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Guppies slowly dying

This is a discussion on Guppies slowly dying within the Tropical Fish Diseases forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Whew! Wow, this is so much advice, my head is spinning! Thank you all for the input, I really do appreciate it. I had ...

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Old 06-12-2014, 08:54 PM   #21
Whew! Wow, this is so much advice, my head is spinning! Thank you all for the input, I really do appreciate it.

I had no idea that plastic decorations could deteriorate like that- I suppose that was kind of arrogant on my part. I actually removed them yesterday anyway to keep a better eye on the cories.

The fish in the hospital tank... well, they died in the hospital. But I did find another bad thing- FUNGUS! Right on the mouth of one of the 4 remaining pygmy cories. I was really surprised, but I guess it's good I took out all those decorations. I assume that the bacterial infection lowered their immune system and made them susceptible to the fungus.

I agree that my pH is probably acidic due to detritus and such. I am probably feeding them too much food. I will be more careful about this in my other tank so that I don't have a similar problem.

I'm lucky enough to have a local aquarium club that I'm a member of, and we had a meeting just yesterday. I took the opportunity to ask for advice- I got 4 completely different answers from 4 different people! (And much of it was different than what's on here!) One lady who breeds cories (she's like, the cory MASTER), told me to give up on the guppy (there's only one left, but she's hanging in there!), and to stop using pimafix because cories are too sensitive. She also said my 20% water changes once a week were inadequate, AND that a pH of 7.0 was too high; they like it acidic, around 6.6 (That seemed incredibly low to me.) Another guy told me to break down the entire tank, wash the gravel, wash everything, etc. Yet another told me do 50% water changes daily. Someone else said I should NOT increase the temp because it's bacterial; someone else said I definitely SHOULD increase the temp.

So, in conclusion, there's really no conclusion! LOL So I've decided that even if some people are going to disagree, I'll have to use what I think are the best options and hope for the best. I guess this is part of what makes the hobby interesting; having problems and figuring out how to solve them. Try things, see what works and what doesn't. I hate that the fishies have to suffer though.

SO, here is my plan. I added a heater and increased the temp to 76*. 70* was way too low; I didn't think I should keep it at that. But I don't want to go past 78* in case it encouragese the bacteria. According to the cory lady, the cories can handle "chilly" water, like 78*. (I didn't think that was chilly! I will need to go back and read up on correct tank temperatures, as AnnieH suggested.) I'm going to feed a VERY small amount daily or every other day. I did a 50% water change, and I am treating the entire tank (not just the hospital one, which is now empty ) with BOTH pimafix (for bacteria) and Melafix (for fungus.) Yes, this WILL most likely wipe out my "good" bacteria, but once the treatment is complete, I will be able to use a sponge that is in the healthy tank on the sponge filter in the treated tank. I keep a couple of sponges on there so that I can transfer them to new tanks, like hospitals and quarantines. That way there will be some bacteria in there. Of course, I will still have to keep a close eye on things as far as water parameters, so I could still have issues after the disease part is fixed. It is quite possible, as I think about it now, that an excess of food and dying material could be the culprit that put everything into action. I will have to work on this!

The pimafix and melafix don't say much about making water changes- just that you should do a 25% after completing the treatment... I'm a little unsure; my instincts tell me to keep doing big water changes (like the 50%) daily, followed by adding the meds. (Also, the meds claim that they don't harm the bacteria in biological filters, but I don't see how that's possible. An anti-biotic is an anti-biotic, right? I mean... I am not currently aware of an antibiotic that can so specifically target anything EXCEPT the bio bacteria!) But doing such large water changes daily seems stressful for the fish, and it seems like the tank would have to go through cycling again if I move that much water. (Or maybe the 50% I did is already causing that...) So, not sure what I'm going to do for water changes yet.

Also, I'm not sure if this is coincidence, BUT... one of my male guppies in the healthy tank suddenly died. I AM WATCHING IT LIKE A HAWK NOW. I am super paranoid that some contaminated net or bucket for water change transferred disease; I hope it's not the case! Actually, one of the females had a batch of fry this afternoon, so I'm not sure what to think. And in a different, very small tank I have (I was going to put these fish into the currently unhealthy tank once it was cured,) I had a male guppy die. I'm definitely on high alert. What a stupid mistake to make if that's what I did!

