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Livebearers Questions and comments about livebearers

 
 
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GingerKoala GingerKoala is offline
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Default Dead Molly - Could I have done more? or less?

Here is my story:

I set up a 16 gallon aquarium two weeks ago with 4 mollies and 2 platies (1:1 male:female ratio). I added dechlorinator, bacterial supplement/cycler, and aquarium salt at setup. The temp is about 80 degrees, and I test 2-3 times weekly. GH, KH, and pH are all within the normal ranges for these fish. Nitrates and Nitrites are always zero. (My kit doesn’t test for ammonia so I need to pick up a test for that tonight.) Everything was fine until my first water change (30-40% with a gravel cleaner/siphon) at day 6, adding the dechlorinator, bacterial supplement, and salt as directed and making sure the temperature of the new water was the same as the tank. After that my silver lyretail molly started acting strange, hiding behind the plants and airstone, hanging around the heater, and not eating. It looked like she had a dark area inside her white belly, so I did some research and figured that she was probably pregnant. I kept the light off during the day for several days, but there was no change. Yesterday morning her belly was big and looked sort of square, and she was a bit more active, so I hoped she would bear the fry soon – eight days is a long time for a little fish not to eat. But when I got home last night she was the same. She was having trouble swimming, sort of being swept along by the currents in the tank and bumping into things, but she stayed upright. My male black molly tried to mate with her while she was out of hiding but she swam away. She didn’t have any signs of disease on her body or fins, she wasn’t clamping her fins, shimmying, or breathing hard, and her scales were lying flat, not sticking out. I did another water change (40-50%) last night, but sadly this morning she was dead on the bottom. This whole time I never saw any fry in the tank, and all five other fish have been perfectly happy and healthy and eating like pigs.

Was there anything I should have done differently? Was this just a pregnancy gone bad? Now that there are two male mollies and only one female should I add another female or should I wait another month or so until the tank is established? The males have never paid much attention to this female – she mostly hangs around with the platies. I couldn’t save this molly but any help for the future is much appreciated. Thanks.
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Greensleeves Greensleeves is offline
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Default Re: Dead Molly - Could I have done more? or less?

HI there I'm sorry for your loss.

There are several things that make me wonder about the situation at hand and that should be factored into the equation...

Firstly, its a new tank. Doing massive water changes can be stressful on fish sometimes; at other times, during times of high toxic levels, the water changes can be beneficial. I might suggest doing smaller water changes.

I'm not sure what happened to your fish. It doesn't sound like a pregnancy; it sounds like the fish was sick. Dropsy can make a fish's stomach bloat out and swell. Scales sticking outward like a pinecone can be a symptom. Fish are subject to all kinds of diseases. Tuberculosis can cause fish bodies to swell and become distorted. I'm no expert on mollies, but sometimes fish die and we may be unable to diagnose the cause.

I am rather concerned about your use of salt in the tank. Its a freshwater tank, and I would think that salt is not necessary. Yes, yes, I know that many websites argue in favor of the use of salt to maintain fish health, but the problem lies in salinity. Unless you are able to check & monitor the current salt levels in your water, you could be adding too much salt to your tank. This could hurt or kill your fish.

Lyretails are really pretty fish; I'm sorry to hear that you've had trouble with yours.



Quote:
Originally Posted by GingerKoala View Post
Here is my story:

