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FAQs on Cichlid Behavior/Traits

Related Articles: Cichlid Fishes,

Related FAQs: Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Reproduction, Cichlids in General, Dwarf South American Cichlids, African Cichlids, Angelfishes, Discus, Chromides, Neotropical Cichlids, Oscars, Oscar Behavior, Flowerhorns,

Usually a more passive cichlid "sport" mutation. The Parrot Cichlid.

A question about cichlid behavior.
General Cichlid Questions 04/05/09

Hello. I have been reading for what seems like hours, and while the questions are similar, none have answered my question.
About the set up. I have a 40 gal tank which is home to 2 Jack Dempsey's, 1 Red Zebra, 1 Jewel, 1 convict, and one Pleco about 4" I think. All the cichlids are relatively the same size and I'm not having complications with aggression. All the levels are normal and I've had them for about 3 months.
On to the question. Every one of my cichlids are rubbing themselves on the decor in the tank. There are no visible signs of disease. (Like Ich, or velvet, or any of the random visible diseases that would cause them to do this.) Is this a normal thing for them, or should I be looking into perhaps microscopic diseases?
< Check the nitrates. They should be under 20 ppm. When they start to go higher it irritates the slime coat.>
Also, I have a 20 gal tank that holds 1 angelfish about 2-2.5", a powder blue Gourami, and a few tiger barbs (All less than 1").
I just wanted to know if normal behavior for angels consists of "hanging out," because he doesn't swim around a whole lot. I wouldn't say lethargic, he eats but I'm worried about it. I believe it's a silver, though
sometimes it's an off white color and sometimes it's off white with vertical black stripes and the tips of the tail and top fin are black as well. All the fish, though, eat normally. I've had no serious problems.
< Your tiger barbs are keeping the angelfish at bay. I am sure that if the angelfish ventured into the main area that the tiger barbs would start to nip at the fins. Baked into the corner the angelfish has a chance to defend
One more thing. I asked about breeding out of species and was told it wouldn't happen, I wanted to make sure with you guys. That's the reason for the different types of cichlids.
< With your current cichlid selection there is little chance of a cross.>
I'm sending some photos as well so maybe you could tell me if the Dempseys are male and female or the same sex. And if there's something I'm not seeing with my angel. Thank you very much in advance. Tiffany.
< Sorry, didn't see any pictures. Male Jack Dempsey's are bigger with longer fins. Females have less blue on the body but tend to have very blue lower jaws.-Chuck>

Re: A question about cichlid behavior.
FW Compatibility Questions 4-6-09

Chuck, Thank you for answering so promptly. After waiting all night the cichlids have stopped rubbing themselves. I was told at the LFS that they do that, it was sort of like our version of taking a bath?
< No, not really. The skin is irritated.>
Also, the tiger barbs attacked my angel so I moved him to the tank with the guppies. I was told that would be fine. Then again I was also told the tiger barbs wouldn't attack my angel fish and well... Ha.
< The angelfish will attack the guppies so watch for some torn tails.>
I did have one more question though. My nitrate levels roughly 20 ppm, where my nitrite levels are about 2.0 ppm. They are due for a water change today but, is there anything I can do to keep those levels normal, other that water changes? (this is in the cichlid tank.) I read 10% water changes every other day would help, but is there anything else that would keep them lower?
<The nitrites should be zero and the nitrates should not climb above 20 ppm. I would recommend cleaning the filters while doing a water change. The following week vacuum the gravel while doing a water change and leave the filters alone. This will help prevent losing the biological filtration.
And lastly, I'm in Texas so our water is very hard, about 150 or a little higher, would that have any adverse effects on my fish?
< Wild fish from soft water have difficulty adjusting to hard water. Most domestic fish can handle some hard water but will not breed in the hard water.>
Thank you so much for have a site like this! It makes somethings a little easier. Mostly the $100 per hr fish vet fee. Thanks, Tiffany.

Re: A question about cichlid behavior. 4/7/09
Nitrate Problems in FW Tank

Once again, thank you. I did a 10% water change and everything seems okay for now. I forgot to mention that in my cichlid tank there were 4 "feeder" fish, that they we hadn't attempted to eat. So I called the LFS and asked if perhaps that was my nitrate/nitrite problem. And was told that since they are goldfish I should remove them. ( which dawned on me before I called.)
So other than the weekly water changes and cleaning the filters every other week, there's nothing else I can put in the tank or?
<Vacuum the gravel and maybe look at getting some live plants.>
And the angel is getting its own tank, so I was wondering would it be happy in there on its own, or should I get another angel, or something that won't attack it? How can I tell if it's a male or female? And I was told a 20 gal
tank would be sufficient for a full grown angel, would this be correct?
I'll attempt to attach the photo. Thank you.
< A 20 gallon would be fine to house your adult angelfish. Angels are difficult to sex and I cannot tell from your photo.-Chuck>

Malawi Cichlid Tank Advice, beh. 3/16/09

To the Wet Web Crew: I have a couple of questions and concerns in regards to Kenyi fish or Pseudotropheus Lombardoi. I have been on your website and I have utilized the search engine but have not been able to find a section on these guys. I was able to find few postings in the FAQ for Cichlids. I have done a lot of reading on your site in regards to Cichlids, but I have more specific questions about the Kenyi. At my place of employment, there a couple of tanks that has these fish. Tank A is in excellent condition while Tank B is quite questionable in regards to up keep and fish health. In Tank B, along with the Kenyi, there are a few fish that I am not sure of their name. They all solid orange in color and ranging from a light to a rich orange color. I have noticed over the last couple of months that these orange fish have been becoming pale and are starting to have brown coloration in their nose area above the mouth. On top of that, there is a Pleco in there that I could have sworn has shrunk because it does not look like the same size as it use too. The last time I was observing Tank B, a woman with the janitorial staff asked me if I was interested in buying the tank along with the rock and other accessories that came along with it. I commented to her no and I also commented the fish look in poor health. She remarked that the gentleman that maintains the tank wants to sell it. I am guessing he has given up on taking care of the tank. Tank A on the other hand is doing extremely well. That tank has a variety of colored Kenyi. The biggest one is an albino. The others are a rich blue with striping and others are a tan color with brown freckles. There are also three richly colored orange fish that I am not sure of the names once again but are similar in size to the Kenyi. Any ideas?
< Lots of Lake Malawi fish that have an orangish type of color.>
I wish there was something I could do to help those little tank critters, but I am at a loss on what to do for Tank B.
< If you cannot purchase it then maybe you know someone that would like to buy it.>
On a completely different topic, I had last talked to Neale about Oscar fish and purchasing them from a retail chain. My question is concerning how long the store will keep them. I was at Meijer this past weekend and I noticed that there were 3 tiger Oscars that have been in an over crowded tank. I know Oscars grow fast. What do they do with them or if they become too big for the tank?
< They usually hold on to them or place them in a larger tank until they sell.-Chuck>
I hope they do not kill them to make room for newer ones.
Thanks. Neal

