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Lone Protomelas taeniolatus. Comp. and beh. f's       1/31/17
Hello crew, hope you are all doing well.
<Thank you Roberto; yes>
About a week ago a fellow aquarist sold some of his African cichlids at a very low price. I got myself a single (its my first "African" cichlid not counting my kribensis)
Protomelas taeniolatus, which i thought was rather small due to the price but ended up being a 15 cm beautifully colored male. I properly set up a 40 gal for this lone guy as i don't have other Africans and im not sure i can keep this big guy with any other of my current fish.
<Can become mean; though this species is relatively peaceful>
I have a collection of tetras, Poeciliids, dwarf south American cichlids and a small collection of Rainbowfishes (Wanamensis, boesemanni, dwarf neon and G. incisus). I also have a trio of Etroplus maculatus all fully mature.
Thing is he's been hiding since then, only comes out when lights go out or there is nobody in the room, so he's very shy. He's been eating, and the tank has a few big rocks forming hiding spots and a few moss and java fern covered rocks for him to graze, etc.
I would like to see him come out more, is this a matter of time or could i use some species of dither fish?
<Time just going by will find this fish out more and more>
The parameters stay at a ph of 7.9 and 10,10 for carbonate and general hardness.
Thanks again!
<I urge patience here. Just wait. Bob Fenner>

Re: Lone Protomelas taeniolatus      2/7/17
Hello crew, it is 4 am in the morning, trying to save the fish from something i wasn't really expecting.
<Oh? You've sent the same image files thrice>
See the Protomelas had been coming out more, but started staying near the surface, so i watched him closely and noticed yesterday it was developing what i identified as oodinium infestation.
<Mmm; no... something larger; likely Ich>
Now, no other of my fish tanks has this, and i have only encountered it once as an aquarist. I also noticed its dorsal fin was damaged,
<And this likely by other factors.>
only rays intact. I forgot the basic principle of bacteria growth and turned up the temp to eliminate the oodinium while performing big water changes. I went to sleep but got up due to reasons. Decided to check on the fish and its looking horribly bad. Color faded, lots of white, scaly bits coming off from head and body, the damage to the fin has increases and it now has yellow and red patches on ita body. The yellow patches definitely look wrong. I read up and realized the heat helped the bacteria grow faster. Big mistake. I conducted several water changes in order to bring the temp back down from 30 to 25 c in a lapse of 3 hours, probably too fast but the fish was swimming erratically.
I also added Methylene blue and malachite green in order to try to thwart some of the infestation and avoid fungus. The fish is now swimming relatively normally. It is responding to my hand but it definitely looks weak.
I have included pics of the fish.
Right now i have Metronidazole tablets, and have access to Nitrofurantoin ( Nitrofuran?) and probably erythromycin in a few hours when the drug store opens... What can i do?
<Nothing more than you've done; which, by the way, is about what I would have done as well: Elevated temperature, tried the Malachite and Meth. Blue...>
This has taken me horribly by surprise. I added a picture from yesterdays morning of what i thought was oodinium, and the update from right now. I am here, next to him, watching him closely.
In the last picture you can slightly see the white blotch, it has one on each side of its body on the same place. Also red dots surrounding, which i assume is blood.
The tank has river sand and rocks, a sponge and a hang on back filter. I do have a quarantine 5 gallon tank but im not sure i wanna put him in there... after all the fish is in this 40 gallon all by himself...
Thanks crew, i apologize for errors and the size of pics but im a bit desperate, texting from phone.
<I would keep the temperature in the mid 80's F. And NOT use any further medication/s at this point.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Lone Protomelas taeniolatus      2/7/17
For clarifying. I thought it was oodinium yesterday, but i also noticed the fin damage and realize it was also suffering a bacterial infection... so i forgot about heat and bacteria... i now realize it probably was not oodinium to start with...
<I agree. BobF>
Re: Lone Protomelas taeniolatus        2/7/17

So far my research has brought me to various antimicrobials like erythromycin, Clarithronycin, Ciprofloxacin, potassium permanganate, biomicyn which should pretty much cover any bacteria genus i may encounter, but obviously i cant try them all... what do you suggest?... lastly there is this AZoo magic treatment which apparently treats ulcers and bacterial skin damage... im not particularly fond of AZoo, but as this point maybe they have it figured out?... thank you...
<As I've stated Roberto. Just the temp. at this point. B>

