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FAQs on Guppy Systems

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 Feeding, Guppy Disease, Guppy Reproduction, Livebearers, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies

My guppies. Gen.        2/26/20
Hi, I’m a young fish keeper who started about a month ago, I used to keep fish a couple years ago but then stopped and picked it up this year, I have a total of three tanks soon to be four, one was a 10 gallon,
<Suitable for some very careful fishkeeping.>
a 2.5 gallon,
<Barely adequate for a Betta, and really, smaller than most buckets.>
and last but not least a 1 gallon.
<This latter not a tank at all, not even a bucket really.
Could be used for plants and shrimps, but that's about it.>
I recently bout a couple guppies three of which were female, I split them up into different tanks and used my 2.5 gallon tank for pregnant females and baby’s until the female gets transferred into the big tank.
<Understood, but if you have very limited space, as you do, getting male and females Guppies was a bad idea. Sooner or later you get the babies. Easiest is to let nature takes its course, and most will be eaten. Better is to add floating plants to the 10 gallon tank, partly to shelter the females, but also as hiding places for the fry. As/when you see the Guppy fry, net them out into a floating breeding trap. Moving females into the 2.5 gallon tank is just asking for trouble.>
My problem is I had gotten a large tailed black female guppy of which I do not know the species, however what worried me was when I added her in with the other two females and my male, after four days everything seemed to be fine, until I noticed a decent sized white spot that was a little bit deeper than her scales. At first I though it could be the plants until I noticed none of my plants have sharp edges, I thought maybe it could be one of my other fish, i house two small Cory cats in the main tank and one neon tetra along with the rest of the guppies.
<All in the 10 gallon tank? Let's recap: Neons need cool, soft, acid water -- which Guppies would dislike. Hard water, which Guppies need, sooner or later sends Neons to an early grave. Corydoras do well with Guppies provided the water isn't too warm or hard, but since they're only happy in groups of 6 or more, you'd need a lot more space than 10 gallons for a large enough group of Guppies they didn't fight and a decent school of Corydoras. Without a photo, it's hard to know what the white 'blister' might be -- it could be Whitespot, but it could just as easily be physical damage or something else entirely. There are so many potential problems with your set-up, it's really difficult to say.>
Please let me know what you think could be going on, and what I could possibly do to improve their living.
<Do see above, and read:
And maybe buy or borrow a book:
Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy tank too soft        8/24/16
Hello Crew!
I have been a frequent reader for years and have learned much over that time, your efforts are much appreciated.
I have researched extensively and I think I'm on the right track but would appreciate some input, apologies if it's been covered.
I have a 20 gallon long tank, it has been up and running for about 6 years with a few ups and downs along the way. Needless to say it is mature and pretty much maintains itself with semi frequent water changes.
I waited a long while to change my stock as I had the original Danios in there and was looking to go a different direction. The last Danio died and left behind a tank with a few merits snails and a small army of cherry shrimp.
I was living in a house with hard water. I moved recently close by and upon the death of my Danios I decided to go with an all male guppy population in addition to the shrimp and snails. I purchased 6 guppies and after acclimation they were doing ok.
I have prepared myself for the occasional guppy demise due to the poor quality of the live eaters these days but I was feeling optimistic.
They seemed to be boisterous but happy to be about, no obvious bullying.
It's only been a few days and they all started hiding. I immediately got out my strips and checked and lo and behold in the new house, a few blocks from the old, the water is soft.
Ph 6.5

Temp 78
A lot of plants and obstacles to keep the eyeline blocked.
These are only strips so not as detailed as Id like, the GH color is a bit mysterious-hovering between 60 and 120, but I suspect on the soft side due to the low ph.
Over the years my cherry shrimp population has done well and sometimes not so well, so I tend to view them as a bit of a bellwether. That said, they are quite happy and numerous so I know my environment is not toxic.
During the day when I'm around the guppies tend to be out and swimming.
When I leave for a few hours and return they are all huddled together hiding. No bullies. I have cats but they are very old and completely disinterested.
So....is the ph affecting them? After research I decided to add salt to the tank, I have not done so yet as I was nervous with the shrimp although from what I've read it seems ok. I'd like some advice as I've never really had to tamper with my ph or hardness before, additionally, when I went to the store for the salt, all they had on hand other than generic aquarium salt was reef salt. This is what I purchased.
So....is the reef salt correct? Will the shrimp be ok? And, is this the proper next step?
Sorry for all the info, hope you can advise.
Thank you so much for your time in advance.
<Hello Marya. If the only fish are Guppies, then yes, adding salt is an option. Within reason salt doesn't seem to harm shrimps, but in my limited experience, adding salt slowed down the rate at which the shrimps bred.
That said, Guppies will eat baby Cherry Shrimps anyway, so maybe breeding isn't an issue for you. In any case, a specific gravity of 1.002 (just under 5 grams salt/litre water at 25 C) will optimise water chemistry for your Guppies and should ensure their perfect health. While Guppies don't need salt, it does make them easier to keep in soft water. Now, you might simply choose to raise the hardness! Just as easy as adding salt, but without the risk to your shrimps or plants that salt might pose! To each 5 gallons/20 litres of water, adding something like 0.5 to 1 *tablespoon* Epsom salt and 0.5 to 1 *teaspoon* baking soda will raise the hardness significantly. This will be extremely cheap to do, reliable, and easy! Let me have you read here for more:
Hope this helps, Neale.>

aggressive guppy     5/15/16
A week ago I bought 1 male & 2 female guppies. I put them in my 5 gal. aquarium along with another female from my larger aquarium.
<Here's your problem, Evelyn. Five gallons is too small. 10 gallons would be barely adequate, and 15 gallons is a much more sensible starting point. Just as zoo animals become aggressive or nervous when kept in too-small cages, if you put fish in a tank that's too small, they won't behave normally.>
There is lots of room, to point that at times I don’t see any of them!
<Your ability to see/not see them isn't the issue here, unfortunately. Though the addition of floating plants can help a good deal in situations like this by breaking up lines of sight.>
When I put them in the tank one of the females was aggressive towards the other females. She kept it up to the point that I thought she would kill the other females. So I put her in a box to separate her from the population. Today I put her back into the tank & within a minute or so she was going after one of the other females. She was more that aggressive - she was out to kill! I put her back into the box & now assume my only choice is to flush her? Pls, lmk what you think.
<Flushing is cruel and unnecessary. It's a slow death for any fish, but because it's out of sight, some people can accept that level of suffering because they aren't able to witness it. It's unnecessary because most tropical fish shops will take back fish they've sold, and rehome them for you. Indeed, in the UK the Maidenhead Aquatics chain prides itself on rehoming fish even if they didn't sell them. Big thumbs up from me on that score! Even if your local store can't help, there are tropical fish clubs in many cities that will help out as well. Finally, it's also ecologically damaging, should the fish happen to survive and end up somewhere it doesn't belong, like a local stream or pond. Even a dead fish can carry parasites and pathogens into your local environment.>
Thx, EB
<Bigger tank; more reading are what's needed here. The "fault", if you want to look at it that way, is yours, not the fish. In a bigger tank this/these fish should get along better, though I accept that there is a hierarchy even among female Guppies, and they can be pushy towards one another. Given space the weaker females are able to spread out, minimising harm, and more practically, you can add extra females which will almost certainly improve things. Meantime, let's have you start by READING, here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Rate my water    11/12/13
Hi Crew,
I'm planning on getting a freshwater tank for my little girl this Christmas. I've only had marine tanks in the past so this will be a learning experience for both of us. Here are my local water details (South London)...
Water supply zone Total hardness (various measurements)Fluoride mgL CaCO3 (ppm) Degrees Clarke Degrees German(DH) Degrees French Detergent rating Fluoride(ppm)EAST SYDENHAM253.517.74514.19625.35HARD0.14925
<This is gobbledygook without spaces between the numbers and some attempt to line the values up with the parameter... copying and pasting straight from a webpage doesn't always work.>
Are these values ok for guppies?
<South London has hard water,
and in theory should be good for all the common livebearers. If you're at all worried, add a teaspoon or two of marine aquarium salt per gallon. This will cost very little (a small box of salt costs about a fiver) but does help Guppies to thrive in less than perfect water.>
I think these would be the perfect fish for us both to start on.
<You would think so, yes, but the quality of Guppies in UK aquarium shops varies from mediocre to poor. Many retailers I speak with complain about this, yet demand for Guppies is so strong they feel compelled to buy them. So, buy the healthiest you can find, avoid any from tanks with sick/dead specimens, acclimate them to the new aquarium carefully, and follow all the important rules about fishkeeping, such as the size of the tank. While children might find small tanks appealing, remember that below 10 gallons fish tanks stop being useful expect to expert fishkeepers, and for beginners, the ideal starter tank is around 20 gallons (75 litres). Might seem big, but it's not, and the size difference between 10 and 20 gallons makes a vast difference in how successful your hobby will be. Trust me on this. Meantime, have a peruse:
and especially:
The links on the top of that article will take you to many Daily FAQs on Guppy health, social behaviour, etc., and as you'll see, these are far from trouble-free fish!>
Best regards,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Female guppy acting strange ? Sys.      1/12/13
Hi there , my one female guppy is acting really strangely and in really worried about her ! My tank has had fish in it for about a month and was fully cycled , its a Dymax  IQ3 and had 7 guppies ,
<The Dymax IQ3 contains around 8 litres or 2 US gallons, not nearly enough for even one Guppy, let alone seven! Consider the Dymax IQ3 a "toy" aquarium rather than a real aquarium. Some fun can be had stocking with plants and shrimps, but that's about it. Even a Betta doesn't make much sense in a tank this small.>
3 of which jumped out of the tank after a week since I had no lid,
<As I say, this tank isn't designed for fish.>
and one that was returned due to being a bully. I got 3 more guppies so my tank now holds 6, 4 males and 1 female (who was an accident (supposed to be male)) and a baby.
<Stop adding fish.>
My males were mating with her a couple weeks ago and then like a week after that she started to stay in one corner facing the same direction all day and then she keeps her fins tightly clamped against her (the anal and other fin at the top) she also appears to have red gills and a whole in the middle of her tail (not like a rip but like a whole) and she seems to have a lighter bulge just underneath her gravid spot (which has darkened since her mating) and she does eat and only swims away when the males come up to her but then returns to her corner at the top ?but all the other fish seem to be perfectly fine and eating , swimming around , interacting etc. ? Any help and advice as to what to do ? (PS I apologies in advance for spelling errors and etc. as I'm only 14) looking forward to your feedback
<Kyra, the problem here is the aquarium. Have a read here:
Guppies aren't especially demanding, but they do need at least 10 gallons, and males WILL bully females given the chance. When stressed, Guppies are very prone to opportunistic infections including Mycobacteria infections (note that Mycobacteria infections are untreatable and invariably fatal) as well as treatable issues such as Finrot and Fungus. Review what you're doing, upgrade your aquarium, ensure a ratio of not less than 2 females per male, and stock the tank with lots of floating plants. Ensure the water is hard and alkaline, and maintained at around 25 C/77 F. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppies hiding - 12/14/12
I cant seem to find anything on the internet about this... my guppies hide up at the top of the tank and by the heater and the filter the tank is plenty warm for them and the three tetra Neons I have in with them.
<Both species prefer different pH and hardness, guppies being alkaline and hard, Neons acidic and soft.>
I have had fish off and on my whole life but have never seen this. It would be muchly appreciated if you could help me with this as its starting to worry me as they have done this since I got them on Dec 2 but they swim at times but mostly they are at the top and hide by the heater and the filter that has me a bit worried.
<They are stressed for some reason, but more information is needed.
Temperature, pH, hardness, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels would be a good start.>
Thanks a lot for the help in advance
<Can help more with that information. - rick>
Aislon Burnam-Sheets 
Re: Guppies hiding - 12/14/12

ok what do I need to check on the different pH and temps and hardness, and nitrates, and ammonia levels?
<Test strips can do the basic tests quickly but not necessarily accurately.  A good liquid test kit is best and will set you back about $35 in the US. It will last a long time, though.  That will give you the ability to test all those properties regularly and more accurately. Be sure to follow directions exactly as some tests need thorough shaking and/or a wait period before reading the results.>
tonight after I left the email they seem to be acting like they would under normal situations....<encouraging.>I know last night after I cleaned the tank and put the solution <solution?>in it and then put water and the heater and filter back in they were hiding up there but then tonight they seem to be ok...but will test the water and stuff as soon as I can to make sure I don’t lose my fish I love them lots as the guppies are the cobras and they are awesome colors.
<Hopefully they are settling in.  The water change seemed to help, so maybe you diluted or eliminated something there.>

Female Guppy behavior and tank size issue questions 11/30/11
I just started in this hobby for my son (he's 18 months old and loves looking at fish), so I bought him a 3 gallon 360 degree tank so he can see fish at home.
<Oh dear. Much as I applaud the intention here, the problem with very small children is that they won't be looking after the pet animal. So, whenever this situation arises, it's about sharing a pet that *you* care for and *want*. Three gallons is far, FAR too small for Guppies.>
I cycled the tank for 10 days before putting 2 guppy females in the tank (I was planning to have 2 females and 1 male later). I got one orange tail and one blue tail females. For about two weeks, both females lived fine in the tank and I could see that the blue tail female was in the early stages of pregnancy. Well, I had to go out of town for the weekend, and before that I read on the internet that it was fine if I did not feed them for two days (so I did not get any weekend feeder food). When I came back, I found the blue tail guppy hiding behind the filter. When I gave them some flakes, the orange tail female was the only one eating (very voraciously) and every time the blue tail one came out to try to eat, the orange one would chase her all over until she went back to hiding. Is this typical?
<Yes. Guppies aren't especially social animals, or rather, they don't "like" company in the way we think about friendships. Females may well congregate in the wild for protection, but there's intense competition between them. That's the same as with any gregarious animal species. After all, the worst competition, and therefore the biggest threat, to any animal is from ITS OWN KIND! So, if you keep two Guppies in a ridiculously small aquarium, the natural tension between them will be exacerbated because of the lack of space. Two or three female Guppies in a 15 gallon tank should largely get along, especially if there are plenty of floating plants, which they love (and I'd argue, need).>
I could also see that the orange tail started to have a darker gravid spot and getting fatter (which it turned out to be in the early stages of pregnancy too). Well, I kept watching them for the next day and orange guppy was very aggressive and territorial to the blue one (blue one still swam normal and ate some food when she was not chased by orange one). Two days after I came back, I found the blue one dead :(.  So I decided to just keep the orange tail Fatty (we decided to name her that since she was getting quite fat) by herself and not get the male guppy yet. Four weeks passed (she kept eating voraciously and seemed hungry all the time). I had to go out of town again for 4 days (this time I bought a weekend feeder and put it in the tank, but she did not seem to eat from it at all) and when I came back, I found 5 tiny fry in the tank. They seemed tiny and just swimming at the bottom of the tank (maybe they were just born hours before I came back). I don't have floating trees, but I do have 2 bottom trees, and 3 more ornament in the tank, so many things where they can hide.
<Guppies are surface dwellers. Look at their upward-pointing mouth, ideally suited to taking in floating prey like mosquito larvae. Floating plants, e.g., Indian Fern (in the US, "Water Sprite") is the ideal. Easy to grow, excellent for water quality, and does well even under medium light intensity like that seen in most off-the-shelf aquarium kits.>
Fatty didn't seem to be in labor, but she is still very fat and still have a dark gravid spot. I fed her and she again voraciously ate all the flakes in a minute or so). Since I don't have another tank to put the fry, I was a little worry since Fatty eats so much (I really thought she was going to be a cannibal to her babies). But to my surprise, she swims around looking for food and ignore the fry.
<Good. It's "fry" plural, by the way, like "sheep".>
And when she swims towards any of the fry, the fry would see her and swims away from her fast (boy are they fast!).
<The slow ones were probably eaten already>
On the second day, the fry start swimming up and down and all over the tank and Fatty still ignores them (I have the feeling Fatty will not eat them :)). Now, Fatty started to hide a little behind the filter, and when she swims she's at the top or bottom of the tank looking for food, her gravid spot is orange instead of dark (but she seems more fat and square and sometimes floating up with her tail kind of coiled down). Is she going to drop more fry?
<Perhaps. Impossible to say. After mating, Guppies can produce more than one batch of offspring. So while a female kept away from a male won't produce offspring indefinitely, you could well have one or two more batches of fry.>
Now, I am planning to get a 36 gallon tank sometime in the near future, so I would like to know how long can I keep her and the fry in the 3 gallon tank before I start to run into problems?
<About 15 minutes. Seriously. This is far from ideal.>
I am planning to do water changes more often now, but I am really not sure how to do it without sucking the fry out with the vacuum. Any suggestions? I would appreciate any comments. Thanks.
<Do read, here:
Cheers, Neale.>

sick guppy   10/6.5/11
One of my fancy male guppies is acting strange. he swims a bit and then falls to the bottom of the tank.(three days now).
I moved him from the big tank to my nursery where I have 2 month old babies......is there something I can do .thanks AN
<Do start by reading here:
Without information on your aquarium, we can't know what's the matter.
Check through the requirements for aquarium size, water chemistry, water quality, temperature and social behaviour. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: sick guppy   10/6.5/11

