New guppies killed and injured from Gourami

Poseidontheaxolotl

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I just got 3 beautiful new dumbo guppies today that were quite small and I was absolutely in love with them. I had already become so attached. I got home and acclimated them and they hung out at the top together and didn't interact with my other 3 guppies or any other fish. I had to leave a little after to go out so I didn't get to watch them and see if everything was okay. Of course it wasn't. I asked my grandma to keep an eye on them just to make sure nothing happened but I was sure nothing would. She texted me saying that my gourami was annoying them and going for them but I thought that if she used a net to keep her away the guppies may be fine. She also said that they were digging in the gravel trying to escape. I didn't know what to say as I was distracted and didn't know what to do as I wasn't there. I got home and quickly ran up to look at them and my heart dropped. All three were completely destroyed. One was dead, and the other two were barely hanging on. My family helped me move them to a small bowl and we put a plant in there to give them a little place to hide in. They are still alive but their tails are destroyed. Hardly anything is left and I have a feeling they won't make it much longer. I am younger and this is very difficult for me as I just had a fish death yesterday and a week before too - all different causes. They were stunning and I am devastated. Does anyone know why my Gourami did this, what I can do and how to introduce new guppies without them dying? Please. Any help would be appreciated. I unfortunately don't take fish deaths well and this just broke my heart. I hope your fish are doing well.
 

FishGirl38

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Hi there,
What size tank is the gourami (and guppies) in?

Gourami are territorial by nature. The notorious Betta fish is actually a cousin to the gourami, they come from the same 'labyrinth fish family' and exhibit similar territorial behaviors. This doesn't mean they're not 'peaceful' fish, they are. It's just, when kept in close quarters with other fish, they tend to be more nippy than if they were kept in a larger tank with said fish, additionally, they tend to focus their territorial behavior towards other anabantids (another name for labyrinth fish), or gourami, in other words [if you had two gourami, 50/50% that they hang out in opposite corners and nip at each-other when they meet up.]

What likely happened, was when the guppy were added, they were okay, until they encroached (went up to) on the gourami. When the gourami noticed there were more, new fish in the tank (posing a threat to his claimed territory) he harassed them 'out' of his territory. Now, depending on how large or spacey your gourami feels, It could've been one half of the tank that was the 'danger' zone, or it could've been the whole tank, depending on how dominant your gourami is.

Things You Could Try Next Time:
Remember, this is all rooted in territory, it's not that your gourami is mean, he thinks he's defending his home. Your gourami recognizes a certain space in your aquarium as 'his space', and may defend that space against other fish. To disrupt this, you could change the decor in the aquarium so that ALL the fish in the tank (included the newbies) are on a level playing field in terms of 'who resides where' and who 'owns' what. The gourami will (should be) just as confused and misplaced feeling as the newbies who have just arrived. At that point, the gourami will be more concerned with re-establishing his place than 'showing off his alpha spot' to the other fish.

Something interesting, you might be asking yourself, 'why did he attack my new guppies but not my existing guppies'? Depending on when you added those existing guppies, your gourami may tolerate them in his hierarchy. If the guppy were in the tank before the gourami, than the gourami was the newbie in this scenario, and even though he is the dominant fish, he more than likely would tolerate the pre-existing fish. (in tiny aquariums they'll be territorial regardless, but they're usually tolerant of existing tank mates if not overcrowded [and he doesn't seem to be]).

-You'll notice in your fish keeping journey, that the more fish you have in a tank, the more risky adding new fish gets because everytime you add new fish, EVERY other fish in the tank takes a turn eye-balling the newbie - is he okay, or is he a threat? Some fish (MOST community fish) deem them 'okay', while others (in this case you're gourami) might deem them a 'threat', this can happen even in community aquariums (specifically with anabantids, angels, sharks and/or barbs). This is because your fish will establish a hierarchy of sorts. When you first add a fish, the other fish will either be intimidated ([scared] or welcoming) of it, OR your fish will try TO intimidate (scare) the newbie. Your fish will establish an alpha, beta, etc. amongst themselves and the more fish you add, the higher each fish has to climb (and the harder it gets for them) to the top of said hierarchical ladder (the safest place).

problems with this methods that I've noticed, if you have a recognizable pieces of decor (like a 'sunken ship' for example) and the 'problem' fish is hanging out around this pieces of decor. Where-ever you move the decor, is where that fish will likely hang out. The fish will recognize the piece immediately, establish his territory quickly, and may still end up harassing new fish. You could have 2 sets of 'themes' that you switch out from time to time for adding new fish if this is the case.

I would also ask what kind of gourami it is, as some tend to be more nippy (or can get larger - and will expand their 'territory' by a ratio relevant to their size), but knowing the tank size will help too.

Another thing you could do, is add more taller plants to the aquarium, or a Larger piece of decor that is large enough to allow a break in the line of sight between the fish. What this means is to make it harder for the gourami to target new fish because they'll be harder to see and get to. If you're able to create a 'wall of plants' around his area, with one easy entrance, that might force him to confine his 'territory to that 'area' (so long as it's reasonable) and be able to add new fish without him having a clear line to get to them.

