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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi I have a 360 ltr tank with Malawis - a mixture of Labs , Peacocks , Aulonacara,female johanni, and auratus and a few others which i dont know-
and i cant seem to stop them scratching against the substrate and rocks .

Here are the water parameters -
Temp 24deg c
PH 8.1
no nitrite, no ammonia
Nitrate 20
Hardness 460ppm

The rock in the tank is Texas holey rock about 40kg
The tank has been up and running for around 6 months and its decorated with 4-5mm crushed coral at a depth of around 2inchs (about 20kg)
- The coral was put in to replace sand a few days ago as i was worried about compacting !

Filtration
1no Eheim 2213,
1no Eheim ecco pro
1no fluval 4+ internal at the top of the water to aerate
1no interpet pf3 internal again at the top of the water to increase oxygen

I cant see any parasites or whitespot on their skin!
Has anyone any ideas on what could be causing this?
Any help would be greatly appreciated as really i want to look after them properly!
Thanks
Terry
 

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Do they scratch constantly or just occasionally? An occasional scratch here and there is normal. If it's constant, then something is irritating them, and further action (such as medication) might be in order.

Seems to me the likeliest cause is the new coral that's changing your water parameters a bit too quickly for the fishes' liking. Try a water change, see if that helps.

For more info, why not search for 'flashing' and see what comes up?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The fish have been flashing for a few months now - i originally had sand in and i thought that the compacting might be causing it! thats why I changed to the coral.
I was wondering about the hardness of my water at 460ppm as its been at that level since i first set the tank up - Does this sound too high ??

Thanks for the reply Bud !

Terry
 

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nope, don't think it's too hard. These guys like their water really hard. Check your dechlorinator, might be that you have chloramines in your water that your current dechlorinator does not take care of.

Are you adding salt or somesuch? Sometimes, too much NaCl (table salt) can irritate them too.

Otherwise, if it's been a few months and no deaths, no fishes scratched raw and no signs of illness, I wouldn't worry too much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
No - i havent been adding salt , at the min when i do water changes im using tapsafe as a dechlorinator - it states on it that it gets rid of chloromines and heavy metals as well, im also using bicarb of soda to raise the ph but this also hardens the water .
The fish seem to be flicking - but i suppose not oo much . And they do seem to be healthy - apart from 2 electric blue Ahlis i bought on impulse - im finding it hard to feed them their correct diet (carnivorous) without the other fish getting their food . They have lost their color since *** bought them and now just look dark and not very colorful - I think i'll have to get rid of these !
Lol impulse buys arent good !! :O)
 

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Lol impulse buys arent good !! :O)
You said it... How many of us here haven't gotten into trouble because of it :lol:

The diet isn't as much of an issue, a good quality cichlid flake should keep the whole lot happy.

It's not unusual for new fish to be shy and pale for quite a while, so if you love them, keep them - it's not like your tank is too small :) Your smaller fishies might become food eventually, though. That, and you said both are blue? Two males might become an issue, but in 360 gallons, who knows?

I am not in favour of medicating a tank unless you're pretty sure it's necessary, but many people on here pre-emptively medicate. If you're really worried, why not try a course of anti-parasitic treatments, or antibiotics? Asking on the illness forum will get you product names. This might mess up your bacteria and cause stress and all sorts of other things, though, so only if you feel something is truly amiss.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
mmmmm - Im not really in favor of medicating unless i know what im medicating for - there is a good all round medication ESHA 2000 I use for my hospital tank but as far as the Malawis go I might just try raising the temp for a couple of weeks and adding salt .
Although to be honest after talking with you I think i may just be worrying about nothing ! :O) still does no harm to find these things out !!
Thanks for the help Bud
Much appreciated
Terry
 

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Just clarifying above post:
KH/Alkalinity should be between 150 & 300ppm.
That's about 8° to 17° hardness.

Although, it's unlikely 400+ will harm them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ok heres an update :D
Thanks everyone for all your advice !
I decided last week to stop using bicarb of soda to raise my ph because it was hardening my already hard water and instead use api's ph up - over the past week *** dropped my water hardness from 460 to 300 slowly and................
my fish have stopped scratching
They still scratch but very very seldom and it doesnt look like a strong scratch anymore, more like brushing a fly off thats just landed on your skin! Rather than having itching powder poured down your back :lol:
*** kept my ph at 8.1 and the only thing that has changed is the hardness!

