Guppies slowly dying - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 33 Old 06-09-2014, 07:12 AM Thread Starter
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Guppies slowly dying

Hi all. This is my first post, so please correct me if it is in the wrong spot, etc.
I had 6 red albino guppies and one set of fry (about 13.) 3 adult male, 3 adult female. One morning I woke up and one male was dead. Hm, well, ok, I checked water parameters, and everything was ok except pH (more on that later), but couldn't figure out a cause. Didn't worry too much.
Next day, one of the other males started acting odd- hanging out at the bottom, hanging face down into plants, hiding in weird cramped spots. I kept an eye on him, but didn't know what to do. Then the third male showed the same signs! Lo and behold, they both died (so this is about 4 days after the first male.)
Now one of the adult females is also showing signs- floating sideways mostly. She can right herself for a while, but it's like it tires her out. And she won't bother swimming away from my hand if it gets near (obviously I don't do that much, I don't want to add stress.)
The fry have showed very few signs. I had two die this morning, but they are fragile in general, right? So again, not sure that's something to worry about. I've treated ich in a different tank in the past, and no signs of that. I suspect something is wrong with water parameters, so please help!
According to the quick read strips, nitrate=20ppm (I did a 20-25% water change as normal this weekend.) Nitrite=0ppm, Hardness=75ppm, chlorine=0ppm, alkalinity about 40ppm, and here's the real problem- ph=6.2 (or lower, because the test won't go any lower than that.) Ammonia is at 0ppm. Tank temp at about 70*F, 20 gallon that now has 11 guppy fry (in a breeder net), 3 female adult guppies, 8 mini cory catfish, 4 nickel to quarter size mystery snails, and a handful of live and plastic plants. Filter includes a sponge filter and a biological filter. Light is from a simple floor lamp that I have directed at the tank and doesn't appear to affect temp. It IS in front of a window that gets indirect sunlight, but I am very limited in that location because I have a studio apartment and there's not much space to move things around.
I have done everything I can think of to raise the pH, and I am afraid that messing with it will simply add stress. Previously, when everybody was ok, I saw the pH problem and tried to adjust with chemicals, but the change was only temporary (and hard to predict!) so I gave up. I added empty shells from some dead mystery snails, then some cuttlebone- no change. Tried almond leaves, no change. Seems like nothing I do helps. After testing the pH of my tap water (after a 24hr period of sitting out,) it's 7.6 (or higher, test won't go any higher!) That really confused me- I'm adding water that's slightly basic, but ending up with a tank that's slightly acidic??
My main questions are: Should I get a heater to increase the temp? (Temp may fluctuate over night, from 69.8*F-73*F during the day. I worry about this too, but this is also not new.) Is there any OTHER trick to raise pH? Is there anything I can do for the specific fish having trouble right now, and how can I prevent this from happening to the others? Does this sound like anything anyone else has seen before?
Thank you for any info. This is my third try with red albino guppies (I just think they are so beautiful) and I would hate to fail again. :/ Well, aside from that, I really hate to see them suffer. Can't think of anything new that I did to cause this! Help is appreciated, if you need more info just ask. (Also, are the albinos more sensitive than non-albinos? I seem to get that sense.)
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post #2 of 33 Old 06-09-2014, 07:32 AM
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Firstly, hello and welcome to the forum

Sorry that you're dealing with fish losses :(

You should really get a heater that you can set to the temp that you want. Ideally around 75-80F. If you tell us the size of the tank, we can help with how many watts you'll need.

As for raising ph, you're right not to add chemicals. Like you said, they're short term fixes and can actually do more harm than good by causing rapid fluctuations. Guppies are tolerant of a pretty good ph range but keep in mind that the best ph is a steady ph.

Neutral is ideal at around 7.0 so you could put a small chunk of calciferous rock in there and test the ph on a weekly basis to make sure it doesn't raise it too much. The rock will also increase the hardness of the water in your tank but I think guppies prefer medium hard to hard water.

Animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers.

Last edited by Romad; 06-09-2014 at 07:37 AM.
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post #3 of 33 Old 06-09-2014, 07:44 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the info! I wasn;t sure if adding a heater was "messing" with the setup too much. And upon further inspection just now, the guppy seems to have some jagged edges on her tail with some white- I'm assuming this is tail rot! :( I'm transferring to a hospital tank for treatment (the chemicals can be risky with the snails in there.) I have Pimafix antifungal fish remedy; that seems like it should work, right? (Assuming it's not too late.) I hope I didn't miss this for too long! But I don't remember the males having this symptom. I'll take your advice, thank you! Oh, and the tank is 20gal.
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post #4 of 33 Old 06-09-2014, 08:10 AM Thread Starter
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Oh, and I also have Lifeguard All-in-one treatment by Tetra.
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post #5 of 33 Old 06-09-2014, 08:25 AM
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Hmmmmm... are you sure that it's rot? How long have you noticed that frayed tail? Are there any aggressive nippers in the tank? Any chance that it could have gotten injured or snagged on an ornament or plastic plant?

