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FAQs on Smelly Freshwater, Aquarium Water Quality

Related Articles: A practical approach to freshwater aquarium water chemistry by Neale Monks, In praise of hard water; How hard, alkaline water can be a blessing in disguise by Neale Monks pH, alkalinity, acidityTreating Tap Water, Freshwater MaintenanceFrequent Partial Water ChangesEstablishing Cycling, Freshwater Filtration, Setting up a Freshwater Aquarium, Tips for BeginnersIn praise of hard water; How hard, alkaline water can be a blessing in disguise by Neale Monks, The Soft Water Aquarium: Risks and Benefits by Neale Monks

Related FAQs: Cloudy Water, Bubbles, FW H2O Quality 1, FW H2O Quality 2, FW H2O Quality 4, Cloudy Water , Aquarium MaintenanceTreating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Water Hardness, Nitrogen Cycling, Establishing Cycling 1, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphates, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease


Guppy behavior/water smell   6/3/10
I got 2 guppies a while back, I`ve been keeping them in a small aquarium (about a gallon and a half) without a heater or filter.
<Insanely small aquarium, and the need for heat and filtration is non-negotiable.>
Recently I found out they do need a heater, filter and larger aquarium (no thanks to the fish store...),
<This is why we always tell people to read before they spend their money.
There's lots of stuff here about Guppies, and your local library will have any number of aquarium books. There's really no excuse.>
I`ve been bought the filter and I`m saving for a heater (I already have a 10 gallon) but, being a juvenile and not old enough for a job, that money is unfortunately coming too slowly.
<The problem is that science doesn't give a rip about how much money you or I make. Science is what it is, and you either meet the requirements of the animal, or you don't, and in the latter case, the animal will likely die.>
In the meantime one dies,
<There you go.>
I give the tank an extreme cleaning (just in case) and get a new guppy for the still living one.
<No no no!>
A few months later the power goes out and the bubble maker`s air stone breaks (it was old), the new air stone blows air faster than the old one causing slightly rougher water. Recently the water started smelling like mushroom juice (like when you get mushrooms from a can), so I gave it a good scrub, now about a day later the smell`s back. What could be creating that smell?
<Lack of filtration. Let's read here:
They both seemed to be doing fine though until today, when I found the oldest one lying on his belly in the gravel next to the rock I have the air stone under.
He didn`t respond when I tapped the aquarium (though clearly alive and doesn`t seem to have labored breathing or anything really out of the ordinary) so I reached in and nudged him, he darted off swimming normally so I went ahead and fed them, but he just went back to his spot and seemed uninterested.
He`s probably around roughly a year old.
<Should live 4-5 years.>
Is there anything immediate I can do for him while I get the larger aquarium set up? Is there anything wrong with him or could he be resting?
<Many, many problems. Read the linked articles. You need at least 10 gallons, I'd argue 15 gallons for Guppies because males are quite aggressive. You need a filter, and the ammonia and nitrite readings have to be 0 all the time. The water temperature needs to be a steady 25-30 C/77-86 F. Water chemistry should be hard and basic; 10+ degrees dH, pH 7-8. It's a good idea to add 2-3 grammes of marine aquarium salt mix per litre of water
in the aquarium (about half an ounce per US gallon). This isn't regular salt, it's the stuff used in marine aquaria -- if you don't know what I'm talking about, tell your pet show clerk you want marine aquarium salt, not the stuff for freshwater aquaria. Marine aquarium salt will raise the hardness, steady the pH, and provide sodium chloride that slightly reduces the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy behavior/water smell   6/3/10

