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FAQs on the Molly Disease: Treatments

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

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

Again: Environmental issues kill off 90 some plus % of mollies... CHECK your water quality!

Beware of toxic (bio. cycling killing) med.s and avoid phony "Fixes" that do nothing positive.

Mollies dying; diag., trtmt.s f'      9/1/15
I apologize I hit send before checking my grammar and spelling, as I am messaging from my phone...I will correct...
<Not a problem.>
Dear WWM Crew,
I noticed you had another person named Jace email you back in March of 2011 with similar issue that has not been solved and was wondering if you have any more insight now that some time has passed... I had 2 white mollies, 2 black mollies, 1 orange balloon sailfin molly and 1 gold panda molly in a 20 gallon cycled tank (fish purchased approx. 1 month ago), frequent water changes done (25-40% per wk),with regular testing, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and 5 nitrates (no spikes during this recent time) the mollies came from brackish water so I have kept this environment for them.
<Can you tell me how much salt you're adding? Brackish water suitable for Mollies would be something like 5 gram/litre (0.65 oz/US gallon). That gets you a specific gravity of 1.002 at 25 C/77 F. You can use digital scales at home to work out how much you'd want to add per bucket. For a 3 gallon bucket for example, that'd be 3 x 0.65 = 1.95, close enough to 2, oz per bucket. Make sense? Once you've measured it out you can use teaspoons and see how many teaspoons there are in that quantity of salt. It's about 5 teaspoons per 1 oz of salt, more or less, so we're talking about 2 x 5 =10 teaspoons per 3 gallon bucket. With me so far? Mollies will actually do even better at higher salinities, and even doubling this amount of salt
could be worthwhile if your aquarium is just Mollies and plastic plants/ornaments (real plants and most other fish won't be so keen).>
Anyhow, first I noticed definite Ich symptoms - as the black mollies, orange molly and panda molly were COVERED in white dots like salt grains (couldn't quite see any on the white mollies). I raised the temp to 86 degrees to speed up life cycle and increased the salt in the water to 3tsp per gallon
<3 x 6 gram per US gallon... 18 gram/US gallon... 18 gram/3.8 litres... 4.7 gram/litre... yes, that should certainly kill of Whitespot and Velvet.>
when white spots disappeared to kill the ich the natural way (without meds)...
<Salt is a medication... in some situations far more harmful than, say, antibiotics.>
Now, before the white spots disappeared, 1 white molly's tail fin just disappeared (frayed down the body) and then back half of her body started to look fuzzy and she just kept spiraling around tank so I euthanized her.
The next day, the 2nd white molly's mouth was swollen open & just started crashing in to the gravel upside down, gills heaving and could not move so I euthanized her also.
<Not good.>
A few days later, the orange balloon molly's lips looked the same, she crashed and died just like the white molly! So, I assumed the Ich overtook the fish because this all occurred before the white spots fell off any of the fish and the other fish were COVERED in salt grains so it just made sense.
<Possibly, but I'd be wondering if Velvet or even Costia is the issue here.
Costia is the old name for Ichthyobodo, and you'll see both names in aquarium books, though Costia (or "Slime Disease") are more often seen on medications. In any event, like Whitespot we're talking about a microscopic protozoan that latches onto the skin of the fish and causes damage. Costia does seem to become more lethal more quickly than Whitespot or Velvet.
Commonest symptom is the appearance of off-white patches (rather than the discrete salt grains of Whitespot or icing sugar/golden sheen of Velvet).
It's more difficult to treat than Whitespot, though some medications will treat both. Brackish water works well against it though, as do 2-20 minute seawater dips (35 gram/litre). Mollies tolerate seawater dips extremely well, so this is a useful approach. I'm mentioning Costia here because it's a bit of plague among Mollies, notoriously obvious on Black Mollies because of their colour, often as greyish patches on the face and flanks.>
So after a couple days of raising the heat slowly, the white spots all disappeared and I started the salt treatment (to kill the free floating Ich), when all of the sudden (now this is when it gets exactly the same as the email you received in 2011 that I found on your site from Jace that had no resolution or real answer) the 2 black mollies started hanging around the filter intake and the heater near the surface (but not gasping), with their tails down as if their tails were paralyzed (drooping) and if they swam under the waterfall from the filter,
<This is the famous "Shimmies" when Mollies are stressed and unable to swim properly. It's called the Shimmies because initially the Mollies rock from side to side as they tread water, as if shimmying.>
they were forced into somersaults uncontrollably but then would buoy back up to the surface, tail down again. I also noticed their bowel movements were a long, clearish-white hair-like string (with intermittent white beads every so often).
<Interesting. Copious white faeces indicate excess mucous in the gut, which in turn often points towards parasitic infections, most notoriously, Hexamita.>
The next day, one black molly started crashing nose down into the gravel and could not swim or right itself (just as the white ones!) He stopped breathing and I noticed its anus was extremely white. Now the other black molly is still hanging near the surface with her tail down, obviously about to suffer the same fate! The only other one left is the gold panda molly and she seems fine! Again no parameters changed drastically ever during this time, and the only identifiable problem I saw was the Ich, but, as I said, it cleared up before these last 2 started crashing and they started displaying these unidentifiable symptoms that even your site said were strange (back in 2011)...so, I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas?
Any new knowledge on this? Could it be Ich AND something else?
<Easily. Whitespot/Ick is pretty much ubiquitous, but it's so easy to treat in its early stages it shouldn't ever be lethal. But it's also easy for fish to pick up other infections, and among livebearing fish, Camallanus worms, Hexamita infections, and something called Tetrahymena are all worth thinking about. Hexamita is treated by using Metronidazole, and is discussed elsewhere on WWM; use the Google search facility on the top of each page and you shouldn't have any trouble finding out about Metronidazole (often used alongside an antibiotic). Now, Tetrahymena is something less widely discussed. It is sometimes known as Guppy Disease.
Superficially similar to Whitespot in terms of symptoms but far more immediately lethal. To save me rewriting a bunch of stuff about this disease, let me direct you to a piece about this disease I wrote over at FishChannel:
The bottom line is that there are no effective cures, though a combination of anti-protozoan medication (Metronidazole for example) alongside elevated salinity (the higher, the better) may help.>
I forgot to mention all the fish were purchased together and introduced to the cycled tank at the same time (which I would never do again obviously!)
But I am very curious what this is and what to do now? I don't want to proceed ignorantly and subject any more fish to whatever this issue was!
Please help as I cannot bear to lose any more or have to euthanize; I am an avid animal lover and it's breaking my heart!!
Thank you!
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Mollies dying        9/2/15

