FAQs on Empress
Related Articles: African Cichlids, Malawian
Cichlids: The Mbuna and their Allies By Neale Monks, The Blue
Followers: the Placidochromis of Lake Malawi by Daniella
Related FAQs: African Cichlid ID 1, African Cichlids, African Cichlid Selection, African Cichlid Behavior, African Cichlid Compatibility, African Cichlid Systems, African Cichlid Feeding, African Cichlid Reproduction, African Cichlid Disease, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Reproduction, & Malawi Cichlid Systems, Tanganyikan Systems,
Lone Protomelas taeniolatus. Comp. and beh. f's
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
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
<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
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.
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
<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!
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
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
<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.>
<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
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
<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.
<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!
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 males can be psychotic, especially Melanochromis auratus;
Melanochromis johanni is somewhat less aggressive and could cohabit with
Protomelas in a large aquarium.>
<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.>
<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.>
Re: Skin issue with coral Taiwan reef cichlid. Please help!
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.
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
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
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,
Re: Protomelas taeniolatus still flashing
Thanks for the quick response!
The substrate in this tank is aquarium pebbles so the water is quite
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
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
<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
<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.>
Re: Protomelas Taeniolatus still flashing
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
< 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
Live food for Protomelas taeniolatus, Empress
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
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
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
<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
What are your thoughts?
Red Empress Food 6/1/10
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.