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FAQs on the Molly Health/Disease 4

Related Articles: Mollies, & Poeciliids: Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies by Neale Monks, Livebearing Fishes by Bob Fenner,

FAQs on Molly Disease: Molly Disease 1, Molly Disease 2, Molly Disease 3, Molly Disease 4, Molly Disease 5, Molly Health 6, Molly Health 7, Molly Health 8, Molly Health ,
FAQs on Molly Disease by Category: Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Social, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic, Treatments
FAQs on Molly Reproduction/Breeding
Molly Reproduction 1, Molly Reproduction 2, Molly Reproduction 3,

Re: Black molly fry 1/29/08 Thank you so much Neale! I have a problem now. One of my black mollies is acting funny. Her back fin has turned gray and she acts like she can't move it. It droops and all she does is stay in one spot. It take her a lot of effort to get from one end of the tank to the other. I also noticed that she didn't even try to eat today. What could be wrong with her? <Difficult to say. Remind me about the water chemistry. Just as a reminder to all our other readers: Mollies are very sensitive to water quality, particularly when kept in freshwater tanks. So do check the pH, hardness, and nitrate. Raising the carbonate hardness is very important. Adding some crushed coral or oyster shell to the filter helps here. Brackish water made with marine salt mix is even better. Almost all the mysterious Molly sicknesses ultimately come down to water chemistry/quality issues. Cheers, Neale.>

Molly Tank 1/27/08 Hi all, <Ave,> I do have a question or two about my brackish molly Tank. I was having a lot of problems trying to keep my mollies in FW so I decided to go low salinity (SG 1.005-1.008) brackish tank and keep mollies that I had (3) and eventually a few Bumblebee Gobies. <Very good.> The tank is 14 gallons with aragonite sand, ph 8.0- 8.1, Temp 82F. The tank is not cycled. It started with 3 mollies. I did acclimate them, but I think I might have taken some bad advice and did it a bit faster than would be desired, like over several hours instead of days. Both females had fry in the new brackish water, about 18 total. <Mollies can be acclimated between marine and fresh in less than an hour, so unlikely a problem here.> The problem is this: first off, there was flashing, even the new-borns, occasionally shimmies, which I had in the freshwater environment which is what eventually led me to going brackish. Later in the week twitchy behavior for my male (like a nervous twitch and then get all tense) and sometimes 1 or 2 of them would skip across the top flapping tails. <Do check water quality. Essentially, the problem with Mollies seems to be a hypersensitivity to dissolved metabolites. Not just ammonia and nitrite, but also nitrate. If you suddenly raise the salinity in a freshwater aquarium, you are placing a stress on the filter bacteria. As a rule, you can go up to about SG 1.005 without any problems, but once you go above that, the filter bacteria seem to die back or at least stop working properly. So the usual process when creating a brackish water tank from a freshwater one is to raise the salinity in stages. I'd recommend adding SG 1.005 water to the aquarium each week, replacing about 20-25% of the water in the tank. After about a month the specific gravity will be 1.005 or thereabouts. Leave things be for a couple of months. For Mollies and Bumblebee Gobies, this salinity is more than adequate for long term health. But if you did need to raise the salinity further, do it in small increments over the succeeding months, checking the ammonia and/or nitrite all the time. It's much better to choose a lower salinity without ammonia than to go the whole hog to a high salinity but have ammonia in the water because the bacteria are unhappy.> And then one fish in particular would stay at the top and gulp for a very long time. I originally had a BIO-wheel 100, which I swapped out for a BIO-wheel 150 and a Whisper 10 air-pump and air-stone. Ammonia was reading at about .25 so I did a 10% water change, lowered the temp a tad to about 80F and the water line to get more surface agitation. <Ah, almost certainly this was the issue. The filter is stressed from you taking the salinity too high, too quickly. Give it four to six weeks to re-mature, putting the minimum food into the tank and performing regular water changes. Lower the salinity to SG 1.005 to economise on salt usage, but step up the water changes in the short term at least to keep the ammonia/nitrite levels low.> This morning I decided to go out and get the babies their own tank thinking perhaps the bioload was not too good and maybe the oxygen not so good either, especially with the temp and SG. I am very new to brackish so a lot of this is new to me. <Please do read the articles on the topic here at WWM. Or my book!> Anyway, Ammonia is 0 again or at least at the lowest color on the test, but my Male molly still has the twitches and tenses up and occasionally flashes off the filter inlet tube...this is like once today though, not like once every 5 minutes like before. <Getting better, I guess...> One of the females still is piping occasionally, but not for prolonged visits, like just up, gulp gulp, down. <Mollies are distinct among the livebearers in being able to use atmospheric oxygen when the situation is bad. They gulp water from the air/water interface across the gills, extracting the dissolved oxygen. In the wild this allows them to survive in swampy environments better than other livebearers. It's a "normal" behaviour, albeit one that implies less than perfect water quality.> Shimmies at least visibly gone. SO I guess what I am asking is do you think this is a gill infestation/infection or do you think the water quality just got really bad really quick? <The latter.> Also will the fish recover if water quality, maintenance and stocking are done properly in the future? <Yes; in brackish water Mollies tend to be rather robust and durable.> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Keith <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Molly Tank  1/26/08 Thank you for the quick reply. <Happy to help.> I have started daily water changes and am monitoring the ammonia and salinity to keep them under control. <OK.> One more question for maintenance, what test kits and water conditioners can I use...meaning, what freshwater stuff is ok to use and what must be marine? <Water conditioner is fine for freshwater/brackish/marine uses. Water chemistry test kits are normally fine in FW/BW/M though some are not; check the package. Water quality test kits are usually fine too. Medications are often fine in both, though some are not; again, check the package you have.> Currently I have freshwater Nitrite and Ph tests and an ammonia test kit that is for both SW and FW. What about FW phosphate removers, dechlor, etc or is that not an issue because the water is treated before going into the aquarium? <The nitrite test kit should be fine in brackish, and likely so too will the pH test. The issue with pH test kits is that marine aquarists want ones that are accurate across the high range (between 8 and 9) whereas freshwater aquarists want ones to use between 6 and 8. So the two types of test kits are tweaked to work best depending on what sort of tank you have. So long as your test kit measures 7.5-8.5, you're OK using it in brackish.> I am guessing low salinity like .005 is probably closer to FW than Marine, but how much of a variance does the salt add in accuracy of FW tests and possible conditioners being toxic in a Brackish tank? <As you say, not a huge impact. For the time being stick with what you have. As and when they run out or expire, switch to ones suitable for both FW and Marine, and these'll have you covered. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Molly Tank 1/29/08 Neale, <Keith,> Thank you! Everything is settling in and the fish seem very happy/normal and less irritated. <Very good.> One last thing please: At what level does ammonia "start" to initiate the cycle and at what level should a water change be done? <Difficult to say, but in practise you never need to allow the ammonia concentration in the aquarium to reach measurable levels if there are fish in the tank. When people are cycling tanks *without* fish they can let the ammonia level go as high has 0.5-1 mg/l safely enough, but there's no real advantage given that the growth rate of the filter bacteria is limited by oxygen as much as ammonia concentration. Hence in practise when you are cycling tanks with fishes in them, you do your level best to keep the ammonia (and nitrite) as low as possible. The bacteria will get enough of both even so. Water changes during the cycling phase should be as often as possible, but as a baseline I'd suggest 25% daily for the first week or two, and after than about the same amount every 2-3 days. After week 3 or 4 you should find ammonia stays close to (or at) zero, and nitrite under 0.5 mg/l, and you can get away with two 25% water changes per week. After week 4 and certainly by week 6, the cycle should be finished and you can switch to 25-50% water changes weekly. But these are estimates: your own "mileage may vary" and you need to follow your nitrite test kit results rather than the theory.> I just saw that your book ( Brackish-Water Fishes: An Aquarist's Guide to Identification, Care & Husbandry) is available on Amazon, ordering on payday. Again, Thank you for the invaluable help. <Hope you enjoy the book!> Keith <Cheers, Neale.>

Bloated Molly/Possible Compatibility Issues... FW env. dis... reading  -- 1/26/08 HI WWM, I've read tons of info on your site over the last few weeks and now have a problem of my own. I'd keep researching but I feel like time is ticking for one of our Mollies. We set up a 55 gal. tank approx. 1 month ago. <Is it cycled?> All of the water parameters are all in ideal range, with 0 nitrites, 0 ammonia, <Were there ever?> neutral pH, hard water, high alkalinity, 82 degrees F. <A bit warm for the livebearers...> No air pump, but we do have the filter that looks like a double waterfall as the water is pumped back into the tank (I wish I knew what it was called, I feel very stupid right now.) <No worries. Your description is useful> I leave it running during water changes in order to allow for aeration of the new/old water for that brief period of time. Not sure if it's at all effective, but I feel like it might be. Is it? <Should be> Should we add an air pump to the setup? <Some redundant circulation, aeration is a very good idea> In the tank we have: 5 Mollies (3 Golden Lyretail, 2 Dalmatian) 6 Guppies 1 Bamboo Shrimp 1 4.5" Elephant Nose <Mmm... you need to do a bit of researching here... the Mollies are brackish animals... some of the livestock "likes" hard/alkaline water, others soft/acidic...> So far we've been doing about 30% water changes and vacuuming gravel weekly... with the exception of 2 days ago when I dropped the entire container of food into the tank and immediately vacuumed it all out and took about %75 of the water with it. <Yikes!> All the water was replaced immediately, all water params were still stable afterwards as I check everyday (I worry a lot.. :). I just did the first filter change today, only changing one of the cartridges in order to keep some of the bacteria the other side was holding onto. <Ah good> Plan to change the other one in about 2 weeks, maybe earlier. <Ditto> We're very very inexperienced in keeping fish, which is why we chose what we were told are very "hardy" species. <Mmmm... I'd be reading... doing independent assessments here. Compatibility is not such an issue with this mix, as the fact that there are different/varying "water types" of freshwater environments on this planet... and the life there not of infinite tolerance/range> In addition, up until now I never questioned our fishes' compatibility just because I felt like I'd researched enough and gotten every employee at the local petstore's opinions on the compatibility of these fish before we purchased any of them. <... Live and. hopefully, learn> So now we've got a problem. Last week I noticed one of our Dalmatian mollies (we used to have 3 of them) was hanging out at the top of the tank and being a lot less active than he had been previously. <... here it comes> Upon closer inspection I discovered a bulging eye, a mouth that was stuck hanging open, and torn fins. Clearly he'd been attacked by another fish, but by who? <Whom? Not necessarily "anyone"> Do you think it was an issue of Molly on Molly violence? <Can only hazard a guess, but likely "simple" environmental disease...> Do you think the Elephant Nose is capable of killing a Molly? <Mmm, not likely> (We expected the EN to be territorial, and he's got 2 great places to hide during the day, but he prefers to swim through them occasionally and spends the rest of his time bullying the fish. He'll calm down occasionally, but usually not for long. We feed him frozen bloodworms, which the Mollies seem to enjoy, so not sure if he's territorial with food? He's like this at all times, not just feeding time.) Anyway, that Molly ended up dying within 2 days of when I noticed his problems. <The others will soon be gone as well> And today I came home to discover another one of the Dalmatian Mollies staying at the top of the tank and being a lot less active than is typical of them. Went up for a closer look and discovered severe bloating in his abdomen, so much so that his scales are already sticking out. I'm certain this developed overnight since I usually watch them when they eat to make sure there's no leftovers left to sink. <...> So I read as many articles as I have time for today about adding aquarium salt for the Mollies (we have a 55 gallon, so for now I'll just add 2 tbsp., enough for 10 gallons.. <Uhhh....> and ease into the recommended amount for all 55 gallons in order to avoid a drastic change.) Every article I've seen says that salt is OK for the Mollies, some say it's OK for guppies, some say it's not. <Is okay for the Poecilia> I haven't seen anything about how well the Elephant Nose and Bamboo Shrimp will tolerate aquarium salt at the rate of 1 tbsp./5 gal. if they will tolerate it at all! <They don't "like it" one bit> So what do I do now? <Mmm, at least two systems if you want to keep these species> At the moment we have nothing set up to isolate the bloated Molly... very very very hopeful that it's not dropsy and will not affect the other fish. I read that it could be constipation and to feed a shelled, frozen pea, but right now he's not at all interested in the regular flake food and doubt that he'd pay a pea second thought. <...> Do you have any suggestions for me? Should I add the salt? Add no salt? Add some, but not as much as recommended? Do any of the species need to separated to stay in freshwater and turn the tank we have no into a brackish tank? I don't know what to do! <Read, decide for yourself... You have two very different, incompatible mixes of "water type" species here... one cooler water...> I'd appreciate any advice you could give me regarding what/how we should handle these issues and thank you for your time! (If you've made it this far, I know I've taken up a good amount of it.) Thanks again! -CM <The "Systems" of all these species are gone over on our site... as are their foods, compatibility... and unlike your LFS, we're not charging you for this information. Lucky you! Bob Fenner>

