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Dead shrimp and sick guppy in new tank

(25 Posts)
MyFirstName Sat 22-Nov-14 10:33:29


So, we have had duff advice from the fish shop and put two guppies and a wood shrimp in our new tank after just a week. (I now know we should have done a fishless cycle...but cannot change that now).

The woodshrimp was pretty inactive from day one and died on Wednesday. Have since learnt that they are very sensitive to stress and should probably have not been introduced to a new tank. My 6 yo son was not happy. Thanks fish-shop.

The two parrot guppies from the start looked very different. One very colourful and big tailed. One skinnier, paler. Would you be surprised to hear the pale, skinny guppy is now very clearly a sick guppy.

Symptoms started with being even more visibly skinny (so that even a novice like me noticed, rather than thinking as I did at first that the difference was just a natural variation iyswim). Also long white stringy poo. Googled it. Seemed to suggest an internal parasite. Got this and have treated the tank.

This morning sick guppy now has a white fluffy blob/spot between it's head and gills. It looks a little more active. But still skinny, pale poo and pale. With added fluff.

I do not trust my local shop. There are others around but really am not sure what to do. Is there anything I can do - should I just wait and see how things go? Get more medicine? What?

If, worse case scenario, the sick guppy dies what should I do for my remaining (hopefully healthy) guppy? Get a companion? Leave him alone as he is likely to have caught "it" too?

Have been googling - but it is a nightmare of advice and contradictions so not really sure what to do. You help (Eau?) would be really appreciated please.

MyFirstName Sat 22-Nov-14 10:36:26

Oh, meant to say

Tank is 44l
Temp 24

I did a 25% water change yesterday before adding the medication. Just done a proper test-tuby check of the water and it is:

Ammonia 0
Ph 7.5
NitrAte 20
NitrIte 0.1

Have been using the dippy sticks a couple of times during the week and they are showing the levels to be around the same - so water conditions are fairly steady.

MyFirstName Sun 23-Nov-14 21:47:07

OK, one guppy now dead sad so we have just the one guppy. He looks happy enough.

Should I take DD to the shop to buy a companion for our lonely guppy or should I just leave him on his own for a few weeks to let everything settle/cycle?

baddyfreckleface Mon 24-Nov-14 09:02:47

Hi. Sorry you got bad advice and that your guppy died.

I am a beginner in all this too but I definitely wouldn't be buying any more fish until the water was sorted. Also the guppy that died could have passed something on to this one so best to wait and see.

I'm sure someone more knowledgeable will be here soon.
Until then I would keep a close eye on the water and carry on with 25% water changes quite regularly.

Hope you get it sorted soon

EauRouge Mon 24-Nov-14 09:11:47

Yes, keep testing and keep doing water changes. Your ammonia is zero, which is good- this means it has already peaked and now you have the bacteria you need to process the ammonia. You should now see the nitrIte rising and falling as the other set of bacteria grow- this will take a little longer, more like a few weeks than just one, but it's very important to keep an eye on the levels during that time. Don't add any more fish yet, and I'd also keep the feeding to the absolute minimum.

It is likely that the guppies are just badly bred (most guppies are these days) and weak so even a small dip in water quality could have finished it off. Shrimp are very sensitive too. Is there another shop nearby you can go to? Because the one you got the guppies from sounds crap. Your poor DCs sad

I'm struggling with my mouse and keyboard at the moment but when I get it sorted I will post a link about the nitrogen cycle in case all my wittering about bacteria didn't make any sense.

MyFirstName Mon 24-Nov-14 09:44:35

Thank you all. Eau, you linked on my brown algae (which is looking delightful confused I must say) thread about the bacteria cycle, which was very useful.

Cool, will keep to just the one guppy for now and do a nearly-but-not-quite-fishless-cycle for the next few weeks. Maybe a trip out between Christmas and New Year to get a few more. It seems the logical thing to do, but did not want to be cruel to the poor lone guppy having him on his own. He looks (and always has) a healthy happy, darty kind of chap at the moment. Fingers crossed he stays the course (poor DD).

