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FAQs on Cichlid Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: Cichlid Fishes

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


Over Night Cichlid Death   3/5/13
 I'm not quite sure what type of fish I had, my girlfriend bought it for me about a year and a half ago, but I fed my 7 cichlids two herbivore blocks last night. The fish in question, see attached photo, usually eats most of one block, and he did. I also added some Stress Coat last night before I went to bed. At about 5 this morning I woke up to what sounded like a pool party in my tank, but I didn't think anything of it. When I turned on the tank lights an hour later he was floating at the bottom. He didn't seem to have any visible damage marks on him which leads me to believe that he either had too much to eat and choked or a chemical imbalance. I'm asking this to try to prevent my other fish from dying. Thank you!
   P.S. Sorry for the ..somewhat informal.. picture, I found out that it was the only picture I had of him! He looked more gray than the picture
About chemical makeup currently:
pH: 7.7
Ammonia (NH3 / NH4+): 0.22 ppm
Hardness (GH): 300 ppm
Total chlorine: 0.2 ppm
Total alkalinity (KH): 320ppm
Temperature: 22 degrees Celsius
< You cichlid probably choked on something in the middle of the night. When he panicked he probably thrashed about and knocked himself out and drowned.
If the fish is still around try and peek down his throat and look for an obstruction to confirm.-Chuck>

Anti Feeder Fish Coalition   6/3/10
> Hi Bob,
> Have you seen this?
<I had not>
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FybGYCwUyLM
Well done to the American Cichlid Association for making this point. Let's hope the message gets through to US pet stores that feeder fish are risky, unnecessary and cruel.
<A shot toward that direction. B>
Cheers, Neale

switching to new food
Cichlid Imprinted on Food   5/5/10

Hi guys, My Flowerhorn is used to eating XO Humpyhead, I saw Cyclops food and wanted to try it out. I tried feeding it one but my fish keeps spitting it out. How can I make my fish eat a new brand of pellets? Thanks, Brian
< You cichlid is imprinted on a particle food. Do not feed him for three days. When he comes to the front looking for food then offer the new food. If it is not eaten in five minutes then remove it from the tank. Do the same thing every day until he eats the new food.-Chuck

Firemouth Cichlid Not Eating  1/7/08 Please help. My Firemouth cichlid is not eating. He is always hiding and seems shy and scared. I have a blood parrot that doesn't fight with him and I have Danios and platies. The water parameters are all fine nitrite 0 nitrate 0 ammonia 0 and I recently did a water change. He isn't eating. He looks healthy though. However, I just got him yesterday. Could this be why he isn't eating? Is he adjusting to his environment? I usually feed my fishes brine shrimps, pellets, and flakes. Please help. I don't want my Firemouth cichlid to starve and die. < Fish can easily go a few days without eating, even a week. Once he gets the tank pecking order figured out he should be out and about in no time.-Chuck>

Mealworms and cichlid... food  1/6/2008 Hi there, I have read through your articles and I have not found whether or not cichlids could eat mealworms. So I was wondering if my Firemouth, convict, and blood parrot could eat mealworms. Also is there a certain size they need to be before I feed them mealworms? Thanks for all your help, and sorry if you have already answered this question already. <Mealworms are generally not recommended for small/medium-sized fish because of these larvae have tough, chitinous exoskeletons that are difficult to digest. Mealworms are best saved for big predatory animals that are able to chop up tough prey using their robust jaws, such as puffers and Oscars. Firemouths and convicts really feed on soft prey, particularly annelid worms, as well as plant material, organic detritus and algae, so are quite easy to feed without needing anything as large as mealworms. Cheers, Neale.>

Gut blocked by a ghost shrimp? FW  10/1/07 Hello folks... I have a juvenile male Astatotilapia sp. that swallowed a ghost shrimp a couple days ago and is not acting like his usual self; clamped fins, color is fading, seeking solitude, etc... He can not seem to eat flake food now, either. He just chews it for a minute and has to spit it out. Is he going to make it? <Maybe> Is there anything I can do to get what I am assuming to be the exoskeleton of a shrimp out of his gut? Can I feed him some roughage, or is there no hope? <Always hope... but can only wait at this point... nothing will move, dissolve this mass faster> Please and thank you for any help you can give me. Martin C. <Bob Fenner>

