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FAQs on Guppy Diseases 6

FAQs on Guppy Disease: Guppy Disease 1, Guppy Disease 2, Guppy Disease 3, Guppy Disease 4, Guppy Disease 5, Guppy Disease 7, Guppy Disease ,
FAQs on Guppy Disease by Category: Environmental, Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic, Treatments,

Related Articles: Guppies, Poeciliids: Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies by Neale Monks, Livebearing Fishes by Bob Fenner,

Related FAQs: Guppies 1, Guppies 2, Guppy Identification, Guppy Behavior, Guppy Compatibility, Guppy Selection, Guppy Systems, Guppy Feeding, Guppy Reproduction, Livebearers, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies,

fancy guppies, hlth. - 8/20/11
? I bought 6 fancy guppies 3 males 3 females from Petco on Thursday as of right now I have lost 1 male 1 female. They were swimming but not eating so I called Petco and they told my that they feed freshwater food. I questioned that and said You mean tropical flakes. They Said Ya that's what I mean. So I did some research online and found out that they will also eat blood worms So I went and bought blood worms and fish flakes. seem to eat blood worms but not the flakes I'm confused. What am I doing wrong had 8 goldfish they died with In two weeks. cleaned tank set It up for tropicals heater? bubbles new cartridges In filter started tank got guppies now on one side they have red gills but not both sides could this be stress from the trip home. Its like a 30 minute drive or what. I have a box of? tank buddies balancer should I try one of them or what I have never raised Guppies but the pet store said they were the easiest to raise so I figured I would try them. My kids are really getting upset that all their fish are dying how do I stop this horrible out come willing to try anything.
Thanks for any advice,
<Hello Katrina. Guppies are not difficult to keep, but if you don't do any research first, and don't mature the tank before buying them, you will kill them. My hunch is that's what's going on here. Guppies are animals with only modest demands, but you do need a reasonably large aquarium -- 15 gallons, really -- and that tank needs to be cycled for at least 3 weeks before adding them. "Cycling" means providing a source of ammonia, not just adding water to the tank. A good approach is to add a small pinch of flake daily, and then use a nitrite test kit every couple of days to measure the nitrite level. It'll go from zero in the first few days up to some number above zero (perhaps 2-4 mg/l) and then back down to zero again, at which point you can add fish. If you "seed" the tank with filter media or gravel from a mature aquarium, this whole process will be faster. Alongside this, Guppies need hard, alkaline conditions. Use your test kit to check the general hardness (sometimes written as GH) and the pH; you're aiming for a general hardness of 10+ degrees dH, and a pH 7.5 to 8. There are lots of fishkeeping books; I highly recommend reading something like 'A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium' by Gina Sandford if you have no experience of fishkeeping. Do also read:
Among other things, you'll learn you can't keep Guppies in pairs'¦ And please, for gosh sakes, if you send a reply, can you not replace lower-case I with upper-case I? It's really weird-looking, and not everyone who uses this site has English as their first language, and we try to accommodate them as well as native English speakers. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick young guppies -- 08/13/11
Dear Crew
Good morning to you!
<Getting into mid-noon here in Maine>
I've had a stable tank now for months apart from a few plants that had seen better days and were not really appropriate for the tank. I decided to change them and followed the recommendations of some others and obtained some new ones online. Stupidly, I just washed them without treating further and within 48 hours, I have two sick young guppies.
My param.s are all good - Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrite 0 ppm, Nitrate 5ppm, Ph: 8, hard London water.
Both male guppies (about 3 months old) are pale in comparison to the others. One cannot move his fins although eating and swims rather at a downward angle. The other has white stringy poop (bacteria or parasite?),
<Perhaps neither>
isn't eating and is hovering near the filter (uh oh!). Apart from feeling really stupid to have risked my tank, can you advise on what I should be doing, if anything?
<Mmm, perhaps adding a bit of activated carbon to your filter/flow path, but I wouldn't do much else here. I'd let all settle down here; not medicate>
I have stacks of medications here but would prefer not to use them unless I need to.
Many many thanks to you guys!
<Welcome! BobF>
Re: Sick young guppies -- 08/13/11
Thanks Bob
<Welcome Pat>
One either recovered (as there is no site of the hovering guppy fry by the filter now) or died and is now out of view in some corner somewhere. The other with the fixed fins began to get fin rot. I have another tank that has just been medicated with Interpet anti-Finrot - despite persistent daily water changes, reducing the number of fish and cutting back on food in my female tank, one of my Platies has persistent fin rot (not bad, just always a little white on his fins). I've put the little fella with the fixed fins in this tank now as he was getting bullied in the other and the meds may just help). Not a lot more I can do really.
Thanks for all your help!
<Again, welcome. B>

Poecilia; immobile fry, sickly mother 8/4/11
Hi sorry to bug my guppy fish gave birth to 3 fry thy not moving but thy did. My guppy is now standing up side down what's wrong or is she still giving birth
<This isn't good news. Can you supply any details? Have a start here, to read up on what Guppies need:
Females will sometimes miscarry if stressed, e.g., by being put in a breeding trap or by being harassed by the males. If the fry aren't moving, I'm guessing they were prematurely born and aren't likely to survive.
Stressed females may or may not recover, depending on their environment.
The best way to breed Guppies is to remove the males once the females have been fertilised, to stock the breeding tank with floating plants, and then remove any fry to a breeding trap *after* they've been born. Don't ever put adult livebearers in breeding traps, no matter what the packaging might suggest.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Poecilia; immobile fry, sickly mother 8/5/11
Hi my fry and the mother were dead this morning I don't know what to do it looks like my guppies are dying one by one
<Do, please, read where you were sent. It's important that you tell me some things about this aquarium. How big is it? What is the water chemistry (is the water hard or soft)? What is the water temperature? How is the aquarium filtered? How often do you change the water? What do you feed the fish? Are there males with the females? Did you use a breeding trap? When fish die one after the other, there's usually a problem with the aquarium rather than a simple disease, so "treatment" is about identifying the problem and making the necessary improvements. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Poecilia; immobile fry, sickly mother 8/5/11
Thank u so so much!!!!
<Always happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy problem 7/2/11
<Hello there>
I was wondering if you would be able to help us with our puzzling problem.
We have a 10 gallon aquarium that is cycled. We have had it set up and running for the past couple of years now.
We have 6 adult guppies in our tank. (2 males 4 females) We bought these guppies to add to our larger 33 gallon guppy tank. We decided to use this 10 Gallon for a quarantine tank so we moved the male guppies that we had in the 10 Gallon over to the 33.
They were healthy. The new guppies have been in the tank for a month. There is no signs of white Ick spots or anything.
They appear to be paralyzed from their middle to their pin looking tails.
The water temp is between 74-77 degrees. Lightly salted , and we use Prime to treat the water we add. We do weekly water changes, and every couple of weeks vacuum the gravel. We have a sponge filter that has charcoal and sponge.
0 Ammonia.
Can you help us with our problem?
<Can you send along a well-resolved image illustrating this paralysis?
There are a few possibilities here... >
<Do take the long read in the meanwhile: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GupDisF6.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Guppy problem 7/2/11
Hi again,
Thanks for the speedy reply. I will attempt to get some jpegs of these Guppies today and send them to you.
I clicked on the link that you supplied, and read ALL the pages... None of them are describing what is going on with these guppies!
We used to have 7 male guppies in this 10 gallon tank and they were happy.
I didn`t know that the smallest aquarium should be a 15 Gallon.
<The larger volume is MUCH better>
So, in the mean time - until I can get these photos, could you please expand on what you think is going on ?
<Again, there are quite a few possibilities... from environmental/metabolite feed-back to bacterial possibilities to parasitic crustaceans... BobF>
Re: Guppy problem 7/2/11
I forgot to mention that 3 of the 6 are suffering from this problem. 2 males and 1 female.
<Then likely something to do w/ the environment... What other life here? What ornaments? Other toxicity possibilities? B>
re: Guppy problem -- 07/02/11

There is live plant - coon`s tail- snails, (guess we should get rid of most of the snails?) aquarium ornament with fake plants on it....I am really stumped!
<Look on the Net re (Chondrococcus) Columnaris and guppies... image work...
Does this look like what you're experiencing? B>
re: Guppy problem -- 07/03/11
No, does not look like Columnaris. Later today will try to get the photos to you via email. Do you think that the snails are a problem?
<... why would they be? Please search, read ahead of writing us... What re the system, water quality tests? Foods/feeding/nutrition. READ where you were initially referred to... supply the sorts of information others have.
re: Guppy problem 7/3/11

Here are the photos. Hope they help.

re: Guppy problem 7/4/11
Would you please explain what you mean by "environmental " ?
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppysysfaqs.htm
and again, the linked files above. There is apparently "something" toxic in this system... exo- or endo-genous... an ornament perhaps that is poisoning these fish....>
We keep the tank clean, do water changes weekly. I don't understand what you mean. No signs of ammonia. We use Prime to treat the tap water which we make to tank temperature.
We have a 30 gallon tank that uses the exact same water and gets the same weekly care and we do not have this happening with the 30 gallon tank.
Three with this condition are now dead, the remaining 3 females appear fine as do the fry in their little section to keep from being food for the adult Guppies.
<Compare and contrast these two systems... what is different? B>

Strange white spot on female guppy 6/6/2011
Good Morning Crew
Trust you had a great weekend.
<Thank you>
I am wondering if you can help.
<I do hope so>
In my tank (95 litres, lightly planted) I currently have 5 adult dragon tail female guppies, plus 3 x 3 months old females and 4 that are 1.5 months old (all home reared), and 1 lyre tail female guppy.
3 Pseudomugil furcatus 1 male 2 females
2 panda platy and 4 fry (1week old) in birthing net and one male "Sunset" variety of Colisa labiosa.
This morning I noticed that one of the female guppies has a white spot just above her head (see pix)
<I see this>
The lyre tail guppy has a pale spot just below her dorsal fin. ( Could not get a clear pix of this) all other seem fine.
Is this something I should worry about.
<Mmm, don't think so... The fact that your other fishes look and act fine, including other guppies is telling. Likely the one has encountered a rock or such. I.e., this is a mechanical injury... that will heal of its own accord>
Ammonia and NO2 reading are 0
I want to do a water change but the tap water is reading 0.1 over the past week or so I have had much higher reading so have not carried out any changes.
<Reading 0.1 of what? I would pre-treat and store any change-out water in advance of use>
Many thanks in advance for your assistance.

