Bolivian Behavior Questions

cuteusagi
  • #1
HI all!!! I have a Bolivian Ram that has an odd diet (there are other posts about that) and I noticed today that he is acting very strange. He is not swimming around much, and the front half of his dorsal fin and his two pectoral fins are being kept very close to his body and he is not moving them at all. The back of his dorsal fin and all the others move just as they always do. I have let him eat the algae wafers, as that is the only food he will eat. Today, however, he didn't go for the wafer as usual and he looks thinner than normal (he always looks thin, as he really doesn't eat much). I am worried that he's not healthy, but all my other fish look fine. Does anyone know what might be contributing to this behavior?

Thanks always!
 
Chief_waterchanger
  • #2
If all he ever eats is algae wafers that will cause problems. He will be needing protein in his diet. If he gets hungry enough and is physically able to eat other stuff he will, you just have to stand up to him and be the boss.
 
cuteusagi
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
I have tried taking him off the algae wafers, and he spits out everything else I put in for him. He won't go to the surface for food either. I attempted putting the algae wafers in the tank after lights out when I knew the ram was asleep (for the corys), and he continued to spit out all food put in the tank. I have tried 3 types of food besides the algae wafers:
-Tropical Fish Flakes (Omega 1)
-HikarI Cichlid Staple floating pellets
-HikarI Cichlid Gold floating pellets
I soak the pellets before putting them in the tank so they sink, and he spits them out. The corys usually end up eating them.

So could the problem with his swimming and fins be from diet? I have never had a fish swim like this. I've looked in books and online for fish disease this might be, but can't find any symptoms that match.
 
TheEssigs
  • #4
Have you tried any frozen foods? BRs are supposed to like bloodworms and brineshrimp. HikarI makes little "ice-cube" foods that are triple filtered so there isn't any bacteria or pathogens in the food. Maybe you can try that?

Good Luck.
 
cuteusagi
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Thanks - I've been thinking about treating them...maybe now's a good time!!

Any ideas on the swimming and fins?
 
TheEssigs
  • #6
I can't say for sure, but usually clamped fins or fins that are held close to the body may indicate a parasite.
 
cuteusagi
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
The only fins that are clamped to his body are the front half of the dorsal and his 2 pectoral fins. There are no other fish with clamped fins in the tank. He does swim around still, but not quite as actively as he usually does. When he wants to try and eat something off the substrate, he often has to turn his whole body to get to it instead of just swimming to it.

I have experienced 2 fish deaths in the past week and a 1/2 or so...one was a zebra danio with a birth defect and one was a rubber nose pleco that we had only had for about 3 days. When we noticed the fish were gone, there was no sign or evidence they had ever been there.

With the Bolivian's lack of protein in his diet, could eating one of the dead fish have given him a parasite? How should I go about treatment/further diagnosis? We really love this fish and want to keep him and the rest of the community as healthy as possible. Any thoughts or ideas?
 
TheEssigs
  • #8
How are your water readings?
 
cuteusagi
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
My last readings showed 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and between 0 and 5 nitrate.
 
TheEssigs
  • #10
Ok. Good.

Does he flash/rub/scratch himself against anything at all?
 
cuteusagi
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Nope...no flashing or rubbing or scratching. I've been watching him really closely all night (even though now it's lights off and they're all slowing down for sleeping now except the corys). He is less active, and when "sitting" in place, sometimes he tilts from one side to the other...it is extremely slight, but outside of the norm for him. He usually adjusts himself or swims somewhere else when that happens. I don't know if that really means anything or if it's me just trying to pull something out of nothing. Just a worried fish owner!!
 
Jacko
  • #12
Clamped fins can indicate stress, being malnourished can cause stress.

If you can't get him to eat live/frozen food then try making your own special fish food. Take some spirulina tabs and leave them whole, crush up a shrimp pellet. Then mix in a tiny bit of vegetable oil to the powdered shrimp pellets, mix into a paste. Coat the algae tabs in the paste and let dry on a cutting board or something of the sort. Feed him as you normally would except use the special food.

Good luck!!!!
 
TheEssigs
  • #13
Since your water readings are fine, and there are no outward signs of sores, flashing or infection, I would try and keep a close eye on him, as well as the other tank inhabitants to see if they develop the same behavior. In the meantime, see if you can get him to eat something other than the veggie tabs. If all else fails, you can also try adding vitamins to the water. Although I haven't tried them myself, some FishLore folks swear by them.
 
cuteusagi
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
Quick Update! We got some frozen bloodworms today and my husband fed the fishes this evening. Our zebra danios ate everything from the first round in a matter of seconds, and the second round the angel got some too. He put our tank divider in to let the ram get at them too, and he only ate a few (maybe 3-4) and ignored the rest.

He still doesn't look "full" on his bottom side, and the same fins are still clamped. His coloring looks good and it does change every once in a while as usual, but he is less active today than ever. He's never been a big eater, so could he possibly have had a parasite when we got him? And if so, what should we do to either find out or treat him for it?
 
