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Please can someone help me with my parrot cichlids?

HiI bought a restaurant a couple of years ago and with it acquired 6 healthy orange parrot cichlids. I also met a guy who had come in every month to clean the tank for the previous owner and he seemed to know his stuff about fish and had a lot of care for them so I let him advise me on how best to care for them.He suggested that I put some silk plants and wood (special wood for aquariums) in to give the fish something more than gravel in such a large tank and I agreed it was better both for people to see and for the fish to enjoy.  He also said that we were feeding the fish the best way already, which was twice a week (with fresh king prawn).  He then gave me a bag of Hikari Cichlid Staple Medium Pellets, which he advised me to feed them 20 pellets of twice a week in addition.Since I have been front of house at the restaurant in November, I have cleaned the inside of the tank myself every week or two with a tank cleaning pad (blue scourer on a stick basically).  The focus seems to be on one of the fish in particular, a male which is double the size of the rest.  He is very dominant and very aggressive whereas the others seem very much in his shadow,  One healthy female had been laying eggs often and the big male would beat away any fish that went near the female protecting her eggs.  That female after several egg lays suddenly appeared to eb losing buoyancy and was laying on her side and sinking.  After a few days she died.  Another fish had died prior to her but I was not around to know the detail.  There are now 4 remaining fish in the large tank and one of them looks like he has little life left in him.  He seemed to have formed a cataract in one eye as the eye went a milky colour and he was only registering to movement from the side of the good eye.  In the last week the other eye has gone the same and he had been swimming into the side of the tank and into the decorative wood.  For a period of time over the last week the other three had been bullying him by lining up in parallel and marking their territory, leaving him pinned against the tank wall behind him.  The last 3 days he has remained in the bottom corner of the tank and his colouring is getting worse and he is often in a vertical position near the oxygen pump.  Out of the remaining three, the big male has his clearly preferred female that he snuggles with and the remaining female that he blows hot and cold with and occasionally attacks.  She has a lot of black dicolouring under her body.  The female that he likes is a beautiful bold orange colour like the male.When I feed the prawn I make a point of pushing the other 3 fish out of the way and I hand feed the blind fish.  They are all very timid and eat from the hand but as I felt the blind fish needed more attention I have made a point of pushing them away when they go near him.Im sorry I have written so much but I have come online and registered with this site as I cant let this continue and be unaware of what is going on or what needs to be done to make their environment the best possible.  Could anyone please answer these questions for me.  Thank you in advance:- Has the introduction of aqua silk plants and wood affected the fish (territorily made them fight, or chemically affected the water)- Is the diet of king prawn twice a week and hikari pellets (20 pellets every few days) correct and sufficient- Is there anything I can do to help the fish which has lost its sight- Is there anything I can do to stop the fighting- Can I introduce more fish to the tank as it looks a little bare (If so where can I buy them and what type of fish are best to go with the parrot cichlids)For everyone that has taken the time to read all of this and taken the time to respond with their wisdom, I thank you with absolute appreciation.Andrew


hi, first, don't buy any more fish until this is all sorted out, now, do you test the water, if so, post your results, if not, buy a test kit (not strips) and test weekly,then post the results, also, do you do regular partical water changes,until things improve, take out half of the water and replace with fresh ( you must use a dechlorinator), I would suggest twice a week for now, do this right away after testing,one of the commonest causes of swim bladder(where your fish may be upside down) and cloudy eye, is poor water conditions,(although cloudy eye can be a result of fighting, because it is both eyes I think it may be bacterial, the water may look clean to the eye but still have bacteria and toxins in it, most owners do weekly or monthly water changes when cleaning the tank you really need to move the gravel and "vac"it, you can buy a gravel cleaner at the LFS, THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE I CAN GIVE YOU AT THIS POINT if you find the eyes dont improve with water changes you may need to buy medication,you will likely find that the black discoloration on your female reduces with water change,the addition of the plants and wood wont affect anything apart from making the fish want to "own" a particular area,just make sure that there are enough hiding places for all of your fish, this can be pots, caves upturned glasses,also try to arrange plants so that the line of sight is broken, ie, if they don't see each other, the aggression is reduced,can you put a tank divider in for a while, the diet you are giving them is fine,but I would give the prawn just once a week and give a veggie type food instead, just add some veggies, try shelled thawed frozen peas, this is really good for them, and a little live food now and again if you can get it,your poorly parrot may not make it but start by testing then water changes,keep coming back here with all your questions PS can your customer not come back to do the cleaning?