<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Re: Strange white spot on female guppy 6/6/2011
Many thanks Bob.
<Welcome BJ>
Will continue to keep an eye on guppy as suggested and leave it all as it is.
0.1 reading is on NO2 (apologies)
<Ahh. BobF>

guppies and questions... Using WWM, guppies in gen. 4/23/2011
before I ask all my questions can you respond as quick as possible if this is an ok place to contact you?
<We answer questions in turn. We do try to answer questions within 24 hours. If you have an emergency with your pet fish, and you're willing to pay for someone to help you at once, then contact a vet who treats fish (many do). Alternatively, join the WWM Forum, and hopefully someone will answer you quickly.
Finally, do have a read here:
Virtually all problems with Guppies come down to people buying them before reading up on their needs. We get a lot of messages from people who've put Guppies in tanks that were too small (they need at least 15 gallons) or with inappropriate tankmates (they are often nipped by tetras and barbs).
Guppies need excellent water quality (zero ammonia and nitrite) and hard water chemistry (10+ degrees dH, pH 7.5-8.5). Their aquarium should be properly cycled before the Guppies; allow a good 6 weeks of cycling before adding the Guppies -- they are NOT suitable first fish! They need warm water (25 C/77 F or slightly higher). Male Guppies fight, and they also harass females; add lots of floating plants and if you must keep males and females together, keep at least 2 females per male.>
if not please tell me best place to contact you with all my questions.
sorry with the inconvenience!
<No inconvenience. But if you are anxious for answers, help yourself by reading up on Guppies and comparing the aquarium you have against what you will learn they need. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: guppies and questions... Pregnant... dead 4/23/2011
Hi my name is Maddy.
<Hello Maddy,>
I got my guppies about less than 2 months ago and have done a ton of research on them
after I got one baby and then a week later it was lost.
<Best to do research BEFORE the fish are purchased and the babies are born!>
So yesterday when I sent the original message I had a whole set of questions, but today I have new questions because of what happened over night. When I woke up this morning my pregnant guppy I had in the breeder box died
<Oh dear.>
with its mouth to the holes the fry are supposed to fall through. Is this normal?
<Yes and no. No, random deaths are not normal, but yes, adult fish commonly die in breeding traps. Do NOT put the adult females in the traps. Stock the tank with floating plants (floating Indian fern is ideal) and then capture each fry you find and place the fry in the breeding trap.>
I also had 6 guppies yesterday and besides the dead one I'm missing one!
Where could it be?
<Jumped out?>
My aquarium is 10 gallon with 1 male and currently 4 (used to be five) females is this ok I wanted a very light chance of the females being stressed out?
<Yes, there's a good chance the females could be stressed. A male should be small enough to confine in a breeding trap for a few weeks.>
Is it ok to add more to my fish tank? I was thinking about one more male and one more female. Please write back soon.
<Don't add any new fish until at least 4 weeks pass from the last death.
And before you add more fish, buy a bigger tank -- Guppies just aren't easy to keep in 10 gallons.>
Sincerely, Maddy
<Do read the articles you were linked to. Enjoy your fish, and happy Easter! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: guppies and questions 4/23/2011
I did look at the links they were very helpful!
Now I just checked in on my tank and one more has died but I think it was just old because it was getting less active.
<Unlikely "getting old". Guppies should live for 2-3 years, though under poor conditions their lifespan will be very much shorter.>
I s it really possible for the fish to have jumped out there is a lid on my tank?
<No idea. You'll have to look at your aquarium hood.>
The rest of my fish that I can see are at either the bottom or top swimming but lightly. Is it just there are a little bit sleepy?
<No. Let's assume you've never kept fish before. There are lots of ways you could stress or kill your fish. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwset-up.htm
Nine out of ten times, problems with fish are caused by the fishkeeper, not the fish.>
I did recently just buy this fish 10 gallon fish tank. So sorry but I cannot buy a new one until about 1 month . Do guppies need a light in there tank?
<They don't really care either way. Cheers, Neale.>
guppy fry? 4/23/2011
Hello my name is Maddy and I currently got 2 baby guppies! my question is well I put them in a glass bowl
<Will die in there.>
so they did not get eaten they have been there for a couple days I have 2 fish tanks one 3 gal
<Three gallon aquarium is useless.>
and one 10 gal I cleaned them both out and got them tested for ammonia or something like that
<Please make an effort to understand what you're doing. Do read where you've been sent. From the way you write I'm assuming you're 13 or 14, and I know sometimes reading and understanding science can be a chore. But it really is important! So please trust me on this. There's a nice article in our latest issue of WWM Digital all about setting up aquaria in emergencies by Judy Helfrich. I think you'll find it VERY useful.
Click where it says "Click Here for the latest issue". Have your Mom and Dad read through it, if you can.>
and they had to much so I bought a thing to reduce it.
<Nothing reduces ammonia to zero *in the aquarium*. Yes, you can buy water conditioner that removes ammonia *from tap water*. But this has nothing to do with the ammonia excreted by your fish every day. You need a mature, biological filter for that.>
so when can I put the babies in the 3 gal I don't want them to die
<If you don't want your pet animals to die, then READ. Hoping for the best is not going to work.>
in the glass bowl but don't want to poison them either
<Then don't use the bowl. Bowls, and fish tanks less than 10 gallons, have NO ROLE in maintenance of Guppies.>
pls tell me when is the right time to move them to the 3 gallon tank?
thank you!
<Glad to help! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: guppy fry? 4/23/2011
ok I moved the fry to the 3 gallon because of the glass bowl
<No, no! Bowls = Death for fish.>
and I am 12 not 13 or 14!
<I see.>
my friend is about to give me one male and two females in one week, I will put them in the 10 gallon because I want the tank to be ok for fish.
<Do read the articles linked to before. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: guppies and questions 4/23/2011
there are died now!
<"They are dead now" I think you mean. Do read. Your Guppies likely died through improper care. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: guppies and questions 4/25/11

ok i understand but i care for them good. should i put 4 females or two pr each male in a 10 gallon!!!??
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppyselfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. And run your writing through spelling/grammar checking ahead of sending it to us. Bob Fenner>

Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail 4/15/11
Hello there. I'm a bit confused about what happened to my male guppy. I originally acquired two male guppies in November 2010 and housed them in a 2.5g tank.
<Much too small for Guppies, indeed fish generally.>

Besides not being able to keep the tank stable, the guppies fought (both had nipped tail fins). I read that a third male guppy could break up the fighting,
<Depends on the size of the tank.>
but unfortunately the third guppy was the most aggressive of them all so I had to remove him. I then set up a 10g tank with a Penguin Bio-Filter and cycled it for a few weeks (I added water from the old tank to the new, did water changes over a few weeks).
<Still too small for Guppies, in my opinion/experience. Males are just too aggressive. Endler Guppies can work, but plain vanilla Guppies, not so much.>
The water is hard and the temp is kept at 78 F (heater doesn't have a dial- always keeps water at 78 F). The pH was fine and no ammonia. So I added the guppies and they seemed to fight the most when the hood light was on and the tank became warmer. So I removed one of the bulbs from the hood, and for the most part they seemed to leave each other alone, although their tails were still nipped up. There were no signs of disease though, and the guppies had nipped tails and lived together for 5 months now (1 month in larger tank, with 25% weekly water changes).
<Male Guppies fight. It's what they've evolved to do. By being bred to have longer tails, humans have taken away their ability to swim away from trouble, while increasing their fragility.>
I then added three peppered Corydoras on a Saturday (pretty small in size). The catfish took up residence in a tunnel, so the guppies didn't have this anymore for shelter. By Tuesday one catfish died, but I figured this happens when you add new fish (am I correct in this line of thinking?). The other two catfish seem okay, although when they open their gills, it's red in there. Not brightly colored red, just red- may be a silly question, but is that normal?
<Peppered Catfish need to be kept in groups of 5+.>
Anyway, that Wednesday night everything seemed normal. Everyone was eating, guppies tail fins still nipped but looked the same as they always did. Then Thursday night when I came home from work, the one guppy had no tail fin left at all!! Just "threads", but no actual fin left. He darkened in color, his eyes even looked darker, and he didn't eat and swam weakly. I immediately transferred him to the 2.5g tank (after I warmed the water to proper temp). I kept the light on to heat the water up to 80 F
<Too warm for Corydoras paleatus, in the long term anyway.>
and he started to move a little bit more but still didn't eat. I already knew he was going to die- he looked like a ghost. I had full intentions of getting medicine for Fin Rot the next day, but not surprisingly he was dead Friday morning.
I am confused though. Can Fin Rot progress that quickly?!
He was fine Wednesday night, then no tail fin and half dead Thursday night. Or is it more likely he was attacked or his tail got stuck in the filter intake tube?
I'm thinking he wasn't attacked because of the absolute thorough loss of tail fin. Could the catfish be to blame?
<Catfish are opportunists, and while Corydoras are completely peaceful when their tankmates are healthy, yes, they will try to eat half-dead fish lying inert on the substrate.>
Or the loss of shelter?
<Lack of cover *at the top* of the tank, e.g., no floating plants, will allow male Guppies to see one another, and because of that, aggression is more likely. Do read:
Should I treat the other guppy and catfishes for Fin Rot, just in case?
<If the other fish are asymptomatic, then no, don't medicate. All medications are toxic at some level, so the less used, the better. On the flip side, very mild medications like Melafix are often used too late to be of any use.>
I wanted to work my way up to six Corys, but I'm afraid to do anything just yet after these two deaths in one week. I will not be replacing the guppy though. I would like to get away from livebearers and try another species better suited for my size tank.
<Do read:
Thank you for any insight you can provide. Your site is the best I've come across.
<Glad to help!>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail 4/15/11
Thanks for the fast response Neale!
<No problem.>
The Corydoras weren't in the small tank when I heated it to 80 F- they stayed in the 10g at 78 F. I'm assuming then, since my other fish are asymptomatic, it's safe to acquire more peppered Corydoras?
<Sure. But do review this species: it's a low-end tropical species best kept around 22-25 C/72-77 F. If you must have a Corydoras in warmer tanks, then you're really limited to a single species, Corydoras sterbai.>
I know they are schooling fish; I was just being cautious by adding a few at a time.
Also, the guppy type I have are Fancy Guppies. I'm not sure what I can house with the male guppy I have left, besides the Corys. I know now the proper male to female ratio for guppies, but a 10g tank is not suitable for that.
<Indeed. I'd let the lone male Guppy do his thing and forget about adding others. Corydoras paleatus are a bit big for 10 gallons, but do-able I suppose. Potentially good tankmates are listed in that article I sent you.
I happen to rate Danios, Neons, Red and Black Phantom Tetras and White Cloud Mountain Minnows as among the best Corydoras tankmates because they share the same preference for low-end tropical temperatures, but note that Danios tend to bully other schooling fish, and Zebra Danios at least would have NO place in a 10 gallon tank. Neons sometimes nip Guppies, but the others should be fine.>
I'm assuming then too, if it really was Fin Rot, it was brought on by stress from fighting and having an already damaged tail- yes?
<Yes. Finrot bacteria exist in all aquaria, all the time. They're normally part of the biological cycle and break down bits of organic matter into the chemicals the filter processes. But if the fish is weakened, the bacteria are able to do this breakdown process on living tissue -- and that's Finrot!>
The sick guppy was never on the bottom of the tank- I was able to remove him before he got to that point, so I guess the Corys had nothing to do with it?
<Would seem so. Corydoras have limited ability to swim in midwater, and I can't see them attacking a Guppy in midwater.>
I was wondering about my other questions too though. Is the red color in the Peppered Corys' gills normal?
<The gill lamellae inside the gills should be red, yes. But the gill covers should be silvery speckled grey. Occasionally fish are born with incomplete gill covers so you can see the gill lamellae, and under some circumstances the gill covers may even curl backwards, again revealing the gill lamellae.
But beyond this, no, you shouldn't see any red.>
And, is it to be expected to have fatalities of the new fish when you add them to your tank?
<Absolutely not. Under good conditions, if you choose the right fish for your aquarium and local water quality, mortalities should be low. Fish are quite hardy, long-lived animals. Deaths immediately after purchase usually imply shock, either because your water chemistry or temperature are very different, or else you have such poor water quality that the fish can't survive. Surprisingly perhaps, fish of a given species can adapt to poor conditions (up to a point) but if the same species is suddenly exposed to such conditions, those specimens will die.>
Thanks again!
<You're welcome, Neale.>
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail 4/15/11
Wow- I honestly thought it leaned towards the norm to have fatalities with new fish.
<Er, no.>
Not counting the guppy that just passed (since I had him and the other one for 5 months), I had another guppy and this recent catfish die within 2-4 days of acquiring. I'm going to retest the parameters of my water.
<Do give me the numbers for an objective assessment!>
If that turns out okay, then I'm finding a new pet store!
<Can sometimes be an issue. Guppies are largely junk fish bred to a price rather than a quality. There's a lot hardier if kept in slightly brackish water, which Corydoras won't stand. Corydoras are usually very hardy, but they do need good water quality.>
Thanks again for all of your help! -Lorie
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail 4/16/11

