Cichlid Fish Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have gotten a lot of mixed info on this, and I am looking for someone very experienced with multis to help me out.

I have had my multis for close to a month and continue to notice infrequent flashing against shells of all fish in the tank. If I watch for 10 or 20 minutes, chanced are I will witness flashing at some point. Sometimes they also flinch their head a few times like they are trying to shake off an irritant.

My water parameters are as impeccable as I can make them without resorting to RO/DI, cycle is well established, etc. Fish were bred in the same water I use, pH is 7.8, kH and gH are about 6. I thought about trying to alter the hardness in this tank but decided against it.

My immediate thought was parasites of course, but I have read that healthy multis may flash now and then. I also wonder if all the digging in sand could result in irritation temporarily.

I am very reluctant to dose the whole tank with anti-parasite meds if this is within the bounds of "normal" multi behavior.

Any help from experienced multi keepers is appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
77 Posts
I haven't kept that specific fish, but some infrequent flashing is normal in cichlids. Flashing is sometimes used to claim space. If the head flinching is accompanied by their body shaking, that is also a sign of territorial dominance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Unfortunately yesterday they started eating poorly and the dominant male is displaying clamped fins. Still no visible signs of Ich. Perhaps flukes or some other parasite. I treated Prazipro last night to start.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I turned off the lights in case it's velvet but so far there are no visible symptoms on the skin or fins. They have been flashing for some time, maybe weeks, but it is worse recently. The only other symptom of note is they are hiding more than usual and seem maybe a bit less agile.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
77 Posts
They should stressed.

Is the water chemistry stables? Are you adding anything to the water? If so, how often?

How often are you going inside the tank and moving things around?

How long have you had this setup with this many fish in the tank?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Chemistry is stable since I do not alter the natural parameters of my tap water. I also test my water before each water change due to some horror stories I have seen elsewhere. Evaporation is very minimal due to the ambient temperature/humidity and use of a lid. My tap water is hard and alkaline enough, so no need to risk fluctuations in pH or hardness.

I haven't touched their shells in weeks because I was hoping they would pair up and breed. The tank was new and has been set up about a month with these fish. Prior to that it was unstocked for ~5 weeks during fishless cycling.

An update on my treatments - I decided to add a suite of medicines recommended in the academic literature and popular sources (e.g. Fishbase, Aquarium Co-op) to cover all common skin and gill infections. These include, Metronidazole, Praziquantel, Erythromycin, and FMC (solution of Formaldehyde, Malachite Green oxalate, and Methylene Blue).

I have been observing them as much as possible, and I will tentatively say that after a couple days I notice an improvement in their behavior. I have been busy with work but will try to observe them more this weekend to confirm whether the issue seems to be resolved.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
40,502 Posts
Be sure none of the medications interact in a negative way. They say more fish are killed by medications than diseases.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
There are some academic papers floating around with documentation of various combinations, but my primary source was Aquarium Co-op. I take Cory's word for it that these are safe, and testimonials appear to back up that claim. YMMV of course. Note that if the infection is ongoing and diagnosed he recommends using only the relevant medication according to the manufacturer's specification.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
They improved, and then started to decline again. I wish I had a microscope to confirm, but it really seems like flukes. Vets who specializes in fish like koi say you need to treat prazi on four to five day intervals multiple times due to the fluke life cycle and difficulty associated with killing them. I am currently trying the method. We will see how it goes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I was reading some papers, apparently the problem with prazi is that in established tanks you cannot maintain a therapeutic concentration very well. They hypothesize that bacteria are breaking it down at accelerating rates, since sterile control tanks did not have this issue.

If this doesn't work, I am tempted to place them in a totally sterile setup and try again after a "rest". But then of course you're dealing with an uncycled tank and all the associated problems. Ugh.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The flashing seems to have abated with a long course of prazi. I will be monitoring for symptoms over the following weeks.

If I observe frequent flashing again I plan to try treatment according to this case study:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12596668/

I would assume N. multifasciatus are also tolerant of higher prazi concentrations, similar to the cichlids in the study.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I am going to post another update solely because I find it frustrating when I stumble across threads via google search and never hear the conclusion, for good or ill.

