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FAQs on Neotropical Cichlids 2

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

Related FAQs: Neotropical Cichlids 1, Neotropical Cichlids 3, Neotropical Cichlid Identification, Neotropical Cichlid Behavior, Neotropical Cichlid Compatibility, Neotropical Cichlid Selection, Neotropical Cichlid Systems, Neotropical Cichlid Feeding, Neotropical Cichlid Disease, 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,

Cichlids Breeding With Nothing To Show For It  12/22/05 Hello! I hope very much that you may be able to advise me. I have a pair of Central American Cichlids - Fenestratum. I acquired the large, aggressive male fish after he was introduced to a friends established cichlid aquarium and was beaten up by the other fish when he bullied them and they ganged up on him. He spent a few days recovering in an "intensive care" cooler/cool box/esky and then continued his convalescence in the new and huge tank that I bought to accommodate him. I rather enthusiastically bought him a wife, slightly smaller than him at 6 inches ( he is about 8 or 9 inches) When I bought her she was full of eggs and very keen, and almost immediately they laid a small batch of eggs and successfully nurtured them for several weeks, displaying for my delight all the intricacies of cichlid courtship, breeding and parental care behaviour. Eventually the babies started to be threatened by the bored? father and I removed them to a small tank to grow. My problem is this. My adult fish continue to repeatedly lay batches of eggs, but none have been successful hatched since the first "beginners luck" batch. After they have lost/eaten a batch of eggs. He cools off towards her and can injure her or force her into hiding so I keep them separated with a transparent tank divider until they are ready again. It takes them 2-3 weeks before they are "friends" again and 2-3 days to court and lay. Usually about 90% of the eggs in a batch go white and fungus, and a very small proportion will hatch, but I think the fish feel it is wasteful to invest in only 10 or 20 wrigglers and eat them at this point. These fish are and have been the only fish in the tank. They are otherwise completely healthy, with healthy appetites. They seem to do everything right in terms of general and breeding behaviour according to my Central American cichlid books (Konings and Conkel) They have both grown visibly since I have had them. I keep the tank clean and tidy, but not over clean it. I have a good quality established external canister filter running. I feed them a varied diet of 3 different types of cichlid food plus meal worms, and try not to overfeed ( they are always hungry) I keep them at the recommended temperature. In the 4 months that I have had them I have treated them once with an ich remedy and water changed twice since, and given a handful of doses of melafix tea tree remedy for injuries, but otherwise no meds in there. My question is this. Has one of them become infertile, and if so which one and why, and is there anything I can do to improve this? I was utterly delighted when they seemed such perfect fish parents so soon after I got them, and I have been very disappointed that everything has gone downhill since. The original babies are now about 2 inches, and there are very few of them left. I am reluctant to part with them if I will never have any more to enjoy. I am so grateful for your wisdom. < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Add carbon to remove any left over medication. I suspect your problem is high nitrates from only doing two water changes in 4 months. Do weekly 25% water changes to control nitrates. The melafix may be affecting the sperm of the male and somehow prevent them from getting to the eggs. Cichlids usually spawn every couple of weeks when the female is ready. Watch them closely when you put them together so he doesn't kill her.-Chuck>

South American Cichlid Compatibility/Stocking Density  Aloha WWM, <What's up Tara!> You guys are great and have helped me many times with my tank questions. I regularly scan your site for new info! <Thanks for the compliments.> I currently have a 110 gal tank that is doing well; 2 Oscars, 1 red zebra, 2 electric blue mbunas, 1 electric yellow cichlid, 1 shovelnose cat, 2 bushynose plecos, 2 clown loaches <These guys get pretty big, 12" range.>  and 2 yoyo loaches. <All sounds good for now.> I was given a 75 gal tank and set it up yesterday with a Penn Plax canister filter, gravel, heater, lights, assorted wood, rock and fake plant decorations. <Very Cool.> I had 2 biological sponges in my other tank's filter, so put one of them in the new filter to get the nitrifying bacteria jump started.  <I would still monitor levels could be a week or two until it stabilizes.> Here are my questions: 1. Today, the water is cloudy white, I am presuming it to be bacteria that will go away on its own, but please let me know if that is not the case. <That or an algae bloom, I would just monitor chemistry levels and perform water changes as needed.> 2. Since the necessary bacteria are already colonized on the sponge, how long do I need to wait to put fish in? Ammo, nitrite and nitrate are all 0 now. <I would wait at least a week or two to make sure everything is stabilized.> 3. My husband really wants an aggressive tank, and he loves Red Devils, Green Terrors and Jack Dempseys, all of which are available at the LFS.  Will these fish work together, how many of each would you recommend? <All get quite large and aggressive as you mentioned, as full length adults I would not do more than a pair or trio in total of the above mentioned specimens. All of these fish can get quite large in the 12" range.> 4. Are there any other non cichlids that could work with the aforementioned tough guys to add variety, such as some sort of an eel, <No eel most need brackish to marine environments.> cat, knifefish or shark? <I would look into some type of larger loaches or plecos.> <<I've seen redtail sharks in systems with just these fish swimming fat and happy!  Marina>> 5. How many fish should I start with and how long should I take to get the tank fully stocked? <The slower and more patient the better, but I would add the cichlids either simultaneously or around the same time-frame to avoid aggression.> 6. Is there anything I am overlooking in this set up? <Nothing obvious that I can see but as with all specimens I would quarantine before intro. Into display.> Your help is sincerely appreciated! <You are welcome.> Best regards, <You too.> Tara <Adam J?>

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 

Cichlid Digging Causing Problems 11/3/05 Hello Crew, I have a tank of 4 cichlids, and currently one of the South American Cichlids has burrowed under the rock formation in the tank. I assumed that the fish was going to be laying eggs. She has recently exhibited what looks like bruises on her side and then a day later red gills. I just wanted to know if this should be cause for alarm? < Depends on the species. Some spawning behavior does include some color changes that may be misinterpreted as a bruise.> ( is she being hurt through her digging process) Or if this is the norm. The behavior patterns are normal for a pregnant fish, she eats at feeding time and then goes back in her nest. < Find out the species name and we can help determine if there is really a problem.> I also wanted to take a minute out to say, "Thank You." your site has lots of useful information on it. < We appreciate your kind words.-Chuck>

Keeping A Dovii Cichlid, Tank Is Snowing and a Plague of Guppies 11/3/05 Hi, If I keep a lone P. dovii maybe with some type of dither fish,( I know will probably become his lunch), in 49 gallon tank, how long could I keep him in there?  <Until he gets about 8-10 inches, about a year depending on food and environmental changes.> What level of ph and how hard water should be? <This fish can tolerate hard alkaline water just fine.> What type of foods could I offer it (P. dovii).? <Washed earthworms, brine shrimp, krill, high quality pellets like spectrum and some flake food.> I have a 15 gallon guppy tank with a guppy plague ( too many guppies) that I use to feed my charross barracudas ( freshwater barracuda). Could I do this also with the P. dovii? < Sure> I also added pH Bullseye to the 35g tank and the tank turned all white with a milky color it did lower the ph to 7.0 but it looks like it snowed. All the algae, rocks, plants, and even fish are coated with this milky substance it looks like it just dyes algae, slime coats, etc. with white milky color...all fish are fine happy and feeding well.  I know now its not a good idea to add something to take away something. Should I do gravel vacuuming and basically 70% water change to fix this problem <That would help, but then you are back to where you started from. The product bonded with the calcium in the water and formed a precipitate. Next time check out the WWM site for softening water.> Please help, thanks, Sean (sorry for bad grammar) < Next time do not apologize for the grammar. Fix it yourself or your question will not be answered. The purpose of this web site is to help people become better aquarists, save some aquatic animals, and post the questions so others can learn from the them. If we spend all of our time correcting grammar then that means that with our limited time someone will have to wait for a response. Many on the crew would not respond to your problem the way it is written. With computers today spell and grammar check could not make things any easier. Please use them.-Chuck> <<Thank you, Chuck.  We have a page regarding when, how, and why we prefer queries come in legible English.  Please see here (to start): http://www.wetwebmedia.com/QueryCorrsRefPg.htm - Marina>>

Dovii Cichlids and Softening Water 11/2/05 Hi I have a 49 gallon aquarium and wanted to know if I could house a wolf cichlid pair. < Not for long. They get big and are usually very aggressive.> I am currently building a 250 gallon wood/glass aquarium in my fish room (soon to be anyways) I would like to what type of setup to have for this fish. < Rocks sand and some wood. Big filters that will pump 700+ gallons per hour. Lots of water changes.> I also have a second question. I have a 35 gallon but the water is outrageously hard and alkaline, like off the charts. I want to know how do I reduce the alkalinity and hardness? The ph is 8.1. Should I lower this ? Nitrates are 20ppm and nitrite is 0ppm. I got 175 BioWheel and a 100gph tetra 3 in 1.Any suggestions for this? (sorry for the 2 part question). < There are many fish like rift lake cichlids that will very well in your water. Your filtration is very good. Getting the pH down would be better for most aquarium fish but at 8.1 that would be the upper limit for most community fish. Some livebearers would do OK too. check out the WWM FAQ's for additional info on softening aquarium water.-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> 

