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FAQs on Guppy Environmental Diseases  

FAQs on Guppy Disease: Guppy Disease 1, Guppy Disease 2, Guppy Disease 3, Guppy Disease 4, Guppy Disease 5, Guppy Disease 6, Guppy Disease 7, Guppy Disease ,
FAQs on Guppy Disease by Category: Environmental, Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic, Treatments,

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

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

Env. issues are the largest (and simplest) causes of losses of Guppies: NEED a cycled/stable system of at minimum ten gallons volume, with clean (little metabolite), hardish, alkaline water of NO Ammonia or Nitrite, 10 ppm or less NitrAte. Cool temp. (low to mid 70's F0, frequent partial water changes.

TB or results of Camallanus treatment in guppies       1/18/15
<Hello Eva,>
I'm hoping you can help me with a problem I've been having in my freshwater tank. I came home with a couple of new guppies in October and they had Camallanus worms.
<Not uncommon in farmed livebearers, particularly in the US for some reason.>
I ended up with my whole tank infected. After trying several things I was finally able to get my fish store (not the one that I bought the sick fish from) to sell me some Levamisole, which took care of the worms.
Since they were treated the one neon I had developed a crooked back and died. I figured that he had worms inside him that died and that was why he got crooked and of course died.
<Possibly, or a reaction to the medication, or simply a coincidence. Neons and Guppies require fundamentally different living conditions, so it's unlikely (read: practically impossible) to provide optimal conditions for both. To recap, Neons want cool (22-25 C/72-77 F) water that's soft and slightly acidic to neutral (1-12 degrees dH, pH 6-7). By contrast, fancy Guppies are more sensitive to cold their wild ancestors, so need warmth (25-28 C/77-82 F) and want water that's at least medium hard and slightly basic (10-25 degrees dH, pH 7-8.5). There's a strong argument for adding a little salt to the aquarium where Guppies are kept (2-3 gram/litre is sufficient, and won't affect most hardy plants) and they also do very well in proper brackish conditions too (around SG 1.005 being ideal). As you can see, there's little overlap between their requirements. In hard water,
Neons basically die off one by one, rarely living more than a year, while Guppies are persistently disease-prone when kept in soft water. Chilling weakens Guppies, making them sickly, while overheating Neons shortens their lifespan still further. You could probably keep both if you had precisely 10-12 degrees dH water, pH 7-7.5, at 25 degrees C, but very few aquarists
get that kind of water out of the tap, most either having soft water or hard water depending on what's supplied by their local water company (and do note, softened water as produced by domestic water softeners is not the same thing as naturally soft water, and actually shouldn't be used in a fish tank).>
Now I have a guppy that is also developing a crooked back. My question is:
Could the crooked backs be related to the Camallanus worm infestation or is it probably fish TB. If it's TB do I just give up on the tank and the 20 or so fish in it?
<Do see above. Check the temperature, hardness and pH, and combined with luck and/or genetics, you may well have your answer right there.>
Thank you for taking the time to reply.
<Most welcome.>

Guppy - curved spine 1/9/12
Hi Crew,
I have a question for you about a guppy of mine with a curved spine.
Back-story: This is my 150L community tank. I admittedly have been a terrible tank owner of late (16 hour days at Uni with a 3 hour commute will do that. Sigh).
I went away on holiday for two weeks in late Dec and gave my housemates strict instructions not to feed to fish. I was home intermittently and fed them twice in that period. I didn't do a water change (and obviously no gravel vac) for perhaps a month. When my boyfriend noticed my dwarf gourami acting funny I tested the water and had ammonia, nitrite and pH issues (I don't recall values, but it was bad. Ammonia was probably 1ppm,
<Deadly toxic at high pH>
<Likely Nitrite, NO2, also toxic>
was around .5ppm and pH was off my test's scale - some maybe 8 or more).
<Very toxic then>

This was a week ago and I have since done a few water changes and added stress zyme and bio booster (after the first water change the ammonia reading was higher but nitrite is now at trace amounts). When the dwarf started looking really bad I treated with ammo lock, but I ended up losing him anyway (probably helped along by the fact that the Bristlenose Pleco started munching on him!). I'd lost a few guppies (at least 3, maybe one or two more, I honestly am so scatterbrained I can't recall how many I had before leaving) at some point whilst I was away but did not notice in my inattentiveness. Yeah, I feel like a pretty terrible person right about now.
My thoughts are that the lack of gravel vac-ing was the reason for the ammonia spike?
<Mmm, maybe a contributing cause... but someone has over, mis-fed this system>
I hadn't added any stock for months (and have no plans to replace the deaths) and over feeding certainly wasn't the issue.
<? Where did the protein come from? Dead fish perhaps? Unlikely. Inadequate filtration?>
This is the third ammonia issue I've had since beginning the tank in June so I'm quite frustrated with myself. The only other thing that coincided with this was a heat wave we had in Melbourne that caused the temp in my tank to reach temperatures of 32C and above
<Mmm, could be a factor>
(even after turning the heater completely off during the day), but I figured that was not a trigger.
Anyway, while I'm dealing with that, my main concern is the guppy. I don't recall her spine looking like that. I remember (back when I had time to peruse the site) reading about crooked spines, TB,
<There are other, and much more common causes for this... genetics, environmental and nutritional factors... Put the words: "Bent spine" in the WWM search tool... found on every page, and read>
how that can be contagious and how you should euthanise the fish if you see it. So I was hoping you guys could give me some guidance on how to identify the cause and how best to proceed with her.
<I'd leave all in the system and NOT add any further life till your schooling time commitment is more reasonable>
I've attached an (albeit terrible) photo if that helps at all (snapped it on my phone, which is a lost cause with those zippy fish)
Thanks for your time,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

female guppy disorder; env.  – 07/18/12
I have had my guppy tank (5 gal) for about 2 years and everything has been fine.
<Seems unlikely. Your aquarium is far too small for Guppies; needs to be three times larger (i.e., 15 gallons) at least.>
Recently, my female guppies get this condition where their belly gets constricted looking (making their gills look extra big) and they eventually die.
<Or another way of looking at it, the poor environmental conditions your aquarium eventually kills them.>
When the first one died I thought she was just old since nothing was going on with the rest. I have now lost 2 and my best female is showing signs of this now. The males are fine and thriving (and from looking for this condition found I have an improper male to female ratio now).
<Mixing males and females is bad enough if you don't outnumber the males at least 2 to 1 with females, but in a too-small aquarium, harassment from the males -- and continual pregnancies -- positively ensures early death. If you can imagine being the female of any animal species, being constantly pestered by males while also constantly being pregnant would be a stressful, difficult situation.>
So, I hope you can help me fix this so I don't just have a tank of males...thanks in advance. Shelley
<The quality of farmed Guppies is dismal. Mycobacteria infections are extremely common. Your best bet is to [a] set up an aquarium adequately large for them; [b] ensure the best water chemistry for the species, i.e., hard and alkaline; [c] cycle the filter before adding the Guppies, using a fishless method of your choice; and then [d] procure some good quality, locally-bred Guppies, e.g., from a tropical fish club in your area. Organisations like the American Livebearer Association are worth joining, and there are plenty of excellent books on livebearers as well. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy with possible fin rot... Uncycled system... for obvious reasons, iatrogenic troubles     11/17/12
Back again!!!  Sorry to bother you once again but I am at my wits end with my tank!  I have a 26 gallon tank running two filters, one is the one that came with the tank and I added a second for a ten gallon just to add surface for good bacteria.  It has one tower decoration, one pirate ship and one treasure chest, all bought at PetSmart, two Marimo( may not be spelling this right) balls and four fake plants with what I felt were soft leaves.  I had done a fishless cycle that was removing ammonia and nitrites quickly using pure ammonia and so I did a large water change and added 4 male sunrise tequila guppies.  I was having nitrite issues after that but never ammonia issues so I do water changes almost every other day and use Prime and water conditioner every time but to no avail!
<This situation, establishing nitrification, just takes time... I'd remove the guppies to a cycled system, add some food to the cycling system and wait, test every few days... till NO2 was gone, there was accumulating NO3>
  Still having them. In the mean time I acquired two Mickey Mouse Platys.
<? You're compounding the problem by adding more biota>
 Still doing 30 percent water changes, vacuuming the gravel
<Don't do this... you're forestalling the establishment of nutrient cycling>
and using Prime but no luck.
<The use of Prime won't help either...>
  It's been two months and now for the main reason I am writing. One of my guppies top fin looks ragged with white tips and I know water conditions can bring on fin rot but I also believe he may have been bullied a little although most of the time they seem to get along.  Then tonight maybe it's paranoia but on of my platys looks kind white and maybe it's eyes look a little buggy  so I ran out and got Maracyn 2 because the booklet said if she showed a decrease in movement it was the one I should choose. I am too afraid to set up a hospital tank and am afraid to break down my main tank for fear I will be starting over the cycling process, not that I have ever really completed it anyway.  What am I doing wrong and how in God's name do I proceed from here?
<Your situation is so very common... and fixable... Review here:
and the linked files above... Best, as stated above, to remove the fishes here... add some food... and just let time go by>
  I'm so frustrated!  By the way, tank temp is at 82 and have floated frozen water bottles to cool it down to no avail, which may be good since I have this bacteria but will invest in a chiller if I don't give up all together soon.  I love them and  don't want to have them suffer so any suggestions would be gravely appreciated!  Thanks!
<Don't panic, or get too bummed... Time will solve this issue assuredly.
Bob Fenner> 