I set up a 16 gallon aquarium two weeks ago with 4 mollies and 2 platies (1:1 male:female ratio). I added dechlorinator, bacterial supplement/cycler, and aquarium salt at setup. The temp is about 80 degrees, and I test 2-3 times weekly. GH, KH, and pH are all within the normal ranges for these fish. Nitrates and Nitrites are always zero. (My kit doesn’t test for ammonia so I need to pick up a test for that tonight.) Everything was fine until my first water change (30-40% with a gravel cleaner/siphon) at day 6, adding the dechlorinator, bacterial supplement, and salt as directed and making sure the temperature of the new water was the same as the tank. After that my silver lyretail molly started acting strange, hiding behind the plants and airstone, hanging around the heater, and not eating. It looked like she had a dark area inside her white belly, so I did some research and figured that she was probably pregnant. I kept the light off during the day for several days, but there was no change. Yesterday morning her belly was big and looked sort of square, and she was a bit more active, so I hoped she would bear the fry soon – eight days is a long time for a little fish not to eat. But when I got home last night she was the same. She was having trouble swimming, sort of being swept along by the currents in the tank and bumping into things, but she stayed upright. My male black molly tried to mate with her while she was out of hiding but she swam away. She didn’t have any signs of disease on her body or fins, she wasn’t clamping her fins, shimmying, or breathing hard, and her scales were lying flat, not sticking out. I did another water change (40-50%) last night, but sadly this morning she was dead on the bottom. This whole time I never saw any fry in the tank, and all five other fish have been perfectly happy and healthy and eating like pigs.

Was there anything I should have done differently? Was this just a pregnancy gone bad? Now that there are two male mollies and only one female should I add another female or should I wait another month or so until the tank is established? The males have never paid much attention to this female – she mostly hangs around with the platies. I couldn’t save this molly but any help for the future is much appreciated. Thanks.
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  #3  
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D.Gray D.Gray is offline
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Default Re: Dead Molly - Could I have done more? or less?

When you set up your tank did you immediately add fish or did you let the tank cycle? If you didn't let the tank cycle you may have had an ammonia, nitrite or nitrate spike that your female molly couldn't deal with.

Also check your tap water to see what the perameters are.

Sometimes female livebearers will die from complications of pregnancy.

Are you feeding a high quality food and varrying the fishes' diets? Suppliment your flake food with algae tabs, boiled vegetables, black worms, blood worms or other foods.

When I set up a new tank I try to use water from an existing aquarium for seed water to get the good bacteria in the tank and to minimize spikes in water quality and then let the tank run a few weeks before adding plants, then letting it run a few more weeks before adding fish. If starting with new water from the tap you may need to let the tank cycle for a few months before adding fish.

Dave
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Default Re: Dead Molly - Could I have done more? or less?

Thanks for the advice. She was a beautiful fish, and the smartest one too. I didn't see her scales sticking out, and she was still occasionally pooping even though she wasn't eating. I will probably never know what happened.

I probably should have let the tank cycle before adding fish. When I had goldfish twice before I was pretty ignorant and didn't know much about cycling. Both times I added the fish immediately and they did fine. Maybe I just got lucky, or goldfish might just tolerate the cycling process better. I didn't have any other tanks set up for established water this time which is why I used a bacterial supplement. The guy at the LFS said it would be OK to add these fish without waiting but maybe he was just trying to sell fish.

Right now I feed them small amounts twice a day, one or two of the following per feeding:
- Aqueon Tropical Fish Flakes
- Spirulina/kelp flakes
- Freeze-dried bloodworms
- A small cube of dried tubifex worms that sticks on the side of the tank
I try to give them just enough so that they eat most of it before flakes hit the bottom. The food is always gone within three minutes.

When I pick up the ammonia test kit tonight I will also get one for salinity. All the other parameters have been stable, and both nitrates and nitrites are always zero every time I test. I read several articles that said a bit of salt helps reduce stress and prevent ich, which is why I added it.

So far so good with all the other fish though so I hope they make it OK over the next several weeks. The alpha male (a gorgeous Dalmatian molly) has almost doubled in size since I brought him home. I will try smaller water changes. How frequently should I be changing the water? What is the consensus on water additives like Nitraban that say you only need to change water every 6 months? Is that for real?
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Default Re: Dead Molly - Could I have done more? or less?

(regarding the salt) I add 1 Tbsp/5 gal of salt using the scoop in the container - I have seen a wide range of recommendations for salt but this amount is what I see mentioned most often.
  #6  
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Default Re: Dead Molly - Could I have done more? or less?

You might want to turn the temp down to around 75 degrees so that if you see disease (fin rot, ich, etc..) you have the extra five degrees to heat the tank to help get rid of the disease.

