Illness, Health & Nutrition • Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

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Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby Bamzam » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:57 pm

Hi. I have 10 Aulonocara baenschi Nkhomo Reef and 10 Placidochromis sp. ''Phenochilus Tanzania'' Lupingu in a tank. I bought them all around 1-1.5" about 3 weeks ago (the baenschi were closer to 1.5", the haps closer 1"). I feed NLS 1mm pellets 3x/day and all are healthy/fat and it might just be my imagination, but I think they've grown quite a bit in these 3 weeks. 1 of the baenschi is up to ~2.5" and has colored up already.

However, one of the baenschi is starting to be noticeably smaller than the others and looks skinny. I noticed during feeding, it is more timid. So I space out the feeding and ensure it has opportunity..but when it gets a pellet, it just spits it out. The other haps his size (one or two might be smaller) have no issues eating the pellets, so i don't think theyre too big. Should I add some flake food to help the small one eat? Or just keep trying til it figures it out?
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby Bamzam » Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:19 pm

Tried getting a pic for comparison, but its roughly half the size of all the other Aulonocara. I wouldn't be bothered if it was eating, but for the past few days I'm not sure I've seen it swallow any pellets, they always get spit out
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby DJRansome » Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:35 pm

Is he being harassed?
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby Bamzam » Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:06 am

Nope not at all. Despite him being the runt, I see him chase others out of his area when he's digging through the sand
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby DJRansome » Tue Jun 09, 2020 6:22 am

Keep watching because harassed fish do chase...they may be starting and finishing the fights and still wearing down their immune systems.

IME the most common (by far) cause of fish illness is aggression.

If you have a spare cycled tank you could put him in there and see if you can get him to eat.

What do the feces look like?
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby Bamzam » Tue Jun 09, 2020 1:09 pm

Haven't noticed any white or ill looking feces in the tank. Was more of the same during feeding today. Although he might be a little timid, he doesn't mind being in the middle of the frenzy for food. I saw him get to pellets 4-5x, and he would just chew it once and spit it out right after. Almost like he just doesn't want to eat them? Should I try a flake food?
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby Deeda » Tue Jun 09, 2020 1:53 pm

Yes you can try a flake food to see if he eats.
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby noki » Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:29 pm

I've always thought a Malawi cichlid acting somewhat fatigued, chewing on the food, then spitting it out is the first sign of "bloat disease". Eventually the fish stops bothering to grab food, and acts tired. The digestive system is basically blocked. The bloat doesn't happen until they are very sick, their belly fills up with fluid. I've never seen picky tank raised Malawi cichlids, if they are healthy they eat fish foods.

Just the move can stress fish out. Clean stable water is the best defense.
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby Bamzam » Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:56 am

Thanks for the reply. Maybe it is some kind of bloat/digestive issue. He's still doing the same with pellets where he goes to get it but then he spits it out. I got some cobalt flakes and i see him eating the small pieces. The bigger flakes he will chew and spit out into tiny pieces and start eating them when they're more broken up. Problem with that is that when he spits it out, sometimes the other fish will come steal it.

I'm doing around 15-20% water change daily so keeping clean water will not be an issue, I hope it helps. Continuing to feed 3x a day, with the middle feeding being flakes now to ensure he eats something. I hate feeding flakes though, I feel like it just dirties the water and filters more lol
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby DJRansome » Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:07 am

I would stick to the staple food. Like noki says a healthy fish will eat anything.

What do the feces look like? You want to see what things look like on that specific fish especially, while still attached. It requires a lot of observation.

Of course if you see the thready, white feces on any other fish that is helpful too.

You could put the fish that is not eating in a hospital tank to make it easier to observe the feces as well.
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby Bamzam » Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:12 am

As an update, for the past few days I've continued to feed 3x a day with the middle feeding being flakes. I've noticed the small one eat the tiniest pieces of flakes but continues to spit out larger flakes and all the pellets. However...in an effort to get this one tiny fish to eat, I think I've been overfeeding the tank. The fish seem to like the flakes a lot, and in the 3rd feeding today I noticed a couple of the other fish also spitting pellets out. So I'm thinking either a) theres some kind of contagious internal parasite in my tank b) I've created picky eaters that prefer flakes or c) I'm just overfeeding?