Skin issue with coral twain reef cichlid. Please help!  12/31/12
I hope you can help me. I have had this wild caught coral twain reef
<I assume you mean Protomelas sp. 'Steveni Taiwan' , also known as the Taiwan Reef Cichlid.>
now for a year and he has always seemed healthy and still does besides this skin issue.
<Yes, I see. Looks like there's some erosion of the skin plus excess mucous.>
As you can see from the picture, he's got a moldy fuzz appearance on his eye as well as forehead, bottom fins, and side. It started with just the discoloration on his side and now has progressed to what you see. The tank parameters are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrates and nitrates. Ph is 8.0. I do 20 to 30% water changes every 2 to 3 days. I use 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon,
<Why? You do understand that careless use of salt causes problems for Malawian cichlids; do read up on Malawi Bloat.>
water conditioner, Malawi buffer,
<Assuming this is Malawi (or Rift Valley) salt mix, then you shouldn't need to add the tablespoon of salt. If the buffer is simply pH 8 buffer, then you are creating a problem. The pH of Lake Malawi is around 8, that's true, but your job is to raise carbonate and general hardness through the use of an appropriate mineral salt mix; do read here:
The Rift Valley Salt Mix is cheap and easy to make at home.>
stress zyme
<To the tap water?>
and ammonia neutralizer when needed.
<Ah now, this is worrying me. Are you adding ammonia neutralizer to tap water? That's fine. But if you have non-zero ammonia levels in the aquarium and think adding ammonia neutralizer will help, then you have a problem.
Ammonia in aquaria should ALWAYS be managed through filtration, typically, biological filtration.>
It wasn't always like this as up until 3 weeks ago, I always had .25 ammonia.
<Then your tank is overstocked, overfed, and/or under-filtered. It's also why your Protomelas is sick.>
The tank has been setup for 1 year. I have searched everywhere and have no clue. Anyone  I have spoken to has never seen anything like it.  Please respond.
<Protomelas inhabit extremely clean water. They are sensitive to poor water quality. They are also rather shy and peaceful, so you MUST NOT keep them with aggressive fish like Mbuna or they will be stressed. I'd bet all the money in my pockets that the problem here is environmental: the tank is too small and/or under-filtered (hence the non-zero ammonia) and that you've stressed this fish through the wrong water chemistry (see above) and poor water quality and perhaps the wrong tankmates. Review, and act accordingly.
As for medication, a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone works wonders with cichlids, ideally, used in your quarantine tank (which I presume you have if you've bought an expensive wild-caught cichlid like this). Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Skin issue with coral Taiwan reef cichlid. Please help!    12/31/12
Thanks for the reply. After reading over my question again I realized I put that I use a tablespoon of salt per gallon. This is incorrect. I use a tablespoon per 5 gallon. It's regular aquarium salt. Not cichlid salt. Should I not use it?
<Absolutely not; at least, not by itself. Aquarium salt (also called tonic salt) is sodium chloride. This is the major salt that makes seawater salty (there are actually dozens of other salts in seawater, though in smaller amounts). Rift Valley cichlids are specifically adapted to the minerals of the lakes; in the case of Lake Malawi, it's calcium salts that are the majority, not sodium salts like sodium chloride. The real issue is the way they effect osmoregulation, which is the process whereby the fish get the right balance of minerals and water inside their cells. The wrong sort of minerals outside the body, or the wrong amount of minerals, and the fish either dehydrates or gets continually "flooded" with water (kind of like a fish drowning, if you can imagine such a thing). If you go back and read the Practical Approach to Water Chemistry article, you'll see that there's a "salt mix" that includes baking soda (which is sodium bicarbonate), Epsom salt (which is magnesium sulphate), and marine aquarium salt mix (which includes both sodium salts and calcium salts). The amounts you need of each is very small, teaspoon or tablespoon quantities per 5 gallons. So the mix costs pennies a month. But the benefits for your Rift Valley cichlids will be substantial and long-term. Don't change all the water chemistry at once, but over the next few weeks, as you change out 20-25% of the water, replace with new water that has this Rift Valley salt mix added. Cheap, easy and effective -- not often I get to recommend something that's so simple!>
Also, it's a 75 gallon tank filtered by an Eheim pro 350 filter. There's currently 16 fish in the tank. 2 yellow labs,
<Labidochromis spp. should be okay with Protomelas, but watch them.>
1 short body Flowerhorn, 1 blood parrot,
<Neither of these belong in here; remove them ASAP. Their behaviour is somewhat milder than the Mbuna, especially the Blood Parrots which can be easy targets for fin-biters like Pseudotropheus zebra>
3 red zebras,
<Pseudotropheus zebra; potentially extremely aggressive and incompatible with Protomelas spp.>
1 red empress,
<Protomelas taeniolatus; another peaceful species.>
<Nimbochromis venustus; another peaceful species.>
1 red jewel,
<Hemichromis bimaculatus; doesn't belong here. A West African rainforest species that does better in soft to medium-harm, around neutral water. Not especially aggressive outside of breeding.>
1 blue Melanochromis, 1 albino Melanochromis and 1 regular female Melanochromis,
<Melanochromis males can be psychotic, especially Melanochromis auratus; Melanochromis johanni is somewhat less aggressive and could cohabit with Protomelas in a large aquarium.>
1 socolofi,
<Pseudotropheus socolofi; not as psychotically aggressive as Pseudotropheus zebra or Melanochromis auratus, so potentially viable with Protomelas given lots and lots of space.>
1 female balloon Flowerhorn,
<See above; simply doesn't belong here.>
1 peacock.
<Aulonocara spp. should not be kept with most Mbuna, especially Pseudotropheus zebra and Melanochromis auratus. Usually wind up battered or simply so stressed their lifespan is appreciably shortened.>
The ammonia neutralizer is only put in once a week after a water change added directly to the tank.
<Why? Do review water quality management, i.e., filtration and stocking, and thereby ensure ammonia sticks at zero. Do understand "false positives" for ammonia are possible with certain types of tap water (containing chloramine) even after treatment. Does tap water register an ammonia level of zero before and then after adding water conditioner? If there is *no* ammonia detected in *both* those tests, but you *do* detect ammonia in the aquarium, then filtration and/or stocking are wrong.>
All fish were added at the same time when they were babies so they have all grown up together and there is literally almost no aggressiveness besides for the 2 yellow labs chasing each other.
<Very surprised, to be honest, but every tank is different. That said, your Protomelas is clearly stressed and that's why it's making extra mucous (the white stuff) and collecting in "scars" or "pits" on the head (cf. Hole-in-the-Head and Head-and-Lateral-Line diseases). In any event, your aquarium sounds overstocked to me, and will be once some of these fish reach full size -- an adult Flowerhorn needs a 75-gallon tank just for itself. Hmm… what else… do get and read something on cichlid-keeping by the likes of Paul Loiselle or Ad Koenig. "The Pocket Professional Guide to Cichlids" by David Boruchowitz is another good book. If you're on a budget, "Fishkeepers Guide to African Cichlids" by Paul Loiselle can be bought on Amazon.com for a measly $0.03 plus shipping; while a bit dated in style and content, it covers all the basics and Loiselle really knows his stuff. Once you've decided you want to get serious about cichlids, then find "The Cichlid Aquarium" by Paul Loiselle; not an easy read and not for beginners, but if you know fishkeeping moderately well, this is the absolute bible on cichlid-keeping and cichlid-biology. Out of print for years, but on Amazon for under $20.>
<Welcome, Neale.>
Re: Skin issue with coral Taiwan reef cichlid. Please help!    12/31/12

