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FAQs on Guppy Diseases 4

FAQs on Guppy Disease: Guppy Disease 1, Guppy Disease 2, Guppy Disease 3, 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

Fin Rot... (Poecilia; health, behaviour?)  1/30/09 Hi there, I'm not sure where to start exactly, so I'll give you the set up and situation, then hopefully my question will be clearer. And please forgive the length of this question. The set up is: * 10 Fancy Guppies (8 females, 2 males) in a 29 G tank. * 2 sponge filters stacked and running on and air pump that's circulating 200 GPH * Water temp is 79.4 * Water chemistry is brackish with SG of 1.003 * Water Parameters are: NH3 = 0, NO2 = 0, NO3 = 20 (!!!This is part of my question) This is a fish only tank. By that I mean there have never been, nor are there now, live plants in the tank. Before you say anything, yes, I know that live plants keep nitrates down, but I've had trouble getting plants to live in this tank for some reason, so I gave up on it. But, more to the point, is up until about 3 or 4 weeks ago Nitrates were never more than 5. So part of my question is what may have caused the change? I faithfully test the water in the tank every Thursday. The parameters are always perfect with ammonia and nitrite at 0. I also faithfully gravel vac, and change 10 gallons of water every Friday. That's about a 30% change, which I would think to be sufficient to keep parameters in check. Yes, being guppies I get a litter or two of fry every couple of weeks. The fry are removed from the tank during the Friday water change and (forgive the harsh reality here) fed to my frogs. (Xenopus) So the first part of my question is do you have any guesses as to why Nitrates started rising? Which leads me the second part of my question/situation. Can Nitrates AT or BELOW 20 ppm cause Finrot? Because I can't figure out how this happened. One of the males has a clear case of Finrot. Two red spots on a frayed tail. I've removed him to a 10 gallon Q Tank, and have been treating him with a concurrent course of Maracyn and Maracyn II for the last four days. I'm not really seeing a lot of progress yet, but I'm hopeful. In the meantime, I've treated the 29 gallon tank with a course of API's Fungal Cure which says it cures tail and fin rot. The problem is I can't quite tell if the other 9 guppies need a more aggressive treatment. Some of the females have started to have a mild fading at the ends of their tails, but not all. No one has any noticeable red streaks/spots, or fraying. In addition, I'm not convinced there's a fungus present. There aren't any white spots or patches or whatever the fungus is supposed to look like. Obviously I'm trying to avoid having to treat the 29 gallon tank with antibiotics. But I don't have ten 10 -gallon tanks laying around to individually treat all the fish. But I'm also not interested in having my little friends suffer and die. So I'm at something of a loss as to how to proceed with treatment of this problem. Also, guppies are schooling fish, so does the stress of being alone in the Q Tank for 5 plus days sort of cause more problems than it solves for the poor little guy? Thanks for taking the time to read all of this. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Laura <Laura, the short answer is than 20 mg/l nitrate shouldn't cause any health problems at all. That's a very safe level of nitrate for a freshwater aquarium. So let's move on from there. Your maintenance regime seems fine. Finrot is often caused by water quality issues, but not always. The other common reason is physical damage. Now, I mention this because Guppies are not peaceful fish; indeed, the males are apt to be aggressive. They are not schooling fish as such, but rather the females congregate in groups while the males fight over access to the females. A dominant male will try and bully any other males that get close. Because Fancy Guppies have particularly long fins, they're less able to swim away from danger, but their front ends (their teeth and jaws) aren't any different. So it's still possible for them to bite one another, and quite possibly any damage caused will be more severe. In other words, my gut feeling is that this is a social behaviour issue. Livebearers generally do best in groups where the females outnumber the males by three to one, or more! For example, at the moment I'm keeping a single male Limia nigrofasciata in a tank alongside eight mature females and their fry. Although this species isn't especially aggressive, when kept in groups the males certainly do chase one another and try to assert their dominance. Put another way, removing some males and adding more females could fix the problem. In any event, treat Finrot in the main tank. Since it's not a contagious diseases as such (all tanks have the bacteria that cause Finrot present all the time) there's no need to isolate suffering fish, unless of course that fish can't feed or swim normally. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fin Rot... (Poecilia; health, behaviour?)  1/30/09
Thanks so much Dr. Monks. Once again, you've helped a lot. Just one follow up. When you say, "treat the main tank", do you mean with Maracyn? And, if so, won't that crash the system? Laura <Hello Laura. Yes, treat the main aquarium with Maracyn (or Maracyn 2). No need for a quarantine tank. Maracyn (or Maracyn 2) used correctly should not harm the biological filter, bit do read the instructions CAREFULLY. I mention both drugs because they each treat one of two different subsets of bacteria, the so-called gram positive and gram negative bacteria. Both can cause Finrot and Finrot-like symptoms. Usually Maracyn works, which is why it's the drug of choice, but if after the completed course there's no improvement, do a big water change (25-50%) and then start with Maracyn 2. Cheers, Neale.>

Losing Guppies one after another.   12/15/08 Hello there, I have kept tropical fish on and off for most of my life and have normally considered myself pretty knowledgeable. But much to my poor guppies dismay, I am at a loss with this one. I returned to fish keeping about a year ago and have made the usual hobby progression from, oh lets just get a small 5 gallon all the way to my current 20 gallon tank and plans for a 55. In my current 20 gallon tank before the crisis, I had 5 guppies 1 male and 4 females (all second generations from my first pair) 2 neon tetras (want more but cant find good ones and afraid to overload tank), and a snail problem. Ammonia and nitrite 0 nitrate barely detectable. ph 7.0 and hardness 150ppm I do have pretty hard tap water but all my fish have always done fine. Use Prime for a dechlorinator. Everything has been stable but then I added a few more fish. I'm not only regretting that choice but also that I didn't quarantine. I went to my LFS and bought a pair of guppies to provide some genetic diversity, since all my current ones were related, and a small 1 1/2 to 2 inch clown loach for the snails. (I know they get large and do plan on moving him to a 55 gallon as he outgrows the 20 gallon. Also disappointed I didn't get more and cant really fit more in the tank. I acclimated them to the temp. and the water and introduced them. Then I saw it, the small white spot on my clown loach. Knowing their weakness to Ich I immediately took notice. I didn't want to make any drastic changes as they were just getting acclimated to their new home conditions, so over the next few days I raised temp. from the usual 78 to 82 and added aquarium salt gradually, keeping the dosage low because of the loach's sensitivity. My biggest neon showed specks after a few days but none of my other fish. All of my water parameters stayed in check and I thought I was going to make it through. Then something went terribly wrong. Day 1 of the catastrophe I found that one of my females had given birth, and she looked horrible. She was pale and hovering near the surface in a corner but not gasping for air. 12 hours later she was laying on her side on the gravel, occasionally dashing up towards the surface and falling back down. Removed and euthanized her. All of my other fish seemed fine. Then later in the evening another female started the hovering at surface behavior. Following morning she also was on the bottom. None of them showed signs of Ich just the weird behavior then crash. I now have only 1 female guppy left, my newly purchased one. My new male went down this morning, and quick. From looking fine to bottom flopping in 2 hours. My clown loach is doing great no more Ich, my neon cleared up too. Only issue with him is he likes to sit in a spot and gasp a lot but then goes about just fine after a bit, but he's always done that, the other one doesn't. I did get a baby in my bag of guppies and its doing just fine. The newly born fry are doing just fine, but there was a mass adult guppy genocide and I don't understand why. I'm watching my female. I think she looks fine but I'm paying so much attention to her behavior that every now and then she does something that makes me nervous, and then quickly returns to normal. I'm sure it's just me, being overly alert, but I desperately want at least one of my guppies to survive. Especially since she mated with my pretty 2nd generation male before he withered away. I don't want to go throwing medications at the problem. For one I have no clue what's going on and 2 I know loaches do not tolerate a lot of meds. For the most part I have always had good luck with raising temp and adding salt for Ich, none of my fish ever reacted badly from the change. And I would have thought that the babies or the loach would have fallen victim first. So now I am completely at a loss. I have gone through the forums and tons of websites but can't find anything that seems to match. Any help would be appreciated, and thank you ahead of time. Desperate and confused, Brandon P.S. In case low Oxygen was considered since I raised temp. I do have a large airstone in the tank and surface agitation from filters. <Hello Brandon. Wild and "feeder" Guppies are generally very easy to keep and tolerant of a broad range of conditions, but the Guppies sold in pet stores are typically "fancy" varieties and these have become increasingly delicate and disease-prone. The use of salt can help, and is likely ubiquitous on fish farms. At low doses (1 g per litre) you aren't likely to stress tetras or loaches in the short term, but generally speaking I'd always recommend keeping livebearers with salt-tolerant species so that you can add more salt as required. Sodium chloride does have a useful nitrite/nitrate detoxification function, and the carbonate/bicarbonate salts in marine salt mix (my recommendation) steadies pH and raises the carbonate hardness. With Mollies, the use of marine salt mix is the difference between easy maintenance (with marine salt mix) or persistent health problems (without). Guppies are not usually so delicate, but over the generations it may well be that fancy Guppies are drifting in that direction. So if possible, I'd recommend adding marine salt mix at a dose of, say, 3-6 grammes per litre. This won't harm Guppies or any other livebearers, but would not be compatible with tetras or Clown loaches. The benefit though is you could cross off water chemistry and water quality issues from the list of possible causes. If adding marine salt mix isn't an option, then I'd certainly be monitoring nitrite and pH stability very closely. All this said, I'm not convinced that either water quality or water chemistry are the key issues here. Whitespot/Ick can be dangerous, but it's usually something that becomes an obvious killer: at levels likely to cause death, the fish would be covered in white parasites. But Whitespot can transmit viruses, and I wonder if that's what's going on here. That would explain why the Guppies dies but the other fish recovered. Viruses are essentially untreatable so far as aquarium fish are concerned, so beyond waiting for the cycle to break, there isn't much you can do. Those fish that survive are presumably immune or otherwise able to deal with the virus. Good genes, hybrid vigour in the case of cross-breed babies, overall health and youth may be factors. In any event, I'd wait a few weeks and see what happens. If the other species work out fine, I'd leave the Guppy population to settle down, and as/when you buy some more, get some wild-caught or perhaps feeder Guppies to get some good genes into the system. I'd avoid buying any Guppies from your last supplier, at least until they've sold out whatever variety you bought last time. Do also review diet, water chemistry, etc; most anything that improves overall health will be useful here. Cheers, Neale.>

My fancy female guppy... beh./hlth., need for data, reading    12/10/08 My fancy female guppy all of a sudden in the past week has started swimming and staying on her side I just discovered 10 baby fish no clue which guppy they came from but my question is what can cause her to stay like this, she still moves around and tries to eat is it possible that the babies could be stuck inside her? <Mmm, yes...> She appeared to be very pregnant when this first started. PLEASE HELP!!! thank you dawn <Dawn... need to know what your system consists of, its maintenance, feeding... water quality, history of the set-up... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppies.htm
and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>
R
e: My fancy female guppy  12/11/08 What can I do to help her? Anything at all? <...? Read please... provide useful data... as per others recorded input. B>

New to website and to fish... Guppies, et al. FW fish hlth., stkg.   - 12/06/08 Hi, I was given 7 breeder guppy, 1adult male, 1adult female and the rest were different ages.(1is a maturing male, 3 are smaller and 1 is a fry baby) <Guppies cannot be easily or safely kept in a 10 gallon tank; the males will pester the females, and will likely fight with one another too.> Well the 2 males started chasing the 1 female and wouldn't let her rest so I moved the males to a different tank. <What happens...> I guess I didn't move them fast enough she died. Her chest started turning dark after I moved them. It look like someone's chest x-ray that has cancer. Did she get some kind of disease or fungus? <Could be a variety of things, likely stress- or environment-induced. What is the water quality like? Guppies need zero ammonia and zero nitrite, and in a small, new aquarium this can be difficult to ensure. Moreover, Guppies also need hard, basic water. Some aquarists make the mistake of imagining the pH is the critical factor -- it is not. What Guppies need is water that has a high carbonate hardness. Adding small amounts of marine salt mix (not "aquarium salt" or "tonic salt") at a dose of 5-6 grammes per litre is probably the easiest way to do this. Although marine salt mix contains mostly salt, it also contains calcium carbonate and other water hardening chemicals. This automatically raises the carbonate hardness, making sure the pH is stable and offsetting any problems with soft water you might have. Always remember never to use water from a domestic water softener. Salt by itself has zero impact on hardness and pH.> I now have all my fish together. I have a 10 gal tank and my filter quit working for that tank so I'm using the one for my 20 gal. Will that hurt anything? <Shouldn't do.> I have the 6 small guppy, 4 blue Neons (3 female and 1 male) and 2 African dwarf frogs in that tank. Is that too many fish for that size tank and will they all get along? <Neon tetras and Dwarf Frogs are fine in 10 gallon tanks, though Neons should be kept in groups of at least 6 specimens. In small groups like yours they will be permanently stressed and scared.> Later I would like to get 2 dwarf flame gouramis, will they fit in this community? <No chance. Moreover, Colisa lalia is extremely prone to a disease called Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus that claims the lives of a ridiculous number of specimens. While the trade and experts like me know all about this, inexperienced fishkeepers don't know, and keep buying the wretched things, causing the breeders in Asia to keep pumping out these disease-infected fish. Until folks like you stop buying them, the problem will continue. Just say no to Colisa lalia!> Thank You, Gina <You still have some reading to do. Check out this article in Conscientious Aquarist this month: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm Cheers, Neale.>

my guppy  12/4/08 I had 11 guppIes In a 5 gallon tank that had a aIr pump. <Tank too small, too many fish. Why on Earth did you think this would work? Fish are animals, not ornaments. They have needs. Cater to those needs and you won't go wrong!> I feed my fIsh flakes two tImes a day. my guppy can not swIm. she floats at the top and she flaps her fIns. she hasn't been eatIng and she has red gIlls. <Likely very ill, stressed by poor environment, suffering from a secondary infection perhaps. Have you by chance done a water quality test of any kind? What is the water chemistry? The water temperature?> Her spIne has been dramatIcly crooked for four days. what do I do? <Sick... dying... What to do? Read a book about keeping fish, and then keep fish the proper way.> -DanIelle <Why are we doing this silly thing with the letter "I"; traditionally letters in the middle of words aren't capitalised. Is this some new pre-teen fad I missed the memo on? Anyway, your tank is too small (should be 20 gallons, minimum, for Guppies) and water quality is likely abysmally poor. Filtration, not an air pump, is what you need. Fix the environment and your fish have a fighting chance of getting better, particularly if you treat proactively for Finrot. Cheers, Neale.>

