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FAQs on the Livebearing Toothed Carps, Poeciliid Fishes Systems

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

Related FAQs: Poeciliids 1, Poeciliids 2, Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, MolliesLivebearer Identification, Livebearer Behavior, Livebearer Compatibility, Livebearer Selection, Livebearer Feeding, Livebearer Disease, Livebearer Reproduction,

The more space, the definitely better... longer lives for your stock, easier maintenance for you... less marked aggression, and damage therefrom

Central Filtration System - Need Help Please!   7/31/11
Hello. I am new to your site but have been reading it over and over again looking for answers to my questions. I cannot find them,
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/cntfiltbiz.htm
and the linked files above>
so I am writing to you to see if you can be of any help. I am building a central filtration system sump for my fish tanks (livebearers). I want to have all my tanks filtered through a shared sump.
<Can be of benefit...>
The sump will be set up where the incoming water will first flow through a UV sterilizer and then flow through a tub filled with live rock and then there will be a sponge filter on the return before the water is pumped back out. I will also have a heater in the sump to heat all the tanks water - not sure how big it needs to be.
<The bigger the better... do use submersible heaters... perhaps an added controller for safety.>
I will have approximately 12
- 20 Gallon tanks and 14 - 10 Gallon tanks on 2 - 2-tier shelves. I plan to drill a hole at the bottom of each tank and stand a pvc pipe up through the hole of the bulkhead. I plan to drill holes at the top part of that pipe and put a sponge filter over the top to keep the fry from being sucked through. My question/worry is that I cannot figure out what size bulkheads to use and what size pump to use.
<This is all covered on WWM... do you see the search tool listed on every page?>
I'm worried because I do not know how fast the water will drain from the 26 tanks and I do not know how fast the pump will pump the water back into the tanks.
<... oversize the overflows...>
I purchased a Rio 20 HF pump that states it has a flow rate @ 1 foot head pressure 1290 GPH and flow rate @ 6 feet head pressure 870 GPH and the inlet is 1" pipe or 1-5/16" hose and the outlet is 3/4" NPT or 1" hose. I plan to have the water returned to the tanks with pvc pipes running along top the tanks with a pipe running down into the tank coming close to the bottom to help swirl the water around to help drain out some of the bottom water also.
I've also heard of using drip valves but didn't think they will provide enough flow to the system. So my main questions (I guess) are what size bulkheads should I use for draining?
<At least 1" ID>
What size tubes/pvc pipes should be used for the intake and the return of the water from the pump?
<The size/diameter of the fittings on the volute...>
What size pump should be used - did I get the right one?
<Can work>
I was thinking 1 1/2 inch bulkheads for the drains and 1 inch tubing for the return. Am I way off? Am I missing something?
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/BulkheadFloRateArt.htm
and the linked files above of interest, pertinence>
Any kind of help would be great. I know how I want this set up (I can picture it in my head) but I just don't know how to do it. Thanks so much!!
<Do put all your plans in writing, including the stand design... and do write us back w/ your specific further questions, concerns, after you've read the above areas cited. Bob Fenner>
Re: Central Filtration System - Need Help Please!   7/31/11

Thank you so much for your help. I've read the articles sited - sorry I didn't find them before.
<No worries>
I'm starting to understand a little better now but after reading further, this question comes to mind - I apologize if this sounds like stupid question - let's say for instance the 2" bulkhead will flow to sump 1350 gph, but I have 26 tanks with the 2" bulkhead, does that mean each tank is going to flow 1350 gph into the sump, meaning I'll have (1350 x 26) 35,100 gph flowing to the sump.
<Mmm, no... with the total flow you state... divide each tank into it...
1/1,350th per hour... a one inch ID through put/bulkhead will do>
I know that just doesn't sound right but I'm wondering about it.
<...? Each tank will have a (ball) valve...>
What I've read so far is that using a bigger bulkhead is better. But do I have to use smaller bulkheads because I'll have 26 tanks all flowing to the sump at once? I guess that is what is confusing me - the multiple tanks all flowing into the sump together.
Although I've also learned now that when I add the sponge filter to the end of the pipe, it will drastically change the amount drained.
Thanks again for the help!!
<Welcome. BobF>

Fearful to lose her :) FW... livebearer hlth., sys.     12/13/09
Hello! I've Googled and read up but I can't decide what is hurting my fish and I don't want to dose her with unnecessary things if she has something else entirely, so I'm writing you wonderful folks again.
I wrote before a few years ago concerning my tiger barbs and you helped so much, this time I have more fish (no worries the older ones were given a new home since I moved...didn't want to drag the poor things across eight
Fiancé and I have a 30 gallon tank with filter and heater set to 76 degrees, three platys, two red dwarf mollies I believe, a Pleco and a small platy fry (we were excited to find the baby, totally unexpected) Also two danio fry I believe (fish store recommended them as new additions but the other fish tried to eat them immediately so we moved them into the birthing tank with the baby till they all get a bit bigger.
We have substrate and several living plants, onion plants and java moss,
and a rock hut for the fish to hide in.
<Platies and Mollies are surface dwellers, and won't use rocky caves unless they're sick or severely stressed. Floating plants, such as Indian Fern, will be infinitely more useful.>
I'm sorry, I don't have any levels of ammonia or anything to help this question along, we've simply been testing it with strips to ensure it stays in the "safe" color.
<Define "safe". The problem is that most people haven't a clue what "safe" means, and these test kits are totally misleading in some cases. Safe is ZERO ammonia and ZERO nitrite. Anything else is, "Houston, we have a problem" time. Can't stress this too strongly. Sure, exposure to 0.5 mg/l nitrite won't kill a Platy overnight, so in that sense it isn't deadly poisonous. But over a few days or a couple of weeks, it WILL make a Platy very sick.>
The strip says right now the water is slightly stressing the fish, so we've moved from 10% water changes like the store said, to 25% ones, also adding a small amount of the aquarium salt,
<Don't use "aquarium salt". It's rubbish. For Mollies and Platies, you'd be better off using a Rift Valley Salt Mix. Read here:
About a half-dose should be ample. This will raise pH and hardness (which salt doesn't do) and make for much healthier livebearers.>
and some drops that are supposed to help lower ammonia levels.
<Time to do some reading rather than listening to a pet store that's in business selling you stuff. No "drops" of anything remove ammonia from an aquarium. Nothing. Zip. Nada. These products remove ONE TIME ONLY small amounts of ammonia in TAP WATER. They do not constantly remove the ammonia produces ALL THE TIME by your fish. This is your filter's job. If you have non-zero ammonia and non-zero nitrite levels, then you are [a] overstocked; [b] under-filtered; [c] overfeeding; [d] some combination of the three. It takes 4-6 weeks for an aquarium filter to become mature, and assuming you have one of adequate size for a 30 gallon tank (i.e., one rated at 120-180 gallons per hour) such a filter should handle half a dozen Platies and half a dozen Mollies without any problems at all. A Plec is not an option in a tank this small, so remove it. Anyone who told you a Plec -- which grows to 45 cm/18 inches in length within two years -- would be okay in a 30 gallon tank was an idiot. So disregard any advice from this person forthwith.
There is NO WAY this fish will be okay in this system. Before you say to me, "What about algae", read here:
If you have a healthy aquarium with lots of fast-growing floating plants, and maybe a few Nerite snails, you won't have any algae problems. Quite the reverse in fact: an overstocked tank with a catfish far too large for it is VERY likely to have problems with algae.>
Okay. My problem is that the white platy fish has suddenly begun trying to scratch his/her belly on things, and her fins are close together, also she swims it seems with just her head and tail.
<Chronic irritation caused by the ammonia and nitrite. Improve water quality, NOW.>
A black one has started doing the same thing but all the other fish seem fine. I tried getting a picture, but she hates the paparazzi. I can't seem to identify if she has any white spots, but none of the other fish have any either. We've had the tank for a month or more, and the plants grow wonderfully, but this is the first time a fish has behaved differently, so we want to be on top of this and fix whatever we aren't doing correctly.
<What isn't correct is water quality.>
An additional question-can the fins grow back to a fish that other fish were nibbling on?
<Fish will attack weakened fish, and Finrot will set in when you have non-zero levels of ammonia and nitrite. Fix water quality, and yes, the fins usually grow back.>
We removed a red dwarf from the tank because his back fin got nibbled to about 1/3rd gone. We bought him his own three gallon, filled it with water from the tank and gave him a java ball and a small house to hide in.
<Three gallon tanks = death traps.>
He seems really happy in there, and the edges of his tail went from being white to a normal red again. We love this guy. Will he get lonely, or is he okay to stay by himself? I don't want to crowd him in his three gallon. :)
<Take him out. Use floating plants to create a complex habitat AT THE SURFACE that Platies will use to hide and rest.>
Thank you for any insight and advice you can pass on to me, we really love these fish and we don't want any to suffer!
<Read first, panic later.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