Re: Bloated Molly/Possible Compatibility Issues   1/28/08 Thanks so much for your quick reply. So should we keep the mollies and guppies together and invest in a new setup geared towards the elephant nose and bamboo shrimp? <Yes. Elephantnoses need very specific aquaria: largish, sand substrate, lots of floating plants, no fish likely to compete for food. Bamboo shrimps should be fine with Elephantnoses.> Also, the Molly ended up dying that same night. We quarantined it that afternoon, treated the water with Melafix (as per the LFS suggestions) and overnight he passed away. <Melafix is not all that good really. It's cheap, which is why it sells well; but it isn't terribly effective, and you're much better off using stuff that's been tested in labs.> We also treated the main tank with melafix in order to get rid of anything else that might be lurking in it. We don't want anyone else to develop anything else. <Doesn't work this way. Think about it: if tea-tree oil really was a medication that got rid of everything nasty, wouldn't doctors and nurses use it for everything? But they don't, because it doesn't. Besides, disease in aquaria is directly related to [a] quarantining and [b] water quality. To keep all your fish healthy, you need to concentrate on these two aspects. The direct parallel is with human health. Is it having a cabinet of drugs that keeps you healthy, or clean water and safe food?> Now the water is cloudy. We added aeration and the EN seems to have calmed down a lot because of it. Do they need water flowing over their gills continuously in order to breathe? <No this isn't how it works. Fish ventilate the gill cavity using muscles, and basically draw water in through the mouth in a way analogous to how we breathe air.> Is that why he would never calm down before? <No.> What can we do about the cloudy water? <Water changes, time, replace the mechanical filtration (usually filter floss) part of your filter.> Is it because of the Melafix? <Unlikely.> The bottle says nothing about it. Or is it because of the aeration? <No.> The removal of the carbon from the filter, maybe? <Carbon serves no particular function in a properly maintained freshwater aquarium, so the lack of it shouldn't matter. In any case, carbon removes dissolved organic materials, the stuff that makes old water yellow and acidic. It has zero effect on silt.> So many questions... so little time. <Hence we tell people to read books first, buy fish second.> Thanks for your help! -CM <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Bloated Molly/Possible Compatibility Issues 1/28/08 So how should we go about treating the water to make sure whatever bacteria gave the first molly dropsy isn't going to affect the remaining 4 mollies and 6 guppies? <Let me make this crystal clear: you can't. The bacteria that cause systemic and Finrot infections in fish are in the aquarium anyway. They're things like Aeromonas spp., which mostly sit around breaking down organic materials. They're the equivalent of E. coli bacteria on your body. In and around your colon, they don't do any harm, and perhaps some good. They only become problematic when they get into the wrong part of your body and, for whatever reason, your immune system can't deal with them. Ditto the Aeromonas bacteria in the aquarium. They become a problem when fish have been damaged (e.g., fin-nipped) and/or exposed to ammonia/nitrite (because this suppresses their immune system). In other words, if your aquarium is stable and the water quality good and the fish all happily swimming about... Finrot and Dropsy don't happen! Simple as that.> I know how important water changes are which is why we've done them at the rate of at least 30% every week since we've gotten the aquarium. In the first email I mentioned the spilled bottle of food in the tank, after which we vacuumed all that we could, taking 70% or so of the water with it, and then replacing all of that water. This was last Thursday, so the water in there now is OK, I'd imagine. PH is fine, temp at 78 now, nitrate and nitrite are at ideal levels, if not climbing slightly over the past few days. <OK, you've lost me here. Nitrate is one thing, and will indeed rise slightly over time. It goes up in between water changes, and then drops down when you dilute the nitrate with a water change. Simple enough. Nitrite is something else though: the filter should be removing it in real time. In a properly run tank, there is zero nitrite, all the time. If you ever detect any, you have a problem -- either overfeeding, under-filtering, or overstocking.> alkalinity is high. Should I be changing the water more often than I already do? <25-50% per week is adequate. The more the better.> Also, two of our mollies are very pregnant, obviously not something we're ready to house. Since we can't keep them, and none of the petstores want them, several people have mentioned adding barbs to the tank. I hate that it's coming down to this, but will the barbs be compatible with the older mollies and guppies (and shrimp and elephant nose until we buy them a new home)? <Depends on the barbs. Not all barbs are good community fish. Puntius tetrazona (sold as Tiger Barbs, Moss Barbs, Albino Barbs, and others) is most certainly not compatible with your fish. It is a notorious fin-nipper, and unless kept in a big group (six or more specimens) tends to be belligerent towards other fish. Puntius pentazona, on the other hand, is a nice little fish. A few barbs live in brackish water, such as Puntius ticto, so could be kept with Mollies and Guppies in a low-end brackish system. Among the other barbs in the trade are subtropical species (Puntius conchonius) and bloody great big barbs (Barbonymus schwanenfeldii), so research the barbs on offer, and act accordingly.> Also, since diseases are directly related to quarantining and water quality, and no new fish had recently been added and the water quality is good (we're new at this, but like I asked before, aren't the water changes we're doing now more than sufficient?) what else could have caused the Molly to get dropsy? <I do get bored saying this, but the problem with Mollies is that they just aren't easy to keep. They are reared in brackish-water ponds on fish farms, and while in theory they can be kept in freshwater (and certainly are freshwater fish in the wild) in freshwater aquaria they just don't seem to do well. The reasons aren't at all clear to me, but genetics may be part of the story: Mollies are hybrid fish, and at least some of their ancestors were brackish water fish. But nitrate-intolerance may be the bigger factor. Unlike most other freshwater fish, Mollies do not tolerate nitrate well. Salt reduces the toxicity of nitrate, so the more saline the water, the less delicate the Mollies become. In brackish water, and especially marine conditions, Mollies are an order of magnitude easier to keep.> What else can we do to prevent it? <Quarantine new stock, choose livestock appropriate to your ambient water chemistry, be critical about your level of experience and choose hardy species first, and more delicate things later on.> Thanks for your time. -CM Also... when I try to research these things I find so many contradictory opinions from different sources. Is there an EXCELLENT book you could recommend to me on keeping a freshwater tropical aquarium? I'm ready to just accept one person's opinion, just want to make sure that the book I buy is written by a reliable source.. and who better to ask for recommendations than WWM? <Ah, there are many, MANY good books. Picking one is difficult. But if there is one book I think every freshwater aquarist should have, that book would be 'The Interpet Manual of Fish Health' by Andrews, Exell, and Carrington. It's bee reprinted many times, and 2nd hand copies are easy to buy cheaply online. Why do I like this book? It isn't about species of fish, but about water quality, water chemistry, diet, disease, and all those things you need to understand if you want to avoid problems. It has got lots of diagrams and pictures, as well as very useful sections that help you diagnose problems and determine the best solutions. The second book -- practically my bible -- is 'Baensch's Aquarium Atlas', possibly the best encyclopaedia of freshwater fish. While there are other (often very good) multi-species guides on the market, this is the one I like the most. Now runs into many volumes, but Volume 1 is the one to start with, and it covers not just fish but also plants, diseases, water chemistry, etc. The 'Fish Health' book is a better and easier read on healthcare and water chemistry topics, but 'Baensch' covers the basics. Both of these books will last you a lifetime. Cheers, Neale.>

