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Old 12-19-2016, 11:23 PM   #1
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Help - is it bloat? Is it too late??

Today I noticed that the belly of my favorite fish in the tank had a distinctly larger than usual belly. Im pretty new to keeping cichlids but Ive of course heard of the dreaded Malawi Bloat so I practically dove for the keyboard to look up more details. I really fear that my initial thoughts are correct and that this is advanced stages of bloat but I thought Id come to the boards and ask some far more experienced that myself. Is it bloat? Is there any hope of saving him or is it too late already? Im really hoping its possible to save him.

Yesterday or the day before he looked fine. I was fairly busy yesterday so I admit I didnt do as much aquarium gazing as I usually do but like I said, this guy is my favorite so he catches my eye a bit more than the others. He still seems pretty active, isnt hanging on the bottom at all does go behind the rocks a tad more than usual. Also, hes not quite as graceful as usual when he moves. I read that could be his swim bladder affected by the bloat? His appetite also doesnt look affected as he bolts to the surface with the rest of them any time I get near the tank.

Here are my tank parameters, habits, and activity of the last few days.

75 gal, Aquaclear 110 HOB and Marineland C360 Canister
20 juveniles 2-2.5 with this affected one being the largest at closer to 3-3.5
pH 7.6 / Nitrite 0 / Nitrate 5-10 / Ammonia 0.25-0.5
25-30% Water changes 1-2x per week
Food is New Life Spectrum Grow fed 2x/day what they eat in 30-40 seconds. On Wednesdays as a treat I give them 1 small brick of frozen krill. On Sundays I dont feed them at all
I do not have a hospital tank

Friday 12/16 Fed them as usual in the morning. Later in the day I tried giving them cut up zucchini for the first time. They seemed to find it interesting and poked at it for a while but I removed most of it from the tank an hour or so later. At that time, I noticed the bellies of a few of my new fish that Id just gotten earlier in the week from a LFS near work looked a little concave so I looked up sunken belly. Fed them as usual that night.

Saturday 12/17 Fed them as usual in the morning. Later went a different LFS near my house and he recommended Seachem SulfaPlex mixed with their food. I mixed 14 units + what I normally feed them + a little bit of water for about 30-60 seconds and then dumped it in the tank. All the fish, including this one, went to town on the medicated food. About an hour later I remembered to remove the carbon from my HOB filter.

Sunday 12/18 Everyone seems more perky than usual, making me quite happy. Did not feed at all, performed a 30% PWC.

Monday 12/19 Fed them this morning as usual and when I came home from work, tried feeding them shelled peas for the first time. Wow they loved that. About an hour later I realized I forgot to remove the Purigen from my canister filter and removed it. Thats when I noticed my fav with the bloated belly . I wont be feeding them tonight.

Video taken tonight while writing this: https://youtu.be/txPMN3vCUXQ
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Old 12-20-2016, 09:06 AM   #2
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I don't see bloat, my convict looks exactly the same, maybe not as full looking from a front view, the ammonia is what concerns me, you test with a liquid test kit in assuming if so do you check your tap water because it's the winter months and some water plants add chlorine, if none in the tap do you condition the water with prime or some other brand? Have you seen this particular fish poop?
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Old 12-20-2016, 09:17 AM   #3
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Help - is it bloat? Is it too late??

Thanks for the reply!

- Yes, I use the API liquid ammonia checker. I have not checked the tap - will do so tonight when I get home.
- Yes, I treat the water whenever I do PWC - 2 cap fulls of Prime and 1 cap full of API StressCoat.
- Usually I see this particular fish poop and it's not white or stringy. After seeing his stomach, I kept a frequent eye out for white stringy but I did not see him poop at all last night.

