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Cichlid Diseases
~Pooja Chakrabarty

Some Cichlid Diseases

Taking care of cichlids cannot be done blindfolded. Fish too get sick, and it is your responsibility to observe them regularly to see whether or not they are in the best of health. Do not neglect your cichlids, and try to watch out for disease symptoms.

Cichlid diseases may be due to infections by bacteria, fungi, or parasites.

Sluggishness, color loss, fraying of fins, bloating, inflammation of the skin, the fins, and the internal organs, bulging and cloudiness of the eyes, sores and abscesses, and breathing difficulties, are all symptoms of bacterial infections. Exophthalmia, or Pop-eye (bulging eyes), and ulcers are among some of the bacterial infections.

Fungal infections may result in the fish darting across the aquarium somewhat erratically. Symptoms may also include the growth of cotton-like tufts over the mouths, eyes, or skin.

Infections by parasites may also lead to sluggishness, heavy breathing, appetite loss, growth of mucus on the body, visible spots, worms, and scratching. Leeches, anchor worms, and lice are some cichlid parasites.

Cichlid diseases may be due to infections by bacteria, fungi, or parasites

One of the most common cichlid diseases is Hole-in-the-head disease. Also known as Hexamita, this results in appetite and weight loss, and small depressions are observed on the head.

Another very common cichlid disease is Ich or Ichtyophthirius. With this white salt-like marks appear on the head first, and then spread over the whole body. Breathing is quick, the fish scratches a lot, and the eyes and fins, both, become cloudy.

If the abdomen is swollen, and if there are red scales surrounding this area, it is probable that your cichlid is suffering from Dropsy. This could be due to bacteria, parasites, or cancer. Salt treatment is recommended to cure this disease.

Finrot , Ammonia Poisoning, and Fish Pox are usually due to poor maintenance of  water quality.

A whitish-grayish coating on the skin, ulcers, damaged fins, patches on the gills, and erosion of the head tissue, all indicate Columnaris or Cotton Wool Disease, which is extremely contagious. Immediate antibiotic treatment, and disinfecting of the tank is essential. Another highly contagious cichlid disease where disinfecting the tank becomes essential is Fish Tubercolosis.

Slime Disease caused by parasites has symptoms of a white coating, reddening, folded fins, and irregular swimming. This must be treated immediately with parasitic medication. Raising the water temperature would also be helpful.

Constipation is indicated through swelling of the abdomen, lack of interest in food, and off-balance swimming. Feces may hang from the fish. The bets way to treat this is to abstain from feeding for 2 days and then giving it a varied diet consisting of both live and plant foods.

If your fish has difficulty in swimming, or swims upside-down, or floats, and is unable to surface, it is suffering from Flipover. Consult your vet. Larger fish may have to undergo surgery. Swim Bladder Disease may also have similar symptoms, but is caused by over-eating. Cut down on its food for 3 or 4 days, and give it a laxative like fresh spinach.

One popular way of dealing with diseases is salt treatment, but this should ideally only be done in a quarantine tank as other fish may be negatively affected. Plus it will not guarantee a cure for all diseases.

An aquarium being a closed environment may become a breeding ground for all kinds of germs. Ammonia build-up, aggression by other fish, overcrowding, non-maintenance of suitable temperature, pH level, water quality, and poor nutrition will all break down the immune system of your fish making it more susceptible to diseases.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the aquarium would go a long way in keeping your cichlids healthy. You could also invest in a good cichlid book so as to stay on top of any symptoms that might show up.

[Permission for using the above picture has been given by Jeff Rapps of Tangled Up In Cichlids.]

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