Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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happy_nurse 09-21-2006 01:43 PM

Urgent help needed guppies dying

We would really appreciate some advice!

We recently purchased a 20 uk Gallon 80 Lt tank, we cycled it before adding fish using quick start stuff we bought at the fish shop, left it for a week then started adding fish over a period of 3 weeks with no problems.

The tank is a jewel and has a 4 stage filter, we tested the water before we added new fish and then every couple of days and all levels remained within normal range…

We ended up with:-

2 x Dwarf Gourami
2 x Platy’s
2 x Rainbow Fish
2 x Black Mollies
2 x Sword Tails
5 x Female Guppies
5 x Male Guppies

Total 20 small fish which we were advised would be fine in a tank this size.

Aprox a week after adding the last fish we fed them some live food for a treat (we bought the food from the local aquarium shop which has a good reputation.

Then it all went wrong…..

1 Gourami died 3 days later we tested the water and the ammonia had gone through the roof. We did daily water changes and 2 days later lost the other Gourami, I know this is because of the ammonia problem as I was told they are sensitive.

By then the water had sorted itself out and all levels were back to normal, then the guppies started dying for no obvious reason we have lost 1 a day since first all the females and today we lost a male. There is no obvious sign of illness although they act strangely swimming at the top of the tank and the next morning the fish is dead. None of the other fish in the tank are effected

Please Help

Lucy & Michelle

crazie.eddie 09-21-2006 02:10 PM

Sorry to hear about the fish dying.

Could you post your results for the ammonia, nitrIte, and nitrAte tests?

Do the fish go to the surface often that looks like they are breathing or gasping for air?

How often do you feed the fish? How much?

Continue with the water changes, but do them after you test your water.

Does your water source contain chlorine? If so, do you add some kind of dechlorinator?

happy_nurse 09-21-2006 02:25 PM

Answers to your question

Thanks for the reply

Test Results:-

Ammonia 0

Nitrite 8

Nitrate 3

General Hardness > 16

Carbonate Hardness 6

PH 7.2

The fish that seems marked for death goes to the top of the tank and gulps air the night before he/she dies but none of the other fish do. The tank has a filter pump and I also have a separate air pump with 2 lines and air stones to assist with oxygenating the water.

The fish are fed once a day but literally a tiny bit at a time and only what they will eat.

We use a dechlorinator and let the water stand for a while before we add it to the tank


Lucy & Michelle

Lupin 09-22-2006 08:29 PM

Hi and welcome aboard, Happy_Nurse,

May I ask for a pic of your rainbowfish in case you can't identify them?

Some rainbows will grow quite large(about 6 inches) and as they are shoalers, 2 is not enough and 20 gallons tank won't fit even for 3 rainbows(which have the size of 4-6 inches).
The only rainbows which will usually fit are Dwarf Neon Rainbow(Melanotaenia praecox) and Threadfin Rainbow(Iriatherina werneri) but your current stocking(minus some guppies and the gouramis which you said are dying) will still push your stocking level beyond the limits.:dunno:

Nitrites at 8?:blink: Isn't it pushing beyond the chart? Your other fish could have already been dead at that level.

You may try adding salt for awhile to remedy nitrites poisoning. 1 tbs per 5 gallons should be ok.

Hope you will be able to sort it out in due time.:D

happy_nurse 09-24-2006 01:48 PM


Thanks for the reply Blue

Now we have a problem I have looked on the net and think I have identified the rainbow fish as

1 X Lake Kubutu Rainbow
1 X Banded Rainbow

The aquarium shop we bought them from was aware of the size of the tank we had and that we planned to stock with smallish fish both of these were aprox 3 cm when we got them.

We did plan to look for some more rainbow Fish to join our two but were adding stock slowly

Now we are a bit stuck as to what to do…….

On a brighter note I read test kit wrong and it was .8 but now has settled at 0

However we only have 1 guppie left and we are still quite worried about him and the other fish as we have no idea what killed them all

Any thoughts on our problems greatly appreciated

Lucy & Michelle

Nick 09-24-2006 02:24 PM

Hi sorry for late reply...
It seems that your tank is in the middle of cycling assuming because you still have a trace of nitrITE...So whats going on in short terms is there is enough bacteria in the tank to turn the ammonia to nitrite but not that much yet to turn it all into nitrATE. Nitrite is VERY bad for the fish and thats what is killing your fish. The ammonia obviously killed your gourami's, and than a little bit passed and the ammonia turned into NitrITE.
So since your tank is in the middle of cycling and you already have a good stock in the tank, besides the guppy's dyeing ( I'm very sorry about that ! ), Do daily water tests on the tank and if there is any trace of ammonia or NitrITE than do immediate water change for the fishy's sake! And I also see the LFS gave you a starter to help cycle the tank which is a BIG NO NO. They have bacteria in there but not benefical, it will just die off after a while and thats why your tank was running good for a while when you put the fish in but than all went bad...I would not add any more guppy's or any other fish untill the results are at :
ammonia: 0
nitrITE: 0
nitrATE: under 40

Hope this helps!


Lupin 09-24-2006 05:23 PM

For banded rainbowfish and Lake Kutubu rainbows, they can reach 4 inches in size in which 6 of them(either species) will need 55 gallons to be accommodated.

With both fish, you are pushing the stocking levels beyond the limits. In a 20 gallons tank, you'll need only 2 of either species which is not advisable as they are quite tight shoalers.
Sorry. Your lfs is trying to ripped you off your cash.:dunno:

happy_nurse 09-30-2006 03:03 PM


We just wanted to say thanks for all your help

We ended up loosing all our guppies 8 in total but the other fish were fine

And yesterday we had our first babys our sword tail we managed to rescue 4 from being dinner for the other fish and they are now doing well in a breading trap

Water quality is now perfect so I guess the tank has sorted itself out.

As for the rainbow fish they are currently still small and we are trying to work out where we can put a bigger tank


Lucy & Michelle

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