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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 55 gal tank with 4 chichlids and a plecko. Two days ago I noticed one that wasn't eating.. He seems to hang out at the surface and is breathing heavy. Other than that he looks fine. I do a 35% change once a week and on Sunday I tested the water:
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
PH 8.2 temp 82

I feed them Hikari chchlid gold and twice a week flakes. I tried to give him peas, but he had no interest.. He does swim around and will put his fins up when around other fish, but when the lights are off spends most of his time at the surface. When I turn the lights on he hides, so I have been keeping the lights off the limit his stress. He is not being bullied.
I'm at a loss for what to do and am looking for ideas. The last water change was Saturday, the day before he started acting this way
 

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all that being said, it sounds like one of two things, you said it wasnt being bullied, so that leaves low oxygen levels in the tank. IMHO.
 

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What kind of cichlids are these? 82 degrees is a bit warm, and lowers the amount of available oxygen, but my tanks can get up to 90 in the summer on occasion.

Nitrate is never 0... although it can be low in planted tanks. What kind of test kit are you using?

What are you using for filtration?

In the meantime- I would stop feeding, and do an extra water change.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm not sure of the exact species but the are african. I think one is Malawi mbuna, one is a peacock and I'm not sure of the other two. I use the API master test kit. I have a penguin Biowheel filter. The last water test was sunday, the day I noticed the fish acting weird and the last water change was saturday. would it be abnormal for the nitrate to be zero in a 55gal tank with only four cichlids and a plecko?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So tonight the one I'm concerned about is looking muted in color and staying at the top of the tank with his mouth close to the surface or sitting on the bottom of the tank. I turned the heater down to 80. The other fish are still acting normal. I added 3 tablespoons of epsom salt with the thought that he might have been eating too much and has a digestive issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Woke up this morning to find him dead. Kind of expected it. Its too bad, we only had him for a month. Bought him and a female to add to our other male and female in hopes of mating because our existing female holds eggs on a fairly regular basis and our existing male didn't seem to fertilize.
Looked him over when I took him out and didn't see anything out of the ordinary.

Only had a fish tank for a year but I am frustrated as heck. This our 3rd loss. The first was my fault trying to have 3 cichlids in a 10 gallon tank and the ammonia levels spiked 6 weeks after getting the tank. The second fish died for reasons I still don't know after having the tank for 4 months. Last July got a 55 gal with three fish and everything was fine. Added a pleco in December. Right after the holidays the largest most dominate fish stopped eating and died 3 days later. It caught us by surprise as it was a female that held eggs frequently and we attributed the non-eating to egg holding. We went a month with no issues and added these last two the beginning of February. Now this one only lasted a month. Wish I knew what I'm doing wrong!
 

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There could be a number of things- disease, aggression, environment.

My first suggestion for having a successful tank would be to start with good quality fish that are properly identified. If you are shopping from a mixed african tank in a big box store- you'll likely be frustrated with the results. Mbuna and peacocks don't always make good tankmates.

I'm sorry for your loss, but want to help you with your remaining fish. Can you look through the profiles or take some pictures of them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I posted pics in the "unidentified cichlid forum" titiled "Please help identifying my fish". The one that died is the second pic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So the remaining 3 cichlids and one pleco seem to be fine. I don't understand why I keep losing one fish at a time. Don't get me wrong- I don't wish for a mass die-off, but it may be easier to figure out whats going on. It does seem strange that I have a zero nitrate level. Any ideas why this would be?
 

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My best guess is that the reagents of the test kit are not getting mixed properly during the test. Shake the living snakes out of the bottles and the test tubes- really mix them as hard as you can for as long as the directions say. If that still produces a zero reading, bring a sample to your local store and have them test it. It could be that your test kit is expired.

But- with a regular water change habit and low stocking level, I don't think your nitrates should be overly high.

I think to avoid these frustrating losses, you're going to need to start with healthy, disease free fish. Hybrids and inbred fish aren't going to behave as predictably as known species of fish, but we can still work with what you have. You could be seeing disease, which can pick off fish one by one, or we could be looking at aggression from your other fish.

I don't know if this is an option for you, but I'd bring back the fish you still have to your LFS, trade them in for store credit or something. Then, starting with an empty tank, figure out what fish species you'd like to keep. Look at some of the online retailers, or think about driving south a ways to get towards some East Coast reputable breeders. Any time you get new fish, they should be quarantined for three weeks. Right now, if you decide to keep the fish you have, I'd medicate them with Jungle Parasite Clear (3 treatments over six days).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Bringing back the existing fish is not an option. As of now, one of the fish I've had since day one which was Feb 2010. One I've had since last July. I got the Pleco in December. and the last one I've had for a month.
Part of me still wonders if the pleco brought in a parasite because it was the first fish I added in 6 months and 3 weeks later I lost a fish under identical circumstances(stopped eating, no visual signs of ailment, died 2 1/2 days after stopping eating).

At that time I couldn't find Jungle parasite clear in any of my LFS, so I just hoped for the best and everything seemed fine with the other fish. I might have to order it online .
 

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HITH med doesn't contain enough metro, and of course doesn't have any prazi. I think you need a broad spectrum of antiparasitics, for several days to clear out your existing stock, and then I suggest treating for another round when you get new stock in. I recommend ordering online, and get enough for at least six treatment days.

I'm a Tanganyikan keeper, so I can't say for sure how your remaining fish will do. My first thought is that since you don't have any breeding groups, that aggression should be a primary issue, but I'd check in the Malawi forum to see what to expect. Provide a link to your ID thread so that they can take a look. They can also give you suggestions for what you could add that may be a good fit once you've got the tank stabilized.

As far as water parameters, I think bringing the temp down to 78 is a good idea, keep up with the water changes, and don't forget dechlorinator. For food, since you are keeping fish with different dietary needs, I would stick to a high quality flake or pellet (I use NLS for herbivores and carnivores) and only supplement with mysis shrimp (skip bloodworms or brineshrimp). Feed no more than they can eat in about 30 seconds, twice a day, but don't be afraid to skip a day or three once and awhile.

The good news- because there is good news :thumb: - is that once you get your tank disease free with compatible fish it does become fun again. It may be worth checking out your local fish clubs, or even regional organizations (eastcoastcichlids.org) to find a better choice of fish when you are ready.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks triscuit.
I have the parasite clear on order. I've brought the temp down to 78 over the last 4 days. I don't need the dechlorinator as I am on well water. I do add aquasafe with water changes because I have alot of minerals in my water(white sinks constantly have rusty orange stains around the drain)
I feed them Hikari cichlid gold currently, but ordered some NLS cichlid pellets this weekend. I used to supplement with blood worms, until we lost the fish 2 months ago. Now a couple times a week I give them peas with the skins removed. The the red zebra and the OB peacock devour them but the metro cal which is supposed to be the herbivore out of the bunch doesn't eat them?
What part of maine are you from? Do you get your fish locally?
 
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