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FAQs on Feeding African Cichlids

Related Articles: African Cichlids, Malawian Cichlids: The Mbuna and their Allies By Neale Monks, The Blue Followers: the Placidochromis of Lake Malawi by Daniella Rizzo, Cichlid Fishes

Related FAQs: African Cichlids, African Cichlid Identification, African Cichlid Selection, African Cichlid Behavior, African Cichlid Selection, African Cichlid Compatibility, African Cichlid Systems, African Cichlid Reproduction, African Cichlid Disease, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Aulonocara baenschi male from Nkhomo Reef, Lake Malawi.

Labeotropheus trewavasae Acting Bad, and fdg. f's    3/10/14
My cichlid has been hiding for the past couple of days. He rarely comes out any more. I've looked in on him a few times and he's laying on his side in his cave. I do a 25% water change a week. His water temp stays at 78. PH stays around 7.8, nitrite is 0, ammonia is 0, and nitrate is 10. He looks completely fine. He doesn't have cloudy eyes, his scales aren't bloated, he
doesn't have Ich, and his stomach isn't sunk in. I can't think of what else could be wrong with him. I haven't even seen him come out to eat and he always comes up and gets excited for food. What could possibly be wrong with him? What should I do?
< This Lake Malawi cichlid requires a strict diet of vegetable matter. Animal protein causes internal problems. You did not mention the food you were feeding. Check the label for protein sources. Treat in a hospital tank with a Nitrofuranace type antibiotic.-Chuck>
Re: Labeotropheus trewavasae acting bad   3/10/14
Labeotropheus Acting Bad II

I've been feeding him the cichlid flakes you buy at the store. I can't find any antibiotic treatments with Nitrofuran in it. Is there a name of something you could give me?
< Cichlid flakes are made for all kinds of cichlids including carnivores cichlids. Your cichlid needs a diet with vegetable matter in it, like Spirulina. Look for Furan II. Look online if your local store doesn't have it.-Chuck>

Strange Bump 9/19/11
Melanochromis auratus Overfed

I found your site today and searched for what I'm about to describe, I couldn't find anything. I have a 20 gallon long tank, filtered by an Eheim 2213. Tank substrate is a crushed shell and coral mix recommended to me by a local shop, it was labeled for use in African Cichlid set-ups. The water clarity is excellent and pH is around 7.8 - 8.0, according to the color chart. I feed them Omega One Cichlid flakes. Several weeks ago we brought home a Melanochromis auratus.
Not sure if it was a male or female, it didn't have any egg spots so I'm assuming it was a female.
< Males turn dark with light colored stripe as they mature.>
When she was introduced to the tank she quickly showed signs of becoming one of the tank's dominant fish. She also seemed to pal around with a Melanochromis johanni who is also a tank boss. She was always up front and ate very well, to the point where she was quite the hog. She was quite chunky, but I wouldn't describe her as bloated just well fed. Anyway she soon stopped eating and retreated to the back of the tank gradually losing weight. She would attempt to eat but it looked like she would spit out the little bit of food she took in. This went on for a couple of days then I noticed a small bump on her side. The bump grew over a day or so and then it looked like there was something sticking out of her from the center of the bump. The only way I can describe it is the tip of a toothpick. Then the same thing developed on her belly. Her whole underside was all misshapen. She was swimming ok when she would come out but still wasn't eating. She died yesterday while I wasn't home and she was disposed of before I could get a closer look. The rest of the fish appear to be ok, no bumps. Any thoughts?
< In the wild this fish gets by when it eats scraps of algae off of rocks.
In the aquarium the food is very nutritious and the fish over eats. Food left in the gut is broken down by bacteria and creates gas. This gas distends the stomach and belly region and stresses the internal organs.
With Lake Malawi fish you need to be careful not o over feed with any type of animal protein source. Next time feed an algae based flake food. Feed once a day and only enough food so that all the food is gone in a few minutes.-Chuck>

Red Empress Food    6/1/10
Hello Crew,
I recent purchased 3 Protomelas taeniolatus, 1 male and 2 females. They are 2.5" - 3" in length and the male is starting to show more color. What would you recommend for a relatively cheap and easy food to bring him to full
color that wont bother my frontosa fry (1" - 1.5")? I dont have a lot of options for Fish Stores in the area. I am currently using Tetra Min flakes and they seem to be doing well with this food.
<Hello Paul. Protomelas spp. are carnivores, so unlike the Mbuna, you don't have the problem balancing meaty foods against plant-based foods. Really, any good quality flake food should be adequate, though for optimal colour
you'd want to include some crustaceans in there, such as krill. Failing that, using your Tetra Min most days, and then some seafood or white fish fillet periodically would work out just great. Tilapia fillet, chopped shrimp, chopped cockle and chopped squid should all work out well, and doubtless can be obtained frozen via grocery stores or Asian food markets.
Cheers, Neale.>

Lamprologus ocellatus and Cyclop-eeze 12/30/09
Would *Lamprologus ocellatus *eat Cyclop-eeze? If so, do you think it would be good for them?
<Tanganyikan Shell-dwellers are zooplankton feeders and will eat Cyclops, Daphnia and Artemia nauplii, but you'll want to augment that with a good quality flake or micro-pellet as well (Spectrum, Hikari, etc) simply to ensure the full range of vitamins. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Lamprologus ocellatus and Cyclop-eeze 12/30/09
Thanks Neale. I'm decided I'm going to go with your suggested "species tank" for these. I think it will be a lot of fun. I don't suppose they'd leave any cherry shrimp alone though...
<No idea; probably risky, but worth a shot.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Poor Diet? 10/31/09
Cichlid Diet

Chuck, I was thinking maybe I should let you know what is we are feeding our fish. Frozen Brine shrimp, Frozen blood worms, and frozen seaweed. we also have cichlid crisps that the two convicts like and tropical granules that the blood parrot likes has well has the convicts. We usually feed them the crisps and granules in the morning and one of the three frozen foods at night. Question is you suggested to switch up there diets, does that mean feed them only frozen or only dry? What is a prolapsed anus is this something else other than possible parasites?
< The frozen brine has almost no nutritional value at all. The frozen blood worms have been suggested to be carrying toxins from the muddy water that they are collected. I would recommend a high quality flake or pelleted food. Use the frozen as a treat if you like. The prolapsed anus is a condition from the fish having a traumatic event while trying to rid itself of solid waste products. This is usually caused from foods with lots of indigestible material in it. This is not a disease but a condition. try a diet on flake or pellets and see if it goes away.-Chuck>