Cichlid feedings, Gut Loading Crickets For Cichlids  8/20/07 Hi, I have an Argentina Horned Frog, and the crickets that I feed him are gut-loaded with Fluker's High-Calcium Cricket Feed. I'm just wondering if there would be any reason that I couldn't gut-load some crickets that I feed to my Cichlids to increase their nutritional intake? <Really not needed for cichlids since many fish foods are very nutritious but certainly can't hurt, especially if you plan on feeding crickets all the time.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey Hooked On Blood Worms    11/27/06 I have a 2 inch electric blue jack Dempsey and he is in a 60 gallon tank. He has been pooping stringy white for several days. He is eating fine (although he refuses to eat anything but bloodworms) and moving around fine. Water tests all measure zero for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. No signs of ick on him or other fish in the tank, and the others poop the normal brown/black poop. Is the poop from eating only bloodworms or is it reason to be concerned about something else? Thanks for your help, Kelly < Don't feed him for three days then offer a few blood worms with some other foods like Spectrum pellets. Over time his blood worm only diet will cause problems.-Chuck>

Keeping Cichlids Colorful  6/15/06 Hello, I have had three cichlids in my 20 gallon tank now for about a year and I really enjoy them.  Over the course of the year, however, I have noticed that there has been some color change amongst a couple of the fish.  Is this normal, and if so, how do I keep the bright colors that they were when I first purchased them?  I have been told that their is a certain kind of food or vitamin that helps with this, but I have failed to find something of this nature.  Please give me any tips that you can.  Thank-you.  elucke22 <Some lake Malawi cichlids change color as they mature and this is normal. Spectrum fish food prides itself on bringing out the color on fish. I have personally tried it and it works very well for all cichlids.-Chuck>

Cichlids Competing For Food  4/6/06 I have a 4" inch Oscar in with a 10" tilapia and they get along fine, except that the Oscar goes into such a frenzy when being fed it is constantly injuring itself by darting to a piece of food right as the tilapia is going for it and getting ripped up. I've been working on avoiding this... with some success. Do have any suggestions? And what do you feel the best way to treat the wounds is? < Your big tilapia can eat quite a bit while your Oscar is striving to get anything that is left. Try feeding pellets at different ends of the tank at the same time. keep the tank clean and add Bio-Coat to the water. If it gets infected  place the fish in a hospital tank and treat with Nitrofurazone.-Chuck> Pike Cichlid Won't Eat 10/11/05 Hello, great site. < Thanks> I have a 55 gallon (soon to be a 110 gallon) with a tiger Oscar, Jack Dempsey, golden pike, Pleco, and angelica cat. Each fish is about two inches except the Oscar who is three inches. My question is about the pike. I've had him for about three months. I've been feeding him sinking pellets and flakes because of the Oscar and Dempsey, they eat everything if it floats at the top. With the flakes and the pellets he would get his share.  However recently he hasn't been eating, but his behavior hasn't changed. He swims around the tank the same, he even comes out of his cave which he made in between three pieces of slate when I feed them. He takes in the food but spits it out, he does this with the flakes and the pellets, I've tried different kinds of pellets but he acts the same.  The water in the tank is fine with all levels where they should be. Is he sick of the food? If so I don't know what to do. Any advice you have would be appreciated, thank you. Jimmy K < Pike cichlids eat other fish in nature. When they are small themselves they nibble on other things until they get big enough to eat other fish. Try some live food live small earthworms. They will get imprinted on these items and that makes it difficult to get them on other foods. So feed them live or frozen food once a week. A little pike doesn't eat much, a much larger pike can get very expensive to feed live or frozen food. Look for a pellet food that is high in protein like a carnivore flake /pellet.-Chuck> 

Spoiled Cichlids Won't Eat Their Pellets! Mmm... Chicken Liver... Hi Bob. Sorry for disturbing you. <<He was disturbed before your email. Marina today.>><<<Heeee!. RMF>>> I have a 75gallon tank containing 1 Flowerhorn (3inch) 1 pair Oscar (1.5inch) 1 pair convicts (2.5inch).I fed them with chicken liver and live worms for a week, now they do not eat anything else other than the liver and worms, the Flowerhorn eats only liver. How can I wean them back to pellets and dry worms. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanking you <<We're lucky with fish, it's alright to outwait them. Stop feeding for about three days, do a water change (this should help stimulate their appetites), then add only a FEW pellets. If they don't eat them within a few minutes, remove them, wait a day, then try again. Eventually SOMEONE is going to either remember that they used to eat these, or that they aren't high-bred poodles whose master will cry if they don't eat. In other words, being what they are, cichlids.. HUNGRY cichlids, they *will* be tempted to try anything at a certain point.  They will not starve (unlike psittacines) to death, quite the contrary.  By the way, I happen to *love* chicken livers. If I come to visit, will you feed me chicken livers? (I will also eat other foods, so no worries there.) Marina>>