Odd Cichlid behavior 11/18/08 I Have a question about one of my Cichlids in a community tank. First I'll give you some details on my current tank setup. These fish are in a 90 gallon tank for now, I hope to be able to afford a larger one in the near future (Probably around 150 gallons or so) All of the fish seem to be getting along fine as far as I have observed, with the exception of my two angelfish having a bit of a hard time getting along with the other fish for the first few days after I introduced them. (They're fine now though) <For now. Angelfish do not belong in mixed cichlid communities. There WILL be trouble at some point.> Some of the fish have minor fin damage, but they have been healing fine now that the fish are used to each other. <Hmm... minor fin damage is how Finrot gets started. As I say, the Angels shouldn't be there, and fancy Goldfish at least are likely to bear the brunt of any violence.> None of the fish seem to have a problem eating and are swimming around peacefully. (Except for one, which I'm mentioning in a minute) Here is a list of my community: A small white cichlid with thick black stripes and a fairly tall dorsal fin. (I can't remember the name right now, but I'm told it will grow to around 13 inches, it's only about 2.5" right now though) <Thirteen inches!!! Not sure what this might be. I'm guessing some either a Zebra tilapia (Tilapia buttikoferi) or the Frontosa (Cyphotilapia frontosa). Tilapia buttikoferi is one of the MOST aggressive fish in the hobby. Every specimen known to man ends up in its own tank, regardless of the size of the tank. Seriously, it's psychotic. Cyphotilapia frontosa is a gentle giant. A deep water predator from Lake Tanganyika. Lovely fish, but easily bullied, though being predatory, it is also a danger to anything small enough to swallow whole.> 1 OB Peacock (4 inches) 1 Yellow Lab (4 inches) <Both nice fish, in a Malawi aquarium anyway.> 3 Unknown Albino Cichlids (Each is around 3 or so inches) <One of two things, more than likely. Either albino Kribs (Pelvicachromis pulcher) or albino Convicts (Amatitlania nigrofasciata). Kribs are basically community-safe, but Convicts are notoriously aggressive despite their size.> 1 Small Synodontis (Around 3 inches) 1 Large Pleco (Around 8 inches) 1 Large Goldfish (Around 8 inches) 1 Small Goldfish (3 inches) <Goldfish have no place in this system, period.> 2 Small Angelfish (I was told they were African when I bought them, but after doing some research I believe they are actually Pterophyllum altum, which I believe is South American. They do seem to be getting along fine though) <Pterophyllum altum are expensive and difficult to keep. Unless you paid a premium, then you most likely have the standard Pterophyllum hybrid. In either case, Angelfish are not aggressive enough to tolerate life with adult Mbuna, let alone Tilapia buttikoferi. They also need soft to moderately hard water with a neutral pH; if you actually have Pterophyllum altum, then make that a MANDATORY requirement for soft/acid water conditions. Pterophyllum altum are in no way viable for use alongside Rift Valley cichlids. Indeed, there is a strong argument not to mix all Rift Valley cichlids together without knowing what they are. Do bear in mind "African cichlids" doesn't mean much. Yes, Rift Valley cichlids need hard, basic water. But West African cichlids come from soft, acidic water much like those in South America.> The fish I have a question about is what I believe to be a Ruby Red Peacock, about 4 inches in length. I haven't changed anything in the tank, or introduced any new fish for a couple of months now, but in the past couple days I've noticed it has been acting very strange. <Aulonocara cichlids are aggressive and will not tolerate one another except in big groups. I'd be darned surprised if you can add a second specimen to this tank and the two get along fine.> Most of the time (Except for feeding time) it swims in the top corner of the tank with its mouth almost out of the water. It is also swimming vertically, with its tail pointed to the bottom of the tank and his head at the top. It also looks like there is some sort of damage to his lips (Possibly from rubbing on the glass?) <No, the lip damage is from fighting.> All of the other fish are good and healthy, and so was this one until recently. I've also noticed that at night if I turn the lights off for a while and come back it seems to be swimming around more naturally. <Cichlids are aggressive by day, and that's when the fighting normally happens. During the night they tend to become retiring and hide away. Just because you don't see any fighting, it doesn't mean that it isn't happening.> I was wondering if this is natural behavior (it doesn't seem very natural to me though..) or could it possibly be due to some sort of stress? (Maybe not enough places for him to hide?) <Many, many problems here. Where to begin? Aulonocara need to be "overcrowded" to get along, and yes, they need hiding places plus lots of open swimming space. They need hard, basic water, and that will stress your Angels. Various other issues outlined above.> I don't believe it is an oxygen or filtration problem, but it's always possible, as I am no expert. And it seems to be eating just fine. <Hmm... well, I am an expert, and I can see this system won't work out. It's time to [a] identify the fish to species level and then [b] make a list of what fish are compatible in terms of temperature, water chemistry, and social behaviour. At the moment you have a random mix of fish with little long term chance of success.> I hope you guys can help. Thanks, Patrick. <Done my best, it's over to you. Good luck, Neale.>

