If you keep cichlids and you acquire healthy stock, then the fish health problems you experience are of your own making. What does that mean? Inevitably, it means you aren’t doing something (or several things) well enough to maintain healthy fish.
Yes, even expert cichlidophiles can experience sick fish. However, the probability of experiencing problems will increase exponentially with each of the recommendations below that you don’t follow. These are assuming that your aquarium is appropriately cycled.
- Water changes – Change the aquarium water regularly and frequently. I recommend weekly changes at minimum.
- Detritus removal – When you change your water, remove detritus that has settled on the substrate. What you use to remove it isn’t as important as the fact that you do so.
- Proper diet – Feed the appropriate foods to the species that you keep. Feed higher quality foods. Don’t overfeed.
- Appropriate tankmates – Keep cichlid species that are compatible. Keep proper gender ratios.
- Sufficient oxygenation – Make sure there is enough surface agitation to maintain good oxygenation. How you do so isn’t as important as the fact that you do.
- Clean filters – Clean your filter equipment regularly. This also means cleaning your media or replacing it with the appropriate proportion (e.g., if you replace your bio media, either do so with seeded media or only replace a percentage of existing media with new media).
- Sufficient bio media – Don’t overload your bio media. This typically occurs when you add too many fish at one time (e.g., adding 8 new cichlids to a tank containing a single fish might overwhelm your existing bio media, causing an ammonia spike).
- Consistent water – Don’t do things that make your water parameters fluctuate (i.e., keep your source water consistent, don’t add things that regularly alter the buffering capacity of your water). Changing water parameters (e.g., pH, temperature, chemistry) has the potential to increase stress in what might otherwise be an already stressful environment for your fish.
I can assure you that if you adhere to the tips above, you WILL experience less frequent health problems with your fish.