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fishb0ne 04-07-2007 08:40 AM

Mysterious guppy death. Ideas?
Looking for advice/ideas on what to do next, as I am at a loss.

10 gallon planted tank
11 ghost shrimp
2 bamboo shrimp
~20 malaysian trumpet snails
2 small pond snails
1 guppy fry [got him by accident with the other guppies]

And finally, male fancy guppies that keep dying. I've had no more than 5 at a time. Over the past 2 months since the tank has been set up I've lost ... let's see ... about 5. 3 of them I cannot explain. They simply turned up dead in the morning, with the tail missing. At first I figured tail/fin rot, but the culprit turned out to be one of the snails that ate the tail. I know this because the 3rd fatality he's been caught in the act. Also, all fish seemed fine up until they went under. No evidence of any sort of disease or anything else on their bodies. They just stop eating, stop being active, go to the bottom and belly up. One of them seemed to have developed a swim bladder disease, as the last day of it's life has been swimming vertically.

Water? Tests fine. 0 across the board, nitrates always below 5 or 10 at the most. If it was a case of bad water quality I think the shrimp or snails would go first. Or the guppy fry, which I got a week ago with 2 other fancy guppies which both died in the meantime.

The water's pH is a little high, it's around 8.2, but so is the LFS water. I tested it before I introduced the fish. Yes, I also acclimated the fish over a period of about 10 minutes because the bag temp and tank temp matched and so did the pH.

What the heck is going on? I don't get it. I had a mild case of an anaerobic pocket which has been taken care of right away. I've had no other fatalities yet as far as shrimp or snails go. Not that I count every MTS, but still.
One of the snails even laid eggs! Now, judging by these critter's hardiness or lack thereof, I would think that if foul water was amiss, snails would go first, then shrimp and finally guppies.

Could it be that I have a few dying plant leaves which I haven't gotten to removing yet? I doubt it, the shrimp play around on them and even nibble.
The only other thing I introduced recently was a pantyhose over the filter nozzle to not suck up the little guppy fry. He can't be more than 3 weeks old, judging by it's size. Yes, I made sure it was clean and everything.

The aquarium has been fully cycled for 2 weeks before I introduced anything in it.
It is heated at 78*F
It is filtered 24/7
It has a fluorescent desk light on top of it that runs from 6PM to 10PM. No, it does not generate heat, I checked.
Right now I have 3 guppies. 2 that seem fine and one that's dying, clamped fins and everything. I also noticed that the other 2 seem to have lost their appetite as of late and are hanging around at the top of the water line. And speaking of diet, I've been feeding them twice a day sparringly some crushed Tetra flakes.

Any ideas? Suggestions?

Zagz 04-07-2007 12:18 PM

Are the fish all from the same lfs? If so try some from another lfs. Also what type of test kit are you using and how old is it? Do you have an airstone in the tank? Do you add dechlorinator when doing water changes?

fishb0ne 04-07-2007 12:51 PM

Fish are from 2 different LFS.
I use the AP liquid FW test kit, no more than 3 months old
No airstone
No dechlorinator, as I live out in the boonies and we have a well. Actually I've been using both a dechlorinator and Prime for a while but then I stopped, wanting to eliminate the possibility something may be wrong with those two solutions.

A user on another forum suggested the shrimp might be the culprit. When the guppies lay on the bottom at night to sleep, they're easy prey. Does that make any sense? I thought these two species were good tankmates! I can't see that, since I've seen absolutely no evidence of body damage previous to the unexplained deaths.

Zagz 04-07-2007 01:12 PM

I have no experience with shrimp attacking the guppies when sleeping, can't say as I buy that either but I've been known to be wrong. Add an airstone or lower the water level and see if that helps. Might be lack of oxygen in the water.

fishb0ne 04-07-2007 01:19 PM

Would guppies swimming close to the water line be evidence of lack of oxygen? I doubt that also and I say it because the pump creates a current on the side it's hooked and it makes bubbles almost all the way to the bottom. Shouldn't that be enough oxygenation? I did notice that on the opposite end I've had a rather large bunch of java fern die, no apparent reason.

Zagz 04-07-2007 01:21 PM

If your pump is making bubbles almost to the bottom of the tank then it wouldn't be oxygen related. I'm at a loss to be honest, with no physical signs and nothing other than the guppies being affected it seems like it is the guppies themselves.

fishb0ne 04-07-2007 01:26 PM

Well, if/when this last poor fellow kicks the bucket I was planning on getting 2 mollies or 2 platties or 6 or so tetras and see what happens. Does that sound like a plan? Let's assume it's a parasite. Is there an amount of time maybe I should wait and ensure it dies on it's own due to starvation?

From my knowledge, and correct me if I'm wrong, if it was environment related the snails would go first, then the shrimp and finally the guppies. The snails are the most sensitive and guppies the hardiest, is that correct? I do have about 3 of the 11 ghost shrimp that have gradually turned the dreaded milkish white and look like they're close to dying, but these I've had for a while and have gone through some rough times, such as the existence of an anaerobic spot in my sand, too many plants, dead leaves in the water, etc. The other shrimp I got about 2 weeks ago seem to be just fine, they're nice, clear and active.

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