Guppies Are Dying

Zka17

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I am seeking for advice to keep guppies alive.
As per directions, here is the data:

Tank

What is the water volume of the tank? 10 gallons (quarantine)
How long has the tank been running? 2 weeks
Does it have a filter? yes, sponge with air
Does it have a heater? yes
What is the water temperature? 78F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 13 guppies

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? every day, until now (see later)
How much of the water do you change? 50%
What do you use to treat your water? Sachem Prime
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? no substrate, bare bottom

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? no
What do you use to test the water? API Freshwater Master Kit and some Tetra sticks
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.

Ammonia: 0.05 ppm bound, may be some free
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 0 ppm
pH: should be 6.8-7.0, but this is the problem (see later)

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? 2x a day
How much do you feed your fish? what the fish eat in less than a minute
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Tetra Flakes, HikarI Guppy Granules
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? not yet

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? first set of 9 guppies 2 weeks ago, second set of 12 guppies 3 days ago
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? first day
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? guppies were sticking to the surface, then drop dead
Have you started any treatment for the illness? started with API General Cure (in food and water) and API Fin&Body Cure (in water), then switched to Sachem PolyGuard 1 day ago
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? no
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? first set all but one dead, second set still OK, but show less movement

Explain your emergency situation in detail.
I have started the quarantine tank 2 weeks ago for 9 new guppies from Petsmart. Intentionally choose very active ones, but in the second day they started to stick to the surface and started to die. Went back to the store and the remaining fish was behaving the same way. Started treatment with API General Cure in food and in water, and API Fin&Body Cure in water. I was doing 50% water changes every day, 1 hour before I added the API Fin&Body Cure. The API General Cure was in every food, and added one pack every 2nd day. I did this for 6 days, it slowed down the dying, but it did not stop it. Then I just kept doing the water changes and the API General Cure until I got the new Guppies from Liveaquaria.
The 12 new guppies arrived much healthier, but needed to place them with the remaining 3 sick old guppies, and switched medication to Seachem PolyGuard. This requires to do water changes only every 3 days. On the second day (today) I came home and found very lethargic fishes. Checked the water quality, everything was as described above - the pH dropped very low, close to 4.
I have used Equilibrium, Acid- and Alkaline buffer for water changes. The sponge filter is with full blown air. Added Stability after each water change. Have no idea why the pH dropped so much...
I have used only Alkaline buffer to bounce back slowly to 7.0 - and most of the fishes started to swim again (before they were sticking to the surface or to the bottom). Lost 2 of the sickest ones from the first batch.
Because I could not change water, I have added Prime and Stability this morning before I left. Pretty sure that it was no power outage to stop the air pump.

I know, I should have had a fully cycled quarantine tank... but the pH swing would have harmed the bacteria too...

Have anybody experienced this pH swing before?

Thank you in advance for your comments!
 

Annie59

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I think one of your problems stem from putting to many fish in an uncycled tank to soon. That's a lot of fish to add at one in a 10 gallon.
 
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Zka17

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Yes, I realize that - but it is a quarantine tank with medication. Their final home is a planted 40 gallon. That's why I was doing the daily water changes before and adding the Prime daily now with water changes planned every 3 days (as per the medication instructions). And Stability every day from the beginning.

I am trying to find the reason for the pH drop though... with that much aeration it seems unlikely that it would be a sudden increase in in CO2... or not? Would I need another air source?
 

fjh

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I don't think the fish are sick from disease, but rather you have too many cramped into an uncycled tank. This would explain the lethargy, surface gasping, and lack of other symptoms.
Is there any way you could take some filter media from the 40 gallon to instantly cycle the 10g?

Meds can sometimes mess with water parameters, so that's probably why your ph is fluctuating. Personally, I would stop the meds and do daily 50% WCs. Dont dose meds again until you have something specific to treat.
 
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Zka17

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Well, they need to go through the treatment - remember, they were dying from the very beginning...

I have canister filters on the display tanks, they won't help the sponge filter. Besides, the antibiotics are slowing down the bacterial growth. That's why I use Stability along with Prime every day - to replace the beneficial bacteria and to neutralize the free form (toxic) of the ammonia and eventually nitrite.

I cannot stop the medication as it's antibiotic - once you started, you need to finish the treatment, otherwise you create resistance.

My concern is the dropping pH. I did managed to raise the pH with Seachem Alkaline Buffer, but it's not stable, need to keep one eye on it. For tomorrow, when doing the water change, would like to use, again, Equilibrium for the GH and Acid-, and Alkaline Buffer to set the pH and KH. Could not find anything about possible interactions of these with the antibiotics though...

