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FAQs on the Molly Health/Disease 5

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,

Molly Problems -- 10/02/08 Good Morning, <Hello,> I read through almost all of the information here on your site looking for answers to my issues, and as well searched the web for help to no avail. I have a well cycled freshwater tank. It is a Marineland Eclipse system 12 gal. It's been up and running since May of this year. <Twelve gallons is next to nothing in terms of aquarium stocking -- do be extremely careful what fish you add. Even Guppies are too big/energetic for this tank in the long term. Have written much about the problems of sub-20 gallon systems here at WWM, so please do review.> Water quality is near perfect, and I keep the temp around 76-78 degrees with a digital heater. The first fish introduced to the tank about three weeks after set-up were two small fancy fin zebra Danios. <Too active for this tank... need a tank 60 cm upwards in length once fully grown, given their size and boisterousness. Also, they're schooling fish, so groups of six or more essential. In smaller groups they're definitely unhappy (even if you can't tell) and often become aggressive, chasing and nipping each other and their tankmates. Please do get a fish book from the library or book store, and review the needs of fish PRIOR to purchase.> They did very well, and helped cycle the tank. About three weeks later I purchased two red dwarf gouramis. They did exceptionally well, and were thriving. <For now, anyway... Not my favourite fish for lots of reasons.> Finally I added two Cory catfish to help with tank clean-up. <Clean-up is YOUR job, not theirs. Moreover, Corydoras need to be kept in groups of six or more. Few species are small enough for you to keep six specimens in twelve gallons of water. Only "dwarf" species like Corydoras hastatus and Corydoras habrosus would be viable. Peppered catfish (Corydoras paleatus) are the most commonly traded species, but at up to 7 cm long, they're WAY too big for a 12 gallon tank.> All was well until a few days ago I decided to add some Mollies to the tank. I was told by the pet store that adding mollies would be okay, for the other fish I had were community fish. <Again, read a book. Almost all problems in fishkeeping can be avoided this way. Mollies are FAR FROM ideal community fish, not least of all because they need very specific environmental conditions to thrive, ideally brackish water conditions.> So I purchased two platinum Lyretail mollies, and one black Sailfin molly. The Sailfin molly died within 12 hours. She seemed fine, but then I found here floating upside down. That was weird, but I figured maybe she was unstable to begin with and the shock of the move did her in. I pulled the dead fish out and went to bed ( I leave a small red led light on at night so the fish are not in total darkness. good idea or bad?) <Neither, but a waste of electricity so for the sake of global warming, how about switching it off...?> So anyway, in the morning one Gourami was dead, fins eaten, and scales missing, and the other Gourami was being hunted down and eaten alive. <Hmm... could be many things going on here. For a start, two male Colisa lalia will not coexist in 12 gallons. One will become dominant, and the other will be (at best) bullied and at worst stressed to death, unable to feed normally. Next up, mass produced Colisa lalia are of such abysmally poor quality that no-one in their right mind should buy them (at least not without a one-year guarantee!). Have written about this here and elsewhere so do review. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/anabantoids.htm  Thirdly, Gouramis and Mollies have utterly different water chemistry requirements, so anything suitable for one will be harmful to the other.> By the time I realized what was happening it was basically too late for him. He was already battered, and they were relentless in their pursuit. So I pulled him out and euthanized him with seltzer water. <That's not euthanasia, that's a horrible way to go! Where'd that idea come from? It's basically dropping a fish into an acid bath... do think back to your High School chemistry: CO2 plus water = carbonic acid. Nothing there particularly good for giving your fish a painless, rapid death. Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasiafaqs.htm > The mollies were acting like a pair of piranhas. Now the next day I notice that one of the mollies lips and mouth are red and swollen with almost bloody spots at the corners of his mouth. His eyes are wide with stress, and he appears to be in pain. What is going on here? <What's the water chemistry? Be under no illusions here: Mollies MUST HAVE hard, alkaline water around pH 7.5-8.2, hardness 15+ degrees dH. They are infinitely healthier in brackish water around SG 1.003 upwards. They are extremely intolerant of ammonia, nitrite, and even nitrate. Being herbivores, they will not stay healthy given a non-herbivorous diet. All these things are amply discussed in the literature and here at WWM. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm In small tanks they never do well because of their sensitivity to rapid pH changes and nitrate accumulation. Even 20 gallons is too small for them, especially given some varieties will reach 10-15 cm in length. Recommend not less than 30 gallons if you want even half a chance of keeping Mollies properly.> I left him in the tank to watch to see if the culprit is the other molly attacking him, but she never touches him. She swims near then darts away. Within a few hours this molly is dead. So I have now just one molly and my cories. Now today I notice that her mouth is swollen and pink. Her lips are bumpy rather than smooth, and she is acting weird. <Could be Mouth Fungus (also known as Columnaris) but equally easily Finrot or even incipient Fungus. Extremely common when Mollies are kept in freshwater conditions. Just to make this point clear to all our readers -- Mollies just aren't "good" freshwater aquarium fish, and inexperienced aquarists should NEVER keep them thus. Stick them in a brackish water tank and they're tough as nails, and in saltwater tanks can be used to cycle filters from scratch! All good clues to what these fish actually want, as opposed to what we sometimes try to foist onto them.> Just sitting stationary in one corner near the heater. <Likely "the Shimmies", again, very common.> I've never seen a problem like this, nor seen mollies act so violently. <Unlikely the Mollies killed the Gouramis, though adding new fish to an overstocked aquarium could easily tip the balance such that the "surplus" fish died. That said, male Mollies are mutually aggressive, and again, that's why they need BIG TANKS.> Can you please give me some advice, for it looks like I'll be restocking soon for all my fish have died. I am at a loss. Help! Thank you!!! <Please, first thing you do is grab a pH and hardness test kit and establish what your water conditions are. Then go read a book of fish species, and when you see a species you like, cross-check its requirements with what you have in your tank. If you have soft, slightly acidic water, then tetras and barbs will be fine, but livebearers and many cichlids won't be appropriate. Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestk.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstksel.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestocking.htm Now, I'll tell you that in a mere 12 US gallons your choices are extremely limited for all kinds of reasons to do with activity, adult size, sensitivity to pH changes, and so on. Avoid anything above 2.5-3 cm in length, and don't pick anything noted for being either aggressive or an active swimmer. Neon tetras, gobies, Kuhli loaches, pygmy Corydoras species, shrimps and snails are all good choices for very small tanks.> Joanne from New Jersey <Cheers, Neale.>

Mystery Mollie Illness? Reading   8/24/08 Hi there! Thank you so much for taking time out of your lives to create this site for us. In my ten gallon tank <Mmm, small... volumes are hard to keep stable> I currently have three bronze cories, one Otocinclus, two silver mollies, two Dalmatian mollies, and a Crowntail Betta ( perhaps you'll tell me it's overcrowded but I have not had any problems with nipping or bullying.) I'm having some problems with one of my female silver mollies. Her dorsal is clamped and she has a slight pink hue on the top of her head between her eyes. She also has a dusting of tiny black spots across her body and the edge of her dorsal is black when looking at it from the top. Her gills also seem a bit more pink than usual. I thought it was fin rot, but after a round of Melafix <... not a fan. Little practical use, and can malaffect nitrification> and Tetracycline I didn't see any improvements. I treated the whole tank but am now considering separating her and beginning anti-parasitic treatments. I was thinking of velvet as an initial possibility, but the spots seem too dark for that. All the other fish seem fine. All advice would be most appreciated!! Oh, and water conditions are: pH - 7.0 Temp - 78 F Nitrates, Nitrites, and Ammonia are all at 0 <Good> I also add a few teaspoons of aquarium salt and Aquarisol <Mmm, I wouldn't use this... the copper is too toxic> every time I change the water (about 50% every two weeks) along with the typical water conditioner. It is a lightly planted tank with gravel substrate. Thank you so much! <I suspect the usual trouble with mixing Mollies here... Inappropriate environment. Please read Neale's piece here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm  and the linked Disease FAQs above. Bob Fenner>

Molly and Platy "issues"   6/22/08 Hello again And once again I must extend my gratitude for all the support you lend to us "novice" fish-keepers and our finned-friends. <We're happy to help.> To start I am attaching a picture of my mama speckled molly....As I hope you can see, she has developed this "wart-like" growth above her eye. It has gotten a little bigger over the last few days but her personality hasn't really changed much. She is still eating like a champ but she might not be swimming around as much as usual, its hard to tell now that I have taken the male molly that used to chase her daily out of the tank (for different reasons). My water parameters all check out (0,0,10) and this started before I added my most recent additions. I did lose my 2 German rams over the last 3 weeks for unknown reason (I suspect its because my husband accidentally unplugged one of the heaters twice overnight when he turned off the light and since they are so sensitive the 5 degree dip in temp (usually hovers around 80 but went down to 75 both times) because they each passed around the times that this happened. At any rate, back to the molly...What on earth do you think this is? Should I QT her? How do I treat it (if I can)? Do I need to worry about my other fish in the tank? <I'm not 100% sure, but this looks a lot like Lymphocystis. This a non-contagious (or at least only weakly contagious) viral disease caused (almost certainly) by environmental issues. The bad news is that it can't be treated. The good news is that it doesn't kill fish and usually goes away by itself (though this may take months). No need to quarantine her. Strong need to review the environment, for example is the carbonate hardness nice and high, are you using enough marine salt mix, does she get enough algae to eat, and so on. All the usual Molly stuff. In any case, the "growth" is certainly some sort of cyst, and as such not likely to be either treatable or dangerous.> My second issue is housed in my QT tank (my main reason for not putting my molly girl in there just yet) I emailed you guys about this problem a few weeks back and didn't really get an answer (I think it was Neale and he sounded just as baffled as I was) I have had this female platy in there for many many months now (I'll attach a photo of her too just in case you can see something that I can't) and she has lived though numerous treatments of every medication known to tropical fish (mainly because my QT tank is the only QT tank for both mine and my dad's tanks and every sick fish is treated in there) Her spinning/flipping/darting has never improved nor gotten worse. I am still stumped on what to do with her and I am really tempted to just put her back in my main tank so I don 't have to continue keeping this tank running for her. (not that I mind all that much but I am sure she is bored in a bare tank all by herself.) <She looks fine.> To repeat the story, It started at least 4-5 months ago about a week after I got her home from the fish store (okay, wasn't really a fish store...I'll admit my momentarily lapse of judgment and admit I bought her at W**-Mart...Not the smartest thing, I know) ..I noticed she was having trouble staying upright and upon closer inspection I noticed that one of her gills not only looked a little torn but it looked like it had a severe internal hemorrhage. She would swim erratically, dart, spin, hide, and for the first few weeks wouldn't eat. I thought she was a goner for sure. Well, after a while her gill healed, she began eating and swimming around but, she would still have frequent episodes of spinning, flipping, swimming on her side and basically freaking out. They don't last forever but do happen often...she can still swim normally but for the most part just hangs out in the corner. Her color has gotten lighter but I don't know if that just because I keep the tanks lights off the majority of the time or what. I am hoping that someone has some idea what this is, if I could return her to one of my main tanks, and/or how to treat it. I used to think it was "whirling" disease but considering she isn't a trout and she has lived so long I don't think that this is the case. <Quite so.> I have also considered parasites but like I said, she has undergone every treatment (including every parasite treatment) and still spins/flips/darts. She has had some noted improvement and that I think occurred around the time I was treating one of my dads molly's for parasites but I can't say for sure. Any advice on these matter would be greatly appreciated. <Absolutely no idea what this is!> Respectfully, Grace <Don't think anything too serious, so provided all else is perfect, would leave this fish figure out their own problems. Could be genetic issues for example, or exposure to heavy metals at some point in their life. Variety of things. Good luck, Neale.>