Sushi Nori  10/19/09
I'm sitting here eating sushi, and watching my Malawi Cichlids, who are also eating sushi. Thanks to Neale for his tip on Sushi Nori as a food for herbivorous fish. I had an extra Nori sheet, so I clipped a piece of it into my tank. After regarding this foreign object with deep suspicion for some time, one of the Pseudotropheus acei finally worked up the nerve to take a tentative bite, and now it is a veritable feeding frenzy.
Nutritious and entertaining. (They're not getting any of my martini, though.)
<Sounds like you had fun there! Yes, Sushi Nori is a great fish food. It's very nutritious, and an ideal addition to the diet of any herbivorous fish species (such as Mbuna). Funnily enough, I made some Sushi myself over the weekend, and gave my Ameca splendens some leftover Nori. Just like your fish, they were a bit reticent at first, but after a while, they dug in
eagerly. You can buy Nori pretty cheaply from Asian food markets, so it's well worth stocking up with. Cheers, Neale.>

Lake Malawi Cichlid problem
Malawi Cichlids With Indented Stomachs 9/29/2009

I have an 80 gallon tank with eleven full grown Malawis (ice blues, labs, red zebras, etc.) that has been set up for 2 years. I do regularly scheduled water changes and cleanings, never alter food and the conditions
in the tank have remained the same for at least a year. I have had no sick fish at all. I am noticing a strange phenomena now though, and I'm not sure how to describe it. I tried to take a picture and my camera won't
focus. I've browsed all over and can't find anything like it. About five of my fish have a markedly "indented" or "inverted" abdomen! It started with one and seems to have spread slowly to the others in the last few
weeks. They are all eating and behaving normally. Any ideas? Thank you so much - Jennifer Brown
< Could just be age. In the wild they usually only live for a couple of years. In the aquarium they get bigger and live longer, then sometimes develop body abnormalities like indented stomachs, curved spines etc...
Just to make sure I would recommend a water change and try changing the diet to a pelleted food.-Chuck>

African Cichlid Question(s)... fdg., & Cichlid repro./sex chg. beh.,  3/18/08 I have a good old friend who has a few interesting ideas on African rift lake cichlids, so i was hoping you could clarify for me... OK, so first off, on feeding brine shrimp, not as a staple mind you, but just feeding brine shrimp in general, should be fine in my mind just due to the variety of invertebrates that they must encounter in the wild.... However my friend says NO NO NO!!! That will block up their intestines causing bloat and they will die.... Just wondering... <Brine shrimp are useful only as nauplii. Adult brine shrimp contain almost no nutrition. They're the equivalent of empty calories. Useful as a source of fibre, but that's about it. Actually more likely to clear indigestion that cause it. In any event, it's important to distinguish the fact fish eat a wide variety of foods from the idea they can adapt equally well to all of them. Lab work on Oscars (Astronotus spp.) has demonstrated they are very prone to Vitamin C deficiency in captivity. Vitamin C is largely lacking from animal foods as you probably known. In the wild, the Oscars eat some plant matter (algae and aquatic plants, for example) and the guts of their prey are loaded with plant material. In other words, fish compensate for a lack in one food item by taking another one at another time. Just because an Oscar mostly eats small fish and crayfish in the wild doesn't mean that it can *survive* on the just those food items. Likewise with your Mbuna: rather than worrying about the "perfect" food item, work to vary the diet as much as possible.> Second, he has this crazy idea that ALL cichlids have the ability to change/morph sex.... in the case of Symphysodon discus as far as my knowledge goes, i know this not to be true. <Correct; so far as I know, the only species proven to be a sex-changer is Crenicara punctulata, and indeed it is the only known strictly freshwater fish I know of that does this.> They are gonochirists (please do correct me if im wrong). At the same time, (btw im a Reefkeeper at home but a fishkeeper at heart ... not to mention i manage a LFS) in the marine world you do see these types of survival mechanisms especially in Anemonefishes (protandric hermaphrodites). <Indeed; much more common among marine perciforms.> I do know that Metriaclima livingstonii from lake Malawi are protogynous hermaphrodites and do change from female to male if males are in short supply, but it would really seem far fetched that all African rift lake cichlids have sex changing ability, however im not throwing that out the window completely.... ALL cichlids? no friggin way, right? <Not aware of Maylandia/Metriaclima/Pseudotropheus spp. doing this. Where was this published?> thanks, Mitch <Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Lake Malawi Cichlids  1/14/08 Hello WetWebMedia. I just recently bought 3 assorted African cichlids and they are about an inch to an inch and a half long. I have a 55 gallon tank with a 48" hood with 3 t8 bulbs (about 32 watts each), ammonia = 0, nitrite = 0, nitrate = lower than 20, I'm guessing like 10 (between the 0 and the 20), pH = 8.5 ,temp = about 78 F, kH = 75, alkalinity = 300, chlorine = 0. So the water seems fine. I have the Tetra Whisper Power Filter 60 and filled the filter bags with Ammo-carb to help control the ammonia better. So anywho. I bought an Electric Yellow Cichlid (Labidochromis caeruleus), a Elongated Mbuna (Pseudotropheus elongatus), and a Snow White Socolofi (Pseudotropheus socolofi) but more on the brown side and not so albino looking. Here are some picts if they work and links if they don't. [image: Snow White Socolofi][image: Elongated Mbuna]<javascript:OpenWindow('http://www.petco.com/Shop/AlternateImages.aspx?FamilyID=101074&sku=', 420, 510, 'AlternateImages', 2);>[image: Electric Yellow Cichlid] http://www.petco.com/product/101074/Elongated-Mbuna.aspx http://www.petco.com/product/101083/Electric-Yellow-Cichlid.aspx http://www.petco.com/product/101097/Snow-White-Socolofi.aspx Ok back to my problem. I noticed when I brought the blue African cichlid home it had white things hanging off its mouth, and I thought they were an external parasite of some sort, so I was expecting him sadly to be the first to pass away and he was. The Socolofi and the electric yellow seemed really happy and were swimming around together checking out the new surroundings like best buddies. Then I noticed the next day that the Socolofi was sitting under the rock formation I had not really moving and kind of gasping. Now today I found him partially on his side and gasping even more. My water conditions seem perfect so I don't know if those are the problems. I treated the water with conditioning salt because that said it helps protect gills from toxic nitrates if that was my problem and he seems to be doing a LITTLE bit better but not much. I am wondering if he has a parasite of some sort or if there isn't enough oxygen in the water or what. My Electric is still zipping around the tank all happy. So I don't know what's up. Right now my Socolofi is sitting my livebearer breeding container, because that has seemed to be magical with my other fish that have been sick and brought them back to life just being in there hahaha. So yes he is separated from the yellow one right now. Any help would be great. Thanks. < The problem is in the food you are feeding them. The two fish that have already died eat algae off the rocks in the wild. The electric yellow actually eats small invertebrates. You fish food you are feeding has too much protein in it for the algae eating cichlids. They have problems digesting this food and tends to plug them up. The electric yellow can handle this food so he is fine. The sick fish should be treated with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck.>