Mixing Central American Cichlids 10/31/05 I have a single male Midas cichlid in a 75gal tank. I just put 2 female convict cichlids in the tank with him because I didn't want him to be a single wet pet. There has been some minor aggression in the tank just around his flower pot but that's it. I don't want to make hybrids, that's why I was thinking convicts are to small for him to mate with. Am I right? I got two females due to the aggression of the male convicts. < If you had a male convict then the females would probably put the convict male. Without a suitable mate they could possibly cross with the Midas cichlid. I have recently seen a while convict male breeding with a female blushing angelfish so anything is possible.-Chuck> 

Convicts and Genetics - 10/30/2005 I have 3 breeding pairs of black convict cichlids, two of which have babies at the moment. My smallest pair have their babies right in the front of the tank (babies are 3-4 weeks old) and I've noticed that maybe 10 of the babies seem to be pink. The other couple has all black babies and most of the pair in fronts babies have the beginnings of black lines too. This is their first brood so I don't have any past experience to draw on. I'm wondering; is it possible to get naturally occurring pinks? <Mm, by "naturally occurring" if you mean an original natural mutation, not highly likely.> I was told in order to get pinks I'd need one parent to be pink and that the brood would hatch equal parts each color.  <Mm, actually, I believe this "pink" trait is recessive.... Basically, your pair that has some pink offspring are both heterozygous for this trait - they carry the gene for the color, but do not exhibit it. Thus, roughly 25% of their offspring will exhibit that trait. 25% of them will be homozygous for the black trait and not carry the pink trait. 50% of them will carry the trait but not show it. A pair consisting of one pink fish and one heterozygous black fish would have 50% heterozygous fry that carry the trait but do not exhibit it, and 50% pink fry. A pair consisting of one pink fish and one fish homozygous for the black gene would have all fry heterozygous for the trait - they'd all carry the pink gene, but none would show it.> I have found TONS of info on convict breeding, but nothing on natural albinos or how the gene begins. I'd love to hear your thoughts and I'd be happy to send pictures once they get a little bigger. -Anna <Sounds like you're having great success with them. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Cichlid Aquarium and debris accumulation -- overfeeding, not enough water flow 10/28/05 Hello Crew, <Hi Dan.> Thank you for taking time to answer my question.  <No trouble.>  I have a 90 gallon with several small South American/Central American cichlids. They include: 1 black convict 1 Jack Dempsey 1 electric blue Dempsey 1 tiger Oscar 1 salvini cichlid <I noticed you said small, so I assume you are aware of the potential size of these specimens?> All are about an inch long and doing very well. My problem is that there is constantly dirt/debris on the bottom of the tank. I do weekly water changes of 20-30% My filtration consists of a wet/dry system (not sure what type or size, it was given to me by a family member who did not want it) and a Magnum 350 canister. Is this adequate filtering for a tank this size with this amount of fish?  <Yes but in addition to this I would like to see some power-heads for water flow...a lack of water flow may actually be the reason for your debris accumulation.>  It just seems like no matter how much I clean and gravel vacuum, I just can't keep up with it. I went out and got two Plecos in hopes of them cleaning things up a little bit.  <Plecos will contribute much more waste than they will clean up.>  Both are about three inches. Unfortunately they have not done much. I did a little research on your site and noticed that you have referred to Plecos as "poop machines" a few times, which does not help my cause.  <Yes, they are quite messy fish and furthermore they cannot live alone on your algae or debris they have nutritional needs as well, please look into this further via WWM.>  What if anything can I do to get rid of this debris? It is very unsightly.  <More water flow to keep the debris suspended to allow the filter to grab hold/process it. Are you over feeding perhaps?>  Is there any type of "cleaner" fish that you would recommend?  <No, no more livestock.>  Thanks for your help. <You are welcome.>  Dan <Adam J.> 

South American Cichlid Didn't Cycle 10/25/05 Hey crew, I have a cichlid tank with South American cichlids, just reaching the one month mark with the tank the ammonia levels have finally started to drop but also around the same time one of cichlids stopped swimming. The fish just sits on the bottom of the tank and can only propel itself with the pectoral fins. < Your cichlid did not like the elevated ammonia and probably nitrite levels and has developed an internal bacterial infection that has affected the swim bladder. Keep up on the water changes, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel. Remove any uneaten food after a couple of minutes. Try treating with Metronidazole. This may affect the tank cycling process so continue to watch the ammonia levels.-Chuck> 

Big Fish For Not So Big Tank  10/21/05 I own a 55 gal tank that houses two Oscars, one tiger about 3" and a red Oscar about 2". I have  been watching them and at fist they been just swimming together, now the bigger seems to be dominating the smaller one. Is this normal? < Yes. Cichlids are very territorial and this often happens with two fish in the tank.> I also plan to get a red devil to complete my tank. Would this be advisable since I always had red devils and liked them in my tank. If not a red devil what about a  Tilapia buttikoferi? < Your 55 gallon will hold one adult fish. Pick one and get rid of or don't get the rest. All of the fish you have picked can get over a foot long over time.-Chuck> Setting Up a New Cichlid Tank  10/20/05 Hi, I just got a 37gal from a friend (just the tank), I bought a TetraTec 300 (and its heater module). I put large gravel in as a substrate (reading today that I probably should have used a sand). I decided on a cichlid tank because I have a 20 gal tropical but I want slightly larger fish. I was just wondering what you guys would recommended to stock the tank? I was hoping for some nice looking fish but I don't want to overload the tank. Steve < Look at some of the mid sizes Central American species. If you want to breed them then start out with the basics. Get six convicts and let them grow up together. They will pair off in different parts of the tank. It will be great fun to watch and you can learn how to raise the fry. Take the fry into your local fish store for trade. Trade in the breeding pairs and move on to Firemouths, then larger fish like Jack Dempseys. Once you learn how to breed cichlids then there will be no end to your interest in your tank. Other tanks will become boring. If you just wanted a display then I would recommend a single specimen of convict, Firemouth, salvini, rainbow cichlid, jewelfish, blue Acara, and others. Just make sure that they are all about the same size and have plenty of rockwork to establish territories.-Chuck>

Midas Cichlid Darkening Up  10/6/05 Hi!  I just purchased an orange Midas fish about four days ago.  He seems to be fine, very bossy, chasing the two Oscars around.  I noticed today that his tail and fin tip are turning black and that he has some black spots underneath.  Is this normal and what is it? Thanks, Lori < Could simply be genetics or diet. Change the diet to see if it goes away. Probably not a disease.-Chuck>

Cichlid Crosses  10/3/05 I want to get into breeding hybrids. I have a green Severum and I was   wondering what is the best fish to pair it with. < Try central or south American cichlids of a similar size, like red devils.-Chuck>

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>

Parachromis motaguensis  9/5/05 My name is Christine, and I have heard about a  fish - the Red Tiger Motaguense or Parachromis motoguensis - and could not find  much about it online. I've used your site before and its really great. So I  thought that you guys (and girls) could help me out on  this. Thanks so much! Christine <Hi Christine, Parachromis anything is going to be a big mean fish eating cichlid from Central America.  P. Dovii and P. Managuensis are the two bad boys that come to mind. P. Motaguensis is smaller coming in at just under a foot.  There is a good article on these fish at the link below.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/breeding/Kutty_P_motaguensis.html > Green Terror Growing Up  8/31/05 My baby terror has a faint red outline on its tail fin, does that mean its a male? < The red may be based on genetic factors as well as environmental factors too. I have seen no reliable indication that a tail color indicates the sex of the green terror.> What kinds of foods do you recommend so that my terror will grow big and beautiful? < Spectrum pellets, Marineland pellets, OSI flake, and some earthworms when he gets larger.-Chuck>

Green terror Cichlid Growth  8/30/05 Hi, I just recently got a green terror that is 2 inches long. Can you tell me how fast they will actually grow? < In a year it should be between 8 and 12 inches depending on the sex and environmental factors.-Chuck.> New World Cichlid Questions 7/18/05 Hello, and thank you for providing this forum. All of the fish I mention below are healthy, active, and eating a variety of foods, including live (mostly worms/insects), frozen, and dry. I would like to think that water quality and tank conditions are well maintained. I have a 125G tank, and it contains: (1) 4" Jaguar (1) 3" Green Terror (1) 3.5" Texas Bluespot (2)  3" Jack Dempseys (pair) (All these fish have been raised together since they were        approx. 1" in length)   (2)  1.5" Corys (1)  5" Pleco Recently, the GT laid her first eggs, They went unfertilized, and she correctly removed them herself. Within two weeks, she has begun showing behavior similar to that from before her first laying, and she and the TBS have started paying more attention to each other. (tail-slapping, rubbing, swimming together, etc)  This hadn't happened originally. Q: How often will the GT lay eggs? < Every two weeks when properly conditioned.> Q: What are the odds that these two will produce a hybrid, do I even WANT them to,  and what would I call the kids? < New world cichlids cross all the time when not kept as pairs. The fry are usually no big deal if they survive.> My next question(s) concern two Oscars. One is an 8" Tiger, and one is a 7" Red. They have been together in a 100G tank since they were 2" long, (the Tiger was first in the tank, the Red a week later) and have NEVER fought, or even stayed apart for more than a few minutes. I have yet to see behavior that would convince me of an attempted mating, except for a brief period where they fanned an area, moved a few small rocks, and generally "flirted with each other".. After a few days, the behavior ceased,  they have remained inseparable and totally peaceful with one another, but have never acted this way again. When I attempted to add a smaller Albino Tiger, however, they waited roughly a day before they started harassing and chasing him at every opportunity. Both got really aggressive towards the newcomer. The vents suggest (to an unsure me) that the Tiger is female, and the Red is male...but ONLY after a close inspection shows what appears to be a small white appendage located completely inside and rearward of the vent. Their fins are very similar, with the Tiger having the longer and slightly more pronounced extensions. What should I believe is most logical: * I have two males that "just get along". * I have two females "that just get along". * I have a male/female pair that is celibate. * Something in the set-up is not conducive     to breeding (Ph, e.g. ) *  None of the above *  If I can't figure it out I shouldn't raise fish. The two Oscars share the 100G tank only with a 6" pleco, the temperature is constant @ 79 degrees, the water is cleaned and changed regularly, the tank has structure (rocks, a false log, a few plants) as well as flat, open areas, one end of the tank is mildly turbulent, while the other has very little movement, etc etc bla-bla-bla. Surely, if it were two males, they would have faced-off at least once, since the size(s) are virtually the same....so my personal thought is that they are both female, the absence of a male dictates their peaceful behavior, and they have realized that there is no reason to lay eggs, since there is no male present. Otherwise, they would have produced a brood by now. Do fish rationalize this way, or would Mother Nature take over ? Thank you for any input. <Sexing Oscars by venting them is not as easy as you would think. Oscars need to be around two years old before they are ready to breed. Feed them a lot of high protein food like worms for a few days and change 50% of the water. Turn the water temp up to 82 F. If they are going to be a pair then this should do it. You could overfeed your Oscars to make their genitalia pop out. If they both are the same then it doesn't matter what sex they are. If conditions were favorable I would think that a female would be close to laying eggs by now. I am inclined to think you have a couple of males.-Chuck>                                      TMc.

