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Old 08-14-2020, 03:51 PM   #1
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African Leaf Fish Illness

Hi everyone, I am posting because my African Leaf Fish (Ctenopoma Acutirostre) has been acting strangely for the past 10 days and I believe that he is sick. While on the outside he appears pretty healthy, his behavior has changed. He is more hesitant to feed, more skittish, swims and lays against the bottom of the tank, and blows bubbles that go to the surface of the water.

A little background on the tank: 3.5 years old, 55 gallons, two Penguin 350 biowheel filters, some live plants and some artificial, black sand bottom. Tankmates include a 5 inch Pictus catfish, five scissor tail rasboras (2 inches), and one columbian tetra (2 inches). I did a water change/ vacuum recently and think that it stressed my leaf fish out but do not know if it was the direct cause. I did not add anything new to the tank. My tank parameters do not appear to have changed significantly, although the pH has always been on the lower end of the spectrum (closer to 6).

About the leaf fish, I have had him for three years and he is about 5-6 inches long. He has a diet of bloodworms. He has always been pretty timid but this behavior is certainly new. If anyone has any suggestions, ideas, or experience it would be appreciated greatly. I would love to know if this behavior is due to stress from a tank cleaning or from some possible illness, and what actions I should take. Thank you!
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Old 08-15-2020, 04:02 PM   #2
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Hi, we have a similarly sized leaf fish of approximately the same age. He's in my Son's planted 29g with 2 Flame Dwarf Gouramies and 3 Bristlenose Plecos. He's fairly active swimmer, but have had the occasional moments when he prefers to hide deep between the Amazon Swords.

We've been actively feeding them frozen food: blood worms, brine shrimp, and store bought peeled raw shrimp. He also takes the occasional flake food, but will ignore it due to the effort it takes to fill his appetite. For the occasional special treat, and he totally loves it, are live large Canadian nightcrawlers (bait shop or Walmart) We prefer the store bought vs our compost worms just to avoid the possibilities of parasites. Then to really get his attention, the occasional feeder minnows to make for a appetizing challenge!

I would try introducing a couple of small feeder minnows, just to get his attention. I'm sure he'll perk right up! Keep in mind that he is an ambush predator!

Best of luck, and let us know if that helps!
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Old 08-16-2020, 07:12 AM   #3
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Thanks for your response! I definitely will consider switching up his food to see if that helps.

However, I really think the problem has something to do with swim bladder as his buoyancy is very impaired. He has been laying fully on his side and is clearly struggling to swim above the bottom of the tank. He also continues to blow air bubbles when he does so. Has your leaf fish done any of this?

If anyone has any insight on swim bladder issues that would be very helpful. Thank you.
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Old 08-16-2020, 09:11 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by hmiller13 View Post
Thanks for your response! I definitely will consider switching up his food to see if that helps.



However, I really think the problem has something to do with swim bladder as his buoyancy is very impaired. He has been laying fully on his side and is clearly struggling to swim above the bottom of the tank. He also continues to blow air bubbles when he does so. Has your leaf fish done any of this?



If anyone has any insight on swim bladder issues that would be very helpful. Thank you.


Yes, we have observed the bubble blowing from time to time. Our fish has gotten used to us approaching the tank and anticipating food to be dropped! It will rush to the surface to gulp down these food items, occasionally inhaling a good amount of air with it. Usually afterwards, we have observed it with its mouth wide open as if trying to regurgitate what it had swallowed. Then the air "burping" ensues.

As per your specific issue, you may want to consider doing an epsom salt treatment or dip. General in-tank treatment range from 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon per 10US gal. but, for constipation, Epsom salt dip with 1 teaspoon per 1US gallon in a quarantine tank or bucket usually works. Take a look for general guidelines, but make sure to observe your fish during dip treatment. You do not want to keep them in there too long!
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Old 08-16-2020, 09:14 AM   #5
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Our fish says hello and sending wishes for a speedy recovery!Click image for larger version

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Old 08-30-2020, 06:55 PM   #6
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Our fish says hello and sending wishes for a speedy recovery!Attachment 317735
Thank you for the wishes! Your ALF is beautiful!

I tried the salt bath multiple times as well as an antibiotic, but unfortunately neither seemed to work I also tried to feed him frozen peas but at this point he is barely eating.

I'm not sure what else to do. Currently he is in the hospital tank and lays on his side on the bottom almost all of the time. I don't know what else I should try. Any thoughts would be so much appreciated.
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