Heeelllppp... molly dis.  - 06/08/2007 Hey guys, Alia here. I'm having trouble with my female creamcicle molly. Two nights ago I found six fry in my 20 gallon tank that I keep at a SG of 1.010. The water qualities were at GH 180, KH 200, pH 7.5, and nitrites and nitrates at 0. The GH is too high so just added a water softener pillow last night (2 oz should lower GH 80 ppm). I am assuming that these fry are from her, because last time she had fry, before I added the other fish (black and Dalmatian mollies) it was a small batch as well. (sorry I forgot to mention that I have 6 other mollies in the tank 1 other male creamcicle, 2 black mollies 1 female 1 male, 2 Dalmatian mollies both females, and 1 silver molly). Then, yesterday I found around 40 fry, which I am assuming are from my female black molly because her stomach has recently deflated after having a mighty large belly for some weeks. I removed most of the fry and added them to my 10 gallon tank. There are about 30-35 in the 10 gallon as of now. <Will be crowded> There are around 8-10 fry in the 20 gallon. Those in my 20 gallon have plenty of hiding places: floating plants, rock sculpture, plastic plants. I am wondering how I can keep these molly fry. I plan on finding them homes and/or passing them on to a respected fish store once they mature. Is that too many fish to have in either one of my tanks? Now, on to Laila, my creamcicle molly. I've noticed that she is hanging around the top of the tank and keeping to herself. She is still eating, however she is not as aggressive at getting the food as she once was. Her caudal fin is drooping a little and her coloration is on the dull side. I noticed a change in her scaling on her stomach. It has a darker grey shade to it and it almost looks like some scales are missing. In addition, her feaces are white and not solid. <Mmmm> It looks like there is a string that is connecting the clumps of fecal matter together. I am assuming the change in feaces are from an internal parasite. However, I don't know what is causing the grayness on her underside. <Could be just "age"... is it only the one fish that is affected?> I have a book on fish health and I cannot seem to find anything that talks about different coloration. What do you think this is, and how can I treat her?? I only have two tanks and one of them is a fry nursery so I cannot isolate her in that without risking the lives of those fry. What is causing this? <Perhaps a good idea to isolate the one fish... but I do not think this situation is pathogenic... i.e. that it's borne of a parasitic or infectious agent. Otherwise all would be affected. I would not treat this system, fish per se> Thank you so much for any help. You guys are life savers! [p.s. My blank male molly is very territorial with my silver molly. He chases her around the tank all the time. Could this be his way of trying to keep the gene pool clean by chasing away the "genetically impaired" silver molly? <Interesting speculation... I would move either one... separate them> I love my silver molly, Ira, and I would love to keep her, however is she getting bullied to much by Nile? Should I give her back to the fish store? I really want to keep her, so if there is a way to keep her, I will!] Thanks again!!! <Sometimes giving such aggressive fish a "time out" by placing them in isolation (a floating trap or net... even a small plastic colander) for a few days will "take the spit" out of them... Bob Fenner>
Re: Heeelllppp. Molly hlth.  -- 6/8/08
Hi Bob, <Alia> I added two tablets of Jungle Parasite Clear last night. I thought it might have been a parasite infection because her tail was kinked at the tips-she's a Lyretail. Anyway her coloration looks better ad her tail is no longer kinked. The reason why I added the parasite clear was I noticed her "huffing", like she is short of breath. She is still huffing. <Let's hope this fish recovers from whatever the cause is here... Do you have detectable nitrates?> How long do you recommend isolating Nile? <A week or so> Thank you! <Welcome! BobF>
e: Heeelllppp, sick molly  -- 6/9/08
The 5 in 1 test strips <Mmm, do look into a more accurate means... simple liquid colorimetric... is much better> showed 5 or less ppm of nitrates. I am not sure how old she is. I bought her and Blade, a cremecicle Lyretail as well, around August of last year. They were both full grown. I've read that mollies live for 3-4 years. Maybe it is just from old age. <Likely so> Blade looks a little lethargic as well. The other fish are just fine. Do you think her heath problem could be from her pregnancy? Thanks! <Perhaps related. B>

Sick Dalmatian Molly 5/27/2008 Hello Bob! My Dalmatian molly has recently got a white growth (it looks kind of puffy) on its tail and right above one of its eyes. I have one other molly in with it in a 10 gallon aquarium. <There's one problem. Mollies are very intolerant of poor water conditions, particularly pH changes and high levels of nitrogenous waste, including nitrate. In a 10 gallon tank there's realistically no way you can maintain stable pH and good water quality.> They had fry a few weeks ago and I was getting ready to put them all together when I notices the growth. I watched him (it's a male) for a while and noticed he looked sick. He lays on the bottom of the tank unless he gets disturbed and when we swims he doesn't swim in a straight line and his body looks bent. My other molly sucked on him a few times while I was watching. I haven't gotten my water tested lately, but I'm going to get it tested tomorrow. I don't know what to do! I'm a beginner with tropical fish. <Mollies aren't beginners' fish. They need very hard, very clean water with a basic pH. Ideally they should be kept in brackish water, and frankly they don't tend to do well kept otherwise. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm  Add 3-6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre and your Mollies health will dramatically improve.> I was wondering if I should isolate him in a separate tank and treat him for ICH or something, or if maybe I should just let him be and see if he would stick through it and get healthy again. <Almost certainly Finrot and/or Fungus, so use a medication that treats both. Maracyn, eSHa 2000, or equivalent. Skip Melafix type products; they're unreliable.> This is urgent so please reply as soon as possible. I'm going to a local pet store tomorrow to ask some questions, but they have never been much help before. If you can help me that would be great. I hope I gave you enough information. Thanks a bunch, Amanda <Cheers, Neale.>

Weird Molly issue... env. hlth.  5/27/2008 Hey Crew, Just a little background, I grew up with fish tanks in my room and have always had fish... however mostly hardy cichlids, Kribs an convicts and the like. My mother had a 500 gallon reef tank in my room when I was a kid, she sells to local pet shops. She taught the importance of water changes and chemistry. She got me hooked at 6 with a comet goldfish that I had for 18 years. "Mary Kay" was 38 inches <... not a goldfish... perhaps a carp of some sort> when a freak accident involving a cat and an aquarium hood ended her life... Anyway... I digress. <I'll say!> My Issue is I just recently decided to acquire some Mollies and have had them for about 5 months... <...? Recently... five months?> Have had multiple "broods" of fry.. gave A LOT of mollies away... lol I have a 55 gallon long custom made tank (weird measurements) was a hand me down from Mom... it had a breeding pair of angels in it last Feb.. and sat empty for awhile.. all new freshly washed gravel (about 1/2 inch cover on bottom). 2 sponge filters from other tanks (so I had starter bacteria, one on each end of the tank. no ammonia spikes noticed in weekly testing) also I have a whisper external filter. lots of aeration ( 5, 4 in stones) (mollies are dirty fish, and need extra filtration I've read) <Agreed> feed every other day and alternate flake and live blood worms or freeze dried shrimp once a week. (they also eat the unfortunate insects that happen to fall in) nitrites 0 ammonia 0 ph 7.6 nitrates are about 25 as of last testing (2 days ago) <Too high for Mollienesia> there is about 3-4 tablespoons per 15 gallons salt 76 degree f water. we have somewhat hard water.. (artesian spring fed "well") there are 10 mollies and a Cory cat (to eat up leftovers :D) 3 Sailfins, (1 crème-sickle female, a gold-dust Lyretail female and red eyed sunset male) 2 platinum molly females (1 Lyretail, 1 normal) 2 marbled females, (about 50% blk and 50% white 1 Lyretail, 1 normal) 1 black normal tailed female, 1 Dalmatian normal tailed female (mostly white with a few chocolate colored spots, red eyed :D) 1 "tuxedo" normal tailed female (don't know what else to call her looks like she's wearing a tux of "pepper" :D) and about 15 to 20 (all that made it from the original 30 or so) nearly 1/2 in fry (fry are leaving next week, most are tux patterned like the mother) Also have several sword plants and java's and crypts of different varieties and 5 or 6 "bunches" of hornwort (great filtering plant!!!) (plants came from a different established tank that had some of my mothers cobra guppies) I do 10 to 15 % water changes weekly and 50% every month vacuum the gravel with the big changes...( water is generally pretty clear though). I'm not really a novice but have never had a problem with anything more serious than Ick every now and then. Never had mollies before either :P (usually if the power goes out in the winter and there is a temp fluctuate, power goes out at least once a winter.. don't know why though.. lol but then the Ick strikes....) the fish are quite friendly and "beg" for their supper my boyfriend (having never been around fish before) thinks its about the neatest thing to watch lol (I think he's getting "hooked") ok BACK to the issue.. The "tux" female "Sally" had fry 17 days ago then suddenly she had what looked like salt sprinkled on her tail.. I thought, "oh great Ick,"... but then it "morphed" into very fine almost invisible, strings of cottony stuff on her tail and pectoral fins ONLY. no damage to them just the "goo" as I have started calling it. Not on her dorsal or anal fins either... I moved her to a 5 gallon hex "hospital tank" and added in another tablespoon of salt... (she doesn't seem to mind one bit) there is no Dashing or itching... she is active and her appetite is great (sides a tad "sunk in" but she had 30 fry or so geez :P) I treated for Ick with some "tonic" (brand name...contains meth blue/Acriflavine (sp?)/malachite green) it temporarily stained the "goo" but it didn't go away. also treated with some Maracyn AND when that had no effect Ampicillex (spendy stuff!!) still with no results, Ill assume her immune system got "messy" due to the stress of the big baby load, but really I would love to get her back in the tank... all the other fish are great with the exception of the other molly that is also in isolation...(but having 2 hospital tanks is taxing me lol..) What else should be tried... haven't treated for parasites really because it doesn't look like them... what do you think? <I would address the nitrate issue and return this fish to the main tank> The other fishy is the crème-sickle female molly "Cindy" She has been isolated for 6 weeks. WAY before Sally gave birth. She had great color and it slowly faded a bit as she was getting chased relentlessly by the male " Randy" (cause face it he IS randy lol). she then got this weird "salting" look on the top of her head and now it looks like there is a "hole" about the size of a pencil lead that is "whiter" but NOT fuzzy, no irritation, redness or swelling... . it has remained completely the same for 5 weeks. her appetite is great and otherwise she looks healthy and robust. treated her with the "tonic" and when it didn't work I upped her salt and switched to a bit o' meth blue for preventative... I am pretty sure this isn't normal I have seen quite a few of these fishes and never have seen this before. I just don't think its a fungus either because of the lack of "fuzzy" It doesn't seem to bother her. she isn't itching on anything. My mom assumes that's she's normal and I should put her back in with the rest, I would like a second opinion. <Something going on here parasite wise... but can't discern from your writing or pix what it is> My mother came and looked at them both.. has no idea on sally as the treatments have failed... I have spent a lot of money on Sally's mystery illness, and do not wish to stress Cindy by treating her with ineffective drugs... I do apologize for the poor quality images... but you can see some of the fuzz on sally and the area of the hole on Cindy... do you have any idea how hard it is to take pics of fish??!!! <This I do> There isn't a knowledgeable fish shop in the area, they know less than we do and usually call my mom for questions like this. I am so sorry for being long winded, I get to rambling.. lol At wits end, Amanda <I think the system (other than the NO3) is likely fine... I would try bolstering these fishes immune system with improved feeding... Perhaps "try" a routine of one time treatment with Metronidazole/Flagyl AND a vermifuge... (Praziquantel)... Bob Fenner>


