FAQs on Guppy Diseases
FAQs on Guppy Disease:
Guppy Disease 1,
Guppy Disease 2,
Guppy Disease 3,
Guppy Disease 4,
Guppy Disease 7, Guppy Disease ,
FAQs on Guppy Disease by Category:
Nutritional (e.g. HLLE),
Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal),
Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...),
Related Articles: Guppies, Poeciliids:
Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies by Neale Monks,
Livebearing Fishes by Bob
Related FAQs: Guppies 1, Guppies
2, Guppy Identification,
Guppy Behavior, Guppy Compatibility, Guppy Selection, Guppy Systems, Guppy Feeding, Guppy Reproduction, Livebearers, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies,
fancy guppies, hlth. -
? I bought 6 fancy guppies 3 males 3 females from Petco on Thursday as
of right now I have lost 1 male 1 female. They were swimming but not
eating so I called Petco and they told my that they feed freshwater
food. I questioned that and said You mean tropical flakes. They Said Ya
that's what I mean. So I did some research online and found out
that they will also eat blood worms So I went and bought blood worms
and fish flakes. seem to eat blood worms but not the flakes I'm
confused. What am I doing wrong had 8 goldfish they died with In two
weeks. cleaned tank set It up for tropicals heater? bubbles new
cartridges In filter started tank got guppies now on one side they have
red gills but not both sides could this be stress from the trip home.
Its like a 30 minute drive or what. I have a box of? tank buddies
balancer should I try one of them or what I have never raised Guppies
but the pet store said they were the easiest to raise so I figured I
would try them. My kids are really getting upset that all their fish
are dying how do I stop this horrible out come willing to try
Thanks for any advice,
<Hello Katrina. Guppies are not difficult to keep, but if you
don't do any research first, and don't mature the tank before
buying them, you will kill them. My hunch is that's what's
going on here. Guppies are animals with only modest demands, but you do
need a reasonably large aquarium -- 15 gallons, really -- and that tank
needs to be cycled for at least 3 weeks before adding them.
"Cycling" means providing a source of ammonia, not just
adding water to the tank. A good approach is to add a small pinch of
flake daily, and then use a nitrite test kit every couple of days to
measure the nitrite level. It'll go from zero in the first few days
up to some number above zero (perhaps 2-4 mg/l) and then back down to
zero again, at which point you can add fish. If you "seed"
the tank with filter media or gravel from a mature aquarium, this whole
process will be faster. Alongside this, Guppies need hard, alkaline
conditions. Use your test kit to check the general hardness (sometimes
written as GH) and the pH; you're aiming for a general hardness of
10+ degrees dH, and a pH 7.5 to 8. There are lots of fishkeeping books;
I highly recommend reading something like 'A Practical Guide to
Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater Aquarium' by Gina Sandford if
you have no experience of fishkeeping. Do also read:
Among other things, you'll learn you can't keep Guppies in
pairs'¦ And please, for gosh sakes, if you send a reply, can
you not replace lower-case I with upper-case I? It's really
weird-looking, and not everyone who uses this site has English as their
first language, and we try to accommodate them as well as native
English speakers. Cheers, Neale.>
Sick young guppies --
Good morning to you!
<Getting into mid-noon here in Maine>
I've had a stable tank now for months apart from a few plants that
had seen better days and were not really appropriate for the tank. I
decided to change them and followed the recommendations of some others
and obtained some new ones online. Stupidly, I just washed them without
treating further and within 48 hours, I have two sick young
My param.s are all good - Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrite 0 ppm, Nitrate 5ppm,
Ph: 8, hard London water.
Both male guppies (about 3 months old) are pale in comparison to the
others. One cannot move his fins although eating and swims rather at a
downward angle. The other has white stringy poop (bacteria or
isn't eating and is hovering near the filter (uh oh!). Apart from
feeling really stupid to have risked my tank, can you advise on what I
should be doing, if anything?
<Mmm, perhaps adding a bit of activated carbon to your filter/flow
path, but I wouldn't do much else here. I'd let all settle down
here; not medicate>
I have stacks of medications here but would prefer not to use them
unless I need to.
Many many thanks to you guys!
Re: Sick young guppies -- 08/13/11
One either recovered (as there is no site of the hovering guppy fry by
the filter now) or died and is now out of view in some corner
somewhere. The other with the fixed fins began to get fin rot. I have
another tank that has just been medicated with Interpet anti-Finrot -
despite persistent daily water changes, reducing the number of fish and
cutting back on food in my female tank, one of my Platies has
persistent fin rot (not bad, just always a little white on his fins).
I've put the little fella with the fixed fins in this tank now as
he was getting bullied in the other and the meds may just help). Not a
lot more I can do really.
Thanks for all your help!
<Again, welcome. B>
Poecilia; immobile fry, sickly
Hi sorry to bug my guppy fish gave birth to 3 fry thy not moving
but thy did. My guppy is now standing up side down what's
wrong or is she still giving birth
<This isn't good news. Can you supply any details? Have a
start here, to read up on what Guppies need:
Females will sometimes miscarry if stressed, e.g., by being put
in a breeding trap or by being harassed by the males. If the fry
aren't moving, I'm guessing they were prematurely born
and aren't likely to survive.
Stressed females may or may not recover, depending on their
The best way to breed Guppies is to remove the males once the
females have been fertilised, to stock the breeding tank with
floating plants, and then remove any fry to a breeding trap
*after* they've been born. Don't ever put adult
livebearers in breeding traps, no matter what the packaging might
Re: Poecilia; immobile fry, sickly mother
Hi my fry and the mother were dead this morning I don't know
what to do it looks like my guppies are dying one by one
<Do, please, read where you were sent. It's important that
you tell me some things about this aquarium. How big is it? What
is the water chemistry (is the water hard or soft)? What is the
water temperature? How is the aquarium filtered? How often do you
change the water? What do you feed the fish? Are
there males with the females? Did you use a breeding trap? When
fish die one after the other, there's usually a problem with
the aquarium rather than a simple disease, so
"treatment" is about identifying the problem and making
the necessary improvements. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Poecilia; immobile fry, sickly
Thank u so so much!!!!
<Always happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Guppy problem 7/2/11
I was wondering if you would be able to help us with our puzzling
We have a 10 gallon aquarium that is cycled. We have had it set
up and running for the past couple of years now.
We have 6 adult guppies in our tank. (2 males 4 females) We
bought these guppies to add to our larger 33 gallon guppy tank.
We decided to use this 10
Gallon for a quarantine tank so we moved the male guppies that we
had in the 10 Gallon over to the 33.
They were healthy. The new guppies have been in the tank for a
month. There is no signs of white Ick spots or anything.
They appear to be paralyzed from their middle to their pin
The water temp is between 74-77 degrees. Lightly salted , and we
use Prime to treat the water we add. We do weekly water changes,
and every couple of weeks vacuum the gravel. We have a sponge
filter that has charcoal and sponge.
Can you help us with our problem?
<Can you send along a well-resolved image illustrating this
There are a few possibilities here... >
<Do take the long read in the meanwhile: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/GupDisF6.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Guppy problem 7/2/11
Thanks for the speedy reply. I will attempt to get some jpegs of
these Guppies today and send them to you.
I clicked on the link that you supplied, and read ALL the
pages... None of them are describing what is going on with these
We used to have 7 male guppies in this 10 gallon tank and they
I didn`t know that the smallest aquarium should be a 15
<The larger volume is MUCH better>
So, in the mean time - until I can get these photos, could you
please expand on what you think is going on ?
<Again, there are quite a few possibilities... from
environmental/metabolite feed-back to bacterial possibilities to
parasitic crustaceans... BobF>
Re: Guppy problem 7/2/11
I forgot to mention
that 3 of the 6 are suffering from this problem. 2 males and 1
<Then likely something to do w/ the environment... What other
life here? What ornaments? Other toxicity possibilities? B>
re: Guppy problem -- 07/02/11
There is live plant - coon`s tail- snails, (guess we should get
rid of most of the snails?) aquarium ornament with fake plants on
it....I am really stumped!
<Look on the Net re (Chondrococcus) Columnaris and guppies...
Does this look like what you're experiencing? B>
re: Guppy problem -- 07/03/11
No, does not look like Columnaris. Later today will try to get
the photos to you via email. Do you think that the snails are a
<... why would they be? Please search, read ahead of writing
us... What re the system, water quality tests?
Foods/feeding/nutrition. READ where you were initially referred
to... supply the sorts of information others have.
re: Guppy problem 7/3/11
Here are the photos. Hope they help.
|re: Guppy problem 7/4/11
Would you please explain what you mean by "environmental
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppysysfaqs.htm
and again, the linked files above. There is apparently
"something" toxic in this system... exo- or
endo-genous... an ornament perhaps that is poisoning these
We keep the tank clean, do water changes weekly. I don't
understand what you mean. No signs of ammonia. We use Prime to
treat the tap water which we make to tank temperature.
We have a 30 gallon tank that uses the exact same water and gets
the same weekly care and we do not have this happening with the 30
Three with this condition are now dead, the remaining 3 females
appear fine as do the fry in their little section to keep from
being food for the adult Guppies.
<Compare and contrast these two systems... what is different?
Strange white spot on female guppy
Good Morning Crew
Trust you had a great weekend.
I am wondering if you can help.
<I do hope so>
In my tank (95 litres, lightly planted) I currently have 5 adult
dragon tail female guppies, plus 3 x 3 months old females and 4
that are 1.5 months old (all home reared), and 1 lyre tail female
3 Pseudomugil furcatus 1 male 2 females
2 panda platy and 4 fry (1week old) in birthing net and one male
"Sunset" variety of Colisa labiosa.
This morning I noticed that one of the female guppies has a white
spot just above her head (see pix)
<I see this>
The lyre tail guppy has a pale spot just below her dorsal fin. (
Could not get a clear pix of this) all other seem fine.
Is this something I should worry about.
<Mmm, don't think so... The fact that your other fishes
look and act fine, including other guppies is telling. Likely the
one has encountered a rock or such. I.e., this is a mechanical
injury... that will heal of its own accord>
Ammonia and NO2 reading are 0
I want to do a water change but the tap water is reading 0.1 over
the past week or so I have had much higher reading so have not
carried out any changes.
<Reading 0.1 of what? I would pre-treat and store any
change-out water in advance of use>
Many thanks in advance for your assistance.
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
|Re: Strange white spot on female guppy
Many thanks Bob.
Will continue to keep an eye on guppy as suggested and leave it all
as it is.
0.1 reading is on NO2 (apologies)
guppies and questions... Using WWM, guppies in gen.
before I ask all my questions can you respond as quick as possible if
this is an ok place to contact you?
<We answer questions in turn. We do try to answer questions within
24 hours. If you have an emergency with your pet fish, and you're
willing to pay for someone to help you at once, then contact a vet who
treats fish (many do). Alternatively, join the WWM Forum, and hopefully
someone will answer you quickly.
Finally, do have a read here:
Virtually all problems with Guppies come down to people buying them
before reading up on their needs. We get a lot of messages from people
who've put Guppies in tanks that were too small (they need at least
15 gallons) or with inappropriate tankmates (they are often nipped by
tetras and barbs).
Guppies need excellent water quality (zero ammonia and nitrite) and
hard water chemistry (10+ degrees dH, pH 7.5-8.5). Their aquarium
should be properly cycled before the Guppies; allow a good 6 weeks of
cycling before adding the Guppies -- they are NOT suitable first fish!
They need warm water (25 C/77 F or slightly higher). Male Guppies
fight, and they also harass females; add lots of floating plants and if
you must keep males and females together, keep at least 2 females per
if not please tell me best place to contact you with all my
sorry with the inconvenience!
