Please help me diagnose a really weird fish disease - LONG
I am having a hard time diagnosing a weird problem that my guppies have in my tank and I'm hoping that someone more knowledgeable than me can help me diagnose what disease my fish have.
Basically one of the guppies has an extremely swollen stomach. No scales popping out, no behavioral problems.. it swims normally, eats well, plays in the bubbles and acts just like a normal guppy. However its belly has been swelling more and more very gradually over the last month and now it is quite large.. the male guppy looks like he's pregnant. I googled like crazy and the closest thing that I see on this is "Dropsy", which appears to be a generic term for a wide range of things.. more of a symptom rather than a disease. The thing is, my fish doesn't have any other symptoms that I can see and does not appear violently ill. He's been getting bigger for 2 months now and still acts healthy, but this CAN'T be normal. Unfortunately my other 5 fish now seem to all have very SLIGHTLY swollen bellies and I'm afraid that they are going to get worse. I have reason to believe that this illness is contagious and waterborne and that a guppy can live with this for months and months without dying or looking sick except for the bloating. I'll give you the background on my tank and what led to this outbreak so you can see why I believe these things.
I have a 29 gallon freshwater (no salt at all) tank and a 5 gallon QT tank. My 29 gallon only has 6 male guppies in it. I give it a 5 gallon a week water change with dechlorinated tap water. Ammonia & Nitrite are 0, Nitrate is 5ppm or maybe a little less (hard to read exactly). The tank has been running for about 10 weeks.
Here's the deal.. I cycled my 29g tank and the 5g QT tank just using fish food and some filter media from a friend's established tank (1.5 years running). It took about 2 weeks. At the end of the 2 weeks when there was no ammonia or nitrite, my friend gave me 2 male guppies who looked perfectly normal. I never saw her tank. The guppies seemed happy and after a week of no issues, I went to the pet store and bought 4 more and put them in my QT tank. To make sure the water would be similar, before I put the guppies in QT I drained all the water from my QT tank and replaced it with water from my 29g, which I thought was a good idea.
I left the 4 guppies in QT for 3 weeks to check for signs of disease. When they looked fine after 3 weeks, I went ahead and put them in my 29g, giving me 6 total. Well, as I was putting the guppies in I noticed that the belly on one of the original fish in the 29g that my friend gave me was VERY noticeably swollen... to my horror, when I looked closely at the little guys who had just come from QT, I found that one of them a fairly "fat" belly and that the other 3 had slightly distended bellies. This makes me think that they caught whatever the original fish had by me filling the QT tank up with tank water that the original 2 had been in for a week or perhaps from the original filter media.
Not wanting to jump to conclusions too soon, I waited. A couple weeks went by and I noticed their bellies kept getting bigger.. now the original fish I got from the friend is really huge but the other 5 are still just "fat" but slightly growing. One is fat enough now that I think he's crossing the line from looking "plump" to looking "stretched".
I got worried and went to my friend's house to look at her tank. Well, what I saw shocked me...it was a little dirty and overcrowded and there were like 10 guppies that had MONSTROUS stomachs. I'm talking like the size of a quarter (US) on a little tiny guppy. It seems obvious that this disease progresses slowly and the fish just keep getting a more and more swollen stomach. Some of these guys looked like they were literally about to explode...like a guppy who swallowed a golf ball or something.
Still the weird thing is these guppies are not acting strangely. They are swimming and frolicking and having no issues at all that I can see in her tank except the giant bellies.
If it was your normal dropsy, wouldn't they be having trouble swimming or dying or having popped out scales or something? Anything other than just swimming around having a grand old time doing what guppies do?
I put my most seriously swollen guppy into my QT tank and started treating him with Maracyn-Two per package directions to see if maybe it was a bacterial infection. It's been 3 days and there's been no change in his appearance, positive or negative but it may be too early to tell. I'd hoped the swelling would at least reduce a little bit. If this doesn't work, I'll do a 100% water change and try something else on him. I figure if I can find a treatment that works on him in the QT tank, I can then dose the whole tank to save the other, less advanced cases but I don't want to risk the whole population experimenting with different meds.
What do you guys think this might be????? I'm really hopeful someone has some suggestions or something. I hear parasites are rare in US aquarium fish, but maybe it's that? I figure after the full 5 day course of antibiotics if this doesn't work I'd maybe try fungus or parasite or maracyn-one but i really HATE to just take a wild guess. I want to help my fish even if they don't act like they need it because I'm worried about organ damage. I really have searched the net trying to figure this out and I just can't seem to find anything that matches my exact case.. all this "ooo dreaded dropsy stuff, your fish will be dead in 2 weeks" stuff, but nothing like what I (and my friend) seem to have.
