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Why Does My Cichlid Have Black Spots? (6 Common Causes)

Why Does My Cichlid Have Black Spots? (6 Common Causes)

This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addtion, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Many people think that cichlids are some of the best fish to own. They’re very common and popular fish because of how neat they are.

There are all sorts of different types of cichlids that you can buy. You’ll surely be able to find cichlids that will appeal to your sensibilities.

If you bought some cichlids recently, you might be worried if they look a bit off. Have you noticed that some of your cichlids have black spots on them?

What does it mean when a cichlid has black spots? Is this a sign of some type of illness?

Continue reading to learn more about this topic. You’ll learn what is going on as well as what you should do to help your fish.

Are Black Spots Caused by Feeding Fish Spirulina Flakes?

There’s a rumor online that black spots are caused by feeding your fish spirulina flakes. This is simply not true.

This is a normal type of fish food that you can give to your fish with confidence. It’s nutritious for the fish and it certainly doesn’t cause black spots.

There are other reasons why these black spots might appear on the cichlids. Some of these causes are very problematic and will require immediate attention.

1 – It Could Be a Breeding Reaction

Blood Parrot with Black Spots

Some types of cichlids might develop black spots normally. For instance, blood parrots are a type of cichlid that is known to develop black spots before it breeds.

The black spots will show up on the tail first. Eventually, you’ll see the spots show up all over the body.

It’s also common for the cichlid to become more aggressive during this time. If the spots that you’re seeing are only on one fish, there’s a good chance that it’s related to a breeding reaction.

Of course, this doesn’t happen to all cichlids. It’s only going to happen to some cichlids.

2 – Is the Fish New to the Tank?

Sometimes when fish are new to the tank they will develop a few black spots. This isn’t incredibly common, but it has been known to happen to some cichlids.

This might occur due to the fish adjusting to the tank. It’s getting used to the new water parameters and the black spots are a simple reaction to what it’s going through.

If this is the case, the spots should go away pretty fast. In most cases, the spots will be gone in under one week.

When the fish is new to the tank, it’s best to avoid worrying. Wait things out a bit while keeping a close eye on the fish to see if there’s anything else wrong.

3 – There Might Be Issues with Water Quality

Dirty Fish Tank

Water quality issues can negatively impact your fish in so many ways. When the water quality is poor it’s going to make it tough for the fish to live normally.

Sometimes the water quality will get so bad in the tank that the ammonia levels will spike. High ammonia levels are very dangerous for the fish in the aquarium.

Often, fish will become discolored when they’re exposed to high ammonia levels. It makes it incredibly hard for them to breathe as well.

It’s common to see fish gasping for air when the ammonia levels are heightened. You might notice the fish swimming to the surface to try to get oxygen.

If the fish has red gills, that’s a sign that it’s experiencing ammonia burn. You’ll likely see the fish change and have a darker coloration, too.

Sometimes you’ll see black spots appear on fish when they have ammonia burns. It’s not uncommon for this to happen when the ammonia levels are really bad in the tank.

You’ll need to solve this issue as soon as you can or the fish will likely die. Fish cannot continue to live in an aquarium with high ammonia levels.

Do an immediate water change of 50% to try to get things under control. You can reduce the ammonia levels in the tank using chemicals, too.

Moving forward, you should do a better job of keeping the tank clean. Remember to do weekly water changes of 15% to avoid allowing the water to get too dirty.

You should regularly test the water using a pH balance testing kit, too. This allows you to make changes before things get too bad so you can protect your fish from harm.

4 – Fungal Issues

Another thing to consider is whether the black spots are related to fungal issues. Fungus won’t normally cause cichlids to die, but it can still be problematic for the fish.

Generally, fungal infections will cause white fuzzy spots to appear on the fish. Sometimes these spots will look gray rather than white.

Only rarely will a fungal infection appear to be black. This means that it’s unlikely that fungal issues are the cause of the black spots.

Even so, it is possible for fungal issues to be the cause. Fish that have compromised immune systems will be susceptible to fungal infections.

If the conditions in your tank are poor, the fish might be stressed. Stressed fish are more likely to become sick because they develop compromised immune systems.

Should this be the cause of the black spots, you can fix things by treating the aquarium with aquarium salt. This will kill the fungi and help the fish to get back to normal.

5 – Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections can be a bit more dangerous to the health of your cichlids. Much like fungal infections, cichlids will be more likely to get bacterial infections if they’re stressed.

Often, bacterial infections will be secondary infections that occur because of another condition. When a fish appears to have a bacterial infection, it’s best to quarantine it as soon as possible.

Bacterial infections are highly contagious. You want to separate infected fish from healthy fish as soon as you can.

When fish have infections like this, they might have black spots on their bodies. This won’t always be the case, though.

You can treat minor bacterial infections by using aquarium salt. Some infections will only be cleared up by treating the fish with antibacterial or antibiotic medications.

6 – It Could Be Black Spot Disease

Dwarf Cichlid with Black Spot Disease

Finally, you should know that there is a deadly condition known as black spot disease. Hopefully, the black spots on your cichlid won’t be related to this disease.

When fish contract black spot disease they’re going to have black spots appear all over their bodies. Typically, fish will only get black spot disease if they’re rather stressed.

Cichlids need to become susceptible enough to fall victim to this disease. Often, this occurs when the fish are forced to live in a cramped environment or when there are significant problems with water quality.

Bullying can also stress fish enough to make them sick. This is why it’s crucial to pick appropriate tank mates for your fish to avoid such problems.

Black spot disease is incredibly contagious. The entire fish tank could wind up getting sick very fast.

Isolate infected fish in a quarantine tank as soon as you notice the presence of the black spot disease. This can help you to avoid spreading the parasites further.

This parasitic infection is similar to ich in many ways. Sometimes this disease is even referred to as black ich.

You should be able to get the fish back to being healthy if you treat it right away. There are many treatments that work well against this disease.

Both copper treatments and Praziquantel have proven to work great. Your fish will get better and it shouldn’t die so long as you improve the conditions in the tank.

It’s recommended to do an immediate 50% water change in the main tank. You should endeavor to solve any issues that cause the cichlids to become stressed enough to get black spot disease.

Final Thoughts

You’ve learned that quite a few different things can cause cichlids to develop black spots. Some of these situations aren’t worth worrying about much at all, but others will be more serious.

If the fish is simply new to the tank, it might develop black spots. These black spots should go away in less than a week as the fish gets used to the tank.

Some cichlids might have black spots appear when they’re having a mating reaction. Note that this doesn’t happen to all types of cichlids.

Fungal infections might rarely cause fish to have black spots. It’s more common for fungal infections to be white or gray.

Bacterial infections can also cause black spots. This is something that can be fixed with medications and minor issues can be cleared up by using aquarium salt.

Black spot disease is a lot like ich. It’s something that only impacts fish that have become stressed.

It’s a parasitic disease that attacks fish with compromised immune systems. Ensure that your fish gets better care and treat black spot disease with medications such as Praziquantel.

You should be able to get your fish looking healthy again soon enough. Just know that you need to address any issues that caused the fish to become stressed in the first place.