'Linia', unusual Poeciliid, sys.  4/15/2009
Dear WWW Crew
I have a pair of new fish that I bought marked up as 'Linia' I was told they originate in Haiti and wanted to find out more information on them so as to keep them in the best conditions possible. Unfortunately Google
searches etc are coming up blank. They are small fish about the size and shape of a Platy with pale fawn coloured bodies and slightly darker brown lateral bars. They are a livebearing species, definitely cannibalistic when babies are born, freshwater and very similar in appearance in both sexes.
The male however has a black 'laced' dorsal fin that he holds erect whilst courting the female. They are good community fish as have a very calm placid nature but that's about all I know about them and I would appreciate any help you could give me on identifying them properly
Many thanks
Emma B
<Hello Emma, these are likely Limia nigrofasciata or Limia melanogaster, the two species of Limia that are regularly traded. My money would be on Limia nigrofasciata, given your description. I have kept these fish for a while, and consider them to be wonderful fish. They aren't at all difficult to keep. Mine are in moderately hard, slightly basic water, but you can also keep them in brackish water as well. They are primarily herbivores, and do well on algae flake, algae wafers, and periodic feedings of things like frozen bloodworms. The males are not especially aggressive, but I'd still keep more females than males, just as with any other livebearer. Mine don't eat their babies; in fact I have far too many babies than I want! My
tanks are thickly planted with floating plants and tall stems of Hygrophila and Vallisneria; that probably helps. Maximum size is comparable to a smallish Platy, and they seem to do well in tanks as small as 15 US
gallons. The males remind me of scaled-down Mollies because of their mini-Sailfins. Very pretty animals, despite lacking bright colours. I have no idea why they aren't more popular, especially when compared to some of the really poor quality fancy livebearers on the market. Lovely, hardy little fish; enjoy. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 'Linia' 4/18/09
Dear Neale
<Hello again, Emma,>
Many thanks for your reply I've had a look and your absolutely right.
<Mystery solved!>
Though I've only had them a couple of days I'm very impressed with them already and hoping to produce more as the female is suspiciously plump!
<The females do indeed become very round prior to giving birth; they also tend to hide a bit more among the floating plants.>
We are in Cornwall in the UK and the supplier I got them from is the only one with this species in the county.
<Not sure this is completely true, though they are very uncommon, I'll admit. I've recently taken some specimens out to Wildwoods in Enfield, and the Aquatic Design Store in London often seems to have them in stock. I suspect that as more people keep this species (and they are) we'll see them a lot more frequently in the shops. I do hope so.>
I totally agree with you, already I can't see why I've only just discovered them despite having tropicals for many years, they are an enchanting little fish and should have a much bigger fan base.
<Quite so; I highly recommend them to anyone keeping community fish in at-least moderately hard water.>
Warmest regards
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 'Linia' (Livebearers; Limia nigrofasciata), sys./repro.
Dear Neale
<Hello Emma,>
Sorry to bug you again, can I pick your brains on your breeding setup for the Limas as you are having such success with them.
<By all means, but there's no great secret! My tank for the adults is a Brillux 60 Complete Aquarium, with 72 litres of water (about 19 US gallons). It's thickly planted with Hygrophila, Vallisneria, Anubias,
Cryptocoryne and various floating plants. The top is really thick with plant leaves and the roots of floating plants. Otherwise, there's nothing very special about the system. It's 50/50 rainwater and tap water, for a
hardness around 10 degrees dH and a pH of about 7.5. Normal filtration and temperature. The tankmates are peaceful catfish and gobies, though I have added a Glassfish now to try and eat some of the baby fish (yes, I know, mean).>
I've got them setup in a book/Google recommended tank just wondered if you had any personal tips that I might have missed. I have to admit I've added two more females but its a reasonable sized tank and looked a little lonely with just the pair in there .
<Ah, I did start with one male, three females. And I didn't get any fry at all when they lived with halfbeaks, who I suspect will eat the fry given the chance.>
Hope alls well with you
<It is indeed.>
<Good luck, Neale.>

Temperature Pros and Cons, Livebearer sys.  2/15/09 Hi, I have a 12 gallon tank with 4 mollies and 2 guppies. (biggest fish is 2 1/2 inches long) I have searched your website and could not find and an answer. Anyway, what are the pros and cons of higher (82 F) and lower (76 F) temperature for my brackish tank? Ex: Life expectancy and metabolism, algae, water parameters, how often my females release babies, etc... Thanks, Hannah <Mollies and Guppies thrive across a range of temperatures, though personally I think they do best slightly on the warm side, and 26-28 C (79-92 F) works pretty well. There's no real advantage to keeping them any warmer than that. Unlike Platies and Swordtails, which genuinely do need fairly cool conditions to live their normal lifespan, Mollies and Guppies will be fine in slightly warmer conditions, and if anything the fancy varieties are a little less disease-prone when kept nice and warm. On the flip side, the warmer the water, the less oxygen it will contain, so you should balance extra warmth by taking care not to overstock the tank and to ensure circulating is adequate. Cheers, Neale.>