Not growing fishes, gen. and cichlids 09/29/08
Hi WetWebMedia crew, i have a question concerning my pet blood parrot, and jack Dempsey. i have kept them for over 1 and a half years. They are still only 5 inches.
<Blood Parrots are hybrids, and their maximum size is very variable. In theory they should get to as much as 20 cm/8", but often they stay much smaller. Jack Dempseys (Rocio octofasciata) should reach up to 25 cm/10", but inbreeding over the years means that they're often much smaller, and on the average 12-15 cm/5-6" is typical. Unfortunately, it's a case of "you get what you pay for" with cichlids, with too many breeders pumping out inbred fish out of undersized parents. Good quality cichlids are expensive, and if you want the best, you either approach serious breeders via clubs or else order wild-caught stock from your retailer.>
I feed them a varied diet containing krill, insects, dried food, and shrimp.
<All sounds great.>
I clean their tank once a week and the tank is clean. They seem pretty healthy. I keep them in a pretty big tank, i believe 45-50 gallons.
<Should be adequate for these fish.>
Thanks for your help.
<Broadly speaking, the secrets for getting cichlids to grow properly are [a] to keep the nitrate level low via generous water changes; and [b] to feed a little but often, perhaps 2-3 meals across the day, but each meal being quite small, a snack really. That said, I suspect genetics may have much more to do with your observations than anything else. Cheers, Neale.>

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

Cichlid teeth 2/10/08 Hello. I just wanted to know, do all cichlids have teeth? If not, which do not? Thanks. <All cichlids have teeth; in fact, not only do they have teeth in the front of their mouth, but they also have pharyngeal teeth in their "throat" as well. Cheers, Neale.>

Flowerhorn Growth 2/3/08 Hello sir or madam, I would like to ask these questions. I know Flowerhorn is a hybrid and their growth differ from one to another within the same species. But I hope you can answer me in general. When do flowerhorns reach their max size? < Cichlids in general have a pretty good growth spurt when they are little and then start to slow down a little when they get older. They can be forced by keeping their metabolism up by keeping the water at 82 F. Any nitrogenous wastes like ammonia, nitrite and nitrate will also inhibit their growth. They will probably really start to slow down after a couple of years.> When did the hump start to grow? < The hump on the forehead is a fat storage device usually associated with males. After about 8 months when the fish 's growth starts to slow down you may start to see the beginning on the hump on the forehead.> When did they attain their max hump size? Thanks. < Probably after the they have stopped growing and all the excess food goes into fat storage and is not utilized for growth.-Chuck>

Cichlid Behavior 1/9/08 Dear WWM Crew: <Hello,> I have a 29-gal tank containing 5 cichlids. My questions are concerning the 2 largest of the 5 (both about 4 inches long and about 3 years old). I'll call the aggressive one Fish 1 and the non-aggressive one Fish 2. <Hmm... do need more than just "cichlids" in terms of description. Kribensis, Discus, Red Devils, and Oscars are all "cichlids" but clearly very different in terms of behaviour!> Fish 1 seems to be the "king" of the tank. He (or she?) is constantly charging/chasing fish 2. Doesn't seem to hurt fish 2....just chases nonstop and does this strange thing where he "shimmies" in front of fish 2. <Sounds like a male interacting with a female, or possibly vice versa. Cichlids will pursue potential mates, and then the chasing fish will expose its belly region to the face of the chased fish to show off the fact it is breeding condition.> Fish 1 completely ignores the other 3 smaller cichlids in the tank and seems only interested in fish 2. If I use a tank divider fish 2 swims about happily. I have tried using a tank divider to separate the two for up to a day at a time. What is strange is that while fish 2 seems to be annoyed by fish 1 for the most part, for about the first few hours AFTER fish 1 has been "'quarantined" and then let loose, fish 2 seems to be actually glad to see fish 1, swimming aggressively around and with him through the tank together. After a few hours, it's back to the original activity of trying to hide from fish 1. They also always do a few "lip locks" when they first see each other again. <Again, a fairly common behaviour, where the fish are testing each other's strength. This can be aggression, but it can also be part of the courtship process between fish of the same species.> My first question is: Is this normal behavior? <Impossible to say without knowing what the species concerned are.> Is this stressful for fish 2? <Ditto. But stressed fish tend to adopt unusual colours (often dark, or with vertical banding), hide a lot, and go off their food. If these things aren't happening, then they're likely not stressed (or not stressed that much).> Is this just mating behavior? <Possibly, but without knowing if they're one or multiple species, obviously impossible to say.> Or fighting? <Ditto.> It's been going on for as long as I can remember and fish 2 has always been in good health without any bite marks or anything. Question 2: Is there a way to tell the sex of the fish? <Different species have different sexual characteristics. Very commonly, males are larger and sometimes more brightly coloured or with longer fins (especially the anal and dorsal fins). Female fish will often retain some form of the juvenile colouration, e.g., vertical stripes on the flanks. Females will become distinctly rounded when carrying eggs, and close to breeding, you should see the spawning tubes emerge from the vent: long and narrow for the male, short and blunt for the female.> I'm unsure of the species...African cichlid is all I know....fish 1 is a beautiful pale blue with slighter darker vertical stripes. Fish 2 is speckled dark green and yellow. <Covers a lot of ground, unfortunately. Impossible to identify these fish from that. Photos may help, but do bear in mind many of the fish sold as "mixed African cichlids" by less than scrupulous retailers are hybrids, and impossible to identify.> Thanks in advance to any answers/advice concerning the above you can give me. :) Barbara H <Sorry can't be more help. Cheers, Neale.>

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

I have a problem I cant solve. Little Jewel Cichlid Getting Pushed Around -- 09/13/07 I have 2 breeding convicts and 2 red jewels. The convicts, when they have babies, get really aggressive, which I know. The male chases everyone around, and bit's them, so I bought 3 giant danios. They do the job well, but he still chases around the smaller jewel. I have plenty of hiding places and even have put in plastic floating plants for it to hide beside. It does the job, but this fish hasn't been growing as fast as the other ones, and is being chases and bitten by everyone in the tank except the ditters. What can I do? The only thing i can think of is put some more hiding places, but will it help? Thanks Sara < Breeding cichlids can take over an entire tank if it is not big enough. The jewel can hide for awhile but it still needs to come out and eat. When it does it will get picked on by the convicts or by the other jewel cichlids. Try to lower the water temp to 75-76 F and see if the urge to mate slows down and gives the little guy a chance to catch up. I think you will probably have to move him to another tank if you want him to survive for a long time.-Chuck>

