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FAQs on the Livebearing Toothed Carps, Poeciliid Fishes

Related Articles: Livebearing Fishes by Bob Fenner, Poeciliids: Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies by Neale Monks, Mollies, Platies, Guppies, Swords, & Anablepids (Four-Eyes), Goodeids, Halfbeaks (Hemiramphrids) 

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

 

Re: baby livebearers in a net... learning, making up your own mind  9/9/05 I was told by Petsmart employees to leave the babies in the breeding net from birth until they are 6 months old. <Uh, no... only should be there until grown past the point of being consumed...>   They are in a breeding net that is in a 10 gallon tank.  This aquarium was given to me about 5 months ago with fish in it & no filter.  Everything that I have done since was on the advice of Petsmart employees. <So? What do you think? Think for yourself> I immediately bought a power filter and have done weekly 10% water changes ( I use bottled spring water ). <Not generally necessary, recommended> The babies were born about two weeks after I got the tank and seemed to be doing well until now.  I was told I would be "lucky" if any survived. <Why... lucky?>   I went to Pet Supermarket this morning and had the water tested.  The pH was "perfect" and there was no ammonia. <Mmm, know that ammonia is transient... can, does leave solution... enroute>   I bought aquarium salt and stress coat ( advice given by the employee ) and used both in the tank this morning.  I was told not to give them any more penicillin.  I feed them twice a day with crushed tropical fish flakes ( of course, they aren't eating for the last four days ).  Unfortunately, everyone I talk to has a different suggestion on how to care for these fish.  I want to do the best thing for these babies and any advice you have would be appreciated! <... please read... on WWM, books... and make up your own mind. My/our opinions, experiences are archived here/there. Bob Fenner> Molly and Guppy?!?  9/3/05 Hi my name is Michelle and I have a 2.5 gallon tank with three albino Corys, three white cloud fish (2 males and 1 fat female), one female silver molly and one male blue guppy who is absolutely gorgeous.  All of my fish get along just great and love each other even with the some what cramped space.  I got the albino Corys about 6 months ago, the white cloud fish 4 years ago, the male guppy 6 months ago and the silver molly 9 months ago.  Getting to the point though I have a problem and was wondering if you could give me a few answers.  About 5 weeks ago I woke up and was about to feed my fish when I noticed little tiny black slivers of fish darting in and out of a java plant I have in my tank.  There were probably about 10 of them in all.  When I realized that they were baby fish I grabbed my net and managed to save four of them before my catfish got them.  I put the baby fry into a 2 gallon tank my mating Betta's had been using and as the four fry grew I learned that they had definitely come from my silver molly because they all look just like her now only smaller.  I thought it was some kind of asexual fish fluke thing at first because she is the only silver molly in my tank and I had no other way to explain it.  But now, 5 weeks from that incident, tonight I went to feed my fish again for the night and I noticed the same little black fry in my java plant and saved 4 of the little guys again and they look just like the first batch of fry from 5 weeks ago.  I looked on some websites and they all pretty much say live bearers need at least one male and one female to make babies.  I know some females come from pet stores pregnant but I bought her back in early December 2004 and she is just now all of a sudden having babies...WHY?...HOW? <Mmm, some livebearers, including molly species, are capable of storing sperm in their reproductive tracts, using it later> Is there some way the molly and guppy could be mating? <No... though some crosses do happen (platies and swordtails for instance)> The male guppy follows her around the tank every where and he isn't aggressive and never nips or hurts her or other fish he is just very determined to be with her and only her...does that mean they could be mates or something even though they are totally different breeds of fish?  I know I sound stupid but I am so confused and never wanted the babies which is why I only got the one guppy and one molly to begin with since Pet Co told me they breed live young often when in pairs.  How can I make her stop having babies every 5 weeks? <This will happen over time> Where can I get rid of these poor little babies? <Perhaps give them to friends if their parents, guardians agree... trade into your fish store for credit...> I feel bad but I no tank room for 8 new silver mollies.  PLEASE HELP ME!!! Michelle <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner> 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> 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>

Link between platy fry gender and temperature? Hi, <Hello there> An acquaintance of mine recently mentioned a link between aquarium temperature and the gender of platies - he believes that his fry ended up all male because he'd kept his tank too warm.   <Yes, probable... one speculation is the link here and the demise of dinosaurs...> I haven't been able to find any references on this topic and was wondering if you could shed some light:  have you heard of this phenomenon, and if so, what temperature ranges are we talking about? Thanks, Joy <Get thee to a large library! Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm Bob Fenner>

Swordtail Disappearing Act? Hi there I am new to this so I was wondering if you can help.  <<Hi, I probably can. Hopefully in time!>> I recently purchased 5 swordtails 3 male 2 female (did not know this till I got home). This morning all was ok, this afternoon one of the males has disappeared without a trace.  <<Very likely driven right up OUT of the tank by one of the other males. Which, by the way, really must be returned for another female, or things could get very ugly for the girls.>> The swords are the biggest fish in the tank are all males are similar in size. Where has he gone and has he been eaten? Jim <<Check around that tank VERY carefully - cannot stress/emphasize how easily fish get into the smallest places. If you find him in time you might be able to revive him. I feel he has MOST CERTAINLY been driven out of the tank. Check even the weird places. If he just died in there you would see the other fishes nibbling on his rotting corpse. Marina>> 

Platy Identification Question Hello fish Gurus! <Morning> After reading many, many questions and answers, you guys seem very knowledgeable and extremely helpful about Platies and Livebearers in general. We were hoping you could help us answer a question we can't seem to find the answer to no matter how many pictures of fish we look at and fish sites we go to. <Okay> Is there a good way to identify if a fish is a Platy, distinctively? <Mmm, yes... there are distinctive differences in "hard body parts" like fin-ray counts, branchiostegals...> It seems like there are so many different kinds, and Platys look so similar to other fish such as Guppies and Mollies. We recently caught (with drinking cups!) some mystery fish which look more like Platies than any other fish but we're not sure. Based on other sites, Platies come from Central America, <Yes, originally... they're now in many other places> but we caught them in Georgia (USA) -- thus the confusion.  Our fish are pale peach to transparent in color and the stronger colored fish have curved lines on their tailfins. Are these platies? <Maybe> We've taken a lot of pictures of the fish and picked the five best pictures, showing the shape and fins if you'd like to see (don't worry, the pictures are cropped down to be small): http://greensand.sytes.net/fish/  <Oh, nice pix... these appear to be other livebearers... used in vector control (to eat mosquitoes). Please see fishbase: http://www.fishbase.org/search.cfm  Put in the term: Gambusia affinis in the search for scientific name or "Mosquitofish" in the common name tray... click on the resultant image... to see others... or look on the Google Pix link there...> We would love to find out what our mystery fish are, and if not, at least learn more about what it would mean to have a "wild Platy" or if they exist. Thank you, -- Dawn :) <Could be... but my guess is on the Gambusia. Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner> 

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>

Cramming a Whole lot of Livebearers into an Uncycled system Knowing Better Ok, so I got this 10 gallon tank and have 4 swordtails and 5 platies in it. I am in no way a newbie to this. So I set up my tank after going 3 years without one. I only set it up because on a whim at the LFS I worked at got a customer that brought in this gorgeous wagtail male swordtail. I brought him along with a female and I didn't have a tank to put them in, so I put them in a breeder trap in my feeder guppy tank. (I know bad, bad of me) A couple days later I set up my ten gallon tank and put them in there. Didn't even let it cycle (I'm so bad lol). Didn't have gravel just put some live plants to float in there. So I noticed that they weren't doing too well (clamped fins and all), but I went anyway to my semi-local specialty fish store.  Of course I couldn't go there without bringing any fish home so I bought 2 lyretail female swords, 1 brush tail male platy, 2 female wags, and a wild variety. Oh yeah and I almost forgot 3 days before that I bought a hi-fin milk- and- ink female platy. So before I had even go to the specialty store I noticed I had ick in the tank, no big deal I'll treat with Methylene blue. It's working great. I also thought I have no quarantine tank set up so I'll put the new fish in there since they almost allows get ick from the stress.  So here's question number 1, I have done no, absolutely positively no water testing (I know I should know better than this) no fish have died and/or seem stressed. Will the Methylene blue affect all of the tests or just certain ones? <None... just your capacity to see colorimetric assay results> I have ammonia, ph, nitrite, nitrate and both hardness test kits. Second, since I only have live plants and the Methylene blue will kill them and I have no plastic plants there is no where for the fry to hide. I bought one female accidentally who has an extremely large gravid spot on accident, I know better than to buy a pregnant female from a pet store. But anyway I would like to try and save the fry if at all possible. I have problems with the female eating her babies in the breeder traps, even the traps with slotted bottoms an a V. I found this one by Penn Plax that siphons the babies from the mother (Penn Plax aqua nursery) I was wondering if you or anyone had any experience with that. <I do... this technology works... old-timey> My third question is a secondary fungal infection has broken out and only malachite green will treat it. I was wondering if Methylene blue and malachite green can work together,  <Yes> if not how long do I have to wait in between treatments if I use my carbon filter to deactivate the Methylene blue. I know have been horrible at setting up this new tank and should be slapped for my stupidity. Luckily no fish are dead or have died and I've had the tank set up for two and a half weeks now. Thanks again Logan <Logan... take your own advice... you know better than how you've acted. Bob Fenner>

My fishes, mainly livebearer questions Hello Crew,          I just want to say that I think you guys r the best. And I have a few questions to ask. I have a 20 gallon tank with 9 fish in it. 4 of the fish are swordtails. I have 1 female red swordtail, 1 female pineapple swordtail, and 2 male pineapple swordtails. I just bought them last week and the female pineapple swordtail is pregnant. We don't know how long she has been pregnant so we put her in a breeder just in case she is supposed to have them any day. Will she eat the babies as she has them and should I be feeding her a little bit more than I usually do because she is pregnant? <She may eat some of the young... a good idea to provide a bit of real or faux "spawning grass" for the young to hide in>          I have another question. In a one gallon tank I have 2 baby mollies. We got them at a pet store on accident. In the tank I have about an inch of gravel, a baby hide out, 1 small plant and an under gravel filter. I am also doing water changes every 2 days that I take out about 1/2 of a jam jar and replace it with fresh water. <Good technique> I am feeding them powdered tropical fish flakes and dried baby brine shrimp. Is that an O.K. place 4 them. Of course I am going to put them in the 20 gallon tank when they r big enough. <Sounds good>         Oh ya and when the swordtail has her babies will the baby mollies eat the swordtail babies. <All should get along fine... as long as they're about the same size> Thanks again 4 all of your help.                                              Kelsey Meadows Age 12  La Quinta C.A <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Can I put Aquarium salt in a tank with mollies and platies? I have a 25 gallon tank and is full of mollies, but also platies. Right now there is no salt in the yank can I add salt? <Yes. Bob Fenner> 