Marine Compatibility, and Cichlid Feeding Questions 11/9/07 Good day, <And morrow> I have a few questions that unfortunately are not really related to each other. The first question is a compatibility question between two fish in my 55 gallon saltwater tank. The tank is approximately 3-4 months old and doing well, in large part due to this website. Thank you. I would like to add a Flame Hawk, as I like their personality and appearance, and heard they are relatively hardy specimens. The other fish I have I'm not worried about getting along with the Flame, but I do have a Starry Blenny (Salarias ramosus). That although is one of my favorite fish, I'm worried that because they both occupy the same general area of the tank, there will be territory issues. <Might be, yes> I realize my Starry Blenny is a pretty peaceful fish, however he/she does occasionally chase others in the tank (no damage/bites, and it's only for a brief second). Overall, it's a very peaceful and entertaining fish. My question is, do these 2 fish have a good chance of maintaining a peaceful existence in my 55 gallon tank? <I only give you even odds here. Likely you'll be able to see overt aggression before damage... but will have to act fast if so> On an unrelated note, I do have a separate tank that has a Tropheus duboisii, and there's not a whole lot listed about them. <Oh! Au contraire! There are reams written about the genus, species... even books> I have read a few articles, however nothing that I've read answers the following: I know they eat a vegetarian diet, and I've read that they can't digest a lot of proteins. I am feeding the cichlid a mix of veggie flakes, however the protein content listed is 37%... That seems high, however I'm not sure what else to feed.... I will continue to read to get suggestions, but will this diet actually hurt my fish? <Not likely, no> I will definitely look to other sources so there is a varied diet, but is a brand with 37% protein too high? <As stated, likely is fine... a good deal depends on the "type, source of protein" (the mix of amino acids) and how they're formulated in the food/s... You could always "make your own"...> Thanks again for all the help! Eric <Do try a wider search re this species... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm Bob Fenner>

Nimbochromis livingstonii feeding   09/14/07 Dear who-ever-is-answering-this, I have a 5 inch or so long Nimbochromis livingstonii whose decided to stop eating. It all started when I fed him some neons a month or so ago to see what the Livingston's hunting is like. Since then, he's shown some interest in the food, but once he swallows it, he spits it back out. I've tried using different food, including brine shrimp - to no avail. He's not getting bullied in there, and the waters fine (no ammonia or nitrites, and a small amount of nitrates) ph is roughly 7.9. All the other fish in the tank are eating voraciously. I haven't introduced anything new into the tank for months, so I don't think it could be a parasite. Also, at what size do the males begin to get their adult colours? Thanks, Andrew <Hello Andrew. First, it's your daily scolding. Why are you feeding live fish to your Nimbochromis? Unless you bred those neons yourself in a clean environment and then gut-loaded them with algae, you were not doing your fish any favours at all. Neons are raised intensively on farms and exposed to a variety of pathogens, included Neon Tetra Disease (NTD). Since the parasite that causes NTD, Pleistophora, is known to infect angelfish (which are cichlids) and is transferred when the infected fish is eaten by a healthy one, feeding cheap neons to a valued cichlid is just an incredibly dumb thing to do. So when you stated with confidence that you haven't introduced any parasites, you were wrong. Using live feeder fish is the Number-1, sure-fire, money-back guaranteed best way to introduce parasites into your aquarium. Scolding over. Now, what's happened here is most probably you've created a monster. By suggesting to your Nimbochromis that there is "fresh meat" on the menu instead of the usual frozen foods and invertebrates, it's deciding to hold out for the good stuff. This happens with most predatory fish if you aren't careful. The solution is to let the fish starve for a few days or even a couple of weeks. Then offer something safe but tasty. Earthworms are usually the ideal food, but river shrimps can work well too. Failing these, anything buggy and wriggly should work: woodlice, live bloodworms, brine shrimp, whatever. Once he's taking those, then you can switch back to a balanced diet of cichlid pellets, carnivore flake, and frozen foods. You can also use small frozen fishes such as lancefish or whitebait. Do also remember this species is an omnivore, so some algae and plant matter is important. Most specimens will take spinach and tinned peas, once trained to do so. Practically all cichlids eat some plant material, directly or via the gut contents of their prey, so covering this base is important if you want the best health and colours. Cheers, Neale.>

