Freshwater question


New member
Hello! I have a question. I have ran salt, brackish, and freshwater tanks and have never encountered this problem and REALLY need some help! A few weeks ago we bought our youngest son a starter tank (10gal, freshwater) and went through the motions. Got the bios going for about a week or so, didn't do anything different than we have done several times in the past. We bought him guppies, which we had always had good luck with - they always seemed like pretty hardy fish. He is 6, so we wanted something that could easily have babies and were 'harder to kill' - so to speak. Not that he would do anything to kill them, but I didn't want them to die easily because I didn't want him to be traumatized right out the gates of fish ownership.
We brought them home and immediately they all began swimming in the top corners. They would occasionally dart and swim down in the body of the water, but would mostly hang out at the top of the tank. There is bubble stone across the back, with a regular standard filter (WOW they started making those things cheap since the last time we had a 10 gal) - so I knew they had air. They weren't sucking the air from the top, just hanging out up there. Slowly but surely, they began to die. We tested the water and found that the PH is through the roof. NO2 and NO3 are at 0. GH=between 0-30, KH =180. PH is at 9 or above (9 is as high as my strips go). I have dosed the tank twice with PHdown. It hasn't dented it. Now, we bought the little panels that you suction to the inside of the glass that read PH and ammonia. Those actually both read that those are fine (PH is reading about 7.4), however, with the test strips saying PH is at least 9 every time - I'm not sure which to believe.

So, we bought a couple of plant balls (I don't know what they are, I had never seen them before) and a few cory cats to help with the food that the now dead guppies had refused to eat. I noticed on the corys when I was looking at them this morning that a couple of them look like they have shiny green or blue maybe on their gills and by their eyes. I had seen the same thing on a couple of the guppies but I thought it was a reflection from the blue/green gravel in the tank.

I then took pics of the lone guppy and was able to see in the pics that she also has that and all across the top of her is discolored - I don't know if that is from the fact that her back touches the top of the water all the time or not. She also has a red area by (possibly) her gills on one side (I could only see one side of her and the top of her). She also has a gold shine to her on the top by her eyes and there is what appears to be a scale missing or a hole on her back where she sits out of the water - I thought it was a bruise type mark until I looked at the pics. The pics show that it is actually an abrasion of some sort - like I said above, missing scale or hole. There is a black (could be dark green but looks black) coloration along her back at the tips of her scales - I don't know if that is just what color she had always been, or if this is new. These are things that you couldn't really see to just look at her. I had to take pics and zoom them in.
Her fins are out, not closed. Her tail is down-ish - not as bad as I've seen when a fish has something like ick, but it isn't perky either. She will let you guide her away from things and if she moves, it is in fast darting movements. She will eat if she can get food close enough to her - she lunges at it and grabs it veraciously - no joke, like a rabid dog attacking something. When she does swim any kind of distance, she swims in small tight circles unless she can hug something and swim against it as a guide. Every so often, she kind of swings onto her side slightly. That is how I find her in the mornings. She can still see though - she saw me come to the tank this morning and swan frantically to the front of the tank where I was. She is seriously hanging on for dear life.

So, last bit of important - probably pretty dang important- info, it dawned on us that we live off of a well now (which we hadn't ever lived off of with out other tanks). That PH ran high as well. So, I googled some remedies last week and there were a few that suggested distilled water. So, I bought a gallon and replaced the water that had evaporated from the tank with that. Then I read never to put distilled water in! GAH!

We want to do a water change but I am terrified that we will just put more of whatever is poisoning the fish into the water.

So, to summarize:

Living in tank at this point is:
1 bound and determined pregnant super guppy

3 cory cats

2 live plant ball things

Tank tested one hour ago:
NO2 and NO3 = 0
KH = 180
GH = 0-30
PH = 9+

What we have dosed tank with:
PHdown - last dose was last night (tank has had two doses, the other was 48 hours prior to this recent dose)

Stress-ease - last does was also last night (trying to keep guppy alive) - tank has been dosed about 4 or 5 times over the course of 3 weeks.

Biologicals starter - tank dosed three weeks ago and again when water was added last week per directions on bottle

aquarium salt - dosed as directed on box at start up and again when new fish were added (we have always done this with out fresh water fish and haven't EVER had an adverse issue with it.)

What are they fed:
Just normal flake - kind of scared to deviate from that because the one living guppy is so sick.

I really want to get the water changed. I am certain it has something to do with the well water, but now I don't know what water to use and I REALLY want to do it soon to alleviate these lil guys of their pain.

I know this was a long post, please forgive me - but I wanted to give you all as much info as humanly possible. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

I am at my wits end, I just don't know what is going on. It doesn't seem bacterial or parasitic at all. They just seem to be being poisoned. :headwally:

Thank you for any help you can give!!

I have attempted to upload a couple of pics. If they work, one is the top view - you can see the red by, what I am thinking is, her gill and the red hole on her back. The other is a side view, I am not sure if that odd indentation is from an illusion because she might be touching the glass, or if it is actually how she is shaped. Keep in mind - she is pregnant so she is round, whether they are alive or not is beside the question. Pics of her other side don't have that indentation appearance.


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