Why Your Cichlid Has Black Spots {Is It Natural or Black Spot Disease?}

Are you concerned about the black spots you are seeing in your Cichlid?

Is this is a spreading illness or a natural appearance change occurring?

In this article, we’ll find out why your Cichlid has black spots.

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Why Your Cichlid Has Black Spots

Some black spots are hormonal and based on breeding seasons, while others indicate issues with poor water conditions. Fungal or bacterial infections could be spreading in your tank with the possibility of your Cichlid catching Black Spot Disease.

Read further for a full explanation before your concern turns into a worry about your Cichlid being ill.

Why Did My Cichlid Suddenly Get Black Spots?

We love the varieties and colors of cichlids, but should we worry when we see black spots? Sometimes it’s an infectious disease otherwise known as black spot disease, but other times it’s completely unrelated.

If you believe that a blue-green algae causes your cichlid to have black spots, this is not proven to be true and we must look further into certain species and your water chemistry.

A blood parrot comes from the Cichlidae family and is known to grow black spots due to hormonal shifts during breeding. They prepare for breeding with scattered black spots starting from the tail.

It’s important to rule out all other causes for these black spots. The first step is to test your water quality.

Is It Normal For Cichlids To Have Black Spots?

It could be normal for a cichlid to have black spots appear on its body if there are no other signs of stress. If your cichlid is active, eating well and the eyes, gills, fins are all normal, then you shouldn’t be concerned just yet.

Sometimes a cichlid is peppered with black spots due to the following reasons:

  • poor breeding procedures 
  • unclean water
  • incorrect water parameters 
  • diet is based solely on cheap pellets
  • stress from tankmates, bullying or overcrowding
  1. Start with a water test to ensure that your conditions in your tank’s ecosystem are correct.
  2. You should also be reading some nitrate levels under 10 ppm to show you that there is beneficial bacteria present and that your tank’s nitrogen cycle is present and active.
  3. It could also just be peppering which is caused by all sorts of things such as bad breeding, poor water quality, incorrect parameters, dietary issues or stress.
  4. If the fish are acting perfectly normal with no signs of distress, I wouldn’t worry about the spots.

Why Does My New Cichlid Have Black Spots?

If you introduce a new cichlid member to your community tank, but this one is looking peppered with black spots, should you be worried?

A new cichlid may develop black spot due to poor acclimation. It may take a few days to a week for you cichlid to adjust to your tank.

You may notice these black spots one day and it may not be so prevalent in a week. Be concerned if the black spots are coupled with any of the following symptoms of stress:

  • swimming at the surface 
  • gulping air frequently
  • swimming erratically
  • red gills
  • bulging eyes
  • sudden paling or darker coloration 

Ammonia can causing reddening of gills or overall stress. If the issue isn’t ammonia spiking in your tank, check for these optimal parameters for your cichlid:

  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons
  • Temperature: 75–85°F (24–29°C)
  • pH: 7.8–8.6
  • Hardness: 12–30 dGH
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What Should I Do If My Cichlid Has Black Spots?

It’s best to continue observing for abnormal behaviors or other signs of stress. If physical issues such as clamped fins or erratic swimming patterns or a lack of appetite are not present, you may not need to do anything.

If you notice your ammonia levels are reading above 0 ppm, you can consider adding dechlorinators to break them down.

This solution is temporary and it’s more important that your tank is cycled properly to ensure that beneficial bacteria eats and breaks down ammonia and nitrites naturally.

  • Test your water for ammonia spikes.
  • Stop feeding your cichlid for 1-2 days.
  • Vacuum the substrate.
  • Perform a 50% water change.

This a good time to make sure your tank is operating under the best possible water parameters. Even if the black spots are naturally occurring your cichlid, it’s never hurts to perform a thorough water analysis and cleaning from time to time.

Does My Cichlid’s Black Spots Mean There Is A Fungus?

Fungal infections are not as serious as bacterial or parasitic infections. You can treat the issue with plenty of brand name products that your local fish shop will carry for fungal issues.

Look closely at the black spots and check to see if the black spots appear in the following ways:

  • fuzzy
  • grayish
  • attached to open wounds

If you don’t have access to fungal medication, you can dose the tank with aquarium salt, cichlid salt or Epsom salt at 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons of water to kill any fungus.

Dissolve the salt first in a separate container with tank water, then gradually pour it in with small amounts each hour to prevent a stressful reaction to salt for aquarium fish that do not tolerate high amounts of it.

Do Black Spots On Cichlids Mean There Is A Bacterial Infection?

No. More often than not, you cichlid with black spots is not inflicted with a bacterial infection. You must notice other severe and detrimental signs indicating there is a bacterial infection including the following:

  • Tattered fins
  • Skin sores
  • Fuzzy spots
  • Bumpy growths 
  • White spots
  • Rapid gill movements
  • Golden speckles on skin

Bacterial infections are very contagious. You will end up noticing these reactions on other aquarium fish as well. You will need to isolate the affected fish before it spreads.

Most likely, you will need to treat the entire tank with a broad spectrum solution such as Maracyn-2 or Melafix.

When using any medication, you need to remove the carbon from the filter to make sure the medicine doesn’t get sucked and absorbed in the filter before it has a chance to work itself into the tank.

Does My Cichlid Have Black Spot Disease?

Black spot disease is also referred to as diplopstomiasis. It resembles the Ich protozoan infection, but the color is black instead of white. Usually it affects snails from a flatworm parasite.

Poor water conditions can lead to aquarium fish or marine life being affected. A weakened cichlid may allows itself to receive this uncommon infection.

You may have received a stressed cichlid who arrives in a poor state and developed this condition, but the chances are rare.

Black spot disease is contagious leading us to suggest isolating your cichlid in a hospital tank to make sure it doesn’t spread to other tankmates. The main tank can be treated with medication as well with 50% water changes.


We hope your cichlid with black spots doesn’t display any other negative signs or symptoms to indicate that there is a disease present

This could be normal or occurring during a breeding season. Other times it may go away once your cichlid settles comfortably in your tank.

Watch, wait and see, but perform a thorough water examination and tank cleaning in the meantime.


Thanks for visiting HelpUsFish.com and we’ll see you soon for another article that interests you. Bye for now!

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.