<No inconvenience. But if you are anxious for answers, help yourself
by reading up on Guppies and comparing the aquarium you have against
what you will learn they need. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: guppies and questions... Pregnant... dead
Hi my name is Maddy.
I got my guppies about less than 2 months ago and have done a ton of
research on them
after I got one baby and then a week later it was lost.
<Best to do research BEFORE the fish are purchased and the babies
So yesterday when I sent the original message I had a whole set of
questions, but today I have new questions because of what happened over
night. When I woke up this morning my pregnant guppy I had in the
breeder box died
with its mouth to the holes the fry are supposed to fall through. Is
<Yes and no. No, random deaths are not normal, but yes, adult fish
commonly die in breeding traps. Do NOT put the adult females in the
traps. Stock the tank with floating plants (floating Indian fern is
ideal) and then capture each fry you find and place the fry in the
I also had 6 guppies yesterday and besides the dead one I'm missing
Where could it be?
My aquarium is 10 gallon with 1 male and currently 4 (used to be five)
females is this ok I wanted a very light chance of the females being
<Yes, there's a good chance the females could be stressed. A
male should be small enough to confine in a breeding trap for a few
Is it ok to add more to my fish tank? I was thinking about one more
male and one more female. Please write back soon.
<Don't add any new fish until at least 4 weeks pass from the
And before you add more fish, buy a bigger tank -- Guppies just
aren't easy to keep in 10 gallons.>
<Do read the articles you were linked to. Enjoy your fish, and happy
Easter! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: guppies and questions 4/23/2011
I did look at the links they were very helpful!
Now I just checked in on my tank and one more has died but I think it
was just old because it was getting less active.
<Unlikely "getting old". Guppies should live for 2-3
years, though under poor conditions their lifespan will be very much
I s it really possible for the fish to have jumped out there is a lid
on my tank?
<No idea. You'll have to look at your aquarium hood.>
The rest of my fish that I can see are at either the bottom or top
swimming but lightly. Is it just there are a little bit sleepy?
<No. Let's assume you've never kept fish before. There are
lots of ways you could stress or kill your fish. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwset-up.htm
Nine out of ten times, problems with fish are caused by the fishkeeper,
not the fish.>
I did recently just buy this fish 10 gallon fish tank. So sorry but I
cannot buy a new one until about 1 month . Do guppies need a light in
<They don't really care either way. Cheers, Neale.>
guppy fry? 4/23/2011
Hello my name is Maddy and I currently got 2 baby guppies! my question
is well I put them in a glass bowl
<Will die in there.>
so they did not get eaten they have been there for a couple days I have
2 fish tanks one 3 gal
<Three gallon aquarium is useless.>
and one 10 gal I cleaned them both out and got them tested for ammonia
or something like that
<Please make an effort to understand what you're doing. Do read
where you've been sent. From the way you write I'm assuming
you're 13 or 14, and I know sometimes reading and understanding
science can be a chore. But it really is important! So please trust me
on this. There's a nice article in our latest issue of WWM Digital
all about setting up aquaria in emergencies by Judy Helfrich. I think
you'll find it VERY useful.
Click where it says "Click Here for the latest issue". Have
your Mom and Dad read through it, if you can.>
and they had to much so I bought a thing to reduce it.
<Nothing reduces ammonia to zero *in the aquarium*. Yes, you can buy
water conditioner that removes ammonia *from tap water*. But this has
nothing to do with the ammonia excreted by your fish every day. You
need a mature, biological filter for that.>
so when can I put the babies in the 3 gal I don't want them to
<If you don't want your pet animals to die, then READ. Hoping
for the best is not going to work.>
in the glass bowl but don't want to poison them either
<Then don't use the bowl. Bowls, and fish tanks less than 10
gallons, have NO ROLE in maintenance of Guppies.>
pls tell me when is the right time to move them to the 3 gallon
<Glad to help! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: guppy fry? 4/23/2011
ok I moved the fry to the 3 gallon because of the glass bowl
<No, no! Bowls = Death for fish.>
and I am 12 not 13 or 14!
my friend is about to give me one male and two females in one week, I
will put them in the 10 gallon because I want the tank to be ok for
<Do read the articles linked to before. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: guppies and questions 4/23/2011
there are died now!
<"They are dead now" I think you mean. Do read. Your
Guppies likely died through improper care. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: guppies and questions 4/25/11
ok i understand but i care for them good. should i put 4 females or two
pr each male in a 10 gallon!!!??
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/guppyselfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. And run your writing through
spelling/grammar checking ahead of sending it to us. Bob
Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail 4/15/11
Hello there. I'm a bit confused about what happened to my male
guppy. I originally acquired two male guppies in November 2010 and
housed them in a 2.5g tank.
<Much too small for Guppies, indeed fish generally.>
Besides not being able to keep the tank stable, the guppies fought
(both had nipped tail fins). I read that a third male guppy could break
up the fighting,
<Depends on the size of the tank.>
but unfortunately the third guppy was the most aggressive of them all
so I had to remove him. I then set up a 10g tank with
a Penguin Bio-Filter and cycled it for a few weeks (I added water from
the old tank to the new, did water changes over a few weeks).
<Still too small for Guppies, in my opinion/experience.
Males are just too aggressive. Endler Guppies can
work, but plain vanilla Guppies, not so much.>
The water is hard and the temp is kept at 78 F (heater doesn't have
a dial- always keeps water at 78 F). The pH was fine and no ammonia. So
I added the guppies and they seemed to fight the most when the hood
light was on and the tank became warmer. So I removed one of the bulbs
from the hood, and for the most part they seemed to leave each other
alone, although their tails were still nipped up. There were no signs
of disease though, and the guppies had nipped tails and lived together
for 5 months now (1 month in larger tank, with 25% weekly water
<Male Guppies fight. It's what they've evolved to do. By
being bred to have longer tails, humans have taken away their ability
to swim away from trouble, while increasing their fragility.>
I then added three peppered Corydoras on a Saturday (pretty small in
size). The catfish took up residence in a tunnel, so the guppies
didn't have this anymore for shelter. By Tuesday one catfish died,
but I figured this happens when you add new fish (am I correct in this
line of thinking?). The other two catfish seem okay, although when they
open their gills, it's red in there. Not brightly colored red, just
red- may be a silly question, but is that normal?
<Peppered Catfish need to be kept in groups of 5+.>
Anyway, that Wednesday night everything seemed normal. Everyone was
eating, guppies tail fins still nipped but looked the same as they
always did. Then Thursday night when I came home from work, the one
guppy had no tail fin left at all!! Just "threads", but no
actual fin left. He darkened in color, his eyes even looked darker, and
he didn't eat and swam weakly. I immediately transferred him to the
2.5g tank (after I warmed the water to proper temp). I kept the light
on to heat the water up to 80 F
<Too warm for Corydoras paleatus, in the long term anyway.>
and he started to move a little bit more but still didn't eat. I
already knew he was going to die- he looked like a ghost. I had full
intentions of getting medicine for Fin Rot the next day, but not
surprisingly he was dead Friday morning.
I am confused though. Can Fin Rot progress that quickly?!
He was fine Wednesday night, then no tail fin and half dead Thursday
night. Or is it more likely he was attacked or his tail got stuck in
the filter intake tube?
I'm thinking he wasn't attacked because of the absolute
thorough loss of tail fin. Could the catfish be to blame?
<Catfish are opportunists, and while Corydoras are completely
peaceful when their tankmates are healthy, yes, they will try to eat
half-dead fish lying inert on the substrate.>
Or the loss of shelter?
<Lack of cover *at the top* of the tank, e.g., no floating plants,
will allow male Guppies to see one another, and because of that,
aggression is more likely. Do read:
Should I treat the other guppy and catfishes for Fin Rot, just in
<If the other fish are asymptomatic, then no, don't medicate.
All medications are toxic at some level, so the less used, the better.
On the flip side, very mild medications like Melafix are often used too
late to be of any use.>
I wanted to work my way up to six Corys, but I'm afraid to do
anything just yet after these two deaths in one week. I will not be
replacing the guppy though. I would like to get away from livebearers
and try another species better suited for my size tank.
Thank you for any insight you can provide. Your site is the best
I've come across.
<Glad to help!>
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail 4/15/11
Thanks for the fast response Neale!
The Corydoras weren't in the small tank when I heated it to 80 F-
they stayed in the 10g at 78 F. I'm assuming then, since my other
fish are asymptomatic, it's safe to acquire more peppered
<Sure. But do review this species: it's a low-end tropical
species best kept around 22-25 C/72-77 F. If you must have a Corydoras
in warmer tanks, then you're really limited to a single species,
I know they are schooling fish; I was just being cautious by adding a
few at a time.
Also, the guppy type I have are Fancy Guppies. I'm not sure what I
can house with the male guppy I have left, besides the Corys. I know
now the proper male to female ratio for guppies, but a 10g tank is not
suitable for that.
<Indeed. I'd let the lone male Guppy do his thing and forget
about adding others. Corydoras paleatus are a bit big for 10 gallons,
but do-able I suppose. Potentially good tankmates are listed in that
article I sent you.
I happen to rate Danios, Neons, Red and Black Phantom Tetras and White
Cloud Mountain Minnows as among the best Corydoras tankmates because
they share the same preference for low-end tropical temperatures, but
note that Danios tend to bully other schooling fish, and Zebra Danios
at least would have NO place in a 10 gallon tank. Neons sometimes nip
Guppies, but the others should be fine.>
I'm assuming then too, if it really was Fin Rot, it was brought on
by stress from fighting and having an already damaged tail- yes?
<Yes. Finrot bacteria exist in all aquaria, all the time.
They're normally part of the biological cycle and break down bits
of organic matter into the chemicals the filter processes. But if the
fish is weakened, the bacteria are able to do this breakdown process on
living tissue -- and that's Finrot!>
The sick guppy was never on the bottom of the tank- I was able to
remove him before he got to that point, so I guess the Corys had
nothing to do with it?
<Would seem so. Corydoras have limited ability to swim in midwater,
and I can't see them attacking a Guppy in midwater.>
I was wondering about my other questions too though. Is the red color
in the Peppered Corys' gills normal?
<The gill lamellae inside the gills should be red, yes. But the gill
covers should be silvery speckled grey. Occasionally fish are born with
incomplete gill covers so you can see the gill lamellae, and under some
circumstances the gill covers may even curl backwards, again revealing
the gill lamellae.
But beyond this, no, you shouldn't see any red.>
And, is it to be expected to have fatalities of the new fish when you
add them to your tank?
<Absolutely not. Under good conditions, if you choose the right fish
for your aquarium and local water quality, mortalities should be low.
Fish are quite hardy, long-lived animals. Deaths immediately after
purchase usually imply shock, either because your water chemistry or
temperature are very different, or else you have such poor water
quality that the fish can't survive. Surprisingly perhaps, fish of
a given species can adapt to poor conditions (up to a point) but if the
same species is suddenly exposed to such conditions, those specimens
<You're welcome, Neale.>
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail 4/15/11
Wow- I honestly thought it leaned towards the norm to have fatalities
with new fish.
Not counting the guppy that just passed (since I had him and the other
one for 5 months), I had another guppy and this recent catfish die
within 2-4 days of acquiring. I'm going to retest the parameters of
<Do give me the numbers for an objective assessment!>
If that turns out okay, then I'm finding a new pet store!
<Can sometimes be an issue. Guppies are largely junk fish bred to a
price rather than a quality. There's a lot hardier if kept in
slightly brackish water, which Corydoras won't stand. Corydoras are
usually very hardy, but they do need good water quality.>
Thanks again for all of your help! -Lorie
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail 4/16/11
OK- I purchased a new master test kit after work today and just tested
the water. Today was the maintenance day, where I would do the weekly
25% water change with conditioned water and vacuum the gravel, and
normally I would rinse the filter cartridge, but since it's been in
there 1 month now, I was going to place a new cartridge in there.
