Lake Malawi Species • Mbuna dying

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Mbuna dying

Postby AshKitson » Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:10 am

Hi guys I'm new here. I'm just looking for some advice with my group of mbuna. I have around 45 mbuna stocked in a 5x2x2 tank. I've had the group for over 2 years now with the odd fish dying from bullying/fighting. My water parameters are all good with 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites and nitrates. My pH is 7.8.
Now for my problem that I'm having, over the past few weeks I've been loosing a few fish. I've had 2 die in the last week from what looked like bullying but after separating one fish who looked like it had swim bladder its showing different signs. On the first day I noticed the fish was being odd, it was being seen off by alot of the fish in the tank. It looked like it was struggling to keep its self afloat but it was not turning over or floating it was still able to swim okay but just looked like it was struggling. This is when I separated it from the rest of the tank. So that was that and I left it over night. Through out the next day it just lay still resting but slowly started loosing its buoyancy and swimming vertically.and then over the next day it's completely lost all its energy and it's now just lay flat, but its fins and skin has got red and white Mark's over it. I've treated the tank with melafix over the past week and all my other cichlids seem okay. But I'm half expecting this to happen to another fish in the next few days and I'm really struggling to put my finger on what could be wrong. I've attached a picture on the fish with the said condition. Any help would be really appreciated as these fish are my family too and its killing me loosing them. Thank you very much.
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Re: Mbuna dying

Postby ken31cay » Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:55 am

Sorry you're having this trouble, hopefully the members here can assist.

1. please redo the nitrate test and post results.
2. what is your water change routine - frequency & amount changed.
3. what declor or water conditioner used during water changes.
4. list your current tank stock - species & gender, and number of each.
5. details of any new fish in the last 3 weeks, or since the issues started happening.
6. can you post a good full tank picture of your current setup?
450gal Frontosa (blue Zaire Moba) & haps
180gal Oscars, Severum
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Re: Mbuna dying

Postby AshKitson » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:17 am

Okay test was redone and ammonia nitrates and nitrites are all 0. My tank is stocked with mbuna only and I'm not 100% on all species. Off the top of my head I have;
2 x crabro
2 x yellow lab
4 x OB
2 x red zebra
4 x masion reef
4 x small yellow dwarf fish unknown
6 x black dwarf fish unknown
4 x hongi red top
1 x perl mutt
2 x mpanga
1 x maingano
1 x memba deep
I have a few more also that I'm unsure of.
I recently added 20 fish about 2/3 months ago and it seemed too of settled the balance of the tank down. I do have aggression but from what I've witnessed it's not constant but I cant speak of it at night. As mentioned I've treated the tank with melafix and I've also treated it with a swim bladder treatment but I'm reluctant to keep adding treatments as I cant put my finger on what's the problem.
Water changes are carried out once a week at around 40/50% and my tap safe is prime. I've never had any problems with that aspect over the last 2/3 years, my tank is over filtered as expected with mbunas. I have increased the water changes too 2 a week since I've been having these fish dying but as far as I'm concerned my water parameters are as they should be. Thank you for your reply and help. Regards Ash
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2020 5:56 am
Location: England

Re: Mbuna dying

Postby ken31cay » Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:49 pm

Nice tank.

My thoughts:
Zero nitrate reading is questionable and could be a concern. IMO a well maintained tank should have a nitrate reading of 10-25ppm and below 10ppm after the weekly water change.

Usually the underlying factor causing fish deaths is stress, which allows illness to take hold. Stress can come from aggression, sub-par water conditions, overfeeding, or a combination of these things.

Your tank looks well maintained, but there should be some nitrate reading unless you've just done a very intense thorough cleaning of filters, substrate, etc., and large water change.

Hopefully other members or a moderator will chime in and give their opinion and/or provide further direction.
450gal Frontosa (blue Zaire Moba) & haps
180gal Oscars, Severum
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 12:19 pm
Location: Cayman Islands

Re: Mbuna dying

Postby marten » Wed Jan 22, 2020 4:44 pm

If you’re using an API test kit for Nitrates it’s important to shake bottle #2 vigorously for at least 30 seconds before adding the drops. It can look like zero nitrates if you don’t shake it.

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Re: Mbuna dying

Postby DJRansome » Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:33 pm

I agree aggression due to stocking. Are your fish mixed gender or all male?
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