Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Randog 05-05-2009 10:07 AM

My fish won't eat
 
Last Saturday I bought 3 guppies home from Spokane (about 70 miles away) and they seem to be thriving, except they won't eat. Are they going to be okay or are they sick? How long will they be able to go without food?

Byron 05-05-2009 11:56 AM

I see you joined the forum today and this is your first post, so I'll have some questions for you. But first, welcome to the forum.

Fish can go for days without food, assuming they are properly nourished to begin with. There could be several reasons why they aren't eating, but we'll need to know a bit to pin it down.

Have you maintained tropical fish before, or are these your first fish?
Did you put them in an established tank (running for a few weeks), or a new one?
How are they behaving--swimming normally, or hiding or motionless?
What food are you giving them, and do they show any interest (coming to the surface) or just completely ignoring it?

Byron.

Randog 05-05-2009 12:26 PM

Thanks for the welcome.

I have been keeping fish for 2-3 years now and my tank is just as old. They seem just slightly timid, but other than that are acting completely normal. I'm feeding them bloodworms in the morning and flakes at night. I've always fed that to any guppies I owned before and they were always fine with it. They are acting as if the food isn't even there. One fish ate a little last night, but none of the others did and he didn't eat this morning.

Byron 05-05-2009 12:50 PM

I wouldn't worry. It may just be a new environment for them. Sometimes the water parameters can be different (pH, nitrates, hardness, and of course temperature) and if so this can affect fish differently [more on this below]. And if they are being bothered at all by the other fish, e.g., chased even if just "playful" it can sometimes make them feel a bit insecure for a while. I've had fish that did much the same for a few days, while others act within minutes as if they've been in the tank for months.

On introducing new fish, if you don't quarantine for a period, the best way I believe is to put the fish with the bag water into a small pail (or float the bag in the aquarium open but not letting the waters mix) and gradually add some of the tank water to the pail/bag. Some recommend a drip system, but I just use a measuring cup reserved for fish use and put a cup of water in the bag, wait 15 minutes, then another, etc. After 3 or maybe 4 times (with more sensitive fish I would do it longer and with more time between) I net the fish from the pail/bag into the tank. I never let the bag water enter the aquarium because it contains ammonia and probably pathogens that I'd prefer to keep out. This equalizes the temp, and prevents pH shock.

Let us know if anything happens, but I expect all will be OK shortly.
B.

Randog 05-05-2009 01:32 PM

You take a lot more time in getting the fish used to their new environment. Some of my problem is after a one and a half hour drive home I need to open the bags pretty soon after the long ride home. I ussually float the bags for about 10 minutes then put a cup of water in and wait about 5 minutes then let them in. If there's other fish in the tank I usually use my net, but the tank was emty so I just gently poured them in. I live out in the country and there arn't any closer pet stores then Spokane. Our well water is so hard that I have trouble with it clogging my filter. My test kit dosen't test for hardness of softness so I don't know exactly how hard it is. It could easily be quite a differn't enviroment from were they came from, but it's been 3 days and was getting nervous. Thanks for your help.

Byron 05-05-2009 02:13 PM

I've had fish in bags in the car for 2+ hours; I have a small cooler (like for picnics) that insulates them, but towels wrapped around will work. Both to keep them warm in winter and cool in summer. Once the bag is open the gas exchange at the surface will provide oxygen, and once you start adding tank water to the bag you are diluting the bag water. When I moved in 2000 I had more than 200 fish and I bagged them myself and brought them with me in the car; it was 9 hours before they got opened into 100% fresh water, no cycling (brought the filter without touching it, but the bacteria were probably all dead after 9 hours with no oxygen) and I only lost 12 fish out of the 200+ and they were dead in the small bags from either lack of oxygen or cold (it was winter). Fish are pretty hardy sometimes.

Sounds to me like you know what you're doing and are doing it pretty well. I still wouldn't put bag water in the tank, just in case. I know parasites and stuff can come in on the fish, but I've read from several authors that the water should not go in, and that makes sense. Even adding the ammonia from the bag water is something to avoid.

On your water, what is the pH? Probably quite alkaline, which suits livebearers. You could ask your lfs next time about their water. It could be similar to yours or they may treat it (some stores maintain water at pH 7 because it suits most of the fish for their purposes in the short term) but it would be good to know for the future how much of a change you may have to deal with; less of a problem for livebearers that for some of the tetras like cardinals or wild-caught fish. If you should ever decide to soften your water, peat filtration is the best way to do it.

Keep up the good work.

Randog 05-05-2009 10:07 PM

I also noticed that there wasn't any food in the tank. I've tried to keep it clean but I'd think there would be a little food laying around if they hadn't eatin it. My ghost shrimp(bought the same day) may have eaten it thou. I have a hard time keeping the PH low enough. It averages around 8-8.3 ppm which is a little high I suppose, but my fish have always survived it quite well. I have trouble remembering whether high or low PH is acidic or alkaline.

Byron 05-06-2009 09:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Randog (Post 193233)
I also noticed that there wasn't any food in the tank. I've tried to keep it clean but I'd think there would be a little food laying around if they hadn't eatin it. My ghost shrimp(bought the same day) may have eaten it thou. I have a hard time keeping the PH low enough. It averages around 8-8.3 ppm which is a little high I suppose, but my fish have always survived it quite well. I have trouble remembering whether high or low PH is acidic or alkaline.

The 3 new guppies are the only fish in the tank now, correct? Plus the shrimp. Don't overfeed. If left uneaten, food usually develops fungus and this is easily visible; I had this in my 33g when one tablet wasn't touched and within a day or two is was sprouting fungus. Something may be eating when you aren't looking (maybe the fish are just shy :-)).

On the pH, neutral is 7 (pure distilled type water with nothing in it), acidic is below 7 and the water becomes increasingly more acid the lower the number. Alkaline (or "basic" as I think they are now terming it, but I'm of the old school ;-)) is above 7 and becomes increasingly alkaline the higher the number. Guppies are livebearers as you know, and all livebearers prefer alkaline water. I would agree that above 8 is quite high (perfect for African rift lake cichlids) but manageable at the moment. If you do decide to bring it down a bit, adding some peat to the filter is the way, or RO (reverse osmosis) water--but don't use chemicals like pH down or similar. The natural buffering capacity of your water (connected with the hardness or dissolved minerals in the water) will work to keep it where it is and the result will be fluctuating pH every day and that is extremely stressful to all fish. Peat and RO unbits work on the hardness so the chemistry of the water changes accordingly and the pH is at the end stable with the hardness.

Randog 05-07-2009 09:23 PM

Well, The fish seem to be doing just fine and when I fed them a few minutes ago they were eating it. It still took them a couple seconds to see it though. Thanks for your help.

Randog 05-07-2009 09:32 PM

And yes, its just the 3 guppies.


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