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Sick Cichlid

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I am a new tank owner, I have a 3 week old tank which houses only one 4.5 inch African Cichlid. 3 days ago her eyes became cloudy and fuzzy. Maybe Ich? Also, the water has never been crystal clear, but now it is cloudier than ever. I did change 20% of the water and vacummed the gravel, but the water is still smelly. I also have a handful of established gravel from the petstore, should I add it as well?


She is terribly sick. I added 1 rounded tablespoon of aquarium salt (6 gallon Eclipse tank with a bio wheel) and turned the thermometer up to 82 degrees. I wrapped the tank with a dark cloth and shut off the light (a recommendation by the pet store) She looks so sad and tired and I just don't know what else to do for her.


I also wanted to mention that I may have too much gravel, I just read the reco is 1/4 inch, but I have 1.5 inches. Now, I am afraid to remove the gravel while she is sick because I don't want to stress her out further. She loves to dig around in the gravel as well, it keeps her busy all day long.


The reading from the water test are off the chart +200 Nitrate, +10.0 nitrite, 120 total hardness, -0 alkalinity, -6.4 ph. The petstore said the aquarium salt would solve these problems? Is this possible? I started treatment 1 day ago. I also added some stress coat. I am afraid to do anything else to the tank, because I feel like if I keep adding chemicals and salt I will damage the cycle it even more. I have been doing hours of research and everyone is saying something different. If there is anyone with an experience like this one can you please e-mail asap?






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Sounds like your tank is cycling. If you have some established gravel, put it in the tank, don't worry about the thickness of the gravel, 1.5" isn't a big deal.


To get rid of the smell in the tank, try adding some carbon.


To help keep your fish healthy while cycling, do small frequent water changes. 10%-20% a day. It will slow down your cycling but it will keep the water at acceptable quality levels. Salt won't help do anything besides stimulate your fish's slimecoat.


Your water is also pretty acidic, is it usually like this? You might want to add something like limestone to the tank to help bring it up a little. The acidic water coupled with the poor water quality will weaken the fish which will leave it open to infection. Which leads us to..


If its a fuzzy thing growing on the fish, its not ich. Ich/ick will look like tiny white dots all over the body. Kinda like someone rolled the fish in a little salt. Fuzziness is usually a fungas related thing and there are many products you can buy to help with that.


And lastly, 6g really isn't enough room for a 4.5" cichlid. Do you know what type it is? The minimum size tank for most African cichlids is around 20-30g but some need larger than that.


Good luck with the fish. I hope everything turns out alright.

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Dear Snatched,

Thank you for relplying so quickly. I just purchased a 12 gallon Eclipse tank with Bio wheel. She will get to a total of 4.5 inches, and is the only fish in the tank along with her favorite rock. As for the fungus, I added Coppersafe by Mardel. I was wondering if this effects the PH levels? I am getting a high reading on the test strips with 8.4 + ph and +300 alkaline in the new tank? Also added established gravel given to me by the pet store in addition to Cycle. We ran a test this morning and the nitrate is already registering. I was going to move her into the new tank Tuesday evening if all is normal.

Thanks again for the advice. I have read so many books and online articles, and it is all so overwhelming.

Take Care





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I don't think coppersafe should affect the pH but I'm not sure. Is your water usually really acidic? I've actually never had to use any medication yet (except salt) so I haven't been able to see the affects firsthand.


Are you doing a fishless cycle with the new tank? Otherwise it will take several weeks for a tank to fully cycle. Most things I read say 6 weeks but I find it usually doesn't take that long. A fishless cycle should be complete in a couple of days though. Or, you could take the filter off an existing, cycled tank and put it on the new tank and it will pretty much be instantly cycled.

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