Livebearer sex change I placed five grown females into a community tank, > and a month later have four females and a male?  Do they morph if no males are available? > <Hee hee... females, males of what?   swordtails <Actually, yes.... this and other livebearing toothed carps (poeciliids) can/do change their sex in events of disproportionality, need. Bob Fenner>

Fish that had babies in the tank and got sucked up by the filter Hello, and Thanks. <Hi and you are welcome.  This is Jorie.> We are new to fish and everything that goes into it. One of the fish gave birth to some baby fish and I have seen about 7 Tadpoles in the filter. My question is do I take the filter out and clean the Dead fish off or do I leave them there until I get ready to clean the tank out in about a week or two. <First off, I think you probably are speaking of livebearer fry, not tadpoles (unless you have frogs in the tank!).  You absolutely should remove any and all dead fish, including babies, ASAP, as their decay will pollute the water and cause spikes in ammonia, nitrite and/or nitrate.  Remove the carcasses, clean the filter, and do a large water change.  Are you familiar with the cycling process of the fish tank? I would suggest a book by the name of "The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums" by David E. Boruchowitz as an excellent beginning point...will explaining much that is essential to keeping your new fish happy and healthy.  In general, depending on the size of you tank and how heavily stocked it is, you will want to do water changes *at least* once per week, possibly more while the initial phase of cycling is going on (since you've got fish in there already).  I suggest you purchase a water test kit that includes ammonia, nitrite and nitrate tests, as well as pH...the first three are toxins incredibly harmful, even fatal, to fish, and if you are measuring any amounts of any of the three elements at all, you need to do a water change ASAP.> Thank You for your help. Mr. Poje <Hope I helped.  Do check out that book and feel free to ask any follow up questions you may have. Jorie>

Don's shortest answer ever I have a tank with swordtails and platy's and I was wondering if different species of swordtails could breed with other swordtails and the same for the platy's. Also, can the platy's and swordtails cross breed? <Yes, yes and yes> Clint <Don>

My pregnant swordtail Hi bob <Don here today> could you tell me how long it takes a female to give birth once she becomes pregnant? thanks Most live bearers will drop fry every three to six weeks.

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> Sick Livebearers Hi ya crew, thanks so much for having such a great site.  I have looked all over the web for answers to my questions and I am still so confused.  I just got this 10g  tank about three weeks ago and I am not being a very good fish keeper.  It was already established for two years and nine fish came with it- 3 platies (2 large adults and one small youngster) and 6 guppies (2 large females and one small young female and 3 males).  One of the adult female guppies was very sick when I got her (always floated at the top or did head standing plus she had a bent spine).  I tried to research the best I could and figured she may have had swim or float bladder infection. Plus two of the male guppies started to look ragged in their fins.  I decided to treat the entire tank w/the understanding that it was all very infectious and I was unable to get my hospital tank up and running in a timely manner.  I purchased Maracyn.  The store I purchased it from said that it would not affect the other healthy fish.  Well the two males are looking much better, and the female was euthanized the second day into treatment (she was suffering so much).  So that left me with one large female guppy (who was also very pregnant) and the 3 male guppies were driving her crazy.  The pet store told me to get 3 more females in their to help her out w/the understanding that I would have to do more water changes until I got a larger tank which will hopefully be sooner than later.  I do a partial water change twice a week and ammonia and nitrite are always at 0ppm and nitrates around 30ppm. < Try and get it down to under 25 ppm. When you do a water change try vacuuming the gravel too to get rid of waste accumulating in the sand>   I still continued w/the meds and tomorrow is the last day of recommended treatment but today my large male platy has been swimming erratically, scratching against surfaces, and has white specs on his body. ich?  < Probably> I moved him to my two gallon hospital tank (readings are all fine now) thinking maybe he was reacting badly to the Maracyn. Plus my original small female guppy sits on the bottom of the tank and looks like she is struggling and has a red streak/spot on her back.  Mom gave birth and since then has been hanging on the bottom of the tank and I saw her scratch herself once.  It seems like I have totally upset these fishes homeostasis. what's going on here?< Sounds like the fish didn't like the move. Keep the tank around 80 degrees and treat with rid-ich by Kordon for ich. Treat the bacteria infections with Furanace. Follow the directions on the packages. These medications may affect the good bacteria in your system so you will have to watch for ammonia spikes. Control ammonia and nitrites with water changes.-Chuck> thanks Gina

Freshwater breeding Hi, this is a great site its really help me a lot. I am fairly new to aquariums (besides bettas in 1 1/2 gal. bowls) and I have been through a lot of stuff in my first more or less six months. But now I think I've got a pretty good understanding of things and my tank has been doing great. And eventually I would like to try and start breeding fish, could you recommend any fish that don't require a lot of space (10 gal. at most) are easy to breed, and easy to raise the fry? I know it sounds kind of specific but I want to start out as slow as possible to avoid any more fish disasters. < Look at small live bearers such as guppies and platies. They give birth to live fry and you won't have to worry about eggs hatching. Just keep lots of floating plants in the tank for the babies to hide in. They will eat the same food as the adults you just have to break it up into smaller pieces. Keep the adults well fed are they will eat their babies.-Chuck> Thanks a lot, Mike

Sad News, the passing of Derek Lambert 2/19/04 Hi Bob, Sorry to be the bearer of sad news but Derek Lambert died suddenly this morning. <Very sorry to hear/realize> Apparently it was an aneurysm which probably means it was all over quite quickly. <Yes... if we have to go...> A great loss to fishkeeping, Derek put a lot of effort into the hobby especially on the livebearer front. He was really happy and contented (as far as any Editor can be!) with his work on the magazine, and things won't seem quite the same without him. <Thank you for sending this along Bob <Goemans, forwarded>. Bob Fenner> Hope you're well, and that 2004 is treating you as fair as possible. Dick <Mills>

Guppy and platy fry I recently bought a 50 gallon tank with guppies and red wag platies and I have babies every where and I don't know how to tell the difference in the fry . Some are grey and some are gold . please help me! I have a lot of experience with Guppies but none with Platies. I would greatly appreciate your advice .   Thanks a lot Kennie >>Dear Kennie; You will have to wait until the fry grow out and get big enough for you to see what species they are. How long have you had the platies? The females can give birth to different colored babies, depending on what the father looked like. Also, livebearers like platies can "hold" sperm from past males, for example, males in the same tank at the LFS, then the females will give birth later on. I hope you will have a colorful collection of new babies to brighten up your tank! You can help the babies by adding some plants, like java fern or duckweed to your tank, this will give the babies a place to hide from the adults until they get bigger. Livebearers are pretty good at eating their own young. Make sure you do regular, partial water changes to keep your fish in good health. Good luck! -Gwen<<                       

Fish ID Went to my LFS today- bought 10 Zebra Danios for the community tank (already had 7, wanted a true schooling effect. And, besides, I had space available... anyway, when I was netting the Zebras out of the float bag, I noticed that the smallest wasn't a Zebra, or even a Danio. It was a small (approx 0.75 inch), colorless (kinda white, looked like the silvery ZD background color) guppy. I said to myself "well, I could leave him in here, or I could put him in my guppy tank". Figured he was a guppy, or guppy-like anyway, so off he went into the guppy tank. Since he's been in there, (about two hours now) he's... well... changed. The silvery clear color has been accented with three pronounced spots on each side, and an iridescent blue on and near his tail. Is this common, or do I have a freak fish? And, yes, I know I should have a QT... it's a question of cost right now. That, and space. My wife says that we can't add another tank until we have a place to put it. >>Hello :D Congratulations on finding a "contaminant"! I am unsure of ID of the new fish, it could be a guppy, or an Endler's, or any other livebearer. Is the tail long and flowing? If not, it might not be a guppy, though it could be a guppy normally sold as a Feeder. Or it might simply be a female, in which case it should have a gravid spot, (a black area under her belly near the tail) Otherwise, it could be anything, most likely a tetra. If you have access to a Baensch atlas, simply peruse the pictures and see if you can find it. There are websites also, like http://fins.actwin.com/species/index.php?t=3&f=1. Good luck! -Gwen<<

Trouble keeping swordtails or platies alive Hello, <Sorry for the delay in response to this email, but I had to send it to a few livebearer experts that I know to get their input on this.> I moved from Dallas to New Orleans about a year ago and successfully transported my 30 gal tank with three large angels and four zebra Danios. I have, on several occasions, tried to introduce swordtails or platies to the community with no success. The fish seem to swell and sink to the bottom and then later die. <I have never seen this happen to fish like this.  The only time I have heard of issues of fish swelling and sinking to the bottom is when saltwater fish are added to freshwater and the cells in their body swell.> Water quality is optimum with excellent filtration and periodical changes. My breeding pair of angels mate continually and my Danios are big and happy. What's going on? <I wish I could give an exact reason why this is happening, but sadly I'm at a loss for what could be causing the problem.> Could the problem be dropsy? <Yes, that is what the people I ask seems to think is happening.  But, to have it happen to every swordtail/platies you add to the tank seems odd to say the least.> Can this be treated by feeding the new fish with antibiotic food? And can I make this food with 500 mg tablets of Cipro? <Yes you can,  I have found that mixing medicines in with thawed brine shrimp is a quick way to have the fish eat the food.> Please help, I have so much space and would like some more fish in this tank. <Well the problem is that I really don't think that you have space in this tank.  Your angels will grow quite a bit, and will become quite aggressive to the fish in your tank.  The Danios are quick enough to escape it.  Everyone I asked this question to thought it would be best to not even try to add fish to the mix.  You might want to set up another tank, so if you do purchase more platies you can raise them for a couple weeks in that tank then attempt a transfer to your angel tank.  Also, then if something starts to look bad you can move them back to the tank and treat them easier.  Good luck. -Magnus> Thank you, Jeffrey

