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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I got some sinking Hikari Cichlid Gold pellets in October, and since then, my Electric Blue Haps have been exhibiting what appear to be swim bladder issues. I have tried discontinuing the food for a while and have fed them skinned peas, yet the issue has persisted, and they appear to now be somewhat emaciated. I'm surprised that they have survived as long as they have, as one was laying on its side most of the time for a while, but now both of remain upright most of the time, but still sit on the bottom of the tank. Their fins have worn down, and there is some irritation on their undersides, due to scraping against the bottom of the tank. I think I was feeding them Omega One sinking pellets in the past, and I think I'm going to order some more of that, but any ideas regarding what else I should try? I'd like them to recover and go back to normal, but at this point, I'm unsure as to how likely that is.
 

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I would look for causes other than food. What are dimensions of the tank? What is your stock list with numbers and genders? What are your test results for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate?

How long were they "normal" before October? Weeks? Years?

Are they eating? Are the feces thick and food colored or thready and white or clear? When you say fins are worn down, are they mushy like fin rot or are the edges defined like a bite?

Missing scales or spots other than the underside? Do you add epsom salt to your tank? If not as a solo ingredient, is magnesium sulfate listed on any cichlid salts or cichlid minerals you may add?

Do you have a test kit for KH and GH? If not you might want to get one. Adding epsom salt can act as a laxative and be a healthy additional to a Malawi tank, but if you already have enough, you don't want to add more.

I have never seen symptoms like you describe. If swim bladder is a problem, it is likely due to an underlying problem which we have to diagnose and solve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I really don't think it's fin rot. The find are worn down because the fish have been on the bottom of the tank, which has gravel. The edges are defined. It's a standard 55 gallon tank, with only the two male haps. The two that I have now were normal for several years prior to October, but a while back, probably at least maybe a year, one hap developed similar symptoms and ended up dying. However I'm pretty sure that the two remaining fish have lived significantly longer with the symptoms than the other fish did before dying. I think I do have a KH test kit somewhere, but I'll need to look for it. I have done a few good-sized water changes, but that didn't seem to help much. I haven't been adding any salt to the tank. I think the fish are still eating a little bit, but I haven't seen much poop, and like I said, they look pretty emaciated. The tank was also moved to a different location in the house not long before the symptoms started, however I don't think the symptoms appeared until I fed them the new food.
 

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I have never experienced fins with damaged edges that are defined where the damage was caused by substrate. IME it has always been fish-on-fish aggression (bites), even if the fishkeeper does not witness the interaction.

Typically to manage aggression in any size tank with Malawi, you have to "overstock" it. For a 55G with multiple males I would not stock less than eight fish.

Your water may already be very hard naturally (thus the test) and not need epsom salt, but With an irritated vent area, epsom salt is a good natural laxative and can resolve/prevent issues.

If you see any feces at all, and it is thick and food colored it rules out certain issues and treatments. Observe closely.

If you suspect the substrate could possibly be the source of the fin damage and vent irritation, why not remove it and see if they improve? I am not convinced, but easy enough to rule out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If it is aggression, then I wonder what would explain the fact that the fins have receded pretty much evenly on both fish, proportional to the time that they've spent on the bottom of the tank, which is currently most of the time. And like I said, the fish are having a lot of trouble with movement, so it doesn't seem all that likely that they'd be able to bite the fins of each other with such great precision. I'd just like to find out what is causing the apparent swim bladder problem and reluctance to eat, because I think their fins would most likely heal if they weren't stuck on the bottom of the tank. But if that's not possible, then I wonder if euthanizing them would be the best thing to do.

I don't think I've seen any feces at all. The water here is naturally pretty hard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I think there is some poop in the tank, here is a picture. I also took a picture of the irritated vent that one of the fish has. One of the fin injuries does look like it could be a bite mark, but when they initially developed the symptoms, it did look like there was fin wear, as it was very even between fins, and between fish. The fins seemed to gradually shrink as they spent more time on the bottom of the tank, but now it appears that the fins have somewhat grown back.
 

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I think you need to test your water and post parameters for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, KH and GH. Was there a period of time where you maybe weren't on top of water changes as much as you normally would be? I dont think food would cause this problem so just trying to figure out the cause.
 

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Agree first test results and I would definitely remove the substrate. If the test shows it would be OK to add epsom salt that might help move food through their systems, stop the vent irritation and make them hungry.

All of these questions and recommendations are an attempt to figure out what might be causing swim bladder issues or otherwise make your fish sick enough to rest on the bottom and stop eating.
 
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