Cichlids Acting Strange 2/2/07 I have recently received some baby cichlids for my 29 gallon aquarium. For the first while they seemed to be doing well and now the electric yellows seem to be hiding in the bottom front corner or in the plants. < Small cichlids are pretty smart and will hide in the plants until they feel comfortable enough to venture out.> The rainbow cichlids (is that their real name) are just floating listlessly around and not really swimming like when I first got them. I cycled the tank before hand and I also have a Pleco that seems to be doing fine. I changed some of the water and there has been no change in behavior. My temperature also seems to be in the correct range. Is this a result of overfeeding or is there another problem? I'm not sure as to how old they really are but the yellows are approx. ¾ inch long and the rainbows are 1 inch long. Can you help me please? Christine < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Check the water quality for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be under 25 ppm. Only feed once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in a couple of minutes. Remove any left over food.-Chuck>

One Male Cichlid Per Tank - 11/11/06 Thanks again Chuck. Is it true that if keeping all males, the alpha male will be the only one with color? < When more than one male is kept per tank there is always one that will become aggressive because he wants to mate and establish a territory. When other males come into his territory that either show the same dominant fight colors and challenge the dominant male or else these show a more submissive coloration that says "I'm not interested in fighting" . Unfortunately the less dominant coloration is usually pretty drab.-Chuck> Texas Cichlid Shedding His Skin 07/04/06 Hi. I am totally new to the whole experience of owning a fish and I started out with a Texas cichlid. Now he is around the size of a hand span from wrist to the second joint. I have him on a strict diet with a filter system and air bubbles and the whole show. He was doing fine and recently (today) he began to shed skin. Well that's what it looks like he is doing. He is not completely covered but almost halfway covered in a white skin looking layer and is steadily loosing the layer. The only problem is I can't tell if he is loosing it or gaining more decaying skin. He still eats good and swims around when am not looking right in front of the tank. He is even socialable with my other 3 convict cichlids. I guess am asking if you could tell me if he is really shedding scales do to stress or some other issue or if he will be ok Thank you very much Amanda < Cichlids do not shed their skin like reptiles. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat the bacterial infection with Nitrofuranace after the treatment the good bacteria will probably be affected and you will need to add Bio Spira to get the biological filtration going again.-Chuck>

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

Green Terrors Won't get Along - 03/29/2006 Hi crew. Thank you for all the timely help. It has been of great use for me. I have now got stuck up with a problem. I have a pair of green terrors and the problem is that the female is being bullied by the male. I cannot remove them from my tank as the tank is full of decorations. How can I get them adjusted to each other. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you <Green terrors like other large cichlids get very territorial when they get older. Other fish compete for resources like food and shelter. Males will allow females into their territory if they are ready to breed. If not, then they are chased away until they are ready to breed. You could try lowering the temp to the mid 70's and rearrange the decorations. If that does not work then get a tank divider before he kills her.-Chuck>

Questions about 'inherited' tank ... Cichlid... beh., comp. - 03/05/06 Good evening and I hope this finds you doing well! I have spent the past several days reading various articles from your site in an attempt to learn more about the tank that I have and the fish that are left in it, but still find myself with a few questions. I will attempt to keep this as brief as possible, but would like to include some background. I recently purchased a house that contained a 75 gallon in-wall fish tank and I was appalled at how disgusting the tank was. The previous owner had no idea what type of fish were in the tank, only had an under-gravel filter and stated that he had not cleaned the tank in almost 18 months!! (I was surprised that the fish were still alive). The tank was essentially nothing but funk; the coral was almost black, the air tubes were half clogged with gunk, you could barely see the fish through the nasty water and it was smelling up the entire living room area!! So I decided that one of my first tasks was to clean this tank out thoroughly and get better equipment. I still had no idea what type of fish were in the tank but at that time, I was only focused on getting the tank clean. (I should have thought about the fish but figured that they were fairly tough since they were still alive in the nasty tank). I cleaned the tank, got an excellent filtration unit (Bio-Wheel of course) and did everything right (or so I think) prior to introducing the fish back into the tank. I used 'Stress Coat' to take the chlorine out of the water, I ensured that the temperature was stabilized and at the same temp as the water they had been living in. I expected the fish to be in a bit of shock upon being placed in the tank so I was not too surprised when they all just sort of went to the bottom of the tank and did not move much. I put food in the tank and went off to bed. Well, the next morning, all of the fish were dead except for 5 sucker fish and 4 fish that I was able to determine later on were convict cichlids. I was devastated and blame myself but am not sure what I did wrong. I decided that having 5 sucker fish in the tank was too much, due to their size (each was about 6-7"), the size of the tank, the lack of fish in the tank and the fact that I have no live plants in the tank. I found a local fish store and they were able to take 3 of the sucker fish and give them a great home in a pond. I also explained to them what had happened with all the other fish in the tank (they had no explanation either) and that I wanted to get new fish to repopulate my tank but was unsure what type of cichlids would fit in nicely with the convicts. They recommended the jewel cichlid and so I bought 4 of them. I was worried at first because many people on this (and other sites) have stated that they have had numerous aggression problems with their jewels. However, I have had the jewels in my tank for 3 days now and there are no problems at all. All of the fish seem to be getting along nicely and there has been no signs of aggression or fighting. I hope it stays that way! Really, I do have questions! 1. When I brought the jewels home, they were (for lack of a better description) a pale pink/peach color but today I noticed that one of them is turning a dark red color on his bottom side as well as on his tail. You can also see what appears to be little bright blue specks. He/She is eating well and swimming around and showing no signs of distress. The coloring is beautiful but I am not sure if this is normal or not. Is it?? And if so, will the colors come and go and if so, what causes the color changes? < As fish settle in and feel more comfortable they start to get a more normal coloration. The jewel fish is actually quite pretty and the red you are seeing is normal.> 2. I have no idea what the sex of any of the fish are but I know that convicts and jewels become territorial and aggressive when they lay eggs/have fry. Having said that, I do not want to keep any of the fry should that occur and I know that the local fish store would not want them either. How should I go about removing the eggs (or fry) in the event that I do have male and females of the same species? < Leave them in the tank with the parents. After a couple of weeks they will stop caring for them and the other fish will eat them.> 3. I would like to get a few more cichlids for my tank but I am not sure what other type of cichlid would go well with the convicts and jewels. The rainbow cichlid (beautiful yellow from what I saw on-line) is one that I am considering but again, have no idea how they would get along with my existing fish. Any suggestions? < Jack Dempseys, firemouths, salvini, port acaras, blue acaras, rainbow cichlids, Texas cichlids are some of the more common fish found in pet shops.-Chuck> Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this and respond!! I am new at this and am attempting to learn as much as I can as quick as I can to ensure that I take appropriate care of my tank!! Your advice is sincerely appreciated! Very Respectfully, Kathi Kell Scratching Cichlids 2/6/06 Hey crew, I have 2 questions that might be interrelated. I have a couple cichlids in my tank. Sometimes they do this weird thing where they will swim on their side and rub against the gravel. They don't have any signs of sickness otherwise. Also along the top of the water there is some really small white things that move, they must be some sort of worm or something. What could they be and what is the best way to get rid of them, and are they causing my fish to swim funny? Thanks so much, Chris <Check the nitrates. When they get elevated the bacteria levels increase and start to irritate the fish. Reduce them to a level until the fish stop. Some cichlids never get them at any levels while others begin to start rubbing at levels as low as 5 ppm. the little white springtails are harmless little insects that live on the surface of the water eating bits of food and plants. They are harmless.-Chuck> Twitching Fish 1/21/06 Hey, I have two 29 gallon tanks, one has mollies in it and the other has small cichlids. I noticed today that in both tanks they had a fish twitching. Both of the fish look in good health and have been eating well, just twitching a lot. Any advice? (there's no ich spots) < Usually when my fish are scratching and twitching it means that the nitrate levels are up and the bacteria are starting to prey on my fish. Do a 50% water change, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel. Check the nitrate levels before and try not to let them get that high again. I try not to let them get over 25 ppm. Some fish can handle more , some cannot.-Chuck> Dents in Cichlid's Forehead 1/17/06 Hi Again, Thank you for replying so fast, most appreciated. I had a closer look at the fish in question and there is no sign of any damage to the surface of the skin at all, no holes, no displaced scales, no sores nothing, just the indentation on the back. My local fish guy suggested to me today that it might be fish tuberculosis (which I had not heard of before today) brought on by the sudden high temps I described before, what do you think? Thanks again for you help. Michelle :) < When fish are stressed they could come down with all kinds of problems. Wait it out and see if things get worse or stay the same.-Chuck>

