African Cichlid Tank Emergency

4Trout

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Tank


What is the water volume of the tank? 60 gallons

How long has the tank been running? 2 months, biological media for 2 years

Does it have a filter? Yes, Marine land penguin bio 350

Does it have a heater? Yes, marineland 300w

What is the water temperature? 76F bumped up to 78F yesterday

What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.)

  • 1x Bumblebee cichlid
  • 2x synodontis featherfin
  • 2x melanochromis auratoris
  • 1x venustus cichlid
  • 1x electric blue Johanni cichlid
  • 1x powder blue cichlid
  • 2x Kenyi cichlid
  • 2x electric yellow cichlid
Died yesterday
1x kenyi cichlid
1x johanni cichlid
1x peacock


Maintenance

How often do you change the water? Weekly

How much of the water do you change? 30-50%

What do you use to treat your water? Stresscoat, QuickStart

Do you vacuum the substrateor just the water? Light substrate vacuuming, substrate is sand


*Parameters - Very Important

Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Used QuickStart and transposed all old biological media, filter, substrate, and half the water from a 2 years established tank

What do you use to test the water? API all in one kit

What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.


Ammonia: 0ppm

Nitrite: 0ppm

Nitrate:0ppm

pH: 7.6


Feeding

How often do you feed your fish? Daily

How much do you feed your fish? They finish eating in around 1 minute or less

What brand of food do you feed your fish?
API, Hikari, omega one

Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? Both, frozen bloodworms as a treat


Illness & Symptoms

How long have you had this fish? Yellow lab- 2 months, featherfin- 4 months, bumblebee - 2 years

How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? Yellow lab - 1 week, featherfin- 1 day, bumblebee - 2 days

In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Yellow lab- white patch on side, keeps rubbing against decor, featherfin- peeling skin resembles a sunburned human, white patch on stomach, bumblebee- white spots around gills

Have you started any treatment for the illness? One Ich treatment (noxich half dose) and raised the temp, since my bumblebee was showing signs of ich

Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? No

How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? Yes, scratching against decor, synodontis appears slightly lethargic


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)


I noticed a white patch on my electric yellow cichlid one week ago. He has been fine but scratching on decor occasionally. Fast forward one week with regular maintenance and keeping an eye on him, and my bumblebee cichlid is showing signs of ich near his gills. Picture attached but he is doing better today. This was yesterday. Having dealt with an ich outbreak a month ago in another tank, I assumed this was due to cross contamination in some way and dosed a half dose of nox ich (cleared up my other tank in a week). Later that night, I had 3 dead fish lying on my substrate and one of my synodontis appeared to be shedding/peeling on the outer layer of his skin/slime coat. I’m assuming this is a side effect of the ich dosage and have ceased dosing at this point. I’m just baffled as to what could have caused all this to happen and frustrated as everything I have tried to do to fix it is causing more harm than good. My water parameters, as listed above, are literally perfect so I have no idea what is going on here. Pictures attached.


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A201

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Your water parameters are too perfect. The nitrates should be between 10 - 40. There's a good chance the tank isn't completely cycled.
The damage to your fish is likely due to either ammonia or
Columnaris. Africans are usually pretty disease resistant, so I think the problem is water parameter related.
Study up on "fish in" tank cycling. Hope things get better soon.
 

MrBryan723

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Your water parameters are too perfect. The nitrates should be between 10 - 40. There's a good chance the tank isn't completely cycled.
The damage to your fish is likely due to either ammonia or
Columnaris. Africans are usually pretty disease resistant, so I think the problem is water parameter related.
Study up on "fish in" tank cycling. Hope things get better soon.
I've noticed almost everyone here with issues seem to have water with 5ppm or less in nitrates. It took me several years to get a good anoxic zone to keep mine that low in a well planted tank. Makes me wonder...
 

A201

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A tank full of African Cichlids makes me doubt any plants are present in th OP's tank. Lol. I think its likely that more than a few people who report having pristine water parameters, but also have desperately sick fish are either fibbing about the water quality or did a recent large WC. Lol.
 
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4Trout

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Found out that my API test for nitrate had congealed so I shook it vigorously and came back with a reading of 40ppm
 
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4Trout

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My tank should be completely cycled at this point, it has been established and thriving with seeded media from my old tank for two months now. I did a 30% water change when I noticed ich like spots on my bumblebees gills.
 