Theres been no changes in behavior that I've seen other than spitting out pellets. No fish seem to be hiding in corners, havent seen any white feces, and all fish still aggressively attack and search for food, even if they end up spitting it out (including the small one). All the pellets are still gone within 20-30 seconds in all feedings, so some of them must just be eating a lot. I want to get them back on one staple food so my plan is to not feed for the next day (or two?) to get them hungry and go back to a staple pellet only feeding 2x a day. I've ordered some northfin 1mm pellets and I read online they might be just a little smaller than the NLS ones, so will try that out. I am still changing ~20% water daily, so if there is any kind of bacteria or something wrong im hoping the clean water will help out. Please let me know if anything sounds off or if there are any other precautions I should take or symptoms to look for. Thanks!
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby DJRansome » Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:29 am

I would say b or c or both. As long as you see thick food colored feces on the fish the digestive system is working.

20% daily is fine if you have an auto water changer, but a single large water change weekly will give you cleaner water. What is your nitrate reading?
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby Bamzam » Thu Jun 18, 2020 9:52 am

Api test kit is not picking up a reading so less than 5 ppm. What's the thought on a weekly water change being cleaner water than changing 20% daily?

In addition to the benefit of clean water, I just hate the look of a dirty tank and my bristlenose leaves a ton of feces everywhere. So the daily water change is really just me vacuuming the sand bed every day, and the amount of time it takes to get all the feces ends up being around ~20% of the water. Also this is just habit for me from keeping discus and I think it keeps the fish used to me being arms in the tank and not scared.
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby Bamzam » Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:01 am

As a note I probably should have included, I do a larger amount on Sundays, probably closer to 40-50%. But back to the first question, I thought the reduction in nitrates was linear. So if I started at 20 ppm, and assumed a daily increase of 2 ppm, changing 20% daily would bring me to 10 ppm after a week. Using the same example of 20 ppm start and increase of 2 ppm daily, with a 50% water change once at the end of the week, i'd end up at 16 ppm?
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Re: Single aulonocara baenschi not eating

Postby tacs » Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:04 am

Bamzam wrote:... and in the 3rd feeding today I noticed a couple of the other fish also spitting pellets out. So I'm thinking either a) theres some kind of contagious internal parasite in my tank b) I've created picky eaters that prefer flakes or c) I'm just overfeeding?

Theres been no changes in behavior that I've seen other than spitting out pellets.


I'm guessing that from the pic above this all started with the fish on the bottom sifting gravel? From what I've seen, when a fish that normally eats a food starts spitting it out you are looking at bloat. The fact that you are saying others are doing it now is the second sign. The fish on the bottom does appear to be concave in the stomach area and maybe it is a parasite but I've seen fish that have that look who can't stop eating.

Have you added epsom salts to the tank?

I also agree with DJRansome that you are currently overfeeding. Resist that. I know it is hard.

You might get some API General Cure or Seachem Metroplex along with some Seachem's Garlic Guard and start soaking pellets in a concoction of this to get it in everyone else and possibly entice the non-eaters to take it in.

Here is a the recipe per Seachem's website (https://www.seachem.com/metroplex.php):
Dosing in Food
Feed the medicated food mix (recipe below) every day until the infection clears or up to 3 weeks. This medicated food can be refrigerated or frozen between feedings.

1 scoop MetroPlex
1 scoop Focus™
1 tbsp food (preferably pellets or frozen food)
A few drops of water if using a dry food
To enhance palatability use with GarlicGuard™ or Entice™.

I didn't include the Focus just to save money. If you can afford it, get it. I'd certainly add the epsom salts. Here is another good link about bloat treatments: https://cichlidguide.com/malawi-bloat/ The epsom salts recommendation here is 1/8 of a tsp per 5 gallons.

From the guide:
"The Epsom salt is believed to help relieve some of the symptoms of swelling caused by water retention in the Cichlid’s body. It can also help fish who may be suffering from constipation due to blocked intestines."

I feel like the 1/8 tsp/5 gallons is low. I'd say you could go for 1Tbsp/10 gallons.

Here is another interesting post from MonsterFishKeepers: https://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/foru ... us.339362/

I hope it is b and c as DJRansome said but I'd be preparing for something internal. Take a look at the monsterfishkeepers post especially. If I were adding epsom salts to the food, I'd also add the GarlicGuard to cover some of that taste up. Who knows maybe fish don't care but Epsom salts is really tough for humans to take.
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