Mbuna Trouble - Not Eating... Env., social issues   6/9/07 Hello there, <Howdy> I started a Tank about 3 months ago (90 Gallon), let it cycle for about a month until I could measure no ammonia, no nitrite, and no nitrate. <How cycled?> I then added 3 /Labidochromis caeruleus, /and 3 /Pseudotropheus demasoni. /Things were fine for about another month with everyone eating regularly (fed twice a day all they could eat for 2-3 minutes). The I added 2 more (but older and larger) /Labidochromis caeruleus, /3 /Metriaclima estherae, /3 more /Pseudotropheus demasoni , 3 //Labidochromis hongi/ and finally 3 /Labidochromis caeruleus (white)/. After approximately 2 weeks the 3 Metriaclima and 2 larger Labidochromis were beating up on everybody smaller with the exception of the demasoni (who held their own). This was about the time that most of the smaller fish stopped eating (all except the 5 aforementioned and some of the larger demasoni). I removed the 3 Metriaclima and 2 larger Labidochromis, which has helped the aggression but has not helped the eating situation. <A typical Mbuna event...> In the last 2 weeks following the fish removal I have lost 2 /Labidochromis caeruleus (white)/, 2 /Labidochromis hongi/, 2 /Pseudotropheus demasoni/, and 2 /Labidochromis caeruleus. /All but one of the remaining demasoni are eating, and one mother even released fry today. The rest of the fish (1 hongi, 1 yellow and 1 white lab) fail to eat, and seem lethargic. The final demasoni seems a little bloated and is resting at the bottom of the tank. Since they have stopped eating, I have curbed feeding due to rising ammonia (0.25 mg/L) <Not cycled> and nitrate (5 mg/L), nitrite is 0. I've been trying to remove all uneaten food after 3 minutes. I have been feeding them Aqueon Cichlid flakes and occasionally Aqueon Cichlid sticks. I want to do something and my local shop has been less than helpful. Any ideas? <More filtration... and more decor/rock likely, moving this about to break up territoriality, plus switching to better foods... Try the Spectrum pellet brand... is what I feed my Mbuna... developed by a supreme African Cichlid breeder... Pablo Tepoot> Also - I have been changing 25-30% of the water every week, I treat the water with Stress Coat and at the beginning was using API Accu-clear and AlgaeFix <Poor ideas/additives... too toxic in this already unstable chemical mix> as directed to help clear the cloudy water (after changes only) and the AlgaeFix to curb growth on the Texas Holey Rock (I have not used these for about a month though - I thought the less chemicals the better). Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks! -Jason <I'd be reading on the various Cichlid boards on the Net... deciding on likely removing some of the fish you have placed... or less likely, adding to the mix here to induce a "dither" effect. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mbuna Trouble - Not Eating  6/9/07 Hi Bob, <Jason> Thank you so much for the quick reply! <Welcome> One question regarding filtration. I have a Fluval 405 canister filter (2 beds ZeoCarb and 2 beds biological) and a Fluval 4plus mechanical filter. Is this enough? <Obviously not... I have two similar sized African Cichlid systems running just with Eheim canister filters... but they're far less populated...> It sounds as if this may be a combination effect from the tank not being fully cycled and not enough hiding spots. I will add more cover today and keep you informed! Thanks so much for all your advice! -Jason <You have read on WWM re these Systems, fishes? BobF>

Cichlids Stopped Eating New Food  2/18/07 Hey guys, yet another mystery?  I have a "leleupi" and a "Kaiser II Tropheus" that were BOTH eating New Life Spectrum food for the first three or four days after having them.  I mean, they literally attacked it  like it was the last time they were ever going to eat.  Now, NEITHER eat it  at all, they both spit it right out after sucking it in and let it drift down to  the tank bottom.  My other fish seem to have no problems eating this  food.  My levels are great (ph 7.7, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 20-30ppm) < Getting high, get it under 25 ppm.> and I change water every two weeks (25%).  It's a mystery to me that these  fish absolutely loved this food and now, all of a sudden, they can't even chew  or swallow it (normally it's vice versa with new additions).  The Tropheus  has no sign of bloat and he's swimming around and picking on the glass, plants,  and driftwood in the tank.  He also picks on the marine algae I put on the  clip but spits most of it out.  He doesn't eat flake foods either.   His stomach is a little sunken in but I think it's within normal  standards.  The leleupi is plump (not bloated) (when I purchased him, he  was a little thin) and is picking on everything at the bottom of the tank trying  to eat and staying active.  I have tried flakes, New Life Spectrum, marine  algae and marine flakes and these two fish just suck them up and spit them  out.  What's going on here, why are the fish now resisting NLS when just  weeks prior they absolutely loved it?  Are they sick (no white spots or  anything)?  What can I do here to help them out? Thanks so much < When feeding a new food for the first time I recommend only a little bit at first. This gives the bacteria in their gut time to adapt to the new food. Don't feed them for a few days and see if their appetite comes back. Don't worry about starving them. They can easily go a week without eating. I suspect that they are finding bits of food scattered over the tank. When that is gone they should be begging for more.-Chuck>

African Cichlids, I2   2/6/07 Hello, I was reading an article about Tanganyikan cichlids and that they need iodine to maintain proper health. <Mmm, exceedingly little... as with ourselves... can be, is gotten through foods...> I have mostly Malawi cichlids and purchased "Tetra Cichlid Vital" water conditioner for proper water conditions.  Even though these Malawi's don't need iodine, will it hurt them if I use this conditioner for my leleupi? <No, it will not>   And do you recommend this? <Mmm... not necessarily... enough of all essential materials can be, are almost entirely supplied through water changes, foods/feeding. However, as with our own nutrition, deficiency syndromes can be avoided by use of supplements, vitamins... with little concern for over-dosing ill-effects> Thanks Jason McCorry <Bob Fenner>

Re: African Cichlids, I2   2/6/07 Ok Bob, thanks for your feedback.  I use Spirulina soft pellets by HBH and New Life Spectrum cichlid formula intermittently.  Will these be sufficient enough to give my fish the nutrients they need? <Mmm, yes> I also read on WWM forums that the leleupi needs meaty foods, will the New Life Spectrum be a good enough substitute for that? <Yes... is actually what I use. BobF> Thanks again  