He is in a large fish bowl with 9 -2mos old guppies. About 4-5 quarts of water, that I take out some and add some new every few days. he has only been in this bowl a few days. he was in the larger tank and was just laying in the foliage, his tail is a bit shredded. we use spring water that we buy, there is a heater and a filter in the bowl. The heater keeps the water 3-5 degrees above room temp. and the babies are doing fine. I have added some salt to the water but very little, he comes up to eat and then sinks to the bottom and lays on the warm rocks over the heater. he seems to look like he is opening and closing his mouth a lot. but maybe this is normal.
thanks again AN
<You are keeping your Guppies incorrectly. They are being stressed, killed by the environment you have placed them in. You cannot keep them in a fish bowl (which, despite the name, isn't a humane way to keep fish). Guppies need an aquarium at least 15 gallons/60 litres in size with a heater maintaining a steady temperature of 24-28 C/75-82 F. Furthermore they must have a biological filter that ensures 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. Water chemistry should be hard and alkaline; 10+ degrees dH, pH 7-8. The addition of 2-3 grammes of marine salt mix per litre is beneficial but not essential. Until you correct their environment, any other treatments will be pointless. The fact you think the babies are "fine" is irrelevant. They won't be healthy for long. Do, please, read where you were directed, and also here:
Cheers, Neale.>
difference... Re Guppy disease/killing  10/07/11

Ok so you say iam killing my guppies,
<In a bowl? Yes.>
they have been in this situation for over six months
<Guppies can, should live 3-5 years.>
and this is the only one that is not looking normal.
<So far.>
how do old fish act as I bought him at a little store out in the boonies'
<At six months old he should be in the prime of his life.>
He is still eating just not very active, just lays around . I have checked with a pet store in Calgary where I bought some of my fish and they told me bottled spring water was fine,
<Bottled water is an expensive way to keep an aquarium. Do bear in mind you need 15 gallons, minimum, for a HUMANE aquarium for Guppies. That's a lot of bottled water! But provided the water chemistry is right, i.e., hard and alkaline, then sure, go ahead and use it. As you'll learn if you prod about this site, pet stores aren't always the most reliable sources of information. Does the pet store specialise in fish? Or are fish sold alongside rodents, cat and dog food, etc.? Generic pet stores may be great places to shop, but don't assume their advice is reliable. Go ahead and borrow or buy a book on aquarium fish, and you'll see what I'm telling you is true. Unlike a pet store, I'm not selling you anything. I'm here to help.
we live in the country and don't drink our well water..I was also told I could use it for fish but all the gold fish died when I did that so now trying guppies.....maybe I should forget FISH
<If you can't provide the right conditions for a pet animal, then no, you shouldn't keep them. But before you throw in the towel, do read here:
Keeping fish properly needn't be hard or expensive; just thoughtful.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: difference

He was a really active fish up until now, he is still the first one up for food and then goes back to the bottom, are those kits that are sold at Wal-mart reliable for testing the water.
<They're useful enough. At minimum, you want a nitrite (not nitrate!) test kit and a pH test kit. These tell you the two most important things: how well your biological filter is working, and roughly what sort of water chemistry you have. For healthy Guppies, you want zero nitrite and a pH between 7 and 8.5.>
Should I be keeping this fish with the others or by himself, he has a tattered looking tail.........
<Raggedy fins are a common symptom of Finrot, hence the name. But physical damage (e.g., from fighting or fin-nipping) can cause fins to become tattered too, and complicating things further, once fins are damaged, Finrot becomes more common. If fish have damaged fins, and you're not 100% sure water quality is excellent, it's a good idea to treat for Finrot just in case. Tea-tree Oil products like Melafix might be used successfully to prevent infections, but I'd suggest something more reliable if the fins are infected, for example an antibiotic like Maracyn.>
the pet store I inquired at has fish only and the man who runs it seems to know his stuff and cares ,
<Good to know.>
he is the one that got me up to 2 months with the babies I rescued from the big tank. I think they are almost big enough to put into the big tank(30gal) They aren't having any problems with the filter now and I don't think they are so small that they will get sucked up in the bigger filter, should I put them in the big tank to give them a better chance? Thanks AN
<Once Guppies are more than 3-4 weeks old they're generally big enough to live alongside their parents. If you're not 100% sure though, try using a breeding trap or breeding net. Put the trap or net in the main aquarium, put the baby fish in there, and keep them safely corralled inside the breeding trap or net until they're a good size, say, 1 cm long. You can then turn them loose. Don't put adults in breeding traps though -- despite the marketing, females get stressed in them, and there's nothing to stop a cannibalistic female turning around and eating her fry anyway! Much better to put lots of floating Indian Fern (Water Sprite) in the tank, and then wait for the babies to instinctively hide among those plants. Every morning check the plants and then scoop out the fry and place them in the breeding net. Easy! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: difference
Thanks all this fish stuff stresses me ,my Granddaughter says the tiger barb in the tank may be a problem with the fry.
<Yes, Tiger Barbs will eat Guppy fry and they will also nip at the fins of male Guppies. Singleton Tiger Barbs are especially dangerous, and Tiger Barbs should always be kept in groups of 6+ specimens. They're amazingly pushy, feisty little fish!>
It's her fault I am trying fish, I am a very responsible pet owner but these little beggars are trying my patience.
<Well The thing with fish that you're being given the keys to a zoo. There are literally hundreds of species on sale. And just like a real zoo, just because you've got a tiger, a kangaroo, and a gorilla doesn't mean you're going to keep them in the same enclosure! Yet folks buy fish assuming they'll all get along. But they won't! And each species has its own demands. Yes, lots get along just fine, and many are tolerant of a wide range of water chemistry values. But most aren't, and most will only get along with certain sorts of fish. Angels eat Neons, so can't be kept together, but Neons and Corydoras catfish make great companions! It's all about doing your research up front, and choosing your fish carefully. There are lots of good books out there, and we're always glad to help make sensible choices. Why not have a read here:
These offer up some advice on options and choices. Choose the right fish for the size of tank you have and your local water chemistry conditions, and honestly, fish couldn't be easier! A bit of food, some water changes, that's about it. Holidays are easy-peasey because you can leave fish for 2 weeks without food and they're fine. If you're spending more than half an hour a week on your aquarium, or more than a couple of bucks in food across a month, then you're doing something VERY WRONG.>
Over the years my one horse lived until she was 30, her daughter is now 19, a cat well into his teens, 2 romping dogs, and 6 budgies some over 10 yrs, now these fish giving me gray hair.
<Do suspect it's not the fish that are causing the problems, but the CHOICES of fish you've made being poor ones.>
Thanks again for all your help, we are going to get our water tested, my hubby says the water for the fish is probably the same deal as when we had the swim. pool...test, test, test. AN
<Really shouldn't be anything like this hard. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: difference   10/9/11

I choose the fish that the pet store guy told me would get along.
<Not a sensible approach.>
Will gold fish be okay with the guppies??
<Not really, no. Goldfish need a 30+ gallon aquarium and heavy filtration.
They are not nearly as easy to keep as people think, which is why the majority of Goldfish sold die prematurely. Bear in mind they should live 20-30 years and reach sizes of at least 20 cm/8 inches. Most of the ones sold live a few months or a couple of years, and even if they do survive in small tanks and (shudder) bowls, they don't have much of a life, and basically hang there in midwater looking glum, slowly being poisoned or suffocated. Guppies are best kept on their own or else with things like Red Cherry Shrimps that don't pose any sort of threat to them. These will tolerate any salt you add, something you can't be sure of with other aquarium fish.>
just may give my granddaughter the tiger. thanks AN
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Guppy/Glo Fish Care   7/14/11
Hi Neale,
<Hello again,>
Sorry for taking so long to respond! I did follow your advice and upgraded to a 20 gallon tank. I also do not have the guppies anymore and have added more Danios and Corys. I now have 6 Danios (a mix of regular zebras and Glo), 6 Corys, and my three shrimp (one of which is carrying eggs). I have been testing my water every few days and had my water tested at the pet store today and my water is nice and healthy.
<Good, but do please understand that "nice and healthy" doesn't mean anything much to me. For this mix of beasties, I'd be aiming for 5-15 degrees dH, around pH 6.5-7.5. Low-end tropical temperatures would also be beneficial, 22-24 C/72-75 F would be perfect. Naturally, you'd want zero levels of ammonia and nitrite.>
I am now looking at adding a few more fish in the next few months. I don't want to overstock the tank or throw off the water balance by adding too many at once. I have been reading all the article on your site as to stocking the tank, however, I am having a hard time find how many of each type I should have and even which types are compatible (obviously, my self-caused issues have made me a little jumpy). I don't want to stress my Danios and Corys now that I finally have them healthy and happy. Do you have any suggestions as to what would be a good fit for my tank? I am not looking for any type in particular, I just love having fish and the joy they bring.
<I'd be cautious about adding stuff right away, and like you say, letting the tank settle is important. All your fish will grow considerably, so bear that in mind. Adult Corydoras paleatus for example will be at least 5 cm/2 inches once mature, and adult Zebra Danios not much less. If you wanted to add something else, Platies would be a good choice if your water is hard (10+ degrees dH, pH 7-7.5) because they appreciate the same coolish conditions as the other livestock. But Platy quality varies, so shop carefully. In soft water, Red Phantom or Black Phantom tetras are good options for low-end tropical conditions, and should do acceptably well with the fish you have. X-Ray Tetras and the common Penguin Tetra (Thayeria boehlkei) would both make excellent alternatives, and both of these tolerate quite hard water, up to 20 degrees dH, without complaint. All these choices are midwater fish, so should occupy a level in between the Catfish and the Danios.>
Also, I want to use the good cycled gravel I have as a substrate and add a layer of sand over it, since sand is better for Corys (which I also read on your site, thank you!). I have read varying ways of adding sand to the tank, but once again, now that my water is balanced, I'm extremely weary of throwing off my tank. Should I have the gravel substrate, or should I do only sand at the bottom? What would you suggest as being the best way to add the sand?
<A good approach is take out enough gravel to leave about a half inch or so, and then gently stir in VERY WELL RINSED sand into that. You'll end up with a very naturalistic mix of sand and gravel, and the gravel will keep enough "good" bacteria to get the sand working to your advantage. You may choose to bank the gravel up at the back, and leave the front with a thinner bed of gravel and more sand, so there's a sort of "play area" at the front where the catfish can root about. But a mix of sand and gravel works fine.>
Thank you so much for having such a helpful site! I look through your site daily now to get advice and how to properly care for my little fishy friends! I have learned so much and now have a healthy tank thanks to you all!
<Glad to help, and thanks for the kind words.>
Thank you.
Mrs. Austin Jackson
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy/Glo Fish Care 7/14/11

Thank you for the quick reply. I am at zero for ammonia and nitrites. The water is on the hard side, usually measuring between 150-300 mg/L. The pH is around 7.5 and I'm trying to bring the temperature down, since it is on the high side at 78 degrees. How can I bring the water temperature down to the acceptable level?
<78 in summer is fine. Turn the heater down a couple stops, so it's around 72, and with luck, it'll be cooler most of the rest of the year.>
Are Panda Platys (Xiphophorus maculatus), in your opinion, a good option, i.e. a typically healthy breed? How many should I stock? I plan on adding them in 2-3 months.
<Yes, good fish; get virgin females. Males are annoying, and the babies get tiresome after a while. If you do want to breed them, one male and two females is fine. A single male can be fun, too.>
I think I will do the sloped gravel/sand, as that sounds like it will be nice to look at and give the Corys a nice area.
<Cool. Rocks and bogwood can be very useful for shoring up sections.>
Thanks for all the help! I would be totally lost without you and your site!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Guppy Water Chemistry 1/24/11
Dear Neale:
Thanks you for your response. Pregnant fish delivered and ate all her fries, but one last week,
<Oh dear!>
I didn't know one small fish can poop out that large of a excrement!
<Guppies don't, normally, produce a lot of waste.>
Yesterday, I found her dead as well. There were no signs of disease, perhaps she ate herself to death.
<Very improbable.>
That was disappointing. Water parameters were good, temp was 78 F; so now I have only 2 young fish that seems doing good. I set up the larger tank today and I will let it cycle with some starter fish next week. I have Sea Clear 46 gallon, marine-land hang filter capable of handling 90 gallon (it has substrate cartilages, so I added crushed coral in them), 2 air pumps with bubble wands, 2 aquarium heaters that is good up to 90 gallons, 1 green eating machine UV sterilizer;
<This steriliser probably isn't necessary; generally, UV can be switched off unless you have a specific need. Remember, UV tubes last 6-12 months before they need replacing; without replacing the tube, there's not enough UV, so all you're doing is wasting electricity.>
there is no gravel, I just placed some plastic plants and a resin drift wood in it. I added 1 table spoon salt/gallon and used the water conditioner as directed on the label.
1- When do you suggest that I should add the starter fish and how many?
<Wait at least six weeks after the death of a fish before adding more, and then add the minimum number viable for a particular species. If you have two juvenile Guppies, then adding one male and two females would be sensible, or even just two females. Wait a good 2-3 weeks before adding new batches of fish.>
2-How much water should I change weekly?
<25% weekly or every other week is fine.>
3- How long do you think the cycling would take?
<A filter takes up to 6 weeks to mature from scratch, but if the tank has been running for a few months already, a new filter will become mature in a week or two, the bacteria colonising the new media from the existing filter, gravel, and solid objects in the tank.>
4- I have ordered 7 more blue Moscows, at the end of cycle how many of the actual fish I should place in /week.
<See above.>
5- Would underground filtration system replace the hang filter?
What system of under-gravel do you recommend for the 46 gallon?
<Any, but you'll want an undergravel filter plate with at least two uplifts, one at each end of the tank.>
Or can I use the substrate cartilages and add the ceramic /foam noodles, aquarium floss in them and achieve the same effect?
<Sure. Undergravel filters have specific advantages -- e.g., they rarely go wrong -- but other filters are popular as well. There's plenty on WWM re: freshwater filtration. For tanks with small livebearers, I like to use either in-tank canister filters (e.g., Eheim Aquaball) or else air-powered sponge or box filters (these being particularly gentle so ideal for tanks with fry).>
Water is very clear, floss worked well. Thank you, I am keeping my fingers crossed. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Sule
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy Water Chemistry 1/24/11
One more thing Neale, The hang on filter ( Emperor 400 Pro series) has 2 rotating bio wheels which also help with colonization as well. I also thought of replacing filter with aquarium floss and adding crushed coral and ceramic noodles to the substrate bins which slides in front of the filter slot.
I had one problem with UGF: My tank is bowfront, I searched but they don't make UG filter system for these. Any Ideas?
<Indeed. The filter you have is probably fine. Just review its maintenance and make sure you aren't overloading the filter (e.g., by overfeeding) and that you're cleaning the media regularly (see the instructions that came with the filter). Generally speaking, carbon and Zeolite are worthless, but biological media are important.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy Water Chemistry   3/16/11