Cichlids Behaving Badly 12/24/05 I have 5 cichlids in a 55 gallon tank and a few random non aggressive fish that seem to be doing fine. My problem is that all my cichlids are starting to chase each other. I have had them for a few months now without any problem, but now they are a little bigger and seem to be getting more aggressive. Could it be that I am not feeding them enough? Help. I don't want all the fish to get stressed out and die. I have been adding stress zyme weekly, but I don't think it is working. What can I do? Bob Miller < When cichlids are little they chase each other around to establish a pecking order for food etc.. When they get bigger they start to become breeding age and get much more serious about establishing territories and finding a mate. This is normal behavior for cichlids. Chemicals and foods will not help. Add some additional rockwork or plants for them to hide in and try lowering the water temp. a couple of degrees.-Chuck> Robert Miller

Jack Dempsey Being Bullied By Other Tankmates 11/16/05 Hi. I have a newly established 90 gallon aquarium that is currently housing two 4" inch green terrors, two Dempseys (one is about 2" and the other is about 2 1/2"), two small Jewels, and a 5 inch blue lobster. I'm concerned about the smaller JD. He seems to get bullied, a lot. He never gets too eat in peace, and is afraid to go to the surface to get pellets. I tried a sinking food, and when he sees other fish feeding hides behind rocks. He is not afraid of the crawfish however, and often steals the lobsters algae tablet. He looks healthy, and has no problems swimming away from the aggressive male GT and my other JD. The jewels where the most recent addition and they even bully him around, even though they are half his size. Is this just normal fish behavior? Should I be worried the runt will not survive? Do you think he will stand his ground once he gets bigger? < Cichlids are pretty smart and remember things pretty well. Your smaller jack knows not to make waves or there will be hell to pay. It could be sick but I think it is just bullied to the point were it will continue to hide from the other aggressive fish. Don't let the smaller size of the jewelfish fool you. They are plenty tough for their size. Just continue to try and get food to the smaller jack as best you can.-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.> Chocolate Cichlid Misbehaving 8/14/05 I have a 55 gallon tank that is fairly well established. I have a large male chocolate cichlid (about 6"), a red hook silver dollar (about 5"), two pink tailed sharks (about 9" and believe it or not, they are 12 years old) and also a pink tailed Chalceus (about 5"). My problem .. they all seem to be getting their fins bitten ... I know it's the chocolate. What can I do to prevent this - should I remove him from the tank? < Chocolates are usually pretty mellow, but that doesn't mean that they won't bite fins.> If he is by himself, what size tank will he require? < For the short term a 30 gallon, eventually a 12 inches he will need a 55 of his own.> I hate to remove him from the tank as he is such a gorgeous fish and he will be missed. I also had a golden severum (about 5") that I had to remove because he was a male also and the chocolate hated him - didn't want him to die, but he died when I changed his tank. Any ideas would be so appreciated. I am quite attach to all of my fish and I have had them all for years, and hate to lose any of them. Help. Donna < Place the cichlid in his own tank for awhile. See if the nipped fins get better. If not then the chocolate may not be the guilty party. Watch the silver dollar too.-Chuck>