Malawi Cichlids Stop Eating  11/16/06 We have recently set up a Mbuna cichlid tank.  We started the tank with a Yellow lab, a Jewel,  a Red Zebra, a P. Crabro, and a P Demasoni. They are small fish about 1", so we are unsure of their sex.  Our levels have been great with no nitrogen spikes, and we have done water changes at least once a week.  We took the Demasoni back because after a few days it stopped eating and hid at the back under a plant.  We got another Demasoni and he did the same thing.  We took that one back as well and got a Snow White Socolofi, who has done very well.  We wanted to stock the tank with a few more fish.  Three days ago we got an Ice blue Zebra.  When we put him in the tank there was an immediate battle with him and the Jewel, but he seemed to stand his ground and do ok.  He was eating and swimming around.  We rearranged the tank to try to help some of the aggression.  He has now stopped eating, and is hovering in the corner at the back of the tank, behind a plant. Every now and then he starts shaking and then stops.  He seems to be breathing faster than the other fish.  We have been feeding them a combination of Spirulina flakes, Herbivorous Cichlid pellets, and various fresh vegetables.    We can't figure out why our fish just suddenly stop eating, and act sick. Thanks D&K < Moving to a new aquarium causes stress. When the new fish needs to fight to establish their place in the pecking order then the stress is elevated. Stress causes diseases. You new fish may be scared to come out. Add floating plants or a new item called a floating aquarium log for the new fish to hide in. Once he gets acclimated then he may come out to feed. If he is sick then he may have an internal infection called Malawi Bloat than needs to be treated in a hospital tank with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone  or Clout. Early treatment is the key to a successful recovery.-Chuck>

Bloating Up Lake Malawi Cichlids   10/11/06 Oh ok.  Can you tell me whether or not I need to worry  about intestinal "bloat" with herbivore fish that have too much  protein?   < Lake Malawi cichlids should not be fed any "worm" type food. In the wild they get plankton, insects and smaller fish. Just give them these treats sparingly. Bloat is caused by stress. Keep the water temp in the mid 70's. Rearrange all the rock work when adding new fish to reestablish territories.-Chuck>

Food For Mbuna Cichlids   10/11/06 Hey Chuck.  I did some more research regarding these fish you recommended and I see they are mostly herbivores. <No, not really.> How do I adjust my feeding pattern for omnivores, carnivores and herbivores if I have only omnivores and carnivores in my tank now?  I'm also reading that they are very aggressive, will they be ok with peacocks and yellow labs?  I can't remember whether I told you what I had in my tank LOL.  I'd prefer not to have any fish in my tank with temperaments like the zebra species.  Please let me know if the omnivores can tolerate lack of protein like the herbivores and will they all mix well. Thanks again for your help, Jeff < The fish I have recommended will go well with the species you now have. They are not very aggressive and eat the same foods. They may get a little aggressive when breeding but nothing like the big zebra types. Get "Enjoying Cichlids" by Ad Konings at Cichlid Press. There are aggressive members in these different genera, but the species I have recommended are unique and don't fall into this category.-Chuck>

Cichlid won't eat...at wit's end... Western hypochondria and Africans    10/3/06 A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that one of my yellow labs was attacking her food greedily, but spitting it back out again.  I isolated her in a hospital tank and treated her with API General Cure (Metronidazole and Praziquantel) and Epsom salt. <For what reason/s?> After the treatment, she was able to eat for a couple of days, but then she started spitting it out again.  I repeated the treatment three more times, waiting 48 hours in between and doing a 25% water change before each treatment (I didn't attempt to feed her during the treatment period).  The last treatment was yesterday, and I just tried feeding her again.  She still will not eat.  Other than that, her behaviour is pretty normal.  She certainly seems hungry, but I can't get her to swallow any food.  It's been about two weeks since she's had any real nourishment, and I'm beginning to wonder if there's anything more I can do for her. Thanks for your help. <...? The root problem here is not pathogenic, but highly likely environmental... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichsysfaqs.htm and the linked files above. BobF>

Female Electric Yellow Can't Eat  - 09/14/06 My female electric yellow cichlid cannot swallow her food.  She tries to eat it but spits it out shortly after trying to swallow it.  She is very thin.   Breathing does seem to be hard for her.  No signs of any external infection.  I have had her for a couple of years.  I can see in her mouth and I cannot see any obstruction.   Any suggestions? Thanks, Lisa < Sometimes when a female Malawi cichlid breeds she mistakenly picks up a piece of gravel instead of an egg. If you don't see the gravel particle then we will assume that she has an internal infection then has blocked her esophagus. I would isolate her and treat with Metronidazole. this medication really helps these "mystery" internal problems.-Chuck>

Too much Spirulina?   8/4/06 I was wondering if there can be too much of a good thing. <Uh, yes>   I have a colony of 20 Tropheus.  I feed them Jehmco pure Spirulina flakes (ingredients: Spirulina and lecithin) in the morning, and NLS cichlid   pellets in the afternoon.  I know that pure Spirulina by itself is not a balanced diet, but was wondering what you thought of feeding it once a day in conjunction with NLS? <New Life Spectrum... a very good, balanced diet/food in and by itself>   Is that still too much Spirulina? Thanks, Kelly <You should be fine here with this species, feeding regimen, regular maintenance otherwise. Bob Fenner>

Feeding Lamp Brevis  - 05/22/2006 Hello, Well all I can say is thank you for all the advice regarding my Shell Dwellers (Neolamprologus brevis) youve given me (4/29/06). My tank, a ten gallon, is now cycled the ammonia is 0 and the ph is 8.5 so Im ready for the fish, in the end I decided on a pair. My last question (hopefully), is regarding feeding, most of the information Ive found says they feed on flake food but there are so many types. I thought having a mixture of tropical flakes and high protein Cichlid flakes would make a good mix? Im sorry if youve answered this question I just really want to get this right if I do you never know my mum may want a larger tank again (I can hope) Thank you for your time Tara UK < Variety is always good. Feed only once a day and make sure all the food is consumed in a couple minutes. With all the shell it is easy for food to get trapped in the nooks and crannies and begin to rot.-Chuck>