Sexing swordtail fry, molly issues (10/11/03) <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> Hi guys, your website has been most resourceful to me in my several months of fishkeeping. <Good to hear!> I set up my fishtank about four months ago and one of my 'starter' swordtails dropped about 10 babies. Since the tank was still cycling, most of the babies died, but one tough little thing is still with us. It's about one inch long and doesn't show any signs of being male (no sword, no gonopodium) but since it is the only survivor I'm not sure if it would have developed those yet or not. It's about 3 months old. Is it safe to assume it's a female? <Not yet...some livebearers mature more quickly than others, even within the same brood.> Along the same lines, I just had a drop of 11 Mollies in the last 2 weeks, they are growing rapidly!  However, I have had 3 deaths so far, and I was baffled as to why.  They all seemed to eat well (they are black so I can't see if their bellies are full as easily as the sword, but they produce little 'threads' on a regular basis) and their water quality is excellent (no nitrates/trites or ammonia, neutral PH, temp about 80).   <Neutral pH is actually a little low for mollies; they prefer more alkaline systems.> The only things I could think of is that they were in a too brightly lit tank (I have a triple-tube light in my main tank and the breeder net limits them to the surface, right underneath it) or that they were in a completely freshwater environment, so I coaxed them all into a jar and transferred them to the isolation tank their mother is currently in (my red-tailed shark chases her around something awful, maybe he thinks she's another shark?  I heard they were territorial with others of their species, but they leave all the other fish alone)   <My guess is that the red-tail has staked out the entire bottom of the tank as its territory, and is getting after the molly for intruding...> Anyways, I have the isolation tank set up as brackish to help her recover from the stress of being shark-harassed and giving birth.   <Good idea.> I slowly acclimated the babies to the water, since I figured transferring them from fresh to brackish rapidly would be hard on them. <It can be, in part because the marine salt usually used for brackish tanks also raises the pH.> Now they are in a breeder net in a brackish tank with some floaty Hygrophila for shade (the light in the iso tank is dimmer anyway).  No deaths in 3 days!  Have I fixed the problem, or is there another environmental factor at fault? <Mollies often do better in brackish water. Failing that, they should be kept in a system with a pH above 7.2.> Also, when will their gender characteristics show up? <That totally depends on the individual. Even in the same brood, I've had some show male characteristics at only about three months old, while some waited six and seven months. Some take even longer. From birth, the majority of the molly's energy is devoted to growth. At some point, that changes, and the gender characteristics develop. The longer the gender development is delayed, the longer the molly will grow as a juvenile, and the bigger the adult fish. The biggest molly I ever had was one I bought as a "female", when it was probably about 6-8 months old. It started developing a Sailfin and gonopodium several months later. He got to be over 4" long (plus tail).> Thanks for tolerating my rambling, <No problem! I'll happily ramble on about mollies anytime...> Andrea <Best of luck with the fry... --Ananda>

Platies I recently bought a few platies and I was wondering how u tell the difference between the male and females. <normally the males are more colorful and have larger more attractive fins. the females are more drab in their coloration and have short fins. IanB> thanks <<Mmm, and as livebearing toothed carps with internal fertilization, the males have modified anal fins (the one underneath their bodies, behind the "belly"). On males these are tube-shaped and on females they're fan-shaped in profile. RMF>>

Platy Breeding <Hello.> I have a platy question.  Is it a big deal if platies inbreed and if it is a big deal could it have health risks?  I haven't had to face that problem yet with my platies but I was just wondering for the future.   <Well, any inbreeding is a concern to some extent, but livebearers especially are extremely inbred for color, fin shape, etc.  The most important thing is that you avoid breeding fish with obvious undesirable genetic deformities, and be sure to cull the brood - 'weed out' any misshapen/deformed young.  These culls can be used as food for larger fish.  -Sabrina>

Red Wag Platy - and a Whole Slew of Other Stuff Please Help a newbie to the hobby, <Sabrina here, to try to do exactly that> I am VERY new to the fish experience and am learning quickly.  Three weeks ago,  I gave each of my six year old twins a 1 1/2 gallon fish tank for their birthdays.  We followed the pet stores set-up instructions.  Came back a week later had the pH tested and then bought our first fish.  We purchased two red wag platies.  They were small, so we put them in the same tank.  One died within the week.  So we took a water sample to the store and got a swordfish for replacement.  In the other tank we got a red tail shark and a male guppy.  The red tail shark died within two days.  We took a water sample in ( they didn't test it) and got a female guppy.  NOBODY in all of this tested my water or said hey you should test your pH. <Okay....  It's definitely time for a new fish store!  Where to start....  Well, first off, please understand that 1 1/2 gallons is a really, really small space.  Not many fish can squeeze into there comfortably - the only fish I'd recommend for a 1 1/2 gallon tank is a single male (or female, if you like 'em) Betta splendens (Siamese fighting fish) - please never put two males in a tank together, though, as they will fight to the death.  They don't require filtration or aeration, nor do they need a heater, and they're very tough, beautiful fish.  Next, the red-tailed shark reaches nearly five inches in length, and gets to be an aggressive fish - won't even fit in a 1 1/2 gallon tank, shame on your fish store!  Also, double shame on them for not testing your water!  Definitely get a test kit for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, if you don't have them already.  These are the things your fish store should have sold you, not more fish!  Also, are you using a tap water conditioner, to remove chlorine/chloramine?  This is also quite crucial, as chlorine/chloramine is toxic to fish.> The male guppy aggressively chased my female guppy, so I had to separate them within a few hours.  So, we put the original red wag platy (now about two weeks with us) in with the male guppy (now about 1 week with us).  This combination worked well.  HENCE, my first discovery that male guppies can be very territorial. <Well, it's not so much a territory thing as that the male was trying desperately to breed, and the female probably wasn't very interested.  Best to keep these fish in something larger (even a 10 gallon tank would suffice) where you can keep 2-3 females per male.> The sword fish ( about a week with us) and the female guppy ( one day with us) were paired together in the other tank.  This seemed to work well.  We had harmony for two more days.  Then our female guppy dropped about 15 babies.  She proceeded to die the next day. <I'm sorry you lost her!> So, now we chose to move the swordfish into the male guppy's tank while we set up a third 1 1/2 gallon tank so that he would not eat the babies.  The male guppy tormented the sword fish so bad that we had to put the swordfish into the third tank before the guppy killed / stressed it to death.  HENCE, our second lesson swordfish that have swords are males and won't get along with testosterone driven guppies that are 1/2 their size! <Well, check and see if your swordtail is a female, too; the easiest way to tell is to look at the anal fin (that's the fin on the belly of the fish, near it's tail).  If this is round and fan-like, it's a female.  If it's pointed and thin, it's a male.  Look at your male guppy for reference on what it should look like.  I've seen male guppies try to breed with female platies, and swordtails aren't that far off.> Now the swordfish started swimming funny.  He died 24 hours later.  I didn't think and didn't know to test its pH.  WOW, was it off.  Hence,  third lesson always keep an eye on pH. <Well, unless the pH is changing drastically, or is way out of the fish's tolerance range (most livebearers can take anything from 6.5 on up to 8.0), it shouldn't be the root of the problem.  I'm thinking this (and the other deaths) is more likely related to ammonia or nitrite, as those are very toxic to fish.  Please check out the 'cycling' FAQ's at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/estcycfaqs.htm - this will give you a bit of an idea of what's going on in your tanks.> Within two days the male guppy and the red wag platy developed ICH.  Hence, fourth lesson - It is great to live near a 24 hour super Wal-Mart so that you can get ich treatment at midnight. <Oh, yikes!  Anything that can go wrong....> We lost the male guppy before I figured out the ammonia is a second important component to healthy fish.  Now we have got the water "de-ammonia-ized" and my red wag looks great.   <Indeed, ammonia is extremely important - the best way to be rid of it is simply with water changes.> We have experienced all of this in less than 3 weeks.  My red wag is still in isolation because it has been only a week since the first signs of ich and she has only been totally ich free for about two days.  Plus, I don't want her to eat my 3 week old baby guppies. <Here's an article on freshwater ich, so you can better understand the lifecycle of this nasty parasite: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm .  Hopefully it's been wiped out by the medication - NOT a fun parasite to deal with (not that ANY are....)> Now lesson #5,  Female guppies have a tiny black spot on their bellies and they should be sexed and separated from their male counterparts by week 4 if you don't want more babies! !  Wow, I can't believe I am still hanging in there. <Yup.... this little livebearer is sometimes known as the "Millions Fish" due to its extremely prolific nature.> I now have perfect pH and non-existing ammonia in all my tanks. <Good.  What about nitrite and nitrate?> MY QUESTIONS ARE - 1.)  How do I tell a male from a female in the red wag platies? <Same way as swordtails, guppies, and most other livebearer - look for that pointed anal fin of the male, rounded fan-like anal fin of the female.> 2.)  Will I have the testosterone driven issues with a male red wag plates that I had with my male guppy? <Well, possibly, but again, this is a drive to breed, not aggression.> 3.)  My water has a tendency to get cloudy in my small  1 1/2 gallon tanks.  The tanks don't have any filtration.  They use only a air stone.  Am I doing something wrong or do I just need to get one of those very small filtering systems for small tanks?  In the one tank, I only have the red wag ( that been receiving medication for ich over the past week).  The other tank had the 15 baby guppies.  I moved the 5 females out of there today.  I think there is another one or two females I can move out, but they need another week for me to make sure they are females. <Well, part of the cloudiness is probably attributable to the tanks cycling.  I would very, very strongly recommend getting a ten gallon aquarium for all your fish (perhaps minus the babies).  This can be gotten quite inexpensively as a kit at a Wal Mart or most any pet store, but please be sure to get one with fluorescent lighting, NOT incandescent lighting, as the incandescents get too hot and can really mess with your tank's temperature.  It may cost a touch more, but it's worth it.  Most kits come with a hang-on power filter, which is far and above what I recommend to new aquarists.  The kit should also come with a tap water conditioner for removing chlorine/chloramine from your tap water.  The reason I am recommending this is that, as I mentioned earlier, 1 1/2 gallons is really a TINY space to try to keep fish in, and it will be nearly impossible to keep ammonia and nitrite at zero; it's also impossible to filter these tiny tanks efficiently.> 4.)  How important is it that I check for Nitrates? <Well, nitrates are only toxic to fish in very high amounts, and livebearers are tough little fish - but in such tiny, tiny spaces, water quality can quickly get out of hand, and the nitrates can easily get to toxic levels.  It's definitely a good idea to have a test kit on hand and check occasionally.  Far more important, though, it nitrite, which is nearly as toxic as ammonia is to the fish, and definitely needs to be checked, as it is the second step in the nitrogen cycle (again, I recommend you to the Cycling FAQ's).  Ammonia and nitrite, anything above zero should be considered toxic, and should be remedied with a water change.> 5.)  I read from your site that guppies and plates like a little salt in their water.  How do I know how much to put in?  What should my pH be if I add salt? <In my tanks, I use one tablespoon of aquarium salt to every ten gallons of water.  Some people prefer to use one tablespoon to every five gallons.  In a 1 1/2 gallon tank, probably one-third to one-half of a teaspoon would be about right.  But do keep in mind that salt does NOT evaporate, and after adding it initially, do not add any more when adding water due to evaporation, ONLY when you do a water change.  Again, tanks this small are going to be so difficult to dose, I really, REALLY recommend upgrading to a 10 gallon tank.  Or even larger, if you like.  As far as the pH goes, again, livebearers are tough little fish, and can tolerate a very wide range of pH - the important issue is to not let the pH fluctuate - a steady pH that's a little low or a little high is far better than a ph that is constantly fluctuating.> Thanks for all the help.  I have two local pet stores and they do not seem very knowledgeable in the fish area!  Lisa Stubbings <Unfortunately, it seems a lot of pet stores don't seem so knowledgeable, at times.  Try to find a small, privately owned store dedicated to aquarium fish only - they often have much more knowledgeable staff and might be better able to help.  But even with their advice, I also urge you to do research on any fish you are interested in before purchasing, to prevent ending up with things like a five-inch mean red-tailed shark.  I wish you much better luck, and keep us updated!>

