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lwatson 08-08-2007 12:54 PM

African cichlids are dying and I don't know why!
I have a serious problem with my tank. I have had a healthy, 50 gallon African cichlid tank for several years.
My Red Zebras breed like crazy. I went on vacation for two weeks and left a “pet sitter” to care for my cats and fish. When I returned, 10 fish were dead and what’s worse is they continue to die. The Pseudotropheus estherae are decimated with only two left and I have also lost several perlmutts.
The Plecostomus’ are fine as well as the Giraffe Haplochromis.
Before I left, I added a couple Demasoni and they seem to be ok.
The hardest hit are the Zebras and next hardest hit are the Perlmutts.
I have a couple Cat fish and they are doing fine.
I have tested for pH, ammonia, nitrates/ nitrites, hardness, temp, and chloramines/ chlorine.
The fish show NO signs of infection or rot, they just become lethargic and die in a matter of a couple hours. I am afraid that I am loosing my tank.
I have changed the water and cleaned, but not disinfected the rocks. I vacuumed the substrate.
The tank had been a breeding, healthy tank for years.

Julie's Julies 08-08-2007 05:48 PM

How often do you do water changes? Could it be that the tank sitter did not change the water and you got a parameter spike while you were gone and now you are seeing the results of the unobserved spike? With all those fish in there, it would seem that two weeks of unknowledgeable care could easily result in problems. My 55-gallon used to be a cichlid tank, and it only housed 10 cichlids at the most. Sounds like you have quite a few more in there, but with close care and observation you probably squeeked by with it. This is just a guess, though.

Are they eating at all? If so, that is a good start. Once the root problem is identified, it will be easier to treat them if they are eating. If they have no appetite, Maracyn Two is supposed to be absorbed through the gills and skin. I would hesitate to use any medicine, though, until you are sure of the illness, and it does sound like it's going to be difficult to diagnose.

I lost several swordtails due to bacterial infections, and they showed similar behavior to your cichlids - listless at the bottom of the tank without many other observable signs. One thing to check for is the color of the feces; thin and white are indications of illness.

Could anything have fallen into the tank while you were gone that would be harmful to the fish? A houseplant, a chemical, ect.?

Lupin 08-08-2007 06:01 PM

If I were you, ask the sitter on he/she took care of your tank. Never leave someone who does not know about fish to care the aquaria for you. It is possible that the sitter overfeed your fish, spraying chemicals around without bothering to close the tank, etc.

Welcome to, by the way.:wave:

lwatson 08-09-2007 12:37 AM

Tank was healthy for years
The tank was healthy for years and I had been selling the babies to a local pet shop for a long time so I don't think overcrowding was the cause although it may have exacerbated the situation.
It's hard to say what happened when I was away. Allegedly nothing happened. I did a complete water change in case a toxic substance was introduced into the tank. I have a ten gallon tank near by and it's fine.
The pet sitter ( a professional pet service that now says fish are not their specialty) may have fed them food intended for the Catfish and Plecos. Another Red Zebra Died this morning. They are the most affected.

Lupin 08-09-2007 01:42 AM

What ingredients do this food contain? How often did he feed?

willow 08-09-2007 04:32 AM

welcom aboard,shame it has to be a sad situation.
hope you don't mind me asking this......however
what were the readings,when you got back,
i saw on the othere reply you said you tested,
however you didn't continue,and say what they were.

lwatson 08-09-2007 01:33 PM

Test results were all ok
My first instinct was that untreated tap water got added to the tank, but the chlorine levels were ok. All other tests were in the norm as well. I now have lost all my adult zebras, but one baby seems ok. The zebras were definitely the hardest hit. Hopefully now the tank will stabilize. The last zebra that died looked health, but I was not feeding on the assumption of Malawi bloat. There was no feces to analyze. Now I am wondering if they were starved? They looked fine with no damage on fins or gills, but I did notice a lack of slime when they were removed from the tank.
Anyway very weird.

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