Feeding A Cichlid Tank  - 04/25/06 I started my first cichlid tank in January 2006. I have a 55 gal tank, water conditions have always been great. LFS tests all levels for us. Water is a bit hard but common in our city and I hear cichlids like it that way. I do 30% water change about every 10-12 days and add water conditioner and 5 tablespoons aquarium salt with each change (as some of the cichlids like to rub a lot and I want them to be protected.) In my tank I have 4 Jewels, 2 Bumblebees, 2 Kenyi, 1 Cobalt Zebra, 1 Auratus, 1 Venustus, 1 Albino Socofoli, 1 Red Empress, and finally 2 Plecos. My problem is this. Every time I go into a different store I am told that I'm feeding my fish the wrong food. I've tried researching but usually just basics are listed. I started them off on Wardley Cichlid Crumbles and occasional fresh zucchini. I was told the Crumbles are mainly filler and our fish wont get the protein and nutrients etc they need. LFS suggested I feed them HBH Cichlid Attack Pellets and Nutrafin Cichlid Spirulina Sticks. The advice made sense at the time because all the fish seemed to be pooping a lot but after 2 weeks of trying to get them to eat the new food I'm ready to give up. They will not touch the Spirulina Sticks at all! I know whatever I put in I'm going to end up scooping out later. The cichlids don't seem very excited about the Cichlid Attack Pellets. They used to gobble all their crumbles down within seconds but they barely look at these new pellets. Most of it ends up on the bottom for me to clean. Nutrition wise, the only major differences I can see between the Crumbles and the Cichlid Attack food is that the Attack has a min of 45% crude protein and minimum of 12% crude fat where as the Crumbles only have a minimum of 40% and minimum 3% crude fat. I've lost one little Red Zebra since switching food. I'm not sure if it was because he wasn't eating or if something else was to blame. He was relatively new, I only had him for about 3 weeks, and he never really fit into the tank with the other fish very well (he kept poking his nose in the jewels well-marked territory) Should I stick it out and keep feeding the fish something they don't seem to like? < In the past the Wardley brands have not been  favorites with hardcore cichlid hobbyists. They have been working on their foods and may indeed have come up with better formulas. If you fish are doing well with the foods you have chosen then I would stay with what you like.> Should I keep trying Spirulina Sticks or are fresh veggies enough? <Many of your fish eat algae so the addition of these items can't hurt.> Should I be introducing other foods such as live blood worms, brine shrimp, glass worms or Tubifex worms? < Never feed worms of any kind to Lake Malawi cichlids. The jewels can handle it but the others have a difficult time with these foods and it tends to bloat them up.> Another concern I have is that I think the LFS gets commission on all sales so maybe I'm an easy mark for a sale, being a new aquarist. After all, this is the same store who told me (and labeled) my Red Empress was a Strawberry Peacock. Your opinions and expertise would be greatly appreciated. Candi < Stores exist to make money. Good stores give good advice to keep their customers around for a long time. Poor stores try and make as much money as they can now before you get out of the hobby.-Chuck>

African Cichlid Problem  - 03/25/2006 Hi I have a 55 gal tank with 5 African cichlids for about 4 months. Everything has been fine, but in the last week they stopped eating hung out in the plant at the bottom of the tank, they then seemed very spazzy like slamming themselves all over the tank then floating, then kind of snapping out of it, then a couple days later spaz again then suddenly die, this was stressful to watch, I tested the water & everything was good, someone said they might be lacking oxygen, but how do you test that? so we added an air pump, that didn't work obviously, well their all dead except for one smaller one that seems to be starting the same symptoms, what could this be?  I am using the filtration that cam with the tank, we lowered the water level a bit that didn't help either.  any suggestions? One thing I've learned from this is cichlids get sick easily, seem sensitive...... Thanks you, Sue < Wrong food. African cichlids come from the rift lakes. Most of the more inexpensive and colorful ones come from Lake Malawi. Malawian cichlids eat algae, plankton and or other fish. I suspect that you are feeding food that is very high in protein. This blocks up the intestinal track and then they stop eating and bloat up and die. Switch to Spirulina algae flakes. Feed once a day and then only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. Keep them at 75 F, in hard alkaline water. Cichlids are actually quite hardy under the right conditions.-Chuck> Feeding Red Zebra Cichlids  3/22/06 Hi, I recently purchased 2 very pretty Red Zebra Cichlids.  I'm not new to owning fish, but am to cichlids.  I have read that the Red Zebra's need a specific type of diet.  I also read that it's recommended to not give them blood worms due to their tendency to get a blockage from them.  Are Tubifex worms ok for them to eat? Thanks Mike < In the wild they feed on algae that they scrape off of rocks or some plankton they can get from the water. Worms are too meaty and the they get bogged down in the long vegetarian intestines of many Lake Malawian cichlids. Feed then a good quality veggie flake with some Spirulina in it. Occasional brine shrimp flake will add to their color.-Chuck> What can my cichlid eat... Child, English - 2/28/2006 i just started cichlids and they're African cichlids i had my dad ask when they could eat live things like crickets or guppies (right now they are very small Petco sells them very small and they're adorable) and the guy said the African cichlids are really vegetarians and the south am. cichlids are more meat eaters. <A largely accurate generalized statement... though there are huge variations here> i wanted to know if that was true and if so which vegetables should i feed them. i also fed them zucchini because i saw that PetSmart gave their cichlids that and this night i gave them the dark part of a head of lettuce. they ate the zucchini but right now only the guppies are eating the lettuce. <Guppies?> also i used to have a pictus catfish but gave to my sister because it was eating the fancy guppies i used to have and she got a larger i think 55 gal. tank and doesn't have any small fish      P.S. if this helps i have 1 pleco 1 algae eater 6 cichlids and a few guppies in a ten gal. (i know that's way to small for the cichlids but they're not even an inch yet, i have time) <... the Cichlids need larger quarters, and the Guppies need to be separated. I would settle on a regular diet of pelleted food for your cichlids, and augment this with foods gone over here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichfdgfaqs.htm Bob Fenner> veronica

Fish Food For Vegetarian Fish  - 3/1/2006 Well that kind of doesn't answer my question I guess what I should have asked was what veggies can they eat but OK. < Go to the local fish store and you will find lots of fish foods for vegetarian fish. Any of those would be fine.> Also I have one of those Cory catfish to clean the bottom but he's getting beat up by the cichlids. Yes I know cichlids are aggressive fish but what can I do besides get a bigger tank? < Give him away or trade him back to the fish store you got him from.> I have guppies you know, those feeder fish not for feeding but like I said my pictus cat ate my fancy guppies when I had them. I put a few guppies in, a couple "disappeared"... but after that (i guess the pictus didn't think they tasted good) my catfish never ate another fish again. :) < Give them time they will.-Chuck>