Who wrote this, and is this a livebearer question, or an oviparous question? Livebearers gestation 7/10/03  Thanks for the response.  how long is the duration period for a female to keep her egg sack, and what's the time for the eggs being dropped, fertilized and we get some babies?? <mollies are somewhat longer than other livebearers (matter of weeks, month plus) depending on water temperature. Goldfish fry will be apparent in less than two weeks... again depending on water temp.> 

Livebearing Fish How do I tell when a female molly is pregnant and how do I know when it will give birth <do look over these enclosed links http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/livebearers.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poeciliids.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollyfaqs.htm  faq's read through the ones pertaining to birth, good luck with your livebearers, IanB>

Re: platys and mollies I have a 29 gallon aquarium with 4 platys and recently got 5 mollies. I have read that mollies like a little salt in the water, but will this harm the other fish? Thanks. Sarah <As long as its just Platies and Mollies and you are sure to raise the salt level slowly theyll be fine. Ronni>

Livebearing fish I Have a 20 gallon tank. I want a Mollie but I like them all. What should I do? <many livebearing fishes have similar requirements and are peaceful enough that they can be enjoyed in mixed company. Stable temperatures, slightly alkaline pH, and mildly brackish water and you have yourself a home in the 20 gallon for 12-15 assorted platies, mollies and swordtails. Resist putting too many aggressive males in the tank and be prepared for the inevitable reproduction that will occur. Have an outlet for the babies or specialize by species or gender instead. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Guppy and Molly Fry together Hello, My silver Molly had babies (4 weeks ago), and they've been put in a fry net that hangs on the side of my 10 gallon tank.  My guppy gave birth to 17 fry 2 days ago.  Can I keep both the guppy and molly babies together in the same fry net?  My molly originally had 12 babies.  There's only 4 left.  Although they are bigger (4 weeks old) than the guppies. is keeping them together a good idea?  At this moment I have another 10 gallon goldfish tank.  So I don't really have another aquarium set up with a heater for the babies.  In my warm water aquarium, I have 3 guppies (1 female/2 males), 3 mollies (2 females/1 male), 3 neon tetras and 1 Siamese algae eater.   Thanks so much Kia Carnelus <Hi Kia, they would probably be ok in the same fry net, but if you want to be extra cautious you could get a second fry net. Best of luck -Gage>

Dying baby guppies My baby guppies get pointed tails and die at about 1 month of age. I've cleaned my tank and started over many times. This continues to happen... I've been told this is caused by a high ammonia level in the tank... but it tests out at 0... no ammonia. Sometimes the babies turn dark in color a day or two before they die. Any idea what this is, why it happens and how to fix it? I have 3 month old baby swords in the same tank that are never affected by this. They remain alive and healthy. <hmmm.... not a clear symptom but many possibilities. Do consider the diet for starters... enough protein hopefully? Little or no brine shrimp hopefully? Are there any other symptoms on the body or with behavior (rapid gilling, clamped fins)? Do examine the disease section here on WWM or read through Dieter Untergasser's Handbook of Fish Diseases. Best regards, Anthony>

Pregnant swordtail? I have a female swordtail that has grown bigger over the last few weeks. I used to have a male and I saw them mating but he ended up dying. I've looked around and found out about a "gravid spot,"  <very good!> or dark triangle, above the anal fin which indicates that the fish is pregnant. I see this dark triangle, but does it really mean that the fish is pregnant? <yes... only a gravid female would have it. Swords do breed easily and many livebearers store sperm and can have several broods more without another coupling with a male. Best regards, Anthony>

Livebearer troubles Hi dear Anthony thank you for your help, <Cheers, my friend... you are quite welcome!> > <if they are wasting away, have you noticed any stringy white feces coming from the babies or the parents that would indicate an internal parasite problem?> < yes I see it, but I thought it is the form of feces, I have had large mollies die,30 percent in month , what can I do for this problem? <yes... this may be part of our problem. Feces should be firm and usually the color of the fish food that they are being fed. If you are feeding commercially prepared flake or pelleted fish food, then I would expect the fishes' feces to be firm and brown or red colored. On the same diet, if the feces are stringy, long and white... it often indicated an internal parasite. A "de-worming" medication may be necessary to kill the likely internal flagellates. On of the most commonly available medications is called "Flagyl" (active ingredient is Metronidazole). This can often be obtained from a veterinarian in 250 or 500 mg tablets. Crush and dissolve one tablet (250) per ten gallons of aquarium water. Soaking the food in the medication is also helpful. Continue for 5 to 7 days and look for improvements in the color of the feces> and other problem in females:  dying after childbearing ,they will died 2day after childbearing , what can I do for them? <I am not clear what the cause of their death is. Are there any physical symptoms on the body? Is the water quality reasonably good as you can tell or test? Is the temperature stable (not fluctuating between day and night more than 1 or 2 degrees centigrade?> what you write in Pennsylvania? your book? <yes, a book about saltwater corals!> thank you for your kind and help best regards, Nader <best regards, Anthony>

Livebearer troubles How are you? <very good, I hope you are the same!> thank you for your kind help, yes I eliminated Methylene blue but in Iran there are not any drugs or medicine about fishes, <<is there enough salt in the parent's tank? 1.004 on a hydrometer?>> please write this salt to gram in liter ,I have not hydrometer, <7 to 10 grams per liter of salt would be very fine for such livebearing fishes> Is there any drugs for infectious for fishes? <many medicines available, but you should not medicate unless you can correctly identify which if any infection that a fish has> I have a tank with enough salt and without any drugs but babies of mollies are sick and dead (they grow thin and then died ). <if they are wasting away, have you noticed any stringy white feces coming from the babies or the parents that would indicate an internal parasite problem?> In other place it is too, mollies are very bad for aquarium ,all of my friend think ,it cannot resist with virus or microbe in water, I want a good antibiotic for them, what is it? <see if you have access to Furazolidone or Nitrofurazone. Else a Sulfa  based medicine might do (although it is a little outdated)> please write me other sites for information about fishes ,? <have you browsed the links on WWM related to this topic? Such as: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poeciliids.htm and... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poecillidfaqs.htm> thank you very much, take care, bye <best regards, Anthony>

Livebearing fishes in a faraway land Hi dear Anthony <cheers, my friend!> Thank you for your help, yes it is right, I am testing it now. I have 3 questions: 1- the water in here is hard, how much salt (grams per liter) use for (livebearing fishes) fishes? <the naturally hard water is likely fine or helpful to most livebearing fishes like you mollies. There is no definite rule about salt for these fishes, but maintaining a mildly brackish environment with 7 to 10 grams of salt per liter would be helpful> 2- Methylene blue is ok or bad for fishes? how much? <for scaled fishes like yours, Methylene blue can be a helpful medicine. If you cannot find a commercially prepared mix for aquarium fishes (with a dose on the bottle), then you can, "make your own... Stock solid Methylene blue can be purchased from chemical supply outlets. Check your local [phone directory]. About one gram of dry material can be dissolved in about one hundred milliliters of water and about ten milliliters of this solution are to be used per approximately one gallon of freshwater [for a temporary dip (5 to 15 minutes in a separate bucket of water... water to be discarded afterwards).]" (from the WWM archives> 3-when a fish white stained on it's skin ,what can I do and what drugs do I use? <a short dip in Methylene blue as described above can be very helpful for many skin ailments> thank you very much your sincerely Nader <best regards to you and successful aquarium keeping in Iran, Nader!>

Livebearing fish babies How are you? <Cheers, my friend> I am Nader Afshar .I am engineer from Iran, I have many guppy and platy and molly , but I have a problem, my fishes [have babies] every month ,guppy and platy kids are live but the kids of mollies are sick and dead many of them every day ,why? <is there enough salt in the parent's tank? 1.004 on a hydrometer?> I give them (salt ,antibiotic tetracycline, Gentamycin, moldy vitamins ,and fresh water and Methylene blue ), <the Methylene blue can be very harsh on the babies. Reduce or eliminate it temporarily to see if that doesn't improve survival. Leave all else the same> I do any work and test very ways but I cannot take positive result , what can I do ?Is there any drug for this sick? please help me ,thank you very much, bye <with kind regards, Anthony>

Balloon Molly Fry I managed to save one fry from a batch of balloon mollies. Is it supposed to look totally different from its mother and father, both silver balloon mollies? It looks black and very thin. Thanx. -James Kim <This is a normal appearance. The young change as they grow, it will likely develop a into darker, more balloon-shape. Bob Fenner>

Feeder guppies (culture) Hi Mr. Fenner: I would like to raise my own feeder guppies for my cichlids. Could you give me any advice on this topic? Thinking about setting up just a 10 gal tank, but not sure about water parameters and such. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance. <Let's see... a bigger tank would be better for production, maintenance... Frequent partial water changes (twenty percent or so weekly, while gravel vacuuming the tank... Lots of frequent, small feedings with nutritious foods (a timer with a dried-food hopper automatically sprinkling a bit ten or more times a day is a good idea). Some real filamentous plants or artificial "breeding grass" (wouldn't use breeding "traps" here, too much trouble) to add habitat, save more of the young from adult predation... Maybe making sure the water is a bit hard and alkaline, even adding a teaspoon of salt per water change... Harvesting conscientiously (always leaving a few larger breeding size females, one or two males of size). This is about "it". Bob Fenner> Sincerely Shirley

Breeding Balloon Mollies, Questions Dear Robert, <<Not Robert, JasonC filling in while Bob is out diving.>> I currently have two female balloon mollies, one pure white the other marble colored, a male balloon molly which is orange and black, and an algae eater in my 5.5 gallon tank. All the fish are doing well, the pH, nitrite, and ammonia levels are all at the appropriate levels, and the tank is at a constant 75 degrees F, but it seems that the females are not willing to mate with the male. Is this normal behavior for balloon mollies? Could there be an explanation for this reluctance? Thanx. -James Kim <<James, I'm going to take a quick guess but also forward your email to a friend who knows much more about freshwater fish than I do. My guess, and Lorenzo will tell us both if I am wrong, is that 5.5g is a little small for breeding, and the pair [if they truly want to be a pair] doesn't feel they've found the right place to brood. Cheers, J -- >>

