Cichlid Problem

Q&A about diseases and their cure

Moderator: Pam Chin

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Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2003 4:46 pm

Cichlid Problem

Post by jmdrascal » Sun Dec 28, 2003 4:51 pm

Hi Pam,

Please help. I have a 55 gallon tank with 6 african cichlids in it. I have an orange cichlid that I just noticed today is having trouble opening his mouth. It is very strange, but his top lip looks a little swolen and he is trying to get his mouth open and can't seem to. What can I do? He appears healthy and wants to eat when the food is in the tank, but can't. I don't want my fish to starve to death.

My tank conditions are excellent. I have 6 tanks at home and know how to take care of them. This is something I have never seen before. He does not look injured. He does not look sick. He just seems to have trouble with his mouth. I feel like I should take him out and help him get his mouth open, but he is a fish and I'm not a fish doctor.

Please help.

Pam Chin
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Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2003 9:11 am
Location: California, USA

Post by Pam Chin » Sun Dec 28, 2003 10:46 pm

Hi JM,

It is really tough to diagnose fish without actually being able to see them, or know them. With that said, you know your fish better than anyone else. First make sure there is nothing inside his mouthh or throat that is stuck. Catch him up and put him in a bucket. Make sure your hands are wet, so you don't damage his slime coat, and while holding in one hand, pry his mouth open with q-tip, pen top, etc. and take a look down his throat. Just like if you were stripping a female mouthbrooder. You can also check the jaw operation while your are doing this, if you don't find any obstrucitons. Don't keep him out of the water too long, put back in the bucket and then pick him up again after a few moments.

Jaw problems can occur when they fight with tankmates and lock jaws, or even if they run into the side of the tank or a rock. Keep in mind that fish can go a long time with out eating, even weeks or months. You will just need to keep an eye on him and see if it is something that heals it self, or if he can't eventually eat, and the quality of life is not there, then euthanize. At this point I would wait it out. There is not a lot you can do just keep an eye out to see if the situation gets worse, such as an infection. There are many hobbyists that have performed surgery on their fish themselves, and sometimes it can work out, but the jaw is really specialized, and there are many moving parts that are very small, so it can be difficult. It just depends on how hands on you are.
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