Blue Dolphin Cichlid Will Not Eat  12/2/05 Hi guys. I am writing because on Friday I got a Blue Dolphin and he has not been eating. We have tried everything. Shrimp pellets, Cichlid flakes, blood worms, Tubifex, and floating pellets. Nothing worked. So decided better go to the LFS to see what they were feeding. The were feeding frozen Cichlid delight. So we purchased that. He swims around and seems to be normal otherwise. He is in a 55 gallon with a small Frontosa and Blood parrot, which we got at the same time. Nitrates .5 ppm and Nitrites zero, ammonia low can remember exact reading but low. One thing I did notice he was doing was like a rapid mouth stretch. But he has absolutely shown no interest in food. I am afraid that he is going to die if he doesn't eat soon. Please any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Lori <These fish are actually sand sifters in the wild. If you see him picking up mouthfuls of sand then he is actually eating. If the fish is actually not picking at the food then it may have an internal bacterial infection and needs to be treated with Metronidazole.-Chuck> 

Peacock Cichlid Not Eating 7/18/05 Further to my email dated the 7/6/05. I have taken your advice and tried the following foods: Cichlid Staple (floating pellets), Spirulina Plus and some fresh veg such as cucumber.  However, the red peacock still refuses to eat.  As for the data on water quality I only know that the pH was around 7.6. I also seem to have controlled the aggression that was present in the aquarium. He is now losing his colour, especially in his face, but is still swimming around with the others and attempting to feed.  Could you please offer any other advice on what could be wrong and also a list of other fresh/frozen food would be appreciated. Thanks Susan < Usually  when Lake Malawi cichlids refuse to eat there is something wrong internally. I would recommend that you isolate the fish into a hospital tank and treat with Metronidazole or clout as per the directions on the package. These medications are effective against anaerobic bacteria.-Chuck> Feeding Small Mbuna 7/7/05 Hi, I'm new to your site and found that your site is very helpful! I brought some 1 cm baby cichlid, what kind of food I should feed them? thanks for advise! ka < Small Lake Malawi Mbuna eat algae off the rocks. So a diet high in vegetable matter and algae is best. Quality flake food with Spirulina will work just fine.-Chuck>

Feeding Tropheus duboisi 7/7/05 Hi, I have been a successful breeder of Tropheus for some time and am in the middle of talks with a local dealer whom has supplied me some Juvenile F1 Duboisi. I purchased 9 from him, and purchased 11 from 2 other sources. The 9 Duboisi have been fed on ZM 200 fry granular pellets, and the other 11 have been fed on Spirulina flake from release. I have now lost 5 of the 9 young Duboisi fed on ZM 200 and none of the other 11. I have searched the internet and found that most fry foods by ZM are high protein (50 - 60%). After mentioning this to the dealer he has told me that he feeds his on bloodworm and even earth worms and all is fine and it must be my water. Now after some frantic testing (water is 8.2 PH, No Nitrates or Nitrites) and some TLC the young Duboisi seem to have stopped dying at the moment, but have lost there colour and are a dullish brown, but again are Ok. My question is can young or even adult Tropheus Duboisi or to that matter take a pellet food with 60% protein and is also advertised as easily digestible? I spoke with ZM themselves and there reply was ZM fry food is just that fry food and all fry will benefit from it if they don't have a protein problem. Still this did not answer my question and I am still confused - can anyone help? < I feel your pain and do have an explanation. Tropheus, as you already know, are herbivores. In the wild they eat algae and little microorganisms that live within the strains that they graze from the rocks. As such they have a very long digestive tract to break down this algae. This gut is full of bacteria that help break down the algae. When you introduce a new food, especially ones high in protein, the bacteria aren't use to this new food source and this is when the problems start. Usually the food causes a blockage because the bacteria have not had this highly nutritious food source before and they multiply out of control. I have a friend that also feeds his colonies of Tropheus flakes, frozen shrimp, pellets, bloodworms and smelt! He and I have had many head to head discussions on how this could be. It turns out that you can feed Tropheus anything! But first you need to s-l-o-w-l-y introduce the new food source to the Tropheus so their gut has a chance to adapt. This is done with initially very small feedings that are gradually increased over a few weeks. The benefit of a diet with more protein is larger spawns. For bloat problems you need to treat with Metronidazole.-Chuck> Rgds Brian

