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Feb 14, 2018
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I am moving 3 guppies (1 make, 2 female) to a larger tank. They are to go from a 5 gallon aquaponic system to a 35 gallon aquaponic system.

The 5 gallon system is set to 79 degrees Fahrenheit, has a couple filters with mechanical and established biological filtration, decent aeration, and live plants. Dangerous forms of nitrogen measure at 0 and nitrates measure close to 0, as 20% of the water is changed daily and the use of aquaponics. pH is about 7.3, as I did not want this to be too high for the guppies to live with some otocinclus. Specific gravity of the water measures at about 1.010. I make their water by mixing 1 gal distilled water with 1/4 t freshwater salt and 1/8 t reef salt.

The new 35 gal system is set up to have similar water quality attributes. It has the same pH, salinity, and temperature. The biggest difference between my small and large system is simply size, with the larger system being especially tall. One more difference to note is that the new system is not cycled yet, although I have innoculated the new filter with parts of the smaller system’s filter, which is where the guppies have been for 7 months.

My goal is to move all of my fish to the 35 gallon system to consolidate my tanks. I did thorough research on each species to make sure that the water quality would be suitable for each. Thus far I have successfully moved 2 mollies and 2 otocinclus to the new system, and they seem quite happy with all the room and new places to explore.

When I tried moving my guppies, however, they did not appear to enjoy it quite as much. They have clustered all in the same corner at the top, hiding behind a filter inlet. They do not appear to move around much. I observed that they still move their fins and appear to be breathing at a regular rate. Occasionally, a guppy will swim out into the open water or down a little, but then retreat back up to their safe spot. They do not seem interested in eating, and have only accepted maybe 1 or 2 pieces of food, while letting the rest float down to the mollies. I suspect they may be terrified of the open water, or even disturbed a little bit by the intense flow coming from some equipment (air stones, filter, aquaponics drain). I turned down the flow on my equipment, and I’m not entirely sure if it helped. They don’t make an effort to venture out. The most I have observed is one female swimming down to the bottom of the tank to sit on the substrate, fins motionless (she actually has showed some stress prior to being moved to the new tank, skittish behavior and lethargy, tattered fin but no signs of infection).

After 24 hours, I decided to move them back to the old tank in hopes it would be helpful for them. I figured I could give the stressed female a familiar place to rest up and that the other 2 may be more inclined to eat. I am concerned, however, that they haven’t acclimated to the new tank, because I’m wondering if the stressed female has fin tatters from being in such small quarters with other fish. They occasionally nip back and forth at each other... since moving them back, they have begun to pick at the ground and plants and act more like what they used to.

Sorry for all the background, but my main question is what you think the guppies issue is with acclimating to the new tank. Do you think they are afraid of a large, open space at the top of the tank? Do you think other large tank mates like mollies intimidate them? Have I not given them enough time to get used to their new home? I’m hoping that I can get advice to acclimate them in the least stressful way possible. What would you do or change?

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