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FAQs on Cichlid Disease 1


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


FAQs on Cichlid Disease: Cichlid Disease 2, Cichlid Disease 3, Cichlid Disease 4
FAQs on Cichlid Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Pathogenic, Parasitic, Trauma, Treatments


Related FAQs: African Cichlid Disease, Oscar Disease/Health, Aquarium MaintenanceFreshwater MedicationsFreshwater Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish ParasitesIch/White Spot DiseaseCichlids in General, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Reproduction, Dwarf South American Cichlids, African Cichlids, Angelfishes, Discus, Chromides, Neotropical CichlidsOscars, Flowerhorns

Hole in Severum hello please bear with me as I ask this question as I am new to this ok I have a 55 gallon tank with a Severum in it that looks like an Oscar I have a smaller version of him as well and two cat fish ones a shark like and the other looks black velvet and one jaguar cichlid now they have been awesome since January recently like oh maybe month or 6 weeks ago I added the jaguar now my problem my bigger Severum has these little holes that look like pinholes behind his right eye and on the left eye tonight I noticed a larger hole behind it the one behind the left eye is probably 7 mm in diameter and the ones behind the right eye are problem 1-2 mm and there's like 5-6 of them in a row like someone poked him with  a safety pin now he's my baby and I'm new to the whole fish tank thing (I'm 34) love the aquarium its my little place to watch another world and so far so good till this can you please advise me on what this may be the only thing new to my tank in the past 6-8 months are 2 things one the new jaguar who is maybe 3 inches and my BioWheel has kind of stopped spinning but I mess with it so it runs probably 12 of the 24 hours a day still filters water it just the wheel that doesn't turn I feed the fish the normal medium sized pellet food and also treat them to frozen brine shrimp 3-6 times a week and also add feeder fish regularly and they eat em up so please help and I hope I gave enough info look forward to your response soon before anything goes awry thanks Dan <Do a 30% water change and clean the filter. Take it all apart and rinse everything off very thoroughly and reassemble it. It should be working fine with the wheel continuously turning. Vacuum the gravel when you do your water change to remove all the stuff that has accumulated there. The hole-in-the head disease your fish has does not have a specific cure. There are many medications that say they cure it but none so far have been found to be guaranteed. This condition is associated with poor water quality or a vitamin deficiency. Regular weekly maintenance and a varied diet should help. Try some washed earthworms instead of the feeder goldfish.-Chuck> Dan Gies


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>


Holes in Severum head I have a Green Severum and it has very small holes around its eyes and face that just showed up what are they and what should I do? < Do a 30% water change , service the filter and vacuum the gravel. Change the diet and include some live food like washed earthworms. Make sure your fish food has not gone stale and lost some of its vitamins.-Chuck>


Blood Parrot Fish I have three blood parrots that are about 10 years old so they are fairly good size.  Last week they started lying on the bottom of the tank.  If I feed them or knock on the glass they swim and seem OK.  On of the fish has a dark underside, like something is dark and fairly good size under the skin.  I enjoy these fish and don't want to loose them but haven't a clue as to what to do. I had the water checked and it is good, no problem.  I have started raising the temp (I don't know what it was), it is hovering around 76. Do you have any suggestions??? < Try raising the water temp to 80 degrees and change the diet. Add some live washed earthworms every once in awhile. If that doesn't get them going then I would treat with Metronidazole and assume that they have an internal bacterial infection. Ten years is a very long time and you are to be congratulated for keeping them going this long.-Chuck> Linda Bernard
Re: Blood Parrot Fish
Thank you for the assistance.  Unfortunately, every fish including the parrots, died over the weekend. < What happened? Did the heater stick? -Chuck> Linda Bernard

Re: Blood Parrot Fish I really don't know what happened.  They all got the eye problem, where they were bug eyed and glassed, laid around the bottom of the tank.  I put Epsom salt in trying to revive them and they perked up for a day but then bit the dust. I lost two Oscars, 3 kissing Gouramis, 2 sucker fish, 5 parrots, and a couple of others.  The only thing I can think of was I had changed the water about a week and a half prior to the fish getting sick, a day or so after changing the water I got a notice from the city of bacteria in the water.  I'm guessing it was just too much. < I am guessing it may have been a pH shock. An old established tank in an area with soft water could have easily gotten very acidic in a short period of time. When you changed the water the new water could have been more alkaline and the pH shock weakened the fish and they began to get sick. As the tank became acidic again the fish had a difficult time adjusting to the change. On the other hand there could have been something added to the water to treat the bacteria that had an affect on the fish. Hopefully you will set up the tank and be back at it in no time at all.-Chuck> Thank you for your help. Linda Bernard


Oscar problems Hi, I think cichlid fishes are cool, tough and colorful. When I bout 15 of cichlids like 5 of them died and the remaining ones had some white spots smaller that a cube of salt. Right now  some are surviving and eating while the other ones are not eating anything and just lying on the rocks. They are also loosing their color. I talked to the person who owns the store and he gave me a medicine called "super ick cure" he told me it will cure that parasite and if I put the heater higher they will be cured in no time but that white thing still is there (locations I notice were in there lips and next to there fins.). If u no what to do please reply my mail. < Clean the filter and make sure that all the carbon has been removed. Do a 30% water change. Follow the directions on the bottle. Raising the water temp to 82 degrees F will help but may take as long as a week to completely cure your tank. In the meantime the medication may affect the good bacteria that break down fish waste so watch for ammonia spike. Water change done often will help.-Chuck>


My Ocellaris Hello WWM, I have a 72 Imp. Gal. tank. its running for over 2 weeks now and I've originally purchased 2 ocellaris the smaller one died because of stress so I bought more ocellaris the three were in harmony for a few days when I noticed one had his mouth wide open and looks like he's in a lot of trouble. He wouldn't eat and days later he died.  Now a day after an ocellaris died another ocellaris showing the same symptom-open mouth!- now he's not eating.. it's almost a write off :( when my fishes often show signs of stress they die. No ammonia is present, low nitrite and nitrates all other fishes seem to do just fine.  I've lost so many fishes over the couple of weeks (mainly due to the ammonia spike) that I'm thinking of giving up the hobby!  Just because i feel like I'm a bad caretaker! But all i do is worry about them. I'll send a picture < Cichla ocellaris (peacock bass) are South American Cichlids that are actually quite sensitive to water conditions. Just by looking at them you think they would be bullet proof and easy to care for. Actually they are one of the most difficult cichlids to keep. They require soft acidic water similar to discus! Water temp should be around 80 F and a pH of 7 or lower. They almost always require live food and extremely clean water with no ammonia or nitrites and a nitrate level no higher than 25 ppm with 15 ppm and lower even better. These are pretty tough requirements for a fish that gets close to 2 feet long. Try and find an easier fish at first and work up to a peacock bass later after you have become more experienced.-Chuck>


Parasite in Parrot Gills Hello I have lost two parrot fish in the last three months.  They all have long red tubular growths coming from the inside of the gills.  The gill area has busted open since they got this and is growing out of the gills.  The aquarium store told me it was most likely gill flukes and so I treated them repeatedly with no cure.  They told me that they were a hybrid fish and if they appeared to be OK them let them go.  I did and I lost one parrot 3 months ago and 1 last night.  I noticed last week that the red tubular growths had purple tips on them and that the rosy barb in the tank was sticking its head into their gills and eating it.  Please help.  I've had these fish for over three years and I am very attached.  The aquarium seems to think they may be anchor worms.  There are two angel fish, a Pleco and a rosy barb in the tank and they do not have these growths.    Kathleen < To get rid of either gill flukes or anchor worm I would recommend Fluke-Tabs. If your local store does not carry them then you can order them online at drsfostersmith.com.-Chuck>


Congo and a disease I have a 29 gal good water quality, 4 fish in a tank one being a cichlid (Conga)  it recently grew a large "cyst" or bump in it's belly.  It's growing rapidly on one side.  This is day 3 and intense research has produced no known cause or treatment.  At first I thought it'd eaten rocks but the Conga has not eaten in a few days now and the tumor continues to grow.  Can you help? Also we noticed he has holes in his head but did not eat any live fish lately(1yr)  (as I was told this was the cause of such an occurrence) Please respond A.S.A.P.  we are desperate for information and local pet shops and vets are no help thus far. V. Michels, Florida < Your white convict is commonly referred to in the aquarium trade as a White Congo. The hole in the head disease and swollen belly indicate that the water quality may not be as good as you think. Do a 30% water change, service the filter and treat with Metronidazole. Follow the directions on the package. When the swelling goes down, after the internal bacteria have been killed, and he begins to eat again try feeding some washed chopped earthworms or brine shrimp.-Chuck> 
Re: Congo and a disease
Our "convict" is doing better, we already considered and did a water change, but his belly "burst" for better lack of a term and he is still alive. Today I saw a thin string hanging from the hole (about 1 -2 inches long) and some eroded flesh I believe (about 2 millimeters in diameter and 3 millimeters long) from his side.  He ate today and appears healthy/active otherwise. His belly started to swell on the other side yesterday but is better today. Swelling almost all gone, The area where the large bump was is discolored blackish now.  The type of treatment is helpful though, we had him on a different treatment. The bursting seem to be the turn around, however, because nothing I did made it better. We do care for our fish, I wonder why you referred to him as a "convict" < Look at "Cichlasoma" nigrofasciatum in a book and you will see a grey striped fish that is the same as yours except he isn't white. This common name for the striped fish is convict and the white version is called the white Congo. It is a good thing that no internal organs seemed to be affected. The white stringy stuff is connective tissue as the fish begins to heal itself. Keep the water clean so it doesn't fungus and there is a good chance for a full recovery.-Chuck>


Re: Parrot cichlid extremely bloated-can you please help? Thank you!  I actually treated the tank last night with Paragon II, which treats many different kinds of bacteria and is supposed to be especially effective on the cichlid family.  I have used it before to treat ich and white spot. I changed about 25% of the water, prior to treating, per the instructions and will change it again after treatment. I will get some fresh food too.   I keep the tank clean, and partially change the water regularly, so the water wasn't dirty but it could be the food or temp.  I did notice the temp a few degrees higher than I usually keep it, so I may have bumped the heater and turned it up by accident.  I will gradually drop it down a couple degrees to see if that helps too.  Thank you so much for the response and advice.  I really appreciate it!   Great website by the way!  < Check the label for the medications in the paragon II. Metronidazole is very effective on anaerobic bacteria. Hope this helps and thanks for your kind words about the website.-Chuck>  


Sick Dempsey  lump between eyes  our fish before lump hi there...our Texas cichlid developed this fluid filled lump between his eyes and appears to be under its skin.  any ideas as to what it is? we have had him for 5 years. about a month ago he had orange stuff (looked like the food we give him) come out of one of his nostrils. we didn't treat it in any way and he seemed to get over it. now      this cyst or something...the pet store said to look online at parasites, but I can't find descriptions or pictures. just microscope pictures of parasites... any help would be appreciated.  I will try to send a picture. < Your old male jack Dempsey has a case of bloat. It is caused by anaerobic bacteria that starts in the gut and has moved to between the eyes. The only treatment is Metronidazole. Treat the fish in a hospital tank if possible. Change 50% every other day after treatment. When you fish begins to eat then he is getting cured. You have an old fish an this may be hard to cure.-Chuck>

Angels can't swim! Hey there my angel fish have stopped swimming. Their tails have folded up and there long fins have gone thin and superficial. They just lie on the bottom, not eating. What is wrong and how can I fix it? < You have a bacterial infection. Do a 30% water change and clean the filter. I would treat with a medication called Furanace. If that is not available then try Maracyn. These medications also affect the good bacteria that break down fish waste. Watch for ammonia spikes. -Chuck>


Cichlid disease, environmental Dear crew, I have only been into fish for about 6 months. I have fresh water fish such as Electric Blue cichlids, Electric Yellows, Ghost Knife, Livingstoni, Venustus, two 20cm Oscars, and a colony of 20 fuscus (which I have been successful in breeding!) I have 4, 4ftx2x2ft tanks, and 12, 3x1x2ft tanks as a breeding bank.                                  I've learnt about temp, regular water changes and Ph testing but unsure what else I need to check, (and how?) Also I have noticed a cotton-wool type of growth in a filter. I use internal foam filter/aerator.) And now on a rock in another tank. Please help if you can!!   <Check for nitrates. This will let you know when and how much water to change. The cottony grow may be from fungus attacking uneaten food like pellets. Feed only enough so all the food is gone after a couple of minutes.-Chuck>   