Severum with Eating Disorder  8/30/05 Hi guys, I'd really appreciate some opinions here. I have a 6" male green severum (appendiculatus) that has a slightly inflamed/swollen anus. I've had him almost 2 years in a 75 with 3 other similar sized cichlids (gold sev, blood parrot, Paratilapia small spot). My water parameters are stable, ph out of the tap at 7.4 and no trace of amm/nitrite (the tank is well filtered with 2 Fluval 404's and a couple FBFs, plus a powerhead w/ filter). The severum is acting healthy in every way, except he seems to periodically go through bouts of what I would liken to trying to clear his throat which can last a couple of minutes. I thought he might have had a blockage and actually netted him a few months back with tweezers ready, but upon shining a light down his throat I couldn't see anything odd. So basically he is just as hungry and active, but has a puffy anus and this periodic coughing thing. His feces appear not to have changed, but they will sometimes take longer for him to pass like he might be constipated. All the other fish are fine. I feed twice per day. The green severum gets a 1cm cube of dried Tubifex worms in the morning, and 1-2 Hikari gold pellets at night. I also feed thawed uncooked shrimp once per week, and some worms from my worm farm once per week. I feed parboiled lettuce 1-2 month. Please let me know what you think the problem might be, whether it could be diet related (should I pre-soak the pellets?) or if there's a bacterial problem. I haven't seen any small red worms around the anus, so I don't think it's Camallanus. I have tried feeding Spirulina based pellets to try and get him more greens, but he didn't like them. He also isn't really interested in the vegetables I've tried (spinach, peas, zucchini). Lettuce is the only thing he'll go for, and even then not very enthusiastically. < When your fish was young it required more protein. Now that it is older it doesn't need as much protein and actually requires more fiber (vegetable matter) in its diet. The prolapsed anus can be taken care of with smaller feedings and switching the diet to something with more vegetable matter. The throat thing is the pharyngeal jaws chewing hard foods such as shrimp exoskeleton and hard pellets. Smaller pellets or prehydrating them may help, it is worth a try.-Chuck> Anyway, I really appreciate your help. This fish is virtually perfect, and I'd hate to lose him. Please let me know if you need more info. Thank you for your time, Corey Cormier Not eating cichlid 7/30/05 We got a Texas blue cichlid given to us he is approx 9inchs we are feeding him the same food but he will not eat we have tried feeder fish has only eaten 1 in 10 days there is still 3 in there is this normal for him not to want to eat the fish food <Not normal... not good food... please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/texascichlid.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Firemouth Won't Eat Hi I am writing again about a male Firemouth that has lost it appetite. It stopped feeding 5 days ago. I have added some aquarium salt (to change the osmotic pressure a little) and a vitamin complex in the water. 2 days after I started the treatment, I managed to get him eat a couple of pellets. As he could not accept a lot of food at a time, I was feeding him 3-4 times daily. I tried to feed him with bloodworms, which seem to stimulate every Firemouth's appetite, but he did not accept them at all. The last two days now, he got back to his hunger strike, refusing to accept anything. Water parameters are fine: [NH3]=0, [NO2-]=0.05 mg/L , [NO3-]=12.5 mg/L, pH=7.5, T=28C What should I do? Would a higher temperature work? I think that raising the temperature to 30C would change his metabolism and maybe stimulate his appetite. Would this hurt the other tank mates (another Firemouth and a gibbiceps)? Thanks a lot Spyros < I always recommend that fish be fed once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. I would recommend that you do not offer him any food at all for three days. After that feed him once and remove all the left over food after two minutes. If he still doesn't eat then he may have an internal bacterial infection and will need to be treated with Metronidazole.-Chuck> Cichlids with Sunken Bellies I have a 20 gallon tank with 1 convict, 1 firemouth, 1 green terror and 1 Severum. These fish are fed once daily on cichlid flakes and twice a week I feed them cichlid pellets. I do a 20% water change and siphon the gravel once a week. The filter is changed once a month. They have had this routine for over a year with no problems until 3 months ago. I noticed all of the fishes bellies appeared to be sunk in.  I checked several web sights for disease symptoms but I could not find anything that resembled the problem my fish are having. I thought it could be TB but they are all eating well, their bodies have good color with no skin problems, they don't fight and they all swim around normally. They otherwise seem happy and healthy so I thought it may be something internal.  I treated with Jungle Brand Parasite Clear for internal parasites but there was no improvement. I even switched to spring water when I thought my county water supply might have a problem even though I was conditioning my tank water and letting it age 24 hours before I do my water exchanges. It has been 3 months now and the fish all still have sunken bellies with no other problems.  Does fish TB take quite awhile for other symptoms to show up? I used to feed Tubifex worms as a treat once a week until the sunken bellies showed up. Could Tubifex worms cause internal parasites? I have 3 other fish tanks that get the exact same routine with the same water, feedings etc. but they are all fine.  If I had introduced a new fish around 3 months ago I'd think that was the problem, but all these fish have been together for over a year. Could a disease lie dormant for that long? After 3 months of web searching I am baffled so I really hope you can help me figure out this mystery. Thank you, Michelle in N.C. < It is difficult for medium to large cichlids to full up on flakes. I would recommend changing the diet to more quality pellet foods than rely on flakes. Go with a sinking pellet that is for carnivorous fish. I don't think it is a disease.-Chuck> 