I do feel a little better because I got some orange lazer cories at the meeting yesterday; they're quite cute. Of course, I'm not giving up on these guys yet. They seem like they are trying really hard to stick with it, so I won't give up until the last one is gone or the problem is fixed! (I love these little guys! I'm sure you all understand.)

Oh, and a last note- I moved all the fry to a little "fry tank", just a small grow-out place for them to not get eaten. Since moving them there, they seem TOTALLY fine (hope I'm not jinxing myself with that.) Not acting funny, eating well, etc.

Oy vey. Sorry if I came across as grouchy in any of my previous posts. I WAS grouchy, but it was at the situation, not advice people were giving. Thanks to you all and I will keep you updated if there are any changes. If you have input about the water changes, please let me know. On the other stuff, well, as I said, I just have to use all of the advice I got and pick which stuff I think is going to help. Fingers crossed!
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:11 AM   #22
Quick update: The cory with very bad mouth fungus died overnight. I'm not too surprised- you could tell it was deeply rooted in there and I just didn't see it soon enough. Fish count: 1 guppy, 3 pygmy cories. (If any more cories die, I'll have to get more so they can be in a group.)
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Old 06-13-2014, 03:59 PM   #23
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Did any of your fish have curved spines when they died? I had columnaris wipe out most of my fish in the past, and if you have that, you're in for it, much as I hate to say it. I tried Maracyn and Maracyn II, didn't help. Then I tried Kanaplex. Didn't seem to help, so next time it was Furan along with Kanaplex (the big guns). I still lost most of the sick fish. The only thing I haven't tried is triple sulfa. You might consider that, but whatever you have, it's a virulent strain (like mine was) and is likely to keep killing until you either find something to treat it successfully, or break down your tank entirely, and bleach everything that was in it, including ornaments and substrates, and dispose of all the live plants. Columnaris (let's hope you don't have it) is the nastiest thing I've ever seen in fish keeping, and some fish can die without any symptoms. Every fish seems a little different in what symptoms it shows.
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Old 06-13-2014, 04:55 PM   #24
Augh! That sounds AWFUL! Well, I'm not really seeing any curved spines, so... we'll hope that's not it. 2 pygmy cories and the guppy still hanging in there.
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Old 06-17-2014, 09:25 AM   #25
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how are things going now? Everyone okay?
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Old 06-17-2014, 10:31 AM   #26
Well, kind of. The cories are looking much better- acting more normally and such. I have 1 day left of fungal treatment, then I will probably remove them to a smaller hospital tank (poor little guys, there's only two left! They'll be lonely.)
The guppy is still ok, but not really showing any signs of improvement. Still swimming along the top, although I did catch one point where she was swimming along at a lower level. I'm planning to continue the bacterial treatment for the max 10 days (Thursday will be that last addition), then do a water change the following day. After that, I don't see how there's much more that can be done, so I'll continue acting as if the tank were normal (but maybe with more frequent water changes to get those chemicals out- they're making the water a weird green color.) Little guppy will have a whole 20 gal to herself! LOL I'm hoping that once the chemicals are removed, she'll feel more "normal" and go about regular behavior again. I'm still not putting anything new into the tank for a good while, and may end up breaking down the tank at the end of it anyway. (Bleach dip the plants, the decorations that were previously in there, completely dry out the sponge filter and biomedia- though I'm not sure I'd trust them again.)
No more signs of fungus though, which is really good, IMO. Still keeping fingers crossed and all that.
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Old 06-17-2014, 06:56 PM   #27
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Good to hear that, chem! I'm glad you haven't lost them all. I know... it's very difficult to know what to do sometimes. I did what you are doing--fungal and bacterial meds, and the fish would seem to get better, then would get worse again. Every time I had a guppy stay up at the top as much as yours does, I'd usually lose it. Let's hope that doesn't happen. I hate seeing them decline.

