Can't Keep Guppies Alive. :(


Active Member
In my office at work I have a 20 gallon tank. It currently is housing 6 pearl danios and a Bolivian ram.
My plan has been to keep 2-4 male guppies to add some color and movement to the tank. (The ram is a bit of a lurker, always hanging out at the bottom and peering from behind plants).
But no matter how I try, I can't keep a guppy alive for more than a few weeks.
The other fish are fine.
My parameters are 0,0, 20 (sometimes approaches 30 when I need to do a water change).
I do weekly 30% water changes.
I run nearly double the necessary filtration, and I have a large airstone.
There are several caves and lots of plants, so lots of hiding spots.
And I have tried guppies from a few different suppliers.
They typically are fine one day, and then the next hang out near the top or bottom and just seem listless. After they start acting weird, they usually die overnight.
I don't know what's going on!
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Active Member
I acclimate over about 45 minutes, floating the bag and adding a cup of tank water every 10 minutes until the bag is mostly tank water.
Water hardness in my area is super high. Like 14.
I've never seen the ram harass anything. He's honestly the most calm fish I've ever seen.
And my pH is between 7.6 and 7.8, which again is consistent with the water in my area.
I keep the tank at 72 degrees F.


Active Member
There's clearly no obvious reason for why your guppies are dying. If I were in your situation I'd honestly get a quarantine tank, but if your tank is at work I could understand why that could be difficult. The only other advice I'd have to give you is to purchase fish that look as healthy as possible, and only if there don't appear to be any signs of sickness among any fish in the tank. If purchasing online try to find a reputable, high end dealer--you pay a little more money but it'll be worth it in the long run. Other than that just keep switching up suppliers until something works. You clearly know what you're doing and there shouldn't be a reason why your can't keep a guppy alive.


Active Member
The reason you aren't getting any more answers is because it appears that all of your water parameters are okay. We're all going, "Hmmmm."

What happens when you do a partial water change? Are you using a water conditioner like Prime for water changes? Prime does a lot to ensure safe and good water quality. It sounds like the pH is okay, the hardness is good for Guppies. Your parameters seem okay. The temperature isn't a problem. The tank isn't overstocked.

Unfortunately, many commercially bred guppies are not very hardy due to inbreeding and over-production and are prone to disease and premature death. We often buy them with internal and/or external parasites or other illness. The stress of shipping, transporting, and acclimating will bring out their weaknesses. I have had to treat my entire Livebearer tank for internal and external parasites from the LFS. :hungover:

My best suggestion is to use a quarantine tank with the Guppies to monitor what is going on with them prior to adding to the main office tank. If they appear ill, you can treat them and get them healthy prior to putting them with the other fish. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, but if you want the Guppies, this is what I would do. It will be easy to keep clean, they won't be stressed by new tank mates, you can monitor their eating and see what is at the heart of the problem.

Is it possible that something is contaminating the tank at work? I had a plant in my office and the cleaning crew would use an alcohol-based window cleaner and would get overspray on my plant, killing it.

The oxygen in your tank comes from the air around it. Anything in the air nearby can get into the water and cause problems.

Air fresheners are all too often little bundles of death where fish are concerned. The very chemicals that bring fresh smells are frequently toxic to fish at even low doses. Spray fresheners can provide sudden acute poisoning, while slow release plug-in fresheners release chemicals that gradually accumulate. If the packaging doesn’t claI'm it’s safe with fish, then assume it isn’t.

Cigarette smoke is heaving with toxic nicotine. I’ve seen a whole reef tank wiped out by a single cigar before.

Deodorants and perfumes often cause fish deaths. Always spray them in a different room than the tank. If perfume has been applied to wrists, or soap or lotion applied to your hands and arms, then keep your hands out of the tank.

Airborne polish is a huge issue. Spray the polish onto the cloth, then use it to wipe in the tank’s vicinity, but be vigilant for signs of stress and poisoning in fish when doing so.

If you aren't there during the cleaning process, who knows? Maybe the weak Guppies are more susceptible to these things going on around the tank?


Well Known
The only thing that I can think of is to do a water test when you see the guppies hanging out at the top, see if anything is "off". I'd also ask when they do the cleaning, if the cleaning happens the night before and you come in to see the fish acting like this in the morning, it could be a cleaning product issue (at that point, you have to ask to either not have your work space done, or talk to a manager directly about what people will be cleaning your office, and if it is possible to leave specific directions for them about how to clean the area, what to clean, etc...because of the fish tank)

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