Open mouthed Oscars Hi, I have been looking for information on what could be wrong with my Oscars. I have searched all your postings and while I did find one that related to open mouthed Oscars, it did not give me much information. I have a black Oscar and a white one. The black one's mouth has been opened continuously for about 6 weeks now. The white one for about a month. They are hungry and try to eat but cannot close their mouths to keep the food in. I have done a couple of 25% water changes in the past 2 weeks but no change in the fish. I have never tested the water as I do not know how but am looking to learn. I must admit that I have not changed filters and water at optimum rates in the past. Any ideas? < If they are gasping for air then you probably have some waste build up that needs to be addressed. Change the filter and do a 30% water change every other day for a week. Next week vacuum the gravel to get rid of all the junk accumulating in the sand. Your water should be in pretty good shape by now. If no improvement is seen then there may be an obstruction in their throats. Catch one of the fish and look down the throat with a flashlight and see if there is any visual signs of problems. If not then their mouths may have been damaged from trying to eat materials that are too hard to chew, then try and pre-moisten the food to soften it up and see if that helps.-Chuck>                                       Thanks, Brad
Re: Open mouthed Oscars
Chuck, thanks for the quick response. I went to my local fish & aquarium dealer today and I told him about the open mouth symptoms that my Oscars are displaying. He told me that they have developed a disease that is similar to "Lock Jaw" and that it is rare but that he himself has dealt with it. To his knowledge, there is no cure and very little info out there on it. He also said that he did not know it was contagious and could not understand why both had developed the problem. In his experience just one Oscar in a tank of several had developed the condition. He said that the Oscars would eventually starve to death. Does this make sense to you Chuck? Ever heard of "Lock Jaw" leading to starvation in an Oscar? < Never heard of "Lock Jaw" disease before in Oscars. Some cichlids with producible jaws I have seen over extend their jaws and become stuck out but they are still able to feed. This is a new one on me and my friends. Another reason may be a damaged pharyngeal bone. These bones act as a second set of jaws that may become damaged while eating hard foods like pellets. Look down their throats and see if you find anything .-Chuck>    Thanks again,    Brad PS   I am beginning the treatments you prescribed to see if that will help.


Jack Dempsey Hello I have a Jack Dempsey's that is very ill.  I think he has pop-eye.  His eyes are bulging but he is also very bloated.  I was gone for several days and my grandson fed him frozen red worms but I really don't think that is the problem.  I moved the tank out of bedroom into the living room.  I drained water level down and then refilled ...I took a female smaller Dempsey out because the larger one was so aggressive.  He had a vase that he stayed in but now he won't enter into it. He has labored breathing and mouth is open.  I changed air filters around when setting the other tanks when I returned the air stone was not working properly but filter was running.  Everything I have read so far says to use antibiotic such as penicillin where do I get this?  I have applied Melafix twice...1 teaspoon each time.  this is a ten gal. tank.  I put the female back in do to air problem in 2nd tank. there is also a large catfish in the tank and he is fine < Your fish have been suffering from poor water quality. Catfish in general are more tolerant that some others. Overfeeding has caused the waste to build up faster than the filter could handle it and it has made your jack Dempsey sick. Change 30% of the water, vacuum the gravel, and service the filter. Treat the tank with Metronidazole and follow the directions on the package. You should see some results one way or another in a few days.-Chuck> Open for any suggestions thanks Coletha  
Re: Jack Dempsey
Thank you for your reply. I had gotten some medicine and treated the tank and then cleaned it out ..he is very much back to normal, but I'm very glad to find out what caused the problem.  Will blood worms for fill the need for live fish? < Live food always helps but you should also feed washes earthworms too.> Do I need to leave the smaller Dempsey in the tank? < As long as the fish are getting along then size is not a problem. It is when the bigger one starts inflicting damage that you have to keep them separate. Make sure the smaller fish is getting enough to eat by spreading this food around.> I'm not sure if she is a female or not. < Female Jack Dempsey's Have lots of blue on the lower jaw while males have hardly any at all. Males also get bigger and have more blue spots on the body with longer fins. Females have less blue speckling.-Chuck> Thanks again


Sick cichlids Hello, I have two cichlids...one a tiger and the other one I am not sure of the type.  They both have large areas with a white, fuzzy substance in the center.  The areas are start between the eyes and continue up the head to almost the top fin.  The fish appear to be lethargic and often lay on the bottom of the tank floor.  There are no other fish in the tank with them, or any other species.  Any ideas on what we can do to make them feel and get better?  I hope you can help.  Thank you, LB < Do a 30 % water change and service the filters. Vacuum the gravel as you do your water change. Treat with Furanace. This will kill the fungus (White cottony stuff on the head), and treat any bacteria that may be attacking the areas too. -Chuck>


Oscar's has ICH or HITH? Hi, MikeD here> My Oscar still has his white spot O <--- about the size of that zero and the Tiger Oscar is only about 4 inches long.<Definitely not ick, which is a tiny white spot about the size of a grain of salt or smaller> The spot hasn't grown or healed and he's had it for at least 2 and a half weeks.<Where is the spot located on the fish, and is it a definite pit or hole?> I do water changes once a week and vacuum once a week.<Not too much of a water change I hope?> When do you think I should change the gravel.<Why would you want to change the gravel, unless it's because you don't like the color or stone size?> What should I treat his white spot as ICH or HITH?<From the information you gave me, it's definitely NOT ick, and maybe not HITH, at present I'd hold off on treating with anything....any chance of sending a photo?>
Re: Oscar's has ICH or HITH?
<Hi, MikeD here again> Ill send you a Photo Next E-mail (About 2 days)<OK> Its just a pit, not really a hole. Also it's right above the gill. <Good. That would sound more like lateral line erosion than HITH, which can often be made to subside merely by improving water conditions and food quality. My personal suggestion is to never use live goldfish as feeders, BTW. It's also possible it MAY be just a scar, and until you're sure WHAT you're treating, there's always the chance of doing severe harm by using the wrong treatment.>
Re: Oscar's has ICH or HITH?
<Hi again, MikeD here> What do you recommend as food. Right now I'm using Floating Pellets (Medium) made from Wardley.<Any good cichlid pellet or such should be fine, preferably one made for predators> Their quite old like a month. I feed him twice a day<Great idea! It's a growing baby and once a day often just keeps them alive, while more allows them enough extra energy to grow> about 7 pellets each serving. Their bags zip lock broke so I put it in a new Zip Lock Bag.<Good idea as they CAN go stale and lose food value> All I feed him is pellets. How do I know how much to feed him? I heard put in some pellets and see how much he eats in several minutes, but is several minutes 2 or 3 or 4?<Basically, you can feed it all it will eat until it quits eating, then stop. Any food left uneaten after 15 minutes should be removed> If you have any Recommendations for food I'll go out and grab some.<There are hundreds of predatory cichlid foods on the market, with most being satisfactory. find one that both of you seem to like and you should be fine. As "treats" you can offer it live ghost shrimp, even small earth worms if you so desire. some people feed live feeder fish, but with that you always stand a good chance of picking up parasites, so I'd suggest avoiding the practice to stay on the safe side.  Keep in mind that you'll need to change the size of the food pellets/treats as it grows, plus increase amounts according to its appetite>


Tiger Oscar Hey, my Oscar has this white little indent right above his gill, theirs only one. I think I spotted it about half a week ago as just a white spot, but now I think I notice a little indent. I think it may be Hole In The Head Disease. I did my gravel vacuuming and also a 30% water change with water conditioner in the 30% new water and I also put in a new filter in the filtration system ( Do you think that will fix the indent?). < The improved water conditions can only help. It may slow the disease down.>   I don't have an Ammonia and Nitrate kit but I think I will go out and buy one tomorrow ( Can you give me a rough price ). < Each kit should be under $10.> Do you think you can send me some pictures of some fish with the Hole in the head disease just appearing if that is possible. Also can you, if you think it is HITH disease give me some information on treating it to get it to go away? < I just had this discussion a couple of nights ago with a few friends of mine at the local cichlid club. Unfortunately there has been no real science done on hole-in the head. Many people have done some lab work and found many things but no real "smoking gun" has been found yet. Keep the water clean and try to vary the diet to include some live food like earthworms and brine shrimp. If the holes look like they are getting bigger then you could try some Metronidazole at 250 mg per 10 gallons and follow the directions on the package. Prevention is much easier than treatment. Good Luck. Do a Google search on Hole-in-the-head disease and you will find numerous tips and theories on how this disease works and how to treat it. Some saltwater  fish get it too.-Chuck> Thank you.
Re: Tiger Oscar
Thanks for the information so quick. Right before I got to bed, quick question? Its possible to cure right? Like make the hole go away and stop it from spreading with that medication? Or is he going to die?!.... Also when you said the improvements I did can "help" ( new water, new filter ), does this mean that it may cure it or does it mean it will only slow the death down? < If you don't know the specific cause of the stress then you don't know what needs to be changed. In some fish it may be high nitrates. But I have seen the disease in fully planted aquariums with no ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate measured in the water. So then you have to start looking at other things like pH and diet. Vitamin deficiencies may be a cause too. No two aquarists keep two tanks totally alike. So the same two aquarists may have the disuse but the causes may be different depending on all the variables such as food source, initial water chemistry and other fish. There are no stone cold locks when it comes to treating Hole-in-the-head as of yet. I gave you some generalities to increase your fishes chances of survival. You may have to try some of these things and see if they are effective. But be aware no matter what you do you may never be able to cure your fish.-Chuck> Bye
Re: Tiger Oscar
Also I read up that in most cases if it is caused by stress or poor water quality it isn't contagious meaning that it isn't bacteria and it wont spread and that one particular dent will clear up on its own if you clean the tank and such. I was just curious on your statement for that if it is true or totally made up. Thanks bye. < You need three things for a disease to occur. A parasite, a host ,and an environment that at the same time weakens the fishes immunity while at the same time enhances the reproductive behavior of the parasite. If you have poor water quality in your tank then other cichlids are likely to show the same symptoms because the conditions are the same throughout the entire tank. Stress can lead to all kinds of diseases not just hole in the head. I don't just make things up. My answers are based on years of experience with cichlids as well as attending seminars all over the country on cichlids too. Of coarse I am always willing to listen to something new on treatment for the problem, unfortunately I have been lead up the golden path many times over the years by "new " treatments that have never really been panned out.-Chuck>


Damaged Fins Help!!!  Hi there just a quick one. I bought 4 red Oscars (about 3-4cms long) and put them in my Cichlid tank till morning when my new tank would be ready for them. As i found out to my horror this morning the poor little Oscars never lasted as well with them as i thought: 1 has only 1 fin intact and 2 have 1 shorter fin  they were ok when i went to bed, they had got them selves all laid together in the corner as per usual but obviously their tankmates had set upon them when i shut the door or before i got up!  Do they grow back??? < Yes the fins will grow back if they have not been fungused. Keep the water clean and they should grow back although they may not be as straight or as long as undamaged fins.-Chuck>


Oscars breathing one-sided. Hi, Just wondering if you could possibly give me some insight as to what could be going on with my 2 Oscars?  I bought an adult pair of Golden Oscars on March.25. They had a host of problems.. all are gone now except for this gill issue. They seem to switch back and forth, and then use both gills normally. No particular gill is favoured. I thought they had gill flukes (although they are not breathing heavily).. using one gill seems to be a classic symptom of flukes. But they still continue to use one gill occasionally. After the first treatment I figured maybe I didn't dose the aquarium correctly. So I waited a few days, used carbon to remove the medication and treated for flukes a second time. Still no improvement. I'm completely stumped. They look and act healthy otherwise. It just bothers me to see them breathing that way. It's been just over 3 months now with no improvement. Could this be some sort of gill damage? < Based on their rather tough past it could be gill damage. Typically gills that have been "burned" by excessive ammonia do grow back. If they have been exposed to fungus as a secondary infection then they might not. I would recommend keeping the water well aerated so they don't have to labor to breath.> My water parameters are.. Ammonia=0, Nitrite=0 and Nitrate=10ppm. PH is 6.6. Water changes are done frequently.. I was hoping it would help. Aquarium is 75g and they are the only occupants. < Try and keep the water as clean as possible. Your numbers look good. Try and keep the nitrates under 25 ppm.-Chuck> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Linda