OK- I purchased a new master test kit after work today and just tested the water. Today was the maintenance day, where I would do the weekly 25% water change with conditioned water and vacuum the gravel, and normally I would rinse the filter cartridge, but since it's been in there 1 month now, I was going to place a new cartridge in there.
<Do, please, understand you shouldn't need to replace the biological media (sponges, ceramic noodles) in a filter more than once a year, if that. You do not need carbon and you do not need Zeolite (often sold as "ammonia remover"). These are both redundant in most sorts of freshwater fishkeeping. If you have a filter that has proprietary modules that already include carbon and/or Zeolite, that's a shame. Unfortunately, many manufacturers produce these limited, low-end filters and market them at absolute beginners who don't really understand how filtration works. All you really need for a successful aquarium is plain vanilla sponges and/or ceramic noodles. These become colonised with "good" bacteria, and these in turn process ammonia into nitrite and then into harmless nitrate. That's all there is to fishkeeping. Understand this process, and you'll find life much easier. Filter maintenance should be limited to this: once every 6-8 weeks, take out the sponges or ceramic noodles, fill a bucket with water from the aquarium, rinse sponges and ceramic noodles in that, and then put the sponges and ceramic noodles back in the filter. Throw away that dirty water, and top up the tank with new water. Simple!>
So I tested the water before doing any of this and there are some problems.
Ammonia .25 ppm,
Nitrite 5.0 ppm,
Nitrate 5.0 ppm and pH 7.4. I tested the conditioned water as a control, and everything tested to zero and pH 7.4.
<Good quality tap water.>
With only 2 guppies in a 10g tank with an ample filter (filters 100 gallons per hour) and 25% weekly water changes with conditioned water and gravel vacuuming, what could I be doing wrong?
<Do make sure you understand filtration and are maintaining properly.>
Over feeding?
<Perhaps. Each fish needs no more than a flake about the size of its eye.>
Would these water conditions contribute to Fin Rot?
<Oh gosh, yes!>
What would you recommend to correct the water? Less food and bi-weekly water changes for awhile?
<Yes and yes.>
Thank you again for your interest and help! - Lorie
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail- one more question! 4/16/11
I forgot to ask- since I placed the sick guppy in my 2.5g tank, do I need to sterilize the tank and accessories (net/bucket) that came in contact with the sick fish, including the filter?
<Not a bad idea.>
If so, how?
<Hydrogen peroxide is a good, safe bleach. Ordinary bleach, diluted to the vaguest smell of chlorine, works too, but needs to be very thoroughly rinsed afterwards. Then air-dry, ideally in sunshine.>
I'm assuming you can't sterilize gravel.
<You can, but it's pointless. It's best to throw away everything that isn't essential.>
Thanks! -Lorie
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail- one more bit of info
I made a mistake- I didn't have the 10g set up for a few weeks prior to adding the fish. I looked at my calendar and it was only for a week.
<Still cycling.>
I figured since I used water from my old tank to the new, I didn't need to wait as long for the water to be "cycled".
<Do read:
From reading other posts on your site, I'm now wondering if the tank is still cycling.
Some on your site say to stop water changes, feeding and cleaning the filter. Then others say do a large water change right away. I'm so confused. Since some fish have died, I'm leaning towards a large water
change, but I don't want to set back the cycling, if that's what the problem is.
<Water changes good. Messing about with the filter bad.>
<20% water changes every 1-2 days would be a good idea. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail 4/17/11

Hi again Neale. Thank you so much for your help!
<Most welcome.>
I was quite disturbed to see my guppy die of Fin Rot (I kept goldfish in a 55g as a kid- never had these issues before!), and from doing research on your site last night and finding out how lethal the Nitrite level was, I ended up doing a 50% water change last night. I retested the water this morning: Ammonia lowered a little, not quite zero, in between zero and .25ppm; Nitrite lowered to .5ppm; and Nitrate stayed the same at 5.0 ppm.
<Better, and the fact nitrite is higher than ammonia suggests you're in the second half of the cycling process. But still, while ammonia and nitrite are not zero, your fish are stressed. Don't feed them more than once every other day, and do regular, frequent water changes.>
I will continue with 20% water changes 1-2 days as you recommended in your other response, since the tank is still in the cycling process. One more reason I rushed the guppies in the new tank after it was only set up for a week was because of the constant fighting in the cramped 2.5g; I figured they were under too much stress and it was worth the risk. At that, it looks like I should have been doing more water changes than once a week to compensate. I'm learning.....
Apparently I do not understand filtration. I did do research though; I don't know if this compensates, but my filter does have a "bio-wheel", which the directions say to never replace or clean (unless excessively dirty, then rinse in conditioned water). Since my tank has been set-up just over a month now, I haven't touched the bio-wheel.
<This is the biological filter part of the system and best left alone.>
Then there are cartridges that it recommends to replace every 4 weeks- they are made of a gauze like material, and yes, activated Carbon.
<I see.>
I was rinsing the cartridge once a week because it would get brown/dirty, then last night I did place a new cartridge in the filter.
<Do understand that carbon removes medications. You mustn't have carbon in the filter if you are medicating sick fish. The exception is salt, which isn't removed by carbon. But otherwise, as I stress at this website regularly, carbon is best left OUT of freshwater tanks unless you have a specific reason to use it.>
The directions also say to clean the intake valve and propeller once a month but I haven't done that yet. I'm wondering if I could modify the filter myself, forego the cartridge and somehow insert my own sponge (I don't know what a vanilla sponge is but I'll research). But maybe I don't need to bother since I already have the bio-wheel? I honestly don't recollect any filter at the pet store that does not use gauze/carbon filter cartridges or some variation thereof.
<Unfortunately, many of the low-end filters aimed at beginners have the carbon pre-installed, I think more for marketing reasons than anything else. Carbon is very cheap, but sounds good on the box, so people with no experience of fishkeeping assume it's a good thing to have. In fact for small tanks, the best filters are plain vanilla internal canister or box filters stuffed with sponge and/or ceramic noodles. Even a simply sponge filter will work better, and long term, will be much easier to maintain as well as less expensive.>
As far as feeding- when you say a flake per fish the size of their eye- is that feeding them 2-3 times a day?
<When the tank is cycled, sure. But not for now. See above.>
I have timed the guppies when they eat and make sure they can finish the flakes in 3 minutes top; I feed once a day.
<Far too much. Like humans, fish will eat more than they need. Overfeeding causes problems primarily because uneaten food and excreted ammonia strain the filter, reducing water quality. In a cycled tank this isn't such a problem because the filter processes this waste to nitrate, which is relatively (though not completely) harmless. But in a cycling tank, even traces of ammonia will cause harm.>
Although when I vacuum the gravel, I am finding whole pieces of flake food on the bottom.
<Proof the filter isn't adequate.>
They certainly get more than one flake each though. I feed the catfish sinking micro wafers, but I'm not sure if they can find them in the gravel, since I vacuumed up wafers last night too. I'm just going to feed less.
I will also disinfect my other tank that I had the sick fish in, like you recommended, and throw away the gravel. Oh- Speaking of gravel, my 10g tank has less than 1in of gravel.
<If you don't have plants with roots, then you need only enough gravel or sand to hide the glass.>
I'm reading the gravel helps with biological filtration, so I will also add more gravel.
<Helps only as part of an undergravel filter. Otherwise your safest bet is to minimise gravel depth. Remember, to remove ammonia and nitrite, the bacteria on the gravel have receive oxygen, and oxygen only diffuses a few mm into a static gravel bed. So anything more than, really, one grain of gravel down won't receive oxygen and won't be adding anything to biological filtration. An undergravel filter draws water and therefore oxygen down its entire depth. It's a very good type of filter in many ways.>
Should I wait to add the gravel until the water has stabilized?
<Do not add more gravel.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail 4/18/11

Hi Neale, how are you?
<Real good, thanks!>
Your last reply didn't show up in my inbox, but I copied and pasted it from the website, so no problem. I just wanted to thank you once again. Your help is greatly appreciated, and I feel better informed and equipped to right my tank issues and have happy fish. Although I have done research on my own, nothing beats precise answers to specific questions and problems.
Especially your shared info on filters and filter media- none of this I was aware of before. I definitely want to look into a better filter now, and like you said, seems I'll save money in the long run and maintenance will be a lot simpler (and therefore, more enjoyable, and, better for my fish!).
<Ah, do have a read here:
"A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium" by Gina Sandford is a very good, clear guide for setting up an aquarium and covers all the basics.>
I was following the feeding directions on the food container, although I realize they're in the market to sell as much product as they can. Now that I think about it, when I had a cat, the canned wet food directions suggested 3 full cans a day, which was WAY too much food.
<Indeed so. Humans are hopeless at judging the necessary amount of food, which is why we, and many of our pets, are often overweight.>
You helped me before with red claw crab questions/problems, and your knowledge was invaluable- I couldn't find much info about them on the internet. Unfortunately that situation didn't work out. The pet store was keeping them as semi-aquatic, and now I see they are keeping them fully aquatic. I have no idea why they're even selling these things.
<Because they sell, basically. Many people buy fish the same way they buy cut flowers -- when they die, they replace 'em. It's a situation we'd never tolerate for cats or dogs, but for "lower" animals, it's something we turn a blind eye to. The problem is that casual misuse of animals gives ammunition to the likes of PETA who'd want to stop people owning pets altogether. If pet-owners want to enjoy their freedom to keep animals of their choosing, I think they should act with more respect and humanity to the animals they keep. Like many of the liberties we enjoy, there's a responsibility attached to the freedom.>
Of course this is a chain pet store- there aren't any privately owned pet stores in my area.
Anyways, thanks again, and on to better fish keeping! : ) -Lorie
<Thanks for writing! Cheers, Neale.>

Red algae, FW, guppy hlth., using WWM 3/29/11
I set up a 10 gallon (heated, aerated, and filtered) fish tank recently, it has 2 guppies and a few ghost shrimp. It was all going smoothly until I added the shrimp, suddenly red algae exploded in the aquarium.
<Mmm, the color itself can be misleading... does this material feel very slimy? It's likely Cyanobacteria/BGA>

I clean it and it covers the aquarium again in around 2 weeks. Nothing online has been very helpful.
The crew has been of great help in the past, so it`d be great if you could help me out again.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwbgafaqs.htm>
Also, I had a guppy that would swim mid-tank with its mouth pointing toward the surface, though it was capable of swimming normally and also had a bent spine. I was told it was because of previous conditions in which I regrettably and ignorantly kept it (in a small, one gallon with another guppy, ouch). It seemed to be reasonable fact until recently the guppy died and another one seems to be taking up the habit of the deceased. The body of the deceased seemed untouched when I pulled it out. Any suggestions on what the problem may be?
<Please learn to/use the search tool on WWM; it's linked (on the left shared border/.dwt)... to here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
and put in the string: "guppy bent spine", read the cached views. Bob Fenner>