Need immediate help with guppy  11/19/08 I have a "tequila sunrise" (orange and yellow) guppy that has recently become ill. <What's the water chemistry? Water quality? Fancy guppies are extremely sensitive to poor water quality. If you can detect ammonia or nitrite, then that's the likely problem right there. Guppies also need hard, basic water; hardness 10-25 degrees dH, pH 7.5-8.0.> I have a 25 gallon tank with only three small neon tetras, one guppy, and one Pleco that has been established for about a year. <Please buy at least as many more Neons; they're sociable animals and very unhappy in such small numbers. The Plec will obviously get way to big for this tank. The average Plec gets to about 45 cm (18 inches) within 2-3 years.> I do water changes weekly and the water quality is fine. <"Fine", unfortunately, covers a lot of ground! Some aquarists imagine all sorts of things as being "fine", when in fact they're idea of "fine" is actually "Hell" from the perspective of the fish. So please, give me the numbers. At minimum, you should have a pH and a nitrite test kit. Use them.> Only the guppy has become ill but he is eating and swimming normally. On one side of his head, which has become bright orange, his scales are sticking out around his gills and his fin on that side also has some orange color while the other fin is still clear. He has an ulcer that has become larger over the past couple of days and some of his scales are falling off. He doesn't stay near the water surface or scratch on anything. I tried treating with tetracycline for several days with water changes but it did not help. I couldn't get a good picture so I attached a short movie. <Let's talk about the ulcer. That's a secondary bacterial infection, almost always related to poor water quality. The redness of the head is also likely a bacterial infection, and the orange spots on the fin surely Finrot. While there may be situations where these things happen outside of water quality problems, ninety-nine times out of a hundred they're related to water quality or physical damage. Given the tankmates here, I don't believe physical damage is the issue.> Please Help! <Review water quality and water chemistry. Give me the numbers if you're not sure what they mean. Treat with a suitable anti-Finrot medication (such as Maracyn or eSHa 2000), remembering to remove carbon from the filter (if you use it) any time you add medications to an aquarium.> Thanks, Jessica <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: need immediate help with guppy  11/19/08
Neale, Here are the numbers after testing the water: nitrate - 40 ppm, nitrite - 0, hardness - 150 ppm, chlorine - 0, pH - 7.8. I am getting ready to move the Pleco to a larger tank since he is already 8 inches long and I was going to get a few more tetras but I wanted to help the guppy first before risking the spread of a disease. I will try the Maracyn treatment and remove the carbon from the filter. Would you suggest another water change before adding the medication? Thanks for your help. Jessica <Hello Jessica. Zero nitrite is obviously a good thing, so from that angle at least things seem fine. As for water chemistry, your water is only moderately hard, and while excellent for Neons and catfish, it's a little softer than I'd recommend for Guppies. That said, I doubt that's the problem here. So there's nothing obviously "wrong" with the environment. Bottom line, I'm now mystified about precisely what the cause of the disease is. My advice for treating with Maracyn holds, and if it doesn't work, do a big (50%) water change and switch to Maracyn 2. Between them, these two antibiotics should cover most of the common causes of ulcers and Finrot. As for doing water changes prior to medication, that's never a bad idea. Just remember, don't do water changes between the first and final doses of any course of medication. Good luck, Neale.>  
Re: need immediate help with guppy   11/25/08
Hi Neale, I tried adding both Maracyn and Maracyn 2 to the tank after a 30% water change - now on day 5 and the guppy looks terrible - now scales are protruding and the ulcer is very deep though he is still swimming and eating normally. I also replaced the old filter with a newer one that circulates the water better. I just today noticed that the small upside-down catfish I have (sorry - forgot to add him to the list of tankmates) has very red gills and is just floating at the top of the tank and is very sluggish. Is this from the addition of the medication? Should I remove the catfish from the tank, the guppy, or both? I do have a 10 gallon tank I could use as a hospital tank but it is not yet set up. Thanks again, Jessica <I suspect not much can be done about your Guppy. By the time the Dropsy-like symptoms appear, small fish are usually so ravaged by bacteria that their organs are failing and nothing much will save them. Isolating the Guppy could help, and for want of anything better I'd also consider raising the salinity to at least 25% seawater (SG 1.005) by adding 9 grammes of marine salt mix (not tonic salt) per litre of water. This will reduce the osmotic pressure on the fish, and hopefully draw some of the fluid out of the body cavity. The salt will also have a mild sterilising effect on the ulcer. When you set up the hospital tank, use some mature filter media from the other tank, and raise the salinity in stages, by first almost filling the tank with freshwater, and then adding one-fourth of the required salt (dissolved into jugs of warm water) at four intervals, separated by an hour or two. This will allow the fish and the filter time to adjust. As for the Synodontis, this could be a reaction to the medication; some catfish are sensitive to some medications, though seemingly not in a consistent, predictable way that is easy to explain. In any case, once the Guppy is removed you can do two big water changes (50% each time, with 6-24 hours between them) to flush out most of the medication, and then see if the catfish settles down. If that doesn't help, get back in touch and we'll discuss further. Cheers, Neale.>

F/U to Mysterious Guppy deaths...  11/22/08
Hello again,
<Hello,>
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.
<A-ha!>
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?
<No.>
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.
Thanks.
Laura
<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.
<Indeed.>
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.
Laura
<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.>

Need immediate help with guppy  11/19/08 I have a "tequila sunrise" (orange and yellow) guppy that has recently become ill. <What's the water chemistry? Water quality? Fancy guppies are extremely sensitive to poor water quality. If you can detect ammonia or nitrite, then that's the likely problem right there. Guppies also need hard, basic water; hardness 10-25 degrees dH, pH 7.5-8.0.> I have a 25 gallon tank with only three small neon tetras, one guppy, and one Pleco that has been established for about a year. <Please buy at least as many more Neons; they're sociable animals and very unhappy in such small numbers. The Plec will obviously get way to big for this tank. The average Plec gets to about 45 cm (18 inches) within 2-3 years.> I do water changes weekly and the water quality is fine. <"Fine", unfortunately, covers a lot of ground! Some aquarists imagine all sorts of things as being "fine", when in fact they're idea of "fine" is actually "Hell" from the perspective of the fish. So please, give me the numbers. At minimum, you should have a pH and a nitrite test kit. Use them.> Only the guppy has become ill but he is eating and swimming normally. On one side of his head, which has become bright orange, his scales are sticking out around his gills and his fin on that side also has some orange color while the other fin is still clear. He has an ulcer that has become larger over the past couple of days and some of his scales are falling off. He doesn't stay near the water surface or scratch on anything. I tried treating with tetracycline for several days with water changes but it did not help. I couldn't get a good picture so I attached a short movie. <Let's talk about the ulcer. That's a secondary bacterial infection, almost always related to poor water quality. The redness of the head is also likely a bacterial infection, and the orange spots on the fin surely Finrot. While there may be situations where these things happen outside of water quality problems, ninety-nine times out of a hundred they're related to water quality or physical damage. Given the tankmates here, I don't believe physical damage is the issue.> Please Help! <Review water quality and water chemistry. Give me the numbers if you're not sure what they mean. Treat with a suitable anti-Finrot medication (such as Maracyn or eSHa 2000), remembering to remove carbon from the filter (if you use it) any time you add medications to an aquarium.> Thanks, Jessica <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: need immediate help with guppy  11/19/08
Neale, Here are the numbers after testing the water: nitrate - 40 ppm, nitrite - 0, hardness - 150 ppm, chlorine - 0, pH - 7.8. I am getting ready to move the Pleco to a larger tank since he is already 8 inches long and I was going to get a few more tetras but I wanted to help the guppy first before risking the spread of a disease. I will try the Maracyn treatment and remove the carbon from the filter. Would you suggest another water change before adding the medication? Thanks for your help. Jessica <Hello Jessica. Zero nitrite is obviously a good thing, so from that angle at least things seem fine. As for water chemistry, your water is only moderately hard, and while excellent for Neons and catfish, it's a little softer than I'd recommend for Guppies. That said, I doubt that's the problem here. So there's nothing obviously "wrong" with the environment. Bottom line, I'm now mystified about precisely what the cause of the disease is. My advice for treating with Maracyn holds, and if it doesn't work, do a big (50%) water change and switch to Maracyn 2. Between them, these two antibiotics should cover most of the common causes of ulcers and Finrot. As for doing water changes prior to medication, that's never a bad idea. Just remember, don't do water changes between the first and final doses of any course of medication. Good luck, Neale.>  

Guppy disease 11/15/08 Hey! I haven't talk to you guys like in forever! Well....My mom went out and bought me two guppies, one is a girl and one is a boy. When she got home, I did my usual routine and put the bag in the water for 45 min. and then I let them out into my adult guppy tank. (I did this yesterday) Now, this morning when I checked on them, the boy was completely fine, but the girl had developed a abscess or pimple right next to her head. <...sound like she was nipped. How many other fish are in the tank? ...what size tank? etc.> Ten I noticed some Ich so I treated the Ich. I just now checked on her and the Ich got worse. I put her in a separate fish bowl to isolate her. What should I do? <You should start reading... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwichremedyyes.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/ichfaqs.htm > Thanks! -Sarah <De nada, Sara M.>
Re: Guppy disease 11/16/08
OK, Including all fish in the tank, (even the sick one) I have 2 adult females, 1 adult male. 1 older baby male, and 1 older baby female. All of theses are guppies. They are in a ten gallon aquarium with 6 semi-big plants. <Ok, that sounds fine. Sometimes fish just get Ich from the stress of moving to a new system. Please read the links I sent you regarding how to treat Ich. Isolating the fish that is sick is also a good idea.> _Sarah <Best, Sara M.>
Re: Guppies? 11/20/2008
Ok..I now have the bad news that the yellow female guppy has died. <When fish die for no particular reason, it's usually a water quality or water chemistry issue.> But now, the other male has gotten into a fight or accident and now, behind his head there is a circle of flesh missing. <Treat for Finrot. Identify the problem. If the tank is less than 20 gallons in size, you can't have more than one male Guppy. They fight. If the tank has sharp decorations, remove them. If there are any "nippy" fish in the tank (tetras, barbs, etc.) then remove them. Fish do not randomly lose bits of skin, and if they do, it's a clue something is wrong with the tank. As ever, check water quality: zero ammonia, zero nitrite are what you need. Water chemistry should be appropriate too: "high" hardness (10-25 degrees dH) and a pH above 7.5.> Should I add aquarium salt to the tank? If not, what can I do? <"Aquarium salt" is mostly useless, and sold to beginners as a way of making them pay money for nothing in particular. Certainly, Guppies do extremely well in brackish water, and if you have soft water in your area, keeping them in brackish water helps. For this, buy some marine salt mix (the stuff used in marine tanks, like Instant Ocean) and use this to raise the salinity, pH and carbonate hardness simultaneously. For Guppies, a dose of 3-6 grammes per litre is appropriate.> I have just introduced my younger sister into the joy of having guppies. This boy is one of her four guppies. I'd hate to see her lose him. -Sarah (just a heads up, my younger sister Anna, will be asking you a lot of questions!) <Before anything else, I suggest the two of you walk, no, run, to the nearest bookstore or library and get hold of a book on Guppies (or livebearers generally). There are many.>

