Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources (
-   Tropical Fish Diseases (
-   -   Mixed tropical fish not eating, acting lethargic (

steagle 09-07-2011 11:36 AM

Mixed tropical fish not eating, acting lethargic
Hey everyone, first post here and hope to become an active member of the community. Like many other amateur aquarium owners I've run into my first serious problem and came here for help. A fish has died and others are acting sick. I've given up on my LFS providing me with the best advice.

I have a 60 gallon tank with the following fish: 1 electric blue cichlid, 1 convict cichlid (dwarf size), 1 red tailed chalceus, 1 killi fish, 2 bala sharks, 2 german blue rams, 2 albino catfish, 1 pleco. I previously had 1 peacock cichlid who just passed away due to the condition in the tank. I have a large aerator providing lots of bubbles in the back, an Emperor dual-wheel filter, and keep the heat between 78-80 degrees. Plenty of lava rocks, [fake] plants and ornaments for hiding. No live plants. It's been established since February. Water conditions have remained relatively stable during this time, here's the most recent readings using Quick Dip 6-in-1 test strips: nitrate - 25, nitrite - .5 or .10, hardness - 150, chlorine - 0, alkalinity - can't get an accurate number from the color, but looks to be around 100, pH - same thing, hard to tell, but looks like 7.2 or 7.4 or so

It started a couple weeks ago when I noticed my Peacock Cichlid was not eating. At the suggestion of my LFS I treated the tank with Maracyn Plus as his condition seemed similar to dropsy. After the 3 Maracyn treatments, applied every other day as instructed, there was no change in his condition and he eventually passed away yesterday. Now my other fish are rubbing themselves against the substrate and rocks; could this be due to the slimy nature of the Maracyn? A friend suggested it might be Ich. As a test I turned the water temperature up to about 86 degrees and left it there for a couple days, then reduced back to 80. Behavior hasn't changed. The two bala sharks have been swimming around crazily for the last 2 days, and this morning were sitting on the bottom of the tank barely moving. When I went to test the water they swam away so there's still some life in them, but they definitely look lethargic. The convict & electric blue continue to rub against things. The 3 catfish, killi fish and german blue rams don't seem to be exhibiting any strange behavior at all. I put in another treatment of Maracyn this morning, not sure if this was a widespread case of dropsy, but that might not have been smart.

I unfortunately do not have a hospital tank or the ability (right now) to isolate fish. I will definitely invest in this when possible. For now, I am going to buy a Nitra-Zorb packet to put in my filter because I know my nitrate and nitrite are a little higher than they should be. Other than that , any suggestions?

steagle 09-07-2011 12:19 PM

Wanted to add that I just got back from the fish store with some Rid-Ich, aquarium salt, and nitrate/nitrite reducer. Is it too soon to put in the nitrate/nitrite reducer considering I just added the Maracyn about an hour ago?

BarbH 09-07-2011 12:43 PM

Hello and welcome to TFK, sorry that your first posts have to be because of problems that you have been having. You said that you added another dose of Maracyn, do not add the treatment for ich at this time with the other medication in the tank. Mixing medications can cause more problems, especially if they do not say that they can be used together. With ich the fish will look like they have been sprinkled with salt, are you seeing this at all? If not I would definitly hold off on using an ich medication. The flashing behavior that you are describing can be caused from several different things. Do you know what you ammonia level is? From the sounds of it you are using strip tests for checking your parameters. From my own personal expeience and from that of others these are usually inaccurate and unrealiable. I would highly recommend that you invest in a liquid test kit, which will give you more realiable results, and are a better value for your money. API master test kit is one that many of us use here, myself included. Some additional information would be helpful.

1. Size of tank?

2. Water parameters
a. Ammonia?
b. Nitrite?
c. Nitrate?
d. pH, KH and GH?
e. Test kit?

3. Temperature?

4. FW (fresh water) or BW (brackish)?

5. How long the aquarium has been set up?

6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them?

7. Were the fish placed under quarantine period (minus the first batch from the point wherein the tank is ready to accommodate the inhabitants)?

8. a. Any live plants? Fake plants?
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom?
c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors?

9. a. Filtration?
b. Heater?

10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used?
b. Any sunlight exposure? How long?

11. a. Water change schedule?
b. Volume of water changed?
c. Well water, tap water, RO water?
d. Water conditioner used?
e. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed?

12. Foods?
How often are they fed?

13. a. Any abnormal signs/symptoms?
b. Appearance of poop?
c. Appearance of gills?

14. a. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis?
b. What meds were used?

15. Insert photos of fish in question and full tank shot if necessary.

Read more:

Also if you haven't already had problems, there are some problems that will probably come up with your current stocking, the major one I see is the electric blue cichlid, which I am guessing is an electric blue jack dempsey. Jack dempsey are a very aggressive and territorial cichlid which do not do well with in community settings. More information can be found for your fish in the tropical fish profiles. The link can be found at the top of the page second tab from the left, or you can click on the shaded name like jack dempsey, or blue ram.

steagle 09-07-2011 12:48 PM

Yeah I've been unhappy with the test strips, I should definitely get a better testing system in place. I'll check out the API kit you suggested.