Please please help if you can.
Thank you so much for your time and reading this long post.
Welcome to Fishforum.com, Pablo.:wave:
Yes, I'd suspect dropsy but that will not stop me from suspecting possible intestinal parasites without knowing how their feces look. Not all symptoms will appear altogether in the dropsy's case. A lot of causes are associated with dropsy. Bacterial infection, bad food quality, bad water quality, organ defect, etc. In this case, there is little or no cure with dropsy at all. Once the scales protrude, the chances of the afflicted fish being able to recover is next to nothing. Dropsy is internal so it is extremely difficult to know the exact cause and even treat for it.
For intestinal parasites, how does the poop look? Whitish and stringy? If so, Metronidazole is the recommended dosage. I used a dosage of 250mg tablet per 20 gallons.
Wow thanks for the quick response! I only posted a few minutes ago!!
Yea dropsy seems to be the closest thing I can find but.. like I mentioned, the guys in the other tank seem to have had this for months and are still alive and acting completely normal. I can attest that the one living at my house has been slowly swelling for well over a month. I thought most of the dropsy cases resulted in death in a matter of days or sometimes weeks, not months but who knows really.. still don't know what to dose with so i'll have to go one by one until I find something that works.... if I do.
One thing though, they don't have any protruding scales at all - even the monster swollen fish at my friend's house. The swelling seems to just be in the belly region.. ZERO popped scales. Also whatever it is seems contagious because as I said it migrated from one tank to another....but again doesn't seem to have actually killed any fish or caused them to hang on the bottom or act weird in other ways.
Regarding the feces, I have to admit I haven't actually scrutinized it that much. I do see one small, white curly one floating in the water column but have no idea how old it might be. doesn't seem really long or stringy, but in a noticeable curl.. I'll watch the tank some tonight and tomorrow and see if I can get any more "poop" data. :)
Thanks for the quick input.. will let you know... and am still open if anyone else has any ideas as to what it might be.
please don't think me rude to say this..............
however are you absolutely Sure you have males ???
first off, willow, that reminds me of this terrible date I went on once. who knew? LOL ok moving on....
is it possible the fish are just over fed? if I keep feeding, my gouramis keep eating, and they will swell up like tennis balls until i stop!
^^lol at you. :D
the other thing i thought was maybe try and feed some
just a thought. :)
More guppy madness
Thanks for the replies guys and I hope everyone is doing well today.
No offense taken at all about the gender question. I know you're just trying to help me out, and I appreciate. I am positive they are all male guppies, though. I've had guppies for 15+ years (just had no freshwater tanks, only saltwater, the last 3 years and started one up again). They have large pretty fan tails and slender bodies (except the bloated stomach on the two I got from my friend and the slightly swollen bellies on the other 4).
Let me put it in perspective... the one guppy I'm worried about in my tank quite literally looks like he swallowed a MARBLE, except it's not a perfectly round swell. More like the size and shape of an oversize jelly bean. The worst swollen one in my friend's tank has, and this is no exaggeration whatsoever, a stomach that is at least 3 times bigger than the size of the rest of his body. It's like he swallowed a quarter or somethng...he almost defies the laws of physics, like a cartoon character with a little tiny head and gills and an inflated stomach. I can't believe how big this belly is - it looks like he's going to explode but yet he is swimming and acting normally. He doesn't seem to have lost any control - I've seen him hover in the middle of the water column, shoot to the surface at feeding time and swim leisurely across the tank all like a normal guppy.
I'll try the unshelled pea idea, cause it certainly can't hurt. Thanks for the suggestion. I just figured it was a disease rather than intestinal blockage because it seems contagious and have now seen the problem in 3 separate tanks but I'm certainly no expert so who knows.
You guys don't think there could be some kind of giant worm growing inside them or something weird like that do you?
Still trying to detect some feces in the QT tank and don't see any... maybe he's constipated as a side effect of whatever is causing the swelling. Will let you know how the pea thing goes. I am on day 3 of the antibiotic maracyn-two treatment and no change yet, good or bad.
Re: More guppy madness
Do you mean a product like this:
? Or is there another particular brand you would recommend? This looks like its for protozoans and anaerobic bacterial diseases rather than worms... so are you thinkiing maybe it's a proto type of parasite? Interesting (and gross!). Or will this do worms too?
Since the antibiotics don't seem to be helping, after the 5 day course finishes and a huge water change I'm totally open to trying an anti parasite and if METRONIDAZOLE is good I'm game. Thanks for any suggestion you have on this.
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