Jo asked in PetsFish · 1 decade ago

Why are my african cichlids all staying at the top of the tank?

All my fish are at the top of the tank like they need air. Its not even like they are swing around at the top they are putting there "noses"

on the water line and swiming around. My tank is perfectly clear.


i have a filter and a heater the ph levels r ok the filter doesn't break the surface of the water. should i get a something that shoots bubbles?

Update 2:

65 gallon

1 kenyi 2 bumblee bee

and a figure 8 puffer

a sucking fish forgot what species

10 Answers

  • Joy K
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    A partial water change might help get things back on track. Remember to make sure the temp is the same as in the tank. The less stress the fish have at this point the better. Does sound like you need more oxygen in the tank. An air stone in the bottom might be a good idea, will also break the surface so more air can be absorbed there.

    Good Luck!

  • 1 decade ago

    That sounds an awful lot like one of two problems, either there is not any O2 in the water or toxic chemical levels are high. Cichlids should be in the temperature range of 72-78 degrees. When the temp climbs into the 80's it drives the 02 out of the water and the fish will suffocate. They hang at the surface because there is more O2 in the water at the surface than at the other levels of the tank.

    The other problem could be that you haven't been doing regular weekly partial water changes. If that is the case, then your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels are probably through the roof and causing the fish a great deal of stress.

    Clear water can be just as deadly as clouded, fouled water. Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are clear and colorless. A filter does not remove them, only regular partial 30-40% water changes will do it. If you haven't done any in a long time, don't change a lot for the first 3-4 times. Only take out about 15-20% every day for 3-4 days. Then you can do a 30-40% change, wait 3 days and do another. After this you can go to the weekly schedule that will keep your fish happy and healthy and your tank clean and fresh.

    I have tanks that have not been torn down for over 6 years. All I do is 30-40% changes weekly and stir the substrate once a month to allow the filter to pick up the particulate debris such as fish waste and uneaten food which both decay into ammonia.

    One more thought, are these fish all new to the tank or is it a new tank with new fish. It could be a pH problem. If the fish were used to a certain pH and then were dumped into a pH that is more than .5 different than what they were used to, they will go into what is called "pH shock." Sometimes it is fatal and sometimes the fish will recover.

    Good luck, I hope you figure it out. Email me if you have more questions.

    Source(s): 26 years of keeping and spawning many different species of tropical fish and cichlids. 25 tanks up and running at present. Mostly cichlids and scavengers right now. I have worked in both the retail and wholesale tropical fish business. The Greatest Enemy of Truth is not the deliberate lie; Rather it is all those things we know to be true...that are not.
  • 1 decade ago

    That does sound like low oxygen. Make sure you are getting proper surface agitation and make sure the temperature hasn't slipped upwards due to a faulty heater. Other than that the next thing to check would be contaminants in the tank or the outside chance of gill parasites and with all the fish doing it at once, that's a real long shot.

    Good luck!


  • hume
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Very small cichlids. Examples: The smallest African shell-dwellers or many of the smallest Apistogramma cichilds from South u.s.. What else do you pick? popular aquarium set-up: filter out, heater, gravel or sand, etc. in case you have the shell-dwellers, you pick snail shells, or some replace, for them to stay in. Apistogrammas do extra acceptable with flora (real or pretend). different standards remember on the species of cichlid you have.

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  • 1 decade ago

    if you don't have a bubble stone like a 6 inch wand you probably don't have enough O2 in there. The thing is clear water could mean O2 depleted water as O2 makes the tank look a little less clear on adding it but it settles down quickly. get a good airstone wand right away or they'll be at the top upside down.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Do you have a heater in your tank, and/or a filter? Also check the pH, and other water conditions. A clear tank doesn't mean anything!

  • 1 decade ago

    Do you have a filter that breaks the surface of the water or an air pump? This usually happens when there is not enough air in the water.

  • 1 decade ago

    Check your ammonia and nitrite readings.

    Check your airation, make sure there is plenty of surface agitation.

    And it will help us help you if you say what size tank you have, and exactly what species of African Cichlids you have. If you don't know what kind they are, their current size and how long you have had them will hopefully be suffecient.

    OK you are not overstocked, not even close. Did you cycle the tank? What are your ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite readings?

  • DP
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Yeah you need more bubbles/air in the water, they are likely at the top to get oxygen that they are missing.

  • Ghapy
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Are you sure it's not a simple matter of them seeing you and going to the top to be fed? If this is the case then if you set back and watch them and let them forget you are there they should resume normal behaviour.

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