Nomenclature question Hello - For many decades, I have always kept Red Devil's and was familiar with the scientific names. In fact, back in the mid to early 80's, I had several questions answered by Aquarium Fish Magazine regarding the possibility of breeding my large male. In each of these correspondences, the scientific name was always printed with the response, in fact one of the questions I posed dealt with a particular name change which occurred back then. When I first started rearing Red Devils, the scientific name was Heros labius or Heros labiatus. Several years later, they started changing the name from Heros to Cichlidae labius and/or Cichlasoma labiatus. Today, I have noted that they are also using the name Amphilophus labiatus.  I remember that the original name change from Heros to Cichlidae was an effort to properly show the familial relations as well as reduce the number of animals that had multiple names as a result of different scientist describing the same species. Thus, what is the current/proper name of the Red Devil? Furthermore, what have all of the different versions been and why are they constantly revising the name? Thanks. Art <<Hello Art, The name Amphilophus is current and should be final. The genus Cichlasoma was an umbrella for all cichlids from Central America until things got sorted out. Today it has been split into a whole bunch of new genera according to morphological characteristics, so the fish eaters for example are Parapetenia (i.e. friedrichstahli), the rheophile cichlids are Tomocichla (i.e. tuba), the group around the red devil are now Amphilophus. There are still some fish that have not been placed in any of the groups including the salvini and the Jack Dempsey (C. octofasciatum). The genus Heros is now reserved for the fish we know as the severum (now Heros severus), and includes around a half dozen species. To check on current names you can go to http://www.fishbase.org - this site is pretty current with what is happening in nomenclature. Hope this helps, Oliver >>

Jaguar Cichlid Hi. I just recently purchased a very large, I'd say about 9 inches long, African Managuense. I have never seen one this big before that's what tempted me towards the purchase! I am not sure though how much and how often I should feed this species especially considering this size? His second day at home in his new 45 gallon tank he ate all 10 large goldfish that I brought home! Is 10 goldfish in one hour too much? When do you suppose I feed him a gain? He is a monster but I don't want to under or over feed based on his size. Any suggestions on the frequency and amounts for feeding? Thanks! Chris <Hi Chris, Don here. Please make every attempt to get him off feeder fish. Sooner, NOT later you will bring in Ick or worse. You can feed him garden worms as a treat. Many good pellets and sticks out there for large cichlids. Cheaper than feeders, far safer and better food value. But I'd wait three or four days before feeding him again. After ten goldfish he needs a break. Get him good and hungry then try the sticks. Feed as much as he will eat in five to ten minutes. You should feed a fish this size every other day. Siphon out any leftovers and test the water. He will foul it quickly. This fish can hit sixteen inches, you will need a much bigger tank for him in the future. BTW, he's not African but from Central America. Read here http://fish.mongabay.com/species/Cichlasoma_managuense.html  Don>

Schooling Texas cichlids? Hello, I'm trying to learn if my stocking idea is feasible... I have 125 gal (6 foot long) tank currently inhabited by an 18" gibbiceps, 7" Raphael catfish, 3" green terror juvie, 2" female convict, about 20 green Corys and 4 Barbus filamentosus. Somewhere I've heard the Texas cichlid is a schooling fish, and I'm wondering if adding 3-4 would possibly work in my tank? < All cichlid fry are somewhat of a schooling fish until they mature and get ready to breed. At about two or three inches they will start to pair off and no longer school.> While I wouldn't like to, I could possibly remove the convict to another tank, and again, if I had to I suppose I could give the green terror to the LFS as it's still quite small I'm sure they'd happily take him/her back. I'd rather keep everyone, though.  What do you think? If Texas cichlid isn't a good option, could you recommend another CA/SA cichlid of good size, 8-10" and colorful that could cohabitate somewhat peacefully with conspecifics? I don't mind a little natural aggression, I just don't want my fish living in a constant war zone!  Thanks, Jennifer  < When dealing with central and South American cichlids it is possible to get some fairly non-aggressive cichlids to get along in a big tank. Look at the chocolate cichlid, Heros severum, festivum and all of the Geophagus types.-Chuck>

pH range for Firemouths and Acaras I have a 25g aquarium and want to keep firemouths and blue acaras. The problem is that the tap water I use is alkaline (pH=8) and these cichlids require a pH around 7. The aquarium is decorated with 3 large pieces of driftwood, but they don't seem to have a dramatic influence on the water's pH. I used Zeolite in the past and got a ph of 7.3, but now I have stopped using it as it absorbs the ammonia, which is critical for the Nitrosomonas cultures. What's the solution for my problem? Should I use chemicals (and which of them?) to bring the water to the desired pH value? Could the cichlids survive in alkaline water? Thanks. Spyros < You could try and keep them in your local tap water. Keep the water clean and warm. If they start to break down I would obtain a 5 gallon bucket and fill it with bottled or filtered water so it is essentially mineral free. Use a buffer that will keep the water at pH 7.0. As you do your weekly water changes the pH will gradually be replaced with the new water and it will be right around 7.0.-Chuck>

Cichlid question for Chuck (source, care of neotropicals) Hi to the Crew ! I have a cichlid question, I'm hoping Chuck might know where I can find some info. (I've searched online like crazy...) I recently got two very small cichlid fry from a friend (the only survivors from 3 spawns).  He had gotten the parent fish via Aquabid, and they were listed as "dwarf chanchitos" or "C. oblongus". Unfortunately (for me) he has since sold the parent fish (his pH seemed too high (8.0) for successful breeding/rearing, and he saw some other fish he wanted for the same tank) so I don't have any photos of them.  The fry are too small to really tell much from a photo. I'm looking for any background info on these fish - natural habitat, range, preferred water chemistry, etc.  All I've been able to find is that they are South American, and one photo of a pair of adults (assuming these are in fact C. oblongus, or that is a synonym) -- or at least a place to start finding that info ( I don't mind doing the research). From the name 'dwarf chanchito' I thought they might be related to Cichlasoma facetum (of course, I'm not even sure if Cichlasoma is a valid genus anymore, I lose track) but I've found nothing about a dwarf relative in articles about C. facetum. I'm trying to decide how to best shuffle tanks to provide these fish a proper home, depending on temperament, adult size, and preferred water conditions.  They are eating heartily (I've got microworm and daphnia cultures and BBS hatches going for some pearl Gourami fry, plus frozen Cyclop-eeze and daphnia, etc, so they are getting lots of right-size food options) and I'm expecting to need to move them to a more permanent home soon. Any leads or suggestions would be greatly appreciated !! < I too have acquired some of these fish not to long ago from a group in Southern Calif. The word is that these fish came from Argentina and are very similar to Nandopsis facetum. Mine have not bred yet but from the pictures I have seen I think they are a geographic varient of N. facetum. Captive bred fish seem to spawn at a smaller size than in the wild so they may have been given a "dwarf" trademark name but I think they will get just as big as the true facetum over time. One thing about these fish is that they from an area so far south that the water is cooler then what most tropical are use to. They can easily handle water easily in the 70's and probably lower.-Chuck> Thanks, Rich Paulhus My Ocellaris Hello WWM, I have a 72 Imp. Gal. tank. its running for over 2 weeks now and I've originally purchased 2 ocellaris the smaller one died because of stress so I bought more ocellaris the three were in harmony for a few days when I noticed one had his mouth wide open and looks like he's in a lot of trouble. He wouldn't eat and days later he died.  Now a day after an ocellaris died another ocellaris showing the same symptom-open mouth!- now he's not eating.. it's almost a write off :( when my fishes often show signs of stress they die. No ammonia is present, low nitrite and nitrates all other fishes seem to do just fine.  I've lost so many fishes over the couple of weeks (mainly due to the ammonia spike) that I'm thinking of giving up the hobby!  Just because i feel like I'm a bad caretaker! But all i do is worry about them. I'll send a picture < Cichla ocellaris (peacock bass) are South American Cichlids that are actually quite sensitive to water conditions. Just by looking at them you think they would be bullet proof and easy to care for. Actually they are one of the most difficult cichlids to keep. They require soft acidic water similar to discus! Water temp should be around 80 F and a pH of 7 or lower. They almost always require live food and extremely clean water with no ammonia or nitrites and a nitrate level no higher than 25 ppm with 15 ppm and lower even better. These are pretty tough requirements for a fish that gets close to 2 feet long. Try and find an easier fish at first and work up to a peacock bass later after you have become more experienced.-Chuck> 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. Oscar and BP cross Hi guys - just a quickie - I've looked everywhere and can't find this info - so it's over to you. 55 gal tank - one 8 inch tiger Oscar and one 8inch peach coloured Blood Parrot. And one nest with lots of eggs (the BP is the female) Is this going to work - and has it been done before ? (All of the above was quite accidental, and I have no intention of passing any fry on). < Hybridizing cichlids is actually quite easy and happens all the time. Since you parrot cichlid is already a hybrid between three different cichlids it doesn't surprise me that she would spawn with an Oscar. I am sure it has been done before. I am not sure what you mean when you ask is this going to work? Do you mean are the fry going to be viable? So far no one has published any such spawn so It is hard to say?-Chuck> Thanks Colin Ahern