Is it possible? Molly, Platy crosses...   8/30/08
Ive had my 2 tanks running since Christmas, when I put 2 mollies into my small (22.6L/6Gal) tank and one instantly spawned hence the large(150L/40Gal) tank being set up. So over the months since the tanks were set up, I have been on the steep n00b learning curve of acidity, ammonia, nitrate/ite levels etc, and have lost a few unfortunate fishies along the way but luckily only a few. Now Im glad to say my tanks are happy and healthy, and have been for quite some time. I have only 3 mollies, all Lyretails, all males the mother was one of my earlier casualties and I gave away several of the fry, leaving only 2. I have loads of platies, all young (oldest being about 8 weeks) and all just plain ordinary cute-as-anything platies. All of the platies were born here, so werent knocked up when I got them ;).3 of the female platies were pregnant until a couple weeks ago all have since spawned. The thing that raises questions is that around 50% of the fry so far are lyretailed. Ive read in my research travels that female platies mature far faster than males, which would mean the males are still too young to sire the young so soon so is the daddy a molly?Can mollies and platies cross breed? because that looks a lot like what has happened.
I have pics taken about a week ago of a couple of them, and am taking more now, if you would like to see them.
<Good morning! The short answer is that I've never heard of Platies and Mollies hybridising. They belong to different genera (Xiphophorus and Poecilia respectively) and rarely do different genera of fish cross. Yes, Guppies and Mollies will cross breed, but they're both Poecilia; and likewise Swordtails and Platies, both Xiphophorus. Usually when people get pregnant fish unexpectedly it's because they've either not judged the sex of the fish in the tank correctly, or else have misjudged how quickly males become mature. A photo would help confirm the identity of the Lyretail fish you have. Do bear in mind that genetics can pull surprises -- so if for example the Lyretail gene is recessive, heterozygous parents would not show the trait but a proportion of the juveniles would. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy with damaged tail after being attacked (Betta)    3/5/08 Hi there At the weekend I bought a Siamese Fighter Fish which attacked my female platy for a day until I found someone else to give the Fighter a new home. Then my male guppy started attacking the poor platy! (the guppy was also bought at the weekend) so I have sectioned the guppy off in his own special area of the tank to avoid the platy any more damaged or stressed. The platy's tail and fin are very damaged and frayed from the Fighter fish and although she is now swimming about happily, I am concerned about fin rot setting in. There is a white line appearing along the edge of the damaged tail - I wanted to ask if this is this fin rot or the healing process? I have just ordered some Melafix online - is this safe to use even if it's not fin rot (as a prevention) and is it safe to use it with the other fish in the tank? (4 neon tetras and the guppy)? I've attached a couple of photos - you can see the white line on the close up picture - looks like the tail has a white lining but there are no other signs of white spots on her body. Thanks in advance. Christine <Hello Christine. Male livebearers are aggressive, especially when kept with insufficient females and in tanks that are too small (by their standards, if not yours). While lots of people *think* they can keep Guppies and other livebearers in tanks 20 gallons or smaller, the reality is that all too often males behave in a very aggressive manner. In the wild, male Guppies would be creating an "exclusion zone" around themselves, driving away rival males so that they have exclusive access to the females. All fine and dandy in the wild, but in aquaria a recipe for disaster. In any case, there's nothing you can do to stop the Guppy behaving this way. Yes, your Platy has early stages of Finrot, and yes, it needs treatment. I personally consider Melafix an inferior product for this sort of thing: it just isn't that reliable. It's low cost as "New Age" recipe appeals to some people I guess, but given it doesn't always work I'd sooner recommend something reliable. Maracyn, for example, or eSHa 2000. Do remember that whatever treatment you use, you must remove carbon from the filter before use. Cheers, Neale.>

Platies, Guppies; repro  3/3/08 I have two male guppies and one female platy along with some other bottom feeders, i just started a ten gallon tank so i only bought a few to let the tank cycle. I am pretty sure that the platy is pregnant from the store and the guppies like to chase it around the tank and bite at it's fins. I has taken to hiding in the bottom corner but comes up to eat. What should i do to relieve stress of the platy during the pregnancy. I have an extra tank but no filter to add to it. I had planned on maybe putting her in it for the babies to grow. If you could please reply back at XXXX@yahoo.com that would be much appreciated. thanks, Cody <Hello Cody. Two things: first make sure the aquarium is big enough for these fish. A 10-gallon tank is too small; 20-gallons is the minimum. When kept in small tanks livebearers can be nippy towards one another, as you're learning. As for stress, the main thing is to remove the males. They will fight constantly, and nothing you can do will stop that. They will also eat any babies. Whatever you do, don't put her in a "breeding trap" -- these are too small for adult fish; at best you can put the babies in them. Adding some floating plants will also help the female fish and give protection to the babies for long enough for you to find, rescue them. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poeciliids.htm Specifically the sections of guppies, platies and breeding. Cheers, Neale.>

Questions about my livebearers, sys. mostly     2-16-08 Hi! <Hello! Merritt here!> I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank with 3 red wag platys ( soon to be 2 and all females I think), 2 pineapple swordtails ( 1 male, 1 female), and 2 guppies (1 male and 1 female). <Nice collection of livebearers> Here are the stats 20 nitrates, 0 nitrites, 0 chlorine, our water is hard 150, and our alkaline is at 120, and the PH is 7.2. I have a heater on all the time it keeps the water between 76-84 degrees (76 in the morning when I first turn the lights on and is 84-86 at the end of the day when I turn the lights off.). I also use aquarium salt in every water change. <How much aquarium salt?> I do use a water conditioner in the water that I do the changes with. The tank has been set up for about 8 months or so. I change about 15-20% of the water every week and I gravel vac once a month to pick up any uneaten food. I also have 3 snails 2 are about the size of a ping pong ball and one that is a very tiny tiny baby ( a surprise that came with my newest additions the swordtails and 1 red wag platy). <Snails are great!> I put some breeding grass (plastic) in the back corner of the tank and I have a treasure chest decoration and 4 other fake plants. I feed my fish twice a day ( tropical flakes and crushed freeze dried shrimp in the morning and just tropical flakes in the evening). <You should try some frozen mysids or bloodworms to their diet. It will encourage breeding> My filter is a whisper external power filter. I did not have very much luck with in the first 4 months of my tank being set up, my fish kept dying (I assume it was the environment hadn't settled yet). <Very true> Finally I have fish living and staying alive. I had moved about 6 months ago and I had 3 fish then all mollies. Two had died shortly after the move (Im guessing stress) and so I bought 1 of my red wag platys then to replace the dead ones. My molly died last month (old age? She was about 2 in long and I had her for like 5 months). <I don't think it was old age. They can live for a long time, about 3-5 years> About 2 weeks ago the original red wag platy was staying on the gravel and was eating but just goes back to the gravel when she is done in fact she hides by the breeding grass. I bought the 2 guppies and 1 red wag platy yesterday and my swordtails and 1 red wag platy today. My original red wag platy wouldnt eat today but she did come out of hiding to the top of the water for a few seconds and now she is hiding again. She does have a bit of a torn up tail fin but I dont think its tail rot (my molly was mean to her when I first bought her). <You should use some Maracyn to fix that tail rot> So my question is my original red wag platy dying or was she just lonely and now she isnt sure of the new friends? <Her behavior is mainly due to the tail rot, once that is cured she should return to her normal happy self> My other question is will my fish interbreed? I know swordtails will breed with mollies and my guppy male will try to breed with my platys but will my swordtail breed with my platys or my guppy female? <Your swordtails will interbreed with the platys but mollies and guppies will not interbreed> Also if I am missing anything for my aquarium or you have any tips it would be greatly appreciated if you let me know. <Actually, your tank setup is very well put together; I would just vacuum the gravel more frequently. Maybe in the future you could try your hand at some real plants in the tank, they help with water chemistry and make the tank look more natural> Thank you, <You are welcome!> Jennifer <Merritt A.>

