I can't seem to cure Hole-In-The-Head!

  1. TigerStar Initiate Member

    I have a 55 gallon tank with 8 African cichlids in it, that's been set up since 2014 with an Undergravel Filter. In late May, I noticed a fish had a bit of skin dangling from his head, so when I got a closer look, I noticed that he had holes on his head! I immediately got some API General Cure packs, and tried it, and it seemed to work out quite well. However, about two weeks after I used the packets, I noticed another fish with skin tissue hanging from her head, and some holes in her head. I got more API General Cure packs, but it didn't seem to work as well as before. I've been changing the water everyday since last Friday to try to ensure good water quality, but I still notice little bits of skin tissue hanging from my fishes' heads, and most of them seem to have holes in their head at this point. I don't know if this is a coincidence or not, but the only two that don't appear to be infected are both Mbunas (Yellow Tail acei, and a yellow lab). The fish behave fine, but I'm getting a bit worried that skin tissue is still dangling from their head, after all that I've done. In some ways, I'm ready to just give up, and take a break from the fish hobby, cause it's getting WAY too stressful. Am I not doing water changes correctly? Before this disease popped up, (and when I first started caring for fish) I've been siphoning 20% of the water every week. No fish seemed sick, until last May, where I purchased a yellow lab, a yellow tail acei, an aulonacara stuartgranti, a Protomelas Taeniolatus Red Empress breeding pair from a TCA Auction, and added them to my tank of a lemon jake male, an Aulonacara Jacobrefergei female, and a Copadichromis Female. When will I EVER know that the HITH disease on my fish is gone? Am I just worrying too much, or am I too inpatient? For more info:

    The first fish who appeared sick was the Aulonacara Stuartgranti Male.

    The main fish who keep having skin tissue dangling from their head are the Aulonacara Suartgranti Male, and the Red Empress Female.

    The infected fish appear to be the Stuartgranti Male, the Lemonjake, the Jacobbrefergei, the Redempress male and female, and the Copadichromis female. As said before, the Yellow Lab and Yellow Tail Acei don't appear to be infected, and they're both ironically Mbunas.

    Please help. I've been worrying sick about this, and I'm almost about ready to give up, and quit this fish hobby.

    Can/Will provide pictures if needed.

    EDIT: Here's pictures:





  2. hampalong Fishlore VIP Member

    You've been wasting your time with API General Cure. That will not cure HITH. You need Metronidazole... Octozin, Clout, etc.

    What are the water parameters?

    Can you post pictures?
  3. TigerStar Initiate Member

    So I wasted my time? Well ...

    I cannot post the parameters unfortunately as I don't have a test kit.

    I added some pics to the OP. The fish I took pictures of appeared to have gotten worse when I got home.
    I've almost about had it with fish. What do you think would work best in curing HITH? I need something that works fast, and can quickly be used in the tank.
  4. hampalong Fishlore VIP Member

    You will need a treatment which contains metronidazole as mentioned above, but it's unlikely to work well if the stressor (if any) isn't removed, which is why you need to know the water parameters. Bad water, poor diet, lack of cleanliness...these make HITH both more likely and more difficult to treat. I'm not saying you have these stressors, just that you can't know without test kits.

    We would need to know full water parameters (pH, hardness, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate), temperature, how regularly the substrate is cleaned, what foods you feed, how often you water change and how much... this is all basic information you should know at all times really...

  5. TigerStar Initiate Member

    Thanks for the reply. I have a feeling the water quality's probably the problem, although I don't know for sure. I've actually never had 8 cichlids all at once in a 55 gallon tank, so I feel due to the tank being overcrowded, the fish are naturally building up waste, thus the water quality's getting bad.

    I'll get a test kit as soon as possible, but as far as information I can give you:

    Temperature is generally in the 80 range. I feed them Tetra cichlid cichlid crisps most of the time, but lately I've been giving them some lettuce too to try to improve their diet. I would do water changes once a week, and change 20% of the aquarium water. Since this disease has popped up though, I've been doing it everyday since last Friday, and yesterday, I changed 40% of the aquarium water for the first time. Do you think more frequent water changes would help?
  6. Skyy2112 Member Member

    Oscars get this commonly due to vitamin deficiencies. A general cure for oscars is gut loading insects w/ veggies.

    Try some blanched veggies!
  7. TigerStar Initiate Member

    Thanks, but... They're not Oscars.

    And also, I just noticed my Lemonjake appears to be developing some weird green stuff on his body. Does this usually happen with HITH?
  8. hampalong Fishlore VIP Member

    Not sure about the green, it's not a known symptom of HITH.

    At this stage it seems you might be changing enough water. Without knowing the parameters I can't say you need to change more, but as long as the new water is similar in parameters (pH, hardness, temperature) and dechlorinated, then a water change is never a bad thing.