Dear Neale:
<Hello again!>
I like to update you with the Blue Moscows. After all the mishaps, I took your advise and started with new Moscows. I haven't had any deaths for over 2 months.
I added floss and additional bio-filtration (noodles and more coral) the pH is stabilized and fish looks happy and healthy.
<Yes; crushed coral especially will buffer against pH changes and raise the carbonate hardness, both keys to ensuring Guppy health.>
I find out that it is easier to get younger fish to adjust to new conditions, I am also watching GH and KH well. One of the breeders advised me to use salt water mix instead of fresh aquarium salt to increase KH and GH.
<You will see I often recommend this too. Aquarium salt is just sodium chloride, but marine aquarium salt mix contains a lot of other chemicals, including those that raise general and carbonate hardness. If you're just keeping Guppies and a salt-tolerant plants, then the use of 2-3 g/l marine salt mix can be extremely helpful.>
Haven't tried it, but everything seems to be working, I am doing more frequent but smaller water changes and fish seems to tolerate better.
<Also helpful.>
I also do not change the water and clean the filters the same day.
<A wise precaution.>
Sterilizers helping to keep good water quality and algae growth. I just wanted to thank you.
<Glad to help.>
By the way I used platys to cycle, I have 6 of them in the tank, would they breed with guppies, if they do, their offspring is also can reproduce?
<No, Platies and Guppies don't cross-breed.>
I really don't want and mix there. Thanks Sule
<Cheers, 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.> 

Platies and guppies in a 5 gallon  12/6/10
First off, I'd like to thank you for your wonderful site!
<We're glad to help.>
Now, I bought an Eclipse 5 system (5 gallons) about two months ago. I let it cycle, and gradually added 2 guppies (both male), 3 platies (2 female and one male), and 2 ghost shrimp.
<This tank is much too small for the fish. Indeed, even the shrimp are a bit big! Please read here:
I have a Top Fin Air Pump Air 1000, and I have the filter that came with the tank- it's a Whisper, but I can't find the original box and therefore don't know the specific type. I assume it's the one rated for this size tank.
My ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels are all at 0, however I do not have a heater.
<Be crystal clear that tropical fish are called TROPICAL FISH because they need warm water. Platies around 22-25 C/72-77 F; Guppies 24-28 C/75-82 F.
You cannot keep these fish without a heater.>
Here starts the questions:
1. I know this tank is overstocked. I didn't know when I added the fish, however, and I am 14 and have very little money, so I won't be able to upgrade for a while. So, this tank must stay. How often and how much water should be changed per week? I've been doing a small water change (about 10%) in the middle of the week, and then a 25% water change on the weekends. Is this fine?
<No. Kept this way, the fish will eventually die, likely within a few weeks, perhaps a few months. But die they will.>
2. I bought the second male guppy a few days ago. He's currently chasing around the female platies. . . nipping them, but not the rip-parts-of-their-fins-off nipping. Is he only trying to show his dominance, is he trying to mate with them because he doesn't know better, or is he just a nasty fish? He's only doing it to the females. With any of these cases, what should I do with him?
<Guppies need at least 15 gallons, preferably 20 gallons. Keep two females per male, and stock the tank with plenty of floating plants.>
3. Is there any way to set up an easy QT bowl? I have noticing three white spots on my one female platy that look suspiciously like Ick, and I know that the Ick medicine will kill the shrimp, so I'm a bit hesitant putting it in. Should I move the shrimp to a separate bowl/tank and treat the whole main tank in case the Ick has spread, or should I only treat the affected platy be herself in a QT?
<There's no such thing as a quarantine bowl. Even the tank you have is dangerous, and a bowl would be little better than a death chamber.>
4. As I'm already overstocked, will all of the fry be eaten if I don't do anything to really save them? I have one plant and a little cave, and I don't mind if one or two survive as I can give them away, but I really don't want 20 extra fry to take care of. I really only wanted 2 male platies originally, but the female had her anal fin kind of tucked up when the LFS guy picked her out, and I assumed she was male. When I got home, the male kept following her around, so I added the other female platy (the one that may have Ick) to decrease her stress.
<Fry are the least of your problems.>
5. If I save up some money and manage to upgrade to a 10 gallon tank, a) Will it be too heavy to leave on a writing desk? That's what I have my 5 gallon on now. (It's a very sturdy wooden one)
<Bear in mind one US gallon weighs about 8.5 pounds, so 10 gallons will be 85 pounds of weight. That's about half the weight of an adult man. So even a 10 gallon tank will need very strong furniture, the sort of thing designed to hold large television sets. Really, it's always best to use furniture designed for aquaria. Do also read the article linked above for what you can keep in 10 gallons. NOT Platies and NOT Guppies. Trust me, I've been keeping fish for 30 years now, so when I tell you this isn't the way to keep fish, it isn't because I'm being bloody minded. It's because I'm trying to save you hassle and trying to save the lives of your fish.>
b) Can I reuse the filter, air pump, and light with it, or will I have to buy higher power equipment?
<New aquaria usually need new equipment. That's why you should always invest in the biggest tank you can afford. Without exception, 5 gallon tanks are a waste of money. Even 10 gallon tanks are limiting. Here's some more stuff to read:
Many thanks!
<You're welcome! Neale.>
Re: Platies and guppies in a 5 gallon

I see. . . this is what comes when I don't do my research before hand.
Thanks for all the information and speedy response, I'll be sure to read up some more and try to scrape together some money for a larger tank.
<Glad to help. And better to learn this learn while you're young, and it's a fish tank you're dealing with, and not a few years later when cars, colleges, mortgages, spouses and babies come into the equation! Cheers, Neale.>

Guppies; cold tolerance   9/27/10
Can you see my smoke?
I have guppies, guppies and more guppies every where. This has just been a hoot. They are so easy. Also friends of mine shipped some Endler's to me from down south. The Endler's have responded perfectly and have propagated pro-fish-antly. Cute huh! All of this adventure in small fast colorful fish has taken place since last May. We haven't gone through the cold weather yet. Here in the upper panhandle the only thing to block the snow and wind is the barb wire fence. It gets really cold my friend. Yahoo!
My query-- am I going to have to heat them this winter or will room temperature suffice. I keep the house at around seventy degrees Fahrenheit.
All new to me as my forte has always been cold water fish. Thanks a bucket full. Bob
<Hello Bob. The short answer is "it depends". Guppies aren't coldwater fish, but wild-type Guppies, including cross-bred Guppies, but excluding fancy Guppies, are quite tolerant of water temperatures down to about 18 C/64 F, at least for short periods of a few weeks. If your home is centrally heated to about 22 C/72 F, then room temperature should be fine.
Fancy Guppies, including the more inbred Endler's, may be somewhat more sensitive to cold. Obviously you cannot keep Guppies outdoors unless you live in the subtropics or tropics. If exposed to water colder than 18 C/64 F for more than a few days Guppies soon die. This is one reason Guppies haven't taken over the world, and remain very largely limited to the tropics, despite being among the easiest pest fish to introduce into the wild. Here in England the odd population has become established for a few years in hot water pools around power stations, but otherwise even the relatively mild winters of England are enough to exterminate Guppies quickly. Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish? SW? Guppies   2/28/10
Hi guys,
I have guppies, platies in a twenty-nine-gallon (US) tank. I would like to go SW, but will the guppies be O.K.? They are a fancy guppy male and two plain females. The platy is a blotched black-and-white. Will they be O.K.
in SW?
Thanks! Any advice is greatly appreciated!
<Hello. Unfortunately, no, Fancy Guppies cannot be adapted to fully marine conditions. There's some lab work to suggest inbreeding is the problem, since both wild Guppies and mongrel "feeder" Guppies can be adapted to fully marine conditions. All Guppies will tolerate brackish water though, up to around SG 1.010 if adapted carefully. By contrast, all types of domesticated Mollies appear to do well in marine conditions, and in the past were widely used to cycle new marine aquaria. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppies and Neons, env. incomp.   6/18/10
Sorry for bothering you again.
<No problems.>
I have a tank with two guppies and eleven Neons and I was just wondering if I should give the guppies away since the tank temp is usually about 73-74 F?
<Indeed, and Guppies also need hard water which Neons can't abide. I'd tend to look at your water chemistry first and see what you have. If you have soft water, the Neons are the obvious fish to keep. If you have hard water,
the Guppies will do better. Once you have the right fish, it's easy to set the heater up or down as required.>
I remember you mentioning that guppies would rather around 82 F and I am worried that they are stressed.
<"Stressed" isn't perhaps the right word here, but fancy Guppies at least are more prone to diseases when kept towards the cooler end of the temperature range. If yours are fine, then you needn't worry, but if you find you're constantly battling Finrot and Fungus, then temperature may be an issue.>
Thank you!!!
<Cheers, Neale.> 

GROSS MISINFORMATION!!! Rant re Mollies and guppies brackish water fish?   3/20/10
I don't know who you idiots are, or where you got your information but you are either terminally ignorant or just aggressively stupid!
<Hmm... seems a bit of an aggressive way to start an e-mail!>
Mollies and guppies brackish water fish?
<They can be, yes. Mollies are certainly common enough in slightly brackish water habitats, and in places may be found in fully marine environments, as in the Gulf of Thailand. Curiously, Mollies are more common in freshwater
habitats than brackish, but under aquarium conditions, where they are exposed to varying pH and high levels of nitrate, slightly brackish water conditions do seem to work consistently better. No-one is arguing that either Mollies or Guppies are exclusively brackish water fish -- let's be clear about that! -- but under aquarium conditions the addition of a little marine salt mix can make the difference between success and failure. In a nutshell, sodium chloride detoxifies nitrite and nitrate, while calcium carbonate raises pH and steadies it. So in situations where they aren't being kept in hard, nitrate-free water, the use of marine salt mix provides key benefits.>
That is just plain stupid!
<It's really not. I don't know how old you are, I'm guessing you're in your late teens, early 20s, but honestly, the use of marine salt mix when maintaining Poecilia spp. is well known and has been established practice for a good 100 years or so.>
I used both mollies and guppies in my mosquito control research at Texas A&M and they all lived in freshwater.
<Wild caught fish or aquarium fish? Inbred fancy varieties or crossbred/feral types? Both these factors makes a difference. There's ample lab work to demonstrate that wild-caught Poecilia reticulata are much hardier and more adaptable than the inbred fancy forms sold in pet stores.>
They were all very healthy and reproduced successfully.
<Good for you.>
Your attempt at "educating" the public resonates like nails on a chalkboard!
<In what way?>
Your misinformation does a lot more damage than good.
<On the contrary. If someone is keeping their Mollies in freshwater and finding they're constantly having trouble with Fungus and Finrot, the addition of salt will help significantly.>
Imagine some poor soul losing all his fish because YOU told him they need to be in brackish or salt water!
<Not going to happen. There are many reasons Mollies die, but being maintained in brackish water isn't one of them. Go spend a little time reading about the natural ecology of Poecilia sphenops and its relatives.>
Definitely some liability there for sure.
<None at all.>
Go buy a guppy and put him in brackish water, it will be dead in 24 hours or less!
<An insane comment. Poecilia reticulata will live a long and happy life at 10% seawater salinity, around SG 1.003. Compared to its survivorship in soft, acidic water, the same guppy moved to slightly brackish water will live much longer and be more healthy. Basically, you're talking nonsense.>
The fact that they can withstand high salinity levels for a short period of time does not mean that is their ideal environment! I'm sure you would last in the desert for a little while too!
<The two issues are unrelated. Guppies and Mollies are freshwater and brackish water fish in the wild. End of story.>
I'm sure you will not post this message on your site since it only highlights your ignorance/incompetence.
<Better believe we'll post it.>
I will consult with some colleagues on Monday they will likely be as appalled as I am.
<If by "colleagues" you mean other uninformed undergraduates, by all means, go ahead. For what it's worth I have a BSc in marine zoology and PhD in cephalopod palaeontology, I'm an assistant professor at Pepperdine University when I'm not writing books and magazines, I have a fish named after me, and oh yes, I'm the editor of the TFH book on brackish water fishes entitled (imaginatively, I know) Brackish Water Fishes. If you have a grown-up nearby who'd like to debate, I'm game!>
Who knows maybe we can get your site shut down as we have done with other less than reliable sites in the past.
<Sit down, take a deep breath, and maybe put the kettle on and have a nice cup of tea. You're wildly overreacting and speaking from a position that makes not much sense at all. You are quite correct in saying that Poecilia spp. can live in freshwater habitats, and indeed do so in the wild more often than they inhabit brackish water habitats. But life in aquaria places unique stresses on fish, which is why only a few hundred fish species out of the 30,000 species known have become regular aquarium residents. Among other things, nitrate toxicity and exposure to varying pH can cause problems, and the use of marine salt mix is good at offsetting these issues. This is why Poecilia spp. can be, and often are, maintained in slightly brackish conditions. Whether they MUST be maintained in such conditions has been endlessly discussed, and is a favourite topic of argument among expert fishkeepers. But is it EASIER to keep these fish in slightly brackish conditions? Often, it seems so.>
<I'm sorry you feel this way.>
Good Day!
<So far, yes, it's been a lovely day. Cheers, Neale.> <<Unsigned? More FFA (Future fascists of America) monotribe monomania idiocy. RMF>>
Re GROSS MISINFORMATION!!! Rant re Mollies and guppies brackish water fish? 3/20/10    3/21/10

Hi Neale,
Geez, I don't know how you were able to control yourself answering that person, but the way you handled it exemplifies your integrity as to not ranting off like a bloomin' idiot as he had.
He sure has a lot of balls questioning your knowledge/advice. If it were me, having the knowledge and degrees as you, I'd likely have told him that if he believed my advice is inaccurate, go elsewhere.
You certainly handled that tactfully. Hat's off to you.