Hopeful news: Not sure if it is wishful thinking as I was late and in a rush getting out the door this morning but this morning he looks improved. Stomach still looks bigger than it should be but his body doesn't look swollen anymore at all and his stomach looked much less swollen than yesterday. I tried to get a pic this morning omw out to post to this thread but they were swarming for food, moving too quickly and in too much of a pack for me to get a clear shot. He's definitely still interested in food, but I did not feed them this morning. Unless I get advice otherwise, I'm planning to feed them the SulfaPlex medicated food tonight. Fingers crossed and hoping for the best.
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Old 12-20-2016, 09:21 PM   #4
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So I got home and was pleasantly surprised so see his belly completely back to normal. So what does this mean? Was he just THAT stuffed? Sighing a happy sigh of relief.

Checked the tap and no ammonia. Checked the ammonia in the tank again today and we're up to 0.75-1.0! fed them their medicine and will do a 30-40% PWC in about 30 minutes.

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Old 12-20-2016, 11:46 PM   #5
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Hmm, we need to find out where the ammonia is coming from you have 2 strong filters that should be able to handle your bio load, do you vac the substrate? I'm just throwing things out there, if you use a python then yes you dose the whole tank, maybe you're over cleaning it as I have done to my tank before, vaccine the whole gravel bed, cleaning filters every week, scrubbing the tank down every week which will lead to your tank not constantly cycling , what's your nitrates? You should only clean the AC 110 even if slows down on flow or lifts the basket, I clean mine every month or month and a half in tank water I siphoned it, hope this is how you do it as well because if you clean the filter in tap water you're killing your beneficial bacteria, is the tank fully established? probably a silly question but I'm just reaching here, you shouldn't have to condition that much if you do use a python it would be 7.5 ml of prime but I always go over about 0.5-1ml, I do it with buckets so I take out 20 gal and treat the water going back in with 2.5-3ml hope that's not confusing. The best kit to get is an api master liquid freshwater test kit as you can test everything.
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Old 12-21-2016, 12:11 AM   #6
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No silly questions, especially when questioning me as I am still new to large tanks and cichlids. Before now biggest thing I ever kept was a 20gal with gourami in it

I have Caribsea Arag-alive Figi Pink sand which is relatively fine, about 1mm granules. The sand came in a wet bag with bacteria in it and is supposed to compress the cycle to about 3 weeks and says you can put in fish from day 1, not to exceed 1" per gallon during those first few weeks. I currently have about 50-60" of fish in a 75 gal tank with 60lb of sand. The majority of my rock-scaping is resin with a few pounds of marble stones in to help look good and buffer the pH. Plants are all silk.

The sand is relatively fine - about 1mm granules - so syphoning it is hard to do without sucking up sand. I have a syphon but not anything nice like a Python. So to answer your question, all I'm doing is kina poking at the gravel or hovering over it to pick up the poop but not the sand. The filters seem to be doing a good job of picking it up, though, as there rarely seems to be much to pick up. I see it there after feeding times and then look again in an hour or two and it's gone.

I just realized earlier tonight when I was dealing with that PWC that I was overdosing the Prime. I thought it was 1 cap to 10 gal, not 1 cap to 50 gal - totally misread the label. Tonight I did 2 cap fulls of Prime for 50% PWC.

I've cleaned the AC110 twice and the C360 once since getting it. But the extent of that is, for the AC110, I take everything out and dump the white sediment out that collects at the bottom and then take a dry paper towel to wipe up whatever sediment is left down at the bottom. I then replace the filter floss and everything goes back in. Tap water isn't even turned on. For the C360, I take everything out, replace the filter floss, dump out the canister (which looks to have plenty of sand particles floating in it) and give the empty canister a quick rinse with tap water to get stubborn sand particles out. Then I put everything back in again. None of the baskets or media get rinsed. Nothing in there is old enough yet to get replaced. I've only had the canister 2 weeks.