Platies, Mollies, Livebearers, oh my! Reading, as usual   12/18/07 Hello! <Hi there> I have a 55 gallon rectangular aquarium (a longer aquarium rather than taller) and it has been cycled for 2 years now or so. I recently had guppies, but I went out of town and my heater failed and they all died. I then moved on to Corys and tried guppies again. I got the fancy guppies, and they died after a few weeks. I heard that fancy guppies are less hardy. But anywho... guppies didn't work and I wanted something new. I had only two Corys in the tank by themselves for a while, and I just recently bought 3 red wag platies, 2 white platies with Mickey mouse spots, a white molly, a black and white speckled molly, two African dwarf frogs, and 5 Danios. However the speckled molly died fairly quickly after being added (probably due to the lack of salt in the aquarium) and the white one died the next day. Well, sadly, a majority of the fish died, and now all I have left is one African dwarf frog, two Corys, and two white platies. Here is my aquarium's water state right now pH --> 8.0 8.2 (My different testing strips give me different readings) GH --> 120 ppm nitrite --> 0 ppm chlorine --> 0 ammonia --> 0 - .25 (between) nitrate --> 40 ppm <Way too high> KH --> 240 ppm temp --> roughly 78 degrees F I added Am-Quel+ to remove the nitrite, nitrate, ammonia <... doesn't do this> chlorine and chloramines and my nitrite hasn't changed and neither had my ammonia. Does that mean I need a partial water change? I hear you change it weekly but I also hear every 2 weeks or so. Would weekly cleaning stress out the fish? <Less so than living in polluted water> My water is well water and I treat it with chemicals to take out chlorine and stuff, but it still scares me to add it to the water, especially weekly. <Just pre-store the water... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treath2o.htm> Well I then tried Wardley's 3 in 1 7.5 pH water conditioner to lower my pH just a tad. However my pH wasn't effected at all whatsoever. <"Too" hard...> Does that mean I need to treat the hardness in my water and lower it? <Maybe...> I did all of these things after noticing my fish weren't doing too well (the one's I recently bought). My tow platies that are left are doing well but I don't want to lose them and want to add some mollies and more platies once my tank is working well. <Most likely the original new guppies brought in a pathogen... either protozoan and/or bacterial...> I bought salt because I heard mollies needed them, but I bought Top Fin Conditioning Salt because I didn't know there were different types of salt. Does that work the same as Aquarium Salt? <Yes> I know that salt effects Corys, and was wondering if it would effect my frog. <Yes> I researched a whole lot and I guess that the usual amount of salt per 5 gallons is 1 tbsp? Is that too much for platies? <No, but for the other life...> I don't know when to add salt either. Do I add that salt amount weekly? Daily? Do I add that amount every time I do water changes? I am just very confused on the whole salt thing because I have never used it before. I also read it raises your pH level...but I don't want my pH to go HIGHER than 8.2, which is what it is roughly at right now. <Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm> I am sorry for the tremendously long email. I hope you can help me. If it helps at all, my filter is the Tetra 60 ....a filter for fish tanks 50 gallons and larger. I appreciate all the help you have to offer. Sincerely, Someone needing help on livebearers <Bob Fenner>

Slightly brackish question... Poeciliids... sys. Hi Crew, <Hello,> I can't say how many hours I have spent reading the website and how much I have learned from it. Keep up the good work. <Thank you.> Simple question I hope, I am keeping Mollies and Swordtails in a heavily planted 46 gallon bow front. The Swordtails and Mollies are pretty happy, both given birth and I have a bunch of babies of each type swimming around. Basically everything seems healthy and happy, just wondering if I should switch to marine salt. <Ideally, yes. Marine salt mix contains a lot of other things besides salt, and these help raise the pH and ensure the water chemistry remains stable.> Water chemistry is 0 NH4, 0 nitrites, ~20ppm nitrate. DIY CO2 doesn't seem to pull the PH down at all, but sure does make the plants happy. <Sounds fine.> 10% change every other week mostly to get rid of some snails, the plants seem to keep the nitrates in line all by themselves. <Hmm... I'd be doing larger water changes. Not less than 25% a week, and ideally twice that. Mollies are especially sensitive to nitrate.> My water right out of the tap (well water) is PH 7.6, GH 22, KH 14... so very hard right off. <Absolutely perfect for livebearers. Don't do anything to this except add dechlorinator and (optionally) salt.> I forget which brand of test kit, is the test tubes and the drops. The paper test strips just turn purple and max out at 180ppm, which if I calculate correctly is around a GH of 10. <This is the GH of the aquarium? The GH drops to half that of your water supply? Not so good. I wonder why? In any event, if you increase the water changes that would help. The more often you change the water, the closer the aquarium conditions will be to your excellent well water, and the smaller water chemistry changes will be between each water change. A GH of 10 is a bit low for most livebearers, and much too low for Mollies especially.> I have been adding normal aquarium salt verse marine salt to get a SG of around 1.003~1.005 measured with a refractometer. <SG 1.003 should be adequate for Mollies; SG 1.005 is a little on the high side for Xiphophorus spp. They'll tolerate it, but they don't really appreciate it. The plants will also prefer the lower salinity. SG 1.003 is about 6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre, so easy enough to estimate.> Pretty much everything I have read says I should be adding marine salt to increase the hardness because it contains calcium carbonate. <Correct; marine salt mix is formulated not to just replicate sea water, but to create artificial sea water that is strongly buffered against pH changes. Brackish water fish also appreciate this. That's why marine salt mix is better than plain old sodium chloride, which has zero effect on water chemistry stability.> But considering how much calcium carbonate is in my water to start with I wonder if that is true? <Given the difference between the well water GH (22 degrees) and the aquarium (10 degrees) there's clearly something up. Rather than fussing too much with the salt, I'd scale up your water changes and see how things go. 50% a week should do the trick.> Thanks as always, Robert <Good luck, Neale>

Re: Slightly brackish question... Poeciliids    11/11/07 Thanks Neale, I guess I was a little unclear... the 10 GH reading was from test strips that max out at 180ppm... if I use the liquid test kit, the aquarium water is also a constant GH of 22. Robert <Hi Robert. Ah, you have Liquid Rock on tap -- the perfect water for livebearers and brackish water fish! For optimal results, just do large, regular water changes to minimise any water chemistry and quality issues. Hard water is delightful stuff because it does a lot of the water chemistry work for you. 50% water changes each week will preempt acidification and nitrate problems. Add around 6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water to get SG 1.003, and your Mollies will be as happier than the proverbial pigs. Cheers, Neale.>