Mollies & Velvet Swordtails - please help... hlth.    1/9/08 Hello, <Hail!> First time I'm submitting a question. I chose your site, because you seem to consistently have well-rounded information. I wish I'd discovered your site sooner. I have quite an emergency that I sincerely hope you can help with. The following is quite long, but I noticed postings on your site that are challenging to respond to, or time is wasted with you having to extract more details, so I hope the following does the trick. This is chronological, with the recent emergency towards the end. <OK.> I've appreciated aquariums for years, had my own system a few years ago and have recently taken up the hobby again. I've spent literally hours researching online, in three different LPS (local pet shop) and a few 'beginner' books. <All good.> I wish I found your site when I was researching which fish to buy. Despite combing through the mountains of research, I'm not sure I have the ideal combination. <Oh?> I also have an entirely new appreciation for your site's consistent advice on keeping mollies in marine/brackish water. <Indeed. While you *can* keep Mollies in freshwater, the simple fact is they are much easier to keep in brackish water. This needn't be very saline: SG 1.003 is a good start, and well within the tolerances of most other livebearers.> Knowing all of this now, I'm still hoping for your advice. I apologize this the following may be lengthy, but I sincerely hope it yields some accurate direction so I may help my fishies and become a better aquarist. I originally purchased my setup from a hobbyist who was moving, so he generously provided me with aquarium-safe decor and tips to start. Here goes: Description of equipment being used: 30 gallon tank heater (temp. maintained between 76 - 79 degrees F) hood filter (uses a combination blue 'floss' and carbon filter) <Lose the carbon, and replace with some type of biological media. Carbon was useful back in the old says when people didn't like doing water changes, imagining "old" water was better. Carbon removed dissolved organic compounds, stopping old water turning yellow. In a modern system where we do 25-50% water changes per week, carbon doesn't do anything useful. Indeed, it can be unhelpful, because it removes medication.> under gravel filter: one 'tube' is powered by external pump. This 'tube' has an airstone and carbon filter. The other tube has a separate in-water pump a 'bubble wall stick' (incidentally - fish seem to really like 'playing/riding' the bubble wall) <Many fish come from flowing rather than still water, and bubbles provide water movement, and the fish like that.> hood light (recently replaced with new 20 watt) - turned on daily by a timer from 8:00 am - midnight <Quite a lot of light; the fish won't care, but if you try growing live plants, you'll need to change that to 12 hours on, 12 hours off.> Average water change: 3x/week, 2.5 gallons each time with vacuuming. Use Aquaclear water conditioner. Also regulate pH with Jungle brand aquarium salt (inherited with initial tank purchase - your site advises marine salt - would love more information regarding this) <Tonic salt is plain vanilla sodium chloride; marine salt is a more complex blend of salts that not only raises salinity but also dramatically improves carbonate hardness. All livebearers like carbonate hardness, so this makes a big difference. If your water has less than 7 degrees KH (as opposed to general hardness, the dH scale) you should do something to raise carbonate hardness. Adding marine salt is one way that works effectively with salt-tolerant livebearers, i.e., Guppies and Mollies. For non-brackish water species, i.e., Platies and Swordtails, you're better off using a Malawi Salt mix. You can make you own from cheap ingredients like Epsom salt, Baking soda and cooking salt, or buy it ready made from an aquarium store.> Oct. 20 tank cleaned and setup. Aside from gravel, decor (rocks, castle, bridge, artificial plants), only things placed that were living were 2 plants: Anubias nana (that I wired to live driftwood which I soaked and boiled first to reduce water colouration) and an Echinodorus bleheri. <Boiling driftwood has minimal long term effect: it will still make the water brown. It will also acidify the water, so check you have sufficient carbonate hardness to steady the pH at 7.5 or so.> Oct. 23 with the 'thumbs up' from LPS, added 3 velvet swords (1 male, 2 females) and 3 all-black mollies (1 male, 2 females). Carefully monitored water quality with ammonia, nitrite and pH test kits. Monitored behaviours, as was paranoid of that ever-delicate initial cycling phase. Other than swapping a few fish based on bullying, struck a balance and fish swam a lot, ate well...cautiously optimistic conditions <Good.> Diet: 2 varieties of frozen bloodworms (one containing vegetables) and dried: Nutrafin Basix Staple Food <When the basic flake has finished, buy vegetarian flake instead. Often called Spirulina flake or Livebearer flake. Far better for these fish.> Have since maintained the following water test results: ammonia: "ideal" "0" or "safe" "0.25" reading (Jungle quick dip test strips) <Hmm... no such thing as "safe" amounts of Ammonia other than ZERO! If you detect any, you have the potential for problem.> pH: 7.5 or 8 (TetraTest) nitrite: since beginning of November, consistently 'clear' water readouts (presumably below the lowest readout of 0.1) (Hagen) <You're aiming for ZERO.> Have also taken samples to LPS about 1/month (Oct, Nov, Dec) to ensure home testing is accurate, which they've confirmed. <Good.> Enjoying discovering the 'personalities' for the two fish types: mollies are fearless, swimming in between my fingers during feedings and always curious when you visit the tank. Velvet swords like to swim and play, but are a little more people shy <Agreed.> Nov 15 spied 3 snails - learned they hitchhiked from the plants. LPS thinks their apple snails. <Which are fine enough animals. But Apple Snails rarely become "strays" on plants or whatever. They just don't breed quickly enough. More likely Physa spp., which are round but a bit elongated, so they are about the same size and shape as a Rice Crispy puff. Apple Snails are round and almost spherical, and have distinctly long "feelers" (antennae) at the front that they wave about. Physa snails have very short feelers, barely triangular buds.> Once I learned that they help clean the tank, became more fascinated with and now enjoy them. (note: they are breading a lot. At any given time, I can see 10...which I'm guessing means there are more). <Sounding more and more like Physa! In small numbers, harmless, but can damage plants when excessively numerous.> Noticed ~4 velvet sword babies and ~4 black molly babies. They hung around the plants and castle but within ~ 7-10 days had all 'disappeared' (didn't see if they were gobbled or otherwise expired). <Likely eaten. Floating plants are helpful, but for the first few weeks it's a good idea to confine baby fish to a breeding net, or better still, another aquarium.> First sign of a problem: ~ Nov 22 - noticed a very small white dot that wasn't flush with the skin (sometimes had a water bubble on it) on the mouth of the male velvet sword. Wasn't sure if it was a small injury. In a day or two, noticed a tiny bit more white (cottony?) on his mouth. On advice of LPS, added salt and monitored to ensure water didn't get higher than 8 pH. Slowly increased water temp. to 79-80 for about 2 weeks. 'Spot' seemed to reduce back to original, smaller dot, but never went away. Behaviour was unchanged. Increased water conditioner by a capful in hopes of protecting healthy fish and monitored. <Does sound like "Mouth Fungus" but could equally easily be Finrot or Fungus. Treat with anti-Fungus/Finrot medication (but not Melafix/Pimafix, these aren't reliable).> Female black molly preferring to hang around the heater or near the submersed pump (in the top corner of the aquarium). Otherwise, eating well, swimming normally. Watching to see if she's not feeling well or if perhaps she's pregnant. Since the mollies are peculiar and there aren't any other signs on her, wondering if this is just a weird preference. <One of the problems with Mollies to look for is "the Shimmies", a neurological disorder. Characterised by odd swimming behaviour, as if the fish were treading water or rocking from side to side.> Dec 16 watched molly birth - WOW!!!! ~6 alive, ~ 6 still born. What a fascinating experience!!!! <Indeed.> Dec. 17 noticed velvet swords were hiding behind the castle more than usual (came out for feedings) - turns out they, too had babies Dec. 22 baby count: 5 velvet swordtails, 4 mollies. Find this amazing, but truly don't wish to breed. Am putting the word out for takers, as I'd love to give the fishies to a good home (except for maybe one or two). Q: if I wanted another female black molly to keep the male entertained (so my females don't get stressed with his 'courtship persistence') would I need to be concerned about in-breeding if I raise one of the babies? <Inbreeding is a problem with Livebearers, and a reason why so many livebearer broods containing fry with deformities, conjoined twins, belly-sliders, etc. Best to keep the parents but export the fry. Stores will often buy excess fry once a reasonable size, at least 2.5 cm/1" long.> Also, any advice on a healthy way to control births?? <Not really. Predation usually removes the fry quite quickly though, so unlikely to get mountains of babies.> Christmas season: due to vacation, given only dried food through an auto feeder. Besides the Nutrafin Basix Staple Food, added TetraColor Tropical Granules. Ground up both varieties in blender so there was a variety of sizes for babies and adults in my absence. <Good.> Returned Fri. Jan. 4 Tank didn't go longer than 1 week without a 2.5 gallon water change (and right before that change, wanting to ensure there weren't any spikes during my absence, performed 3 water tests - same as indicated earlier - and all levels were the same as written earlier). <Should be doing bigger water changes. Not less than 25% per week, and ideally 50%. No aspect of fish care has as big an impact on their health than this.> Was REALLY concerned to see my molly with a whitish/greyish colouration on her bottom half. This is almost like a 'coat' from her tail to halfway up her body. Although she's swimming normally and eating, she's obviously fighting something. I call the LPS and immediately pick up Pimafix. Carbon filter on undergravel filter is removed, but there's still carbon in the combination floss/carbon filter of the hood filtration. I mention this to LPS, but they didn't think that amount of carbon would matter. They think the male velvet sword has cotton mouth and the molly likely has the same. <Pimafix is overrated and largely a waste of time. Kick into gear and use something industrial strength!> I was hoping to introduce an algae eater to the tank. LMS thinks it should be ok and I proceed (in hindsight - would have held off) <Forget it. Few algae eaters in the hobby tolerate brackish water. Neither do algae eaters actually remove much algae. The more fish => more nitrate and phosphate in the water => the happier the algae. Best to remove algae by hand from the front of the tank and let it grow everywhere else. Livebearers eat algae, so they'd prefer a tank that was knee-deep in the stuff; removing algae is more about the aquarist than the fish. So I say, keep the front of the glass clean and otherwise let the algae be. If you really want some algae removers for brackish water, then Nerite snails and Florida Flagfish are good choices.> BTW - noticed very small clear eggs on the glass, which molly ate - any idea who's eggs these are? <Snail, likely Physa spp. if they looked like jelly blobs.> Constantly monitoring and increasingly concerned about my sick molly. Research online, as I'm paranoid that I'm not treating for the right disease (do the red velvet male and the female molly have the same affliction, even though their symptoms are different?). Also call LPS to ensure tmt course. <Likely different, but possibly the same. In both cases, brought on by poor water quality (the ammonia and nitrite) and in the case of the Molly exacerbated by the lack of salinity.> Sat. Jan. 5: 2.5 gallon water change Sun. Jan 6: 2 more black molly babies Tues. Jan. 7: 2.5 gallon water change. white sick dots/ 'coat' on molly has increased to 2/3rds of her body (starting from tail). Also notice a few tiny dots on other female molly's back and side. This is NOT good! I do more online research and call the LPS - wise advice to rip open the hood filter and dump out the carbon (then I return the filter with floss-only to ensure good bacteria wasn't removed from the aquarium). Previous medicine might not have even had a chance to work(!) <Indeed.> By evening, sickest molly is preferring to hang out at the bottom of the tank. She changes location occasionally. I'm really, really worried and wholeheartedly hope you can help me help her (and my other fishies). I'm so stressed that I have some awful illness attacking my fish! Please, please help. <Start by dipping this molly once or twice a day in full strength seawater for 2-20 minutes (as long as she can stand without rolling over). Treat aquarium using a combination Finrot/Fungus medication such as Maracyn or eSHa 2000. Add marine salt mix to the aquarium at not less than 6 grammes per litre (SG 1.003) and ideally 9 grammes per litre (SG 1.005). Raise the salinity over the course of the week. The Algae Eater (presumably Gyrinocheilus aymonieri) cannot tolerate brackish water and will need to be removed. It's a HORRIBLE fish anyway, so no loss. Any store selling them is exploiting the ignorance of their customers actually. Gyrinocheilus aymonieri gets big and is EXTREMELY aggressive, and once over half-size, stops eating algae almost entirely. If the fish is a Plec catfish (usually Pterygoplichthys spp.) then this will tolerate SG 1.003 fine, but cannot be kept in a 30 gallon tank, so will need to be rehomed long before it reaches its adult size of 45 cm/18".> Newest recruit (the algae eater) remains in the castle. I can usually see him a few times/day. I was told to let him eat the algae first, then consider giving an occasional food puck. Hope this is correct? <More or less.> Baby count: 5 velvet swords and 2 black mollies from the original batch and 2 black mollies from a few days ago Snails - likely too many to count - at least 10. If there is any vital information that I've missed, please let me know and I'll respond asap. I sincerely hope you're able to process all of the above and deliver timely advice. <Done my best.> So appreciated, Wendy in Winnipeg (I'm assuming my email address will not be visible if you post this on your website. Please ensure this is true). <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Mollies & Velvet Swordtails - please help 1/9/08 Hi Neale, THANK YOU!!!! <You're welcome.> I so appreciate your quick and detailed responses. If I may please trouble you for more bits of information, as I'm SO worried about my molly I'd be even more grateful. She's now at the bottom and barely moving and I'm desperate to help her if it's even still possible. <Ok.> Within the hour when the stores open I'm running to get the Malawi salt mix (or as close to as they sell) and the Maracyn. I've obviously never done a treatment bath. Do I use half aquarium water and half fresh? <Nope. Put one litre of water from the tank into a plastic tub (an old ice cream carton is idea). Stir in 35 grammes of plain cooking salt. Stir well, and when fully dissolved (may take several minutes) dip the fish by netting the fish and dunking it into the saltwater bath. Watch the fish carefully. The first couple minutes should be fine, but as time passes, you may notice the fish lose its balance. If it rolls over, remove at once, and return to the aquarium (I like to float them in the net first, and release after a couple minutes). The object of the exercise is to use the salt water to completely dehydrate the bacteria/fungi, while not fully dehydrating the fish.> If I use my 2.5 gallon pail, how much salt to I add? <Don't bother. Use what I describe above; smaller and easier to control.> She's really not looking good and I fear it's too late, but I need to try this. <Yes you do!> I've included additional info and questions below, as I really appreciate your advice and want to avoid making further mistakes. To assist you in sifting through all of the info, I've preceded my questions with "Q" within the copy below... (THANKS, Neale!!!!! Sincerely!!!!) <Cheers, Neale.> Q (this one may seem silly - please have patience as I'm eager to learn and do this right) how do I measure SG? Is this a separate test kit? <Not a test kit, but a device. A floating hydrometer can be used. This is a glass, thermometer-like thing you float in a sample of water. I use a pickle jar for this, as it's deep enough to let the hydrometer bob up and down safely. Anyway, a basic floating glass hydrometer will cost about $5 and lasts a lifetime. There are more fancy ones at higher price points that are a bit easier to use, as well as refractometers, which are most expensive and in theory at least more accurate. For brackish, "guesstimating" by weighing the salt, and then checking with a floating glass hydrometer is fine.> COMMENT: hah! Thanks for your frankness - will do! <We are purveyors of fine frankness here at WWM.> Q: will do! Thought I could help promote algae growth for my mollies with more light. Plants are growing, but do get occasional brown spots. On leaves that this grows, I pinch off at the stem base (has only happened with the Echinodorus bleheri). <Plants want a certain intensity of light, and extending the length of illumination WILL NOT compensate. Think of it this way -- to get photosynthesising adequately, a certain "pressure" of light is required to "force" the molecules along the system. If the intensity of light is too low, it doesn't matter how long you leave that pressure going, it'll never start the chain of molecular processes. While Anubias will do well at a mere 1.5 Watts per gallon, Echinodorus will not, and needs at least 2 Watts per gallon. If your system doesn't provide that, your Echinodorus will slowly die. May take months, but die it will...> NEW TEST INFORMATION: In my 'inherited' aquarium equipment that I bought used, I discovered a Carbonate and General Hardness test (Hagen). I performed this for the first time this morning with the following results: GH: after adding the initial drop of GH, it took only 2 other drops to turn the water sample from pink to blue. Multiplying this number by 20 provides me with a GH of 40 (very soft according to the kit info) <Not good for Livebearers. You're aiming for "moderately hard" (minimum) for Platies/Swordtails, and "very hard" for Mollies.> Carbonate Hardness (KH): after adding the initial drop, which turned the water blue as per the instructions, it took 3 additional drops to achieve the yellow colouration. Multiplying this by 10 as per the instructions results in 30 ppm. Q: the results evaluation starts at 105-125 mg/L...so I'm not sure how to assess these results. Any help/advice? <Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2oquality.htm One degree on the KH scale is 17.9 mg/l calcium carbonate, so in your sample you have something like 1.5 or so degrees KH -- a very low amount. You live in a "soft water" area, apparently. Low KH is problematical for all sorts of reasons, and is best avoided for general freshwater fishkeeping.> COMMENT: please see if "NEW TEST INFO" above is sufficient <Low KH means your water has minimal ability to buffer pH changes. Aim for raising the KH to COMMENT: will do - thanks! <Good.> Q: haven't noticed this, but will keep an eye out. They are so playful, I don't want to jump to conclusions but will be mindful of this behavior. Is there any cure /treatment if I do detect "the Shimmies"? <No, no cure as such other than moving afflicted fish to better environmental conditions.> Q: if I wanted another female black molly to keep the male entertained (so my females don't get stressed with his 'courtship persistence') would I need to be concerned about in-breeding if I raise one of the babies? <Realistically, no, since you're not out to breed your fish, just have fun. But over the long term, it's a good idea to swap out offspring for new livestock periodically, just to keep the gene pool fresh.> Q: any natural predator suggestions that will go with my mix? BTW I LOVE my mollies and am willing to give away my velvet swordtails to achieve a harmonious environment with ideal conditions. Am entirely open to opinions and advice here. <If you can find Wrestling Halfbeaks in your neighbourhood, they are VERY good at eating livebearer fry, and are just the right size to do well with adult livebearers of all types. They tolerate salt well. Glassfish are another option. Small gobies would work very well, even Bumblebee gobies are astonishingly good at eating baby fish. Larger sleeper gobies, like the "Crazy Fish" Butis butis will eat fry of all sizes. Orange Chromides are nicely coloured and basically easy fish, and they will also eat fry. Really, pretty much anything big enough to eat fry *will* eat fry.> Q: Happy to! Thought I was being diligent! How many gallons do you suggest changing a week? Was I mistaken that 7.5 gallons (2.5 three times a week) is ideal? Not looking for any shortcuts here - all part of the hobby! <It's a 30 gallon tank, right? Do change at least 25% per week, and 50% per week is the ideal, especially if you find nitrate levels go up and pH is unstable. Doesn't really matter how you slice the water changes... once a week, twice, whatever. I'm lazy, so do a big water change on a Sunday.> COMMENT - hah! Caught the LPS again, didn't you? Thanks for the advice. I will return the algae eater. <Probably wise. You REALLY don't need an algae-eater.> BTW - noticed very small clear eggs on the glass, which molly ate - any idea who's eggs these are? <Snail, likely Physa spp. if they looked like jelly blobs.> COMMENT: that's EXACTLY the description! Funny that you can nail the snail type with only descriptions and knowledge, yet the LPS didn't even know what was in their own tank (ugh!) <Only because I have these little snails in my pond and tanks. They're harmless enough, and probably won't last long in brackish water anyway. Scrape the eggs off when you see them, and squish excess snails if you want. They won't harm Anubias, so are good with those plants.> After all of this, I have to say I'm very disappointed in the LPSs that I've put my trust into. My only goal is to provide a healthy aquarium  environment. When I took my water in to get tested by them, why didn't they advise me on hardness? Why let me buy an algae-eater? I'm an entrepreneur so I appreciate sales, but I always operate in a trusting manner, where the advice is ideal for the customer. Ugh! Is a $15 algae-eater worth losing a lifetime of purchases and trust in the LFS? Hard to understand. < It's a bit more complex than this. Sometimes it's mere ignorance. The guys in the LFS may be expert on one type of fish, say, African cichlids, but less expert on others, such as livebearers. Some fish are simply so unusual that the LFS guys (unless they read a lot) will be as in the dark as their customers. LFS also have to make a profit, so they tend towards selling fish that leave their tanks quickly. As much as I might rail against Mollies and Goldfish and Common Plecs and Algae-eaters and Dwarf Gouramis as being poor choices for the average aquarium, the simple fact is people keep buying them. A store that only sold small, hardy fish could well go out of business!> Please wish me luck! Wendy <Wishing you luck, Neale.>