<Do, please, understand you shouldn't need to replace the
biological media (sponges, ceramic noodles) in a filter more than once
a year, if that. You do not need carbon and you do not need Zeolite
(often sold as "ammonia remover"). These are both redundant
in most sorts of freshwater fishkeeping. If you have a filter that has
proprietary modules that already include carbon and/or Zeolite,
that's a shame. Unfortunately, many manufacturers produce these
limited, low-end filters and market them at absolute beginners who
don't really understand how filtration works. All you really need
for a successful aquarium is plain vanilla sponges and/or ceramic
noodles. These become colonised with "good" bacteria, and
these in turn process ammonia into nitrite and then into harmless
nitrate. That's all there is to fishkeeping. Understand this
process, and you'll find life much easier. Filter maintenance
should be limited to this: once every 6-8 weeks, take out the sponges
or ceramic noodles, fill a bucket with water from the aquarium, rinse
sponges and ceramic noodles in that, and then put the sponges and
ceramic noodles back in the filter. Throw away that dirty water, and
top up the tank with new water. Simple!>
So I tested the water before doing any of this and there are some
Ammonia .25 ppm,
Nitrite 5.0 ppm,
Nitrate 5.0 ppm and pH 7.4. I tested the conditioned water as a
control, and everything tested to zero and pH 7.4.
<Good quality tap water.>
With only 2 guppies in a 10g tank with an ample filter (filters 100
gallons per hour) and 25% weekly water changes with conditioned water
and gravel vacuuming, what could I be doing wrong?
<Do make sure you understand filtration and are maintaining
<Perhaps. Each fish needs no more than a flake about the size of its
Would these water conditions contribute to Fin Rot?
<Oh gosh, yes!>
What would you recommend to correct the water? Less food and bi-weekly
water changes for awhile?
<Yes and yes.>
Thank you again for your interest and help! - Lorie
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail- one more question!
I forgot to ask- since I placed the sick guppy in my 2.5g tank, do I
need to sterilize the tank and accessories (net/bucket) that came in
contact with the sick fish, including the filter?
<Not a bad idea.>
If so, how?
<Hydrogen peroxide is a good, safe bleach. Ordinary bleach, diluted
to the vaguest smell of chlorine, works too, but needs to be very
thoroughly rinsed afterwards. Then air-dry, ideally in
I'm assuming you can't sterilize gravel.
<You can, but it's pointless. It's best to throw away
everything that isn't essential.>
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail- one more bit of
I made a mistake- I didn't have the 10g set up for a few weeks
prior to adding the fish. I looked at my calendar and it was only for a
I figured since I used water from my old tank to the new, I didn't
need to wait as long for the water to be "cycled".
From reading other posts on your site, I'm now wondering if the
tank is still cycling.
Some on your site say to stop water changes, feeding and cleaning the
filter. Then others say do a large water change right away. I'm so
confused. Since some fish have died, I'm leaning towards a large
change, but I don't want to set back the cycling, if that's
what the problem is.
<Water changes good. Messing about with the filter bad.>
<20% water changes every 1-2 days would be a good idea. Cheers,
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail 4/17/11
Hi again Neale. Thank you so much for your help!
I was quite disturbed to see my guppy die of Fin Rot (I kept goldfish
in a 55g as a kid- never had these issues before!), and from doing
research on your site last night and finding out how lethal the Nitrite
level was, I ended up doing a 50% water change last night. I retested
the water this morning: Ammonia lowered a little, not quite zero, in
between zero and .25ppm; Nitrite lowered to .5ppm; and Nitrate stayed
the same at 5.0 ppm.
<Better, and the fact nitrite is higher than ammonia suggests
you're in the second half of the cycling process. But still, while
ammonia and nitrite are not zero, your fish are stressed. Don't
feed them more than once every other day, and do regular, frequent
I will continue with 20% water changes 1-2 days as you recommended in
your other response, since the tank is still in the cycling process.
One more reason I rushed the guppies in the new tank after it was only
set up for a week was because of the constant fighting in the cramped
2.5g; I figured they were under too much stress and it was worth the
risk. At that, it looks like I should have been doing more water
changes than once a week to compensate. I'm learning.....
Apparently I do not understand filtration. I did do research though; I
don't know if this compensates, but my filter does have a
"bio-wheel", which the directions say to never replace or
clean (unless excessively dirty, then rinse in conditioned water).
Since my tank has been set-up just over a month now, I haven't
touched the bio-wheel.
<This is the biological filter part of the system and best left
Then there are cartridges that it recommends to replace every 4 weeks-
they are made of a gauze like material, and yes, activated Carbon.
I was rinsing the cartridge once a week because it would get
brown/dirty, then last night I did place a new cartridge in the
<Do understand that carbon removes medications. You mustn't have
carbon in the filter if you are medicating sick fish. The exception is
salt, which isn't removed by carbon. But otherwise, as I stress at
this website regularly, carbon is best left OUT of freshwater tanks
unless you have a specific reason to use it.>
The directions also say to clean the intake valve and propeller once a
month but I haven't done that yet. I'm wondering if I could
modify the filter myself, forego the cartridge and somehow insert my
own sponge (I don't know what a vanilla sponge is but I'll
research). But maybe I don't need to bother since I already have
the bio-wheel? I honestly don't recollect any filter at the pet
store that does not use gauze/carbon filter cartridges or some
<Unfortunately, many of the low-end filters aimed at beginners have
the carbon pre-installed, I think more for marketing reasons than
anything else. Carbon is very cheap, but sounds good on the box, so
people with no experience of fishkeeping assume it's a good thing
to have. In fact for small tanks, the best filters are plain vanilla
internal canister or box filters stuffed with sponge and/or ceramic
noodles. Even a simply sponge filter will work better, and long term,
will be much easier to maintain as well as less expensive.>
As far as feeding- when you say a flake per fish the size of their eye-
is that feeding them 2-3 times a day?
<When the tank is cycled, sure. But not for now. See above.>
I have timed the guppies when they eat and make sure they can finish
the flakes in 3 minutes top; I feed once a day.
<Far too much. Like humans, fish will eat more than they need.
Overfeeding causes problems primarily because uneaten food and excreted
ammonia strain the filter, reducing water quality. In a cycled tank
this isn't such a problem because the filter processes this waste
to nitrate, which is relatively (though not completely) harmless. But
in a cycling tank, even traces of ammonia will cause harm.>
Although when I vacuum the gravel, I am finding whole pieces of flake
food on the bottom.
<Proof the filter isn't adequate.>
They certainly get more than one flake each though. I feed the catfish
sinking micro wafers, but I'm not sure if they can find them in the
gravel, since I vacuumed up wafers last night too. I'm just going
to feed less.
I will also disinfect my other tank that I had the sick fish in, like
you recommended, and throw away the gravel. Oh- Speaking of gravel, my
10g tank has less than 1in of gravel.
<If you don't have plants with roots, then you need only enough
gravel or sand to hide the glass.>
I'm reading the gravel helps with biological filtration, so I will
also add more gravel.
<Helps only as part of an undergravel filter. Otherwise your safest
bet is to minimise gravel depth. Remember, to remove ammonia and
nitrite, the bacteria on the gravel have receive oxygen, and oxygen
only diffuses a few mm into a static gravel bed. So anything more than,
really, one grain of gravel down won't receive oxygen and won't
be adding anything to biological filtration. An undergravel filter
draws water and therefore oxygen down its entire depth. It's a very
good type of filter in many ways.>
Should I wait to add the gravel until the water has stabilized?
<Do not add more gravel.>
Re: Guppy Sudden Loss of Tail 4/18/11
Hi Neale, how are you?
<Real good, thanks!>
Your last reply didn't show up in my inbox, but I copied and pasted
it from the website, so no problem. I just wanted to thank you once
again. Your help is greatly appreciated, and I feel better informed and
equipped to right my tank issues and have happy fish. Although I have
done research on my own, nothing beats precise answers to specific
questions and problems.
Especially your shared info on filters and filter media- none of this I
was aware of before. I definitely want to look into a better filter
now, and like you said, seems I'll save money in the long run and
maintenance will be a lot simpler (and therefore, more enjoyable, and,
better for my fish!).
<Ah, do have a read here:
"A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Tropical Freshwater
Aquarium" by Gina Sandford is a very good, clear guide for setting
up an aquarium and covers all the basics.>
I was following the feeding directions on the food container, although
I realize they're in the market to sell as much product as they
can. Now that I think about it, when I had a cat, the canned wet food
directions suggested 3 full cans a day, which was WAY too much
<Indeed so. Humans are hopeless at judging the necessary amount of
food, which is why we, and many of our pets, are often
You helped me before with red claw crab questions/problems, and your
knowledge was invaluable- I couldn't find much info about them on
the internet. Unfortunately that situation didn't work out. The pet
store was keeping them as semi-aquatic, and now I see they are keeping
them fully aquatic. I have no idea why they're even selling these
<Because they sell, basically. Many people buy fish the same way
they buy cut flowers -- when they die, they replace 'em. It's a
situation we'd never tolerate for cats or dogs, but for
"lower" animals, it's something we turn a blind eye to.
The problem is that casual misuse of animals gives ammunition to the
likes of PETA who'd want to stop people owning pets altogether. If
pet-owners want to enjoy their freedom to keep animals of their
choosing, I think they should act with more respect and humanity to the
animals they keep. Like many of the liberties we enjoy, there's a
responsibility attached to the freedom.>
Of course this is a chain pet store- there aren't any privately
owned pet stores in my area.
Anyways, thanks again, and on to better fish keeping! : ) -Lorie
<Thanks for writing! Cheers, Neale.>
Red algae, FW, guppy hlth., using WWM
I set up a 10 gallon (heated, aerated, and filtered) fish tank
recently, it has 2 guppies and a few ghost shrimp. It was all going
smoothly until I added the shrimp, suddenly red algae exploded in the
<Mmm, the color itself can be misleading... does this material feel
very slimy? It's likely Cyanobacteria/BGA>
I clean it and it covers the aquarium again in around 2 weeks. Nothing
online has been very helpful.
The crew has been of great help in the past, so it`d be great if you
could help me out again.
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwbgafaqs.htm>
Also, I had a guppy that would swim mid-tank with its mouth pointing
toward the surface, though it was capable of swimming normally and also
had a bent spine. I was told it was because of previous conditions in
which I regrettably and ignorantly kept it (in a small, one gallon with
another guppy, ouch). It seemed to be reasonable fact until recently
the guppy died and another one seems to be taking up the habit of the
deceased. The body of the deceased seemed untouched when I pulled it
out. Any suggestions on what the problem may be?
<Please learn to/use the search tool on WWM; it's linked (on the
left shared border/.dwt)... to here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
and put in the string: "guppy bent spine", read the cached
views. Bob Fenner>
Female Guppy, injury 3/15/11
I checked the FAQs but found no answer to my question, hope someone can
I have a 10 gallon aquarium that has been up and running for approx. 4
months, in it I have 2 female fancy guppies, 1 male fancy guppy, 1
dwarf Gourami, 1 sparkling Gourami, and 1 male Betta.
<Mmm, the Betta may well chew the male guppy's fins...>
My temp is at 76 and all of my fish appear to be fine except for my
pregnant female guppy. I have her in an enclosure as she is due any day
now and she has been fine up until this morning. She was acting like
she was going to give birth i.e.: not eating and lying on the bottom,
then all later this afternoon I noticed that the top of her head was
very red it looks like it is where her brain would be. She has no other
symptoms please help.
