Cichlid Fish Forum banner
Not open for further replies.
1 - 9 of 9 Posts

· Registered
1 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
**While this bloat treatment has proven successful for many aquarists, there are other treatment options available as referenced within the updated Malawi Bloat article in the Library.**

After nearly a decade in the hobby, I have seen my fair share of fish get lost to bloat. There are a pile of remedies but I found that at best these gave the fish a 50/50 shot. With some trial and error I came up with the following method that has worked 100% of the time with no apparent negative side affects on breeding, health, etc.

(1) DO NOT FEED ANYTHING during this process.
(2) Start this procedure as soon as the fish shows symptoms (spitting familiar food, not eating, long stingy clear or white feces, gasping, hiding during feeding, bloated or emaciated belly,etc.) NOTE: If your fish is bloated but is still eating chances are it does NOT have bloat. A bloated belly is typically the LAST symptom you will see in a fish that has bloat.

Medication required: Clout (Aquarium Products)

Day 1: Move fish to quarantine tank and treat with Clout at full strength (1 tablet / 10 gallons--remove carbon from filter)

Day 2: No water change. Treat again with Clout at half strength.

Day 3: Do nothing

Day 4: Do an 80% water change and treat with Clout at full strength

Day 5: Do nothing

**Day 6--?: Return fish to main tank only after symptoms have subsided and the fish has been healthy: (eating, swimming, breathing normally) for at least a week.
Resist the urge to try feeding the fish until after the treatment is over and do not cut the treatment short regardless of whether the fish looks better or not. If at any time during the treatment your fish seems to be experiencing stress as a result of the medication then do an immediate 75% water change.

Bloat should also not be occurring regularly with your existing fish. If it is you should consult some of the excellent articles on the internet regarding diet, water quality etc. For myself, bloat has primarily been a problem with new arrivals up to 6 weeks after their arrival.
NOTE: All fish that have been exposed to bloat should be treated regardless of whether or not they are showing symptoms. Seemingly healthy but bloat-exposed fish can be treated with Clout or fed metronidazole soaked food. If you choose to use Clout on the still healthy fish then you don't necessarily need to quarantine the sick fish.

Hope this helps save some fish.


**edited 4/9/05-Robin
**edited 4/18/10-Robin

· Registered
5 Posts
Thank you Shane, for taking the time to share your treatment procedure. I'm sure many people (and fish) will benefit from the info.

· Registered
1 Posts
Hey Shane, My name's Sunny Patel, and I have a 150 gallon aquarium with haps and a few mbunas in it. Though upsetingly, one of my best fish, a Aulonacara Baenschi had bloat. :( , but guess what, I tried your method, the six day proceure and IT WORKED :) i was so :eek: . Thanks alot, now i know what to do when this happens, thanks alot again, its just im so happy, and I wish i had done this before with my other fish.

anyway, thanks again!


If you decide to treat your main tank, and don't want to use Clout in your show tank due to it's harshness & staining, and you spotted the symptoms early on, here's another interesting article on treating internal parasites with Metronidazole.

If the symptoms are a bit more severe, the article below offers more details in using Metronidazole.

One of the most important pieces of info I gleaned from the following article is that these pathogens can indeed be transmitted in an aquarium via fecal matter. This perhaps explains why bloat symptoms can start with a single fish, and within several days can wipe out numerous fish in the same tank.

Please Note: The first article mentions upping the temp to 90 degrees, and the second article states that under 86F Metronidazole will start to precipitate out of solution. Personally I wouldn't raise the temp above 85-86 F, and the temp should be raised very slowly over a 24 hour period. Also keep in mind that water holds less O2 at higher temperatures, so it's very important to maintain strong continuous surface agitation to oxygenate the water.

Keep in mind that in an 'aquarium' environment, Metronidazole will precipitate out of solution within 6-8 hours, so in order to keep the Met solution at an effective level, you need to perform a 25-30% water change every 6-8 hours, and add another 250 mg of Met per 10 gallons of water. (treat the entire tank, not just the water you replaced during the water change)

If your fish are still eating, you have a good chance of saving your fish by feeding them Metronidazole soaked pellets.

