hi - I'm keeping swordtails for the first time - 2 female and 1 male - in a new (2-week-old) 10-gallon tank. The fish were added only a week ago. I've been careful about ammonia levels but have run into 2 problems, namely, that the male has become very lethargic in the last couple of days, lying on the bottom; and that one of the females, who looks very pregnant, seems to be dropping inert pinkish wormy-looking things rather than fry. I put her in a breeding trap yesterday as soon as I noticed something emerging, but this morning there was only poop and the pinkish things in the bottom of the trap. Would welcome any insights. I really have zero experience with livebearers so don't be afraid to state the obvious!
I'll pick up a pH test. Thank you. I thought newborn fry could swim? Should I put the female back into the breeding trap ASAP? I'm setting up a second tank now for future fry. I think I'll let it sit for a few weeks with plants but no fish if I can - having read a number of posts on cycling. Thanks again!
By setting up a tank and waiting a week to drop fish in it you are having a nitrite spike with the new fish. They will become lethargic because nitrites interfere with their ability to use oxygen. If you do an immediate large, over 50%, water change, you should see an improvement in the lethargic fish in a matter of minutes. Try to match the temperature of the new water to the old and don't forget to use the dechlorinator. You are in a fish-in cycle and need to get the needed test equipment to monitor the nitrites. A water change any time the nitrites get near 0.25 ppm will go a long way to making it possible for the fish to survive. I use a liquid type test kit because I don't trust the paper strip type when my fish's welfare is at stake.
I'd do a partial water change and pick up a liquid test kit. The liquid tests are more expensive up front, but they're more accurate than test strips and cheaper per test. Do post your numbers when you get them for ammonia, nitrIte, pH, KH, GH and nitrAte You can also take in some tank water and most stores will test it for free. make sure they tell you specific numbers, not just that it's ok or not. and don't let them sell you a bunch of stuff. Prime would be good as a water conditioner as it'll help detox ammonia.
Here's an update. The pH of the tank was too low, less than 7.4 (which was the lower limit of the test I used). I added baking soda gradually until it reached about 7.6. I also did partial water changes, at first every other day, then less frequently. I reduced the amount of food and replaced a few flake meals with pea and/or cucumber meals. And hey, the fish responded - all of them seem happy now.
I have yet to find the liquid test for nitrate and nitrites as well as water hardness and KH. I've been doing the rounds of local (Brooklyn) petshops with no success. Tomorrow I'll go into Manhattan to a proper aquarium store. I'm planning to set up a second tank for fry so I'd like to do it right - although the fishless cycle seems like a challenge(?)
Thanks again for all the information and links. I have a lot to learn but at least I know that now!
one more thing - I got the chance to observe what that female was dropping. It looks like pink or orange poop, less than a millimetre in diameter and about 5 to 8 millimetres long. Some of them were a little transparent in the middle, like an empty sausage. No eyes, no tail, no movement. She still looks pregnant although not square the way she did before. Once I have the new tank set up I will move her into it and see what happens. Any suggestions are more than welcome.
Hey Brooklyn,if you are going to a pet shop in Manhattan,check out my friends store ,its Pacific Aquarium,It's address is 46 Delancey,my friends name is John,he's the owner or you could ask for Andrew.
I'm guessing kH and GH are on the low side. Do I need to get a product to deal with that?
Also, the pregnant female is behaving very differently - I'm guessing she's getting ready to pop. She's hanging out in corners and in the plants instead of chasing the others around.
I have a second tank set up with a filter, gravel and treated water, but I'm nervous about putting the pregnant female in there until I have the nitrate and nitrite tests, a heater, a light, and some plants. Ha! I thought you got a tank, some water, fish, and you're done!