Malawi Bloat can effect all African Cichlids, not just those from the very popular Lake Malawi. The freshwater fish that seem to be most prone to contracting Malawi Bloat are those that eat mostly a vegetable diet.
The first symptom of Malawi Bloat is usually the loss of a fishes appetite. Other fish will can get the disease if treatment is not started by this stage. Another symptom may include swelling of the stomach, which is why it was given the term bloat. Rapid breathing, white feces and sulking at the bottom of the tank are also good indicators that your freshwater fish may have Malawi Bloat. You may also notice red marks near and/or around the fishes bottom, as well as skin ulcers. These symptoms only occur in the later stages of the dreaded Malawi bloat Disease. It is very important to get the treatment started as soon as symptoms are noticed. By the time the disease reaches the second stage, the disease may have already caused damage to the fishes liver, kidneys and swim bladder. After the onset of the second symptom, death will normally follow within 24-72 hours.
When you have noticed that your freshwater cichlid has lost its appetite, you should remove the fish from the community tank and begin treatment right away. There are two different treatments for the Bloat disease. First, and most common is Metronidazole and the second being Clout. This treatment should be followed by a 25-30% water change to try improving the water quality and increase aeration of the tank. Follow this up with a 50% water change. You may want to remove any biological filters you have placed inside your tank during this process. The 30% water change is not necessary if this is a hospital tank and has not been used previously for fish. The water change is important because you won’t be able to perform a water change for the duration of treatment.