Terrified for my Terrors I have been viewing your site for a few weeks now and it has been soooo helpful to me, however, I can't seem to find the answer to what is wrong with my Green Terrors. I have searched all over the web and one site says one thing while another says something completely opposite! So I came to you for help!  The very first fish my husband and I bought was a green terror. We had him in a 55gal. We fell in love with him instantly and decided to by his tank mate at the store we bought him. About a month after we started to noticed long white stringy feces coming from one of them. We had other cichlids in the tank at the time, but they did not seem affected. They both had an excellent appetite. Then slowly, the smaller of the two started refusing food.  During this time we upgraded to a 125 gallon and as soon as we transferred them, both their appetites diminished. Slowly they started acting scared of us and they started hiding in corners and rocks. Our LFS told us they were probably a mating pair or they were stressed from moving and that was the reason why they were acting strange. We questioned them on the abnormal feces and they asked us if we had changed their diet. We did try feeding them a variety of things just to turn them back on to food. The LFS then told us the change in fecal matter was most likely due to the change in food.  Not knowing at the time much about fish and sicknesses we thought the LFS was right, after all, they make a living in the fish world. Boy was I wrong! And needless to say, we have learned our lesson that when it comes to the slightest change in fish behavior or appearance, chances are something is wrong.  I started doing my research online a couple of weeks ago when I really started to worry that they hadn't eaten in a long time. That is when we also started treatments with Internal Parasite Clear after finding the info online that we had internal parasites. During this time, we had moved them both into a hospital tank. That was 3 weeks ago. After trying 3 other medications there is still no improvement in the fish.  I have called around to several different fish suppliers, and found tons of info online on what they could have. I was told they could have Hole in the Head, Spironucleus, Hexamita, or wasting disease, and to treat with treatments such as salts, Metro, Pimafix etc. I have tried them all with no success. It has been well over a month since they have eaten any food, yet they are still hanging on, although I know they have got to be suffering. I am asking you please for some advice on what I can do. Is it hopeless that these fish can be treated? Do you know what they have? The symptoms other than white stringy feces are not eating, and just basically lethargic. We love these fish. They used to be so full of life and my heart now goes out to them...please help :( < Green terrors are really pretty hardy fish but I have an idea with others that have written with similar problems with their green terrors. First of all lets make sure that the tank is OK. Ammonia , nitrites should be zero. Nitrates should be under 25 ppm. Service the filter and do a 30% water change. The new water should perk them up. Make sure you water temp is around 80 degrees. Then offer some washed earthworms. If they mouth the earthworms but do not eat them then there make be a problem with their pharyngeal bones. These act like a second set of "jaws" and allows cichlids to chew a large number of food items. If these jaws are damaged then they would be reluctant to eat. Try and pre-soften the food by wetting it slightly to make it softer and try that. If there is still no appetite then they have an internal protozoa that has shut their gut down. In a separate tank treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the box. If you can only treat them in the main tank then I would watch for ammonia spikes because some medications will harm the good bacteria that break down fish wastes in an established tank. If they are intimidated by the other fish then I would separate them until they were able to build up their strength and return to the main tank.-Chuck>
Terrified for my Terrors
Thank you very much for your help.  I will try the earthworms.  What would cause the pharyngeal bones to become damaged and on both fish?  Their condition seems to be getting worse.  The feces is now about 6 inches hanging from them.  I just have one more question for you... do I use straight Metro (if so how can I get it) or do I keep using the Parasite guard which has Metro in it?  I really appreciate your help.  Thank you so much! <The bones may be damaged by the fish picking up pellets that are too hard or else mistaking gravel for the pellets and trying to chew them. The Metronidazole is found under a couple different trade names. You will just have to look at the ingredients listed on the package. Usually it is used at 250mg per 10 gallons of water. Watch out for ammonia spikes because it may affect the good bacteria in the tank. Remove the carbon in the filter too. If you can't get the metro straight then you will have to use the parasite guard.-Chuck>


Bloody Parrot seizures? Hi, I have had a Bloody Parrot Cichlid for 19 months and he has never had any medical problems before. Two days ago he started having what I can only describe as "seizures". He starts to quiver and float funny, then cowers in the corner of the tank shaking. He then "SHOOTS" up to the top of the tank, slamming against the glass tank top, and then as he is floating down towards the bottom, he rams into the side glass. Then he basically sinks to the bottom of the tank, breathing strangely. The gills? under his "chin" are flapping back and forth and he appears to be out of breath. The first few times that he did this, were at feeding time, but now that I was home all day (Saturday) I see that he does it even without eating. I love this fish dearly, as he recognizes and can differentiate between members of our family and strangers, and is especially attached to me as I am the one who feeds him and gives him his treats. He also peers through the glass of the tank, and if I wave to him, he does that funny little dance that they do. I would like to know if there is anything I can do to help him. Watching him smash up against the glass is killing me, and I feel like it will eventually kill him. He is in a 58 gallon aquarium, along with a smaller parrot, convict, clown loaches, black skirt tetras, Bala shark, red-tailed black shark, and gouramis. He is the king of the tank and butts everyone out of his way. He is fed flake food, and is treated with Tubifex, dried blood worms (not his favorite) and a variety of romaine lettuce, peas, asparagus and broccoli. I can't think of anything else except to say that the water in my tank is in excellent condition. I clean the tank, the filter and the tubes as necessary. Can you suggest anything to help me or tell me what is happening to my "Baby"? < Your fish may be affected by some unknown internal parasite or bacteria. Your parrot cichlid is a hybrid between a few fish and may have lost some of its natural defenses against disease. My only recommendation would be to isolate the fish in separate tank with lots of floating plastic plants to be use as a buffer against the top of the tank. Treat with some Metronidazole according to the directions on the package. If you see no improvement after a week then I would try a strong antibiotic like Kanamycin. These are "shotgun" attempts to help your fish. maybe we will get lucky. Add a little rock salt to the isolation tank too. Couldn't hurt.-Chuck> Thanks, Donna
Re: Bloody Parrot seizures?
Chuck, I wanted to reply as I have more information that may be helpful to my Blood Parrot Cichlid. Today is Sunday, and as of 6:00 PM EST, he had no attacks today. I had fed him some peas, as he was asking for food, and originally he had most of his attacks when he ate. The two times that I gave him some peas today, he ate them and was Ok, with no attacks. He was not his "Normal" self, but at least no attacks. Then at 6:15 PM, the normal time that I feed my fish, I fed them TetraMin Pro Tropical Crisps, which is a flake food. He ate aggressively at the top of the tank for about 15 seconds, then the attack occurred. He got stuck in the cave at the bottom of the tank, so he didn't manage to smash himself against the glass, but he definitely had an attack. What makes him have this problem every time I give him flake food now? Can I feed him with just the peas for a few days? Should I still quarantine him and get him the medication you suggested? If so, the only extra tank we have is a 10 gallon tank. Is that big enough for him for a while? I REALLY appreciate your help, as the fish stores around here seem to be clueless as to what is happening to him. One actually suggested that his tank mates are nipping his fins making him slam against the glass. When I told him that that is not happening, he nastily told me that I can't watch them 24 hours a day. Anyone who has an aquarium knows that after 2 years, you know what your fish do and don't do and what is "Normal" for them. Once again, Thanks So Much for your help! < With this new information I have a couple of new theories. With the soft food such as peas he had no attacks, but with dried foods he has the attacks. If am thinking that maybe the dried foods are getting stuck in his throat causing him to choke. Presoak the flake foods so it is hydrated before feeding and see if it helps. If this is still happening I would take the fish out of the water and look closely down its throat with a strong flashlight and look for obstructions. I once had a cichlid with a piece from a plastic plant stuck down its throat. I removed it with a long pair of tweezers and he was fine after that.-Chuck> Donna
Re: Bloody Parrot seizures?
Chuck, THANKS SOOOO MUCH!!! Once you mentioned about the flakes being dry, I noticed that when he was busy eating the peas on Monday morning, while I fed the other fish in the tank, by the time he ate the flakes they had floated down into the water, and he ate them with NO PROBLEM! When I fed him at 6:00 PM, I hydrated the flakes and gave him peas first, then put the soaked flakes into the tank. Once again, NO PROBLEM! He comes to the front of the tank whenever I go by, so I sat on the floor with him in the tank in front of me, and tried to look down his throat with a flashlight. I didn't see anything that seemed to be blocking his throat, but since he sucks at everything that goes into the tank, and helps the female convict move the pebbles in the tank when she's going to lay eggs, I was wondering if maybe he accidentally swallowed a pebble, and hurt his throat. I'm going to continue feeding him the hydrated flakes, peas, and broccoli, and hopefully he will be OK. I am only worried because we leave on vacation for three weeks, and I have an automatic feeder that can only dispense the dry flakes, so I am hoping that he will be Ok by then. Once again, THANKS SO MUCH for all your help. < That's what we are here for. Have a good vacation.-Chuck> Donna


Discomed Question Hi guys, Just wondering how much food treated with Discomed has to be ingested to affect a cure? I have a 5" gold Severum that will only eat one or two pellets, and then begins to reject any additional ones. Will that be enough to treat him? He still has a healthy appetite (without the Discomed), although he is thinning down the spine, and has some sporadic twitches and often pale and trailing feces which I believe indicate internal parasites. I have read that injection with syringe is an option, but the site didn't detail whether it was just the solution, or the medicated food that was to be forced? And would the manual handling of the fish cause more stress than it would be worth?  Well, I really love this guy, and don't want to lose him. He's paired with my female blood parrot, and they always pal around. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. < Catch the fish in the net and use a wet towel with water from the aquarium to hold him. Hold the head up and look in his mouth for any obstructions. The mouth or throat area may be damaged or infected by food objects in the tank. Once you are certain that that pathway is clear then I would try to prehydrate the food to make it softer and easier to ingest. Don't soak it. Just wet down some pellets to soften them up and see if he will eat more of them. If nothing is working then I would place him in an isolation tank and treat with Metronidazole at 250 mg per 10 gallons and change 30% of the water every other day. It is bacterial then I would try a shotgun approach with Kanamycin.-Chuck> Thanks again in advance, Corey from Toronto, Canada
Re: Discomed Question
Thanks for the quick response Chuck. I took your advice about not soaking the pellets. If I just immerse until they soften, the Severum will eat them just like normal. And thanks for the info on handling a fish - it will be good to know for future reference.  Hopefully the 7 days on Discomed will affect a cure. The package and their 1-800# doesn't indicate how long to wait before doing another cycle, or how to determine if it's even necessary. Do you think I should be looking for weight gain as an indication of being cured? < Try some washed earthworms to put on some quick weight. If the appetite is up then you should start to see something soon. -Chuck> Well, as always, thank you for your sound advice.  Corey. 


