African Cichlid Flash and Twitch

  • #1
Hi Everyone,
I am super confused.

I have 4 small African Cichlids in a 55 gallon tank. 2 Of them just started recently Twitching and Flashing on rocks and the substrate yesterday evening. They all are eating when I feed them. To me they don't seem distressed, one does like to hangout at the top of the tank but my tank has 0 ammonia in it or nitrites. I test my water daily and also have the Seachem Ammonia Alert Badge (and yes I know it takes 4 hours for a change to register lol) and everything is safe. Before I got these fish I did a fish-less cycle and had 20ppm of nitrates. Since I introduced the fish into the tank last Saturday I have had a tiny ammonia spike that I caught really fast the next day on Sunday. I did a water change and then added Prime everything has been normal but now I don't see any Nitrates on my API kit. Everything is Zero and I haven't done a water change since Sunday so that is puzzling me and I have been feeding and they have been making waste. This flashing and twitching just started last night and its crazy, one only uses the rocks and the other one uses the substrate only. When I got these fish they pectoral fins look like they had been starting to dissolve it didn't look like Fin Rot. On Tuesday I went to my local mom and pop fish store that i have went to forever and he thought it was Fin Rot but to me it didn't look like that, its been years since I've kept fish. The point of me telling that is I have been using Seachem Paraguard in my tank for the past 3 days and the flashing and twitching just started last night. The only thing I did is I am trying to slowly raise the PH for these guys. Mine was at 7.2 and I have the Malawi/ victoria Buffer and it says 1 teaspoon every day to reach the PH but I am using a half everday and mising it into a glass of tank water. So I am not sure if that could be the reason. I would think if it was ICH or Flukes that the paraguard would of already started working and this just started last night. I went home today on my lunch to check on them and when you sit there and watch every 5-10 minutes one of them is trying to itch. I didn't see any twiching at that moment, but still flashing. I have never had these fish before and I dont know how to see into their gills to see if they have flukes but no discoloration around the gill covers and to me I dont see gasping for air. They like to go near the surface of the tank and hangout for a minute then they swim back down and like i said I tested the water. Everything is zero which confuses me too on the nitrates. There are not plants either in my tank.

At this point I am not sure what the reason is. I've been watching them so closely since I got them and this is the first i have see and only 2 are doing it.
What is the water volume of the tank? 55 gallons
How long has the tank been running? March 14, 2022
Does it have a filter? Canister Fluval 307
Does it have a heater? Yes
What is the water temperature? 79
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.)
4 African Cichlid

How often do you change the water? Just got the fish on Saturday but performed on Sunday
How much of the water do you change? 50% on this last one
What do you use to treat your water? Prime and Stability and Lake Salt and Cichlid Trace
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? Vacuum

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Yes
What do you use to test the water? API Test Kit and Ammonia Alert ahd PH Alert
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.6

How often do you feed your fish? Once A Day
How much do you feed your fish? No more than what they can eat in 30 Seconds
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Spectrum and Brine Shrimp
Do you feed frozen? Yes -Thaw in glass of tank water
Do you feed freeze-dried foods?

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? Not even a Week, Saturday
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? yesterday
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? In Post above
Have you started any treatment for the illness? Paraguard
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? I believe so, Fins looked like they were missing not rot just missing.
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? Just since yesterday.

Explain your emergency situation in detail.
(Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)

On Post above :)

  • #2
Hi, it could be either agression or mating behavior ( male cichlids do a shimmy dance and twitch for females or to show power to other males). If they are definitely rubbing against the floor and ornaments it could definitely be parasites or something to do with the water quality that's irritating their skin. Do any of the fish have tiny white spots on them or does their body look weird or slimey at all?

  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Hi there!
So the other two are starting to do it. But the other ones do it every now and then but it’s not constant. I don’t see any excessive slime or anything. I just rechecked my water parameters
Ammonia is 0
Nitrites are 0
Nitrates are 5

I don’t think I was shaking vigorously .
I had them on paraguard for 3 days and I stopped it because I don’t want to treat fish if they don’t have anything. Could the Malawi Victoria buffer irritate their skin? I’ve been adding it to make the ph higher slowly.
  • #4
Hi! Your water quality seems great so it's a bit odd they're acting out- it's definitely a good idea to not treat until you're pretty certain what is wrong so that's good you've stopped. It's good you're adding it and it shouldn't irritate their skin - maybe they're still adjusting to the new tank/ different water parameters? It's also worth double checking your chlorine levels since you changed water after the ammonia spike
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
I was thinking the same thing! I added prime last night just as a precaution to chorine. So what I’ve done too yesterday is add cichlid lake salt and also cichlid trace. They should have good water quality besides the ph being 7.4. I did notice last night I saw a strand of poly fil from my canister floating and I got it out. Thinking something like that could be doing it if it gets caught in their gills?
  • #6
Have you been able to do a chlorine test ? I doubt the poly fil is the issue as I can't see how it would irritate their skin this much. Maybe once your pH is nearer to 8 the behavior might stop but until then it's hard to know what the issue is


  • Thread Starter
  • #7
I haven't, let me see if I can find a test kit around here. I am in St. Louis Mo surely someone has something.

The weird thing about this is, the first two that was doing it that i posted about yesterday, I haven't seen them do but maybe 1 time today and didn't do it at all last night. I just noticed now the one of the other ones is now doing it. I new to this species and I was kind of thinking gill flukes but wouldn't they be doing it all the time? But yes I am going to test the chlorine in the water. I have to run to Petland because the original buffer I bought was for salt water and I didn't notice that until I got home.
Have you been able to do a chlorine test ? I doubt the poly fil is the issue as I can't see how it would irritate their skin this much. Maybe once your pH is nearer to 8 the behavior might stop but until then it's hard to know what the issue is
Also, I know people put salts and stuff in their tank to help with parasites and stuff, does the cichlid lake salt help with that as well since its salt?
  • #8
It's unlikely to be gill flukes if they're still eating and acting normal apart from the itching. If you can't see anything visibly wrong with their scales and skin then it's the water parameters causing the irritation to them. It might be a good sign that the first two aren't doing it as much anymore, maybe they're settling in a bit. Yep! Any salt is a natural antibiotic and helps keep off parasites so in theory it should be affective in helping them stay healthy.
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Thank you very much. I haven't seen him do it in a while so that is good! Just fed them some brine shrimp and they went crazy.
  • #10
Thank you very much. I haven't seen him do it in a while so that is good! Just fed them some brine shrimp and they went crazy.
Glad to hear it, good luck ! :)

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