Guppy Death After Water Change

Cherrybat

Member
Hello, recently my tank went through the nitrogen cycle. it's a 55gal long, it has a fluval 306 canister on it. I use API test kids and they read 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite for about a week, nitrate kept slowly creeping up 1ppm a day from 6 to today it was almost 10ppm, my ph fluctuates between 7 and 7.4 depending on time of day. I do know to shake the nitrate #2 bottle violently, I do that every time, both the bottle and the test tube as per instructions. The nitrate didn't spike high because I have a bunch of plants in the tank (or so I found from my reasearch) I have:
- a large bush of hornwort that visibly grows every day, I started with a small bush and now its becoming a crazy big plant
- bunches of rotala rotundifolia all over the tank
- 4 big water lettuces that are making a ton of baby plants
- some kind of sag not sure if dwarf or some taller variety planted all over
- 3 bunches of vallisneria gigantea, also making baby plants and slowly propagating
- a lot of ludwigia broadleaf stems, not sure how many exactly but I started with 4 bunches from an LFS and spread them around

As for fish there are:
- 1 female betta, from my obseravtions she is pretty docile, she is curious about other fish and sometimes spooks them away from her but I have not seen her chase down or corner any other fish
- 10 zebra/leopard danios
the above fish have been in the tank for over a month, I did fish in cycling, please don't tell me that I did it all wrong as it's a long story and in the end I am new and I made a choice, the ammonia never went above .25ppm and nitrite never went above 1ppm, I maintained the dosing of prime and stability. According to seachem directions I did everything correctly.
- and 2 days ago I added 7 fancy guppies.

OK NOW ON TO MY PROBLEM.
All the fish (danios and betta) were doing fine 2 days ago, I have been feeding them a little more heavily than usual in preparation for more fish, I tested water every day and params were good so I went to the LFS to get some harlequin rasboras. They didn't have any, but my husband reaaaally liked the guppies they had there. I had a hunch our water was too soft for them, so I took a water sample to the lfs and they said my tests all looked good, water was clean and free of ammonia/nitrite with some nitrate and low pollution, however they had no hardness tests. So I asked the staff at the lfs, they said the city water where I live is closer to hard. So I believed him and got 7 guppies.

I left them floating in the back in my tank for 30 minutes, then I added some tank water to the bag and floated them another 30 minutes. Then I let them out, they all seemed to be doing fine aside from the danios chasing them around, they don't really nip or tear at fins, it seemed more playfull and trying to figure out if the guppies were food or not. Params were 0/0/7, ph 7.2

Yesterday everyone was fine, nothing to report, water params were good 0/0/8. ph was 7.0.

Today everyone was fine in the morning. Then I came over to do my water tests and noticed one of the guppies had chunks of his tail missing, going back to the day I brought them home, I was 100% sure I picked out guppies with intact tails, but one of them had splits in the tail, this is the guppy that now had chunks missing. I'm not sure how his tail got ripped on the first day, it was ripped in the bag before I even put them in a net or in the tank. Not sure if this is relevant to what happens next but just incase.

I had to do a water change yesterday technically but I decided not to disturb the fish on their second day there so I did a water change today. I took out about 13%, did a light surface gravel vac just picking up some detritus and poo. I use a python so I adjusted the temp to match the tank (25C), used 2 caps of prime (its 1 cap per 50 gal but I do extra during a water change just to be sure, it says you can do 5x normal dose if needed) and put about 15% back in to account for some evaporated water. Usually my ph drops after a large water change, so I kept it small. I measured ph about an hour after the WC and it was around 7.3 as it was earlier in the day. Also added 2.5 caps of stability to help out with BB.

All was OK, fish were clearly not amused by the water change, the danios and the betta were used to it so they didnt mind too much. About an hour after the change I saw the guppy with the ripped tail swimming upside down, I panicked and took him out, he layed on his side, sometimes he would kinda wake up and try to swim a bit but then go back down to the bottom of the cup and on his side, while his gills just kept moving. He wasn't bloated, no signs of damage, no ick, couldn't see any signs of a parasite or anything. I figured he was a gonner, so I ran down to the pharmacy to get some clove oil to help him out (as in put him down so he wouldnt suffer) but by the time I got home he wasn't breathing anymore. I watched him for 5 minutes and there was no movement. I buried him in the back yard. Figured I just got a weakling, his markings werent great to begin with, he almost looked like a feeder more than a fancy guppy.