Thanks in advance,
<Might be a secondary infection from a whack w/ a net or the
container... best to be patient, not treat. Bob Fenner>
Re: Female Guppy 3/16/11
Thank you very much.
<Ah, you're welcome. BobF>
bubbles on fish previous to dying. 1/29/11
My family and I just got started with fish for family pets around
Christmas time. We have a 10 gallon tank in which we have 5 guppies,
which sounds pretty idiotic from what I keep reading about room and
<Indeed. Male Guppies are aggressive, and I would not recommend
keeping them in anything less than 15 gallons. Ender Guppies are
somewhat smaller so can work fine in 10 gallons, but even then, you
need to be careful to keep twice as many females than males.>
But since my mother is allergic to dogs and my dad's allergic to
cats, we figured fish were the better choice for family pets.
We feed them daily with tropical flakes, and with bloodworms and color
enhancing flakes about twice a week. (PetSmart's Top Fin Tropical
Flakes, PetSmart's Freeze Dried Bloodworms, and PetSmart's
Tropical Color-Enhancing Flakes). Our aquarium has 3 artificial plants,
one cave, and one tripod rock formation in the corner of the tank.
First off, we've gone through 7 fish. (Fancy Red guppy, GloFish,
Tiger Tail guppy, 2 Cherry Barbs, and a Fancy Yellow guppy). We have a
filter and a heater to keep the temperature between 78-80 so they
didn't/don't freeze or overheat.
<Actually, there's more to keeping the tank at the right
temperature that just dumping a heater in the tank! Your Danios for
example (what your GloFish are) need to be kept quite cool, 22-24
C/72-75 F being correct. By contrast your fancy Guppies would do well a
little warmer, 25-28 C/77-82 F being good. Cherry Barbs enjoy the same
somewhat cool conditions as the Danios. So, when you go shopping for
fish, you choose species that share the same temperature and water
chemistry requirements. There isn't a "happy medium" that
would suit all these fish perfectly well, though wild-type Guppies can
do fine in the same cool conditions as Danios. The problem is that the
inbreeding that produces all those funky-coloured Guppies also removes
their hardiness. That's why people like me who've been at this
a while don't recommend beginners start with Guppies.>
Currently we have a Red Tuxedo guppy, a Turquoise Tail guppy, two Laser
Beam guppies, and a Tequila Sunrise guppy (all PetSmart pet store
bought). The older cherry barb got too aggressive with our previous
Tiger Tail guppy, and the GloFish (probably should have expected that)
and took a huge chunk out of the Tiger Tail guppy so he had a bald spot
on the top of his head, also doing damage to the tail of the GloFish
which got caught in the filter. We tried moving the cherry barbs to
another tank but they died almost an hour and a half of putting them in
there after the tank was running for a week. We let the bags sit in the
tank for 15-20 minutes so the temperature of the water would
Eventually, the Tiger Tail starting getting the scales back. He was
acting normally and was very active around the tank with the other
guppies, but would hide in an alcove every once in a while, (we thought
he was just resting and trying to heal himself). He also was covered in
what seemed to be a bunch of bubbles, or white spots (again we thought
that was the film from him trying to heal). However, after about
another 2 or 3 days he kept hiding in the alcove and only came out to
eat, moved around a bit, and went right back in. One morning after
being up until about 11pm, we found him belly up on the outside of the
cove when we went to feed him around 7am..
Now, we had the Fancy Yellow guppy and we got him about a week ago. He
was always trying to swim against the current of the filter. He was
eating normally, and every so often would try to swim against the
current. Just yesterday and a little of the day before that, he started
getting the same bubbles on him as the Tiger Tail. And I mean covered
in them..it actually looked like his scales were Braille, and just out
of nowhere. I put the food in the tank this morning and I found him on
the gravel near the bottom of the heater. I looked about two minutes
later to make sure they were eating and I guess the current flipped him
over and I saw he was dead.
Now my concern is that our Red Tuxedo guppy (who we've had since
after new years) is starting to show these same bubbles or spots on him
as well..could it be that he's the next one to go? Our turquoise
guppy had a little bit of those bubbles on him but he seemed to grow
and the bubbles were gone..the other one just seemed to die. Is there
anything I can do to stop this?
<It's almost certain to me that you haven't cycled your tank
properly, and that you have only the haziest ideas about what fish need
to survive. Poor conditions and poor planning have doomed your
purchases to a swift demise. Likely through Finrot or some other
bacterial infection, but the details couldn't matter less given the
big picture. Plus, you've chosen the wrong fish for beginners and
you're keeping them in a tank far too small for them. Beginners
shouldn't start with tanks smaller than 20 gallons, and the species
they choose should be sturdy, reliable species such as Peppered Catfish
(Corydoras paleatus) and plain vanilla Zebra Danios.
Buy a "long" 20 gallon tank and cycle the tank for 3-4 weeks
by adding small pinches of flake every day, and then doing 25% water
changes once a week. After 4 weeks you should find Nitrite (not
Nitrate) has risen up, peaked, and then gone down to zero. (You do have
a Nitrite test kit, I assume? If not, get one, pronto.) Then you could
add a school of 6 Zebra Danios, do 20-25% water changes every week, and
a month later add 4-5 Peppered Catfish. Both these species are unfussy
about water chemistry and thrive at the same low-end tropical
conditions, around 24 C/75 F being ideal. Do that, and you should find
the hobby a lot easier. After a few months you may well decide you
understand how things work, and you could add one or two additional
species. I'd suggest a Bristlenose Catfish (Ancistrus sp.) as a
small, worthwhile algae-eating catfish, and as a personality fish a
Banded or Thick Lipped Gourami (Colisa fasciata or Colisa labiosa
respectively), both of these being less aggressive than Three-Spot
Gouramis and much, much hardier than the utterly useless Dwarf Gourami
(Colisa lalia) that beginners, indeed everyone else, should avoid like
<Hope this clarifies things for you. Good luck! Neale.>
My guppies are dying one by one 1/22/11
About a three Â½ weeks ago, we bought 4 fancy male
guppies, two red and two yellow. Tank had been running for a week prior
to introducing of fish. 5 days after the purchase, 1 yellow died. He
had been acting fine, and one day after a feeding he started sitting on
the top or bottom, just moving his fins. If you tapped on the glass,
he'd move a little, but died after 2 days. That was last week. This
morning, we found 1 of the red ones dead. We found him last night also
just sort of sitting at the top, though he was much more active than
the 1st yellow. We found him dead this morning.
Water has been tested, and all levels are good, although the pH was
<Unlikely to be a problem'¦ pH 7.5-8.5 is optimal for
Our water is very soft.
<Bam! Right here is the problem. Guppies need HARD water.
Aquarium is 20 gallons, with a heater (temp between 76-80). Large
filter with bio-wheel. Has plastic and real plants. My husband added
plant fertilizer this weekend to help the plants, as they are dying due
to lack of substrate (we're redoing the base at this point) and low
light. He also recently changed the light from 15W to 65W. There is
also a black mystery snail in the tank who is doing great. They are eat
tropical flake food, and freeze-dried brine shrimp. We have also
attempted to feed them cucumber, but they wouldn't eat it. We have
been doing partial water changes every other day.
The only other consistency we noticed with both dead fish is that right
before their death, they got a red spot on their back, near their
dorsal fin. Very small, never changed size or color, but it was not
there prior to this. We don't want to keep losing fish. My son has
a small 5 gallon aquarium with Glo-fish that have been doing
excellently. Is this an illness or just bad fish? My husband thinks
that the water coming out of the filter is too rough for them and they
are somehow getting injured. Thank you.
Depending how soft your water is, 50% to 100% the dosage of Rift Valley
Salt Mix should harden the water up enough. You're aiming for at
least 10 degrees dH, ideally 15+ degrees dH. Don't worry about the
pH too much -- so long as it isn't below 7, you should be fine. Too
many beginners get bogged down in the pH without learning about what
matters, the hardness. Do also remember NOT to use water that's
been through a domestic water softener. This water is fine for washing
and cleaning your house, but UNSUITABLE for fish tanks (and arguably
not even safe to drink, which is why the kitchen tap normally bypasses
the domestic water softener). Make a series of water changes, about 20%
at a time, over the next week, replacing old water in your tank with
water that has the Rift Valley Salt Mix added as described in that
article. By the end of the week you should find your Guppies much
happier. Cheers, Neale.>
Guppy Water Chemistry 1/13/11
I have 10 gallon and 46 gallon tank and recently lost a lot of guppies.
I red your article to Giuseppe about pH parameters and adjusting pH,
hardness. My water is extremely soft and although out of tap it
7.0,GH & KH were both zero. pH was not stable and stayed between
Before the fish died, they all hovered in front of the filter and died
one by one. After reading Neale's article, I removed the carbon,
replaced with crushed coral in a stocking foot, added a coconut shell
in. In few hours fish were more active and pH risen to 7. 8 GH 120 KH
75. Water appears brownish and cloudy, but fish appears happier.
My question are does the cloudiness go away?
<Should do. Assuming you haven't recently changed the gravel
(silt on sand and gravel often makes water cloudy) the silt may be
coming from the crushed coral. Rinse this thoroughly before use.
Otherwise, it's possible the cloudiness is due to either a harmless
diatom bloom or a slightly more worrying bacterial bloom. Diatoms are
yellowy and tend to cycle back and forth a few times across a few weeks
then go away. Bacterial blooms are more milky colour and are associated
with water quality and/or water
chemistry variation. Normally they go away within a few days, but do
keep an eye on your fish. In either case, doing a series of small water
changes, perhaps 10-20% every 2-3 days, should help things clear up,
and rinsing the mechanical media in your filter will dramatically
improve things too.
Filter floss is especially good for "polishing"
Is there such thing as too hard for guppies?
<Not really, no. Anything up to 35 degrees dH is fine, and
you're unlikely to see those conditions in a freshwater
I put enough coral to fill the foot and the filter container, is this a
<Might be more than you actually need. My gut feeling would be for a
40-50 gallon tank a fist-sized quantity should do. It's more
important that you clean the crushed coral regularly.>
When do I replace the coral?
<Replacing isn't crucial if you remember to clean the crushed
coral under a very hot tap every couple of weeks to wash away all the
slime surrounding the particles. If you wanted to, you could replace
once a year.>
Does fish behavior suggest cause of their death was the acidic pH?
<Acidic pH will quickly kill Guppies, yes. In hard water they are
usually very hardy. Though not strictly essential, the addition of a
little aquarium salt, up to half an ounce per US gallon, can be helpful
very low salinity won't harm filter bacteria or most plants. Many
fish farms breed their Guppies in slightly brackish water.>
I like to purchase more and I just want to make sure they make it this
time. Thank you!
Re: Guppy Water Chemistry 1/14/11
Your site is awesome and thank you for all the info once more.
<Happy to help.>
I removed all the gravel few weeks ago after most of the fish died; so,
aside from few plastic plants, power filter, heater and UV sterilizer
there is nothing else. Today, I removed half of the coral out of the
filter as you suggested.
One of the Blue Moscows is pregnant, she has a healthy body, eating
well, active. It was interesting to read that unborn fish fry can make
themselves disappear by moving up in mothers belly further and
re-appeared later. I saw that happen. Another, interesting point that
you have mentioned, if I keep temp over about 80
<28 C/82 F is ideal. Don't keep them very much warmer than this
too long, or their lives will be very short.>
and pH and hardness higher, I may have better chance to have more
<This is a bit of an old wives' tale. There's little
scientific evidence to back this up. One recent scientific analysis
suggests that excessively warm conditions may alter the mortality of
fry, and the female fry die more quickly, hence the observation in some
situations that warmer water favours male fry. But increasing mortality
isn't what you want. Dead embryos make it more likely the adult
female will die, and I've seen fish die this way more than once,
and it's horrible to watch.>
I would really like that.
