Cichlids are among the most popular, and the most engaging, of all aquarium fish. Unlike many other varieties of fish, cichlids seem to recognize the people on the other side of the glass, and they may even learn to respond to their owner’s voice. This interactive manner makes cichlids wonderful pets for the whole family. When those beloved pets get sick, fish owners will want to know how to nurse them back to health.
Know the Symptoms
The first step toward helping your cichlid fish get well is recognizing the problem. Since cichlids are normally such engaging fish it is a bit easier to spot problems with them. If the fish are sluggish or not eating there is most likely a problem. Other signs of illness include skin inflammation, bloating, clamped and fraying fins, bulging eyes and labored breathing. Fish with fungal infections may begin to swim erratically, often darting across the aquarium for no apparent reason. Owners may also notice cotton-like growths around the mouth, eyes and skins. If any of these symptoms are observed it is important to diagnose and treat the cichlid at once.
Hole in the Head Disease
One of the most common diseases among cichlid fish goes by the scary name “hole in the head disease.” Symptoms of this common disease include poor appetite, weight loss and sluggishness. Owners may also notice the small depressions in the head for which the disease is named.
This common disease can have a number of causes, so it is best to take a multifaceted approach when starting treatment. Improving water quality is essential, as is doing at least a partial water change. In addition, treating the aquarium with aquatic antibiotics like Maracyn, Kanacyn and Furan can be a good approach. While Oscars are particularly prone to hole in the head disease it can affect all cichlids, so owners should be on the lookout for the first signs of trouble.
Swim Bladder Disease
Cichlids are also prone to swim bladder disease. If the fish is having trouble swimming or seems unable to surface, swim bladder disease could be the problem. If swim bladder diseases is suspected, owners should cut down on the amount of food they feed for three or four days, and then provide the fish with foods like fresh spinach that will have a laxative effect. If no improvement is seen after this treatment it is a good idea to consult with an aquatic veterinarian.