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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, new here, mainly subscribing to hopefully safe a fish from death, or worst case scenario my entire community.

So, based on the FAQ, I'm supposed to give some background first, so I'll just do that first:

- My tank is 350liters
- First timer
- Freshwater
- Initially had to refresh water every few days, now I'm doing this every 2 weeks. Sometimes every week when I feel there's a bit too much of a mess.
- Cichlids and a few pleco variants
- The tank and filter have been in rotation for about 5 months, of which 1 month with an empty aquarium.
- Water levels have been tested very recently (I had a dead Firemouth recently, more on that later) and everything seems great, but feels off. I'm using JBL Pro Scan. I think the 15 KH is the only thing in orange. I see now real threat to the fish from that, but I'm new to the hobby. Please advice.

  • > NO3 18
    > NO2 0
    > GH 14
    > KH 15
    > PH 6.8
    > Chlorine 0
    > CO2 35

Alright. So, I hope I gave enough basic information and I have to say, this first time thing, has been an experience so far.

Skip to the * if you directly want to read the issue

So. 5 months ago, my first fish landed in my aquarium. It had no wood yet, it had some rocks and a substrate. The fish came from my brother in law. Initially the idea was a few fish, mainly the big Dempsey, because he wanted to change it up and the Dempsey female had been killed by the community in his tank (or so we assume). However, we ended up moving way too many fish on a very hot day, probably with too little room in the many buckets and stress and/or nitrite poisoning killed 6 in the days after entering my aquarium. Tore my heart out to see them die. A very small cichlid managed to survive, even after clearly having a near death experience. He's now my tank's mascotte. I called him Jimmy for absolutely no reason. You might spot him, small, yellow with a black stripe on his fin. And he is probably a she. Apologies, I'm bad with fish names, I'm still struggling with Green Terror and Green Texas, as you will hear in one of the links I'll put up here.

There ia little bit of surface "oil", due to the lack of range on the filter. A new waterpump is coming tomorrow, to create some more movement and break the surface up a bit.

Now, a few things have been strange to me, things I can't directly explain and it's very hard to get a definitive answer to many of my questions, so I'm perpetually in doubt about the health of the aquarium.

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Overall view of the aquarium. It was actually for a colleague, so I'm speaking in Dutch. I also had Green Terror and Texas messed up, sorry.

First: Algae
It's a see through aquarium, there's a lot of light, especially in the summer and clearly it shows, because I keep having to clear out the green\brown algae on the window side of the aquarium. This probably completely natural, but I though to mention it.

Second: White fungi?
I have had wood in my Aquarium for about ~4 months. Nothing bad happened with the wood initially, but since a month, after adding two plants, there have been white fungal growths, or that's what I think they are, throughout the wood in the aquarium. Not just on the two prime pieces, but also on the smaller ones. Before those plants, everything seemed fine. I have removed one of the plants, due to the white "spiderwebs" on the leaves. I didn't feel comfortable with how it looked. I'm sorry again, still bad with the names. One thing I'm slowly learning, is to write everything down and catalogue it.

Third: Surface Nipping
At some point, I do not entirely know when it started, a lot of my cichlid have started surface-nipping after eating. Not all of them do though. The two Dempsey ladies I recently added do not seem to have that affliction at all, as well as some other cichlids. They seem unaffected. The other surface nip for perhaps the entire night (so from ~17:00 through to 4:00) and start doing it again right after they have eaten, again, around 17:00.

Four: Random Death and unhealthy second
I had a Firemouth death recently and she looked terrible. Completely corpselike. I should have taken a picture, but I didn't. I just decided to keep an eye on the other one, which actually led to this post. I immediately did another water test, everything seemingly fine. But now, I have the other Firemouth that has either a fungus infection or a rash of sorts. Does anyone recognize it?

Five:Breathing fast

Things feel off. They don't seem to be off, but it's small things. They seem to be breathing a bit too fast. I know the water tests are working, because I've seen levels of Nitrite in the 3.5 area and had to crawl back to 0 over the course of weeks. So the test is viable. I even bought a second batch to make sure. But ****, they seem to really breathe way too often.