Guppy and Starfish Questions Hi there! <Cheers.. Anthony Calfo in your service> I seem to be emailing you on a weekly basis these days (sorry) but the more we get into this hobby the more strange and unusual things happen! Anyway, my first question relates to our tropical tank. One of our guppies has got the hots for a silver colored platy.  <what a cheeky little monkey> He pursues her around the tank relentlessly, trying to make her see just what a God's gift to fish he really is, while she plays hard to get! I assume that this relationship is doomed and he will suffer forever from unrequited love.  <are you still talking about fish  or do know my high school sweetheart?> However, if they do manage to get it together what will the results be? Gatties or Pluppies?  <actually a fish that looks like Buddy Hacket with a tail> Or could there be another reason for his amorous advances? <sure... he may just wants to cuddle...hahahahahahhahhahahhahah! Ahem, I mean...no, I think you've got the general gist of his intent. They may not even be able to produce viable offspring/hydrids> My second question relates to our reef tank. One of our Fromia starfish seemed to expel something from its underside the other night. It was orange in colour (same colour as the starfish) and resembled two hands (or two starfish even) stuck together. It measured about 0.75cm wide and 0.5cm high. It was carried around in the tank by the current and settled briefly on some live rock before disappearing into the reef. The "legs" didn't appear to move during its brief stay on the live rock. Have you any idea what this thing is? <under stress...some echinoderms do release part of their innards. Perhaps this is the case, but I honestly have no clear idea> This hobby just gets more and more fascinating! Thank you for all your help! Lesley <kindly, Anthony>

Feeding Mollies Dear Robert, <You got Steven Pro this evening.> My balloon mollies eat a ton. Is it okay to feed them as much as they will eat? The quality of my water is good, so there is no danger there. Is it possible that their stomachs might somehow burst? I have been feeding them frozen blood worms, frozen glass worms, and frozen brine shrimp until they start spitting them out. I have been feeding them this way for 2 months with no complications. Can I still feed this way without any negative effects? Thanks, James Kim. <I would recommend breaking up the feedings into several smaller portions scattered through out the day. I do not think they will burst, but better/more natural to eat lesser more often. Also, add some greens of some sort to their diet. Spirulina based flakes foods would help. Take a look at these pages for more information; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfoods,fdg,nutr.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poeciliids.htm -Steven Pro>

Guppies Be Us shop in SG Someone just started a shop that deals only in Guppies here in Singapore. Very unusual thing to do for a tropical fish dealer. <Yes.> By the way, are guppies prone to bladder problems like goldfish. A few of mine seem to have lost their balance and died suddenly. <There are some "Guppy maladies" that are tough to beat... mainly having to do with triggering from being moved from breeders to "too clean" conditions. Best to "buy local" or breed, raise your own. Bob Fenner> Perry

Guppy Gambit, our enterprising Perry in SG Bob Are Guppies still popular in the States? Are you people still importing them from Asia? <Yes and yes... and the quality has improved, incidental mortality dropped. Have a friend (who sells, delivers freshwater angelfish for a living...) who I'd like to introduce you to (doesn't have email...) but will do so when you want to proffer more information. Bob Fenner> Perry

Those crazy Mollies! Dear Bob (or fellow expert), <fellow expert Anthony in your service> My gosh, I don't know what to do with all these babies! About 5 weeks ago my 'test fish' mollies gave birth to 12 babies. They are growing and look very healthy, but now that fish has had more babies, and I think there are about 17 new fry.  <Did you know that some young livebearer's can reproduce at 8 weeks old!!! Perhaps we should find a recipe for mollies... hehe> My tank is 39 gallons, and set up as brackish. The pet store said they would take the older ones, but wanted me to let them get a little bigger so they can sell them. I read that overcrowding can cause the Sailfins not to fully develop, <true of most/all fish> and I think that is one of the most attractive traits of this fish.  <with many fishes this can be partially compensated for by frequent (weekly or more often) water changes> How long do you think it will take for these to get a little bigger, <hard to say... roughly 6-12 weeks with good feeding and frequent water changes> and now with these new fish is overcrowding an issue yet?  <so very much so> I sure would love to add other species to the tank, but I feel kind of trapped, even though I love the mollies. I wish there were a birth control pill I could just drop in the tank!  <perhaps be content with just a male sailfin> LOL Your response is always greatly appreciated. I know you must be very busy. Sue <with kind regards, Anthony>

Re: Those crazy Mollies! Thank you Anthony! Your response is GREATLY appreciated!  <you are very welcome> I will take your advice, and do weekly water changes. I love this hobby, I think you all do a great service to those of us who are just as excited and motivated...I hope you're getting paid! (somehow) <in many different and wonderful ways> ...yeah, does Mollie-lemon-garlic-almandine sound good to you? LOL (with rice, of course) <I prefer "freshwater" mollies... I'm watching my sodium intake...hehe> {sick} just joking.. Thanks again! Sue <best regards, Anthony>

Blue Marron, Brown Algae and dying Guppies Hi Robert, <<Greetings Mark, JasonC here.>> Firstly I will go through what I have and my experience, that may help to answer my questions. I have about 8 months experience with a 3' 126 litre home made tank in which I have 5 Barramundi, 1 Eel Tail Catfish and 1 Bumble Bee Catfish. This tank has an undergravel filter and an Aquaclear 200 filter and is decorated with mangrove root, rocks and various plants. I have found this tank a pleasure to observe and maintain. Luckily there has been no casualties and all 7 fish have grown considerably, so much so I am thinking of building a 4 1/2 foot tank with some glass I have, to accommodate there size. <<good idea.>> Because of the Barra's ferocious appetite and the cost of their food I have built another 3" 126 litre tank which I have 3 Hockey Stick Tetra's, 5 Cardinal Tetra's, 2 Male Guppies and 3 Female Guppies and about 25 Baby Guppies. The Tetra's are in the tank for a bit of colour while the Guppies are being bread as feeder fish to supplement the Barra feeding. This tank also has an undergravel filter and an Aquaclear 200 filter and is decorated with rocks and a variety of plants, some to make it easier for the baby Guppies to hide. This tank is only 2 months old and has been a little challenging as I have had a few problems with Guppies Dieing and a brown algae that seems to be growing on everything, including the upward facing leaves of the bigger foliage plants. I am constantly cleaning this algae from the rocks, upward facing leaves and the glass sides. Then vacuuming as much as I can before it settles. I feed these fish flakes and for the babies Liquid Small Fry. Firstly can you help with the brown algae and how do I control/eradicate it? <<You should avail yourself to the materials on WWM, of interest to you would be these two algae-control articles, one on fresh water and one on planted tanks: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwalgaecontrol.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algcontagb.htm >> Secondly, I don't understand why the Guppies are dieing. They seem to swell in the stomach and after death bust open through the anus. <<According to Bob, this is unfortunately this is indicative of a bacterial condition [Chondrococcus or Columnaris disease] which can only be cured with the use of Neomycin sulfate. You could also use the Tetra medicated flakes, but you should probably evaluate the cost/benefit of this exercise. I would certainly stop adding new fish to this tank until you have this under control.>> Thirdly, I have inherited a Blue Marron and am keeping it in the breeder tank and was wondering if this is ok with consideration to: How do I feed it with the correct diet? If kept feed properly will it still be a threat to the other fish? Is the neutral PH of the community tank ok? <<read up on these guys: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shrimpfw.htm >> If there is to much in this email the main thing I am concerned about is the Blue Marron issue, followed by the brown algae then the dieing Guppies. Any help would be greatly appreciated as at the moment I am running totally blind. <<Definitely go through the WWM site, there is much information there to help you.>> Thank you Mark <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

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>

Those Crazy Mollies Dear Bob, Thank you so much for your website! Obviously much time and effort has gone into it, and it is outstanding! <Agreed! Anthony Calfo in for Bob while he is away> I have discovered 11 new baby mollies in my 39 gal brackish tank, it has only been set up for 3 weeks, and the 2 original mollies (male and female) were actually meant to be test fish, but surprise! What now? Do I have to remove babies from the tank? I only have one aquarium. <nope... mollies are one of the very least cannibalistic of livebearers... although no guarantees> Also, I really wanted some other kinds of fish in my tank, but what will not eat the babies? I was thinking of bumblebee goby (sp?)  <might work nicely is suitably brackish> and angel mono. <yikes! Too aggressive...grows too large and fast> Also, when will it be time to do the partial water change, and will it affect the babies?  <just do a normal and proper water change...same salinity/temperature in and out for aged/new water> Is there a possibility the babies will be different colors (other than white and gray like the parents)? <absolutely... much hybridization in livebearers> Thank you in advance for your help. Sue (ps I don't know if you need this info but my sp gravity is 1.008, temp is 75) <excellent Sue, keep learning and growing. Anthony>

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

Swordtail Pregnant? Hi. I HAD 2 pineapple swordtails. One female and a male. The male died, but I think my female may be pregnant. It is quite large in size and has a darker area behind her stomached. In the dark area are small black dots. <Ah... likely the eyes/pupils of soon to be baby swordtails> I was wondering if this is the area where you see the babies or if was more near the head. Its been this way for about 3 days now. My temp. in my tank is 77. Should it be warmer? How long will it take so I know when to look for the babies? Thanx. <Do provide some sort of "breeding grass" (real or artificial), leave the temperature where it is, and read here re others experiences with livebearers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/poeciliidfaqs.htm and the article, link before. Bob Fenner>

Question about mollies Hi, My balloon molly gave birth to about 30 babies a week and 4 days ago. Every day 3 or 4 die. There are only 3 babies left now. I had the aquarium water tested by a local pet store and they said the pH, ammonia, etc was all fine. I keep the water temperature around 76-78. The babies are in a breeding net with fake plants, and I feed them several times a day finely crushed up flake food. Do you know why they are dying or what I could do to keep the remaining 3 alive? Thank you Rebecca <Is this the first "batch" your mollies have had? If so, the first few groups of young sometimes do poorly. Also, take care not to move your female mollies too close to giving birth. Please read over others experiences with these mollies, posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/poeciliidfaqs.htm 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