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

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

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

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

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

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

HELP!!!! Guppies with the shimmy shimmy shakes... and worse 2/17/09 Hello everyone. I have a major problem! <Oh?> My guppies had the shakes, they were closed fin and kinda shaky I did a half tank water change on my 55 gallon and noticed they were still sick two days later. <Hmm... with Poeciliids generally, the "shakes" is often a sign of severe stress, typically induces by water chemistry issues. Guppies need at-least moderately hard water with a pH above 7.5 to do well. Arguably, the addition of a small quantity of marine salt mix helps by raising pH and carbonate hardness as well as salinity. In any event, if exposed to a sudden pH drop, as can happen in old tanks with limited carbonate hardness, they are among the first fish to show signs of stress. This is doubly true with Fancy Guppies, which are an order of magnitude less robust than wild-type Guppies (be they feeders or genuine wild Guppies).> I noticed one of my 30 Cory cats had a white fungus spot on her fin so I put some Melafix in along with Prime for the new water change. These fish had been doing wonderful for the last 10 years. My cats breed like crazy. <Well, Melafix is completely unreliable, and in terms of fixing a Fungus problem is only marginally better than praying to the Fish Gods. I would certainly be using some appropriate (and scientifically tested) anti-fungal, e.g., one based on Acriflavine or malachite green. Here in England, I recommend eSHa 2000; in other parts of the world you will doubtless have other brands available.> Since then all my guppies (60 or more) have passed on. They were dead on the bottom every morning 6-10 each day. I did another water change thinking it was the Melafix. Maybe quarter tank. <Hmm... if there's a massive fish loss, there are two steps. Firstly, check the water chemistry and temperature. Write them down. Next up, change as much of the water as is practical, 75% or more. If the water chemistry is the same as it usually is, then replace the old water with new, dechlorinated water that has similar water chemistry and temperature. (Note: big water changes only cause problems *if* the water chemistry and temperature changes are severe.) This will flush out any problems such as ammonia, nitrite, or toxins like bug spray or detergent. If the old water chemistry was way off, e.g., instead of being the normal pH 7.5, it was down at pH 6.2, you'll have to gradually acclimate the fish to the "correct" conditions. Do this by adding new water with the right water chemistry a bucket at a time, or such that it takes 60 minutes to fill the whole aquarium up, with 10 minutes between each bucket (or fraction/multiple buckets) of water. This way, you're acclimating the fish to new water conditions, just as if you were introducing new fish you'd just bought from the pet store. By the way, take care to leave the filter running through all this, even if that means lowering the inlet/outlet pipes. If you absolutely cannot leave the filter running, then disconnect but then put the biological media in a nice shallow basin of aquarium water so the oxygen can get in and keep the bacteria happy. Switch off and left closed up, some filters (e.g., canister filters) can die back after 20 minutes or so. The last thing you want to deal with is an ammonia crisis. You can safely disconnect the heater though; for the sake of an hour or so, the lack of a heater won't make any difference.> Still my guppies were dropping like flies. Now it has moved on to my beloved Cory catfish. Fish the pandas started dying two three at a time. Their fins and bodies started deteriorating. Now my albinos and greens are dying 4 or 5 at a time. It looks like their bodies are turning to stone, then they start going nuts, swimming erratically and are belly up. <Do review water chemistry and water quality, quickly! Whenever you get lots of fish across different species, it's almost never a "disease" as such, but an environment. Think of it this way: if you came across a bunch of sick people, you'd assume an epidemic of some sort, but if you say sick people, sick dogs, sick cattle, sick birds, you'd assume pollution. Just so in a fish tank; if lots of fish are all getting ill at the same time, it's time to review environmental conditions. The death is moving faster and faster through the tank. My mollies (3 of them) and banjo cats are unaffected. <So far...> I have 2 whiptail and Farlowellas they are fine too. <So far... Farlowella spp. catfish are notoriously sensitive to poor conditions.> My plants are green and healthy. What is going on here???? I have done another water change and major filter cleaning in case it was the meds but still the cats are dying, the guppies have seemed to stabilize just one or two look bad. I only have maybe 10 left. Help me...... <As I say, the "triage" element is a big water change, but first do the "investigation" element to test for ammonia and/or nitrite (i.e., water quality) and also the pH and ideally hardness (to test for water chemistry stability). To me, this sounds like either a pH crash, accidental poisoning of the aquarium (e.g., by bug spray or paint fumes), or an ammonia/nitrite spike (e.g., by overfeeding or a blocked filter).> Jamie <Good luck, Neale.> <<RMF also suspects Columnaris here>>

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

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:
A 25 liter 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.>

Hi... Guppy beh.. reading... 3/19/10
Hi, I wrote to ask a few questions on my guppies. Lately I notice that they have lost their colours and even the females have suddenly gotten aggressive and attacking other females.
<How large is this system? If crowded, agonistic behavior intensifies. Read
here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppysysfaqs.htm <
I've been changing the water everyday
<?... Keep reading... re metabolite build up... Test for at least nitrogenous compounds... Read here:
and the linked files above>
for the past couple of days because I noticed that their gills have redden and on of the males fin is not opening properly anymore. I thought it was fungus or maybe white spots so I went to the shop and bought the medicine for that.
<... dismal>
Unfortunately the LFS around my area doesn't sound as professional as those around these people I see that were asking for advice. When I ask them something...they just treat it nonchalantly. I am thinking that they just want me to come back and buy more fish. Anyway, you site have helped me a lot in trying to understand my guppies behavior and I am very grateful of that. But when I keep seeing my guppies deteriorating like that I am so heart broken. I wish I know exactly what's wrong with them. I cannot find anything that can test for ammonia levels or nitrate...only tester I saw was for chlorine. But with reddish gills I'm guessing ammonia poisoning.
<Could be>
Does it mean that future is bleak for all my guppies when they losing their colours and females getting aggressive?
Thank you for any help that you can give me. I am really desperate right now.
<Read where you've been referred. Bob Fenner>

Baby guppy problems and others 6/21/10
Well first of all, hello.
<Hi! Melinda here today.>
So I have a 15.6 gallons fish tank with heater and filter. I've had this tank for about two months now and I had a rather shaky start.
<Did you cycle this tank? Many times, folks have a really hard time starting out in the hobby because they don't understand the nitrogen cycle, and so they constantly have problems due to the buildup of toxic ammonia and/or nitrite. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwestcycling.htm. There are WAY too many negative effects of poor water quality to list, but it's pretty safe to say that if your fish are ill, and you're not testing your water (you want Ammonia and Nitrite levels of zero; Nitrate under 20), then the first thing to do is test the water and rule out poor water quality as a cause of fish illness.>
I started out with 3 guppies (1 male and 2 females) Unfortunately, the male died within a couple of days.
<Please do read re: cycling. It's possible to get a sick fish from a store, and also, some fish just don't make the trip home unscathed. But, the stress from a move plus an ammonia spike equals almost certain death, especially in small fish.>
Later, one of my remaining females had babies (about 20 of them) and got pretty vicious. She injured my other female who then got cotton-like fungus.
<I would check water quality. The cotton-like fungus could have had nothing to do with the other guppy, but rather, was Finrot. Also, This tank is really quite small for guppies, especially if you're attempting to raise fry, which are going to be more susceptible to complications due to water quality. Please do read here on guppies: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/guppysysfaqs.htm and the linked files above.>
I bought a treatment and it worked but most of her tail was gone so she died in a couple of hours.
<Really does make me think Finrot.>
The last female died too. She had red pots all over her body and her tail seemed to be shrinking or something and had a brown line all around it.
<Bacterial infection, Finrot.>
But the babies survived. So I bought other fishes to put in with them
<Why would you purchase more fish without first determining the cause of the last three fishes' deaths? Plus, there are already 20 fish in your sixteen-gallon aquarium.>
(A Corydoras and one I believe might be a flying fox. Some confusion about that one)
<Corydoras are a schooling fish, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/Catfshbehfaqs.htm , or to get more specific information, type in "Corydoras" in WWM's Google search engine. As for the Flying Fox, please do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/saes.htm. The photos may help you determine whether what you have is a Siamese Algae Eater or Flying Fox. If your fish is a Flying Fox, it may turn out to be too aggressive to be kept in this small aquarium with peaceful fish.>
I stopped putting salt after I put in the Corydoras. Should I start again?
<I would not use it.>
Later on, I bought 4 ghost shrimps. I thought the would be eaten but no all of them are still alive.
<Who is going to eat them? You've got a Cory and a tiny Algae Eater -- not much chance of predation. Of course, anything that's dead is food.>
I also bought an apple snail but it died within a few days (I'd like to know why).
<Likely poor water quality -- in effect, the same reason as all your other fish are dying. Please do read here on apple snails: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/MollusksFW.htm/AppleSnailsF.htm>
Since then, I bought 4 black tetra's and 2 'loaches clown'
<Are these Black Skirt Tetras or Black Neons? The Black Skirts need more room than you're offering, but the Neons would work, assuming you're not keeping the water too warm.>
(Sorry my native language is French and I don't know their name in English but they're snail eating fishes. Yes. Snail problems).
<I am currently attempting to learn French, and I couldn't achieve anything near what you've achieved here, so no complaints from me. Your Loaches will (if they live) outgrow this system, and also require pristine water quality, as well as lots of water flow. The snails should be easy to remove by placing a piece of lettuce on a rock with a rubber band. Place in the tank, then remove the next day. It should be covered in the little buggers. Manual removal is going to work best for you due to the small size of the system and its current instability. The last thing we need to do is keep adding fish. In addition to growing quite large (at least ten inches or so), Clown Loaches (which happen to be some of my favorite fish) are schoolers, and really need the company of four or five buddies to feel comfortable.>
When they arrived, the black tetra's ate one of the 6 remaining baby guppies, so I put them in a breeding net. another one died, probably killed by another baby. So I now have 4 remaining (and an adult one my sister bought because she though he was gorgeous). 2 of the babies are pretty small and the other 2 have gotten pretty big. One of the big ones started chasing the smaller ones around so I decided to put him/her (pretty sure it's a her thought) out of the net and into the tank. It went rather well, still alive after a week but the black tetra's are getting rather insistent about their nipping (they don't chase her around but sometimes it looks like they attack her though they don't really do so viciously) Could they be more aggressive when hungry?
<These are some of the nippier tetras (I'm guessing now that they're Black Skirt Tetras. They don't belong in this small tank, and they don't belong with guppies. Please do read BEFORE purchasing.>
I feed 3 times a day (I also have special food for my bottom fishes)
<Likely too much. Please test your water and compare your results to what I list above. There's a good chance that, left alone, this system has cycled by now. However, over cleaning your filter or a number of other things can cause the cycle to start right back over, so it's important to know what your fish are swimming in, especially if they're dying.>
So, since they seemed to be chasing her a little more, I decided to put her back in the net and see if she would be aggressive again. But the moment I put her in the net, the other big baby guppy (Almost sure it's a male that one. He got very colorful while the others only begin to show colors) stared at her for a while then started an obsession with her and wouldn't leave her alone, so I put her back in the big tank where, at least, she isn't constantly followed and nipped at. So I'm now wondering if he's just aggressive. He doesn't seem to be attacking either of the smaller fishes. So my question is: why does he act that way (sorry about the maybe not so useful information above. It's just in case)? Should I buy another breeding net (one that I can separate in sections) or just wait see?
<This fish don't "go" together. Please read.>
I also have another question. My water is kind of yellow. I know the cause, I bought some Voodoo brand wood to place at the bottom (it says on the label it can color the water for a while and the clerk at the pet shop told me it would fade after about 6 months of water changes). The fishes seem to like it (especially my snail eaters and my flying fox?) but, unfortunately, the snails too. there are a lot of snail eggs on it so I'm wondering if it's a good idea to keep it? I also have a plant (a real one) that the snails seem to love as well. I was also wondering if it would be a good idea to buy a 'boule russe' (Russian moss ball in English I think)
<The yellowing of the water is caused by tannins from the wood, and you can add fresh carbon to the system's filter and remove the coloration. If you don't mind it, it won't hurt the fish to leave it in, and I'd start by taking the wood out and cleaning the eggs off before placing it back in the tank. I would first determine why your fish are dying and adjust stock so that it's appropriate for the tank size you have prior to making more changes. I'd do manual removal of the snails. There's a lot to do to get this system "right" before you continue to stock it, either with plants or fish.>
Sorry if there are grammar mistakes but English isn't my native language so I sometime have some difficulties with it. Thank you for taking the time to read.
<Not a problem. Please do write back if you have any more questions after reading.