Mysterious Guppy deaths... Hi there, So, as the subject line suggests, I'm losing guppies and can't figure out why. Here's the system: 10g tank Inhabitants: 6 Fancy Guppies (2 males, 4 females) 3 Feeder Guppy Fry (maybe 1 week or two old)(I started with 6 Feeder Guppies, 1 pg female, 1 male, and 4 fry) 8 Fancy Guppy Fry (just two days old) 2 ghost shrimp (the fry will be moved in about a week) Sponge filter running with an airstone on a Rena 300 air pump (approx 40GPH) 50% dose of Malawi Salt Mix (this was started when there were apple snails in the tank, I just kept doing it because I was told livebearers would like it too) Plastic plants and decorations (hiding spaces etc), standard gravel American Frogbit (Limnobium spongia) Floating Daily dose of Seachem Flourish Excel for the plants Water temp: 78F NH3/4 = 0 No2 = 0 No3 <20 pH=7.8 ( could be more like 8) KH = 180 GH = 300 No chlorine or anything like that. I feed the guppies high quality mix (flakes, freeze dried) a couple times a day. Only what they can clear in 3 min.s. They occasionally get a treat of Frozen Bloodworms. I drop an Algae Wafer in every few days for the ghost shrimp. (I don't know if that's necessary, but wouldn't want to starve them unwittingly) Now for the problem. The wild/feeder guppies seem to be dying for no reason. The first death was the pregnant female on Monday. She hung around the top of the tank for about 24 hours, I thought she was getting ready to give birth. Later that night, she was floating at the surface. I just thought there had been a complication during the birth. The next day, I went to test the water parameters and found another feeder guppy dead on the bottom. I never noticed any odd behavior, but I had moved him from another tank, and assumed it was stress or shock of some kind. Then today, I was just watching them, and making sure everyone was doing ok, and found another dead feeder on the bottom. Yesterday, I did notice that this one had been hanging out at the bottom. Not really swimming around like the others, and not making much of an effort to find food or eat. None of the corpses showed any signs of infection or disease, no spots, or tears, or anything. So what's happening? My concern is that whatever it is that's killing the feeders will get to the fancies as well. They're (of course) different stock, they're also from different stores. Of interest, however, is that there are 10 more feeders from the same stock living in a 55g tank that's only 71F. They're supposed to be getting eaten, but my frogs haven't figured it out yet! Anyway, they're all swimming and living seemingly normal lives in the 55g. Could it be the Malawi Salt mix? Tomorrow's water change day, so I was thinking about doing a 10-15% change with just freshwater, no salt mix. But if the guppies really prefer the water a little harder and alkaline, I'll still need it. The "natural" state of the water in this tank is VERY soft and somewhat acidic for some reason. None of the other tanks have this problem. I suppose I could half the dose again. What do y'all think? I can't figure out what could be killing the guppies. Everyone seems happy and healthy. One of the fancies had her fry last night, and she and the fry seem to be doing great so far. The boys are chasing the girls like they should. Everyone's swimming around, picking at whatever microscopic organisms and algae are living on the surfaces. The colors are good and aren't changing. I just can't figure it out. Thanks for all your help and for taking the time to read all of this. Laura <Hi Laura. It's a mystery to me too! There's no obvious reason why your Guppies should be failing. Your water chemistry is ideal for the species, and the water quality is excellent. Feeder Guppies are essentially "wild" Guppies in terms of genetics, and are usually much hardier than Fancy Guppies. There's good experimental evidence in the scientific press that this is the case. For example, feeder guppies can be acclimated to seawater, whereas fancy guppies cannot. So I'm dubious about water chemistry being the issue here, though I will make this point: any water chemistry changes must be done slowly. If you're adding hard water to a tank filled with soft water, you'd do weekly 20-25% water changes, replacing the old water with hard water. Over the weeks, this would allow the fish to adapt. What you don't do is take out all the water and replace it with hard water, or worse, add the Malawi salt mix straight to the aquarium, instantly making it hard. That would be lethal! Anyway, assuming you changed the water chemistry slowly, then I'm curious why the Feeder Guppies have died but not the Fancy Guppies. I wonder if they were either old or infected with something? For what it's worth, I'd sit back and do nothing right now. Leave the aquarium as it is, and certainly don't alter the water chemistry again. If you have the tank 100% filled with hard water, then any new water you put in should be hard water as well. Do make sure you're using the right concentration and types of minerals if you're making your own Malawi salt mix. Right now you perfect conditions for Guppies (feel free to compare your pH and hardness values with any aquarium book) so in and of itself I doubt water chemistry is the issue. In any case, leave things be and see what happens, Without understanding the problem, changing things again could make things worse. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Mysterious Guppy deaths...  11/14/08
Thanks! You've set my mind at ease. I will make no alterations. Just to double check though, the GH of 300 isn't too high? <Hi there. I assume your test kit is measuring in mg/l calcium carbonate (CaCO3). One degree of general hardness (degrees dH) is equivalent to 17.86 mg CaCO3. Therefore 300 mg/l CaCO3 divided by 17.86 is 16.8 degrees dH, which is somewhere in between "moderately hard" and "hard". In other words, comfortably within what Guppies (and indeed most other livebearers) require for good health. Cheers, Neale.>

Dropsy Treatment 11/07/08 Hello, I emailed you about three days ago and asked what could cause a female guppy to become very large without having a dark gravid spot. She has seems to be in perpetual pregnancy for the past month. She seems very happy, I just upgraded to a 50 gallon tank and hope to get many more guppies, but I realized that she had not been getting any darker in the anal area. All I could find online was the disease "dropsy," I was wondering what I can do to treat it. And, could this be what has kept her form having the babies? Otherwise she seems absolutely perfect and acts very normal. Thanks Much, Nate <Nate, you can't "cure" Dropsy. It isn't a disease. It's a symptom. It's like a rash or a runny nose on a human. While a clue to a problem, in itself it isn't a disease or parasite. So when fish have Dropsy, you have to review the environment and other possible factors. Very occasionally fish get Dropsy because of things you have no control over: bad genes, viruses, etc. If only one fish gets Dropsy, and all the others seem fine, then there's not much you can do beyond trying to alleviate the symptoms.  Adding Epsom salt (one teaspoon per 5 gallons) can help by altering the osmotic pressure between the fish and the water. Keep adding this to each new bucket of water added to the tank for as long as it takes to reduce the swelling. Otherwise review diet, water quality, water chemistry, etc: all these things can cause problems ranging from constipation through to organ failure, any of which can cause the body to swell unnaturally. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dropsyfaqs.htm Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dropsy Treatment (Poecilia)
11/08/08 Thank you for the advice, but now I have a new question. One of my other females gave birth about three hours ago to eleven fry. She stopped having the babies, and has no "white string" that people sometimes refer to if their guppy is not done giving birth, but she is still very big and has a dark gravid spot. Could she just be tired, or is she done? Is there anything that I can do to help the situation? Thanks again, Nate <The baby Guppies will come out when they're ready. I shouldn't worry too much about white strings or gravid spots. As I say repeatedly on this site, the "gravid spot" isn't a magical thing that Nature put there like a sort of reproductive alarm clock! It's nothing more than the internal organs being pushed against the muscle wall, resulting in a darker than normal appearance. In big females it can be less obvious than in small ones because the muscle wall is thicker, and on larger livebearer species (such as Mollies and Swordtails) it is a completely unreliable characteristic. Much better to go by the size of the female: if she's suddenly become much more svelte than she was the day before, then she's given birth. Normally all the fry are released within a few hours, though I'm sure exceptions occur. Provided your female Guppy has some floating plants to rest among, that's about all you can do to genuinely help her. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy Problem. Help Please!
Hi, I have read all through your site about the guppies and learned several things I didn't know, but still didn't find the answer to my problem I'm having, so I'm hoping that you can help me or lead me in the right direction.
<Will do my best>
Let me start off by giving you a little history on my tank back to about 3-4 weeks ago. Up until 3-4 weeks ago my tank had been up for a long time (about 7 months) and doing pretty good. It's a 10 gallon tank with heater, outside filter pump, light, hood, etc. Well, I got some new fish and had a breakout of a fungus infection so I immediately got a fungus clear medicine by Jungle and it cleared it up immediately. Then 2 days after that Ich broke out in my tank so I treated that with a different medicine.
<Mmmm, a comment for you, browsers... know that much of these "medicines" are toxic... hard on needed, beneficial microbial life... you may well have to watch for, adjust for nitrogenous anomalies (ammonia, nitrite)...>
All together, most fish survived this process (I had 6 fish at the time) so I was pretty happy. Suddenly about 3 days after stopping treatment for everything since it was all cleared up, my fish started dying.
<Mmmm>
3 had died in 2 days. I immediately thought it was because of the medicine so I did a 100% water change
<Yikes!>
(not the best idea I know, but when I was changing it I noticed it was blue from all the medicine) but I did keep some of the "muck" from the bottom gravel to help a little bit in the cycle and I also added a bacteria supplement.
<Good moves>
I added the fish back that same day as I do not have a QT tank and they seemed to do pretty good. Well the next day I was able to get 10 free guppies, only 3 adults (2 heavily pregnant females and one male), the rest are babies and juveniles no more than about 3/4" long,
<This is very likely way too new life for such a small/newly re-set-up volume...>
and everything still was going well. On Wednesday a few of my fish started to get listless, most of which were the 2 very heavy pregnant females I just got on Monday, and on Thursday I had babies! I was very excited to say the least. But that didn't last long as all the babies (about 70) were dead along with a male that I had had for almost a month. So I discussed it with my
mom what could be wrong and we began to think it was our water as we have well water and have never had it tested so to be honest I have no idea what minerals and stuff could be in our water. So we went out and bought some water out of a machine at a grocery store.
<Mmm, this source may well not be any more suitable...>
It's like the water you buy in the jugs, just cheaper and you have to have your own jug. So I bought 10 gallons and did another 100% water change
<Oh my friend...>
replaced gravel, ornaments, filter, everything, basically starting from scratch. So there is the background on my tank, now to my fish behavior. Starting after the one female had her babies, all the fish began hanging at the top of the water, not gasping or anything, just hanging out, but they had stopped eating, and still haven't eaten yet as of today and I have put in flake food, Spirulina, and algae chips.
<Do stop offering much of anything till you've tested your water...>
2 fish have nibbled on the food today but that's it. I'm frustrated and don't know what to do because they won't eat and they aren't very
active and I can't figure out what's wrong.
As far as tank parameters: (as of today after 100% water change)
Temp: 78 degrees
I also do not have a freshwater test kit but I do have a saltwater test kit and I have been using it hoping I could at least get a rough idea of my ammonia and nitrite levels.
<Mmm, maybe not... Can you read re what the reagents are here?>
However the nitrate test is a fresh/salt water test, so I can trust that one.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite:0
Nitrates: 0
Before the 100% water switch my nitrates were 25, which I didn't think were good. Sorry for such a long email I am just hoping that you can help me and tell me what is wrong with my guppies.
Oh yeah I forgot to mention that I have 10 fish as of right now, 5 adults (1 pregnant female) and 5 juveniles, and a few of them have been flashing (I think that's what it's called when they are scratching up against objects) for the past 2-3 days. Thanks for any help you can give me!
Lexie
<I do think most of the issues you and your guppies have suffered are due to simple "stress"... being moved about, so much water changes, medicine exposure... rather then infectious or parasitic disease... And that the best route for you to go at this point is to be very patient, offer VERY little food, making sure it's being consumed or offering no further at that time... And to keep monitoring your water quality, avoid large/wholesale/complete water changes... I do encourage you to have your well water tested (there may well be a free county service for doing so)... and to at least mix some (maybe half) of this water with any "purified" commercial drinking water, to provide needed mineral, alkalinity/buffering capacity. I am hopeful that your system will stabilize, that your remaining guppies will live from here on out. BTW, the present number is about all this small volume can sustain population wise. Perhaps a few small catfish for the bottom (when the system is stable) would be all I would add here. Bob Fenner>

Poecilia reticulata (health; repro)  11/05/08 Hi I have two pregnant female guppies, one of which perplexes me, the other of which I need some advice. As to the confusing one, she is about 2 cm thick in her pregnancy- I hope this paints a picture, I just don't know how else to describe it, but her gravid spot is still pinkish. I have the temperature around 75 degrees, so I wonder is this has anything to do with her slow development? Then the other female has a very dark gravid spot, and she looks like she wants to be left alone, but the males keep bugging her (I have 5 females and 3 males). Should I put her in the breeder net to see how she does there? Also, if I should put her in the breeder net, should I be worried about her bullying the fry that are already in there? They are already about a cm long, so I know she can't eat them anymore. Thanks, Nate <Nate, not every swollen Guppy is necessarily pregnant, and in some cases internal parasites, bacterial infections, or organ failure can all cause swelling. It's important to note that the gravid spot isn't a "thing" that happens when the fish is pregnant: it happens because the internal organs (which are dark) are pressed against the wall of the abdomen. In other words, both pregnancy and dropsy can cause a gravid spot to appear. So above all else I'd be checking to see if other issues could be at work.  Review water quality and chemistry, for example. Do also review diet; Guppies are mostly herbivores in the wild, and unfortunately in aquaria some hobbyists forget this and give them regular flake food. What Guppies (and most other livebearers) need is an algae-based flake staple augmented with high fiber foods such as live daphnia now and again. Constipation can easily occur otherwise, and needless to say this can cause dropsy-like symptoms. At 1 cm in length the juvenile Guppies should be safe with adult Guppies. I'm not a big fan of breeding nets for most livebearers, but female Guppies at least may be confined in them for short periods without undue problems. Cheers, Neale.>

Gravid spots, Guppy hlth.    9/19/08
Hi,
<Hello.>
Ummm....my guppy just floats around (except at feeding time) and her gravid spot is kinds cloudy. What's wrong with her???
<No idea.>
About two weeks ago, she gave birth to 30 even babies. Could that be the reason?
<Unlikely.>
-thanks
-Sarah
<Not enough information here to work with. A photo would help, but in the meantime, review the basics: Guppies need warm, hard, basic water: ~25 degrees C, 10+ degrees dH, pH 7.5-8.0. They're intolerant of ammonia and nitrite; both should be zero at all times. Their diet should include a lot of green foods to avoid constipation. Male Guppies tend to harass the females, and so the tank should be big enough the females can rest up after birth. Cheers, Neale.>

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.>

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>

Clamped fins, Guppy hlth.  8/19/08 Hello, <Hello!> One of my male guppies has clamped fins. Are clamped fins contagious? Is there a cure? Will he die? I have aquarium salt and I don't know what I should do with it. Should I use that? <First, clamped fins is not a disease, just a sign of stress from disease or bad water quality. Check your water parameters before medicating.> Please help! <Happy fish keeping!> -Sarah <Merritt A.> P.S. My neighbor has two tanks that he is giving away to me. The big one (probably 120) has had saltwater fish in it. Could I clean it out and put freshwater fish in it? Or would they die? Would it be cheaper to just make it a saltwater tank and put saltwater fish in it? Or would it be cheaper to buy freshwater filters and stuff because my dad says that saltwater aquarium equipment is much different than freshwater. <You could easily clean out the tank and use it as a freshwater tank. But, this depends on if the neighbor is including all the equipment with the tank. If he is, then you could easily keep it a saltwater tank, if not then it would be cheaper to turn it into a freshwater tank. And, saltwater equipment is very different from freshwater equipment, here are some helpful links to give you an idea of the work involved in a saltwater tank vs. freshwater tanks: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htmhttp://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htmhttp://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/maintindex.htmhttp://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm. Just do lots of research before turning the tank into a saltwater tank! >