Help!! Molly Tank Disaster 05/20/08 Dear Neal, <Hello,> I am having lots of problems with my 40G molly tank at the moment (Brackish water). <What is the salinity? "Teaspoon per gallon" quantities of salt aren't adequate for brackish water aquaria, and have little impact on Molly health. You want around SG 1.003-1.005, or about 6-9 grams sea salt mix per litre.> 2 weeks ago I cleaned up some decorations in the 40 gallon tank and put them back in. A few days later I found detectable nitrite level in the water (0.15~0.2ppm) for maybe 3 days. <Unlikely the decorations caused the problem.> I made a few 25% water change every day and use Seachem's prime & stability. Finally nitrite went down to zero last Tuesday. However, at the same time some of mollies start to get mouth fungus / eye fungus (or cloud) / body fungus. I tried to put them in QT for medication but it cured only half of them. Two are even getting worse. (I am using Furan compounds). <Mollies invariably react to Nitrite this way. This is why they're not beginner's fish. You often see black Mollies turning grey in front of your eyes as the mucous pours out of their skins. Assuming you treat with a suitable Fungus/Finrot medication, they should get better, especially in brackish water. Do see this article for suitable combination medications: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwfishmeds.htm  In the US, Maracyn is the drug of choice, but I have no personal experience of antibiotics with fish. Here in the UK, it's organic dyes like those in eSHa 2000 that are used instead, and that product at least works extremely well.> Every morning I find 2 more sick fish in the big tank. I do not have any extra QT to use. I guess I have to medicate the whole tank now. These are all males so they are very aggressive to each other. This makes the treatment less effective. <Your observation here is spot on. Male Mollies, and indeed male livebearers generally, can be extremely aggressive towards one another. Again, this is why I recommend to people not to treat Mollies as "easy" fish. They're not! They're actually quite difficult to look after over a long period. Beautiful fish, yes, but difficult. Maybe not coral reef tank difficult, but still a challenge. Generally, you must make sure the males aren't overcrowded and also that females outnumber the males (ideally two to one). Whilst males shouldn't damage one another when they fight, they can do, and you sometimes see nips and missing scales, presumably following fights.> Also, I notice maybe 4 or 5 mollies have these on them, mainly on the top of their head. They look like scratches, shinny blue silver color. I wish it is not velvet. <Suspect this is likely mucous between the scales, though possibly fungus on the body. Either way, treat with Maracyn or an organic dye like eSHa 2000.> I saw this when one molly was very small, not obvious. I assumed it was just his identity. Now fish grow bigger and these show more. Is it normal? If this is velvet, is it possible the sick fish can live such long? And only 4 or 5 mollies have them in the whole tank. (I would say the fish have been in the tank for 7 months.) No new fish were ever added to the tank at all. <Velvet wouldn't likely come "out of the blue", which again makes me think this is likely a reaction to water quality, i.e., the nitrite. Mollies rapidly lose condition when sick in this way, and can be dead within a few weeks. So prompt treatment is helpful. With Mollies (and indeed other salt-tolerant fish) I like to do seawater dips on a daily basis. This helps clean up the "wounds" on the outside of the fish. Used with medication, the results are very good. A seawater dip is easy: add 35 grams of marine salt mix (or even cooking sea salt) to a litre of aquarium water. Stir well until it dissolves. Grab the fish in a net, and dip for 2-20 minutes depending on your intuition. The idea is to dip the fish for long enough the bacteria and fungi on the skin are killed, but the fish is OK. With Mollies, 5-10 minutes should be easily safe, but if you see the fish roll over as if it has lost balance, pull the fish out and put back in the aquarium. Repeat the next day or daily until the fish is better.> I took a couple of pictures to show what I saw. Hope you can help me to identify. <Looks consistent with my thoughts above.> Thanks for your time and help. Kathy <Good luck, Neale.>


Help!! Molly Tank Disaster 05/21/08 Hi Neale, <Kathy,> Thanks for your quick reply. The salinity in this tank is 1.002~1.003. Should I add more salt? <That should be fine.> However, I always use Seachem Livebearer Salt as I used to have plants in the tank. <Not a big fan of "livebearer salt" mixes; they tend to be more expensive than marine salt mix per kilo, and moreover don't necessarily have the right balance of salinity with carbonate hardness. For Mollies, you need both of these things. The sodium chloride itself helps with detoxifying nitrite and nitrate, but the carbonate hardness is what helps to maintain a steady pH. The Seachem web site isn't very clear about what precisely Seachem Livebearer Salt actually is; they say it has "minimal" sodium chloride for example. Marine salt mix is mostly sodium chloride, but with a large proportion of other mineral salts such as calcium carbonate.> My water source is very hard already. Can I still use Ocean Salt? <I'd actually recommend it.> Also, if I start to switch, will the mixed salt types in the water safe and okay for the fish? <Perfectly safe. Provided your fish and plants are salt-tolerant, it shouldn't make much difference to them. Many plants are surprisingly salt-tolerant, but the big favourites for brackish water tanks are Java fern, Java moss, Anubias, Vallisneria, Hygrophila, some of the Cryptocorynes, and Indian Fern.> I agree Mollies are not beginner's fish and they need lots of attention & care. (I am into this hobby just for 1 year... sometimes thought I finally knew what I was doing but still can sometimes get into troubles and do not know what to do next.) Until I manage these difficult mollies will I consider having a saltwater tank... maybe in 10 years!! <Funnily enough, Mollies are bomb-proof in saltwater tanks! Before we had things like living rock to quickly mature marine tanks, Mollies were widely used to mature saltwater tanks. At least for a short period, relatively high levels of ammonia and nitrite rarely did them much harm in marine conditions. Strange but true.> I have Maracyn, Maracyn two and Maroxy on hand. Their guide shows it's okay to all of them at the same time. So, perhaps I should use them all to get the situation under control first. Maracyn is available for freshwater and saltwater. I always use the one formulated for freshwater. Is this right? <Yes, this is correct. But at your salinity, the freshwater version should be fine.> This morning I gave the FUN guys a Methylene Blue dip. The instruction says "no more than 10 seconds", so I was very careful when putting the fish in. Thanks for your suggestion re seawater dip. I'll start giving them the dip tomorrow. Hope these mollies will get well soon. <I find saltwater dips very useful. Freshwater dips are standard issue treatments for saltwater fish, but the reverse isn't widely done any more. Back in the past, it was actually quite common to use saltwater dips because the range of off-the-shelf medications was more limited. While you can't use saltwater dips on all freshwater fish, salt-tolerant fish like livebearers, cichlids and puffers can benefit from them, particularly when used alongside an antibiotic or antibacterial.> Yours truly, Kathy <Sincerely, Neale.>

Sick molly 5/17/08 I had a female silver molly that started to swim vertically with her nose pointed upward. I had suspected she might be in labor so I waited before doing anything. Two days later, 13 fry appeared, but when I found the female she was dead. The babies, so far, are all happy and healthy in a two-way breeder, but now the male silver molly is showing the same symptoms that the female did. He swims vertically every now and then and looks as though he has to put extra effort into swimming anywhere. I started to notice an orange-ish coloring along the top of his top fin and it spread to his sides so that there's an almost metallic orange sheen to him. Just today I've noticed dark grey vertical lines on his sides. He still eats and gets around, but he's definitely not doing great. (None of my other fish; Platies, tetras, guppies, snails, ghost shrimp, have any problems) I hope you can help. Thank you so much in advance. <Greetings. By the sounds of things, the Molly has Finrot. The "orange" you're seeing is (I'm guessing) inflamed, dying tissue under attack from Aeromonas/Pseudomonas bacteria. Understand this: Mollies simply do not do well in freshwater. Yes, Mollies are freshwater fish in the wild, but for reasons to do with osmoregulation, pH changes, and/or nitrate sensitivity, they do far better in brackish water aquaria. So, with that said, you likely need to add marine salt mix to the aquarium for Mollies to be a long term success. Apart from the Guppies, Shrimps, and possibly Platies, none of your other livestock will tolerate brackish water. This is why experienced fishkeepers make the point that Mollies *are not community fish*. They never have been and never will be. But unfortunately aquarium shops stock them and sell them as community fish. So your predicament is not at all uncommon. Obviously you need to start by treating for Finrot. Maracyn (in the US) is the drug of choice; elsewhere antibacterials like eSHa 2000 should be used. Avoid Melafix/Pimafix-type things. Also read my article on Mollies, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm  Hope this helps, Neale.>