Switching Food Dear Bob (or who ever is reading this) Thanks for helping people with their aquatic needs. Anyway I have a 500g tank full of: 1 Oscar 1 red devil 1 African cichlid (don't know what type it is) 1 pleco and 2 dojo loaches. I want to switch food because the pet store was out of the stuff I feed them so how do you get fish to switch food? I used to feed them shrimp and pellets but there were no shrimp or pellets when I got there, so I got cichlid fish sticks. So help!! Sean < Switching food is no big deal. I suspect that they will still come to the front of the tank when you approach to feed them. Only give them enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes once each day. Siphon out the rest. After a couple of days they will get the hint and be eating like they use to.-Chuck>  

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

Wants larger tank for cichlids, needs Strunk and Wagnall's (unedited) I wish I could get a bigger saqariam i would love to get 1 but i am on a   budget well thats life i still am thinken on gettin a bigger one. i hope i get   some mony soon. The fish are still a bit teritorial and chase each other around but never eat each other. I have noticed sometin weird that my smaller jewel ciclid is eating feeder fish whole is that safe for it if not what should i   do. < Feeder fish always carry an inherient risk of carrying a disease into the aquarium to which they are being fed. It is best to not feed them feeders since you do not have a quarantine tank and an illness would cause you a lot of grief in a small aquarium.-Chuck>

New Oscar I just purchased a 1 inch red tiger Oscar 3 days ago and he is in a 120 gal tank and he hasn't eaten yet. I called the pet store where I got him and they said to give him another day or two and if he isn't eating to bring him back to exchange him. I really don't want to take him back for another. I'm trying to feed him the cichlid gold mini pellets. There is a 18 inch pleco in the tank with him. I had an 8 year old albino Oscar in there until a month ago when he died. Please any advice. < New fish can be a little temperamental until they get use to their new surroundings. Ask the store what they were feeding it. That should get him started. I wouldn't be really worried until after a week or so.-Chuck> Thanks Fred 