Thank you so much, I will look into all of this information!
<Glad to help and good luck. Neale.>

Sick Molly? 10/25/11
Sick Molly? (RMF, anything to add/refute?)<<Nope>>

Hi WWM Crew,
I'm new to the hobby, and at a complete loss. I've Googled as much as humanly possible, but lacking the proper terminology can make things tricky. I believe my Molly may be sick -- perhaps constipation, dropsy or a tumor?
First, I'll start with the (hopefully) relevant parameters:
Aquarium: 29 Gallons
Filter: Rena Filstar XP3 w/ 2L Ehfisubstrat Pro
PH: ~8.0
Ammonia[*]: <0.25 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: <5 ppm
Temp: 27 C
Salinity: ~1.004 sg
<Sounds a good aquarium for Mollies. While ammonia is toxic, even at slight concentrations, Mollies don't seem particularly sensitive to ammonia when maintained in brackish or marine conditions, hence their (largely historic) usage in maturing new marine tanks before true marine species are added.>
[*] We triggered what I believe to be a mini-cycle last weekend when we added three new tankmates to the aquarium. Previously, the tank was fishless cycled using bottled ammonia (4 ppm per day) until the ammonia and nitrite levels dropped to zero and nitrates were present. We then completed a ~75% water change to lower the nitrates. The first three fish were then added, and I checked the parameters daily. Now that we experience nonzero ammonia, we change about 25-40% of the water daily until the ammonia drops below 0.25 ppm, with one exception: an Ick treatment** (the new tankmates came with friends!) where I could only change the water every other day. During this, I dosed the tank daily with Prime to detoxify any ammonia.
** API Super Ick Cure Liquid
Presently, there are six Mollies inhabiting the tank. Only one shows signs of this sickness so far. The first thing we tried was to administer the correct dosage of ParaGuard -- which, according to the info, appeared to be a cure-all for the inexperienced like us (antibacterial, anti-parasite, fungicide, etc.). It did not appear to help.
<Indeed. While Paraguard is a good medication, it won't cure everything, and is primarily useful for treating external bacteria, parasites and fungi. It will be of little to no value when treating internal ("systemic") infections. There are essentially two sorts of medicines in the world.
Those that kill pathogens on the outside of the fish, and so work best added to the water *and* dosed to the size of the aquarium; and those that kill pathogens inside the fish, and these work best when administered via food or injections *and* dosed for the size (weight) of the fish. There's little overlap between the two, and on the whole, aquarists can expect good results from the external medicines because dosing to the size of the tank is easy. Medicines that treat internal infections are much, MUCH less reliable because aquarists can't judge the right dose, and a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn't work. When fish are sick with something systemic, it really makes a HUGE difference getting a vet
involved because a vet can judge the right amount of medicine for the size of the fish, and if necessary, inject that dose into the fish. The worst situation is treating an internal infection with a medicine that is dosed by the size of the tank -- this is unlikely to be the right dose for a fish of given size -- imagine an Oscar and a Neon both in 50 gallon hospital tanks -- which would need more medicine?
The Molly in question has a bulge behind her right gill, which is increasing in size. Her scales in this area are also beginning to protrude. Thinking it was constipation, we have been feeding the fish peas and spinach for the past two days (they generally get spirulina wafers twice daily*, and livebearer flakes once daily** with random greenery substitutions throughout the week). This Molly maintains her appetite, and
does poop, if not as much as some of her tankmates.
* Nutrafin Max Spirulina Meal Tablets
** Nutrafin Max Livebearer Flakes + Freeze Dried Tubifex Worms However, during non-feeding time, she is somewhat active, but appears to "gulp" constantly as if she was trying to eat or breathe and generally hangs out near the middle-to-bottom of the tank. The gulping is really nonstop.
Sometimes, she swims almost 90 degrees vertical, triggered when the other fish pass by.
Thank you for your help!
PS: Pictures attached. Sorry for the quality, they tend to be fast little buggers! :)
<Mollies are of variable quality these days, and systemic infections that cause bloating and dropsy are common. Maintaining them properly helps prevent problems, but once the bacteria or Protozoans multiply sufficiently to cause severe stress, like this poor chap, then there's little you can.
One possibility is Camallanus worms, these are common among livebearers.
But they're distinctive in revealing themselves as little red threads at the anus; have you seen any of these? Shimmies is another common problem, and apparently neurological. It tends to be untreatable directly, but goes away when Mollies are moved into the right environmental conditions. My gut feeling here is that this Molly has something like a Mycobacteria infection, and even with veterinarian help, it would be unlikely to recover. I've seen this from time to time with livebearers, including my own, and tends to happen when fish are past middle age and, crucially, I haven't given them the very best care, so the tank is overstocked, oxygenation is a bit low, the water hasn't been changed much, or summertime temperatures have been excessively high. Euthanasia is usually the best step forward.
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Molly? (RMF, anything to add/refute?) <<Nothing>> 10/27/11
Hi Neale,
Thanks so much for the prompt and informative reply.
<Glad to help.>
