It’s no secret that fish get sick. It’s also no secret that when cichlids get sick, nursing them back to health is not a lot of fun, but that is your responsibility as a cichlid owner. Neglecting a sick cichlid is not a great plan because their symptoms will probably worsen before they get better or they may die.
There are many cichlid diseases caused by many different things including parasites, fungi and bacteria. Cichlid diseases can also be caused by environmental factors; such as, incorrect pH or high water temperature. What follows are the 5 most common cichlid diseases you need to look out for.
Cichlid Disease #1 – Malawi Bloat
Very common among African cichlids, Malawi Bloat manifests itself with symptoms including stomach swelling, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, white feces and looking depressed at the bottom of the tank. If Malawi Bloat is allowed to advance for too long it can damage the swim bladder, liver and kidneys. If it gets to this point, the cichlid has a good chance of dying within 1 to 3 days. This disease is also common among other fish that live on a mostly vegetable diet.
The cause of Malawi Bloat is still highly disputed. However, many believe it to be caused by a protozoan that lives in the cichlids intestine. When the water conditions are poor or dirty or the cichlid is feeding improperly this protozoan population begins to grow.
Treatment: Treat Malawi Bloat by adding clout and Metronidazole to the water, replacing filters and changing up to 50 of the water.
Cichlid Disease #2 – Swim Bladder Disease
As you probably guessed, this disease affects a cichlid’s swim bladder. The swim bladder is an epithelium-lined abdominal sac that makes sure the fish is buoyant in the water. A cichlid with this disease floats on the surface of the aquarium or has difficulty staying anywhere below the surface of the water.
The primary cause of swim bladder disease is poor diet. A cichlid fish on a poor diet suffers from intestinal blockage or gas, which irritates the bowel. This affords parasites and bacteria the chance to cause problems with the swim bladder. Prevent this disease from happening by limiting the amount of dried food and protein your cichlid gets. You can also introduce your cichlid to foods that are high in fiber, including, squash, carrots, lettuce, spinach, peas and zucchini.
Cichlid Disease #3 – Cotton Wool Disease
You can diagnose this cichlid disease by observing damaged fins, head tissue erosion, ulcers, and whitish gray coating on the skin. Cotton wool disease is highly contagious, so a quarantine tank is definitely recommended.
This disease is caused by a fungus and it is found in aquariums that contain left-over food and fish carcasses. Often, a healthy cichlid can fight off this fungus, but if the aquarium hygiene drops, or the temperature drops, or an injury occurs or another stress is imposed on the cichlids the fungus might be able to cause problems.
The best treatments include fungicidal medication, gentian violet application and a salt bath immersion.
Cichlid Disease #4 – Fish Tuberculosis
This is a very dangerous cichlid disease. It is very contagious and has the potential to kill every cichlid in an aquarium. Humans can also contract this disease if contaminated water enters cracks or cuts in the skin when their hands are in the water for maintenance or repairs.
Cichlid symptoms include white blotches on the skin, loss of appetite, frayed fins and sunken stomach. If you think that a cichlid in your aquarium might have this disease then remove all of the other fish and put them into a hospital tank. This extreme measure speaks to how dangerous this cichlid disease is. Treat the hospital tank with Pimafix or Melafix and thoroughly disinfect the original tank. Also, make sure you bleach or throw away the substrate in the old tank.
Cichlid Disease #5 – Hole-in-the-Head Disease
This cichlid disease is also called Hexamita and it is common among many freshwater fish, including cichlids. The symptoms include a depression in the head (hole in the head) along with weight loss and loss of appetite. This disease has many causes including poor diet and subpar water quality. There have been some studies that indication Hole-in-the-Head disease could be caused by a lack of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorous.
Keep in mind that majority of cichlid diseases are the result of poor diet and poor water quality, so make sure that you clean your aquarium properly and regularly. Providing the proper sustenance for your Cichlids goes without saying. Even with your best efforts, you will not be able to prevent all cichlid diseases so make sure that you are prepared.