I hope that wasn't too much, If you have any questions just ask, We're here to help. :)
 

JettsPapa

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I see from your Aquarium Details that it's a gold gourami. They vary from fish to fish but it's not unusual for them to bully smaller fish, and that would be compounded in a 20 gallon tank. Your best option is probably to find a new home for it.
 
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Poseidontheaxolotl

Poseidontheaxolotl

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JettsPapa said:
I see from your Aquarium Details that it's a gold gourami. They vary from fish to fish but it's not unusual for them to bully smaller fish, and that would be compounded in a 20 gallon tank. Your best option is probably to find a new home for it.
I was considering finding her a new home but she was the first fish I purchased. I will look into it if it means causing fewer problems.

FishGirl38 said:
Hi there,
What size tank is the gourami (and guppies) in?

Gourami are territorial by nature. The notorious Betta fish is actually a cousin to the gourami, they come from the same 'labyrinth fish family' and exhibit similar territorial behaviors. This doesn't mean they're not 'peaceful' fish, they are. It's just, when kept in close quarters with other fish, they tend to be more nippy than if they were kept in a larger tank with said fish, additionally, they tend to focus their territorial behavior towards other anabantids (another name for labyrinth fish), or gourami, in other words [if you had two gourami, 50/50% that they hang out in opposite corners and nip at each-other when they meet up.]

What likely happened, was when the guppy were added, they were okay, until they encroached (went up to) on the gourami. When the gourami noticed there were more, new fish in the tank (posing a threat to his claimed territory) he harassed them 'out' of his territory. Now, depending on how large or spacey your gourami feels, It could've been one half of the tank that was the 'danger' zone, or it could've been the whole tank, depending on how dominant your gourami is.

Things You Could Try Next Time:
Remember, this is all rooted in territory, it's not that your gourami is mean, he thinks he's defending his home. Your gourami recognizes a certain space in your aquarium as 'his space', and may defend that space against other fish. To disrupt this, you could change the decor in the aquarium so that ALL the fish in the tank (included the newbies) are on a level playing field in terms of 'who resides where' and who 'owns' what. The gourami will (should be) just as confused and misplaced feeling as the newbies who have just arrived. At that point, the gourami will be more concerned with re-establishing his place than 'showing off his alpha spot' to the other fish.

Something interesting, you might be asking yourself, 'why did he attack my new guppies but not my existing guppies'? Depending on when you added those existing guppies, your gourami may tolerate them in his hierarchy. If the guppy were in the tank before the gourami, than the gourami was the newbie in this scenario, and even though he is the dominant fish, he more than likely would tolerate the pre-existing fish. (in tiny aquariums they'll be territorial regardless, but they're usually tolerant of existing tank mates if not overcrowded [and he doesn't seem to be]).

-You'll notice in your fish keeping journey, that the more fish you have in a tank, the more risky adding new fish gets because everytime you add new fish, EVERY other fish in the tank takes a turn eye-balling the newbie - is he okay, or is he a threat? Some fish (MOST community fish) deem them 'okay', while others (in this case you're gourami) might deem them a 'threat', this can happen even in community aquariums (specifically with anabantids, angels, sharks and/or barbs). This is because your fish will establish a hierarchy of sorts. When you first add a fish, the other fish will either be intimidated ([scared] or welcoming) of it, OR your fish will try TO intimidate (scare) the newbie. Your fish will establish an alpha, beta, etc. amongst themselves and the more fish you add, the higher each fish has to climb (and the harder it gets for them) to the top of said hierarchical ladder (the safest place).

problems with this methods that I've noticed, if you have a recognizable pieces of decor (like a 'sunken ship' for example) and the 'problem' fish is hanging out around this pieces of decor. Where-ever you move the decor, is where that fish will likely hang out. The fish will recognize the piece immediately, establish his territory quickly, and may still end up harassing new fish. You could have 2 sets of 'themes' that you switch out from time to time for adding new fish if this is the case.

I would also ask what kind of gourami it is, as some tend to be more nippy (or can get larger - and will expand their 'territory' by a ratio relevant to their size), but knowing the tank size will help too.

Another thing you could do, is add more taller plants to the aquarium, or a Larger piece of decor that is large enough to allow a break in the line of sight between the fish. What this means is to make it harder for the gourami to target new fish because they'll be harder to see and get to. If you're able to create a 'wall of plants' around his area, with one easy entrance, that might force him to confine his 'territory to that 'area' (so long as it's reasonable) and be able to add new fish without him having a clear line to get to them.

I hope that wasn't too much, If you have any questions just ask, We're here to help. :)
Hello! Wow, I cannot explain how useful this information was!

I have a 20 gallon high with a gold Gourami, 1 glass catfish (others died), 3 cobra guppies, 3 kuhli loaches and a spiny eel. My gourami likes to swim around the whole tank, so I have never seen her claim one spot. She just likes to float around, but she also takes all the food. I have to feed my eel bloodworms every other day - and of course it it just like a treat for the other fish. Gloria (the gourami) can just about squeeze through the gaps between the ornament and the wall. She will usually take the cube of worms out of the tongs that I feed my eel with and I sometimes have to fight her to get it back. I have used the method of feeding the eel and then using the tongs and guiding her to the other end of the tank.

