Disappearing Fry? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Disappearing Fry?

Hello All-

The title of this thread may have sparked your curiousity, but this is the truth. I would love for someone to tell me what really happened here.

On Wednesday, I picked up five guppy fry from my LFS in hopes of growing a virgin female to jumpstart my breeding endeavor. Four of them look to be from the same drop and the other looks only about one week old. Once home, I floated them in my 5.5 gallon for 30 minutes and released them into the tank filtered by an in tank filter on which I covered the intake grid with fabric to prevent losing any fry. I secured the fabric with a rubber band around the filter. The tank also is equipped with an airstone and heater which keeps the water at a constant of 75 degrees Farenheit. Aside from the fry, the only other inhabitants are two good sized mystery snails.

As for feeding, I bought these spontaneously and havent started any live food cultures yet, so right now theyre eating frozen baby brine shrimp along with crushed tetra tropical flakes. I still havent figured out quite the right portion, and therefore I am keeping up with 40% water changes every other day. The snails usually clean up the rest.

The parameters are that of any other common freshwater tank; I try my best to keep the pH at 7.0 but it slowly fluctates between 6.8-7.2. When I last tested the water yesterday, the nitrites were EXTREMELY HIGH. I immediately got out my gravel vacuum and did a substantial water change. I am currently testing the water again. But, this next part is the shocker.

When I woke up to feed them yesterday morning, I looked all over the tank and could not find one of the guppies out of the four that look to be from the same batch. I assumed he was hiding and that he would soon show up later. But, to my surprise, he is nowhere to be found. And this morning, the same thing happened again. Gone.

So, now all I have left are two from the same batch and one really young fry. Three in total. And, what I do not understand is, I cant even find their (presumably) dead bodies. No belly-ups at the surface, no little corpse on the gravel, no tiny body stuck to the filter intake. To add to the chaos, the remaining ones are lively and seem perfectly healthy.

I am pulling my hair out here! If this has happened to anyone before, I would greatly appreciate your advice, and, even if you haven't experienced this, I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. Help! I don't want to lose another tommorrow morning!

-tetrabettaguy97
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 09:00 PM
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Several thoughts here, one is they may have jumped out from the poor water.

Second is they may have died and then been eaten by the the others, or the snails.

Third they may have died and because of their size, you aren't seeing the bodies.

(I have had a fair share of tank disasters and you don't always find the bodies)


Sounds like your tank isn't properly cycled.

Anyone else have any thoughts? >>>
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
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This tank has been set up for two months. Everyday I sprinkled flakes in to develop bacteria, etc.

They could have been eaten by the snails but absolutely not by the others. They were all the same size.

And, trust me, I have studied this tank and searched practically everywhere. No bodies to be found in the tank.

If they wanted to jump, they're is only like one square inch of space available for them to get out. This number is added up from all the little crevices, and some spots I just can't cover. So....you can see where my frustration is coming from.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 09:28 PM
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I have had full grown guppies end up inside my hob filter. They could not have been sucked up the intake tube. check there just in case.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 09:37 PM
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You need actual ammonia, chemical or created by fish to develop the correct bacteria. The whole fish food decomp method IMO is a joke.

As for the bodies being eaten, a dead body could have easily been picked at till gone by other fish. Happens all the time. I have seen 2 ghost shrimp eat an entire dead guppy before.

Your spike in Nitrites is a sure sign the tank is not cycled yet.

You should really only have Nitrates left over and not much of them when your tank is cycled with fish present. These are removed during your weekly water changes.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 10:31 PM
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If it makes you feel better, I lost a 6" pleco. It completely vanished, and I never found it. No body, no dried corpse on the floor, no ammo spike, nothing. It just vanished. I didn't have any cats or dogs in the house that would eat it, either...

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Rita Mae Brown

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 10:47 PM
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i had a harlequin rasboro disappear the same way

couldnt find it for close to a year until it came time to change out light bulbs...and then there was his little mumified body

im going with dead fish...and eaten by the snails overnight

I had a tigerbarb and neon tetra go that way one...didnt realize until i saw the skeletons on the substrate ABSOLUTELY picked clean...no ammonia spike, just a ramshorn snail population EXPLOSION

it is IMPOSSIBLE to find 1 person who regrets going pressurized

if you do it right, you can spend a lot of money in this hobby...of course, if you do it wrong - you'll spend A LOT more
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
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About cycling, I did no fish for a month and added the two snails. They've been in there for at least 3 weeks.

I do admit that they could have picked at it but I would have spotted the carcasse. Don't tell me they can eat bones?!?!?!? LOL.

I did have a very small nitrate level, but just not enough to qualify as an issue. But, I think I understand about the cycling. It has no bio load for a month and than gets slammed with snail poop. That's probably the problem with nitrites but wouldn't that have been cleared up with the water change?

Back to fry, WHERE ARE THEY? Ugh this is impossible. I've run tanks for 5 years and never has one, let alone two vanish like this...

-tetrabettaguy97
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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New Specs:

NITRATE SPIKE !

What do I do? Is there anything I can do besides water changes?

pH: 6.8
Ammonia: 0.1ppm
Nitrate: 30ppm
Nitrite: 10ppm
Hardness: 225ppm
Chlorine: 0ppm
Alkalinity: 80ppm
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 11:17 PM
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Judging from the looks of those tests your tank is still in the "cycling" process, once the Ammo, and NitrItes are 0 you will be cycled.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 11:33 PM
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+1 still cycling, nitrites are very high unless you misplaced a decimal. And even then, they're high.

As for the missing fry, you said you've done daily WC's. Did you put a screen of some sort on the siphon hose?
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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Nitrites are the real issue here.

On the chart for my test kit it says the ammonia has to be up to 0.5ppm for it to cause a problem.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2010, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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I did a water change on Wednesday before I got the fish and since I do it every other day, I have still yet to change the water today. I am just going to put a panty hose or something over it. Any suggestions?
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-13-2010, 06:27 AM
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You say you have been running tanks for five years. I suggest borrowing some filter material from another tank if you have other's running with fish, or borrowing some filter material from a friends tank and placing this material somewhere in your five gallon tank ,preferably in the filter.
Your readings indicate that the tank has not developed a sufficient bacterial colony.
Would also suggest water conditioner such as PRIME if your tap water contains chloramines as opposed to just chlorine.
Nitrite spike you have recorded could have easily been preceded by an ammonia spike.
I believe you are going to struggle with low birthrates and fish survival rates with the number's posted if breeding livebearer's is your aim. They very much prefer hard alkaline water with GH of 15 degrees or more as do the snails, who need similar conditions for shell development.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-13-2010, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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I read that soft water deteriorates the snails shells. I am honestly no where near the breeding part yet. Still haven't collected everything. Plus, I need to wait for a virgin female.

I thought about using a filter cartridge from another tank and just putting a new one in the tank I would be taking the cartridge from. How long would it take to cycle the tank using this method?

I am also happy to report that all three fry are still alive this morning.

-tetrabettaguy97
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