Blood Parrot (cichlid) Hello,   I have two parrot fish yellow and red. they are about 2.5 in. they are with electric blue cichlid and a lemon yellow cichlid, and 3 clown loaches. my question is my yellow parrot fish was a pretty yellow but is getting black on his fins and under his head. is this something I should be concerned about? thank you,  Darci < Parrot fish are a hybrid between a few different species of cichlids. Color changes are not unheard of. If the fish look and act OK then I think the color change is most likely from the fishes genetics rather than environmental conditions or diseases.-Chuck>

Oscar + Dempsey My father recently bought me an Oscar which I already had 1 Dempsey, 1 pacu and 1 gourami in my tank for the past 6 months. As soon as I put the Oscar in, the Dempsey laid eggs. Is crossbreeding possible or will they live if I follow the directions that I have already read about separating the fry and adding the blue stuff? I am very new at this.... I love fish but never had to deal with this. please help. They were laid yesterday and today is Monday. How long do I have? < Your Jack Dempsey is from Mexico and the Oscar is from South America. They never see each other in the wild so natural crosses are not possible. In the aquarium all bets are off. If the eggs are viable then they will hatch in three days or so at 80 degrees. The fry will need to be fed baby brine shrimp and crushed flake food three days after hatching. If they are not any good then they will turn white and fungus or the female will eat them.-Chuck> thanks, Natalie Frelling Red Devil! Hi!  I was wondering if you could help me with an issue that I am having with my Red Devil. He is an adult male, and approximately 10 inches in length. About a week ago I put him in a new 60 gallon aquarium and now he has not eaten in a week. The pH is set proper and so is the temp. I have tried all the foods he normally eats and then some. He still won't eat. I thought that it may be  because he is still getting acquainted with his new surroundings but I don't feel like it should take this long. What do you think and do you have any answers that may help me save my fish? He is active and still moves his gravel around. How long can he go without eating?  < Cichlids in general are territorial and seem to be more shaken up by a change in surroundings then most other fish. A couple of things come to mind. If the tank is in a new location then additional foot traffic may make him more reluctant to come out. Brighter colored gravel may make him more obvious and once again more reluctant to come out. Try some washed earthworms to get him going. If the temperature is around 80 then he can probably go a couple of weeks without too much suffering.-Chuck>  Ron Sankary

Help Blood Red Parrot Fish Hi, I have two blood red parrot fish that I have had for about two years. Here recently one has faded from a bright red to a very pale pink while the other still maintains his color. I have changed the water several times and even tested the pH. I don't know what the problem could be and I was wondering if you could help me? Thanks.  < If everything else is fine and the fish is eating well and acting normal then the problem is probably genetics. Your blood red parrot fish is a hybrid between a couple different species of fish. One of them is a red devil that comes in many different colors. Sometimes as the fish grows these colors change. Red devils come in bright red, orange , pinkish white, white and grey. If all else is well then you can ask your local fish store for some color enhancing food. It may help but I think the pale pink color is hear to stay.-Chuck>

Texas cichlids my query for u guys is i have a Texas cichlid and his colors half black and half white my friends keys telling me that its not a Texas cichlid  do they change colors like that  is it a Texas cichlid or is it some thing else    hope to hear from u guys soon  u can e mail me back at   elmo01830 @aol .com <There are really two different species of cichlids commonly referred to as Texas Cichlids.. "Cichlasoma" carpinte is a fish with large greenish spots on a dark grey body. The other Texas Cichlid is "Cichlasoma" cyanoguttatum. This one has smaller white spots on a lite grey body. When either one becomes dominant or decides it wants to breed the lower half becomes black while the upper half can become a very light grey almost white.-Chuck>

Colombian Acara not eating Hi guys, I'd like to say thanks to Chuck for his advise on stocking!! I have a new question about an unpleasant situation concerning my gorgeous new Colombian Acara and his loss of appetite.  Here's my set-up: 75 gallon(48x18) - Fluval 404 - PH 7.4(straight from the tap - I don't adjust it) -TEMP 77F Lots of rock and wood for caves and territories Fish: Blood Parrot - 4" Gold Severum - 4" 4 Penguin tetras 4 Giant Danios Red-Tail Shark -2 1/2" New additions(9 days ago): Green Severum - 2" Convict - 2" Colombian Blue Acara - 3 1/2" Here's what's happening: I moved from a 30gal to this 75 and waited for it to cycle (with the fish from the first group). I seeded the tank with stuff from the 30, so it only took a week. But the nitrites didn't rise more than 1ppm, so I think I wasn't stocked heavy enough for a good cycle. Anyway, after waiting to be sure of stable conditions, I then added the Acara, green Severum and convict together all at once(9 days ago) so as to divert aggression from my larger gold sev. and parrot. The convict harasses the green Severum a bit, but the green sev. still eats and hides with the bigger guys who tolerate him, and will grow big enough to stand his ground. My problem is with the blue Acara. During the last 3 days, I noticed that he isn't eating (rejects whatever he takes in his mouth), and is starting to get harassed from the convict, who must sense that he is sick, because the Acara used to chase him and is much bigger. He doesn't seem very active, except when the convict is chasing him. The Acara was bold and hungry for the first 4-5 days or so. The following is noteworthy: 1) I noticed ich on the green sev on the 3rd day, so I medicated with Quick Cure for 3 days (removed my penguin tetras to a smaller tank and half-dosed them) until the signs went away. If I'm right, I should do another 2 or 3 day cycle after waiting 5 or 6 days? < If you really have ich in your tank, then that could be a problem. While looking for little white spots on the fish you must realize that the parasites are attacking the gills too. Some other symptoms would be fishes dashing against a rock or sand too. What for the white spots at treat accordingly.> 2) increased the temp from 77 to 80F to speed up the ich, which is now back down to 77(I thought that maybe the higher temp was making my Acara uncomfortable?) < All your fish could easily handle 80 degrees. This would help combat the ich too.> 3) the tank had a mini cycle after the additions which ended yesterday after nitrites reaching 1ppm(I have done 25% water changes for the past 2 days and now my amm. and nitrites are zero) So, I'm hoping that one of the above is the cause. Maybe sensitivity to the Quick Cure? < The Acara may have been weakened by the ich but usually they are not too sensitive to the medication. Watch out for the medication affecting the bacteria bed. Check ammonia for spikes.> Maybe acara's are really sensitive to nitrites? <Not really> Or maybe a parasite from the beginning? the Acara ate just fine for at least a couple of days though). Your advice would be greatly appreciated. I was told that acara's would be okay with a convict. This Acara has the most colourful finnage. I'd hate to lose him. If it's a case of not being able to live with a convict, I'll take the con back even though he is really cool eats up every scrap). What can I do to assess the acara's condition? < Seperate the Acara from the rest of the tank. Keep him at 80 degrees. Offer him some small washed earthworms. If he doesn't eat them then there is a problem. Watch for additional problems and stay in touch. If he eats the earthworm then fatten him up for a couple of days. Before you put him back into the main tank you can rearrange the decorations add the fish back into the tank and turn off the lights for the night. In the morning all the fish will be busy trying to establish new territories and may not pick exclusively on the new guy. You convict comes from Central America and is well known for being aggressive. If the problem persists then either the Acara needs to toughen up or you will need to get rid of the convict. maybe more decorations are needed in the way of rocks or driftwood.> And should I add aquarium salt for stress relief? < Salt will increase that slime on the fish and not much else> I must apologize that most of my info has come from research on the net - I still lack the knowledge of experience!! (I'm definitely over-sensitive). I've only been at this for 6 months. Should I just wait it out? < Your blue Acara can only take so much abuse. They can go a week without eating but damaged fins don't grow back nearly as nice. -Chuck> Thanks again for your advice! Corey Cormier