I took the sick molly to a vet after work today, and he confirmed your suspicions -- Mycobacteria -- and euthanized the fish for us.
<Too bad. Sadly not uncommon with this species, and livebearers in general (esp. Platies and Guppies).>
I wish we could have done more, but I think it was the humane choice?
<No question at all. With fish, there's often a very narrow period of time during which you can treat successfully, especially with small fish. Often a few days. If you miss that window of opportunity, your best bet is often to euthanise the fish, then go back to the aquarium and see what the problem might have been. Fix them, then let the tank settle for at least 4 weeks before you add any more fish.>
We had purchased this particular fish three days ago, so it was suggested that it was probably ill before we even got it home.
<Oh, I agree. Mycobacteria infections take longer than 3 days to get to this point. They likely incubate for a few weeks before overwhelming the fish's immune system.>
I realize that you are likely busy with other aquatic crises, but if you have the time, could you verify that we are raising them in as close-to-ideal conditions as possible?
<Are you talking about Mollies? The key things are water chemistry and water quality. Water chemistry needs to be hard and alkaline, the harder the better. If you're just keeping Mollies -- the ideal situation -- then try using the Rift Valley salt mix described in the article below. Even at half the dose, you should find life a lot easier.
At full dose, you will have to limit tankmates to hard water species, so you might decide to go with brackish conditions instead, adding anything between 6-9 grammes of marine salt mix per litre, the lower end if you have live plants. In such conditions you can add brackish tankmates such as Knight Gobies or Violet Gobies. Next up, water quality. Ammonia and nitrite must be zero, and nitrate as close to zero as possible, less than 20 mg/l certainly. In brackish water, the presence of salt actually makes nitrite and nitrate less toxic, so this issue isn't quite so critical. In short, your aquarium seems about right to me, and if your Mollies are otherwise healthy, I'd put this death down to bad luck. Wait, see what happens, and don't add anything else for a month.>
Being newbies, we purchased and configured everything as described on WWM; the "truth about mollies" article you wrote was particularly informative!
Truly appreciated,
<Mollies are lovely fish, and once established, easily justify the extra care they need. Do keep your eyes peeled for Giant Sailfin Mollies. The males comfortably fill a man's hand, and the females can reach 15 cm/6 inches! There's also Liberty Mollies, some of the prettiest fish in the hobby, and actually quite hardy, but sadly also rather nippy, so best kept as a single-species set-up. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Balloon Molly   11/25/08
Hi there, I wrote to you a little while ago and I think you probably saved my fishes, I'm just hoping you're able to do the same again!
I have a 90L tank with 2 female mollies, 5 guppies, and about 20 Molly fry.
About 2 weeks back I noticed that my Dalmatian balloon molly was acting a little subdued, hiding and not swimming about much. I checked the levels and the nitrites were high, I sorted those out and she seemed to go back to normal. I've recently noticed all of the fish (including the fry) scraping themselves on everything solid in the tank, but none had any outward signs of parasites. I went out and bought Sterazin Gill and Body Flukes treatment, and have been using the recommended dose. After 2 doses, I have come home to find my Dalmatian molly, pointing downwards, trapped between a plant and the wall. I thought she was dead but noticed she was still breathing. After bringing a net close to her, she swum off but has looked very ill since. Her stability seems severely affected, she's floating all over the place, just moving with the flow of the water, seemingly unable to control her movements, and bashing into things. She's often completely vertical, either pointing either up or down. Occasionally she'll come to rest in a plant upside down, and stay there motionless until I get scared and make her move. What's wrong with her? Do you think that I can save her? And should I stop the fluke treatment? Thanks for you help
<Sterazin is a medication that has been around for years. It is generally well regarded, and I'd be surprised if it was causing ill health, assuming it was used correctly. Do check you dosed the tank correctly: all medications are poisons, and the "art" is using them in the right amounts.
When measuring out the dose, it's important not to overdose. It's also a good idea to increase aeration when treating, because sometimes these medications cause the amount of oxygen in the water to drop. Also you have to remember to remove carbon from the filter; if you don't, the medication gets sucked up by the filter without doing its job. In any case, the thing with Mollies is that it is extremely difficult to separate actual diseases from the fact they almost never do well in plain freshwater conditions. I'd insist they be kept in brackish water conditions, at least SG 1.003 (about 6 grammes marine salt mix per litre). It's remarkable how many sick Mollies pep up when kept in brackish water conditions. The "treading water" behaviour often seen with Mollies is called the Shimmies, and is particularly common in tanks where Mollies are kept in freshwater. And no, adding a teaspoon of tonic salt per gallon doesn't make an aquarium brackish! Besides salinity, nitrate is highly toxic to Mollies, as are rapid pH changes, so these are two factors to review. Since Mollies and Guppies both do extremely well in brackish water, adding marine salt mix is the cheap and easy way to keep them in good health. Cheers, Neale.>