Guppy issue 10/14/07 Hi, I noticed a problem with one of my female guppies today (I have 6 guppies in a 10 gallon tank, 2 males and 4 females). I had checked the pH, nitrate, nitrite, chlorine, hardness, and alkalinity yesterday before buying the fish and it was all at healthy levels. The tank has been set up for a while because I wanted it to get through a cycle before putting any fish in (although my roommates thought I was nuts for having a tank with no fish!). Each of the fish I picked seemed in good condition and they spent the day getting used to the tank and then I fed them a little before I went to sleep. This morning they had all seemed fine although I noticed the eyes on one female (the one with a problem now) were a little dark, but I thought nothing of it since that can happen from the stress of being transported yesterday. When I got back again about 5 or 6 hours later though, I noticed that her right fin was sticking straight out and seemed a little swollen and pinkish white at the base. She hasn't been using it and just swimming around in circles to the left, but she still has a good appetite and will swim to the right if she sees some food she really wants, she just won't use the right fin. I checked and noticed that the ammonia level is a little higher than I'd like it to be (probably from the fact that the tank is adjusting to the fish). I added some salt to the water and used some stress coat to help them adjust, but I was wondering what else I need to do or if its a much more serious problem. Thanks, Yana <Hello Yana. There's no "acceptable" level of ammonia -- anything above Zero is dangerous, potentially lethal. With Guppies, while wild fish are hardy, the fancy varieties most people buy are extremely delicate. So it is entirely likely (= probable) that you have a case of finrot or fungus to deal with. A combination medication (such as eSHa 2000) should fix that right away. Do follow the instructions carefully. Do remove carbon from the filter (carbon neutralises medications). Don't waste your time with salt/Melafix/Pimafix. Do make sure the water chemistry is appropriate for what Guppies want: high hardness, high carbonate hardness, and a pH around 7.5-8.0. Do reduce food while ammonia is a problem. While I applaud your patience setting the tank up before putting fish into it, unless you were adding a source of ammonia as well, the filter DIDN'T mature. The usual method is to add inorganic ammonia (from a chemist or hardware store) during the "fishless cycling" phase, but adding a pinch of flake each day and letting it rot works just as well. Anyway, assuming you didn't do this, your tank is cycling now, and it'll take about 6 weeks to complete. During this phase, check the ammonia and nitrite levels every couple of days. Do regular, big water changes: I'd suggest 25% daily. That will keep the fish healthy during this critical phase. Once it's mature, you can leave the tank a week between water changes of 25-50%. Good luck, Neale>

Fish and salt   7/11/07 Hello, <Ave!> After haunting my LFS for several weeks, doing research, and asking questions I started adding fish to my tank. <Very good. Welcome to the hobby!> I have a 20 gallon tall with undergravel filter, a hanging filter with Bio-Wheel, and a bubble stick. The temp is 79 degrees, PH 7.5, no ammo or nitrites, correct amount of aquarium salt as per directions (I know I will get Marine Salt in the morning), and several live plants. I do 25% water changes weekly. I think I'm taking good care of them? <Just for reference next time: a 20 gallon 'long' tank is better value -- more surface area for oxygen exchange at the top and surface area for an undergravel filter at the bottom. Otherwise all sounds fine. Salt is questionable though, and depends on the fish being kept. As you have Mollies, it makes sense, but otherwise shouldn't be used in a freshwater tank contrary to popular myth.> In the tank are 2 Platies, 1 Molly, Molly fry, 1 Corydoras (LFS said I only needed one), 1 Kuhli Loach, and 2 Mystery Snails. According to my research and LFS a good combination. <A fair rather than good combination. Mixing livebearers is safe, because they are all salt-tolerant. So even though Platies don't *need* salt, they will tolerate small amounts just fine. Corydoras are not especially salt-tolerant and some species are definitely soft water fish that don't like salt at all. They are also *schooling* fish, and should at least be kept in trios, and ideally sixes or more. Apple snails/Mystery snails are questionable in any aquarium. Fish peck at them, and they also get stressed by high temperatures. Then they die and pollute the tank. Few Apple snails last long in aquaria because they are subtropical animals that need a "resting period" each year. Most Apple snails seem to die within a year, whereas they last for many years kept properly.> I was planning on adding a few more Mollies and Platies before the babies arrived. All the fish except for the Cory seem healthy and happy. The Cory mainly just sits on the bottom and now I know why. After reading through you site I realize my fish are not living as well as they could and are not a good combination. Help, who should go and who should stay? I know for the Mollies to thrive I need much more brackish water but which of the other fish can survive this change? <I like your attitude here. You've correctly established that the combo here isn't the best, and are prepared to make changes. I wish more people thought like this. Anyway, you're probably safe with the Mollies and Platies. Adding around 4-6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water will give you a specific gravity of about 1.002 to 1.003, which is ideal for Mollies. The Platies will be fine here. The Corydoras and Kuhlii loaches are more tricky. Corydoras do not naturally come from brackish waters and many species do not even like hard, alkaline conditions. But noted catfish expert David Sands makes the point in his "Corydoras Catfish" book that 'small amounts of salt will not harm catfishes'. So assuming you have a hardy species (like bronze or peppered catfish) gradually raising the SG to 1.002 should do no harm at all. I'm less certain about the Kuhli loach. Adding salt doesn't kill fish and they aren't allergic to it. What salt does is alter their osmotic balance, their ability to control the amount of salt and water in their tissues. All fishes can, to some degree, adjust this. What differentiates freshwater fish from brackish water fish is that brackish water fish (like mollies) can make these adjustments quickly and across a very wide range. So go slowly, observe, and ensure that the other life signs, like activity and feeding, are normal. Apple snails, by the way, are salt-intolerant, but *may* adapt to very low levels. If you have the option, changing the catfish are loach and snail for hard water or salt-tolerant species might be a good idea. Bumblebee gobies, guppies, glassfish, halfbeaks, x-ray tetras, kribensis, etc. would all be good options.> Also I rarely see the Kuhli Loach. He seems to live under the undergravel filter and only comes out at night. I must admit to doing no research on him and just taking the recommendation of the fish store. Is this normal behavior for this fish? <Totally normal. They're a waste of money in most instances because they are resolutely nocturnal animals. They are also schooling fish, so when kept singly are very VERY shy anyway.> Thanks for all of your help and the great site, Melissa <Hope this helps, Neale>

Livebearer tank  6/6/07 Hello everyone!! Nice to ask questions again! <Hello.> Recently, I bought a 10.70 imported aquarium. It has a depth of 15.5 inches. My 5 black mollies are there and I want to add more livebearer fish- guppies, platys and swordtails. Now what will you suggest me the right number of livebearer fish in the tank, and can I put the 4 livebearers together? <In theory, all of the "big four" livebearers -- guppies, platies, swordtails, and mollies -- can be kept together. Although mollies do (generally) do best in slightly brackish water, guppies are fine in brackish water and swordtails and platies will tolerate salt without problems at low concentrations. A specific gravity of 1.003 (~10% seawater salinity) is a nice value to aim for, and all four fish will be comfortable at this level. All four livebearers also want water that is very hard and somewhat alkaline; I'd recommend a hardness of 15 dH or more and a pH around 7.5 to 8.0. Now, having said this, there are differences in requirements and behaviour that MUST be considered. Male mollies and male swordtails can both be highly aggressive, and in a small tank (anything less than 150 litres/ 40 US gallons) have the potential to cause havoc. Mollies are also much larger fish than the others, especially the sailfin varieties, and need lots of swimming space. Swordtails are also "space hogs", being fast, active swimmers. Platies and mollies also need a lot of green foods in their diet, so you have to plan for that. Finally, hybrids are a possibility, and cannibalism a certainty, so in a busy community tank, don't expect very many fry. Swords and platies hybridise fairly readily, and guppies and mollies hybridise a bit less easily but will do so.> By the way it is planted with bundles of Vallisneria and green Cabomba, and I added marine salt in the water with 50 grams per 10 litres. <5 grammes per 1 litre is less than SG 1.002, and so I'd round that up a little to 6 grammes per 1 litre. Your plants will be fine at this salinity, assuming all else is optimal (i.e., lights, substrate, and fertilisation).> Thanks in advance, I hope you will reply soon... <Hope this helps, Neale>