Re: Chocolate Cichlid Bully 8/14/05 Hi Chuck - thanks for your response. Unfortunately, I don't have a tank large enough to put the chocolate by himself. Any others ideas? < Look at tank dividers. If none are available for you particular size tank then look at making your own of a plastic egg crate type material from a home improvement store.> Perhaps something to distract him?? < Try re-arranging the tank and move some things around. The new surroundings should keep him busy for awhile.> Thanks for the great input! This is a great website! Donna < Thank you for your kind words.-Chuck> Fighting Flowerhorn - 08/11/2005 Hello Bob. <Actually, Sabrina here, in his stead> I have a question or two about Flowerhorns. I have three flower horns housed separately in 50gallon tanks each. They are about 6-7inches long and 8 months old. How do you distinguish between a male and female? <Can be very difficult with this unnatural/man-made hybrid.> One of my flower horn has a huge nuchal hump but short fins. One has long fins but no nuchal hump. The third one has a nuchal hump and long fins. All have been purchased from the same brood. <It could be entirely possible that all are males.... or not. Again, with no natural standard, it can be exceedingly difficult to have any sort of guideline to tell you "this is female" or "this is male" until they actually breed.> I want to breed them, but the problem is that when I put them in my 125 gallon tank all three start kicking each other. <Could be all males, or could just be that none are willing/able to breed yet.> There are no other fishes in the tank. I would be very thankful if you help me out. <If you are absolutely bent on breeding this hybrid, I would pick the likeliest male (long fins, obvious hump) and the likeliest female (no hump) and let 'em duke it out. Keep in mind, if they are both males, or if they're just not as ready to breed as you are, one or both may die. Be CERTAIN to offer PLENTY of hiding locations (PVC pipes big enough to fully hide in, rocks, plants....) for the fish to "get away" from each other. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Jaguar Cichlid and Jack Dempsey? 7/11/05 Hello, <Hi there> I have a 55 gallon tank that currently holds one 5" Raphael Catfish, one 2" Red Devil, one 5" Plecostomus, one 4" Jack Dempsey, one 3 3/4" Jaguar, and one 6" Oscar. In this tank I have a fake log which has many hidey-holes. <You are going to need a much larger system... soon> My Jack Dempsey has been trapping the Jaguar in one of these holes. The Jaguar puts no resistance to the Jack at all, and when (if) the Jack goes out of the hole the Jaguar stays. Though I have seen the Jack 'peck' the Jaguar for no apparent reason when in the hole. Is this normal? <Yes> Or could the Jack have a fancy for the Jaguar? <Likely not> Why would the Jaguar put up with it if it is not normal? <To avoid damage> And is it at all possible for them to mate? (I am pretty sure that the Jaguar is a female and the Jack Dempsey a male) <Possible to cross, but at their sizes... this is simple aggression. Bob Fenner> Christine

Cichlids in too small, aggressive world 7/9/05 Dear Bob, <Steven> Thanks for making yourself available. Here is what going on with my tank. I need advice badly. I want to own aggressive fish mostly around 4inches now. I bought a 10 gallon tank to start. <Small...> First I bought a red jewel that coincidently I returned to the store when my tank failed last time. <Failed?> He was tough as nails. I bought a larger red devil who I thought could coexist with him. The minute the red devil went in the tank the red jewel confronted it... The red devil didn't back down at all.. The started lip locking. It was viscous! <This tank is too small...> I've never seen anything like that from fish. Well the red devil lost part of his lip but seemed to be okay. Meanwhile the red jewel was picking off scales from the red devil. I actually thought red devils were tough... So I bought a jack Dempsey. <... not to go in this ten...> I put the jack in and things were fine for around two weeks. He is somewhat bigger than the red devil. Well a few days ago. The jack started viscously striking the red jewel. I think most of the scales are off the red jewel now. I think he may even be dead when I get home. he was my most favorite fish given his beauty. I read something today online that said that cichlids are opposite to most fish, they get less aggressive the more crowded a tank is. <To some extent... a generalization, not always so> My plan is to go to a 50 gallon once the fish grow a little. <Don't wait> What should I do with my tank. <Use it for a sick, quarantine system> Just leave the jack and red devil. Or add a convict or a green terror to make the whole tank less aggressive. I am totally out of my league here but desperately want to have a cichlid tank. Thanks so much. Steven <Wait till you have a larger system. Study, enjoy learning, the anticipation in the meanwhile. Bob Fenner>

Cichlid rubbing! 7/7/05 Hey crew!!! I have this 20 gallon and holds 2 convicts and 1 pleco. Suddenly the convicts started to rub on the rocks in the tank. What kind of sickness is this? <Could be nothing... or reproductive behavior... or something to do with your water quality... is the system cycled?> And I almost forgot that I'm a beginner and just started a few weeks ago. thank you for the help!! Sean <Please read... on WWM re cichlid systems, disease... Leave a space between sentences... Bob Fenner>

Hiding Fish 7/4/05 Hi, I have one 1.5" Tiger Oscar and I have had him or her for about 3 days. It is in a small tank with a Rivulatus a bit smaller than the Oscar. They both seem to be scared of anyone that walks in the room. But they swim around when no one is watching. Is it true that they don't like a lot of light? < In the wild young fish don't come out too often because they will get eaten by larger fish. There is some safety in the darkness. You need to get some active open water fish that will add some movement to your aquarium and make the other more desirable fish come out. These are referred to as dither fish. Fish like rainbows and danios are a group of fish that come to mind.> They hide under the filter and lie on the bottom of the tank. They are also not eating, that I know of? What is wrong with them? Thanks Martin < With the addition of some dither fish will solve these problems.-Chuck>

Parrot Cichlid Swimming Strangely 6/31/05 I have a 4 year old red blooded parrot. I have purchased about 6 fish only because I have a 125 gallon aquarium and it was starting to look empty. I only have about 12 fish in there but for some reason the female parrot, the one that is 4 has started swimming upside down, she gets up anytime I get close to the aquarium and is eating normally, but hangs out at the bottom in a corner upside down. What is wrong with her, if anything? < Your parrot cichlid may have an internal bacterial infection. I would isolate her into a smaller tank and treat her with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey Cichlid Changing Colors I have a 55 gallon tank with three Dempsey's in it. Two are male and one is female. I am wondering why they change colors, the female and one of the male fish changes their color a lot but the other male Dempsey dos not change color and am wondering about that too. Thank you, Chris < Your larger male Jack Dempsey probably is the dominant fish in the tank and pronounces his dominance with his usual coloration. The others may still be sorting things out between themselves and the dominant male and communicating their status with both their color and their movements.-Chuck>

