Cichlids Refusing Food And Getting Skinny

Jagger Proietti

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Fish have been in tank for a week:
I have 5 electric yellow cichlids (3 males and 2 females unfortunately), 2 interruptus (1male1female), a mystery fish(too small to tell what it is, may be acei), and I just bought 3 new aratus cichlids recently. all the fish are between 3-4 inches. They are kept in a 36G aquarium. They're acting pretty normal for the most part, except for the fact that they're not eating and they like to hide a bit (although the past few days they've been acting less stressed). They are very skinny now, and they want to eat. they come up to the top of the tank when I come over to them and get excited, but when I put food in they either swim away or just spit it out. Ive tried flakes (the flakes are a few years old, but haven't reached the expiration date yet), peas, tubifex worms, and brine shrimp. Help is appreciated!!
 

Demeter

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Can you post a few pictures of the fish? Have you noticed any white stringy poo? Can you test the water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and temp? Is the water soft or hard?

I suggest you switch to pellets, my smaller cichlids seem to do better on small pellets like Aqueon minI cichlid pellets and Cobalt spirulina pellets. I mainly feed flakes to fry, with adults it gets messy and a lot goes to waste. You have mbuna cichlids so I would also avoid protein rich foods (tubifex, brine shrimp, blood worms etc). Mbuna are primarily vegetarians and when food high protein diets they can get backed up and it cause MalawI bloat.
 
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Jagger Proietti

Jagger Proietti

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They haven’t pooped in a while to the fact that they haven’t been eating, but I saw one recently and it looked normal. I’ll stay away from the proteins then just in case. I don’t think they have bloat because they’re really deflated. Also I don’t have any water testers currently but I know the pH is 7.8+ and the hardness is between 120 and 180. No chlorine either. Temp is 80F. My electric yellows are very dark too, looks like they’re stressed a bit.
 

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Demeter

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I'd need to know the other parameters before knowing for sure it isn't a water quality issue. Just in case I suggest you start doing larger and more frequent water changes, say 3 50% water changes a week. I only say this because the tank is new, the fish are new and you can't test the water right now so better safe than sorry. Did you cycle the tank before adding the fish? If the ammonia and nitrite levels are high that can cause them to refuse food.
 
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Jagger Proietti

Jagger Proietti

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I cycled the tank for about a week with their old tank’s filter cartridge and added a few gallons of their old tank water. I’ll get some water testers and some pellets for them next time I’m out, and for now I’ll do some water changes!
 

Demeter

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Using the filter cartridge was a good step, but did you add an ammonia source for the bacteria to feed on? If not then the cycle was not going anywhere during that week, a good portion of the bacteria likely starved and died. Adding old/used tank water doesn’t do much either as the beneficial bacteria reside on surfaces (decor, substrate, filter media) not in the water column.

Keep up on the water changes and hopefully they take to the food quickly. Good luck!
 
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Jagger Proietti

Jagger Proietti

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Thank you! I was adding some flakes to the tank to give the bacteria food, but not sure if that does much
 

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