Female Guppy, injury 3/15/11
I checked the FAQs but found no answer to my question, hope someone can help.
I have a 10 gallon aquarium that has been up and running for approx. 4 months, in it I have 2 female fancy guppies, 1 male fancy guppy, 1 dwarf Gourami, 1 sparkling Gourami, and 1 male Betta.
<Mmm, the Betta may well chew the male guppy's fins...>
My temp is at 76 and all of my fish appear to be fine except for my pregnant female guppy. I have her in an enclosure as she is due any day now and she has been fine up until this morning. She was acting like she was going to give birth i.e.: not eating and lying on the bottom, then all later this afternoon I noticed that the top of her head was very red it looks like it is where her brain would be. She has no other symptoms please help.
Thanks in advance,
<Might be a secondary infection from a whack w/ a net or the container... best to be patient, not treat. Bob Fenner>
Re: Female Guppy 3/16/11

Thank you very much.
<Ah, you're welcome. BobF>

bubbles on fish previous to dying. 1/29/11
My family and I just got started with fish for family pets around Christmas time. We have a 10 gallon tank in which we have 5 guppies, which sounds pretty idiotic from what I keep reading about room and everything.
<Indeed. Male Guppies are aggressive, and I would not recommend keeping them in anything less than 15 gallons. Ender Guppies are somewhat smaller so can work fine in 10 gallons, but even then, you need to be careful to keep twice as many females than males.>
But since my mother is allergic to dogs and my dad's allergic to cats, we figured fish were the better choice for family pets.
<Can be.>
We feed them daily with tropical flakes, and with bloodworms and color enhancing flakes about twice a week. (PetSmart's Top Fin Tropical Flakes, PetSmart's Freeze Dried Bloodworms, and PetSmart's Tropical Color-Enhancing Flakes). Our aquarium has 3 artificial plants, one cave, and one tripod rock formation in the corner of the tank.
First off, we've gone through 7 fish. (Fancy Red guppy, GloFish, Tiger Tail guppy, 2 Cherry Barbs, and a Fancy Yellow guppy). We have a filter and a heater to keep the temperature between 78-80 so they didn't/don't freeze or overheat.
<Actually, there's more to keeping the tank at the right temperature that just dumping a heater in the tank! Your Danios for example (what your GloFish are) need to be kept quite cool, 22-24 C/72-75 F being correct. By contrast your fancy Guppies would do well a little warmer, 25-28 C/77-82 F being good. Cherry Barbs enjoy the same somewhat cool conditions as the Danios. So, when you go shopping for fish, you choose species that share the same temperature and water chemistry requirements. There isn't a "happy medium" that would suit all these fish perfectly well, though wild-type Guppies can do fine in the same cool conditions as Danios. The problem is that the inbreeding that produces all those funky-coloured Guppies also removes their hardiness. That's why people like me who've been at this a while don't recommend beginners start with Guppies.>
Currently we have a Red Tuxedo guppy, a Turquoise Tail guppy, two Laser Beam guppies, and a Tequila Sunrise guppy (all PetSmart pet store bought). The older cherry barb got too aggressive with our previous Tiger Tail guppy, and the GloFish (probably should have expected that) and took a huge chunk out of the Tiger Tail guppy so he had a bald spot on the top of his head, also doing damage to the tail of the GloFish which got caught in the filter. We tried moving the cherry barbs to another tank but they died almost an hour and a half of putting them in there after the tank was running for a week. We let the bags sit in the tank for 15-20 minutes so the temperature of the water would adjust.
Eventually, the Tiger Tail starting getting the scales back. He was acting normally and was very active around the tank with the other guppies, but would hide in an alcove every once in a while, (we thought he was just resting and trying to heal himself). He also was covered in what seemed to be a bunch of bubbles, or white spots (again we thought that was the film from him trying to heal). However, after about another 2 or 3 days he kept hiding in the alcove and only came out to eat, moved around a bit, and went right back in. One morning after being up until about 11pm, we found him belly up on the outside of the cove when we went to feed him around 7am..
Now, we had the Fancy Yellow guppy and we got him about a week ago. He was always trying to swim against the current of the filter. He was eating normally, and every so often would try to swim against the current. Just yesterday and a little of the day before that, he started getting the same bubbles on him as the Tiger Tail. And I mean covered in them..it actually looked like his scales were Braille, and just out of nowhere. I put the food in the tank this morning and I found him on the gravel near the bottom of the heater. I looked about two minutes later to make sure they were eating and I guess the current flipped him over and I saw he was dead.
Now my concern is that our Red Tuxedo guppy (who we've had since after new years) is starting to show these same bubbles or spots on him as well..could it be that he's the next one to go? Our turquoise guppy had a little bit of those bubbles on him but he seemed to grow and the bubbles were gone..the other one just seemed to die. Is there anything I can do to stop this?
<It's almost certain to me that you haven't cycled your tank properly, and that you have only the haziest ideas about what fish need to survive. Poor conditions and poor planning have doomed your purchases to a swift demise. Likely through Finrot or some other bacterial infection, but the details couldn't matter less given the big picture. Plus, you've chosen the wrong fish for beginners and you're keeping them in a tank far too small for them. Beginners shouldn't start with tanks smaller than 20 gallons, and the species they choose should be sturdy, reliable species such as Peppered Catfish (Corydoras paleatus) and plain vanilla Zebra Danios.
Buy a "long" 20 gallon tank and cycle the tank for 3-4 weeks by adding small pinches of flake every day, and then doing 25% water changes once a week. After 4 weeks you should find Nitrite (not Nitrate) has risen up, peaked, and then gone down to zero. (You do have a Nitrite test kit, I assume? If not, get one, pronto.) Then you could add a school of 6 Zebra Danios, do 20-25% water changes every week, and a month later add 4-5 Peppered Catfish. Both these species are unfussy about water chemistry and thrive at the same low-end tropical conditions, around 24 C/75 F being ideal. Do that, and you should find the hobby a lot easier. After a few months you may well decide you understand how things work, and you could add one or two additional species. I'd suggest a Bristlenose Catfish (Ancistrus sp.) as a small, worthwhile algae-eating catfish, and as a personality fish a Banded or Thick Lipped Gourami (Colisa fasciata or Colisa labiosa respectively), both of these being less aggressive than Three-Spot Gouramis and much, much hardier than the utterly useless Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia) that beginners, indeed everyone else, should avoid like the plague.>
<Hope this clarifies things for you. Good luck! Neale.>

My guppies are dying one by one 1/22/11
About a three ½ weeks ago, we bought 4 fancy male guppies, two red and two yellow. Tank had been running for a week prior to introducing of fish. 5 days after the purchase, 1 yellow died. He had been acting fine, and one day after a feeding he started sitting on the top or bottom, just moving his fins. If you tapped on the glass, he'd move a little, but died after 2 days. That was last week. This morning, we found 1 of the red ones dead. We found him last night also just sort of sitting at the top, though he was much more active than the 1st yellow. We found him dead this morning.
Water has been tested, and all levels are good, although the pH was high.
<Unlikely to be a problem'¦ pH 7.5-8.5 is optimal for Guppies.>
Our water is very soft.
<Bam! Right here is the problem. Guppies need HARD water.

Aquarium is 20 gallons, with a heater (temp between 76-80). Large filter with bio-wheel. Has plastic and real plants. My husband added plant fertilizer this weekend to help the plants, as they are dying due to lack of substrate (we're redoing the base at this point) and low light. He also recently changed the light from 15W to 65W. There is also a black mystery snail in the tank who is doing great. They are eat tropical flake food, and freeze-dried brine shrimp. We have also attempted to feed them cucumber, but they wouldn't eat it. We have been doing partial water changes every other day.
The only other consistency we noticed with both dead fish is that right before their death, they got a red spot on their back, near their dorsal fin. Very small, never changed size or color, but it was not there prior to this. We don't want to keep losing fish. My son has a small 5 gallon aquarium with Glo-fish that have been doing excellently. Is this an illness or just bad fish? My husband thinks that the water coming out of the filter is too rough for them and they are somehow getting injured. Thank you.
<Read here:
Depending how soft your water is, 50% to 100% the dosage of Rift Valley Salt Mix should harden the water up enough. You're aiming for at least 10 degrees dH, ideally 15+ degrees dH. Don't worry about the pH too much -- so long as it isn't below 7, you should be fine. Too many beginners get bogged down in the pH without learning about what matters, the hardness. Do also remember NOT to use water that's been through a domestic water softener. This water is fine for washing and cleaning your house, but UNSUITABLE for fish tanks (and arguably not even safe to drink, which is why the kitchen tap normally bypasses the domestic water softener). Make a series of water changes, about 20% at a time, over the next week, replacing old water in your tank with water that has the Rift Valley Salt Mix added as described in that article. By the end of the week you should find your Guppies much happier. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy Water Chemistry 1/13/11
I have 10 gallon and 46 gallon tank and recently lost a lot of guppies. I red your article to Giuseppe about pH parameters and adjusting pH, hardness. My water is extremely soft and although out of tap it measures
7.0,GH & KH were both zero. pH was not stable and stayed between 6.2- 6.8.
Before the fish died, they all hovered in front of the filter and died one by one. After reading Neale's article, I removed the carbon, replaced with crushed coral in a stocking foot, added a coconut shell in. In few hours fish were more active and pH risen to 7. 8 GH 120 KH 75. Water appears brownish and cloudy, but fish appears happier.
My question are does the cloudiness go away?
<Should do. Assuming you haven't recently changed the gravel (silt on sand and gravel often makes water cloudy) the silt may be coming from the crushed coral. Rinse this thoroughly before use. Otherwise, it's possible the cloudiness is due to either a harmless diatom bloom or a slightly more worrying bacterial bloom. Diatoms are yellowy and tend to cycle back and forth a few times across a few weeks then go away. Bacterial blooms are more milky colour and are associated with water quality and/or water
chemistry variation. Normally they go away within a few days, but do keep an eye on your fish. In either case, doing a series of small water changes, perhaps 10-20% every 2-3 days, should help things clear up, and rinsing the mechanical media in your filter will dramatically improve things too.
Filter floss is especially good for "polishing" water.>
Is there such thing as too hard for guppies?
<Not really, no. Anything up to 35 degrees dH is fine, and you're unlikely to see those conditions in a freshwater aquarium.>
I put enough coral to fill the foot and the filter container, is this a lot?
<Might be more than you actually need. My gut feeling would be for a 40-50 gallon tank a fist-sized quantity should do. It's more important that you clean the crushed coral regularly.>
When do I replace the coral?
<Replacing isn't crucial if you remember to clean the crushed coral under a very hot tap every couple of weeks to wash away all the slime surrounding the particles. If you wanted to, you could replace once a year.>
Does fish behavior suggest cause of their death was the acidic pH?
<Acidic pH will quickly kill Guppies, yes. In hard water they are usually very hardy. Though not strictly essential, the addition of a little aquarium salt, up to half an ounce per US gallon, can be helpful too. This
very low salinity won't harm filter bacteria or most plants. Many fish farms breed their Guppies in slightly brackish water.>
I like to purchase more and I just want to make sure they make it this time. Thank you!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy Water Chemistry 1/14/11