Male guppy... hlth. cont.?    8/14//08 I have no idea what the problem could be with this little guy. <If all else fails, check water quality. Nine times out of ten, mystery sickness is down to water quality. Simple as that.> It is swimming and is upright and straight as far as side to side. However his back is bent in half with extreme tail droop. <Not good.> It is as if the back part of his body is paralyzed. <Quite possible, if the fish has been severely stressed/shocked.> I did check water and was bad ammonia. got it under control 3 days ago everything is fine now. <Define "fine". Ammonia and nitrite levels that aren't zero are extremely bad, and Fancy Guppies are not hardy. Far from it in fact. So you must keep perfect water quality at all times for them to remain healthy. It's also important that the water is hard and alkaline. Adding a certain amount of marine salt mix (2-3 grammes per litre) isn't essential, but helps. Tonic salt ("aquarium salt") is less useful.> The other fish guppies are ok with no signs of a problem. I expected him to die 3 days ago. Well he is eating and still trying to hold on. <He may well recover, given time. I have seen livebearers and indeed other kinds of fish go "loopy" in response to severe shocks, and then recover over a period of days. But actual damage to the spine or nerves won't recover. If the fish is feeding and shows no other signs of damage (e.g., no Finrot) I'd be tempted to see how things go.> Any information would be helpful for me to help this guy out. Thanks Joe <Not much to say with a photo, but please do review the needs of the not-so-humble Guppy and act accordingly. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/guppies.htm Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy Emergency-8/9/08 Here is the background: 10gal tank, cycling for four weeks now. <Hello, Merritt here!> Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate levels very low. <What exactly is "low"?> The pH is a bit high, but we have been very gentle in trying to lower it. We perform regular dechlorinated water changes with prescribed amounts of aquarium salt and careful addition of Prime to detoxify. Tank is equipped with good filtration, aeration, lighting, and heating. Temperature maintained between 77-80 degrees. No females, no other fish except guppies. <Sounds great!> Four guppies of five have died. No signs of tail/fin rot. No salt or sand grain-like things on the bodies. No bulging eyes, no red/swollen gills, no gasping. Two of them had a small grey/white spot on one side of their body in front of their tail. It did not appear fuzzy and the scales did not appear to stick out. It almost appeared as if it were part of the natural coloring. <Coloring could be possible but it also could be signs of bacteria, internal parasites and many other fish problems. Tell me more about this if you can, maybe send a picture.> Before they died, they would listlessly float/swim near the surface or in the top back corners, only to later end up at the bottom corners. Later, the body would almost stiffen, with the side fins continually moving as if trying to continue swimming. This would soon turn into vertical swimming, bobbing, haphazardly floating throughout tank. <Is this occurring after purchase or when that have been in your tank for a few weeks?> I am at a loss for what this is and the pet store has been no help at all. We live a bit far from a pet store, so we would need some idea of what this is so that we may purchase all the necessary items. We are careful not to overfeed and do regular water changes to ensure the cycling does not stress the fish, always siphoning from the bottom. There are NO females or other fish in the tank. All levels have been checked and are very low and close to clearing completely. Two were relatively young, while the other two were mid-sized (both groups from different batches - same store). These symptoms would appear for 24 hours before the fish died. Calls to the store have only resulted in them telling us the fish might just have genetic defects, but we are not so sure. We maintained a tank with the same conditions for over a year with three guppies and no losses! What are we doing wrong? I've researched some of the diseases, but I am afraid to medicate for the wrong thing and I am not even sure all the symptoms fit. Could this be a result of Columnaris? <I do not think you have Columnaris, but I do think your guppies have an internal parasite causing these problems. I would feed them medicated fish food to kill the parasites. If that does not work then they could actually have bad genes or not been taken care of correctly at the pet store from which you are obtaining them. I have had these problems before with guppies.> Please help! Monica <You are welcome! Merritt A.>

Guppy question, dis.  8/2/08 Hello, Last night I noticed that my female guppy had a bunch of orange lumpy stuff protruding from her backside. I assume these are eggs? <Nope. Guppies are livebearers.> They aren't coming off though. They're "stuck" on her. I put her in a breeding container in the tank to keep the other fish from picking at her, but what can I do for her? She's not eating, but doesn't seem to be in pain. Please help! <Without a photo, can't be 100% sure, but I wonder if this is actually a Camallanus worm infection? These look like reddish threads protruding from the anus. Treatment is using a worm-killing medication such as Levamisole, Piperazine or Praziquantel (sold under brands like Prazi Pro). http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwwormdisfaqs.htm  > THANKS!! Tara <Cheers, Neale.>

Female guppy that looks like she is bleeding internally 07/28/2008 Hi there, I am sorry to bother you but I have searched relentlessly on line and haven't found a good answer. First, I need to say that I have no idea what my water levels are or even tank temperature. My 3 year old wanted fish, my husband said "no goldfish" so we found guppies. The pet store wasn't very helpful with how to care for them. <So I hope you did the sensible thing which was to put your money away and left the shop. Stores that sell fish but don't give information aren't worth patronizing.> Last Sunday (7 days ago) I purchased 3 female guppies for my daughter from a local pet store. <Hang on, you bought fish the day you bought the fish tank? Or did you set up the fish tank, cycle the filter using some appropriate method, and then buy the fish?> I was told that the one was pregnant and they suggested using a breeders net for when she has the babies. I came home and did as much reading as I could about pregnant guppies and the next day noticed that she appeared to be giving birth. I put her in the breeders net and she delivered 15 fry. I was very proud of her since she had been put through so much (being transferred home to a new 5 gallon tank). She only lost a little weight, she was still very big but her gravid spot went from black to orange/red. <The gravid spot isn't a patch of colour. It's an area of the body wall that is sufficiently thin that during pregnancy the uterus can push against it when the fish is pregnant. The "dark spot" you see is the uterus wall. Post-parturition, the uterus wall relaxes and the colour of this area will change.> I thought she was either pregnant again or just didn't lose her baby weight. <Doesn't quite work like this!> On Tuesday one of the other females began to give birth (she wasn't as big as the 1st fish so I wasn't sure if she was pregnant) so I put her in a separate bowl and she gave birth to 9 fry. She went back to being skinny. I put her back in the tank and the new fry in the net with the others, all appeared to be well but the spot from the 1st mommy appeared to be getting bigger and looked redder. It even looked as though something red was coming out (my thought was a fry that had gotten stuck). She now looks like she is bleeding internally, the red has moved towards the side but isn't a solid red like I had found on another posting. <Can indeed be internal bleeding. Livebearers usually give birth without problems, but just as with humans there are things that can go wrong.> I would say it looks like a hicky (I'm sorry it's the only comparison that I can think of). I have moved her to the bowl out of fear for the other fish & fry. She had been swimming and eating fine in the tank but since being moved she only just lays at the bottom. <I'd first of all review water quality. Use you nitrite or ammonia test kit for this (preferably nitrite, one of the two ESSENTIAL test kits). Guppies are very sensitive to poor water quality, and poor water quality can produce a variety of odd symptoms. I'd also review diet; Guppies are omnivores and need an algae-based flake food as well as the usual foods made for carnivorous fish like tetras. Insufficient fibre can cause problems with the digestive tract, including secondary bacterial and protozoan infections. The symptoms you describe aren't (to me) immediately indicative of any one thing, hence my advice to cross off any potential environmental issues first.> I would appreciate any help that you can give. Thank you for your time! Karen

Poecilia; health, FW worm parasite f' as well      7/26/08 Thanks for your reply. <Most welcome.> Sorry to bug you with one more question. <No problem.> One of my guppies has always been "not as well" as the others. He's smaller and experienced some sort of fin rot and didn't eat very well. I would take him out of the tank and feed him on his own. He seemed to get stronger and now eats with the other two. <OK. Now, usually when fish simply look "off colour" with a variety of non-disease-specific symptoms like small size, erosion of the fins, laboured breathing, lack of activity and so on it's most likely water quality is to blame. Check and act accordingly. Now, the complication here is that Guppies are atrociously inbred, and their health is measurably poor compared with the wild type. For example, lab work has shown that wild and "feeder" Guppies (effectively mixed breed fish) can be adapted to seawater without problems, but fancy Guppies cannot, being killed by anything above about 50% seawater salinity. In other words, in choosing bright colours and long fins, we've weakened Guppies and removed some of their natural abilities. So when Guppies seem to fail in aquaria for random, non-obvious reasons, it is sometimes "bad genes" more than anything else. For aquarists after hardy Guppies with low maintenance demands and every chance of lasting a long time, feeder Guppies are (ironically perhaps) a much better investment!> But, how can I tell if he has worms? <Camallanus worms can be a problem with livebearers; they are usually revealed by the emergence of red thread-like worms emerging from the anus. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/anchorwrmfaqs.htm > His poop seems awfully thicker than the others and it's brownish/orange and hangs there for a while. <Again, a fairly generic symptom, often associated with bacterial or protozoan infections of the digestive system such as Hexamita. These microbes multiply, irritating the gut lining which responds by secreting copious mucous, making the faeces more bulky and paler-coloured than normal. Treating for Hexamita is possible (e.g. with Metronidazole, brand name: Flagyl) but frankly not always worthwhile with very small fish. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/metranidazole.htm > I tried to take him out of the tank when I noticed it this morning, but somewhere between the transfer, the "hanging matter" got lost and I put him back in the tank. I don't feed them live food or frozen live food, just flakes. I now have 3 guppies and 3 Julii Cory cats. Thanks. <Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Poecilia; health    7/26/08 Thank you for your reply. You say it's not always worth treating, but will he be okay in that tank with other fish? <Perhaps. I didn't say *don't treat*, but rather, don't be surprised if treatment has no long term effect and the fish dies anyway.> I did have water quality issues while I had the guppies, but the water has been (thankfully after hard work getting on top of it) testing just fine more recently. <Good.> Thanks again, Beth <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Poecilia; health    7/27/08 Last email, I promise :) I wanted to know if you had an answer about if it is okay for him to remain with the other fish. He showed signs like this before and so far no one else seems to. Thanks again and have a great day. <So long as he's feeding and not being bullied, I'd leave him in there with the others. You don't seem to have the symptoms of Camallanus worms. In any case, Camallanus worms can't cross infect other fish directly, and the worms need a second host to complete their life cycle, and that second species will be missing from your aquarium (so far as I know). And yes, I've had a great but busy day hosting a nine person lunch party! Hope this helps, Neale.>

Struggling guppy, New Tank Syndrome 6/17/08 Hi. I am hoping you can help me. You have helped me with fish in the past that I have had to return due to poor retail advice. <Will try.> I have 3 guppies in a 10 gallon tank. I have been bringing my water in to be tested weekly for about a month, as I wanted to add another but want the water to be right. I have had the tank for about 2 months and the guppies for about a month or more. The water keeps testing high in ammonia. <This is a big problem, perhaps you need more filtration.> I started with 4 guppies and one died (I'm assuming ammonia poisoning -bloated, gasping, stayed at the very top and then the bottom before I separated him and he died.) <Sounds like it.> I would like to get a new one to replace him and maybe dwarf Corys. <I would not even think about adding anything until you get your water parameters in check.> Last time I brought the water in, the salesperson told me to start with a Ph test kit. I have been using it. This sounds like a dumb question, but after reading a previous q&a on your web site, I want to be sure. If water is testing at 7.6 or higher... which do I use, the up or down solution. <For guppies I would do neither, that is just about perfect for them. They prefer hard, alkaline water, even slightly brackish water.> Of course, confused again because the salesman the week before said that the ph was fine, ammonia high. But, this salesperson said that the ph drops would help with the ammonia. <It tends to make the ammonia a little less toxic, but having ammonia at all is such a big problem that finding ways to rid it from your tank is more important than slightly reducing its toxicity.> Also, one of the guppies was the smallest to begin with. The other two guppies play with each other all day and ignore him for the most part. He doesn't get much food, he is slower to the take and they grab it. I have tried to feed them first and while they are eating, drop flakes right at the other fish, but they always get it first. He is showing signs of fin rot. He is losing most of his orange tail. He also seems to be struggling with thicker orange poop. What can I do. <Improve conditions, perhaps separate to allow it to feed and get stronger. Guppies are very tough on their weaker tankmates.> My husband is ready to "toss the tank" --- that it shouldn't be this hard and the kids are affected each time since they are their fish. Thanks so much in advance. <Keeping exotic animals alive in small glass boxes is more difficult than most people expect. Check out this excellent article by Neale Monks for a start, and read through our guppy sections for more. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppies.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestkindex.htm . Also be aware, contrary to popular opinion fancy guppies are not the most robust fish, and beginners in the hobby often struggle with these fish which were sold to them as starter fish.> <Chris>

Re: struggling guppy 6/17/08 Thank you for such a quick reply! <Welcome> One more question. I have been told that frequent water changes can just delay the cycle. However, with poor water tests, how often and much would you recommend I be doing? <Since you have fish in there, they may be necessary to do daily, ammonia is extremely toxic and needs to be controlled in this situation. This will slow down your cycle but really you don't have much choice.> Also, the tuxedo guppy still has the "poop" he was struggling with when I left over an hour ago. I guess it's more brown than orange. Is this probably "poop" or could it be something else? <Most likely poop.> Thank you again. Your quick reply was truly appreciated! Beth Crenshaw <Welcome> <Chris>