Sick Fish????? Robert (Bob), I have two fish now that seem to have the same problem... From what I can figure out, it seems to be swim bladder disease. <Mmm, but what is the cause/s of the swim bladder anomalies?> Here are the symptoms.... The first fish, (Red Platy) I noticed about two weeks ago. He would seem to rest on the bottom of the tank and occasionally make a swim to the surface of the tank. After closer observation I noticed that he wasn't just resting on the bottom, but seem to be having trouble swimming. By which I mean, that it seem to take great effort to move from any given spot. Seem to move in place. After keeping close eye on the little guy for about a week I decided he wasn't getting any better. If anything it was worse. So at this time I place him in a 5 gal. quarantine tank. I added 1 tsp. of Aquarium salt and 1 tsp. of Fungus Eliminator by Jungle Labs. He's been in the quarantine for approx. 4 days now with no visible improvement, (doesn't seem to be getting worse either). Now I've noticed my second victim to this.... Prob. my favorite little guy in the whole tank. It's a beautifully colored clown loach. I've been watching him for the past two days in which he seem to rest on the bottom with very little movement and what seem to be heavy breathing with his mouth acting like it was gasping for air. He then decided to hide in one of the caves I have setup. He finally came out this evening and just sat there showing the same signs as when I saw him a couple of days earlier. I continued to watch him through the evening and he finally came to a resting point on the bottom against the front of the tank, ( kinda leaning toward one side... almost laying on one side.) At this point I placed him in the quarantine tank as well. Now for my question.... Am I correct in the diagnosis??  <Mmm, you are to be commended for your keen interest, careful observations...> Is there anything I'm doing wrong?? ( by the way, the tank does have a few live plants, and PH and Nitrate/Nitrite levels are all right on target) What can I do to correct this problem?? and get my little buddies feeling well again. <I do believe the Platy is suffering more from "genetic" causes than anything else (not infectious, parasitic disease, nutritional deficiencies... and that it will get better or not... of its own accord (nothing more you can really do for it)... This livebearer does just "have problems" of this sort nowadays... sometimes, large numbers of imported livebearers show this symptomology. And the Clown Loach is really just doing "what Clown Loaches do"... in resting at odd angles, breathing hard at times, hiding in castles... Not to worry here. If you want to see it out more often, do consider adding one or two more. I would place it/him back in his main tank.  Sincerely, John R. Aulgur <I am sending your note to a friend, Jeff, who is also a Clown Loach keeper. For his comments, input. Bob Fenner>

The "spinning top" molly... Hello! Thanks for including all the brackish stuff on your site -- it's easily the *best* brackish site I've found. <! and it's just barely begun... much more to come.> I've got an orange sailfin molly female that's been acting bizarre the last few days. She goes absolutely berserk and swim/spins like a wobbly top for a moment, and then acts normal for a while. <Not good.> I've noticed a small black spot on her dorsal fin that seems fairly new. She also has a darker area in her body, behind her pectoral fins. The tank she was kept in is a 15-high, with an Eclipse 1 hood filter. Also resident are five other sailfin mollies -- two males and three other females -- and a pair of candy-stripe gobies. The specific gravity in the tank is currently at about 1.004. (I usually keep the sg at 1.008-1.010; I ran out of Instant Ocean during the last water change.) The tank temperature is kept around 76 degrees with a 50 watt Tronic heater. The pH is about 7.8. Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are low to non-existent, though I keep having trouble with high phosphates and red-brown algae. (I've been using Kent Marine Phosphate Sponge to try to keep the phosphates down: I put the media in two Whisper Jr. filter bags and put them in the filter where the Eclipse filter cartridge goes.) The substrate is white aquarium sand, which the gobies keep sifted and clean. I've got some artificial plants and a piece of fake driftwood in the tank. <Mmm, I would try some live rock, growing plants to greatly reduce the phosphate> I've moved the molly to a 5.5 gallon isolation tank. I bumped the specific gravity up to about 1.014. I don't have a cycled tank I can move her into, but I could move a cycled sponge filter from the fry tank into her tank. She's been pretty placid in the isolation tank, but I'm not sure she's eating, either. Do you know what might be wrong with this molly, and what I can do to help her? <I suspect the "whirling" is due to an internal complaint... and not catching... I would place this molly back in the main tank... and elevate the specific gravity over time> Meanwhile, in another tank, I have a pair of knight gobies that are spawning every two weeks. I've tried raising the fry from three different batches, but I've made a different fatal mistake each time. I haven't been able to find any information on raising goby fry. I'll try to track down the articles you list in the bibliography for gobies; meanwhile, do you have any suggestions? <Do read through what you can find on the internet re culturing foods like Brachionus... You need useful foods of the right size available immediately when the young hatch out. Look to "The Breeders Registry" for much input. Link on our Links Pages> Many thanks, Ananda Stevens <Thank you. Bob Fenner>

Re: the "spinning top" molly...; calendar fish; ghost shrimp Hi again! Well, she's still not eating, but she does seem to be doing slightly better: she can actually swim around a little without spinning out every two seconds. <Ah, improvement> Quick question: what's that pretty blue fish on the November calendar? Could you include the name of the fish/coral/whatever in the box to the left of the thumbnail, so it's easier to find info on it? <Good idea. Had to go look at Nov. Calendar on WWM, it's a male Sparisoma viride Parrotfish, covered here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parrotfi.htm Will send along your suggestion to Mike, who makes this feature.> I picked up some ghost shrimp from the LFS, planning on using them for goby and puffer treats. Since what I've read over the past week suggests that there's a lot more stuff that's brackish-friendly than most people know about, I put the shrimp into the tanks without gobies or puffers to see how long they'd survive. The shrimp in the 1.014 s.g. tank died, but a goby thought it tasted great anyway. The shrimp in the 1.008 tank lived at least a day, but it was moving so slowly I thought it was dead. <Mmmm, need a few days to adapt... probably came from a holding system at your dealers that was entirely freshwater> I put it in a goby tank, and saw it go and hide under a barnacle. The shrimp in the 1.005 tanks are doing just fine, scurrying about and eating the detritus, not being bothered at all by the mollies. I think I'm going to start keeping ghost shrimp in my fry tanks -- are there any reasons that might be a bad idea? <If the fry are very small they might get eaten. Bob Fenner> Thanks bunches, Ananda

Pregnant platies Dear Rob I hope that you can help me, I noticed that my platies fish tonight has become very fat and looks pregnant. How long does it take from conceiving to delivering. How will I know when she is about to deliver the babies. What precautions can I take to stop her eating her babies. She is resting on the gravel at present, so how will she act when she is about to deliver and is there anything in particular that we will notice or is there anything that we can do to keep the babies safe. I would be grateful for any information that you can give me. Regards Becky <Thank you for writing. Please take a read through the following part of our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/poeciliidfaqs.htm Others FAQs on platies, reproduction. Bob Fenner>

Fat Platy My female platy gave birth about two weeks ago but now looks pregnant again do you know what's happening? <Mmm, what do you think is happening? This fish could "just be fat"... from the types of foods you offer (any greenery, live or as food in the tank) and/or maintenance (do you do regular partial water changes?). Perhaps it is pregnant again (this happens). Do try looking for books on Livebearing Freshwater Fishes at a large library near you. Ask a librarian there to help you find what they have in the stacks or can get you on inter-library loan. You may become a breeder of new strains through your studies, involvement. Bob Fenner>

PLATY!! I have a pregnant "Mickey-mouse" platy. I know she's pregnant because she's a orange-yellow transparent color and I can see the babies inside.  <Neat> what are some signs that she is about to give BIRTH to the fry? <The vent area will become quite clear... she will "hide out" in whatever sort of "breeding grass" you're providing...> How many fry can I expect? <A few to dozens...> Thanks! -Erin of Washington P.S I heard that the color becomes darker behind the gills late in the pregnancy. Is that true? <Hmm, behind the gills? Haven't heard this before. Here's where we store the FAQs on livebearers on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/poeciliidfaqs.htm So you can read about other peoples experiences.  Bob Fenner>

Platy repro. questions >i have two platies; one male and one female and i think that the female is pregnant how can i tell if this is true? <You will notice this female getting much more round, and the area in front of its single bottom, midline fin (the anal fin) becoming  >clearer in color... even the babies eyes will be visible close to (within days) of giving birth. Do place some "spawning grass" plant  >material or plastic equivalent for them to hide amongst. Bob Fenner> >my platy female has just given birth can you give me any info on rearing them? <A few times a day, very fine food (dried foods ground between fingers will work). Keep an eye on water quality... Are you raising with larger, parent fishes? You might want to separate them. Bob Fenner>

