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Old 10-04-2022, 06:46 PM   #1
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Guppie help!!

I have a little 8 gallon tank that is home to a few guppies and two shrimp. I seem to have issues keeping guppies alive and I think my tank may be the issue. I lost a guppy last week and replaced it with two new ones for a total of 5 ( it had been a little while since Iíd lost one so I didnít think much of it) they are all small so Iím very close to the inch of guppy per gallon rule. Anyway they both died in under two days and my other guppies donít seem as active as usual, even the annoying snails I canít get rid of seem to have died off. From what I know guppies are fairly hardy so Iím sure there is something wrong with my tank. I do weekly 25% and monthly 50-75% water changes, I have all real plants, a cute log, and some dragon stones from pet smart. I have a air stone, my filter is for 10-20g so it should be able to keep up, and my heater keeps the tank at 25 degrees Celsius. I use water conditioner and the only change Iíve made recently is adding the dragon stone and using flourish Excel for my plants. I use the API master test kit and everything this is exactly where it should be, my pH is at 8.2 which is a bit high but would it be enough to kill them? I had fin rot about a month ago but thatís sorted now except for my little trooper who doesnít have much of a tail left but heís hanging on. Iím stumped!! Guppies are quite hardy so you would think it would be obvious right? Hoping someone might have some ideas or suggestions, anything helps thanks!
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Aliciajanel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2022, 07:49 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forum

Stop adding fish to the tank. If a fish dies, do not add anything for at least a month after the remaining fish have recovered. If there is a disease or water quality issue, adding more fish simply makes the problem worse. Adding new fish can also introduce new diseases that can affect the new fish and the other fish in the tank.

Guppies aren't hardy fish these days. They are messed up from inbreeding to produce new colours and fancy fins. They regularly get external bacterial and protozoan infections, and most fish from Asian fish farms have intestinal worms.


What is the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate of the aquarium water (in numbers)?
If there is any ammonia, it would be very toxic in the water with a pH of 8.2.

What sort of filter is on the tank?
How often and how do you clean it?

Do you gravel clean the substrate when you do a water change?
Do you dechlorinate the new water before adding it to the tank?
Do you have buckets and syphon hoses specifically for the aquarium?

What symptoms do the fish have when they die?
Can you post some pictures of the fish?

Do you have soap residue, perfumes, hand sanitiser, moisturising cream, or anything else on your skin when you work in the tank or feed the fish?

Does the Flourish Excell add carbon to the water?
If yes, then stop using it because it contains glutaraldehyde, which is toxic to all sorts of life forms.
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Old 10-04-2022, 11:36 PM   #3
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Thank you!

That is good to know about their hardiness, most of my little guys come from pet smart as we donít have many fish stores around and the one we do have seems to be comparable.

Anyway, the ammonia level based off the colour was between 0-0.25 it seemed to be closer to 0 but definitely had a hint of green in it. Nitrite was 0ppm and Nitrate was between 0-5.0ppm but once again appeared to be closer to 0ppm. Going off the little book the kit came with I didnít find these alarming but with the high pH do you think it would be an issue?

The filter I am using is the Nicrew Magic-Jet filter the 380 size. Itís much more effective than the top fin one the tank came with. I clean it once a week gently and once a month I do a more thorough clean (wipe down the glass ect) I use a gravel vacuum to clean the substrate which Iíve heard conflicting information about doing with live plants but it would build up too quickly if I didnít so Iím just gentle around the plants. I have a specific bucket and hose just for the aquarium. We have a well so out tap water is not chlorinated but it certainly doesnít help with the hardiness.

The fish seem to hover in the corners of the tank before sitting on the bottom and then dying. One of the new ones ended up with a curve in its spine which if I remember correctly is itís own issue. I donít believe there would be anything extra on my hands when working in the tank.

And yes the flourish Excel adds carbon into the water I wonít use that again. Iíll attach some pics, I still have the dead ones too to return to petsmart (donít worry I wonít get any more) so Iíll attach those as well. Thanks so much for your help!!
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Old 10-05-2022, 05:51 AM   #4
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Any trace of ammonia can become toxic in water with a high pH, and a pH of 8.2 is pretty high. Seawater has a pH of 8.5 and low levels of ammonia can wipe out entire marine tanks very quickly.

Nitrite is not a problem in water with a pH above 7.0. Nitrite can be an issue in acid water (pH below 7.0) but is much less of an issue compared to ammonia. Your pH isn't acid so nitrite is nothing to worry about. Plus it's 0ppm so is nothing to worry about.

Nitrate is very low and that is fine. As long as nitrate remains under 20ppm, you have nothing to worry about there. If it does go up, the quickest way to reduce ammonia, nitrite or nitrate is with a big (75%) water change.

Have you checked the well water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH?

You might also want to get the well water tested for anything and everything by a water testing company just to make sure there is nothing bad in it.


When you clean the filter each week, do you wash it under tap water or in a bucket of aquarium water?
You want to squeeze/ rinse filter media in a bucket of aquarium water and re-use the media. tip the bucket of dirty water on the lawn/ garden.

Does the filter have any white granulated substances in it?
If yes, this might be Zeolite, which adsorbs ammonia from the water and can interfere with the filter bacteria developing.