Dear Neale:
Your site is awesome and thank you for all the info once more.
<Happy to help.>
I removed all the gravel few weeks ago after most of the fish died; so, aside from few plastic plants, power filter, heater and UV sterilizer there is nothing else. Today, I removed half of the coral out of the filter as you suggested.
One of the Blue Moscows is pregnant, she has a healthy body, eating well, active. It was interesting to read that unborn fish fry can make themselves disappear by moving up in mothers belly further and re-appeared later. I saw that happen. Another, interesting point that you have mentioned, if I keep temp over about 80
<28 C/82 F is ideal. Don't keep them very much warmer than this too long, or their lives will be very short.>
and pH and hardness higher, I may have better chance to have more males.
<This is a bit of an old wives' tale. There's little scientific evidence to back this up. One recent scientific analysis suggests that excessively warm conditions may alter the mortality of fry, and the female fry die more quickly, hence the observation in some situations that warmer water favours male fry. But increasing mortality isn't what you want. Dead embryos make it more likely the adult female will die, and I've seen fish die this way more than once, and it's horrible to watch.>
I would really like that.
<Sadly, all the evidence is that Guppies produce more or less equal numbers of male and female fry unless the female "chooses" to do otherwise -- though this is a hazy area of the science based on observations in the wild, where some batches of fry do seem biased towards one or other of the sexes.>
You are a great resource. I have learned more from you than 5 books I purchased earlier. Why don't you write one?
<I already have. One called "Brackish Water Fishes" for TFH, and another, upcoming one for the Amazon Kindle.>
How does the tank cycles if the only media in it is crushed coral?
<You can in fact use crushed coral as the sole biological media, though a combination of coral sand and crushed coral is generally recommended, usually as the two layers of an undergravel filter. This is how old school marine aquaria were done. Guppies would really thrive in such an aquarium, by the way!>
If I washed the crushed coral under hot water every 2 weeks, would that also not kill the good bacteria?
<Which is why you only clean the crushed coral, not the sponges and/or ceramic noodles in your biological filter.>
What is floss, does it looks like scrub pad?
<No; it looks like cotton wool. It's sometimes called filter floss or filter wool.>
If so I have that on in the hang Is that it? If not let me know, I 'll go and get one. Is that enough to keep the bacteria colony cloned every 2 weeks?
<You need your filter to be mostly (say, 80% by volume) biological media such as sponges and ceramic noodles, and only up to 20% both mechanical media (filter wool) and chemical media (crushed coral in a media bag).>
This is my one last try to grow Blue Moscows. 45 gallon tank is empty and depending on how the 10 and 3 gallons do with all these changes, I will not buy more of them any time soon. Thanks for your time and kindness to return my Emails. Sule
<You're welcome, Neale.>

guppy help, hlth. 1/4/11
hi I have read through the disease FAQs but I get conflicting information
<Really? I'd have thought Guppy care was pretty clear by now.>
so I wanted to ask directly'¦
<Fire away!>
I have a 6g eclipse aquarium with one male guppy,
<Much too small a tank for Guppies;
10 gallons might be okay for a single male but it isn't really ideal. Fancy Guppies of the sort sold in pet stores are really quite delicate, and because the males are aggressive to each other as well as females, I recommend at least 15 gallons for groups of one male and 2-3 females.>
the only inhabitant, tank set up about 4 months ago. Had minor tattered fins
<Do be aware male Guppies fight, and they're also easily nipped by other fish, even species that don't normally nip at other fish. Once Finrot sets in, damaged fins quickly get worse, and the Guppy will soon die.>
when we put him in the tank about 3 months ago and got better, has been looking great. Over last 10 days he mostly hangs up in he corner and near the top of the tank. Still swims around and eats. Looks a little bloated, but not much, and fins not angulating out weird, and scaled not popping out, eyes look fine, no red or white spots, but most often has a stringy poop of variable length emerging from anus, can be quite long, white or clear but sometimes red or dark brown.
<In itself not a clear symptom of anything, but can indicate internal parasites in some instances. Do see how faeces change as diet changes -- offer more green foods, and avoid dry foods as much as possible. Ideally, provide a diet based around cooked peas, cooked spinach, Spirulina flake food, live brine shrimp, and live daphnia. Avoid freeze-dried bloodworms and brine shrimps and foods of those sorts, as these seem to exacerbate the risk of constipation. Even with healthy fish, they're best used as once-a-week treats.>
temp of tank 78-80. Feeding omega one natural protein formula/flakes.
<Some fresh greens are important. Guppies naturally feed on algae more than anything else.>
We do a 35% water change weekly with testing of parameters, nitrates and nitrites have been undetectable. Only tankmate is a snail to help with algae. Fins look great still by the way, no tattering. I don't know whether to treat with meds or alter his diet or something else. thanks in advance, George
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: guppy help 1/5/11

Thanks. I will change his diet. How long would you try that for before giving parasite treatment a shot?
<I'd do them both right now.>
He almost seems like he can't swim to the bottom of the tank easily due to bloating.
<Indeed. Needs prompt treatment.>
When given flake or live brine he does respond briskly though. Thanks.
<Cheers, Neale.>

I dropped a guppy on the floor 12/24/10
I've been on your website for the last couple of hours, reading about swim bladders, diseases, injuries, etc., but can't find anything that addresses my concern. I have three fish tanks - a 10 gal isolation tank that currently houses 3 albino Corys, 3 neon tetras, and 1 female guppy that I just acquired); a 47 gal community tank with mostly livebearers (usual population is 3 adult female platys and 5 juvenile platys (3 male and 2 female) that are about 2 months old; 2 male and 6 female adult guppies and 5 juveniles ranging from 3 weeks to 7 or 8 weeks; two molly fry about a 4 or 5 weeks old; 4 Otocinclus; and 4 Corys (2 emerald green and 2 peppered). The third tank, 14 gal, has only been inhabited for a few days, because it just finished cycling. I learned the hard way that putting too many fish in a newly cycled tank isn't wise (added 15 fish to the 47 gal at once, and lost 7 of them in the first week or so), so I'm going more gradually now.
My goal for that tank is a school of Neons, 7-9, 4 or 5 albino Corys, and later, if I can find a compatible one, a male Betta. At the moment, the tank holds the only 2 of the original 5 neon tetras that survived, along with 4 guppies. The reason the guppies are there is the essential issue of this letter. The community tank and the 14 gal have "waterfall" type filters that hang on the back of the tank, while the iso tank has an undergravel filter with extra filter media (floss, carbon, and ceramic biofilter thingies) in the tubes. All of the tanks have good water parameters and get regular partial water changes, with some of the filter media left as is while other media is rinsed and/or replaced on a rotating basis.
<Sounds good thus far>
A couple of weeks ago I noticed that my largest platy was starting to bully the other fish, driving them away from food, etc. At first she was chasing them away from a remnant of a spinach leaf that she wanted to herself, so I put in two new leaves, pointing opposite directions from the clip, and that seemed to be OK for that day. Then I noticed she was chasing fish regardless of food. She was also getting quite pregnant looking, even though the oldest male platy in the tank was not quite 2 months old (in fact, I had only been able to identify gender with certainty for a week or so before that). I thought she might be pregnant from sperm she was carrying from a mating prior to her arrival in my tank, and that maybe she was needing more space to herself for awhile. My 10 gal isolation tank was currently being used as a fry tank, and contained two guppies and two mollies that were all between 1/2" and 2/3" inch, and one little guppy fry that was only about 1/3" (he/she got accidentally transferred to my new tank along with water and filter gunk from my other two tanks to help speed cycling, and was in that tank alone for 2-3 days before I noticed it). I also had 2 of my 4 Otos in the 10 gal tank for clean-up duty. I hadn't planned on moving any of them to the community tank until the smallest fry was at least 1/2" long, but decided that I needed to move the bully, and that without her in the community tank, the little one would probably be OK. So, I moved the 5 fry to the community tank, and the bully to the iso tank. I was using a plastic container that was fairly wide and shallow (about 5-6" across and maybe 3" deep). When I put the babies in the big tank, the bully was right at the top, so I scooped her up with the transfer container rather than using a net. I got another platy and two guppies in the process. The one I was trying to move immediately started racing around trying to jump out of the container, so I decided the others could go along for the ride. I put one hand over the top to make sure the platy didn't actually jump out, and carried them the 25 feet or so to the iso tank. Of course the three extra fish ended up in the tank, too, so I scooped them back out with a net, into the transfer container, and headed back for the community tank.
One of the guppies, Dawn (who is a blonde guppy with a very bright yellow tail), was still in the net, in the water. About 4 feet from our destination the net suddenly flipped out of the container onto the floor with Dawn inside. I think I may have bumped the handle on something, but I'm not sure. I immediately scooped her back into the container (since she was in the net, that was easy to do), then held her in the net in the water while transferring the other two back to the tank. I put Dawn back in the container for observation, and she was completely disoriented for a few minutes - swimming sideways and upside down and vertically. After the first few minutes she was just hanging vertically in the water, head up and tail down, moving very little. My mother, who was visiting, suggested a little salt, which we added, and we both continued to observe. After awhile, when she appeared neither better nor worse and the water in the small container was starting to feel too cold, I moved her to the iso tank and put her in a net breeder to give her support and safety, since the only other fish in the tank (other than the Otos) was the bully. An hour or so later I noticed that her gravid spot, which is usually orange/brown, looked distinctly bloody, her whole body was mottled as if bruised, and she was a bit misshapen. From above, she appeared to bulge out more on one side than the other, and her spine appeared curved to the side a bit. Fortunately, all her fins were working, including her tail, so I knew she hadn't suffered a spinal cord injury. Her gills also appeared to be working fine.
Over the next couple of days there was little change. She laid on the bottom of the net breeder mostly, and when she tried to swim she was almost vertical. She didn't seem very interested in food. After 2 to 3 days of not much change, I had about decided it was time to euthanize her, but she suddenly perked up. I discovered that she was going after food, but was having difficulty getting any, because she couldn't aim herself correctly to get the food, and if it passed her she couldn't get her head lower than her body to get to it. I got a drinking straw and blew some frozen food (a mix of blood worms and other stuff) directly into her path, and she gobbled it down. I then used the straw to agitate some flake food that had drifted to the bottom of the net breeder, and when it was high enough for her to reach, she gobbled that, too. Obviously, I decided to give her a couple more days to see if she would continue to improve. After 4 or 5 days I put the bully back into the main tank, where she has been the perfect little lady again (I don't know what got into her for that week or so!), and tipped the net breeder on its side in the tank, so Dawn could swim free but could still use the net for support if she wanted to. She slept in it the first night, but also moved around the tank some, still at a rather steep angle but with a straighter appearance from the top. I moved the 2 tetras in with her for a couple of days when the new tank was almost ready for habitation, and when I moved them on I put two other female guppies in with Dawn. Pepper, who is the smallest adult female and is a little smaller than Dawn, and Pepper's daughter, who is about an inch or a bit more. They had all been in the community tank together prior to the accident. Dawn immediately became more active, and the three hung out together in the tank.
Wednesday was the two week mark. Dawn's color has returned to normal, she is no longer mottled, she is able to direct herself toward food successfully, and to angle downward to pick up food that has fallen past her. She is swimming around the tank, and when moving forward quickly is almost level. However, she still hangs at about a 30 to 40 degree angle when she is not actively moving forward. Yesterday evening I moved her and the other two guppies, along with the two Otos, to the tetra tank to prepare the iso tank for new fish. I also added a new guppy fry that I found at the top of the community tank, probably only a day or so old. I don't know if he/she will make it to adulthood, but I think the chances are better with fewer and smaller fish than in the community tank. The tetra tank is on a higher stand, and is taller (16" high rather than 12"), which has made it easier to observe her from the side. I noticed that her back is more humped than usual for a guppy, above her spine. It's not a distinct lump, just more rounded up than is usual for a guppy, more like the typical shape of a platy. She almost looks like she's retaining fluids, because she is quite transparent there. I don't know if that rounding is pushing the back part of her body and her tail down, or if it is a result of those parts hanging down, or even if it's related. I have suspected from the first that she may have injured her swim bladder when she fell, and I still think that's likely.
So, there is the background, and I can finally get to my questions: If she did injure her swim bladder, is there any chance that she might recover completely, or is this as good as its likely to get?
<Might still recover>
Is her "humpback" condition likely due to swelling/edema, or after two weeks would that have gone away?
<This too may resolve itself in time>
If not swelling, do you have any ideas about the cause, and/or the prognosis?
<Physical trauma...>
Other than the usual maintenance (water quality, diet, etc), is there anything else I can do?
<Not really, no>
She can swim bottom to top and back again in the 16" high tank (around 12-13 inches of water between the substrate and the top of the water). Do you think she could do the same in my community tank, which is tall rather than wide (about 25-26 inches of water)?
<In time, yes. I'd leave this fish where it is for another month or so>
Also, my two male adult guppies are pretty active in their pursuit of the girls, and sometimes relentlessly double-team one of them. The juvenile male (also Pepper's offspring and about an inch long at this point) has started to follow and dance for the juvenile girls, including the platys and mollies. I haven't seem him after any of the adults yet, but no doubt he'll be there soon enough. If Dawn doesn't get better in her orientation, should I plan to house her separately from the community tank indefinitely?
Thanks for your help.
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Guppy problems, dis. 12/23/10
Dear Crew
I've hunted around your most excellent website again and feel I need a bit more help. I moved 16 x 3 month old baby guppies from a small tank (30 litres) to a new larger planted tank (95 litres as past experience showed that the males tend to get rather too dominant if there is not enough top space). Everything was fine until I stupidly moved an older guppy in with them that had been recovering from a bit of tail rot (he was also blind and had a curved spine so was no threat to the little ones). However, I now fear I have passed on some virus or bacteria despite the blind guppy being treated over a period of time with a broad spectrum antibiotic.
<Guppies are prone to several more-or-less incurable diseases. Mycobacteria infections are quite common among farmed livebearers generally; do read WWM re: Mycobacteria for more. There's also a variety of Tetrahymena parasite that causes so-called Guppy Disease. Affected fish are lethargic, stop eating, and eventually die. While white spots on the skin or unusual patches of mucous may be evident, they are not always seen. Because of the similarity between Guppy Disease and various other problems such as poor water quality, this disease remains poorly known and difficult for fishkeepers to diagnose. It cannot live in strongly brackish to marine conditions, but farmed Guppies may not tolerate even short-term maintenance in seawater (wild and crossbred Guppies can) so this way of managing Tetrahymena isn't always an option. At the moment medications for Guppy Disease remain experimental:
Septicaemia of various kinds is not uncommon among fish, particularly farmed varieties such as Guppies and Angels that have been inbred to the Nth degree. However, septicaemia usually follows on from some triggering factor such as stress of physical damage.>
Now I have 7 of the smallest guppies not doing so well - they seem quite lethargic and their fins appear to be angled towards their tail rather than forward. There is some pink around the base of their fins and some tiny odd little red marks on their body. One in particular has entered a whirling phase. Otherwise, tails are open and fine and they are eating. I have quarantined them and put them in a well-aired hospital tank with salt and a broad spectrum antibiotic (JBL Furanol2) over the past 24 hours.
The large planted tank they have come from had the following readings:
Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrites 0ppm
Nitrates 15-20ppm (difficult to tell due to strip test)
GH around 12 degrees
KH around 12 degrees
PH around 7.8
Tank has a smidgen of salt added (around 4 teaspoons)
<If this is a Guppy-only system, raising salinity can be beneficial, at least 2 grammes marine salt mix/litre up to, say, 6 grammes/litre, depending on the types of plants.>
I have plenty of oxygen from two bubble curtains.
<Bubble curtains don't actually add oxygen to the water. That's a myth.
They increase circulation somewhat, though.>
I have recently started adding Easy-carbon each day to help the plants whilst turning the bubble curtains right down during the day.
<Wouldn't bother with this at all. Get plants that grow in the conditions you have. Adding chemicals to the water if you don't fully understand the science behind them is never a good idea.>
All I can narrow it down to is three possibilities:
1) a virus or bacteria introduced from the blind guppy two weeks ago (he died not long after);
2) something carried in on the new plants (HC)
<Unlikely if the plants came from a plant grower/shipper, as these will be growing plants in greenhouse conditions. Of course, plants taken from a tank with fish in can carry the free-living stages of parasites.>
3) the Easy-carbon I've started to add (would the PH level changed too fast despite the oxygen curtain?)
<Could well, yes.>
I thought it might be 'whirling' disease and considered Haemorrhagic Septicaemia too. The most obvious signs of illness are the lethargy, backward pointing fins, pink areas around the fins base and this one fish that torpedoes out of control.
One last thought - I always appear to run into problems with guppies when they approach the 3 month age. Is this common with so much line breeding of the parents taking place these days?
<Yes. You will observe that I rarely ever recommend Fancy Guppies for precisely this reason. The quality is abysmal.>
I may have to change my supplier.
<Unfortunately, in the UK at least most are coming from the same Far East exporters who breed fish to a price, not a quality.>
Any advice?
<Try keeping other fish. Seriously. I gave up with Guppies some 25 years ago. The livebearers I do keep nowadays are things like Limia nigrofasciata and Ameca splendens that provide all the fun without anything like the delicacy.>
Many many thanks in advance to your wonderful team and seasonal greeting!
kindest regards, Patrick
<Merry Christmas, Neale.>