Good Job!  3/22/10
To all my friends (at least I think of you that way!), and especially Neale, at WWM.
<Hello Bill,>
No question this time, just a word of praise.
<How lovely!>
Thank you very much for all the work you do for all of us out here in the wonderful world of fishkeeping. I was prompted to write this to commend Neale on his reply about the guppies and mollies in fresh or brackish water. He remained polite and on topic - it was a pleasure to read his reply, even though I have not kept a fresh (or brackish) creature in at least 30 years.
<Well, thank you so much for saying this.>
Was it an early April Fool's letter?
<Hadn't thought of that! Possibly a little early for that, though...>
Please keep up the GREAT WORK!!!!
<We will certainly try.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Fish water is yuck, but is it actually harmful?? Guppy sys.    3/17/10
Hi everyone!
<Hello Amy,>
I've been searching for this topic, but can't seem to find anything, apart from a warning not to siphon dirty aquarium water with your mouth. If it was answered already, and I just didn't think of the right keywords, my apologies.
<No problem.>
I was given (gee, thanks!) a 10 gallon aquarium with 7 guppies in it-- 4 adult and 3 obviously juvenile. To say the tank was filthy is a huge understatement. It had floating dead cockroaches, clumps of what looked like pond scum, sheets of algae peeling off the inside of the tank, decomposing fish at the bottom of the tank, and so much floating
I-don't-even-know-what-but-i-suspect-fish-poop that I could barely see the inhabitants of the tank.
<Oh dear.>
In cleaning it out, I got a nice big splash of this disgusting water in my mouth. It was certainly gross, but it is potentially harmful to my health as well?
<There are two ways to answer this. In theory yes, aquarium water can carry salmonella bacteria, and salmonella bacteria can cause stomach upsets of varying severity. In practise, aquarium water rarely causes health problems
for people with competent immune systems. Indeed, exposure to such bacteria may even help enhance your immune system. But with that said, I'm a doctor of palaeontology, not medicine, so my comments here aren't anything more than personal opinion. Do I worry about swallowing fish tank water? No, never have done. But if you're at all concerned, you really should speak to a qualified medical practitioner.>
The guppies seem fine and happy now, despite the emergency tank cleaning and care by me, a total beginner.
<Enjoy the hobby! A 10 gallon tank is a bit small for Guppies, and I fear you're going to have some fighting before too long, but if you're lucky and add lots of floating plants, you might be fine.
Any advice (or reassurance!) you could give would be most appreciated!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fish water is yuck, but is it actually harmful??
Thank you so very much Neale.
<My pleasure.>
I'm a pretty healthy person (except for a touch of paranoia/anxiety, apparently) so I think I will wait to see if I develop any symptoms. If I do, I'll head to the doctor, but if not, I'll take this experience as a lesson to 1) not splash myself in the face with nasty water, and 2) never ever let a tank get so dirty that I immediately think I'm going to die a horrible death with exposure to the water.
<Honestly, getting sick from your fish tank isn't that common. Dogs and cats are surely more problematic once you start factoring in things like fleas and allergies. And of course you're FAR more likely to contract pathogens from human beings around you simply because they're more likely to carry bacteria and viruses specific to our kind. There's an old saying among medics that 50% of staying healthy is keeping clean, and 50% is getting dirty. In other words, staying away from disease-causing organisms is no more important than developing your immune system by being exposed to pathogens over the years. The tricky bit is knowing when to isolate yourself to pathogens and when to expose yourself to them! Personally, I wouldn't worry too much either way. Be sensible around your aquarium, but don't get paranoid.>
I'm doing all the reading I can about guppies on WWM now, and I am amazed by the amount of information posted. The little guys have a better chance of a happy, pleasant life with each new article I read, which they
certainly deserve after such an awful time in that tank.
<Glad to hear this.>
Thank you again,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fish water is yuck, but is it actually harmful?? Guppy sys., hlth.   3/18/10

Good morning/afternoon, crew!
It's Amy here again, with one more question regarding my new guppy friends.
<Fire away.>
I was lucky enough to come across a 55 gal tank for sale, and it will-- once it's cycled properly, of course-- be the new home for my guppies and possibly a few Platies.
<If you have a mature aquarium already, you can cycle instantly. Move the existing filter to the new tank, make sure the water chemistry and water temperature aren't too different, and off you go! The bacteria will happily spread to a second filter if you decide to buy another filter for this tank. Leave the two filters running together for, say, 6 weeks, and then remove the small filter from the original tank. You should find the new filter takes up the slack without problems. Better yet, you can keep some fish in the new tank all the time, so long as the number of fish in the new tank isn't much more than the number of fish in the original, smaller tank.>
I know the guppies breed like crazy, and figure that this size of tank will give them enough room to have their offspring without having to worry too much about overcrowding, at least right away.
<Indeed. It's a good idea to either decide whether you want to remove surplus fish and sell them (in which case keep Guppies of all one variety, so you get worthwhile fry) or else opt for some biological control in the form of fish that eat fry (such as Angelfish).>
In closer inspection of the juvenile fish I was given yesterday, I noticed that one of the young ones has what can only be described as a deformed.
He's got a humpback and is noticeably shorter than the rest of the fish.
He seems fine otherwise; that is, he eats just like the others, and seems to be just as active as well.
<Very, very common. Sometimes you get higher numbers of deformities because the females aren't getting a good diet or being kept warm enough, but normally livebearers produce deformed fry because they're inbred.>
Despite the fact that I am becoming fond of him, I want to be a responsible fish owner, and do not want to allow him to pass on a deformity to any potential offspring. Is a spinal deformity a hereditary condition, or is it possible that he was born into such foul conditions that he acquired this humpback from his environment?
<Could be either. A poor environment can cause females to produce higher than average numbers of deformities, just as with humans. But usually, such deformities are indeed genetic.>
I'd rather not kill him (like I said, I'm fond of the little guy, especially since he's been through so much!) so I was thinking I could put him into the old ten gallon aquarium by himself, or possibly with another small, non-related fish to ensure he doesn't breed.
<Definitely an option. I think most experienced aquarists have done this sort of thing at one time or another, setting up a special home for a one-eyed fish or whatever that appeals to their emotions. That said, there may be other faulty genes at work here. If the fish is swimming and feeding fine, then it may do well; but if it struggles to swim and can't feed normally, then it may not live for terribly long.>
If he has already bred, and passed on the deformity, what should I do with the fry?
<Male Guppies won't breed until they're about 2, nearer 3 months old. Of course if the fish has mated with a female, and you do have more deformed fry on the way, then a certain amount of culling is, unfortunately, part of
the game.>
Any suggestions would be truly appreciated. Thank you again for all of your help on my new fishy friends!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy troubles... sys., hlth.  3/4/10
Good Afternoon to you (or perhaps Good Morning/Evening etc.!) all.
<It's evening in this corner of England.>
I'm almost ashamed to be asking this, but I've spent quite some time checking the "before you ask..." sections, alongside Google and other search engines, and I can't find a satisfactory answer to my problem.
Please feel free to shoot me down in a blaze of scorn for being too short-sighted/ignorant to see what 's probably right in front of my eyes, but if it saves my fish then I'll happily take it!
<Let's see...>
I have a small 10 gallon planted freshwater tank.
<Honestly, a bit small for Guppies. I know they "fit", but they rarely work well. Guppies are quite aggressive, the males chasing one another a lot. In a 10 gallon tank you tend to end with one bully and a bunch of terrified, battered males. Females get pestered to frustration. Even 15 gallons is tight for Guppies, and I really don't rate them for small tanks at all.
Oddly perhaps, Platies, despite being bigger, can work quite well in 15 gallon tanks. In a 10 gallon tank, I'd tend to skip either Platies or Guppies.>
I introduced my first fish after a month of fishless cycling (back in October last year) and have always followed your advice about slow introduction of tank mates to prevent problems with the bio-load vs. bacterial balance. Up until recently, I had 4 Guppies, 7 Neon Tetras, and 1 Dwarf Gourami (and no intention to add more fish). I undertake partial water changes (varying between 20-25%) at least 3 times each week, and my most recent NH3, N02 & 3 readings from this morning were: NH3/N02 - not registering at all, NO3 12ppm. I understand that these are all within the acceptable parameters.
<Yes. Now, Guppies do need hard, basic water. So you're aiming for pH 7.5, 10+ degrees dH. Across much of England there's "liquid rock" coming out of the taps, but the far west and north have softer water, as does much of
Scotland. In soft water, Guppies rarely stay healthy for long.>
My four male Guppies all seemed (note the tense) to get along very well with one another up until about two weeks ago, when I came home to find two had had rather a brawl in my absence.
<Yes; what happens.>
One had his tail ripped almost to shreds, and the second was not much better. My LFS sells nothing more useful than Melafix - I know WWM's general consensus re: "fixes", but for a preventative rather than cure, I figured it would stave off Finrot to allow them to heal.
<Hmm... actually, for Guppies, the best preventative is salt, since they tolerate quite high salinities very well. Fungus doesn't grow in brackish water for whatever reason, so this is a cheap and easy fix. The downside is that Neons and Gouramis don't like salty water. But, Neons also need cooler water that Guppies, so the two species aren't a good choice. Neons are best kept around 22-24 C, while Fancy Guppies at least need around 28 to 30 C.
The inbreeding that creates Fancy Guppies diminishes their hardiness dramatically.>
Unfortunately, the other healthy Guppies started bullying their injured tankmates, and the two poorly boys died within two days (probably from the stress of it all), and at the time of death decidedly underweight (hollow bellies - loss of appetite or bacterial infection?!). I have so far only found one of the deceased, and have stepped up my water changes and gravel hoovering to four times weekly until I find the other, as I know the decomposing corpse will otherwise cause problems.
<True up to a point.>
I thought that would be the end of the troubles, but recently another Guppy has started to look very sorry for himself. His spine has suddenly become bent, so he looks a little like a boomerang with his tail and head pointing
gravel wards.
<Crooked spines that suddenly appear (as opposed to being born that way)
can mean a variety of things, including the wrong environmental conditions and an inadequate diet.>
In addition to this, he developed a tendency to shimmy near the heater (I initially thought there might be temperature issues, but the tank's at a constant 26.5 degrees C.).
<That's too cold for Fancy Guppies (and too warm for Neons).>
In the last day or so, he's started hiding in amongst the plants for some peace and quiet, and like the doomed others before him, is now showing no interest at feeding times. For your information, the remaining Guppy, Dwarf Gourami and Neons all appear perfectly happy and healthy.
As I'm loathe to bombard the tank with strong medications that might not be the right ones and end up doing more harm than good, I managed to procure some King British Disease Clear by buying online. I'm not sure whether
you're familiar with this particular UK brand of medication, but the active ingredient is silver proteinate (which appears to be a generic antibacterial used to clear "most fish ailments").
<Silver proteinate is an antibacterial that works on contact with external infections. It won't do much for serious cases beyond a mild Finrot infection.>
It may be that it's already too late for my little chap, but I'd be so grateful for your thoughts on what the cause might be, and if there's anything else I should be doing for him?
<By all means medicate against Finrot and Fungus (I happen to like eSHa 2000 for this) but also check temperature, hardness and pH are appropriate for Guppies. As stated, I think you'll wind up with one dominant male eventually.>
Unfortunately, I don't have a quarantine tank (it's not viable, both in terms of financing the 2nd filter/heater/tank/pump etc., and lack of space to put it all in) so the rest of the tank is going to be exposed to the
sick fish's treatment.
<Often the case.>
Whatever the answer, thanks for your time. Your website continues to be my fishkeeping bible and is always my first point of reference. Keep it up, for all our sakes!
<Thanks for the kind words.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppy troubles...   3/6/10

Thanks so much for your help Neale.
<Happy to help.>
I honestly had no idea that Guppies aren't suitable for small tanks, nor that they're not compatible temperature-wise with Neons (the literature I've looked at on fancy Guppies seems to be conflicting - temperature ranges anywhere between 25 and 30).
<The temperature issue is much overlooked, and likely one reason so many people find Neons short-lived: they keep them too warm. As for Guppies, wild Guppies are very tolerant, and anything from 20-30 C will do. The same for "feeder" Guppies, which are basically cross-breed Guppies much like wild Guppies in terms of genetics. But fancy Guppies are a whole other thing. They need warm water to do well, and like fancy Mollies, which are also far more delicate than their wild relatives, should be kept between 28-30 C. There's been some good laboratory work on fancy Guppies compared to wild and feeder Guppies with regard to salt tolerance, so it does seem that this "weakness" so far as fancy Guppies goes is a real, demonstrable phenomenon.>
I now have a moral dilemma - I'm being inadvertently cruel to the remaining guppies, so to take them to the LFS in the hopes that they'll be rehomed, or to hold on to them? I think I'll hold on to them, as however unsuited to my tank I can at least guarantee I'll take more care over them than anyone at the LFS in a crowded holding tank...
<I can't answer this one really. Personally, I'd try to rehome them, but if you're worried the Guppies will end up being kept badly, then you might find that unacceptable. In some situations, euthanasia is the humane option (methods for which are described elsewhere on WWM). It's really down to how harassed and damaged the Guppies are, and whether life in your aquarium is likely to be worse than what they'd get at the pet shop.>
I've ordered some eSHa 2000 as you recommended - my sick Guppy is no worse but no better, and I'm sure it'll come in handy in the future.
<It's a good, general purpose medication.>
Thanks for being so kind about my accidental Guppy abuse!
<Good luck, Neale.>

Brackish? SW? Guppies   2/28/10
Hi guys,
I have guppies, platies in a twenty-nine-gallon (US) tank. I would like to go SW, but will the guppies be O.K.? They are a fancy guppy male and two plain females. The platy is a blotched black-and-white. Will they be O.K.
in SW?
Thanks! Any advice is greatly appreciated!
<Hello. Unfortunately, no, Fancy Guppies cannot be adapted to fully marine conditions. There's some lab work to suggest inbreeding is the problem, since both wild Guppies and mongrel "feeder" Guppies can be adapted to fully marine conditions. All Guppies will tolerate brackish water though, up to around SG 1.010 if adapted carefully. By contrast, all types of domesticated Mollies appear to do well in marine conditions, and in the past were widely used to cycle new marine aquaria. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppies, reading, beh., reading, uncycled sys., reading,    2/28/10
Hi. I just got some guppies yesterday. I have 1 male and 2 females.
<Okay. Did you read on WWM/elsewhere prior to purchase? Often reading about the species you keep, even before you see problems, can help you feel more confident in your ability as a fishkeeper, and confidence helps a lot when you're making decisions in the hobby. Please begin by reading here:
My male likes to play with the bigger female and she plays back, and I'm wondering why are they doing that.
<Fish do not play. In addition, since you're not describing the behavior itself, I can't be of any help here. Please be more descriptive about the behavior. This is likely not behavior aimed toward amusement, but more likely, toward reproduction on the male's part. Since you have one female who seems to be ill or having a difficult time "settling in," all of the male guppy's amorous attention is directed toward one female, which is going to stress her terribly.>
My other smaller female stays at the top or completely hides in the plants I have.
<This female may be sick, or as I said above, not adjusting as well as the others. Your reading will likely help you determine which, as well as water testing. If this tank does not have a heater, I would add one, and set it for 77 degrees. In order to avoid stress and illness, as well as determine whether the this female is lethargic due to temperature, you'll have a heater and keep temperature steady.>
These are my very first guppies and I have no idea how they're supposed to act.
<Can be solved, to a good degree, by reading the guppy behavior FAQs on
WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/guppybehfaqs.htm.>
Oh, and my male likes to play with the gravel that I have.
<What do you mean? Again, "play" isn't a useful verb here. I really need for you to explain his behavior.>
They're in a 55 gallon tank right now. I want to put more fish but I heard you're supposed to wait for 5 days.
<Is this tank cycled? Please read here:
The pH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates seem to be fine as what my test kit is telling me, but how do I know for sure?
<I really, really need for you to provide numbers on these tests. If the tank is not cycled, you may need to do extra work in order to keep them healthy as it does cycle. Since this isn't a huge bioload, you may only need to do a few water changes to keep Ammonia low. However, if your tank is in the process of cycling, I'd wait more than five days until I added more fish. I'd wait the month it takes the tank to cycle, and then add fish slowly, like maybe every week to two weeks. So, rather than "fine," please let me know what the number which corresponds to each test result is. As for whether you know for sure, the liquid test kits are fairly accurate. Test strips aren't much good. You could always take a water sample to your fish store and have them double-check your findings if you're unsure about their accuracy. I think a lot of your worries here can be solved with some good old-fashioned research. Please read where I've linked you above, and feel free to peruse the other information WWM has to offer on guppies. There's tons of it. If you have any further questions after reading, please write back. Also, we ask on the page where you found our e-mail address in order to write us that those who write in take the time to capitalize properly (the pronoun "I" and the first word of every sentence are always capitalized), run spell check, and avoid "text speak."
The reason for this is that we're volunteers, and we want to help people.
When I receive an e-mail such as yours, it takes me almost as long to correct it, so that both native and non-native English speakers can understand it, as it does to answer the query itself. So, to save our time and as a show of respect, it's much better for you to take the time to read over your own work before sending. Thank you.
? Ongoing, FW... Child    2/28/10