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.ap. 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.>

Help! Please! Guppy hlth., no info., or reading    8/23/08 Hey My new fish tank which I set up about a week and a half ago has developed some sort of mucus on my guppies' bodies. Like if you look down on three of them, you can see mucus coming off and where the mucus was their fin look red. Please help! If I have to I will kill all of the guppies that are in there but it grieves me to do so. -Sarah <Mmm, Sarah, am hoping we can help you help your guppies, but really need data to do so... For instance, the actual physical set-up, your maintenance, water quality tests, foods/feeding, the history of your husbandry... Please read here re others similar situations, input, to get an idea of what we're looking for: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gupdisf4.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Help! Please! Guppy hlth., still not reading   8/24/08
Ummm.... Here's what I know: Low ph: 7.4 High ph: 7.8 Ammonia: 1.0 <Deadly toxic> Nitrate: 0 My physical setup is: a underground philter, a regular 10 gallon filter, and a heater. Maintenance: Just a regular algae scrub I feed them once a day but usually a bit more than a regular feeding time What is husbandry?? <...? Use your search tool for definitions...> thanks! -Sarah <And read where you were referred to on WWM, and re ammonia... http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwammfaqs.htm and the linked files above... This system is currently poisonous. Bob Fenner>
Re: Help! Please! -08/24/08
ok...Ummm...what product or procedure should I use to lower the ammonia level? Oh and the water look cloudy compared to my other two tanks. Oh...another thing what is aquarium salt and what does it do? If husbandry is asking questions to people them my husbandry is you. -Sarah <... keep reading>

Guppy, hlth...    9/16/08 To whom it may concern, Hello WWM, its been awhile since I've sent an e-mail for advice. 4 of my female guppies died in 2 days. The 1st day 2 died and I did a complete water change, the other 2 seemed alright but did not eat. And on the 2nd day, they too perished. Why would they starve themselves? <Fish don't tend to starve. Most species can go weeks without food and not come to serious harm. It is MUCH more likely they lost their appetite, and this is almost certainly an issue with either water chemistry of water quality, though possibly temperature. Just to recap: Guppies need basic water (pH 7.5-8.2 is ideal) with a high level of hardness (15+ degrees dH). Adding teaspoons of aquarium salt per gallon won't help and is irrelevant, though adding a small amount (~6-9 grammes/litre) of MARINE salt mix per litre is useful, particularly in soft water areas. The ammonia and nitrite levels must be ZERO. I don't recommend keeping Guppies in tanks smaller than 90 litres; doing otherwise is a bad idea, particularly with fancy Guppies (which are delicate) and female Guppies (which are quite large). Water temperature needs to be around 25 degrees C; these aren't coldwater fish.> Can 5 male guppies that have lived together in a 30 litre tank for about 5 months be transferred to a small tank? <Define "small". Males are aggressive and will harass the females, and certainly shouldn't be kept with females in tanks smaller than 90 litres. You should only keep one male per two (or more) females otherwise the females are constantly harassed and stressed.> Thank you for your time, - Gene <We're happy to help. Do review the requirements listed above, and check with what you're providing. Any differences between what you have and what your fish need is where the problems are coming from. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Guppy, hlth...   9/16/08
Thanks for the reply. <You are most welcome.> You mentioned:- "Fish don't tend to starve. Most species can go weeks without food and not come to serious harm. It is MUCH more likely they lost their appetite, and this is almost certainly an issue with either water chemistry of water quality, though possibly temperature. Just to recap: Guppies need basic water (pH 7.5-8.2 is ideal) with a high level of hardness (15+ degrees dH). Adding teaspoons of aquarium salt per gallon won't help and is irrelevant, though adding a small amount (~6-9 grammes/litre) of MARINE salt mix per litre is useful, particularly in soft water areas. The ammonia and nitrite levels must be ZERO. I don't recommend keeping Guppies in tanks smaller than 90 litres; doing otherwise is a bad idea, particularly with fancy Guppies (which are delicate) and female Guppies (which are quite large). Water temperature needs to be around 25 degrees C; these aren't coldwater fish." <Yep, I did indeed mention all this!> The pH is alright, its around 7.5. <That's good.> I do not know how to test hardness, but I did add aquarium salt. <That's what I fear. Lots of people can persuaded that aquarium salt is somehow good for Guppies without actually having any idea about why. "Aquarium Salt" or "Tonic Salt" is just overpriced cooking salt. Possibly useful as a treatment for certain problems, but no value at all as a regular additive. Guppies don't care about salinity, what they care about is hardness. Hardness can be measured two ways, in terms of General Hardness or Carbonate Hardness. It doesn't matter much which you use. But what you're after is raising the hardness level to upwards of 15 degrees dH (measured with a general hardness test kit) or upwards of 7 degrees KH (measured with the carbonate hardness test kit). General hardness affects osmoregulation, but carbonate hardness affects pH stability; this latter thing isn't at all affected by sodium chloride, hence the uselessness of "tonic salt". Why do I recommend MARINE salt mix then? Simple: marine salt mix isn't just sodium chloride; it contains lots of minerals, including those that raise carbonate hardness. If you add 6-9 grammes of marine salt mix per litre, you'll be creating a brackish water environment that Guppies will THRIVE in. It's cheap, requires no fussing around with test kits, and works very well.> And yes, temperature is alright as well. I still am puzzled over the fact as to why they suddenly lost their appetite, not to mention when I disposed of the bodies they were in perfect condition, which leaves me even more puzzled. <When fish randomly die for no obvious reasons, 99% of the time it's down to water chemistry or water quality. While I can't be 100% sure without seeing your tank and/or examining the dead fish, I'm telling you what I'd do under the circumstances. So, go buy a box of Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals, or whatever marine salt mix is cheapest in your area. Add the salt to each bucket of water as you do your water changes over the next few weeks. Start at a dose of 6 grammes per litre. Over the weeks, this will gradually raise the salinity of the tank without stressing the biological filter. Remember, keep the box of salt tightly wrapped (air tight!) so the salt stays dry. Also remember to top up evaporation with freshwater, not salty water.> Also mentioned:- "Define "small". Males are aggressive and will harass the females, and certainly shouldn't be kept with females in tanks smaller than 90 litres. You should only keep one male per two (or more) females otherwise the females are constantly harassed and stressed." <Indeed.> Small as in around 3 litres, <3 litres is too small for any fish, PERIOD. Certainly not guppies!> 4 males who have lived with each other for about 4 months already in a 30 litre tank. I don't have anymore female guppies, as they have all perished. The reason why I'm considering shifting the 4 males to such a small tank is because partly I don't know what fish can thrive in such a small tank and because the 30 litre tank is to be used for the large 4 inch goldfish/carp that I have. <Forget about keeping fish in a 3 litre aquarium. That's the size of soda bottle. Complete waste of time even trying to stock it. I have no idea why anyone would sell such a tank. Very cruel to put fish in there, to be honest.> Once again, thank you for your time. <Happy to help!> - Gene <Cheers, Neale.>