Green terror not eating I DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS KEEPING THIS FISH ALIVE!!!  And yet, except for the long, stringy, empty thing he drags from his anus, he looks healthy; his colors are bright and he seems to have plenty of energy. Anyway, here is a brief summary of what happened since we last communicated, three weeks ago: The green terror has not eaten.  Well, that's not quite true, but he certainly has not eaten much. After receiving your advice, I waited a couple of days before starving him (which seemed kind of pointless, since he was already starving himself), just to see if he resume his old dining habits. He did not, though sometimes he did peck at rocks. So, I vacuumed the tank to pull out the rotting food and then I put no food in his tank for two full days, plus. This was very hard on me, but I did it, even though he spent a great deal of time swimming anxiously back and forth, looking at me as though he were expecting me to come and drop something into the tank that he could then refuse to eat.  After the starvation period, I gave him one JumboMin Food Stick. He ignored it. I then gave him a Tetra Cichlid Cichlid stick. He ignored this as well. I waited another day to see if he would eat either of them. He did not. His long, skinny, trailing, poop sacks remained empty.  Next, I put two blood worm gum drops in a feeder. He ignored it. So I spilled some worms out of the feeder and, to my great joy, he rushed over and hurriedly started chomping each blood worm. I spilled the rest, and it appeared that he ate them all. Furthermore, the next morning, a Food Stick that had been lying on the bottom had also disappeared.  Later that day, his poop sack was full of blood worms. I thought this might be the solution.  The next night, I went to feed him another blood worm gum drop, but it accidentally popped out of my control and fell into the tank fully frozen. He went after it, but recoiled from the cold, then ignored it.  That was at least a week ago. I have tried giving him blood worms every night since, but he has not eaten them. Sometimes, he will rush and grab one, then spit it out of his mouth. I have experimented with large fish flakes and with those small, round, Wardley Cichlid Floating Pellets. After I put them in, he will often charge them, bite down on them, act like he is going to eat them - causing my heart to fill with joy - discover that they are not living things, then spit them out and ignore them.  It is as if he will only be satisfied when he once again chomps down on a real fish.  Yet, as noted at the beginning, except for the long, thin, empty, trailing poop sack (which is there almost all the time and is sometimes approximately three times the length of his body) he looks healthy and energetic. If anything, his colors are even brighter and more radiant than before. He swims, he hides, he bluff-charges and looks just fine.  This can't go on forever, though. Sooner or later, this has got to catch up to him.  I have a ten gallon quarantine tank that is home to a bunch of Danios, who are there to keep the bio alive. I am tempted to transfer a couple to his tank, so that, if it is live fish he must eat, he will have a meal. But, of course, if I am to wean him back to prepared food after his one white cloud meal, this would only further delay the process. But what if the process doesn't work? What if he starves himself beyond the point of recovery?  Then I will wish I had given him the Danios.  You should be aware that I keep this fish in my office in a 55 gallon tank immediately to the left of my desk. I typically spend 12-16 hours a day in here, and so we have plenty of opportunity to observe each other.  The Oscars that I fed white clouds to on the same day as he are in a 90 gallon tank to my right, but there is no finickiest in them.  There is a black cat that wanders about this office, and he loves fish food even more than his own food. He gets upset when he sees this fish waste this food, day after day (yes, I check regularly to see if the ammonia and nitrite levels are rising - they are not).  Please! Put the best of your brains together and come up with an idea to get this green terror eating again! Thanks, Bill PS: It has been a long day and I extremely tired and it is below zero outside and so I am not going to proofread this, so I hope you figure out the typos.  The cat is meowing angrily. < Dear Bill, I once had a 55 gallon hex in my office lunch room where all the employees could watch my cichlids while they ate their lunch. Everyone would complain to me that the fish were always hungry. Every time someone went into the lunch room the fish would rush up to the front of the glass and beg for food. All the employees were warned NOT to feed the fish and that they were well taken care of despite their continues begging. I took one day off of work on a Friday and came back on Mon. to a tank that was totally dead and cloudy. After fishing out the bodies and draining the tank I talked to the employees to find out who fed the fish. As it turns out while I was gone for the one day, my fellow employees were concerned about nobody feeding the fish and they might starve over the weekend. As it turns out EVERYBODY fed the fish!! They were given at least 12 feedings by the employees that confessed and I suspect that there were at least 5 more by those that didn't. You would think that after the 5th or 6th feeding that they would be full and they were, but they weren't going to turn down a free meal especially after that had trained the entire office to feed them.  Your fish is fine and has great color. The food you have been feeding is actually good for him though it may be a little too high in fiber based on your observations. I suspect that you fish begs for live food while you are there and then snacks on the leftovers while you are gone. Anyway I still understand your concern. In the wild your green terror is a large ambush predator that probably eats other fish, invertebrates and small amphibians. Some cichlids like Peacock Bass end up never eating anything else but live food. Buy a dozen or so live goldfish of the appropriate size and place them in your quarantine tank. Treat for diseases if needed and feed the goldfish the pellets and sticks that you are trying to feed the green terror. This is called gut-loading. This will actually make the goldfish a more healthy food item. keep them in the tank for at least a week. In the meantime you should try other types of frozen foods. Frozen krill and silversides have been recommended to me by other cichlid hobbyists for large fish. Washed earthworms and frozen plankton could also be tried too. After a week place a couple goldfish in the tank with the green terror. He will probably gobble them up. I would probably put them in on Friday and only put enough in that he will consume in a few minutes. By Mon. he will be hungry again and you can try the other foods. If your fish is one that will only eat other fish at least you can make sure that the fish you give him will be very healthy and not introduce any disease. I don't know if you can ever untrain him from begging.-Chuck>