Salt for Livebearers  12/30/06 Hey there, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I was wondering what kind of salt I should use for a platy and guppy tank? (1 tablespoon of table salt or kosher salt, per 5 gallons should keep them happy.  Don't forget to replace what you remove after  your weekly water change.  Place into the filter, not directly into the tank, so it doesn't land on the fish & burn them.  ~PP><<RMF suggests unwashed sea-salt... in small quantities available as "Aquarium Salt" by various companies... Aquarium Pharmaceuticals is what we used to carry>> Uncontrollable high ph  06/14/2006 I have a fresh water tank mostly consisting of guppies and mollies and many fry. I am constantly testing my tank, but I always worry about my water changes and just the general pH of the tank. I can never seem to keep the pH at a stable level, I am constantly fighting to keep my fish comfortable. where I live has only well water, and for some reason has an unusually high pH. I just wanted to know if you have any tips or tricks to help me keep my fish happy, or maybe a way to help the cost of using a pH down <product>, down! I have had aquariums in the past and never had this much problem with high pH. I use about a $9 bottle of pH down almost every week.  I feel as though my only option is soon to be going and buying bottled water every time I need to do a water change in my tank. I am hoping that you can help me so i am not going to that extreme.  I also have a male betta that is very swollen - I think that it could be dropsy, could this be due to my constant battle with the ph level in my tank? <You absolutely must keep the pH level as stable as possible - how large are these fluctuations you are referring to?  You have a couple of options with regard to the situation: 1 - continue using your tap water, and allow the pH to remain high (again, I'd like to know exactly how high we are talking about).  So long as you have just the mollies and guppies, most standard pet store choices are hardy enough to handle this.  Again, stability is preferable to precision, when it comes to pH. 2 - look into an Aquarium Pharmaceuticals product called a "tap water filter" - it's around $30 dollars, and is a very basic filter  for your tap water.  You hook it up to your faucet.  Depending on the quality of your source water and how much output you are using, a cartridge will last anywhere between 1-3 mos. (very approximate!)  I used this when I only had two 3 gal. aquariums, as it takes a long time to produce water. 3 - if you are seriously into the hobby, look into getting a reverse osmosis/de-ionized water system.  www.airwaterice.com sells quality products of this nature at a reasonable price.  If you are making substantial quantities of water, this is your best bet in the long run. With both option 2 and 3 above, you will need to add some elements back to the newly created water...I use two products, one called ElectroRight and the other called pH Adjust.  These bottles will last you quite some time (of course depending on how much water you need to produce). Bottled water isn't a good alternative, as it is lacking many of the nutrients and minerals fish need to stay healthy. With regard to your betta, my guess is that he is suffering not from the specific pH of the water, but from the constant fluctuation.  Does he have a pinecone appearance when you look at him from the top, or is he just swollen?  I'd recommend using a small amount of Epsom salt to help him and bumping up the temp. of his water a bit, but can't suggest anything else without having more information from you.  Let me know what tanks you have, what size they are, what fish you keep in which tanks, and what the current ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels are, as well as the pH and temp.  Once I have this additional information, I can better help you.   Jorie>

Mollies Bob, Hi, my name is Brenee King, a student of Mr. Nordell's. I contacted you earlier about water striders but they didn't work out for me so now I'm working with mollies. I had a question, since they are tropical fish, I need to keep the water heated to a specific temperature. I have different tanks set up and was wondering if I kept the tanks on a heating pad, if that would work or not? Or would getting heaters for each tank be better? <Actually, if the tanks are indoors and you're comfortable, there should be no troubles with temperature and your mollies... most species used are "cool" water fishes... Do keep the tanks close together and away from windows, other drafts and all should be fine. Bob Fenner>

Neons and Platies I am setting up a new freshwater tank, and I was wondering if I would be able to put neon tetras and platies in the same tank. I notice that the recommended pH for tetras is 5 to 7, while the pH for platies is 7 to 8. <Ah, good to hear of your investigations... what is more, the livebearers called platies prefer cooler temperature as well as harder (higher dH, dKH) than these delightful characins... but, see below> The tank is an Eclipse System 12 tank, and I am hoping to put in 3 Mickey mouse platies, 3 or 4 swordtails, 3 mollies, 9 or 10 neons, a couple catfish, and an algae eater). I plan on cycling the system with the platies, adding the catfish, mollies, and swordtails a week or so later, adding the neons after a month, and adding the algae eater when I see a decent amount of algae in the tank. Does this sound like it would work? <Yes, I do think this is a workable plan, except for the absence of mention of some live plants... do encourage you to try at least some of the hardier types... these are covered on the www.wetwebmedia.com site under the planted tank index... and the number of fishes... This twelve gallon system is a winner in terms of design, engineering, but should not be overcrowded... I would likely leave out the Swordtails as they get a bit too big... and cut the neon population in half... Also, do let the tank go fishless for a week before adding the platies... and do place some of the live plant material you settle on (Water Sprite, Elodea/Egeria, Myriophyllum/Tropical Foxtail...) at the same time to help in the "break in" period> I appreciate any input you can give me. Best regards, Doug Fitzpatrick <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Child's aquarium My daughter received a small aquarium (the Eclipse Explorer) for Christmas, and we followed all the directions when setting it up. When we went to get fish, we were advised to get two swordtails. Since I know nothing about fish, I followed the salesperson's advice. This morning, the female died, and tonight, the male died. They were only in our home for one week, and they seemed fine yesterday. I watched the female as she was dying, and she was propping herself up on the plastic plant, then going to the top really fast and sinking to the bottom. That went on for about 30 minutes before she died. Any ideas on what happened? Are there any easier fish to raise in a small tank? My daughter is only 6 years old, but she's determined to learn about fish. Thanks for your help. <Thank you for writing... I will help you and your child in whatever way I am able. First off, I do disagree with the choice of Swordtails (Xiphophorus helleri, identified for browsers of this information unfamiliar with western common names). This livebearer gets too big for small systems... and really should be kept not in pairs but in combinations of more females than males... Anyhow, I do fear/suspect there may be something more at play here that resulted in these fish's loss... And have ideas on how to proceed to prevent further mortality. Do place a small amount of appropriate live plant material... Foxtail (Myriophyllum), Anacharis (Elodea, Egeria species), Watersprite (Ceratopteris)... something hardy and tropical in this system to help modify your water chemistry, provide food, and help oxygenate and filter your water... and a week or more from now do look into some of the following very hardy fishes for this system: Platies (like swordtails but smaller, hardier for small systems), small danios like Zebras, small barbs like Checker Barbs, Cherry Barbs, small Rasboras like the Red Rasbora (aka Harlequin)... and let's see how these do (just a handful in number maximum, fed scarcely the first few days)... Do take a read through the site: www.WetWebMedia.com freshwater index. And we'll be talking. Bob Fenner> 

