Need some help...

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Need some help...

Post by rkraposa on Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:50 am

Hello everyone, it's the new guy again...

So....I set up my tank last Saturday. 6 new Lake Malawi fish. One died a couple of days later, but appeared to be a sick fish from the start. So, that has left 5 since Tuesday. They all seem fine and water quality is good (PH 8.0, Nitrite 0, and Ammonia between 0 and .25). In all my research I read that you don't add more fish until the tank has cycled (remember it has only been a week) however, my research also shows that not enough LM's can be a problem also because of aggression. Well...that is my question: it seems I have an Acei getting a bit beat up. She has a piece missing from one of the fins and looks like blood on it's dorsal fin. This seems to have happened within the last few hours. What do I do? My tank has not cycled at this point and my ammonia hasn't completely stabilized, but my tank is understocked, I think. Should I go get more fish at this point? Thanks for any advice.

Bob
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Re: Need some help...

Post by jmcfive on Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:56 am

Your tank will take a while to cycle. make sure you do frequent water changes. also, be sure to test the water frequently so you know when to chang the water (I change about 2/3 of the water in my tanks every week, along with a substrate vacuum, and filter rplacement every week).

Make sure that you 'over filter' your tank, as they need good clean water. My GPH is 6 times my tank size, which keeps the water flowing and clean (along with the water changes).

make sure you have LOTS of stacked rocks providing MANY caves for them to hide in. This will give them a reprieve from the aggression.

What types of fish do you have? What size tank? Is this your first cichlid tank?

I am relatively new to the site myself, but have gotten great advice from the members. They are all willing to help any at they can! Have a look at the thread in the 'Tanganyika' heading for some great advice (topic: Questons, MANY as I am new to the species), I may have had some of hte same questions that you do.
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Re: Need some help...

Post by theswede on Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:34 am

You can always ask the lfs for some bacteria from a matured filter or buy some Tetra safestart.

http://www.lakemalawi.co.uk/forum3/viewtopic.php?f=68&t=12931
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Re: Need some help...

Post by rkraposa on Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:16 am

Well, my tank is overfiltered and there are plenty of hiding spots. It is a 36 gallon and the fish are small at this point. Johanni, Electric Yellow, Acei, and 2 more that I am not sure what they are. My concern isn't the fact that the tank hasn't cycled because it has only been a week so I don't expect it to be cycled at this point. My concern is that because of the size of the tank and the fact that there are only 5 fish in the tank....they seem to be getting aggressive (The Acei is showing some signs of being bullied). I know that with these type of fish, there is a level of overstocking your tank that is necessary so they won't fight. So...my question is....did I not stock my tank properly and if so...can I actually add more now without my tank not having cycled yet? Oh, and yes, this is my first Cichlid tank. I have had many other tanks, but never a cichlid. So......any thoughts from all you experts?
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Re: Need some help...

Post by bulldogg7 on Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:36 pm

I'd be more concerned with cycling the tank right now, adding more fish to poisonous water may do more harm than good. An aggressive johanni may take over the tank, you may be better off returning him and sticking to some of the "friendlier" fish like the acei and yellow labs.

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Re: Need some help...

Post by jmcfive on Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:45 pm

bulldogg7 wrote:I'd be more concerned with cycling the tank right now, adding more fish to poisonous water may do more harm than good. An aggressive johanni may take over the tank, you may be better off returning him and sticking to some of the "friendlier" fish like the acei and yellow labs.

The 'correct' stocking is going to be up to the fish themselves (type, size, male vs female vs both male and female). Of course it isnt as easy as that since you don't know which ones are male until the mature, so you must be patient. Each fish, like people, have personalities. These fish are VERY intelligent and will suprise you with their antics; you just have to learn about what they need to be happy...

Again, read my recommended thread in the Tanganyikan area of this forum. Your questions will all be answered.

You need to get your tank levels correct first, as Bulldogg said. There are many products available to help speed this up.
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Re: Need some help...

Post by rkraposa on Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:16 pm

You say "correct levels"....but I am a bit confused. From my testing, everthing is where it is supposed to be except the ammonia which is less than .25. Now I know that ANY ammonia is bad, but cinsidering the tank is only a week old, I'm told that I am right on track. So...what else could/should I be doing to get to "correct levels?"
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Re: Need some help...