My tap water has 0 ammonia,
<Before and after adding your water conditioner of choice?>
as well as the 75 gallon tank. I know the test is correctly measuring ammonia as I have 5 other tanks and a couple are at .25 at the moment.
<Which implies the livestock are producing ammonia faster than the filter can process it (i.e., convert it to nitrite and then nitrate). Review stocking density, filter capacity and feeding regimen, then act accordingly. One of these factors, perhaps more than one, is wrong.>
I have been using the Aquino ammonia neutralizer in the other tanks to make the ammonia and nitrates less harmful until it comes down so I guess I just got in the habit.
<Easily done.>
You are correct, I should not be using it if I don't need to.
<It's harmless in itself. But if you have persistent ammonia in your aquaria, the problem is with water quality management. So rather than adding chemicals, establish what the problem is (why there's more ammonia in the tank than the filter can handle) and adjust the tanks accordingly.>
Now forgive me for questioning you as I know you have many more years of experience then I do.
But if the setup currently works and everyone is getting along meaning the 5" male and 4" female Flowerhorns and 1 parrot then why remove them.
<Because the Flowerhorns won't be 5 inches for long and the Parrot won't be small for long either. Flowerhorn Cichlids are hybrids as you probably know, so their precise adult size can be difficult to predict, but it will be around the 10-12 inch mark (males tending to be a little bigger than females). Remember that the overall size of an animal (i.e., its mass) increases as the cube of any changes in length. So while a 10-inch Flowerhorn may be only twice as long as a 5-inch specimen, it's mass will be EIGHT times than of the 5-inch specimen, and therefore it needs EIGHT times the oxygen and produces EIGHT times the ammonia. Make sense? In any case, a Flowerhorn singleton needs no less than 75 gallons, and a pair (inasmuch as pairs exist with these very aggressive fish) will need twice that amount of water, if not more -- and even then there are no guarantees the male won't decide to murder the female one day.>
They keep to themselves and don't bother anyone or the Taiwan reef.
<These fish are all still young, by the sounds of it. Hmm… you know the game of Russian Roulette? Let's say you play it once, and survive. Does that make it a safe game? Same thing here. Because your young cichlids have so far gotten along doesn't mean they will do indefinitely, and the odds are NOT in your favour. You have a poor combination of species that reveals little understanding of what particular cichlids need, i.e., not enough reading. Mixing Aulonocara with Mbuna is a classic beginner's mistake. You may have come across Mary Bailey in your reading on African cichlids. We've got a trio of her articles here at WWM that you'll find useful:
Mbuna occupy a very specific niche that makes them both fun to watch and difficult to mix with other cichlids. You may decide to try out your own combinations and wait to see what happens. That's fine, but do be aware of the problems, and when you see signs of stress or damage, be prepared to make adjustments. Do understand that mixing Aulonocara with Mbuna, for example, may not result in the immediate death of the Aulonocara, but rather the Aulonocara tend to live shorter, less happy lives than if they were properly kept.>
The issue you see on the Taiwan has always been there since I bought him a year ago, besides for the eye part. You say it's excess mucous but there is no white color to this. It's the same color as the purple scales. It's bumpy and mold like looking.
<Yes. Do see previous e-mail with suggestions on medications. But the immediate problem here is stress of some sort. More the Protomelas species you have to a suitable "peaceful" Mbuna community and it should recover with little if any need for medication.>
It looks like fungus but the same color as his body. Thanks again!
<Welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Protomelas taeniolatus still flashing  7/22/10
As I was working on the 55gal tank I was keeping a eye on my 72 with the Protomelas taeniolatus female that had been flashing and scratching her head on the gravel and I saw her doing it again, this time with a little more vigor. So I checked the water parameters again and found the following results nitrites and chlorine at zero and the nitrates at 10 ppm. The water for all my fish tanks come from the same source and none of my other cichlids are showing any signs of stress. Water conditions were my first thought but everything is within the desirable parameters for these fish.
My second thought would be ich but I haven't seen any white spots on her or the other fish. No labored breathing like it's in their gills. They have been in the tank for 2 months now which should of been more then enough time for a out break of ich to occur. I'm not going to start dumping chemicals in there just to see what might happen without knowing what is the most likely cause. What else could cause her to do this?
<Hi Paul. It does sound like either Velvet or Ick might be an explanation, and a low-impact approach might be to use the old salt/heat method. This shouldn't bother cichlids at all in the short term -- though I'm sure you know about the possible connection between sustained use of salt and the appearance of Malawi Bloat. I do agree, the use of formalin, copper, etc. is generally best avoided where possible. Do also look to see if the water is silty, and check the sand you're using is "burrower friendly" -- some aren't, and these will irritate their gills if used in cichlid tanks. Carib Sea are good about stating which are safe to use in such tanks, and you can find the info on their web site, but other manufacturers are not so transparent. One reason I recommend smooth silica sand is precisely because it's always safe to use. The same can't be said about Tahitian Moon Sand and the like. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Protomelas taeniolatus still flashing   7/22/10