Re: white patches: ich, velvet, both, neither? Before I start, here's the background: Two 5-6" Oscars, one 5" Pleco, 39 g tank (which I now know is wayyyy too small and am diligently saving toward obtaining a 120 g tank ASAP).  Two HOB filters (Penguin 125 w/BioWheel & a Millennium 1000).  Biweekly 25-50% water changes depending on the amount of crud. Try to keep Ph no higher than 7.0 and ammonia is at a "safe" level according to the ammonia alert card in the tank (can those be trusted?).  I put in 1 Tbls of aquarium salt for every 5 gallons of water I add during water changes. I use tap water treated with aqua safe & try to get it as close to the tank temp as possible.  1 or 2x daily feedings of Oscar pellets, dried brine shrimp &/or occasional live earthworms (rinsed).   Please see the attached pics of my Lilo's spots and tell me if this looks more like ich or velvet or just injuries from fighting. <After reviewing the photo it looks like wounds from fighting> It doesn't look fluffy like velvet or pinpointy like ich.  Stitch has recently started ramming Lilo's sides and I noted a scale pop off yesterday.  Obviously I need to get a much bigger tank ASAP.  In the meantime, I put a plastic screen in to separate them, which unfortunately only makes the habitat smaller for each, but at least they aren't tormenting each other at the moment. The pic has a greenish tint because I added 3 tabs of Tank Buddies Fungus Clear (Nitrofurazone, Furazolidone, potassium dichromate) and per the instructions, took out the carbon cartridges from the filters. < You should have removed the BioWheel from the penguin filter too. Medications can kill the bacteria on the wheel sometimes.>   How soon before I can put them back in?  The box says do another treatment and 25% water change in four days if it hasn't cleared up. Does that mean the cartridges stay out for that long? I don't want to poison them!  They are each quite lethargic right now & didn't swim up to greet me at feeding but did each eat a red wiggler this morning.  Thanks in advance for your assistance. < Do a partial water change and try using a conditioner with some wound control in it. The Oscars will recover from the wounds since they don't look too serious and Oscars are pretty tough customers to begin with. I would not remedicate if the fungus does not reappear. The fungus likes to live on dead tissue. Watch you ammonia levels since the bacteria may have been harmed by the medication. Add the carbon back after 24 hours to clear things up and get you tank back on track.-Chuck>


Gold Severum- Clear Bubble near Anus I would very much appreciate your feed back on the problem im having with one of my Gold Severums.  Severum is about 7-8 years old, avg size, think its a male but not sure and i just noticed the last couple of days that there is some kind of clear/cloudy bubble growth, size of a dime in diameter near his anus or it might be coming from his anus.  It is bloody looking inside looking like a embryo kinda i guess. Im really not sure if its some kind of cyst, tumor, etc..... < Your fish have developed an internal bacterial infection. An ulcer may have developed in the fishes intestine an allowed the bacteria normally found in the gut to escape outside the gut and start to feed on the fish itself. As the bacteria grow and multiply they begin to produce gas and cause the intestines of the fish to expand beyond the fishes body cavity.> Usually I've tried calling a few places here in town (KS) and nobody really knows. < This condition is fairly rare so it is not unusual that the stores have not encountered this before, but it does happen occasionally in older fish.> This is really upsetting to me since I've had my fish  quite some time. (2-Gold Severums, 2-Convicts).  I have transferred him to another tank for which the other Severum was bothering, chasing, swimming next to him, not really attacking in a way but i thought it would help him with his problem, not being bothered... PLEASE HELP ME!!!! I APPRECIATE YOUR PROMPT RESPONSE AND RECOMMENDATIONS. < Isolating the fish is a good idea. Treat for fungal infections. The extended intestine is damaged and begin to look fuzzy . This is a fungal infection and needs to be treated or it will never heal. Treat the internal problem with a medicated food with Metronidazole. Follow the directions as recommended. If the fish is not eating the you could try a Furanace type of antibiotic. Change the water often. If the antibiotics work then the bacteria will die off and the intestine may go back inside if it has not been damaged by the fungus. Saving this fish is a long shot, but I can tell by your writing that you have developed a attachment to your fish and really want to save it. Good luck -Chuck> TODD (KS)


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


Oscar Dear WWM Crew, I have written in the past regarding an "upside down" Oscar, who is still alive, but seemingly not well.  I strongly believe that he has permanent swim bladder damage b/c he does not float and has been on his side at the bottom of the tank for some time now.   < The swim bladder in cichlids is an open system in which the fish can change the size depending on depth and conditions. Deep water rift lake cichlids take a few days do decompress like divers from deeper waters. The valve that controls this can become infected and close permanently. It appears your Oscar is in this category.> In addition, there is a permanent small distended area around his rectal area, which can vary slightly in size. < It appears there is or was a definite internal infection with your Oscar>  I clean the tank one a week (30 gal.) and use Epsom salt each time because it seems to help keep the distention at bay.  I have not tried any other treatments. < The damage is already done and he will probably not get any better> He still eats very well and can swim, although only with major effort and tires so quickly that I often end up pushing the food toward him to help.  It is very upsetting to see him in this state and I worry that he his suffering.  I've considered Euthanizing and you have suggested that freezing is the most humane, but I don't see how since he will be removed from the tank he has resided in for several years and placed in a dark place that get progressively colder.  Perhaps, I'm thinking too much (my husband complaint).  Any suggestions? < Your fish will probably not get any better. If you want to try to save him you can get some medicated food with Metronidazole in it. Feed it to him for a couple of days, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel to get rid of the built up waste. Raise the water temperature to 82 degrees. Repeat the medicated food in a week. It probably will not work since your Oscar is a few years old and only live a couple of years in the wild. An Oscar that is "several years old" probably has his best years behind him. To euthanize you fish I would take some water out of the aquarium and place it in a small bucket with just enough water to cover the top of him. Place a few Alka-Seltzer's?) tablets in the bucket. The kind you get at the drug store for headaches. The tablets will foam when they hit the water and put out Co2 gas. This will put him to sleep. He will still be breathing but will be unconscious. Then put him in a plastic fish bag with some of the water from the bucket and place him in the freezer. The cold will slowly kill him and you can then dispose of him. -Chuck>
Re: Oscar
Chuck, Thanks so much for your reply.  I do want to clarify that I have in the past tried to medicate. This condition has been an issue for almost a year now and the last time I was in contact with your awesome crew, he seemed to show promise after the initial Epsom salt treatment, he was even floating on his own. However, not too long after he took a sudden turn for the worse and has never recovered! He is over five years old at this point.  Anyway, thanks for your advice. Would you agree that he would be better off in the Seltzer-seltzer bath at this point? < That is probably best for both you and the fish. A new fish active in your tank would also be much more entertaining and make things much easier to take care of. Hopefully another cichlid since they are a personal favorite of mine. Good luck -Chuck> Thanks much. Best, Kim


Parasite or worm infection in Blood Parrot I have a 5+ year old heart shaped Blood Parrot fish with a severe parasitic worm infection. It has been ongoing for a few years, I thought it was a fungus infection at first and treated it as such( the symptoms were white puffy blister like sore that would peak, as in come to a pointed shape after the eruption broke open). I noticed the fungus guard med would make the things seem to go away for a while. Now I think the worm was bothered by the med and withdrew back in to the fish's body tissue. The eruptions seemed to only appear on the meaty head area of the fish at first. They have spread out to the scaled areas near the head area. The Blood Parrott is a cross between a Cichlid and a Red Devil I believe, <A cross from Amphilophus citrinellum (Midas cichlid/Red Devil), and Cichlasoma synspilum (Redheaded cichlid), perhaps also with some lineage from Heros severus (Severum) and Amphilophus labiatum (another cichlid that goes by Red Devil).> and has the same scaleless head area as the Cichlid. <Not really scaleless; the scales are of a different shape and size than elsewhere on the fish.> The problem is worse now and I have noticed that it is definitely a roundworm of some sort. <Having talked with Bob about this, we agree that this is more likely a mono- or digenetic fluke (trematode) rather than a roundworm (nematode).  If it is a digenetic fluke, it may have been brought in (and still being transmitted) by snails - please look for and eradicate any snails in the tank, or if you have pet-type snails, move them to a separate (fish-free) tank.> The larger ones can be seen under the translucent orange skin of the fish. they move around under the head skin, they are white, from 1 to 2 or 3 centimeters long and 1/16 inch thick or so. I have seen them retract under the skin, and coil up when touched. They seem to stick out the nose or head section from under the skin for a day or two and then burrow back under for a few days and then do it again. <Ugh.  That's disgusting.> I have tried Levamisole, 6-7 mg/l  of water I think was the dosing I used. I got the dosing info from the internet. The fish turned pale, was skittish, would not eat till after the water was changed. I have tried the dosing at somewhat higher levels with same or worse reactions from the fish, with no results with the worms except that they all go under the skin and remain until the water is changed. I have left the medicine in for at least 7 days, with additional dosing on every other day. <At this point, a salt bath may very well be in order, to see if that will convince the parasites that your fish is an inhospitable place to live.  Evict them from their homes, I say!  Do the bath at full-strength saltwater (SG 1.024-ish), but use the stuff marketed as "freshwater" salt, not marine aquarium salt (this would alter the pH).  The bath can last anywhere up to five minutes, but you must be extremely observant of your fish, any signs of trouble (redness, difficulty breathing), you should remove the fish immediately.  The forums have had a lot of discussion on salt baths; you might want to come over and do a search: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ .  After the salt bath (or other than the salt bath, should you not do it), I would recommend Levamisole or Piperazine *in food* to try to help this situation.  One med available for use in food is "Discomed", made by Aquatronics and containing Levamisole, which can be used with live, frozen, or dried foods.  Aquatronics also used to make a medicated food with Piperazine, called "Dewormex".> We really are attached to this fish, He is alone in a 29 gallon tank, freshwater of course, and I am afraid that he will die soon. The infestation is getting worse, now his left eye is starting to protrude some, like the worms are behind it and forcing it out.   <It would be a very good idea to add Epsom salt to the water in his tank, at a rate of one tablespoon per ten gallons; this will help relieve pressure on his eye, and has other benefits in his time of illness, as well.> Is there any hope for this fish? <As long as there's still fight left in him, there's always hope.> Can you suggest any medications that might help and dosing.   <Just as above.> He is about 5" long, 3" tall and 1 to 2 " thick. I would appreciate any advice or help. I have no way to send a picture, I hope the description is enough.   <I hope so, too.  A very good description, indeed.> Thanks for your consideration.   <Sure thing.  Please keep us updated.  Good luck to you and your hybrid pal!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>


Say "Aah" Hi, <Hello.> I have a Firemouth Cichlid who for the past 2 days has had it's mouth open. Today I noticed that its open even wider and the skin right behind it's mouth looks very thin. It also isn't eating. Any thoughts? <Check closely to be sure that there is no obstruction in his mouth preventing him from closing it.  Look for any visible growths or other abnormalities, as well.  It is possible that his jaw is dislocated or injured, though, and there probably isn't much of anything you can do for him, aside from a trip to the vet to get the jaw relocated.  Keep a close watch on your water parameters (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH).  If he is not alone in the tank, you may want to consider transferring him to a quarantine tank to ensure that he has the opportunity to rest without being harassed by tankmates.  Try to coax him into eating with especially tasty foods like frozen bloodworms, or even small live earthworms.  Perhaps stimulating him into wanting to eat will help him get his jaw back in place.  It certainly wouldn't hurt to give your vet a call and ask him about dislocated fish jaws.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina.> Thanks,  Cheryl
Say "Aah" again
Thanks for the great response. I'm really worried now as he does have some visible large white cotton looking growths. <Can you describe in greater detail?  This could be a fungus, columnaris, Lymphocystis....  do please look through this and articles/FAQs linked to it:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm and do some Google searches, especially on 'columnaris' and 'Lymphocystis' and see if you can find any similarities.> He is also just kinda floating but keeping his mouth at the top of the tank. His buddy also a Firemouth is starting to get what looks like ick. <Are the spots small, like grains of sugar, or tufty/fuzzy?> I have treated the tank <For what?  With what medication?> and will have my water tested tomorrow. <Definitely crucial.> Any other info would be great.  Thanks,  Cheryl <As far as that jaw goes, I still think it might be a good idea to give your vet a call, ask him if he knows how to relocate dislocated fish jaws, and if it's something he can tell you how to do.  Hope all goes well,  -Sabrina.>


Patchy Severum I have a green Severum that has loss of color on his underside and fins in a patchy pattern.  I thought that it might be leeches so I treated them for that but the patches are still there and their not fuzzy or like cotton. <Though it is possible that these patches were caused by leeches, leeches are pretty uncommon in aquaria.  Marks that they would leave would be reddish and inflamed, and pretty uniform in size.  What did you try treating with?> The patches seem to be in different places at different times.  I would appreciate some advice if you have some.   <The first thing to do is test your water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH; loss of color is often a sign of stress, which usually comes back to water quality issues.  There are also quite a number of illnesses that cause a loss of coloration or a patchy appearance, including some protozoan parasites and many bacterial infections; more information is needed to help with a diagnosis.  Are the fish's fins clamped?  Breathing hard?  Any other visible signs of illness?  Are the patchy spots sort of "flaky" or "peeling" in appearance?  Are the marks uniform in size/shape?  How long has the fish been sick?  What other fish are in the tank with it?  How big is the tank?  And again, test your water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH, let us know those values.  I know it's an awful lot of questions, but it'll help us figure out what is wrong with your fish and help you decide on a treatment.> I have been working on water changes for the past 2 weeks. <Good to hear - water changes never hurt, and almost always help.  Hope we can help you get this figured out.  -Sabrina> Thanks DEE