In the next hour I noticed another guppy, who was a bit runty looking, I couldn't remember why I picked him out at the LFS but he looked kinda dark and colorless, he was on the bottom of the tank, being lethargic throughout the day but occasionally I would see him swim up to his buddies but then go back down. After the first one died, 2h later this guy would "pass out" momentarily and start floating down, then wake up and try to swim, then pass out again. I fished him out, but decided not to euthanize him right away. I watched him, hoping he would get better. About 5 minutes after I put him in the cup, he stopped breathing, it was very rapid and really I wouldn't even have had time to set up the clove oil. I buried him in the back. He had no visible signs like the first guy, no bloat, no patches or wounds nothing, fins werent clamped.

About an hour after this one, one of the biggest of the 7 guppies went down to the bottom, he layed down and was breathing rapidly. Meanwhile the other 4 guppies seem to be doing fine, they're lively and are swimming around and being social with the danios, following the betta around then running away when she turns around. I left the guy at the bottom hoping he was just.. I don't know.. resting?

After about 15mins I minced some garlic and soaked in some tank water, then took some of the garlic water and dissolved a cube of frozen hikarI brine shrimp. I let it sit a bit then dumped it into the tank, everyone went crazy for the brine shrimp, except for the big guy on the bottom, and one other guppy who has been a bit lethargic since day one, he was excited about the food, I think he ate a few pieces of shrimp, but he didn't look plump like all the other fish did after the feeding.

After another 15mins I took the big boy out of the tank, he was very lethargic and breathing rapidly, I put some of that garlic mixture into his cup hoping he would eat some. He was barely moving and I was getting ready to say goodbye to another guppy. After about 10 minutes in the cup he started going crazy, splashing around and swimming around. I thought this must be some pre-death reflexes, but no he was swimming around looking to get out of the cup. I waited about 15 minutes, and he didn't stop moving, so I put him back into the tank, he is now swimming around near the top of the water, I wouldnt say he's all there as he's not paying attention to anything that's going on around him, he's just swimming at the top there. I have NO IDEA WHAT'S HAPPENING.

So this has been pretty devastating for me, I am new at keeping fish and thought guppies were good for noobs. Obviously I took a chance without knowing my water hardness, but the lfs assured me that we use the same city water and their guppies are just fine. So sorry about this long post but I wanted to be thorough and i'm so upset that I probably rambled a lot, just wanted to include all the details. Just so frustrating, now i'm afraid for my other fish if this is some kind of disease or something.

If anyone can tell me what is happening with the guppies, I would really appreciate it.

Thank you.

Oh and the pictures are:
1 - the tank, before I put the guppies in
2 - the first guppy that went, with the messed up tail
3 - the second guppy that went, here he was still swimming around
4 - hard to see sorry he was in the back, this is the biggest guppy, the one that came back to life, he was laying there for a while before I fished him out
5 - NSFL? Maybe? it's a dead guppy, that;s the second guy, I didnt take a picture of the first.
 

Goldiemom

Member
Unfortunately, guppies have been so over bred that they are not the strong stock that they use to be. They may have just not been able to handle the stress of a new tank and move. Sorry for your loss.
 

endlercollector

Member
You don't use a quarantine tank for new fish? I always recommend that. I do not judge you for fish-in cycling--it's my preferred m.o.

Have you tried reading your water straight out of the tap? Where are you located? Sometimes, there can be fluctuations in city water parameters depending on drought, rain, runoff, etc. A few years ago, I had a situation where I discovered that our city water was having a nitrate spike. I thought I was going crazy till I finally tested the tap water. Ugh.

OK, so you have a bunch of fish that were not meant to live together, but humans are always trying to do things like that, and sometimes it works. What is the temperature? Danios like water a little cooler than guppies, who should do find around 74 degrees F.

As for the chunks missing from the guppy that ended up dying, I would cross examine the Betta first. She's your most obvious culprit even though you haven't seen her actively biting anyone. I would put her in a 5-10 gallon next door where she can watch the others and be entertained. But then again, I would put the remaining guppies in a 10 gallon with a little salt. I would also put some egg shells and/or coral in a small bag and put that in a HOB filter for them. Then I would stick with Amazonian and Southeast Asian fish that prefer a pH of about 7.