F/U to Mysterious Guppy deaths...  11/22/08
Hello again,
Well, they're not dying anymore but, the day after I wrote this to you, I noticed one of the feeders had a ragged tail and some white spots.
<Could be a bunch of things, but ragged fins are typically associated with Finrot, especially if you see the fin spines sticking out from where the fin membrane used to be. Fancy guppies are prone to this problem, because they are slow moving and easily attacked by nippy tankmates (and indeed each other, the males being quite ferocious sometimes).>
I immediately removed her and all other feeders from the tank and treated the tank for Ich with one dose of Tank Buddies Ick Cure from Jungle Labs.
It uses Victoria Green (Malachite Green) and Acriflavine. The next day I noticed one of the fancies rubbing on ornaments. Not constantly, but rubbing just the same.
<If the itching is frequent, then there are multiple possibilities. Silt or other irritants in the water, including ammonia, can make fish behave this way. Whitespot/Ick and Velvet can also make fish behave this way, as can certain gill parasites such as Gill Flukes that I don't think your fish have.>
I let this go on for 24 hours and decided to try raising the temperature to 85 and starting a salt bath treatment of 1 teaspoon per gallon, after a 25% water change, of course. About 36 hours later I noticed more fish rubbing, so I decided to check the water parameters just in case the medicine killed the cycle. It did. Ammonia was 1 ppm. I was disgusted.
So, I did close to a 150% water change to get the ammonia to 0, vacuumed the gravel in case there were Ich cysts waiting to be born, moved some large river rocks from a clean established tank into the aquarium, and started the process of recycling the tank. I test and change the water twice per day, never letting the ammonia get over .25ppm. I was unsure how to do the kind of salt bath treatment where you slowly increase the salt concentration (without changing the water for a few days), so I decided to leave the salt concentration at 1 teaspoon per gallon.
<That's a pretty low salinity, barely a gramme or two per litre, as opposed to 35 grammes per litre seawater salinity. It won't achieve much. Measuring in teaspoons is pretty useless because you can't easily know exactly how much salt you're adding. So it's best to weight the salt. For Guppies, under these circumstances, I'd be aiming for about SG 1.003, which is 6 grammes per litre (0.8 oz per US gallon). That's a good salinity for killing Ick and Velvet, significantly neutralises ammonia toxicity, and should slow down Finrot and Fungus enough to give you time to cure them.>
The salt killed the Frogbit, so I removed it and replaced it with floating plastic plants.
<I'd tend to remove live plants while using salt in this tank. There are lots of plants that tolerate salty conditions well, but that's a discussion for another day.>
I make sure the new water I add is at the same temperature as the water in the tank. Over the course of the last few days, the rubbing had started to decrease in frequency as well as the number of fish actually rubbing, so I was encouraged that the salt, increased temperature, and frequent water changes was working.
<My guess is the salt is reducing the toxicity of the ammonia/nitrite, so the Guppies are scratching themselves less.>
None of the fancies has ever had any white spots on them, nor do they now.
Yesterday, I did notice two of the girls going to the bubble column coming from out of the lift tube on the filter and "drinking" the bubbles. Then I learned that the increased temperature causes less dissolved oxygen to be in the water, so I put an air stone in the tank to help out during this treatment.
<There's no particular reason to keep the tank too warm. 25 C/77 F is ample. I don't think Ick/Whitespot is the issue here, hence there's no overwhelming reason to speed up the life cycle of anything, which is why we normally raise the temperature of the aquarium. Indeed, your don't HAVE to raise the temperature of an aquarium when treating for Ick either, it's just convenient to do so because it reduces the length of time you expose your fish to saline conditions.>
Today everyone's rubbing all over everything! Not darting about or throwing themselves into the plants, but rubbing gently on the ornaments, the gravel, the sponge, you name it. I had planned on keeping up with the water changes while the tank cycles, but beginning to reduce the salt concentration and temperature slowly starting next week.
<Salt won't harm Guppies, so this isn't the problem. Wild/feeder Guppies can be adjusted to fully marine conditions without problems. Fancy Guppies will tolerate up to 50% seawater salinity. In fact, Guppies do brilliantly well in brackish water, arguably better than in freshwater. They're certainly less disease prone. However, salt doesn't fix every problem.
Specifically, marine salt mix (as opposed to less useful tonic salt) raises the pH and carbonate hardness, making the water chemistry more stable.
Tonic salt doesn't do that, but it does at least reduce ammonia toxicity.>
Now I don't know what to do. Is the salt bothering them?
Is the rubbing a reaction to the ammonia that rises between water changes?
<Certainly can be.>
I've shined a flashlight to see if it could be Velvet, but I can't tell.
<Velvet almost always attacks the gills first, and is consequently invisible. Fortunately, brackish water should eliminate Velvet, and most off-the-shelf Ick medications will kill Velvet too.>
I don't see worms hanging from their bodies. And truthfully it's pretty difficult to tell if female fancies have white spots on them, since the only color they have is on the back half of their bodies and their tails.
The males don't have any white spots, and I can't see any white spots on the females. I'm hesitant to use more medication, because I don't know what's going on!
<I'd treat firstly with a combination Ick/Velvet medication. Not something "old school", but something modern. Here in England, I usually recommend eSHa EXIT which is a very effective and safe medication. In your own part of the world there may be alternative brands. In any case, do remember to remove the carbon during use, because carbon stops medications from working. I'd stick with the salt too, preferably marine salt mix if possible, but plain salt will do *if* your water is already hard (10+ degrees dH) and basic (pH 7.5-8). If you have soft water, then always use marine salt mix, because it'll harden the water as well as raise the salinity. Guppies thrive in brackish water.>
This might sound stupid, but I've become quite attached to the little fishies and want them to be happy.
<Not stupid at all; it's called humane, responsible animal care. It's the benchmark for proper fishkeeping, not a sign of stupidity.>
Oh! And that's the other thing. All of their colors are deepening really nicely, and they're eating, sleeping, and swimming normally. No one's surface, or gravel resting, or gasping that I can tell. HELP! Please.
<Hope this helps, and good luck! Neale.>
Re: F/U to Mysterious Guppy deaths...  11/22/08