It doesn't add up. The white fungus, the strange death of the firemouth, the waternipping. Any advice would be very welcome. Especially on the direct emergency, the firemouth, but also on the strange white fungi and behaviour of the other fish, if you have any.

Oh yeah, I forgot, do it for the baby Dempseys!
 

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Welcome to Cichlid-forum!
A 'New One' - welcome to keeping aquariums and Cichlids.
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Your 300 liter tank may seem quite large. It isn't. And, you have way too many fish in that aquarium.
You don't say how many Cichlids are actually in your tank, but from your videos all I see are way too many stressed-out Cichlids.
- What is filtering this aquarium? You may need larger/more filtration.
- You need to use an air pump with air stone(s) to drive that oily film off of the surface of the water. This will help with oxygenation of the water.
- You can stock with just one Jack Dempsey in this tank. Otherwise, just about everyone else will have to go.
- Your Firemouth looks really stressed and a bit thrashed. I would suspect the Jack Dempsey of causing this (at night) but with that many Cichlids, who knows?
- Within 18 months, that common Pleco catfish is going to grow to over 30 cm in length (if it survives). NOT a good candidate for keeping in this community tank.
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Time to get another aquarium. Or, remove a lot of those fish from the tank you have. Otherwise, you are going to keep losing fish in this over-stocked aquarium. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Auballagh said:
Welcome to Cichlid-forum!
A 'New One' - welcome to keeping aquariums and Cichlids.
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Your 300 liter tank may seem quite large. It isn't. And, you have way too many fish in that aquarium.
First and foremost. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I realize there's a lot of text there and I'm asking a lot. I have varying degrees of responses to some of your comments, so I will separate them accordingly.

Nowhere does it say that I think a 350l tank is big. I'm told it's big for a starter, but none of that is of any import to anything. I don't use my aquarium to match package sizes, so I really do not see any point in referencing it. I suppose you want to tie it in with the amount of fish, but as a separate comment, there is no purpose, no constructive feedback, by referencing your opinion of the size of the tank in isolation. And to be fair, a lot of your post isn't constructive, but rather feels like a lecture, than genuine support. However, there are definitely some valid remarks and I'll just ignore the "get a new tank" nonsense.

You don't say how many Cichlids are actually in your tank, but from your videos all I see are way too many stressed-out Cichlids.
Correct, there are currently 24 fish and 6 pleco variants. They are definitely more stressed than normal in the "big video", because I was just done with a rather lengthy cleaning session, which I had postponed two weeks, due to the rather sudden breeding of the two Dempsey and I went through the tank with a toothbrush to clean the excess algae off the rocks. The Firemouth is actually the worst case of stress when I do this, because whenever I enter the tank with my hand, he tries to hide under the exact same rock every single time, which literally has no room for him to flee to (while other places do). The other fish aren't happy about me being in there, but they just swim to the side and some of them are interested enough to take a sneak peak occasionally.

What are the things you see to suggest they are stressed out as much? I genuinely want to know, because right now, I only see it after cleaning. The rest of the time, they're just swimming around. There is no strife, there is the occasional chase, but that's also very limited. I simply do not see any signs of stress. There's no swimming up the aquarium walls either. They eat well too.

I'm going to tie this in with your finishing comment about the amount of fish:
Or, remove a lot of those fish from the tank you have. Otherwise, you are going to keep losing fish in this over-stocked aquarium.
I agree. It was never initially the intent to have this many. I just wanted a few smaller fish and the Dempsey and I wanted to give the Dempsey some company. It's not the intent to breed either, although I have no real objections to that, but I'm fully aware I can't keep 25 to 30 Dempsey in that tank, so they'll have to be sold off. The breeding itself was a surprise to me. I added a the female two weeks before they started breeding. Talk about efficiency.

All in all, I'll be selling fish to reduce the population. Fair point.