<Sadly, all the evidence is that Guppies produce more or less equal
numbers of male and female fry unless the female "chooses" to
do otherwise -- though this is a hazy area of the science based on
observations in the wild, where some batches of fry do seem biased
towards one or other of the sexes.>
You are a great resource. I have learned more from you than 5 books I
purchased earlier. Why don't you write one?
<I already have. One called "Brackish Water Fishes" for
TFH, and another, upcoming one for the Amazon Kindle.>
How does the tank cycles if the only media in it is crushed coral?
<You can in fact use crushed coral as the sole biological media,
though a combination of coral sand and crushed coral is generally
recommended, usually as the two layers of an undergravel filter. This
is how old school marine aquaria were done. Guppies would really thrive
in such an aquarium, by the way!>
If I washed the crushed coral under hot water every 2 weeks, would that
also not kill the good bacteria?
<Which is why you only clean the crushed coral, not the sponges
and/or ceramic noodles in your biological filter.>
What is floss, does it looks like scrub pad?
<No; it looks like cotton wool. It's sometimes called filter
floss or filter wool.>
If so I have that on in the hang Is that it? If not let me know, I
'll go and get one. Is that enough to keep the bacteria colony
cloned every 2 weeks?
<You need your filter to be mostly (say, 80% by volume) biological
media such as sponges and ceramic noodles, and only up to 20% both
mechanical media (filter wool) and chemical media (crushed coral in a
This is my one last try to grow Blue Moscows. 45 gallon tank is empty
and depending on how the 10 and 3 gallons do with all these changes, I
will not buy more of them any time soon. Thanks for your time and
kindness to return my Emails. Sule
<You're welcome, Neale.>
guppy help, hlth. 1/4/11
hi I have read through the disease FAQs but I get conflicting
<Really? I'd have thought Guppy care was pretty clear by
so I wanted to ask directly'¦
I have a 6g eclipse aquarium with one male guppy,
<Much too small a tank for Guppies; 10 gallons might be okay for a
single male but it isn't really ideal. Fancy Guppies of the sort
sold in pet stores are really quite delicate, and because the males are
aggressive to each other as well as females, I recommend at least 15
gallons for groups of one male and 2-3 females.>
the only inhabitant, tank set up about 4 months ago. Had minor tattered
<Do be aware male Guppies fight, and they're also easily nipped
by other fish, even species that don't normally nip at other fish.
Once Finrot sets in, damaged fins quickly get worse, and the Guppy will
when we put him in the tank about 3 months ago and got better, has been
looking great. Over last 10 days he mostly hangs up in he corner and
near the top of the tank. Still swims around and eats. Looks a little
bloated, but not much, and fins not angulating out weird, and scaled
not popping out, eyes look fine, no red or white spots, but most often
has a stringy poop of variable length emerging from anus, can be quite
long, white or clear but sometimes red or dark brown.
<In itself not a clear symptom of anything, but can indicate
internal parasites in some instances. Do see how faeces change as diet
changes -- offer more green foods, and avoid dry foods as much as
possible. Ideally, provide a diet based around cooked peas, cooked
spinach, Spirulina flake food, live brine shrimp, and live daphnia.
Avoid freeze-dried bloodworms and brine shrimps and foods of those
sorts, as these seem to exacerbate the risk of constipation. Even with
healthy fish, they're best used as once-a-week treats.>
temp of tank 78-80. Feeding omega one natural protein
<Some fresh greens are important. Guppies naturally feed on algae
more than anything else.>
We do a 35% water change weekly with testing of parameters, nitrates
and nitrites have been undetectable. Only tankmate is a snail to help
with algae. Fins look great still by the way, no tattering. I don't
know whether to treat with meds or alter his diet or something else.
thanks in advance, George
Re: guppy help 1/5/11
Thanks. I will change his diet. How long would you try that for before
giving parasite treatment a shot?
<I'd do them both right now.>
He almost seems like he can't swim to the bottom of the tank easily
due to bloating.
<Indeed. Needs prompt treatment.>
When given flake or live brine he does respond briskly though.
I dropped a guppy on the floor 12/24/10
I've been on your website for the last couple of hours, reading
about swim bladders, diseases, injuries, etc., but can't find
anything that addresses my concern. I have three fish tanks - a 10 gal
isolation tank that currently houses 3 albino Corys, 3 neon tetras, and
1 female guppy that I just acquired); a 47 gal community tank with
mostly livebearers (usual population is 3 adult female platys and 5
juvenile platys (3 male and 2 female) that are about 2 months old; 2
male and 6 female adult guppies and 5 juveniles ranging from 3 weeks to
7 or 8 weeks; two molly fry about a 4 or 5 weeks old; 4 Otocinclus; and
4 Corys (2 emerald green and 2 peppered). The third tank, 14 gal, has
only been inhabited for a few days, because it just finished cycling. I
learned the hard way that putting too many fish in a newly cycled tank
isn't wise (added 15 fish to the 47 gal at once, and lost 7 of them
in the first week or so), so I'm going more gradually now.
My goal for that tank is a school of Neons, 7-9, 4 or 5 albino Corys,
and later, if I can find a compatible one, a male Betta. At the moment,
the tank holds the only 2 of the original 5 neon tetras that survived,
along with 4 guppies. The reason the guppies are there is the essential
issue of this letter. The community tank and the 14 gal have
"waterfall" type filters that hang on the back of the tank,
while the iso tank has an undergravel filter with extra filter media
(floss, carbon, and ceramic biofilter thingies) in the tubes. All of
the tanks have good water parameters and get regular partial water
changes, with some of the filter media left as is while other media is
rinsed and/or replaced on a rotating basis.
<Sounds good thus far>
A couple of weeks ago I noticed that my largest platy was starting to
bully the other fish, driving them away from food, etc. At first she
was chasing them away from a remnant of a spinach leaf that she wanted
to herself, so I put in two new leaves, pointing opposite directions
from the clip, and that seemed to be OK for that day. Then I noticed
she was chasing fish regardless of food. She was also getting quite
pregnant looking, even though the oldest male platy in the tank was not
quite 2 months old (in fact, I had only been able to identify gender
with certainty for a week or so before that). I thought she might be
pregnant from sperm she was carrying from a mating prior to her arrival
in my tank, and that maybe she was needing more space to herself for
awhile. My 10 gal isolation tank was currently being used as a fry
tank, and contained two guppies and two mollies that were all between
1/2" and 2/3" inch, and one little guppy fry that was only
about 1/3" (he/she got accidentally transferred to my new tank
along with water and filter gunk from my other two tanks to help speed
cycling, and was in that tank alone for 2-3 days before I noticed it).
I also had 2 of my 4 Otos in the 10 gal tank for clean-up duty. I
hadn't planned on moving any of them to the community tank until
the smallest fry was at least 1/2" long, but decided that I needed
to move the bully, and that without her in the community tank, the
little one would probably be OK. So, I moved the 5 fry to the community
tank, and the bully to the iso tank. I was using a plastic container
that was fairly wide and shallow (about 5-6" across and maybe
3" deep). When I put the babies in the big tank, the bully was
right at the top, so I scooped her up with the transfer container
rather than using a net. I got another platy and two guppies in the
process. The one I was trying to move immediately started racing around
trying to jump out of the container, so I decided the others could go
along for the ride. I put one hand over the top to make sure the platy
didn't actually jump out, and carried them the 25 feet or so to the
iso tank. Of course the three extra fish ended up in the tank, too, so
I scooped them back out with a net, into the transfer container, and
headed back for the community tank.
One of the guppies, Dawn (who is a blonde guppy with a very bright
yellow tail), was still in the net, in the water. About 4 feet from our
destination the net suddenly flipped out of the container onto the
floor with Dawn inside. I think I may have bumped the handle on
something, but I'm not sure. I immediately scooped her back into
the container (since she was in the net, that was easy to do), then
held her in the net in the water while transferring the other two back
to the tank. I put Dawn back in the container for observation, and she
was completely disoriented for a few minutes - swimming sideways and
upside down and vertically. After the first few minutes she was just
hanging vertically in the water, head up and tail down, moving very
little. My mother, who was visiting, suggested a little salt, which we
added, and we both continued to observe. After awhile, when she
appeared neither better nor worse and the water in the small container
was starting to feel too cold, I moved her to the iso tank and put her
in a net breeder to give her support and safety, since the only other
fish in the tank (other than the Otos) was the bully. An hour or so
later I noticed that her gravid spot, which is usually orange/brown,
looked distinctly bloody, her whole body was mottled as if bruised, and
she was a bit misshapen. From above, she appeared to bulge out more on
one side than the other, and her spine appeared curved to the side a
bit. Fortunately, all her fins were working, including her tail, so I
knew she hadn't suffered a spinal cord injury. Her gills also
appeared to be working fine.
Over the next couple of days there was little change. She laid on the
bottom of the net breeder mostly, and when she tried to swim she was
almost vertical. She didn't seem very interested in food. After 2
to 3 days of not much change, I had about decided it was time to
euthanize her, but she suddenly perked up. I discovered that she was
going after food, but was having difficulty getting any, because she
couldn't aim herself correctly to get the food, and if it passed
her she couldn't get her head lower than her body to get to it. I
got a drinking straw and blew some frozen food (a mix of blood worms
and other stuff) directly into her path, and she gobbled it down. I
then used the straw to agitate some flake food that had drifted to the
bottom of the net breeder, and when it was high enough for her to
reach, she gobbled that, too. Obviously, I decided to give her a couple
more days to see if she would continue to improve. After 4 or 5 days I
put the bully back into the main tank, where she has been the perfect
little lady again (I don't know what got into her for that week or
so!), and tipped the net breeder on its side in the tank, so Dawn could
swim free but could still use the net for support if she wanted to. She
slept in it the first night, but also moved around the tank some, still
at a rather steep angle but with a straighter appearance from the top.
I moved the 2 tetras in with her for a couple of days when the new tank
was almost ready for habitation, and when I moved them on I put two
other female guppies in with Dawn. Pepper, who is the smallest adult
female and is a little smaller than Dawn, and Pepper's daughter,
who is about an inch or a bit more. They had all been in the community
tank together prior to the accident. Dawn immediately became more
active, and the three hung out together in the tank.
Wednesday was the two week mark. Dawn's color has returned to
normal, she is no longer mottled, she is able to direct herself toward
food successfully, and to angle downward to pick up food that has
fallen past her. She is swimming around the tank, and when moving
forward quickly is almost level. However, she still hangs at about a 30
to 40 degree angle when she is not actively moving forward. Yesterday
evening I moved her and the other two guppies, along with the two Otos,
to the tetra tank to prepare the iso tank for new fish. I also added a
new guppy fry that I found at the top of the community tank, probably
only a day or so old. I don't know if he/she will make it to
adulthood, but I think the chances are better with fewer and smaller
fish than in the community tank. The tetra tank is on a higher stand,
and is taller (16" high rather than 12"), which has made it
easier to observe her from the side. I noticed that her back is more
humped than usual for a guppy, above her spine. It's not a distinct
lump, just more rounded up than is usual for a guppy, more like the
typical shape of a platy. She almost looks like she's retaining
fluids, because she is quite transparent there. I don't know if
that rounding is pushing the back part of her body and her tail down,
or if it is a result of those parts hanging down, or even if it's
related. I have suspected from the first that she may have injured her
swim bladder when she fell, and I still think that's likely.