Post by ovyaker75 on Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:22 pm

IM not in any means an expert in cichlids but if you watch your fish long enough you start noticing some differences in there actions, when I first started my tank, 75g I had a total of 20+ africans ranging from zebras to blue dolphins....and like you I didnt let the tank cycle properly, then a few weeks I noticed that my 1 of my dolphins were not eating and it was facing my filter and some of the other africans were scratching or flashing on the rocks so I got online started looking,the water was looking alil cloudy and ammonia was non existent, nitrite was low.... the nitrate was up the roof! then I started googling the effects of high nitrates in the water, it was pretty much like poison, I was getting cloudy water because of the algae that the nitrates were producing.... somebody correct me if im wrong but the reason why my moorii was facing the filter diffuser because he was trying to get "cleaner or more oxygenated water" and the reason why most of the fish was scratching and flashing because the high levels of nitrates were irritating their skin or scales I would say, so I had a bunch of fish that were sick and frayed fins! so I immediately started doing 50% water changes every other day with R/O water just to keep the nitrates down but I didnt change out my media for a month so it could get established in the tank, but when I did changed the media it was only partial, so to shorten an already long story, the levels leveled out in about a month the nitrates and nitrites were non existent or very low, ammonia was zero ph was 7.8+- etc and the fishies look great! so it might be aggression that you see right now but make sure you watch the nitrates and nitrite levels!
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Re: Need some help...

Post by rkraposa on Sat Jan 15, 2011 7:02 pm

Thanks Ray. So here is another question in need of an answer. Can one fish have fin rot and not any other ones? When I first looked at the aforementioned Acei, it looked like he had been fighting...but it seems that his fins are looking a lot rougher over the last few hours. All the other fish are fine. Thoughts?
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Re: Need some help...

Post by Aura on Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:28 pm

Do you have other tanks running or know someone with an established tank that you can get some bio-media from? That would be one of the fastest ways to get the tank cycled.

There's really no easy answer to the problem you're having -- you do need to add more fish to curb the aggression, but you don't want to add any fish to a tank that isn't cycled. If you are in the first week and seeing a start of ammonia, water quality will get worse before it gets better. After the ammonia, you still have to deal with nitrites, which is also toxic. Going through this process is rough on the fish and could even be fatal to some.

I would make sure there was good aeration, feed very sparingly and add some salt to help them survive while the tank is cycling. I know there is debate about whether doing water changes during the cycling will slow the process down, but I've always done them in the past to limit what my fish were exposed to. The salt and good water quality should help the fin rot. It's possible for one fish to have it and not the others. If that fish was already beaten up and stressed, those would be good conditions for any disease to take hold.

Don't clean your filters during the cycling period.





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Re: Need some help...

Post by iceblue on Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:05 pm

You've gotten some very good advice here. Too many people give the hobby up because no one informed them of the importance of cycling the tank before adding the fish they wish to keep. Since your already into it I would recommend adding a bio-additive such as what I posted down below. I personally have no experience with them and I'm not recommending this particular brand. Hopefully someone can chime in with a good recommendation.
I've heard from some that they work very well and from others that they have not. At this point in your tank it might be a good idea to add these bactors to start eating up the ammonia in the tank.
http://www.petstore.com/Brightwell_Aquatics_MicroBacter7_Biological_Additives_for_Aquariums-Brightwell_Aquatics-BW01220-AQASBI-vi.html

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Re: Need some help...

Post by jmcfive on Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:20 pm

rkraposa wrote:You say "correct levels"....but I am a bit confused. From my testing, everthing is where it is supposed to be except the ammonia which is less than .25. Now I know that ANY ammonia is bad, but cinsidering the tank is only a week old, I'm told that I am right on track. So...what else could/should I be doing to get to "correct levels?"

Your tank is too new and is not 'cycled'. Cycling is just that: Ammonia will rise, then spike, then decrease. as the ammonia is decreasing, nitrites will rise. By the time ammonia gets in line, your nitrites will spike, and nitrates will rise. nitrates will spike about the time nitrites get in line. when nitrates are down, your tank is cycled. THAT is 'cycling' and usually takes about a month, and as Aura said, you are at the beginning of the 'cycle', and is going to get worse before it gets better. You can help your fish by doing daily water changes (doing this will slow down the cycle, but increase the chances of survival of the fish that you have from a health standpoint).

When I get a new tank going I usually take a piece of a bio-filter from an existing tank and put it in the pump of the new one. The 'good' bacteria are introduced before the 'bad' stuff gets too out of hand. I've also been known to take the filter and pump from an existing tank and just run it in the new tank, along with the new filter and pump, for about a day to transfer soe of the 'good' bacteria. Do you know of anyone with an existing tank if you do not have an established one (that you trust to be CLEAN and disease free, by observation of their tank and fish)?

Again. there are many products that you can get from any pet store. They will say, 'speeds up the biological filter' on them. This is what you need to save the fish that you have, and if they have 'fin rot' then you are in for another challenge... Don't worry about adding any more fish right now, and focus on the tank first. You can't build a house without first finishing the foundation.

African cichlis are fascinating fish, but get irritated in an uncomfortable environment, get stressed out, get sick, start a fight (just as we do). Be patient, and you will thoroughly enjoy them. Smile


Last edited by jmcfive on Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:29 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarification in the first paragraph)
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Re: Need some help...

