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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I have a setup with Aulonocara males in a 90 gal tank going for 1 year. Ammonia and nitrite 0, nitrate 15.
2 months back I had a fish death of unknown cause, while other individuals presented a retracted stomach and some degree of apathy. I treated the tank with metroplex(1 week) as I was recommended by my local fish farm owner. They were eating better and had more normal stomach.
1 week ago I had another fish dead, while more individuals presented the same retracted stomach and eating a bit less(this time with a bonus cloudy eye on one of them)
My only guess on the problem was some white little dots on the aquarium glass that popped out of nowhere and grew in numbers(and during the treatment with antibiotics they all dissapeared).
I am happy to provide you with more info if I omitted something. Here are some photos on the white thingies:


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28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Those look a lot like unfertilized snail eggs to me. If so, they're harmless and wouldn't cause your fish to get sick.
You need to pre-treat your Cichlid's food with the antibiotic Metronidazole, if you believe they have internal problems.
I have treated with Metronidazole in the water. You think it is necessary to treat the food? I have used the exact dose for water treatment. Should I try again ?
Arent bloated fish supposed to have their abdomen swollen not retracted? That s why I suspected internal parasites...

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
First bloat is an internal parasite. Second it is possible for fish to be bloated when they have bloat but it is just as possible for them to be emaciated. The organism blocks their digestive system causing either swelling or inability to pass waste thus inability to absorb nutrients...starvation.

If the fish are eating it may not be bloat. But if it IS bloat and they are eating it is better to treat the food. Try a higher dosage.

Do they have white/clear thready feces?

Are any of them lurking under the surface or behind filter intakes or heaters?

Medication can reduce the numbers or illness causing organisms but it does not fix the source of the problem.
Isnt bloat a symptom caused by many things among internal parasites? Or were you refering to the Malawi Bloat or dropsy? Not trying to be arrogant, I genuinely want to learn!
The fish are eating.
Their feces are normal color.
None of them are lurking.
Do you recommand preventive treatment?
I want to find the source of the problem and fix it!
Is my maintenance bad?
WC every 1-2 weeks(40%)
Filter(canister) cleaning every 2-3 months(with prefilters cleaned on every WC)
Parameters always normal.
What other causes should I look for?

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28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
IME bloat means Malawi bloat and dropsy is something else. My experience is with bloat (not eating and clear/thready feces) that can be treated with metronidazole.

Any lip locking or chasing? Split fins or nips or missing scales? How many fish and what species? I would do weekly 50% WC but if nitrate is 15ppm you are OK.
There is chasing and very rarely lip locking. Split fins&missing scales are present on some of the fish. 12 fish all aulonocara males
2 ruby red
2 eureka
1 flametail(not mature)
2 Cobue blue
2 sunshine(1 maleri 1 benga)
1 that never colored(should be maleri)
1 baenschi benga albino(not mature)
1firefish albino(not mature)

Not all fish have problems, some are in good shape and some have problems: 1 ruby has a very retracted abdomen, 5-6 fish have some degree of retracted abdomen, 3-4 miss some scales and 2 of them present cloudy eye...

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You want fish that look nothing alike. So choose one or the other in instances where you have 2 of the same.

Also both the ruby and the eureka are red...choose one or the other. The ruby reds are less aggressive, if you end up wanting to keep other less aggressive peacocks in your tank.

I would remove the uncolored maleri as a suspected female.

Choose one of the yellows.

The albinos might view each other as competition or they might view their non-albino counterpart as competition. Rehome as required.

You may want to add some haps to get your numbers back up to 12. If you want to keep the timid peacocks like ruby and ngara I would go with timid haps like Placidochromis electra, Otopharynx tetrastigma, small Copadichromis like azureus, Protomelas marginatus, etc.
Hello again,
Coming with an update. After some detective work I noticed my aquarium water was not crystal clear(even had a green tint). I have found it might be an algae bloom and I should check for phosphates(and nitrates). Tested, it was higher than 1.8 ppm(max value of the test, 0 in tap water). And then I correlated this with algae always covering my glass and rocks withing 1-2 weeks. Found what causes high phosphates, waste(from dead algae to food and fish poo). Guess what, my filters were very dirty(usually cleaned after 3-4 months). And my sand substrate was messy too( I rarely do it and just at the top, never searched deeper into the sand lol). On top of that found(on a closer look) little circular lesions(holes) on a fish... hole in the head disease. That fish is not eating and is very emaciated. I ordered metroplex, focus and garlic guard to medicate the food. I switched my filter maintenance to once/2 months and will vacuum substrate more often and shift thorugh the sand for debris+clean off every algae.
I guess water changes are not enough when you have so much waste decomposing... I still dont understand how could I have so many problems behind 0 ammonia 0 nitrite 10 nitrates... I thought everything was fine and water is good. I always think I know so much on this subject, yet I am the worst aquarist...

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Both bloating and emaciation are symptoms, getting caught up in terminology is semantics.
Either of those symptoms can be caused by intestinal bacteria, worms (nematodes) or some other causative agent.
Those symptoms, and the proliferation of the causing agent is most often caused by some sort of stress.
Aggression can be overt, or subtle each can cause disease, and combining only the right species, and colors within species is most important, as said above.
Many of these species are found in separate locations, and putting them together in close quarters can increase stress.But....

aberrant water parameters can also cause stress,
Nitrate concentration above 10ppm (the average nitrate in the lake is < 2ppm) any higher can be problematic, I consider a tank water soup of elevated nitrate the stuff that brings on chronic disease.
even too high a temp (the average temp of the lake where fish reside is 75'F) many bacteria become more viral at higher temps (82'F above can be problematic for rift lake species.
Although throwing meds at the problem can sometimes help, the most important factor is eliminating the causes of the stress. thru detective work (research).

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It should be achievable to get your tank to zero as well. I have 0 in my tap and never have had phosphates in my tanks unless I add them to fertilize plants.
Sure but is this causing illness in my fish in any way?
And how could i have high phosphates but no nitrates with quite some waste in the tank..
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