HELP!! I have a sick molly! 05/08/08 Hey guys, it's Alia again! You were so helpful last time, I didn't think I would need your assistance again. I have a 10 gallon brackish tank with five mollies (I'm getting a new one though! :) I have a twenty gallon long tank setup). The pH, in my ten gallon tank, is 7.8, alkalinity 240 ppm, hardness 185 ppm, nitrite 0 ppm, nitrate 20 ppm. I know the nitrate is, currently, too high. I replaced the carbon filter last night, hoping that it would help lower the nitrate levels along with frequent water changes (once-a-week). Anyway, on to my sick molly. Blade, my male molly that is sick, has been rather lethargic for the past two weeks. I separated him from the rest of the mollies, with a tank divider, for a couple of days. He is now back with the others and I just noticed that he shivered and he looked like his skin was itchy. He tried rubbing against a tank ornament. I checked and he didn't have any white spots due to Ick; however he swims around with his dorsal and posterior fins sagging moderately. I know I've read about a disease with symptoms similar to this. My problem is that I can't remember what the disease is and how to cure it. Please help me save my little Blade! Thank you so much!! <Not sure precisely what this disease is; could be "the shimmies". Do also look for signs of Finrot and Fungus. If "the shimmies", then optimal water quality, plus reasonably brackish water (around 9 grammes of salt per litre) should do the trick. "Teaspoon per gallon" amounts of salt *do not* make brackish water, and won't help. 9 grammes of salt is about 1.5 level teaspoons of salt, and that's about how much you need per litre for greatest chance of success. Cheers, Neale.>

Black molly, red protrusion... Camallanus   4/25/08 Hi, We have a black female molly that has a red string protruding from it's anus. She was born January 20, 2008. She is in a 29 gallon tank with 5 brothers and sisters, 2 silver female, 1 silver male, 1 black female and 1 black male. There is also 2 adult silver female, 1 adult yellow female and 1 adult male guppy. We change 25% of the water on Sunday's. We can't figure out what the protrusion could be. It almost looks like feces when I feed them blood worms, but they haven't had any for a week and it's bigger in diameter. It's bright red in color and hasn't moved for 2 days. I'm thinking about pulling on it to remove it. She also doesn't have an appetite. Any information would be helpful. Thank You, Grant <Likely Camallanus or other parasitic worm. Try inserting this term, and "Molly disease" in the search tool here: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm  reading the cached views. Bob Fenner>

Dead Molly Baby   4/20/08 Hi everyone. I love your site and find it very helpful. I am hoping you can answer a molly question for me. My mama molly had a baby (just one) on Wednesday. First of all, I thought she would have a whole bunch because she was really big. I had put her in a breeder net about a week ago and I made sure I had plenty of fake plants in the net for the babies to hide in. Well, Friday the baby was dead. I found it at the bottom of the net on the gravel. What do you think could have happened? I have a total of 4 mollies and 2 goldfish in the 10 gal tank. I am getting rid of the goldfish because I have learned they need different water conditions than mollies, and they are too big for a 10 gallon. All my fish seem fine. I think I have another pregnant molly, but not too sure yet. Should I put her in the net when she gets closer to having the babies or should I leave her free in the tank? I want to raise mollies really bad. I think they are really pretty and fun fish to watch. Any suggestions besides getting rid of the goldfish? Thanks for your help! Shona <Hello Shona. You say your fish "seem fine" and yet you have dead baby fish. So things obviously *are not* fine. Let's take things from the top. 10 gallons is too small for either Goldfish or Mollies, let alone both. You will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to maintain good water quality. This isn't a topic up for debate, and when we say this here at WWM, it's on the basis of decades of experience. Mollies need at least 20 gallons, and Goldfish honestly need 30 gallons upwards. So yes, they need new tanks. Next up, Mollies are an order of magnitude hardier when maintained in brackish water. Again, there's no point debating this, because it's a statement of fact you ignore at your peril. Thirdly, Mollies must never be put in breeding traps. Mollies are too big and easily stressed. Among other things they miscarry, and that's likely what happened here. Breeding traps have almost no useful function in fishkeeping, and are mostly a way of allowing shops to get lots of money from inexperienced fishkeepers in return for cheap bits of plastic. If you want to raise Mollies, here what you do: transfer the females to a 20 gallon aquarium filled with brackish water and with a high level of carbonate hardness (using 3-6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre should take care of both salinity and hardness; don't waste your money on "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt"). Add lots of floating plants. Every day, check the plants for baby fish, and remove them to the 10 gallon tank, filled with water of identical water chemistry. There's a reason fish farms rear Mollies in brackish water: it works! Your Goldfish should of course be kept in a 30 gallon tank with regular (not brackish) water, or better yet a pond. This is what you need to do for successful fishkeeping. Your move. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dead Molly Baby   4/20/08 Thanks for the advice. As soon as I find a new home for the goldfish they are gone. I'll not use the breeder net again! Do you think that is what killed the baby? <Difficult to say precisely, but certainly one of the more probable factors. When you find dead baby fish immediately after birth, they've either been snapped at by the mother, or simply miscarried. In either case, a breeding trap is a probable cause.> Any particular kind of floating plants that you would recommend. I have lots of plants (fake) on the bottom, but no floaters. <Hornwort and plain vanilla pondweed ("Elodea") do just fine. Neither costs much, and they can be replaced cheaply and easily if they start looking a bit sad. Plastic plants left floating at the top will work just as well.> I'm looking for a bigger tank for my mollies. Thanks for the help! <You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Troubled Mollie, hlth.    4/20/08 Hello! I have been on your web site all day now trying to find what could be wrong with my fish. Here is the scoop. I have a 10 gallon tank that has been up and running for about a month and a half now. I am a newbie to the world of fish..... and have learned quite a bit in this short amount of time. In my tank I have two pot bellied mollies, one black Mollie, one serpae tetra, one star burst platy, and four striped Danios. I do use aquarium salt in the tank, and just recently did a 50% water change two days ago. The temp hangs around 80 degrees F. I have been testing the water every other day.? Here are the results from today: PH 7.2, Ammonia 0.5, Nitrite 0.25, Nitrate 0. The Problem One of my pot bellied mollies has not been swimming right. He was staying on the top of the tank in a corner for a day or so, with his tail clamped and wasn't able to stay balanced, I thought he was dying, but he seemed to pull out of it and is now in the middle of the tank. But, he still seems to swim off balanced, like he has Parkinson's disease. He has no spots, or growths. He will occasionally rub on some of the decorations. My other pot bellied Mollie will also occasionally rub on some of the decor. All of the other fish are acting normal. I have asked people in my local fish store and have read the other sick Mollie posts, but I still don't know what could be wrong. I figured you guys would be able to help. Thanks, Lauren <Hi Lauren. What you describe is a neurological disease often called "the Shimmies" by fishkeepers. It is very common when Mollies are kept badly. Mollies need brackish water (3-6 grammes of marine salt mix, not tonic salt or aquarium salt, per litre) to get the level of hardness and high pH they need. Your pH is too low for a start, and the marine mix will fix that. The salinity also provides a level of support to Mollies that freshwater does not. While some people argue about whether Mollies really, truly need to be kept in brackish water, the bottom line is ALL Mollies prosper in brackish water, whereas only SOME Mollies do equally well in freshwater. You also have dangerously high levels of Ammonia and Nitrite, implying the tank is either overstocked, under-filtered, or overfed. A 10 gallon tank is too small for Mollies and really you are going to have a very hard time maintaining the good water quality they need. So these are the three things you need to fix: use Marine salt mix at 3-6 grammes per litre; ensure ammonia and nitrite are zero; and move the Mollies to a 20 gallon system. Obviously not all your other fish will tolerate brackish water, but other livebearers like Platies at least should be fine. Without fixing these things your Mollies will eventually weaken and die. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Troubled Mollie 04/21/08
Thank you so much for your info! I will definitely start another tank, and make it to suit the mollies. Would a new brackish tank fix Moe the sick molly? Or do I need to do something else? Do you have any suggestions for fish that would do well in a 20 gallon tank with mollies? Thanks again! Lauren <Hi Lauren. By itself, adjusting Mollies to brackish rather than freshwater will, more often than not, fix "the Shimmies". Does rather depend on the severity of the symptoms, and if the fish is too far gone, you may not see any recovery. But usually this works well. Add about 6 grammes of marine salt (i.e., Instant Ocean and other such things) per litre (that's about 0.8 oz per US gallon). The more salt you add, the better/faster the fish will recover, but don't exceed 9 grammes per litre (1.2 oz per US gallon) because that will stress the filter bacteria. Do also raise the temperature a bit, maybe even to 27 C/81 F, because Mollies like warmth. This amount of salt will do no harm to other livebearers such as Guppies, so there's no worries there. But most (though not all) freshwater fish dislike salt over the long term, so do remove other fish. There are many excellent companions for Mollies in slightly brackish water. Among my favourites are Glassfish, Wrestling Halfbeaks, Guppies, Limia nigrofasciata (a lovely striped livebearers), Florida Flagfish, Asian Panchax killifish (though these will eat the baby mollies!), Violet Gobies, Knight Gobies (also eat baby mollies), 'Freshwater' Flatfish, and Orange Chromides. Actually, the list of brackish water fish is huge -- the thing is that not all species are available all the time, so you have to keep an eye out. Figure-8 Pufferfish can work, but tend to be a bit nippy so are not recommended in small tanks where other fish don't have space to "avoid trouble". Some people keep plants in brackish water, but it's best to stick with plastic and use things like shells and barnacle clusters for decoration. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Troubled Molly 4/22/08
Hello Again, I set up a new aquarium yesterday, and added Instant Ocean Salt to the tank. I measured the SG this morning and it is reading 1.009. I am assuming that this is too high to move my Mollies to. <Actually the Mollies will be perfectly happy in it! They're fine to full strength seawater (SG 1.025). I take about 30-60 minutes to acclimate Mollies between freshwater and seawater, so changing Mollies from freshwater to SG 1.009 shouldn't take more than 15 minutes or so.> Do you know what SG I should be at, so that the move doesn't hurt them? <Doesn't matter for the Mollies; what matters is for the filter: go from freshwater to above SG 1.005 and the filter bacteria may die, and you'll need to "cycle" the tank again. Funnily enough, Mollies are quite good fish for cycling brackish or marine aquaria -- they are almost indestructible when kept in salty water, compared with being tissue paper flimsy in freshwater.> Also, because this is a new filter, should I wait for it to cycle. <Yes, but if you're careful, add the Mollies, check the nitrite every day or two, and do water changes as required. Not the ideal way of doing things, but should work well enough.> If my fish were healthy and it was a just move because of tank size I would wait, but because it's to fix my sick Mollie, I want to help him ASAP. He still isn't swimming gracefully, and is hanging at the bottom of the tank. Thanks again for all your advice! Lauren <While you can't cure the Shimmies directly, the reality is that moving them to brackish or salt water usually allows the fish to get healthy itself. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Troubled Mollie 05/06/08
Hello! I just want to thank you again for your all of your help. Unfortunately Moe didn't make it :( I was really bummed. <Ah, too bad. Sorry to hear this.> I wish I would have known about your website before putting them in a freshwater aquarium. His companion, Flo, is doing great. She loves her new tank, and seems to be so much happier. <Great! Mollies are just so much happier in slightly salty water, that you'll wonder why anyone keeps them otherwise.> Because of space issues, I had to go with a 16 gallon tank. <If you can, make sure the water movement is pretty vigorous. If they have to swim a little harder than otherwise, the tank will "feel" bigger. Kind of like a treadmill.> I would like to add some tank mates for Flo, but I want to make sure that they will mesh well. You mentioned that the bumblebee goby does well in brackish conditions, is a 16 gallon tank too small for them? <Should be fine. Awkward to feed because they must have live or wet frozen foods (like bloodworms) but otherwise lovely. Also look out for Chlamydogobius eremius, Rhinogobius duospilus, and Redigobius balteatus -- all small gobies of similar temperament and size that would work fine in a slightly brackish aquarium. Other options would be Rice fish (Oryzias latipes), Florida Flag fish (Jordanella floridae) and Wrestling Halfbeaks (Dermogenys pusilla). All good fish for small tanks.> I have read that they are territorial and should I say "grumpy"..... is this true? <Yes, but all they need is a cave (e.g., a seashell) plus about a gallon or two of space per specimen.> Should I just stick with live bearers? <If you want to. My current favourite is Lamia nigrofasciata, a funky little livebearer that's suddenly become quite common in England. It's very hardy, easy to breed, and tolerant of both fresh and brackish water.> Thanks Again, Lauren :) <Cheers, Neale.>