Thanks for the quick response!
<No problems.>
The substrate in this tank is aquarium pebbles so the water is quite clear.
I'm going to try the heat salt method. The correct salt to use would be sea salt or kosher salt?
<Kosher or non-iodised "cooking" sea salt is fine. What you don't want is marine sea salt mix as that has added carbonate that will affect the pH and hardness. Actually, for the fish you're keeping it probably could matter
less! But I'd still use tonic, kosher, or non-iodised cooking salt.>
As I understand it the mixture is 2-3 tablespoons per gallon with elevated temp to about 84-86, leave heated over a period of three weeks correct?
<Pretty much. I prefer to make up a jug of water with the amount of salt required added to it, and then dribble this "brine" into the tank in stages across a couple of hours. Minimises any shock to your fish. Not that cichlids are much phased by salt, but some fish are. I'd bump up the aeration if possible, because higher temperatures means lower oxygen solubility.>
Then a 50% water change weekly, vacuuming the gravel well each time and adding the salt/water mix with the new water? Is there anything that I'm forgetting?
<Nope, sounds fine. I tend to do my usual water changes rather than extra-large ones, especially when salt-tolerant fish like cichlids and livebearers are concerned. But if you're sure you won't otherwise change the pH or hardness by doing a 50% water change, sure, do that instead.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Protomelas Taeniolatus still flashing    8/6/10