Ok, thanks. I just need a little clarification on a couple of things.
<Fire away!>
With regard to the salt, I use a Malawi Salt mix recipe you gave me for my Apple Snails (which are no longer in the tank). It keeps the water chemistry "perfect for guppies" according to our last correspondence regarding the mysterious guppy deaths.
<Yep, Malawi salt mix is indeed perfect for Guppies. But that isn't the same thing as being suitable for curing Velvet or Ick. Think of Malawi salt mix as being about maintenance, whereas the use of tonic salt (or marine salt mix) all about therapy. There's a difference.>
So I think we're ok there.
<Depends what you're after. Malawi salt mix stabilises pH and raises carbonate hardness, which are both essential to the long term care of livebearers of all types. Tonic salt (or marine salt mix) raise the salinity, and it's salinity that kills Ick and Velvet, and salinity also, to a degree, treats Fungus.>
To increase the salinity I've been using regular aquarium salt. I think this is the "tonic salt" you're referring to.
And I did the math wrong. It's actually 3 TABLEspoons per 5 gallons. If my calculations are correct I should be using more like 1.5 tablespoons per gallon to get to the desired .8 oz per gallon.
<I have no idea how big your spoons are for a start. Just weigh out the salt, multiplying upwards as required. You need about 6 grammes per litre, so if you're making up a 10 litre bucket, add 60 grammes of salt. Stir until dissolved. Couldn't be easier. I'm afraid I do everything in metric because it's easier: 35 grammes of salt to 1 litre of water is seawater, with 35 grammes being essentially 35 parts per thousand. You'll have to figure it out yourself if you insist on using ounces, tablespoons, gallons or whatever. Me, I only have so much RAM in my head, and doing maths with one system of units is hard enough, let alone two!>
That's a significant increase, more than double the current amount. Since the tank is recycling, I'm doing 2 water changes per day. How slowly should I increase the salt, 1.5 Tbsps. per day?
<Add the new level of salt to each bucket of new water as required, and do 25% water changes daily or every other day. That way you're making small changes to water chemistry that should be safe. Providing you don't raise the specific gravity above SG 1.003 (at 25 degrees C) which is 6 grammes per litre (which happens to be roughly one teaspoon of dry salt) you are unlikely to harm the filter bacteria. The Guppies will be totally fine about the whole thing. Doing things by "spoons per gallon" isn't recommended and doesn't simplify things any.>
Also, at one point you said you didn't think Ick was the issue. Do you think it's Velvet? I've read that the common treatment for Velvet is Acriflavine. The Ick treatment I used was a combination of Malachite Green and Acriflavine. Do you really think I need to dose the tank again?
<Without seeing your fish, and more specifically, without examining their gills, I can't possibly know if Velvet is the issue. Velvet should eventually reveal itself as golden dust on the fish. It just happens to irritate the gills before that happens. I'm more concerned about the ammonia in the water, for now. Do bear in mind slight changes in salinity DO NOT cause the filter to crash or cycle. Freshwater filter bacteria can be adapted to salinity as high as 9 grammes per litre (about SG 1.005) without any problems at all. If your filter is crashing, it's for another reason -- too many fish too soon, incorrect use of medications, etc.>
I'm hesitant for two reasons. First, it'll kill the small colony of nitrifying bacteria I've managed to rebuild since the first dose. Second, I've read that these meds can sometimes cause problems for the fish and shouldn't be used unless we're sure about what's going on. Is the latter mildly hysterical?
<You're far from hysterical, but there is a "lesser of two evils" situation. All medications -- whether human or animal -- are poisons to some degree. Overdosing or misuse can indeed cause problems. Some fish are more sensitive to certain medications than others. But the flip side is that if you DON'T treat, then your fish will die anyway. In this instance you might choose to hold back on medicating until such time as Velvet or Ick become obviously apparent, and for now focus on improving/stabilising water quality.>
Anyway, thanks as always for the kind and patient advice.
<Happy to help, Neale.>
Re: F/U to Mysterious Guppy deaths... 11/23/08
Thanks a lot for the clarification. I'm afraid my ignorance was showing. In addition to not being able to convert to metric very well, I got confused between a weighted ounce and a measured ounce. No worries, now though, all is understood and hopefully we're on the road to recovery. Thanks again for the great site and advice. Laura <Happy to help. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: F/U to Mysterious Guppy deaths... 11/23/08
Sorry to be a bother.. just one more thing (promise!)... So, can I just use 6 grams per liter of marine salt mix instead of the homemade Malawi Salt mix recipe with extra "freshwater aquarium salt"? I mean would the marine salt mix alone get the water chemistry and salinity to the necessary levels? Just curious because I've seen conflicting information on whether or not the Marine Salt Mix will add the necessary carbonate hardness. <Marine salt mix should be used alone, because it effectively contains both tonic salt AND the Malawi salt mix. In other words, it raises both salinity and carbonate hardness at the same time. If you use plain vanilla tonic salt (also called aquarium salt or cooking sea salt) then you may combine with Malawi salt mix as required. Tonic salt only raises salinity, and has no effect at all on carbonate hardness.> Without the Malawi Salt Mix my numbers were: pH=6.8, KH=40, GH=25 With it they are: pH=7.8( could be more like 8), KH = 180, GH = 300 Thanks again. Laura <Cheers, Neale.> These questions were answered in your original response! I'm so sorry for the trouble! Laura <Not a problem. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppies Dying  7/14/07 <<Hi, Carrie. Tom here.>> I set up a 10 gallon tank four months ago. When I first put fish in, I bought three guppies, two platys and a plecostomus. <<By way of information, Carrie, there are no species of Plecostomus that remain small enough to be housed (properly) in a ten-gallon tank. If yours is of the Common variety (Hypostomus plecostomus), and I suspect it is, it can grow to over 12 inches in length. Though not active swimmers, they definitely need more room than this to thrive.>> Since then, I have added two tetras and more guppies. However, recently I have had an epidemic with my guppies. In the first month, my guppies were doing well. But then they started dying for no apparent reason. The last week or so, three guppies (two females - (although I think one female died from complications of giving birth) have died. They stayed near the bottom of the tank and their tails began to show signs of clamping or rotting. But there are no marks or anything else that would point a finger to the cause. <<Clamped and/or rotting fins are a sure sign of environmental issues, Carrie.>> I am not sure what to do. I tested the water, and the levels were all fine, so I replaced the two fish with two males thinking maybe my one male was tantalizing the females too much since I had only one male to eight females (all together). <<What are your pH levels? Guppies and Platies both prefer hard water conditions. If your pH levels are low to neutral, you might have found the culprit. (Guppies, like Mollies, have been kept in marine conditions as they both have remarkable tolerances (preferences?) for salt. Your Pleco doesnt, though, so dont start adding salt to solve the problem.)>> But less than a week later the two male fish died the same way. I am not sure what to do. Do you have any suggestions? <<Start by re-evaluating the pH, and hardness if possible, in the tank. Test your tap water, as well. Your Pleco makes adjusting the water parameters problematic so the best that might be gained from this is knowing what you cant keep in this aquarium. Since your other tests appear to reveal no other problems with the water, my best guess, at this point, is that the conditions are simply inappropriate for these fish. (I cant discount the possibility of bad stock from the LFS but this seems a little less likely to me, Carrie.)>> Thanks, Carrie <<Probably doesnt seem like a lot of help, Carrie, but your exact test readings would be a big help. With the number of variables involved, its pretty close to impossible to put my finger on a specific cause for your Guppies dying. Tom>>
Re: Guppies Dying
   7/17/07 <<Hi, Carrie.>> The first time the water was tested, I took some water to PetSmart to test it there. When the woman tested it, she said all the levels were fine. <<Really? (These folks are a testament to why we advise that every hobbyist invest in their own test kits.)>> After reading your emails, I went to the store and bought a kit of my own to test the water. <<Well done, Carrie. Theres never a good time to leave these tests to someone elses care but, when youve got problems, its even worse.>> (Note: When I got home, another guppy, a young male, was also dead). <<Sorry to hear this, Carrie.>> The water was hard, had a pH of around 6.2, had a caution (1) level of nitrite, and had a level of around 80 of nitrate. It also had an alkalinity of between 40 and 80. <<Leaping lizards! (Well, I asked for it, didnt I?) First, your nitrates are over the top as youve probably surmised. These alone could be causing the problem as could the nitrite levels levels at, or over, .05 mg/l (ppm) nitrite can be/are lethal to fish. Next, your pH levels are WAY too low as is the alkalinity, which is a measure of the buffering capacity of the water to resist changes downward in pH. A double whammy, if you will. In other words, waters natural tendency to drop in pH is determined, largely, by the alkalinity. When alkalinity is high, pH can go largely unaffected. When its low, pH can drop dramatically. (This, at face value, categorizes your water as soft but lets confuse the issue a bit more.) Since you said the water was hard, I infer that youve a test for the permanent hardness, i.e. predominantly calcium and magnesium levels. You wont be tested on this, Carrie, but you might run across a term called general hardness (GH), which is a sum of the permanent hardness and alkalinity. Typically, but not always, the GH of aquarium water is very close to the alkalinity. This is because alkalinity (a measure of carbonates and bicarbonates) is usually much higher than the permanent hardness value. Bottom line? You have high levels of calcium and magnesium and low levels of carbonates and bicarbonates. Unusual but not unheard of and it gives me a clearer picture of whats going on. So much for Aquarium Water 101. :) >> After finding this out, I did a water change and cleaned the gravel, leaving some algae for the Pleco. <<A BIG water change, I hope.>> I usually put salt in the water, but did not do so this time since you said the Pleco doesn't like it. <<Good. (We could go into this further since its only part of the picture but lets deal with our primary issue.)>> After a few hours, I am planning on checking the levels again to see it they are better. <<Nitrate levels will have dropped as will, I hope, the nitrite levels. Alkalinity and pH are going to be the readings we're really after.>> But if they are about the same, what do I need to do to solve the problems? <<You already stole some of my thunder by doing the water change, Carrie. Another water change might be in order, however. We definitely need to get the nitrates below 20, and below 10 would be even better. (Without giving you a headache or one thats worse than what you have the process of nitrification, itself, can lower the alkalinity levels. Once weve got the nitrate and nitrite ducks lined up (and shot!), we can investigate the pH/alkalinity issues.)>> If need be, I will get rid of the Pleco. I am really most interested in keeping and breeding guppies, so if I need to get rid of the other fish, I am not opposed to doing so. <<If youre trying to make my job easier, youre doing well. Lets focus on what you really want and go from there.>> Thanks for the help, Carrie <<Not a problem, Carrie. Be hearing from you. Tom>>
Re: Guppies Dying
  07/18/07 Tom, <<Hello, Carrie. (Sorry for the little delay in responding, by the way.)>> Thanks for your help so far. <<Glad to do so.>> I am still having a few problems, though. <<Lets see what can be done.>> About 24 hours after I did the water change ( oh, and I did change 95% of the water), I checked the levels. <<Very good.>> All are better but the pH and the alkalinity - they are still about the same. I am thinking that it has to do with the fact that the water is poor quality anyway. <<Depends a great deal on the source, Carrie. Ive heard from folks from fairly large municipalities, where you would expect to have a substantial degree of stability in the tap water, complain of fluctuations in pH (as a specific example) that drive them to exasperation, or nearly so anyway. We can work with stable water, whether soft or hard. Its the roller coaster effect that makes things testy.>> The nitrates are still a little high, but not nearly as high as they were. <<Good to hear this. Keep aiming at less than 20 ppm and youre set.>> Should I be using bottled water when I change the water? Would this cause the pH and alk. to get better? <<Again, this depends on the source of the water, Carrie. I would steer clear of distilled water because its lacking in too many of the trace elements that fish need. Actually, there are some pretty simple ways to harden your water, which is, from my perspective, a better problem to have than trying to soften it.>> I put a little bit of pH neutralizer in the water to get it better, but did it just a couple of hours ago. I am not sure what else to do. <<Liquids and powders tend to act a little more quickly than is sometimes safe for the fish. Hard to believe, given the problems youve experienced, but rapid changes in pH are better to avoid than stable levels outside of the ideal range. What were looking for is a slow increase to keep from stressing the fish, first. Beyond that, we naturally want something that will hold the target levels stable over time. A good way of accomplishing this is to add crushed coral (should be readily available at the local LFS), either to the substrate or in a mesh media bag in the filter housing. The benefit, in my opinion, to adding it to the filter is the ease of handling/replacement along with determining, over time, an appropriate amount of product to add. Start with a small amount and test for changes to the water. Hopefully, this wont entail a great deal of experimentation.>> Thanks so much Tom, Carrie PS: a guppy is having fry now - 9 and counting! I am excited! This is the first batch that will have survived for me to find them! <<Im happy for you, Carrie, and Im sure this is the start of something special where your goals are concerned. Keep me updated when you get a chance. Your feedback would be most helpful. My best to you. Tom>>
Re: Guppies Dying
   7/25/07 Hi Tom. <<Hello, Carrie.>> My fish were doing better for a week after the water change. The fry were happy and nourished. But I am still having a problem. The alkalinity is still off. I bought some pH increaser (haven't found the crushed coral) and it increased the pH (from 6.4 to about 7) half a point - but it didn't seem to help the alk. too much. I will put more in in the morning and see if it helps more. <<Actually, Carrie, the pH adjusters arent really the best way to go which is why I suggested the crushed coral. Most often, at least in my experience, there are multiple products/steps to raising both pH and alkalinity - simultaneously - with these. Water changes become problematic, or at least costly, since the product(s) have to be added back in with the fresh water to maintain proper levels. Hardly insurmountable but it sure tends to make things more tedious for the hobbyist and, frankly, not what I would recommend. I say this because part of what I perceive my responsibility to you to be is making life easier, not more difficult. You ask what time it is and I tell you how to build a watch. That smacks of arrogance, which I happen to detest, and doesnt help you a bit. (From a strictly self-serving standpoint, that would make my response a waste of my time as well as a waste of yours.) ;) >> I came in two days ago to find my male guppy floating, and today I found my mamma guppy and a fry floating. <<Cant say that I enjoy hearing about that, Carrie. Im sorry.>> Is there a reason that some will float to the top and some will drift to the bottom? Maybe some from chemicals and the others from illness? I just found it curious that the first few guppies that died were on the bottom and these were on the top. <<The cause of death is certainly an issue here. Internal bacterial infections can cause gases to build up in the fishs system. This, quite logically, would lead to the fish floating to the top of the tank when it expires. If the death were related to chemical poisoning, for example, there would be less chance of bloat such as what you might find with a swim bladder problem and the fish would tend to sink. Since the latter problem could potentially lead to the former problem, I dont suppose Im that surprised that youve seen both cases in your tank. (Id prefer that there were no cases of either!)>> After this, I did a 25% water change. <<Not a bad precaution to take.>> I am still looking for a home for the Pleco. I don't want to just kill it. <<And I dont want to see you do this.>> I may take it back to the pet store and see if they want it back. <<Many will if the fish is in good health. The LFS I patronize will occasionally hold healthy fish while a hobbyist does battle with a problem in his/her display tank. Typically this if for large, SW (read that as expensive) livestock but, there are dedicated business people out there who actually put aside their cash registers for the betterment of the hobby. (Now you know why I do business with these fine folks.)>> I am also thinking about maybe changing the type of filter that I have to a type that has inserts for health. It is the AquaClear Power filter. What do you think of this idea? <<Up until a few years ago, I used these filters exclusively. Still have one running on a 20-gallon tank and two more that Im holding in reserve (one for a QT). I like em.>> Thank you so much for your help. I will be in touch soon. Carrie <<Always happy to help, Carrie. Look for the crushed coral online if you cant find it locally. Its a popular product that cant be too hard to locate. (Theres another route we might investigate if all else fails.) Best regards.