Actually, about that. Breeding should be extremely difficult if the fish are stressed. This was their first try, it immediately went great. I didn't do anything to make it more comfortable for them to breed. No 45 angles, no isolation, no separation. Just, the tank, so I was actually quite happy with it, especially now about 30 fry seem to be thriving, because to me, that's a measurement of health of the tank. Apparently that's wrong?

- What is filtering this aquarium? You may need larger/more filtration.
Eheim Professionel plus 4 350 T. As I said, water values seem to be great, so there's not really anything wrong with the filter persé, in my opinion.

- You need to use an air pump with air stone(s) to drive that oily film off of the surface of the water. This will help with oxygenation of the water.
I agree. The airpump is on its way.

- You can stock with just one Jack Dempsey in this tank. Otherwise, just about everyone else will have to go.
Now, this I disagree with. There's a lot of info on the web, there's a lot of debate on the web about the ideal size, but I'm above the the suggested tank size for a single Dempsey, and I'm above the suggested size for a pair. I'm at 92 gallon, 55 is the suggested space for one Dempsey and 1.5 times that for 2. That's 82.5Gallon for the tank and I'm sitting at +10, which, agreed, is only 40 liters, but should provide enough space as suggested.

- Your Firemouth looks really stressed and a bit thrashed. I would suspect the Jack Dempsey of causing this (at night) but with that many Cichlids, who knows?
Now, this starts moving into ridiculous territory. Does the Firemouth look a bit out there, yes, otherwise I wouldn't be here. But you suspect the Dempsey of "thrashing" it... at night? My Dempsey only has to look at the other fish and they move. He's de definitive king of the tank, there is not strife. He doesn't give a fuck about the other fish as long as they leave him be. If he would attack the Firemouth, he would be swimming around with it in his mouth for a couple weeks just to make a point (he has done so before, in my brother-in laws tank). The Firemouth would not be alive right now, if the Dempsey decided to attack it. No, I'm sorry, there is absolutely no indication that the Firemouth is harassed by any of the fish and the symptoms he displays also don't suggest such wounds. Unless you again refer to stress, which could lead to reduced resistance. Then, possibly, but he's not being attacked (proactively) by the other fish.

- Within 18 months, that common Pleco catfish is going to grow to over 30 cm in length (if it survives). NOT a good candidate for keeping in this community tank.
I'm aware that some of these variants get really big real quick. I will keep an eye on it. For now the tank size is 20gallon above the suggested amount as far as I could find.

Alright, now we've got all of that out of the way. Thank you once again. I know it took time out of your day to reply to me and while I don't agree with everything, I do agree with a lot of it. I think some things will come with experience and I'm definitely not one of those guys who is going out boasting how he manages to maintain a tank that's overcrowded, I have no intention in doing this.

I will be reducing the amount of fish.
I will be adding an airpump and stone
I will be adding a waterpump for improved waterflow

But in the end, most of my questions have not been answered.
- Is the nipping a sign of stress, in your opinion?
- Is the white fungus on the wood harmless?
- What actually is growing on the Firemouth, or is it just skin damage? Why is it skin damage around the base of the back fin, if he would be harassed? One would expect damage on the side of the fish, or the tail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Actually, I noticed I should clarify:
- Is the nipping a sign of stress, in your opinion
I'm aware that fish that are looking for additional oxygen tend to swim to the surface, but in all references I found so far, it's never a perpetual thing. It's mostly spoken about in terms of fish swimming up to the surface to get some oxygen and then be on their merry ways. I ordered the Air pump to try and solve this specific issue, as a "best guess" kind of situation, but at the same time I'm trying to figure out what signs of stress I'm looking for, that you see in my tank
 

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Nipping is a sign of aggression, and aggression causes stress. A fish that is being injured is being stressed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
DJRansome said:
Nipping is a sign of aggression, and aggression causes stress. A fish that is being injured is being stressed.
Surface nipping, or breathing, that's actually most likely what it is, not nipping at other fish :p

There is 0, and I do mean 0, aggression in the tank at this time. Yes, that actually includes the Dempsey having offspring.
 

