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Hello,

I am worried that my Flowerhorn x Firemouth cross is very ill. A few days ago I noticed an injury near the top right of his head. He is in a 60 gallon tank with a large pleco and they sometimes like to jostle each other so I was thinking maybe it was from one of those encounters. Since then there are now two clear bubbles where the injury is that look like water blisters. He is now acting very lethargic and wobbley which I know is a bad sign. I have attached a photo of the injury/infection.

I have recently done a 50% water change, cleaned the filter, and added some Herbtana which I have used in the past to successfully treat ich and other fish ailments.

Nitrates are high in this tank around 50ppm but Ammonia and Nitrites are very low so the nitrogen cycle is working.

I have a 200 gallon waiting for him and another cichlid but want to make sure he is okay before moving him and stressing him out. He is sometimes slow but never like this just sitting propped up against the little overhang I have in there.

Thinking of trying other antibiotics but want to change up his diet and keep a closer eye on water parameters first. He is about 3 years old and I got him as a baby.

Any suggestions or feedback is welcome. I just want to help my fish.
 

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Well then, let's see what we can do for your fish.
For starters....
- You are going to have to do better in keeping up the water quality of his aquarium. If you recently performed a 50 percent water change and the Nitrates are down to 50 PPM? You are still at 30 PPM higher than the maximum level you should be keeping this Cichlid. The meds don't work well (or at all) when the Nitrates get that high in an aquarium. Plus, your fish's immune system will crash, as the stress on their health just goes sky high. Kept In those conditions, ailing Cichlids just can't heal from these problems. So, probably the best supportive medicine you can offer right now is plenty of clean, fresh water. Conduct daily water changes for now at a 50 percent rate until you get the level down below 10 PPM. After that, crank up the percentage level and start going high volume. I'm talking 80 to 90 percent water changes... Daily! The clean, fresh water conditions will almost certainly perk him up, and everything you attempt to treat him with will also work much more effectively.
- Salt. This is a supportive measure, but it is pretty effective when used in treating sick fish. For your 60 gallon tank, you want to add a total of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cup of non-iodized salt to the water. That will equal about 1 tablespoon per 3 gallons of water. Do the math and replenish the salt at the right measurement levels when doing those high percentage water changes.
- Seachem Paraguard. WHEN the water in the tank is measuring at or around a nice clean PPM level of near zero Nitrates? Then you can treat that water with the medication. Use according to the manufacturers directions. And, before treatment of the water with that medication, remove all Activated Carbon or any chemical filter media things from your filtration.
- Metronidazole. This is an antibiotic you should use to treat your sick fish internally - in his food. Pre-soak his pellets or other foods in a solution of that medication, and treat your fish for a minimum 10 - 14 day cycle. DO NOT discontinue treatment with visible signs of recovery! For all antibiotics you must run the treatment through the full cycle to be effective.
- Garlic. Pre-soaking foods in a ground-up mash, of fresh garlic is something many Cichlids seem to like for some reason (Seriously - Google it!). The stuff supposedly promotes a stronger feeding response - and more importantly - helps to boost up immune systems in Cichlids. I've personally seen that Blood Parrot Hybrids, Vieja and Amphilophus species types respond esp. well to garlic treatment for some reason. So, your Flowerhorn Hybrid cross may do well with it also.
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You've got some work to do. But, if you stick with it and see this through, it is very likely that this 'youngish' Cichlid will rally for you and return to full health. :)
 
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