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Our 6 year old cichlid has stopped eating

I was doing my normal filter / water change-out when I found a slimy mess inside the unit.  I cleaned it and did the change-out.  Next day, the water was cloudy (that's a first) so I did another 50 percent change-out.  I checked the filter the next day and it was filthy but the water looked does the fish!  But then I realized that the mess was due to his not eating.  The build up was unused food.  He was on a pellet that floats and I would give him the occasional peeled peas to prevent any swim bladder.  So, who knows how long he's gone without my noticing he was not eating.  I had the water tested yesterday and it was diagnosed with high nitrates and I was sent home with instructions to change out the water again and use a product called "aquarium bacteria."  He still acts "fine" but why would he refuse food?  I also have tried the sinking pellets and so far, it's hard to tell if he's eating that or not.  If it's relavent, he is the only fish in the tank.  I bought him when he was just about an inch/half and have had to upgrade tank size several times in his six years.....he's in a 20 gallon tank now.  

Any thoughts would be appreciated.  Thanks in advance.



Okay... The issues with a simutaneous water-change & filter-cleaning aside, lemme ask this: What is the appearance of it's feeces? If it's white & stringy/slimey, then your Parrot Cichlid may have contracted Hexamita--an illness that causes severe constipation.

Past ones I've owned contracted this, and the only solution/treatment for it is a medication obtainable through only the most-serious live-fish retailers. It must be mixed-in with proper measures of tank-water & epsom-salt before being introduced. ("Petland: Aquatic Adventure" comes to mind) There are videos on YouTube that demonstrate how to perform the procedure.

Heads-up!: The downside is the treatment requires the medication--once proper prepared--be introduced orally with a pipette (a slender, plastic lab-work dropper) in a careful manner. Pipettes can be found in stores such as American Scientific Supply, and easily ordered online if there isn't a store located near you. Also, on the "table" surface you'll be working on, lay a damp towel large enough for both the fish to lay upon, as well as be covered as you hold it down to introduce the medication.

Remember: You want the medication to go into it's stomach, so the pipette must be carefully inserted through it's mouth & down it's throat, reaching past it's gills.

Good-luck, and here's hoping things go "swimmingly"...


Thank you for the information, Mike.  I sure hope he does not have Hexamita.  I'm watching him like a hawk and see no signs so far.  



Well, if you don't see anything after a week, and he's still not eating... giving him an Epsom salt laxative wouldn't hurt.

Still not eating!   The fish seems FINE but keeping up with the tank has been challenging.  I'm very careful about adding ANY food and do so one at a time....if not gone in an hour, I sift it out.  I do not see stringy white poop so hoping the dreaded Hex-thing is not an issue.  What is this fish living on, pray tell?  So, I do have Epsom salts but have no idea how much to add to his water.  He's a good size (about as big as my hand...I'm a small woman) in a 20 gallon tank.  Thanks in advance, Mike!   

When I said to mix a measure of Epsom salt with tank-water, I didn't mean in the tank itself. I meant: some tank-water must be mixed with the Epsom salt when mixing the medicine.
Have you even looked-up a video on YouTube on how to do this, like I've advised? There's one of how it's done being demonstrated in a Flowerhorn... That should tell you what measure of Epsom salt to use.

He has been "home" for a week now and doing fine.  

Just for the sake of information:  I was hoping not to have to resort to the laxative procedure so moved the fish into a totally empty tank a week ago so I could monitor input and output.  FINALLY, yesterday I was able to get him to go for a teeny morsel of shelled pea.  I have been trying sinking pellets, floating pellets, shelled peas and a frozen cichlid formula....all one at a time and removing anything he didn't touch within a few minutes.  I have totally emptied his 20 gallon home and  have had that running for the week he's been in observation.  Here's the interesting thing:  I have to coax him to the top and let him wait for me to drop it....if he doesn't catch it the first time, he quits.  He's gotten my finger a time or two, but he IS EATING some.  I am going to return him to his big home today and see how it goes. 


the fish never looked or acted ill