FW Fish (stocking, advice concerns) HI Robert, I just read some help advice on "child's aquarium" It was about the Eclipse Explorer.... i just bought one of those for my son and bought a big tail molly, 2 orange platies, and a Mickey Mouse fish. Only 3 days after we bought the fish the Molly died, then one of the Orange platies. When we went back to the pet store the girl that worked there told us that the Mollie's and Platies needed to be in a heated tank and that the Eclipse Explorer had no heater since it is only a 2 gallon tank. the night we bought the fish i showed the sale person the tank we had bought and he said that these fish would do great in that since they were small. He even looked at the instructions and made no mention that it had no heater, but he was fast to sell us fish that needed a tank with a heater. <Hmm, well, these are "tropical fish"... but if in good health initially, and put in to a stable system (though bigger is better... two gallons is small) these fishes can/do live in unheated systems (in houses kept warm, away from windows, drafts...> It bothered me just a little bit when you gave this lady advice on which fish to put back in her tank when the fish you mentioned are ones that i have and you gave her no advice on the fact that those fish need to be in a heated tank and the tank she has, has no heater!!! I upgraded to a 10 gallon tank with a heater and now my 2 remaining fish {orange platy and Mickey mouse} are doing great and in fact my husband and i woke up this morning to find a new addition to our tank. <Will have to search the stored materials for this... and congratulations> I just think it is good practice to know about tanks before giving advice to someone. This poor little girl is going to have more fish die on her because her mom got bad advice from a so called fish expert. -Mrs. Wilson <Hmm, in future I suggest you copy (cut/paste) whatever in print that you contest... very hard to follow your line of reasoning here. Bob Fenner>

Thanks Thank you very much for your quick reply on my question about my daughter's aquarium. We'll give it a try. <Very well. Make it known if I may be of further assistance. Bob Fenner>

Balloon Mollies Dear Robert, I just purchased two balloon mollies to place in my 5.5 gallon tank. One is male and the other female. The female just gave birth, but almost all of the fry were lost because they were eaten by the male or sucked up in the filter. One remains. They are so tiny!!! Any ideas on how to extract the one lone fry without damaging it? <Yes, do use a net to "guide" this baby into a jar or other (plastic if you have it) container underwater. Move a good amount of the existing water to its new home> Also, will the two fish mate again? Thanx. <Yes. Do get a bit of "spawning grass", live or artificial for your next batch... consider a larger system going forward... and try not to move the female if possible while pregnant. Others experiences with pregnant livebearers is stored here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/poeciliidfaqs.htm Bob Fenner> -James Kim

Re: Number of Fish (mollies in a tiny tank) Dear Robert, I am thinking of adding 2 balloon mollies in addition to the two I already have in my 5.5 gallon tank to complete the tank. Should I place two more females, two more males, or both a female and a male? I currently have one female and one male in there. Thanx. <I would place two more females. Much more likely to all get along. Bob Fenner> -James Kim

Re: Balloon Mollies Dear Robert, Can you elaborate more on what exactly breeding grass is? <Ah, yes... fine, filamentous plant life like Myriophyllum, Anacharis, Hornwort: These are covered on the Plant Index: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqGardHP.htm on the WWM site. That the females will typically release young near, and that they will instinctively hide in... avoiding predation> Also, do you have advice for any other types of structures that a  female might use to give birth? <Yes, there are artificial constructs for the same purpose... made of plastics, sold in the trade. Or you can make them out of "floating mops made of yarn", worsted rope material... There are all sorts of "breeding traps" as well... some air driven, some even motorized (with a pump), others relying on just gravity, behavior... Use the Net and books to read about livebearers, their hobby and commercial production. Bob Fenner> Thanx. -James Kim

Just Molly and Me...and babies make Sixty (Balloon Heaven) Dear Robert, <James, Anthony Calfo here answering Bob's mail while he recovers from a strange accident involving a golf ball, a pack of cheese crackers and a dare> Here is my tank setup: -5.5 gallon tank -15 gallon power filter -2 banana plants -2 mid sized decorations -5 balloon mollies (4 females 1 male) -1 algae eater The water tests fine, <you are adding some salt, right? I'll trust you on the water chemistry> but for some reason one of the larger females chases the other fish around as if she is defending something. Is there and explanation for this? Is she pregnant? If she is, how can I tell? Thanx. <quite possibly pregnant James... in fact, inevitable with these hardy livebearers. Mollies are fun and breed easily... as young as just a few months old. The tank is small for six adult fish... four of which are almost certain to procreate. Consider setting up another tank for the babies that you will surely get. You can put the frisky large female there to birth and observe for up to eight weeks. You might be an uncle many times over soon (smile)> -James Kim

Salted Guppies Hello all, Pam here again with a new question about guppies! Funny, I didn't know you guys were also fresh water experts. My daughter has a little 10 gallon tank with ever producing guppies. I know they like salt and have always used kitchen non-iodized stuff. How about reef salt? Would they like it? <It may be a little better for them by adding some extras like calcium, magnesium, etc.> Thanks! Pam <You are welcome, Steven Pro>

Re: A Few Questions on livebearers <Magnus back to help.> thanks so much for your response, after reading the website posts, I starting adding a spoonful of sea salt, they seem to do okay with that, my Neons haven't been a problem at all they seem okay with anything I do!  Didn't seem to mind the salt increase either.   About all the fry in the tank, their must be at least 80 of them, <wow, that's a lot!  You probably should think about setting up an additional tank to house these fish.  Or perhaps speak with your local pet shop to see if they would be interested in helping you take some off your hands.> should I be changing their water more often than 30% a week? <No, that is more than enough.  If you change to much water it will have a bad effect on the tank and the beneficial bacteria in your tank.  The neon tetras will also show signs of stress if the water is changed to much and to frequently.  I would say stick with what you are doing.>   I have a Topfin filter that is for a 20 gallon tank in a 15 gallon tank.  Also I had noticed that my fancy guppies tails were splitting and were kind of jagged.  I'm crediting that to poor water conditions so I cleaned the tank really well, and I will change water before it gets cloudy.   <The tails aren't due to water quality, it's the other fish.  The males are competing for the attention and breeding, they will nip at the tails of the other fish.  That is why they look that way.  Just be careful damaged fins can quickly acquire fin rot if the water quality should decline.  But, it sounds as though you have everything in order.> Thanks again just need an answer on the fry tank. <No problem, that is what we are here for.  Good luck with the fishies. -Magnus> Our 10 gallon aquarium Wears a Ten Gallon Hat Hello Bob: <Hi there Daniel> I have some questions for you: <Hope I have some answers> We have a 10-gal aquarium with one female Dalmatian molly, one male Dalmatian molly, and what I presume to be a female sailfin, or white, or silver molly. We also have an orange platy, small, and 2-small guppies. <Okay> We also have about 4 babies (fry) hiding on the bottom. We're not sure, they may have been reduced to 2, we can't see them altogether like we did a few days back. Our temperature is consistently 78 degrees, pH is around 7.5. There is salt in the aquarium, but not 1/2 cup like one site suggested. <Yikes... this is too much... a couple of teaspoons total will fit all these types of fishes> We have less.  Our ammonium, nitrate/nitrite levels seem to be on top of things.  Questions: We don't intend to be breeders, but we thought about keeping 2 of the babies after they grow up. What would we do with any others? <Mmm, give them away to the neighbor children (this is how I got started), or trade them back (when about half grown) to your local fish shop...> And I'm assuming that the white and/or Dalmatian females will make more...what do we do with the survivors. We don't intend right now to have any separate tanks or make any bigger tanks yet?  And with the guppies and platy in there, that's about enough for this tank, so is the pH and salt ok for them too? <Yes, in moderation> About how long will it take for the babies to become mature fish? Or even 1/2 inchers? <Both a couple of months> Right now they're tiny little things, but the other fish seem to be leaving them alone. One last question: You know about this...the Dalmatian male is being aggressive during feeding time, but we don't intend to have separate quarters for the females. should we have a breeding separator handy, however, and when can we tell that the female(s) are ready to be separated?  <You could... but just having some habitat... live or faux plants will do some good... a ten gallon is a very small world for trying to raise but a few of these fishes total> Ok, one last-last question...the guppies are bothering the white (silver) molly...is she pregnant? Or what's going on here? <Don't know> Thanks for your attention... great site by the way! Sincerely yours, Daniel R. Patfield <Thank goodness for the Net, eh? Bob Fenner>