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


Sick cichlid My red devil is very sick. He just lays around the bottom of the tank. He does come to the top of the tank to eat but just sinks right back down to the bottom. I am so worried about losing him. I heard that you should put Epson salt in the water but I also have a female in the same tank. If I add the salt will it hurt her in anyway? <Won't hurt her, no.  If you do this, it should be at a rate of 1-2 tablespoons per ten gallons of water.> She is not sick. Please help real soon. <First and foremost, check your water parameters - ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.  If you don't have test kits, your local fish store should be willing to test a sample of your water for you.  A water change (or several, if necessary) will help you fix anything that's out of whack, and certainly won't hurt anything.  Can you tell us more about your fish and your aquarium?  Tank size, other fish in the tank?  Filtration?  Water change schedule, how much and how often do you change water?  Also, what else can you tell us about the sick fish?  Any details you can give us will help - color (is it normal, if not, what), shape (is it bloated-looking, skinny, etc.), any physical damage, gasping, anything else amiss.  If the only problem is that he keeps sinking to the bottom of the tank, it might be a swim bladder issue, in which case you should try the Epsom salts, but it may or may not have any effect.  -Sabrina>


Severums with HLLE? I have a gold and green Severum and I notice they are slowly developing more holes (pit-like) around their head regions. <Sounds like hole-in-the-head/HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion).> I treated them with fungus and parasite tablets as well as Maracyn-two but no improvement.   <This condition is usually brought on by either poor water quality or improper nutrition; can you tell us more about your tank?  What are your ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels?  What other fish are in there?  How large is the tank?  How often/how much do you change water?  Do you vacuum the gravel?  What do you feed?  Lots of questions, I know, but it'll help us help you if we know more about your system.> However, the other fish in the tank appear fine.  Is there something I can do to treat the Severums? <Not treat, really, but improving the water quality will hopefully halt the pitting.  Maintain excellent water quality and feed with a good, varied diet, and you might possibly see some improvement.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>


Upside Down Oscar - Round 2! Dear Anthony/Crew, Kim here again searching for more advice for my poor upside down Oscar.  : (   <Hmmm... not a good sign> As you will recall, my Oscar was upside down for several weeks over the summer due to a distention of the rectal area. In early September, at your wise counsel, I stopped all meds and started Epsom salt treatments (6 tablespoons for 30 gallons), which I repeated in 3 days and have continued once a week with water changes.  For a long while, he was swelling free, but laying at the bottom of the tank.  Then he began to hold himself upright and swimming normally for short periods of time.   <'tis the case for most... slow and steady progress if the imbalance/blockage was minor> However, in the last two weeks the area has become distended on a daily basis, but only for short sporadic periods of time. When he made the effort to swim, such as at feeding time, it would almost instantly deflate. Unfortunately, this has changed in the last two days. The distention has returned and is constant. He has been upside down now for two days, floating at the top of the tank. The good news (I guess) is that he is still eager as ever to eat the brine shrimp and beef heart each night. Nonetheless the bloated area has grown larger in the last 24 hours, and he can not swim normally at all.  Help!  Perhaps, I am not feeding him enough (usually 3 brine shrimp gumdrops and two thumbnail size chunks of beef heart once a day at night.  The last two or three water changes (w/Epsom), I slightly cleaned the gravel.  Could I have disrupted the beneficial bacteria that I understand resides in the gravel?  The Epsom salt and food has been a constant, nothing else has changed except that I started cleaning the gravel.  Your thoughts and advice would be very much appreciated.  Sincerely, Kim Olson <no worries on the gravel cleaning... it is quite necessary. I fear at this point that the problem with your Oscar is more serious. That still does not mean incurable. Internal parasites may have perforated organ/tissue walls internally and injured the swim bladder. There may be a persistent infection too. Using medicated pelleted foods (bacterial and parasitic) may help here. Else I wonder if there isn't a congenital defect that has developed or some irreparable damage. Alas, time will tell. Do try the medicated food sticks/pellets. Hoping for the best :) Anthony>


Blue Ram, Krib , swim bladder problems Hi Gage, Sabrina Blue ram , then Krib going down with 'dropsy'.  Been there with Apistos. When various genera of dwarfs start 'popping' I'd be really suspicious of an over deep substrate being a bit dirty.  I suffered this when I had a deep substrate for aquascaping purposes, and slacked on hoovering.  Thinned the substrate, no more bacterial problems (and my cories barbels regrew!). Before that I lost one every day or so from a rather nice Apisto. 'colony' I had running.  Also as it was a bit of a nutrient trap my water nitrate was zero, I was doing some big water changes, the fish looked great, and the algae was horrific.  Note the pH dropped from 7 to 6 - I don't know what the hardness is here, but to do that calls for some organic acids to appear from somewhere.   I've no idea of how you'd reconcile a thinner gravel with UG filtration though.  More hoovering, and hard? <Thanks for the input Wayne, good point, deeper substrates without good gravel vacuuming will become nutrient traps.  Gage> Wayne


Constipated angelfish? Hi, <Hello, Mark!  Sabrina with you today> I have a large angel fish that has developed a larger than normal stomach over the last week or so. It is lethargic, is not eating or producing waste. It also seems to be gulping. Otherwise it looks OK - no external signs of infection, parasites, injury. Is this likely to be constipation? <Sounds like it to me, or possibly the beginnings of dropsy - are the scales sticking out, pinecone fashion?> If so, I have been advised to try syringe feeding a little natural yogurt as this could be more effective than Epsom salts. Is this a good idea? <Personally, I've never heard of using yogurt for constipation in fish....  I'd be especially skeptical about it, to tell the truth.  If nothing more, handling out of water and then force-feeding would be far more stressful to the fish than trying Epsom salts.  Epsom salts are effective, though, and can be dosed at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons, or even up to 2 Tbs per 10g, if the lower dose doesn't do it.  If the fish looks to be tempted to eat, try feeding a thawed frozen pea; squeeze the soft inside part out of the shell before offering it.> Thanks,  Mark. <Any time.  Good luck with your angel.  -Sabrina>


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


Sick Midas Cichlid They get pellets from Hikari daily and every other week they get rosy reds. I saw on your site that it says not to feed them any goldfish. What about Rosies? <I like the Hikari pellets, if they are a major part of their diet you might want to soak them in water before tossing them into the tank (also a great way to get medicine into the food), dry food over a long period of time can cause digestive problems.  I would leave the live fish out entirely. Pellets, beef heart, liver, earthworms, grass shrimp, and crayfish are all yummy. -Gage> Amanda WWM FAQ Crew <crew@mail.wetwebmedia.com> wrote: Sick Midas Cichlid I have tested the nitrites and the ammonia and they were stable. That is what confused me so much. It wasn't like the tank got cloudy over time, it was the next morning after I put medication in it. That is what made me think it was a bacteria bloom. I have done several 50% water changes and that didn't seem to help. I will try to get a picture of him. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm Gage> Amanda


FW Lymphocystis? Sabrina - I will try sending these one at a time, Firemouth first, right now. If this doesn't work, I will put them in a pdf file and send that to you. <Bill, they got to me just fine, thanks - and it does indeed look like Lymphocystis.  As said earlier, not much to be done except maintain excellent water quality and possibly manually removing the lumps.  Do be right on top of water changes, keep pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate where it should be.  -Sabrina> Thanks,  Bill

Lymphocystis again Thank you, Sabrina - As it happens, the lumps on the Severum have shrunk dramatically and if one did not know they had been there, one would probably not notice them at all. <Excellent!> As for the affliction surrounding the dorsal fin of the Firemouth, the crud might be looking a little better but the fin itself looks awful - I think a couple of spines may even be gone from it. <Darn....  Do keep on top of water quality.  It may be a good idea to treat with something to prevent secondary bacterial infection.> But there has been no change in the behavior of the Firemouth - it is as feisty and voracious as ever. I went back to the fish store today and a different expert was there and she recommended Spectrogram, so I purchased enough to treat the 55. <A good med - Kanamycin sulfate and Nitrofurazone combination.  Will definitely kick a lot of nasties that might set in (like fin rot) after/while the Lympho clears up.> However, on Saturday I leave for a five day trip and my fish will once again be under the care of my wife, so, based on what you say, perhaps I will just do another good water change before I go and hold off on the Spectrogram until I get back.  Bill <Most important is that water quality.  I cannot stress how important it is.  Do the water change, by all means, and depending on the firemouth's condition and whether your wife can handle it, you may want for her to go ahead and treat while you're gone.  -Sabrina>
Lymphocystis again, again
Good advice! I don't know what I'd do without you and the other members of your crew who have helped me out. By the way, I have NPR's All Things Considered on the radio and they just had a story stating that fish are smart, and what a surprise that is. They mentioned cichlids in  particular. That, of course, has been obvious to me since not long after I set up these tanks. <Ah.  This reminds me of the British study of whether fish feel pain.  Their conclusion (which was yes, fish do feel pain), most certainly didn't surprise any aquarists I know.  Though, smart is most certainly a relative term - but I do think mine give me a run for my money from time to time ;)  -Sabrina> Bill


- RE: Oscar Problems - Thanks for the advice. I tried the Epsom salt (One tablespoon per five gallons the first day, and then half the dose the second) and it didn't work. Some days his bubble is smaller, but the next it's back to it's large size. He has been making a little progress b/c he's swimming now, but he hasn't eaten in about 3-4 weeks. Any other suggestions? It looks so painful! Thanks. -Mia <This will take several weeks to heal up. Two days with Epsom salts isn't going to do much/enough. Please continue the treatment and be patient. Cheers, J -- >


Re: What's wrong with the eye of the cichlid? Thanks a lot Sabrina, <Sure thing.> The bubble is gone! and he is very well. I watched him closely for a few days, the bubble disappeared in about three days. <Awesome!> Is it possible that he got into a fight and got hit on the eye and got a fish version of a purple eye? <Frankly, without having seen him, it's hard to tell.  It is a possibility.> Anyway I'm happy that he's OK.  I got into this hobby about six months ago with a fish bowl and I have three tanks running now. <Hmm, funny how tanks multiply so rampantly, isn't it??  I'm running out of space, myself.> My ahli had 12 babies on Friday, she already had 4 last month. Another ahli is about to have her babies in a few weeks <Wonderful!> and one of my Aulonocara nyassae has her mouth full again, I hope she doesn't swallow them this time. <There is a practice of 'stripping' mouthbrooding females - but it requires a lot of care/maintenance of the embryos afterward - do a Google search, lots of info out there.> It looks like this is getting out of control. :) <Man....  I'm TOTALLY in control of my addiction.  I know when to quit.  Really, I do!  After the next few tanks, some time....> If I decide that the fry population is growing more than I like, may I leave the females that have their mouths full of fry in the main tank and let nature take its course? I am afraid they may get dangerously harassed by the males. <If necessary, perhaps remove the males, or reduce the number of males in the tank, or remove the females individually to separate enclosures, or strip the females.  Good luck to you, sounds like you've got a fun thing going on!  -Sabrina> Thanks,  Husnu


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


Jack Dempsey with a Swollen Belly Hi guys, <Hello, Gage here this morning.> I have a question about my Dempsey.  He is quite large we have had him for about 4 years and he is sick. First he will not eat for almost 5 days now, not interested in food. He has a swollen stomach and his anus has a white fleshy something coming out, (doesn't look like its moving) his anus is also getting larger it seems and may be deteriorating, or maybe just very swollen, hard to tell a fish to roll over to see, <agreed> I just wait till he swims around and then I look under him. Doesn't look that good. I was hoping for some scenarios that may be helpful to treatment... <It sounds like he may be constipated or have a blockage of some sort, this can usually be traced back the their diet.  A diet of strictly dry pellets, or feeder fish are a common problem.  I would start by adding some Epsom salt to the tank water 1tablespoon per 5gallons of tank water and repeat 3 days later.  You will also want to keep up on your water changes to ensure the best possible water quality.  If this does not help you might consider antibiotics.  Best Regards, Gage> Thanks, Dave