Deformed Guppy 5/29/08 I've had a 30 gallon setup with a BioWheel and undergravel filter for about a year and a half with no fish deaths for about 8 months. <Sounds great!> I have an assortment of 13 fish - mostly livebearers. <Very good. Livebearers are best kept alone so you have the option of adding marine salt mix -- a real lifesaver with Livebearers.> My question is about one of the guppies I've had for about 5 months. When I bought him, he was a vibrant orange and looked normal, but over time he has begun to turn white - and now he only has a belt of orange around the middle of his body. Also, his dorsal fin appears to be clumped together and not flowy like the other guppies. His body is also becoming deformed (possibly enlarged) and his scales look strange. He does not have a fungus or anything that resembles one - he is actually turning white. His symptoms have been slowly progressing over about 4 months but he doesn't seem to be sick or in any pain. None of the other fish in the tank exhibit these symptoms and all seem perfectly healthy and happy. I'm just wondering what's wrong with him - maybe something genetic? <Sounds very plausible. If the fish was sick, it'd be dead by now. Guppies, or Fancy Guppies at least, are very inbred, and the quality is variable. Lab work shows that Fancy Guppies are much less hardy and adaptable than their wild-caught or "mongrel" (Feeder Guppy) brethren. The best you can do is remove unsatisfactory fish from your breeding population, and keep adding "fresh blood" by picking up good quality males and females as you see them.> He just keeps getting weirder looking, and I don't want him to make any of the other fish sick. <Unlikely do directly cause problems, but if he's genetically at fault, his offspring will likely carry those bad genes too.> Thanks for the help! <Good luck, Neale.>

Poorly Guppies  5/29/08 Hi again, thanks for your advice - I hope you can help again! <Will try.> We bought 4 guppies (1 male 3 female) a week ago - they are in a Q tank (luckily!) - 35l, internal sponge filter, air stone, some plants, Nitrate 40 (that is our tap reading :o() nitrite 0 ammonia 0 ph 8, temp 25 degrees. The male was ok at first then was very lethargic, laying on the bottom of the tank or sitting on top of a floating leaf at the top, he didn't eat. I put some Interpet Liquisil in and he is now ok - took a good 4 days for him to perk up though - he is now a busy guppy again. <Good.> However, since then the females have started down the same way. <Ah, this suggests an environmental issue may be at fault. What's the hardness? Guppies like "liquid rock", and adding a source of hardness, particularly carbonate hardness, can help. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm In particular, carbonate hardness helps prevent pH changes, which Guppies don't like. If all else fails, marine salt mix can be used. Guppies can be acclimated to brackish water very effectively if done gradually, and the hardness in the marine salt mix helps. The salt also provides other benefits, including inhibiting some disease-causing organisms such as fungus and Whitespot.> 1 female seems to have a patch of white almost like a saddle across her back, the other has been really lethargic and not eating - much like the male was. But the one that is causing most concern started off with white edges to one fin. She now has a red pattern under her scales and what looks like a blood blister on her side. She is not puffed up or swollen - but the scales are raised where the blood blister thing is. <White patches are typically Finrot or Fungus.> I did a water change at the weekend and put in some ESHA 2000 when I first noticed her fin on Sat, since then she has gotten steadily worse - today the blood blister thing has appeared. I am not sure what to do, the water stats have not changed - I have checked them morning and night. (liquid and dip stick methods). <eSHa 2000 is good, but *do remember* carbon removes medication from the water. I've made this mistake one too many times, which is why I'm a bit anti-carbon frankly.> I did a water change again today as the nitrates had risen a little and I added a little salt (about 1 tablespoon to the 35l) and re-medicated with the ESHA 2000. <Pretty much what I'd do. I'd also be doing saltwater dips to clean the wound. Add 35 grammes of salt to one litre of aquarium water. Dip the fish for 2-20 minutes as you feel suits (pull the fish out when it becomes obviously distressed, e.g., by rolling over). Return to the aquarium. Repeat daily. Saltwater dips are very good at dehydrating the pathogens on the outside of the fish, reducing the infection. The eSHa 2000 should cure anything "curable" such as Finrot and Fungus -- but if the infection is an internal bacterial infection it won't help though.> Help please, I hope that is enough for you to go on. <A photo always helps.> Thanks Lynn <Cheers, Neale.>

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

Infusoria, guppy loss of color and Moscow guppy purchase? - 4-11-08 Can you please answer a few questions for me; I did not find any answers to them in my extensive research on various web sites re specific aquarium fish. (1 A) I was told that infusoria for Betta fry should be placed in a warm, D A R K, place and elsewhere in a warm, S U N N Y, place so micro organism could grow. <The latter is correct> (1 B) How long does it take before it's ready to feed? <A few weeks> I started one with organic lettuce and another with local straw from the river. I am using both now and the fry survived the first ten days, but I also feed some dry fry food and-after they were one week old-frozen daphnia. (3C) When do I add the box/sponge filter for the fry? <Mmm... if run gently from the get go... Immediately> (2) My guppies have lost some of their colors along the back. I was told to add salt to the water but the color is still missing. What do you think? <Something amiss... Nutritionally, water quality-wise... perhaps an infectious agent at play... Hopefully not the last... Columnaris...> (3) Do you sell and ship Moscow guppies? <Nope> And do you sell micro worms or other live food for Betta fry? <Nicht!> Thank you for any help. I am somewhat new at this and have already lost two sets of Betta fry and will try not to lose this one. Mirjana in Alamosa, Colorado. <Mmm, do look on the international Betta sites re... there is a wealth of info. and help to be had. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Dying Guppies   4/4/08 Hi, I've been having trouble with my female guppies dying off. I have three quarantine tanks set up, each one with a different purchase of fish. Tank 1 Ammonia-0 Nitrite-0 Nitrate-0 Temp.-77F This is a 2 gallon tank that had three females in it. No filter, but daily water changes and all test readings are fine. All were fine but a bit jumpy for the first week. The smallest one usually had her fins clamped but I could see no other symptoms. One week into quarantine, one of the larger females got "sick". I noticed that her mouth was stuck open. I didn't see any fuzz that could be mouth fungus or anything stuck in her mouth. She died sometime that night. I took her back to the store to get a refund and another fish. The other two are fine. Tank 2 Ammonia-0 Nitrite-0 Nitrate-5ppm Temp.-77F Another 2 gallon tank that was set up when I brought back the replacement female and an extra one. This one has a sponge filter. Both fish looked fine in the store and were okay for the first day. One of them also developed the mouth problem. This time I went ahead and put Jungle Fungus Clear in the tank just in case it was mouth fungus. It only seemed to speed up her death as she died a few hours later. Since putting the medicine in the other female has clamped fins. Once again I took the dead female back for a refund and another fish. Tank 3 Ammonia-.25ppm Nitrite-0 Nitrate-0 Temp.-77F Another two gallon tank setup for the replacement female. Yet again I was unable to walk out of the store with only one fish, so this time there are six guppy fry included. Unfiltered tank with daily water changes. Female guppy was fine the day I got her. The next day she developed the mouth problem but this time it was right after a water change. No medicine was added because I was unsure if it was safe for the fry and it didn't seem to help anyway. She died the next morning. Right before she died, I noticed that her gills seemed to be stuck open as well and she lost her balance. She would be vertical, head up, then slowly fall backwards to the bottom of the tank. She would lay there for a few seconds then dart off and start the whole process over again. All the fry are fine. This time I'm not going back for another fish until I know what the cause is. I have never seen anything like this before and I can't find anything on the internet. These three fish didn't come in contact in any way, not even the equipment. I would have suspected some illness from the tank at the store except that the first female was fine for a week. All the other fish in quarantine are fine but I'm checking them more often now. Thanks, Amber <Hi Amber. It's difficult to give an absolute answer to this because two things could be going on. Your quarantine tanks are too small anyway, and without filters makes it even worse. Daily water changes aren't enough. That you're detecting any ammonia at all means that your fish are constantly exposed to too much nitrogenous waste. End result will inevitably be sickness. I'd sooner you use one quarantine tank of at least 10 gallons are put them all in there, with a filter. The second problem could be that your retailer just doesn't look after these fish properly, or buys in very substandard stock. This isn't a common state of affairs it has to be said, so before blaming a retailer I'd always check to see if something I was doing could be at fault. But if observing the tanks at the store you see dead fish, dirty tanks, and signs of disease, then this would be a store to steer clear of. Do make sure you read up on the needs of Guppies re: water chemistry, diet, etc. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/guppies.htm  Cheers, Neale.>

Pregnant guppy not swimming, not much needed data...   3/14/08 Hi, <Betsy> We have a guppy who is very pregnant. Yesterday she started laying on the side of the breeder tank. She is still breathing and will swim every now and then. Does this mean she is in labor or is she sick? <Perhaps a bit of both... but... not good behavior> Hope you can help with our questions! Thanks Betsy <I would NOT move this fish (too easy to damage), but would take great care in feeding very little, and would add a bit of "floating grass"... See WWM, search tool, with the term... Myriophyllum, Ceratophyllum, Anacharis/Elodea/Egeria... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppyreprofaqs.htm and the above linked files for more background. Bob Fenner>

Guppy confused, Hlth.  03/04/2008 Hello, I have 4 females and 2 males guppies. One of the females has had her second set of fry since we bought her. This time however it has been over 48 hours and I cannot get her to eat. She sits on the bottom of the tank or on parts of the draw bridge we have, I hate to lose her. <I urge patience here...> Another thing that is confusing to me is that the yellow male we have is guarding her, he won't leave her side and if one of the other guppies male or female come near her he gets in front of the and gets as close to her (the female that is not doing well) as possible. He has been doing this for about 30 hours or so now. I have tested the water once in the morning and again in the afternoon and all test come out with in specs. I don't know what I am doing wrong. I put liquid fry food in as well as frozen BBS I put flakes in the morning and evening. I don't know. Everyone else is doing great. They are in a 10 gallon tank. <Mmm, more room would be better> I have only found 12 fry that I have in my 28 gallon bow front tank in a breeder that floats in the tank. <Ahh!> Anyway That is all I found I know there are a couple more in there I have seen them but can't catch them, they like to hide in the rocks. The female in question just shot up off the bottom of the tank to the top she is having obvious control issues. She is floating around and kind of directing herself with her back fin and her body. She is not using her side fins. She is just going with the flow. Her color is normal and her fins are not frayed nothing. What could be causing this?? I don't know whether to just take her out and end it or what? <I would leave this fish where it is... continue with normal maintenance... have hope. Bob Fenner>

Guppies... hlth., use, dis-use of ammonia removing tap/source water treatment products    02/29/2008 I'm sorry for being a nuisance but I wonder if you could give me a bit of advice, I purchased 2 male guppies and 2 female guppies yesterday to go with the other guppies in my tank but two of the males have since died, I checked the water and found that the PH, Nitrate and Nitrite were smack on the correct level, but the ammonia gave a reading of 8.0. <Means one of two things. Firstly, the filter could be completely immature (i.e., the fish produce ammonia, but not ammonia gets converted to nitrite, let alone nitrate, so you detect zero nitrite and whatever nitrate level you have in your tap water. Alternatively, you have a source of ammonia above and beyond what the filter can cope with, e.g., ammonia in the tap water, or a lot of decaying organic material. Either way, extremely bad news.> I added some "Ammo Lock" to the water but when I checked it this morning it was still high so I changed a third of the water and added some "Tap Safe" I have just checked the water again and whereas all the other readings are correct, the ammonia is still between 4.0 and 8.0 so I added some "Interpet Ammonia Remover" <OK, you're misunderstanding what these Ammo Lock-type products do. They do not remove ammonia produced by the fish or from decay. All they do is neutralise small (typically less than 0.5 mg/l) amounts of ammonia that sometimes are found in tap water. If your tap water has ammonia, then obviously adding it to an aquarium would be bad, so these product render than ammonia harmless. What they CANNOT do is remove masses of ammonia constantly being produced by livestock or decay in the aquarium. If it was that easy we wouldn't bother with filters! So put them away; they are as much help here as a bottle of mineral water would be for putting out a forest fire. You need to establish why your aquarium is generating ammonia (because it is). Review: stocking, feeding, filtration. Do also check you are using the correct dechlorinator: if your local water supplier uses Chloramine, but you use a dechlorinator that doesn't treat Chloramine, you end up with a measure of ammonia in each bucket of treated water. Stop feeding the fish, for a start. Check the filter is running and mature. Do 50% water changes DAILY until things get down to normal. Ammonia is incredibly toxic to fish, and anything above zero will kill them quickly.> Do you have any suggestions on why all the readings are fine apart from the ammonia. <Outlined above.> The other thing which puzzles me is that although the guppies have died, all the other fish are thriving, including two very small molly fry which are between a third and half the size of my neon tetras. Many thanks for your help. <Hmm... fish that have been in deteriorating conditions will adapt (to a point) whereas new stuff added from a clean tank to a dirty tank will just keel over and die. But the short answer is if you have ammonia in the water, then chances are all the fish will die.> Regards, Gaynor <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Clear blisters on guppies head   2/27/08 Hi, I have a question concerning my guppies. I have a 55 gallon tank with to many guppies to and mollies to count. I use a Aqua Tech power filter, which is only for a 40 gallon tank, but also use another power filter with it, that is for a 20 gallon tank. I make sure everyday the water temperature is stable, and have had these fish for many years. However several of my guppies have developed a severe curved spine, which I thought was maybe inherited. It started with one male with a curved spine, and then some of my females babies were born looking just like him. Now one of my male guppies has a big clear blister on top of his head. (looks like a poison ivy blister). He has been like this for months and it appears to be getting bigger and bigger. He still eats and swims around like nothing is wrong. But I was wondering what this is and if my other fish will catch it. I have been using Quick Cure medicine in the tank, but it has not made any change in him. I would greatly appreciate any recommendations you can give me. <Greetings. The curved spine issue is likely genetic, since Fancy Guppies are very inbred. You need to painlessly destroy any such fry to get rid of these bad genes from the population you have. Obviously it doesn't "get better". As for the blister, it's impossible to be sure, but I'm guessing this is a non-contagious deformity. Again, destroy the fish. Do be careful about randomly adding medications to the tank before diagnosing the problem: many medications contain things like copper that are, at some level, toxic to fish. So used sparingly they can be helpful, but used to excess they may cause problems. Do see our page on Euthanasia re: painless methods of destruction. Cheers, Neale.>