Re: more info about breeding pattern of mollies, especially around delivery time hello bob, wow. this is fast. thanks. okay, I've noticed the "gravid spot" as it is called. you mentioned that this area should be "clear". yes, in my fishes, they're like "translucent", i can see the inside outline but not the shape of the babies. however in other websites, they mentioned that the gravid spot should be "dark". which is which?? <Well... depends on the "sport mutation", individual's degree of melanation in the vent area... but "does change" and one can almost always make out the young's eyes/pupils right about near parturition> what you said about not overcrowding sounds a lot like common sense. in fact, the whole day I've been thinking of getting a bigger container so at least they feel as if they have more room. <Am "full" of commonsense> you also mentioned the molly will hide among the medium (elodea in my case) to deliver her babies. some other sites mentioned the molly will settle down to the bottom and will seem lethargic, fatigued. is this also correct?? <Yes... a possibility> my one and only fry is doing well. i gave it some crushed powder from a small floating goldfish pellet. i think it only eats the powder after the powder is thoroughly soaked. but it seemed lively and healthy enough (at least not sickly). <Ah, good> I've also moved one of the females to another container as this one doesn't seem that pregnant as the others. oh yes, by balloon mollies, do you mean "pot-bellied" mollies? I've seen this term elsewhere on the web. here comes my question: how do you differentiate between a normal pot-bellied / balloon molly and a pregnant sailfin molly?? <Very different in appearance... can be discerned easily. The pot-bellied/balloon types are REALLY round in the abdominal region> I've never seen a picture of a pot-bellied molly so I'm really hoping that my mollies are really heavy with fries and not just being the pot-bellied variety. I've written to a website on tropical fish and i was told briefly that pot-belly molly has a unusual spine curvature. to me this is very very vague indeed. if you look at a sailfin molly, the position of the dorsal fin in the female is actually a bit to the back, more towards the caudal fin, right? <Mmm, yes> therefore, when i look at a female sailfin molly, it looks as if she has a little bit of a "hump" back towards the caudal fin. my mollies at time stayed in one spot for quite some time, at times, they "sat" at the bottom, at times they're active, swimming up and down, up and down. is this normal behaviour?? <Yes. Do "sit" at times. Are you feeding "greens" on a daily basis?> you also mentioned that at times, a pregnant molly will reabsorb her babies, in dire circumstances? what exactly are these circumstances? <Nutritional deficiencies mostly. A lack of habitat...> i want to make sure they I'm not making their circumstances dire. since I've bought them, i want to make sure they're given good environment to live in. in place of the conventional aquarium setup (filter, etc, etc), will a large earthenware pot about 1 1/2 feet in diameter and half a feet in height make good home for my mollies? <Maybe... would add a "sponge filter" or canister type to this container... and leave the water down a few inches or cover with a mesh (they jump)> i prefer to keep them outdoors as they seem more happy when there is sunlight. i am thinking of a such an earthenware pot with 1/4 in of gravel material at the bottom and elodea plants as needed. what I'm trying to do is to give them as much of a natural environment as possible. I've tried to read up as much as i can on this before i start. hence the initial a bit crowded home. the elodea will help to give oxygen in the daylight, provide them with cover and shade, a lotus plant will also give them cover, a 1-2 in change of water every second day to remove fish waste, use of biological pond water conditioner (those live good bacteria thing). what do you think?? do you think it would work?? <Should, but I would add the filter just the same> I've such a pond with lotus plants and a betta and a handful of wild guppies. they seem to do very well, plant fish and all. but of course, i can't compared betta with mollies as betta has the ability to survive in less than desired water condition. congrats on going to Pulau Redang. how was it? <Very nice. Good accommodations there, fine people> i haven't been there, reason being i can't swim and i can't dive. i had been to Pulau Tioman but i was told that Redang is much better than Tioman and of course Pulau Perhentian, also off the Trengganu coast, beats these two islands, hands down. but if you take it from dive experts, Pulau Layang-layang is the diver's haven. <Have heard the same. Am looking forward to visiting these other island groups.> back to molly, is pot-bellied molly usually very small in size and build compared to other types of molly? <Yes, most only 2-3 cm. in length> do you have a pic of a pot-bellied molly? <Yes, but not very good. Have posted here: http://wetwebmedia.com/poeciliids.htm> would be happy if you can show it to me. my problem here is the fish shop from where i buy my fish is not that particular about proper labeling of their fish stock. they usually write it in Chinese, and i think, that is also its local name, not the standard name. for example, they called platy moonfish. i thought a moonfish looks exactly like a platy but the shopkeeper insisted it was a moonfish. i was searching and searching all over for "moonfish" when i came across a reference that said moonfish is also platy. <Yes.> hence my sailfin molly, one with a triangular sail and one with a "rectangular" sailfin are just referred to "mollies". i learned that the sailfin molly with the "rectangular" dorsal fin is the Yucatan molly. but i can't remember where i read this. will appreciate any more information you can give me. thanks and regards Ashley Wong <Take a look through the wealth of information, references on these Poeciliid fishes on www.fishbase.org Bob Fenner>

Re: more info about breeding pattern of mollies, especially around delivery time Dear bob, i want to share my good news with you. one of my mollies had given birth today and i was right there when it happened. it was around noontime. i had just changed some of the water and fed them and had just put in another handful of elodea when i noticed 1 baby fish swimming right past in front. <Neat!> right before that, i noticed that the "gravid" are of this particular molly had become very very translucent (clearish like you said) and it looked as if it might "split" apart there. soon after that, she started "spouting" out babies. at that time, there were 3 other tankmates and i quickly took them out for they started chasing after the babies. the birthing continued for well over 1 hr. it started around 12.50pm and finished around maybe 2.50pm. i think it was worth the sunburned i got today since i was able to observe firsthand the live delivery!!! :-) <Congratulations> thank you so much for your timely advice. now i am able to identify another female with a translucent gravid area (i can even see some dark shapes inside). i think maybe her time is near too. <Yes, likely> there are 16 live healthy babies, 7 eggs (!!!???) and 5 stillborn. why does the molly deliver eggs if they're not properly formed? <Perhaps miscarriages, maybe part of the development, aging of this female> was this caused by not so good conditions that i provide for them? is this normal?? <Not atypical> thanks once again. Ashley Wong <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Livebearing Toothed Carp Questions i have two platies; one male and one female and i think that the female is pregnant how can i tell if this is true? <You will notice this female getting much more round, and the area in front of its single bottom, midline fin (the anal fin) becoming clearer in color... even the babies eyes will be visible close to (within days) of giving birth. Do place some "spawning grass" plant material or plastic equivalent for them to hide amongst. Bob Fenner>

More info about breeding pattern of mollies, especially around delivery time hi there, i came across your website while looking for material on breeding behaviour of molly. <Yikes, I've got to get more on the livebearing fishes on WWM... and soon!> two days ago i bought 5 fat, very fat female mollies and 1 sailfin molly. I've read that fat female molly = pregnant molly = babies fry soon. <Mmm, not necessarily... some are "just fat" and there are varieties like "Balloon Mollies" that look grossly fat all the time... and an important note: it's not a good idea to move "very gravid" females... can cause real troubles. Right about the time of parturition ("birthing"?), the area called the vent (right after the anal fin below) should become clearish... so much so that you can actually see the babies eyes.> i set them up in a large fish bowl complete with some gravel and elodea plant. i noticed that mollies are happy when given elodea plant to hide around. otherwise they would be lost and panicky or even sulky. <Good point> i kept them under observation whole of day before yesterday and yesterday morning as i was hoping to catch the birthing in action and to save a few fries. i kept my fishbowl outdoor and we have tropical climate. i missed the delivery and saw one live fry and two dead (half-eaten) fries and what looked like two small round globe of "fish eggs". you know, like those fish roe featured on Japanese sushi. orange globe with a yellow center. they broke upon touch. <Yes... good observations. Do agree with your assessment> i knew then some of the mollies ate the fries. <Likely> can you give me some advice on the behavioural pattern of pregnant mollies, especially around their delivery time? this way i can tell which molly is near her delivery time, then i can move her to another "maternity ward". i can't keep watching them every single moment and i don't want fry casualty. however not one give birth today. <Hmm, well they do start hiding more right about these times... In actual practice it's better to under-crowd such fishes, provide plenty of cover as you have... allow the females to go into the media (Elodea) and release their young there... There are elaborate breeding traps and such... but as I stated above, often troubles moving females late in pregnancy> all except one female mollies have distended large abdomen. the abdomen area looked stretched. i was told that a female molly can control and delay her delivery at will. is this true? <To a certain extent, yes... and even resorb, abort the young under dire circumstances> hope you can help me. thanks Ashley Wong Malaysia <Ah, was just diving in Pulau Redang, Malaysia a couple of months back. Be chatting. Will try to write a "Mollies Article" and post on the WetWebMedia.com site for you and others soon. Bob Fenner>

Mickey mouse fish Hello, I just bought two Mickey mouse fish. I believe that one is pregnant. Being new to the fish world, I was wondering what I needed to do to take care of the baby fish. Do they lay eggs or have babies? Could you please help me. Wendy <Ah, congratulations. These fish are livebearers, like guppies if you're familiar with those (same family). You need to provide enough hiding space for some of the young to hide... Please read through the various FAQs here: http://wetwebmedia.com/poeciliidfaqs.htm re Livebearing fish care.  Bob Fenner>

Re: Mickey mouse fish I asked you yesterday about pregnant Mickey mouse fish. I have another question. How long is the fish pregnant before she has her fry? Thanks for your help. <You would do well to read more deeply... insert the name "Platy", "Mickey Mouse Platy", "Xiphophorus maculatus" in your search engines. How long from what point? A few weeks... Bob Fenner>

Moving Near-Birthing Livebearing Freshwater Fishes Hi Bob. I just ran across your web site and have a question. We just purchased and 55 gallon tank and have Danio's Platies Corydora's Guppies and one Betta.  <Keep your eye on the Betta... lest it chew on your male guppies fins> The Platy that I know to be pregnant is acting totally spastic. (meaning she is swimming up and down up and down then resting, then repeating the whole thing). I know when the guppies were going to drop they would lie on the bottom and not move a whole lot...even to eat. The platies vent is white and looks like it is dilated, and I can also see the eyes of the fry.  <Ah, good vision, observation> We just moved her to the 55 gallon and found the next morning in the 15 gallon a baby that was hers BUT VERY SMALL. I took this as a premature. But she hasn't dropped anymore. Any help would be wonderful...Thanks <Hmm, could be this is "all there is"... Maybe the others were stillborn, or more likely consumed... I would place some live "grass" like plant material or artificial breeding medium going forward, and/or try moving the pregnant female to another system well in advance of parturition. Bob Fenner> Cheri

Re: Moving Near-Birthing Livebearing Freshwater Fishes Thanks for the fast response! I know I had a guppy that appeared to be miscarrying (SP) then finally died...poor thing. I'll keep an eye on her. I want to get some java moss to put in the tank...the plastic stuff that I have seems to rigid. Again thanks! Cheri <Agreed all the way around. Please take a look through the "Plant Index" part of the site: www.WetWebMedia.com for ideas on good "baby hiding plants" like Anacharis/Elodea, Myriophyllum/Milfoil, and Ceratophyllum/Coontail or Hornwort. Bob Fenner>

Questions about my guppy fry Mr. Robert Fenner, My female guppy has given birth to twelve fry. I had checked a lot of websites and all the web sites said that i could feed the fry with egg yolk. Is it true that the fry could eat the egg yolk? <Hmm, actually the cooked egg yolk is not such a good idea... low acceptability as you know, too easily sinks and pollutes water... I would try either grinding some thin flake food between your fingers or in a mortar/pestle or just buy a dried "fry" food (Tetra makes one for livebearers like guppies, and egg-layers). There are liquid food preparations as well, but I would stick with a dried one. Do feed as often as you can (several times daily ideally) very small amounts (should be mostly consumed, little falling to the bottom. Also, do place some live plant material here... a type of bunch plant. Please read on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/plttks.htm> If i were to feed them with a piece of flake without tearing it to small pieces, will the fly be able to eat it? And every time I put food into the tank for them, they don't seems to eat the food. Why? <Not familiar, palatable> Hope that you will e-mail me the answers. Thank you for your help. <<Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

New Freshwater Tank with Livebearers Dear sir we have just purchased a 10 gallon tank have had the store check our water so its ok . we have 2 male guppies and 2 females and 1 molly. we noticed today our male guppy is swimming funny .he swims to the top of the tank and than seems to fall down than struggles back up. thank you for any help you can give us . <Hmm, the swimming behavior you mention is not a good sign. Do you have any live plant material in your aquarium? This is a good idea for several reasons; beneficially modifying water quality and helping with your fishes' diets mainly. Please talk with the fish store about adding a bit of "aquarium salt" as well... this is about all I would do at this point. Do avail yourself of the freshwater parts of our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for more background on this wonderful hobby. Bob Fenner> Re: New Freshwater Tank with Livebearers dear Mr. Fenner thank you so much for your prompt reply . we went right out and got some aquarium salt.  <Ah, good> we do have plants in our aquarium.  <Put only a teaspoon of salt per gallon in... and half of that per day over today and tomorrow... Some plants don't like salt...> can you tell us what kind of fish you can put in safely with guppies if any .  <Other very peaceful "community fishes" as I sent you information about in our last e-mail> our molly is in the breeding net as she is ready to have her babies but i can set up another tank if she is not compatible with guppies . <Do keep your eyes on this Molly... some species, individuals become quite aggressive. Bob Fenner>