Post by rkraposa on Sun Jan 16, 2011 5:55 pm

Thanks for all the help everyone. I'm just a bit frustrated because....I'm not a novice....but I sure feel like one with this tank. I have used things to speed up the cycle so we'll see what happens. I am really looking forward to this tank getting right and enjoying it.
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Re: Need some help...

Post by jmcfive on Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:44 pm

Hey, that's alright... We all 'need a hand' from time to time... I have had 'community' fish my whole life myself, but then I inherited the Mbuna that I have. After about 5 minutes of observation, I knew these were a little different...

I looked around a few sites (as I'm sure you have) and got conflicting information until I found this site. The people here have a real passion to help you succeed (not like the other site where the people argued over 'who was right').

No matter the outcome (and I hope everything works out Smile I really hope you don't get discouraged over this incident. Worst case, you have learned something Smile . As I said, I have had community fish my whole life too, and was sure that I knew what I was doing, but Cichlids are a breed apart.

Trust me, you will THOROUGHLY enjoy them... I inherited 5 (lost 1) and I am up to 11 in my 40 gal, 6 more in a 20 QT (they are still kinda small so I am growing them up a bit), 1 in a different QT... All ready for the 55 when it cycles cheers

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Re: Need some help...

Post by Aura on Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:55 pm

No matter how long you're in this hobby, I don't think you ever stop learning. I've kept community fish for most of my life and got into mbuna about seven years ago. And now I'm a novice and learning about the Tanganyikans.

You're doing better with your beginning mbuna experience than I did. I had an assortment of aggressive fish in a 29 gallon to start. They were tiny and cute and the employee said they would be fine together. Rolling Eyes

Just keep asking questions when they come up and we'll do our best to help. We've all been there. Wink
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Re: Need some help...

Post by jmcfive on Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:49 pm

I must say, if it hadn't been for all of you, I would be mad at myself, with a spare 20gal... Crying or Very sad

Now, I have 2 10gal, 2 20gal. a 40gal, and a 55gal, and eyed up an 84gal that I just saw while out getting filters (which I will need for my Crabro and Livingstoni when they grow up)... I just hope the Livingstoni doesn't get too out of hand!

Oh, the possibilities!

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Re: Need some help...

Post by rkraposa on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:00 pm

jmcfive...isn't that funny?! I've had my new tank since Christmas and I'm already wondering about a bigger one!

Well, day 10 and so far all fish are still alive! At this point, the tank is clean and clear, and the only thing abnormal is that my ammonia is still at about .50. Hopefully things will keep progressing.

On a really strange note....I have 2 electric yellows, both of which I swore were females. Well, all of a sudden, a couple of days ago...BOOM...one of them starts sporting black pelvic fins! That's the sign that it is a male, right? Black on the dorsal fin and black on the pelvic fins? I'm telling you....the black was not there before! Is that possible?
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Re: Need some help...

Post by jmcfive on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:28 pm

I'm not too sure about the coloring on those guys since I don't have any of them, but from my experience (which is all of 6 months) the males typically 'change' colors when they begin to mature, but I have read that dominate females will too if there aren't any males of the same species in the tank, but not to the extreem that the males do. I have also learned that if there are any sub-dominate males in the tank, they will keep their female coloring much longer.

I have Kenyi that was light purple with dark purple vertical bands about 3 months ago, that is now bright yellow, 3 faint brown vertical bands, with purple 'highlights' in its fins, and the tips of his scales are purple too... When I take the rocks out to clean the tank, he almost reverts to being purple again... He has a bad attitude, but he's a very beautiful fish! I have 2 males in the same tank. He he is faintly yellow on his fins, but is holding the female coloring, primarily. The dominate male tries to breed him (he looks confused as to what to do...) and when the dominate male isn't around, he turns yellow and tries to breed the females (that is, until he gets caught) and he swims around until he turns purple again... (I think Theswede has one that does the same thing!)

From what I have seen, the colorng only gets better with age!
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female and male

Post by jmcfive on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:33 pm

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Re: Need some help...

Post by jmcfive on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:42 pm

an action pic. Nothe the male on the right changing back to the female colors as he gets cautght!
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Re: Need some help...

Post by jmcfive on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:49 pm

Oh, there is a show featuring Cichlids on the Science Channel in about 10 minutes...
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Re: Need some help...

Post by rkraposa on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:57 pm

Nice!
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Re: Need some help...

Post by Aura on Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:29 pm

rkraposa wrote:
On a really strange note....I have 2 electric yellows, both of which I swore were females. Well, all of a sudden, a couple of days ago...BOOM...one of them starts sporting black pelvic fins! That's the sign that it is a male, right? Black on the dorsal fin and black on the pelvic fins? I'm telling you....the black was not there before! Is that possible?
Females can have the black on the pelvics as well. I think every one of mine have it. There's really no easy way to tell male from female with labs, other than knowing it's a female if it's holding. Venting can work if you know what you are looking for. Smile
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Re: Need some help...

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