Neotropical cichlid set-up Hi. I need your help with something. I have searched your site FAQ's and have found helpful info, but not exactly what I am looking for. I have a 125g tank. We are in the process of setting it up but are trying to figure out what filtration we need. We are having the top made w/lights, other then that. We have nothing yet. We don't have a ton of money to spend, so that is something to keep in mind. We are trying to figure out the filtration and pump. < Quality equipment will really pay off in time, money and success. Oscars will get up to 12 inches long when full grown. They are messy feeders and generate a lot of waste that needs to be dealt with. Here is what I would do for an ideal Oscar set up. Oscars come from South America and need warm water. Get a good quality 200 watt heater. A cheap heater may stick after a few months so I would not skimp here because a stuck heater can cook your fish. Some stores may not carry a heater with that large a wattage so two 100 watt heaters placed at opposite sides of the tank would work too. The filter should pump enough water to circulate the tank no less than three times an hour. I would recommend an outside power filter that pumps at least 400 plus gallons an hour. They are easier to service than a canister filter. > We are planning on getting a couple Oscars and are also wondering how long we should let the tank sit before doing so. The pet store here (Good friends with owner and employees) says you can put the oscars in immediately. I do not agree. I know sometimes they are wrong. I am looking for info on pretty much everything. Please help as I am wanting to do this right. But inexpensively. Also, how many fish could I have in a tank that size. Even if only two were Oscars. I want them to be very comfortable so do not need to know the max limit. Just the comfortable one. Thanks a ton. < Wash the sand or gravel well. Add enough so at least 2 inches covers the bottom tank. Don't worry about plants. The oscars will just end up tearing them up. Wash the rocks well and make sure they are safe for the aquarium. Place the rocks on the bottom of the tank and not just on the sand. Oscars like to dig and may excavate a tunnel under a rock and end up being crushed by it. Fill the tank up with treated water. Turn on the heater and let it run overnight. The next day check the thermometer. If it is less than 80 degrees and the heater is turned off then it will have to be adjusted. Turn the heater knob until the light comes on and wait another day. Repeat as often as needed to get the heater adjusted to 80 degrees. Large tanks take time to heat up so you will need to be patient. Now that the filters are running and the heater is properly adjusted we need to add some fish. Two little baby one inch oscars could be added at this time. Feed them only a smaller portion of flake food that they only eat in a few minutes. Resist the temptation of over feeding them many times a day. I know they are cute at this size but the excess food will just go to waste. Ask the store for a little sand from one of their existing tanks. This sand contains beneficial bacteria that is needed to breakdown the waste that your fish will be generating. After a while your tank may smell and get cloudy, if this happens you will need to reduce the ammonia levels by either treating the water with a chemical or dilute the ammonia levels with a water change. This is caused by ammonia building up in the water. The bacteria will eventually multiply and break this waste down to nitrite and then nitrates. The nitrates will have to be controlled with water changes. It will take about a month for the bacteria to build up enough in numbers to handle your tank. After a month if you wanted to add some other fish you could. Keep in mind that your oscars will get big sooner than you think. New fish should be quarantined because they may carry disease into your tank. Treating and curing fish in a 125 gallon tank can be a lot of work and expensive.-Chuck> Alisha

Jack Dempsey breeding Dear Crew, I have a pair of breeding jack's. They bred once, but because of other fish they ate they're young. I removed the other fish. Nothing has changed as far as the water quality or temp. I would like to know how often they lay eggs? < Jack Dempsey's are actually named after a famous fighter from the 1920's. They come from Mexico and can get up to 10 inches plus in size. They are not to picky on water quality and are very easy to breed. Keep the pair warm (80degrees), and feed them well with some live food and they could be breeding every 2 to 3 weeks. If they are left to take care of the eggs and fry they may delay breeding again until the fry and or eggs are gone. Typically at 80 degrees the eggs will hatch in around three days. You will see a batch of small wrigglers in the bottom of a shallow pit dug by the parents. At the end of three days the fry will develop tails and absorb their egg sack and begin to swim around. At this stag they can be fed baby brine shrimp. If left with the parents they may soon be eaten. Young parents are often inexperienced and will eat their eggs soon after laying. Don't worry too much. I am sure they will be breeding again before you know it.-Chuck> Thanks. Deb

Would a 20 gal tank be too small for a Jack Dempsey? <Yes, Jack Dempseys get to get up to 12 inches. You would have the same problem you had with the Oscar.> I currently have some African Cichlids in the 20 and have a 29 gal that isn't set up yet. I was thinking about getting some more African cichlids and putting them in the 29, < Be careful about putting Africans in the 29 gallon. A 50 would be better but it can be done in a 29 gallon if you stay with the smaller species like Ps. saulosi or less aggressive species like Ps. Acei,> and then buying a small Jack Dempsey to put in the 20. But would he Jack Dempsey outgrow the 20? < If you really want to get into cichlids then I would really like to recommend a book to you to read. It is called "Enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings. It is a great book covering most aspects of cichlid keeping from tiny dwarfs to large monster cichlids. It covers tank requirements and food needs too. It is not cheap but it will save you lots of time, aggravation and money in the long run. -Chuck>

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.> 

My albino Oscar with stunned growth Hello, <Hi.  Sabrina here, today.> I have been reading your Q&A for some time now; I even have your web page on my favorites. <Wonderful, glad you enjoy it!> I have a single Albino Oscar in a 55 Gallon tank, He used to have a Tiger Oscar for a tank mate, but after separating them with a piece of plexi glass because of aggression towards the Albino I gave the Tiger away and let the Albino have the whole tank to himself, <Good plan - a 55 is pretty small for two Oscars, in the long run.> his only other tank mates are these two bottom feeder fish with red fins (no clue what type of bottom feeder they are) <Though that description covers a *lot* of fish, check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/minnowshks.htm , might be rainbow "sharks"?> I used to have a Pleco in the tank, but one day my wife said she was looking in there and saw the tail sticking out of Burney's mouth (the albino Oscar) <Mmmm.... pleco....> We quickly assessed he was mad that we hadn't fed him live feeders in a few days. <"Feeder" fish are a pretty risky food item, and there are lots of better feeding options.  Look into frozen meaty foods, like Ocean Nutrition's "Formula One", or frozen shrimp, prawns, scallops, etc., from the grocery store.  If he accepts dry foods, there are lots on the market that would do better for him than risking introducing illness from feeders.> According to the test kits we have, My PH is about 7.2, and Ammonia levels are at 0.  The tank is filtered with two Penguin 330 power filter; so I'm circulating the tank about 12 times an hour. <All good.> Burney appears to be extremely happy, he has been living in the 55 gallon tank sense we got him when he was about an inch long about 5 months ago,  he swims around from end to end and top to bottom; sometimes I look close to see if he has a smile on his face...he just seems so full of life.   <Sounds like a happy, healthy fish!> The only problem that I wonder about is that he looks like he hasn't grown anymore, he is about 7- 71/2  inches from mouth to end of rear fin.  I know that a 55 gallon tank is small for an Albino that can reach lengths of about 14 inches <And larger, occasionally!> but under financial circumstances that's the largest I can accommodate right now.  Is it possible that he has stunned growth because of the size of his present home; or is it possible that he could be a "runt of the litter"; <Both are entirely possible.  Might also be due in part to the abuse the tiger dealt to him earlier in life.> I have already ruled out water quality because of knowing how well I take care and change it, and his actions. Or do they just slow down growing? <They do, yes.  Healthier foods will probably help him out, here.  If he is a runt, consider yourself lucky - you may never have to upgrade tank size!  It sounds like he's very active and healthy; I would not worry about his small size too much, sounds like he's just fine.> have any ideas, thanks <Better foods is the only major suggestion I can give you.> I'm attaching a picture of Burney <And a cutey, indeed!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Jack and Oscar, or maybe Jack and Jill? Hi, This is probably gonna sound nuts. but here goes. I have roughly a 9 inch Oscar in a 55 gallon tank. and 3 weeks ago introduced a 6 inch Jack Dempsey. <Yup, nuts, you will need a larger tank in the near future.> They hit it off the very first night. and seem to be fast friends. <Interesting.> However. now they are starting to act as though they want to mate. The Oscar has dug a huge pit in one side of the tank. and yes. I know they love to dig and this is normal. but.. the Jack is right there with him. rubbing against the Oscar. quivering..etc. The Oscar seems to try to keep the Jacks interest. I don't know if I should stop this. some have told me that they WILL breed. but may have infertile eggs. or may actually produce live eggs. What is your opinion on this? <It is not unusual for these cichlids (Neotropical) to try to cross like this, chances are they will not be fertile.  I would not worry about stopping them, but I would make sure you keep your water as clean as possible with these large messy fish.  Best Regards, Gage> Thanks for a great site! Styler