pH stuck at 6.6.   7/25/07 Dear WWM, <Hello Giuseppe,> I have the following setup: 10 G planted tank started 8 months ago 2 cories 1 Otocinclus 2 neon tetras 2 male guppies (planning to add 3 neon tetras and 3 rosy tetras...would that be ok?) <You'll get best results from all those fishes by keeping them in groups of 6 or more. Schooling fish tend to be shy and nervous when kept in pairs or trios... and then they die, prematurely. The fact you have a 10 gallon tank complicates things somewhat. Rosy tetras are FAR TOO active for a 10 gallon tank, but neons and Otocinclus are fine. Corydoras are borderline. Small species are OK, but the bigger ones less so.> The tank values are: Nitrite 0, Nitrates 5, Ammonia 0, PH 6.6 <All good except the pH -- too low for guppies.> I do 30% water changes once or twice a week by deeply siphoning all the gravel (should I clean only the top part of the gravel to avoid any damage to the bacteria living in it?). <What you're doing is fine. But I'd kick up the water changes to 50% weekly or 25% twice weekly, since you have a small tank. By the time you have the bucket out, how much water you change doesn't add to the workload. But the bigger the water change, the healthier a tank is.> The two guppies are not doing well (see photo attached). The yellow one is always hiding behind a plant and close to the surface. The blue one is always resting on the gravel. I treated them with Maracyn/Maracyn 2 combination for 3 times over the last couple of months due to suspected fin rot, each treatment lasted 5 days. Since the PH was stable at 7 and dropped to 6.6 only in the last few months, I suspect that this may be harming the guppies. <Low pH is bad for guppies. But it isn't specifically the pH that causes the problems. Low pH generally goes along with low hardness, both general hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (KH). Guppies, like most other livebearers, need high levels of both of these. Ideally, at least a GH of 15 degrees dH and 10 degrees KH. Or thereabouts, anyway. Basically the harder the better, and in fact guppies will do better in seawater than they'll do in the soft/acid water neons enjoy. It sounds as if you have a lack of carbonate hardness in your water. All aquaria have a pH drift towards the acidic. It's caused by the accumulation of organic wastes. Water changes "resets" this upwards, which is why water changes are so good. But increasing the carbonate hardness slows down the pH drop by buffering the water against acidity. Now, neons and Otocinclus don't care much, since they come from soft/acid conditions. But guppies DO care, and this is why yours are getting sick.> Even after changing filter and carbon and doing two 30% water changes weekly there's no way to lower the PH under 6.6. <Well, you can start by throwing out the carbon in my opinion. Other than the fact it removes medications, making your treatments a complete waste of time and money, it's wasting space that could be given over to more useful biological filtration.> To be honest I would like to keep the PH at this level due to the other fishes in the tank and the ones I'm planning to introduce, but I'm worried for the guppies. <You do not want to mess about with pH until you 100% understand water chemistry. There are articles here on the topic, and any good aquarium book should explain the subject too. More fish are killed by people misusing pH buffers without understanding them than die from simply being kept at the wrong pH to begin with. My suggestion would be to aim for medium hard water at around pH 7. This will suit all your livestock. The idea neons and other South American fish need acid water is erroneous. They prefer it, yes, but they don't need it. They'll do much better at a neutral pH and moderate hardness than your guppies will do at an acid pH and low hardness. So, start by adding portion of crushed coral to your filter and see how that changes the pH and carbonate over the next few days. A tablespoon or two should be fine to begin with. If the pH goes way over 7.0, then remove some. If it stays below 7.0, add some more. What you're aiming for is a carbonate hardness around 8-10 degrees KH and a general hardness around 10-15 degrees dH. All your fish should thrive at this level. If you get the portion of buffering material right the effect will be slight but steady, and between this and the water changes, you should find the aquarium nice and stable. If this all sounds like too much work, you could alternatively use some Malawi or Tanganyika cichlid salt mix, at around 5-20% dosages, mixed into each bucket of water, so that you the sorts of values suggested above. Or, you could just get rid of the guppies and be done with it.> I would greatly appreciate if you could take a look at the attached photo and tell me if you see any sign of sickness and also give me your advise on the situation I just described. <They look fine, just unhappy.> Thank you, Giuseppe <Hope this helps, Neale>

Re: pH stuck at 6.6.   7/25/07 Hi Neale, thanks for your prompt reply. I have one more questions based on your comments? You suggest to get rid of the carbon and replace it with a better media. What media should I use and how frequently should I replace it. Thank you, Giuseppe <Greetings. I should perhaps explain my objection to carbon first. The only thing carbon is useful for is removing dissolved organic waste, specifically the stuff that turns water yellow over time. If you're doing regular water changes, it becomes redundant, because you're removing organic waste through dilution before it reaches a level where it affects water colour. Freshwater fish don't care about this organic material (called by biologists "gelbstoff", literally "yellow stuff" in German). It's purely a cosmetic problem, and carbon doesn't remove bacteria, parasites, nitrogenous waste, or inorganic toxins like copper. What carbon *does* do is remove any organic materials you deliberately add to the aquarium, such as medications. It is very, VERY common that people treat their aquaria for whitespot (or whatever) and then wonder why their fish don't get better. The answer: they didn't remove the carbon, and the carbon removed the medication before it had a chance to cure the fish or kill the parasites! Hence by default, unless you have a specific reason to want to use carbon, I always recommend people leave it out of the filter. So what to put in its place? Nothing beats more biological filter media. Doesn't really matter what sort you use, so shop according to your budget. High-end ceramic media like Siporax are the "best" in the sense of providing the highest population of bacteria per unit volume and for lasting the longest period of time before they need to be replaced (10+ years). But even plain old filter floss has its place. As we've discussed previously, some crushed coral in a filter media bag (or the "foot" from an old pair of nylon stockings) could also be used to provide some chemical filtration by adding to the carbonate hardness and moderating the pH a bit. Livebearers especially appreciate this. As for replacing/cleaning media this depends on which you're using. If a durable biological medium like ceramic hoops or sponge, you want to rinse these off in a bucket of aquarium water but otherwise avoid replacing them as much as possible. Good quality ceramic and sponge media lasts for years. Filter wool tends to get clogged quite quickly, and depending on your aquarium you may decide to replace 50% of the stuff every couple of months. Chemical media need (generally) to be deep cleaned or replaced monthly. In part, because they wear out (this is the case with carbon, zeolite, and nitrate-removing media) but also because bacteria coat them, isolating the medium from the water (this is what happens to crushed coral). In some cases you can clean these using hot water and sunshine (e.g., crushed coral) but others simply need to be replaced (e.g., carbon). I hope this helps. Neale>

Re: PH stuck at 6.6.   8/25/07 Neale, your comments are not just useful, but an eye opener for me. I totally understand now and I agree with your point. I will need a big help shortly to confirm the fish community that I would like to have in my tank. As you know I have a 10G tank and it's extremely difficult for me to decide which/how many fishes I can add, even reading the books I have. As I said, I now have 1 Otocinclus, 2 cories (fairly big unfortunately), 2 male guppies and 2 neons. I'd like to add 3 more neons and maybe 2 sparkling gouramis or fish a bit tall such as Pristella that would differentiate from the slim neons. Any suggestion would be highly appreciated. Thanks for your help, Giuseppe <Hello Giuseppe. Glad to help. Now, on to your tank. When selecting species for a 10 gallon, you not only have to consider size, but also how active the species is. Neons and Danios are the same size, but the Neons are inactive and basically lurk all day under the plants, while the Danios bomb around the aquarium all day long. So guess which species does best in a 10 gallon tank? Sparkling gouramis are among my very favourite fishes and an excellent choice. They view space more in terms of up and down than front to back, and if you have lots of floating plants (Indian fern for example) they'll be as happy as anything. Pristella tetras are lovely fish, but in my opinion slightly too active for this aquarium, though it's a borderline case. They are very adaptable and exceptionally hardy, and in my opinion the single most all-round reliable tetra on the market. But I think you'll find your aquarium "more fun" if you went for a large school of one type of tetra than two or three of a bunch of different tetras. 10 neons, for example, would school nicely and be very eye-catching, especially if you made the tank "dark" by using black sand, shady plants, and blackwater extract to tint the water. Under those conditions, neons and cardinals really put on a heck of show, equal to anything you can do with coral reef fish or Malawi cichlids. I find neons and cardinal tetras great small tank fish, because you can use their "glow in the dark" colours to brighten up a dark corner of a room without the need for a huge fish tank. Getting them to school is the trick -- in small groups, they spread out randomly and the colours aren't that impressive, but in big groups, they swim together, and become really amazing fish. Cheers, Neale>


Ceramic media, & air pumps FW  08/26/07 Hello Neale, I bought the ceramic cylinders yesterday to be used as filter media. I wanted to ask you how should I place them inside the power filter and how many of then I'm supposed to use? Should I also bury some cylinders in the gravel and use them to jump start an eventual new tank? I also wanted to ask you if using an air pump inside the tank is really beneficial or not. As always, thanks a lot for your helpful insights. Giuseppe <Greetings Giuseppe. How you use the ceramic media depends somewhat on the design of your filter. Some filters have "compartments" that you stuff with the media of your choice. If this is the case here, place the ceramic media in the last compartment (i.e., the one that water enters last of all) for best results. This will stop it getting clogged with solid waste quickly, allowing the media to perform as biological media better. If your filter doesn't have compartments, then place the media in a media bag (or something similar, like the "foot" from a pair of stockings) and stuff it somewhat after the mechanical filter media (again, so that it doesn't get clogged too quickly). There's no "wrong" way to use media, just more or less efficient ways, so if this all seems to complicated, just cram the ceramic hoops in wherever you can. The filter should have some instructions explaining this. You likely can't use "too much" or the filter won't go back together. As for burying them in the gravel -- pointless. If you have spare, buy another filter and put them in there. Otherwise, leave them somewhere dry to use at another time. The gravel in a tank without an undergravel filter is basically "dead" as far as biological filtration goes, and the ceramic media won't do anything useful and won't get significantly colonised with bacteria. Better to remove 50% of the media from the filter after a few months, and use those to "seed" a new filter in a new aquarium. You can replace up to 50% of the filter media from a mature filter and not lose too much biological filtration capacity. Obviously you add new media after you do this. This process is called "cloning" a filter, and it's how I set up all my tanks, and totally removes the cycling process. Now, as for air pumps: here's the deal. Air pumps don't put oxygen into the water. That's a myth. What they do is improve circulation. By doing this, de-oxygenated water at the bottom of the tank is brought to the surface, where CO2 diffuses out and oxygen diffuses in. That's really all air pumps do. Obviously, an air pump connected to an airstone at the bottom of the tank will be more useful than the same pump connected to an airstone that's bubbling away at the top of the tank. Do you need an airstone? Generally not. A decent filter should be providing adequate circulation on its own. This wasn't always the case in the past, where air-powered filters were common, but modern electric filters generally offer a lot of circulation. The ideal for regular community fish is 4x the volume of the aquarium in turnover per hour. For goldfish, cichlids, plecs, etc. this goes up to around 6-8x per hour, and for marines anything from 10x upwards is required. Your filter should have a "gallons per hour" or "litres per hour" quote on it somewhere; compare this to the volume of the aquarium, and draw your own conclusions as to whether you need to add extra circulation. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Ceramic media, air pumps, guppy dis., FW reading...  8/28/07 Hello Neale, unfortunately the blue guppy died last night. Anyway, after a 50% water change done 2 days ago and 1 tablespoon of crashed coral in the filter I reached a PH 7 and I'm monitoring it every day. I wanted to ask you where I can find detailed information on fish profiles, compatibility with other species, behavior, recommended tank size and community fish samples. I have a number of books, but they only provide few comments on each fish. Do you have books that you would recommend? I would also like to have an excellent book on how to choose the right equipment and how to maintain the aquarium properly. I have beginner books, which are ok but still don't give a lot of details. You probably understand that I'm getting passionate about tropical aquariums and I appreciate your guidance on how to increase my knowledge. Thank you, Giuseppe <Hello Giuseppe. Sorry about your loss. Keep tracking the pH. You want 7.0, or perhaps slightly more, like 7.2. That's a nice pH for a wide range of fish. Now, as for books: in my opinion, the single best book for descriptions on species is Baensch's Aquarium Atlas. It covers lots of species giving things like preferred water chemistry, social behaviour, diet, etc. There are a few errors, or at least things I'd argue with, but it's basically sound and much better than most other fishkeeping atlases. It's obvious rival is the Axelrod Mini Atlas, which is similar in size and price. On balance, I prefer the Baensch book: it has fewer fish perhaps, but covers them in more depth (usually each species has half a page of text and half a page of pictures). The Axelrod book has half a page per species, mostly a photo, with just a strip of symbols and abbreviations to cover things like size, behaviour, etc. But it's your choice which one you prefer. I'd recommend looking at each first though. I bought my copy of Baensch volume 1 around about 1990, and still use it today as my primary reference when writing fishkeeping articles or going shopping. There are a few more volumes containing new and rare species. If you're into specific groups of fish, then the Aqualog books are the ones to track down. They have books on Corydoras, puffers, cichlids of all kinds and more. They're books for the serious aquarist, so don't cover basics like how to set up a fish tank, but they are well priced and beautifully illustrated. TFH is another big publisher, and their web site lists their books and gives information on them too. Hope this helps, Neale>

