Guppies keep dying - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2013, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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Guppies keep dying

Ok so, let me preface this with the fact that ALL of my readings have been zero for the life of this tank. I've had it tested at 4 different stores, chains & lfs.

I have a 10 gallon, heavily planted, 80 degree, airstone equipped, cycled tank with thriving spawning ghost shrimp everywhere. I started with 4 neons & 3 guppies, all males. The neons were not shoaling well so I added one. Still fighting so, a chain store talked me into another. I know this is overstocked so, I have an aquaclear 20 & as I said, my numbers are always fine.

1 male guppy got dropsy so, I did Maracyn 2 & he made it. The other two got dropsy & died. I replaced with 2 more males. Once the original male got comfortable, he got EXTREMELY aggressive & chased the other 2 males to death. So, I bought 3 females & a male. I kept a close eye on water parameters because I know I'm over the line with stocking.

The the rubbing began. Furious swimming & rubbing. I did a Maracyn 2 & Pimafix treatment. Salt killed my plants & I can't use copper due to my shrimp. I lost all the females. One during birth. I managed to get 4 fry out of her. I bought one female because the male guppy was chasing the neons around bullying them. This was before I saw the fry.

So now ALL of my fish are frantically swimming around & rubbing on everything. Water parameters are fine. I can't vacuum the gravel due to dozens of baby shrimp everywhere. I do weekly 25% water changes. Feed minimal food 2x daily.

It now looks like I'm losing the female & my neons are nonstop fighting. If something was wrong, why are the fry fine? Why are ghost shrimp, which are supposed to be delicate, fine? I'm lost as what to do. I've lost 10 guppies so far. Thank you!

Last edited by AmberP; 11-21-2013 at 05:59 PM. Reason: Forgot to say thank you haha
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2013, 06:58 PM
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Before adding any new occupants to the tank, especially after a sickness or problem with existing tank, I QT newcomers for a month. Any fish that shows aggression or fin nippers get separated or yanked ("bad seeds" can show up in the mildest species). Crowded conditions and an unruly occupant stress fish, leaving them open for disease.

Flashing, rubbing, itching and scratching could be caused by parasites, which can cause dropsy and bacterial infections.
Camallanus worms sound like the culprit. Females can die after giving birth (usually only a few fry), fish generally waste away, bloat and die quickly, and it is often misdiagnosed as "livebearers disease". I would rule that out before replacing anymore fish.

Your fry will get eaten by the neons and guppies. If they do make it, they will get the Camallanus worms when new eggs hatch. I don't keep shrimp, so I don't really know first hand the effects on shrimp, but the neons are a good candidate, too. Basically, no fish is immune to an infestation. When treated early with levamisole, the fish pass the worms and recover, unless they are really diabilitated. Then you must treat again to destroy the eggs.

I went through it a few years back, early in my guppy keeping, and it was a very frustrating ordeal. Almost turned me off aquariums. Now, with QT procedures, and knowing what to look for and how to cure it, I haven't had a guppy death (other than natural causes (old age), a couple jumpers, and fry munchers) in OVER 3 YEARS.
Some of them are housed with other fish, especially Neon Tetras.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2013, 07:03 PM
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80 degrees is pretty hot for guppies.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2013, 07:36 PM
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Stef's sitting right next to me. We went through a huge ordeal with Callamanus worms together.

They're an internal parasite though, and while they can account for many of the symptoms, they don't explain the rubbing well; which points more to an external parasite or irritant.

I'd suspect ammonia or nitrite first, but it sounds like you've been very thorough in testing for those. Some other possibilities:

Do a very close visual inspection of your fish. Can you see anything on them?

Are you using a water conditioner that removes chlorine and chloramines/ammonia for your water changes?

Are you now using any other chemicals, fertilizers, or treatments on a regular basis? (For example, Melafix never fixed anything for me, it only made my fish very itchy. Given that experience I never tried Pimafix, but I wouldn't be surprised if it does the same.)

Is it possible one of your electrical devices, like the heater, has a small electrical leak? Uncommon, but not unheard of, and it will cause stress/irritability/itchiness/erratic behavior. And it affects bigger critters more than smaller ones.

Are your ghost shrimp hungry, and picking at the slime coat of the fish?

80F isn't too high for guppies BTW. Some guppy breeders use 82F to accelerate their metabolism and make them grow faster. I've done this on a few occasions.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2013, 07:55 PM
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80F seemed a bit warm to me also...I am not an expert by any means and not my intention to contradict anyone. I keep my tank of N class Orchid Endler's at 74-75F.

I am not experienced with parasites to comment on that.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2013, 08:23 PM
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Guppies can be kept from 73-82. The ideal (what the fish seem most comfortable with) is 76-78. You bring up a good point, TekWarren. If the fish were not acclimated to temp extremes from the fish store, it could of sparked more aggressive/breeding/courting behavior.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2013, 09:11 PM
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I used to keep guppies too and from my experience it's good to just buy a few

guppies (e.g 1 Male 2~3 Females) and just let them breed and populate the


Now for the Camallanus worms: They're a pain in the butt. It's in their name.