Frequent flashing had returned, so I started trying the "2.5 mg/liter every two days to a maximum of 10 mg/liter" regimen. Note that I switched to powdered praziquentel since I was worried the oxybispropanol solvent in PraziPro would deplete oxygen too much at a high concentrations. Powdered prazi may be diffused through a fine membrane (nylon stocking or <350um screen) or dissolved in a bit of ethanol.

Anyway, at a dose of 7.5 mg/liter the fish reacted rather badly. They refused to eat, hid whenever anyone was near the tank, stopped swimming around much, etc. I was willing to wait 24 hrs and observe, but there was no improvement. Therefore I changed 20% of the water and inserted activated carbon to reduce the concentration over time.

At this point I have somewhat lost my nerve for this course of treatment. I have read every academic paper I can get my hands on and become more and more convinced that even if my diagnosis is correct it may be almost impossible to eliminate the entire fluke population using these drugs. Furthermore, I do not have a microscope or the training necessary to confirm a diagnosis or confirm whether my "cure" has worked.

Unfortunately I think the best option at this point is to do nothing and hope for the best. Fish immune response is sometimes capable of eliminating fluke infestations over the course of several months even if they are present. One paper in particular dealt with guppy population. See Walstad's white paper and associated references: https://dianawalstad.files.wordpress.co ... uppies.pdf.

If the worst should happen and I lose the multi tank, I plan to keep it empty and cycled for about a month (at 26C) to ensure all flukes have hatched and/or died due to lack of hosts, and then start again with new stock.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Appreciate you posting your findings, Shifty. I agree, too many of these disease threads are left open without any feedback on whether something worked or not. Makes it very difficult to get solid information when having a similar problem. I went through what sounds like the exact same situation about ten years ago. Constant flashing and also twitching and some fish having what I would call a spasm of some sort before dashing wildly around the tank. Through process of elimination but without any scientific or medical evidence, I concluded my fish also had gill or skin flukes. Nothing that I could see visually and the fish seemed to be scraping their gill areas, especially the clown loaches. I tried Prazipro, Clout, Anti- fluke Lifebearer, removed all decor in the tank including the sand, added salt, did salt dips etc. All those treatments were separate and spaced out to not overload the fish but nothing worked. The clown loaches stopped flashing early on and I removed them and my Synodontis cats when I did the harsher treatments like Clout. Needless to say, I was completely disheartened and lost interest in my tank, slacked off big time on water changes and filter cleanings and slowly but surely the fish got worse to the point where I would have to euthanize them. In hindsight and after more reading, I would guess they had secondary bacterial infections from the flashing and probable fluke infestation. I never took the tank down and its been running the whole time with the original six Synodontis Multipunctatus, clown loaches (4 left out of an original group of 7) and a group of yellow labs that went from 5 to about 35. In addition to the fluke problem, my wife and I had two kids so that was another reason for the lack of time or interest put into the aquarium. Kids are now 12 and 10 and pre- pandemic, I vowed to get my tank back in proper shape. Took a good few weeks of water changes but my parameters are great and the tank has never looked better. With all this down time due to the virus I have been able to maintain a strict water change regimen of about 60% every 5 days or so which keeps the water crystal clear and nitrates at or under 20. I added about 100 pounds more of lace rock and redesigned the tank to what I always wanted it to look like. Also, added my first fish in 10 years, an awesome looking male Dimidiochromis compressiceps. But guess what is still happening? I have some fish flashing. Its not all of them and it's not constant and disturbing like it used to be. I see it mostly on the younger fish under two inches and some of the less dominant fish. I did treat for Trichodina, hoping that's what it was due to my lack of aquarium maintenance but after a week of treating, nothing changed. So now I am thinking, yes it must be flukes but if I keep the water pristine and try to limit the stress on the fish, it may go away or at least be limited to weaker fish. I want to bring the group of labs down to about 6 or 8 so will be taking out most of the smaller and less dominant fish anyway. And ill see what happens from there. But thanks again for posting your results. Sadly, they seem the same as mine. Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
If you watch popular YouTubers it is not uncommon to see their cichlids flashing. Just seems to be a cichlid thing. In my case the multis were presenting other symptoms after several weeks, such as hiding and clamped fins. I wouldn't necessarily jump to the conclusion yours are infected right away.

That is sort of the frustrating part - without a proper microscope and training you can't really diagnose them easily.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top