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

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

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

Velvet and a pregnant molly, copper FW trtmt.  2/28/07 I love your website and refer to it often when I have questions or more often just looking for entertainment. It has been a great resource over the years. Thanks for all the time put into making such a great information source. <Welcome!> I recently added a new silver lyretail molly to my community aquarium, but two days later it started to show signs of velvet and died pretty quickly. I didn't quarantine this fish (stupid, I know), and it spread to several other fish, including all of the mollies and swordtails. I removed my live plants and added CopperSafe by Mardel, and am keeping the tank well oxygenated with a air pump since the plants are no longer there to do this. I am also doing partial water changes (about 15%) every other day to keep nitrate levels down as the plants (again) are no longer there to take care of this. I also have one tablespoon of aquarium salt for every 5 gallons of water and have raised the temperature of the tank to 84 degrees. <All good moves...> One of my black mollies is pregnant, and I expect her to give birth within a day or two, but I know mollies often do not release their babies under stressful conditions. As she is so far into her pregnancy I have been reluctant to move her to another tank, but I am worried the stress in this tank could be enough to keep her from releasing the fry anyway. I am not terribly concerned about the fry surviving at this point, I just want to give the mother the best possible chance. Do you have any suggestions? It is a fully cycled tank that has been set up for about 14 years, with ammonia and nitrites both at 0 and nitrates at between 5 and 10 ppm. The other fish in the tank currently are two dwarf gouramis and a small pleco. Beth <... Really... to continue doing what you're doing... maybe with (you're likely doing this but didn't mention it) testing for ammonia... A test kit for FW copper use would also be a good idea... as with all such treatments, should the effective/concentration drop too low... and this happens very easily in established systems... mulm/other absorption... there is no treatment. Bob Fenner>