Lymphocystis? Hi - I just returned from two weeks traveling during which time my wife kept the fish fed, but I have found something terrible in the 55 gallon tank. All around the base of the dorsal fin of one of my two Firemouths is a crusty, ugly, raw-looking growth of some kind or another that has a pinkish tone to it. The other Firemouth looks just fine, but there was a bit of slim trailing off the dorsal fins of both of my green Severums. Just above and behind the gills of one of the green Severums was a white dot about an 1/8 of an inch in diameter. The gold Severums looked fine. <Lots that could be going on here.  First to suspect would be water quality.  Can you give us ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH readings for your tank?  Are the Firemouths and the Severums the only denizens?  How many of each?  This might be a bit much bioload for a 55.  As to the illness you're experiencing, I would think, from the descriptions, it may be septicemia or Lymphocystis.  Though, possibly a fungus - is it fluffy/fuzzy/cottony?  I've found that septicemia and fungus responds extremely well to Kanamycin sulfate (can be found under proprietary name Kanacyn by one manufacturer).  Lymphocystis, on the other hand, is a viral infection that is very hard to work with at best.  Maintain immaculate water quality.  If it is, in fact, Lymphocystis, you may have success manually removing the growths - but do be careful.  Do a Google search on Lymphocystis for more info, as well, and take a look at the Lymphocystis FAQs - http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lymphfaqs.htm - these are marine FAQs, but there's a great pic on there of a navarchus angel with the affliction.  Might help in your diagnosis.> I took the Firemouth into my local fish store where even their resident expert was a bit puzzled, but they recommended Ampicillex. So, last night, I gave the tank its first treatment.  This afternoon, I see no improvement in the Firemouth, although it is so early that I would not necessarily expect to. The two white spots on the green Severum are more pronounced, having grown out kind of like a pimple and have a bit of a moldy look to them.   <This does sound much like Lymphocystis....  it is often referred to as 'cauliflower' disease for its appearance.> Most of the other fish still look okay, but they are swimming all about like crazy, and several of them frequently rub themselves furiously against gravel or decorations.  Do you have any ideas? Do you think I am on the right track with the Ampicillex?   <I'm not sure how septicemia would respond to Ampicillex, really - it might do well for that; but it does seem to me that you're not looking at septicemia.  A picture would be excellent, if you can get it.> You once had me treat ick with salt. That was a slow process but effective. Would salt help in this situation? <Possibly.  I keep all my freshwater tanks salted at 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons.  Some people use twice that.  I use the higher amount (1 Tbs/5 gallons) when dealing with illnesses.> If so, in conjunction with Ampicillex or separate from it? While I was treating with salt, I frequently had some low nitrite buildup, so I knew it had to be killing some of my bio and so I am hesitant to use it unless it will truly be beneficial.   <A low amount of salt shouldn't wipe out your bacteria.  I always keep that one Tbs per 10g in my tanks, with no ill effects.> I have some beautiful fish here and I do not want to lose them. -------------------- I might add - I just gave the tank is afternoon feeding and it seemed that everybody was eating normally, except for the electric yellow. He looks just fine, but is swimming frenetically all about. The other fish seem to have calmed down considerably from when I wrote the last email. It is possible that the electric yellow ate some a few pellets immediately after I put them in, as my daughter and one of her friends came in at that moment and distracted me from my observations for a bit. -------------------- I just gave the tank its late night feeding. The electric yellow was as voracious as ever. As for the green Severum with the white, mold-like pimples, there is now a protrusion from the larger of the two growths that, if it had appeared elsewhere on the body, I would have immediately suspected ick. <Again, sounding like Lymphocystis to me.  Good luck, and keep us updated.  -Sabrina> Bill


- Oscar Problems - Sorry, I may have sent this e-mail already, but I wasn't sure if my mailbox was set up correctly... I have an Oscar that has been sick for about 2 weeks now. I think that I have the same problem as Lisa's e-mail that was posted, "Bloated Oscar cichlid - Epsom salt 7/13/03" The conversation goes... "The roundness is huge and has dropped even lower and now there is a clear bubble looking (about 1 1/2") protruding around the anal area.   <hmmm... prolapsed rectum?> It appears to be from outer tissue, not internal.  I am clueless!!!   <I cannot explain it if external... although I wonder if it isn't internal after all>" By looking at the attached photos, do you think that my fish has the same disease? (All other symptoms are similar to what she had posted) I cannot find anything else on the internet. <Well, it's not really a disease but a condition brought on by the foods you have been feeding, and yes it does appear to be the same thing. Do try the Epsom salts and if possible isolate the fish so no one else can pick at it.> Thanks! -Mia <Cheers, J -- >


Twitching Cichlids - 7/31/03 I have a 29G African Cichlid tank that has been running for a couple of years. <Very well.>  The tank currently has 5 Cichlids (It had 6 until last night). <Sorry to hear, my friend> Two are approximately 2.5" long and the other three are just over 1" (they are fairly new).  All of the sudden all of the fish have developed an uncontrollable twitch of the whole body, not just the head or fins. <Whoa. When you say uncontrollable should I take that to mean constantly? Do they scrape against rocks or anything else (heater maybe?)>  Ammonia and PH are correct, but the Nitrate level appears to be high. <Water changes my friend. Do it ASAP! Condition your water and make sure PH and temp are exactly the same. We don't want to stress the fish any more than we have too. I keep a bucket of water aerating and temp'ed constantly for my cichlid water changes. You should look into what is causing the nitrates to climb. Change your filter media and rinse the other filter medias that are not being changed out in some tank water. If you have substrate it might be time to start changing it out a bit at a time. The only thing is be sure to keep your water changes as consistent as possible. 10-15 percent of the water.>  There are also two live plants in the tank.  I don't know if the Nitrate could be causing this, but I also don't know what else to look at. <Possible. Nitrate is not an obligate killer but could cause stress over time and exposure. Not sure what is causing the twitching. Could be parasitic. If there are no other outward signs of distress or parasites, then I would not treat them if you don't have to. -Paul> Please help! Thank You, Shad Steward


Follow up to gasping cichlid - 7/17/03 he has been gasping for a couple months, <Hmmm> but it is getting worse. he stopped eating about a week ago. <What has changed in this time?? Water changes? Stress from moving to another tank? Have you tried other foods? Live brine (just to see if he has the will?> the medications I have used is Maracyn-two & Naladin formula a-8-h) <What do these treat?>. the fish that are in the tank I have had for 2+ years together. <Cool> he seems to be the only one that seems sick. All the fish have always shown some aggression to each other, but nothing serious <Mine too, but every once and then, occasionally, I will come in to feed and notice rapid breathing, and complete destruction (shredded fins, torn mouth, missing scales) After removal and healing time, all is well again. My point is the Pseudotropheus zebra (is this the right fish?) are super aggressive African cichlids, in my experience. Also very hardy. So not to deny the fact that something is wrong.....cause there are definitive and obvious changes....so a parasitic infection is more than likely the result, but usually due to some stress. Since no other fish are really suffering from the same outward signs, then it could be likely that this guy has been harassed for a very long time. (rapid breathing for some time right?) Again  hard to say what the problem is.....you have him quarantined, try to get him to eat, lay off the meds for awhile, change water frequently (you know the drill about leaving water a minimum of 24 hours with an airstone (for off gassing))) and heater) and hope for the best at this point. I can't think of a medication that might help at this point. Do a search from our main page with "rapid breathing" as the keyword and see if someone might have mentioned a medication to use in this situation. (one different from what you have already used. Good luck! -Paul>


Rapid breathing in cichlids - 7/17/03 I think I might have a problem with my blue zebra cichlid. <OK. Let's see what we can do> he has been gasping (breathing hard) and he is not eating. <How long has he been breathing hard? and how long has he not been eating?> he also changed color a little. <Probably much paler eh?> I have put him in a separate tank, <Great idea> and have tried different medications, <What medications?> but nothing has worked. <Well, to a lesser degree, sometimes the rapid breathing is normal. The not eating and color change may be due to some sort of possible tankmate aggression. (Not knowing what else is in your tank)> do you know what may be wrong. thank for your help. <Check out these links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/fishdisho.htm. Also check your water parameters. So many things could be wrong here. How long have you had this fish? Have you treated for gill parasites by chance? -Paul> Michael


Cichlid disease Dear Crew members, <Good morning! Ryan with you> I apologize that I have a limited knowledge in fish terms, thus I may not be able to communicate my situation precisely. <No problem! Shoot away> Scenario: I have 12 cichlids (1-2 inches, sorry I couldn't name them, but I guess they are African) and 2 clown loaches (2-3 inches) in a 15 gal tank. The loaches are suffering from white spots and I am currently treating them. <15 Gallons?  I hate to tell you, but without DAILY water changes, this won't last long.  I don't know if I would recommend 1 African for this tank.  How are you treating this?> Question 1: This may sound silly, I notice that there are spots (some white and some yellow) at the bottom rear fin on most of my cichlids. Are they normal? or they are infected with the Ich too? <Maybe normal.  I had an Electric Lab that had tiny yellow spots on his fins while a juvenile.> Question 2: 4 of the cichlids are dark blue in colour. Their tail and rear bottom fins started to turn bright yellow. Is this a sickness? or they will turn yellow as they mature? <Could be normal, but let's be real.  These fish grow in the wild-15 gallons in not a reasonable amount of space for them to be in.  Africans can get large, and so do the loaches.  Both are highly interesting species, and a good mix.  But please, either upgrade to something larger or remove the cichlids!> Thanks for reading. <Thanks for asking! Ryan> Navy


Oscar and Myxosoma? <Hello!> I have searched the archives and have found very little information about this. From what I have read, I suspect that my Oscar may have this "whirling disease". He has stopped eating for the last week or so. I normally do weekly water changes of about 15%. Because of his symptoms, I have done three water changes during the last week totaling probably about 60% I have been using Melafix for the last few days , but have seen no changes. He is breathing heavy, mouth opening and closing. The other fish in the tank (2 large tinfoil barbs and a Synodontis cat) remain normal. During the day when I'm not home, I don't suspect that he is doing the whirling thing because there is no water on the floor. At night when the lights are on, he will do the quick, one full turn around action, often splashing water out of the tank. This goes on every few minutes while I'm watching. I have done some research on the web and found that infected fish will often do the whirl when they are startled or fed (connection with the lights?). Almost no info exists on this disease in Oscars, some in reference to Discus, but most are about Salmon and Trout. There are no references to a cure. One site even said to "immediately euthanize the infected fish and all other inhabitants and sanitize the tank...there is no cure!" ...and that was a discus site! Heck, I don't think I'd get too attached to a salmon or a trout, but Oscar is family! Do you think that this is what I'm up against? Do you have any information on this and a possible cure? I hate seeing this graceful creature suffer like this. <I am sorry it took me a while to get back with you! I also had problems finding treatments for this disease.  This seems to be fairly rare infection in a warm water climate.  Myxobolus cerebralis is the parasite you're dealing with, and it seems to find it's host initially in Tubifex worms.  I think the following course of action is in order: Quarantine the Oscar in a sanitized tank.  By medicating your other fish, you're putting additional stress on their environment.  Keep his water in the QT changed as much as you can, and feed him lighter than normal.  You may want to contact the nice folks at http://www.whirling-disease.org/ for more suggestions.  I have a friend who is a toxicologist for the Department of Fish and Game- I'll forward your email and see if he has treatment ideas as well.  Sorry I can't be of more help! Ryan> Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.