So, there is the background, and I can finally get to my questions: If
she did injure her swim bladder, is there any chance that she might
recover completely, or is this as good as its likely to get?
<Might still recover>
Is her "humpback" condition likely due to swelling/edema, or
after two weeks would that have gone away?
<This too may resolve itself in time>
If not swelling, do you have any ideas about the cause, and/or the
Other than the usual maintenance (water quality, diet, etc), is there
anything else I can do?
<Not really, no>
She can swim bottom to top and back again in the 16" high tank
(around 12-13 inches of water between the substrate and the top of the
water). Do you think she could do the same in my community tank, which
is tall rather than wide (about 25-26 inches of water)?
<In time, yes. I'd leave this fish where it is for another month
Also, my two male adult guppies are pretty active in their pursuit of
the girls, and sometimes relentlessly double-team one of them. The
juvenile male (also Pepper's offspring and about an inch long at
this point) has started to follow and dance for the juvenile girls,
including the platys and mollies. I haven't seem him after any of
the adults yet, but no doubt he'll be there soon enough. If Dawn
doesn't get better in her orientation, should I plan to house her
separately from the community tank indefinitely?
Thanks for your help.
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Guppy problems, dis. 12/23/10
I've hunted around your most excellent website again and feel I
need a bit more help. I moved 16 x 3 month old baby guppies from a
small tank (30 litres) to a new larger planted tank (95 litres as past
experience showed that the males tend to get rather too dominant if
there is not enough top space). Everything was fine until I stupidly
moved an older guppy in with them that had been recovering from a bit
of tail rot (he was also blind and had a curved spine so was no threat
to the little ones). However, I now fear I have passed on some virus or
bacteria despite the blind guppy being treated over a period of time
with a broad spectrum antibiotic.
<Guppies are prone to several more-or-less incurable diseases.
Mycobacteria infections are quite common among farmed livebearers
generally; do read WWM re: Mycobacteria for more. There's also a
variety of Tetrahymena parasite that causes so-called Guppy Disease.
Affected fish are lethargic, stop eating, and eventually die. While
white spots on the skin or unusual patches of mucous may be evident,
they are not always seen. Because of the similarity between Guppy
Disease and various other problems such as poor water quality, this
disease remains poorly known and difficult for fishkeepers to diagnose.
It cannot live in strongly brackish to marine conditions, but farmed
Guppies may not tolerate even short-term maintenance in seawater (wild
and crossbred Guppies can) so this way of managing Tetrahymena
isn't always an option. At the moment medications for Guppy Disease
Septicaemia of various kinds is not uncommon among fish, particularly
farmed varieties such as Guppies and Angels that have been inbred to
the Nth degree. However, septicaemia usually follows on from some
triggering factor such as stress of physical damage.>
Now I have 7 of the smallest guppies not doing so well - they seem
quite lethargic and their fins appear to be angled towards their tail
rather than forward. There is some pink around the base of their fins
and some tiny odd little red marks on their body. One in particular has
entered a whirling phase. Otherwise, tails are open and fine and they
are eating. I have quarantined them and put them in a well-aired
hospital tank with salt and a broad spectrum antibiotic (JBL Furanol2)
over the past 24 hours.
The large planted tank they have come from had the following
Nitrates 15-20ppm (difficult to tell due to strip test)
GH around 12 degrees
KH around 12 degrees
PH around 7.8
Tank has a smidgen of salt added (around 4 teaspoons)
<If this is a Guppy-only system, raising salinity can be beneficial,
at least 2 grammes marine salt mix/litre up to, say, 6 grammes/litre,
depending on the types of plants.>
I have plenty of oxygen from two bubble curtains.
<Bubble curtains don't actually add oxygen to the water.
That's a myth.
They increase circulation somewhat, though.>
I have recently started adding Easy-carbon each day to help the plants
whilst turning the bubble curtains right down during the day.
<Wouldn't bother with this at all. Get plants that grow in the
conditions you have. Adding chemicals to the water if you don't
fully understand the science behind them is never a good idea.>
All I can narrow it down to is three possibilities:
1) a virus or bacteria introduced from the blind guppy two weeks ago
(he died not long after);
2) something carried in on the new plants (HC)
<Unlikely if the plants came from a plant grower/shipper, as these
will be growing plants in greenhouse conditions. Of course, plants
taken from a tank with fish in can carry the free-living stages of
3) the Easy-carbon I've started to add (would the PH level changed
too fast despite the oxygen curtain?)
<Could well, yes.>
I thought it might be 'whirling' disease and considered
Haemorrhagic Septicaemia too. The most obvious signs of illness are the
lethargy, backward pointing fins, pink areas around the fins base and
this one fish that torpedoes out of control.
One last thought - I always appear to run into problems with guppies
when they approach the 3 month age. Is this common with so much line
breeding of the parents taking place these days?
<Yes. You will observe that I rarely ever recommend Fancy Guppies
for precisely this reason. The quality is abysmal.>
I may have to change my supplier.
<Unfortunately, in the UK at least most are coming from the same Far
East exporters who breed fish to a price, not a quality.>
<Try keeping other fish. Seriously. I gave up with Guppies some 25
years ago. The livebearers I do keep nowadays are things like Limia
nigrofasciata and Ameca splendens that provide all the fun without
anything like the delicacy.>
Many many thanks in advance to your wonderful team and seasonal
kindest regards, Patrick
<Merry Christmas, Neale.>
Guppy in trouble. 12/16/10
Thank you in advance for your time and help.
Ok, I have 2 tanks 1 100L and a 65L got a 350L on the way and picking
up a 38L hospital tank later on today, as I've been meaning to get
The problem I have is with a male guppy in my 65L, I have had him since
he was born in the main tank, but recently I have noticed he
doesn't swim properly, when he does swim his tail hangs lower then
his head, and he doesn't have the normal fluid movement like the
rest, it's more like a he can't move his back almost like a
<Mmm, how old is this fish?>
The other thing he does is when is when he swims he opens his mouth all
the way and keeps it open, like he is struggling, but he tends to spend
his time lying on a leaf at the top of the tank.
All the readings are normal and the tank cycled over 10 months ago.
I will admit that the tank is over stocked due to the platys breeding,
but I'm aware of the problem and am doing regular water changes and
have a bigger already cycled tank coming.
The only thing that has occurred in that tank is my female fighter had
dropsy, well I'm pretty sure it was, her scales protruded but they
have nearly almost gone done now.
We treated her with Myxazin and Octozin and that was over a week ago
<These should be okay... in terms of the Guppy exposure>
I can send you pictures if required and more information.
My partner wants me to take him to a fish shop so they can look at him
but I think it would be far to stressful in his weekend state.
Again thank you for you advice and guidance.
<Most likely this one fish is... "defective"...
genetically/developmentally. Fishes, unlike mammals "have such
difficulties" much later in age at times. If it bothers you to
wait and see if this male will rally, you might euthanize this one
specimen. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm
Re: Swamp guppies, hlth 11/17/10
Hi Neale, my guppy male has a swollen right eye and seems stressed, I
have done a water change, is there anything else I could do please?
<Hello Louise. A single swollen eye typically indicates physical
perhaps clumsy handling, bumping into sharp objects, or most often in
livebearers, fighting. In any case, 1 to 3 teaspoons of Epsom salt per
5 gallons is typically used to reduce swelling. An antibiotic may or
may not help recovery; it's difficult to predict. With luck,
swelling will go down.
If you're unlucky, the eye will decay and fall away. The fish
itself won't be substantially harmed by this, though it might find
locating food a bit more difficult. Fortunately for fish, their lateral
line works like a sort
of "radar" and compensates very effectively -- indeed, for
fish living in habitats with minimal visibility, the lateral line is
far more useful than eyesight. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Swamp guppies
Hi Neale, so good to hear there's a chance for him. Thank you so
much for your quick response, kind regard, Louise.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
strange worms in my guppy tank 11/13/10
Ok I have these tiny little white worms in my male guppy tank but let
me give you some background. I recently bought some very pretty fancy
males and introduced them into my 60 gallon tank. After a bit of a go
at my females I placed them into my 5 gallon "male" tank with
my other males.
<Too small a volume for these fish>
Within a month some of my females along with some platys in my tank
began to swell and look like a pinecone and die. I looked it up and
dropsy was what I found.
<A descriptive term, summat like "colds" in humans... Of
various etiologies... causes>
Right after dealing with that and dealing with my last case of dropsy I
noticed one male in my small tank mysteriously died. It was one of the
pretty new males. I assumed it was killed by the other males and dipped
him out and thought nothing of it until a couple days later I noticed a
tiny cone shaped snail in my male tank. Within two weeks of that my
male tank had many snails. Just today I looked in my male tank that I
had not looked closely at for a couple days and was shocked to find
thousands if not hundreds of thousands of very tiny little white worms
that you have to look hard at to even notice. I also noticed a dead
male in the bottom of my tank. Since then my males have acted strange.
Just sitting there, not very
interested in eating when they are usually ravenous. I grabbed an eye
loupe 10x magnification and looked closer at the worms and they were so
tiny I had to grab another and stick them together and then I could see
that the worms appeared segmented, grayish splotchy white, and have
flat heads. The swim through the water like snakes and inch along the
glass like caterpillars. They also seem to distress the snails greatly,
they will stick onto the snail and the snail will shake its shell
until the worms are detached. A month before this I had white apple
snails that ALL died mysteriously. I have battled these little buggers
before and the only way I defeated them was to take out my fish
completely break down my tank and pour boiling water over my gravel and
let it sit and dry in the sun for a couple of days. I never saw them
again until just now with the strange appearance of snails and they are
only in the male tank that has the snails they seem to be contained
there. I don't know if they have anything to do with the dropsy
<Doubtful... but the dead, dying fish likely provide/d food for the
I figured I would mention it just in case. I tried to take a photo but
the worms are so tiny they would not photograph at all. So far three
dead males that died without any physical deformities and six dead
females claimed by dropsy most of which are guppies. I currently have 4
tanks: my large tank, my male tank, a Betta tank with a single Betta,
and a fry tank. I now fear for my tiny fry for a snail just showed up
in their tank as well as my Betta tank, all of the small tanks are side
by side. Please tell me what these aggressive worms may be, how to get
rid of them, and what danger they pose to my fish. Also please note I
have treated my tank with malachite green and it did nothing.
<Not useful here>
Under the advice of a very prolific fish breeder I loaded my tank down
with aquarium salt which did no harm to the fish but also none to the
worms. I have vacuumed the gravel just to have to worms return to great
numbers within a week, I have tried parasite clear when I had the first
case years ago and it didn't help but I am not entirely sure these
worms are the same.
<The worms can be easily killed... Read here:
and here re Guppy disease:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Sinking Guppy! Please respond soon! 10/18/10
<I'm just fine Madison,>
I'm Madd, I'm 13 and have had Guppies for about 3 years now and
I've never had this problem with one of my fish before... Let me
give you a couple of statistics on my tank before I go on about my
The only fish in my tank are Guppies and one Bleeding Heart Tetra that
has never been aggressive (I've had it since the start of my tank)
and I originally had a Plecostomus (not positive if I spelled that
<Close enough, actually "Plecostomus", but Plec or Pleco
which grew to be about three inches and was very non-aggressive, only
munching on dead Guppies when it got to them before me.
My tank is freshwater, 10 gallons,
<Too small for the fish you have, and one reason you're having
problems with water quality.>
and is always at a steady 80 degrees which through research I have
heard is the best temperature for Guppies.
<Indeed, fancy Guppies do like being kept warm and snug.>
According to my Jungle Quick Strip (5 tests in one) my nitrAte level is
200, which I know is unsafe,
<Yes, very! 100 mg/l is just about tolerable, 50 mg/l acceptable,
and 20 mg/l and less is ideal.>
so I am cleaning my tank ASAP.