My Mollies... hlth.   - 02/15/07 <<Hello, Ashley.>> Thank you very  much for the reply. <<You're quite welcome.>> The tables have turned now and Lancelot (male Dalmatian) is now chasing Vivian (female Dalmatian) around like crazy. He seems to be head butting her and they often run into the glass in their pursuit, I'm worried this may be hurting them, but I'm unsure as to what to do about it. <<A bigger tank? Actually, it's not likely that this type of 'crashing' will be harmful. What might be a problem is that she's the only one he's got to chase. A couple of more female Dalmatians, tank size notwithstanding, would 'dilute' his attentions somewhat'¦unless Vivian's a real hottie. Nothing we can do about that! :) >> I also have a question about salting my tank. After I add the salt how often do I have to add more, and how much. Also, will using table salt work as a temporary means until I can get to the pet store? I checked the pet aisle at the grocery story but they didn't have any and it will be a couple weeks before I can get to the pet store again as I'm going on a vacation next week and I don't have my own car to drive it all the way to the pet store (that's generally my boyfriend's job). If not, will they be okay until  I can get the proper aquarium salt? <<Second question first, Ashley. The grocery does have the 'equivalent' in the form of Kosher salt. Will work just as well as aquarium salt since it doesn't contain iodine or anti-caking ingredients. (There are varying theories on the use of regular table salt. Some recommend avoiding it like the plague. Others state that it works perfectly well as a maintenance-level additive. Personally, I don't recommend it's use in aquariums. Kosher salt is fine, however.) Now, the first question. You should add more with water changes. How much you add will take a bit of minor calculation. Salt does not evaporate with water so any 'topping off' of the tank due to evaporation will put the salt-to-water ratio back where you want it without adding more salt. (The 'flip-side' is that the solution, salt-wise, becomes stronger due to evaporation so you'll want to bear this in mind.) When you physically remove water from the tank, you do, in fact, remove salt with the water. In other words, if you've added one tablespoon of salt to your 10-gallon tank and remove five gallons of water, you'll have to add one-half tablespoon of salt to the new water to bring the ratio back to one tablespoon per 10 gallons. More realistic? Let's look at a 20% change (more appropriate anyway). You'll have removed one-fifth of a tablespoon of salt with the water so you'll have to add one-fifth of a tablespoon to the new water to bring the ratio back to normal, i.e. one tablespoon per 10 gallons.>> Kinda sucks about not being able to sex angelfish, but oh well, I say she's a girl, so she is. It's unlikely that I'll get another angel anyway. <<A flip of a coin says that you're right.>> Thanks a bunch for your advice. Ashley <<Happy to help, Ashley. Tom>> PS: Your site is absolutely great and it has so many important tidbits of information. <<We've got a heck of Crew here, Ashley.>>
Re: My Mollies... hlth.
  - 02/15/07 Oh, boy, me again. <<And it's me again, too, Ashley.>> I've got another question that may sound strange even though you haven't gotten back to me from my last email yet. <<Sorry. A certain Yellow Lab puppy seems to think the world revolves around her lately. :) >> I've been watching my mollies for a while (they're so entertaining and I wanted to keep an eye on my male to make sure he wasn't being a bully). So as I was watching I noticed that my female Dalmatian doesn't swim like the others. She's more erratic and seems to constantly be in motion and when she swims her head moves as well as the rest of the body. I noticed the other two managed to keep their heads mostly still when swimming. At first I remembered something mention in the FAQ's called shimmers or something like that so I searched back through and when I found it the symptoms didn't sound the same. So I compared the anatomy between the f. Dalmatian and my f. Creamsicle and discovered that the Dalmatian is missing a fin! The entire fin that goes along the back of the fish (dorsal? ventral? I don't know the correct terminology) is gone. I haven't noticed this before, and as I've only had them for three days I don't know if she came that way or if she lost it to the male or if it was a birth defect (I hear that there's a lot of inbreeding). Will the fin grow back or will she be deformed for the rest of her life. <<Double check for the 'dorsal' fin, Ashley. While it's possible that the fin could be 'missing', in a lot of cases a fish that's stressed may have the fin so tucked into its body that it appears to be missing it all together. My Sailfin Pleco has a very large dorsal fin but can fold it in to where it's almost imperceptible that he has one at all.>> Also, I'm curious as so why the m. Dalmatian isn't interested in my f. Creamsicle. Is it because of the size differences between them? The Creamsicle is bigger than the Dalmatians. <<Size can make a difference but Livebearers (Mollies, Platys, Swordtails, etc.) will attempt to 'mate' with their own kind first. They can/will attempt to mate with others but I'd say that Vivian is going to be Lancelot's main focus. Hybridization, is more a creation of Man than of Fish. (Man tinkers with life and equates a 'success' with a green light to continue 'tinkering'. Makes you wonder sometimes'¦>> Thanks again for all of your help and for providing such a wonderful outlet for all of our questions. Ashley <<Once again, Ashley, we're happy to help. Tom>>

