). This is about it. Bob Fenner>

Popeye Mr. Fenner: would like your advice on the best way to medicate my 7" Green Severum for Popeye. Came home last night and both of his eyes were popped. He is in a 135gal cichlid tank. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks in advance. <Both eyes? This fast? I would check your water quality and do a massive water change (if your tapwater is okay to do so)... maybe fifty percent... Any other fishes affected? If not, the Severum may have just been brutalized... I would (in addition to the water change) move this specimen to a separate system (no light) of low eighties F., semi-soft, acidic water (upper 6.'s) and wait on any specific medication at this point. Please inform me of your and its progress. Bob Fenner> Shirley

Re: Popeye (involvement, Central American Cichlid) thanks........water quality is as noted: Po4 - 2.5, No3-5, NH3 - 0.1, PH - 7.6, NO2 - 0.1, <Mmm, well, the phosphate's a bit high... I try to keep such systems below 1.0 ppm... and no detectable ammonia or nitrite is strongly advised (do you have sufficient, dependable biological filtration?)... and I would start a slow, steady campaign (if this is to the liking of your other livestock) to lower the pH to near neutral (7 or so)... and use make-up water that has been adjusted to this for water changes...> tank has been set up for about 1.5 years now. No other fish seem to even bother with this fish. I did remove and place in another tank. No other fish are affected. Did about a 33% H20 change. Both eyes are even more protruding today......started medicating the hospital tank with Maracyn-Two by Mardel Labs. What do you think??? <A good choice. What do you feed your fishes? There is some possibility that the condition (bilateral exophthalmia) is nutritional-deficiency related. Bob Fenner> Shirley

Black stuff on blood parrot fish (another rant on poor mutated fishes) I have a blood parrot fish whom we just acquired about a week or so ago.  <my friend... alas you got stuck with me answering your query :) I must interject with the hope of discouraging you and others not to keep such abhorrent fish mutations as Blood Parrot fish and Flowerhorns. It is a tragic and shameful disrespect of life what these breeders do to these fishes: they genetically engineer these mutations that are barely compatible (genetically). The overwhelming majority of the fry that hatch are so severely mutated that they cannot breathe or eat (massive gill and mouth/facial deformities... and tail-less in the case of the flower horn cichlids) to even survive days let alone weeks. The very few that do survive often struggle to do so and are rather prone to infections and disease. To add further insult to injury, many of these fishes are artificially dyed (infected with needles, stained and painted). The entire process is just horrifying with hundreds dying for ever one that lives to see 6 months old. I trust that you honestly did not know this history behind the fish and thank you for giving me the opportunity to bring the subject up again on our FAQ post> He was completely orange when we got him but he now has black stuff on parts of his body and fins and now seems to be going into his eyes. I have read that this could be black spot which is fairly common in these fish from what I have read.  <there are some variable pigmentation issues indeed> We have had an ongoing ammonia prob that we are diligently working to correct but in the meantime is there a product to get rid of this infection. The fish by the way acts perfectly fine and is eating very well. I have heard that Maracide could possibly work but the bottle does not specifically say so and it is pretty harsh on fish. Thanks. <I really cannot say where to begin... some of these fishes are so disease prone its like putting a band aid on a dam about to burst. My advice would be to not medicate unless the symptom can be categorically assigned to a recognizable treatment and disease. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Black stuff on blood parrot fish Hello, and you are correct, we did not know about these fish until after we purchased "him".  <indeed... most people are fooled> Ours seems to be doing well eating wise and acting wise except for the black stuff. I think I finally have our tank getting back on track and the black stuff looks as though it is fading a bit.  <very good to hear! The pigmentation could simply been part of a "night pattern" (stress and fright induced in many fishes> It is indeed horrible about the way these fish came about. Is there no regulation on this sort of thing?  <nope!> How can people just purposely create new species w/o thinking of the consequences?!  <the lure of profits by creating an new and unusual creature... the fish you have is an artificially engineered hybrid of two entirely different genera! Like a monkey-human cross breed...yikes!> At any rate, since we have him, we want to give him the best possible home and life we can.  <agreed> Thanks for your input though. By the way, do you recommend any type of generalized,  high quality, fish food that does not have a tendency to be so darn messy like pellets but better than just flakes? Thanks, again. <sure... while the fish is small and medium, Aquadyne makes a high quality extruded flake and pellet (like cornflakes). Better because it is not baked at over 400F like most foods (vitamin deficient for it). Tetra Color bits are also good quality color enhancing bits if the fish is smaller. Else, in general and as the fish grows larger, Hikari brand cichlid pellets are excellent. They have many fine varieties for many purposes. Anthony>

Re: Ich? I had a problem with my heater in my small 29 gal tank. The water dropped from 82-84o to 70o. It has a Severum and some angel fish. <Both will need a larger tank.  Severums may also get too aggressive for the angels.> I noticed my Severum scratching on things and making sores on himself.  I did a 50% water change and he seemed better the very next day and the angels were more lively.  A few days later I noticed some small white spots on the fins of my angels.  The Severum shows no signs and his wounds are healing.  I have been treating for two day for ich.  I understand from what I have read that it could take up to two weeks or more of treating.  I am still not positive that ich is what I am dealing with.  ADVICE PLEASE!!! Carrie <Sure sounds like Ich.  Ich can be brought on by sudden temperature swings.  I would continue to medicate, following the instructions on the bottle, and check out the link below for more information on Ich.  Best of luck, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/fishdisho.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fw3setsdisfaqs.htm

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