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Guppy die off emergency please help. test results in post


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My guppies are dropping fast. Everything is quarantined and treated before going in the tank, parameters are usually stable but I've had higher nitrates around 40 lately and I'm assuming its because I'm so heavily planted and dont see when they die so they have a chance to rot and now I have ammonia so obviously water change now even though I did 50% of the 55 about 3 days ago. Interesting thing to me is both gh and kh turned on the first drop and we have liquid stone here and even with all the plants its usually 4 and 7. Co2 was added a couple months ago and I admit I dont test ph often enough but it comes out of the tap around 7.6-7.8 and if I'm reading the test right I'm around 6. I added 7 caps of excel yesterday to help me with the black beard algae and lost several since, enough that we actually found bodies and we almost never find them since we have shrimp and snails taking care of that sort of thing and we dont usually have a spike when the population self regulates.20210303_073007.jpg.27aef6639e087673096d635be8fe1906.jpg

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Yeah that ammonia is at toxic levels, especially if you have heaters going. Temporarily remove any floating plants, epiphytes, and hardscape, do as deep a water change as you can, including a gravel vac, and find as many dead bodies as possible. If you have a water conditioner like Fritz Complete, that can help detoxify ammonia and nitrites that remain. Boost with a live culture like API Quick Start or Seachem Stability or something like that. Test ammonia at least daily and keep doing partial water changes (25-30%) until ammonia's down to less than 0.25.

Then you can figure out what was causing the die-off that kicked this off.

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Whats your water temperature, and what do you use for aeration? I noticed you are running CO2, and dosed the tank with 35 ml of excel liquid carbon. Im curious what your oxygen content might be. Im not sure if thats the smoking gun, but thats my first thought trying to pick apart your problem. I agree with @Kirsten, about your ammonia. That may also be an indicator of oxygenation as aerobic bacteria need oxygen to metabolize ammonia and nitrite.  

Edited by Will Billy
Changed nitrate to nitrite
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I'm sorry I passed your reply kristen's, I cant vaccume because so little of the bottom is visible and I have shrimplets. I dont have any of the products you mention, I dechlorinate with tetra, this tank has been going since October or so in this iteration but if you think I need more bacteria to help out I could always squeeze out a couple sponge filters from other tanks I know are disease free that I'm not having a die off in.

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Hmm.. you got quite a bit going on there. I would start with @Kirsten’s suggestion. Detox your ammonia first, with water conditioner or API ammo lock. Then boost your bacteria with API quick start. Continue to test everything. If your KH is low it could be causing PH swings, compounded by CO2. Seachem Alkaline buffer can bring up your KH and Equilibrium can bring up you GH.  I would continue your CO2 as normal but i would refrain from adding anymore Excel. At night your plants will off gas CO2 as well and warmer water doesn't hold as much oxygen as colder water. At night you might be getting a triple combo of plants off gassing CO2, while your CO2 tank is running, plus Excel liquid carbon. If possible you may want to quarantine your fish and shrimp to a hospital tank while you detox the ammonia as water conditioners also reduce oxygen in the water. Your plants should be fine until you get your water back on track. 

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I'll try to find a way to get some soon but it cant be today or probably even this week. I dont run c02 at night it comes on with my light for 8 hours.  How would you go about catching shrimp when most of them stay pretty well hidden? Is there a simple way to raise my hardness with stuff most people have around? I break a piece of reconstituted cuddlefish bone in after each water change to make sure shrimp and snails have enough calcium already but clearly it's not enough.

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Catching shrimp you can gently syphon them with a large diameter gravel vac into a waiting fish net on the other end. In regards to raising your hardness i have seen people use tums antacid tablets. Im not sure how many you need, or how well it works. I would imagine 1 tablet should be good for 55 gallon. Maybe someone else who has tried this can chime in. 

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I would stop using excel immediately also. The tank is overloaded with oxygen reducers and added co2, and now ammonia and a rapid pH drop. I would bet your fish aren't sick, just basically poisoned. Do repeated water changes. Add nothing but water if you can help it, dechlorinator if you have to--also an oxygen reducer.

Excel is pretty powerful stuff. I know some people swear by it as an algeacide, and I have used it before, but it is toxic at high doses to everything--even you. You need to use a high level of caution with it.

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If I had to guess what happened, I would guess...

  1. your plants used up most of the buffer (carbonate, KH) in the water. Even though you have plenty out of the tap, it sounds like you have a lot of plants. Plus the addition of CO2 will acidify the water, using up more buffer as well.
  2. Once your KH was gone, the pH quickly crashed.
  3. This caused guppy die-off, and the bodies are now leeching ammonia, making the water even more toxic.

Even though you have shrimplets, I would still recommend getting a siphon in there and trying to vacuum where you can and get as many bodies as possible. If you vacuum into a bucket, you can always net the shrimplets back into your tank. Siphoning them won’t hurt them, though I’m sure it’s a wild ride!

In terms of raising your KH: If you live near a farm store you can also grab oyster shell grit, sold as a calcium supplement for chickens. This will raise your KH and also be good for your shrimp! But honestly the most readily available thing to use would be baking soda. I use 1/4 tsp per 5 gallons when I’m water changing since my tap water is so soft (KH of 2, pH 6).

Since your tap water is fairly hard, continuing to do water changes will also bring your KH back up. It just sounds like you’ll need to be supplementing quite a bit more in the future.

Edited by Hobbit
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