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very small firemouth female and reclusive behaviour

Kascopic

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hi, I have had two firemouth cichlids for a while and my male had grown a lot, however my female is still only a little larger than when I got her, they were placed in a 15 gallon species only tank when I got them and she seems to be the one who gets the most food every day however she hasn't grown much. should I be concerned and what should I do about It?

she is approximately 2" long and the male is 3.5 - 4" long

they always hide as well, I haven't seen them out in the open for a while other than feedings where the female will dart out and grab a flake then quickly hide and the male almost never comes out from behind his rock why are they doing this and how can I help them?
 

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Byron

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There is a serious issue here, we/you need to figure it out. The photos show highly stressed fish, so can you provide more data please?

Water parameters, meaning hardness (GH), pH and temperature.
Can you test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, and if yes, what are the test numbers?
How long have you had these two fish?

Are you certain they are a male and a female? The male is more colourful and has pointed dorsal and anal fins; those of the female are usually rounded but not necessarily, and several sources suggest the two are near-identical in external appearance.

While this is a mildly aggressive cichlid, it is also a very nervous fish; external noise will stress it, and tankmates must not be aggressive or boisterous [just mentioning this, I know you have them on their own]. An aquarium with plenty of branches and floating plants will suit it admirably. It prefers quiet water, so the filter flow should not be excessive. But they should not be hovering under cover like the photos indicate.
 

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Make sure you have a picture on the back of the tank to make the fish feel more secure.

Make sure the ammonia and nitrite levels are on 0, and the nitrate is less than 20ppm. If there is an ammonia or nitrite level, do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate each day until the levels are 0.

My guess is you have 2 males. The big dominant one is stressing the smaller one, which is hiding all the time. If you want a breeding pair of firemouth cichlids, get 8-10 babies and grow them up together. Let them pair off naturally and move the prs into their own tank, or keep 1 pr and move the others out.
 
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Kascopic

Kascopic

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im pretty sure they are male and female but you tell me and if the smaller one is a male what should I do? I have a 10 gallon with a Betta that I can divide as well as a 15 gallon tank with smaller community fish and a 20 gallon with live bearers in it. My dad has a 55 gallon which I can try to move the larger one into. He has 3 large goldfish and 2 foot long Plecos. should I try to find a new home for him/her?
 

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Kascopic

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the smaller one comes out when im just sitting here next to the tank with light off but is wary and darts back when I move
 
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Kascopic

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im more worried about the larger male cause ive never seen him come out and ive tried changed up their tank a few times since I got them but he never comes out no matter how the decor is set

I got them from a local fish store I can't remember how long ago (bad memory, would have to go through the receipts) but the guy who picked them for me as juveniles owned cichlids for approx. 20 years. at that time he said the smaller one looked like a female but it was hard to tell because they were quite young.

I changed 50% of the water 3 days ago
 

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Byron mentions some things I did not know. Fire mouths being stressed by outside noise and other more aggressive fish. Also the water current. I've always liked Firemouths but have had no success in inducing spawning. I will keep this information in mind. The pictures of your tank are very nice. Is that sand on the bottom? I like it.
 

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I understand from your info to date that both fish are behaving oddly, so this is more than just interaction. I am prepared to say the smaller is female, but I am no expert in determining gender of fish from photos; the larger would appear to be male.

But that does not explain the problem, and the data asked for in my post #2 and referenced in Colin's post #3 has not been provided. In addition to that, what conditioner are you using? Are any other additives going in the tank water?
 

Byron

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Byron mentions some things I did not know. Fire mouths being stressed by outside noise and other more aggressive fish. Also the water current. I've always liked Firemouths but have had no success in inducing spawning. I will keep this information in mind. The pictures of your tank are very nice. Is that sand on the bottom? I like it.
I always thoroughly research the native habitat (including photos and videos when I can get them online) of every species I keep. I know that they evolved to "expect" that environment, and providing as close as possible is the pathway to success because it will eliminate considerable stress from the fish. And stress is the factor causing 90-95% of all fish disease, so this is a game changer..
 

Metalhead88

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I'm surprised that no one else has mentioned this yet. They are still in a 15 gallon tank right? I'd say absolute minimum for a pair is 30. They don't get huge, but still need their own territory as well as a higher water volume to keep water parameters right.

Firemouths can definitely be skittish and also are slow growers compared to other cichlids.... especially in a small tank.