Red Peacock not eating 7/6/05 Hi, <Hello there> I have a 150 litre tank with 8 cichlids (1 male electric blue, 1 electric yellow- male I think, 1 C. moorii, 2 tangerine cichlids and 2 other cichlids, which I don't know what they are, and a red peacock, again I think it's male). The tank is set up with a couple of rocks, false plants and gravel.  The temp. is maintained between 78 and 80 C. I feed the cichlids once a day on fish flakes, although the red peacock has not eaten in about 3 weeks. When it is feeding time it comes up with the other fish, but doesn't eat; it either doesn't attempt too, or it immediately spits it out. He is now starting to lose weight and he doesn't always have his fins up. <I encourage you to switch to a pelleted food format... flakes don't have much "body"... there's not much to them for medium to large size fishes> I went to the fish shop for advice who suggested that it was either; carrying eggs, poor water quality, too much aggression in the tank or an internal infection. I had the water tested and they said it was fine, I'm pretty sure the fish is male, but  if I'm wrong, there still isn't any indication to suggest its carrying eggs.  I therefore addressed the possibility of aggression, as the electric blue is a bully and so I added the 2 tangerine cichlids and the other two as yet unknown cichlids, bring my numbers to 8.  However a few days have passed and the aggression seems to have calmed down significantly. I am therefore thinking it's the infection  Could you possibly advise me on what this may be and how I can treat it? <Mmm, I actually think there is another possibility at play here... the unpalatability of the flake food... I'd try another format... maybe even some fresh or frozen/defrosted foods> I have had a c. moorii before my current one that exhibited the same symptoms, but it unfortunately died before I could find out what was wrong with it.  Any help would be greatly appreciated. Susan <Do you (also) have data on your water quality? Do you purposely provide hard, alkaline conditions? Regular water changes? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichfdgfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Malawian Predatory Cichlid Doesn't Eat 6/31/05 I recently bought a Tyrannochromis macrostoma to put into my 5ft Malawi tank. It's quite large (7 inches) and I observed it eating fine in the fish store. However, after bringing it home about 5 days ago. It still hasn't begun eating. It's behaviour appears normal, and it's quite active around the tank. I feed pellets - both small and large - and also high quality flake food. I decided to re-arrange the tank to allow the Macro to establish some territory, and it did, yet it still is not interested in eating. I have observed no obvious symptoms relating to any of the common diseases, and I'm desperate for any ideas which could be useful in getting him to eat, or more generally, to reduce any stress. The water chemistry does not appear to be out of the ordinary. There are at least 15 other fish smaller than the Macro, who are eating fine. Regards, Joe < These big guys sometimes are really big babies that need a little TLC after being moved. Sometimes they need to be the dominant fish in the tank to feel comfortable enough to eat. Hopefully you are feeding the same foods that the store was feeding. Sometimes fish get imprinted on certain foods and don't like to switch. Usually these big piscivores like nothing else but live fish. If you fish is wild then I think this would get him back on track. If your fish was a long term captive or tank raised then it should be eating like the rest of the cichlids. If the stress of the move has caused an internal bacterial infection then I would treat with Metronidazole. This fish is a meat eater and doesn't really like vegetable food used to feed many other Malawian Mbuna.-Chuck> New Cichlid Food Caused Cloudy water Howdy, I have a 85 Gal tank full of African cichlids and I recently purchased a new food to feed them because they have grown a lot bigger and flakes were NOT cutting it. After a week of using this food (Cichlid sticks) the water got REALLY cloudy and the ammonia spiked. The ammonia is now down to 0 but the Nitrite is spiking (1ppm). I don't want this problem to get out of hand so I have been doing daily water changes (25%) Now the question I have is if I keep replacing the water won't the cycle basically start all over again? <You have overfed your fish and the bacteria have been at the uneaten food causing the problems. Next water change you should vacuum the gravel to get rid of the junk that has accumulated in the gravel. The bacteria live everywhere, on the gravel, plants, rocks etc... A gravel vac that is done too well may remove some of the beneficial bacteria. Water changes alone usually don't.> Also could you recommend any good foods for my African cichlids? < Most African cichlids come from Lake Malawi and are often referred to by their native name as Mbuna. Their main diet is algae that they scrape off of rocks. I would recommend a quality veggie pellet high in krill and Spirulina.> PS... off topic but when I was doing the water changes I discovered babies!!!!!! They're so adorable!>>>Thanks! Ash < Watch out or you could become a cichlaholic!!!-Chuck>

Tank Too Small? pt2 Thanks Don. So to forestall fishicide, I got the water conditioner for Rift Lake - he is happier, swimming around a lot. Also gave him some seaweed and tubeworm which he seems to enjoy more than the pellets. However he does seem to be crawling up and down the walls like he is trapped. UGH I can't afford a new tank right now but I guess that's the only option rather than return him. Petco is awful by the way, I think they keep him in worse conditions than what I can provide. They turned over a rock in the tank to get my fish and there were lots of dead ones underneath. Bob <Do a image search with Google. See if you can ID him. You can then search the name for care facts. I'm not an African Cichlid person, but I do know that some are specialized feeders. High protein food can cause problems in some, but is needed in others. In the meantime hold off on the worms. Good luck with him. And get a 20L or 29 when you can. These Rift lake fish are beautiful and well worth the effort to keep. But do your research first. Don>

Re: I got a question for yellow labs Dear Magnus,   Thanks a bundle. <no prob.>   My fish's mate died due to eating some food covered with white fuzzy stuff.  I didn't realize it could kill my fish. <Fish just like humans can get sick by eating foods that are bad or rotten, be sure to only give foods that are still fresh and free of fungus to your fish.>   My lab seems to be very active but is afraid of light.  How can i solve that problem? <Many cichlids don't like exceedingly bright lights.  If you can find a less bright light at the store to put on your tank your fish will be more active.  Or just give it time, the fish will get use to your light and start coming out more. -Magnus.>

Skinny Africans <Hello! Ryan with you today> Today when I was feeding my Cichlids, I noticed that one of my African cichlids stomach was sucked in.  It looks like it is starving to death, but I feed them the same food at pretty much the same time every night.  I have 2 Zebra cichlids, 1 blue cichlid, 1 yellow cichlid, and 2 Plecos in a 55 gallon tank. They have been in this tank for around 6 months now.  The Zebra that has the sunk in stomach is also constantly chased around by the blue cichlid.  This is nothing new though.  They have been that way for around 2 years now.  Can you help me? <Sure!  You want to quarantine the fish, and give him an opportunity to recover without further torture.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm Then, you can feed him properly, and ensure that he's eating his fair share.  Once he's back to a healthy shape, re-introduce him.  Best of luck! Ryan>

- Problems with Tropheus duboisi Cichlids - Hi hope you can help <Hello, JasonC here... I hope I can help too.> I bought Duboisis about 9 about three weeks ago.  Yesterday one died, before he died these where the main stages. First day - He spat out his food while others where eating. Then he remained at the bottom of the tank for the day and moved really slowly. Second day - Didnt attempt to eat his food. Started to swim awkwardly. Loss of colour and couldn't keep balance. Then died. <Sorry to hear of your loss.> I tested my nitrates ammonia and ph and all are perfect. No trace of nitrates No trace of ammonia And Ph of 8.8 <Do also test your alkalinity, dKH - these fish need rather alkaline water, between 10 and 12 on the dKH scale.> Now today another of my Duboisi's is showing the same symptoms spitting food, etc. I only feed them vegetable flakes and once a day! and its a pinch full they eat it up in 3-5 mins. <Do make sure this food is 100% vegetable matter as proteins can cause them big problems. Also, I would look to water quality issues as everything I've read says these fish are pretty resilient, but get grumpy when their water isn't right.> <Cheers, J -- >

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