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Old 01-14-2012, 07:12 PM   #1
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Mbunas with sunken bellies

My Africans have been getting skinnier and skinnier over the last few months and I'm not sure what to do now.

It started about two weeks after I introduced 3 peacocks that had been in QT for a month. They'd been treated in the beginning of QT with Jungle's Parasite Guard because I thought they were a little skinny and I had noticed there were a few sunken bellies in the tank they'd been in. Almost a month after treatment and no symptoms they went into the main tank.

All my fish, the Peacocks included, have no other symptoms of internal parasites. They are all active, great eaters, and I've had 4 fish holding this month. No stringy white poop. But, they keep getting skinnier. I've heard that sometimes the lower fish on the totem pole can be skinnier but they're all getting food and my bosses are skinny too. I feed them once a day with NLS Thera-A.

I've got 6 yellow labs, 10 yellow tail Acei, 6 red zebras, 3 peacocks and 1 rusty in my 100 gallon tank.
Water parameters:
Am: 0, NO2: 0, NO3: 20-40 (sometimes jumps to 80, makes me crazy! I do 50-75% PWC when the reading gets this high), pH: 7.8-8.0.
40% PWCs or more every 5-7 days.

A month ago I treated with Prazipro, following the directions to give two doses with PWCs between them. No changes, and I may be imagining things but a few look a little more sunken.

A week ago I gave the first dose of APIs General Cure (metronidazole and praziquantel), and the second dose 48 hours later, then followed 2 days after that with a PWC.

I know it's too soon to tell if that is going to work. But if it doesn't....any ideas?
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:14 PM   #2
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Your fish look fine to me?? You have treated them pretty aggressively with no other signs like lowered appitite or deaths. Does any of your meds contain epsom salt? I wouldnt give anymore meds your fish look great in thoes pics. Maybe try feeding them smaller amounts twice a day.
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Old 01-14-2012, 11:50 PM   #3
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That's what I was hoping to hear. I haven't used anything with epsom salts...would that be a good or a bad thing?

I thought it was a parasite because of the difference in their appearance, not necessarily how sunken their bellies are. They used to have flat or even slightly rounded bellies. I do see a lot of cichlids at pet stores with similar shapes, but mine seem to be shrinking instead of growing. I'll feed them twice a day from now on and see if they flatten out a bit.

Thanks!
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Old 01-14-2012, 11:57 PM   #4
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I'm fairly new but have a 75 gallon African tank and your fish look fine to me.
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:25 AM   #5
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I'm so glad to hear this, thanks guys. I have never had mbunas before. Maybe they're just a little hungry, lol.
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Old 01-15-2012, 07:01 AM   #6
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Your fish are in great condition
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:29 AM   #7
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Epsom salt is a good thing in the proper dosage. Its one of the additives in chichlid salt. It causes the fish to loose water. Its part of the treatment for malawi bloat. Since you havent had any death or odd behavior I wouldnt worry too much. What do you feed?
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:53 AM   #8
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How old are your fish? I've found that the shrunken belly also comes with age.
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Old 01-15-2012, 08:14 PM   #9
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Wy, Most of my fish were born in June- that would be the yellow labs and acei. The others I'm not so sure because I bought them from pet stores but they've all been about the same size as I've purchased them. They've all at least doubled in size, many have tripled so they weren't that old when I got them. Maybe they're just growing into their bodies now.

JMedic, I feed NLS and blanched zucchini once or twice a week. I alternate between the NLS cichlid formula and Thera-a, but that's really just because I have them both. I've been feeding exclusively Thera-a now for a few weeks to see if it would help their bellies.

Speaking of Epsom salt...what do you guys use, if anything, to harden your water or attempt to replicate more closely the water from the rift lakes?
I have some crushed coral mixed with my sand, but not a lot. I had it in pouches in my filters but I think that, even with regular rinsing, it was turning into a nitrate factory so I just took them out. I purchased some of the Seachem Malawi/Victoria Buffer after a conversation with my lfs employee. I meant to grab the Cichlid Salt (or something close to that) and realized after I used it that it's actually a pH buffer- NOT what I intended. Soon after putting it in, the whole tank is getting it on and the next thing I knew a bunch were holding. Wow!
My pH runs around 7.8 but it's holding at 8 now. I'm using the rest of the expensive container but in very, very small amounts to keep it from changing too dramatically.
Outside of coral, sandstone, (dead) live rock - do you guys use anything? I've always gone by the "they'll adjust" principle but they really started breeding with the slight increase.

And Garfy, thanks!

I'm glad to hear from others with cichlids that they look fine and and I'm not dealing with something.
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:25 PM   #10
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It depends on your tap water params...Whatever your doing its working...All I do for mine is dead live rock in my sump and occasional cichlid salt...Now the expensive salt can be easily replicated using everyday drugstore chems..The seachem salt hardens up your water well. Research the difference between GH and PH.. Buffering with deadlive rock or cichlid buffer raises your PH...The salts raise your hardness. With magnesium, calcium ect...I have real river rocks in my tank and my hardness is always above 100. With the deadrock in the sump my ph is always 8.2. Depending on the tap measurements will depend if you need to add any buffer and salt. I hope that wasnt to confusing...All in all you dont need to do anything. You can research making your own buffers and salts pretty easy. Its just baking soda, epsom salt, and regular aquarium salt for the most part.
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