My customer cleans the tank every 6 weeks with a vaccum like device which takes all the algae from the stones and cleans them.  He tested the water last time and said it was good, however I did have problems with the pump a few weeks ago where it wasnt pumping enough air.  He resolved that problem.  How can I test the water myself, I have a pet world store nearby so I can by whatever you suggest I buy.  Not sure how I can seperate the tank but I can ask in the pet store.  Also the layout of the tank allows the fish to hide.  The fish with the poor eye sight is still in a completely vertical position (head up)  Also someone said I should feed the fish 2 or 3 times a day and another said 2 times a week.  Am i right to feed them as you say 1 king prawn a week and 20 medium pellets every 2/3 days.  They alwsys seem hungry and follow my hand around the tank 24/7Thanks

A lot can happen in 6 weeks esp if you have had a problem,ask him to add air stones next time if there are none,you just ask at the pet store for a testing kit, not strips,this will enable you to test in between maintenance visits,post results, dont let them talk you into buying anything else just yet,although you may have to buy meds for bacterial infections if the cloudy eye doesn't improve with the water changes,if the fish has hiding places there is no need to separate him,I would get the pump checked again,just in case,how much water does he change each visit? do those water changes,you may feel you want to treat the fish now as well as doing water changes, if you do, take the carbon out of the filter first or it takes the meds out as well,  as for feeding, that's difficult, parrots will always be hungry(floating orange piggies) but if they are too hungry they become more aggressive, the advice you have been given seems good but all i can tell you is what I do with my four, I feed twice a day,a variety of food, include those frozen, thawed,shelled peas, but I only feed as much as they eat in two minutes and if any food reaches the tank floor, that's it! but be careful, there are more problems caused by overfeeding than underfeeding,

Thanks for your reply.  I will get the test equipment from the pet store and a couple of air stones.  I will try adding the thawed frozen peas to their diet too.  As far as the med for the fish with eye problems, will the pet store know what to offer?  Also once all of this aqua turmoil has passed..  What kind of fish could mix with these parrots?  I was looking at jaguar cichlids and others but not sure.  Thanks you

they should do, something with amoxicillin or gentamicin in, but first test your water(or take a small jar of it to the shop and ask them to test) and post results,the eye injury could have been through fighting and then got infected, you may fin that it clears up just with the water changes alone,but you should be doing water changes anyway,I do mine weekly, some people do theirs monthly, at least 50%,as for adding fish later, remind me of your tank size and what fish you have in at the moment,PS where is the fish now, is he faceing downwards or up vertical, does he swim about normally

My water test results are:pH color card (reads between 7.2 and 7.6 but nearer to 7.6)pH high range color card (reads nearest to 7.4)Ammonia color card reads 0Nitrite color card reads 0This is done with an API Freshwater Master Test Kit.I also bought some Melafix Antibacterial Fish Remedy.  I added some to the tank as instructed on the label and will continue to do so for a week.As for the fish's condition.  He is still vertical with head at top at a slight angle.  His tail is on the gravel and he is facing up.  His gills are moving faster than the other fish.  He stays there all the time unless I feed and he comes up and darts around banging into the sides.  When I have fed the fish with prawn I have made an effort to hand feed it into his mouth ensuring he gets his feed.I have done as advised in this forum and bought some frozen peas, thawed and will now feed them.  As advised I will only feed until they reach the bottom i.e - fish arent going crazy to eat them.My fish tank man is coming tomorrow to take the tests I did away and to check the tank over.Its a 50 gallon tank by the way and the largest cichlid is about 6 inches and the others are about 4 inches long

I cant see anything unusual in your results so I suspect that the problem is bacterial in which case the meds should help,the fish swimming or facing upwards is usually  due to swim bladder, common cause is poor water, ask your man about more frequent water changes, swim bladder and cloudy eye can both be caused by bacteria, parasites and poor water,the only other thing that I can think off for the fish to be facing upwards is that its attracted by the light(is the tank light on?) but really I dont think so,when you feed peas ,nip into small pieces, you might find you can stick a bit onto a skewer and feed your poorly fish( it will always be a good thing to do water changes and testing anyway in the future, dont add any fish just yet