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Fish/Sick chocoalet cichlid


QUESTION: Hi there,

 I'm inquiring about some peculiar symptoms that have recently been noticed in a pair of chocolate cichlids in a freshwater 90 gallon community tank. Both cichlids were removed from the main tank and put into quarantine where one has already died. The fish have presented with the following symptoms: swimming upside down; raised scales, mainly around the area of the tail fin and slowly progressing up the rest of the body - this area shows white discoloration. The fish that died had been treated with Melafix with some added aquarium salt to the water once in quarantine. The other fish started showing symptoms after the first one died and was taken out of the main tank later on. Its seems like this is an infection of some sort. Are there any ailments that chocolate cichlids in particular are more susceptible to? Have you seen this before? Any ideas on what this could be? There is also a snakeskin gourami in the tank that has started showing symptoms of raised scales; this is thought to be in connection with the sick cichlids. All other fish appear fine. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer on this subject; I do hope this fish can be saved.

 I have kept chocolate cichlids for many years and I do not know of any diseases that are peculiar to them.  The general symptoms you describe sound very much like some sort of bacterial infection.  

-- Ron C.
  Cichlid Research Home Page <>

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 Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. In your experience, what is the best way to treat something like this? Since it's hard to say exactly what it is, is there any good medication that targets a broad range of pathogenic organisms while still being reasonably effective?

Thanks so much!

Hi Kam,
  To be honest, it is getting very hard to get good medications, due to all sorts of regulations. I put zero faith in the "organic" medications. If you can find one of the strong anti-bacterial meds out there, give it a try.  The absolute best way to do this is to soak the food in the medication -- that will deliver it directly to the fish.  Merely dissolving a bunch of meds in the water is seldom very effective, and takes a lot of medication. If you cannot put it in the food, then a small quarantine tank is the best second choice but I think the biggest hurdle is getting meds in the first place; most stores do not carry them any more.

-- Ron C.
  Cichlid Research Home Page <>


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Ron Coleman


I am an expert on cichlid fishes, particularly New World cichlids. My broader expertise includes the behavior, ecology and reproduction of fishes in general. (I am NOT an expert on Goldfish). Please do not use abbreviations, such as "my GT has a swollen eye" because I don't know what a "GT" is. The more clearly you can explain your question, the better chance I have of understanding what it is that you seek. I keep fishes both as a scientist and as a hobbyist and I currently maintain about 140 aquariums.


I am an Associate Professor at the California State University, Sacramento in the Department of Biological Sciences, and I run a website, called the Cichlid Research Home Page . I also write for many popular aquarist magazines, and I was editor of Cichlid News magazine for several years. I am a scientist and I spend my time teaching fish biology, ecology, behavior and evolution and doing research on the reproductive biology of fishes, particularly cichlids. I do research in the laboratory and in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Mexico. My main interest is understanding the evolution of parental care in fishes. I am interested in encouraging greater public awareness, understanding and participation in science.

Cichlid News, Tropical Fish Hobbyist, Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, Science, Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, Copeia, Canadian Journal of Zoology, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, AUK, Environmental Biology of Fishes

PhD (Toronto, 1993) MSc (Simon Fraser, 1986) BSc (British Columbia, 1983)

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