HELP!! I have a sick golden Lyretail Molly!!! Env.   4/16/08 Dear Crew, <Alia> Many thanks in advance! I recently notice a difference in behavior with my golden Lyretail Molly, Laila. I have sent a picture or her below. Laila's tail has been sinking, which I presume is due to a swim bladder problem. <Mmm... of what cause?> The top of her tail is puffy. Her dorsal fin is not extended as it usually is. <These symptoms... this is an environmental issue... at least largely> Laila is accompanied by four other mollies: a mail Lyretail (orange), two black mollies (one female, one male), and a silver Molly. They all live in my 10 gallon brackish water tank. <Hard to keep such small volumes stable> My female black Molly is pregnant, so I have her separated with a tank divider. Last night I checked my water quality variables. The pH was 7.5, the hardness was extremely low at 15, the alkalinity was low at 120ppm, and the nitrite and nitrate levels were normal at 1.0 and 40. <!!!? My friend, these are very toxic! Nitrite must be zero, and mollies are quite sensitive to NO3... I would not allow the Nitrate to accumulate to any more than 10 ppm total. This, or should I state, the cause of these nitrogenous readings IS the problem here> I fed her a defrosted frozen pea in hopes that it would help with her swim bladder problem. Today, Monday March 14, 2008, I made a 25% water change and added 3 tsp. of baking soda to raise the buffeting capacity and the water's hardness. I also added a tablespoon of aquarium salt to the new water. I checked the water quality variables again and they improved. The alkalinity was 245, the hardness was 250, the nitrite was 0.5, the nitrate was 45, <Still debilitating to deadly toxic> but the pH was very high at 8.2. Then I added pH down (20 drops) which is supposed to bring the pH down 0.2 points. So I plan to add 20 drops each day until the pH is at 7.8. The problem I am having is the growth on Laila's tail. Is this a disease?? <Mmm, yes... environmental, not pathogenic> Can she spread it to my other fish? I don't have another filtered tank to quarantine her in. What about her swim bladder? How can I help her with that? Please, your advice is greatly appreciated!! -Alia <Mmm... please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm  and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Strange oozing in very pregnant Molly  4/6/08 Let me start by saying I read through your FAQ on Molly reproduction (I have the whole thing printed out and have referred to it several times since finding out I have a very pregnant molly), and tried to use the search tool. That didn't work, and please accept my apologies for this email if it turns out that this is posted already. Either my computer sabotaged me, or I couldn't figure out the search tool. I tried it several times and all I got for my efforts was a blank page. Anyway, here is the scenario. We have a 60 gallon long tank that has been running now for about 2 and a half months. We use a power filter (Aqua Clear 110), as well as an undergravel filter, and we have ammonia and PH monitors in the tank. Since we live in the desert and our water is very hard, we bought a tap water filtration system which we use for our bigger water changes. <Don't waste your time softening the water for Mollies; liquid rock is what they like! You want hardness 20 degrees dH or more, and pH around 8. Ideally with marine salt mix added for all kinds of reasons. Your should never, ever use water from a domestic water softener in an aquarium. It has all the wrong mineral composition for fish.> We do about a 10% water change weekly. <Not enough really; Mollies are super-sensitive to Nitrate, and in fact pollutants generally, and they need at least 25% weekly water changes, and quite likely more if you aren't using salt (salt moderates to toxicity of nitrate).> Just recently, when a fish died within days of being introduced, we took the fish back to the store with a water sample, which they said was the best water quality they had ever seen in the area. This might be a little more history than you wanted, but just in case any of it is relevant, here it goes. <OK.> For starter fish we picked out 6 silver Lyretail mollies and 6 Danios. The very next day one of the mollies was dead (seemed to be fine the night before) and soon after a molly we believed to be extremely pregnant turned out to be a case of dropsy and though we moved her to a hospital tank and tried to treat it, being unsure what to do and hesitant, we failed miserably. <Mollies are in fact terrible fish for "starting" a tank, because they are incredibly sensitive to variations in water quality and chemistry. Mollies aren't community fish and they aren't fish for beginners; they're lovely fish best kept in very specific conditions all their own. In freshwater tanks something like 50% of them either get sick or simply die within months as far as I can judge. In brackish water and marine aquaria they are virtually indestructible. That tells you everything you need to know about them, really!> That left us with two males and two females, so we gave away a male to improve the ratio. The tank and the mollies all stabilized, and we had no problems until about 4 weeks ago, when the smaller female seemed to have some kind of fungus. We treated it, to all appearances successfully, but soon after being returned to the main tank she unexpectedly died. We did about a 20% water change. None of the Danios had any problems. <This is all absolutely standard when Mollies are kept in freshwater tanks, especially if you're "softening" the water using a domestic water softener. I can't make this clearer: Mollies need hard, basic water, preferably with salt added. They aren't freshwater community tank fish.> By now (4 weeks ago), the surviving female is extremely huge, overnight the ammonia levels are down to almost nil and practically the next day the female drops about 18 babies (they are very good at hiding so this could be an inaccurate count). We didn't have a nursery tank, but we sectioned off part of the main tank, provided floating fake plants for cover and plenty of baby food. About two weeks ago, we added 4 small catfish, 4 algae eaters (that's what the store called them, I can't be any more specific than that for the moment), and 2 rainbow sharks, with the babies still in their separate section. <I hope your "algae eaters" aren't Gyrinocheilus aymonieri or Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus. Too big, too difficult to keep, and in the former case, aggressive towards tankmates once adult.> All fish seem to be getting along fine, and all seem to be in good condition. The babies seemed big enough to join the rest of the fish last weekend, and we removed the partition. We're hoping there are still 18 of them, but we have yet to see more than half a dozen at a time since. Now, the question... Over the last few days, on about 3 different occasions I noticed that the (still) very pregnant Molly seemed to be oozing something. whatever it is is perfectly clear, and can be detected only by the tiny air bubbles that get trapped in it. It is stringy and long, appears to be coming from the belly area, and judging from the pattern of bubbles looks very slimy in nature. The Molly is acting perfectly normal, eating and swimming as usual. The male, which had been busy getting acquainted with the new fish in the tank for the last two weeks, is back to chasing her around, and she is taking t with her usual patience. We tested the water and all is fine, the PH and ammonia monitors register safe levels and none of the other fish are showing any signs of this thing, whatever it is. The Molly doesn't have this ooze with her all the time, but since I have seen it a few times this week, and never before, I decided to investigate. The books we bought are not helpful, and I have not been able to find anything about this yet - which probably results from the fact that I have no idea what I'm looking for. <I'm a bit concerned about you saying the pH and ammonia are at "safe" levels, because earlier on you've said ammonia was "almost nil". Let's be crystal clear about this: any ammonia or nitrite other than ZERO is dangerous. Period. Especially for Mollies. So these are likely stress factors. If the pH isn't at 8.0 and sticking there, the pH variation is another major issue. Either of these issues could be causing general ill health, and from the sounds of things we're dealing with that.> I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you will reply that it's something normal, or at least fairly harmless, but I didn't want to take a chance on losing this Molly also, not to mention the babies she is carrying. Thank you for your help, Hannah <Hope this helps, and good luck with the babies, Neale.>

Molly Question 03/26/2008 Hi I've got a 160ltr tank which has been going for about 10 months now, it's got mollies, platys, Endler's and guppies in it. I've had a issue before with platy's dying from the skinnies, but I've never had a problem with mollies before until now. <What's the "Skinnies"?> I have 6 second generation marble mollies, and over the last few days they have been feeling poorly with the shimmers and tail fin clamping. Today they seem much better, they are swimming around happily, eating and I haven't seen a shimmer in over 24 hours. <Do check temperature and salinity, both key factors with Mollies. Given you're keeping all livebearers together, adding salt to this tank is easy and safe. I'd be going with 6 grammes per litre of water, and use MARINE SALT MIX, not "aquarium salt". The Mollies will be altogether healthier in every way, and the other livebearers will appreciate the extra alkalinity. If you have a hydrometer, what you're aiming for is a specific gravity of SG 1.003.> However on 3 of them I've noticed what appear to be 2 red spikes coming out of them. It's not fecal matter, it's different to that, one of them it's coming from it's anus, but the other two has it coming from higher up their bodies towards their stomachs. Is this a normal thing? I've never seen it before. <These are Camallanus worms, seemingly quite common among livebearers in both the US and UK. So I'm guessing there's an issue here with breeding and transport. In any case, you need an anti-helminth medication. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwwormdisfaqs.htm  > I'm sorry if I'm being really stupid about this, I've have raised them since birth and I really don't want to lose them now! <Indeed!> Any help would be appreciated. Annabel <Cheers, Neale.>

