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Old Scaley

Cichlids are off their tucker - any advice

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Hi all, looking for some advice about african cichlids, and I know there are some very knowledgeable fish keepers on this site.

My son went overseas in May and left me in charge of 2 tanks of cichlids. One tank has mature fish and the other is a smaller tank with the offspring in there. The fish in the big tank have stopped feeding in the last couple of days. I haven't changed the food (sera granugreen pellets), it is even from the same container. Tonight I tried different food (sera vegitable diet aliment compose diet) and they weren't interested in that either. None of them are eating or showing any interest in food. They all look fine and are active. Nothing else has been changed (water changed last a couple of weeks ago, no new fish).

Any ideas? He loves those fish and I wouldn't know how to tell him that they all died.

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Thanks Richard, I had some frozen blood worms here that I feed my tropicals. The cichlids were a bit wary at first, then got into them as they defrosted in the water. Do you think it is just that they needed a change in diet or it is the water quality that is putting them off the pellets?

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Sounds like they need a good waterchange.

The nitrate levels have probably skyrocketed and the ph has also probably dropped.

Do a 30% to 40% water change and no more than that or you will run the risk of causing other problems.

Use triple the dose of his chlorine neutralizer and add that to the tank before you start refilling it.

That will reduce the nitrates and stabilize the ph for a while.

Check the temp of the tank and make sure it is not at or below 22 degrees.

24-26 degrees is optimal and anywhere up to 31 degrees is safe.

Have a very hard look at the fish and make sure there is no tiny white dots on their skin or fins.

Make sure they are not scratching themselves excessively on the bottom or anything in the tank.

DO NOT feed them bloodworms (sorry Shortie but they can cause bloat if the fish are stressed or sick)

Feed with the lights off as a lot of fish do not like lights on.

If you need any help let me know and I can meet you there and have a look if you worried about them.

Lance

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definatelly water quality.

Never had problems with blood worms causing bloat.

Any food is better than no food.

I guess Lance and my ideas differ.

We both keep fish. WE both have different ideas on whats right.

The reason I say no bloodworms shortie is Africans are primarily vegetarians.

Some Africans can handle them just fine and others will and can die a horrible death and not knowing what fish are in that particular tank makes it too much of a risk to advise anyone to feed them bloodworms.

If they were Tropheous most would be dead or dieing by now.

Vegetarian fish like Africans have a much longer intestinal tract than meat eaters do and feeding them food that is too high in protein or too meaty can have massive effects on them with bloat being the worst.

As for the gravel clean,it must be done as that will be the source of the bad water.

It will be so full of gunk that it will be causing high nitrates in the tank and then it will create high phosphates and algae blooms.

To keep the water pristine it should be changed every week and a good gravel clean at least every 2 weeks unless you are running under gravel filters.

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All good now, thanks to Shortie and Lance. Fish are eating again and I can't believe that I have not lost any since May. Cleaning the tank is a lot of work. Probably took me 3 hours today by the time you take all the volcanic rocks and stuff out, clean the gravel and filter and put it all back in again. A lot more involved than my little 2 foot six tank with a few tropicals. Anyway, nice to know there are some experts on the site to seek some advice from.

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All sounds excellent advice, and you have the water quality improved enough for them to feel happy again. Not your long term problem if its not your tank, but Cichlids - especially sexually mature ones will scoop gravel and disturb the substrate in their efforts to build territories and nesting sites. Too much of this, and especially if they disturb undergravel filters, the aneorobic bacteria are thrown out of balance.. The answer is in better filtration, or clean out the external filters if that is what is being used. I don't think you can have too much filtration.

Aquaholic

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All good now, thanks to Shortie and Lance. Fish are eating again and I can't believe that I have not lost any since May. Cleaning the tank is a lot of work. Probably took me 3 hours today by the time you take all the volcanic rocks and stuff out, clean the gravel and filter and put it all back in again. A lot more involved than my little 2 foot six tank with a few tropicals. Anyway, nice to know there are some experts on the site to seek some advice from.

How did you clean the gravel and filters.

Did you wash them out in old tank water or did you wash them up using the tap or hose with own water?

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I fed bloodworms to my Tropheuos every 3 weeks.

Yes they say its a no no cause they belive they cant process the protein.

Many breeders do however feed as a treat.

Its all about moderation.

I still reckon if the fish wasnt eating blood worm in moderation was the key at least seeing if it had an interest in food.

I definatelly would not suggest feeding high protein to them on a regular basis.

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All good now, thanks to Shortie and Lance. Fish are eating again and I can't believe that I have not lost any since May. Cleaning the tank is a lot of work. Probably took me 3 hours today by the time you take all the volcanic rocks and stuff out, clean the gravel and filter and put it all back in again. A lot more involved than my little 2 foot six tank with a few tropicals. Anyway, nice to know there are some experts on the site to seek some advice from.

How did you clean the gravel and filters.

Did you wash them out in old tank water or did you wash them up using the tap or hose with own water?

I used one of those syphon cylinders to clean the gravel. I used the hose to clean the filters, but then left them in the sun for a while and when I reassembled the filter, I filled it up with water from the fishtank. Any tips welcome.

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All good now, thanks to Shortie and Lance. Fish are eating again and I can't believe that I have not lost any since May. Cleaning the tank is a lot of work. Probably took me 3 hours today by the time you take all the volcanic rocks and stuff out, clean the gravel and filter and put it all back in again. A lot more involved than my little 2 foot six tank with a few tropicals. Anyway, nice to know there are some experts on the site to seek some advice from.

How did you clean the gravel and filters.

Did you wash them out in old tank water or did you wash them up using the tap or hose with own water?

I used one of those syphon cylinders to clean the gravel. I used the hose to clean the filters, but then left them in the sun for a while and when I reassembled the filter, I filled it up with water from the fishtank. Any tips welcome.

I was scared you were going to say that.

You have just created a nightmare in that tank and now you are at a high risk of killing all the fish.

By using tap water to clean the filters you have killed off the beneficial bacteria that does the filtration of the water.

Laying the bits in the sun will have finished off any surviving bacteria so now the tank has to fully cycle again.

Ammonia and nitrite is the 2 biggest toxins to fish.

You urgently need to reseed your filters otherwise you are going to lose some fish,if not all of them over the next 1 - 2 weeks.

You MUST always use tank water to clean anything from your tank.

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Best way of reseeding the filters is to take some nice dirty filter media out of an established tank and put it inside the filters you just cleaned.

That will seed a fresh lot of bacteria in the the filters and kick start the nitrogen cycle.

A standard full cycle can take up to 4 weeks in a freshwater tank but that can vary depending on the gh,kh and ph.

By manually seeding the tank you can obtain a full cycle within about 5-7 days on average which helps to keep the ammonia and nitrites at a lower level and less toxic to the fish.

Toxicity level will depend on the ph level.

If the fish show any signs of stress,start breathing heavy or get fine red lines around their body or in their fins you will need to start small water changes every 1-2 days of around 20% of the tank volume to keep the toxin levels down.

Have a google of Nitrogen Cycle and have a read as that will help you understand what the tank is about to go through.

Just remember Steve these fish are in for a very rough time and there is no ifs or buts about it.

Keep a close eye on them and check them every day until the cycle has completed.

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