Planted Tank Enthusiast
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
I feel for you, amcoffeegirl.
I almost threw in the towel the first year into guppies because of everything you described.
In my case, the culprit was callamanus worms. They don't always show and can remain hidden. When you see them rearing their nasty heads (do they have heads?) from the mulm hole, it's pretty bad by then.
My females would be huge with pregnancy, take forever to drop, drop a few, then promptly die. The males and other females, juvies, etc. ate well, but just looked unthrifty, like something was off. Not always clampy, just a bit peeked.
It was a pain in the butt, but did the whole levamisole treatment with follow-up, and haven't had a problem since.
Now, I am a BIG believer in QT, for at least a month, and any new gup I get-no matter from who or where-will get the treatment before being introduced to the residents. I don't care if it seems like I am medicating unnecessarily. I will not go through it again. To this day, I haven't lost a gup to anything other than mishaps, culling, and old age.
I feel like such a weirdo at the pet stores. The first thing I inspect is the poop-chutes, and what kind of poo is lying around. Not 100%, but it can be a good indicator of a fish's health.
Other fish carry this as well, but it seemed like it affected and hit the livebearers' the worst.
It was the most frustrating thing I encountered with tropical fish, and almost turned me off them. I was ready to settle for a planted tank with snails as my livestock.
I'm glad I didn't. Because the enjoyment I get from them now is great.
Also, the more you have, the more likely something is to get sick. Just the law of averages. (I don't think pond snails know this law, and bettas are usually separately housed, so odds are in their favor)
I wish you much luck and success in finding out what the culprit is with yours.
Diagnosis can be the hardest part.