My Platy's are dying and I don't understand why? Help 

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Wolf's mum

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Hi there, I got my tank in mid December 09 as a Christmas present, we put in a plant substrate, and some gravel, and Schist rock, then filled with water treated with API Stress Zyme & Stress Coat. For Xmas, I got a heater. We heated the water and went to the fish shop for fish. We were advised then to cycle the tank, which we did. We took approx 3 months to get 6 Playty's , 10 Zebra Danios and 5 Cardinal Tetras and a wide selection of plants. All daily water tests were good, and we do regular water changes. In late feb 10, I lost my first platy, and have since lost a total of 7 platy's all female. The platys are breeding regularly, and I have approx 12 fry at various ages, but the adult females continue to die. The symptoms are reddened gills,fish tend to all fins are clamped, and the hide under rocks, or float in the plants, I recently noticed that these symptoms are often linked to the female giving birth to fry. Some seem to go very quickly others have taken days or weeks in decline. A friend recently gave me the fish from her tank including a male swordftail, a guppy, 2 cory cats, and two sucker fish.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

Nick G

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Hi Wolfs Mum, Welcome to Fishlore! I don't think you're doing anything wrong. I have found that very same problem when breeding Platies, healthy females give birth and never seem to recover from it, dying within a month or two of giving birth with the same symptoms as you describe. I have found that it is just something that happens, which I have been unable to find any reason for. Are all your other fish healthy?
 
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Wolf's mum

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HI Nick, thanks for the prompt reply, yes all the other fish are well, and the recent additions from my friends tanka re growing and thriving in the bigger tank. It is quite distressing wathcing the lovely gentle platy's suffer, for no apparent reason.
 

Nick G

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It sounds like the same problem I've had in the past, especially as all your other fish are healthy. If I had to hazard a guess at the problem, I'd say that it is being caused by too much inbreeding of the Platies, which can weaken their immune system and hardiness. This is just my opinion though.
 

Kunsthure

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Welcome to Fish Lore! I'm sorry to hear about your platys.

If you could fill in your aquarium info in your profile it'll help us out a lot.

What size tank is it? Are you testing your water parameters? If so, what are you using, strips or a liquid kit?

Swordtails and platys can crossbreed, just something to keep in mind.

Red gills and clamped fins immediately make me think of ammonia poisoning. Hiding can be a sign of impending labor but coupled with the red gills and clamped fins leads me away from pregnancy as the main cause of their behavior. Some fish are just more sensitive to the ammonia, which is why the platys maybe dying but not the others, especially if the platys have been in the tank the longest.

Any time a fish dies, the first thing to check is your water parameters to see if anything is out of whack.
 

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I thought the same as Kunsthure. It can happen that fish are lost through birth, as Nick rightly says. It is fairly common from what I gather. But the red gills and fin clamping do indicate it could be something more. Usually the ammonia poisoning.
Check the ammonia level, and keep an eye on any fish going to the surface and gasping, this is also a little clue to keep an eye out for.
If your levels are fine, it may be that the fish dying of birthing reasons get similar symptoms to ammonia poisoning which I was not aware of (in this case, thanks Nick, I learnt something else to look for!)
 
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Wolf's mum

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Hi, thanks for the advice, I have a 40 gallon tank and I have been testing the water regularly (initially daily then weekly) using a liquid master kit, and have never had any adverse ammonia readings, we are occassionally getting low nitrate readings (less than 10ppm) and have been advised by our local fish shops that this is not catastrophic, we always do a water change when we get these readings above zero. I have only had one of the platy's who appeared to be gasping (constantly opening and closing her mouth), but she did this where ever she was in the tank, and did not seem to spend a lot of time at the surface.
 

Goldwing_Don

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Welcome to fishlore Wolf's mum
 

bass master

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Hi wolf's mum, welcome to fishlore!

