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Old 05-31-2004, 06:08 PM   #1
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Guppies with "broken back"

I've got a sick male guppy and it seems to be spreading so I wanted to see if anyone has any ideas.

I know its back isn't broken but that's the best way I can think to describe what is wrong. He doesn't seem to be using his back fin much and looks a bit "hunchbacked". His tail fin is not nicely displaying its just "collapsed". He spends most of his time laying on the gravel under a piece of drift wood. I vaguely remember this happening to guppies when I was a kid.

I've got a 10Gal moderately planted tank with:
amonia - 0
nitrites - 0
nitrates - 5ppm
ph - 7.2
temp - 82
fish: 1 small cory, 5 neon tetras, 2 male guppies, 3 female

The tank has been setup for about 8 months now (with 2 angels, the cory and a pleco) . The angels were moved out and replaced with the guppies about 3 weeks ago and were doing great untill the last few days. All I can think of that has changed is that I moved the pleco to the bigger tank with the angels and now I have some "algea" on the glass (i'm not sure if its algea...it looks like little tiny feather dusters)

Now it seems that the other male is starting on the same path. And a couple of females have been just hanging out at the top of the tank in a corner. I shouldn't be low on 02 as I have an air stone and HOB filter running and the tetras seem to be doing great.

They all seem to eat fine.

wow that was long!

Any help is greatly appreciated.


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Old 05-31-2004, 06:47 PM   #2
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I had the same problem with one of my platy (which I later found out its actually Swordtail - Platy crossbred).
It has the same symptomps as yours. The fish was at first very active, then I start noticing that it doesnt come out to eat the flakes, it seem to have trouble swimming, and the tailfin seem to be stuck together . After a while I realized that he's bone isn't 'straight' :|
After searching online and asking in this forum, I found out that that kind of condition is untreatable.

The fish died like 3 weeks ago , but fortunately for me, the disease doesn't seem to spread to my other fishes (I have 2 very healthy and fatty fry ever since ).

This was my thread

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Old 05-31-2004, 10:17 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info. I'll just keep an eye on him. He seems to eat fine though. One other thing I've just been noticing tonight is that he and a couple of females have just been hanging out in the top back corner of the tank...I mean really packed in there. I noticed that their pupils look dialated...maybe they're on speed Now that I've turned off the lights they seem to be acting more normal.

Hmmm if I have this much trouble with guppies how am I ever going to be able to handle saltwater!
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Old 05-31-2004, 11:57 PM   #4
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A bent spine is -sometimes- a side effect of fish tuberculosis. This is a bacterial infection that spreads VERY quickly to other fishies. It's pretty rare, but if this is the case, drastic measure needs to be taken! Do any of your other fish show any signs of the curving spine? Any fungus growing on them?

As for the guppies, many people have trouble keeping guppies, and while they are genereally recommended as a good fish for beginners, they tend to die off quickly. Guppies, usually if you get them from most normal lfs, are usually very much imbred. The chemicals, horomones, additives, etc. that most breeders add to the tanks to fight disease, etc. often times end up harming the guppies and making them weaker. This is just something to think about, and it also depends on where you are getting your fish from. So, don't worry, you are probably doing everything right, you are just getting bad fish

Have you added anything lately in or around the tank that could be scaring the guppies? (your females) If so, did you wash them off? Change light bulbs recently since you've noticed them acting differently?

Hmm..this is all I can think of for now, good luck.

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Old 06-01-2004, 12:24 PM   #5
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Sounds like fish TB or Herpes..which can lead to secondaries like wasting and/or dropsy....
Herpes takes longer but ends up with disfigurement anyway. The herpes is also untreatable and very contagious.
"Fish! Thank You! Oh, tropical huh? Did you buy a heater? Auuugh!"

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Old 06-01-2004, 07:30 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the info. Unfortunately he is no longer of this world At least my son isn't old enough to care yet

As for adding things, the fish were the last thing added. Every thing else has been stable for months. The only thing that chnaged was that I moved the pleco.