Blood Parrot Cichlid, tankmates? Dear WWM Crew, <Sabrina here, this evening> Some background: I have a new tank which has been setup and had a Blood Parrot introduced last week (only fish in tank). I don't know how to measure her, but she is 5" including the tail fin, 3" without, approx. The tank is 20 gal. with a "Whisper" filter, a heater and an air-stone The tank has yet to start its nitrate cycle (ammonia started climbing slowly, nitrites just above 0, pH 7.0. Doing 20% water changes (only 1 so far, but plan to keep them regular) and gravel vacuuming of 33% of the gravel bed, weekly. <Sounds good, so far, just keep that ammonia and nitrite in check during this critical period> After another 2-3 weeks, once the cycle is steady and ammonia and nitrites go to 0, I'd like to get some more fish. I am at a conundrum as to what to do. I've read that I will need to get similar size fish to avoid bullying. Also, I read that they do best in "large groups" so that there is no aggression focused on one weaker fish. At the same time, they grow big and need a bigger tank than the one I have. So adding 1-2 fish would create a small group leading to aggression, yet adding more would overwhelm them because of the small tank. <To be quite honest, I wouldn't add *any* fish.  You *might* be able to get by quite well with one more blood parrot of the opposite gender, and hope they pair up.  Other than that, I would expect just about anything else to be harassed unmercifully.> Do I not add any and just have 1 fish? <That is exactly what I would do, for the time being.> Are there any smaller species that will be compatible with a parrot, so that I can add a few of them? Or should I wait a year with one lonely fish and then just get a much bigger tank before adding fish? <That'd be the plan, in my opinion.  Don't worry too much about your fish being lonely; give him some 'quality time' every day during feeding, and he should develop quite a personality for you.  I'm sure he'll find a way to keep you entertained until you can do a bigger tank for him and some pals, no worries.> I want more fish, but  my fish's happiness is more important. <Oh my, I wish everyone had that attitude!> PS. My blood parrot has a slight white discoloration above one eye. I believe it appeared after the first day in the tank. Could it just be adjusting to the new (uncycled) tank, or is there something wrong? <Hmm, could be stress, but it might be a developing bacterial or fungal problem; keep a very close eye on this, and see how it progresses over the next few days, treat if necessary.> Please advise! <Hope all goes well with you and your new pal!  -Sabrina>

Jellybean Cichlid 11/01/03 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I'd like to get information as to the longevity, hardiness, etc. on Jelly Bean Cichlids.  I'm getting ready to put a tank in my house and was considering using several of these fish to stock it.  The only info I could find about them states that they have stunted growth and short life spans due to the "dying" process they go through.  Can you help? <You're info is correct.  These are parrot cichlids that are injected w/dye.  Most serious fishkeepers would never consider buying one of these fish.  It is cruel & definitely shortens the lifespan of the fish.  Also the dye wears off anyway.  I have a gorgeous parrot cichlid.  She is about 5".  She is very aggressive & chases the frontosa that lives w/her.  (Can't really sex them, but I call it a her.)  She lives in a 50g tank.  I wouldn't keep one (adult) in less than a 30g. Although they have seemingly deformed mouths & can't really bite, they still need to be w/equally aggressive fish.  Also due the fact that they can't really open their mouth, you need to make sure it gets enough food.> Thanks, Linda <You're welcome!--Pufferpunk>

Blue Acara Revisited Hello, Ryan (or anyone if Ryan is not available) - <I'm here! Morning> Perhaps you will recall me. You answered a query of mine regarding a blue Acara that I had recently purchased and put in a 90 gallon tank with three juvenile Oscars, the largest about six inches at the time (about 9 now, and so beautiful),  which the Acara quickly began to terrorize, despite their superior sized. I removed the Acara and put him in a 10 gallon tank for temporary purposes, and, believing that I was not ready for so fine a fish as a blue Acara, you recommended that I return it to the fish store but I did not, for I had already fallen in love with it. <Yes, I remember.  I wasn't crazy about the space you had for this fish- How goes it?> A while back, I moved the blue Acara into a 55 gallon tank, by himself. Tomorrow, I am headed to town and I thought I would bring back a tankmate for him - probably another Acara, female if I can find one, for I believe this one to be male. My plan was also to bring back a tank divider so that I could keep the fish separate until they get used to each other and the new one had a chance to grow. I wanted to at least consider the possibility of a tank mate other than an Acara, so I popped on the web to do some research. <Great> Now, after surfing through all kinds of sights and finding a bunch of green terrors that look just like my blue Acara, but no blue Acara that does (although some do bear a distinct resemblance) I am wondering if my blue Acara is a blue Acara at all. As you are a person who has raised blue Acaras of your own, perhaps you know. <Yes, I'd be happy to ID him> Here is a picture of him. What do you think? Is he a blue Acara, or a green terror? At the time of this picture (October 7) he was about five inches in length. <This is certainly Aequidens rivulatus, The Green Terror.  Beautiful fish, but a 55 gallon tank will be more suited for just one.  The Aequidens Pulcher, or Blue Acara, is rarely as colorful as your GT! Best of luck! Ryan> Thanks, Bill

Blue Acara or Green Terror pt. 3 Thanks, Ryan <Surely> - Yesterday, I went back to the store where I purchased him and they had some small ones that looked just like he did when I got him and when I questioned whether or not they were really blue Acaras, they insisted they were! <These fish look similar when young, distinctly different when older.> I will tell them about this. I guess that might explain why he was so hard on the Oscars. <Yes, my Blues have been much more permissive of tankmates than what you experienced.> Anyway, I am very happy with him, green terror though he be. In the event that I move him into a bigger tank, is there a fish I might put in with him? <Possible, but always potential for war.> A female green terror, if nothing else? <Most people who breed Green Terrors simply bring the pair together to breed, then separate them.  The larger your system is, the better a chance for another fish to happily co-exist with a GT> Or would he be too hard on her except during mating times? <Certainly> Actually, though, I do kind of enjoy watching him with a whole tank to himself. From what I have read, I gather that green terrors do fine by themselves. Is that your experience? <Yes, and many feel that keeping a single specimen can drastically change the way that he interacts with YOU as well.  Best of luck! Ryan> Bill

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

Red Devil, refusing to eat We have a Red Devil ..it is pink. it use to eat real good with the pellets we fed it and some worms once in awhile ..but now it will not eat and it has become more aggressive. we have this big rock in the tank with the fish and it has become so obsessive of it.. <The aggression and territoriality are normal; this fish did not earn the name red 'devil' for nothing.  How big is the tank?  What are its tankmates?> can't get it to eat at all ..we drained the tank half way and put clean water in thinking that might be it but no change.. <Even better than that (well, nothing's better than a good water change, really), please do test your water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.  More than likely, something's out of whack and making him not feel well.  Also, did you dechlorinate your tapwater before putting it in the tank?  Did you match the temperature in the tank?  How often do you do water changes, and vacuum the gravel?  What kind/how much filtration?> We need some help ...we need to know what we can do to make it eat. it wont have anything to do with goldfish either ..chase it and that's about it.. <Well, first off, goldfish aren't a very good food choice, and pelleted foods aren't the best, either.  Try tempting him with some frozen meaty foods, like bloodworms, or Formula One food.  Perhaps try bits of cocktail shrimp, as well.  Failing that, try soaking any of those foods in garlic juice (McCormick makes a water-based garlic extract that you can find in the spice rack at the grocery store, or you could also use garlic gel caps from the vitamin aisle - poke a hole in one end with a needle, and squeeze the oil onto the food, let it soak in).  This may help entice him to eat.> Hope you can help Marilyn <Hope so, too.  -Sabrina>

An unhappy, vague parrotfish Hello Bob.... <Hi, Dora, I'm not Bob, but crewmember Sabrina, here for yah> I have a parrot fish that I have had for about 3 months. He has been doing well until a few days ago and I have no idea what is happening. <Well, first off, I'm afraid 'parrot fish' is very, very vague.  Could you be a bit more specific, perhaps?  Genus/species name would be excellent.> He isn't as frisky or interested in coming up to the glass like he use to. I have checked the pH balance along with the other water conditions and they are good. <Can you give us your readings for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate?  What's your salinity/specific gravity?  Or, uh, perhaps you mean a parrot cichlid, or other freshwater fish that might be called parrotfish, in which case, salinity wouldn't be an issue ;)  Truly, I don't know where to begin without knowing what fish you mean....  Other specs about your setup would be helpful, too, like size, tankmates, etc.> I feed him tropical food flakes and he does eat so I am at a loss for his loss of interest. Can you give me some idea as to what may be wrong I would hate to lose him. Thank You, Dora <Please do get back to us, let us know what fish you mean....  At this point, I'm starting to think you mean one of the cichlids that fall under the very vague name 'parrot', but really, I can't do much more than a stab in the dark until you let us know a bit more.  -Sabrina>

Too Many Cichlids Thanks for the response; the eggs were eaten.<bummer>  The funny thing about this though was that there was only one Texas cichlid (about 7"). <Not too weird, it happens.>  The other fish in the tank were an 8" red devil (or Midas, I'm not sure exactly-it's very orange with a big bump on it's head), a 6" red terror, a 6" jack Dempsey, a 6" black belt cichlid, a 7" Managuense, and about a 2" convict (I don't know how he's survived??). <Oh my!  That is way too many fish in a 55.  I have heard that the Red Devil is always the last fish in the tank, but I do not know if they ever brought a Managuense into the equation.  I strongly recommend finding homes for some of these fish, keeping your favorites, and getting a larger tank.  Check out fishbase.org for the full grown size of these monsters.  If they were all to grow you would have no room left for water.> Is it possible for any of these cichlids to be the mate of the Texas cichlid? <It is possible that one of these fish would have tried to fertilize the Texas Cichlids eggs.>  How do these type of cichlids "mate"?  Do they lay eggs and then fertilize?  The Texas seemed like he was dragging something on top of the eggs.  <Probably one of the others eggs, he was trying to fertilize.>  South American cichlids don't mouth breed, do they?  Any information will be greatly appreciated.  <Get a larger tank, and in the mean time, lots of water changes. -Gage>  Thanks so much, Jeff