Malawi Cichlids Scratching On Gravel
Crew, I am still have the same results with all the fish in the tank scratching/flashing on the gravel. What I did was raise the temp to 88-89 degrees 5 days prior to adding some Quick Cure that I had left over. I figured that if it was Ick I would just do away with it once and for all. I did 3 days worth of treatment then left it go for 3 more days with out any changes. Sunday night did a 20% water change and added my media back into the filters and started lowering the temp. Today I observed them still scratching their heads (more so the gill covers) on the gravel. I'm guessing the water parameters will be off since I just did the Ick treatment and didn't have the media in the filters for a couple days. I will do a 20% water change when I get home tonight and see what happens. What I did notice was on the male empress was that on his dorsal and anal fin the very edges closest to his tail looked like it was singed or burned. There wasn't any redness on the fins just or signs of fungus, they just looked burned. Could this be ammonia burn? I looked at the rest of the fish and none of them had similar marks on them just him. I use water from the same source for all my tanks and none of them are having this problem thankfully. I'm not sure where I go from here if the problem wasn't Ick, beside keep changing the water frequently and testing it. Paul
< Obviously there is some sort of irritation in the water. If it was in the water quality then water changes should have taken care of it. If it is a parasite then you need to eliminate possible causes. The quick cure, salt and high tamps should have taken care of Protozoans. Another cause could be a bacterial infection. A good wide spectrum antibiotic would be Nitrofuranace. Check the ingredients on store package. Another cause could be fluke type parasites. Treat with Clout. Give these a try and see if they work. Ideally you would take the fish in to a vet. and they would run a culture to see what parasites they could find. Then test that parasite against many antibiotics to see which one works the best. Since most aquarists don't have the resources to do this we just try to see which treatment works the best.-Chuck>

Live food for Protomelas taeniolatus, Empress Cichlids   7/6/10
Hello Crew,
I did some looking on your website and I didn't run across this question. I have 72 gal bow with 3 3" Protomelas taeniolatus and 7 1.5" - 2" Frontosas, my question is can I feed them common earthworms that you find in the garden as a snack?
I don't want to risk disease or causing digestive problems. I'm not sure of the nutritional value either.
<If collected somewhere organic, i.e., no use of sprays, earthworms should be 100% safe. They are nutritious and the stuff inside their guts contains decaying plant material that provides fibre and useful vitamins. No need to clean them, since the soil on their bodies is nutritious, too.>
Oh one more question, the Protomelas taeniolatus spawned 2 weeks ago and up until yesterday she wasn't eating so I could figured she was still holding, now today she was eating like normal so I'm guessing that something
happened to them.
<Likely spat them out under stress from the male; and now the fry are all eaten.>
Should I have put her in a breeder tank rather then just leave her in the tank?
<If you intend to rear the offspring, then yes, it's easiest to quarantine the female in a 15-20 gallon aquarium. It's a good idea to let her fatten up for a few weeks before returning her to the main aquarium, even after you've taken the fry to raise them elsewhere (or in a breeding trap in this aquarium).>
Or is it possible that the eggs weren't fertilized?
<Unlikely; the females don't lay until they're mating, and in doing so they'll take in the eggs with the sperm. So while I'm sure it happens occasionally, what you're suggesting isn't common.>
What are your thoughts?
<Cheers, Neale.>

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

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