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

Sick White Molly  11/10/05 Hi, <Hello there> I have a 10 gal tank freshwater aquarium, inside are a female guppy who gave birth to around 20 fry guppies, 1 orange platy and 1 white molly.  My white molly has been the healthiest fish since the first time I bought her ( 8 months ago), but since yesterday she has been acting different. she hid behind the rocks, stayed still near the heater or stay near the bottom of the tank on one of the tank's corners. I checked the pH, nitrate, ammonia, nitrite levels, and they checked OK. I was wondering if it's because I put too much salt yesterday, I put 2 tablespoon full. <Mmm, this shouldn't be too much> I used to have a black molly that died due to white spots that looked like flaky skin, I wonder if my white molly is having the same thing, it's hard to see because she's white. <Ah, I see> One thing I noticed though is that her fins/scales are darker than usual, and there is a red visible patch on the top of her head. <Good observations, bad symptoms> I have "quick cure" and "MelaFix" already, which one do you think is better for my fish? <Mmm, likely the latter... Quick Cure is quite toxic... Melafix has only a mild antimicrobial effect... I would treat these fishes for white spot/ich with Malachite Green...> Or do I need other medication? Thank you very much, Ike <Not unless there are specific symptoms... Bob Fenner>  

Molly Not Moving Much  9/29/05 Hi Friends: Once again I need a little help please. I have a sickly looking Mollie but with no obvious signs of illness/injury. I have a 10-gallon fresh water tank with approx 9 small Dalmatian mollies. They are all siblings from my daughter and are still pretty small. My filter is a Whisper with a bio bag and I have an anti-ammonia pillow in there also. I test the water regularly and the tests are good except the nitrate which is still round 20. Nitrite is zero, hardness 75, ph 7.8. Temperature is 80F and stays very stable. I feed flakes twice a day except a couple of times a week they get Tubifex worms or peas or something like that. I do a 1/3 water change every week and the problems I had back in August with the cloudy water have gone and the water has been clear. The plants are all plastic. Now I have a (female I think) Mollie who does not appear to be doing very well. Yesterday I noticed she was on the bottom of the tank a lot, although if another fish came near her she would swim off. Today she was hanging more on the bottom and mostly ignoring the others. I isolated her into a bowl and put her into an Epsom salt solution. It was hard to guess how much so I think the solution is a bit light as I was afraid of overdoing it. I don't have another tank to put her in so after I did the water change today (it was actually due tomorrow) I have put her in a clear container, still in the Epsom salt solution, inside the tank where she will be warm. She has no signs of anything like ick or injuries. She is just sitting pretty still, moving her fins a little but otherwise pretty motionless. She is in a normal position, not on her side or anything. My questions: Will she be OK with no aeration? Is there anything else I can do for her? Is there an easier way to measure the amount of Epsom salts for a small (1-1 1/2 ) pint container? With no visible signs of anything wrong I don't know what else to do. Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions Vivienne < Mollies can actually handle seawater concentrations if the salt is added gradually. Since all your other fish are mollies I would add some salt over time in small doses. A big influx of salt will not be good for your nitrifying bacteria. Add a tablespoon per week and see if it makes any difference. Slowly you will be increasing the salt concentration. Stop when you see the fish acting better.-Chuck>