For feeding medicated food to fish that are in the main tank, and still eating, I've found Hikari Excel to work well (it can be fed to both Haps &/or Mbuna), as it will absorb a fair amount of fluid if left to soak for 10 minutes. (the pieces swell up to 2-3 times their initial size when soaking) Feeding medicated food is by far the best way to administer Metronidazole to your sick fish.

Take a small container with just enough water to cover the food, heat the water up in a microwave for 10 seconds or so (try & keep the water temp at approx 85-90 degrees) then add approx 100 mg of Mettronidazole(one level scoop that comes with Seachem Met) to approx 1 teaspoon of water & stir until it's mostly dissolved, then add the food & soak for 10 minutes. If the medium or large sized pellets are used, break/cut them up into small pieces so they can really soak up the Met solution.
Feed this mix once or twice a day (small amounts) for 5 days straight.

Also, adding 1 tbsp of Epsom Salt (magnesium sulphate) per 5-10 gallons can help reduce the internal swelling, and it also acts as a laxative.

The Clout info posted above is great if your fish are already showing severe symptoms, but many people decide to treat their main tank as a precaution & like myself feel that Clout is too harsh for the main tank. As mentioned earlier, it also tends to stain the tank silicone. Clout is a very powerful medication that in my opinion should really only be used as a last resort for very sick fish.

Hope that helps.

· Registered
3 Posts
"Malawi bloat" is a disease perptuated by microscopic flagellates (parasites) that are commonly found in healthy fish. These one-celled protozoans reproduce by binary fission. They can occur on the skin, in the intestine, internal organs, and in the blood of fish.

Intestinal flagellates can be found in many fish which they do not harm. The pathogenicity of the organism varies from fish to fish. Thus, Angelfish may not be affected at all by the same flagellates that damage say a Discus. The intestines of these fish can contain millions of flagellates averaging in size of about 8-12 microns. Here is a list of some commonly known flagellates:

A. Hexamita
B. Spironucleus
c. Trichomanas
D. Bodamonas
E. Protoopalina

The most recognized are the first two.

Most researchers support the view that some of these protozoans reside in the intestines of healthy fish (dormant), but can proliferate to harmful numbers under stressful conditions.

Here is a recent quote from Ad Konings from his book Back to Nature Guide to Malawi Cichlids 2nd. edition pg. 46:

"Malawi Bloat is believed to be caused by a flagellate (a unicellular animal, a protozoan). This flagellate occurs in the intestines of all Malawi cichlids but normally causes no harm since the fish's immune system can cope with it. However, in a stressful situation such a balance may disappear and the fish may lose its resistance against an outbreak of a flagellate "attack". This often leads to bloat."

Fish are very good at fighting off disease, but when exposed to stressful conditions over a lengthy periods of time their immune systems weaken, thereby exposing them to the possibility of contracting various diseases. Under "stress" the organism multiplies causing considerable localised damage. Once severe enough, the intestinal lining is penetrated and the organism enters the blood causing systemic and organ infections. In large numbers they can block the intestinal tract of a fish creating the"bloat"effect.

Some stressors:

1. Low oxygen (O2) levels
2. High nitrite (NO2) levels
3. High nitrate (NO3) levels
4. High ammonia levels (NH3)
5. High or low temperature levels
6. Water pH
7. Lighting
8. Rough handling fish
9. Overcrowding
10. Not enough shelter
11. Harassment
12. Excessive salt
13. Improper diet (specifically herbivores)

What one should remember, is that the parasitical outbreak is brought upon by any number of stressors (some listed above), many times in conjunction with one another. Therefore, sometimes the best way to treat a disease is to prevent it from ever happening. A clean non-stressful environment will breed colorful, thriving cichlids.

If they get bloat from diet, is this in fact something different from bloat due to internal parasites?

No. They are one in the same. Diet in this case being the "stressor".

Is bloat only caused by these parasites, which in turn only become a problem if the fish is too stressed, which in turn can result from any number of causes, including diet, excess salts, etc?

As far as what has been proven, yes. Although, some tend to argue bloat can be bacterial in nature. I tend to agree with experts who feel bacterial complications are secondary in occurance only after the parasite has intially infiltrated the host.
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Not open for further replies.