The male and female like to I guess nip each other, as the little female she does come down moves round and does do things. I'm just a little nervous that she's not doing as good as the others
<As I said earlier, she may be having a more difficult time settling in.>
and as my temp I got it on as 76 to 80
<80 is really too warm for these guys.... how is it a range, and not just one temperature?>
and nitrites are at 0, ammonia is at 0 my nitrates is .5 to 1
<This is a strange reading for Nitrate... usually done in increments of 5>
and as my ph is at 7.2 to 7.6.
yes I did do the cycle as, I read a lot of information before I got the aquarium.
I got the 55 because I read that its a bit easier and that you have more leeway instead of a smaller tank
<This is right... besides most people get bitten by the bug anyway and end up upgrading tank size, which is costly when you have to also buy new filters, lights, etc. It's really better to start with a larger tank.>
I check my level everyday as I do not want anything to go wrong, the little female does move around but not as much as the bigger one, but the bigger one moves around then comes back to the little one as does the male. They do swim round do all the fishy kind of stuff but I'm just wondering if she's just stressed and needs time to relax and get comfortable.
I did research but they really don't tell u much bout their personalities and what to really expect.
<We have a lot of information here on WWM, so I'm not sure who "they" are.>
I think the little female is pregnant as she does have the black spot on her tummy, base of the tale.
<If she was ever housed with a male, she's pregnant now. If she was only kept with females, then you can be pretty sure the father is your male, though.

Guppies in 2.5 gallons (!!!) 2/18/10
Hi, I have had two fancy tail guppies for over 2 years in a 2.5 gallon tank,
<Dismal. 2.5 gallons isn't an aquarium, it's a vase; stick some flowers in it.>
and as of late the fish seemed to be laying on the bottom of the tank.
<I bet.>
I had my water tested numerous times and everything comes out fine.
<Define "fine".>
They suggested I look on line for more info.
<Who "they"? If the shop didn't tell you 2.5 gallons is far too small for Guppies, then I wouldn't trust them to advise me on anything.>
One fish recently died but it was the one that seemed to be swimming around more. Still have one left and  wondering if you have any ideas. I did change the gravel and put a different fake plant in the tank but rinsed them very good before I put them in. And this was before the weird behavior.
Any ideas?
<Yes. This is cruel, unstable, rubbish aquarium. I can't believe anyone would think 2.5 gallons is adequate for Guppies. It makes me really, really sad (and a bit angry, to be honest) reading this. The fact I love animals is why I spend an hour a day volunteering here; hearing about animal cruelty like this, whether out of ignorance or sheer indifference, just goes straight to my heart. Stick the guppies in a mature aquarium 15 gallons or larger, with good water quality (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite) and the right water chemistry (pH 7.5-8, 10+ degrees dH) and nice and warm (28-30 C/82-86 F) and they'll pep right up. And before you write back and tell me they've been fine until now, that's like saying you've played Russian Roulette once, survived, and therefore it's a safe game for children. The
fact is these Guppies are unhealthy and that's why the one died prematurely, and that the others have survived thus far is a testament to your good luck more than anything else. So let's get real, put the needs of the animals first, and move them to a proper aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Guppies in 2.5 gallons (!!!) 2/22/10

I thought I was going to get some advice from you not nasty remarks.
<I actually gave you good advice, served, I accept, in a forthright manner.
Nothing I said was wrong, and nothing I said was a personal attack against you.>
Thanks for nothing.
<You are most welcome.>
I will not be asking for advice from you again!
<We have a saying here in England that you can take a donkey to a stream, but you can't make it drink. I've done my best to tell you why your fish are sick, and that you're keeping your fish in a very inhumane, unhealthy way. If you choose to ignore that, well, that's between yourself and your conscience.>
And the place I purchased this tank from said I should be able to have one fish to every gallon.
<Well they're making a sale! Could I put a Great White Shark (one fish) in a gallon of water? Obviously not. Perhaps they told you the rule about allowing one inch of fish per gallon. That's somewhat right, but depends on
two things. Firstly, the fish are small, such as Neons, that are only an inch long. Secondly, it assumes a minimum aquarium size of about 10 gallons; anything smaller is too difficult to maintain properly and unlikely to provide the space needed for swimming and normal social behaviour. It's entirely possible they explained these two facts, and you either overruled or ignored their advice, so I may be doing them a disservice. But all experienced aquarists, like me, will tell you the same basic thing. That's why I write books and for magazines about tropical fish -- I know what I'm doing, and I'm trying to lay that out to you.>
PS....I am an animal lover also and these fish have been living for quiet some time in this tank.
<It's great you consider yourself an animal lover. That's a valuable character trait. But now prove it. Keeping Guppies in 2.5 gallons is cruel.
Was, is, and always will be. What more do you want me to say? Cheers, Neale.>

One of my guppies is in danger, sys., hlth.   2/16/10
Dear Sensei, :)
Thank you very much for the wonderful website, I find it extremely helpful!!
<Glad to hear it.>
I have 25 ltr tank (with some Egeria Najas growing) and bought 5 (male) guppies for it.
<Too small for Guppies. Contrary to popular belief, Guppies are somewhat delicate fish thanks to inbreeding, and the males are also distinctly aggressive. In small tanks they tend to fight, and the wounds quickly become infected. I wouldn't recommend Guppies in less than 60 l (15 gallons), and really, they do need quite a bit more than that.>
Two weeks later three of them were dead (I think first one because of bad water, second because of the fish fungus and third died because of one guppy kept attacking him). Now I have two guppies left, both male and the
same one keep attacking the other one. He bites his tale and fins constantly.
<No surprise at all.>
The end of the tale that he bit is now rotting so I bought some of eSHa 2000 (http://www.eshalabs.com/esha2000.htm) to cure that, but I am afraid that the bullying of the other guppy will kill poor fish.
<Likely will.>
A guy in a pet shop told me that my tank is too small (25ltr) for guppies, even two of them, although another guy in the same shop that sold me the guppies knew the size of my tank and said that it is fine. Is it true? or shall I get some females/other kind of fish to destruct the evil guppy.
<Destruct the Guppy? You mean kill it? Or distract it? Yes, keeping one male alongside two or more females will generally produce a happy situation with minimal fighting. But 25 litres is far too small. Female Guppies are quite sizeable fish.>
I also read somewhere that sometimes healthy guppy can attack a sick one...
I don't know what to believe :(
<Male Guppies fight. In the wild, their colours attract predators, and females choose males with the brightest colours. For the female, the rationale is simple: any male that avoids predators long enough to reach sexual maturity must be genetically "fit". But this also means the males have a real struggle for survival, and they're not about to tolerate another male snatching away chances to mate with females in their pond! So males spend all their time driving away rival males, while trying to avoid predators, and hopefully snatch a few matings into their day as well! It's a hectic life being a male Guppy, and they all die young. Females, being bigger and well camouflaged, live longer. Once you get inside the male Guppy mindset, it's pretty easy to understand why they behave the way they
Please help.
Thank you for your help and advise.
<Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm
A 25 litre tank is just over 6 gallons, so good choices for a tank this size would be things like a Betta or various small shrimps.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: pH (first aquarium; poor decisions; don't listen to mom!) 06/29/09
Will I need a heater?
<Unless you live in lowland Mexico or Trinidad, where Guppies come from, the answer is yes, you'll need a heater.>
Also at my local Petco, they only sell "male guppies" and "female guppies".
<Poecilia reticulata.>
I don't think they have Endler's, but would plain guppies be okay in my tank?
<Personally, I think regular Guppies, Poecilia reticulata, are too big for a 10 gallon tank. The males are prone to being nippy in such small tanks, and because of their long fins and generally low level of hardiness, this often turns into Finrot or worse. So best avoided in very small tanks, though your retailer I have no doubt at all will happily sell them to you, and maybe even recommend them for small tanks. The Endler Guppy, Poecilia wingei, is a much smaller fish, and consequently better suited to 10 gallon tank. There's an old saying, "Marry in haste, repent at leisure"; what this means is that if you jump quickly into doing something because you're impatient, you'll end up with plenty of time to regret your decision. Ask your retailer to order in Endler's; if they are even halfway decent, they'll be able to do so. Male Endler's are very distinctive, being tiny, brightly coloured and with a characteristic black comma-shaped marking on each
flank. Some unscrupulous retailers may try and push plain regular Guppies on you telling you they're Endler's; if they don't have the black comma, they're probably not Endler's! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: pH (first aquarium; poor decisions; don't listen to mom!) 06/29/09

most websites say that 72-about 80 is a good guppy temperature. my water is 74 F.
<I'm not "most websites", I'm a guy who writes fishkeeping magazines and books for a living; I have a PhD and a BSc; I know what I'm talking about.
Yes, WILD guppies will tolerate a broad range of temperatures, but the Guppies sold in pet shops are fancy Guppies, and these need a steady 25 C/77 F to do well. Buy the damn heater. These are tropical fish, and the word "tropical" is the clue. Your house will get too cold in winter, and the Guppies will sicken or die.>
And if I do get a heater what temperature should my water be?
<There's no "if". 25 C/77 F is fine. If you don't want to buy a heater, then look at some non-tropical fish, perhaps a subtropical Paradisefish (Macropodus spp.) if you wanted something colourful, though a single male would terrorise anything else added to a 10 gallon tank. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: pH (first aquarium; poor decisions; don't listen to mom!)... A good general FW aquarium book for bday, Xmas?  06/29/09

why will it get too cold in the winter? we heat the house.
<If you heat your house to 25 degrees C (77 F) or higher all year around, 24 hours a day, then fine. But you don't; keeping a home that warm would be insanely expensive, hundreds of times more expensive than an aquarium heater. So can we stop arguing about this now? Seriously. Guppies and Endler Guppies are both tropical fish, and therefore need to be kept in tanks with heaters. End of discussion. Now, either decide if you want to buy a heater or not. If not, don't keep Guppies. It's really as simple as that. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: pH (first aquarium; poor decisions; don't listen to mom!) 6/30/09

Do you have any recommendations on heaters. I'm not looking to spend over 30$ and may upgrade to a 20 gal tank so it should fit both thank sizes. Also what temp. should I set it to?
<I'm sure a little time spent online would help, but otherwise just go to the aquarium shop, and look at what they have. Do note that most heaters will say on the boxes what size aquaria they are suitable for. Get a heater suitable for a 20 gallon tank, and it'll be perfectly safe in a 10 gallon tank. Unless your aquarium is in a very cold room, a 50 to 75 Watt heater should be ample. As for price, I'm in England, so my experience won't be terribly helpful, but I'd budget about £15 for heater in this size range. Avoid suspiciously cheap heaters: these have a tendency to fail, which causes problems. A good quality heater should last for many years, maybe ten years or more. Cheers, Neale.>
i got the "submersible aquarium heater" 100 watt
<Sounds a bit big for a 10-20 gallon tank, to be honest. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: pH (first aquarium; poor decisions; don't listen to mom!)
Will it stress out guppies to have a light? 7/9/09
<Not if there are plenty of floating plants or similar to provide shade; Indian Fern is ideal. No fish likes bright, direct light, and under such conditions their colours often fade. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: pH (first aquarium; poor decisions; don't listen to mom!)   7/11/09

I have put 2 male guppies and 1 female in my tank. I have had them for three days and they are doing fine.
<Feel sorry for the poor female; in mixed sex groups, females should outnumber males 2 to 1, otherwise the poor females get harassed and nipped by the amorous males.>
I am feeding them:
Monday: 1 TetraMin tropical flake in the morning. 2 baby shrimp at about five.
Tuesday: no feeding.
Wednesday: 1 TetraMin tropical flake in the morning and few bloodworms in the evening.
Thursday: same as Monday.
Friday: no feeding.
Saturday: same as Monday.
Sunday: same as Monday.
Does this seem okay?
<For the cycling stage, yes; but do check the nitrite level once per day for the first 3-4 weeks. Once nitrite is consistently at zero, you can add up to 2 small meals per day. Use an algae-based flake food ("herbivore
flake") in preference to tropical fish flake; livebearers are herbivores, and their diet should reflect this. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy Help... env. dis./Ammonia, reading   6/20/09
Hi, I am a new fish owner. I recently purchased a 10 gallon tank, and put 6 guppies in it in hopes of breeding them.
<Mmm, a small volume for this enterprise>
I currently have 2 males and 4 females. I'm convinced some are pregnant.
<A pretty much constant state in healthy Lebistes...>
Not long after having the tank, several fish died. I believe they died of injured swim bladders
<... not likely>
but I am not sure. I don't think I had the tank set up long enough before adding them.
<Oh? What of water quality tests, measures?>
But I have had them replaced, and now have the 2 males and 4 females.
Tonight I realized their gills were slightly red, and I am worried about ammonia poisoning. The ammonia level is slightly higher than it should be.
<... must be zero, nada, zip>
I am having troubles lowering it.
<Let's stop here... and have you do what you should have done: read:
and the linked files above, esp. ammonia. Bob Fenner>
I then added too much aquarium salt
<... not a good idea>
by mistake, but over time, not all at once. My friend suggested doing a 50% water change to help the ammonia reduce and the salt reduce. Are my fish going to die like the ones before them? What can I do to keep them alive? I am going to try feeding them less, as I think I may have fed them too much also. I have a small filter in one corner, a heater that is set around 80, usually less then that though, and I have a homemade filter in another corner using an air lift effect, and another homemade filter intaking water from the tank and pumping it through a filter cartridge and rocks and back into aquarium. How can I save my fish