Cichlid Problems Hello Bob My name is Sean and I have 2 tanks I have problems with. I have this red devil who is now living alone in his 330 gallon tank. He used to live with some convicts and some Flowerhorns but they all died and he was the only one left but only few other fish lived with him like jacks and convicts but I separated them because he killed a jack. They were separated a few weeks ago and now my 5 inch red devil is not eating! He just stays in a pit he made only when I come near the tank. And he does not seem to swim around a lot only when the Pleco comes to near his pit he chases the Pleco away. I keep the tank very clean and no one is in the house a lot. Next is my 75 gallon which I kept some the fish from the 330 gallon. There is only 1 jack in there because most of them got killed and like 5 convicts in there. And they won't eat either! They just hide when I get near the tank and the only fish that eats is one the male convicts. When the food goes down he darts for the food. Well hope you can help!! thanks Sean < Check the nitrates, they should be under 25 ppm. The water temp should be in the upper 70s to lower 80's. Don't feed your fish for three days they feed them once a day. All the food should be gone in two minutes. remove all uneaten food. If you think there is an internal bacterial problem the put the infected fish in a smaller tank and treat with Metronidazole. A big 330 gallon tank will be very expensive to treat.-Chuck>

Question about cichlid behavior Hi! I have a Jack Dempsey (If that's the correct name for it) he's about 3 years old, approximately 8 inches long and right now he is living alone in a 55 gallon tank. I originally got him, a female Jack Dempsey and a 29 gallon tank all from a friend last July. The female died in only 2 days but the male survived without any noticeable problems. About 6 months ago I transferred him to the big 55 gal instead. At first he seemed to enjoy it but for the last 2 months or so he hasn't moved at all during the time I'm awake (usually about 10am-2am), he just hides behind a big ornament. And whenever someone walks by the tank he totally freaks out and starts shooting all over the place, if the hood wasn't there he would've flown out of the thing at least a dozen times by now. I've done small water changes and big water changes, all the levels are fine and there's plenty of filtration, air etc... I've been doing my best at giving him light cycles too but it seems to me that he really dislikes the lights. I saw another question you answered about trying to cover the tank for a few days with a blanket and maybe I should try that but is there anything else I can do as well? Maybe adding a couple other fish? <Hopefully this will improve his behavior... maybe something fast like a couple of Tinfoil Barbs...> I feel really guilty about wanting to get rid of him but the reason I have an aquarium is so I can look at fish not water! This is stressing me out! Any help will be greatly appreciated, thank you so much! Todd <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Not so bloody parrot My one year old blood parrot is turning black on the underside. Not just a little, but totally black. Otherwise looks and acts normal. Lives with many other fish in a 125 gal tank. Fights with no one. Eats well. Should we just not worry about it? <Bingo... these color changes do "just happen"> We have two algae eaters, an eel, many tiny black tipped sharks, gouramis. In order to treat the parrot do we need to separate it from the others to avoid medicating all of them unnecessarily? Any help is very appreciated. Thanks. John and Essie Learn - Phoenix, Arizona <No need to medicate. Bob Fenner>

Cichlid lovefest Dear crew. I'm not new at fish (cichlids) but I need help with my fish. I'm keeping many cichlids in my 250 gallon. 3.red devils, 6.adult convicts, 4.firemouths, 7.flowerhorns, 3.parrot cichlids 5.pacus 2.oscars most of them are not very small but can handle the convicts and Flowerhorns but soon my adult pink convict started to think she's going to breed with one of the red devil who is the rulers of my tank! My pink convict started to flare at the red devil and simply don't pay attention to her! Then she started digging at a corner and the red devil seems to help! But they are not even guarding the spot they are digging! Is this just for fun or are they really going to have babies?? -Sean < Your female white convict looks like she is getting ready to breed with your red devil. They both come from central America and have similar breeding techniques. They have been crossed before with viable fry. Typically they are not very attractive.-Chuck>

Reproducing blood parrots We have three blood parrots. We think they might have laid eggs. Please explain exactly what to look for. Some of what we think are the eggs are kind of orange inside. Thanks! <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cichlidreprofaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Strange Cichlid Behavior Thank you so much for this great forum!! I have a question about my cichlids. We really have no idea of the species because the people at the pet shop didn't either (one of the many reasons we're not going back there!). Anyway, due to poor advice we put too many fish into a new tank before it cycled (we now have 3 fish that are 2-3 inches a piece in a 29 gallon tank). The water values are way off. Out Nitrites and Nitrates are super high, PH is around 7.0 and everything else looks ok. Recently we took water from an established tank and put some into ours to help speed up the building of the good bacteria. We also raised the temp to 81(f) degrees. Since all of this, one of our fish seems to be getting better.....the one that never really seemed to have an issue is now freaking out!! He is the largest of our 3 fish. This morning I woke up and found him scooting on the bottom of the tank. That is really what it looked like. He was acting like he couldn't swim! At one point he went to the top of the tank, was swimming super fast and upside down and splashing around at the top!! I have no idea what that was all about but I'm worried. Can you please help me out. I'm very worried and concerned for our fish. Thank you in advance for your help. < When fish are stressed due to excessive external factors such as high ammonia levels they become very prone to develop diseases. The best thing you can do right now is get the aquarium on the right track and get it cycled. Go to Marineland.com right now and go to Dr. Tim's Library. Look at the article titled "The First 30 Days". This will give you an idea on what is going on and what you can do about it. Until the water parameters are corrected adding any medication at this point would do greater harm than good. -Chuck>

Festivum with issues I have 2 festivums. I believe one is male and one is female. The issue is they swim around the tank at times and then sink to the bottom like a ton of bricks and just lay there....literally...on their side. Then they swim again. They have done this for 4-5 weeks now. Why? Is something wrong? <Maybe...> Also, the vertical stripes become darker at times. Is this indicating a problem? <Not necessarily... but good observation... this species does "communicate" in this way... and "may be telling you something"... like they don't like their water quality... or food/feeding... Have you read here? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/severums.htm and the linked files (above)? Bob Fenner> Any help is appreciated!! Thank you!!