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Yes the need to go to the surface to breathe is stressful for fish that do not naturally do this. IDK about JD's but with African Rift Lake fish they lurk under the surface when being harassed by other fish. The fishkeeper often sees zero harassment, but the position alone is the tell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
DJRansome said:
Yes the need to go to the surface to breathe is stressful for fish that do not naturally do this. IDK about JD's but with African Rift Lake fish they lurk under the surface when being harassed by other fish. The fishkeeper often sees zero harassment, but the position alone is the tell.
Ok, that's some good information. I guess that's in two parts:
- Either it's oxygen
- Or it could be that they try to move out of the way of aggression and that would explain why some fish apparently don't have any problems, because they're the ones doing to harassing.

Alright, if the air pump+stone don't do the job, I should assume that's another possibility. Thanks, that's something I can work with. :thumb:

Actually, I'll turn off the light until I have that up and running, to reduce stress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
DJRansome said:
Yes the need to go to the surface to breathe is stressful for fish that do not naturally do this. IDK about JD's but with African Rift Lake fish they lurk under the surface when being harassed by other fish. The fishkeeper often sees zero harassment, but the position alone is the tell.
Any advice on the Firemouth? Is it an infection?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Alright, I have an update.

I have added an airpump. Initially I also added a sizable airstone, instead of the 2 provided plastic air-globes, but they started swimming up the walls, so replaced the airstone. The effect itself was immediate in terms of breathing. They didn't like this intrusion and one or two were still swimming up the walls after two days, but the rest were having a much better time breathing. Granted, I had my arms in the aquarium a lot, over those 2 days and they probably were stressed out to begin with, as commented above, so I decided to give it a bit of time to see what would happen. I also tried to tie the airpump to a time-clock, due to the enormous amount of noise (even though it says silent, on the box. I have a different definition of silent), but I could clearly see the difference almost immediately and it's now running 24/7.

The few that were swimming up the wall have completely relaxed. Breathing seems to be much better allround. Barely noticeable right now. They no longer swim close to the surface, not even for a few seconds. I'm enormously happy about it. Initially I was told the filter would be able to keep the oxygen level up just fine, as long as the water was moving, but I think they meant rippling and bubbling, rather than just moving in a circle without actually breaching the surface area. Either way. That problem is solved, now I just need to find some sort of pouch where I can mute the airpump in without losing the actual air in the pump, hah!

Since adding the Panaque, which I realize will grow fast and may outgrow the aquarium, I have clean rocks. I have to admit, the Panaque had been added maybe half a week before the issue above and my other variants actually don't grow that big, but also don't seem to eat a lot of algae, so I never expected it to go this fast, but I was recommended to try it. I decided to do it, for the pure fact, that my filter is literally soaked in Algae in not even two weeks time and I think a single week is the maximum if I want to keep up its efficiency. So this too, is an enormous help for the aquarium. Sure, a lot of those Algae will transform into poop, but I can clean the poop a lot more efficiently than all the hoses and tiny mechanisms inside the filter every single week. In short, all the rocks on the window side were pretty rough looking with algae (even though I used a toothbrush to clean them) and now it's as if they have been purged. Crazy.

The Firemouth is under observation. So far, no negative change. Maybe a little positive change, but not enough to say for sure. He is active, seems to be sparring with the Red Hongi male a bit now and then, but is generally active and not acting sick at all.

Need to clean the filter and aquarium walls again coming weekend, hopefully a lot of the leftover algae is gone and one last pass through the tubes should also clear those out of most of it. With a little luck I can keep it in check now.

And then there's the issue of overpopulation. I'm reaching out to a few store owners in the area and a few other known names. I feel kind of bad to put a price tag on them, I would rather they simply have a good home. If I put them for free on Ebay, they will probably end up in the stomach of a cat. Looking into it anyhow.
 
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