My baby mollies are dying! No useful data   1/8/08 I'm not sure if this is where I was supposed to email my questions too but... <Is posted, linked on WWM...> I have two males and one female molly. The Dalmatian male turned all black overnight, and I'm hoping it was ok since he seems fine. My biggest question is that my female had twins a couple weeks ago. I put her in another tank and finally she's started having more babies. The problem is that all the babies keep dying and I don't understand why since the first two survived these past couple weeks. <... what re water quality, tests, the make-up of the system? No pic... nothing to go on here> I takes her a few hours to give birth to just one and she seems to be straining. The babies all have bloated clear white bellies and will swim to the top for a couple minutes and then fall to the bottom to die. I'm worried that if I clean the tank she will freak out, but I can't think of any other reason why the babies are dying. I feel so sorry for them and I worry about her. Thank you, Langdon E. Moeller <... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

No results in regards to my rare disease on a creamcicle molly. Please help? Env. Dis...  12/20/07 HI GUYS! wow I REALLY need some guidance or suggestion to a diagnosis on my creamcicle molly. I've searched high & low around the internet and cannot find any comparison or pictures to this case. I've had fish for many years with no problem ever like this. I have a 30 gallon tank, with 4 other fish (goldfish, triple striped catfish shark, transparent silver dollars). <... a very poor mix here... The goldfish is NOT tropical... the other fishes listed "like" soft, acidic, very warm water... the molly... hard, alkaline, brackish...> I do a 25% water change every week or 2. All my water reading levels are reading near perfect or are perfect. No live plants. <Perfect...? Hmmm> My situation started after my pH went out of whack and spiked very high. <?> I did a 75% water change, and stirred up alot of waste deep down in the gravel. From that point, here is the timeline with the creamcicle molly. The next day, August 16: A thin, bright deep orange stripe appeared along the bottom of the right pectoral fin. No behavioral changes. August 29: The entire fin had progressively changed to this deep orange color. Similar to a neon orange highlighter. No behavioral changes. Sept 10: The fin started to swell, or slightly balloon, more so near the base. It began to look deformed, and very lumpy. No behavioral changes. Attempted to treat with Maracyn 2. No results October 8: Fin started to show signs of fin rot. The odd lumpy thick texture of the fin started to disintegrate. About 1/3 of the fin had rotted away, leaving what looks like "skeletal veins" protruding from the lines in the edges of the fin. No behavior changes. November 25: The base area of the fin, and the circumference of the surrounding area on the fishes body slowly started to turn the same deep orange. It looks as if this problem is starting to spread onto the body itself. The fin has a little more deterioration, but not much. No behavioral changes. Tetracycline treatment has been enacted. No results December 10: The orange area that spread onto the body at the base of the fins is starting to swell a bit, causing "dropsy like" symptoms or pine-coning on the scales only isolated to that area. Swelling is minimal. Tetracycline treatment re-applied. No results. Behavior has changed a bit. Sits at the bottom of the tank in the gravel for about 1/3 of the day, then becomes fully active for the rest. Breathing looks a little more fast only when fish sits at bottom. Fin has a little more rot. December 18: nothing has changed, however, I did notice a weird spot the size of a ballpoint pen tip on the left side of the fish in the middle of his body. Behavior is the same. Seems to finally be claiming the fish. However, the fish is still active and acts normal most of the day. December 19th: A big clear bubble (looks like poison ivy for lack of a better metaphor) appeared and protruding from the scales on the body below the fin base. Purchased BiFuran+ for internal bacteria. Did 1 treatment. Weird spot on the body is the same size, no change. Is this some sort of weird combination of hemorrhagic septicemia, dropsy, and Finrot? Is this a case of "Red Pest" Why wont medicines work, or why does this sickness progress so slow. But more importantly, what is it?? Please help! I can provide pictures if needed. Thank you! - Tim Pelepako <Have just skipped down. See WWM re the species you list, their Systems, Compatibility... Your problems are iatrogenic (self-induced). Bob Fenner>

White Molly losing scale... env. dis., need info.   12/18/07 Dear Bob and Crew Members, <Isabelle> I have a nice pair of fresh water white Mollies. The female went bloated and had stopped eating. It became worse when she started to swim head down with no balance at all. I managed to treat her with some Epsom salt. I had also brought her to the surface of the tank using a breeder net to avoid unnecessary lost of energy and. I have also increased the temperature to 27 degrees. (Idea suggested by a local pet store) The fact is that she started to lose all her scales from the end of her back fin to the end of her tail. Moreover something white has been growing on that part of her body for more than four days now. Is it the undercoat of the scales going lose (If ever fish have undercoats) or fungus? <Mmm, maybe> I have my whole aquarium under antibiotic and no other fish seem to have the same symptoms. <What are the other fish species?> So far she has regained most of her balance but not all of it. I think it is due to the lost of her tail fin. She is eating and also produce excretions too. The antibiotic I have used is called Furan and is a yellow powder. No more info unfortunately. Here the local pet store are just idiots and cannot be of a great help. They only know how to sell fishes. I would really appreciate if you could help me here as you have done in the past. Thank you so much for a prompt reply. Kind regards, Isabelle from Mauritius <I suspect your mollies are suffering from environmental stress... they are actually likely a brackish species... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: White Molly losing scale and open wound... ongoing poor unsuitable water quality mix  12/19/07
Dear Bob and Crew Members, SOS!! Thank you for your email! Sorry if I was not precise. My problem is worsening. Ok, my aquarium is about 190 litres. 4 Gouramis, 2 white mollies, 2 bala sharks, a lot of baby patties and a Lace Angel. Yes I know it's a not very good mixture, but it's the result of "no knowledge when starting an aquarium + gift" <So... how to fix?> So the female molly got sick swimming head down and bloated a little more than a week now. I have cured her with Epsom salt. <Might be "salt" period... but... not a good idea to expose some of the other fish...> I don't have a hospital tank and have managed to use my 25 cm x 20 cm x 25 cm breeder net to isolate her from the persistent male. All the other fishes are ok. <Thus far> From the link you gave me, I have been able to learn a bit, especially about their need of brackish water. The problem here is the Angel, I guess. <Yes. You are correct> But I do use a little marine salt when I do water change. The problem is that the sick molly doesn't seem to eat for the past days and no excrements was neither observed. <Mollies to be moved to another world> She has lost all her scale from half the back of her dorsal to the end of her tail's tip. Now, it seems that she is will break into two. A wound that has appeared at the boundary of the scale lost. I have bought Melafix and drop a full cap in the aquarium. <Not a useful remedy here> Is that ok? What do I do next because I have stopped the antibiotic? I'm afraid of killing the good bacteria. <... another world, tank...> Do I need to do something else? The water parameters are ok. <Mmm, no... not possible... the water quality tolerances of the life you list are too dissimilar> I am really so sad to see her like this. <Then do what needs> Please let me know if there is something I should do. The fluffy white thing is still there. Can I isolate her in a bowl or plastic container? Do mollies absolutely need an air pump? <Can't be done effectively... need stable aquarium (heated, filtered) aquarium of size conditions> Thank you in advance for a quick respond. Kind regards, Isabelle <You seem to "know" what needs to be done... BobF>

Sick Molly... env., mis-mixed with goldfish  12/07/2007 First I would like to thank all of you. Any time I have a question some one always answers me. So thanks. Now onward. I have a 10 gallon tank. I have 3 mollies and 4 goldfish. Now I know they like different water situations and found this out after the fish were bought and put together (need to do my homework, I know). However, every fish was doing fine but now ALL my mollies have what appears to be fluffy white spots on them. Not sure if it's a bacteria or a growth...what can I do? Also is the water contaminated now to, so if something does end up happening to my molly's will it contaminate the next fish? Thanks so much. Laura <Hello Laura. The Mollies have Finrot and/or fungus and need to be treated with a combination Finrot/fungus medication. This is extremely common when Mollies are kept in freshwater. In addition, Mollies are acutely sensitive to Nitrate, and Goldfish are veritable Nitrate factories! So you WILL need to separate them. Please do read our article on Mollies and act accordingly: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm Hope this helps, Neale.>

Molly - need your expert opinion, sys., hlth.    12/5/07 Hi, I love your site. I am new to all this - I have read and read and read on google and all kinds of sites about my specific questions but I am getting mixed information and partial answers, so I thought I would get your opinion on it. <Hmm... Google is efficient at finding stuff, but remember that the Internet is a mix of 50% gold and 50% garbage. If you're new to fishkeeping, you will be MUCH better off buying or borrowing a decent aquarium book, of which there are many. These will be edited and written to a higher standard than most of the stuff on the Internet.> I have a 40 gallon hex tank with a side filter / carbon filter that goes inside etc/ I have 6 small red eye tetra, 4 mollies and a female (very sweet beta) <OK, start by chucking out the carbon. Waste of money and space. Replace with some filter wool or ceramic noodles. Carbon serves no useful purpose in most freshwater aquaria. Biological filter media is always useful. Tetras and Mollies are not good tankmates; Mollies almost always do better in salty water than freshwater, whereas Tetras (for the most part) don't tolerate salt at all.> First of all I know I have totally stressed out my black molly because of moving her too much. <Oh?> Two of my females have wound up pregnant, I don't want the other fish to eat the fry. I bought one of those breeders where the mothers are up top and the babies end up going thru a slot on the bottom so they are protected. <Never, ever put a Molly in a breeding trap. She will hate you with the heat of nova. Breeding traps are really something that sounds a better idea than it actually is. Mollies are too big for them, and really so are most other livebearers. Instead, stock the tank with floating plants. Hornwort is idea. Check the plants once or twice a day, and then remove fry to a breeding trap or better still another tank for growing on.> First of all, one of them has been huge for about 4 weeks and for 4 weeks I have been saying, any day now! No fry yet and I have no clue when she is going to have them. Any signs I can watch for so I can get them out quickly with a net ? Do you have any pictures so I can see how big they are supposed to get. Maybe there are not really any signs? <One problem with Mollies is that in freshwater they often get sick, and oedema (dropsy) can look for all the world like pregnancy. Another issue is some varieties have been deliberately bred to be rounded, so it isn't obvious if they are pregnant or not. Finally, many fish will eat the fry at once. Sometimes even the mothers! So the babies can literally have a lifespan of minutes, too short a time for you to observe them.> I put her in the breeder for a about a day and noticed she seemed stressed and I felt bad because it was so small. I know mollies require lots of space to be happy. I have found very different opinions on this subject matter. <I can't think who in their right mind would be opining that Mollies are happy in breeding traps or don't need space. As I said, 50% of the Internet is garbage.> I took her out of the breeder and put her back in the tank with the others for about a week. Much better!. Then I decided to put her in my daughters tank which is bigger than the breeder but still small (it's like 2 gallon). (I don't have the extra $100 or so to set-up a new tank right now being so close to Christmas) <Floating plants... floating plants... cheap, effective...> After her being in the 2 gallon for a couple of weeks, and still no fry, I moved her back into main tank again since she seemed stressed in there. I put some plastic floating plants at the top and there are lots of holes in the ornament that all the fish can get into. <A two-gallon tank is really not going to work. For one thing the Molly will be incredibly stressed. Miscarriages under such conditions are common. Even if any babies were born, she might eat them because there's really no space for the baby fish to swim away.> Those tetras seem kind of aggressive and chase the other fish and I am worried that they will eat the fry - will they ? <As sure as God made little green apples...> Should I get rid of those ? I can find someone on craigslist to take them probably. <Yep. If you want to keep Mollies -- seriously -- and get babies, then your life will be 100 times easier if the Mollies have a spacious tank with some salt (~3-6 grammes per litre) added to the water and lots of floating plants. The Tetras are merely adding a complication.> Thanks for the information. Wendy <We do have a nice detailed article on Mollies, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm Have a read, follow the links to related articles, and good luck! Neale.>
Re: Molly - need your expert opinion
12/5/07 Thank you, thank you. I appreciate your time and your very valued opinions. I let the Molly out of the breeding trap and I am going to find another home for the tetras ASAP. The word "trap" should be an indicator huh ? :-) Your awesome. Wendy <Cool. Glad we can help. Mollies are among my favourite fish, and when cared for properly EASILY fill a tank with colour and entertainment-value all by themselves. That's why I recommend people keep them alone so they don't have to make compromises to allow for their tankmates. Give the Mollies 100% of what they want, and they'll repay you handsomely! Colour, activity, sex, and babies. What more could you ask for! Cheers, Neale.>