Sick Molly I have a Molly that was acting strangely a while back.  He had some white spots on him but it did not look like any picture I had seen of Ich.  It did not appear as though it was sticking up like granules of salt or grains of sand.  It appeared flat just a few spots and 2 spots under his head and a couple of spots at the base of his fins where they meet the body.  He was "shaking" on the bottom of the aquarium and occasionally bumping things.   <Mmm, was this fish new to your system? Do you have salt in there?> We treated for fungus first and I did an immediate 25% water change and added salt to the aquarium.  He had immediate improvement.  He has yet to shake or thrash since, but his white patches have reappeared.   No other fish in the aquarium show any symptoms of anything similar.  I did have a platy that was being roughed up by the guppies and she appeared flaky.  I culled her because she looked ill and she was constantly bothered possibly because she was ill.    I can send you some pictures of the molly if that will help. <Would> I'm really beginning to think it is not fungus.  I've also done one Ich treatment.  If you have any ideas please let me know.  This is my oldest and biggest fish I'd like to keep him. Thanks Raina <Thank you for writing so well and completely. I do agree with your estimation that this is not a pathogenic problem... Perhaps just environmental, maybe with a nutritional component. Is your water hard, alkaline? What temperature? Have you read over the parts on WWM re Molly, Platy Systems? Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick molly I am so sorry I forgot to mention this peculiar thing as well.  weeks before the molly showed any signs of illness he had clear string instead of normal feces. <Can be a clue> I did not know what it was still don't.  He also exhibits no other problems he eats interacts with other fish etc. I'm going to go ahead and send the pictures to see if they help. <The fish appears healthy overall> I've spent countless hours on the web looking and disease photos and have yet to see something that looks like this.  Please have a look and help if you can. Thanks Raina <I would seek to understand your water quality, solve this issue... you could make a prophylactic pass at feeding/dosing Metronidazole/Flagyl here... Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick molly Since I wrote this message there have been other developments.  My pregnant platy can't swim well, she appears as though she is having swim bladder issues and one little spot on her fin has appeared which does look like ich sort of at least.  But other than that she appears fine great color eating just hiding but she does that in the week or so before birth usually.  I did another water check and the ammonia and nitrites are at 0 so I was glad of that.  I had added salt first a week or so ago and he immediately perked up but I've done so many water changes since then it's doubtful there is much salt left. <Mmm, the salt doesn't leave solution except by dilution...> Upon the new water testing last night I noticed something very disturbing. The nitrates have gone through the roof.  Just last week it was at 40 which I know is a little high but still within an ok range I guess at least according to who you ask :). <Mmm (again? Heee!), actually about half this (20 ppm) is right about maximum... fishes and non-fishes can "become acclimated" to higher concentrations, but this is also stressful... I would shoot for half what you state at the most>   Well last night and this morning it is at 160+ . <Yeeikesville!> I know that is horrible.  I'm going to clean out my canister today and go get some carbon/nitrate combo filter material.  I haven't had anything in my filter for at least week due to all of the treatments the tank has been undergoing. <Likely the treatments either metabolically checked microbial action and/or killed your nitrifiers outright...> I accidentally fibbed to you in the previous message.  I thought I had done an ich treatment but I was wrong.  After noticing a grain like spot on my platy's tail I did that this morning. I guess now my question to you is:  Do you think I should continue ich treatments and ignore the nitrate at this time, or do water changes/filtration and take care of the nitrate first? <I would do the latter, and replenish, replace the aquarium salt with the water changes>   My mother also mentioned I might should buy some live bacteria since I've been medicating the fish.  I'm kinda lost at this point.  Due to the only fish with any symptoms at all being the molly and the platy, I'm beginning to just think I should somehow isolate them.  I have a 10g that I could set up for them, but would it be more detrimental to them to switch them to a new uncycled tank? <Hard to judge from here... but I am leaning toward your suggestion of moving them to the new ten, with a good deal of the existing water (for biological cycling, acclimation in general reasons), along with some of the "mulm" and possibly gravel from their existing system... Will also help dilute the ammonia being produced by all...> Oh and as per the water.  The pH is at 7.6  not sure if the water is hard or not, but I know it's not soft, there is no nitrates in the tap water I checked that last night.  I've upped the temp just a tad.  Shooting for just under 80.  Will that hurt my tetras or catfish and Pleco? Thanks so much. <They all should be fine with the temperature, pH, and the amount of salt (a level teaspoon per ten gallons of water). Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Molly Questions Hello, <Hi there> I have 2 black male mollies and one white one. I also have about 10 other baby mollies ranging in various sizes. A couple of weeks ago my black molly showed signs of ick. I treated the tank with RidIch and it cured the fish in a couple of days, A few days later, the 2 black mollies top fin has a white line of them so I thought it might be tail rot. I treated the tank with Melafix for 4 days, then changed 25% of the water, added more salt and dechlorinator and put the carbon back in the filter. Now a few days later, one of my black mollies is shaking badly (like having a seizure) and stays on the bottom of the tank. He comes out to eat, but still shakes bad. Now my white female is also shaking badly and stays bear the heater and filter inlet. I'm going to try a 50% water change today. I tested the water and my nitrites are way high. <How high is high?> I'm hoping the 50% water change will reduce this number. I also bought some Amquel plus to reduce the nitrites. What can I do? Is there something I'm doing that causing this? Is their behavior due to water problems or a disease? Please Help!!!! Mark <You're suffering from "too much buying and treating" disease... Really, I would be careful here re these "medicines"... and revert back to just maintaining good water quality and having some salt in your water. Very likely your fish have been poisoned by the med.s... They have killed much of your biological filter obviously. I would leave off with their further use at this time. Bob Fenner>