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4Trout

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Your water parameters are too perfect. The nitrates should be between 10 - 40. There's a good chance the tank isn't completely cycled.
The damage to your fish is likely due to either ammonia or
Columnaris. Africans are usually pretty disease resistant, so I think the problem is water parameter related.
Study up on "fish in" tank cycling. Hope things get better soon.
See reply above about my test kit. I started bacterial treatment just in case columnaris is the culprit because the whole “fish is fine one day and dead the next” really sounds like what is going on here. Hopefully that will help
 

A201

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The white patches are very concerning. That is one of the primary symptoms of Columnaris. If you are certain ammonia isn't the problem, then you might research treatments for bacterial infections. Kanaplex & Furan 2 are two of the most frequently recommended antibiotics.
 

JenC

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Poor fish.

Have you been administering the suggested kanamycin and nitrofurazone combination? It's considered effective for columnaris (if that's what this is). The combo stopped my fish deaths immediately.
 

Michael.j.gomez

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Hello, if test malfunctioning do you think it may have been high nitrates(can damage or kill if exposed for long periods). I would slowly bring down nitrates by doing water changes till it read & stayed at 10-5ppm(may shock if done fast). Then I would do 30% water changes every couple days to see if things get better(fresh water does wonders). You should see a difference in a few days. If not then medicate!!!!! Hope this helps.
 
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4Trout

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I have done 2 large water changes since the first death and have now lost 8 fish, my bumblebee died today

My meds are coming in tomorrow and I’m really hoping that columnaris is what’s causing this so I can save my remaining fish. What’s weird is before death, my fish appear to be losing control of their swim bladder and laying down on the substrate a lot
 

JenC

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I have done 2 large water changes since the first death and have now lost 8 fish, my bumblebee died today

My meds are coming in tomorrow and I’m really hoping that columnaris is what’s causing this so I can save my remaining fish. What’s weird is before death, my fish appear to be losing control of their swim bladder and laying down on the substrate a lot
Loss of equilibrium is a symptom of nitrate poisoning, which could have left them susceptible to opportunistic diseases like ich and columnaris. I'm just hypothesizing; I'm not saying that's definitely what happened or that this is certainly columnaris. It looks different than what I'm used to seeing with columnaris but it may just be a more advanced progression.

You have to shake the nitrate solution Bottle #2 really hard - I bang it on a table or my palm - especially if it's not been shaken in a while.

What are the current tank parameters?

Also: I've never had cichlids and know nothing about them. However, when I plug your tank details and stocking list into AQAdvisor it raises tons of warnings about the stocking combination and says the tank is severely under-filtered, and I didn't even include the three fish who died first.

Can someone who knows cichlids maybe take a look?

AqAdvisor - Intelligent Freshwater Tropical Fish Aquarium Stocking Calculator and Aquarium Tank/Filter Advisor
 

A201

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Most of the OP's cichlids are Mbuna and would do fine in a 60 gal. The Nimbochomis Venustus would eventually outgrow the tank. Both the Venustus and the Aulonocara / Peacock, are not well suited for a highly aggressive Mbuna community. Overcrowding is the name of the game in African cichild community tanks. The Op's stock numbers are not unusual.
 

JenC

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Most of the OP's cichlids are Mbuna and would do fine in a 60 gal. The Nimbochomis Venustus would eventually outgrow the tank. Both the Venustus and the Aulonocara / Peacock, are not well suited for a highly aggressive Mbuna community. Overcrowding is the name of the game in African cichild community tanks. The Op's stock numbers are not unusual.
Is under-filtering also typical for cichlids?
 

A201

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IMO, the Marineland Penguin filters are not very good.
An AC-110 or a Seachem Tidal 110 would be a far better choice. African cichlids require very clean water, a weekly 50% WC is a must. The OP's PH is a little low. The Africans to better with a PH of 8 - 8.2. The water temperature was a little low too. 78 - 82 degrees is optimal.
 
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4Trout

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I’ve been dosing with kanaplex/furan 2 combination as suggested and today is my first day without deaths since they started. I also noticed some algae looking stuff growing on the back of my tank and decor which is really odd, because I’ve never had algae problems prior to this whole fiasco. Picture attached, wondering if this is relevant or just a coincidence
 

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4Trout

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48 hours into treatment I came home to two fish dead... I’m at a loss for what to do...I’m going to continue treatment but at this point I only have 5 fish left
 
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4Trout

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Maybe they were already infected with columnaris, or maybe this is caused by something else entirely. Nitrates are not the issue, water quality is not the issue. What else could be causing this many deaths?
 
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