05-23-2011, 11:39 PM
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No, this is not common for cichlids to do this. It is reaction to fear, and is also in my view stressful for the fishes.
Were it me,I would move caves, rocks, carefully to one side of the tank during cleaning and use gravel vaccum rather than my hand to clean one half the gravel.The following week. I would reverse this procedure and vaccum the other half the tank.
In this way the fishes could have a place to hide while you clean the gravel.
What fishes are expieriencing is similar to what you or I would expierience during a tornado when house is suddenly no longer there.