Fancy Guppies (salinity, calculations thereof) 03/02/09 Dear Crew, I am keeping fancy guppies. I have several ten gallon tanks for breeding them in. I am using the Jungle six in one test strips and nitrates are 0-20, nitrites are 0-20, hardness is 150+, chlorine is 0 (well water), KH is 180, and PH is between 7.8 and 8.4. These tanks have been set up a week now. I would like to complete the set up using instant ocean. My question is: Is there a cooking spoon measure that corresponds with the proper amount of salt per gallon and if so, what is it. Thanks for the help. Bill <Hello Bill. There's a reason we don't recommend weight or volume measurements for adding salt: once a salt package is opened, it absorbs water from the air, so over time a given weight or volume of salt actually contains a bit less salt than you think, because some of that measurement is water, not salt. Once you've added some salt to the water, you use a hydrometer to test the salinity via a proxy measurement, density (in this case called specific gravity, or SG for short). For guppies, a low salinity is ample, around SG 1.003 being perfect, and even a bit less being more than adequate. It isn't essential to add salt, but it does help if you live in a soft water or high nitrate area. Now, a salinity of 6 grammes per litre is roughly SG 1.003 at 25 degrees C, and very conveniently, 6 grammes of salt happens to be about the same as one level teaspoon. So if you're prepared to use the metric system, estimating the amount of salt couldn't be easier! Roughly one teaspoon of marine salt mix per litre of water will get perfect Guppy water! If you absolutely must work in US gallons and ounces, you'll find my Brack Calc tool flips between both measuring systems as well as salinity and specific gravity. It's a free application and runs on Macs and Windows PCs. http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/Programs/brackcalc.html Hope this helps, Neale.>

Guppy water chemistry... 11/25/08
Hello crew,
I've been having some problems recently with my fancy guppies. My problems were NOT, however, related to water chemistry. I had been using a 50% dose of a Malawi Salt Mix recipe Dr. Monks had given me that gave me ideal conditions for livebearers; pH=7.8, KH = 180, GH = 300. Then, due to some health issues in the tank, I was adding tonic salt in addition to the Malawi Mix. Dr. Monks suggested that I could perhaps save myself a step and use Marine Salt Mix to both increase the salinity AND perfect the water chemistry. So, over the course of the last couple of days, I've switched to the Marine Salt Mix (Instant Ocean). As I was changing the water only 25% at a time, I waited until the change had been "complete" before testing the water chemistry. So here are the numbers: SG=1.003, pH=7.6, 40<KH>80, GH= I'm not sure. It's not a color that matches the chart. It's either WAY over 300ppm or I need some other kind of chart, maybe for saltwater?
<You're JUST using marine salt mix right now? Not adding anything else, like the Malawi salts? If all you're doing is adding a little marine salt mix, then the water chemistry should be perfect. Of course, if you have very hard water out of the tap, the carbonate hardness in the marine salt mix will add to that hardness. In any case, it shouldn't cause any problem for Guppies: for them, the harder the better! Your pH and specific gravity are spot on, so I wouldn't actually worry.>
And now for my question: Should I be adding a small amount of Epsom Salt and/or Baking Soda to the Marine Salt Mix?
Should I go back to the old/hard way of getting the water right?
<No real point. The marine salt mix should keep things "just right" without any further thought from you, assuming you're adding the right amount (6 g/l, about 0.8 oz. per US gallon). Guppies can be adjusted to very high salinities, even seawater in the case of wild/feeder Guppies, without
problems. So used properly, marine salt mix is entirely safe.>
Is there some other kind of test kit I should be getting to get more accurate KH and GH measures? (If so, what kind, please?)
<Some test kits may be sensitive to the presence of marine salts. I'd concentrate on pH and KH though, as these are the things you're worried about with livebearers.>
OH! I almost forgot! Last night I dosed the tank with an anti-parasitic that contains Metronidazole and Praziquantel. Could either or both of these effect the GH and KH?
<Can't think why.>
Thanks for the help.
<I'd mostly go by your livestock: if the Guppies are happy and healthy, don't sweat the water chemistry. The marine salt mix will keep them in perfect water conditions without any further need to change or add anything. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Guppy water chemistry... 11/26/08
Ok. Thanks. In answer to your question, yes, I'm only using the Marine Salt Mix at a dose of 6g/l. The guppies seem ok. I'm getting some liquid test kits for GH and KH to see if that will give me a better idea of the numbers. I am a little concerned about the low KH, though. I've read that a low KH can make one's tank susceptible to pH swings. Is this not the case?
<Hi Laura. With this much marine salt mix, you aren't going to have pH swings. Trust me on this! That's why I recommend marine salt mix over tonic/aquarium salt. This really is the "no brainer" way to keep livebearers! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Guppy water chemistry... 11/26/08
Trusting you I am! :-) Thanks. I'm also doubling the tank size to give them more adequate space. (Read in one of your many EXCELLENT articles)
Thanks again.
<Happy to help! Honestly, once you get used to keeping livebearers in big tanks with a bit of marine salt added, you'll wonder why everyone else doesn't do it this way. Incidentally, many fish farms maintain their guppies and mollies in brackish water ponds, or so I'm told. Cheers,

Need immediate help with guppy  11/19/08 I have a "tequila sunrise" (orange and yellow) guppy that has recently become ill. <What's the water chemistry? Water quality? Fancy guppies are extremely sensitive to poor water quality. If you can detect ammonia or nitrite, then that's the likely problem right there. Guppies also need hard, basic water; hardness 10-25 degrees dH, pH 7.5-8.0.> I have a 25 gallon tank with only three small neon tetras, one guppy, and one Pleco that has been established for about a year. <Please buy at least as many more Neons; they're sociable animals and very unhappy in such small numbers. The Plec will obviously get way to big for this tank. The average Plec gets to about 45 cm (18 inches) within 2-3 years.> I do water changes weekly and the water quality is fine. <"Fine", unfortunately, covers a lot of ground! Some aquarists imagine all sorts of things as being "fine", when in fact they're idea of "fine" is actually "Hell" from the perspective of the fish. So please, give me the numbers. At minimum, you should have a pH and a nitrite test kit. Use them.> Only the guppy has become ill but he is eating and swimming normally. On one side of his head, which has become bright orange, his scales are sticking out around his gills and his fin on that side also has some orange color while the other fin is still clear. He has an ulcer that has become larger over the past couple of days and some of his scales are falling off. He doesn't stay near the water surface or scratch on anything. I tried treating with tetracycline for several days with water changes but it did not help. I couldn't get a good picture so I attached a short movie. <Let's talk about the ulcer. That's a secondary bacterial infection, almost always related to poor water quality. The redness of the head is also likely a bacterial infection, and the orange spots on the fin surely Finrot. While there may be situations where these things happen outside of water quality problems, ninety-nine times out of a hundred they're related to water quality or physical damage. Given the tankmates here, I don't believe physical damage is the issue.> Please Help! <Review water quality and water chemistry. Give me the numbers if you're not sure what they mean. Treat with a suitable anti-Finrot medication (such as Maracyn or eSHa 2000), remembering to remove carbon from the filter (if you use it) any time you add medications to an aquarium.> Thanks, Jessica <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: need immediate help with guppy  11/19/08
Neale, Here are the numbers after testing the water: nitrate - 40 ppm, nitrite - 0, hardness - 150 ppm, chlorine - 0, pH - 7.8. I am getting ready to move the Pleco to a larger tank since he is already 8 inches long and I was going to get a few more tetras but I wanted to help the guppy first before risking the spread of a disease. I will try the Maracyn treatment and remove the carbon from the filter. Would you suggest another water change before adding the medication? Thanks for your help. Jessica <Hello Jessica. Zero nitrite is obviously a good thing, so from that angle at least things seem fine. As for water chemistry, your water is only moderately hard, and while excellent for Neons and catfish, it's a little softer than I'd recommend for Guppies. That said, I doubt that's the problem here. So there's nothing obviously "wrong" with the environment. Bottom line, I'm now mystified about precisely what the cause of the disease is. My advice for treating with Maracyn holds, and if it doesn't work, do a big (50%) water change and switch to Maracyn 2. Between them, these two antibiotics should cover most of the common causes of ulcers and Finrot. As for doing water changes prior to medication, that's never a bad idea. Just remember, don't do water changes between the first and final doses of any course of medication. Good luck, Neale.>

Re: need immediate help with guppy   11/25/08 Hi Neale, I tried adding both Maracyn and Maracyn 2 to the tank after a 30% water change - now on day 5 and the guppy looks terrible - now scales are protruding and the ulcer is very deep though he is still swimming and eating normally. I also replaced the old filter with a newer one that circulates the water better. I just today noticed that the small upside-down catfish I have (sorry - forgot to add him to the list of tankmates) has very red gills and is just floating at the top of the tank and is very sluggish. Is this from the addition of the medication? Should I remove the catfish from the tank, the guppy, or both? I do have a 10 gallon tank I could use as a hospital tank but it is not yet set up. Thanks again, Jessica <I suspect not much can be done about your Guppy. By the time the Dropsy-like symptoms appear, small fish are usually so ravaged by bacteria that their organs are failing and nothing much will save them. Isolating the Guppy could help, and for want of anything better I'd also consider raising the salinity to at least 25% seawater (SG 1.005) by adding 9 grammes of marine salt mix (not tonic salt) per litre of water. This will reduce the osmotic pressure on the fish, and hopefully draw some of the fluid out of the body cavity. The salt will also have a mild sterilising effect on the ulcer. When you set up the hospital tank, use some mature filter media from the other tank, and raise the salinity in stages, by first almost filling the tank with freshwater, and then adding one-fourth of the required salt (dissolved into jugs of warm water) at four intervals, separated by an hour or two. This will allow the fish and the filter time to adjust. As for the Synodontis, this could be a reaction to the medication; some catfish are sensitive to some medications, though seemingly not in a consistent, predictable way that is easy to explain. In any case, once the Guppy is removed you can do two big water changes (50% each time, with 6-24 hours between them) to flush out most of the medication, and then see if the catfish settles down. If that doesn't help, get back in touch and we'll discuss further. Cheers, Neale.>

Male guppies urgent  10/17/08 I have two male guppies in my ten gallon tank. <Too small of Poecilia reticulata: the males are aggressive and the females need space.> (The female recently died from old age.) <One male to 2+ females is the recommended way to stock these fish; your female was VERY likely stressed to death.> The two males have been chasing each other and shoving themselves in each others faces. Are my guppies just playing? <Fighting.> Or, are they fighting that could soon lead to death? <Certainly not how I'd recommend keeping this species, anyway.> Please help me! Thank you, Brian, a concerned guppy lover <Do see my thoughts on this species, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/guppies.htm Cheers, Neale.>

Planted tank with female guppies, sys.   9/2/08
Dear Wet Web Guys:
You helped me before, so I am writing you again in the hopes that you will provide me with more solid information on keeping a healthy tank.
<Fire away!>
I have three planted tanks, two of them holding guppies I raised from fry. But it is the tank with females guppies that I am concerned with. Unlike the 14G tank with (I'm guessing) 20 males, plus 2 Oto cats, 4 shrimp and numerous snails, and which is staying fairly clear of algae, the tank with the 11 females stays a little cloudy despite 1/2 water changes sometimes as frequently as every other day.
<Females are substantially bigger than males, so that's a higher biological loading on the filter, water changes, etc. Generally cloudy water comes down to either diatom/bacterial blooms on the one hand, or silt on the other.>
I am debating these options: (A) adding a DIY CO2 injection to try to grow the 8 plants in the tank so they can handle this amount of nitrogenous waste,
<Algae will certainly diminish in tanks with healthy plant growth, but adding CO2 fertilisation is an expensive solution to a problem that may simply be the need for more/better filtration. Mechanical filtration (filter wool for example) is critical to removing silt from the water column.>
(B) buy an Otocinclus and a male apple snail for this tank,
<Neither will have any impact on cloudy water. Otocinclus are gregarious, so "an" Otocinclus isn't an option; you buy them in groups of six or more. I'm not a big fan of this genus for a variety of reasons, not least of which is their appalling survival record in the average community tank. Apple Snails are sensitive animals easily harassed by fish that peck at them, which Guppies surely will. They also need a cool winter "break" or they fail to live long. Essentially not suitable for fish tanks, though great fun on their own. Kept and bred them many times. Nerites and Cherry Shrimps are infinitely better algae-eaters for small/medium aquaria.>
(C) Get rid of a few guppies and hope they are not eaten by larger, more aggressive fish in somebody else's tank
<Well, sooner of later you will have to "thin the herd". That's where your local retailer or fish club comes in. Nowadays people advertise their excess fish on forums too. In any case, guppies of decent quality shouldn't be difficult to rehome.>
or (D) some combination of the above.
<Would tend to look at why the water is cloudy first, and then establish whether diatoms (golden colour); bacteria (usually off-white); or silt (typically grey, and happens after a new tank is set up usually).>
These guppies (11 total) seem to have stopped the growing spurt as their appetites have started to slow down.
<There's "negative feedback" in aquaria. As the fish get bigger, the water becomes polluted faster, and that slows down growth rate. Invariably, you need to increase water changes to maintain the same level of growth. Indeed, if you ignore this, stunting or even ill-health become very real risks. Ten gallons is fine for rearing fish up to around 2-3 cm (say, an inch or so in old money) but after that you do need to be rehoming them. Overstocking may be part of why this tank isn't "balanced", and why the water is cloudy.>
They are in a 10G tank with a little over an inch of substrate, 3 pieces of Mopani and 8 plants. I am inept at applying the one inch rule. Can you help me calculate the largest number of female guppies I can reasonably keep in this tank if I add an Oto cat and perhaps a male apple snail?
<These "inch per gallon" rules only make sense in context. An Oscar is the same length as 12 Neon tetras, both coming out at about 18 inches. But would they both fit into an 18 gallon aquarium? Obviously not. So you need to put any rules of thumb into context. Females Guppies simply aren't (in my opinion) suited to 10 gallon tanks because of their size, and while you could in theory keep, say, half a dozen alive in there, they'd be crowded and you'd have your work cut out keeping water quality good. Male Guppies are aggressive, and if mixed with females would pester them to distraction. The poor females wouldn't be able to find resting places away from the males. So you need to be intelligent and consider the size, activity level, diet, social behaviour and other relevant factors when stocking your tanks. That's where reading up on the needs of a fish come into the equation.>
Of the three tanks, I prefer this tank because of the way the females watch me... they remind me of puppies begging at a table. They get excited when they see me looking at them and are very aware of what I am doing in the room. Really cute.
<Yes indeed. Livebearers generally become tame very easily, and respond positively to good care by being all-around excellent pets. It's a shame historically they've been written off as "beginner's fish" or worse.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Nearing stocking limit, somewhat urgent...  4/16/08 Hello everybody, my name is Jeremy. I want to first and foremost compliment your site as one of the best fishkeeping websites I have found, even after extensive searching. I have a bit of a problem. My tank, (29 gallon with AquaClear 30 gal hang on box filter, separate sponge, carbon and biomedia with old net attached to intake to protect fry.) currently has 4 Otos, 3 Corys, 4 ghost shrimp, 6 espei Rasbora, 2 adult guppies, three 6-week-old guppies, and about a dozen week-old babies. I currently am following a schedule of changing 50% of the water every Saturday. (They seem to enjoy it.) I know that I won't be able to keep all the guppies , but I am unsure at exactly what point to start giving them away. So the essence of my question is: How many adult guppies can this system support with the current water change schedule? A thousand thanks in advance! <Hello Jeremy; thanks for the kind words. A good basic rule to start with is that small fish (like Guppies) can be housed at about one inch of fish per gallon of water. In practise though filtration and especially water changes can substantially alter this. Another factor is the buffering capacity of the water: in very hard, alkaline water the inevitable pH drop that happens in heavily-stocked tanks is slowed down. So really your task is to check that nitrite stays zero, pH stays steady, and nitrate stays relatively low (ideally less than 50 mg/l). Provided you are seeing these results, your tank is safe, even if it isn't "optimal" in terms of stocking. Now if you're asking for a ballpark figure, you can probably keep about 30 up to 1-inch long Guppies alongside your other fish without having major water quality problems *assuming* the filtration is good (check nitrite!) and you are doing at least 50% water changes weekly (ideally more!). Once the fish are above an inch in length, it's time to move them out. Adult Guppies pose two problems: males are aggressive, and females are quite big, up to two inches in length. So the females especially will pull down water quality, while the males may start nipping the fins of one another. Cheers, Neale.>