I am cross - or was cross - with the fish shop. I am trying to shrug it off though - hurumphing will not help. We just will not go back there again and I have learnt to be much more involved in picking the fish they bag up for you. We must have had "mug" written all over us. In addition am beginning to understand that guppies and shrimp are not even the best option for a new tank. <grrr>

On another note - with just one fish (and only about 2 flakes of food going in per day) will ammonia have peaked and be promoting the cycle or should I be doing anything else?

EauRouge Tue 25-Nov-14 10:24:01

Oh, I forgot to reply to this, sorry.

The good bacteria level will build up to process the amount of ammonia that's being produced now. So when you add new fish, you will get an ammonia spike (small because there is already a bacteria colony there) so you need to keep an eye when adding new stock and do it gradually.

It's not necessarily that they thought you were a mug, they might have just not known much about fish- some places don't and they don't do much training beyond 'this is how you catch them and bag them up'. There are some aquatic stores where the staff are super-geeky and know everything about all the fish in there- those are the places to shop. But when you're a beginner, how are you meant to tell who is the expert and who is just pretending they know what they're doing? It's not easy.

MyFirstName Tue 25-Nov-14 13:09:54

Thank you flowers

Also, one last thing (I think, I hope, I promise) is there a particular fish forum/help site you would recommend please ? (so I don't keep bugging you).

DD is being amazing and understands the need to wait (am really hoping it, and the demise of the shrimp and guppy, doesn't make her lose interest as I would totally understand if it did). I am trying to keep her engaged by learning how to do the testing/water changes etc and then also by planning what fish to think about getting. Would be good to have somewhere with relatively reputable/up to date on line info to look stuff up.

EauRouge Tue 25-Nov-14 13:58:07

You can bug me all you like, it's nice to have a captive audience grin is good, and the PFK forum has a lot of very knowledgeable people on there. The Seriously Fish website is fantastic, I haven't been on the forum but I would imagine that it would attract the more well-informed geeks. UK forums tend to be best (or if you speak any other languages, fish keeping is big in the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech republic) as Europe is a bit further ahead in fish welfare than other parts of the world. But there are a lot of crappy forums out there, so be careful!

MyFirstName Wed 26-Nov-14 21:40:39

OK, am bugging you again. Feel free to not respond.

Am trying to work out what would be good for stocking the tank when we are cycled. DD was really keen on having a small group of neons and then maybe one or two others. I am now not sure if we have the space for neons and whether they would be a good mix with others in a smallish tank. Will take some advice from the fish shop (and will be I guess dependant on what they have in) but would like to be a) a bit more knowledgable and more importantly b) steer DD into having the right kind of fish - if I have to steer her off neons I think she would understand - but I think it would help if I could suggest things she could have instead. We saw some bright orange Endler (I think) Guppies in the PetsRUs which caught her eye - and I think they may add that splash of tropical colour to compensate for no neons.

So what we currently have:
44l tank
1 parrot guppy (who I am happy to say looks very lively, cheerful and colourful)

Please could you suggest what we should aim for fish wise?
Should we maybe just stick with Guppies - if so, could we just get a complete jumble of (male) guppies - or should we have pairs of types of guppies (ie 2 parrot, 2 Ender etc) Are guppies a good one for a beginner? I know there is a lot of breeding problems - would we be best to avoid?

Are there others (preferably colourful for DD) which are an alternative - fairly hardy/companionable fish we should be considering? Danios? Mollies? Anything else?

Please could you suggest an algae eater?
Would like something to eat algae - what would you suggest? I am wary of shrimp again (Also tbh it kind of grossed me out a bit) - so we are thinking some kind of small catfish/algae eating Plec-like thing (but not a plec as I know they are too big) so one shop suggested an Otocinclus? Would this be a good idea - or could you suggest an alternative?