The guppie`s fine, I think he was resting.
<Guppies don't rest on the ground. It's actually damaging for them, since the scales on their bellies are easily damaged. Sleeping Guppies will be close to the surface, ideally resting among floating plants. Be very careful not to force preconceptions based on humans onto animals.>
It was late and the light had been turned out and I had just turned it back on for feeding. He`s back to his normal self and eating.
I`m about to cycle the aquarium, so that at least they`re in something larger and filtered while I get the heater.
I didn`t know about your site and I never knew there were fish books until a few months ago (after I bought them).
I`ve checked out and read most of them now.
<I assume you don't mean most of the aquarium books in print, but rather the ones at your local library!>
I did study up on them though on a site or 2 (I never get an animal without studying) I`m not going to those sites again.
<Indeed. The Internet is wonderful in many ways, but it's a hopeless research tool. Books are much more reliable. Here at WWM we happen to be aquarists who write books, so you get a 2-for-1 when visiting. But ordinarily, think carefully about whose written those words you see on a web site. An expert? Someone selling something? Some kid in his mom's basement?>
I don`t have room for 15 gallons, I barely have space for 10 and I had to really stretch to make that space, otherwise I would.
<I see.>
Once set up, how many guppies would be good for a 10 gallon heated, filtered, and bubbled aquarium?
<Just about. One male, two females should be okay. They will breed of course, and so you'll soon have too many. Plan around that. Guppies aren't my favourite choices for 10 gallon tanks.>
Would there be any fish I could put in with them?
<Do read:
Guppies need hard, basic water chemistry and a relatively high temperature; as such, they're not ideal tankmates for all kinds of community fish. Look over the pH, hardness and temperature requirements of any fish before choosing it. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy behavior/water smell
I`ve seen other fish doing that, so I assumed...
<Some fish do sit on the bottom, like catfish. But almost all fish that swim about in midwater sleep in midwater too.>
but he seems OK now so as long as I can keep him going for the next 3 or 4 weeks he`ll probably do good.
<Fingers crossed!>
Oops, just the ones in the library...amazing what 2 or 3 words can do for a sentence...
I have 2 male guppies, they seem alright together, as so with other guppies I`ve seen. I don`t know what I`d do with all those guppies if I got females...
<Selling good quality Guppies isn't terribly difficult, which is why buying a male and two "virgin" females of a particular breed is important. Otherwise, yes, you can end up with a lot of mixed breed fry of little value. Some people like to keep rarer livebearers such as Endler Guppies that will produce sellable fry and thereby pay for their fish food. If you know where to look, there are all sorts of cool livebearers you can keep instead of Guppies. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy behavior/water smell -- 06/10/10

Thanks, I think I might just keep some females. But I have 2 males, should I get 4 females or just get 2 for the 10 gallon?
<Unless you buy virgin females, there's no guarantee that any females you buy are not pregnant already. Most pet stores mix the males and females together, and once that happens, the females will almost certainly be impregnated. You could keep 3-5 females in a 10 gallon tank, depending their size. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy behavior/water smell  7/8/10

Actually I meant with the males. The local PetSmart has them separated out front, but IDk about in the back. But either way, I`d be breeding anyway.
So with a male, about 3 females?
<Sure. Try and choose a variety where the females are pretty, too.>
Should I provide a designated area that the fry can escape to, like, a section closed off with fish netting or is it really necessary?
<Easiest approach is to add some floating plants like Indian Fern. The fry will go there. Every morning, when you're feeding the fish, look to see what's there. Scoop out any fry and pop them into a floating breeding trap for the next 3-4 weeks. After that time you can set them loose in the main tank. They'll be too big to be eaten.>
Could it be a small area, like 1/8 of the tank or should it be bigger?
<Not worth the hassle.>
I just want to know what I should do before I spend a ton of money on unnecessary stuff instead of important things.
<Indeed. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy behavior/water smell   9/26/10

Finally got everything in the 10 gallon set up and cycled.
Heating, filtration, and aeration. I managed to get a hood and light as well. I also have decorations/hiding places (picture enclosed, I would like to have your opinion on weather this is suitable or not and if I should
make any improvements I also plan to ad a mountain or 2 and some fake plants possibly).
<No picture arrived. Guppies couldn't care less about rocks and plants on the bottom of the tank since they're surface water fish, but floating plants are helpful.>
I`m planning on having 4 male guppies in the tank. I was curios though, weather it would be a good idea to also ad a Kuhli Loach and possibly some ghost shrimp?
<"A" Kuhli loach isn't an option; they're very sociable, and you shouldn't get fewer than three. In smaller groups they are so shy you won't see them, so why bother? In groups of three or more they'll still be extremely shy, but you will at least glimpse them now and again. Since Kuhli Loaches and Guppies have somewhat different requirements, particularly in terms of water chemistry, I wouldn't recommend this combination without first establishing your local water chemistry. Hard water isn't good for the loaches, and soft water isn't good for Guppies, but something around 10-15 degrees dH, pH 7.5 should be okay for both. If you have hard water, skip the loaches and go with Cherry Shrimps: these are colourful, enjoy hard water, and tolerate salt quite well should you need to add salt for the benefit of your Guppies. Both shrimps and loaches appreciate rocky caves and plants on the bottom of the tank, the shrimps in particular needing somewhere safe to moult every few weeks.>
Thanks for all your help, you`ve literally been a life saver!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy behavior/water smell  9/26/10

Ok, thanks. Everything should be good to go then. Guppies and cherry shrimps. :)
<Sounds a good combo. Be sure to get some of the small, clear-pink male shrimps as well as the bigger bright red females if you want them to breed, and you do! Besides adding to the fun, the shrimps themselves only live for a year or so, so having a population that breeds means you can enjoy them for many, many years.>
And sorry, U`ve been having problems with the email/picture thing.
<Such is life. Cheers, Neale.>

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