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> Amanda Terwilleger

Jack Dempsey & Managuense breeding (part 2) We had scarcely fired off our email about whether a Jack Dempsey and a Managuense could breed when we had a flat rock full of eggs (attached).   How do we tell if these were properly fertilized by the Jack Dempsey?   <Yes. If they hatch out and develop into fry> They seem to be protecting their egg collection and the female fans it constantly.   <Not unusual for Neotropical cichlids to cross like this. These are rarely viable though. Bob Fenner> Any way to tell if they're going to hatch?  A website said they should hatch in 2 or 3 days but we're kind of curious. Nathan French

Convicted of overstocking! Hello, <Morning! Ryan with you today>  I have been reading through the FAQ on your site, and have found them very helpful, however I am still a little confused on several points... <I'll clear up what I can!>        1) I am cycling a 29 gal setup with power filter (came as a package), right now I have 2 nearly full grown Convicts and one smaller convict...since I made the mistake of adding other fish to soon (I had put 3 others with them in there two weeks  into cycling, and when everyone started looking ill even with the water changes, I went on the net and realized my mistake so I gave the others away.)  <OK- You've overstocked.  Already I can see BIG problems if you don't change the dynamics of this tank.  2 Full grown convicts in a 29 gallon is overdoing it, and the reason you can't get anything in order.> I have been doing VERY frequent and sometimes very big water changes to keep the water safe for them, and it seems to work...They are acting normal and feisty and lay eggs about every two weeks but then the eggs disappear, I guess because the water isn't ready to support the fry, or they are eating them... Whenever they start looking ill or they stop nipping and chasing one another I assume the ammonia or the nitrite levels are up so I do a big water change, but now that the tank has been running about one month (and I have been doing these changes since the beginning) I read that I was not supposed to be using treated water that hasn't been sitting for 24 hours?! <Yes, a good idea> I have been siphoning from the bottom, and then filling a 1 gal pitcher from the tap, treating it with 10 drops of chlorine treatment and sometimes stress coat or stress zyme and pouring it in. <I would recommend distilled water over tap> I did not realize that the water wasn't treated instantly as the package never mentioned letting the water sit. The sheer volume of water changes I have been doing would make it difficult.  So should I start letting the water sit? I am in southern NM and temps have been consistently over 100, inside with the AC the tank sits at around 77 degrees and even the massive emergency 60% changes (I had to do 2 -when the cons were hovering sickly at the bottom in week two and after I made the mistake of adding more fish and everyone got ill) have not altered the temp more than 1 degree, but if I leave the water sit outside won't the hot water be more stressful?  <Leave a 5 gallon bucket of water inside- should be plenty for your weekly water change on a 29 gallon.> Would  the chlorine take this long to kill them, or is it OK to keep doing it this way since they appear to be OK? <No, they're a very hardy fish.  This doesn't mean they LIKE it though- aged water is a great benefit and chemically much more stable.>        2) Then to make matters worse, my husband said that the filter was running too slowly- the water used to have more force and now it doesn't- so he took out the blue carbon cartridge and rinsed it in the sink...didn't this just upset the cycling that I had nearly finished? I had been afraid to change the pad because of that...then he does this! So just when everything should be balancing out I have to start over? <NO>  Not only that but the water does not flow any faster as a result. So is my filter broken? Is it OK to replace the cartridge without upsetting the cycle? Does rinsing the pad mess up anything/everything? And shouldn't I change the pad every month? Does that mean I need to recycle the tank endlessly? <No, in ideal conditions the colonies of beneficial bacteria will repopulate the filter media in just a day or two.  Your tank may re-cycle if it's not stable to begin with- watch the ammonia and nitrite levels, and do water changes when detected.          3) When the time comes (in a few weeks hopefully) to add new fish, how many fish can safely be added at first? I am considering tiger barbs as tank mates, and ideally would like them to be nearly full grown so the Cons won't kill them (right away at least...) Could I safely add 2? Then 2 the next week? Or is that too quickly?  I read that tiger barbs like to be in groups of 6...would they be OK until I could safely reach that number over several weeks? What if I added young tiger barbs slowly, my tank has plenty of hiding spaces, would they be OK with the cons? Would 6 tiger barbs and three convicts overstock my 29 gal? Or Can you recommend a better match for my Cons? <You're going to have to remove at least 2 of the cons to add anything.  1 convict and 2 small fish would probably be alright, as long as you continue the water change regimen.> Thank you for taking the time to read this, I realize that the whole cycling thing must be pretty repetitive to you guys, but I cannot seem to find the specific information I need...And I have spent this last month reading everything I can find, but so much of it is contradictory, everyone has another method or system.  <The beauty of this hobby!  Every aquarium is different in it's own way.  You've got to "finesse the ever-changing living dynamic in your aquarium on a daily basis."> Thank you so much! Melissa <You're welcome. Ryan>

- 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>

Buying, shipping Flowerhorns Dear sir/ madam, <Bob F. here> We want to buy from your store about Flower horn  Lou Han, I'm from USA  some to do business fish store in Indonesia. Can you ship to Indonesia if I need to pay with my credit card for international payment. If you can do, please reply me soon and I will choose for the models. Thanks and Regards <Mmm, we don't sell Flowerhorns, cichlids, or actually any livestock. Please see this article re this "species" here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/flowerhorns.htm Mr. Ong's e-address is linked there. You might contact him re this fish. Bob Fenner>

Blue Acara and Oscars <Hello! Ryan with you!> ...after all, I could not let you live in peace, free of my harassment for too long. <Never know if you never ask...> Anyway, this is the situation: I started my Oscars out  last winter in the 55 gallon tank, figuring I would move them into a large tank in about nine months, but one of them, the red one, grew like Jack's proverbial beanstalk and so, in April, I bought a used 90 gallon tank and moved them into it, along with the Bala cat, the two clown loaches and a black angel who is too mean to keep with other angels, and the fiddler. <Wow!  That's a long sentence!  Sounds like the proper thing to do.> I wanted some kind of beautiful, exotic, cichlid to be a tank mate too them. The guy I bought the tank from had a few more, including one filled with a variety of cichlids, including an exquisitely beautiful green terror and while it seemed against the odds, they had all made peace with each other. <Ha! The quiet before the storm...> I thought a green terror would be wonderful, but it seemed too risky and so I abandoned the idea. <Round of applause in order!> I started prowling the web looking for stories of cichlids that had made successful tank mates to Oscars and one that came up a few times was a blue Acara. <Good choice> So I did some research on the blue Acara, particularly personal experiences with them and I found that about half the people who had posted on various forums found them to be a peaceful, fun-loving fish that got along just fine with the other fish in the tank, and the other half had acquired warriors that wrought hell upon the other fish. I decided to take a chance that I would get one that would learn to live with the other fish okay and so I went to town and found a bunch swimming around together in a small tank. Most of them had nicks taken out of their tail and dorsal fins, but one was exceptional beautiful and his tail fin was completely unmarred. He was a little larger than most of the rest, but not as big as even the smallest Oscar, and so I decided he would be the one to try. Three days after moving him in, I thought my experiment had been successful. I had not worried about him bothering the Oscars, but I had worried that he might go after the clowns, the cat or the black angel<all likely>, although the black angel might have surprised him. He had made what appeared to be a couple of potentially aggressive moves on the fiddler crab and each time that he did, the blueberry charged in and drove him away as if he were actually protecting his old friend, the fiddler. <Not a bad deal if you're the crab!> (True, had I have known last winter what I know now, I would not have purchased the poor blueberry, but at the time I believed that there really was such a thing as a blueberry Oscar and the fish store lady was very enthusiastic about the "breed"). <Typical!  Just do what you can now> But then, at some point in the afternoon of the third day, the Acara suddenly figured out that although he was smaller than the blueberry, he was tougher and he really began to wale on him. <Ahh, now the previews are over.>  He also turned on the albino a couple of times, but the albino fought back and the Acara backed off. I figured I would just let the blueberry fend for himself and if he succeeded in establishing a niche with the Acara present, that would be good and if he did not and died, well, probably because of what they did to make him a blueberry, he is not so vital as the other too; he does not grow the way they do and he looks a little sickly to me and my understanding now is that "blueberries" usually do not live all that long so that would just be how things went. <sad> This was the Sunday before Memorial Day. I left for a couple of hours and when I returned, I found the blueberry lying flat on its side atop a powerhead, looking quite dead. Even so, the Acara charged up there and attacked his body and then I saw that he was not dead, but was desperately struggling to survive, but probably soon would be. So, despite the philosophy espoused above, I transferred the blueberry back into the 55, where the Severums promptly started beating him up. <OK> Now, the Acara turned on the albino and overpowered it. Soon, he was thrashing the considerably larger albino as badly as he had been the blueberry. He also struck the poor, peaceful, Bala cat but interestingly enough did not bother the clowns nor the angel. <He will, if he has the chance.> He also had the good sense to leave the big red Oscar alone, for that Oscar is peaceful enough but takes no guff from anybody - not even me. Fearing that the Acara would soon kill the albino and maybe the cat, I moved him out of the tank and put him in a fishbowl, thinking that I would return him to the store. <and you should, it's too much fish for your tank.> I could not go back to Anchorage that day and since the next day was Memorial Day, this meant I was stuck with the blue Acara at least until Monday. I did not believe a fish bowl to be a good environment for him, so I went to the local Wal-Mart, purchased a 10 gallon tank and accessories, thinking that I would use it for quarantine and hospital purposes after returning the Acara, However, by the time I had a chance to take the Acara back to Anchorage, I had become quite fond of it and did not want to rid myself of it, <I knew this was coming.> So, I still have it - in the 10 gallon tank, all alone. Obviously, I must transfer it to a larger tank at some point. In the meantime, I would like to get another blue Acara to live with it. <NO.  It's cruel enough to keep one in a 10.>  All the internet literature I read says blue Acaras do well in pairs, but I am afraid that , now that he has been living along for three weeks,  if I put another one in there he will kill it. <Highly possible.  You'd need 50 or more gallons to pull this off, as well as dither fish>  He is considerably bigger than when I brought him home so short a time ago, and I doubt I can find another Acara quite his size. Perhaps he would do okay with the opposite sex, but, for all I know, he is a she. <Beautiful fish, maybe not right for you at this time.  Return him, wait until you can properly care for this wonderful creature.> Do you have any advice? Thanks, Marina, Bill <sure, hope this helps.  Ryan>