*A single, "odd" thing for a younger brother
And finally, DD has said DS (6yo) is allowed 1 fish/invertebrate in her tank. I think we would like this to be something a bit different. The shrimp was his (now dead). We could easily nominate the catfish/pleco type thing as his iyswim - or can you point me to something (or what things to search/google) that we could have as a lone oddity. Am a bit urghh/ick and wary about the thought another shrimp so would rather avoid if I can.

Please, please do not feel you have to answer all of these as I know I have just done a huge, mammoth post. Any help would be gratefully received as even a little will help me help DD plan and get excited again and not feel vulnerable to less than good advice from the shop.


EauRouge Thu 27-Nov-14 08:57:32

Nah, I love talking about this stuff and I can't do it at home without DH's eyes glazing over, so I am more than happy to reply.

I would stick with just guppies. 44 litres is pretty small and if you wanted two different shoals then you'd need close to double that size to ensure they had enough room. Neons can be a bit nippy with guppies if they don't have enough space.

Endlers are not guppies; they are a separate species, although very closely related and they can cross breed. You can get guppies that are coloured very like endlers and I would go for those rather than mixing the two species. You can mix any colour of guppies, that's fine to do. The wild type are less inbred but not colourful. Of the colourful ones, I don't know of any that are hardier than others. If you went to a breeder then you'd get better quality but a good breeder won't be easy to find.

Getting an algae eating fish won't really work in such a small tank. Most of them get too large. Otos stay small but they are delicate and need to live in a shoal, which you don't have the space for. If algae is a problem then it's better to get to the root of it by water testing than to just try and treat the symptom. A phosphate test might give you a clue. If the phosphate level is high then you can add a phosphate removing sponge to your filter, or just pack in lots of real plants which usually helps.

If you want some inverts and you want something that will help control algae then you could get a couple of nerite snails. They stay small, they're pretty and they won't breed in freshwater so you won't end up with a problem population. If you try ebay then you may be able to get a couple of these tiny little punk rockers.

Hope that helps smile

MyFirstName Thu 27-Nov-14 19:16:15

This is brilliant. Have been googling (at least now with some purpose) and you have really really helped. I want to guide DD as it is her tank. I would rather not dictate to her - but she has been really sensible about all this so far. She is already happy with the no neons - when I explained about the school thing and guppy nipping she instantly said "well we can't have them then". She did ask about black mollies (we saw them in one shop) but I think they are likely to be a bit big and although algae eaters not worth trying to squish them in!

So some decisions made - have discounted the catfish/Otoc things and explain why to DD. She is cool with this. The snails are really rather funky aren't they? I think I could cope with those (am a bit crap and squeamish about bug-like things so the shrimp really did make my skin crawl at times - promise I did not kill him though grin ). Have shown DD and DS and they are very much in favour. Or zebra snails.

Think we will stick with adding 4-5 guppies then. A couple of snails and we are (hopefully) sorted. I will also be taking a great deal more notice as the guppies are bagged up! Anything that looks pale in comparison to his tank mates, or skinny, or droopy I will reject. Cool.

There was something else I wanted to ask, but have forgotten...I may be back.....grin and flowers

MyFirstName Thu 27-Nov-14 19:17:15

Oh I know - we are best just with boys aren't we - so we don't get lots of babies?

EauRouge Thu 27-Nov-14 19:20:42

Zebra snails are also nerites, just slightly different- not sure if a different species or a sub-species but they won't breed and they are pretty good at cleaning the glass (you just have to scrub the teethmarks off).

Yes, stick to boys. Guppies make rabbits look chaste.

MyFirstName Wed 17-Dec-14 22:29:16

Just to let you know that (fingers crossed) we are doing OK - thanks to your advice.

We have a happy little tank. Water quality seems to be stable - Ammonia/NitrIte and NitrAte low (NitrAte is about 20 - but so is the tap water). Get a teeny rise about 7/8 days after a water change - so have a nice, easy little routine building up for a 25% water change.

Did have some green algae built up - but covered the tank with a blanket for a few days and all clear again.