Queen of the Office Tank Dear Crew, I am a pretty avid Cichlid keeper, have a 20 gal with a small Green Terror and Midas (about 1"), a 30 gal with 5 small (about 1 1/2" - 2") Africans (rescued from the "Assorted African" tank at LFS) and a 55 gal with my pride & joy, a 9", year and a half old male Tiger Oscar. I've never had any spawn, as most are too small, and Oscar is alone (well, with a sizeable Pleco) - the way he likes it! Anyhoo, I work at a law firm, and just by coincidence there is a 7" full grown cichlid in a 55 gal there. Fish & tank were a gift to bosses, they are NOT fishkeepers. I care for the tank. Always thought that cichlid was male, very aggressive. Unknown species but clearly African, yellow with black vertical bars and a black "fake eye" at base of tail. (Any ideas what kind?) <Sorry, not great with IDing African cichlids. Try a Google search for an image> It's been by itself for at least a year, but about 2 days ago, we found eggs! She dug out all gravel from under her big decorative rock so it would lay flat and then laid a fairly huge clutch of eggs. They are clearly sterile (unless cichlids can become hermaphrodites?)<Nope> and are turning white and starting to get fuzzy. Problem: I can't even get my hand in there! She was aggressive to begin with, and now that she's got a nest to guard, she hits the tank so hard when we walk by that she's knocked herself senseless a couple times. Boss really wants me to get eggs out and clean the tank but I think it will be a painful experience. Was thinking I could get a feeder or two, maybe take her attention off of me and give her something to chase? Is there any kind of anesthetic readily available I could add to water to keep her subdued? Also, she has a small, uh, appendage, that has been hanging down from her belly (at base of bottom fin right behind, well, where the poop comes out ) since she laid the eggs. Is this a bad sign, should I be worried? If so, what can I do? Also, can we do anything to prevent her from doing this again? She's never done it before. Really just need some info. All help greatly appreciated! -Nicole <Is this a cichlid or a piranha? I would just go in with a net and siphon and get them out. If she's big enough to cause harm, a pair of long "dish washing" gloves should give you enough protection. A tank divider could also be used. If she's hurting herself hitting the glass you may want to cover the front until she calms down. The tube you see is normal and will retract in time. And no, there is no way to stop a healthy, well feed cichlid from trying to reproduce. Actually a sign of your fine care. Sorry I can't ID her for you. She could be quite valuable to a breeder. Maybe you could look into trading her for a few less aggressive fish. I would not add a feeder fish. Too great a chance of bringing in Ich or worse. Don>

Cichlid fry behavior Thanks in advance for giving me your opinion. My name is Diane Scott. I am writing about my 20 gallon freshwater tank in which I have 5 cichlids (all about 1-1/2 inches in length and babies of my very healthy guys in a 55 gallon tank elsewhere). I'm thinking something is very strange in this tank because for the 6 months or so that I've had it set up, these fish (1) hide behind rocks all the time and look freaked out; (2) rather than swim, they lunge here and there to grab food but otherwise stay hidden; and (3) the area between their eyes and to the tops of their heads is turning brown! I have had fish for a few years and have never seen anything so unusual. These guys seem absolutely miserable and I have no idea why. I have an undergravel filter and two powerheads I bought on EBay and a heater than I used previously without a problem. Maybe there's a voltage leak in the tank? Heck I don't know. Please tell me what you think and how to remedy the problem. You're the best...thanks! < All cichlids are not alike. Fry usually hide to survive from predators. They can develop stress coloration and markings to blend in to the rocks. I would recommend some dither fish to give the tank some activity and make the timid fry more comfortable to their surroundings. Try adding a few barbs or rainbow fish to the tank and see if your cichlids notice the new fish. In a few days I am confidant that the cichlids will be out and about.-Chuck>

Cichlid rubbing several of my cichlids are rubbing against things what should I do? <Do a 30 % water change and service the filter. When you change the water try and vacuum the gravel to remove the crud that has accumulated there. Check the nitrates too. Add a teaspoon of rock salt per 10 gallons of water to aid the fishes to create a protective slime on their skin.-Chuck> Red Devil not so devilish, ditto mit Texas I have a red devil that I purchased about a month ago. Recently within the past week, its anal fin, belly and below the dorsal fin have begun to turn black or black spots have appeared. I was wondering if this is natural or common due to the fact that upon purchasing, some of the other red devils in the tank varied in color, some with black spots. < As you are already aware that red devils can vary quite a bit in color and they will change as they grow. If there are not other symptoms then I would assume he is OK.> I am also aware that in the wild they can be black or grey. Also, I did have a Texas Cichlid that died Monday morning from what seemed to be ich, or from the red devil beating on it. Does this appear to be a disease or something natural? Please get back to me as soon as possible, so I can treat it quickly. < Ich is a disease of small white dots that covers the entire body including the gills. It is easily treated with rid-ich from Kordon or any other malachite green /formalin treatment. The red devil beating on the Texas is natural. In the wild many central American cichlids are territorial and are often squaring off over turf. Some to the point of killing the other .-Chuck> Thanks 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. Cichlid questions hello...I have a 55 gallon tank...and in it was green terror and red terror...the green terror was tooo aggressive...my friend sadly kept a red devil in a 15 gallon for two years which made its aggression almost disappear, but he gave it to me to take care of because he felt sorry for the lack of space...now the red devil is in my 55 gallon with my green and red terror and the aggressions of the fish have changed drastically...it has lowered quite a bit and they are peaceful with each other...will that change any time soon? < Sounds like a stand off to me. As long as each is able to defend themselves against the other then they should get along. If one becomes ill then watch out for the other flexing his muscle and showing the sick one who is boss.-Chuck>

Ich, treatments and post behavior of cichlids See I just got rid of ick I had it for 3 weeks it sucks, but after I got rid of it I waited a week to make sure every thing was all right and it was. Well anyways I have one cichlid that starting to scratch himself on the rocks and its always him doing that. None of the other fish do that. So I was wondering is that he normally does or what?? < Check you water parameters. Other things may be irritating the skin of your fish besides protozoans, like bacteria. Check the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. The ammonia and nitrites should be zero. The nitrates should be below 25 ppm. A little rock salt added to the water will help increase the slime along the outside of the fishes body. Do you have a soft water fish in hard water? When a fish is stressed from poor water quality or the wrong chemistry then they may not die from the water itself but from secondary infections from protozoa, bacteria and fungus. To be on the safe side I would service the filter and do a 30% water change for now and see if he scratches less.-Chuck>

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