Molly - Cory compatibility Doctor Fenner, <Call me Robare, just not late for din din> My wife and I recently started an aquarium in our apartment. While I was growing up, my grandfather was an avid fish keeper, and it really rubbed off onto me. Finally, I have a setup of my own, and we bought four beautiful black lyre tail mollies to start. <Ah, great> I've heard from several sources that Cory cats are good tank mates for mollies. However, I wanted to make sure before I head out to my local aquarium shop that Corys can handle the slightly harder water that mollies need. Thanks for your help! <Yes, good question... "modern" Corydoras catfishes are much more "plastic" (tolerant of wide, varying water conditions) than those of yore. Will do fine with Mollies, even tolerating a modicum of salt. Be chatting, Bob Fenner> -Chris

Mollies Hello, We have a small (15 gallon - high) tank with three mollies in it. It has UG filtration and an airstone (at bottom). Curious thing: The mollies are always at the very top of the tank, something I have never seen before I moved them from a standard all glass 10 gallon tank. <Hi Thom, Lorenzo Gonzalez replying for Bob-in-Indonesia... Mollies and their kin (guppies, platys, etc.) are surface fish by nature, just look at the shape of their mouths. Just right for eating insect larvae off the surface... A little factoid for your museum, your Mollies are a close relative of the 'mosquito fish' cultivated in some parts of the world to combat mosquito-borne plagues... Anyway - the new 15 high is quite a bit deeper than their old home, and unless there's interesting stuff throughout the depth of the tank, they really won't explore much...> I'm writing as I just came across "Ask Robert Fenner a Question" and thought I might.  Thanks, Thom Smith, Curator <Any time. Bob will be back from safari in about 10 more days. I've been answering his 20+ daily emails for several days now... boy is it hard, but rewarding labor! Regards, Lorenzo> THE BERKSHIRE MUSEUM Check our site: http://bcn.net/~aquarium/Museum.htm

Platy gravid spot Hi... Been searching high and low for a picture of a pregnant platy. I think mine might be expecting, and keep reading about a gravid spot to confirm it , but am not quite sure what i am looking for. Any pics on the web that you know about?  <Hmm, think I have some at home... am visiting in HI currently. The vent area gets quite clear near parturition... and the black pupils of the young are visible...> Also, she has begun to look much larger in the last 2 weeks...how soon should I separate her from her tankmates? <Sooner is better if you're going to move the fish at all... I would do so now. Bob Fenner> thanks, A.J.

Modified Mollienesia Hi Bob, I was wondering if you could tell me anything about balloon belly mollies? I can't seem to find much info on-line. What I want to know is are they naturally like that or are they like that because of selective breeding? Are they some kind of mutation? Thanks, Terri <Selective breeding after some "regular" Mollies were observed to be "irregularly shaped" if memory serves... Will delve into (on schedule, yikes) and post about this genus and other poeciliids on www.WetWebMedia.com soon... Bob Fenner>

Poecilia Bob, Hi It's me again, Brenee King, a student of Mr. Nordell's I wanted to know how Poecilia latipinna and Poecilia sphenops can mate even though they are different species? Or was I mistaken about their mating capabilities? Brenee King <Hello there. Rather than just rendering yes/no responses here, let me send you along to www.fishbase.com where you can/should insert the genus of these two livebearing toothed carps and click below on "reproduction"... Some strange goings on, challenges to "species-concepts" with the families of livebearing fishes... Be chatting. 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>

Guppy, Pleco Q's Hi, I was wondering what is the shortest length of pregnancy for a female guppy? Also What age does a female guppy reach sexual maturity? Also i have a pleco and i bought it when it was small but it grew fast now it is starting to get too big what should i do with it and will it start eating my other fish? and what could i get that would clean my tank but not grow very big? thanks Alex <About a month... about four months... trade that too-large pleco in at your fish store... not so much that it will harass your other fishes, but may starve, knock everything over... How big a tank? Read over the Suckermouth Catfish article posted on the www.wetwebmedia.com site. Bob Fenner>

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>

Livebearer Swordtail Pairs? I have about 30 fish in a 55 gallon tank and i have two kinds of swordtail fish i have a male and a female pineapple swordtail and i have a male and a female green swordtail but i had them for a while but they haven't had there babies yet. the females swordtail fish stomachs aren't that big so how can i get them to mate PLEASE E-MAIL A.S.A.P. BECAUSE IM REALLY HOPING TO RECEIVE THE LITTLE BABIES. Jamie  <Thank you for writing. As strange as this may seem, you may need more females for your Swordtails (Xiphophorus helleri). In the wild the sex-ratio for these livebearers is often a few females per males... Another possibility is that your males aren't... way too-often the "pairs" offered in the trade consist of hormone manipulated males that aren't functional males at all... Do ask around at your fish shop if they know of a local breeder of these fish who would sell you some breeding fish. Good luck. Bob Fenner>

Re: Livebearer Swordtail Pairs? will now i got the female and the male pineapple swordtail fish in a breeding tank with a net how do i know that she pregnant in the other tank i saw little black dots like they said you will see but they also said that the fish don't take more than 24 hours to 2 days to lay their hatchling but i don't see them in the tank do the female waits to have her young or do she have them at any given moment? <Any moment now... depending on a few factors... the higher the temperature the sooner for instance. Bob Fenner>

HELP!!!!!!Female Guppy Two days ago i purchased a female guppy, today she gave birth to 15 fry. I had her in a fish net breeder that you attach to the side of the tank, whilst she was giving birth. Every time a baby came out i put it in a fish bowl. when she had, had them all i put her back in her original tank. i then put the fry into the fish net breeder, at the moment they are just sitting on the bottom of the net. the are all alive because if i move the net they swim back down to the bottom, Why are they staying at the bottom? <Likely just from the trials of being born and being moved... Next time, either leave the female in with her young till they're all out, or look into one of the types of traps that "automatically" separates the young. And do utilize some sort of real or artificial "breeding grass" (anacharis, Myriophyllum, Ceratophyllum...) in with the gravid female. Good luck, and congratulations. Bob Fenner>

Platies and Guppies I recently purchased 4 platies 1 of them is very fat and she stays in the plants and on the gravel a lot, do you think she is pregnant? Also i have 4 Guppies, 2 males and 2 females, I want to breed them, how can i tell if they are going to breed, what are the signs i should look out for? Also i would like just one Siamese fighting fish but will it attack my guppies? Please, please, please email me back A.S.A.P at Thanx for the help. from Alex <Thank you for writing, and yes, it is likely your platy is indeed going to give birth. Take care not to move such fish when they are very gravid (close to parturition), as you can gauge from their girth as well as a clearing near the females' vent areas (if you look very close, you may be able to see the young's eyes!) at this time. As I say, it is best to have plenty of room, some plant material for the young to hide in (lest they be eaten by the other fishes), and keep their tankmates fed (small amounts at least twice daily). A Betta, aka Siamese Fighting Fish would likely chase your fancier male guppies (their fluttering tailfins are irresistible) and would definitely eat your young livebearers. However, you could easily house the Betta in a container within your aquarium, like a glass hurricane lamp cover or attached plastic trap for the purpose... effectively keeping them separated. Do keep in mind that Bettas need regular meaty foods (frozen/defrosted, fresh, live) to stay healthy, and access to the tank surface to breath. Bob Fenner>

More on Pregnant Platies I forgot to bookmark your web page and i cant find the site could you email me the address? Also how can i tell if my platy is gravid? Please email me back at sparkle Thanx <Our URL is wetwebmedia.com, and your female platies are gravid (near to giving birth) when they're apparently more full, and their vent area (the underbelly just behind the anal fin) starts to become clear. Bob Fenner>

Mollies Dear Robert, could you please tell me the difference between Poecilia latipinna and Poecilia velifera? Can you actually have male mollies without Sailfins? >> <You mean, whether these are two distinct species? Yes, they are... take a look at the ref.s on FishBase (.com) for more... and yes, there are male mollies w/o sailfin dorsals. Bob Fenner>

Livebearers Dear Robert, one of my swordtails, female, has recently 'built up' some black dots and marks in the area from the eyes all the way back to the dorsal fin. This is not maturity as it was already mature. How do i tell if it is pregnant? thanks >> Hmm, well the black spots could be "nothing", at least nothing dangerous... melanin build up from genetic, developmental input... The pregnancy, close to parturition (birthing) is a matter of having good vision... Take a look near the fish's vent... as it gets near to releasing its young, you will see the area enlarge, become clearer and the eyes (little dark spots) of the young themselves, a few days ahead of release. BTW, do take care to not move the female (as in to a breeder trap or other tank...) in later stages of pregnancy... instead, I suggest placing enough filamentous bunch plant material (like Myriophyllum, Hornwort, Anacharis...) for the young to hide in. Bob Fenner

Re: Re: livebearers Dear Robert, so i should not use the breeding trap? <You could/can if it's big enough and you move the pregnant female(s) ahead of giving birth a few days or more> Is the vent the area near where the fish excreta is released?  <Yes> There is a pink spot there right now and that sword is becoming fatter by the week. Will that pink spot become black in colour? <Yes, with the develop of the young, you can actually make out their eyes as they get larger... and the vent region will become whitish/clear.> What behaviour signs can i look for to tell that my fish is ready to give birth? <Less movement, more hanging out at areas where the young could seek shelter.> BTW do you really think that those black spots on the head are just the fish maturing?  <For the most part, yes> When my platy gave birth it didn't develop them. My platy was hiding from everyone else but my sword doesn't do that, does it just mean that the fish isn't ready to give birth yet. >> <Possibly. Bob Fenner>

Guppies My sister had two guppies. One male the other female. One day she found her male guppy at the bottom of her bowl, dead. Would a female guppy be  aggressive enough to kill a male guppy? She also had baby guppies about 5 days after he died. Would this be part of the problem? And a week or two  later the female guppy ate all the babies. Is this normal? Sarah >> Sometimes a female will be very outgoing... but rarely kill a male guppy. Often these animals "just die" from "old age". At time of purchase, most only live about a year more. Having the babies didn't have anything to do with the males passing... but unless there is lots of space or decoration (plants, breeding "grass", or a breeding trap), livebearers, like guppies, platies, mollies and swordtails will definitely eat their young. Bob Fenner

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