Hi, it's me again, the serial Molly killer... 12/3/07 Hi Crew! <Ah, it's the Head Warden at Molly Death Row again... Hello again, ma'am.> I've had several long chats with some of you, the last few ones were with Neale. All of my Mollies died of the same thing (7 so far), and the 8th is most likely dying as we speak. They all had Callamanus worms, or something that looks identical to every picture of Callamanus I've seen. I've treated with PraziPro countless times, and it's not working - or rather, it's not doing what it's supposed to. <Sometimes this does happen. The basic thing with fish medication is this: it's mild, and designed to treat what in human terms would be considered 'outpatient' sicknesses. Very few fish medications can deal with severe trauma or acute infections. That's just a fact of life, and short of getting the "hard stuff" from a vet, once fish diseases advance to a certain point, they often don't make it, however much medicine you add to the tank. This underlines the two Golden Rules that get stressed over and over: quarantine livestock, and treat at the first sign of disease.> If I don't treat, I get thin fish, shy fish, then dead fish. If I treat, they start pooing in a corkscrew within a few hours, then after about a week I find them heavily bloated upside down at the bottom of the aquarium. I learned how to use clove oil and my freezer. <Oops.> My last survivor came in as the aquarium was about halfway through a PraziPro treatment. Then I retreated about three weeks later, just to be sure. She was still fat and happy. No corkscrew poo, which usually shows up after a few hours only, so I thought she was all right. Then about a month and a half after that, she started hiding. I knew something was wrong, and sure enough, a close examination revealed the presence of the three-or-so usual small red threads in her anus. <Does indeed sound like Callamanus.> Why? Everybody tells me that Prazi Pro is the right treatment, but it ended up killing every fish I tried it on. My theory is that the worms die inside of them and it makes them constipated, and because of the dead worm they get an infection and end up bloating and dying. <Sounds plausible.> Why, if I treated the aquarium AND the fish twice already, are they still getting sick with the same thing? Maybe the PraziPro is not effective on worm eggs? Or is my bottle defective (I don't think so, or it wouldn't have an effect at all, and this stuff does)? What is wrong? She's been treated twice, and the aquarium too, she shouldn't still have them! <In the UK, a drug called 'Flubenol 15' seems to be favoured (in part because PraziPro is licensed for over-the-counter sale here). Flubenol 15 is apparently a milder medication and takes longer to work, but it causes less stress to small fish especially. The chief side-effect of Flubenol 15 is that it kills practically all lower invertebrates, not just tapeworms and nematodes. So if you have snails in the tank, they'll die.> I've talked husbandry with Neale before, and he agrees that what I do should be working. I have them in brackish water, they eat mainly greens, I have no detectable nitrates, etc. everything seemed fine when we talked about it. It's just this worm thing! <All sounds perfect. In any case, I'd treat with PraziPro (double dose!) or Flubenol 15 before adding any more livestock. Keep the filter going by adding a pinch of flake every day or so. The fish food will rot, and produce the required ammonia in the process.> Any tips on trying to save the last one? I haven't seen her poo for about three days, her anus is enlarged, and she's mostly hiding, but she's still trying to eat even though she spits out most of what she takes in her mouth... I have Metronidazole and Furan at home, I even have Epsom salts, those are the things usually recommended for bloat, but in this case, I'm not sure they'll do much good... I just don't want to give up before the fish does... <I think you're doing all you can. Short of Flubenol 15, I don't see any other moves in this particular game. Mother Nature won, and the worms have done their thing. You might also consider getting your next batch of Mollies from another retailer.> Also... what to do next? I don't really feel like buying any more Mollies. I know the stock where we used to buy them are infected, I've learned to recognize the signs by now - there are too many emaciated Mollies in their tanks... we have a better supplier, but I'm afraid that if I put fish in our tank they'll catch it again, even if they're healthy to start with. <Spot on. This would be my worry, too. At some point you have to draw a line.> Should I put the snails and shrimp in another tank and just bleach the heck out of this one? <Bleach might be overkill. I'd simply raise the salinity to 50-100% seawater. That'll kill any thing in the tank. Leave thus for a week. You'll probably need to re-cycle the biological filter, but since you already have another tank, that's a no-brainer: just take some mature filter media out of the second tank and 'inoculate' this Molly aquarium. You can remove up to 50% of the media in a mature filter without causing any serious problems.> It seems a shame to kill off what we've built this year, but right now we're going nowhere and I'm about ready to give up on buying any more fish. Friends of mine have Platies... 29 in a 16 gallon tank because they kept breeding, and breeding, and breeding, and she kept saving them because she couldn't stand to see them eaten. They're waiting for us to call them to take some of them off their hands... I'm just afraid to kill them too, and if they're coming from a friend, it's even worse! We're the ones who taught them how to start an aquarium, and we can't even keep our own fish alive!!! <I have to admit I've found a lot of fancy Platies to be well below acceptable in terms of quality and longevity. That said, good Variatus Platies especially are simply darling animals.> Well... everything's not lost... The Betta is doing beautifully in his own Eclipse III... If it weren't for this one success, we'd have given up a long time ago... <It's just one setback. Everyone has them. Even me! I can't keep Neons alive however hard I try! They all seem plagued with Neon Tetra Disease here, and the local hard water is the final nail in the coffin. So what you do is pick yourself up, dust yourself off, say "Mollies aren't for me" and move on to something else. Do check out some of the 'wild-type' livebearers, like Limia nigrofasciatus, Xiphophorus xiphidium, Xiphophorus alvarezi, Micropoecilia picta or Xenotoca eiseni. Because they're not so inbred they're much hardier, but no more difficult to keep. And you get the joy of keeping fish that are "out of the ordinary". Fish clubs are usually good places to find sources of these species, though most aquarium stores can get them if you ask.> Thank you all for your time, your understanding, and your help. At least, with you, we might, one day, learn to reform our ways and NOT kill our pets :-( Good night, Audrey <Aw, don't sound so blue! Spend the time reflecting, reading, learning, and then moving forwards! Cheers, Neale.>

Molly Flashing  11/28/2007 Hi. I have a 10 gallon aquarium that I use for Molly fry. I've noticed that the fry like to bounce off the rocks in the tank. They're not rubbing their bodies, just a quick rub of the head area. Most of the fish in the tank do this at some point. They all appear healthy, are growing and feeding vigorously. We have only lost two babies out of approximately 50 that have passed through the tank since July. Is this behavior normal or a sign of a parasite? Thanks, Joyce <Hello Joyce. Are you adding marine salt mix to the aquarium? And what's the water chemistry? Mollies (and indeed most other fish) scratch their bodies when they are irritated. Sometimes this can be a sign of illness, specifically parasites that attack the skin and/or gills. But it can also be an indication of water chemistry issues, particularly excessively low or high pH levels. Just to recap, Mollies need very hard (ideally over 20 degrees dH) water and a pH of not less than 7.5 and ideally around 8.0. While not all Molly keepers agree, there's a widely held view that adding marine salt mix to the aquarium is beneficial. Wild Mollies are common in brackish water habitats, and when kept without salt in the water it is common (if not universal) that Mollies become more sensitive to infections such as Finrot and fungus. Salt also reduces the toxicity of nitrate, which Mollies appear to be extremely sensitive to. Marine salt mix (as opposed to generic aquarium or tonic salt) contains carbonate salts that raise the hardness and prevent acidic conditions in the aquarium, and this also has a dramatically beneficial effect on Molly health. From my experience, the vast majority of instances where people have Molly problems, those people are keeping them in tanks without marine salt mix. I'd recommend adding 3-6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water, and then seeing how your fish do. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Molly Flashing 11/28/07
Hi Neale. Thanks for replying. I guess I should have listed the water conditions in my first email. All levels are good, (PH around 7.9), our water is naturally very hard and alkaline. <Excellent.> We do 20% water changes once a week. <Ramp that up to at least 30% per week and ideally 50%. Mollies do not like nitrate, and it seems to be one triggering factor being ill-health.> I've heard that Mollies prefer saltier water, but we have two small Corys in with them, so don't want the Corys irritated. <Fundamentally Mollies and Corydoras can't be mixed. End of story. It's a shame people sell Mollies as "community fish" because they're not.> What has me curious is that none of the fish seem stressed or sick. They don't rub, just bounce off their heads. The two five month old males that are in the tank are gorgeous and lively, but they too flash off the rocks once in a while. I'm thinking if it was a parasite or illness, these fish should show some sign of it by now. <I agree, but what you're describing simply isn't normal. Hence the need to try and narrow down the possible causes. Parasites on the gills (typically Ick or Velvet) plus improper/fluctuating pH are the classic causes of "flashing" behaviour.> So the water conditions sound more likely, even though the numbers are good. <Do check the ammonia and nitrate levels, if you can. While nitrite is the thing people usually check first, with good reason, nitrate especially is something that you have to watch with Mollies.> Hmm, will have to investigate that possibility more carefully. Thanks for your help. Joyce <Good luck, Neale.>