    Keeping the substrate clean, a varied diet, minimising aggression etc (eliminating stressors) are all things that will help, but you won't actually cure it without metronidazole.

    With UG filtration I assume you don't have any carbon in the system. The dust from this has also been connected to HITH.
  9. TigerStar Initiate Member

    Substrate you mean gravel right? I should start giving them more greens and probably a bit more protein as well, right? The Stuartgranti has been harassing the Lemonjake and Jacobbrefergei female a lot. How can I stop him from doing that? I have a power filter with carbon in the filter, but I removed it since I heard it may be the cause of HITH. How well has Clout been known to cure fish with HITH? I may try it out. Either way, I'll look into getting a decent test kit tomorrow probably.
  10. hampalong Fishlore VIP Member

    Just re-read your stocking... Mbunas and Haps/Peacocks should never be kept together anyway, because mbunas are herbivores and are prone to bloat if they get high protein foods, whereas the others need high protein foods. Also mbuna as a rule are much more aggressive than Peacocks, so this could be a reason why the Peacocks are stressed and the mbunas aren't.

    The Peacocks should have a varied diet. Tetra crisps are good but no one food is sufficient. Give them various frozen foods aswell, and veg and/or a spirulina based dried food.

    Mbunas should only have veg-based foods as they've evolved to eat mainly algae, so it would probably be best if you removed them, for both dietary and aggression reasons.
    LeoDiaz might give you some more info about them. I don't keep Malawis. :)

    Clout is supposed to be good for HITH. I haven't used it because we have Octozin in the UK.
  11. Skyy2112 Member Member

    Just because they arent oscars doesnt mean a vitamin deficiency isnt the same with other fish. Oscars maybe more prone to showing signs or lack certain things. Plus why not feed more than one food? Veggies are great treats for fish.

    Also large amounts of protein can cause bloat easier.
  12. TigerStar Initiate Member

    The Mbunas are actually very peaceful with the Peacocks. I'm not sure if it's them that are causing the stress, the Stuartgranti has been the most aggressive honestly. Should I still remove them for dietary reasons? What exactly do you mean by frozen foods? Does that mean frozen shrimp, peas, etc. should be given to them?

    Okay, I guess I'll try Clout. I hope all my questions aren't driving you crazy, cause truth is, I always ask lots of questions to be sure of things. :)

    I appreciate your advice too, as I've found it very helpful.

    EDIT: Also, the Lemonjake and the Jacobbrefergei female seem to be the only stressed fish if any. The Stuartgranti male, who while has it very bad, seems to behave fine, as well as the other fish. That's why I think water quality's the problem. Even the fish who don't seem stressed at all, are getting some holes on their head.

    Okay. I didn't mean to come of as rude before, I apologize if I did.

    And yeah, which is why I'd probably feed my fish protein only once or twice a week.
  13. LeoDiaz Fishlore VIP Member

    The peacocks are most likely under constant stress from the mbunas I would move the peacock to a hospital tank alone and treat them like said above.
  14. TigerStar Initiate Member

    Is the just plain presence of the Mbunas stressing them out? Cause as I said before, the Mbunas don't terrorize them, and most don't seem stressed, other then the Lemonjake and Jacobbrefergei female, who are probably stressed because the Stuartgranti male is harassing them constantly. So, should I move just the peacocks to a hospital tank, cause I do have a Copadichromis female, and a red empress male and female. And what's the best way to do that without stressing them out, cause I last time I attempted to move a fish to a hospital tank, it died from the disease it caught, and the sudden change in water. I feel like some fish may seriously stress out from the sudden change in water chemistry.
  15. LeoDiaz Fishlore VIP Member

    Yea most peacock are under stress just with the presence of the mbunas. You only have to remove the sick peacock to the new tank. And why would the water chemistry change? You can fill the hospital tank with the same tank water as the display tank.
  16. hampalong Fishlore VIP Member

    Fill the hospital tank from the main tank, then top up the main tank with new water. You need to seperate the mbuna and Peacocks anyway for dietary reasons.

    By frozen I meant the various blister packs of frozen foods available for fish... bloodworm, brine shrimp, Mysis, krill, etc...

    I assume the hospital tank has a fully cycled filter...?
  17. TigerStar Initiate Member

    Got my water tested today. Here's the parameters:

    Temperature: 80.7 F
    pH: 7.8
    Ammonia: 0 ppm
    Nitrite: 0 ppm
    Nitrate: 40-80 ppm
  18. TigerStar Initiate Member

    Okay, the green stuff on the Lemonjake looks kinda like algae growing on him.

    The Copadichromis female has no holes in her head, however though, she seems to be losing skin on her body instead. Common symptom of HITH?

    The yellow lab kinda looks like he has a few smallish holes now.

    So, is it even worth setting up a hospital tank when pretty much all of my fish appear to be sick at this point? I'm not sure a 10 gallon tank will suffice.