<Cleaning is less the issue, but water changes are very important.
It's also important to get into the habit of stirring the gravel
when you do water changes, and then siphoning out the gunk.>
NitrIte is somewhere between 0 and 1 which is between safe and
<Is dangerous. Anything above zero is dangerous.>
which again should go down when I clean my tank.
<Nitrite is nothing to do with how dirty an aquarium is. Nitrite is
produced from ammonia, and ammonia is produced from two things, fish
and fish food. If the tank has too many fish, or you feed them too
much, excess ammonia and nitrite build up in the water. These are both
very toxic, ammonia more so, but even nitrite can stress fish within a
very short period of time, a few days even.>
Total hardness level is 300, which is 'very hard' according to
the test strip. Alkalinity is 300, which is high. I'm not positive
what alkalinity is and what it does in the tank per say.
<Hardness and alkalinity are measurements of the minerals dissolved
in the water. Hardness is the sheer quantity, and alkalinity how much
of that mineral content neutralises acids. For Guppies, hard, alkaline
water is ideal. I'm surprised your Tetras are still happy though;
Bleeding Heart Tetras comes from soft, acidic water conditions.>
Oh yeah, and my P.H. is 8.4 which according to the test strip is
alkaline and from what I have read is moderately safe since guppies can
take a P.H. up to 9.
<Indeed. But again, this is too high for Tetras, which are happiest
between pH 6.0 and 7.5.>
Alrighty, on to my fish.
A couple of days ago (less than a week) I got a male Guppy from
PetSmart thinking for it to add some color to my tank. I let him float
in the water in the plastic bag for the usual 30 minutes before I let
him out to swim with the other fish. Since then all has seemed fine. I
check on my fish just about every time I walk in or out of my room,
since my tank is sitting on top of my dresser, and about an hour ago
when I glanced in to check on my fish I noticed my new Guppy laying on
his side on the gravel.
<Almost certainly environmental stress.>
I looked closer thinking it was dead but just making sure, and to my
surprise I saw the fish breathing hard (gills moving faster than
normal) and his side fins were going. I also noticed that his tail,
which had been perfectly fine earlier, was missing a large chunk,
almost appearing to have been bitten off by other fish (which
wouldn't surprise me much, because they tend to nibble on each
other's tails, but definitely not to this extent!).
<Bleeding Heart Tetras can be "nippy" towards Fancy
Guppies. I would not keep the two species together. Male Guppies are
also very aggressive towards each other, and in 10 gallon tanks they
fight. This is why I recommend at least 15 gallons, and preferably 20
gallons for Guppies, and in small tanks they are best kept as one male
alongside two or more females.>
Immediately I went into action, putting the fish into a separate bowl
in case it had a disease. When I moved it to the other container it
attempted to swim, but ended up vertical (head up) with it's back
tail unmoving, only using it's side fins frantically before it
settled back on the bottom on it's side. Next I began Googling what
it could be, but found nothing but the vague idea that it might be
indigestion or constipation since the fish floats at the bottom from
<This isn't the problem here.>
The fish didn't have any protruding scales and all seemed normal
about it except it was on it's side. I dissolved Epsom salts in the
water with the fish, hoping that would help in the case it were
indigestion/constipation and then I went back to Googling. When I next
went to check on the fish in question I found him in the exact same
spot unmoving and unbreathing. Any ideas of what it could have
<From the numbers, I'd suggest a combination of nitrate and
nitrite shock. When fish are gradually exposed to steadily worse
conditions, they sometimes adjust. Your existing fish may have become
"used" to the bad conditions over you tank. They're still
stressed and they will likely get sick sooner or later, but for now
they may well not exhibit any symptoms. When you take a new fish from
healthy conditions in a pet shop and dump him into a tank with poor
conditions, he will go into shock.>
If you'd like I can send a picture of the deceased fish for you. I
haven't flushed the fish yet, just in case I should need to look at
the fish for any visible symptoms.
Any ideas? I'd really like some clue here!
<Honestly, I think the problems here are all environmental. I'd
get rid of the tetras, which don't belong in such hard and alkaline
water, and swap them for female Guppies. But before doing that I'd
clean the gravel and do a series of water changes across the next week,
20-25% each day for 7 days. That should bring nitrate levels right
down. I'd minimise feeding: one small meal per day is ample! And
I'd start saving up for a bigger aquarium.>
Thanks so much WWM crew (AKA the person who's responding to
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Female guppy seems very sick 10/2/10
We have an assortment of male & female guppies. We've had some
for about a year, and have kept some of the fry. Until about a month
ago, we separated the males from the females. We have a 10 gallon
<Honestly, not really big enough for this species. Fancy Guppies are
quite delicate fish and benefit from the better conditions you can
provide in at least 15 gallons, and the males also tend to be quite
aggressive towards each other and the females. Adding floating plants
will help provide shelter from aggressive males, but still, I don't
recommend people keep fancy Guppies in 10 gallon tanks.>
We also have two upside-down catfish who we got about the same time, a
<This species really does need a big tank. They can also be nippy
Until just a few days ago they all seemed fine. However, I think one of
our females is ill - and all of the oldest girls have bent backs, which
we thought was just a function of them getting so very large -
they're way larger than the males.
<It is normal for females to get much bigger than the males, but
crooked backs are not normal, and may be a function of malnutrition,
improper care, or bad genes. Difficult to say.>
Perhaps there are multiple problems with our fish-keeping. In any case,
I think the more pressing issue is our girl Gold, who seemed pregnant
but since yesterday is looking and acting ill - isolating in the corner
of the tank. The females did that before just before and during giving
birth; however by now she would have given birth, I think if all was
normal. She looks like she is bleeding inside, and stuff is hanging off
her body. Poor little fish. We do not have an extra tank to use as a
hospital tank at the moment but can go out and get something to help
her with if you recommend it.
<A combination antibiotic such as Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 might be
Be sure to use as directed on the package. Guppies are prone to
bacterial infections, especially when stressed. You haven't
provided any information on the environmental conditions. Just to
recap, Guppies must have hard, basic water -- 10+ degrees dH, 5+
degrees KH, and a pH around 7.5 to 8.
They do poorly in soft water. Do not use water for a domestic water
softener. If you live in a soft water area, the use of Rift Valley
cichlid salt mix at 25-50% the recommended dose should help.
Understand the disease is very often a result of improper care:
It should go without saying that non-zero ammonia and nitrite levels
are among the most common causes of sickness.>
Thank you so much for your time. I'm attaching a few low-resolution
images here. It was hard getting good images! However I hope you can
see on her right side what looks like stuff hanging off of her, and
possibly a wound. Also her shape is odd and there is a lot of red in
this fish who is usually pretty much just golden with a little
highlights in her tail.
much obliged to you for your time and attention,
<Does look bacterial; but why the fish are sick, I cannot say
without more data. Cheers, Neale.>
Guppy issue 9/17/10
I have a male blue guppy with a drooping tail, as if he does not
have the strength to hold it up. (See attached photo.) Color is
faded, but otherwise has no symptoms of guppy disease (no white
spots like you would expect from Protozoans) He eats just fine.
He is one of two remaining guppies in my tank, the other is an
orange one that is acting happy and healthy.
<Might just "be old">
This is in the same molly tank as the Camallanus worm problem I
have been battling, and I'm due to hit the tank with
Praziquantel again tomorrow.
I'm concerned this guy won't make it through the
treatment, but I'm also hesitant to isolate the fish because
it may be infested with the nematode, possibly spreading that
problem or reintroducing it.
Any idea what this might be?
<Columnaris possibly... can't tell from the pic or data
<High for Guppies>
Nitrates/Nitrites/Ammonia all 0
Re: Guppy issue 9/18/10
The condition of this guppy degraded all day. Yesterday he stayed
near the surface, today he rested on the gravel much of the time.
I isolated him inside a breeder box to prevent cannibalizing, but
his condition degraded to the point that I finally euthanized
Brackish water and Guppies?
Yesterday, my favorite very unique Platy showed the very
beginning signs of sickness that leads to rapid death.
<I see. One problem with farmed livebearers is a certain
tendency towards Mycobacteria infections, typically associated
with red sores on the bodies, wasting, and then death. Not much
you can do about that. But otherwise livebearers tend to be quite
tough, if given the right conditions. In the case of Platies,
cool, moderately hard, basic water is what you want; 22-24 C, 10+
degrees dH, pH 7-8.>
I have had many fish that have died and know the signs. But
loosing this platy would of sent me over the edge so I took a
bold step and added 2 gallons of Spring water that I put 1
tablespoon of aquarium salt in each.
<Okay. Now, do understand that while salt can help, it's
not a miracle.
Among other misconceptions, recall that salt doesn't do
anything to raise hardness. So if you have soft water, salt
isn't what you want, at least, not on its own. Marine
aquarium salt mix is somewhat different because it includes other
minerals that do raise hardness and pH, and 5-6 grammes/litre
would be easily tolerated by Platies and indeed all other
Unfortunately this was my first time using salt so I was unaware
to make sure it was completely dissolved and melted.
<It's not a big deal, so don't panic about this. A few
grains of undissolved salt won't kill your fish.>
I than added an air stone to help circulate more oxygen into the
<Good. In summer especially Platies can easily be overheated
25 C/77 F is really at the top end of their comfort zone, and
they're far healthier kept cooler than that.>
This is a 10 gal tank that has been cycled along time ago.
<A bit on the small side for Platies, to be honest. Stress
between fighting males, or males harassing pregnant females, can
lead to "unexplained" deaths.>
All I have in the tank are 2 platy's and 1 guppy. Let me back
up and say that I lost an additional platy that was in this tank,
only a few days ago.
I did not have any nitrate/ammonia test strips at home so I had
to make a quick guess.
<You should have these two test kits: pH and nitrite (nitrite
with an "i", not nitrate with an "a"). If you
give me these two pieces of information, I can be A LOT more
Well the moment I added the salt & air stone the platy I love
came out of hiding and looking sick, and started to soar all over
the tank, and is doing just fine. I was so excited as this is the
first time I have been able to reverse a death. However the guppy
after only one night in the brackish tank, has taken fatally ill.
The last time I saw him this morning he was shaking under a rock,
and now I have come home 6 hours later and he is nowhere to be
<The amount of salt you added, 1 tablespoon/3 teaspoons per US
gallon is not that much. I actually prefer weights because not
everyone's spoons are the same sizes! One level teaspoon of
salt should be about 6 grammes, which is very easy to remember. A
tablespoon will be three times that, i.e., 18 grammes. Normal
seawater contains about 35 grammes of marine salt mix per litre,
or about 6 teaspoons. One US gallon is 3.8 litres, so that's
133 grammes per US gallon. The reason I'm telling you all
this is to point out that your roughly 18 grammes of salt per
gallon, or 4.7 grammes per litre, is about one-seventh (14%) the
salinity of normal seawater. That's well within the
tolerances of Guppies and Platies. So there's no reason at
all to imagine the salt killed either fish.>
I have not removed everything yet to find him. As the tank was
just cleaned and set back up and the air stone is just
<Okay. But you really do need to test the pH (to see if the
water chemistry is right for livebearers) and the nitrite (to
make sure water quality is good). You want a pH around 7.5, and a
nitrite level of zero.>
Questions: Is the salt compatible with guppies (brackish
<Yes. In fact Guppies are arguably happier and healthier in
slightly brackish water. Certainly they do better in such
conditions than they will do in soft water.>
And how long can I leave the guppy "lost" or dead
before I have to find him?