The other thing I've noticed is a few of them rubbing agains plants...including the one that died. I remember that being a symptom of something so I'll have to go look it up. I'll keep a close eye on them

Thanks for the info on the guppies though...makes me feel a bit better
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Old 06-01-2004, 08:02 PM   #7
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Okay, first I agree with all the other postings in the fact that you have most likely have fish with TB. This usually is a strong indication that you need to find another source for your fish. Even though your original fish with the worst symptoms eventually succumbed to the disease, when you state that the remaining specimens are rubbing against plants leads me to believe that your tank really needs some help. Heres what I suggest.

1) Either euthanize or quarantine the remaining fish in a hospital tank and follow the recommended guidelines for treatment of external parasites while keeping the water quality and temps optimal. Keep the original tank running and untreated, bring the water temperature to 95 degrees (youll need a strong heater) and hold it there for three weeks. This will either kill or place any parasites in a dormant state.
Do small, frequent water changes focusing on removing any dirt and "mulm" under and in the substrate.

2) Test your water source, making sure that you are treating it correctly if needed. I dont usually worry about PH becuase over the years I've found that a good pure water source far outweighs the benefit of loading up your tank with chemicals. If you have a smaller tank, buy spring water in bottles to start and keep your water changes coming from a good source. Also remember that adding chemicals can cause chaos in a smaller tank if you dont measure exactly.

3) If you are currently getting all your fish from one supplier, find another. Since my fish last for years, sometime 10 or more years in certain cases I dont often buy from the same place. If I walk into a fish dealer and the tanks have any dead fish, sick looking fish, or if there are fish getting beat up by the others then I leave becuase all of these are signs that the caretaker isnt very worried about the welfare of the stock and thats not what keeping pets, of any kind, is really about is it?

About me-I have a 75 gallon with no substrate for easy cleaning, and built up shale caves with outboard filters running over the upper most rocks like waterfalls. I have a 250 watt HD lamp under a secure hood to promote algae growth in the filters and the rocks and tank. Green algae growth on the back and sides in my opinion is very beneficial as it will remove waste by-product at a high rate. I keep a stock of fiddler crabs that have access to the entire tank, including the filters and they do a great job of picking through the debris. The water in my area (eastern pa) is a hard 8.0, so I keep a few Malawi Pseudotropheus Lombardoi, one bright yellow male and two females just becuase I think theyre great fish to have and they prefer hard water. I also have a beta (siamese fighting fish, and yes they like having more room than a little bowl) as well as a Red Tailed shark. All these fish keep a healthy distance from one another because they all kind of ignore each other for the most part. I feed every other day live food including small trout worms, frozen blood worms, and mosquito larvae from a large runoff bucket by the barn that I can scoop anytime. I also feed pureed vegetables of spinach and carrots which they will take in moderation. Also notice that I keep a very small amount of fish for the size of the tank. The nitrification process is so balanced, it almost takes care of itself.

This setup has been the most healthy and most rewarding of any tank I've had yet.
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Old 06-01-2004, 10:22 PM   #8
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mvortex1, thanks for all the info. I'll see what I can do. I've got a small tank that I'll set up as a hospital tank and go from there. Since I've got quite a few plants in there (that are doing really well) I haven't been "cleaning" the gravel (eco-complete), I've just been vaccuming up the top layer so maybe I'll go back to my older routines which seemed to be keeping things a bit healthier.

Thanks for all the help everyone.

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Old 06-01-2004, 10:37 PM   #9
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I think I just figured out what the "feather dusters" are. From the description on this webpage it looks like I have hydra


Unexplained loss of fry. Hydra have a small, stalklike body, which ends in up to ten long, slender tentacles. The tentacles have a battery of stinging cells which Hydra uses to capture its food consisting of small crustaceans, invertebrates or even young guppies. If you examine the sides of the tank with a magnafying glass you will see the hydra attached to the glass.
The easiest way to handle this problem is to move the fry to another tank, then clean the infected tank with bleach water. If, like most of us, you don't have an extra tank, you can try Copper Sulfate. "

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