Tank Troubles

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Mostly New Member
Aug 28, 2014
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I am new to this forum and to cichlids and keeping fish in general. I currently have a 45gal tank that has 5 Mbuna, one OB Peacock, one Sunburst Peacock, one yellow lab, one daffodil, a rope fish, and a synodontis cat. All my fish were living together very well for about two months. My sunburst died about a week ago and I do not know why, at the time my ammonia was 0, my nitrites were 0, my nitrates were about 30ppm pH was 7.8 the temperature is between 78 and 79. I do a tank clean once a week with a 25% water change. And do a 50-60% water change once a month. After that one of mu Mbunas started showing some aggression toward the other mbunas but no one else, he also loses color for about 30 seconds and then his color is restored about 2-3 times a day. Tonight one of my mbunas died. I immediately tested my water and the results are the exact same, ammonia was 0, my nitrites were 0, my nitrates were about 30ppm pH was 7.8 the temperature is 79. I am not sure what is going on with my tank. Does anyone have any ideas? Nothing has changed from when they were all happy to now with two of them gone. 
I cant really help you very much, but I do know that when a fish looses its colour for a while it can be caused by stress, for example when my sister does her weekly water change, her black skirt tetra looses it colour and goes grey because it gets stressed :) hope i helped a tiny bit 
What test kit are you using? Is it still in date? Have you really shook the hell out of the bottles before using them? Some of the substances lay dormant and need a kick start again.
Sit question but it needs to be asked.
..... Meant to say silly question not 'sit'
Hey guys thanks for the help. I don't think it's stress, he doesn't have any problem when i'm cleaning the tank it's just when they're just swimming around unless something is stressing him, if so I don't know what would be? And the test kit i'm using is the freshwater kit from API. None of the bottles are close to the expiration date (i just checked). The kit is only about two / three months old. And yes, I "shake well" as per the instructions every time. 
How long has your tank been up and running for?
Have you noticed any symptoms before they die? Do the gasp at the surface, develop any spots etc?
What do the deceased bodies look like?
Is there a more dominant fish in the tank that's picking on everyone else?

Cichlids are not my forte but these are some of the questions that need to be answered so others and myself can have a clearer picture.

My tank has only been running since mid may, not a long time but a little while. There are no symptoms at all. With the last one, I was in the room with them and everyone looked healthy and then I went outside to get the mail and when I got back in he was dead. The first one looked exactly the same dead as alive and the second one was lighter in color but not any different. The fins were not broken up (as if they were being picked on). After the first one died, then the one who is losing color frequently started his color problem and started chasing the other mbunas but he never actually hit or bit them or anything like that. 
Does this answer your questions enough? Let me know if you need something clarified and thank you for your help!
You need to overstock the fish to spread aggression. You need plenty of rockwork. cheers
I was going today to look for some more to add to the tank! Thank you!
30ppms of Nitrate is very high!  This indicates that you either have standing fecal material trapped somewhere in the aquarium, and/or rotting food material or both.  How often are you conducting substrate cleaning?  Do you move your cave and other decorations around to clean under and around them?  If not you need to asap!  Your Nitrate should never be more than 10ppms, 20ppm tops!  At 20ppm you should be getting concerned and prepared to do water changes and/or substrate cleaning.  The other thing to look for is filtration (particularly HOB filters).  When you do substrate cleaning it would be wise to establish a schedule of changing your filter media particularly with HOB filtration systems.  
Most will argue against this (its implied when you remove the filter, you remove your biological filter) but your biological filter is established, yes in the filter, AND as well in the plastic sieve that the water runs through after going through the filter, the entire HOB container wherever water passes through, on the decorations, and within the substrate.  
So changing your filter does not destroy your biological filter IF it is well established!  The reason I suggest changing the filter is because of the fecal and food material that is trapped in the filter.  Remove the filter cover and watch the flow of water as it passes over your filter.  It should pass THROUGH the filter, but if the water is passing OVER the filter, your filter is clogged and is no longer filtering waste from your tank.  This filter needs to be changed asap!  This is the main cause most often of high Nitrate readings!
Excessive Nitrates (in excess of 20ppm) can be deadly!  You say your doing routine water changes.  You may have to increase your water changes to twice a week (25%) with substrate cleaning every other week.  Keep in mind Cichlids are notorious waste producers.  The more you have (having more to reduce aggression in particular) the more water changes will be required to keep your tank in a happy place, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 10ppm or less nitrate!  Make it a task to move everything around once a month as this allows you to clean under and around tank objects.  This will also allow a very thorough cleaning in conjunction with removing clogged filters will render your tank a happy home for your pets!  This will also provide increased activity with your pets searching out new paths and caves!  Good Luck!

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