Since keeping the pH around 7, only one fish shows lethargy (sitting on the bottom), the rest of them seems pretty happy... they eat, poop and swim around like they should.

I cannot accept that a 10 gallon quarantine won't hold 13 guppies - as long as there is no free ammonia and nitrite in there. These are juveniles, less than 1 inch each.

Again, the main concern is the dropping pH. What exactly is causing it, and how to stop it?

Thank you for your comments!
 

fjh

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Zoltan said:
Well, they need to go through the treatment - remember, they were dying from the very beginning...

I have canister filters on the display tanks, they won't help the sponge filter. Besides, the antibiotics are slowing down the bacterial growth. That's why I use Stability along with Prime every day - to replace the beneficial bacteria and to neutralize the free form (toxic) of the ammonia and eventually nitrite.

I cannot stop the medication as it's antibiotic - once you started, you need to finish the treatment, otherwise you create resistance.

My concern is the dropping pH. I did managed to raise the pH with Seachem Alkaline Buffer, but it's not stable, need to keep one eye on it. For tomorrow, when doing the water change, would like to use, again, Equilibrium for the GH and Acid-, and Alkaline Buffer to set the pH and KH. Could not find anything about possible interactions of these with the antibiotics though...

Since keeping the pH around 7, only one fish shows lethargy (sitting on the bottom), the rest of them seems pretty happy... they eat, poop and swim around like they should.

I cannot accept that a 10 gallon quarantine won't hold 13 guppies - as long as there is no free ammonia and nitrite in there. These are juveniles, less than 1 inch each.

Again, the main concern is the dropping pH. What exactly is causing it, and how to stop it?

Thank you for your comments!
I'm pretty sure the guppies were dying from the uncycled tank from the beginning. But that is besides the point.

Take some of the media from your cannister and put it next to/on top of the sponge and that will help your cycle a lot.
Also, the beneficial bacteria has a harder time keeping your parameters in check at lower ph.

Could you measure your Gh, Kh, and TDS?
 
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Zka17

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Yes, I can measure those, jut don't want to use the TDS tool in the medicated water.
My tap water is incredibly soft: GH, KH are practically unmeasurable - closer to 0 than 1. That's why I used the Equilibrium and the Acid- and Alkaline Buffers. Maybe I didn't use enough...

Right now the GH is 2, and the KH is 4, pH=7.4 (but remember that I used Alkaline Buffer to keep the pH from going down). I will feed the fish then proceed for a water change. I will shoot for 5, both KH and GH, pH of 7.4 seems good at this moment.

What I don't know, and cannot find any data on, is if the PolyGuard will interact with the increased Equilibrium or not... I don't think it will be an issue with the Buffers. Will see...
 
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Zka17

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Update...

I could not stay calm, I kept looking for more information about the possible interactions between the Equilibrium and PolyGuard. Equilibrium has iron, which I was most concerned about... Finally decided to go another way: use the Neutral Regulator instead. This suppose to be a phosphate-based buffer, which is much stronger than the carbonate-based ones (Alkaline Buffer). I wasn't using this stuff in the planted aquarium because of possible imbalance of the phosphates, but don't care algae in a quarantine tank... Besides, it acts as a dechlorinator and binds free ammonia...

Also, did a 75% percent water change instead of the 50%.

Most of the fish seem happy, only 3 of them shows some signs of concern:
1. one male was almost completely white this morning; this has a torn tail fin which may have some infection; it was OK before, now he is slowed down, but is eating
2. an another male which is also slowed down and has stringy feces (he had it from the first day); he used to be more active before
3. a female who is hiding behind the plastic plants, she may have started to gave birth during the night or she will be soon as she has the signs of it

And yes, I've got a lot of fry... as soon as the light turned on, the adults went crazy about them. So, just placed a net in the tank and placed -hopefully- all the babies into it. Not sure if they will like the antibiotics though... if they survive the quarantine, I guess they will go into my 20 gallon shrimp tank...

Still don't have free ammonia in the system, nitrites at 0 as well. Haven't even checked for the nitrates. GH, I guess will go back low as the Neutral Regulator will precipitated Ca and Mg. At this moment, still have some KH from the remaining 25% of unchanged water, but with subsequent water changes and using only the Neutral Regulator, I expect this to disappear too. The good news is that the pH seems to stopped going down!
 

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