Sick mollies, internal parasites? hello All, <Hello,> thank you for this web site, a fantastic resource. I have been reading for two days straight and am a bit overwhelmed at this point. Please forgive any chargin blunders as I am very new at the fish thing. <Ok.> we had four pot belly mollies. (2 remain, a male and a female and seem 'fairly' healthy.) and also an Oto in a 6 gallon heated Biowheel tank. 2 of the mollies died in a weeks time, 1st a male and then 5 days later a female - whom I found this morning : ( the ones that are still with us came first, about 3 months ago, the two that died came about a month later. <6 gallons too small for Mollies. Almost no chance of maintaining them for any length of time. Mollies are very intolerant of poor water quality, and it's virtually impossible for an inexperienced aquarist to keep water quality good in such a small tank. Moreover, male Mollies are somewhat aggressive, and in small tanks can become real bullies.> The remaining male is very aggressive and chased the other male around relentlessly, but I never saw any wounds on him. <Ah, there we go. Absolutely predictable. This is why you need to *read* about fish before you buy them; most problems are easily preventable.> ( I had read about the ratio being a little off which is why we didn't do too much researching when he passed away last week, very thin.. we thought it may have been stress from the aggressive male, in retrospect I feel that was wrong). <Indeed. The ratio is one male to three females for 100% success, and that will only work in a tank with sufficient space. I'd consider 20 gallons the absolute minimum for Shortfin Mollies, and 30 gallons for Sailfin Mollies.> we have done a few 20% water changes recently. every time I have taken my water to be tested they tell me the levels are all perfect. Even yesterday... <50% water changes per week are MANDATORY with Mollies because they are so intolerant of nitrate. In addition, small aquaria need generous water changes simply to remain safe.> I watch the mollies regularly and noticed white stringy pooh coming out of the (now deceased) other female molly. (which I never saw coming out of the male that died) I give cooked mashed inside of frozen peas about twice a week and also feed once a day a flake food that enhances color. <Diet is an issue with Mollies. The simplest approach is to use algae-based flake food most days. One or two days per week, don't use flake at all, and instead offer thinly sliced cucumber or strips of Sushi Nori. They'll peck away at these contentedly. It's important to understand wild Mollies feed almost entirely on algae. Meaty foods, like bloodworms, are very much treats, not staples.> She would try to eat but then just spit it back out for about a week before she died (she did not look thin when she died like the male did). at first I thought she might be constipated as she looked a little bloated. I have been reading the white stringy pooh can be a sign of internal parasites. <Depends on the fish. But to be honest, "internal parasites" is the catch-all scapegoat inexperienced fishkeepers use to cover their own failings. Internal parasites of various kinds do exist, but they're unlikely to cause the death of a fish unless the fish is otherwise unhealthy. Poor water quality, the wrong water chemistry, and so on are the main things that weaken a fish, and once weak, parasites can become problems.> her other symptoms where hiding, taking in air at the top and then on her last day shimmying. yesterday (at the advice of the LFS) I added some freshwater aquarium salt, 2 teaspoons an hour apart from each other, and some nova aqua conditioner/fish protector. she seemed to have a little relief, but didn't make it through the night. <All symptoms of poor water quality and the wrong water chemistry. Mollies simply are not beginner's fish. While some folks keep them in freshwater tanks, mortality when kept thus is very high and lots of people fail to keep them alive for more than a few months. On the other hand, in brackish water they are very hardy. Brackish water is more than a "teaspoon of salt". You use marine salt mix (NOT tonic or aquarium salt) for a start. This is because marine salt mix has both sea salt plus carbonate salts for stabilizing the pH and hardness. Ideally, Mollies need a specific gravity of 1.003 to 1.005, 6-9 grammes per litre.> the question I have is about the remaining fish, the female has been also going for air, but still interactive and eating. <It'll be dead soon.> I added the 3rd teaspoon of salt this morning as she was gasping at the top after eating. this seems to have helped and she seems better although I am noticing what looks like subtle shimmy. and is not grazing like the male is. <The "shimmying" is a disease called The Shimmies, a neurological problem caused by chronic poor health. There's no cure as such, but when transferred to brackish or marine conditions most Mollies recover. Kept in freshwater, they die.> I am considering using the Parasite Clear because of the death of the other two, but don't want to medicate unnecessarily as I have been reading how dangerous this can be to all the fish in the tank. <Pointless. Unless you can identify a disease, treating with a random medication is unhelpful. Imagine if a doctor didn't listen to you describe your symptoms, but simply gave you a handful of the first pills he found in his bag.> it sounds like an overall approach. <Nothing of the sort. The issue here is likely water quality and water chemistry. At the very least, you need nitrate less than 20 mg/l; zero ammonia and nitrite; pH around 8.0; general hardness around 15 degrees dH; and carbonate hardness at least 8 degrees KH. Ideally, the specific gravity should be at least SG 1.003.> your thoughts on this product as related to our symptoms? <No relation at all.> thanks for helping. Shellie-Rae <Move your Mollies to a brackish water aquarium not less than 20 gallons in size. Otherwise, they will die as sure as God made little green apples. Don't put freshwater community fish in there unless you know they are salt-tolerant (most aren't). Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: sick mollies, internal parasites? update  11/13/07
thank you for your reply. I too wish I would have read more on these fish. its becoming more apparent (the more I do read) how little they know at the fish store...ugh! <Trust me Shellie-Rae, you aren't the first person to learn this the hard way. While many store owners try very hard, often some of their staff are just kids doing a Saturday job or whatever, and don't really know much more than a lay person. So while discussing things with the guys in the pet store is never a bad idea, you should compare what they say with what you read in books. And when you find a good store, cultivate your relationship with the owner. I learned a lot of the basics from good, reliable pet store owners.> so that brings us to now, I'm a beginner with little knowledge and 2 (remaining) potbelly mollies that I am smitten with, Spot a male and Dotty the female. <Mollies are among my favourite fish, so I understand your affection for them!> my female is still hanging in there she is eating although not as enthusiastically as before I noticed symptoms. I took your suggestion and switched to an algae based flake food called 8 Veggie Flake. <Good.> although the second ingredient after spiraling is fish meal? will this do for long term? <It's fine.> there is 1 tbls of fresh water (again, what they suggested at LFS) aquarium salt total for 6 gallons. <I tablespoon of salt is 3 teaspoons; each teaspoon of salt is 6 grammes. So that's 18 grammes of salt per 6 US gallons = 22 litres. Hmm... less than 1 gramme of salt per litre. Well, that's better than nothing, but I'd triple that (at least) to be honest. For complete success, I'd be aiming at 6 grammes of salt per litre, or about 0.8 ounces per US gallon. But if the water is rock hard (a high carbonate hardness, say 8 degrees KH or more) then you may be OK. By the way, you'll probably find marine salt mix cheaper in the long term. Tonic salt is overpriced for what it is. Marine salt mix can be bought in bigger boxes that last a long time.> I did a 20% change a few days ago (before I got your email) and a 30% last night. I am willing to try and go more brackish...just want to make sure I'm informed before making any more fatal mistakes... <With Mollies, adding a bit of salt makes so much difference, and using marine salt mix makes them virtually bullet-proof. The benefits are obvious and dramatic once you start keeping them thus.> Dotty seems thin to me and is also spending a considerable amount of time at the top sipping. <That's air-breathing. Mollies are exceptional among the guppy-family of fish in being able to pump a mix of air plus water across their gills. To some degree they do it now and again even under good circumstances, but when the water is too warm, too lacking in oxygen, or too dirty, they do it frequently. So it's a heads-up that something is 100% perfect. If in doubt, change some water.> what should I do next? <Keeping doing what you're doing: change the water regularly.> I have not added any meds to this tank except for 1 dose of jungle parasite food. (also added before I got the email) <OK. Won't do any harm, at least.> we are unable to accommodate with 20 gallons as suggested. <Too bad. But do keep this in the back of your mind, and any time you see a 20 gallon that fits the space and budget you have available, consider it a wise purchase.> so hefty water changes aside how can we have happy mollies here? <Yes.> thanks again for being so helpful even when it is the harsh truth! Shellie-Rae <Do enjoy your fish, and read up on them a little more so you're prepared for the ins and outs of keeping them! Cheers, Neale>

Molly weight loss, hlth.    10/22/07 Hello, <Good morning> I have a problem with a Dalmatian molly. She has lost all normal personality and vivacity. She holds her dorsal fin down even when treading, and her stomach is slowly diminishing towards her spine. The other fish chase her away. <What other species are these?> She mainly stays at the top of the tank nibbling at the surface, and her lower body sinks like she has problems holding it up. A few days ago another Molly died after displaying the same symptoms. The water quality is great <? Do you have appreciable nitrogenous metabolites present? Nitrate e.g.> the other fish seem to be fine. Its a twenty gallon tank I had two males and two female Dalmatians and a female silver molly. I have added salt to the tank; <How much, what sort?> I didn't' have any in before. I am thinking about euthanizing the sick fish rather than treating her with chemicals. I am afraid whatever it is will spread to my other Mollies, I would really appreciate any advice. Thank you very much. Amberae p. (PS She is definitely getting enough food. I have them on a diet of mixed tropical flakes and shrimp pellets. ) <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Black Molly tail disease? -- 09/14/07 Hi, I've had a female black molly for about a month now. She had fry about 2 weeks ago, and is starting to look like she's plumping up again for another batch. But recently (last 2 or 3 days), I've noticed her acting strange. She has been swimming with mostly her tail bent downwards, and the tail fins all clamped closed. She pretty much doesn't even use her tail any more, and is only the two little fins by her gills (I don't know their proper name) to swim/navigate. On top of that, I started to see a little discoloration of the end of one side of her tail (a couple light grey oval blotches) yesterday, that have now become larger and become one large blotch. Additionally, I am starting to see a little discoloration on her other side as well. She seems to have a ferocious appetite, and is pretty much ready to eat anytime I put food in the tank. My tank is a 10 gallon tank, and I've only got 4 fish in there right now; a platy, a catfish, an autosynchrous algae-eater, and the black molly. I had the temperature set to around 80F last week but was recommended to lower it to about 74F. I tried that over a period of two days and I started to notice her odd reaction, so have slowly raised it back up to 80F. I hope the temp swing hasn't affected her too badly. Additionally, I have been treating the aquarium with sea salt at ever water change - approximately one teaspoon for every 25% of water that is changed. Finally, I have a mini Aqua-Clear clip-on to filter the water, and do weekly water changes (25-35%). I've been feeding her dry flakes since I've head her, but am in the process of trying some frozen blood worms to give her more variety. Any help will be greatly appreciated. I'm attaching some pictures to hopefully help show the issue I am describing. Where the tail looks lighter, it isn't a light trick - it is actually the color change that I am referring to. Thanks so much, Eric <Eric, what your molly has is either Finrot or fungus or mouth-fungus (this latter being neither a fungus nor uniquely associated with the mouth!). Regardless, the treatment is an over-the-counter anti-Finrot/fungus medication such as eSHa 2000 or whatever equivalent is sold in your country. Some treatments only go for one OR the other; don't buy those, but the ones that do both fungus and Finrot. Also, don't waste your time with Melafix/Pimafix. Now, what you have here is EXTREMELY common when mollies are kept in freshwater. Adding one teaspoon of salt per ~2.5 gallons does not do much of anything except waste your money (albeit not much money!). To keep mollies 100% reliably you need to keep them in brackish water at about 10-25% seawater salinity; that is, around SG 1.003-1.005. In absolute terms, this is about 6-9 grammes of MARINE sea salt mix per LITRE of water (that's about 0.8 to 1.2 oz of salt mix per US gallon). It HAS to be marine salt mix, not "aquarium salt" or "cooking salt" or any such thing, because only marine salt mix contains both salt plus the carbonate salts that buffer the water and raise the pH. Mollies simply don't do consistently well in freshwater aquaria. Some people have good luck with them in freshwater, but lots of people don't. On the other hand, in brackish and marine aquaria mollies are basically indestructible. Your move. Your Platy fish won't mind the salt, but the catfish and algae eater most probably will, especially at the 1.005 end of the spectrum. There are many brackish water (and even a few saltwater) catfish but without an identity for your catfish, I can't assume that's the case here. A 10-gallon tank is certainly too small for mollies (water quality is likely an issue in her getting sick) and definitely too small for algae eaters, if by this you mean a plec or something like Gyrinocheilus aymonieri. One last thing: don't worry about the bloodworms too much. Mollies are primarily herbivores and have adapted to eat mostly algae in the wild. So provided you give her a good quality algae-based flake food, she'll thrive. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Black Molly tail disease? -- 09/14/07 Hi Neale, <Hello Eric,> Thanks for the incredibly fast reply. I actually have some Melafix on hand from a case of a Betta's Popeye a while back. Can I use this temporarily while I await to go find something stronger? Is there a reason why Melafix is pointless to try? Too weak? <By all means use Melafix if you want. What's the deal with it? Simple -- it isn't terribly effective. It may have a marginally useful effect, but in a lot of cases (most cases?) it simply doesn't cure the fish.> It pains me to see her this way; is this fungus deadly? ie: if I wait too long to treat her, will she die from it? <Yes.> Will there be a problem of starting with Melafix and then using something stronger, such as the eSHa2000 you suggest? <No.> I'm in Canada, and not sure what I'll find in the stores around here. <Have a read of this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfishmeds.htm .> As for the salinity of the water, I'm not quite sure I understand how to measure its salinity. Are there tests to measure this? <You use a hydrometer. This can be as simple as a floating glass device that looks like a thermometer and costs around $5. There are fancier ones that cost more, and some folks use "cheap" refractometers instead, and these cost around $50. Regardless, they measure the salinity for you (via indirect methods, i.e., water density or the refraction of light). Some hydrometers only cover the marine range of salinities, so you need one that goes all the way down to 1.000. Mollies are actually happy at any salinity from fresh to seawater, but in terms of cost/benefit, SG 1.003-1.005 does the job nicely. There are several articles here all about mollies, so be sure and read them.> I'm not sure of the type of catfish or algae-eaters I have. I am attaching a few pictures of the catfish; hopefully you might be able to recognize it. <It's an albino Corydoras; either Corydoras aeneus or Corydoras paleatus. Not particularly salt tolerant.> I can't seem to photograph the algae eater, but it from looking up on the web, it seems to be a Gyrinocheilus aymonieri (ie: sucking loach / Chinese algae eater ). Can you let me know if/how they can co-survive in the same tank, because I would hate to rid myself of either. <David Sands, a British catfish expert, has written that hardy Corydoras are tolerant of low levels of salt, and I'd expect Gyrinocheilus aymonieri to adapt to similar conditions since it is fundamentally a very robust fish. But neither *prefer* salty water, and both would need to be kept at a lower than optimal salinity, around SG 1.002-1.003. Arguably, keeping them in even slightly salty water would be stress factor on them, such that in the long term might mean a shorter lifespan or greater sensitivity to disease. As such, you've landed in the classic conundrum of fishkeeping: you've got fishes in one tank that prefer two different sets of water conditions. I wish I could tell you there's an easy solution -- but there's not. You could keep your molly in freshwater, and simply treat the fungus for now with medications. But the problem here is that the molly would remain sensitive to water quality (nitrate is said to be the triggering factor) and would likely develop fungus and/or Finrot every so often. Alternatively, you could add a small amount (4-6 grammes per litre) of marine salt mix (Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals, etc.) to the aquarium but this time the risk would be stressing the catfish and algae-eater, as well as the fact the amount of salt wouldn't be optimal in terms of providing health benefits to the molly. Long term, I wouldn't care too much about the algae eater, since you're going to have to return it to the store eventually. They are extremely aggressive and nasty fish when mature, and completely unsuitable for community tanks. But the Corydoras is more of an issue.> Thanks again, Eric <Hope this helps, Neale>