Wolf's mum said:
Hi, thanks for the advice, I have a 40 gallon tank and I have been testing the water regularly (initially daily then weekly) using a liquid master kit, and have never had any adverse ammonia readings, we are occassionally getting low nitrate readings (less than 10ppm) and have been advised by our local fish shops that this is not catastrophic, we always do a water change when we get these readings above zero. I have only had one of the platy's who appeared to be gasping (constantly opening and closing her mouth), but she did this where ever she was in the tank, and did not seem to spend a lot of time at the surface.
Nitrates are normal in an established tank, they are the final product of the nitrogen cycle and can only be removed through water changes, so a nitrate reading is completely normal, in fact, I would be more worried if you did not get any nitrate reading. That being said, Stress zyme is a bacterial supplement that most likely contains the wrong type of bacteria and will not sustain itself without being constantly added to the aquarium. I would stop using the stress zyme and monitor closely for ammonia. Pick up some prime or amquel+ from the pet store and try to do water changes twice weekly. Even though your water parameters do sound fine, the reddened gills and clamped fins definitely make me suspect some kind of water quality issue. It could also be some other water parameter, what temperature do you keep your tank at? Do you know the pH of your water? The only other thing I can think of could be the male to female ratio. It is always recommended to keep at least 2 females for every male livebearer you have in the tank. If there are too few females, the males will harass the females and they could become stressed and possibly die.

Would you mind filling out all of your aquarium info? It could help us pick up on a few of the smaller details that could be affecting your fish.
 
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Wolf's mum

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Hi Bass Master, I have updated my tank profile, my water test results tonight areh 7.2 Ammonia and Nitrite 0 and nitrate 5-10ppm and the temp is approx 26C. My male:female ratio is currently 1 adult female to two adult males (I have 1 male fry and approx 8-10 female fry aged between newborn and 3 months old) due to the recent death of 4 adult females. I guess my next quandry is whether or not to introduce some adult females or will the adolescent fry be enough to maintain the male/female balance. I have a male who is a bt of a bully to the other male in particular. I will check out the pet store at the weekend to see if the Amquel+ is available in NZ and give it a go.
 

Aquarist

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Hello Wolf's Mum and Welcome to Fish Lore!

I hope you enjoy the site!

Ken
 

Nick G

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Hi Wolfs Mum, you could trying getting some more female platies from another source, perhaps a private breeder? These could be a little hardier than pet store ones.
 

bass master

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With a two to one male to female ratio, its very likely that the females are simply being harassed to death at this point, how many males and females did you begin with? Your water parameters are fantastic, but the temperature may be a just a little high for the platies, I would try to lower the temperature down to about 24 degrees and try to add some extra aeration. Do you currently have an airstone in the tank? This can help out a great bit if it looks like the fish are having trouble getting enough oxygen. I still can't say I'm entirely sure what it is that is causing your troubles, like others I suspect that the stock may not be good and they are simply weak fish after too much inbreeding. As for adding new fish, I can't really decide which way to go, if you have sick fish, adding more fish will likely not help the problem, especially if the fish from the pet store are poorly bred. On the other hand, if you notice your females being constantly harassed and having to gasp all the time once they escape the males, I think you should add more females. It will be probably about another month until the fry are sexually mature, and it might be a while longer before the males start chasing them, so down the road that could help things out, but it might take some waiting.
 
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Hi Bass master, thanks for the further advice, I will drop the temperature back to 24 degrees, (I increased it recently as with winter approaching the temp was dropping as low as 22 degrees overnight) I do not have an airstone, but generally run a air bubble wall across the back of the tank. I originally started with 2 males and 4 females, then later added 1 more male and 3 more females. I think I will visit a different pet store to see of they have any platies, and look to add some more females as one of the remaining males is getting gradually more aggressive with the other platies.

Thanks again for your advice bass master and to everyone else, I have a few things to try, and they will hopefully help improve the situation for the platies.
 

Nick G

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I hadn't realised you were here in NZ! I live down in sunny Nelson. I'm now 99% sure that the problem is weak stock as most of the Platies in NZ are very inbred! I know 4 or 5 different guys down here who have had the same problem. It could be worth having a look on Trade Me to see if there is anyone selling near to you, that's where I get a lot of my fish from.
 
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