Mbuna Carbonate Hardness & Guppy Death.  2/21/08 Hi there. <Lisa... is that you dancing?> I'd appreciate your advice on a couple of issues please? <Sure!> Concern 1: I've been raising the hardness of soft water in a Mbuna tank with Kent Cichlid Chemistry. I've obtained a Total Dissolved Meter to monitor the results. My tank currently reads 1485. Could you confirm that this is 148.5? <Mmm, very likely so... the order of magnitude reading would be very high for TDS> The Africans should range from 200-400ppm so I still have a bit to go to raise the hardness - albeit on a very slow basis... (I've also attempted to raise the hardness with aragonite with little results - and crushed coral makes a mess and I have to vacuum it to keep it clean.) <Ah, yes... can be done... with stored, recirculated water... but some particulates are still likely> Concern 2: In general, if a tank is overcrowded however the water quality is very good, could this lead to loss of fish? <Mmm, yes... from a few root causes... Mainly aggression... as in most commonly. But limit of oxygen, metabolite poisoning, other problems can arise from overcrowding as well> I have a 30 gallon populated with 11 assorted cats (2 Plecos, 5 Corys, 4 S. American bumblebees) <Mmm... do see the Net, part. Planet Catfish re these... likely...> and 11 guppies. I've lost 7 guppies within the last month (mysteriously). <These cats?... http://www.planetcatfish.com/cotm/cotm.php?article_id=91 I do weekly 10% water changes - nitrates 0; ammonia 0; nitrates 5-10ppm, pH a bit high around 7.4. The guppies did real well for a long time then suddenly began to die. <Mmm... perhaps Chondrococcus... Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppydisfaqs.htm and the linked files above> I realize this is A LOT of fish for 30 gallons...I could only surmise that this is overcrowding problem... there are no signs of disease. <The bodies are not beaten up I take it... Read on the above citation> Looking forward to hearing from you! Thank you. Lisa <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mbuna Carbonate Hardness & Guppy Death. Follow-up on the latter  -02/25/08 Hi Bob. I reread your responses to guppies and flashing. I also referenced all the related text on your website and haven't come to a conclusion as to what the problem is - if it is Chondrococcus like you mentioned, can I treat it (the guppies are indeed aggressive with one another but it's difficult for me to accept such a quick and abundant loss)? <Can be treated... Successfully> I see that there is medicated food for parasitic/bacterial infections. Is this helpful or just malarkey? <Is, can be helpful. Must need get the medication inside freshwater organisms (they don't "drink" much)...> I have vita-chem - would this help? <To some small degree> One of the panda Cory flashes too albeit not frequently. Water chem is fine 0 ammonia and nitrites; nitrates 5-10ppm, pH ~7.4. No visible signs of disease. I am now wondering if a 10% weekly partial water change is not sufficient. Perhaps a 25% would prove better... <I do think so... this is about the percentage I perform every Sunday on my FW systems. BobF> Thank you very much for this helpful resource. Lisa.

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

FW... Ich, Guppy dis., using WWM    2/13/08 Exactly 2 weeks and a day ago, I bought 4 fish from PetSmart. 2 Fancy Guppies (Male is, I don't know about female) and 2 Chinese Algae Eaters. <Do read re this fish, Gyrinocheilus... very mean... don't eat much algae...> I put all four fish in Wardley Essentials Ick Away in a 3 gallon tank <Mmm, too small, and why the medication?> for 3 days. At the end of the 3 days, <Not long enough to treat an actual case of Ich...> the male guppy and C.A.E.'s were moved to the community tank (10 gallon; four 1 inch swordtails <Will need more room than this> and some sort of snail) The female was moved into a 1 gallon hospital tank and treated for Ick <If one fish has Ich... they all, the system does...> with the medicine I mentioned. For 2 weeks and 1 day now, she doesn't get better or worse. Her top fin is clamped and her color has faded. She eats A LOT. <A good sign> All the fish food and frozen bloodworms and everything. She is also pregnant. She swims like normal, but breathes rapidly. She's always breathed fast, opening and closing her mouth. The swords don't breathe with their mouths open, but maybe guppies do. (These are my first guppies) I'm totally out of ideas. <I'd be reading on WWM re...> This doesn't look like any disease people have ever mentioned. They say that the fish stops eating. Mine doesn't. (Oh, and the edge of her tail looks like it was traced with something white. <... reads like a case of Columnaris... Chondrococcus...> (The edge of her tail is white)) When she swims all fins are erect, but when she drops down her top fin droops. I don't see any parasites on her body. I've also heard something about giving egg yolk to fish. (I can't find the website again.) Please help. Any help at all will be much appreciated. <Read, on WWM, the Net re... Bob Fenner>

Guppy's slowly wasting away...   2/6/08 Hi, <Hello,> I've been keeping fish for about 13 or so years with very little trouble with disease or parasites of any kind. (count myself extremely lucky there) <Luck doesn't come into it. If you're doing the right thing, your fish should stay healthy.> That is until the last year... I have been out of the hobby for about 4 or 5 years (after I lost my Oscars during a move I lost interest for a little while.) and decided that now was the time to get back into fish! <Very good.> So I get the tanks, 1 29g and one 20g, and sponge filters, lights, pumps, gravel (Fluorite if that matters), and live plants. Cycled the tanks fish-less, after about 2 1/2 months they were ready for fish! <All sounds right so far.> So I bought 3 female guppies to start out with, they did great, waited a few weeks to make sure the bacteria could keep up with the new bio load and got some neon's, constantly testing the water so I know that's not the issue. Regular weekly water changes of 25% temp is at 77 f, aqua safe to condition the water, occasionally some Melafix if I have a nipped tail or something. Other than that nothing added to the water. <Hmm... not a fan of mixing Neons with Guppies. They require entirely different environments. Neons like coolish (around 22-24C) sort of water that isn't too hard or alkaline; Guppies like warm water (at least 24-28C) with as much hardness and alkalinity as you can manage. Fancy Guppies also tend to be nipped by tetras of all kinds, even the best behaved ones, simply because Fancy Guppies are such easy targets. In any case, if you have fin-nipping, you don't *just* treat the Finrot, your separate the nippers from the nippees.> Currently in the tank I have 6 glowlights, 6 neon's, had 6 female guppies.... now down to 2, 2 male guppies and too many fry to count (soon to be moved to the 20g). <I'd make one tank a tetra tank, and the other a livebearer tank and be done with it.> The tank has had fish for about 6 or 7 months now with several deaths... One of the deaths I chalked up to stress because she died with in two days and showed no signs of illness when I bought her, but the last 3 have become emaciated (which I wasn't really concerned with at first since they had just dropped fry )and have a white string like thing coming from their anus. <"Wasting" diseases are multiple in origin and difficult to determine precisely. To a certain extent the quality of Guppies in the hobby just isn't all that good, and Fancy Guppies especially are demonstrably weaker than their ancestors (one scientific paper showed how wild Guppies and feeder Guppies both adapt to seawater fine, but Fancy Guppies do not). In other words, to get good results from Guppies it is no longer enough to "just add water". They need their own aquarium with warmth, algae, no nippy fish, excellent water quality, and very hard, alkaline conditions that moderate against pH changes (I'd recommend at least pH 7.5, 15 degrees dH, 7 degrees KH).> I've done quite a bit of searching thinking it may be internal parasites but coming up with nothing really, there's no red paintbrush like thing coming from them, no other odd behavior. <So Camallanus can at least be ruled out, it seems.> The first one I lost this way did have a bent spine suddenly but none of the others have displayed this at all. Some of the fry are getting quite large and all seem to be fine, I'm keeping a close eye on all the fish none seem to be effected other than my female guppies. <When fish suddenly show bent spines an other seeming muscle spasm or similar, the chances are that the environment is the stress factor, for example a sudden change in temperature or pH.> I love my fish and hate losing any of them, my LFS says not to worry about it that it just happens but to lose so many the same way just isn't right. <It isn't.> Any help you can give is greatly appreciated, I don't want to doom my fry to the same death as their mothers. <I'd move the fry and their mothers to a specially set up Guppy aquarium. The key things here are floating plants (real or plastic) for the fry and some sort of carbonate hardness to buffer against pH changes. Crushed oyster or crushed coral in the filter works well here. Monitor the pH to see that it stays nice and high, at least 7.5, and every time you clean the filter, deep clean the crushed coral/oyster to wash off any slime that's covering it. (That slime prevents it dissolving properly, which negates its effect.) You could also add a small amount of marine salt mix to the Guppy aquarium; 5-6 grammes per litre should be ample. Marine salt mix raises the carbonate hardness and pH, and the extra salinity does seem to help livebearers by moderating things like nitrite and nitrate poisoning. Note that most other fish *do not* like you adding salt to the water, and this advice is strictly for a Guppy (or livebearer) aquarium.> (sorry it's so long wanted to give as much info as possible to help rule out whatever I can.) Thanks so much, Tara <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Guppy's slowly wasting away... 2/9/08 Hey, Thanks for getting back with me. The PH in the tank is at a steady 7.6 I test it weekly when doing water changes, also test the ph of the tap water before adding it to the fish tank. Water temp is a steady 77 f when doing water changes I test the temp of the water going in and it's always with in 2 degrees of the tank water. (slightly OCD about them really) <If the new water is slightly (a few degrees) cooler than the old water, it doesn't matter, so don't get obsessive about this.> I have water lily's, and floating clovers for surface cover, swords, onion plants, java moss, java ferns and a few from those grow your own bulb packages. Currently waiting on dwarf hair grass for additional ground cover. <Hair grass needs A LOT of light to do well. I found it works best in ponds, frankly.> I did quite a bit of research online and in books, before putting the Neons in the tank but I'll def get the other tank up and running and put them over there. About the crushed shells or coral, I use sponge filters would I just put them in the base, will it harm my plants? <Raising the hardness of the water won't affect species of plants tolerant of hard water. I don't know what some of your plants are (Latin names are honestly best) but Crinum spp. ("onion plants"), Java ferns, Java moss, and Amazon Swordplants generally do well in hard, slightly basic water. Put the crushed coral or whatever in the filter. A small amount at first, wait a week, do a water test, and see what happens. Add more crushed coral if required. You're after around 10-15 degrees dH general hardness.> On a side note a friend of mine recently got some blue tetras since they are slightly larger than cardinals, glowlights, and neon's will they be compatible? <No.> Or will the smaller fish be bullied? Since I was wrong about my guppies and neon's I'd hate to give bad advice. <Indeed. Fancy Guppies are honestly best kept alone.> Thanks again Tara <Cheers, Neale.>

Please help our guppies, Guppy Death 1/15/07 We have 3 guppy tanks. #1 is a 55 gal tank. It has our Males and females in it. I bought the tank used, the fish that were in it before died. When we got it I cleaned it with bleach and water, filled it and put in my guppies. <Did you cycle it? How many guppies did you add?> I didn't know what I was doing. I lost all of them. Next I tore down the tank and started over. This time I added AquaSafe, let the tank run for 3 days, then added my guppies. I lost all of them. <Not surprising, still not cycled.> So the next time I once again tore down the tank, bought all new stones, switched to live plants, and bought all new decor. So everything in the tank was all new. I was told not to use soap or bleach to clean my tank but to use vinegar. So I did that. I added the AquaSafe, and salt. Left my tank running without fish for about a week, then added my guppies. All have died but 4. I will probably be down to 3 by morning. <Check your water parameters, I bet you have a huge ammonia/nitrite spike happening now, which is killing your fish.> They start off by going to the top of the tank or laying in the plants. Next they start swimming on there sides only at the top of the tank. By the next day there dead. <Ammonia poisoning.> I am getting a new set of 40 guppies from a personal breeder on Wednesday. <Will die too unless you let the tank cycle.> Can you tell my anything I can do, or stop doing to keep these ones alive? <Stop adding more fish and get the tank cycled. Please see here for details http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm .> My other 2 tanks have fry in them and they are fine. 1 tank is a 10 gal it contains the really little ones,2 frogs, and 2 algae eaters 1 tank is a 5 gal it has the bigger fry,1 frog, and 1 algae eater in it. <Ok> We could really use your help. We love having the guppies but are about to give up. Please help us. Thank you The Ladd family <Right now you need to get your water conditions under control. A large water change will probably be helpful here and learn about the nitrogen cycle and what is happening in your tank right now. As far as adding more fish right now less is more, and adding 40 new guppies to this tank is not going to work well.> <Chris>