But of course, this is how so many people here end up with 20+ tanks
 
  • Thread Starter

Cherrybat

Member
Goldiemom said:
Unfortunately, guppies have been so over bred that they are not the strong stock that they use to be. They may have just not been able to handle the stress of a new tank and move. Sorry for your loss.
I know this sounds bad, but this would be a great relief for me if guppies are just not that hardy anymore. I really thought I did everything right, and you hear about kids neglecting their fish and the fish still live somehow, but I worry and stress over these fish and take so much care of them and they die anyway Thank you for you comment!

endlercollector said:
You don't use a quarantine tank for new fish? I always recommend that. I do not judge you for fish-in cycling--it's my preferred m.o.

Have you tried reading your water straight out of the tap? Where are you located? Sometimes, there can be fluctuations in city water parameters depending on drought, rain, runoff, etc. A few years ago, I had a situation where I discovered that our city water was having a nitrate spike. I thought I was going crazy till I finally tested the tap water. Ugh.

OK, so you have a bunch of fish that were not meant to live together, but humans are always trying to do things like that, and sometimes it works. What is the temperature? Danios like water a little cooler than guppies, who should do find around 74 degrees F.

As for the chunks missing from the guppy that ended up dying, I would cross examine the Betta first. She's your most obvious culprit even though you haven't seen her actively biting anyone. I would put her in a 5-10 gallon next door where she can watch the others and be entertained. But then again, I would put the remaining guppies in a 10 gallon with a little salt. I would also put some egg shells and/or coral in a small bag and put that in a HOB filter for them. Then I would stick with Amazonian and Southeast Asian fish that prefer a pH of about 7.

But of course, this is how so many people here end up with 20+ tanks
Yeah unfortunately I don't have room for a qt tank, literally, I live in a small place.

I have checked my water before, it's 0/0/0, I haven't tested for ph after letting it sit honestly, I guess I will leave some water overnight and test that for ph. I am located in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, quebec has some of the cleanest water you can get, the LFS is located about 15mins away, same water supply.

Yeah I know that danios prefer it cooler, i've had them in 25C, which is 77f, and they seem to be ok. I was considering returning the danios and getting some peaceful tetras instead, they were suggested to me as a hardy fish for the fish in cycle, they did great and I do enjoy watching them but I somehow got all 10 males I think, so they get possessive of certain spots in the aquarium and I'm afraid that might have contributed to the guppies being stressed. 3 out of 5 guppies that I have left are hanging out with the danios, I think sometimes they confuse them for female guppies and they follow them around.

Yeah I really want my betta to be a saint, i'm sure she's suspect number 1, so far noone else has gotten nipped. I have really grown attached to this betta and like I said I don't have room for more tanks, I have seen female bettas with male guppies and cories at another LFS in Ottawa, they try to keep their bettas in community tanks, that's where I got her (granted she wasn't in a community tank). Obviously it's a gamble, but I truly believe she would not kill another fish. If I see her outright attacking another fish, I might have to consider getting some more short finned fast fish that would not get caught by her.

2 questions, how would the crushed coral affect the other fish and plants in the tank? I would like to lock my ph at 7.4 max, I love the live green plants and wouldnt want to kill them. And second question, do you think I should just return the remaining guppies? Was this a huge mistake? or could the remaining still make it do you think?

Thank you for helping me out!
 

Gypsy13

Member
Ok. My two cents. (Had to listen twice). Guppy one had rips in his tail BEFORE you put the guppies in the aquarium. Damaged or sick? Either way he went into a tank with a betta and precious danios. And other guppies. Now. Pet store guppies aren’t what they used to be. It’s breed em, ship em, sell em fast. Instead of looking for problems on the breeding end, the store finds the problems in dying fish. Next. Sick or injured fish in tank. Betta smells weakness? Could happen. Danios smell weakness? Well yeah. Other guppies smell weakness. Rare but can. So. You’ve lost two guppies, right? No other symptoms in the guppies you have left? Keep in mind the stress of getting to the store, then to your house, then not being acclimated quite slow enough (everybody has done it trust me) was very shocking to them. Then, probably just as they’re getting used to their new surroundings, here comes a water change. (I personally don’t think that had anything to do with it). My little opinion is: you had weak guppies and the danios harassed the stew out of them. I love guppies. I also love danios. Keep them together so the danios will keep my guppy fry in check.
So, that’s my verdict. Could’ve been the betta, I just don’t think so. I know both. Danios love to poke and prod a weak fish.

Sorry that was so long. I figured I enjoyed your novel, you should enjoy mine. Kidding. I love long posts. Can’t have too much info. So tell us how they’re doing this morning. Please?
 

mattgirl

Member
I am sorry to hear what you are going through right now. Please don't beat yourself up over it because it sounds like you have been and are doing everything right.

I agree with everyone about the weak stock available the the general public these days. In my humble opinion the mass breeders don't care whether or not they breed strong stock. They get paid either way.

Thank you for giving up such a detailed description of your tank and what is going on. As far as I can tell you did everything right. Quarantine is a good idea but personally I've never done it and so far I've not had to pay the price. You will get no condemnation from me about doing a fish in cycle. That is my preferred method of cycling a tank.

I personally am fond of long finned black skirt tetras and tetras in general. Fortunately they seem to be hardier species than guppies. You may want to put them on your check out list.
 
  • Thread Starter

Cherrybat

Member
Thank you so much for your replies, made me feel a lot better! Another giant poem incoming, brace yourselves lol

This morning I found 2 more dead guppies, one of them was the big guy that came back to life yesterday, I didn't expect him to survive the night. The other one was a smaller guy, he was the one that barely ate, so again, didn't have high hopes for him. They were both mostly intact when I found them, husband said the betta was poking one of the dead ones but their tails weren't gone or ripped to shreds and noone tried to eat them.

The 3 remaining guppies are the ones that have done the best since the beginning, one is my favorite, and is the liveliest. I think he is trying to assert his dominance or is doing some kind of posturing, so he swims in front of the other 2, opens his tail real wide and shakes it. One is a little light blue boy, he's the smallest right now, he is lively and swims all over, but he is so small that i'm not sure how he will fare. Last one is the biggest, his back is a bit arched, has been since the beginning.. maybe arched is the wrong word, his tail kinda weighs him down a bit, the lady that was helping me at the LFS said that's because he's too inbred and that happens so they can't hold up their tail too well, I thought that was a normal look for some guppies? Anyway, I didn't pick him out he just ended up in the net at the LFS and I just said it's ok I'll take him. All 3 are poking around plants and pipes for algae, I threw in a slice of cucumber dipped in garlic water, I don't think they realize that it's food lol but the danios pecked at it.

I just did my water tests, 0/0/7, ph dropped to around 6.8 (it's between 6.8 and 7 hard to tell) as it does every time I do a water change. I'm pretty sure my water leans toward the soft side, amazon is out of GH/KH test kits, next time i'm at the LFS I'll be sure to see if they have any.

I'm not holding out too much hope for the guppies at this point, they are looking and acting ok but i'm afraid next time I add some fish or do a water change, they'll just kick the bucket I guess I wouldn't really be saving them by bringing them back to the LFS so I will give them a shot and try my best to keep them alive. If I were to do it again I would've gotten some guppies from a local breeder or even just someone who had too many babies. I got too excited and I never had problems with this LFS before, I have spoken to the owner many times and he really cares for and loves his fish, I just wish they made more of an effort to get more fish locally.

Gypsy13, thank you for your novel I do also enjoy long posts, specially if I can learn something. To answer some of your questions, I have like 0 experience with guppies so I can't tell if the first one to go was sick or just damaged. It was weird to me that he managed to split his tail from just the transfer in a bag, could be that he was weak. I didn't know that danios would harass a sick fish, I guess that makes sense, my husband kept saying that in nature that is what happens to weaker animals, they get picked off. He was saying that to calm me down but it makes sense. The 2 guppies that I found today definitely had the same symptoms, lethargic, laying on the ground, fast breathing, not eating. The remaining 3 never had these symptoms, they have always been active and swimming at all levels of the tank. As for acclimating, I guess I just assumed that guppies were hardy, akin to danios, so I figured no drip needed, took a total of an hour of floating the bag and adding tank water before they went in, but judging from what everyone is saying, and after reading more posts, I guess guppies are having a hard time lately I agree with you that danios were probably the straw that broke them, the danios are not vicious or violent with the guppies but they do get in their face, and guppies get spooked. When I would see the dying ones on the bottom, danios wouldn't touch them, neither would the betta. So the prodding would occur while they were still swimming around.

Mattgirl, thank you so much, I appreciate it. Yeah looking back, I asked the guy at the LFS if they get them locally by chance, his eyes went wide and he just shook his head no, implying why would they? He said sometimes people will bring in their babies, but he said that was rare and I don't think they put them in the same tanks. That was my mistake for just getting them on impulse, I should've looked at another LFS that has more local bred fish, or looked online for anyone that had babies to sell. Yeah as for QT I am putting my trust into the LFS, they quarantine their stock for at least a week, their tanks are spotless. I might pay the price one day, but for now I just have to hope no one gets sick. And as for the tetras, I found some conflicting information, I saw that black phantom tetras were on the list as one of the more peaceful tetras, but when I was messing around with aqadvisor, it said that those tetras are considered big fin nippers? I was also thinking of a large school of ember tetras, maybe 15-20, I THINK they are sorta hardy?

And in general if anyone has any suggestions for more hardy tropical fish that are fast enough to get away from a betta, please let me know, I will consider anything at this point!

Thank you!
 

endlercollector

Member
I mostly get fish directly from breeders these days. I've come to see most LFS fish as cut flowers in florists shops. Pretty, but they'll generally last only a week or two. There are just too many fish coming from different sources with cross contamination at every step of the way.

You could probably check with your metropolitan water source to find out what the KH and GH generally are. That's lovely that you have such soft water--great for tetras, gouramis, and southeast Asian rice paddy fish

If you do go with livebearers, a small amount of crushed coral will safely push up your overall hardness, but yes, every time you do a water change, it will get softer. So the way to do that without shocking your fish each week is to let your new water sit with crushed coral in it and take readings until it's where the tank water is, then change it. Yes, it's extra work and you'll need room for all that water, but it's the safest way for the livebearers. At this point, if you don't have room for the guppies, and the LFS will put them down upon return, look into your local freecycle (a Yahoo group) and see if you can give them away.

Yes, tetras can be nippy. Again, don't keep the Betta in there. The larger the shoal of peaceful tetras, the less likely they are too nip. Also, the smaller ones (cardinals, neons, golden Pristellas) are less likely to nip. Warning about neons: don't buy the ones from Thailand--they're very hard to keep alive. Wild-caught and Florida-bred neons are the way to go if you can get them. Since your water is soft, look around and see if you can get any bred in your area. If they're bred in a sound way and kept right, they can live 10 years.
 
  • Thread Starter

Cherrybat

Member
Hello everyone, i'm not sure if it's frowned upon to post in old threads or not, but I thought i'd post an update.

The water problem.
First of all after speaking to some local fish keepers and employees at my LFS I have come to find out that the water in my area is pretty bad. The employees said often people come and complain about random fish deaths and all seem related to the water in this area, I live on a "mountain" so that might have something to do with it as quebec water is generally considered to be very consistent and clean. The water at the LFS is slightly hard, putting it right in the middle and ideal for most freshwater fish, my water is unreasonably soft. At first I didn't want to mess with my water via additives and crushed coral, but after reading and asking around some more, it really shouldn't harm any of my fish or plants, so I have added some crushed coral and will be measuring my KH/GH to put it at slightly hard, or between soft and hard not sure what the proper term for it is.

The Danio problem.
Remedied, I have returned the danios to the LFS, it was hard and heartbreaking but they were just way too aggressive for the tank and stressing everyone out. I had to either turn my 55 gallon into an all danio tank, or they had to go, and so they went

The Female Betta problem.
I know everyone has been telling me that the betta is the number one suspect, but she has been very very docile since the beginning. Until the day I removed the danios and added some female guppies (more on that next). The Betta went berserk on the male guppies, she would focus in on one, then stalk and chase them all over the tank. She started flaring which she has never done before. The day I saw her doing that, I gave her 5 hours to see if she would stop, I turned off the lights, at some point I removed her from the tank for about 30mins, moved some things around and put her back in, and she still wouldn't stop. This was hard on me because I have no room for any other large tanks. I was going to set up my emergency 15G column tank, but my husband convinced me to buy a new smaller tank, so I got the fluval flex 9g, I wanted at least a 10 gallon or even better a 15 gallon long, but the 9g fits so nicely on my desk at my home office, at first I thought it would be too small but some people really like the fluval spec and that one is only 5g. So I figured she would be ok in it. After watching her for the last few days she seems to enjoy it. However something I didn't expect at all happened. Last night she was looking very stressed and pacing around, I measured the PH and it was around 6 if not lower, it was the lowest number on the test kit. So I panicked, did a pwc last night, today the PH was around 6.6, so I added a bit of crushed coral and will measure again tomorrow. P.S. I used some cycled media from my canister on the 55 gallon so unless I somehow killed the BB the tank should be cycled. THEN as I was watching her after putting the coral in, she went up for some air, twitched, and a bunch of eggs fell out. I think what happened is she got hot and bothered when I added the female guppies and the males were trying to mate with them, the hormones in the water made the Betta become eggbound. I am so glad she is now passing the eggs and they didn't get stuck. She seems happy today, and keeps pooping batches of eggs out and eating them up. Clearly the best thing for her since the beginning was to have her own tank. I know people have success with female bettas in community tanks, and I think mine would have been great, but I **** up big time by getting the guppies. Lesson learned.

The Guppy problem.
Well, because i'm a smart person with no impulses, I got more guppies 6 females to be exact, as I had 3 males left. After removing the betta they all seem to be happy, I even spotted a couple of babies already. Don't think they will survive though, pretty sure one already got chomped. I added some crushed coral, will be measuring and adjusting the amount as I don't want to make it too hard, I would like the babies to be born into a slightly hard but not too hard water. Why not too hard? Because I have 100s of dollars worth of plants in there and also 5 black phantom tetras, I know they like softer water but I need to buffer my PH a little bit as the swings can be crazy after a WC. So far everyone seems to be happy, the black phantoms are beautiful fish, but they are such scaredy cats, they stay near the bottom and back of the tank, hiding among cabomba plants. I am now convinced that my other male guppies died because of the danios scaring them and possibly just not giving them enough time to get used to their new water and doing a PWC right away. As I have done a bunch of PWC with the remaining 3 guppies and they are completely fine. I thought I saw some ich on my betta so I used ICH-X on the whole tank for a week, I raised the temp to about 28C as that is how far my heater could take the tank, I changed 15% of the water every day for 7 days as per instructions on the bottle. Everyone was fine and no signs of ich after the 7 days.

So that is my update right now. Everyone seems to be happy, unlike me who has been experiencing peak stress will all this fish business Fingers crossed no more major problems! Thank you everyone in this thread for your help! Also some pictures of the tanks now
 

Gypsy13

Member
Thank you for the update. I always wonder what happened. I’m especially glad when the update is a good one. And a long one. Little audiobook. May your guppies not overtake your tank and all your finbabies stay beautiful!
 

mattgirl

Member
I agree with Gypsy13 I too am always happy when we get an update. Thank you also for just continuing in this thread. It makes it so much easier to keep things I context when it is kept in the same thread.

Hopefully the crushed coral is getting and keeping the harness of your water where it needs to be. It has been reported that a unusually low PH can prevent a cycle from completing so it sounds reasonable to me that it can also crash a cycle over time.

For your cycle (bacteria) to grow and thrive it has to have an ammonia source. I have read more than once that water with a low PH turns ammonia into ammonium and ammonium is not a good food for the bacteria. Basically without the right kind of food (ammonia) the bacteria will starve and die.

I have naturally soft water so to harden up my water I have crushed coral and a piece of cuttlebone in each of my HOB filters and seashells in the body of my tanks. All 3 items dissolve very very slowly so last a long time. The water comes out of my tap at 6.8 but I am able to keep my tanks at 7.2 with this method.

There are PH boosters on the market but I wouldn't trust them not to raise it too quickly so I depend on the gradual dissolving of natural products to keep mine stable.
 

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