Guppy in trouble. 12/16/10
Thank you in advance for your time and help.
Ok, I have 2 tanks 1 100L and a 65L got a 350L on the way and picking up a 38L hospital tank later on today, as I've been meaning to get one.
The problem I have is with a male guppy in my 65L, I have had him since he was born in the main tank, but recently I have noticed he doesn't swim properly, when he does swim his tail hangs lower then his head, and he doesn't have the normal fluid movement like the rest, it's more like a he can't move his back almost like a shimmy.
<Mmm, how old is this fish?>
The other thing he does is when is when he swims he opens his mouth all the way and keeps it open, like he is struggling, but he tends to spend his time lying on a leaf at the top of the tank.
All the readings are normal and the tank cycled over 10 months ago.
I will admit that the tank is over stocked due to the platys breeding, but I'm aware of the problem and am doing regular water changes and have a bigger already cycled tank coming.
The only thing that has occurred in that tank is my female fighter had dropsy, well I'm pretty sure it was, her scales protruded but they have nearly almost gone done now.
We treated her with Myxazin and Octozin and that was over a week ago now.
<These should be okay... in terms of the Guppy exposure>
I can send you pictures if required and more information.
My partner wants me to take him to a fish shop so they can look at him but I think it would be far to stressful in his weekend state.
<Perhaps so>
Again thank you for you advice and guidance.
<Most likely this one fish is... "defective"... genetically/developmentally. Fishes, unlike mammals "have such difficulties" much later in age at times. If it bothers you to wait and see if this male will rally, you might euthanize this one specimen. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
Bob Fenner>

Re: Swamp guppies, hlth 11/17/10
Hi Neale, my guppy male has a swollen right eye and seems stressed, I have done a water change, is there anything else I could do please? Louise.
<Hello Louise. A single swollen eye typically indicates physical damage,
perhaps clumsy handling, bumping into sharp objects, or most often in livebearers, fighting. In any case, 1 to 3 teaspoons of Epsom salt per 5 gallons is typically used to reduce swelling. An antibiotic may or may not help recovery; it's difficult to predict. With luck, swelling will go down.
If you're unlucky, the eye will decay and fall away. The fish itself won't be substantially harmed by this, though it might find locating food a bit more difficult. Fortunately for fish, their lateral line works like a sort
of "radar" and compensates very effectively -- indeed, for fish living in habitats with minimal visibility, the lateral line is far more useful than eyesight. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Swamp guppies
Hi Neale, so good to hear there's a chance for him. Thank you so much for your quick response, kind regard, Louise.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

strange worms in my guppy tank 11/13/10
Ok I have these tiny little white worms in my male guppy tank but let me give you some background. I recently bought some very pretty fancy males and introduced them into my 60 gallon tank. After a bit of a go at my females I placed them into my 5 gallon "male" tank with my other males.
<Too small a volume for these fish>

Within a month some of my females along with some platys in my tank began to swell and look like a pinecone and die. I looked it up and dropsy was what I found.
<A descriptive term, summat like "colds" in humans... Of various etiologies... causes>
Right after dealing with that and dealing with my last case of dropsy I noticed one male in my small tank mysteriously died. It was one of the pretty new males. I assumed it was killed by the other males and dipped him out and thought nothing of it until a couple days later I noticed a tiny cone shaped snail in my male tank. Within two weeks of that my male tank had many snails. Just today I looked in my male tank that I had not looked closely at for a couple days and was shocked to find thousands if not hundreds of thousands of very tiny little white worms that you have to look hard at to even notice. I also noticed a dead male in the bottom of my tank. Since then my males have acted strange. Just sitting there, not very
interested in eating when they are usually ravenous. I grabbed an eye loupe 10x magnification and looked closer at the worms and they were so tiny I had to grab another and stick them together and then I could see that the worms appeared segmented, grayish splotchy white, and have flat heads. The swim through the water like snakes and inch along the glass like caterpillars. They also seem to distress the snails greatly, they will stick onto the snail and the snail will shake its shell violently
until the worms are detached. A month before this I had white apple snails that ALL died mysteriously. I have battled these little buggers before and the only way I defeated them was to take out my fish completely break down my tank and pour boiling water over my gravel and let it sit and dry in the sun for a couple of days. I never saw them again until just now with the strange appearance of snails and they are only in the male tank that has the snails they seem to be contained there. I don't know if they have anything to do with the dropsy
<Doubtful... but the dead, dying fish likely provide/d food for the worms>
I figured I would mention it just in case. I tried to take a photo but the worms are so tiny they would not photograph at all. So far three dead males that died without any physical deformities and six dead females claimed by dropsy most of which are guppies. I currently have 4 tanks: my large tank, my male tank, a Betta tank with a single Betta, and a fry tank. I now fear for my tiny fry for a snail just showed up in their tank as well as my Betta tank, all of the small tanks are side by side. Please tell me what these aggressive worms may be, how to get rid of them, and what danger they pose to my fish. Also please note I have treated my tank with malachite green and it did nothing.
<Not useful here>
Under the advice of a very prolific fish breeder I loaded my tank down with aquarium salt which did no harm to the fish but also none to the worms. I have vacuumed the gravel just to have to worms return to great numbers within a week, I have tried parasite clear when I had the first case years ago and it didn't help but I am not entirely sure these worms are the same.
Please help.
<The worms can be easily killed... Read here:
and here re Guppy disease:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Sinking Guppy! Please respond soon! 10/18/10
How're you?
<I'm just fine Madison,>
I'm Madd, I'm 13 and have had Guppies for about 3 years now and I've never had this problem with one of my fish before... Let me give you a couple of statistics on my tank before I go on about my Guppy.
The only fish in my tank are Guppies and one Bleeding Heart Tetra that has never been aggressive (I've had it since the start of my tank) and I originally had a Plecostomus (not positive if I spelled that correctly)
<Close enough, actually "Plecostomus", but Plec or Pleco works.>
which grew to be about three inches and was very non-aggressive, only munching on dead Guppies when it got to them before me.
My tank is freshwater, 10 gallons,
<Too small for the fish you have, and one reason you're having problems with water quality.>