You can leave a 1-2 inch gap around the base of aquarium plants when you gravel clean the substrate. Most of their roots are small and usually grow within 1-2 inches of the base of the plant. Echinodorus (sword plants) have bigger root systems that can spread out 12 inches or more and it's a good idea to leave 3-4 inches of undisturbed gravel around the base of these plants when they are bigger.


Hard water (water containing lots of minerals) is fine for guppies, platies, swordtails, mollies, snails and most shrimp, so don't worry about the hardness (GH).

If you wanted to keep tetras, angelfish or other softwater fishes, you would need to get a bigger tank and reduce the hardness by distilling or using a reverse osmosis unit. But for the guppies, you don't need to worry about the hardness.


The dead fish appear to have flared gills, and the black one has red around the body just behind the head. The flared gills can be a gill infection, gill flukes, poor water quality (unlikely considering the water tests ok), or poisoning from another source that isn't ammonia, nitrite or nitrate.

The red patch on the black fish is a bacterial infection.

I would add some salt to the tank and monitor the remaining fish. It can treat minor bacterial and fungal infections, as well as gill flukes and a few other issues. It might help and is reasonably safe.

If anymore fish get sick or act unusual, try to get a 1 minute video of them and upload it to YouTube, then copy & paste the link here. Likewise if they show any unusual colouration (red or white patches), take pictures and post them here asap.

If the shop offers you replacement fish, get a credit for them and use it later when things have settled down.


You can add rock salt (often sold as aquarium salt) or swimming pool salt to the aquarium at the dose rate of 1 heaped tablespoon per 20 litres (5 gallons) of water. If there is no improvement after 48 hours you can double that dose rate so there is 2 heaped tablespoons of salt per 20 litres.

Keep the salt level like this for at least 2 weeks but no longer than 4 weeks otherwise kidney damage can occur. Kidney damage is more likely to occur in fish from soft water (tetras, Corydoras, angelfish, Bettas & gouramis, loaches) that are exposed to high levels of salt for an extended period of time, and is not an issue with livebearers, rainbowfish or other salt tolerant species.

The salt will not affect the beneficial filter bacteria, fish, plants, shrimp or snails.

After you use salt and the fish have recovered, you do a 10% water change each day for a week using only fresh water that has been dechlorinated. Then do a 20% water change each day for a week. Then you can do bigger water changes after that. This dilutes the salt out of the tank slowly so it doesn't harm the fish.

If you do water changes while using salt, you need to treat the new water with salt before adding it to the tank. This will keep the salt level stable in the tank and minimise stress on the fish.

When you first add salt, add the salt to a small bucket of tank water and dissolve the salt. Then slowly pour the salt water into the tank near the filter outlet. Add the salt over a couple of minutes.
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Old 10-05-2022, 07:55 PM   #5
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Thanks so much for all the good info!

Checking the water directly from the tap funnily enough has more ammonia at 0.25ppm than the week old tank water. The ph is 8 nitrite is 0 and nitrate is 0. I’ll look into getting the water testers further! Should I consider using distilled water to bring down the pH? At least with the current pH and ammonia I wouldn’t want to add anything else that would raise the ammonia!

I wash the filter and components in the removed tank water when cleaning. The filter has a black spongey bit at the bottom and then it has a little pouch of activated carbon and that’s it.

Good to know about the plants roots! I do have a ground cover type plant in the front but I find if I’m just gentle around it I can get most of the waste thats collected there.

I’ve had the red spots similar to the dead black one before and it seemed to be fin rot. I used a Betta fin rot product in the water and for the one who had it very bad I used Methylene blue and dunked him in a diluted tank. It seemed to work but that wasn’t too long ago so maybe it is still hanging about. I’ll pick up some aquarium salt and see what happens! I’ll post pictures if anything comes up with the fishies thanks again!!
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Old 10-06-2022, 01:20 AM   #6
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If you have ammonia in your tap water (and the tap water is form the well), then your well is contaminated. You need to find the source of the contamination and remove it because ammonia is bad for all animals, birds, fish and people.

Don't use distilled water for guppies. They are fine with a pH of 8.

The only issue with the high pH is ammonia, which becomes toxic in water with a pH above 7.0. the higher the pH, the more toxic the ammonia becomes.

If your filter is removing the ammonia from the tap water, then that is fine.
You could put some tap water into a container and put some floating plants in the container. The plants will use the ammonia and the clean water can then be used in the aquarium.


Methylene Blue will kill fungus and bacteria but it also stains things blue (silicon holding the glass aquarium together) and wipes out filter bacteria. If you have to use it, try to use it in a bare tank and change the water each day before re-treating the fish.

Fin rot and most fish health issues are caused by poor water quality. If you keep the ammonia and nitrite at 0ppm, and the nitrate as close to 0ppm as possible, and you keep the gravel and filter clean, you can normally prevent most diseases in fish.

If they do get a minor bacterial or fungal infection, then salt is a good place to start, especially with guppies. You don't have to buy aquarium salt. You can use rock salt or swimming pool salt, it's all the same thing and is the same as aquarium salt.
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