Re: Blue Acara and Oscars (Ryan) Hello, Ryan <Glad to hear back from you> I must applaud all of your crew - I have always been impressed the care put into the responses I have received from Marina and now here you are, being so prompt, thoughtful and informative as well. <Thanks!  I'm glad to help.> The question of whether or not to take the blue Acara back to the fish store is one that I have been wrestling with and after your email I will wrestle it some more, but I think he is here to stay. <It happens.  I wound up with a Blue Acara the same way!> Although I touched upon it, what I failed to make clear in my lengthy email is that I recognize 10 gallons is altogether too small for the Acara - although, for the moment, at about three inches, I do not think it poses him any immediate danger. <It's true, freshwater fish, although their growth may be temporarily stunted, will resume growing when conditions improve.  Not the case for marine fish.> When I put him in that tank, I took gravel from my other three tanks and put in with him and have been closely monitoring the chemistry and it is good. <You may want to run it without gravel, especially if he is recently purchased.  Undesirables will have a more difficult time breeding on a bare glass bottom.  Also handy if medications will be required.> I had given some thought to moving some fish from the 55 into the 90, some of the smaller ones into the 29, and then some of the tetras from that into the new 10, but I have a good balance in all those tanks, everybody pretty much gets along and I don't really want to disrupt that harmony. <My mental image here is great!  Bill, aquatic juggling act!> I have mapped out a spot for a new tank and may purchase one for him - on the other hand, come fall or early winter, I am planning to bring in a 180 (or larger) gallon tank and I will move the three Oscars into that <Very responsible>, along with whatever tank mates seem appropriate. <That's the fun part> At that time, I had been planning to convert the 90 to marine, but I am now tempted to give that tank to the blue Acara and whatever cichlid tank mates he might get along with. <Lots of compatibility here.  Search our FAQs for success stories with this fish.> Which brings me back to my original question, of whether or not he would be likely to kill another blue Acara coming in at the small fish store size? <Likely no, possible yes.> What other fish might he establish a sense of equilibrium with? <I've kept mine with Firemouths, and they got along great.  Research this animal's natural environment for some ideas.> Also, your initial reaction to the idea of a blue Acara as a tank mate to an Oscar was "good choice." I am wondering - as fast as he is growing, the two smaller Oscars are growing even faster. As I noted, the Acara had no inclination to mess with the larger Oscar.  Do you think that as the difference in size between Acara and Oscars becomes more disproportionate, the blue Acara might be successfully reintroduced to the Oscars? <Possible.  A divider may give you a good indication.  Divide the tank, and see if they go after each other through the divider.  If all seems well, remove it in a week.>  Or, having demonstrated such aggression already, would he just prove incorrigible? <All fish learn and forget!  The relationships in your tank are ever-changing.  Just be watching, and always have a place available to move a troublesome tankmate.> Bill <Keep us posted! Hope all your new roommates get along in the end. Ryan>

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>

Re: How long does it take eggs to hatch? Hi, <Hello> I just found your site and I'm hoping you can help me.  I have a Female Pink Convict and Male Black Convict and last night she laid eggs and he did his thing to them.  Anyway they are in a 55 gallon tank with other Cichlids, what can I do to insure the hatching of the babies and how long will it be before they hatch?  Any help would be greatly appreciated!! Shannon <The best thing you can do is leave them alone as much as possible. The eggs will generally hatch in 48-72 hours. Take a look at http://www.geocities.com/dick_pahimulin/articles/a01.htm there's some good info there. You're welcome! Ronni>

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>

Oscar/Texas cichlid I have a 3" albino tiger Oscar and a Texas cichlid in a tank together. I was wondering if these are suitable tank mates. I have heard that the Texas cichlid is very mean and might kill the Oscar, but so far it seems to be the opposite. The Texan just kinda hangs around the bottom and sometimes when the Oscar sees him he will chase him for a bit, but quickly loses interest. They don't seem to mind each other for the most part. They are currently in a 29G but I'm planning to upgrade to a 60G before too long. I've heard some people say they are good together, and some say they don't mix. So I guess I'm a tad confused. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Also I was wondering if you had any info on the Texan because there are barely any on any sites I can find. All I know is that he is the coolest looking freshwater fish I have seen thus far. Thanks for your time. <As far as water parameters go these fish should be fine together. The chasing you are seeing is most likely because of territorial disputes, especially if the Oscar is larger or was in the tank before you added the Texas. They need to be moved into the larger tank ASAP and once they get large you may find yourself needing an even larger tank to prevent the fighting. To find more WebPages on the Texas, do a search for the species name Herichthys cyanoguttatus or the more common name Rio Grande cichlid. Ronni>

Re: Freshwater Pufferfish & Firemouth Cichlids Thank you again for the last email but I was wondering if I could put only 1 or 2 freshwater Pufferfish in 50 gal tank with the Firemouth cichlids.  The particular puffer I was thinking about was Indian Dwarf Puffer mainly because they don't require any brackish water. <You might be able to get by with these but they will most likely become bite-sized morsels for your Cichlids because they reach a maximum size of only about 1' and your Cichlids are going to reach around 7'. Ronni>

Re: Firemouth Compatibility I have 50 gal tank with 6 Firemouth cichlids in it and was wondering what other fish I could add without them being killed by the Firemouths. <Really, you're pretty close to the maximum fish load for this tank.> I was looking at adding some Severums, <These require a much lower Ph than your Firemouths> some black sharks <These can get over 3 feet long and will be way too big for your tank> or jack Dempseys <These can get close to 12' long and will be too big unless you had just one or two of these and nothing else.> and need some advice on what type of fish would work good in the tank. <Do some research at www.wetwebmedia.com and also at www.fishbase.org but I really wouldn't recommend adding anything else to this tank. Ronni>

Cichlids Hi, I just got my 29gallon up and running with a 2'' Jack Dempsey, a 3 1/2'' Oscar and a 3 1/2'' pleco. I plan to upgrade to a 125gallon in at the least 4months... <You'll definitely need this larger tank. Also, this is really too much of a fish load for a new tank. You should have allowed the tank to cycle (probably with just a few goldfish) before adding any of these guys.> At the moment they are all doing very good...I happen to have my heart set on a green terror about 2'' at the pet store. Could I try adding him? <I wouldn't recommend it until you get the larger tank. You'll be asking for trouble putting him in this size tank with those others.> If so how long is the min. to upgrade their tank? <Even without him the longest they'll be able to be kept in the 29 is another month or two.> At the moment I have a good filter/aeration, use the gravel vac and change water daily (ammonia is 1.5 working on lowering). <Yes, you definitely need to get the ammonia down and soon.> Also when I do get the 125g going what would be some good tankmates? (non cichlids) I was wanting maybe some bottom feeders and top surface fish all native to either C/S America. thx in advance <Anything you add is going to need to get fairly large and be at least semi-aggressive. If you get the Green Terror I wouldn't recommend adding much if anything else. All of the fish you have get quite large (the Green Terror will be the smallest and can be 8 inches!) Do some reading at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm about setting up and cycling new tanks and the types of fish you want to keep. Ronni>

Breeding Severums (02/25/03) I'm going to sound like a COMPLETE ignoramus here, but oh well. <Ananda here, and believe me, I have done the same thing....> I have 2 Severums in my community tank.  I am interested in breeding Severums, but have NO idea how to determine the sex of them!  I have read descriptions that say things like "the male has pointier fins", but I have been unable to see actual side-by-side pictures showing the differences, which makes the descriptions useless.   <I didn't find any side-by-side photos, either, and read that one of the few ways you can be certain of the gender of the fish is to examine their genital papillae. The text didn't specify what to look for, but I suspect the male's will be more pointed and the female's ovipositor will be rounded. (The other way to be certain which is which is to catch them spawning!) A female Severum may have a dark spot on the dorsal fin, while males may have reddish-brown spots and worm-like markings on the head. > They are about 3-1/2 to 4" long, one green & one gold.  Any help you can give would be VERY appreciated! <I've read that these fish do not pair bond particularly easily. I would suggest a large tank, excellent food, and several fish. If you have one male and a harem of females, you may get a pair to spawn. As for *finding* that male, you might need to go to a local fish store with a fair number of these fish in one tank and just stare at the fish for a while, or look for a cichlid club and ask its members for help.> Thanks, <You're welcome. --Ananda>

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