and is always at a steady 80 degrees which through research I have heard is the best temperature for Guppies.
<Indeed, fancy Guppies do like being kept warm and snug.>
According to my Jungle Quick Strip (5 tests in one) my nitrAte level is 200, which I know is unsafe,
<Yes, very! 100 mg/l is just about tolerable, 50 mg/l acceptable, and 20 mg/l and less is ideal.>
so I am cleaning my tank ASAP.
<Cleaning is less the issue, but water changes are very important. It's also important to get into the habit of stirring the gravel when you do water changes, and then siphoning out the gunk.>
NitrIte is somewhere between 0 and 1 which is between safe and stressful,
<Is dangerous. Anything above zero is dangerous.>
which again should go down when I clean my tank.
<Nitrite is nothing to do with how dirty an aquarium is. Nitrite is produced from ammonia, and ammonia is produced from two things, fish and fish food. If the tank has too many fish, or you feed them too much, excess ammonia and nitrite build up in the water. These are both very toxic, ammonia more so, but even nitrite can stress fish within a very short period of time, a few days even.>
Total hardness level is 300, which is 'very hard' according to the test strip. Alkalinity is 300, which is high. I'm not positive what alkalinity is and what it does in the tank per say.
<Hardness and alkalinity are measurements of the minerals dissolved in the water. Hardness is the sheer quantity, and alkalinity how much of that mineral content neutralises acids. For Guppies, hard, alkaline water is ideal. I'm surprised your Tetras are still happy though; Bleeding Heart Tetras comes from soft, acidic water conditions.>
Oh yeah, and my P.H. is 8.4 which according to the test strip is alkaline and from what I have read is moderately safe since guppies can take a P.H. up to 9.
<Indeed. But again, this is too high for Tetras, which are happiest between pH 6.0 and 7.5.>
Alrighty, on to my fish.
A couple of days ago (less than a week) I got a male Guppy from PetSmart thinking for it to add some color to my tank. I let him float in the water in the plastic bag for the usual 30 minutes before I let him out to swim with the other fish. Since then all has seemed fine. I check on my fish just about every time I walk in or out of my room, since my tank is sitting on top of my dresser, and about an hour ago when I glanced in to check on my fish I noticed my new Guppy laying on his side on the gravel.
<Almost certainly environmental stress.>
I looked closer thinking it was dead but just making sure, and to my surprise I saw the fish breathing hard (gills moving faster than normal) and his side fins were going. I also noticed that his tail, which had been perfectly fine earlier, was missing a large chunk, almost appearing to have been bitten off by other fish (which wouldn't surprise me much, because they tend to nibble on each other's tails, but definitely not to this extent!).
<Bleeding Heart Tetras can be "nippy" towards Fancy Guppies. I would not keep the two species together. Male Guppies are also very aggressive towards each other, and in 10 gallon tanks they fight. This is why I recommend at least 15 gallons, and preferably 20 gallons for Guppies, and in small tanks they are best kept as one male alongside two or more females.>
Immediately I went into action, putting the fish into a separate bowl in case it had a disease. When I moved it to the other container it attempted to swim, but ended up vertical (head up) with it's back tail unmoving, only using it's side fins frantically before it settled back on the bottom on it's side. Next I began Googling what it could be, but found nothing but the vague idea that it might be indigestion or constipation since the fish floats at the bottom from that.
<This isn't the problem here.>
The fish didn't have any protruding scales and all seemed normal about it except it was on it's side. I dissolved Epsom salts in the water with the fish, hoping that would help in the case it were indigestion/constipation and then I went back to Googling. When I next went to check on the fish in question I found him in the exact same spot unmoving and unbreathing. Any ideas of what it could have been?
<From the numbers, I'd suggest a combination of nitrate and nitrite shock. When fish are gradually exposed to steadily worse conditions, they sometimes adjust. Your existing fish may have become "used" to the bad conditions over you tank. They're still stressed and they will likely get sick sooner or later, but for now they may well not exhibit any symptoms. When you take a new fish from healthy conditions in a pet shop and dump him into a tank with poor conditions, he will go into shock.>
If you'd like I can send a picture of the deceased fish for you. I haven't flushed the fish yet, just in case I should need to look at the fish for any visible symptoms.
Any ideas? I'd really like some clue here!
<Honestly, I think the problems here are all environmental. I'd get rid of the tetras, which don't belong in such hard and alkaline water, and swap them for female Guppies. But before doing that I'd clean the gravel and do a series of water changes across the next week, 20-25% each day for 7 days. That should bring nitrate levels right down. I'd minimise feeding: one small meal per day is ample! And I'd start saving up for a bigger aquarium.>
Thanks so much WWM crew (AKA the person who's responding to this)!!!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Female guppy seems very sick 10/2/10
Hello there,
We have an assortment of male & female guppies. We've had some for about a year, and have kept some of the fry. Until about a month ago, we separated the males from the females. We have a 10 gallon tank.
<Honestly, not really big enough for this species. Fancy Guppies are quite delicate fish and benefit from the better conditions you can provide in at least 15 gallons, and the males also tend to be quite aggressive towards each other and the females. Adding floating plants will help provide shelter from aggressive males, but still, I don't recommend people keep fancy Guppies in 10 gallon tanks.>
We also have two upside-down catfish who we got about the same time, a year ago.
<This species really does need a big tank. They can also be nippy sometimes.>

Until just a few days ago they all seemed fine. However, I think one of our females is ill - and all of the oldest girls have bent backs, which we thought was just a function of them getting so very large - they're way larger than the males.
<It is normal for females to get much bigger than the males, but crooked backs are not normal, and may be a function of malnutrition, improper care, or bad genes. Difficult to say.>
Perhaps there are multiple problems with our fish-keeping. In any case, I think the more pressing issue is our girl Gold, who seemed pregnant but since yesterday is looking and acting ill - isolating in the corner of the tank. The females did that before just before and during giving birth; however by now she would have given birth, I think if all was normal. She looks like she is bleeding inside, and stuff is hanging off her body. Poor little fish. We do not have an extra tank to use as a hospital tank at the moment but can go out and get something to help her with if you recommend it.
<A combination antibiotic such as Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 might be useful.
Be sure to use as directed on the package. Guppies are prone to bacterial infections, especially when stressed. You haven't provided any information on the environmental conditions. Just to recap, Guppies must have hard, basic water -- 10+ degrees dH, 5+ degrees KH, and a pH around 7.5 to 8.
They do poorly in soft water. Do not use water for a domestic water softener. If you live in a soft water area, the use of Rift Valley cichlid salt mix at 25-50% the recommended dose should help.
Understand the disease is very often a result of improper care:
It should go without saying that non-zero ammonia and nitrite levels are among the most common causes of sickness.>
Thank you so much for your time. I'm attaching a few low-resolution images here. It was hard getting good images! However I hope you can see on her right side what looks like stuff hanging off of her, and possibly a wound. Also her shape is odd and there is a lot of red in this fish who is usually pretty much just golden with a little highlights in her tail.
much obliged to you for your time and attention,
<Does look bacterial; but why the fish are sick, I cannot say without more data. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy issue 9/17/10
I have a male blue guppy with a drooping tail, as if he does not have the strength to hold it up. (See attached photo.) Color is faded, but otherwise has no symptoms of guppy disease (no white spots like you would expect from Protozoans) He eats just fine. He is one of two remaining guppies in my tank, the other is an orange one that is acting happy and healthy.
<Might just "be old">
This is in the same molly tank as the Camallanus worm problem I have been battling, and I'm due to hit the tank with Praziquantel again tomorrow.
I'm concerned this guy won't make it through the treatment, but I'm also hesitant to isolate the fish because it may be infested with the nematode, possibly spreading that problem or reintroducing it.
Any idea what this might be?
<Columnaris possibly... can't tell from the pic or data proffered>
Water properties:
Temp 80F
<High for Guppies>
pH 7.9
Nitrates/Nitrites/Ammonia all 0
Rick Novy

Re: Guppy issue 9/18/10
Hi Bob,
The condition of this guppy degraded all day. Yesterday he stayed near the surface, today he rested on the gravel much of the time. I isolated him inside a breeder box to prevent cannibalizing, but his condition degraded to the point that I finally euthanized (concussion method).
<Yikes. B>