Green terror not eating Thanks, Chuck -  After reading your story, I'm glad I share my office with no one but the fish and the black cat. I have also wondered if maybe he is getting the food he needs by pecking around at the bottom, but, in the good old days before I gave him white clouds, his poop was regular and fat and looked like a string of sausage. Now, except for the day after he ate the blood worms, it appears to just be a long, thin, empty sack.  Thanks for the suggestions. Next time I go to Anchorage I will seek out the items that you have suggested.  < Something else you might try is superworms or meal worms. They are beetle larva that are sold at pet shops and are easily kept in a refrigerator until needed. They are high in fat and I use them to condition medium to large central American cichlids.>  I do not mind his begging - and he is not nearly the beggar the Oscars are - I just want him to eat what he begs for - something, anything!  My daughter loves this fish, by the way. She comes in a couple of times a day, just to observe and admire him and he always performs for her like he does for no one else; it is as if he recognizes her - sometimes, one would even think that he likes her. Bill < Cichlids are smart and do recognize people outside their aquarium. Larger cichlids especially seem to know who is the person that feeds them and who doesn't. Many years ago I had the privilege of meeting an elderly man who had a red devil for 10 years in a 20 gallon aquarium in which he changed water every day. The entire time I was there the fish would flare at me and try and bite me through the glass like a guard dog, but seemed calm to the old man. To me this makes cichlids more of a pet than some other fishes.-Chuck> 

Green terror not eating You have answered another question I have long had - the tear in the dorsal fin. I have always wondered if that was natural or inflicted.   < The tear probably was infected at the fish store. Because the store tank was probably overcrowded and the nitrates were high the wound did not heal properly and may be permanent.>  When I purchased this terror as a baby, it was in a tank with at least 20 others, and they all had similar tears. In fact, of them all, this one was the least torn. Thanks for the stool information, too. Chuck, you have been a big help!  And all for free. You folks are amazing. Bill

Re: Green terror not eating < Something else you might try is superworms or meal worms. They are beetle larva that are sold at pet shops and are easily kept in a refrigerator until needed. They are high in fat and I use them to condition medium to large central American cichlids.>  Chuck - I will try those worms (my other daughter's boyfriend feeds those to his lizards). Just in case you are interested, here are three jpegs from this evening. Unfortunately, I grabbed my camera real quick and did not knock down the shutter speed, so I underexposed the one with the fins splayed and the one with daughter Lisa in silhouette by about three stops. I was able to pull out some of the details, but they look a little murky and ratty. Should you be interested, I will one day send you some good pictures. Bill < After seeing your picture I am even more convinced that instead of the big meals you are use to seeing him eat , he is grazing on stuff a little at a time. A big meal will usually developed into a large stool. Smaller meals over a long time usually result in stools as shown in your photo. Too bad about he tear in the dorsal fin. Colors look great. Body looks good too. -Chuck>

Re: Terror again Chuck and I had a good exchange regarding my green terror, who had always been a voracious eater of dry, cichlid pellets until the day that I gave him some white clouds as a special treat, and then he transformed into an occasional nibbler. In fact, weeks have gone by without me observing him taking a bite of anything, but more than two months later he is still alive and looking good, so I guess he is eating. But I have a new question regarding him, which may be related. I have a couple of clay flower pots in the tank with him and I sometimes observe him biting the edge of the clay pots and then raking his mouth back and forth along them, as if it itches and he is trying to scratch.  Visually, his mouth looks just fine, but it is difficult to really peer into it. I am wondering what might be causing this, and if there is some medicine I should give him.  I have two thoughts on the matter: One - that he picked up some kind of mouth irritant and that may be why he ignores his pellets until they soak for a long time and soften up; Two - that, instead, the fact that he no longer grabs his pellets and chomps them might actually be the cause of the irritation.  What do you think?  I might also note that I successfully added a pleco to his tank. To my surprise, the pleco will also eat his pellets (and I thought they were vegetarians!) so I do not really know how much the pleco actually leaves for him, as I almost never seen him eat, but he is still looking good, save for that long, stringy, filmy white poop that so often trails him now that his eating habits have changed. Thanks, Bill <Since we last communicated I have had a few other ideas with your green terror. Others have reported weird behavior with their fish after giving them pellets or dry food. I would take him out of the tank and look down his throat with a flashlight to look for obstructions If none are found then I thought of a second problem. Cichlids like yours have a second set of jaws called pharyngeal bones. Each species of fish have a set that are a little different that the other species. These bones are used to chew their food. If they are damaged or broken then their voracious eating habits would change to the picker type that you have described. Try presoaking his food to soften it up and see if there is any change.-Chuck> 

