Blood Parrot Cichlid staying on bottom, turned pale white, listing sideways

  • #1
HI all! About three days ago my blood parrot Cichlid started acting very antisocial and stopped being interested in food. He is usually very active and curious and always moves around the entire tank. Also he is usually the first to eat in the morning. Please help he is my baby!

Hiding in back corner behind plants
Resting on the gravel bottom
Listing on his side
Pale almost white
Fins standing up
Gills redder than normal

55 gallon tank - established 1 year ago
76 degrees F
2 Tetra Whisper EX70 filters
Other fish = 6 silver dollar, 4 neon tetra, 3 plecos
40% PWC every other week
pH 7.6
nitrate 40-80
nitrite 0
ammonia 0

Please offer any advice. Thank you.
  • #2
Your tank is severely over stocked and under maintained. The poor water quality got to him.
  • #3
First, let's get a water change. Try to keep your nitrates below 20 if you can with weekly changes rather than every other week. Stability is pretty important.

I don't know what's wrong or what's causing the fish to act like that, but let's try to prevent as much stress as possible.
Can you possibly put him in a quarantine tank?
Can you turn down the light or put some floating plants to lower it? (They really should be in medium lighting; yours looks pretty high.)
Any chance of pH fluctuations? (KH, GH could help).

I'm not sure if your stocking is the best, but if none of the fish are bothering it, then it isn't your priority right now.

Did it have any injuries? My parrot fish was driven to a similar state due to an injury and passed away due to bacteria since he couldn't eat. Do you use sinking pellets to feed your parrot fish?
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Thanks Talisaint.

I did a 25% water change yesterday right after posting this. Also I have been keeping the light off for three weeks or so because I realized it was too bright (based on research online) and haven't been able to get a softer bulb.

I can certainly do weekly water changes.....should I be doing 25%? 35%? What's the target?

I'll check the KH and GH tomorrow and post it.

I don't believe he/she has had an injury.

How overstocked am I? I rescued the 6 silver dollars and the largest pleco about 12 months ago from a neighbor and everyone was doing really well together so I decided to keep them all. What is the ideal tank size for the community that I currently have?

Yes I can put him in a quarantine 10 gallons too small? I also have a 29 gallon. Please describe the steps to establishing a quarantine tank so I don't stress him out even more.

Thank you thank you for your help.
  • #5
Make water changes so that it stays below 20ppm nitrate at all times if possible. I personally have an overstocked tank due to my circumstances and I had to make at least a 40% change twice a week to keep things as stable as I can without killing my water bill during a drought.

If you can, at least test nitrates every other day to determine how to change your water. You might only have to do 20% changes twice a week.

I don't know your stocking very well. You can only keep one pleco in a tank as long as it's a BN or a smaller variety. If they're common pleco, try to rehome them in someone else's pond. Those guys are territorial and will fight if there's not enough space. A common pleco needs over 100 gallons minimum. Silver dollars need 75 gallon bare minimum since they prefer to school.

The larger the QT the better. You'll need another heater and filter. You can insta-cycle your QT by using your main tank's sponge temporarily. I suggest you go on YouTube or so, haha. If you can, use your 29g. If not, your ten will suffice for now since your Parrot fish is still small.

Please update us on his condition! Has he been eating?
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Again, thank you Talisaint

My little guy looks worse today. He is laying on his side on the bottom of the tank not really moving. When he does move around it looks like he is weighted and he drops right back to the bottom. He has no interest in food.

Nitrates are still high. I just did a 40% water change. How long do I have to wait after a PWC before I can test again? I need to test the KH and GH too. Can I do a PWC daily or should I wait a day in between? Is it possible to do too many water changes? I'll do it twice a day everyday if I have to.

Regarding the plecos....I've had all three in the tank for over a year and they get along swimmingly. They even hang out together a lot of the time. I will still look for a new home for two of them.

I can't set up the quarantine tank until tomorrow but I will use the 29 gallon and follow your suggestions.

I just feel awful about how sick he is!! And so helpless.
  • #7
76 degrees is really the bare minimum for blood parrots. They do better closer to 80 from my research. But if he's having a hard time staying up right then it could be swim bladder which is usually from poor water quality, constipation, eating too much, low quality food, or a combo of some or all.

The best thing you can do right now though is up the temp a few degrees, get those nitrates below 20 (several 50% wager changes should do it), and feed him some greens if he'll eat or consider changing the diet
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Appreciate the tips tyguy7760

Anyone have suggestions for quality blood parrot food?
What about quality silver dollar food?

Is it ok to do PWCs daily?
  • #9
you can do pwc's every hour if you need to. just make sure the water is close to the same within a degree or so.

I feed mine NLS thera a formula and omega one flakes and shrimp pellets
  • #10
I agree with tyguy, get your nitrates down asap. It sounds like the problem may be stemming from the water and food. Try feeding a de shelled pea to get him to poop. Sometimes with cichlids this can happen if they have too much protein. Are you feeding veggies? What is your feeding scheduling and with what foods?
  • #11
Also any live plants in the tank? These can also help with digestion. I try to keep some anacharis in the tank for my cichlids to munch on.
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
This morning I went to do another water change and my cichlid had passed away during the night. I feel totally responsible for his death and won't let it happen again! I'm going to be extremely diligent with the water conditions.
Thanks to all for your help I sincerely appreciate it.

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