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


Open Mouth Albino Oscar Hi, <Hello> One of my Albino Oscar's has been having an open mouth for almost a month now. At first, I thought it was a fighting injury and thought it would go away. However, it does not seem to be going away and is starting to concern me. <What size tank and how many fish?> My water parameters seem to be OK (pH ~ 6.7, NH4+ < 1 mg/l, NH3 0.01 mg/l, NO2- < 0.8 mg/l). However I don't test for NO3- though (LFS was out of stock when I got the other kits). <Actually, your water parameters are not OK at all. NH3 (ammonia), NH4 (ammonium), and NO2 (nitrites) should all be at 0ppm, anything above this is harmful to your fish. Ammonium is less harmful than ammonia but its still not desirable in your tank. You need to do water changes to get these levels down to 0 and to keep them there. Once you get them down I think you'll see an improvement in your fish.> Would appreciate any experience/advice you may have on this. Thanks in advance & Best Regards, KC Somaratne <You're welcome! Ronni>


Sluggish Angelfish Hello! <Greetings> I may have a sick Angelfish! Suddenly he seems very sluggish and spending a lot of time at the bottom of the tank. Normally he is very active, so this is a strange behavior for him. He is also wiggling/twitching a lot, but not scratching on anything. pH, Ammonia and nitrite levels in my tank water are perfect. He still gets excited when I am about to feed him, but he doesn't eat the food! There are no physical symptoms on his body, no protruding scales, no spots, growths, swelling or anything, but he does seem to be breathing a little fast. I have a Krib in the same tank who has gone into hiding and that shows the same quick breathing, but I can't see her long enough to tell if she has any other physical signs. The angel is my favorite and I would like to catch the problem before it escalates. Should I treat the tank with an antibiotic (I don't have a hospital tank!), or would that be a hasty decision? The other angel seems to be eating just fine. Do you have any suggestions? Could this be early signs of Dropsy? Fish diseases are so difficult to diagnose! I'd appreciate any help or insight. Thanks! Lindy <You really do need to get a hospital tank ASAP so you don't have to medicate your main tank and healthy fish. You should isolate the sick fish but don't treat them until you know exactly whats wrong. Reading http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm may help you determine what the problem is. It doesn't sound like dropsy but could be the beginnings of several others. Ronni>


Cichlids are twitching Hello there. <Hello!> I have a few cichlids which have been really twitching lately.  Any idea what this could be?  They seem to be rubbing up against rocks as well, quite often.   <This isn't terribly uncommon behavior for Cichlids. Many of them rub against things just to do it. If there are no visible signs of other problems (visible white spots, discolored spots, wounds, rabid breathing, etc) then I would just keep an eye on them but not worry about it too much.> Thanks, the people at the pet store are no help to me. Terry Maciuk <You're welcome! Ronni>


Cichlids I read your Q&A's about copper in a fish tank. I thought you might find this interesting. About a year ago we had 7 cichlids in a 30 gallon tank. one at a time, the fish would get sick and die slowly. With 2 fish left (Copora nicaraguense pair) the larger got very ill, we decided we needed to do something drastic. We removed the fish and gave the tank a thorough cleaning. While cleaning the gravel we found a penny which I think was thrown in by our autistic son. We put in 100% new water and replaced the fish. It took about 2 weeks but the Copora made a complete recovery. <Interesting.> We bought 3 jewels to round out the tank. About a month ago the 2 Coporas turned up dead. we added 3 feisty Oscars which turned up dead, then the third jewel died. <Its possible here that the Jewel pair killed the other fish. These can be highly aggressive fish, especially when they're spawning.> The 2 jewels left produced about 60 fry. I told you all this to ask 2 questions. 1) A man at the pet store said jewels can lay eggs about every 3 or 4 weeks. Is this true? and for how long? <Actually, if the conditions are right, they can spawn as frequently as every week. Since the parents are the only fish in the tank, expect a lot of the fry to survive and you may soon be overrun with fry!> 2) I miss my Coporas and would like to find a new pair and put them in a tank of their own but can't find any in this area. (Pgh. Pa.) any ideas? <Sorry, I don't know of any shops in that area because Im so far away. But keep checking around and if all else fails, find a reputable mail order site and order some. I've had very good success mail ordering Cichlids and have never had a single loss.> Thanks for listening. In Christ service, Bob Ziegler <You're welcome! Ronni>


Cichlid troubles Hi there I have just been reading some of your mail and I have a question....one of my cichlids are I think dying....it seems to be just lying on the rocks...I don't know if its male or female and my father had suggested that it was female and it is just laying eggs....every so often it gets up and swims around then comes back down to the bottom.....can you help me please..... Thank you Jennifer <I really need more info. Such as the type of cichlid, tank size, ammonia, nitrites, pH, etc This is most likely a problem with water quality but I cant say without know the water parameters. Ronni>


Cichlids Dear Bob, I have a black and pink convict that have mated and have a fry of about 90 youngsters that are three months old.  <Congratulations!> Everyone was doing good up to a point, and then the male black cichlid started to lose his dorsal fin. It seems that is being stripped of all it's scales and the bones are starting to stick though.  <Not good> The rest of his scales look fine. He has also taken to swimming on a vertical access with his head facing straight up. <Very bad...> When he does this, he swims though the fry and they pick away at his dorsal fin. Is this some form of fin rot or ick?  <Not likely... see below> How would I medicate this condition and should I separate the father. <Do separate them... better to raise the young separately after just a couple of weeks... Maybe this is an "older" fish that is just going through death throes... perhaps poor water quality is contributing to its demise (do check your pH and keep up a regular regimen of frequent partial water changes... good practice for all. I wouldn't "treat" this system, condition otherwise. Please see the freshwater maintenance sections on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com  Bob Fenner>


Trouble with Cichlids  Dear Bob,  Thank you very much for your e-mail dated 04/11/00. The reason I couldn't respond was that I have been on holiday in Sri Lanka and unfortunately I had no access to e-mails. By the way just in case you are wondering I'm a Sri Lankan working in Thailand.  <How nice... was in the Maldives last year... sending expensive emails through Colombo... and hope to be diving in Sri Lanka next year (on a big trip through Goa with the running group the Hash House Harriers> The good news is that during my absence of over a month I lost just one  fish. I had a friend feed them and do the 25 % water replacement regularly. The nitrite level and the ph values seem to be well within limits and the fish have grown alarmingly large. Your initial comment of the system not being able to cope up with the number of fish is becoming apparent, pretty fast. ( I am toying with the idea of another tank !!!!!!!!. Some of us never learn I guess, ha ha ha)  <Ah, you've got the pet-fish madness all right!> I have a Aulonocara which was very beautiful. Right now he has lost all his colour and his stomach seems to have shrunken into a concave outline. He doesn't look too healthy though he is moving around well. Please give me a suggestion for treatment.  <Foods laced/soaked in vitamins are a good start... Do you add salts per the Great Lakes of Africa? Can your other livestock handle these? I would at least add a teaspoon of uniodized table salt or better synthetic seawater mix per ten gallons to the system (all other livestock should be fine with this)... and if the fish continues to wither, do consider moving it to a smaller treatment tank and utilizing the antiprotozoal Metronidazole (aka Flagyl) mixed in with its food if still eating, otherwise 250 mg per ten gallons... changed out once every three days for three treatments...> Once again thanks for all the tips. They have helped me enormously and I  think eventually make me a somewhat decent fish keeper who is not a danger to the fish.  take care and best regards  Deega ah-you-sa( Long life in Srilankan),  Saranga and Jackie  <and Kia orana (life to you in Cook Islands Maori) to you and yours. Bob Fenner>


Trouble with CichlidsDear Bob,Thankyou very much for the e-mail with all the tips. As the root cause for the my problems seem to be the excessive content on nitrite, I have been measuring it on a daily basis using "tetra test for NO 2". The reading I get now as per test result card is a value which indicates < 0.3 mg/l. I have consistently got this value for the past several days.Please explain what you mean by dilution water change.<Change half your water with that of no nitrite, you cut the concentration by 50%...> My fish dealer keeps advising me to add a small amount of salt about once a month during the water change. Should I do this?<Yes, a good idea.> I have not been able to get anything to improve the bacterial growth in my filter system, as you advised. Is there any additive I can buy over the counter to assist?<Well, yes... products like "Cycle" by Hagen do offer ancillary help in this regard... but really, you want to just foster the bacterial systems in your system. Do look into adding more mechanical filtration, like a hang on filter, canister, even an inside box filter or sponge type... and don't be too fastidious about cleaning the media... especially not all of it in all filters at once.> Thank you once again for your time and advice.<You're welcome. Life to you (Kia orana in the Cook Islands), Bob Fenner>
Trouble with Cichlids?
Dear Bob HELP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am very new at keeping fish. I have a tank that holds about 265 litres. It has a submersible pump and a air pump with mechanical and biological filtration. The nitrite level my tank is about .3 to .4 mg/l, the ph is value is about 7.4 and temperature is about 28 deg C. I change about 20% of the water every 04 days. <Hmm, the nitrite is worrisome... I would hold off on doing water changes, or feeding the tank till either the nitrite nears 1.0 ppm (at which point I would execute a dilution/water change), or leave it be till it cycles completely> I have a variety of cichlids. 05 fire mouths, 04 jackdempsy,01 orange & 01 albino morph,02 blue dolphins,01 electric blue,01 Labidochromis, and about 10 others who I cant really identify but all cichlids. <This is going to be a lot of fish for this system if/when they are larger> Recently I have lost a few fish and I cant seem to identify the reason. One of the Firemouths had what seems to be a dislocated jaw and he couldn't eat. I assume two of the  others are  constipated, as they have bloated stomachs and do not eat any food, at feed times.  I have now separated the constipated ones into a hospital tank and added a bit of salt to it. Couple of others have died with no reason. <The fact that you state there is appreciable nitrite is troubling... you may well need to add more biological filtration (another canister, fluidized bed... hang on... filter) and or aeration, circulation... Something is not sufficient in these categories: biofiltration, aeration, circulation> Could you please help me out with the following questions.. 1. Should I add any salt to my tank, at all , and if so how often should I do so? 2. What kind of medication should I use for constipation? I have changed the substrate of the tank to be bigger gravel so that they cant dig and get damaged or locked jaws. Please let me know some general remedies I can apply. I feel I'm doing my best to maintain the quality of the water. <I understand and will help you... but I would not add salt or anything else at this point, largely out of fear that this will forestall the establishment of cycling (conversion of ammonia to nitrite to nitrate, and many other cycles) and that this may be the principal cause of your woes... do cut back or eliminate feeding, and don't change the water, or add anything till the nitrite drops to zero. If you can, have a friend with a clean tank that is cycled give you their old filter media to add to your filters, some old gravel, even siphoned water and mulm from gravel vacuuming their substrate... And do this today. All will greatly "speed up" the establishment of nutrient cycling. Bob Fenner>


Tiger Oscar Question How's it goin?? <Fine> I have an almost full sized tiger Oscar that has developed some strange marks on its head. At first I though he had just hit something in the tank because it looks almost as if a shallow chunk of skin is missing. Well this continued to spread, he now has these patches in several spots on his head. Any ideas??? <Unfortunately yes. This does sound like a case of HLLE (Head and Lateral Line Erosion), a nutritional disease for the most part. Please read carefully about others problems, responses here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cichlidfaqs.htm and follow the links, FAQs suggested to them on our site. You want to develop a plan now to halt this ugly erosive condition. Bob Fenner> thanks Kyle


HLLE, Oscars, Etiology, Cures Hi Robert... <Hello> I am sure with the volume of mail that you receive, you don't recall who I am. I had the two gold Oscars that had HLLE. <I recall> Though I followed everything that was explained to do, tonight I lost one of them. For some reason, this one just did not respond to anything I did. The other seems to be at least remaining the same, if not slowly healing, it is difficult to tell. I have some generic questions that I have found no answer to. Is HLLE an actual disease, a skin condition, a bacteria, or most importantly, contagious? <There are a few theories as to root causes of HLLE... most favor nutritional deficiency syndromes (mainly vitamins, iodide/ine)... some suggest protozoan involvement (esp. Hexamita spp.), others stray electrical potential (sellers of grounding probes), general "poor water quality"... Myself? I believe the first is a principal cause with all others being contributory. Please read through "the three sets of factors that determine health" piece here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisease.htm For a "more rounded" view/glance of what goes on in the real universe> Everything I've read says that it cropped up about 15 years or so ago, and the likely hood of the causative action being Hexamita is slim. <Was about way before this time... know because I was there...> As this is what killed one of my Oscars, I would like to know more about what it actually is. <I understand your provocation... treatments more often kill off livestock...> You spent a great deal of time working with me on fixing this problem, and I truly do appreciate it. <An honor to help> One just didn't have it in him to make it though. I still have hope for the second one. Thank you again cj. <Please do read over the HLLE FAQs and environmental disease sections on the Marine Index part of our site (WetWebMedia.com) as well. The same etiology/ies for marine fishes pre-dispose them to this "disease". Bob Fenner> C.J. Moody


