You are here

Mystery Illness

I have two medium sized parrot cichlids (about 5-6in.) that are housed in a 36 gal. tank they were moved into about two months ago. I have had them for over 4 years now but I am by no means an expert keeper on parrot cichlids so I am looking for some help! While one fish is always healthy (knock on wood), the other seems to get sick quite often. Right now, he/she just stays near the top corner of the tank and appears to be quite lethargic. This fish is also quite large and pale in the belly area and has little to no appetite at all. It's eyes are also a bit yellow.This has happened to the same fish a few times before but after an X number of days snaps right out of it and goes back to its normal self. Each time I think this is the end for this particular fish which makes me quite worried. I have read that it could be bloating or dropsy, but frankly reading around the internet has just gotten me more and more confused. I want some solid advice before really trying anything that could harm the fish even more or do something to the tank. When I bought these guys I had no idea how much harder they were to care for than typical fish, so if there is anyone who might know what is going on any advice is appreciated! I just want my fish to get better because I truly enjoy having them as pets. If any other details are needed please let me know and I will do the best to answer. Thank you in advance for the help!



One thing about these fish is that they have quite a mental life. They are shy - one might say paranoid, curious, imitative, and aggressive all at the same time. Sometimes one wins out over the other. Many of them will hang up by the filter when they are frightened - sometimes for weeks at a time. I had one fish, Gazoo, who was trained to do all sorts of things and was very very sociable with humans. One day I accidentally made a loud noise outside the tank. All the fish ran for cover. Gazoo took weeks to recover from the fright. He hid for weeks. They are quite capable of hiding rather than eating for days. I'm not saying your fish is definitely healthy - he may be sick. But in the absence of any other symptoms, I would suspect fear. Is he ever picked on by the other fish?  Does he have hiding places in the tank?

There is only one other fish in the tank with him/her and they get along great. When one is looking sick or anything the other fish will often stay near it almost in a protective "I'm looking out for you" manner. So to answer your question, no, he is not picked on. There are several plants in the tank along with a tree-root type decoration so there are plenty of places to hide. I just returned to sick fish back to the tank after giving him an epsom salt bath for about a half an hour and he is currently back up in the corner where he has been the last few days. I tried feeding him a couple of flakes and some peas while in the hospital tank but he is not interested in food in the slightest. If it is of importance the fish is hanging around the corner near the heater. The tank is about 76F. 

76F is a bit low for the temperature. Blood parrots like to be on the warmer side. I keep mine at 84F. 36 gallon tank for these 2 fish is a bit small. They should be in a bigger tank which will be better for them in the long run when they grow bigger. Hope your water conditions are great, have great filtration, and have frequent water changes.

Thanks for the info on the water temp. I'll try bumping it up a little bit and see if that helps with anything. Just did a water change and some cleaning yesterday so the water is looking great. 

You may want to switch to pellets instead of flakes for food. Flakes from my experience tend to dirty the water more compared to pellets. Try hikari, new life spectrum, or other high quality pellets. You can still feed them weekly peas to prevent swim bladder disease, and even give a weekly treat such as brine shrimp or bloodworms. When I got my 2 blood parrots they were about 2 inches in a 29 gallon tank 2 1/2 years ago. Now they are in a 50 gallon with 10 tiger barbs and 2 nerite snails. I now plan to do at least 50% water change every 3 days. You can do as many water changes as you want as long as the water parameters closely match your tank: ph, temperature, and your tap water have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 0 nitrate. Make sure you test your water frequently in your tank because 36 gallon is still quite small. If you plan to get a bigger tank and if money is an issue, I suggest Craigslist. They have a lot of good used tanks you can get real cheap. If your fish stays at the top he/ she may not have enough oxygen. Make you have enough aeration.

I have tried feeding my two pellets and granules before but they are so picky. All they will eat is the flakes. I tried feeding them peas the other day (warmed, skin off, and smushed for easier eating) but they wouldn't eat them. One fish picked a small piece of pea of the bottom and spit it right back out. Are there any good ways to get picky fish to eat different foods?

I have always felt water changes are the key. You need to change the water at least once a week about 20- 25 %. Im currenty running two tanks. A 75 gallon and a 55 gallon tank. My five parrots are swimming in the 75 gallon tank. Both tanks are filtered with two Fluval 405s respectively. In addition, i run two sponge filters in each tank. You can never have enough filteration. I feel these are the keys to a happy tank. As other have stated, i bought both tanks with stands and filters with extras on Craigs list for 225.00.  You may want to try crushing up some sticks or pellots. You really need to pull them away from flakes. Hope this info helps.



check that its scales are fading away


 or not. If yes then it is its time to go....