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VERY sick fish. Please help me help her.

This is her before she became ill.  My sweetheart:

Here is a video of what she looks and acts like now:


My piebald blood parrot cichlid, Sophie, has become extremely sick.  She was being bullied in the 40 gallon breeder, and began to show black spots and almost neurological issues such as:

- Putting her nose against the bottom, tail up, and going in circles like that

- Swimming with jerky movements / almost skittish jerks

- Losing her balance in all directions, and breathing heavily


Her black spots have gotten so bad that her eyes are either completely covered in them, or her pupils are blown.  She's almost white.  We've had her in a 20 gallon by herself, where it's dark and quiet, and are giving PraziPro and fasted her for two days before trying to feed her soaked, shelled peas.  I don't know if she's eaten.  We put food in and leave her alone since it stresses her when we're around.  She's pooped, and it looks fine.  Please tell me if there's anything else we can do.  Lights scare her, we scare her, movement scares her....  I think she's mostly blind, and very sick.


I am no expert (hopefully, one will reply) but if it is stress (not disease) from the bullying, she may eventually come around from all your good care.  


Is this the 20-gal. you've placed her in? Why is it half-empty?

Also, judging by the coloring under her cheeks, she's in-heat! You've mentioned how the bully in the 40-gal has been aggressively mating with her... This is why. As for her condition--beyond the stress-marks--best I can tell you is you NEED to remove that bully from the 40-gal, and return Sophie to it... so she can be comfortable again and perhaps start mating with the other guy.

If her condition worsens after that, I'm sorry... but I have no further knowledge to work with. Best I can recommend is placing her in either a glass tea-jug or plastic bucket, or some form of fish transporter w/handle, and taking her to an aquatic veterinarian for futher diagnosis.

She has started to recover, and is orange again, but still having some issues swimming.  That's why the 20 is only half filled.  She was having SO much trouble staying balanced that she would do sommersaults in the water.  The lower level has helped her stay right side up (but don't worry, she has a cycled and treated sponge filter and daily water changes to keep water levels optimal).  Our nearist aquatic vet is 2 hours away, and I was afraid of transporting her, being as ill as she was.

In good news, she finally started eating again!  I wonder if they could have given her a concussion by chasing her into the glass, or ramming her?  Still can't tell if it's the black spots or blown pupils on her eyes.  She's such a sweet little chunk face that I'm afraid of putting her in with either of the other two, since they're from the same parents and the smaller one may end up with the aggressive temperment.  Sophie has a 55 waiting to be set up, so she won't be in that 20 for long, and I'll put some dithers in that won't harm her.  Thanks again for your answers guys, you have no idea how much the info means to me.


Here is a video of her in her water change container, showing how improved she is!

Well, the stress-marks have certainly begun the fade... As for her right pupil: it's hard to say if it's blown-out or not, as I've seen many at the super-stores with oddly shaped pupils... But that's not to say it's acceptable one-way or another. Only you can judge this, as you've had the longest observation of her of anyone at this point. 

A return of appitite is always a good sign, just as long as the fish in-question in also showing signs of regularly moving it's bowels. 

It's a shame your nearest aquatic-vet is so far away... but thankfully, you have the internet and fellow specialist keepers--like us--at your disposal, along with good sensibilities as to what steps to take that aren't otherwise listed or suggested.

Hopefully, Sophie will return to full/good health soon... and she'll be totally pleased with her new larger home, and what new company she has in it. 

P.S. - Don't place Neon Tetras in with her... unless you want to be constantly replacing them. 

Thank you guys so much for kinda coaching me through it, and for the reassurances.  Her pupils aren't nearly as small as they were before, so I'm thinking it's still a symptom to keep an eye out for.  I'll be checking her feces output today (she ate FIVE WHOLE HIKARI BABY PELLETS, WOO) and continuing the upkeep.

And don't worry about the tetra's, lol!  I'm hoping more for giant danio, and perhaps some other larger dithers she can't snack on.  Maybe a few Nerite snails to unsettle the sand as well.

I'm fairly certain that her illness was due to Calcipher attacking her before I separated her.  Her odd swimming was most likely a perforated swim bladder.

I was wrong when I said she was eating.  I ended up finding all the old pellets sunken into the sand, blended in with it.  I tried syringe feeding her and it just sat in her mouth for a moment before she spit it out.  I think they broke her little mouth when they attacked her and slammed her into the aquarium wall.  Her water parameters stayed perfect, her temp stayed at 81, I attempted feedings every day, I medicated her, and yet nothing I did could bring her back.  I now see why so many people leave the hobby after a fish dies--it's heartbreaking.  I still have fish to care for, so I'm not leaving the hobby.  But god this is terrible.


The discouragement felt over the loss of a fish, especially after such efforts to save it, is a loss I know well.

When a friend's beloved Red Koi Angelfish developed Hexamita... which I suspect was from eating an un-quarrantined Neon Tetra... I did all I could to save little Malika. But allas, despite her beginning to show signs of recovery, all my efforts were in vain. To this day, I blame myself for not only her contraction of the illness, but for final fate... believing I somehow mishandled her last treatment, hasting her demise.

Reflecting on prior "fatal" mistakes I've made whilst caring for aquatics, I questioned whether I should be trusted with such, doubting my competence with any aspect of it. But then, one of the Parrot Cichlids started showing signs of Hexamita again. I repeated the same treatment as I gave to her before, but took even greater care in applying it that second time. After a day, she showed signs of recovery, and has since fully recovered, happily returning to the life she knew.

My point is: Don't get discouraged. Doctors of human medicine also feel the same when their best efforts go awry... but they learn from them, and move-on, taking care to apply what they've learned to whatever comes next. And you should too.

BTW: Remove that bully... He's only likely to cause more pain, it seems.

Forgive me for bringing this up late, Anathema, but I couldn't help notice in your video of Sophie the sound of buckets being emptied in the background. I take it you don't have any other way of draining & filling your tanks, such as a submersible pump w/length of hose, like I--and I'm sure others here as well--do. Here's the model I use... and the source for it: 

By adding an adaptor for a 3/4" garden-hose, I was able to use whatever design & length of hose I chose... including one I made myself! That way, I just had to run the hose to whatever drainge point I had, then drop the pump in the tank and turn it on--via a switched surge protector, of course. Plus, by using quick-disconnect fittings, along with ones meant for attaching hoses to faucets or whatever, I could use the same hose to fill the tank. And best of all, it all fits neatly into a 5-gal. bucket! 

I'll go into further detail on how to set it up to neatly make use of it, if you want... As for now, I gotta feed mine.

Hope everything goes "swimmingly"!...



Yeah, that was probably buckets you heard.  For taking the water OUT, we have a python with 50 feet of hose and two pond pumps (one for each tank).  But I DO use a bucket and a vacuum for sucking up the poop and sifting the substrate.  For putting water IN, for Sophie, we would do gallon jugs of water at a time so we could shake vigorously.  We were being as careful as possible, so we'd condition each gallon and shake to get the gasses out of the water before pouring it in.  Thank you for the advice though.  As a side note, Calcifer (the bully) has had to tame it down because Incindierre has grown substantially and they get along pretty well now.  They'll be going into a 55 gallon soon, and I'll be getting some dither / target fish to try and tame them down fully.  If Calcifer is still a butthole, he'll go back in the 40 alone.  Thanks again for the advice.