Thanks again for the help guys and girls
Terry
 

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bicarb soda is baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), yes?
It doesn't raise GH (much if at all), general hardness - it raises KH (carbonate hardness).

Epsom salt raises GH (because it's mostly magnesium based)

reference: http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/w ... mistry.php

Glad it's working for you - just wanted to make sure we're talking about the same things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi - I remember reading that bicarb of soda is slightly different from baking soda - ( baking soda is bicarb of soda with an additive - sorry cant remember which additive as it was a while ago that i read it -
I have tested the water with an electronic meter and a hagen liquid test and both give the same results- waters down to 300ppm.
:D your right The main thing is its working !
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
after reading the article - im wondering if im testing properly -
all i was using before to raise my ph was bicarb of soda - and it did raise my gh as well- i have measured gh before and after adding dechloronated tapwater and adding bicarb of soda and it raised it approx 150ppm using 1 and half teaspoon of bicarb to 10 gallons
 

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I think GH-general hardness is a measure of total hardness, and KH-carbonate harness is a subset of that. So I don't think you can raise KH without wasing GH, but you can raise GH without raising KH.

In my water, my KH is about half of my GH, so I deduce that to mean that half of the hardness of my water is carbonate hardness.
 

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I guess that depends on your testing material.

From what I can tell, most GH testers look for magnesium content, whereas most KH testers look for carbonates.

Scientifically, you're probably right.
 

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I found this in the forum library

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/oddities.php

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When you see other freshwater and saltwater fish rubbing and scratching themselves against rocks, wood, plants, gravel, or anything hard, you can pretty much count your unlucky stars because your fish most likely has a parasite. Fish will scratch themselves, trying to remove the source of the irritation. When African Cichlids scratch themselves, another irritation is at play. I have seen African Cichlids at all ages scratch themselves, even a few hours after being released from their mother's buccal cavity, and never have I lost one of these fish to a parasite. What causes them to scratch is usually due to improper water conditions or their being introduced to water with a different set of properties.

African Cichlids require very hard water, on the order of a KH of 14 to 17. Unless the water has a natural buffer, the minerals that make the water hard, will "fall out," or precipitate out in about a week's time. If that happens, your water will slowly become softer than is ideal. This is the number one cause for an African Cichlid's scratching. The second most common is following a drastic water change with a change in temperature, pH, or hardness. Even if you are restoring the water to an ideal pH or hardness, you will observe an increase in scratching for the first hour after the water change. That is because they are having to adjust to the new osmolarity. Their skin will be irritated and their scratching is in attempt to alleviate that discomfort. Ironically, if the water conditions are not brought within ideal ranges and the scratching is allowed to continue, they will scratch their scales right off. Wounds like this often lead to an infection, and if left untreated, death. So, if you find your fish scratching heavily, check your pH and hardness

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Did you realize you are replying to a post that is 2 years old?
 

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Yes, I do realize it, and I am adding something new. I think that over time, 90% of the utility of this site is for people other than the OP. Other people search for answers about cichlids scratching themselves, and they get to this post. :)
 

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Fair enough...although since it is already in the Library I hope they would read the article. :thumb:

A couple of comments on the clip:

First it says "your fish most likely has a parasite" and then it says "What causes them to scratch is usually due to improper water conditions or their being introduced to water with a different set of properties. " I think it could be either. Also fish do "flash" just to show off when nothing is wrong at all. Incessant flashing or scratching is the danger sign.

Second I don't think fishkeepers now think these statements are as true as many used to think, especially that such a high KH is REQUIRED or that it is essential to shoot for ideal ranges:
African Cichlids require very hard water, on the order of a KH of 14 to 17, or
If the water conditions are not brought within ideal ranges and the scratching is allowed to continue, they will scratch their scales right off.
As long as your KH is high enough to buffer the pH your fish will thrive. Over 4 is good. KH of 7 works fine.

And current thinking says it is better to have consistent parameters than have inconsistencies caused by tinkering with the parameters. For example, if you have a consistent pH=7.8 and KH=7 from your tap, leave it alone because it's very hard to be completely consistent when you have to use additives.
 

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Interesting, thank you! My fish sometimes scratches himself, and it seems to be on the right side more than on the left. He doesn't do it very often, but of course I worry. I began adding "cichlid salt" very gradually. Hopefully the change won't bother him. So far so good.

should be easy to stay consistent if I add the same ratio of salts to new water.

thanks for your input
 
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