I could change around the tank, it might help me to add new fish. If I do change it around, should I change it and then add the new fish right after? My problem is I don't want my only catfish to become stressed out that his only hiding place is being moved. Im sure he would find it I just hope I don't have another fish death. My parents suggested taking Gloria out for a few days until the others are settled in and then add her and watch her really closely. Otherwise my option is to get rid of her. I never have wanted to get rid of a fish and hopefully this is a small issue we can fix, as she has tolerated other new fish (not guppies) being added to the tank. However they were mainly bottom dwellers. She and the guppies were the first ones I added to the tank, so they have been with me since the beginning. I am not sure if I will be able to part with her but we will see.

I cannot thank you enough for your helpful information. It was extremely useful and its exactly what I needed! I doubt wether the last guppy is going to make it but he's a fighter. Another died this morning): I wanted them to live a happy life as they deserved it but I couldn't even keep them alive for more than a few hours. And they were smaller so they hadn't had a chance to live a full life ): I guess sometimes that's the circle of life. I will definitely remember them and use your amazing methods next time!

Thank you,
Poseidontheaxolotl
 

jinjerJOSH22

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Hi, sucks what happened :( My Three Spot(same species as your gold) has killed every Guppy i've tried to keep with him and that was in A 50. They can be tough to add fish with at times.

I would lean to re homing Gloria, Three Spots grow too big for a 20 as adults and combine that with their aggression as well as their social behaviour it'll probably be for the best.
 

FishGirl38

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So, Your gold gourami can grow between 4 and 6In long. I would say she (or he, you can tell if its a male or female by their top fin, if it's long and comes to a point-its a boy, if it's shorter and rounded, it's a girl) SHOULD be fine in there, long term with tank mates. BUT because he/she is probably going to end up being the largest fish in the tank, she will likely be at the top of said hierarchy the entire time.

Honestly, your parents thought of removing her for a few days (adding new fish while shes away) and then putting her back might help. This is because you're misplacing her and then 're-homing' her. She won't know the difference (or probably won't, especially if the tank is all different when she returns). By theory, she should accept the current fish in the tank at that point...The reason I didn't mention doing this, is because transferring fish between tanks can be stressful on them. If you have another tank with similar water parameters as the one in question, than it's easier. But if moving her would mean setting her in a brand new container of 'aquarium water' for a few days, than that method may be stressful on the gourami. These guys are real resilient, and (because they're labyrinth fish) they can take oxygen (and breathe) straight from the surface of the water - so it's definitely possible. (most fish NEED to pull oxygen from the water column, they're not able to go to the top and gulp air, betta, gourami, paradise fish [anabantids] can, this is why betta can live in a filterless bowl, but tetra cannot). BUT, you'll want to keep note of the ammonia and the water parameters (specifically PH, and that it's not too different from your main tank - which, if you use the same water source for both tanks, it shouldnt be).

But as Jinger mentioned, It can be a toss in their air with these guys. They're not usually aggressive, but they can be relentless nippers.

Gold gourami aren't necessarily on the 'nippier' end (dwarf gourami tend to have more attitude than 'regular' gourami), but they are of the sort that gets a little on the larger end. And as I mentioned, the larger/more mature he/she gets, the more territory they will deem 'theirs'.

Another thing to consider...you've mentioned that these guppy were smaller guppy. If they were smaller than everyone else in the tank, It could be, that the size played a factor as well. This doesn't normally happen in community tanks - its more common in cichlid tanks, but when adding new cichlids to an already established tank, aquarists have to add fish that are of a comparable size to the fish they already have in the tank. If they add a smaller cichlid into a tank of larger, established cichlids, the little guy will be deemed 'weakest' and will be picked on relentlessly - this is due to that hierarchy thing. Accept with cichlids, they will quite literally test eachother on the 'who's the alpha' and will fight with eachother for this position (whereas community fish usually accept their place and could care less from there so long as they're comfortable in their own little group).

As I mentioned, this isn't usually common in community tanks, but given that your gourami is territorial, it could be that she picked on the smallest fish because they were the 'weakest link', not necessarily because they were the newbie. (I'm wondering, if you were to add a larger platy or molly type, if she would pick at them, as they are larger in general). I know this can be saddening, and I'm sorry for this unfortunate experience. But it is, in fact, pure nature, and there wasn't much you could've done or known to predict how your gourami would react. :). We have to learn in this way.
 
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Poseidontheaxolotl

Poseidontheaxolotl

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jinjerJOSH22 said:
Hi, sucks what happened :( My Three Spot(same species as your gold) has killed every Guppy i've tried to keep with him and that was in A 50. They can be tough to add fish with at times.

I would lean to re homing Gloria, Three Spots grow too big for a 20 as adults and combine that with their aggression as well as their social behaviour it'll probably be for the best.
Thank you, I am sorry about your guppies): I will consider it. I cannot really imagine parting with her as she was my first fish I got, but I will definitely consider it. It may be for the best ): Thank you for your advice!
 

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