Lake Victoria Basin, West African, Madagascar & Asian Species • Flamebacks rubbing on decor

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Flamebacks rubbing on decor

Postby Jillian83 » Fri May 25, 2012 4:23 am

I noticed recently that my male Flameback has been rubbing on some of the decor, mostly the plastic line to the air stone. I've examined him closely, but there are no signs of any parasites or irritation to his skin. Just yesterday, he began opening his mouth wide and seemed to be rubbing the side of it on a rock repeatedly. Beyond the rubbing, there are no signs of illness or injuries. Oddly, I've seen 2 other Flamebacks exhibiting the same behavior - one of them is a female from the same tank, and the other is a 3 week old Flameback fry in a 5 gallon breeder tank. As with the male, neither of these fish show any other signs of illness. None of the other fish types (mbambas, sunshine peacock, and a calvus) in the main tank are rubbing. Is this a parasite of some kind, or something Flamebacks do naturally?

On a side note, one of my female Flamebacks was returned to the main tank a few days ago after spitting her brood, and became pregnant again within an hour. Is this typical? It's not a bad thing, it just made me go WTH.
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Re: Flamebacks rubbing on decor

Postby dreday » Fri May 25, 2012 8:46 am

males do flash on rockwork and decor in the tank to mark the territory. they can do it once in a while but if it is repeatedly then you could have a problem. if you notice them flashing every few seconds for 10 min then there is an issue. usually an external parasite of some kind, one of the most common being ich. Ich may not always show up right away on the fish, it can attach in the gill first then the skin.

keep a close eye on them and if you notice more fish flashing treat the tank quickly. quick cure would be my choice, half recommended does 2-3 times a day for 3 days. large water change and reassess the fish. if they are still eating and flashing less do not treat again. if they are still flashing heavy and you notice the white spots then treat again for 3 days. that should knock it out.


if you left the female with the fry and feed her in that tank she would have conditioned up again and was ready to spawn when you put her back. or if you did not feed her she may have snacked on some fry and got fat that way. it usually does not happen due to the 2-3 weeks of not eating while holding. are you sure it was the same female? maybe the pulled a fast one on you and its another female.
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Re: Flamebacks rubbing on decor

Postby Jillian83 » Fri May 25, 2012 3:44 pm

The male Flameback is the dominant fish in the tank, and he's not rubbing nearly as often as you describe (I only see him do it one or two times a day, if he does it that day at all), so maybe he's marking territory. The mouth rubbing happens far more often since he started it, but I'm beginning to think it's part of some weird ritual he adopted ever since I rearranged the rockwork to remove a troublesome Sunshine Peacock. He only does it in one little cave area, and the rubbing is paired with him turning in circles, shaking his fins, and biting at nothing. I'd say this was a breeding thing, but there are never any females around when he does it. The female Flameback who was rubbing did it far more often (I saw her doing it 5 or so times a day), but only in the fry tank, and she's not doing it anymore now that she's returned to the 50 gallon. The fry I saw doing it only did it once, and I'm wondering if that's a dominance thing too, because the same fry immediately started chasing several others as soon as he was done. I'm assuming that particular fry is probably a dominant male. I'll keep an eye on the fish, and if it spreads to others, or if it increases or other signs of illness appear, I'll treat immediately.

As for the female, she stayed with her fry for about 3 weeks before I returned her to the main tank because I don't like stripping and she kept shoveling the fry into her mouth anytime I tried to remove her before then. She ate greedily during her time there, so that would explain that.

Thanks for all the help! :)
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Re: Flamebacks rubbing on decor

Postby dreday » Sat May 26, 2012 8:50 pm

yea that sounds normal. they flash and rub to mark stuff. also if they got an itch. the male may be trying to display to you to warn you to stay away from his cave, they can see pretty far out of the tank believe it or not.
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Re: Flamebacks rubbing on decor

Postby natethegreat23 » Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:27 pm

Hello.. my flameback is flashing his fins and shaking in circles towards another cichlid but i have no idea if its a female. i know that my flameback is a male tho.. is this breeding??? playing around or is it sick???? im new to cichlids so if somebody can help me out it would be much appreciated...
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