I had been testing with API 5-in-1 test strips and API liquid ammonia kit. My API Master Freshwater liquid test kit arrived today and here are my numbers from BEFORE the PWC:

pH: 8.2 / Nitrite: 0 / Nitrate: 0-10 / Ammonia: 0.75-1.0

About an hour after the PWC now and Ammonia is down to 0.25-0.5
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Old 12-22-2016, 05:08 AM   #7
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Did you Check the tap with the api master liquid test kit? If not do so as this is really off unless you are over cleaning the tank (killing the beneficial bacteria).

1ppm ammonia and that high of ph is very bad, and it's very odd for having ammonia after a water change when you treated the replacement water with prime as prime locks ammonia.

You say you do 2 pwc's a week so unless your tap has ammonia/chlorine (as some water plants add chlorine in the winter months) this is really odd for me, the only other thing I can think of is you're over cleaning the tank which you stated you don't, when you clean the sponge in the AC110 you just do it during your pwc and take the sponge and squeeze it in tank water you siphoned out, with the media rock you swish it lightly in the fish water bucket doing it this way you will not lose beneficial bacteria.

I'm almost sure your tap water has ammonia I would cut your pwc's back to once a week to see if your nitrates rise a bit as 0-10 with that many fish is fishy (lol), I believe the tank is either not 100% cycled or something caused it to go through a mini cycle.

Also on the Nitrate test it's alot different to do then the others, you add 10 drops from bottle one shake tube lightly, then you have to shake bottle #2 vigorously for 30 seconds add 10 drops and shake the tube for 1 min and let stand for 5 min.

Check tap for ammonia with new api liquid kit.
If present this still makes no sense as referring back to prime will eliminate it.. My brain is hurting, do you maybe have a dead fish in the tank somewhere, dead plants, lots of leftover food?

If none of this is the case then your biological filtration isn't strong enough/established enough.

Do you put the prime directly into the tank? If so it's not recommended, I treat each bucket before I put it in my tanks, so say I need to replace 20 gallons I will put 0.6 ml in each bucket before I put it in the tank as I go a little over on prime so at the end of the 20 gallons I treated the total with 2.4 ml. Each bucket was treated before adding.
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Old 12-22-2016, 01:01 PM   #8
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Yes, I tested the tap with the API Master freshwater liquid test - absolutely no ammonia. I did all the tests in the kit using the steps from the manual as you described. I agree, I think the tank is cycling even though it shouldn't be at this point. But, I'll keep a close eye on it while it does.

When I am refilling my tank after a PWC, I have a small 1.5 gal bucket that I take back and forth to the sink/tank. I have a wrist injury preventing me from using anything bigger/heavier and my sink is made such that using a Python or similar siphon that attaches to the sink isn't possible. Usually, when I start refilling, I put the cap full of Prime in the first one or two buckets of water and then pour those buckets into the tank and after that the rest of the buckets are untreated. Based on this discussion, sounds like I should change that practice, putting smaller amounts into each bucket before pouring it in.

- Before Tuesday's 50% PWC with 2 cap fulls of prime, ammonia was at or near 1ppm. An hour after the PWC, it had dropped to 0.25-0.5ppm
- 24 hours later after 50% PWC, the ammonia hadn't risen any but was still at 0.25-0.5ppm. I did another 30% PWC with 1 cap full of Prime but haven't checked it again since then. Will check when I get home.

I definitely agree that my bio filtration probably isn't yet established enough. All of my established bio is from the CaribSea Arag-Alive substrate that came with bacteria in the bag and has now been in the tank about 5 weeks. The AC110 at this point has about 4 weeks of bacteria in it and the C360 only has about 2 weeks worth.

No dead fish - I had one loss about a week ago but got him out pretty soon after he died, hadn't been eaten or even lost much color yet. No live plants in the tank and don't overfeed - feeding schedule listed above.
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Old 12-22-2016, 07:24 PM   #9
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Looks like last night's 30% PWC brought ammonia down from 0.25-0.50 to a solid 0.25
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Old 12-22-2016, 10:01 PM   #10
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Are your nitrites rising as ammonia is lowering ?
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