Cichlids are a pretty hardy fish and their upkeep is relatively easy provided you stick to a few basic principals. As hardy as they are the cichlid fish can suffer from a number of diseases so with this article I have set out to explain what they are and what you can do about them.
Diseases in cichlid fish can be caused by parasites in the body, fungi on their exterior and also bad bacteria in the tank water.
Things that you want to look out for are cloudy or puffy eyes, sores on their bodies, loss of color, restricted movement, bloating of stomach or internal organs. Any of these symptoms are usually caused by some sort of bacterial infection.
If you observe any strange looking growth around the face area or sporadic behavior in the tank like darting about in a crazy manner you may be looking at some sort of fungal infection.
If you see any weak breathing, impaired movement, mucus growth on the skin, loss of appetite, spots, intense scratching. These are generally the sign of parasite infection which may include leeches, worms or lice.
Just about the most common cichlid disease is Hole in the head disease. Hexamita, usually results in rapid weight loss and a major loss of appetite, and you will also notice little indentations on and around the head area.
Ich or Ichtyophthirius is also another common cichlid disease. With this particular ailment whitened crystal marks show up on the head first, and then propagate over the entire body. Inhaling and exhaling is fast, the fish scrapes a great deal, and also the eye balls and fins all become cloudy.
When the belly is enlarged, and you find reddish scales encircling this area, it is possible that the cichlid is actually struggling with Dropsy. This may be because of germs, parasites, or even cancer. The best way to deal with this is saltwater treatment.
If you neglect their water conditions then your fish may end up with Fish Pox, Fin Rot or even Ammonia poisoning.
Columnaris or Cotton Wool Disease is one you must be very wary of as it is very contagious. Symptoms will be a grey/white layer on the skin, fin damage, ulcers and sores, loss of color in the gills. You must treat this immediately with a good antibiotic type treatment, and you will have to treat the whole tank. The same goes for Fish Tuberculosis which too is extremely contagious.
Another parasite type infection is Slime Disease which causes a white coating of the skin, sporadic movement, reddening around the gills and even folded fins. You must treat this straight away with a good parasitic medication and also by raising the water temperature a degree or two.
Cichlids can also suffer from constipation which will cause a swelling of the stomach, loss of appetite, and erratic swimming. The fish may even have feces hanging off of them. The best way to fix this is to starve them for two days then start them on a different diet.
On the subject of diet if you over feed your fish they may end up with Swim Bladder disease which will cause difficulty in swimming, swimming upside down, floating. Flip Over disease is also possible with these symptoms.
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.
Now because an aquarium is such a small closed environment, without proper monitoring and treatment can become a disease incubator. Regular cleaning of your tank and water will be your best weapon against disease in your aquarium.
It is best to spot these things as early as possible so as to implement a cure strategy before it is too late….Good Luck