Your water parameters aren't bad so can you tell us how often you change the water and how often?

As for treatment, add a little AQ salt to the hospital tank (dose per carton directions). It helps a bit with electrolytes and is a good immune system helper. And keep the water pristine. Unless you actually know that it's bacterial fin rot, I wouldn't throw any meds at it.

Can you perhaps get a picture of it and post it here? Are any of the other fish showing signs of fin rot?

As for the heater, you'll need 75-100w depending on how cold it gets in the winter where you are. Be sure to get one that you can adjust the temp on since the preset ones never seem to keep the water where you want it when the room temp is either too hot or too cold. Something like this would work well for you:

Animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers.

Last edited by Romad; 06-09-2014 at 09:08 AM.
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post #6 of 33 Old 06-09-2014, 09:45 AM Thread Starter
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Hm, well, I guess I can't say I'm 100% sure it is fin rot (and I didn't see such symptoms on the ones that died.) There is one other who has a slightly frayed tail w/o white, which I also transferred to the hospital tank. It was very hard to take a picture, so I settled for the one with the white instead of trying to get both. It was the best I could get; but that white is not supposed to be there. It is normally red all the way out to the end of the fin. There really aren't any nippers in the tank- the mini cories are extremely shy and tiny, and the guppies are the only other thing in there. (Well, except snails, but I don't think that's the culprit LOL) Haven't seen any of the guppies not getting along, and there really aren't any sharp objects in the tank, like rocks or anything. I would be very surprised if that was the cause of the tail problem.
I do water changes once a week, about 20%. I will pick up some aquarium salt at the store on my way to work (working from home for a while here, but I'm going to have to leave soon.)
Thanks for the tip on the heater; I do have one that I'm not using, but it didn't help with fluctuations in temp (as you mentioned.)
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post #7 of 33 Old 06-09-2014, 10:14 AM
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Fishy looks pretty bloated as well based on that picture. There could be a bacterial issue going on in the tank based on the fact that you have multiple deaths. It's really hard to know how to diagnose when the fish don't show the same symptoms.

I'm not familiar with the effectiveness of the Lifeguard - Pimafix might work out better. You might want to pick up a gram-negative bacterial medication as well like Furan, Triple Sulpha, Tetracycline to have on hand.

Hopefully someone else will chime in here with some more ideas soon.

Animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers.
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post #8 of 33 Old 06-09-2014, 10:22 AM Thread Starter
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I suspect that she is a little big due to being pregnant; but I am not sure if bloating from illness is different from a big belly full of babies. Again, thank you for your suggestions.
I've added the Lifeguard- I have a friend who swears by it. It treats both fungal and at least some bacterial infections. Gotta try something, right? Waited on the others to get better and that didn't happen, so at least I'll be trying something.
And yes, anyone with other input is welcome!

Last edited by chemgrl08; 06-09-2014 at 10:35 AM.
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post #9 of 33 Old 06-09-2014, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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Update: The guppy that was in serious trouble died by the time I got home. :/ I also lost 2 more fry, so now I'm down from 6 adults, 13 fry to 2 adults and 10 fry. Hope nothing else goes wrong... I have an aquarium meeting on Wednesday, I'll be able to ask for more advice then. But if anyone has ideas until then, let me know. SO FAR everybody looks ok, but I'm not confident things will stay that way.
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post #10 of 33 Old 06-10-2014, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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OK, PLEASE HELP! Things have gotten critical. The babies are dying off- I've moved them to a different tank (what can it hurt?) I've removed the snails so that any medication won't hurt them.
The mini cories are ALSO showing signs of this disease or whatever it is! Kinda sitting on their side, not swimming away from my hand or stimuli. Clearly I need to treat this aggressively; it was bad enough losing all but one (so far) of my adult guppies, but to lose my mini cories too??? What is the best procedure? Heat the tank to a higher temp (what do you suggest? Current temp sits around 70*F) Add aquarium salt (according to carton directions?) Use an anti-bacterial agent? ( Furan, Triple Sulpha, Tetracycline were suggested above.) Can I do all three of these things or is that too much?
Please help! At first I thought the albino guppies were just too fragile and I must have done something wrong, but this is clearly throughout the tank. Since I don't see any spots on the remaining fish, or any torn fins, it makes me think bacterial, not fungal. Advice, please!
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albino , dead , guppy , sick , side floating

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