And you're right--when you've tried just about everything, about all you can do at that point is wait and see what happens. I hate how some of them have to linger and suffer, and yet others die so quickly, without you hardly knowing they were sick. You are smart to consider breaking down the tank. If my tank were smaller, or I had a place to put the fish elsewhere, I'd do the same. But I've got several turquoise rainbows and lots of smaller fish in there. I haven't had a death in a few months, but we're in the warm months now, and that's when columnaris likes to come out of hiding again. It loves warmer temperatures. Fingers crossed for us both!
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Old 06-18-2014, 08:30 AM   #28
Hey, happy to report that I just removed the 2 cories and I think they look pretty good! They were a real pain to catch, (even in a lightly planted aquarium with nothing else,) so I'm optimistic about their chances. Very energetic, no signs of fungus,
(see pic, hard to see in the plastic bag, but trust me, they look way better), normal behavior. :D Acclimating them to a new, smaller recovery tank, and I think if they survive another week without showing signs of disease, they will be ok.
Poor guppy though, still swimming topside and tbh, as you mentioned Rocky, I don't have high hopes. But I'll keep up the bacterial meds until Friday and then see what happens.
I kind of want to go to the cory lady and be like, "Huh! Look, two meds and their FINE!" LOL
Any suggestions on how to steriilize everything afterwards? (I haven't looked at the other threads yet; I'll do so sometime today.) Plants can have the bleach dip, and I suppose decorations can also have a bleach bath with a thorough rinse. But what about gravel? Or the sponges and sponge filter? And is there any way to save the bio media in the bio filter, or should I just give that up for lost? (It's homemade out of PVC, so let's be honest, it's not that expensive and the biomedia is the most expensive part.)
Best of luck for your tank, Rocky! How does this stuff get in there anyway? I guess it's just like catching a cold. Sometimes it just happens.
Will keep updating if anything new occurs. Thanks for the support!
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Old 06-18-2014, 09:42 PM   #29
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Your cories are tough little guys! You might try adding an air pump to the tank with the guppy, as going to the top means oxygen is needed. This might have already been mentioned, and too lazy to go over the old posts again, lol. Try lowering the water level a bit too. Maybe an inch or inch and a half. Sometimes has worked for me, and sometimes hasn't.

Bleach is the best way to go if you're going to break down the tank. One part bleach to seven parts water. Empty tank completely, and soak all decorations in the above strength bleach. The bleach dip may kill the plants. I have an anubia that has never been the same since I gave it that treatment. If plastic plants, that's fine. But I'm just warning you about real plants.

As for gravel, leave in the the tank, and bleach it in the same strength bleach/water solution, along with the tank. Be thorough! Sponges and sponge filter are okay to bleach, I would imagine, BUT you can't re-use any of the filter media, if you use media. It would be infected. Even the filter must be bleached, and the bio wheels, unless you want to just get new ones. Your cycle will be lost in any event. This means the tank will have to be recycled all over again. Bummer, I know. But if you don't throw away or bleach EVERYTHING that was in the contaminated tank, you run the risk of re-infecting your tank all over again.

After all has been bleached well, rinse and rinse, adding double strength Prime to help get rid of the chlorine. There should be no bleach smell left at all. Then leave the tank, decorations and gravel all out in the sun for a few days, and you should be good to go.

When you set your tank back up again, if you can use some filter media from another HEALTHY tank, it will cut your cycle time down quite a bit. Even some gravel from a HEALTHY tank can help, and decorations too. Just make absolutely sure the tank you are using these things out of has no sickness of any kind in it!

No one really knows (well, the jury is out actually) about how columnaris gets into a tank. Some even believe it's present in every tank, but for some reason, won't raise it's ugly head. In other tanks, you can lose all your fish in a very short period of time. I've done TONS of research on it and have yet to get any kind of concrete answer. Just one fish can bring the disease in, or it's possible even a plant can. It's a nasty, horrid disease, and you have to be extremely careful not to put the water you receive fish in, into your tank, or you could be introducing the disease. They say fish have to be stressed to contract it, but my fish were never stressed when I had an outbreak. Just normal water changes, siphoning, etc. So who knows? And good luck to you too! Let us know how it goes, and how your cute cories do!
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Old 06-21-2014, 10:50 AM   #30
Sugh, darn! My cories both died overnight! The guppy is now the lone survivor. I have her in one of those smaller Kritter Keeper containers with a sponge filter, and I'm currently bleaching everything else. I'm moving in a month or two, so I threw out the gravel (as well as the biomaterial). The tank is getting the bleach treatment, and I went ahead and did the bleach dip (1:20) for the plants too. (If they die, then I guess that's one less thing to move. None of them are particularly precious to me, so it's ok. I'll still be nervous about putting them in a tank though.)
So, we'll see how the guppy does. Again, I'm unfortunately not too hopeful. :/ But wow, the cories and this guppy sure hung in there, didn't they?!
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