We now have 2 guppies and 3 Endlers (I know you said not to Eau but DD had her heart set on them). Going to finish off with a nerite snail or two.

We are being very, very careful not to overfeed. All the fish seem very active (and happy - if you can really put such an emotion on a fish grin)

I only have one problem - no-one warned me they are addictive little buggers....keep finding myself sitting on the stool in front of the tank and just watching and grinning at them and occasionally chatting to them .

So flowers for you help so far. And just a quick one - any hints in how to introduce the nerites to the tank - same as fish - or something different?

EauLittleRougeofBethlehem Thu 18-Dec-14 11:28:05

Oh yes, they are definitely addictive- google 'multiple tank syndrome' grin

Glad to hear things are settling OK now. With the nerites you can just pop the bag in the tank until the temperature is the same. The fish might peck at them a bit but they should leave them alone once they realise they're not food (some species of fish are snail eaters, but not guppies or endlers).

The ammonia and nitrIte should be zero, not just low. If algae is still a problem then checking the phosphate level might be an idea. A bit of algae is normal, but if it starts taking over then that's an indicator of something being a bit out of whack.

MyFirstName Thu 18-Dec-14 14:56:45

Yep Ammonia and NitrIte are zero. And the NitrAte at the same level as the tap water.

Dim question - (can probably google but that always throws up things to buy, so rather ask an non-selling expert first)how can I check the phosphate level.

EauLittleRougeofBethlehem Thu 18-Dec-14 16:45:25

With a phosphate test kit smile You can get a liquid phosphate test kit or you should be able to take a sample in to the geekier aquatic stores and get it tested there.

You could also have a look on your water company's website, it might say on there. It won't be 100% accurate for your tap water but you should get an idea if your area has high or low phosphate.

MyFirstName Thu 18-Dec-14 17:39:56

Thank you. Have ordered kit (yep £10). Water company website useless. Picking brains again - am guessing, if it is high in our area I can "do" something to fix it.....

EauLittleRougeofBethlehem Thu 18-Dec-14 18:02:50

Yes, you can get phosphate removing stuff. Have you got any real plants in there?

MyFirstName Thu 18-Dec-14 18:16:07

Yep 3.

MyFirstName Thu 18-Dec-14 18:20:32

Oh and 2 Zebra snails currently munching their way around. Wow those "teeth" are something to watch! yet more time wasted

Algae wise - Tank pretty clear at the moment to be honest (though there is certainly stuff around for Nerites). Am hoping the algae peak was due to dead fish/shrimp and a bit of dying plant-age stuff which I pinched off. May have left the dead plant removal a bit late..hence the algae. Not sure if relevant we do have very, very, very hard water.

Feel better getting a test kit just to make sure. You have made me very conscientious about looking after the water. grin

EauLittleRougeofBethlehem Fri 19-Dec-14 08:59:22

Hard water is fine; the guppies, endlers and snails all thrive in hard water.

Tidying up of plants is important because the dying plant matter will boost the ammonia level. There are some plants that are more messy than others, ones with feathery leaves take a bit more tidying up.

With any luck the phosphate level won't be anything to worry about. Have you got an algae scraper? With a couple of hungry nerites you probably won't have as much algae to scrape, but it might be worth having one.

Can you see the teeth marks in the algae? grin

MyFirstName Tue 23-Dec-14 14:57:54

OK, phosphate kti arrived. Have high phosphate - in the bllody tap water. It was between 2 & 5 ppm.

So, at the level to encourage algae. Great. Arghhhh

So having googled I have confused myself. HOw can I - or can I remove the phosphate before it even goes into the tank. Or can I do something to the tank to remove the phosphate.


grin not really. DH really amused by my obsession

EauLittleRougeofBethlehem Tue 23-Dec-14 19:00:33

You can get various things to stick in your filter to suck up all the phosphate. Rowaphos is one, there are loads of others. Make sure you don't overfeed the fish because that can raise the phosphate level too. Good luck!

Non-fishy people just don't understand. grin

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