Re: Terror again > <Since we last communicated I have had a few other ideas with your > green terror. Others have reported weird behavior with their fish > after giving them pellets or dry food. I would take him out of the > tank and look down his throat with a flashlight to look for > obstructions If none are found then I thought of a second problem. Boy - the idea of taking him out of his tank and looking down his throat kind of freaks me out; it seems like I might injure him. When you do this, how do you secure the fish - hold him in your hand? < You get a towel wet with the aquarium water. Take him out of the tank with a net and then place him in the wet towel. Confine him so only his head is exposed. With help you open his mouth while an assistant holds a flashlight and you look down his throat for obstructions.> > Cichlids like yours have a second set of jaws called pharyngeal bones. > Each species of fish have a set that are a little different that the > other species. These bones are used to chew their food. If they are > damaged or broken then their voracious eating habits would change to > the picker type that you have described. Try presoaking his food to  > soften it up and see if there is any change.-Chuck> That second jaw is interesting and I will try presoaking his food. Any thoughts on why he is biting the flower pot edge and "scratching" his mouth on it? < I think he is trying to move it. Big fish have a tendency to want to aquascape their own tank.-Chuck> Bill 

Flowerhorn Cichlids wwm, good day! i would like ask some question about flowerhorn. Can you give me some vitamins or drug that is use for  color enhancing? < Spectrum makes an excellent food for enhancing the colors of fish without hormones> What's the new latest kind of flowerhorn out in the market? < Flowerhorns are an artificial fish. They are hybridized from three different species of cichlids. Even though they do spawn and are viable they are considered artificial mutations. Currently the market is falling for Flowerhorns. Check with Aquabid.com for new color varieties.-Chuck> I hope you can answer my questions? thanks...... Leugim

Green terror not eating Ryan (or anyone who knows about green terrors): All of a sudden, my green terror, nearly one year old, is not eating. Saturday, for the first time in his life, I gave him a treat of about 10 tiny white clouds, which he went through in about three hours (I also gave the oscars a white cloud treat). Sunday, I ran out of his favorite food, Jumbo-min Food Sticks and the local supplier was out. So I gave him some Tetra Cichlid Cichlid Sticks. I think he ate some, but not all. Yesterday, I drove into Anchorage and picked up some more Jumbo-min food sticks but he does not appear to have eaten any of them at all. He totally ignored this mornings feeding. He looks healthy. If I come to the tank, he comes blustering over to face me off, as usual. It was either yesterday or Sunday that I noticed that his poop was darker and more blood red then usual - a fact that I attributed to the white cloud feast. The three oscars continue to eat with enthusiasm. What do you think? < Anytime you change diet it will take a little while for the bacteria in the fishes gut to adjust to the new food. This sometimes ends up as constipation. For a treat instead try washed earthworms. No disease factor. > I have always avoided live food, because of the possibility of disease, but I did have the impression that white clouds were pretty safe and they take excellent care of their tanks at the store where I bought them. Now I am wondering if that was a mistake. Wait! Out of the corner of my eye, I just saw him pick up a rock, like he does when he goes after the crumbs. He did the chewing thing for about 30 seconds, then spit the rock out. His pellets remain untouched. < After feeding the same food for a year he might have gotten imprinted on them. Starve him for awhile and try a little bit of the new food later-Chuck> Now he is in his hollow log ornament that he loves so much, looking content enough. Bill

Re: Green terror not eating Here is a theory: do you think those white clouds might have tasted so good to him that he just doesn't want to settle for anything less? < Although they were probably a tasty treat he is trying to train you, so resist the urge to give him the live white clouds -Chuck> I can not afford to feed him white clouds everyday! Bill

Re: Green terror not eating Thank you, Chuck - I must not have been entirely clear, for he was only off his regular food from Sunday morning until late Monday afternoon, when I returned from Anchorage with the very same stuff he has been eating since he outgrew flake food, but he will not eat it, now. To make things even more worrisome, he has been trailing a long stool for about an hour, and it just looks like an empty string of sausage. Otherwise, he still looks good and he seems to have no shortage of energy, for he is swimming all over the place. He keeps looking at me like he expects me to feed him, but, as noted he won't eat. As for starving him for awhile, he seems to be doing that to himself. Well, if I can stand it, I won't put another pellet in the tank for 24 hours and see what happens, though he hasn't eaten any of the ones that I put in over the past 30 hours or so. Actually, he looks more than energetic - almost frantic at times. I wish to hell I had never given him those white clouds. I know he is a fish, and, being an Alaskan, hardly a week ever goes not go by that I do not eat fish and sometimes I eat fish every day, but I am fond of him and do not want to lose him. < These guys can easily go a week without eating. If he is not eating after a week or so then we need to worry -Chuck> Bill