Water conditions should be tested as soon as possible as previously mentioned poor water is usually the cause of stress.

Your other options are also not great ones. I would absolutely not move a firemouth into an even smaller tank with a divider in it that would cut the tank in half as well as over stock it.

Your Dad's tank with 2 large plecos in it is already heavily stocked and likely would not help your case. Those plecos contribute heavily to the bio load and need a large area to swim as well as water volume to keep conditions right for fish to thrive. Also - goldfish and cichlids need different water temperatures.
 

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I always thoroughly research the native habitat (including photos and videos when I can get them online) of every species I keep. I know that they evolved to "expect" that environment, and providing as close as possible is the pathway to success because it will eliminate considerable stress from the fish. And stress is the factor causing 90-95% of all fish disease, so this is a game changer..
My greatest personal success was having my Rams spawn several times and raise their young. This had eluded me for years. Success only came when I researched their native habitat and duplicated it as closely as possible. Every detail. Byron evidently came to this conclusion some time ago and hence his expertise in many areas.
 
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I understand from your info to date that both fish are behaving oddly, so this is more than just interaction. I am prepared to say the smaller is female, but I am no expert in determining gender of fish from photos; the larger would appear to be male.

But that does not explain the problem, and the data asked for in my post #2 and referenced in Colin's post #3 has not been provided. In addition to that, what conditioner are you using? Are any other additives going in the tank water?
gh is somewhere around 50
ph is 7.8 I think
temp is 81°F
ammonia is 0
nitrite is 0-0.5
nitrate is 0-20

I use aqua pro water conditioner which me nor my dad has ever had issues with in 10 years of use

im posting the test and pictures as well as an unused strip (the unused one is on the right)

the second test is for ammonia
 

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And now I pose the question. What would be the ideal Firemouth set-up? Substrate, decor, tank size, filtration and lighting. I am thinking about a set-up that would be used to raise six or seven juveniles until a pair developed and then shuttling the remainder off to a new home, the pair being left in Firemouth paradise to be fruitful and multiply. Kascopic, sorry to hijack your thread with this but the Firemouth cichlid is truly a beautiful fish and I hope you go on to great things with yours.
 
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And now I pose the question. What would be the ideal Firemouth set-up? Substrate, decor, tank size, filtration and lighting. I am thinking about a set-up that would be used to raise six or seven juveniles until a pair developed and then shuttling the remainder off to a new home, the pair being left in Firemouth paradise to be fruitful and multiply. Kascopic, sorry to hijack your thread with this but the Firemouth cichlid is truly a beautiful fish and I hope you go on to great things with yours.
I don't mind, you post good questions that help me too
 

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gh is somewhere around 50
ph is 7.8 I think
temp is 81°F
ammonia is 0
nitrite is 0-0.5
nitrate is 0-20

I use aqua pro water conditioner which me nor my dad has ever had issues with in 10 years of use

im posting the test and pictures as well as an unused strip (the unused one is on the right)

the second test is for ammonia
Thanks, these results give us some indication. First, nitrite above \zero is always a sign of trouble. Now, the test strip may be less than totally accurate, and nitrite is not too high, but it should always be zero. From the photo I am having difficulty relating the colours for nitrate and nitrite to the chart, so maybe that's part of it.

The pH and GH are OK. But why is the temperature so high at 81F? Is this due to hot weather (understandable, and being temporary OK), or is the tank water heated to this normally? Firemouths should be in the range 72 to 80F (22-27C). Warmer temperatures (meaning warmer than the fish is designed to need) make it more difficult for fish to respirate, which strains their system and adds stress. Temperature drives the fish's metabolism so it is extremely important, since fish are ectothermic and cannot regulate their body temperature.

The water conditioner contains aloe vera, and this is now believed to cause problems for fish gills over time. i would discontinue this conditioner. Again, it is one perhaps small (perhaps not) factor affecting the fish's physiology and that adds more stress. A good conditioner is API's Tap Water Conditioner; it may seem expensive but it is so highly concentrated you use very little so a small bottle will last months.

While I'm here, metalhead rightly noted the tank size and firemouths. This is something to be aware of, as these fish if they get through this will need larger quarters very soon. At the moment they are OK, but this is very temporary. Fish grow continually and without sufficient space they can have problems affecting their development, which--get ready for it--is more stress and that weakens fish more. :fish:
 
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