Black Molly health   3/14/08 Hi Guys, I did my research but I need a real opinion. I have a very pregnant BLACK MOLLY in a 10G nursery tank (large pebble caves, eco complete & heavily planted with hornwort and Java moss. <Too small for Mollies. These fish are notoriously sensitive to fluctuations in water chemistry and quality. In particular, nitrate causes them great harm. Minimum size for these fish is 20 gallons, and I'd recommend more than that. Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm  > I just noticed last night that she has two tiny white lines (not spots) on one side and one on the other side. They're still there tonight. It doesn't look like ich (which I've seen) but I'm concerned they could be parasites. I've see her flashing against the large pebbles quite a lot in the last hour. <Difficult to say without a photo, but fungus and Finrot are the two likely issues. Extremely common when Mollies are kept in freshwater aquaria (as opposed to brackish and marine aquaria where they are generally very hardy).> All water tests, ammonia, nitrates, nitrates etc. are perfect. .PH, GH, KH, everything is exactly how it should be. <Don't tell me this, tell me the numbers! For example, nitrates must be less than 20 mg/l, and nitrite and ammonia zero. The pH should be around 8.0, certainly not less than 7.5. The general hardness needs to be 20 degrees dH and carbonate hardness at least 7 degrees KH.> The water is the right temp and is crystal clear ready for the fry. The substrate has been gravel vac'd twice in the last week and I've been doing 15% water changes (very carefully so as not to stress her) every day. <OK.> I would say she will definitely have the babies within the next 7 days as she is huge already so I'm very hesitant to put any meds in there unless I have to - especially as I don't know if meds would harm the unborn fry or harm them after they are born. <Cause no harm. Use them.> But it definitely seems like something is wrong. I have 4 teaspoons of aquarium salt always in the tank. <Ah, not nearly enough salt. Use MARINE SALT MIX not rubbish tonic salt (a waste of money, frankly) at a dose of not less than 6 grammes per litre (0.8 ounces per US gallon). ONLY marine salt mix raises the carbonate hardness as well as the salinity. The amount of salt you're adding is trivial and wouldn't make a blind bit of difference to the healthcare of Mollies.> I usually get to the bottom of things but I've spent 2 hours Googling and I'm more confused than I was before. <There's a lot of contradictory information about Mollies out there. While often said to be freshwater fish, this is really only true within certain limits. For consistently good health each and every time you keep Mollies, keeping them in brackish water is simply much more reliable.> So I've had to email you guys. Thanks, John <Cheers, Neale.>

Mollie with red spots around eye and more questions! -- 03/10/08 Hi there, I discovered your website a few nights ago and have read through it quite a bit. We have a 20 gallon tank with 6 mollies (2 Dalmatian, 2 yellow, 2 black) and 2 red platys, and 1 Pleco. I discovered a little over a week ago that there were fry in the tank! We have a total of 8, they are all in a breeder net for now. One of the platys kept going after the fry so I decided to put them in the net until they got a bit bigger. Six of the fry look like they could be Dalmatian/white/black mollies. The other two look to be the red platys. I don't have a clue which fish had the fry so I don't know if the platys had fry along with the mollies of if they bred together. I thought they wouldn't breed together until I read a few things on your site. I also don't have a clue what any of their sexes are. I've tried to figure it out but it just doesn't seem distinct enough to me to make a decision. <Platies (Xiphophorus hybrids) and Mollies (Poecilia hybrids) will not cross breed. So the Platies are making baby Platies, and the Mollies baby Mollies. Sexing these fish is easy: the males have a tube-like anal fin that essentially substitutes as a penis, and is used to inseminate the females. The females have a plain vanilla triangular anal fin.> My first concern is for our black mollies. They seem to have ich. They are small white spots on their body. I purchased Wardens Essentials Ick Away with malachite green. It seems to be working alright. I noticed, however, that one of them had spots that looked like rough scratches on its scales. That one didn't appear to have ich, though. I know I probably should do a water change. Unfortunately, we have been low on money lately and haven't been able to buy a siphon to completely clear out the rocks and everything completely. <OK, money isn't an issue here. If you don't have a siphon, don't worry. Any old piece of tubing will do. I use a section cut from a garden hose! Those fancy siphons sold in pet stores with "vacuum cleaner" attachments are something I have never used in 25 years of fishkeeping! In smaller tanks, old 1-litre food cartons of the sort used for ice cream and the like can also be used to scoop out water. Slow, but it does the job. The main thing is you do at least a 25% water change per week. Mollies are super-sensitive to "old" water and will keep getting ill when kept in dirty tanks. In my opinion (and experience) Mollies are simply easier to keep in brackish water with around 6-9 grammes of marine salt mix (not tonic salt) per litre. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm > My second concern is the two Dalmatian mollies. A few nights ago I noticed them with their mouths to each others tail, swimming in circles. They'd occasionally swim away from each other and then go right back at the circles. I couldn't tell if they were biting each other or not. To me it almost seemed aggressive. I have never seen them be aggressive like that so it was new for me. After they stopped one of them stayed in one part of the tank and would fend off any fish that swam near it. The other one had a split in its tail. Were they fighting? Mating? And is there anything I can do for the split tail? So far it looks to be alright. <Yes, they're fighting. Your tank is too small for more than one male Molly.> And now my last concern. (I think!) One of the yellow mollies is acting a bit weird tonight. When I fed them they all came right up to the top of the tank, as usual. Except the one yellow molly. It was at the bottom of the tank for a bit and then suddenly decided to swim up to eat. A while later I noticed it seemed to be swimming weird. It was almost like it was favoring one side and kept its head "leaning" to that side. Occasionally it'll take off and swim like nothing is wrong. Then it goes back to favoring the one side. Then I noticed that by one of its eyes it looks like it has a red "bruise" under the scaled. The other eye looks a tiny bit red under it. (not the eye itself, but the scales under the eye) would it have just bumped into rocks or it this something to be concerned about? I've read a ton of things on your website and don't know if I'm creating these problems in my head or if something is wrong with it!! <Not sure what I'm looking at in your photo. In any case, I'd treat with combination Finrot/Fungus medication like Maracyn or eSHa 2000 pre-emptively in case there is physical damage here.> We've had the two yellow mollies and 2 red platys since Feb 4. The other 5 we got a few weeks prior. I checked the levels in the water tonight and all seemed to be alright. I did it with just a quick strip test kid (all I have). I also checked the ammonia. It was high on the safe side so I treated it with some of those ammonia tablets. (again, all I have on hand) <Ammonia tablets (whatever they are) aren't the solution here -- filtration is the issue. In a mature aquarium there shouldn't be any ammonia. And any ammonia above ZERO is dangerous, and likely causing illness. Reflect on stocking, feeding, filtration and act accordingly.> The temp is always between 80 and 82. We also have 3 plants in the tank. One larger one, 2 small ones. Attached is a photo of the tank. Thank you for your time and help! -Tara <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Another from me... I emailed you a little bit ago and have discovered something else with my yellow molly. (The one who was staying at the bottom, swimming weird, seemed to lean to one side) It is still staying at the bottom of the tank. Not really swimming much, just sitting there. Since earlier I have noticed a white string on one of the fins. (on the side it was leaning towards) I can't tell if its something attached to the fin, something growing out of the fin, or part of the fin that has started to fall off. I want to treat this as soon as possible but I don't have a clue what it is. I don't want it to spread to my other fish and we don't have anywhere else to put it. I was reading through more stuff and noticed people writing about white or clear feces. I have noticed this a lot with all the fish. They eat TetraMin tropical crisps and I also put in Aquarian Algae chips. All the fish feed off of those. I have Hikari "First Bites" food for the fry. I have learned (from your site) that they need more fiber foods and I do plan on getting stuff for that. Would the white/clear feces be a food problem or something worse? And can I use the sea weed pet stores sell to get them fiber? Also, I have never added salt to the tank. I wasn't aware of it until I came to your website. I live in Texas and our water is always "hard", would they still need salt? Sorry I didn't add this stuff to my previous email! Thank you so much for your time and help!! -Tara <The fin damage is likely Finrot or Fungus, and needs to be treated. While it won't "spread" to the other fish, if the water conditions are poor (which they are) the other fish may develop this problem all by themselves. Seaweed sold in pet stores is a fine food for Mollies, though Sushi Nori from Asian food stores is usually a lot cheaper. Yes, salt makes a difference, regardless of the water chemistry. Marine salt mix does two things -- it moderates the toxicity of nitrate, and it increases the carbonate hardness -- both things Mollies appreciate. Salt will be tolerated by Platies but likely not by the catfish, at least not above SG 1.003. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Another from me... molly hlth., self-esteem  3/10/08
Hi there, Thank you so much for all the info! The yellow molly looks to be doing better. Its fin has some spots where I can tell it has came off but the white stringy thing on its fin is gone and it is swimming a lot better. No longer hanging out at the bottom of the tank. I will definitely get some medication for it and keep a better eye on the water quality. As for the sexing, I've looked at all of them countless times and they all look the same. Either I'm just not seeing the mail fin or we have all females and they came pregnant from the store. I'll just have to sneak up to the tank when they are calm. If they see me they'll all start swimming like crazy at the top of the tank. I am going to do everything suggested and hope my lovely fish do alright. Again, thank you for all the answers!! -Tara <Very good. Please keep reading and observing. Mollies are not easy fish and I never recommend them for inexperienced aquarists. So if you want success, you have a lot of work ahead of you! Cheers, Neale.>