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>

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

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

Help (Non-feeding Cichlid) I recently bought a red terror, Cichlasoma festae. Usually these guys aren't picky eaters, though this one refuses to eat.  <This is strange... is it being bullied by tankmates? Do you have another system (even by itself) that you can move it to?> I've tried an armada of different types of food and stuck it right in front of its face. It has not eaten since I brought it home. The water requirements are met and yet she refuses to eat. Is this normal especially for this species? <Abnormal> What can I do to help my little (2.5 inches) friend. Thanks in advance for your help <Do contact the source you got this fish from. Ask what they were feeding it... and consider elevating your temperature, adding vitamins (act as appetite stimulants) to the food, water... Have you tried live foods (worms, small fishes, bloodworms/insect larvae...?) I would. Bob Fenner>

Re: help (cichlid on feeding strike) Hello again, I'm the guy with the female red terror that didn't want to eat. Sorry for the lack of info I gave but here it is. I bought her in horrible conditions, a 10 gallon tank housing 8 red terrors, 5 jack Dempsey's, and about 8 other cichlids that were completely black (unidentified).  <Yikes!!! Perhaps the fish is so happy to be out of there it's completely forgotten about eating! May the previous owner be compelled to live in a closet for a month.> She had some frayed fins though no fungus. I took her home and placed her in a 10 gallon tank (don't worry, when she starts to eat she gets a 75 gallon all to herself). The 10 gallon has no gravel, though I placed a cave for security. She spends all day in the cave, and only comes out when I'm not around. When I get close to the tank she hides in the cave. She has yet to eat. I took your advice and upped the temperature and placed a vitamin cube in. I went with ghost shrimp and a small guppy to entice her to eat. Could she be so scared of me that she cant even eat?  <Yes, for sure> Is there anything I can do to make her feel safe around me? Thanks for all your help <Put dark material around three sides of the tank, and keep any light off over it (and be careful in turning light on/off around the tank if it's dark)... it should eat soon, and within days, weeks, become "more accustomed" to your presence. Patience, cichlids rarely starve to death (as you likely know). Bob Fenner>

Re: help (cichlid on feeding strike) Thanks for all your help, and yes I'll be completely surprised if I ever hear of a cichlid starving to death of its own accord. <Something I think of myself as a "Kaiserfische"! Particularly around pizzas. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Dwarf Cichlids Dear Crew, This weekend we came home with another addition to our lovely 180 liter tank (planted, 6.5ph, v.v. soft water, no nitrates)...so we now have 2 female and 1 male Ram swimming around in the tank with our tetras, Corys and otos. <A pleasant change of pace. We get so few freshwater questions. When done right, as your sounds, they are every bit a lovely as a reef tank.> We know that this is the right sort of habitat for these fish and read all that we could find on them first, but have been unable to find details about what they eat. The LFS recommended bloodworms 2 or 3 times a week along with the flake that the others get (supplemented with pellets for the Corys 2 or 3 times a week), so we duly purchased some, defrosted it, and threw half a cube into the tank, where it was promptly ignored by the Rams, the Corys (3 sterbai, 3 julii) and the freshwater shrimp went to town on it though. Is there anything else we should be doing for the Rams apart from good water quality? <Try some other food items; glassworms, blackworms, daphnia, and freshwater mysis shrimp.> Should we be feeding them more than the once a day, we do for the others? <Very small amounts, the more frequently the better, just no extra food laying on the bottom.> I thought I had done enough reading before I purchased them, but now anxiety kicks in, I want the best for them! Cheers, Nicola <Good luck to you! -Steven Pro>

Feeding Cichlids Blackworms, my opinions (what else do I have?) Dear Mr. Fenner: Just curious, I have a 135g. freshwater tank with cichlids of various types, have been feeding them flakes, pellets, fresh veggies, and at nighttime live blackworms as a snack. I just read that you should not feed cichlids blackworms, what is your opinion on this? <There are incidences of positive correlation with their feeding, especially to Great Lakes African Cichlids... and disease/digestive problems... for non-Africans, occasional use, I would not worry> They seem to love them, and I only feed what they eat right away. None settle to bottom of tank. Have the blackworms for my elephant nose fish.  <The Mormyrids really enjoy these...> would appreciate your opinion on this matter. Sincerely, Shirley <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Blackworms Thanks for your opinion on the blackworms, I will only give them to the cichlids on rare occasions now. Do you have any information on how to raise them myself? Thanks for all your help this this and past questions. Sincerely, Shirley <Blackworms? Yes... and must need write these "live fish foods" pieces up as articles and site: www.WetWebMedia.com material. Please do keep after me here... as will try to address the culture of these annelids in a month or so... Bob Fenner>

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