Pregnant Guppies Questions... hlth.    1/3/08 I read through your site, and there is a lot of helpful information about guppies on there! I still have a few questions about my "pregnant" guppies though. First of all, my husband and I are not quite sure the two of our guppies who look pregnant even really are pregnant. Each "pregnant" guppy has a matching breed in the tank (we have two Tequila Sunrise, and two dark-blue/orange--I'm not sure what they're called--guppies, and one of the tequila, and one of the blue fish are pregnant). The reason I explain this is because between the two tequila guppies, the one who appears pregnant has a smaller tail fin, which would make her appear female, but between the two blue fish, the one who appears pregnant has the bigger, fancier tail. Both of them have rod like anal fins (not fan like at all, as had been described in the other FAQ's) which would make them appear to be male also. <Yes> So, I guess the first question is, can females have bigger tail fins, and rod like anal fins? <Bigger than average tails/caudals... but fan-shaped anal fins only> Or, is there something that can make a male guppy blow up and look pregnant? <Yes... a few conditions... just over-eating, gut blockages... some disease symptoms> We had always fed our guppies crisps (I believe that's what they call them) because we used to have tetra in there who wouldn't eat flakes. The tetra are long gone, but we continued with the crisps until we ran out. The guppies went for about a week on freeze dried blood worms (that we had for our frog, who is also long gone) until we could get to the store. Now they are eating just the normal flakes. I don't know if this could have anything to do with their huge bellies, but the bellies came around the same time that we were transitioning from the blood worms to the flakes....I kinda wonder if maybe those two fish are just constipated...we notice the tequila fish poop because its abnormally large and reddish (many times, not just once)--we haven't noticed if the blue one is pooping or not (we're also not home a lot either). We also read somewhere that a steamed smashed pea would help everything pass if this is the case...is that a good idea? <Yes> Everything we have read to try and determine if they're pregnant or not talks about the dark spot... We have looked at pictures and compared (which I know isn't the best because all fish are different) and there is absolutely NO dark spot on either of the two fish, nor has there been that we have noticed in the last couple weeks. Can it be possible that a pregnant guppy does not show a dark spot at all? <Not generally, no... but the young (the spot) may not show to just before parturition clearly> Could this be because maybe this is their first pregnancy, and there's only one or two fry in there, and they just don't show through the skin? <Mmm, possibly there are very few young...> The other thing we have been reading is that this could be caused by Dropsy; however, we don't notice any scales poking out more than on any of the other fish. Dropsy could explain why two fish appear pregnant at the same time I suppose, because supposedly its contagious... but then again, you guys have all said that female guppies spend most of their lives pregnant. Also, because of the weird fin situation and the fact that one or both of these fish could be male, dropsy doesn't seem like the answer because it is said only to occur in females... is this true? <No> Also, we have had all of our fish for 3 months or more, so can dropsy develop within a tank? <Yes... but better put... dropsical conditions typically have discernible etiologies... I don't think you have this here> or does it take an affected fish to pass it on? <Yes!> Our tank is a 10 gallon. Last time we had it tested the levels were fine. We use plenty of aquarium salt as well. I would like to think they are just pregnant, but the fins and the missing black spot tell otherwise. Any ideas? Thanks! Melissa. <I would try switching foods... to small pellets... Perhaps the Spectrum line... or to a more vegetable-based flake of a major brand. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pregnant Guppies Questions... now dropsy    1/3/08 Thanks for your answers Bob. The tequila guppy has started to show pinecone like scales...more so each day...Now that he shows a symptom of dropsy, <Yes...> would that be a safe guess for both of the affected fish? <Yes... but again... what of the cause?> The food we have is "Tetra Min Tropical Flakes" which I thought was a good enough brand but maybe not. We're going to try the pea first, but if the scales continue to poke out we will separate them and medicate. Thanks again! Melissa <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dropsyfaqs.htm BobF>

Re: Pregnant Guppies Questions... dropsy?  -- 1/04/08 Can the cause be just the fact that we have high ammonia levels which can cause a low immune system? <Mmm, yes> As one of you guys said on that page... bacteria is everywhere, and it takes a low immune system for it to effect an organism. Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace were mentioned several times. Would you recommend we try and treat this? <Furan compounds might work here> I'm not sure what to take from the link you sent me... some of the articles sound like dropsy is inevitable and every fish in that tank from now on will die from it, and others sound like it can be treated. Thanks! Melissa <Can be treated... best by seeking, addressing root cause/s... If using medication/s, utilizing them ASAP. Bob Fenner>

Rash of guppy deaths -12/14/07 Hi, <Hello> Recently I've had a rash of mostly unexplained guppy deaths. I had three healthy male guppies for 11 months, along with a golden algae eater who pretty much keeps to himself. <Mmm... likely Gyrinocheilus aymonieri... a fish eater...> A couple of weeks ago guppy #1 suddenly died for no apparent reason, and two days later #2 got a lump on his throat/chest area. He died several days later. A couple of days after that I bought two new guppies to keep #3 company. They swam happily together for two days, then #3 died suddenly. So, of the original three, only one had any symptoms at all, I just don't know of what. The other two seemed perfectly fine. Last Saturday I bought one more guppy. Yesterday one of the new ones died. Today, the two remaining were swimming happily at 10:30 AM, then at noon I found the second new one dead. Again, no symptoms at all. Now there is just the one left with the AE, and I am hoping he makes it through the next few days. I have a 6-gallon Eclipse w/bowel. I do 25% water changes weekly. Ph is 7.2, 0 chlorine, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, nitrates are below 20. Temp is 75-78 deg. F. <The above all reads as fine...> One live plant weighed down with a rock I boiled before putting in. I feed small amounts. I have another tank, same setup, with a female guppy (sister to #1 and #3), two platies and two Otocinclus, and they are doing fine, so I don't think anything came in through the water changes. <I agree> Could the old ones have died of age and the other two are just coincidence or bad stock? <Mmm, yes> Could the lump have been something contagious? <Not likely... if it were... e.g. Chondrococcus/Columnaris... all guppies would be dead> Everything I read says water quality, water quality, but the water seems fine. Am I missing something? What could be going on? If the last one dies do I need to tear down the tank and start over? <I would not. Your maintenance and set up are also good... This may be coincidence, senescence as you speculate... I would keep my eye on, read about the CAE/Gyrinocheilus... as this species is notorious for "riding" other fishes... removing their needed/protective slime coating... often leading to such "anomalous" deaths... Otherwise... I'd do nothing here. Bob Fenner> Thanks so much, Lauren

Female Guppy, hlth.  -- 12/6/07 I have a 10 Gal tank that has 3 guppies(2 male 1 female), 2 Platys, and 1 Danio in it. I went to feed my fish this evening and realized my Female Guppy was Hiding in The skull decor that is in the tank (which isn't normal for her). When she came out I noticed that her fins are bright red? <Yikes. A bad sign> I have no idea what has cause this. The rest of my fish seem to be just fine? I'm really worried about her. We have had her for about 3 months and she's already had 2 schools of babies. Am I doing something wrong? I really don't want to loose my female.... Please Help!!! Thanks Kris <Do you have test kits for water quality? Am mainly concerned with measure for nitrate here... What re your maintenance procedures? When/where in doubt, a partial water change is recommended... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gupdisf3.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Female Guppy 2 Fixed Mistake In Email I wrote this email a min ago to you and then went over to reread ir and realized I said that her fins were red its not her fins its her gills. Sorry for the mistake. Thanks Again Kris <Mmm, I would still do the same (the water change) and NOT treat the system with a "medicine" at this point. Bob Fenner>
Re: Female Guppy, hlth.  12/7/07
Thanks For You Quick Reply. I do not have test strips I will go and purchase some this weekend. <Please read on WWM re test kits... the strips are really highly inaccurate> I did the water change and her gills seem to have lightened in the intensity of redness. <Ah, good> My maintenance for the tank is to do about a 25% water change about every 2 weeks. When I do the water change I use tap water and I put water conditioner in it. We have had the tank for about 3 months now and also have a 29 gal, a 5 gal and another 10 gal. Everything seems to be fine in all the other tanks. Guess I will just sit back and see if this works?? <Yes, this is what I'd do> Hopefully it does. Thanks Again Kris <Welcome! BobF>

Color fading odd death... guppy hlth., no reading  -- 11/20/07 Please Help! My favorite guppy is starting to fade his spots on his body (usually means his mood) are becoming less and also fading. he isn't chasing females as much and doesn't move much I recently lost a male to dropsy and I don't want to lose my favorite. And today I watched one female guppy become paralyzed. She can't move her fins just her tail fin is the only thing keeping her alive. very odd there ph is at 7.2 ammonia fine nitrate and nitrite fine <Values...> hard water everything I don't know what to do. I put some MelaFix <Not a fan... See WWM re> salt and quick cure oh and the water is at 86 degrees <Much too high> what could be wrong . <Mmmm, could be nutritional... the temp. here is way off... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppies.htm and the linked files above. RMF>

Sick fish... Guppies, Columnaris?   11/6/07 Ok I have a 75 gallon fish tank perfect ammonia ph Everything! <... Punctuation...> However I have lost many female guppies to this weird disease, it only happens to females and it comes over there belly like over there gravid spot up to their back and its their scales that sort of puff up and lift off their body yet don't fall out. <Yikes!> Eventually I separate them and then after a while they die. I have given them a bit of salt everyday and some quick cure <Toxic> I lost about 5 to 7 guppies and for a while it went away, they had a billion babies ,and then all of the sudden it came back I don't get it. I thought for a while it was Ich because they would flick themselves off rocks and stuff, but why would it only happen to the girls and it isn't how the books describe it. also I have one female that has been with me since the beginning and about 2 to 3 weeks ago she got this round golden thing under her skin on her back. It's so odd and now it's like starting to bulge out of her back. please help I have searched every here nobody can tell what it is. I love my guppies and don't want anymore to die. thank you. <Your situation sounds very much like "Columnaris" disease... see the Net, WWM re Chondrococcus... likely Neomycin sulfate... Bob Fenner>
Re: sick fish. Guppies, Columnaris? Child?   11/07/07
Thank you I Have kept the most recent sick guppy and the scales have stopped protruding yet they are still white and a bit weird looking. I have not given her any salt for a while and she looks better, <See WWM re salt use> I was starting to think it was dropsy but I have never seen a guppy with dropsy or only happening to females? <No> but I'll keep searching. As for the fish that had the golden bulge on her back I checked her out today and it was red and it looked like it exploded in her back you can see a blood streak in her back stretching to her belly, what happened! was it a sea tick or something ? <... no... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppydisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Sick guppies. Columnaris?  10/17/07 Hi, We have had quite a few guppies over the past few months. We recently introduced some new guppy fish and ever since they have been dying, most have developed a white velvety/mouldy substance on their sides. At first we thought it could have been velvet disease however upon further reading we have come to doubt this as velvet is described to be yellowish in colour and this is pure white, we have also used velvet control treatment, however to no avail. Also one of the females has developed large white rings around her eyes which look like they could be some sort of fungal infection. <Mmm, much more likely bacterial> I have searched the internet and cannot find anything relating to this. <Look for the term "Columnaris"... or the genus Chondrococcus... and "fish disease"> We have a catfish, a spotted Plec and three black harlequins in our tank which we have had sense the tank was first set up which have remained unaffected. We have done tests on our ammonia levels, PH, nitrate which have all been fine. Can you think of anything which this could be and what is causing it? <Was likely either introduced with some livestock... and/or favored by "stress", some sort of deficiency...> We are going to completely change the water tonight and clean the tank which we are hoping will get rid of any infection in the water. Any advice would be much appreciated, Best regards Emily and John P.S they have also had more babies recently, will they be affected do you know? <Please see this piece: http://aem.asm.org/cgi/reprint/17/2/333.pdf re Neomycin, Polymixin use... Needs to be addressed ASAP. Bob Fenner>

Guppy issue 10/14/07 Hi, I noticed a problem with one of my female guppies today (I have 6 guppies in a 10 gallon tank, 2 males and 4 females). I had checked the pH, nitrate, nitrite, chlorine, hardness, and alkalinity yesterday before buying the fish and it was all at healthy levels. The tank has been set up for a while because I wanted it to get through a cycle before putting any fish in (although my roommates thought I was nuts for having a tank with no fish!). Each of the fish I picked seemed in good condition and they spent the day getting used to the tank and then I fed them a little before I went to sleep. This morning they had all seemed fine although I noticed the eyes on one female (the one with a problem now) were a little dark, but I thought nothing of it since that can happen from the stress of being transported yesterday. When I got back again about 5 or 6 hours later though, I noticed that her right fin was sticking straight out and seemed a little swollen and pinkish white at the base. She hasn't been using it and just swimming around in circles to the left, but she still has a good appetite and will swim to the right if she sees some food she really wants, she just won't use the right fin. I checked and noticed that the ammonia level is a little higher than I'd like it to be (probably from the fact that the tank is adjusting to the fish). I added some salt to the water and used some stress coat to help them adjust, but I was wondering what else I need to do or if its a much more serious problem. Thanks, Yana <Hello Yana. There's no "acceptable" level of ammonia -- anything above Zero is dangerous, potentially lethal. With Guppies, while wild fish are hardy, the fancy varieties most people buy are extremely delicate. So it is entirely likely (= probable) that you have a case of Finrot or fungus to deal with. A combination medication (such as eSHa 2000) should fix that right away. Do follow the instructions carefully. Do remove carbon from the filter (carbon neutralises medications). Don't waste your time with salt/Melafix/Pimafix. Do make sure the water chemistry is appropriate for what Guppies want: high hardness, high carbonate hardness, and a pH around 7.5-8.0. Do reduce food while ammonia is a problem. While I applaud your patience setting the tank up before putting fish into it, unless you were adding a source of ammonia as well, the filter DIDN'T mature. The usual method is to add inorganic ammonia (from a chemist or hardware store) during the "fishless cycling" phase, but adding a pinch of flake each day and letting it rot works just as well. Anyway, assuming you didn't do this, your tank is cycling now, and it'll take about 6 weeks to complete. During this phase, check the ammonia and nitrite levels every couple of days. Do regular, big water changes: I'd suggest 25% daily. That will keep the fish healthy during this critical phase. Once it's mature, you can leave the tank a week between water changes of 25-50%. Good luck, Neale>