Problem With My Guppy  12/15/05 Hello WWM, Let me give you some background information about my setup.  I have a ten gallon planted (Java fern, Bacopa, hornwort, Rotala, red Ludwigia) tank occupied by 4 adult female guppies, 1 adolescent female guppy, 2 guppy fry ~6 days old, 1 flying fox, <Too large, rambunctious for this size setting, tankmates> 1 Otocinclus, and a dwarf African frog.  My tank has been running for about 4 years but I just recently switched to the guppies about 2 months ago.  About 6 days ago, two maybe three of the females dropped over 60 fry. I have removed the majority to a separate tank except for the fastest/smartest 2 which eluded me.  About two days ago one of the guppies started showing poor behaviour.  She rolls over on her side a lot and occasionally upside down or vertical with her nose pointed down.  She does not show any visible signs of disease on her exterior.  The other fish are not showing any problems, which made me think it was not a water quality issue.  I tested the water anyway and was surprised to find NH3-0.6, NO2-0.2, NO3-40ppm, <Yikes... need to "get rid" of the ammonia, nitrite, reduce the nitrate by at least half> and pH 7.8.  I did a 50% water change.   <Good> My pH is normally about 7.3 and I would expect my plants to remove the majority of the nitrate from the system, what is going on there?   <Mmm, crowding, possibly over-feeding> What causes pH to rise like that? (I have noticed a slight rise in my other two tanks also) <Unusual... possibly just photosynthetic effect, low buffering capacity (works both ways... up and down the pH scale)... You might check the pH early AM... likely a very/too large fluctuation diurnally (more than 1.0 should be avoided)>   Could the birth of those guppies have flooded the system with ammonia, leading to high nitrates? <A small contributor>   As for the guppy,  I tried treating her with Epsom salt and NaCl to no effect. <Ahh, these salt additions will/would forestall nitrification... slow down to bump off nitrifying micro-organisms> My best guess from reading other FAQ entries is that she may have a swim bladder infection or a genetic/developmental disorder.  Does this seem probable to you? <Mmm, yes... but these are simply descriptive terms... like idiot presidents calling people "terrorists"... Does not give insight as to cause, probable treatment/s. Very likely your root problem (largest causative factor) is environmental...>   Should I try some antibiotic? I have Maracyn -Two on hand which I could use. <I would not>   I would like to try help her as she is trying hard to hang on.  She is capable of swimming upright when you try to catch her, but then she just stops and rolls over on her side.  I can't imagine she will last too much longer without assistance. Thank you for any advice you can offer. Chris <Keep changing about a quarter of the water per day... with stored, pre-treated... feed sparingly. This is about the best course of action here... get the water quality right and all should be fine. Bob Fenner>

Emergency! Need help on guppies Dear Craig, <<Hi Ann,>> I wish I could return the fish but I can't because there is a no return policy at this guppy hatchery. I've gotten the help of a friend and she was able to set my Ph, ammonia, and nitrite at the right setting. The fish seems to be ok because it is actively swimming. <<Did the guppy hatchery tell you what you have? The first thing I would do if I were you would be to invest in a good book so you can find out everything you need to know to keep your guppies. You have enrolled in a crash course and there is more to learn than can be explained by e-mail. There is a ton of information on the Wet Web Media site if you find the name of your fish and type that into the search engine at the bottom of the page. I can tell you will need a filter and likely a heater depending on your location, you should get some test kits and monitor your water quality and perform water changes to keep waste from becoming toxic until the filter matures, several weeks.>>  Is there anything else I should do or look out for? My friend said the plant will help with the oxygen. Is that right?  <<Without a filter and water changes the fish and the plant will die from wastes. The plant may also need light.>> And what should I feed my guppy? I have no idea. Can you give me a brand name.  <<Not really. Any of the commercial flake foods will work.>> I have not fed my guppy yet since their arrival. Can you also tell which brand of water conditioner that is good for guppies. <<This is dependant on your water. You need to get a good book, some test kits, a filter, perhaps a heater, and fish food, in that order. Read the book before you buy the other stuff. TFH sells some decent short books on all kinds of tropical fish. Better get going, there is much to learn! That's half the fun!>> thanks so much Craig <<You're so welcome Ann! Craig>>
Re: Emergency! Need help on guppies
Hi Craig, <Hi Ann> Thanks again for your kind help. I appreciate it very much. I have a question about what my friend recommended. My friend recommended that I add a tablespoon of rock salt and Furazone Green for a new fish in a new tank is she right? I am not familiar with Furazone Green is that an antibiotic? I asked the person from where I bought the fish from and he said that he does treat them with Furazone Green and salt. And by the way, he said that my guppy is a Japanese Blue Grass Long Fin Guppy. Will the Furazone Green be ok for this kind of guppy? Thanks again! Ann <Your friend sounds like she has some experience with livebearing guppies. This is a common name for your guppies, you need a family/species to look up information. If you bought these from a commercial guppy breeder than I would follow their advice, (IE: Furazone) as they likely know the condition of their stock. Use aquarium salt. The Nitrofurazone is commonly used when transferring these little guys to prevent disease. Follow the label for both. Some bunch plants will help your water quality which during this break-in time will be very important. Please go to WetWebMedia.com and type in "Guppies" in the google search engine, it will show you all the articles on guppies. They *can* survive without a heater depending on how warm your house is, but I do recommend a small heater to provide a consistent temp. A live-bearing guppy book would be a great addition as well. They breed fairly quickly so don't be surprised..... Have fun! Craig> 
Emergency! Need help on guppies
Dear wet Web Media Crew, <<Hi Ann, sorry you fell for this. This is clearly the fault of the store you bought these fish at.>> I did a stupid thing. I bought some expensive show quality guppies without even having a tank set up. So I hurried to the pet store to buy a 3 1/2 gallon tank and cleaned it with rock salt and hot water. Then I added tap water to the tank. Next I added 1 tablespoon of rock salt. Should I have done that? Then I added which I believe is a water conditioner called Ph 7.0 Seachem Neutral Regulator. There was a measuring spoon inside this bottle and I added 3 spoons of it. Next I tested the ph of the water and it came back blue which read at a ph of 7.6. I thought that was bad for the guppy so I added about 4 more spoonfuls and it was still the same result --blue. What should I do? Do you think the rock salt is causing the ph to be so high? I am seriously considering buying water at a pet store where I can buy reverse osmosis water for my fish ...is that ok for my guppy? My guppy has been in its original bag for one whole day already and I am getting afraid it might not have enough oxygen. I have asked two pet store owners whether I need a heater and filter and they said "no." They said as long as my room is constantly hot and that I have a plant for oxygen that it should be ok and that I change the water weekly too. Is this advice correct? My brother in-law bought the same fish and is in the same situation is I am. I notice his fish like staying in the bottom is that normal? Please help me. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much! Ann <<Okay, I'll give you my best advice. Return the fish ASAP so they will survive. They are surely extremely stressed right now. Then get a good book on the fish you want to keep, properly set-up the tank and run it for two to three weeks with perhaps one inexpensive fish until it completes the nitrogen cycle, then perhaps entertain the idea of adding a couple small fish. I could give you all kinds of things to do to save the fish you have right now but honestly it would be like giving you a wolf cub and a bag of dog food and turning you loose. It won't end well and you will get discouraged and quit altogether. Instead, return the fish and get the information and equipment you need to be fully prepared for keeping fish. (not at this pet store) This is a very common problem, please don't feel alone!!! DO find a reputable fish store to help you. You will know it right away because they won't sell you fish before you have a cycled tank and they won't sell you a tank and fish at the same time. I'm truly sorry for your bad experience, I hope this helps you get started the right way. Craig>>
Emergency! Need help on guppies
Dear wet Web Media Crew, I did a stupid thing. I bought some expensive show quality guppies without even having a tank set up.<I am a victim to the impulse buy as well.> So I hurried to the pet store to buy a 3 1/2 gallon tank and cleaned it with rock salt and hot water. Then I added tap water to the tank. Next I added 1 tablespoon of rock salt. Should I have done that?<That is fine> Then I added which I believe is a water conditioner called Ph 7.0 Seachem Neutral Regulator.<I am fairly certain this will remove chloramines, but read the label just to be sure.> There was a measuring spoon inside this bottle and I added 3 spoons of it. Next I tested the ph of the water and it came back blue which read at a ph of 7.6. I thought that was bad for the guppy so I added about 4 more spoonfuls and it was still the same result --blue. What should I do?<I would take a sample of the water to the pet store and have them test it to make sure your test is reading correctly.> Do you think the rock salt is causing the ph to be so high?<Nope, check the ph of your tap water, it is probably the same.> I am seriously considering buying water at a pet store where I can buy reverse osmosis water for my fish ...is that ok for my guppy?<That is fine, but tap water should work as well.> My guppy has been in its original bag for one whole day already and I am getting afraid it might not have enough oxygen.<If they packed the fish in O2 they should be ok, but you are cutting it kind of close, there is probably a lot of waste building up in the bag water.> I have asked two pet store owners whether I need a heater and filter and they said "no." They said as long as my room is constantly hot and that I have a plant for oxygen that it should be ok and that I change the water weekly too. Is this advice correct? <I would add a heater just in case the room temperature drops, temperature swings are no good. What kind of filter do you have on this tank? I would not rely on a plant to aerate the water. Weekly partial water changes are good. My brother in-law bought the same fish and is in the same situation is I am. I notice his fish like staying in the bottom is that normal? <They should become more active as they adjust to their new environment.> Please help me. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much! Ann <I would float the fish in your tank so that the temp in the bag is the same as the temp in the tank, then open the bag up and add some tank water to the bag. Wait a few minutes then add some more tank water. By this time they should be ready to go. You do not want to add the water from the bag into your tank. You can pour the fish through a net, or carefully pour the water into a separate container, then transfer the fish. Please visit the link below for more information. Best Regards, Gage. http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtips4beginners.htm>