Molly issues. Hlth., env.   3/3/08 Hello, and I hope you can help. I've searched through the archives and I have a problem that seems to be a combination of things. I had two mollies in my ~7 gallon tank. <Too small... Mollies are hypersensitive to fluctuating/poor water quality, and simply don't do well in small tanks. 20-gallons is the minimum. To be honest, a 7-gallon tank isn't much good for anything; even an expert fishkeeper will have trouble keeping stuff alive in there.> The first molly has unfortunately passed, probably due to my ignorance (the pet store did not inform me of the semi-intense care that mollies require upon my purchase). <Not sure "intense" is the word; but yes, Mollies have very specific needs. Ignore them, and they die. End of story. Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm  Unless you are an expert fishkeeper (and forgive me if you are) then I would recommend, nay, insist, you keep Mollies in brackish water. They are altogether hardier under such conditions.> I am attempting to save the remaining molly, but she is showing some of the same symptoms as the one that perished. They are both Dalmatian mollies. I did not have a heater in my tank, so I think the first molly may have gone into shock which may have depressed his immune system. <Why no heater? Mollies are tropical fish, and in fact like water a bit on the warm side; 26-28 C seems to be the optimum, and certainly never less than 25 C.> The second molly is now hanging out at the bottom of the tank. She seems hungry, but when she attempts to eat the flakes that I give her it looks like she is spitting them back out, then hungrily goes to the next flake only to spit it out again. <Fish will spit out food if they are not hungry or don't like it. Try something else. Frozen bloodworms (not freeze dried) and algae-based flake foods are the staples for these and indeed most other Poecilia. Generic flake foods aren't really what they want/need.> I noticed my first molly doing the same thing, but she never did until now. When she has evacuations (she must be eating something), they are generally long and occasionally have a long trail of transparent mucous-like substance trailing them. <Evacuations? Is that a euphemism for defecation? If what we're talking about is the faeces are long, stringy and pale, then that doesn't necessarily mean disaster but it can indicate lack of overall health, constipation, etc. Lots of people forget Mollies are herbivores and feed them standard tropical flake food. This is not good for them. They need algae, algae and more algae!> I tried giving her spinach yesterday because I read on your site that the issue may be constipation, but she didn't touch it. I don't notice any growth on her gills, but she is much more lethargic than she used to be. I've only had her for about two weeks. <Sounds doomed to me... Unless you're prepared to raise your game here the fish isn't going to live long.> I put a pH-balancing tablet and an ammonia-eliminating tablet into the water. <What on Earth are these items? OK, let's make this crystal clear: there is no such thing as an ammonia-removing tablet. If they sold you this in the store, they obviously see you as the perfect customer, i.e., you'll buy anything. What makes ammonia go away is the biological filter, which you (I hope) have in place by cycling the aquarium for 4-6 weeks before adding any fish. Or else you took live media from another tank. But please tell me what you didn't do is stick two Mollies into a brand new aquarium. If you did, you may as well have stuck your fish on the barbecue for all the chance they'll have of surviving. Now, the "pH tablet" is something you should stop playing with. At this stage in your fishkeeping career you should not even be thinking about changing the pH or hardness of the water. You first test the pH and hardness of your tap water, and then you buy fish that will thrive in it. If you have soft water, but want to keep livebearers, then buy some MARINE salt mix, and add a certain amount (I'd recommend 6-9 grammes per litre) into each bucket of water added to the tank. Mollies MUST have hard water, and if you water is soft, adding marine salt mix will raise that hardness as well as the salinity in a safe, convenient, and inexpensive way.> I now have a heater and ensure that the temperature stays around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. <Thank the Gods!> I am trying to grow live plants in the tank. She hovers over the bottom of the tank and her gills are opening fairly rapidly. <Dying. This is called "the Shimmies" and indicates when Mollies are being kept chronically badly.> Also, I noticed that after a while the rocks in the water start to emit a blue dye. <No idea what this is. But GET THOSE DAMN ROCKS OUT NOW! Nothing you put in a fish tank should do this. ONLY buy aquarium-safe rocks.> I have cleaned out the rocks thinking that was the problem, but she is still showing the same symptoms. <Doubt the rocks are the key thing here, to be honest.> Could the problem be an internal parasite? <Nope; bad fishkeeping.> I was also wondering if she might be pregnant, but I don't know the signs of pregnancy. <May well be, but this isn't what's causing the problems.> Any advice you could give would be helpful! <Read a book. Please. The only way you could be keeping this fish worse is by forgetting to put water in the tank. You are doing everything wrong. I really, REALLY want you to enjoy this hobby, and even more want that poor little fish to survive. But you MUST raise your game. Short term: stop feeding the fish until you buy a NITRITE test kit and learn how to use it. Do 50% water changes daily for as long as you detect nitrite in the water. Add marine salt, not less than 3 g/l. Don't use "tonic salt" or "aquarium salt" or anything like that. You want the stuff marine fishkeepers use because ONLY that will raise the carbonate hardness along with the salinity. These perform together to make Mollies happy. Once you've done that, start saving your pennies for a bigger tank; not less than 20 gallons.> Thanks, Cara <Good luck, Neale.>