Re: Black Molly tail disease?   9/16/07 Hi Neale, Thanks for all the advice. I found Seachem Paraguard yesterday, so am going to try to use that instead of the Melafix. But how do I know when she is cured? Is the discoloration going to disappear? <Yes.> Is she going to start opening her tail fin again? <With luck.> Or has that been permanently damaged? <Probably not; fin membranes should heal completely.> I see her swimming around today using her tail to actually propel her a little, which I think indicates that she is starting to feel better, but she still has that discoloration and her tail fin looks clamped shut. But I don't know - if she has tail rot, will that eat away at her tail fin and make it looked clamped like it is? <Untreated, the Finrot eats away the membrane, then the surrounding skin and muscle, and eventually infects the body of the fish.> Is she supposed to fully recover from this? <Yes.> On a side note, you mentioned in your very first email that a 10G tank was too small to have an algae-eater; in such a case, what am I supposed to use to control the algae in the tank? It tends to grow a lot; especially on the gravel and plastic plants / decorations that are inside the tank. I already control the light a lot - it is only on for about 7 hrs a day. Should I reduce that even further? Will the fish even care if there is less light? <Algae is causes by having too few plants. Algae-eaters really don't do anything useful other than wipe the front glass, but in return they pollute the water, increasing the rate at which the algae grows. The solution is to increase the light (to around 2 watts per gallon) and add fast-growing plants such as Cabomba and Hygrophila. Amazing as it sounds, this slows down algae growth to almost nothing, thanks to something called allelopathy, a process where higher plants suppress the growth of algae that might smother them. Nothing else works. If you don't want to use live plants or can't offer enough light for fast growing species (Java ferns won't do the trick!) then you may as well learn to love algae. It does no harm, and mollies especially need to eat it.> Thanks again for all the advice! Very much appreciated! <Hope this helps, Neale>

Help with internal parasites, again...  Mollies   9/1/07 Hello Crew! <Greetings.> I've had a few long chats with Tom about my Mollies with internal parasites. This has proven as hard to get rid of as ich and killed many fish. <Curious. My first question when people have problems with mollies is whether they are keeping them in freshwater or in brackish/marine conditions. In the former case they seem to me to be irredeemably delicate, and successful maintenance requires excellent (i.e., zero nitrate) water quality. In brackish/marine conditions mollies are basically indestructible. For me, it's a no-brainer: if you want to keep mollies with the minimum fuss, keep them at 25-100% seawater salinity (~SG 1.005-1.018). Ich/whitespot cannot survive under such conditions, finrot and fungal infections are extremely rare, and internal parasite "spores" (or whatever) cannot survive the saltwater conditions so cannot infect healthy fish.> It all started when we lost one small black balloon Molly, and then realized that her companion was getting way too thin and had the red worm-thing sticking out her anus. We tried Metronidazole and a variety of other medicines, but she died despite our frantic attempts at a cure. <Why did you use Metronidazole? That's a drug primarily for internal bacteria and to a less extent protozoan parasites. As far as I know, it has no effect on multicellular parasites such as worms. For those, you need something worm-specific (i.e., an anti-helminth drug) such as PraziPro or Sterazin.> So, when we got two new balloon Mollies, we treated them in the quarantine tank with PraziPro (which is supposed to be effective) before we let them join the two remaining healthy fish. We added them to our apparently unaffected two remaining bigger Mollies, who came from a different dealer (one orange male and one spotted female). We lost the male two weeks ago (within three days he stopped chasing the females, then one morning was lying at the bottom of the tank gasping, then he was dead, no symptoms of anything). My boyfriend just called to tell me the spotted female died today, and apparently she has this red worm-thing again. What's worse, one of the two living Mollies has a distended anus with some white tube-like stuff protruding. <This is a dumb question perhaps, but are you sure the problem here is worms? Parasitic worms generally don't cause quick deaths. What you tend to see is a gradual loss of condition or a failure to grow or put on weight. By their nature, most of these intestinal parasites have evolved not to kill the host outright, since they die when the host dies. Wild fish commonly carry a parasite load, but otherwise aren't harmed. Nine times out of ten, mollies die from nitrate poisoning, finrot, fungal infections, or acidosis. This is especially true when the die "quickly". Gasping, for example, is a good sign of respiratory distress, which can be caused by poor water quality and a too-low pH. Just a reminder, mollies in freshwater conditions (if you're foolish enough to keep them thus) need three specific things: zero nitrate, pH 7.5-8.2, and hardness not less than 20 degrees dH. In brackish/marine conditions, the sodium chloride will detoxify the nitrate so that isn't an issue, and the other salts in the marine salt mix will raise the pH and hardness automatically. Please note that "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt" won't do anything other than mitigate the nitrate, so are a greatly inferior product when keeping mollies.> He's moving them to our quarantine/treatment tank as we speak and will start treating with PraziPro again. Should I also give them Metronidazole? I know they can be mixed, but it's not supposed to be super effective against those kinds of parasites. In any case, I'll follow your advice. <PraziPro yes, Metronidazole no. As a rule, unless a qualified animal healthcare professional has said otherwise, you should NEVER mix medications. The synergies between two or more drugs are unknown, and potentially lethal. But more importantly, sit down and review your water conditions and chemistry. If you're keeping your mollies in freshwater, please understand that you will always be fighting to keep them healthy. It's just the way it is with mollies. While they are certainly freshwater fish in the wild, in aquaria they just don't do well kept thus. Spend any time reviewing the livebearer e-mails here, or postings on fish forums, and you'll see that there are always bucket-loads of messages about sick mollies.> Now, the only remaining animals in the tank are a Nerite snail and two Amano shrimp (maybe a few Cherry shrimp too but we haven't seen them in a while). <Ah, now the good news here is both Amano shrimps and nerite snails are salt-tolerant, so you can raise the salinity of the tank to SG 1.003-1.005 without problems, should you choose to do so.> Do I need to treat the main tank to ensure that all parasites are gone? The fish are apparently reinfecting each other, and I want to ensure that they don't get sick again when I put them in the main tank. Do I need to leave the aquarium fallow? If so, how long? Do I hunt the shrimp and move them out, then treat the whole tank? Help! <Yes, you need to treat the tank. Yes, you will probably need to remove the shrimps, as they tend to be sensitive to medications.> Do I need to treat the Betta and his Eclipse III too? He used to be in the same aquarium as the Mollies, he might have been exposed... <Probably not, unless you see some symptoms.> I know many people say that healthy fish "strike a balance" with their internal parasites and live in apparent health for years with them. This hasn't proven true for me, those are nasty little bugs (and tough too, after a week of PraziPro the worm was still hanging on) and I'd be extremely glad to be rid of them, once and for all. <My suspicion is that you're dealing with mollies that are fundamentally stressed, and the worms are at best an "excuse" for them to wave a little white flag and give up.> Those have to be from the LFS, and they must have lived for months with the things in their digestive systems without showing any signs, since we haven't given them anything else but Nori, flakes, sinking pellets and bits of corn for about a month. They also get frozen bloodworms, and occasionally brine shrimp, but they're both Hikari brand that's supposed to be well sterilized. <The foods you list should be fine. Do bear in mind mollies are primarily herbivores, and the ratio of green to meaty foods should be of the order 80% to 20%. In fact, feeding them exclusively on vegetable-based fish foods (livebearer flake, Spirulina flake, algae pellets) would be entirely acceptable.> I really don't want to battle internal parasites AGAIN!!! <If you want healthy mollies, keep them in brackish/marine conditions. If you want to have to deal with "disease of the month" with your mollies, keep them in freshwater. That's Neale's sage advice for the day.> Thank you so much for your advice... once again! Merci beaucoup! <You're welcome.> Audrey <Neale>
Re: Help with internal parasites, again... -- 09/01/07
Hi again, Neale! <Hello Audrey,> Thank you for such a detailed answer. It did make me feel slightly like I was a bad fish owner, but maybe I deserve it for waiting so long to do what I know I should be doing.... > <Curious. My first question when people have problems with mollies is whether they are keeping them in freshwater or in brackish/marine conditions. *blushing*... I know, I know... All right... I won't ask any questions again until I do the switch to brackish... I've been planning on it for ages, but I was waiting until after we got the new apartment more or less organized so we could move everyone to a brand new 30 gallons... Looks like this is the signal to get a move on... Incidentally, we never detect any nitrates. We have plants and a healthy dose of algae so I suspect they get used up before our test kit can detect them. We also had a light fish load, four very small Mollies (balloon variety, they never grew) in 10 gallons (I know, too small, we'll wait until we get the 30 gal we're planning on before we get any more fish, but with the move we've had to buy essential furniture before we can think of a new aquarium). The LFS tells us we can put 10 Mollies in a 10 gallons... (!?!?!?!?!?!) Let's just say we have learned very quickly to take their advice with a big grain of salt :-) pH was always at least 7.5 and climbed very slightly during the winter, high enough that I didn't want to risk most of the fish they sell in the LFS, who need neutral or slightly acidic water. I guess the big problem is with (hardness? alkalinity?), I need to learn what scale it is measured in but the water here is a steady 9. You're going to say too low, I know. We used to add livebearer salt, but after reading your advice (worthless, waste of money, etc. unless used for a specific problem), we stopped adding it to the tank a few months ago. We'll drop by the marine LFS this afternoon and pick up some marine salt. <Ah, you seem to understand what's going on, so there's not really much more to add. Mollies just aren't as easy as everyone thinks, with the result that lots of them (most?) get sick and die rather quickly. I'd compare them to goldfish in this regard -- they seem easy, but they're not. For aquarists who want to stick with freshwater, I always recommend platies or swordtails instead. On the topic of pH and hardness, it's almost always safe not to worry about these (within reason). Most common freshwater fish (as opposed to brackish water ones!) can adapt to a wide range of values, so neons, for example, may *prefer* pH 5.5, near-zero hardness, but they'll *thrive* at pH 8, 20 degrees dH if acclimated to it carefully and otherwise looked after properly. What matters isn't so much the values as the *stability* -- what most fish hate is pH and hardness levels that bounce around. In other words, get fish that are already thriving at the retailer, keep them in your local water conditions, and use good filtration and regular water changes to optimise water quality while diluting the background water chemistry changes that happen in freshwater tanks anyway.> See... sometimes it takes fish dying so that we learn. Another red flag should have been that they've never bred... we thought our male was sterile because try as he may, he could never get one of them pregnant. In retrospect, maybe they were just in the wrong conditions to breed. <Quite possibly. But just as likely the fry got eaten or sucked up the filter or whatever.> > <Why did you use Metronidazole? Ah, well, because the only symptom we had was one dead emaciated fish and one very thin, formerly very plump, fish and we didn't know what she had, and this was recommended by the marine LFS and was the only thing we could find FAST! The local LFS have never heard of a cure for internal parasites. They just let them be. We did our best on short notice. And then we did more research, and found out about Praziquantel and other medicines, and tried to get some locally but *nobody* sells it around here, we called about 6 places, so I tried to mail-order it, but the two Canadian mail-order stores I know of didn't have it in stock, so we ordered Jungle Labs medicated food, which they wouldn't eat, and then we ordered Gel-Tek, which does contain some Prazi, but that didn't work, and finally the mail-order place got some PraziPro in stock, but by the time we tried that I think it was too late and the fish died, with three very visible red tails sticking out of her anus. But at least we'd finally got to the right medicine - I think. <I see. Sounds rather bad luck.> > <This is a dumb question perhaps, but are you sure the problem here is worms? Parasitic worms generally don't cause quick deaths. What you tend to see is a gradual loss of condition or a failure to grow or put on weight. I think this is exactly what we were seeing, but didn't recognize it in time. We've had some of those fish for six months and they haven't grown. It's just so gradual that we don't notice until the fish are too feeble to function properly. They seem fine, and then one morning they're not quite right, and a week later, they're dying. They never get to the not eating stage. I'm not saying their death can't be due to something else, and it might be more than one factor, but my test kit tells me the pH is steady at 7.5 and that there are no nitrates. What I see is fish that won't grow, and that after a few months just stop functioning. When the male died he hadn't chased the females for about a week, maybe more, we just didn't notice at first... I feel bad for not noticing those things, but they happen so gradually... and when we did notice something wasn't quite right we didn't know what the problem was. <OK. Again, you seem to have a sense of what's going on already, so all I can add here is a second opinion. Often, fish deaths come about from multiple small factors acting in concert. Much as with sickness in humans. So you need to watch for the small signs and act swiftly. Odd behaviour is often one of the very best clues, and a lot of experienced fishkeepers will hardly ever need to use test kits because they can spot when things aren't right in established tanks because the fish aren't doing what they should be doing. I don't recommend that approach for beginners of course!> > <PraziPro yes, Metronidazole no. As a rule, unless a qualified animal healthcare professional has said otherwise, you should NEVER mix  medications. Ah, but in this case, we know they can be mixed safely because most general anti-parasite medicines contain at least those two, and sometimes other medicines too. But if you say Metro is worthless in this case, I won't use it. This is my understanding as well, but sometimes we bow to people of superior knowledge, so I was asking just in case, because I have some in my fish medicine cabinet... <I'm not an expert on antibiotics for fish -- they're essentially prescription-only in the UK, so when you get them, the vet will tell you exactly how to use them. I'm happy to let others give you relevant advice here. But me, I prefer to use medications sequentially. It's also important to identify the problem before using the medication; scattergun approaches are risky because many medications can stress the fish, and if they aren't fixing one problem, they could end up causing another. Mollies should be fine, but things like loaches and pufferfish often react badly to medicines, and stingrays and invertebrates can be killed outright. So you need to treat medications with respect. Identify the disease, choose your drug, and look out for side effects.> > <Ah, now the good news here is both Amano shrimps and nerite snails are salt-tolerant, so you can raise the salinity of the tank to SG 1.003-1.005 without problems, should you choose to do so.> Yup, that's exactly what I was planning on when we got the 30 gal. I didn't want to do it with the Cherries in there, because from what I read they're not salt-tolerant at all, and I can't put them with the Betta because he'd rip them apart (he did it before, so we tried some cheap Ghost shrimp, and only found shrimp bits...). I was also trying to find a supplier of Bumblebee Gobies, for the future, and I have lists and lists of salt-tolerant plants, and know the ones we have now *should* make the switch (Bacopa, Anubias, Java fern, and Vallisneria in "quarantine" so we can screen for snails). We're all ready. We just haven't done it yet. <Very good. I'm not sure whether Cherry shrimps are good in brackish or not. I'd personally risk it, at least to SG 1.003. Shrimps tend to be salt tolerant (many, though not Cherries) have a marine stage in their life cycle, as is the case with Amano shrimps. Acclimating slowly is perhaps the key. I keep (and inevitably breed!) Cherry shrimps and have found them to be rather robust animals, for their size. All your plants are good brackish water denizens, and assuming you have enough light and good substrate for them, will adapt readily. You've also got a nice mix there. When people rely solely on slow-growers like Java fern and Java moss, they end up with algae problems. Throwing in some Bacopa and Vallis should help a great deal. Indian fern is another good algae-beater that tolerates low-end brackish.> > <My suspicion is that you're dealing with mollies that are fundamentally stressed, and the worms are at best an "excuse" for them to wave a little white flag and give up.> Then I'll work under this assumption. I promise not to bother you again with my Mollie troubles until they're safely in brackish water. Then, if I'm still having problems, I'll let you have a go at it :-) <Heh! Brackish water doesn't fix everything, and it certainly won't cure infected mollies of things like intestinal worms. But what it does do is make them orders of magnitude more robust, and the salinity also suppresses many external parasites as well as the infective stages of certain internal parasites. This is why brackish water fishes have a reputation for being so hardy.> > <The foods you list should be fine. Do bear in mind mollies are primarily herbivores, and the ratio of green to meaty foods should be of the order 80% to 20%. In fact, feeding them exclusively on vegetable-based fish foods (livebearer flake, Spirulina flake, algae pellets) would be entirely acceptable.> Yes, they've been getting Nori at least a day out of two. I tried peas but they don't eat it, but they do like corn. I'll try broccoli next. Can you believe I haven't ever seen a vegetable-based flake around? Sometimes I feel aquarium shops around here are 20 years behind the times... Even the sinking "algae" pellets have fish flour in them, sometimes even as the first ingredient, so they're not really vegetarian... I've been looking for something called "Spirulina flake" but haven't seen it, just regular flakes with Spirulina among the other ingredients. *sigh*. Maybe I'm simply not looking in the right places. In the meantime, we got some Nori for free at the local sushi place, we just ask for a sheet when we pick up some takeout and with only four small fish, it lasts a long time... and the Amano love it too. <Interesting. I picked up Spirulina in a grocery store called Hy-Vee in Lincoln, Nebraska over Christmas. So I suspect it's a case of looking out for the stuff while you're on your travels. It isn't critical though. You might even grow your own: a plastic goldfish bowl placed outdoors and filled with water will quickly develop a nice flora and fauna including insect larvae and thread algae. Yum, yum! I love taking this approach, because my "live food ponds" become interesting aquaria in their own right.> Interesting unrelated tidbit, our Betta eats everything, either floating, sinking or lying at the bottom of the tank (flake, sinking pellets, Betta food, live shrimp, dead shrimp, bloodworms and brine shrimp, peas, corn, everything we ever put in his tank). He even tried Nori. Well... he tried it the first time we gave it to him, but stubbornly refused to taste it ever again :-) I guess even the most wide-ranging tastes have their limit :-) <Indeed! But that's the right approach to feeding fish. Let them have a little of everything.> Thank you again, and sorry to be such a bother :-) Audrey <Not a problem. Good luck, Neale>
Re: Help with internal parasites, again...  9/7/07
Hi again, everyone! I hope you're having a good week! I'm not - my Mollies are sick. <Oh dear.> I'm leaving the previous correspondence below so you can refer to it, but here are the latest problems. I treated the tank with PraziPro as Neal recommended. On the bottle, it says it may have to be repeated, but not to go over two treatments (3 to 5 days each). <Yes.> After about 6 days of treatment, one of the Mollies that previously looked fine started producing very large poo (more than twice the usual diameter), and then we noticed her anus is very enlarged, as if she's missing some tissue down there. And there's the usual red tail of the Callamanus worm (unconfirmed, but it looks exactly like every picture of Callamanus I've ever seen, so I'm pretty sure of the diagnosis). <OK.> The treatment is now reaching its end. The manufacturers say not to treat more than twice, but the worms are still there, and it's obvious she's not feeling right (who would, with such an injury?). <Indeed. You may want to treat a second time, after doing a couple of 50% water changes across a space of one week.> I've also started increasing the salinity of the water, I'm using real saltwater aquarium salt, not the livebearer salt. The density is probably around .002 now, and I'll keep increasing it over the next few days until it's around .005. <Very good. Monitor the ammonia/nitrite levels if you can, just to make sure the filter is happy. Normally, going up to SG 1.005 causes no problems. But I always recommend going to SG 1.003, and staying there for a week to two. If everything looks fine, you can raise the salinity further. For all practical purposes, most fish happy at SG 1.005 will be happy at SG 1.003.> So, what should I do? Can the fish be saved? <Perhaps.> She doesn't look like she's suffering, even if she's not exactly her usual self. She still eats, she'll be in brackish water soon, I've increased the water changes and she's undergone two PraziPro treatments that everybody tells me should work, but she's still infested. <Brackish water won't do much about internal parasites, that much should be obvious. But it'll help the all-round health.> Any ideas? Should I try PraziPro again? It doesn't seem to be working (and no, there is no carbon in the tank at the moment). Should I just let her be? <I'd certainly give her a "breather" for a couple of weeks before running any more medications. But yes, I'd run the Prazi Pro another time.> We've lost many fish to these worms and I'm starting to get really discouraged. <I've never once had fish with them. Odd. Not sure why you've had such bad luck.> Thank you, once again, Audrey <Good luck, Neale>