Question about my tequila sunrise guppy 4/12/08 Hello, I tried to ask this question on your website but it asked me for a login which i don't know. <???> I recently bought a Tequila Sunrise Guppy from our local PetSmart along with a blue/silver guppy exactly a week from today. I put them in the tank with my Betta fish, and they were doing great. I woke up this morning and my tequila sunrise guppy was at the top of the tank floating on it's side. <Almost always when people tell me stories like this, it's because of the following issues: tank too small, tank under-filtered, tank not properly matured. So let's review. Guppies MUST have an aquarium at least 10 gallons in size, and in all honesty fancy guppies are so delicate (and the males often so aggressive) than a 20 gallon tank is ESSENTIAL. Water chemistry needs to be hard and alkaline. Adding a little MARINE MIX (not aquarium/tonic) salt, 3-6 grammes per litre, helps, especially if you live in a soft water area. The aquarium needs to be very well filtered, certainly the filter should have at least 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. There should be ZERO ammonia and nitrite at all times. Temperature must be not less than 25 C, 77 F. What you CANNOT do with Guppies is stick them in a small, unfiltered aquarium of the sort (sadly) used for Bettas by some people. They are completely unsuitable for that sort of maintenance.> I thought it was dead and when i approached the tank it swam, while still being on it's side just a little. In fear that my beta fish had done something to it, i moved it to a different bowl. When i first moved it, it swam like normal then after a bout 30 seconds turned over on it's side and slowly swam that way then just sits at the top of the bowl. I don't know what's wrong with my guppy. I've searched yahoo, and I've looked all over your website typing in key points for my question, but all i found was a plenty on it's side and the rest was about pregnant guppies and nothing about being on it's side. If i could get an answer a.s.a.p.. i would greatly appreciate it. I don't know if my fish is sick or not, or hurt. -Lori <Honestly need more information re: aquarium size, filtration, water chemistry, water quality, etc. So, before going further, I'd suggest you read over this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/guppies.htm Once you're done and you've got some information together about your aquarium and how the Guppies are maintained, we can try to move things forward. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppies, sys., beh.    3/3/08 Hello, A few weeks ago we set up a 5 gallon hex tank and bought a pair of guppies. <Too small...> We have worked with our water and have finally, after we lost the first two, gotten the tank just right. <Just right according to whom?> We bought others, and ended up with 3 males and 2 females. One of the red-tailed males killed a fancy tail male and one of the females. <No surprise at all.> We isolated him, then set up a 10 gallon tank with a divider so he would have more room. We then went and bought him 2 female guppies, and within a day he had bitten one and killed her. <Someone needs to read a book about Guppies. Males are aggressive. Guppies are NOT a good idea in tanks smaller than 20 gallons. This isn't up for discussion. If all you have is a 10 gallon tank, keep something else.> We removed the other female, leaving him isolated once again. <How are you isolating him? Not one of those horrible breeding traps? They achieve precisely nothing except removing money from your pocket.> We called the pet store, and they agreed to exchange him for a different fish. We brought home a new fancy tail male and he seems just as aggressive. <Male Guppies attempt to dominate the area around them. It just so happens that a 10 gallon tank is so small any one male Guppy will treat this as his private kingdom.> He is chasing all of the females around the tank constantly, bumping into them. <Not bumping: either attempting to copulate or else displaying aggression.> I cannot tell if he is trying to bite them, but that is a concern. <For the female Guppies especially, I'd imagine!> We have 2 males ( including him) and four females. All the info I can find talks about increasing the number of females, but I don't know if that will help. <It will, in a sufficiently large aquarium.> I do not have the room to set up a separate tank. <Then Guppies are not for you.> What do you recommend I do next? Is it common for them to be this aggressive, or are we just unlucky? <Completely normal. Please read about fish beforehand in books and fishkeeping magazines that have been fact checked. The only livebearer suitable for a tank this small is the Dwarf Mosquitofish (Heterandria formosa). Nothing else commonly available will work out well. Next up, a 10-gallon tank is ridiculously small. Do read here for more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestk.htm Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy question, sel. sys., dis.    2/17/08 I've had guppies for years and stopped and restarted a few times, out of frustration of how delicate the females are. <Of all fish species... this standard used to be rock solid... the touchy stock from the Far East has ruined a good deal of the hobby the last decades> I also have a 30gallon planted tank with co2 and such, so I'm not quite a beginner. I have almost enough salt to be considered brackish, think between 1Tbls/5gallon to 1Tbls/10gallon. This is a planted eclipse hex 5 gallon. <Small... hard to keep stable... and with the salt... easy for nitrification to vacillate> I have/had 5 females and 4 males. I think I even had another female but she died back 2 months ago. They are all fancy guppies, so delicate it seems. I got them from two different stores, one being PetSmart (sorry). I've had 2 females die now in the past day. I just did a water change 3 days ago, about 20%, as usual for every other to maybe ever week. The two that died were very pregnant and one of them and possibly the other looked like they were about to give birth (both were hanging out down on the gravel or plants being alone). With that background out of the way, is there anything else I can do to make the females more comfortable and less likely to die? <Yes... see below> This is a constant problem and I only got these fish 2 months ago and already have lost almost half my original females. The temp is usually at 76 but can go up to 79 (the eclipse light always has a tendency of heating the tank up if the room is mildly warm). But lately it hasn't been. Is my tank too crowded maybe too? <Is a factor, yes> They seem happy otherwise. Should I instead be buying more reliable females, <Yes> is it possible I've just had bad luck with the ones I bought? <Mmm, not entirely, no> I think the ones that died today were both from PetSmart if that matters. It's just demoralizing. Thanks for any information. -Erin <Too many Poecilia reticulata on the market are infested with Hexamita (perennially) and Columnaris (seasonally, and in more erratic punctuated fashion)... Guarding against the introduction of these diseases can be accomplished only through careful exclusion/quarantining of all incoming livestock... and treatment with antiprotozoal (Metronidazole often) and possibly antimicrobial (most celebratedly Neomycin...). You might have "luck" with buying/selecting better stock from another source... but I would still at least isolate it for a good two weeks (to weaken pathogens) before introduction to your main displays... Having a larger system would be of great benefit here as well as bolstering the fishs' immune systems through improved nutrition... Do see the Net re the disease organisms mentioned... they can be defeated, excluded... Bob Fenner>

Proper water conditions for fancy guppies  2/10/08 I have a 75 gallon established aquarium that I would love to fill with fancy guppies. I also have 2 ten gallon tanks for sick fish, fry or a brine shrimp hatchery. We have extremely hard well water here, the tank was used for Malawian African Cichlids with great success for many, many years. I understand guppies prefer hard water, but will they thrive in this extremely hard, limestone water? I would prefer to choose a fish that would thrive in our type of water than to constantly amend the conditions. <Yes, they'll love this stuff. "Liquid Rock" is a Guppy's idea of heaven.> Also, is it such that ALL guppies prefer brackish water? I noticed from one of your articles, the aquarium water should be amended with "proper marine salt, not tonic salt". Is this true with fancy guppies as well? If so, should I exclusively use marine salt in lieu of regular aquarium salt when setting up the tank and changing water? <Guppies don't need salt added to the tank, but it does help, and is probably essential for people who live in areas with soft/acid water. Salt also helps prevent Finrot and Whitespot. You can in fact use either tonic salt or marine salt mix, but marine salt mix is better, which is why I recommend it. What's the difference? Tonic salt is plain sodium chloride, essentially cooking salt without the iodine. While it has helpful properties with regard to disease and reducing the toxicity of nitrate/nitrite, it does nothing much in terms of water chemistry beyond raising the salinity. Marine salt mix does all that tonic salt does, but it also contains a lot of calcium carbonate and various other minerals. These raise the pH, making the water basic (which tonic salt doesn't do) and increases the buffering capacity of the water as well, inhibiting rapid pH changes. The result is water that is not only slightly more saline, but also chemically much more stable. If you have very hard, basic water (as seems to be the case) then choosing between tonic salt and marine salt will likely make no odds. Go for whatever is better value. But for people with soft/acid water, marine salt mix is a better all-around solution.> What is the recommended dosage of marine salt for a 75 gallon aquarium? <There's really no ideal dosage since Guppies can adapt to anything from freshwater to marine conditions equally well. Indeed, you don't need to add salt at all. But as a basic supplement, a 3 grammes per litre/0.5 oz. per gallon is about right. The resulting water should have a specific gravity around 1.001 or so, i.e., about 10% seawater salinity. This is well within the tolerances of most other livebearers, so you can easily add Platies, Swordtails or whatever to the system without worrying. Mollies obviously love salt -- the more the better! If your Guppies are thriving there's no big need to add salt as your water is likely hard enough for them to thrive. But if you find your Guppies are prone to Whitespot and fungus or Finrot, this will certainly help. As I say, the salt is most useful to those aquarists in soft water areas.> Thank you so much in advance for all your help! I look forward to your reply. Pamela <Cheers, Neale.>

Guppies... systems, water changes     12/26/06 Dear Crew, I have a 20 gallon tank with about 6 large mollies and down to about 5 guppies.  There are also 4 or 5 young mollies that have been born in the tank over the past few weeks.   I haven't had great luck with the guppies.  One had white-looking spots, so I had to let her go.  One had a ripped tail and couldn't swim.  I have no idea how that happened, but I think he was a "dragon tail" guppy.  Then, yesterday, I discovered a bloated female dead on the bottom of the tank. She looked okay the day before.  The guppy with the torn tail also couldn't swim, and sank to the bottom of the tank to die.  Some weeks ago there was another male guppy who sank to the bottom of the tank, couldn't swim for no obvious reason, and also died.  None of the mollies have died so far.  None of the original three female guppies has looked pregnant, nor have I found any baby guppies. There is no ammonia in the water, and the pH is at around 8. I always thought that when fish died they floated to the top of the tank. That never seems to happen with our fish.  Why is that? <Something new...> We have had this aquarium for close to three months.  I have a very good filter, but have never changed any part of the water, only added some water when the level was low. I have read that it's a good idea to change some of the water on occasion, but I'm a little worried about doing it myself. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm and the linked FAQs file above> A friend of ours set up the whole thing, and he doesn't change the water, only cleans the filter every three months. <... a foolish mistake> How essential is it to change some percent of the water? Thanks. BLS <Very useful... to dilute metabolites, prevent "heavy water" syndrome (what happens to all the solids you're adding?), refresh some essential nutrients to your systems microbiota... Bob Fenner>

Missing guppy  12/23/06 Dear wet web media crew, First off, thank you for your website.  Since I found it a week ago, I have read it every time I have a spare moment.  I have learned so much and I know that my husband is already sick of me saying, "I read on wet web media..."  But now we have a small problem.  I looked for an answer and couldn't find it, and I hope that the answer isn't somewhere that I just didn't find.  We set up a tank a couple of weeks ago, let it cycle, and added a few male guppies.  Then, after almost a week, we added a few female guppies last night.  However, one of the females is now missing.  I couldn't find her this morning.  I mentioned it to my husband when I went home for lunch, and he spent almost an hour searching the tank for her (just by looking in), but she's still missing.  It's only a 10 gallon tank, but there are quite a few fake plants in there as well as a decoration of a ruin of a castle that has quite a few holes and a hollow underneath (though you can see most of the hollow).  Could she have been eaten in the 11 hours during the night? <Mmm, not likely... You don't have other fish species present? Snails? The great likelihood is this one fish jumped out...> Could she be hiding to give birth?  Or could she be dead and floating in the hollow under the castle? <Again... probably not> If she's hiding in the castle to give birth, would it disturb her too much to lift the castle up to find her?  Thanks for your time, especially so close to Christmas. Celeste <I would look about the outside of the tank... perhaps for a smiling cat? Bob Fenner>
Re: Missing guppy - found!  12/23/06
Well, we found her!!  Tonight, we moved the castle ruin, and not finding her, I convinced my husband to look in the filter, even though he assured me a fish could not be sucked up the filter.  He removed the filter pads and we heard something drop down behind the aquarium stand.  Fearing the worst, we quickly grabbed a flashlight and sure enough, there she was, not moving.  It took us a minute to pick her up and get her back in, but she started swimming and hunkered down into a depression left from the castle ruin.  We turned off the lights in the room she is in and watched by the nightlight until she started swimming a few minutes ago.  My husband gave her a little bit of food, which she ate, and she is now hunkered back down.  We were going to do a water change and a vacuum, but I think we're going to wait until tomorrow to not further stress her. <Good thinking>   Hopefully, she will fully recover (we pray).  We don't think she was sucked up in the filter, we think she jumped up into the opening where the water pours out. <Agreed. Common> We do have a cover, but there's an opening for the filter.  I've included my original e-mail so you know which one you don't need to respond to.  Thanks for your time, Celeste <Thank you for this follow-up. Bob Fenner>

2.5 Gallon Stocking, Guppies...  2/26/06 Hi!     I have a 2.5 gallon mini bow front with 10  plants, 1.5 inches of gravel, a heater, and a nano filter. I wanted to know  how many guppies I could have in this aquarium. <I would go with three, one male and two females, or three males> It has been cycling without fish  for 3 months, so I'm not worried about cycling. Also, could I have 1 Oto cat  with them for clean up? <Yes... but this fish is not really a scavenger... Maybe read re Corydoras...> Would this interfere with breeding? <Nope> (My intention) If  this will not work, what fish do you recommend for this setup? <Whiteclouds... Paradisefish (Macropodus)...> (Excluding  Bettas) Also, what type of maintenance regimen would I have to carry out to  sufficiently care for this tank? <Posted... on WWM> Thanks in advance for your advice, Anthony <Bob Fenner>