I've had them in my angelfish and gold rams and they're really hard to get rid of.

A good solution is Flubendazole which kills the camallanus worms pretty quickly.

Flubendazole killed the camallanus worms in my tank and I had pretty good

results with it.

Good Luck!

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2013, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by awesometim1 View Post
Flubendazole killed the camallanus worms in my tank and I had pretty good results with it.
If you actually used Flubendazole, rather than Fenbendazole (differing in only two letters they're easily confused), this is an unusual approach - and I'd love to hear your treatment protocol.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2013, 10:10 PM
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Flag to me. Nitrates reading zero in an overstocked 10g. Unless daily or more water changes nitrates would never be zero unless heavily planted and then plants would be doing terrible. I suspect very high nitrate levels. Calibrate your nitrate test kit and make sure you are shaking both nitrate bottles before adding to the test vials. Shake nitrate bottle number two very heavily or your results will read zero.

If in doubt, add more plants!

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2013, 10:12 PM
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would help to know the exact parameters. if the tank is fully cycled it should have slight traces of nitrate. especially with plants. there are a few people that can hit 0 nitrates but i dont see if often and the tanks has alot of plants. im thinking it might not be fully cycled or you killed they good bacteria with the meds and salt. neons can get nippy and in a tank as small as a 10 gal they are probably fighting over territory. the fact you didnt QT the new fish there is no telling what the new fish came in with and passed on to the others. flashing is a sign something isnt right with the water.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2013, 11:09 PM
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Dropsy is more a symptom than a disease.It is usaully a secondary infection brought on by bacteria.It is also most common with poor water quality.
Not sure where camallanus came into play but you would see the worm if your fish had it?
I'm running with jeep guy as few have 0 across the board and a cycled tank.
More waterchanges/or larger.Forget what the test says your fish are sick no?
First step is waterchange for almost every med.
The fixes are bunk,the maracyn is a good true med if it is the med of choice for your issue,not knowing 100% the issue sounds like it was a miss.
salt is best for osmoregulation(which is part of dropsy sometimes) but other than that is not as good as meds.
Are you using liquid test(the LFS are not probly),and strips are often very inaccurate.
Often many inverts are not effected by diseases that occur with fish,and will never show any signs,although they can be carriers of the disease.
Levamisole and flubendazole are not common or easy to come by unless you know of Charles Harrison/AKA inkmaker.Niether of those meds work quickly(more like 3-4 weeks of treatment).
Change water and try to post pics of "sick" fish.
You are using dechlorinator right?
Your fish only need to fed once a day and should eat all food in less than 2 minutes.Besides what the shrimp get none should hit bottom.

Last edited by Coralbandit; 11-21-2013 at 11:31 PM. Reason: added feeding notes.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-21-2013, 11:53 PM Thread Starter
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First off, thank you all so much for all these responses!! I have a master test kit, liquid. 2 of the fish stores I took the water to had liquid as well. My nitrates run 0. I did spike out at 10 once when the salt started killing off my plants & they were decaying in the tank. The LFS said my readings looked fine for a cycled tank but, didn't tell me the numbers. I'll try shaking it more but, I set a timer for 60 secs & shake furiously.

I have 9 plants rooted & 2 floating in the tank. I use Prime dechlorinator for every water change. I did a 35% water change after the meds.

I thought about getting rid of the neons as I (later) read 10g is too small for that type of fish. The neons however, have been the only ones to make it through this whole time Well, besides the one angry guppy.

If it is the worms, which I'm almost positive are not external since I've inspected the fish the best I can, almost neurotically haha, would the meds you mentioned kill my shrimp? I have far too many to catch & too many minuscule babies as well. What about my plants? I've just replaced them after the salt wiped them out.

As for pics, the fish look outwardly fine. They just start rubbing then swimming awkwardly, then die.

Thanks again!
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 12:11 AM
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My gut says that the levamisole or flubendazole ae NOT safe with your shrimp.One of the links may have email for Charles and he is always very helpful,and knowledgable.If it is camallanus you should see the worm protruding from the fish anus(part of the name),and stringy white poop is very common.Hard to recommend a med not knowing for sure and the shrimp.Antibiotics(maracyn) will be useless for parasites.They are best for bacterial issues.They may have very well worked great for the dropsy,but as I said dropsy is usaully a secondary infection(easier to recognise,than true issue)and almost always water quality related.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 02:01 AM Thread Starter
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Ok so here's a pic of the fish that's seems to be acting strange. I took my parameters again & timed everything, nitrates are at 10. I had a dead shrimp in there I found. I also think I'm getting that blue/green algae/bacteria. I'm going to go to feeding once a day and remove the plants affected by the algae/bacteria but, what else should I do? Should I treat with antibiotic to get rid of the cyano whatever bacteria? Would that cause the fish to rub?
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-22-2013, 02:02 AM Thread Starter
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Oh & I haven't seen any white poop. Thanks
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