One of our oldest African Cichlids has developed a patch on its side which looks like it has lost all the scales in that area. I have pictures, but don't know how to insert them into this text. Perhaps someone can instruct me.

This problem started several months ago when we noticed a couple of small, red streaks on its side with a light area between them. I'm sure the light colored area was missing scales. The fish is its normal bright yellow color everywhere else. The problem has continued to gradually worsen and is now at least a 1/2 inch square. It basically looks like raw flesh, no scales, lots of red color. The fish acts fine otherwise.

Upon the advise of our fish store, we have treated several times with Ampicilin (sp?). We also did a couple of serious water changes within a few days time about a month ago and continued the treatment with no help. We are aware that treating with Ampicilin requires removal of the carbon filter. As far as we know, our filter system is the type that circulates the water through the gravel on the bottom of the tank. So in effect the gravel is the filter. Is that right?

Another fish store suggested using a medicine called Melafix which "rapidly repairs damaged fins, ulcers, and open wounds". We treated for seven days and performed a 25% water change per its instructions. This didn't help either. So we were going to buy more Melafix to continue treatment and went to our regular fish store.

They didn't think the Melafix would do anything & suggested that since the Ampicilin hasn't helped, it might be a parasite type problem. They suggested we do a one hour "dunk" each day for 2 days with a product called Para Guard and then look for results. Then repeat, if needed after waiting a day, which is today. I think that if anything the dunk has irritated the area. But I also think it would take much longer to see skin repair results. Should I continue the Para Guard dunks?

I'd really like to show you the pictures.
Thanks for the help.