Fry Tank Suggestion 7/21/05 Bob, <Andrew (though one of my fave sci-fi writers is Andre) Norton> I want to set up a fry tank for the inevitable Molly/Platy/Guppy deliveries that will come down the road from my 25 gallon community tank.   Would the Mini-Bow 5/7 or the Eclipse System 6 be a good idea since they already have everything set up?   <Yes, small but useful> Would you prefer one to the other? <Mmm, no, no preference>   I was planning on the Eclipse since I was a fan of the Bio-Wheel for the past 10 years, but thought I would ask your opinion. Thanks, and great site! Andy <Both systems can be made to work... do plan on frequent (a few times a day) feedings and as regular water changes as you can stand... with stored water. Bob Fenner> Fry Grow-out Tank Hi. Just wanted to say thanks for all the advice you have e-mailed me, and posted on your website. I do have a couple more questions though. I put the fry in a small aquarium with a small filter and noticed that they seemed to end up in the filter. I lost a couple fry this way because I didn't find them in time to scoop them out. I unplugged the filter to prevent this, but I am afraid the ammonia will build up. Can I leave the filter unplugged and use a waste eliminator or should I plug in the filter and hope my fry learn not to swim up into it. My second question is that I know they like to hide so I have some plants on the bottom and also some floating at the top. I noticed some of the fry hiding in the gravel instead of in the plants, and this morning found one dead stuck between a couple pieces of the gravel. I think maybe it got itself stuck and that's why it died. I had to scoop a couple others out because they looked like they were having trouble getting out of their hiding spots. Should I take the gravel out and just leave the bottom bare?  Thanks again for all your help.   Sarah <I would keep the filter running and try to put a piece of nylon pantyhose over the intakes. And I would remove the gravel from a fry grow out tank. It makes clean up much easier. Also, add a sponge filter for next time. Bury one in the corner of your main tank and move it to the fry tank when needed. The simplest setup is the best set up for fry. With a bare bottom you will see how much waste they generate. Then every day siphon all the waste out and replace about 10 to 20% of the water. Once a week replace half the water. Keep up this schedule and you can overfeed a little and get your fry growing very quickly. Don>

Mollies and Guppies and Whiteclouds - Oh My! - 08/12/2005 Hi! <Hello!> I happened upon this site through a search and I find it to be very informative. <I am delighted to hear this.> I have a few questions/concerns about my fish.  I tried to do a search for answers but really could not make heads or tails of it all.  I apologize for that.   <No worries.> We have a 29 gallon tank with 3 balloon mollies, 3 white clouds, 3 guppies, and 2 mollies in it.   <Sounds quite nice.> We have the water tested regularly at our local pet store.  My first question is do we have too many fish? <No.> How many fish can we have in our tank without overcrowding it? <I would be comfortable adding a few more white clouds (major schoolers; they take "comfort" in numbers), possibly a few more guppies....  and/or a few small bottom feeders, such as Corydoras catfish or kuhlii loaches.> My second question addresses our white clouds.  Two of the white clouds will swim all over the tank and stay together.  The third white cloud stays at the top and has nothing to do with the other two or any other fish for that matter.  Is this normal or is he unhappy?   <Could be normal, due to a lack of a "school" to swim with - but more likely this fish is diseased in some manner....  I would observe the animal very closely, and remove to a quarantine system if necessary.> My third question has to do with one of our balloon mollies.  She is a black balloon molly and has such a personality.  She was our first molly ever and when we first got her she was totally different from the fish she is today.  She would stay at the top and generally in the same area.  We finally got some more mollies to give her friends and it totally changed her.  She turned into the happiest little fish! She loved her friends, one in particular.  They would play in the waterfall (the water coming from the filter) and were really fun to watch.   <Comfort in numbers, to be sure!> Three of the other mollies that we got all died, including her friend.  We ended up with only two mollies.  She doesn't care at all for the other molly left so my husband went and bought her new friends.  She will have nothing to do with these other mollies.  She likes to come to the front of the tank and "play" with us.  The other molly that she liked so well was a black regular molly.  Could it be that she wants another one like her? <I'm not so certain that fish think that far into things....  more, I would wager that she was just pleased to have many other fish....  as the newer ones "settle in", you may see more of this very playful behaviour.> My fourth question is about one of our regular mollies.  We recently added her to the tank along with two balloon mollies.  She is the biggest bully!!! She constantly chases the other fish and nips at them.  She only does it to the 3 guppies, the 2 balloon mollies she came home with, and the other regular molly.  I was noticing though, she is tons meaner to the 2 balloon mollies she came with.   <It is natural for fish to attack a member of their species that appears malformed or unhealthy....  This may be what is happening.> What can I do to discourage her from being so mean?  I don't want her to continue to be mean and stress out all of my fish.   <I would remove the bully from the system - perhaps trade in for another, smaller, molly.> My next question is about my fry.  We have about 9 baby guppies and 1 baby molly still alive.  They are in a separate, much smaller tank from the other fish so that they won't be eaten.  I noticed today that 2 of my guppies had climbed between the gravel and the tank wall and 1 was actually dead.  My molly was doing the same thing.  The guppy that wasn't dead is now swimming around but my molly still continues to try to burrow in the gravel.  Why is she/he doing this? I have had 2 other molly fry do this and die.  I have thought about removing the gravel but I think it has the under gravel style filtration system.   <This undergravel filter may be the culprit.  As soon as these fry are large enough to move, take them out and remove the filter.  The suction it creates may be what is causing them to become trapped when they seek hiding among the gravel pieces.> I think that this is all of my questions for now.  I apologize for the length and number of questions.   <Again, no worries at all.> Thanks in advance for the help.  Desiree Dickson <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>  

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