Re: Cichlid i.d., Vitamins, Iodide/ine >>1 random cichlid [about the size of a convict] >I would like to figure out what this cichlid is. ><Oh yes: fishbase.org The family Cichlidae is quite large... maybe  >start >with Spilurum, the various re-do's of the genus Cichlasoma... and a  >very >large pot of tea/coffee (to stay up late). Have fun.> *Thank You*!! I may well find out what she is with this:) <<Yes... a long, but fun search>> ><The same causative mechanism/s exist in both marine and  >freshwater... >lack of essential nutrients> Can I overdose them on vitamins? <<Yes, this is possible... not practically though...>> ><There are prep.s that are made/labeled for fishes et al. aquatics,  >but >the compounds involved are the same as for tetrapods (like you and  >me), so >"baby vitamins" (liquids) will do... Do you mean that I can actually buy baby vitamins for human babies and use them?? <<Yes, the actual molecules are identical>> > or pet-fish ones like Micro-vit, Selcon... Add these to the food a  >few >minutes before offering.> Yesterday I bought something called Hex-a-Vital, and it is a vitamin product that specifies treatment for HLLE. I can see a difference in one of them, but the other still looks fairly nasty. <<This "curing process" takes weeks to months generally. Be patient>> In this product is A, D3, C, E, Calcium Phosphorous and Calcium Carbonate. There is no iodine. <<I would find a source and apply it. Lugol's Solution will do, potassium iodide would be better>> However, I know that table salt does have iodine in it. If I were to put a few teaspoons of table salt in there, would this be a bad thing or a good thing? <<Better than nothing>> I have always understood that iodine will kill fish, which is why one should use rock or aquarium salt. <<Hmm, much to say here... Iodine (the element) is indeed toxic... Iodide (same element, different valence state) is a way to supply this essential nutrient... not toxic in small concentrations>> ><Me too... do try the vitamins... they can/will effect a reversal at  >this >point. Bob Fenner> I can tell there is an improvement. You are a wonderful person, taking the time to work with me on this. Thank you so very much. cj. C.J. Moody <You are welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cichlid i.d., Vitamins, Iodide/ine
I am sure I am about to drive you crazy.... but.... <<Mostly there already, no worries>> >Do you mean that I can actually buy baby vitamins for human babies  >and use >them?? ><<Yes, the actual molecules are identical>> How do I know how much of this to give them? Should I treat the food with the same amount as listed for an infant? <<Hmm, a "few drops" total (irrespective of food amount, size of system) will be sufficient and no problem...>> >However, I know that table salt does have iodine in it. If I were to  >put a >few teaspoons of table salt in there, would this be a bad thing or a  >good >thing? ><<Better than nothing>> Sounds a bit ominous... Will track down some of the advised product:) <<Ah, good>> Thank you again:) cj. C.J. Moody <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>


Please help!! (disoriented Parrot Cichlid) Dear Sir, One of my 5 year old red parrots has what I believe is swim bladder disease.  <Unfortunately, a too-common difficulty with this hybrid> For the past two weeks I have noticed that he stays near the surface upside-down. At first it was just occasional, he would swim down with the others and had a hearty appetite. Now he just stays at the top, its a struggle for him to swim down although he really tries. His belly is really swollen as well which just started about 3 days ago. I have tried giving him mashed peas as I read this might help, but he wont eat them (spits them out). He will go after fish flakes though. I just started him on some paragon II last night as I have also read that this might help. I'm at a real loss. Can you help with any suggestions? I would really appreciate it because I don't know what else to do. I don't want him to suffer. Thank you!! <Discontinue the Paragon, other medicine approaches here... they're likely more toxic than helpful. Do consider placing this specimen in shallower water and administering a small concentration of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to its water (about a teaspoon per ten gallons of system water) to facilitate muscle relaxation, possibly passing of material in its gut. Perhaps with time, weight loss over the next several days it will "right itself"... As stated this sport cross has an inherent tendency to "tip" due to its shape... Be on guard about how much, what types of foods you offer them... as fatty degeneration can greatly increase this "problem". Please write back if any of this is unclear or you desire more input. Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia>
follow-up to "Please Help" email from 9/28
Dear Sir, I just found out that you were away (hope your trip went well!).  <Yes my friend, thank you. Very relaxing, beautiful, productive> In regard to my 5 year old red parrot with swim bladder problem and very swollen belly, I just wanted to give you some more info: This morning his belly was even more swollen that it looked as though he would explode. His anus was blocked by a clear membrane which I believe was the swim bladder which was causing the swelling. The only thing I could think of was that I needed to try to relieve this pressure. So I got a sterile syringe and as gently as I could, aspirated the membrane.  <A worthwhile effort.> Immediately, his belly went back to normal. There was no blood or fluid that came out, which I'm hoping is a good thing. He's still upside-down, but is now swimming and attempting to dive which he can do for a few seconds. His appetite is good. I don't know if what I did was bad or good. I just couldn't let him stay in that condition. I know he's "just a fish" but I am very sensitive when it comes to animals.  <As we should be> If he winds up dying, at least I know I tried. I'm still giving him the Paragon II for another 2 days and then I'll put him back in the main tank and see how it goes. Let me know what you think. Thanks again!! <Likely the swim-bladder will heal itself... and I am hopeful that your specimen may have changed body-make up wise to where the center of mass will allow it to stay aright. Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>


How long should I wait? Hello and Good morning to whichever "fountain of knowledge" reads this- <Anthony Calfo... and this fountain is running at a trickle... which reminds me... I think I drank to much tea (back in a minute)> I was wondering if you could give me some guidance with a freshwater tank I have.  <yep, back already> Back in Nov. I wrote to Bob about my sick Albino Jack Dempsey. Here is part of that letter "... It started like 8 months ago when I notice what looked like something growing inside the tissue at the base of his dorsal fin and his tail fin. It looked to me like some kind of egg cases or something INSIDE his fins." Bob figured it was a trematode or nematode infestation (you can find the whole email here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/neotropcichfaqs.htm)... <I would not argue with that... Bob has traveled extensively and really knows a lot about diseases...er, whatever> Well, the Dempsey didn't live much longer and the tank has been sitting "empty" for 5 or 6 weeks now. It is a 50 gallon tank and it is not "really" empty. There are many snails and 2 Kuhli (spelling?) loaches in there. (Somehow they have all survived some heavy medication) My question is how much longer should I wait before "restocking" the tank?  <alas... a moot point/question. The tank has not been kept "empty" without a viable host (you have the loach). Although the loach may not show symptoms, it can still be a carrier. Still... after four weeks you are pretty safe> Is there anything I should do to prevent whatever was affecting my Dempsey from affecting the future tank residents? I am hoping to re-stock the tank with a few Texas Cichlids.  <beautiful fish> Thank you for your time and knowledge! Ann <best of luck to you. Anthony Calfo>


Parasite (worm inside cichlid eye) I was wondering if you could help me. I have a Geophachromis Acii and she has a small, white, "worm" inside her eye ball that I can see moving around. It is not on the eye but IN it. Kind of like her eye was a fish tank and the worm is swimming in it. I have been trying to find out what it is and if there is anything I can do but so far I have come up with nothing. It is a small flat white worm with a grey band just behind the head section. If you could help me out I would greatly appreciate it. <There are such parasites of many fishes (even humans)... and as far as I'm aware not much you can do about removing them. The good news is that such obstructions don't appear to mal-affect their hosts, or spread to other fishes in captivity (likely lacking the means of completing their life cycles). I would ignore this worm and enjoy your fish. More information on fish parasitology can be found by visiting a large college library and seeking the help of a reference librarian to aid you in conducting a computer search bibliography and literature search. Bob Fenner> Thank You, Stephanie


Possible Disease I have a mix of 9 African cichlids in a 55 gallon tank with extensive rocks and caves. They all get along pretty well, but recently my Tropheus (orange flame) had white lips and was dead a few days latter. Now my Dubois has the same white lips but is still fine. Is this a disease or what else might it be? Brian <There are several bacterial or fungal diseases which have a white growth around the lips. They are generally referred to as cotton mouth. Take a look here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm following on through the linked FAQ file for additional insight. -Steven Pro>


Cichlids I have just taken over, taking care of my partner's fish.  We had two cichlids but the one was a real bully so we gave it away and kept the placed one whom I have named Joe.  He does not seem very well.  I pay a great deal of attention to him, but when he eats he starts to have a fit and jumps around in the tank.  It is upsetting me a lot as I just don't know what's the matter with him, and I don't know what to do to help him.  Please can you help.  Thank you....... <Hmmm, not much information to go on other but let's see if we can help you. You don't mention the type of Cichlid, the size of your tank, your water chemistry, what you feed, type of filtration and how often you change water and clean the filtration. I wonder if this is behavioral, feeding related, water quality related, or internal disease/parasites resulting from overall poor water quality and diet. It is very difficult to take over care for someone and not have some substantial changes in husbandry. What if anything have you changed besides placing the other fish? To get started, identify the exact fish you have and then go to the following pages to find the conditions your cichlid needs to thrive. I would recommend testing water for ammonia/nitrites/nitrates/pH and change water and regularly maintain filtration/vacuum tank to lower wastes. Maintain pH in correct range for your cichlids (Africans need high pH/hardness as opposed to others.. please see URL provided). Start here and follow all the links at the top of the page.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cichlids.htm If this doesn't help please write us back and include all of the information above so we can help you narrow this down. If this isn't behavioral, I suspect internal problems resulting from water quality/diet. I would start there.  Go for it!  Craig>


Cichlid I finally found my fish thanks to you! It is this one, "Amphilophus citrinellus (Gunther 1864), the Midas Cichlid, aka one of the Mesoamerican Cichlids called the Red Devil. Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and the world through the aquarium trade. To about ten inches in length. Can be a real terror, bully with other livestock." Finally, thanks. I'm having problems with him, though. He has a swim bladder disorder. He lies on bottom and doesn't do a darn thing. If you have time to answer, you think Epsom salt is safe for a bath of some kind? <It is safe, but I would ballpark at less than a 50/50 shot at making him better. It is hard to diagnose the exact cause of swim bladder disorders.> I've heard to use it. <As have I for primarily goldfish suffering from constipation and floating disorders.> Thanks for the website. Parthina <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>


Cichlid & Water Quality Hi ya! (Love your q&a area!) I have a question for ya that I'm hoping you can answer.  I've noticed that when I mess with my tank too much I kill my fish so I don't touch it much but I did do a partial water change not long ago and had to add a chemical to the tank to clear up the cloudiness and noticed my fish develop symptoms of the gold fish one had written of earlier. You'd requested not to "repost" so I didn't.  But you had mentioned that it likely had a gas bladder disorder, common in fancy goldfish.  My fish though is a cichlid.  It is an antique white color with normal fish eyes (no pink or red or anything).  I've tried to find out what he is, I got him from a friend about 4 years ago.  He's been lying on the bottom for about 2 weeks and I can't find anything on it.  He could be sucking the crap from under the gravel into his lungs if I'm not mistaking. What do you suppose I should do?  The tank could use a cleaning but darn I think I'm jinxed. I can keep a fish for at least 6 years even but I kill them if I mess with their tank too much.  I suppose I'm not too good at that.  His belly did swell in the beginning and at that time he was actually swimming upside down!! He'd only turn upright to eat!  I was so shocked! I've got about 8 minnows (from fishing last year, I couldn't kill them) and they stay near my cichlid like it's their mother. Anyway, anything would be helpful! I've noticed you are excellent with your advice as I recognized a few diseases! Thanks in advance for your assistance!  Parthina <This isn't difficult. First, fish don't have lungs! Surely the crap is a big problem.  Get over your jinx or you are going to kill your fish in sewage! Vacuum the gravel *really well* and do a substantial water change afterward. Clean the filter in old tank water. Go over to WetWebMedia.com scroll down to the Google search engine and type in "cichlid" and find your cichlid in the cichlid pages.  Match or approximate water conditions (pH and hardness) as provided for your fish.  Proper water quality, food, filtration, pH and hardness should resolve health and cloudiness problems. Please read more on keeping freshwater fish here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm You need to resolve your jinx!  Craig>

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