Mollienesia: health, environment    2/19/08 Hi there, I just found your website and it's amazing. Have bookmarked it for future reference :) Just have a small question. I got a new Dalmatian molly today as a present for my newly cycled tank. I first found you whilst looking up his odd behaviour. He's been swimming rather strangely -tilted to one side when swimming straight, when stationary his head will drift slowly upwards and he'll stay like that for a while before swimming backwards (still with head vertical) and rubbing himself against other fish. At first I thought it might just be a quirk, but I checked out nitrite etc just to be sure. They're all fine. I wanted to be sure it wasn't a swim bladder infection or anything, so I started watching him a bit more closely. I noticed he's got a small injury just above his mouth on one side, and it's this side that he rubs against other fish. I'm quite worried he might have an infection but am not sure how to tell, and if he does whether I should quarantine him or not. The injury also looks very clean, so there is a chance that it's slightly older and healing and it's this that's caused his behavioural change. Please help! A very worried Su xx <The first thing to ask is whether this Molly is being kept in freshwater or brackish. While these fish *can* be kept in hard, alkaline freshwater conditions, under aquarium conditions they are much easier to maintain in brackish water conditions. Around 10% to 25% seawater salinity (around SG 1.002-1.005) is ample. You need to be using marine salt mix, not tonic salt, when keeping Mollies because it is the extra carbonate hardness as well as the salinity that helps. De see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm  Mollies aren't community fish and shouldn't be sold/bought as such. They need very specific conditions to work well. I have no idea what is precisely wrong with your Molly, but these "mystery diseases" are all too common when Mollies are kept in freshwater tanks and in environments with nitrate above 20 mg/l. At least one problem, known as the "Shimmies", manifests itself as water-treading behaviour, when the fish seems to rock from side to side. This could very easily be mistaken for a swim bladder infection. The Shimmies is almost entirely observed when Mollies are kept too cold, in water without sufficient carbonate hardness, and/or there's a high concentration of nitrate. The addition of sea salt to the aquarium is one treatment that helps, provided the fish isn't too far gone. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Mollies, Medicated Food, And More - 02/07/2007 Hello crew! <Hi Mary> Thank you so much for all of your help when I was setting up me aquariums, we now have three situations. I am sorry, this is going to be a long one, thanks in advance for all your help again! <Don't think I helped you last time, but you're welcome, on behalf of WWM Crew. I'll try to help you out this time, though..,< Situation number one: After all that I went through with getting the two kids' aquariums up and running, it was clear that when we were close to being able to stock the tanks I wanted to quarantine any new fish first, we had already been through way too much to endanger our two healthy tanks! <Excellent decision!> So I now have 6 new fish in a separate quarantine tank. We have 3 Dalmatian Mollies and 3 platys in the QT tank. I am doing a 50% water change every morning to keep the water clean, and all the fish seem to be very healthy. <Sounds like you are taking very good care of these little guys.> Except for one thing. The day after we brought them home, one of the platys was hiding a lot and had stringy white feces. We had experienced this with other fish from the pet store that eventually died. <Sounds like this fish had an internal parasite - not uncommon, and just to note, a great illustration of the importance of a quarantine, as you yourself know!> So I treated the water with Jungle parasite fungus clear. I figured in a quarantine tank we aren't trying to establish a cycle anyway. <That's true, but generally speaking, internal parasites respond better to medicated food, specifically something containing Oxytetracycline.  Here's where I buy mine from (it's hard to find, at least around Chicagoland): http://flguppiesplus.safeshopper.com/255/cat255.htm?785 > Within the next day the fish seemed to perk up and now 9 days later they all seem very perky. Except now 3 of the fish seem to have stringy white feces. It literally looks like they swallowed a human hair and are excreting it out, with little spots of feces stuck on the 'hair' along the way. Sometimes it gets to be like twice as long as the length of the fish! But again, the fish all look really peppy and healthy. So that's situation number one. Any thoughts on the feces? <Do try the medicated food. Sometimes it can be challenging to get fish to eat it (I'm thinking it probably tastes bad, just like some human meds!), so soaking it in a couple of drops of Kent's Garlic Xtreme (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=5016&Ntt=garlic%20xtreme&Ntk=All&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Np=1&pc=1&N=0&Nty=1   ) can stimulate their interest in the food.  That's the best way to combat internal parasites, in my experience.  Should clear the problem right up.> Should I worry or wait and see how they are doing in a few days? Should I just treat them to prevent any problems? <I'd try the food - this isn't a problem that will just "go away".> Situation number two: My daughter started off her brand new tank with 2 platys and an algae eater. The first platy died the next day, and the second within 2 days of setting up the tank. They both had red spots on their bodies which we originally thought were pretty coloring and now I think they were a symptom of some type of disease. <Can you describe the "spots" a bit more? How many, how large, etc.  What color are these platys to begin with? My first thought was some sort of ammonia burn, but I see below that your parameters are good. These "spots" don't move, do they? My next thought is a parasite, but that's just a guess...> We got one more platy after the first one died. The algae eater wedged himself under a decoration on day 4, with no signs of disease at all, I think he just got stuck. Poor thing! <Did he perish as well? Some of these store-bought aquarium decorations can actually be dangerous - I learned that lesson the hard way after one of my Bettas got stuck inside one, and eventually died from the trauma.  Make sure you inspect everything carefully, just as you would for little children - it seems as though if the fish can get stuck, they will...> So now it had been 2 and ½ weeks and we had one fish left alive in the tank. The tank has fully cycled, with nitrates and nitrites testing at 0 for a total of 5 days, hardness steady at 75, alkalinity at between 40 and 80 (kH) ppm on my test strip and PH between 6.8 and 7.2. <Am I to understand that the tank was cycling with the fish in it? If so, that's likely what caused the platys to perish, and the red spots were likely burns from ammonia, as I first suspected. Generally it's best to do a "fishless" cycle, using a small bit of fish food, and measuring the water's parameters the same way.   On another note,  those "test strips" you refer to are notorious inaccurate - I'd recommend investing in a quality liquid test kit that contains ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH tests - I personally like the one made by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals.> A lot of algae, so we went to the store and bought an algae eater from the pet store and put him straight in to the tank. Maybe not the best idea but my thought was that they eat scum, they must be somewhat more resistant than other fish. What do you think? <I think there are better ways to combat algae, like feeing less, reducing the amount of light on the tank, and increasing water changes.  Also, when phosphates are a problem, it's usually due to elevated phosphate levels - you may want to invest in a test kit for  that as well.  If phosphates are your issue, adding a filter media like PolyFilter ( http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=4335&Ntt=polyfilter&Ntk=All&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Np=1&pc=1&N=0&Nty=1 ) can help keep the phosphates under control. What sort of "algae eater" did you get? Is it a common Pleco, or something else? If it's a Pleco, be aware these grow very large (12-18").  Finally, I don't know of any fish that eats "scum", as you put it...certain fish eat specific types of algae, but really, water changes are the best way to combat algae (along with the ideas above).> So I am wondering, she has three platys in the quarantine area and we leave for vacation in 10 days. The fish have been in quarantine for 9 days now. When would you advise starting to add the 3 new platys? I know usually we would wait 21 days and then go one at a time but while we are gone the fish will not be getting the obsessive attention they have been getting, so I am trying to weigh the benefits of adding one at a time and waiting a few days between additions vs. leaving them in quarantine for longer. <This can be a tough call. Based on my own personal experience of not keeping livebearers in QT long enough, coupled with the fact that your fish haven't been entirely healthy during the QT period, I'd leave them where they are.  Do you have someone feeding your fish while you are away, then? I'd suggest making little baggies of food for each tank, for each feeding, keeping in mind that less is more, in this situation, since I imagine the kind person watching your tanks won't be changing water...> I really would love your advice here! <I suggest leaving the fish where they are, for the reasons listed above.> Situation number three: My son started off his brand new tank with 2 mollies and an algae eater. <Again, what type of "algae eater"? A Siamese algae eater, Chinese algae eater, Pleco, etc., etc...> They were doing great! And then suddenly Bob (male molly) started swimming upside down (vertical) and losing all sense of direction and balance. He looked grayish and dull, not shiny and sparkly like a healthy fish. <First thing to always check are water parameters...> I took him out of the tank and treated him for bacterial and parasites, (each after water changes and a day between) but Bob died after 3 days. <Best not to throw all sorts of medication at a fish, as this can cause more harm than good.  It can be hard to diagnose a fish, but that's the best thing to try and do. First thing, I would have checked the environmental conditions. If all was well there (no ammonia or nitrites, and nitrates less than 20 ppm), then I'd start looking at diseases.  Based on your description, sounds as though this may have been Costiasis, a/k/a "skin slime disease". It is not uncommon for this to be present in fish acquired from local fish stores. It can kill very quickly.  If it were that, I would have treated with Metronidazole. Just information for the future - not trying to beat you up for the decisions you made!> He was such a great fish! We were heart broken. <I'm sorry.> But Molly (female) was doing great and appeared pregnant. <Female livebearers kept in community tanks usually are...> Molly kept right on doing great for another week and a half or so, but suddenly yesterday she was not swimming right. She is grey and dull like Bob was, has one white cloudy eye, and seems to not have her equilibrium under control. She is not swimming upside down like Bob was but she is not doing well either. And her feces is stringy and white exactly like the ones in quarantine. The nitrites were running really high (between 3.0 and 5.0 on my test strip) when this all started, and the rest of the tank parameters are identical to what is listed above. <Again, I suggest getting a more reliable test kit. But, if the nitrites truly were at between 3 and 5, that's WAY TOO HIGH - they need to be at zero.  How often do you change the water on this tank? The stringy white feces, as discussed above, sound like internal parasites, for which Oxytetracycline medicated food is generally a good course of action...> The one good thing is she is still eating. She is not eating at all like she normally does but she is trying. She has also gotten thinner and does not look pregnant at all. I have looked at her with a flashlight and she does not appear to have ich. First thing I did was a 50% water change. <Did you re-test the water after that? With nitrites as high as they were, you need to be sure they were effectively reduced to ZERO.> Then I treated the water yesterday with Jungle parasite clear, and did a 50% water change today and tonight I treated in with Jungle fungus clear, which claims to also cure swim bladder and white cloudy eye. I am treating her in the regular tank because the quarantine tank is already taken up with the new fish. (took out the charcoal). <It is very dangerous to mix medications. I know you were anxious to help, but in fish illness situations, the best thing to do is step back, try to diagnose based on all the observable criteria, and treat accordingly.  Your description of Molly doesn't lead me to think fungus is an issue. The white cloudy eye sounds like pop-eye, a condition caused by poor environmental conditions.  Many times the eye will clear itself up once the environment is improved, but in more severe cases, Epsom salts are usually a good course of action.  Honestly, if it were me, I'd get the water issues under control ASAP and carefully watch the fish to see if she improved in a day or two, and I'd feed her medicated flakes.  If no improvement with the swimming in a day or two, then I'd start entertaining medication. You must be aware that many fish "diseases" are nothing more than reactions to bad water quality - something that can be fixed through good husbandry alone!> Would you advise cleaning everything out and starting from scratch if she dies? <Actually, I'd advise putting the carbon filter back in place and doing a large water change - you have too many medications in that tank, which could very well kill her.  Get the water clean, feed the medicated flake, and observe closely...> Could this be contaminating our tank now? And of course now we will have to start the cycle over again, because I'm sure the medication killed everything we had started. <Yes and yes.> So now I'm really not sure what to do with the new mollies that I have in the quarantine tank, we are leaving town and that tank will not be cycled. Help!!! <OK, perhaps you can prepare some water for water changes, and persuade the tank-sitter to change the water at least once or twice? That would be the best solution. I would not, under any circumstances, though, move the fish around; at this point, you'd likely do much more harm than good.> The algae eater is doing great in the tank and has grown a ton! <Yes - you need to find out exactly what type of fish this is, as he may eventually need a larger home!> Also, do you have any advice on how to buy fish? What to look for etc? <I like to look at ALL the tanks at the store, as all the freshwater ones are likely on the same filtration system.  Get a sense of how clean the tanks are, how many dead/dying fish there are (ideally, there shouldn't be any...a classic sign of a bad fish store is one that lets deceased fish be cannibalized by others in the tank...), etc. Ask the shopkeeper how long the fish you are interested in have been there - ask what they are being fed, etc.  You can even ask for the storekeeper to feed the fish in front of you - nothing wrong with that at all, many folks do it. Of course, you don't want to buy any fish that looks lethargic, has clamped fins or other signs of disease, etc. Try to find some pictures (either in books or online) of the fish you're interested in buying, so that you know what a healthy specimen should look like.> <Hope I've helped - best of luck, and enjoy your vacation. Jorie>

? sick molly,   2/2/08 Hi, I have a new tank, a 37 gallon eclipse with a built in Bio-wheel filter and two power heads, that has been up for 8 days. I've been using the Stress-zyme bacteria additive to help my tank cycle. <Mmm, too often this product doesn't work... Do look into a fresh packet of BioSpira here> I've also been changing 25% of the water every 2 to 3 days, depending on my work schedule (I work 12 hour shifts), <Yikes! Only half time?!> just because I'm paranoid. The temp is 78 degrees F, the ammonia is 0, nitrates 0, nitrites 0, added 1 tablespoon aquarium salt per 10 gallons, the pH is 6.6 ... I don't know how the pH is so low - with my last tank when I lived 6 miles north of here it was always 8.8 ... <Yeeikes> which is why I just used the aquarium salt and not salt water mix. I expected my pH to be super high already. I am in a different town, so possibly that explains the difference in pH. <Mmm, yes... different source> Fish: 5 female creamsicle mollies, 2 male creamsicle mollies, 4 emerald green Cory cats, 1 rubber nose Pleco (that's what PetSmart calls it, but it's not the "real" name - it only gets 4" long). <These catfishes don't "like" salt/s> Food: tetra flake, Spirulina flake, algae wafer, flake pellet occasionally for cats but pig mollies try to eat it too, <Good for them> cucumber for Pleco but mollies eat it too, one day had frozen blood worms as treat. Oh, there is also a "moss ball" that Petco sells that they nibble on. So, all of the fish but one seem really happy, the cats love the current in the back of the tank, the mollies love swimming all over. But, one female molly has been just kind of hanging out in one spot above the (fake) wood formation. Her fins are not clamped, but her two side ventral fins are open wide a lot of the time, like she's using them to balance or something while she hovers in the tank. The males come to check her out, but then leave without really touching her. Her breathing is a little different than the others but not exactly harder - but I can see her breathing. Her tail is slightly set lower than the others, but just barely. She acts uninterested in her surroundings, while the other fish are looking for things to nibble on and swimming around having fun. Once in a while she'll swim around, not that much. When it's time to eat, she suddenly acts 100% normal. After eating, she goes back to acting different though. She has no discolorations or spots. This is my son's tank ... and I'm feeling tempted to get another (small) tank and pop it on his dresser, make it full brackish and pop her in it and see if it straightens her up. <A good idea> If it does, leave her in it, and get her a few more mollies and some bumblebee goby friends. <Excellent> Something is wrong with her, but it's just not obvious what yet ... I keep waiting for her to spin or shimmy, but haven't seen it yet. Thanks for any ideas you might have! Michele <Good descriptions, bad behavior... Not able to discern anything particular to react to here. Please (re)read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm Neale's excellent piece, and the linked files above... in the hope that something/s will come live to your consciousness. Bob Fenner>
Re: ? sick molly   2/3/08
Thank you for your reply! I had already read all of your molly pages ... I'll keep reading over them and see if I can figure something out. She's acting more "normal" today than she has, not sure why. Her tail is back up and she's swimming around a lot more, but the two ventral fins are still down (none of the other mollies are). Maybe it was something in the water that is not measured that was bugging her. <Mmm, possibly. But then why not the other mollies?> I'll also look for some BioSpira. Oh, do you think adding a canister filter would be too much, with the eclipse filter/BioWheel combo? <Not too much. A good idea> The only reason I'm thinking of it is because I received some visa gift cards that so far only work at Petco. So, that was one thing I was thinking of getting. If I get one, would it be better to get the 40 gallon size, or the next size up? <Mmm, the bigger the better... and one never knows when a larger system is in their future...> There is already quite a bit of movement from the eclipse filter. Thanks again!

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