Black molly with drooping tail 8/1/07 I purchased two male black mollies about two weeks ago and placed them in an established 25 gal. tank containing a variety of tetras, a couple of Corydoras, and some cherry barbs. One of the males is doing great. The other retreated to a cave, and when he does come out to eat he is immediately attacked by the other male molly. When he does manage to get out his tale fin is rather droopy and somewhat clamped. I moved him over to another tank (35 gal. ) with tetras, silver dollars, Corys, and some neon rosy barbs. They are leaving him alone; he is eating, but his tail still is quite droopy. Is this due to the stress he was under? <Greetings. The first question: is your molly in brackish water or freshwater? Regardless of what you might be told by your retailer, mollies are easier to keep and altogether healthier when kept in brackish water. Your results are precisely and absolutely my experience with mollies: about half of them adapt to freshwater just fine, but half of them don't. This is why I recommend keeping them in brackish water as the default position -- you can't go wrong with it! Mollies require very hard (20+ dH), very alkaline (pH 7.5-8.0) water conditions quite different to those preferred by most freshwater fish. A salinity from SG 1.003 (~15% seawater) to full seawater suits them fine. Nitrates have to be at or close to zero. When kept in anything other than these conditions they are prone to three diseases, fungus, Finrot, and "the shimmies", which is what your molly has. The Shimmies is apparently a neurological disease. It is not treatable and it does not get better by itself. Eventually, the fish will die. The only real "treatment" is to move the molly to a brackish water aquarium where you add marine salt mix (NOT "aquarium salt" or "tonic salt") at a dose of around 6 grammes/litre. Such an aquarium will be perfect for the mollies and also very comfortable for most other livebearers including guppies, Endler's, platies, and swordtails. None of your other fish will do well in this aquarium though. Cheers, Neale.>

Possible sick molly   7/22/07 <<Greetings. Tom with you.>> I have a 20 gal. aquarium. 3 small gold mollies, and 2 medium sized Dalmatian mollies. One of my Dalmatians has turned totally black. Is that normal? <<Given that Black Mollies, and Dalmatian Mollies, are actually a hybrid variation, it's possible that what started out to be a Dalmatian Molly in appearance has undergone a coloration change. Not unusual for fish to change colors, by the way. We hear of this, somewhat regularly, with Goldfish varieties, for example. Generally, when a fish has experienced a trauma (injury) to part of its body, the area will turn black as it heals. For the entire fish to turn black, from black and white, I'd suggest this is genetic in nature. No worries as long as the fish is otherwise healthy.>> And, one of my small gold mollies has stopped eating. The rest of the fish in the tank are still eating normally. But the one fish looks literally like scale and bone. I have removed the fish from the tank so that the other fish stay healthy. <<Can't dismiss the possibility of an internal bacterial infection or, more likely, parasitic infestation here but, sometimes fish get 'bullied' when it comes to feeding time, even among peaceful fish like Mollies. Hard to say based on what you've shared with us.>> I'm fairly new to fish and tank care. I've had this set up for 3 months now. I have been changing water regularly, and changing the filter when needed. <<When you say that you 'change' the filter, are you replacing the media completely or cleaning the media in 'used' aquarium water? You don't send along any of the basic water parameters with your letter but understand that only rarely should the media be replaced and, then, only when appropriate provisions are made to maintain the bio-colonies that the filter media houses. If more than one type of media is used, you should never change all of it at one time. This will send your tank back into, at the very least, a mini-cycle if not something more serious.>> Is there anything I can do for the fish? <<For all of your fish? Certainly. Your Mollies are a brackish water species, not a FW one. Research brackish water tanks and strongly consider slowly transitioning your Mollies to brackish conditions. Sounds far more 'dramatic' than what it really is which is simply adding marine salt in quantities that maintain the specific gravity (salinity, to be less accurate) at brackish levels, about 1.011 to 1.015. Easily accomplished with the use of an inexpensive hydrometer. Frankly, your fish won't be overly particular about the exactness of the SG levels as long as you get them away from a pure FW environment. If this still sounds 'scary', write back to me and we'll go through it together until you're comfortable with the process. Best regards. Tom (By the way, is your name Emmily as posted with your letter? You didn't sign your name which kind of leaves me at a disadvantage. ;) )>>  

Mollies, Platies, and Fungus 7/21/07 WWM Crew, <Hello again!> Hi, I wanted to thank you for all the great advice you have given me so far. It has been a tremendous help. Following Neale suggestions I went off to my LFS to buy a Hydrometer and Marine Salt to convert my tank to brackish water. I also wanted to make arrangements for my Molly fry as I thought it would be bad to go from freshwater to brackish and back to fresh when they go to the LFS for sale. To my extreme horror they did not know what a hydrometer was and had to call the owner. Then the sales girl told me they did not carry marine salt and just to put 1/2 cup "aquarium" salt per 10 gallons in my tank. Gasp, needless to say my babies are not going there and I am looking for a new store. <If you don't have a hydrometer, you can just about get away with weighing the salt. Since seawater has 35 grammes of salt per litre, for 10% seawater, which is a good baseline for mollies, 3.5 grammes of salt per litre should be fine. Since mollies are euryhaline, exact salinity doesn't matter. The only problem here is that once a box of salt is opened, it tends to absorb moisture from the air, so you want to wrap it up tightly and store in an airtight container (like a Tupperware or biscuit tin). Measuring salt by volume, i.e., spoons or cups simply doesn't work because salt will be more or less packed down depending on how it has been transported.> When feeding my fish the next morning I noticed that my Creamcicle Lyre-tail Molly had white fuzzy stuff on her tail and top fin. Previously I noticed a fuzzy white spot on my Red Wag Platies mouth but it went away on its own. After spending quite sometime searching your site I decided a fungal treatment was in order and bought Jungle Fungus Treatment. I also added more "tonic salt" to the aquarium and slowly set the temp to 82 degrees. Water levels still testing good with weekly water changes. After putting the treatment in the tank, The Molly's fuzzy spots are almost gone. But now the white spot is back on the Platies mouth. I'm not quite sure what to do. I have attached pictures of both fish. The picture of the Platy is of bad quality but does show the spot. All fish are eating well and active. <Spots on the mouth are usually a bacterial infection called Mouth Fungus. Combination Finrot/fungus medications usually kill these. As a supplement to treating the tank, dipping the infected fish into seawater for 1-10 minutes at a time (depending on how the fish reacts) will also help by dehydrating the bacteria. Finrot, fungus, and mouth fungus (all caused by different pathogens) tend to follow on from poor water quality, so reflect on the conditions in the tank. Do you have the right pH and hardness? What are the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels? Is the filter big enough and the tank big enough? Do you overfeed? How much water do you change per week. Read through the Livebearer articles here at WWM for some background info.> <Good luck! Neale>

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