Jacko
  • #15
Try isolating him, a spare 10 gallon would do great. Watch him extra close there and that way he will get some food. He might be wild caught or pampered before and need to be weened on to prepared foods off of live, start out with some live Brine Shirmp, mix in a little mysis or bloodworms everyso often, gently increasing the amount, then do this with all the foods. Hopefully he will learn to except them.
 
cuteusagi
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
Thanks so much for the idea!!! We don't have a spare 10 gallon, but we do have a little 5 gallon that should be ok for him temporarily. I just finished setting it up, and we'll probably try to move him as fast as we can. I'll keep a watch on the water chemistry and when it's ready, we'll do the move. I added some of our cycle product which really did the trick in our bigger tank. I just want to make sure he survives the move.

I did a water test of the big tank, and our nitrates are much higher than usual (around 20 ppm), but the tank is due for a water change, so hopefully that will fix that issue. Would you recommend moving him after or before our weekly water change? We just don't want to strss him out too much more than he already is.

Also, where do you recommend obtaining the live foods? Would our lfs have them ready to go, or would we need a brine shrimp hatchery type contraption? Would freeze dried food work, or would it be a safer bet to go with 100% live?

Thanks again for all your help! We just want to see our ram back to his old self and healthy!!!
 
Jacko
  • #17
Most small LFS's carry live tubifex, brine shrimp or bloodworms (if your lucky with the bloodworms). Stay away from freeze dried, it isn't that good for fish unless fed in tiny amounts, which probably isn't best for this situation.
 
Chief_waterchanger
  • #18
Actually,

Frozen foods are better than freeze dried, but they really are not that bad for fish. We have fed freeze dried bloodworms to 100 of our tanks atleast a couple dozen times now and have had no issues at all from it.

Also it depends on the quality of your local fish store as to whether they choose to carry those products. Where I live in a metro area with over 1.25 million people in the area and there is not a shop within 100 miles of me that I've seen carry any live-food other than feeder goldfish and guppies.
 
Jacko
  • #19
I have always found after feeding any of my fish just a small pinch full that they swell up and sometimes die. It is supposed to be because of them expanding in their stomachs though I soaked mine before hand too.???
 
Chief_waterchanger
  • #20
I hope my post didn't sound like I was saying what you said isn't a proper observance of your experiences.

I understand tiny tidbits that don't even register as pertinent can influence things such as how my fish respond to certain foods versus someone else's fish. Their situations are different, therefore their responses verywell may be also. We feed small pinches and usually the fish we feed them to only get probably 3-4 a piece before they are all gone, if that many. A tank with 10 adult guppies getting a small pinch for example.
 
Jacko
  • #21
Okay then, you use it as a treat for your fish right?
 
cuteusagi
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
Thank you all so much for all your wonderful help!!! To my absolute amazement this morning, I checked on our Bolivian, and he was fine!! Fins were no longer clamped, he was swimming around, and looked active and healthy (still thin, but healthy!). I have no idea what happened between a few days ago and today to cause all the physical symptoms to go away, but I know he's still not getting the proper nutrition he needs and we're still going to separate him into his own private tank tonight to get him eating some brine shrimp and wean him into eating the other foods.

When I was at my lfs today, I told them what was going on, and they said that he should still be going to the surface for food, and if that's not happening, then there is something he is not happy with or is too intimidated to go to the surface for food. They believed that it wasn't the actual food so much as the environment. They also suggested moving him and using the brine shrimp for a while. Any thoughts on this possibility?
 
Jacko
  • #23
Good to hear that!!

Also, good that your lfs can back up our advice here. Even if it is for another reason. Like once while I was in there they told me the only thing to feed my danios was their most expensive frozen food! Meh, heres to a swift recovery!!!
 
cuteusagi
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
I think he'll be ok...I'm going to start him on some frozen brine shrimp tomorrow, and today he did eat some of the small cichlid pellets from the surface of the water!!! He ate all 3!!!! I was so happy, and now I'm wondering if there is some kind of intimidation going on in the tank that stops him from going to the surface. The only thing I can think is that it is the danio activity or the angelfish (although the angel usually eats separately from the danios). Could this keep him from wanting to go to the surface for food? If so, will we ever be able to put him back in the big tank??
 
Jacko
  • #25
The danios could possibly intimidate him from the surface but that wouldn't explain why he didn't eat the pellets you dropped in to the water for him.
 
cuteusagi
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
Quick Update: I've been feeding the Bolivian frozen brine shrimp, and he has taken to them very well!!! His tummy is full every time after I feed him, and he is doing very well!!! I'm going to keep this up for a while, and then start re-introducing him to the flake and pellets. Hopefully he'll take to them!!
 
Jacko
  • #27
GOOD!!! Glad to hear he is doing better! I know my GBR's loved shrimp pellets, just didn't know about bolivians. Never fed them any.
 
cuteusagi
  • Thread Starter
  • #28
Well, I've tried reintroducing him to the cichlid pellets and the flakes, and he is still spitting them out consistently!!! I really want to get him to the point that I can put him back in the bigger tank, but I'm worried because of how he's eating. If I put the brine shrimp in the big tank, the zebra danios and the angelfish usually devour it in a matter of seconds, and I want to make sure he gets some too if put back in the big tank.

Any ideas on how to get him to not spit out the other food types?
 

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