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 problems First, thank you VERY much for taking the time to review this.  I looked online all night and was nothing but confused by the end of it.  I'm a new guppy owner and am very inexperienced.  I have a 20 gallon tank with about 25 guppies, 1 apple snail, 1 Chinese algae eater, <Keep your eye on this last fish... can become predaceous> 6 neon tetras.
<Live in different environment... warmer, softer, acidic water...>

  I started the tank and added the bulk of the guppies and tetras about 2 weeks ago.  I haven't tested the pH, but I did use a stabilizer when starting up the tank.  I now know that I probably should have waited longer for my tank to set up.  Three days ago, my neighbors gave me a few more guppies, an algae eater and a snail.  Everyone was fine until the day before yesterday.  I noticed on Monday night that a group of girls were hanging out at the top of the tank - bunched up together and not moving much.  I initially thought that maybe they were pregnant - I have no idea how to tell if they're pregnant. <Have a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppyreprofaqs.htm> Yesterday, I noticed the same group of girls hanging out at the bottom of the tank.  I also saw that there were new fry in the tank and thought maybe that had been the reason for their odd behavior.  However, I then noticed one female guppy swimming on her side (looking drunk), and another female, pretty skinny, swimming around with her tail fin closed and her skin very pale.  This morning, it looked like there were a few more females joining the group at the bottom of the tank - none with the symptom of the other two, but they move very little.  I know I must not be doing something right, but I'm nervous to make any drastic moves without sound, specific advice, afraid that I might make matters worse.  I also have about 6 tsp of salt in the tank.  Please let me know what I should do. Thank you! Liz <At this point, read. Re freshwater set-ups, stocking, but particularly establishing nutrient cycling: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm You likely want to invest in some water quality test gear. Bob Fenner>

Guppies Dropping Like Flies Hey there! I've read through nearly all the FAQs on guppies dying, breeding, etc and kudos for the information! There were a few desperate/death situations that I found similar to mine but not one which is quite the same. I've always wanted pets and when I began with a tank of 6 guppies (3 males and 3 females) 2 weeks ago, I was more than delighted! I doted on them like they were my little babies. However, by now, only 1 of those guppies survived. Even she (yes, I can tell its a female) seems a little odd now. Her colour is no longer as bright and the end of her tail, her tail is actually beginning to turn transparent. What's wrong with her? Oh, by the way, my tank is not huge and I'm not sure how many gallons it is but it does have a proper filter. And I feed them with high-quality guppy flakes. I believe the 2 females gave birth before they died. We had 27 fries. (3 of them were is this beautiful distinctive orange). I separated the fry and they were eating and swimming fine at first, then within 2 days, they all turned transparent and white and died at the bottom. What happened to them? Along the span of 2 weeks, as the adults kept dying, we bought more and more. And most of them seem to just die. Without any symptoms of disease. They look pretty normal and act active. But a few hours later, I find them motionless on the bottom. Is there an explanation for this? How can I prevent this from happening? One of them had split tails. The tail was completely transparent and it was so badly split he couldn't swim. Is this what you call a fin/tail rot? And you cure it by quarantining him in clean water and salt? There are only a few more guppies left in my tank now. The only male no longer chases the females around. The colour on his tail is not as bright. Same goes for the females. The females' tails are even turning transparent + the colour is fading. My area does not provide me with proper pet stores and definitely not supply those various cure you suggested involving all sorts of chemicals, but I'm really sick of having to burry my guppies. <Your guppies died of ammonia poisoning. A new tank will take about a month to "cycle" and become fish safe. Leave your fish in the tank and start dong water changes. No chemicals except dechlorinator. 50% at a time. Two today, a few hours apart, and daily after that. Read here on establishing bio filtration: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm Don>

Can't Keep Guppies Alive  9/25/05 I have a ten gallon tank with a heater, proper filtering, live plants, and happy healthy platies.  I started my tank about a month ago and tried to start it with guppies but they kept dying. I've done a lot of research on cycling a tank, but they kept dying. I got my water tested at my LFS and they said that it wasn't cycling and so they gave me a handful of gravel from one of their tanks. I left that in my tank for two days with no fish and went to get my water tested again. My LFS said that nitrates were starting to appear and that I should get a couple fish, so I got to male platies because they are a bit hardier than guppies. A week later the boys were doing great and I got my water tested again and they said there was no ammonia, nitrites or nitrates so I got 3 female platies. A week later everyone is happy and healthy so, I decide to try guppies again. Well I just bought two females and 1 male, the male and one of the females died a few hours after they went into the tank. My ph is 7.4, the temp is 80 degrees, ammonia is zero, nitrites and nitrates are zero.  I've never added aquarium salt to the water. Maybe I should give up on guppies, but I would still like to know what's going on. I'm tired of killing my fishies. < Guppies do well in warm hard alkaline water. Many guppies come in from Asia and are prone to break down and die from being over crowded for so long. Get some guppies that the store has had for awhile. Ask how long the store has had them. If they have had them for a couple of weeks then they should be strong enough to make it home. If they are getting guppies in every week then maybe they are replacing the ones that have died. try a different source too.-Chuck>

"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>

Guppy Disease, Cloudy Water - 10/20/2005 Hi there, <Aloha.> I actually have two issues that I hope you can help me with. <We'll sure try.> One, I have a Red Fantail Guppy who just recently started staying at the top of the tank in a corner.  His body seems somewhat deformed, in the underbelly area.   On one side appears some darkness.  I've looked up information on different sites but that began to be overwhelming to read.  I think his eating has lessened also.   <Honestly, there are so many possibilities here that it's difficult to impossible to give you a definitive idea of what the problem is.  I urge you to keep on reading, on WWM and elsewhere....  on guppy genetic malformation, on Mycobacteriosis.... and more.> Second, I have been battling cloudy water for months.  I cut back on food and started using AccuClear which worked at one point but it only stayed clear for maybe a week.  That was after numerous doses of AccuClear.   <I recommend against adding something to remove something....  Water changes and finding/fixing the root of the problem are what you need here.> The pH and ammonia are good.   <Ammonia is zero?  What about nitrite and nitrate?> Could it be my filter?   <Uh, maybe, but I know nothing about your filter, your maintenance, and so forth....> I have a 10 gallon tank.  I also have an algae eater in the tank. I hope you can help.  I'm pretty much a beginner and I'm finding the water situation to be quite frustrating.   <You might take a look at our freshwater maintenance section and explore how you maintain your aquarium, see if you can find the root cause of the problem.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaintindex.htm .> Thank you in advance.   <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Girthy Guppy - Pregnant or Problematic? - 11/28/2005 Hello. <Hi.> I read through all of the guppy FAQS but could not find a specific answer to the question I have.  <Alright.> I have a female guppy who has been pregnant for about 8 or 9 weeks (maybe longer) now and has not had any babies yet. Her gravid spot is huge and is a dark brown color.  <There are other possibilities.... it may be that she's not actually pregnant. Some diseases can manifest as a swelling of the abdominal cavity.... Also, a very stressed pregnant female might hold "as long as possible". She is in a 55 gallon tank with 2 other female guppies (one is in the glass breeder have babies right now!!), 6 neon tetras, a goldfish, <Not compatible with warm/er water fish - and will grow large enough to eat the neons and guppies as snacks.> 2 crayfish, <Can eat fish.> and 6 other almost mature fry (there is also a breeding net in the tank containing about 12 fry). The water is 78-82 degrees Fahrenheit.  <Ideally, this is too warm for that goldie.... and possibly also too warm for the crays; there are many, many species of crayfish over several genera, and some come from cool climates, some from very warm.> The water is also clean. Is she just a bloated fish?  <Could be.> There is another thing that I have noticed with her that I don't know is normal or not. I leave the tank light on all day and turn it off when I go to bed. When I wake up in the morning and turn the light on, her gravid spot is sometimes pink and slowly goes back to the brown color it used to be.  <Not abnormal - but I think it likely that this fish isn't pregnant.> She also eats when I feed her so I am guessing she is not close to giving birth because I have heard that when females are close to giving birth they don't eat. <Mm, some do, but usually, they just kinda hang in one spot and chase other fish away and don't take much interest in food for a day or so prior to giving birth.> Please help me figure out what is going on with my fish. <I would ad Epsom salt to this tank, at a rate of one to two tablespoons per ten gallons; this will help her pass any blockage if she is constipated, and should help reduce any swelling, as well. Might even help her pregnancy, if she is in fact pregnant.> Thank you!  <Sure thing.> Sincerely, A Curious Guppy Owner <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

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