Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Kaxen 08-25-2013 07:20 PM

Fixing an overstocked messed up tank
My family has a 10 gallon tank with 20-something guppies which is way overstocked. There's also a snail infestation and any attempts to pick them all out are in vain. I'm not even sure where the heck the snails came from unless the snails somehow hitchhiked on the guppies. The tank started with two female, and apparently very pregnant, guppies. I tried adding some plants to try to balance it out, but I doubt anything short of a jungle would suck up all the nitrates.

I tested the nitrate levels, it is 160ppm... The whole aquarium is a mess! It also has algae problems.

I want to fix the tank and get it cycled and balanced and have guppies that aren't stressed out and chewing each other's tails up.

What should I do? I don't really have anywhere to put a larger tank. Those extra guppies need to go somewhere, but I don't know anyone who wants guppies besides one uncle who wants to put the guppies with 2 turtles and is convinced the turtles won't eat them but I can't imagine it would end well for the guppies...

avraptorhal 08-25-2013 07:36 PM

To get rid of the snails put a slice of Zucchini in the tank at lights out. Check it in the morning, it should havesome snails on it. Dispose of the Zucchini. Repeat until the snail population is where you want it. If the Zucchin doesn't work Romaine lettuce sometimes will. Blanching the veggies sometimes helps.

The snails/eggs came in on the plants.

Vacuum the substrate as if you were trying to take it out of the tank at each water change. Do 50% water changes every day, it may take a week or two or even longer to get the nitrates down.

Check your LFS and see if they will take the excess guppies. I now have the same problem with Platys. At feeding time I have a huge cloud of fry in the tank.

jaysee 08-25-2013 08:19 PM

The problem with keeping livebearers is that they can overpopulate the tank, as you now know. If you want to get your tank back on track, then you'll have to get rid of almost all of them. ALL the females and almost all of the males. You can try 5.

it's not easy to get rid of prolific breeders. There are obviously some ways to do it that you'll find more agreeable than others, but if you are serious about fixing this problem then you may find yourself having to do something that you don't want to do. Lets hope you can find someone to take them.

marshallsea 08-25-2013 10:12 PM

IME baiting and removing snails that are out of control (an infestation ) does nothing but leave room for more snails. With a 3 week battle I think I have beat my pest problem (over 1000 snails) but there was a lot of friendly fire. If you want to know how I'll tell you but it's rough. I suggest you cut way back on feeding and use a scoop to remove snails and substrate daily, not all at once . The substrate seems to be their main place. You'll never lose them without a war, but you can reduce them.

thekoimaiden 08-25-2013 10:39 PM

A lot of the guppies are going to have to go as jaysee said. How they leave is up to you. You might try looking into your local aquarium club and see if someone there is willing to take them. But really. They gotta go. Guppies just don't stop. Try to get rid of the females first.

The snails will actually correct themselves when the tank isn't so overstocked. Without food (crud in the substrate, algae, ect), they will die off. Snails are more like an indicator of another problem than a problem themselves.

To help with the nitrate problem as you are removing fish, get some floating plants. These tend to grow very fast and suck up a lot of nutrients. Things like water sprite and frogbit are good ones. When you start up with water changes, start small and work up to larger ones. Doing smaller ones will gradually change the water chemistry.

jentralala 08-26-2013 10:22 AM

I agree with above suggestions. This might be a tough problem to correct but it's going to be worth it, and I'm really, really proud that you'd like to give it a go! :D

I'd ask local pet stores if they would take the guppies (and as Izzy said, try removing the girls first.) Aim at keeping only 5 or so males. If no stores are willing, try posting ads online that you have extra guppies to give away (specifically stating that they are not feeders, if that's not what you want.)

Once the excess guppies are gone, we can look at either doing some super hardcore siphoning of the substrate to get rid of the majority of the snails and whatever they're eating, or removing the substrate altogether if it hasn't been kept vacuumed (ie, lots of crud that's settled underneath it)

Are water changes done regularly on this tank?

Thoth 08-26-2013 01:59 PM

I have had success manually removing snails. I would think that a sever infestation would mean that you are overfeeding and or under cleaning. If the manual removing is not working, there are always Molluscicides. If you do choose this route, research sensitivity with your tank inhabitants. I have used coppersafe in a tank used as a growout and it does a great job of nuking snails (will kill invertebrates).

Algae, reducing the amount of light will help reduce algae but being next to a large window you may not be able to do anything about this... water changes will also help out on reducing nutrient that feed the algae.

Kaxen 08-28-2013 02:30 PM


Originally Posted by jentralala (Post 2885418)
Are water changes done regularly on this tank?

Originally it was never water changed, but I've been doing it weekly and going to increase the water changing and gravel vacuuming more because the nitrate level keeps testing blood red with my API test kit. x_x


Originally Posted by avraptorhal (Post 2882193)
The snails/eggs came in on the plants.

I got the snail problem long before I ever introduced live plants which is why I thought it peculiar. The aquarium originally just had plastic plants and gravel.


Alrighty... One of my co-workers might take in some of the fish, so that will help a little.

Getting some floating plants to try to suck up some more of the nitrates. Not sure if I need to change the light bulb or not. It's just an incandescent. Though the tank is situated in the living room which gets a lot of sunlight from the giant glass sliding doors. But the plants in the tank already don't seem to grow the same speed as they do in my betta tank. I have guppy grass and anacharis in there at the moment. Well, the anacharis grew super fast at first, but now it seems to have stopped doing much.

thekoimaiden 08-28-2013 07:59 PM

I would say a definitive yes to changing the bulbs. When growing plants you need to change them every 6 months to year. The light might not look any different to your eyes, but it makes a difference to the plants.

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