Strange phantom pregnancy and death...

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New Member
Sep 15, 2020
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United Kingdom
Hi everyone, I'm new to this group and hoping somebody can help me with a strange issue. There is some backstory but I will try to be brief...

The phantom pregnancy
Two days ago I noticed a platy I have reared from birth (fry of one of my existing platties) which looked to be in distress. Her belly was square shaped and I could even see her birth canal (is that the right word? Her rectal hole?!) dilating rapidly. I can't work out how to upload a video here but I did take one. I'll attach a couple of screenshot photos. I isolated her in a birthing trapper in my fry tank. The trapper is self contained so no fry would be able to escape, they fall through holes into a separate chamber. In the morning she was thinner and the squareness was gone, her "hole" was back to normal, but no fry to be seen. She looked to be calm and no longer in distress. I assumed she'd eaten the babies as soon as they emerged, and I moved her back to the main tank. A day later I found her dead floating on the surface. She looks a healthy weight, with no external signs of damage other than slight waring down of the membranes between her top fin spokes (and, you know, being dead...).

Some background
Not sure if this is relevant but I've been struggling with a number of issues in my main tank (where this platy came from) for months now. I had assumed there was some sort of parasitic worm break out and have treated the tank three times in three months with three different treatments (1st: API Melafix, 2nd: Waterlife Sterazin - Acriflavine, Malachite Green, Piperazine citrate, 3rd which I had just administered when she started showing the weird pregnancy signs, eSHAa-ndx Levamisole Hydrochloride). About 6 months ago I had a bunch of catfish die one after the other for no apparent reason, and then more recently guppies which all wasted to nothing and then died one after the other, and now mollies and platties seem to be going. There are the typical signs of stringy white poo and wasting. I have a 260L tank which I water change 25-30% every couple of weeks. The tank has about 50 fish in it, blend of livebearers and egg layers, so it isn't overstocked. It's been running for a year now with a powerful external filter which I clean and rinse with aquarium water every month. I never change all the filter mediums at once, but stagger it to preserve good bacteria. I check the water parameters regularly for nitrates, nitritres, pH, kH, ammonia, and though the water in my area is generally hard all other parameters are within the normal range. I've struggled with blanket algae build up too for months. The platy in question above seemed perfectly healthy before this episode. All my problems (fish wasting, stringy poo, fins rotting slightly, lots of algae) seem to boil down to "poor tank conditions" when I research it, but I am rigorous with maintenance and my water parameters are within normal range so I can't understand it.

I am working really hard here but I am at a loss about what I'm doing wrong. I've been fishkeeping with this tank for the past year, but I kept tropical fish before a while back as a kid and then teenager and don't remember seeing anything like this before. Any advice?!


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