Lost Cycle in Guppy Tank 11/3/05 Hi Crew! Thanks for a GREAT resource! I am at the end of my rope here!!  OK, back in "The Day" (late 70's early 80's) I had 42 million guppies. I had them in fish tanks, in pickle jars, and in 5 gal buckets. Once in a while a fish or 5 would die. I started with just two humble fancies.  I loaded all my guppies (except the 2 original in their 20 gal tank) and took them to the pet store for credit, got some cardinal tetras, some Neons, some swordtails, platys, and mollies and killed off a lot of fish because of Ich and that great blue stuff that stained everything before it killed your fish.  That was when I learned that room temperature water is NOT the same temp as aquarium water, and that even an overall drop of 1 degree could stress your fish enough to cause Ich. (Especially on the mollies, so it seemed.) After 3 times of being wiped out by Ich I gave up. The Plecostomus, and the Chinese algae eater that refused to die each time their tank mates did, were traded for a pair of green anoles, and that was the end of my tropical fish days. <Thanks for the background. Although it's a little late to help fish that have been dead for 30 years I do want to clear something up. A one degree drop in temp is not what causes Ich. It's is a living parasite that must be introduced into your system to affect your fish. If you use a proper QT whenever you add new fish a temp drop will not cause Ich to spontaneously generate in your tank. However any stress can cause your fish to loose their ability to fight it off. But not a one degree drop. I regularly subject my Plecos to a 10 degree drop to trigger a spawn. They never get sick from this.> Fast Forward to the year 2005.  My son is born in July, and at 2 weeks of age shows a definite fascination for fish in an aquarium. So I decided to go back to the simple hobby of fancy guppies. Now I am in a bind. The boss, and mother of my child has put her foot down. No more money being spent on fish that just die. I am managing to save babies. (Currently about 10 from what I can count in a 1 gal tank full of Java Moss)  But the inhabitants of my 15 gal seem to struggle daily. The first major hurdle was a fungus that I used Binox to kill off (along with my ornamental Java Moss, and my duckweed,). The Binox also seemed to kill some of my good bacteria, because the day before using it all my levels were "perfect" according to the clerk at the pet store. Sadly this is the same man who told me to use Binox in a 3 week old tank. (I had the flirtation (filtration, mayhaps?) up and running for 2 weeks before the first fish moved in. (8 very small feeder guppies). Then a week later my nitrates were elevating. Out of a total of 4 pairs of fancy guppies bought and 16 "feeders" I now have 2 fancy males, and 2 fancy females, as well as 4 common female 2 common males, and one multisexed fish that may or may not be a guppy, or a swordtail  (see Mystery Guppy - Just a Sweet Transvestite From Guppselvania? - II - 10/29/2005).  The problem is that the fish are always swimming around like they are being electrocuted randomly. Most of the time they swim about just fine. But occasionally one at a time they will all at one point or another "crash" into the bottom of the tank, swim erratically, or lay on the bottom of the tank between a rock and the side of the tank.  There is aggression displayed by both males and females. Including female to female fights. The two female fancies, which are the biggest fish in the tank had rich dark tails, (One blue, and the other black) now they are transparent, but still show dark coloration.  The Boss won't let me get a test kit so I am testing the "Free water Test With Purchase" rule at my local store. I guilt them into it, because they were the ones who sold me infected feeder guppies in the first place. The problem is conflicting information EVERYWHERE.  Last week my NITRATES were high. I was told to do multiple water changes. I get the nitrates down, and now my NITRITES are "borderline". The LFS tells me not to use treated tap, and to use spring water. But the Cycle FAQ seems to prefer treated tap. The LFS says to be sure and clean the gravel when I do water changes, and that will help lower the nitrites...But won't that remove beneficial bacteria????  How can I go from "dangerously high" nitrates in a week, and then to "slightly elevated" nitrites a week later? Nothing has changed as far as feeding (4 very small feedings a day, typically what is left from crushing a small pinch for the fry), or temperature (74 with no light, 78 with).  And there is no new stock...I do have 2 Cory cats, and 2 fancy females in a T tank. I did use some Stress Coat after my last water change, and I had put 5TBS of salt in my 15 gal tank twice in a week after 5 gal water changes. Is there something I am missing that are causing my fish to "FREAK OUT!"? Most of the fish are showing redness around their gills and mouths. PLEASE help! My son is not old enough to appreciate Green Anoles yet! Doug Alley, & William, President of Gupticon 5 and supreme drooler! <These are water quality problems caused my the meds or the newness of the tank. There are two different bacteria that control water quality. The first converts the ammonia in fish waste into nitrite. The second converts the nitrites to nitrates. The second is a very slow growing bacteria. It sounds like you need some more time to allow them to grow in numbers great enough to handle all the nitrite. Continue with water changes, using dechlorinated tap water. Drop the Stress Coat and the salt. Use a gravel vac to keep the bottom clean. A high amount of organic matter will cause the red streaks, fin problems and the flashing. Don>

"New Tank Syndrome", Guppies, Fatalities.... - 10/19/2005 Hi, <Hello.> I had an absolutely crushing experience yesterday.  I could NOT figure out what happened.   <Uh-oh....> I had put my guppies into a 10 gallon tank with heater and filter.  They weren't crowded up and they were doing fine....for about a week.   <Uh, so the tank was just set up a week ago?> Suddenly yesterday I came home and looked in the tank and realized immediately that something was terribly wrong.  The first thing I noticed was that the water was cloudy.  I had checked the tank every day during the previous week and the water was always clear and the fish were swimming normally about.   <Clarity of the water speaks nothing about the quality of the water....  You absolutely must test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate....  Especially during this critical cycling time of the aquarium....> They had light during the day via a window and they had darkness at night and evening.  I fed them with the food from the container I'm feeding the other fish which are still alive and healthy, with the possible exception of some old food left at the bottom of the container, but I did not see any of that upon inspection.  I fed them the evening of night before last, I think, or if that wasn't the last time, it was early yesterday before going to work.  They did not attract my attention to anything unusual at that time.  I checked the pH of the water  after I found them dead, and I found it to be pretty close to normal and possibly a little alkaline, which is what livebearers like.   <pH is not the issue here, but the toxicity of ammonia and nitrite present....  this is what's killing them.> The temperature was not too hot or too cold.  When I found them there was one small one still alive so I immediately put her (him?) in my healthy tank in the side container with two molly fry.  I thought I'd saved at least that one and it seemed to be ok.  About an hour or so later I checked it and it was also dead!   <Too badly burned from ammonia or nitrite to recover, I'm sure.> I inspected the dead fish and found a number of them seemed to have big openings at the stomach area.   <Possibly just coincidence, possibly something else pathogenic - but the root cause here is a toxic environment.> Can you shed any possible light on the possible cause of this???? I would be ever so happy to find out because I'm afraid to put anything else in there and I am, to tell the truth, disillusioned about keeping any fish at all now!! <Please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm and also in the Set-Up and Maintenance portions of the Freshwater section of the website.> Thanks for your help.  Looking forward to hearing your thoughts if any on the possible cause.  I haven't emptied the tank, thinking that if I need to test the water I'll still have it. <Begin reading, and learning about water quality and how it affects your fish.  You will do fine in time, no worries.> Leslie W. <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Urgent question about my 2 female and male guppies Hi there, <Hellooooo!> Good day to you. I really need your help. <Hope I can> I have two pet guppies, one male and one female. The female has given birth about 6 times since last November, but for the last 3 times when I awaited the birth of her fry, nothing came out, instead the water gradually turned very cloudy, with a foul-smelling thick white fluid that made the whole bowl <A bowl? I do hope it is filtered, aerated...> stink and almost opaque. But there's been no sign of any fry. Almost overnight, clean water turns absolutely white, filthy and very smelly. What's happening? The female (her name's Daffy) looks noticeably thinner every time after the water turns putrid. Then she starts getting fatter and fatter again and the same thing happens after another 3 weeks. <...> Another thing is the male's tail looks quite raggedy and like it's getting smaller. There's no sign of remnants of tail on the fish bowl floor though. He had a small case of fin rot, but jumped out of his bowl when I quarantined him, and was almost dead when I found him quite a long way from the bowl. He's been fine since (I add aquarium salt to the water) except for his tail. What could be happening? Please help me. Best wishes, Rosie. <Thank you for writing. I think we should start nearer the beginning here... Have you read the materials archived on our site re Guppies? Please do: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestkindex.htm.  Scroll down... particularly the FAQs files on Systems... Bob Fenner>
Re: Urgent question about my 2 female and male guppies
Hello Bob, <Rosie> First off, thanks for writing, really appreciate your time, hope you can reply me again, to this? <Yes> I've read the FAQ on guppy systems and so on. I started off with a small bowl that the fish shop said would be okay for 2 guppies, but as time passed, the guppies grew and I bought a much bigger bowl. I buy oxygen crystal balls, which I change every 7 days to ensure fresh oxygen though the guy at the same shop said the balls should last 6 months. Apart from that, there's no substrate. <... this is not a good system for guppies> I wanted to add some fish toy or something for them to play with but the guy at the shop said no need. Do you think they'll be dead bored? The female always excitedly greets me every time I approach the bowl.  <Not bored> Anyway, the oxygen balls are in the bowl, and I add some aquarium salt. The surface area is large and the guppies seem happy, I am just very worried about the female who's gives off a smelly thick white fluid discharge every 3 weeks with no sign of fry even though she gets fatter and fatter leading up to that time, like in 3-week cycles. The male's tail is smaller now, and he refuses to eat, I am so worried. I keep them company whenever I can.  Hope to hear from you soon. Best wishes Rosie. <Please read where you were referred. Your fish's health is impaired due to poor and vacillating water quality... If you want to keep them in bowls, you will need to add at least undergravel (and gravel) filtration, or an air-driven sponge filter... Bob Fenner>

Guppy quest 'ello, <'ello.> I'm thinking about using my 10 gallon tank for guppies so I was doing some research before I went ahead and made plans to convert it to a proper guppy home. <Yay!  Glad to hear you're researching first!> After doing a lot of reading I noticed there are a lot of conflicting ideas on the proper care of guppies. Most sites seemed to deal with the idea of breeding & showing guppies. That isn't something I'm into just yet (what would I do with all the babies? lol), so I was wondering if it is possible to have a tank with just male guppies and no female guppies without them harassing each other? <This is possible, to some extent.  Keep an eye on fins and tails and aggression, just in case.> My tank currently has white gravel which I heard is harmful for guppies, is this true? <As long as it's gravel, not crushed coral or aragonite, you should be okay.> If it is, should I get a different type of gravel or get rid of it completely? <I always stick with a natural look.  Seems more 'realistic' to me; I like having a slice of a river carved out and put in my world.> Also, I have plastic plants, would it be better to have live ones? <Personally, I prefer live - but that's completely up to the individual.> Some sites stated that live plants will promote harmful elements while others said they're beneficial to the guppies. <As long as you stick to 'easy' plants (Vallisneria sp., java fern, java moss, Anubias sp., Anacharis/elodea, so many others.> I have a 'bubble stone' to help add oxygen to the water and in the past my fish loved to swim against the current it created, is it okay to use with guppies? <Absolutely!> I can adjust the strength of the bubbles if needed. I was also reading about 'cycling' and how that works, I have a single female platy in my tank right now. Is it okay to add a duo or trio of guppies right away or should I clean the tank and wait the suggested 2 month period? <It shouldn't take two months to cycle - here's a link to cycling FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/estcycfaqs.htm > What about 'mystery' snails, can I add one to a guppy tank? <Sure.> Thank you for answering my questions! -Dream <You bet.  -Sabrina>

Guppy Temperatures <Hi, MikeD here> I know that cold water guppies can be turned into warm water guppies. But can warm water guppies be turned into cold water guppies?<That's a yes and no question. While they can tolerate less than tropical conditions, they still can't survive in temperatures that approximate freezing or nearly so> If so how is this done?<Veeeery slowly! As long as the temperatures are allowed to drop gradually, I've seen guppies in 60 degrees F. water, but any sudden changes in temperature will still cause systemic shock, often followed by an outbreak of "ick", a protozoan parasite of fishes.>

Guppy disease I have a female fancy guppy in a new tank with rather high nitrates - I think maybe 40ppm but using strips so it's hard to tell. When I bought the fancy, she looked a little tired, but was in a mixed tank, so I took a chance on her. Now her body is  drooping, especially her tail. I remember that this had happened to me once before, but I don't remember what medicine they gave me for her. Anyway, the other guppies are rubbing up against her and a second one is showing symptoms. Also there are fry that were born yesterday in that same tank which are now in another tank (my fry tank).  What disease or parasite would cause this? <Not a parasite... age, poor nutrition, lacking water quality... can though> I see no other noticeable signs or symptoms. Also, is it possible that the fry may have caught this also? <Look to your water chemistry... doing regular water changes, keeping pH and alkalinity middling to high, offering a mix of fresh and prepared foods... Bob Fenner> 
Re: guppy disease
Okay, here's the deal on water quality. The hospital tank and the "clean" tank I never bothered testing, because the "clean" tank was brand new, I knew it needed to start cycling, and I just added aquarium salt and Bio-Spira. But within 48 hours, I was adding meds to the tank which I knew would mess up water quality. <Yes> Same with the hospital tank. I have two other tanks - one has the fry in it, the other had Neons and a Cory catfish. Both had Bio-Spira and initially were testing well, but suddenly shot up in nitrites - I don't know about ammonia (using test strips for the moment), but I assume they were high also. I did 50% changes on both tanks, and added more Bio-Spira. It shot up again in nitrites, which normally doesn't happen with the Bio-Spira. Two of the guppies showing no symptoms were taken from a medicated tank and put in with the Neons.  Then I started reading the labels on "tank starters" that I had used before the Bio-Spira came in (I have it shipped in). One of them has some kind of "miracle granules" in it that absorb the NITRATES! So the two tanks that haven't been medicated are off the charts in nitrites, the nitrates are getting absorbed, and there's nothing I can do about it until I can restart the "clean" tank and more Bio-Spira arrives (hopefully today). <Yikes... some of the dangers of not cycling/waiting... and mixing products> The clean tank I KNOW has no granules in it, because when I cleaned it I took the whole thing apart and washed the undergravel system, the gravel and everything (which I dread having to do again). That is the tank I want to "re-start", and that is the tank I was afraid held some kind of disease. I cannot do anything about the fry tank, because I will kill them trying to suck out the granules from the gravel. They will just have to try and get by on water changes until they are big enough to transfer to another tank. To the best of my knowledge, there are no diseases in either the neon tank or the fry tank, but of course I can't put sick fish in there either. The nitrites will definitely kill them - I can't believe the Neons have made it!  <Can be tough, make it through cycles if start off healthy> The reason I have not said anything about water conditions in the two tanks I was asking about - the "clean" tank and the hospital tank - is because I know they never had a chance to cycle, and they were being medicated, so they COULDN'T cycle. I haven't bothered wasting expensive test strips testing something I know isn't right. <> My tap water comes out with 6.8 ph and between 20 and 40 in nitrates. <! This is way too high... even for your drinking, cooking use... I would look into a means of getting better source water...> <Editor's note: The EPA has set guidelines for what substances are allowable, and at what levels, in potable/drinking water.  If in doubt, ask your municipality for a copy of their "Consumer Confidence" report, a.k.a. "Water Quality Report".> pH in the neon and fry tanks is fairly high - 7.4 to 8.0 - and the only reason I can think of is because the gravel IS old gravel, and it was mixed with a little coral gravel from when I lived in Nashville and the city water was so hard, and my tanks were overcrowded, it was the only way to keep the tanks balanced. The gravel in the neon tank was never even rinsed after being  brought up from Nashville, as was the case originally with my "clean" tank. <I see... well-written> The two Popeye fish are actually looking a little better this morning, and they WERE being treated with extra aquarium salt as well as the Kanamycin. I have no Epsom salts though. <Can be gotten from grocery stores, pharmacies... over the counter> Your email cut off halfway through a sentence, so I am assuming you were suggesting doing a fishless cycle on the "clean" tank. <Yikes... didn't see this... Ahh, perhaps this is the message Jorie was referring to> I think that's a great idea, I just don't know where to put the three sick guppies (two Popeye guppies who had fungus which I think is now gone - it was on some damaged scales up around the head areas of both fish; one birthed prematurely and is rather young, has some red on her belly up near the gills, is bent all the time with her tail hanging down, sometimes rests on the bottom on her tail, and one time started going into sideways contortions while still bent downwards behind the head - she is the one I am treating with Spectrogram). The only thing I know of to do is put all three sick guppies in the hospital tank after it has been rinsed and some salt put in, and then start that other tank cycling. Then I guess I just keep doing water changes on the Neons and fry, and pray that they make it until there's a clean tank ready. <I would "risk" putting them in with the Neons... what they "have" (environmental) not likely "catching". Bob Fenner>

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