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Female cacatuoides not eating

ArrowAce

New Member
Hello! This is my first post on any type of fishkeeping forum, so please forgive me if I got something wrong/didn't give enough info.

I picked up a pair of subadult apistogramma cacatuoides two weeks ago (male was about 1.5 inches, female was about 1 inch). They both looked very healthy when I picked them out, the male displaying for the ladies, and the female a vibrant yellow. But after I acclimated them to their tank, the female got very skittish, always fleeing from the male and hiding in caves. She tried to eat some of the dwarf hairgrass (I suspect the movement of the grass in the filter outflow looked like worms to her?), but I got her to accept some Fluval Bug Bites cichlid pellets that I crushed up for them.

Over the past two weeks, though, she's stopped eating, and has come out of hiding less and less. Some days, it takes me up to an hour just to find where she's wedged herself. I returned to the fish store a week ago and purchased another female from the same tank, just in case she was stressed from the male's advances. He leaves her alone now, but she seems to only be getting worse. I haven't seen her eat in at least a weak, and her colors have faded to a dark gray, and almost black by her head.

Her original tank:
20L, live plants, temp set to 80 F
Tankmates: Two other cacs, tiger nerite
pH: 7.8 (pretty sure that's high for cacatuoides, though I've read they can adapt. I'm trying to find a sustainable, reliable way to bring it down, though. Any non-chemical recommendations you may have for this is welcome, too!)
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 20 ppm

This morning, after I noticed her poop coming out white/clear (no worms sticking from her vent that I could see, though), I moved her into a 5.5g hospital tank (heated, but not filtered, as the outflow was too strong. I'll be getting a sponge filter for her tomorrow) and started her on aquarium salt (Aquarium Co-Op's recommended Level 1 treatment, 1 tbsp per 3 gallons) (I also have API General Cure and API Fin & Body Cure on hand, but I don't want to resort to meds unless I have to).

She seems more active, but she's still resting on the bottom of the tank (she'll swim up to the surface for maybe 30 seconds at a time before going back to the bottom, but only occasionally), appears to be breathing heavily, and she still won't eat, even when I offered her frozen mysis shrimp that I thawed in garlic juice.

tl;dr: female subadult cacatuoides has been refusing to eat almost since I got her two weeks ago. She was moved to a 5.5g hospital tank with aquarium salt (1 tbsp per 3g) earlier today, and has refused everything from crushed cichlid pellets (her usual) to thawed mysis shrimp, all soaked in garlic juice. She is also almost constantly resting at the bottom of the tank, and appears to be breathing heavily.

Any help you guys can offer a very concerned newbie?
 

yukondog

Active Member
welcome to the sight, I've never had any luck with them once they go dark and labored breathing, hope someone can help. Do you have any live food like mosquito larva and the same place you find them most of the time you can find bloodworms.
 

ArrowAce

New Member
welcome to the sight, I've never had any luck with them once they go dark and labored breathing, hope someone can help. Do you have any live food like mosquito larva and the same place you find them most of the time you can find bloodworms.
Thank you for the reply! Unfortunately, I only have frozen food and dry food. My LFS usually carries live bloodworms, but they're out and won't get another shipment for another four days. If she holds out that long, I'll go pick some up and see if she'll take them.
 
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