<If he's alive, you should see him within the next day or
two. Check he hasn't jumped out, swum into the filter, got
stuck behind objects inside the tank, etc.>
Will disease travel throughout the tank if not removed
<Depends on the disease. Many are opportunistic, and they
exists in most aquaria all the time. They only cause problems
when we, the aquarists, stress our fish and weaken their immune
If I find him, alive but sick, is there anything I can do for the
<Depends on what's wrong with him. You haven't really
supplied me with any useful information on water chemistry or
water quality. Without lists of symptoms, or a photo (no bigger
than about 500 KB!) I can't say anything at all about
If I take him out of the brackish water the tank I put him in
will not have cycled water in it?
<And that would be bad.>
I appreciate your help.
Re: Update: Brackish water and Guppies?
In response to some of your questions below; first let me state
none of my fish are female livebearers.
All 3 fish are MALE 2 small Platies and 1 guppy, so I thought a
10 gal was more than adequate.
<Not the case, unfortunately. Males will squabble in tanks
I was able to test the water today and it appears the Nitrate is
in caution (20ppm) the nitrite is perfect! (0) The hardness is
ideal (300ppm). The alkalinity is high (300ppm) and the PH is
between 8-8.5 Please tell me what I should do to correct any of
<Nothing. That's all fine for livebearers.>
The guppy (which I found) is real lethargic sitting behind the
filter canister, the platy that seemed to come back from the dead
yesterday has been hiding under a rock ledge, and my other platy
who has not showed any sign of distress is now inside the tunnel
<Could be stress from fighting. But my gut feeling is
Mycobacteriosis, sometimes called Wasting Disease. This is very
common among livebearers.
For some reason juveniles don't often show the symptoms, but
as the fish mature they start to waste away, getting thinner and
often exhibiting poor colouration and sores on their flanks.
It's essentially incurable and very contagious, so it's
important to euthanise infected fish and isolate the affected
tank from any others in your house, e.g., by not sharing nets or
Water quality seems fine, and water chemistry shouldn't be a
Help! What do I need to do? Can I save them??
<Sorry I can't offer any better advice. A photo of the
ailing fish would really help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Update and photos 9/3/10
I appreciate all your advice, but still you keep making reference
to livebearers, which I thought were only females?
<Nope. "Livebearers" is the word given to species
that produce fully-formed young rather than eggs. Both male and
female Guppies and Platies are livebearers. Just the same way
both men and women are placental mammals, even though it's
only women who get pregnant.>
and my fish are male. They never fight. Because their is nothing
to fight over.
<If you say so.>
No females ever in the house/tank. I have attached some pics
however I am afraid they are not clear enough very hard to
<Indeed. With respect, blurry photos don't help me at all.
I can't really tell anything about the fish from that photo.
Do use the "macro" setting on your camera, and
you'll find close-up shots easier to take.>
The yellow one is the guppy that is very sick, sits by back of
filter, but will come out and swim all around and eat. The orange
platy appears to be fine. The white spotted Platies (very rare
gorgeous fish) is the one I love the most.
His color is very brilliant white not faded at all. but his gills
are red and look a little swollen but seem to have always been
like that. These 3 fish have been in this tank for at least 6
months if not longer. Other fish have passed on but it never
<Do understand that Guppies and Platies should live 3-4 years.
If they only live for a year, then something may be amiss with
the aquarium or the way you are keeping them. Review the needs of
Also review the basics of fishkeeping:
Be under no illusion about this: 99% of premature deaths in
aquaria are caused by the fishkeeper doing something wrong. In
the right conditions, fish are much less likely to get sick than
most other pet animals.>
This gut feeling you have about Mycobacteriosis does it affect
and will they still be so eager to eat, as mine are?
<Generally no. So that's a good sign. If Mycobacteriosis
isn't the issue, review Finrot, which affects the fins and
skin and looks like red or white patches. Finrot is almost always
caused by either physical damage or poor environmental
conditions. It's easy enough to cure if caught early, but you
do need to provide the right living conditions for them to
They come running out of hiding and scarf the food down. Very
strange. I also thought maybe the airstone bubbles/noise could be
spooking them or is stressful, hence making them hide.
<Possibly; Guppies dislike strong water currents, but at the
same time, one small airstone shouldn't be a big
Won't more salt be helpful to stop the infection from
spreading so quickly?
<No, salt doesn't have any effect on Finrot or bacterial
infections. Marine fish can get Finrot, and they're kept in
seawater! Anyone who tells you salt helps cure bacterial diseases
is an idiot.>
Or other bacteria kill stuff?
<If by "bacteria kill stuff" you mean an antibiotic
medication like Maracyn, or an antimicrobial product like eSHa
2000, then yes, that can help.>
|Pix too poor to be of use
Re: macro pics 9/4/10
I am going to try one more time. I have attached 3 pix of
Butter Cup the yellow guppy. I know it still may be hard to
see the coat of his body.
<Still impossible to see anything. If the image
isn't sharp, it's useless. Try, try, and try again,
I'm afraid! Don't point the camera directly at the
glass because then it acts like a mirror; angle the camera
so you're pointing slightly below or above the fish.
The flash won't bounce off the glass so badly.>
His fins look good to me no rot, however his gills are
severely deformed and I think you can notice that a bit in
the photo's, can you see it?
<Not really. But anyway, if the deformity to the gill
covers have always been there, then the chances are
they're not the cause of sickness. If the gills have
suddenly become deformed, then that's another issue,
and most likely an issue connected to water
Other than a slight bent posture which he always had that I
thought was odd, the gills are the only thing looking
really wrong. In the first pix as luck has it, there is a
pretty good shot of Paprika the spotted platy with the
orange tail. She looks okay to me, except as you can see
the pix her gills are very red. Is this normal?
<Not normal. You shouldn't normally see the red gill
filaments at all. In some cases inbreeding means that the
gill covers are deformed and the gill filaments are more
obvious. While such fish might be marginally more delicate,
there's no particular reason deformed gill covers
should cause sickness. But as stated before, if the gills
have suddenly become deformed or more obviously red, then
that's a problem.>
One more issue I do have a lot of direct sunlight from a
sky light just above the tank, sometimes during peak time I
will shade the tank with a towel. However I do have a lot
of algae. I try and clean it off often. However I am
wondering if algae can cause sickness?
<No, but overheating if temperature goes up dramatically
can stress fish.>
What is the best way to control Algae?
Usually the addition of fast-growing plants under bright
lighting is required. The addition of algae-eating Nerite
snails may help, but every time you add an animal to an
aquarium you make water conditions worse. Shops will sell
you algae-eating fish, but mostly these are more trouble
than they're worth, especially the cheap "Chinese
Algae Eaters" and common Plecs.>
Lastly, if your advice is still euthanasia. Which is the
most humane way? I heard to drop the fish in ice cold
water, I also heard let it freeze slowly to death in the
the Internet says to smash its head with a hammer. I am
afraid I could not do that one. If we are sure. I don't
want to see the little guy suffer, so please let me know
your preferred method.
<Do read here:
Once again Thank you very much, I appreciate all the advice
you are giving me.
<Always glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Fancy Guppy Question, hlth. 7/3/10
Let me start by saying I have a 20 gallon tank with 2 tiny dwarf frogs,
2 ghost shrimp, 2 Danios, 1 male fancy guppy and 2 female fancy
<OK. I will make the observation here than fancy Guppies tend to do
better given slightly warmer conditions than shrimps or Danios
Furthermore, Danios sometimes harass or nip fancy Guppies. So an ideal
combination of species this is not.>
I have few fake plants and one very small branch looking item that
provides a small hiding place.
<Guppies "hide" at the surface, among floating plants. If
you look at their mouths, they point upwards; they evolved to live
among floating plants taking mosquito larvae from the surface.>
Within the last 2 weeks I lost 2 other male guppies to what I think it
a fungus, but I'm not an expert.
<Fungus is reasonably easy to confirm. Unlike most other infections,
it has obvious off-white threads similar to cotton wool.>
I removed the fish and put them into a separate tank
<Remember, any hospital tank has to BETTER than the main tank.
There's no point moving a sick Guppy to a 5 gallon tank that
isn't cycled; all that will do is speed up its death. Almost
always, it's better to treat the fish in the main aquarium, so at
the very least you aren't making things worse.>
and put Melafix in both tanks,
hoping the other fish don't get sick.
<You have to do more than hope! You have to think about why these
fish got sick. Environmental conditions and/or social behaviour are the
most probable causes. Guppies need hard, basic water; i.e., 10+ degrees
7.5-8.5. They do best kept fairly warm, 25-28 C/77-82 F. They dislike
strong water currents but do need excellent water quality: zero
ammonia, zero nitrite. Although not essential, Guppies are easier to
keep if you add
a little salt to the water, about a teaspoon per gallon (2-3
grammes/litre) does the job nicely. Not all fish will tolerate such
conditions though, which is why Guppies are best kept alone.>
It was too late for the 2 infected guppies, but luckily none of the
other fish got the same white sore/hole looking things up by their
I did a 50% water change to get rid of the Melafix a few days ago and
everything seemed fine. But last night and today my male fancy guppy is
just staying still, straight up and down. His head toward the surface
and tail straight down. If I go over there and look at him, he'll
swim off and act normal. Do you think something is wrong with him?
<Yes; see above re: environment.>
He doesn't appear to have any spots or sores on him and the other
fish seem to be fine. I want to put a few more fish in the tank but
will not until I'm sure the tank is running healthy.
<Don't add any more fish for at least 6 weeks. Instead, focus on
the aquarium. Save your pennies for things that might actually be
useful: a bigger tank, a better filter, a good aquarium book, some
floating Indian fern, etc.>
Thank you for any information you can provide. I had some huge
beautiful Oranda goldfish a few years ago that were floating belly up
occasionally and the staff at WetWebMedia really helped me out!
getting my Orandas healthy, Hurricane Ike came along and I couldn't
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fancy Guppy Question 7/3/10
Thank you for the info.
<Happy to help.>
I lost another, big female fancy guppy, today.
<Again, when fish die one after the other, it's a pretty good
sign the problem is environmental. Be open minded. Review stocking,
filtration, water quality, water chemistry, air quality (e.g., use of
paints or bug sprays), anything children might be dumping in the tank
for fun, etc.>
When I looked closely at the white spot, it doesn't appear to have
fuzz or stringy fungus. It looks like a sore that's lost coloring.
The water tests come up ok, only SLIGHTLY high in nitrates, right under
<In itself, shouldn't be causing a problem. But if nitrate level
of your tap water is zero, and it rises to 10 mg/l very quickly, e.g.,
within a few days, then overfeeding could very easily be the
And this test was before a 50% water change. I'm going to have the
water tested today. You were right about the water temperature, the
heater was only set to about 74,
<Good for Danios; cool for fancy Guppies.>
so I bumped it up to 78.
<Fine for fancy Guppies; too warm (and will stress) Danios. Do bear
in mind that the dial on the thermostatic-heater has only the loosest
relationship to water temperature. You CANNOT rely on the dial alone.
For a variety of reasons it will very likely be off a few degrees. Look
at the thermometer, and adjust the heater up or down
Also I agree with you about the Danios. I was told by the pet store
that Danios are hearty and best for establishing good bacteria which is
why I have them. They are nipping at the couple guppies I have left in
My plan is to take out the fake plants and add some real plants. (And
read up on both plants and aquarium care, do you suggest a book in
I have had plants before a long time ago and the light on this tank is
specific for plants. I won't add anymore fish for a while. I have
had tanks full of long living beautiful healthy guppies before that
produced babies faster than I could move them out. I'm just having
a difficult time with this tank now.
<Likely a combination of factors; environment, temperature,
Again thanks for your help!