Brackish water and Guppies? 9/1/10
Yesterday, my favorite very unique Platy showed the very beginning signs of sickness that leads to rapid death.
<I see. One problem with farmed livebearers is a certain tendency towards Mycobacteria infections, typically associated with red sores on the bodies, wasting, and then death. Not much you can do about that. But otherwise livebearers tend to be quite tough, if given the right conditions. In the case of Platies, cool, moderately hard, basic water is what you want; 22-24 C, 10+ degrees dH, pH 7-8.>
I have had many fish that have died and know the signs. But loosing this platy would of sent me over the edge so I took a bold step and added 2 gallons of Spring water that I put 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt in each.
<Okay. Now, do understand that while salt can help, it's not a miracle.
Among other misconceptions, recall that salt doesn't do anything to raise hardness. So if you have soft water, salt isn't what you want, at least, not on its own. Marine aquarium salt mix is somewhat different because it includes other minerals that do raise hardness and pH, and 5-6 grammes/litre would be easily tolerated by Platies and indeed all other livebearers too.>
Unfortunately this was my first time using salt so I was unaware to make sure it was completely dissolved and melted.
<It's not a big deal, so don't panic about this. A few grains of undissolved salt won't kill your fish.>
I than added an air stone to help circulate more oxygen into the tank.
<Good. In summer especially Platies can easily be overheated 25 C/77 F is really at the top end of their comfort zone, and they're far healthier kept cooler than that.>
This is a 10 gal tank that has been cycled along time ago.
<A bit on the small side for Platies, to be honest. Stress between fighting males, or males harassing pregnant females, can lead to "unexplained" deaths.>
All I have in the tank are 2 platy's and 1 guppy. Let me back up and say that I lost an additional platy that was in this tank, only a few days ago.
I did not have any nitrate/ammonia test strips at home so I had to make a quick guess.
<You should have these two test kits: pH and nitrite (nitrite with an "i", not nitrate with an "a"). If you give me these two pieces of information, I can be A LOT more helpful.>
Well the moment I added the salt & air stone the platy I love came out of hiding and looking sick, and started to soar all over the tank, and is doing just fine. I was so excited as this is the first time I have been able to reverse a death. However the guppy after only one night in the brackish tank, has taken fatally ill. The last time I saw him this morning he was shaking under a rock, and now I have come home 6 hours later and he is nowhere to be found.
<The amount of salt you added, 1 tablespoon/3 teaspoons per US gallon is not that much. I actually prefer weights because not everyone's spoons are the same sizes! One level teaspoon of salt should be about 6 grammes, which is very easy to remember. A tablespoon will be three times that, i.e., 18 grammes. Normal seawater contains about 35 grammes of marine salt mix per litre, or about 6 teaspoons. One US gallon is 3.8 litres, so that's 133 grammes per US gallon. The reason I'm telling you all this is to point out that your roughly 18 grammes of salt per gallon, or 4.7 grammes per litre, is about one-seventh (14%) the salinity of normal seawater. That's well within the tolerances of Guppies and Platies. So there's no reason at all to imagine the salt killed either fish.>
I have not removed everything yet to find him. As the tank was just cleaned and set back up and the air stone is just perfect.
<Okay. But you really do need to test the pH (to see if the water chemistry is right for livebearers) and the nitrite (to make sure water quality is good). You want a pH around 7.5, and a nitrite level of zero.>
Questions: Is the salt compatible with guppies (brackish water)?
<Yes. In fact Guppies are arguably happier and healthier in slightly brackish water. Certainly they do better in such conditions than they will do in soft water.>
And how long can I leave the guppy "lost" or dead before I have to find him?
<If he's alive, you should see him within the next day or two. Check he hasn't jumped out, swum into the filter, got stuck behind objects inside the tank, etc.>
Will disease travel throughout the tank if not removed promptly?
<Depends on the disease. Many are opportunistic, and they exists in most aquaria all the time. They only cause problems when we, the aquarists, stress our fish and weaken their immune systems.>
If I find him, alive but sick, is there anything I can do for the poor guy.
<Depends on what's wrong with him. You haven't really supplied me with any useful information on water chemistry or water quality. Without lists of symptoms, or a photo (no bigger than about 500 KB!) I can't say anything at all about disease.>
If I take him out of the brackish water the tank I put him in will not have cycled water in it?
<And that would be bad.>
I appreciate your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Update: Brackish water and Guppies?
In response to some of your questions below; first let me state none of my fish are female livebearers.
All 3 fish are MALE 2 small Platies and 1 guppy, so I thought a 10 gal was more than adequate.
<Not the case, unfortunately. Males will squabble in tanks this small.>
I was able to test the water today and it appears the Nitrate is in caution (20ppm) the nitrite is perfect! (0) The hardness is ideal (300ppm). The alkalinity is high (300ppm) and the PH is between 8-8.5 Please tell me what I should do to correct any of this?
<Nothing. That's all fine for livebearers.>
The guppy (which I found) is real lethargic sitting behind the filter canister, the platy that seemed to come back from the dead yesterday has been hiding under a rock ledge, and my other platy who has not showed any sign of distress is now inside the tunnel hole.
<Could be stress from fighting. But my gut feeling is Mycobacteriosis, sometimes called Wasting Disease. This is very common among livebearers.
For some reason juveniles don't often show the symptoms, but as the fish mature they start to waste away, getting thinner and often exhibiting poor colouration and sores on their flanks. It's essentially incurable and very contagious, so it's important to euthanise infected fish and isolate the affected tank from any others in your house, e.g., by not sharing nets or buckets.
Water quality seems fine, and water chemistry shouldn't be a problem either.>
Help! What do I need to do? Can I save them??
<Sorry I can't offer any better advice. A photo of the ailing fish would really help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Update and photos 9/3/10
I appreciate all your advice, but still you keep making reference to livebearers, which I thought were only females?
<Nope. "Livebearers" is the word given to species that produce fully-formed young rather than eggs. Both male and female Guppies and Platies are livebearers. Just the same way both men and women are placental mammals, even though it's only women who get pregnant.>
and my fish are male. They never fight. Because their is nothing to fight over.
<If you say so.>
No females ever in the house/tank. I have attached some pics however I am afraid they are not clear enough very hard to do.
<Indeed. With respect, blurry photos don't help me at all. I can't really tell anything about the fish from that photo. Do use the "macro" setting on your camera, and you'll find close-up shots easier to take.>
The yellow one is the guppy that is very sick, sits by back of filter, but will come out and swim all around and eat. The orange platy appears to be fine. The white spotted Platies (very rare gorgeous fish) is the one I love the most.
His color is very brilliant white not faded at all. but his gills are red and look a little swollen but seem to have always been like that. These 3 fish have been in this tank for at least 6 months if not longer. Other fish have passed on but it never affected them.
<Do understand that Guppies and Platies should live 3-4 years. If they only live for a year, then something may be amiss with the aquarium or the way you are keeping them. Review the needs of livebearing fish:
Also review the basics of fishkeeping:
Be under no illusion about this: 99% of premature deaths in aquaria are caused by the fishkeeper doing something wrong. In the right conditions, fish are much less likely to get sick than most other pet animals.>
This gut feeling you have about Mycobacteriosis does it affect males?
and will they still be so eager to eat, as mine are?
<Generally no. So that's a good sign. If Mycobacteriosis isn't the issue, review Finrot, which affects the fins and skin and looks like red or white patches. Finrot is almost always caused by either physical damage or poor environmental conditions. It's easy enough to cure if caught early, but you do need to provide the right living conditions for them to recover.
They come running out of hiding and scarf the food down. Very strange. I also thought maybe the airstone bubbles/noise could be spooking them or is stressful, hence making them hide.
<Possibly; Guppies dislike strong water currents, but at the same time, one small airstone shouldn't be a big deal.>
Won't more salt be helpful to stop the infection from spreading so quickly?
<No, salt doesn't have any effect on Finrot or bacterial infections. Marine fish can get Finrot, and they're kept in seawater! Anyone who tells you salt helps cure bacterial diseases is an idiot.>
Or other bacteria kill stuff?
<If by "bacteria kill stuff" you mean an antibiotic medication like Maracyn, or an antimicrobial product like eSHa 2000, then yes, that can help.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pix too poor to be of use

Re: macro pics 9/4/10
I am going to try one more time. I have attached 3 pix of Butter Cup the yellow guppy. I know it still may be hard to see the coat of his body.
<Still impossible to see anything. If the image isn't sharp, it's useless. Try, try, and try again, I'm afraid! Don't point the camera directly at the glass because then it acts like a mirror; angle the camera so you're pointing slightly below or above the fish. The flash won't bounce off the glass so badly.>
His fins look good to me no rot, however his gills are severely deformed and I think you can notice that a bit in the photo's, can you see it?
<Not really. But anyway, if the deformity to the gill covers have always been there, then the chances are they're not the cause of sickness. If the gills have suddenly become deformed, then that's another issue, and most likely an issue connected to water quality.>
Other than a slight bent posture which he always had that I thought was odd, the gills are the only thing looking really wrong. In the first pix as luck has it, there is a pretty good shot of Paprika the spotted platy with the orange tail. She looks okay to me, except as you can see the pix her gills are very red. Is this normal?
<Not normal. You shouldn't normally see the red gill filaments at all. In some cases inbreeding means that the gill covers are deformed and the gill filaments are more obvious. While such fish might be marginally more delicate, there's no particular reason deformed gill covers should cause sickness. But as stated before, if the gills have suddenly become deformed or more obviously red, then that's a problem.>
One more issue I do have a lot of direct sunlight from a sky light just above the tank, sometimes during peak time I will shade the tank with a towel. However I do have a lot of algae. I try and clean it off often. However I am wondering if algae can cause sickness?
<No, but overheating if temperature goes up dramatically can stress fish.>
What is the best way to control Algae?
<Read here:
Usually the addition of fast-growing plants under bright lighting is required. The addition of algae-eating Nerite snails may help, but every time you add an animal to an aquarium you make water conditions worse. Shops will sell you algae-eating fish, but mostly these are more trouble than they're worth, especially the cheap "Chinese Algae Eaters" and common Plecs.>
Lastly, if your advice is still euthanasia. Which is the most humane way? I heard to drop the fish in ice cold water, I also heard let it freeze slowly to death in the freezer.
<Not quite.>
the Internet says to smash its head with a hammer. I am afraid I could not do that one. If we are sure. I don't want to see the little guy suffer, so please let me know your preferred method.
<Do read here:
Once again Thank you very much, I appreciate all the advice you are giving me.
<Always glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Fancy Guppy Question, hlth. 7/3/10
<Hello Lynn,>
Let me start by saying I have a 20 gallon tank with 2 tiny dwarf frogs, 2 ghost shrimp, 2 Danios, 1 male fancy guppy and 2 female fancy guppies.
<OK. I will make the observation here than fancy Guppies tend to do better given slightly warmer conditions than shrimps or Danios appreciate.
Furthermore, Danios sometimes harass or nip fancy Guppies. So an ideal combination of species this is not.>
I have few fake plants and one very small branch looking item that provides a small hiding place.
<Guppies "hide" at the surface, among floating plants. If you look at their mouths, they point upwards; they evolved to live among floating plants taking mosquito larvae from the surface.>
Within the last 2 weeks I lost 2 other male guppies to what I think it a fungus, but I'm not an expert.
<Fungus is reasonably easy to confirm. Unlike most other infections, it has obvious off-white threads similar to cotton wool.>
I removed the fish and put them into a separate tank
<Remember, any hospital tank has to BETTER than the main tank. There's no point moving a sick Guppy to a 5 gallon tank that isn't cycled; all that will do is speed up its death. Almost always, it's better to treat the fish in the main aquarium, so at the very least you aren't making things worse.>
and put Melafix in both tanks,
hoping the other fish don't get sick.
<You have to do more than hope! You have to think about why these fish got sick. Environmental conditions and/or social behaviour are the most probable causes. Guppies need hard, basic water; i.e., 10+ degrees dH, pH
7.5-8.5. They do best kept fairly warm, 25-28 C/77-82 F. They dislike strong water currents but do need excellent water quality: zero ammonia, zero nitrite. Although not essential, Guppies are easier to keep if you add
a little salt to the water, about a teaspoon per gallon (2-3 grammes/litre) does the job nicely. Not all fish will tolerate such conditions though, which is why Guppies are best kept alone.>
It was too late for the 2 infected guppies, but luckily none of the other fish got the same white sore/hole looking things up by their gills.
I did a 50% water change to get rid of the Melafix a few days ago and everything seemed fine. But last night and today my male fancy guppy is just staying still, straight up and down. His head toward the surface and tail straight down. If I go over there and look at him, he'll swim off and act normal. Do you think something is wrong with him?
<Yes; see above re: environment.>
He doesn't appear to have any spots or sores on him and the other fish seem to be fine. I want to put a few more fish in the tank but will not until I'm sure the tank is running healthy.
<Don't add any more fish for at least 6 weeks. Instead, focus on the aquarium. Save your pennies for things that might actually be useful: a bigger tank, a better filter, a good aquarium book, some floating Indian fern, etc.>
Thank you for any information you can provide. I had some huge beautiful Oranda goldfish a few years ago that were floating belly up occasionally and the staff at WetWebMedia really helped me out! Unfortunately after
getting my Orandas healthy, Hurricane Ike came along and I couldn't save them.
<Oh dear.>
Thanks again,
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fancy Guppy Question 7/3/10
Thank you for the info.
<Happy to help.>
I lost another, big female fancy guppy, today.
<Again, when fish die one after the other, it's a pretty good sign the problem is environmental. Be open minded. Review stocking, filtration, water quality, water chemistry, air quality (e.g., use of paints or bug sprays), anything children might be dumping in the tank for fun, etc.>
When I looked closely at the white spot, it doesn't appear to have fuzz or stringy fungus. It looks like a sore that's lost coloring.
The water tests come up ok, only SLIGHTLY high in nitrates, right under 10 ppm.
<In itself, shouldn't be causing a problem. But if nitrate level of your tap water is zero, and it rises to 10 mg/l very quickly, e.g., within a few days, then overfeeding could very easily be the problem.>
And this test was before a 50% water change. I'm going to have the water tested today. You were right about the water temperature, the heater was only set to about 74,
<Good for Danios; cool for fancy Guppies.>
so I bumped it up to 78.
<Fine for fancy Guppies; too warm (and will stress) Danios. Do bear in mind that the dial on the thermostatic-heater has only the loosest relationship to water temperature. You CANNOT rely on the dial alone. For a variety of reasons it will very likely be off a few degrees. Look at the thermometer, and adjust the heater up or down accordingly.>
Also I agree with you about the Danios. I was told by the pet store that Danios are hearty and best for establishing good bacteria which is why I have them. They are nipping at the couple guppies I have left in the tank.
My plan is to take out the fake plants and add some real plants. (And read up on both plants and aquarium care, do you suggest a book in particular?)
<Do read:
I have had plants before a long time ago and the light on this tank is specific for plants. I won't add anymore fish for a while. I have had tanks full of long living beautiful healthy guppies before that produced babies faster than I could move them out. I'm just having a difficult time with this tank now.
<Likely a combination of factors; environment, temperature, tankmates.>
Again thanks for your help!
<Cheers, Neale.>

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