The electric blue is actually an ahi, I believe:

Most of the stuff you listed I already put in my first post but I did miss the food, and lighting schedule. For food I feed them a mixture of blood worms, tetramin tropical flakes, tetracichlid flakes & pellets, and algae wafers for the pleco. For lighting, they typically have moderate light throughout the day from windows in the room and I turn on the hood lamp when i gets dark, let's say 7-8pm and leave it on till 11-12am, then total darkness from then till about 6am.

steagle 09-07-2011 01:09 PM


Originally Posted by BarbH (Post 816793)
With ich the fish will look like they have been sprinkled with salt, are you seeing this at all? If not I would definitly hold off on using an ich medication.

I don't see lots of white spots - I do see some bubbles attaching to the fish from the Maracyn, but no "sprinkle" of white spots. The only strange thing I can see is one of the bala's eyes is whitish gray instead of black, but it's been that way since I've had him, so I don't think it's anything related to what's going on now.


Originally Posted by BarbH (Post 816793)
The flashing behavior that you are describing can be caused from several different things. Do you know what you ammonia level is?

Unfortunately no, I'll have to get a test kit for that. Having higher than normal nitrite usually means there is ammonia in the tank, right?

I went to check on the fish again, and the electric blue and balas were hanging out near the surface, not moving much. Then the electric blue spazzed out and started flashing against the substrate multiple times in a row, then returned to the top of the tank.

Some other info that might be helpful - the electric blue has only been in the tank for about a week. And the red-tailed chalceus has been in for about two weeks... I bought him when my bumblebee zebra cichlid got too aggressive towards the other fish - especially the peacock - so I traded him in. The peacock seemed to have stopped eating soon after I introduced the chalceus. I wonder if the chalceus introduced something to the water. As I mentioned before I don't have a quarantine tank so I introduce the fish by keeping them in their bags and floating them in the tank for about 20 minutes, then introduce some of the aquarium water to them, wait another 20 minutes, then release them. They have always seemed to adapt fine with this process but it definitely doesn't take into account possible diseases they may be carrying.

KendraMc 09-07-2011 01:16 PM


Originally Posted by steagle (Post 816813)
Having higher than normal nitrite usually means there is ammonia in the tank, right?

high nitrites can mean you had high ammonia, since ammonia is converted into nitrites. it does not necessarily mean you do have high ammonia currently.

steagle 09-07-2011 10:04 PM

Anyone else have any advice? Things are not improving after the nitrite/nitrate reduction... balas aren't eating, and continue to swim sporadically around as if trying to get out of the tank.

k19smith 09-08-2011 12:32 AM

I would take a water sample to your local fish store and have them test it. I would do a 30% water change and not add anymore Maracyn as it doesn't seem to be helping. I myself would go ahead and add the aquarium salt. I would also drop your temp to 78. I myself would not use a nitrate nitrite reducer as I'm assuming this is something you pour in, I would do water changes.How often do you do water changes? I'm not sure on your stock list but I'm pretty sure you have fish that don't belong together.

1077 09-08-2011 01:19 AM

Would be helpful to have answer's to question's BarbH posted above.
Best way,Fastest way, to deal with ammonia,nitrites,nitrates, and improve fishes enviornment,is to perform water change's perhaps twice weekly of 50 percent, and once weekly after level's have improved each and every week using dechlorinator such as PRIME.
Would withold foods from fish that are not eating/sick, for uneaten food will only foul the water.
Would add fresh carbon to the filter to remove any medication's and perform the water changes as described above. If water test's indicate anything other than ZERO for ammonia,ZERO for nitrite's,and NitrAtes no higher than 30ppm,, Then medication's will have little effect for stressful condition's will not allow fishes to regain their ability to fight off infection's,fungus,parasites, with or without medication's.
If using medication's ,best to remove carbon from the system before medicating and follow direction's on medication's more,,is not better.
Best not to mix medication's,Complete one dosing schedule,add fresh carbon for a day or two ,and then remove carbon before starting next round of medication.
Could be that water changes alone will bring quick improvement, and I might perform them as described above for a couple week's before proceeding with any meds but that's just me.
You have a bunch of fish that don't share same water chemistry need's, which in turn creates stress along with non zero ammonia /nitrites, which weaken's fishes immune system and this often result's in sick fish.

steagle 09-08-2011 10:21 AM

Thanks guys... ok as for water changes, previously I was doing 30-40% water changes (always with dechlorinator) & vacuumed the substrate every two weeks, for a few months with no apparent issues in fish health. A few days after I noticed the peacock cichlid's behavior I did a water change and measured the water parameters. They looked fine and remained consistent from then to the next water change a week later. I just did a 50% water change two days ago after the peacock died. I'll do another tonight.

@k19smith - funny, I added aquarium salt (about 12 teaspoons for the 60 gallons) last night as well as dropped the temp to 78 before reading your post. Unfortunately this morning there's been no change with the balas, who continue to float in a corner of the tank, occasionally swimming up and down the side or zooming the length of the tank and coming back to rest in that corner. Doesn't look good for them :( I'll keep doing water changes but if I get the water parameters "perfect" and they still don't eat, what then?

@1077 - If the root problem is the fish mixture what do you think would be some good substitutes? I assume I should be going all cichlid or cichlid mixes, or a passive community of sharks etc? I didn't set out to stock my tank this way, it just kind of happened over time as I came across interesting and laid back fish at the LFS. Like the peacock was super mellow with all the sharks and even the convict and rams. But if this kind of mixing is causing the stress then I don't want to put the fish through that much longer.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:24 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome