help - poorly guppies - one dead - help please


Help asap!

anyone have any ideas......I don't want my remaining guppies to die too.

5 male guppies in new 60 litre tank. I left the tank over a week to do the whole nitrogen cycle thing and used "nutrafin cycle" as well when setting up tank and before putting the guppies in. levels have been tested daily using test tube kit and have been at zero for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. pH at 7.2. temp at 26C. therefore surely I should have happy guppies.....however, I noticed white spots a couple of days ago, got treatment (and removed carbon filter) straight away, that's much improved. Also....the scales along the top of the body seem to be fading away and losing colour, and patches look like they've disappeared altogether. I can't describe it any other way really. anyway, hoped it was part of the ich and would resolve with the treatment. this morn one guppy was hovering near the surface looking very "unwell" and had the worse case of faded scales than the others. promptly did a 16% water change and checked levels (before the water change to get true picture of what's going on). all levels were spot on. fish "perked up" a little and joined the others for a swim. went to pet shop for advice, (not very helpful) got home to dead fish. now I am very worried that whatever it had, might happen to the others. simply replacing fish is not going to help. I really need to find the cause and make sure it doesn't happen again. so far the remaining 4 guppies are swimming about and seem ok. one still has 2 white spots remaining on his tail and they all still have "scale fade". any ideas....anyone? I desperately need to help my fishes...I just don't know how!

update: been to pet shop and showed them the dead fish in a hope of them identifying the problem. Unfortunately he has never seen anything like it! why as a beginner do I get the unusual disease in my tank?!  ??? anyway, he recommended melafix as that sorts out most things and that's what he uses at home and the rest of his family use it for their fish too. he said to wait til the treatment for ich is complete first, however the instructions on the melafix say it can be used alongside other medications manufactured by them. it does not state if suitable with other medications. i'm concerned that by the time i've finished the white spot treatment the mystery ailment will have taken hold of the guppies to the point of no return, but if I go ahead and pour melafix in the tank with the ich treatment I'll harm the fish by overloading them with chemicals etc. Oh I just don't know what to do for the best. On a plus note though he did say one fatality for a beginner with new tank set up isn't too bad, so maybe i'm not a complete failure after all. Just hope I don't have any more fatalities. today the remaining 4 are still swimming about looking ok  ...still got faded scales though. hope they'll be ok.  ???

HELP! another one is looking the same....hanging about at the water surface, not chasing the others about. put the medifix in, and hoping for the best. hopefully will still be alive in morn.


Can we get some pics?
Maybe it is spreading from guppy to guppy try seperating them if you have the tanks

Best to wait for someone else because I'm not good at things like this.


It won't really help because all the guppies will probably be carrying the disease organisms on their body by now. The melafix won't help because it has ich, not fin rot. Try raising the temperature to 85 F and treat them with coppersafe (that is if you don't have any snails and shrimps in there). Also, can you tell me how many gallons it is?


well.....came down this morn expecting the worst......however, pleasantly surprised.....I still have 4 guppies and they're all swimming about and had their breakfast. the one that looked on deaths door last night seems to have 'perked' up. i'm still not happy with their appearance though.

i'm sure they all have the same thing. the ich has gone now. they were spotless yesterday. given them another dose this morn and water change just to be sure (dosed after water change).

I think the more serious problem is something else as the one that died had no spots that I could see. the one which had the most spots and the most visible spots didnt seem bothered by it at all- still remained very active and has been the healthiest looking in terms of biggest tail, shiniest body, most active. the smaller ones look poorliest in terms of body disintegration.

it looks like the fish are dissolving is the only other way I can describe it. still not sure if bacterial or fungal. I have rang everywhere around here this morn for pimafix as that's safe to use with melafix and would cure if fungal, but nowhere has heard of it, let alone sells it! there is no whiteness on them which i've heard is the main indicator of fungal, so that's promising.

I have been trying to get a picture, but they don't sit still! when one was hanging at surface last night I tried then but he was right at the back of the tank and the poorliest bit is along their backs which is tricky to photograph! I haven't given up though....i'll keep trying and when I do I'll post it straight away! I should've photographed the one that died. things always seem simple in hindsight!

it's 60 litres, which when put into the calculator thing on this website = 15.85 gallons. (very handy that calculator!)

the temp is 27C, 81F. how high can I take it with guppies? don't want to cook them. is 85F the highest? - there's just the guppies and snails that hitched a ride with the plants (pond snails I assume?) and they survived the tank cycling and the medications etc. they just keep breeding! shame I can't look after fish as well as I can snails! ;D. they do a good job of keeping my tank clean though! not adding any more fish til my guppies are happy and in perfect health.

also how often can water changes (16% is what i've been doing) be done without upsetting the balance of everything? since they've been ill, i've been doing it every couple of days before the ich treatment, but as not sure what the other illness is, I would like them doing more often to get rid of the problem, but don't want tank re-cycling and stressing my fish. what's better.....leaving alone and fish stressed with illness, or interfering with water changes (16%) and stressing fish with that?

can plants bring in disease? the plants I have in there are live ones. is that a bad thing? seemed a good idea at the time.

you can tell i'm a newbie with all the questions! sorry guys. I'll repay the favour and help others when I know what i'm doing! - hopefully that will be sooner rather than later!


hey there, i'm back with a picture. its not the best I know, but you can see on the fish on the far left and far right on top of their head their scales seem top be disappearing.


I don't think your tank is cycled. How long have you had it set up? If you're not completely up on the nitrogen cycle, please click on the link in my signature called, "FishLore Articles for Beginners". It will help you a lot. I couldn't really grasp the concept until I experienced it. My first tank was cycled with fish. The reason I don't think your tank is cycled, is because you are showing no nitrates. Unless you have a heavily planted tank, you should have a nitrate reading if your tank is cycled.

If the ick is gone, I would recommend you stop the medications at this time. Put your carbon back in, and get all those meds out of the water. I would also bump up the water changes to at least 25%, and maybe do it daily. Clean water is usually one of the best ways to heal a fish. If your tank is cycled, you can't do too many water changes. If it isn't cycled, it will impact the cycling process, but a cycled tank won't do you any good if your fish are all dead, so the water changes would be important. Also make sure that the new water you put into your tank is conditioned and at or near the same temperature as the water in the tank!

What are you feeding them, what type of food, and how many times a day? A good quality fish food is always recommended for any fish, and some are better than others. Try and find one that doesn't list fish meal as the first ingredient. The Omega One brand and the New Life Spectrum brand are both good quality foods. If you don't have or can't find decent quality food, you can purchase some liquid vitamins made for fish, or some folks use liquid baby vitamins. You simply soak the food in the vitamins before adding to the tank. This might help give them a boost for healing right now.

I'm not sure about how high the temp. should be in the tank, but once the meds are removed, you may be able to just bump the temp. up a little higher if the ick returns. Ick is always present in your tank, and usually only is allowed to infect your fish when their resistance is down due to stress. Butterfly is more experienced in treating ick with the higher temp and using salt. I will ask her to chime in.

I think the live plants are great for any tank that has fish in it that will tolerate them. Guppies are in that group. Not only do plants help keep the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates down, they also put oxygen in the water, and give your fish extra hiding places. Snails can become a problem if they are the pond type snails. Especially if you overfeed, their population will grow, and they can become unsightly. It is hard to eliminate snails in a tank of your size. Loaches are what I have used in the past, but I think your tank will be too small to house 3 or 4 of them. But don't worry about that now.

I know it's overwhelming right now, but you are doing a great job! You may not be able to save all your fish, but you can't blame yourself for that, and we are here to help you! We are so glad you have come to us for help, and hopefully your tank will get in balance soon! Please post your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates again for us.

P.S. If I haven't said it already in another post, Welcome to FishLore!


cheers gunnie! what a star! - I thought I wrote alot!!

before I start my ramble (which is what mine is as I don't really know anything yet!!), can I just say my fish are still swimming about which to me is always a good sign!!- still feeling a little guilt about the one that died. :'(

i've had it set up nearly 2 weeks and used nutrafin cycle (which after reading up on here seems to be a bad thing? - but still not quite sure why...does it "mask" the cycling process or something? - should I stop using it or what? it seemed a good idea at the time...being the naive fish keeper I'll believe anything!). as readings were all zero after a week I figured it was safe for fish and the instructions and lfs said wait at least a week. I chose guppies cos they're meant to be quite hardy which I thought was ideal for me being a beginner and was concerned about tank cycling again with addition of more fish and plants etc (not that i'm anywhere near that stage yet!!)

my tank is certainly not heavily planted (not yet anyway). just the 4 plants to start with. so I agree that shouldnt impact on anything. i'm going for the gradual approach to everything! (bit of a scaredy cat!). more plants and fish will follow in time!

i've been using nutrafin aqua plus to condition the water and using the higher dose assuming I have chloramine rather than chlorine(yet to get hold of local authority water report), and have been using water same temp as tank (or there abouts) to not startle the fish. also just cleaning filter weekly in used tank water, as concerned with disrupting the good bacteria in there. does that sound about right?

i'm feeding them nutrafin max flake food twice a day. tiny amounts that they finish in about 2-3 mins. fish is listed as top ingredient (sounds cannabalistic to me?!), but does have plankton and vitamins added which sounds good (?). I'll have a look in lfs for something without fish in ingred list. thanks for that tip. have been considering some live food as a weekly treat, but not sure if and what they'd like.

is it possible then, that the ich was triggered simply by the stress of bringing them home. I did try and not disturb them too much on way home from lfs, but there were roundabouts and road humps which I don't like at the best of times! I went back to lfs a few days after I got them to complain and they said possibly caused by stress of rehoming (which I was unsure if a fob off or not!), but did give me free treatment for it. I was thinking about the salt idea as a general healing tonic, but was too scared to try in case I did it wrong and used too much!

I thought plants would be a good idea as I thought they'd absorb bad things and produce oxygen to help the fish. also considering later down the line breeding some guppies (i'm talking in years here, not next week!), so thought plants would be a good start for the fry to hide in! - plus live plants look good!

to be honest the snails aren't bothering me! i'm more concerned at keeping my fish alive, and so long as the snails don't bother my my fish or plants they can stay for time being! - they're the least of my worries!!!!!!!!

thanks for the warm welcome and the help, and you are so is very daunting to the point of nearly giving up the whole fish thing for fear of killing any more, but then I decide its the only pet we can have, so i'm determined to crack it! with fishlores support i'm more confident we'll manage to get a healthy tank sorted with minimal errors/fatalities along the way! all advice is very very welcome!!!

I will do another set of readings in the morning and post them on here as just done water change so it will be diluted at the mo. I prefer doing them just before the water change so I get a worse case scenario set of readings (if that makes sense?), and I'll up the water changes to daily to keep disease as low as poss and reduce the effect of cycling on my fish if it hasnt cycled yet. - the highest reading I got was nitrate at 5 on 22nd jan and 25th jan.

thanks again

.....Just found an excellent table on disease (thanks to isabella I think) and looking at this my guppies may have Columnaris (Cotton Wool Disease). symptoms state "Grayish-white film on skin, damaged fins, ulcers, yellow to gray patches on gills, tissue on head may be eaten away." and " Must be treated immediately with Over-the-counter antibiotic medications. Very contagious – disinfect tank, rocks, net, etc."

also TB looked possible too with similar symptoms. anyway, regarding the Columnaris .....if it is that, how do I disinfect everything? will the melafix deal with that? and what's the diff between antibiotic and antibacterial? ??? the more I read about fish, the more questions I have! - sorry guys!

.....ok. its now morning....woke up to guppy lying on gravel....not quite dead....but not looking far off (he did this last night a few times too), so before I even get to think about my breakfast etc, quickly grabbed bucket and test tubes! ammonia, nitrite and nitrate at zero. pH 7.2 (I read the cycle article, but I don't understand why i'm not getting ammonia/nitrite/nitrate readings - even if my tank hadn't cycled before I got the fish, it should be cycling now surely? - can I blame the"nutrafin cycle" stuff i've been using?) did 30% water change. added melafix. kept lights off (dunno if this will help them relax?? - i'm desperate and trying anything!!), so fingers crossed if I don't save this one I'll save the other 3? if it dies I'll take a photo to help with diagnosis. think he'll not last the hour :'(

.....he died about 5 mins after typing the last paragraph. here's his picture. as you can see (I really need a new camera) his belly has no scales or any kind of protection. he looks similar to the other that died ...kinda dissolved looking and very pale.

couple of days later update: remaining 3 guppies doing well. readings this morn were zero again for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, so still totally baffled by them and where I am in the cycle! tank had a white coudiness to it that the bacterial bloom i've heard about? its gone now, but the main thing is I seem to have happy fish again, so that's a relief! . I'll get some more fish in a couple of weeks...cant wait!!

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