Guppy illness??  10/12/07 Hello. I have a 55 gallon tank, with two male guppies, six female, around 20 fry (in the breeding net), and 2 speckled Corys. I tested the water yesterday and the pH was about 7.0, hardness 120, nitrite 0, nitrate 0, and ammonia 0 - .25. So the water is not in bad condition, and temp is between 78 - 80 degrees. However, I came home from school and found one female and one male stuck to the filter, but still breathing. So I turned off the filter and let them come off. They are still alive and breathing but can't swim very well. They attempt but end up swimming upside down, sideways, normally, or get pushed around by the flowing water. Right now they are both on the bottom of the tank but still breathing and upright. I'm wondering if they got paralyzed in any way or if the Corys did something to them or what. <Mmm, not the Corydoras> I was also wondering how they got sucked to the filter, so I'm guessing this was happening before they were stuck on the filter. <Yes... something weakened them...> Another question I have is one of my other female guppies has a red spot on her stomach. Her anal area also seems to be a TAD swollen. Not extremely but just to the point where you might say something if you saw it. I have been seeing about one to two baby fry in the tank everyday, so I was wondering if she is the one having the babies and just having a rough time giving birth. Or is she just inflated in that area? I don't know. I am very confused. My fry seem nice and healthy but it's the older fish that keep getting sick and all. Please help. -A Confused Guppy Owner <I would read for now: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gupdisf4.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Guppy outcast    9/28/07 I have had one Betta and 4 male guppies <Mmm, often Bettas will go after fancy guppy males' tails...> in a 10 gallon tank with a filter, heater, live plants and air bubbles for about 6 months. Everything was going fine until about 3 days ago I noticed one of the guppies hanging around by himself on the other side of the tank and another one with a little tear in his tail. <Ooops> At feeding time the other guppies started crashing in to him and not letting him get any food at all. <Interesting behavior> I tried to help him out and made sure he got some food but the next day he seemed unable to get to the very top of the water (he was coming up within 2 inches of surface trying to eat). The other fish were still bullying him out of his lunch so I moved him into a separate 2.5 gallon tank and he was able to eat. <Good> Now today he seems worse again. He is hanging out near the surface. It looks like he's trying to eat but when I put food in the tank he doesn't even seem to notice. He is swimming around and around the edges if the tank very slowly while touching the sides. He also seemed to be resting his tail on a plastic plant. I don't see any Ich on him to explain the rubbing. I just checked on him and now he is laying on the bottom of the tank. There is another guppy that seems to be getting separated now but am not sure yet. Am scared that he might be dying. Please help. Appreciate any help. - Shine <Only time, good care on your part will see if this fish will recover. No specific treatment is advised. Bob Fenner>

Question about guppies with bloated bellies -- 9/24/07 We've had a small 2 gallon aquarium since March with 2 neon tetras and 4 guppies in it. <Too small... as someone on a forum I frequent wisely said, "two gallons is a vase; get some flowers".> They did well with no mortality, and even provided us with several babies. Once the babies got bigger (beginning of September) I moved everyone to an established 10 gallon that had housed an angel fish. <Neons with Angels???? You do realise that Neons are part of the natural diet of angelfish...? Or am I right in thinking the angelfish had moved somewhere else at this point?> Within the week one of the babies got a very large round belly and died. <Hmm. Could be a variety of things. Possibly the wrong food, poor water quality, or the stress of being moved between tanks with very different water chemistry conditions. Guppies fundamentally want different conditions to angels and Neons: the harder and more alkaline, the better. To keep all three species, you're looking for "moderately hard" water (say, 10 degrees dH upwards) and a pH of around 7.5. Soft water fish adapt to hard water better than hardwater fish do to soft water.> Everyone else seemed to be just fine and have been for the past while until yesterday when I noticed that my female guppy, and the one constantly giving us babies, also had a very large round belly. This morning she was dead. <Have you checked water chemistry, quality? When fish die -- that's your first step.> Although I live in a small town, we have 3 aquarium stores all in the same plaza. Great for supplies, but not so great when it comes to asking for advise and I leave there more confused than ever. <Often the case, even in big cities.> I'll take a water sample in to one of them today and have that checked but I wonder if this problem might be caused by diet. <Unlikely, but possible. Guppies need a vegetarian diet, so provided you're giving them algae-based flake food (marketed as "livebearer food" often-times) you should be fine. Giving guppies standard flake is okay once in a while, but not recommended in the long term.> When I moved the fish to the new tank there was a ceramic ornament in there with artificial plants coming out of it. The baby guppy that died was fond of picking away at the algae that must have been on it, despite my cleaning of it before their addition. <Nature's way of saying, "Hey, gimme some plant food!". Guppies are herbivores. They eat algae as well as mosquito larvae. So let the algae grow, and supplement with vegetarian flake food plus things like strips of Sushi Nori (cheap and easy to buy from Asian food markets and the better supermarkets).> The adult female that also died had also been seen nibbling on the ornament. <See, they're telling you something... not enough greens and fibre in their diet, leads to malnutrition plus constipation.> We also have a 5 gallon tank where we've lost 3 platies to something that caused them to arch their backs and swim upside down. <Again, platies are herbivores. In fact, to a greater degree than even guppies. They MUST have plant material to stay healthy.> That was over 4 months ago and we've experienced no further loss, could an accidental cross contamination with the guppy tank also effect the guppies with a set of completely different symptoms? <Unlikely.> Thanks, Hawley <Check water chemistry, quality, and diet. Then let things settle down and see how you go before adding any more fish. Good luck, Neale.>

Pregnant Guppy Died   9/11/07  Hi there I not too sure if you could help me out here, I have had a few pregnant guppies over the last 12 months and we have only managed to save a few of the fry (not been able to get the time right for putting them in the breeding net). But this week the latest pregnant guppy died - she got a lot larger than the others did and started swimming at a funny angle with the head pointing upwards (I have been told that this could be sign she is about to have to her babies) so I put her in the breeding net. About a hour later I went to check on her and she was still enormous, would not eat her food and just sitting on the bottom of the net. I honestly thought that she was on her way but about another hour later I went to check on her and she was on her side dead and there were loads of red lines on her tummy. We checked out water and it was fine so we ask our local fish store to check it and they said it was fine but could not give us any advice on what had happened with her, if you don't mind I would really like some advice as we still have another pregnant guppy and I DON'T want to lose her as well? Thanks in advance Mandy <Hello Mandy. From your description, it's almost certain that the embryos in her uterus died and began decomposing, and fungal and bacterial infections set in, eventually killing the fish. Why this happens I cannot say, but genetics may be a factor, as are likely diet and water quality. Putting aside genetics, which you can really only fix by selecting stock more carefully, look at diet and water chemistry. Guppies need green foods. Lots of people forget this, and just give 'em plain old flake. That's not good enough. At the very least, they should be given algae-based flake INSTEAD of tropical fish flake. There are lots of brands, sold as Spirulina flake or livebearer flake. Guppies will also take a variety of green foods from the kitchen: squished tinned peas, sliced cucumber, spinach, Sushi Nori, and so on. Next up, water. Fancy guppies are just not hardy, and people are often surprised when they die when kept in "ordinary" aquaria. Wild guppies are practically indestructible, it is true, but not fancies. So you need to keep a close eye on the water quality and chemistry. Zero ammonia and nitrite, obviously, are important. But large, regular water changes are non-negotiable too. 50% a week would be a good starting point. Guppies absolutely must have hard, alkaline water. A pH around 7.5-8 plus hardness of 15 degrees dH upwards are required. Some people like to add a little salt to the water in guppy tanks. This won't do any harm (guppies can live in seawater!) and marine salt mix at least will help raise the hardness and pH if you live in a soft water area. Salt also has a mild therapeutic effect on livebearers particularly, reducing their sensitivity to nitrate. On the plus side, what you describe isn't "a disease" and won't be caught by the other guppies. All I can suggest is you optimise conditions for the remaining fish as far as possible. Avoid using breeding traps -- they stress the females. Instead, use the traps to isolate baby guppies once you've found them. Filling the tank with floating plants (hornwort is ideal) is the best approach. This gives the babies someplace to hide. You can then remove them every day as you find them, and put them in the trap. Don't "trap" baby guppies for more than a couple of weeks, and remove them to their own aquarium as soon as possible. That's the only way to rear substantial numbers of healthy, full-sized fish. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Pregnant Guppy Died   9/11/07  Thanks very much for the quick reply: the water quality is fine the LFS checked it also for me no ammonia, nitrite or nitrate I checked the hardness using strips I it says GH 120 mg/L and KH40 mg/L but I have no idea what that means though - I feed the fish Tetra Pro colour once daily one day a week they get live blood worm and a couple of times a week I put in a couple of Algae wafers and then about once a fortnight I put in a few fresh peas which they really seem to like. I do have a lot of plants in my tank but I don't what any of them are called so I am going to go to the fish store and see if they have any of that hornwort and whilst I am there I will look for some livebearer food - however would this cause problems for the Rams? I do only do a 15% water change every week so I guess I will need to do more in future then however I do add salt at every water change as I have been told that fish really do need it Regards Mandy <Greetings. Your water is not ideal for guppies. Assuming that the general hardness is quoted in mg/l of calcium oxide (10 mg/l CaO = 1 degree dH) then your hardness is borderline between slightly soft and moderately hard. One degree of carbonate hardness = ~18 mg/l calcium carbonate so you have about 2.5 degrees on the KH scale, which is a very low level of carbonate hardness. You need to kick these up a bit for long-term success with livebearers. I'd suggest adding crushed coral to a box or canister filter, but any aquarium book will reveal some of the other options available. Moving onto diet. Colour-enhancing food is fine as a treat, but that's not what these fish need. They are algae-eaters and insect-eaters, and you need to respect that. Make NOT LESS than 50% of their meals algae-based flake food. Spirulina flake is ideal. This is really non-negotiable with livebearers. Colour-enhancing food doesn't really have much of an effect on their colours, and frankly a healthy diet will bring out the best colours too. Just as with people, beauty comes from the inside. Your cichlids will happily eat algae-based food, and in fact most cichlids are at least in part herbivorous and the change will do them good. Hornwort (Ceratophyllum spp.) is easy and cheap to obtain. It's sometimes sold as pond plant. Yes, you need more water changes. You are correct about salt, most fish don't need it. But in some (few) cases, salt can be helpful. If you live in a soft water area (as you seem to) adding marine salt mix to the guppy aquarium helps. Never, EVER use domestically softened water in an aquarium, by the way. One last thing: rams and guppies are completely and utterly incompatible. For one fish to stay healthy, the other must be exposed to the wrong conditions. Rams need warm (28-30 degrees C) water with very low hardness (< 6 degrees GH, < 5 degrees KH) water with a high level of acidity (pH 5-6). Guppies want moderate temperatures (24-26 C), hard water (15+ degrees dH, 10+ degrees KH) with an alkaline pH (7.5-8.5). Guppies have a high tolerance of salt (up to seawater salinity) while rams have virtually none at all. There is no way, in the long term, to keep these fish healthy in the same aquarium. Zip. Zero. Nada. Nix. When kept too cold, rams become prone to Hexamita, hole-in-the-head, and other diseases. When kept in acidic water, guppies are prone to Finrot and fungus. And I could go on. Please, take some time to read about the requirements of what different fish need to coexist together in the same tank. Just as penguins and elephants have different needs, so too do different species of fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Pregnant Guppy Died   9/12/07 Thanks again - I had no idea about this difference and the man at the pet shop knew what fish we had - will really have to make a decision now - thanks again Regards Mandy <Indeed all fish have particular needs. Establish what water chemistry you have "out of the tap", and then choose fish to suit that. Any aquarium book will list hardness and pH requirements. When you choose fish that *like* your water to begin with, everything about the hobby becomes an order of magnitude easier. Cheers, Neale>

Missing Guppy  8/27/08 Good Afternoon, <AM in my current time, centro-solar arc currently. Howzit?> I have a 65 litre tank with the following:- 2 Blue Spotted Platies 3 Red Tail Platies 3 Guppies (2 now) 4 Neon Tetras I added 3 male guppies and 4 Neon Tetras a week ago and only noticed yesterday when I was cleaning the tank that one was missing. I looked around the tank and saw a very thin 1.5 cm long particle floating around. It looked like part of a fish (same colour as the missing guppy) but I could not work out which bit it was so threw it away. <Good> I thought it may be hiding somewhere but I still cannot find it. I feel so bad about this. What could have happened to the guppy? <Likely perished and was quickly being decomposed by bacteria and fungi...> Is it likely to have been eaten by the other fish? <Mmm, not very likely from what you list> Also, if remains of the missing guppy are still in the tank, is it harmful to the other fish? <Do you detect any appreciable ammonia? In a volume of this size, with good filtration... not likely a problem... or you would have detected changes in your other livestock> Problem is that I cannot see any remains otherwise I would have cleared it out. Please help! Seema <I encourage you to read on WWM re the water quality the livebearers here appreciate vs. the Tetras... and possibly re quarantine practices for new fish livestock to prevent introduction of disease mainly... Otherwise, I would not worry. Bob Fenner>

Tail/fin rot, guppies    8/26/07 Hello. I just stumbled upon your website and noticed it is very helpful. I have had a fish tank for a while but just got a new one with new fish. It is only a ten gallon. I have a guppy who developed tail/fin rot, and it seems to be spreading to my favorite guppy. I don't know if it is though. I'm just trying to confirm my observations when I ask: is it contagious to my other fish besides the guppies? Thanks a lot. -Adam <Hello Adam. Thanks for the kind words. There's two ways of looking at your question. If you're asking will Finrot jump from one fish to another the way a cold jumps between people, no, not really. The bacteria that cause Finrot are (probably) present in all aquaria at all times, and only under certain circumstances do they actually become a problem. However, if your question is "one of my fish is sick, will the others get sick too?" then the answer to that is yes, most likely. Finrot bacteria become problematic when the immune systems of your various fish become compromised in some way. Two factors are usually at work, poor water quality and physical damage. They can work independently or together. With guppies for example Finrot can start when they're kept with nippy fishes such as Serpae tetras or black widow tetras, both of which view guppy tails as food. Or alternatively (and more usually) water conditions in the aquarium have dropped below a certain threshold, and the guppies no longer have the strength to stave off infection. In the case of guppies, ammonia and nitrite are dangerous, but so too is a low pH (anything below 7.0) and a low hardness (basically you want "moderately hard" to "very hard" water chemistry). So, if you have multiple fish showing signs of Finrot, and can rule out fin-nipping, then study the conditions in the aquarium. Do water tests for ammonia, nitrite, pH, and hardness (ideally KH but GH will do). Oh, and if the water conditions are so bad the guppies are getting sick, the other species are likely be stressed to some degree, too. Hope this helps, Neale>
Re: tail/fin rot -- 08/26/07
It turns out that my water is too soft. Thanks for the advice. -Adam <Cool. Bump up the carbonate hardness especially. That's the bit livebearers appreciate. Adding "tonic salt" -- whatever the retailer might say -- won't help. Cheers, Neale>  

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