Re: Molly Questions
Thanks for the reply. I most likely killed the biological cycle which in turn, caused my fish to get sick. <Yes> My female molly is still in the hospital tank. There is white patchy cotton looking fuzz that is on parts of her body. There is also a line of some white substance on her back tail. It has eaten out the center of her tail and is still there. Also, she swims with her head pointed down, she can't right herself. Maybe some type of swim bladder disease. <Bad signs... seek out "Mollienex" if you can find it... funny name, but a tried and true remedy/medication for what you describe> It started about an hour after putting her in the hospital tank. The medical tank has just clean water and salt with a little stress coat. A person a Petco suggested I put some Fungus Clear (Jungle) into her tank to take care of the white stuff which she thought was fungus. It there anything else I can do. She looks real sick and won't eat. <These were good suggestions, moves... see above> The fish in my main tank are doing great. The nitrites are still a little high. They are at about 3.0. Should I do another water change (what %) or add some more Amquel Plus. <The water change... now... keep ammonia and nitrite below 1.0 ppm> I know now not to overfeed and test the water weekly with water changes. <I'd test, change daily if it is getting, staying this high> I'm concerned about the female molly. I hate to see her suffer. But do not want to euthanize her until I know there is nothing else I can do. Is there a chance she'll get better? <Yes> What is the best way to euthanize the fish, if necessary? Please help. <In a bit of water, in a bag, in your freezer. Bob Fenner> Mark Stack
Re: Molly Questions
Bob, <Mark> Thanks for your response. My female molly is still the same. I was not able to find the Mollienex you talked about. Can you suggest a place where I can purchase it? <I should have looked to see if it was still made, available... not... but found same formulation under another name (same manuf.): http://www.junglelabs.com/pages/details.asp?item=NJ117> And (regardless of the 1st answer) tell me of some other medications that might work that I can buy at a local pet store? Like I said, I treated the tank with Fungus Clear (Jungle Labs) and some Melafix. I have some TriSulfa, should I use that medication as well? <I would try this if I could not quickly (a day) get the Fungus... oh, I see it below> Can I use it with the Fungus Clear and Melafix? Someone else suggested Maracyn II since my fish won't eat. Should I try this? <Just Minocycline... no I wouldn't> Please give me suggestion on exactly what medications I should use in what combo. I don't want to over-medicate. Thanks. PS. There was a clear white gel or fuzz on all the objects in the tank, including the female molly. You can see it grow on everything (clear to light white) and you can see it move with the water current. What is this? Should I do something to correct this? I cleaned all the ornaments and gravel in the tank. Thanks for your help. Mark Stack <Better, best to stay the course you're on. Bob Fenner>
Re: Molly Questions
Bob, <Mark> I called several stores in my area for the Jungle Labs fungus eliminator, no one had it. PetSmart had the same product, just for ponds, not aquariums. Can I use this pond product instead of the one you suggested? <Yes. As far as I'm aware they are identical> I stopped by another pet store today and they suggested Maracyn, since the other product wasn't available. He claims Jungle Lab products are not very good. <Most are not... mainly salt... this one is> Should I use the Maracyn in combo with either the Melafix or Fungus Clear. He suggested a 50% water change and to use The Maracyn by itself. Or should I use the fungus eliminator for Ponds with anything else (i.e. Melafix) <... Maracyn is the antibiotic Erythromycin... I would NOT use Melafix to wash a sidewalk> Please tell me what combo of products to use to correct this problem?? Thanks. Mark Stack <If it were my fish and I was starting at day one I would ONLY use non-iodized salt and assure my pH was mid 7's or higher... with baking soda. You would do well to just listen to one source and/or reason through the explanations, root knowledge of what people are relating to you. Bob Fenner>
Re: Molly Questions
Bob, <Mark> Thank you for all your help. My molly is doing better. She is swimming upright and eats once in a while. She still has some cottony growths on her one side. How long does it take for this to disappear? <A few weeks generally> The only medication I am using is the Fungus Eliminator you suggested. I've been giving it to her for 10 days now. I replace about 40% of the water between each treatment, a day long.  I use some water conditioner and a little salt. <Good> I have the water conditions ideal accept for pH, which is a little high (7.8-8.0) due to my water source.  <Mmm, this should be okay (for molly species)...> I did notice that she has some black specks in her top fin (they've been around for about 3 weeks now), what is this? <Natural coloring... not to worry> It also looks like the top of her body is darker than the rest. Should I be concerned about this? <No> My other concern is the last three days she has her back tail drooping down and to the side as she rests. It seems like it getting worse. What is causing this condition?  Is there anything else I should be doing to help her? <Not to worry> Her appetite seems to be diminishing, but who knows. How long can they be on this medication until it adversely affects their condition?  <For a very long time... months... unlike the vast majority of "medications" that are quite toxic, debilitating. Bob Fenner> Any information to help me on this matter would be greatly appreciated.  Mark Stack 

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