New Cichlid Won't Eat

  • #1
Hey guys!

I need help with another rescue. Long story short, he got dumped at LFS and my LFS guy knows I'm a softie. Thus, fish is now residing with me. After google and discussions with my LFS guy, I have him identified as a dwarf "Flag cichlid" also known as "Festive cichlid" or Mesonauta festivus.

He's much more active now than before- he's in my 20 gallon by himself (the other fish were temporarily moved to my other tanks so his quarantine would be in a nice big tank- I didn't know how sensitive he was to water parameters, etc.) The fin rot is gone, and he spends most of his time zooming around. He interacts with me more and more. Yay.

But he won't eat.

I've tried: Cichlid flakes, Cichlid pellets, Cichlid sticks, pellets/sticks that were first soaked in water to soften them, freeze-dried/rehydrated bloodworms, tropical fish flakes, and Omega frozen food. The Frozen food got him to take a bite. Otherwise, he just picks at the occasional piece of food before spitting it back out. I know live bloodworms may be the next step. If so, where do I obtain live food safely?

Question 1: Food ideas. I know he's stressed, but we're on day 5.

Question 2: 20 gallon tank- yes or no? He's gorgeous, but that's the max size I can get, and if I need to find him a new home I should start looking now. Survey says max size of 3-4 inches, but tall, not long. If yes...

Question 2.5: Research says they are compatible with tropical community fish. Barring mass re-organization of fish, he'd be in with zebra danios, otos, and corys. Compatible?

Question 3: Will he be okay by himself, or with the community fish? Or should I look to find another flag for a buddy?

Question 4: Bonus points for any useful species info!

THANK YOU all in advance for your help!

PS- If there is a Fishlore wonder-page on these guys, I couldn't find it.
  • #2

A 20 gal is to small IMO. They grow to around 4" in length and needs a much larger tank. Preferably 40+ gallons IMO. They are usually peaceful but can be aggressive during breeding but that won't matter as you only have one. They are compatible with other peaceful community fish. Tetras, small catfish, etc

If I recall correctly, Harpua got a few of these in stock a few months ago. She may know more about these cichlids. Id PM her for more information.
  • #3
Have you tried frozen brine shrimp? I've got a few finicky eaters that go nuts for the stuff. I break a small piece off and thaw it in some tank water in a container I don't care about. Might be worth a try. Also, how is your Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate?
  • #4
They can be skittish for some time. Mine took almost a week to start eating and he was in a 46 bow. Especially since he's in a reay small tank. Give it a few more days and eat out of starvation. But yes, they do need a much larger tank and can be good centerpiece fish. Tetras, platies, cories, plecos all make good tank mates in the proper sized aquarium.
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Thanks guys!

Water parameters are good (amm. 0, nitrite 0, nitrate~ 5-10ppm). Tank is planted with mix of live/silk, and I threw in some floaters as I read that they prefer lower light levels.

Thank you for the tank info. I'll have to start looking for a new home as I'm nursing him back to health, since my apartment won't permit anything above a 20 gallon. I figure nobody will take him while he has rot, though he's healing quickly. Will he be reasonably comfortable in there until I can find somebody who wants him? He's about 1.5 inches currently, including tail. For the fishes comfort, it should probably be soon, but it's always a challenge. He's swimming quite actively (I caught him playing in the bubbles this morning).

GirlsBeforeFish- Thanks! I will message Harpua.

Thank you all again!
  • #6
Just give a couple more days an he will prolly eat.sometimes it takes up to 5 days for a fish to eat
  • #7
Havent had fish that doesn't like bloodworm, frozen cubes thawed in a cup of tank water. From the smallest guppy upto the biggest cichlid goes nuts for em.

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