As for the salt, in my 20 gallon tank I added three tablespoons to increase the salinity for the shrimp instead of the four tablespoons recomended.

Water changes really should be done at least every other week in my experience of about 10-20 percent (I do roughly 10% per week in my three tanks). When adding new water I use filtered drinking water so I am not adding chlorine or chloramines (many of the water treatments for aquariums only get rid of chlorine and many water treatment plants are adding chloramines instead (you need something that will bind the chloramines as they are harmful to aquatic critters). Also I don't add water treatment agents to the tanks past the initial filling of the tank (with the exception of stress coat if I add new fish or do more than a 20% change of water).

Dave
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Default Re: Dead Molly - Could I have done more? or less?

There are no test kits for salinity. You would need a hydrometer or a refractory device(optical hydrometer). BUT, you don't need to test for salinity if you are just keeping fresh water fish. If you don't need salt in the tank for a disease treatment or for brackish fish keeping, don't add any salt to the water. Water changes (without salt) will reduce the salt level in the tank eventually.

If your tank temp is 75 to 80*F do not change it! Use a good water conditioner such as Prime or any good brand name every time you make up change water. Make sure that the change water is near the tank temp.

ANY MORE INFO REGARDING WATER QUAILTY SHOULD BE ADDED IN A NEW THREAD IN THE WATER QUALITY SUB FORUM.
THANK YOU.
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Default Re: Dead Molly - Could I have done more? or less?

OK thanks. Obviously I'm still a bit clueless... I will read up on the water quality forums.

I did have a question in the original post that was actually my reason for posting - how long do mollies usually hide before bearing fry? Eight days seemed like a really long time.
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Default Re: Dead Molly - Could I have done more? or less?

Firstly GingerKoala....I’m sorry she didn’t make it, she sounded lovely! Try not to be too hard on yourself; you thought you were doing the right thing.

Eight days is a bit long for her to hide I agree, but it can depend on the individual female, it can be anywhere from minutes, hours, or a few days to a week (but they don’t usually hide for the entire week, they drop them sporadically over that time, but will still eat and swim around).

In this case, I would say that she could have been hiding for a few reasons... to get away from the male (the better ratio is 2-3 females for 1 male, this allows the males constant harassment to be leveled out, so one female doesn’t have to cope with all the attention) as she can die from all the stress it causes. If her stomach was squaring off it sounds like she was due to drop fry and obviously pregnant before you bought her, if you only had her for 2 weeks. As Dave mentioned, the female can die during birthing as it puts tremendous stress on her body (particularly if she is holding a large number of fry), sometimes they can also have trouble expelling the fry. I agree with Greensleeves, that many factors may have contributed to her death and being pregnant as well, was just too much for her.

Many people do cycle with fish...It’s just that you need to prepare yourself that one or more fish may not be able to cope with the water conditions of an uncycled tank. Your tank was still in the first stage of cycling...I’m glad you will be getting the ammonia test kit, as that is the first test that you need to do.

I agree with Dan regarding the salt...It is not necessary and if using salt as a preventive against disease, the benefits are basically zero and parasites can build up a resistance to it. Salt can get to toxic levels if used constantly (it can be easy to misjudge the right measurement) because it doesn’t evaporate. Most water conditions/agers have additives in them that aid a fish’s slime coating and helps with stress, so salt is not necessary for that and may have the adverse affect in my opinion. Freshwater fish (and this includes Livebearers) have been genetically designed to maintain a natural internal equilibrium/regulatory system in order to live/breath in fresh water, salt can affect this natural process. Saltwater fish use the opposite process and wouldn't do well in freshwater.

On another note and just a tip (you may already know this though)...if feeding freeze dried bloodworms, I would recommend soaking the worms in a bit of tank water first before feeding it to the fish, as the worms have a tendency to swell up when added to water and if the fish eat them straight away, the worms may swell in the fishes stomach, which can cause intestinal problems.

Sorry if I have rambled on and I think you have done pretty well so far, I was clueless when I started out (still am on many things) and also made the mistake of just taking the advice of the pet shop assistant.

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Default Re: Dead Molly - Could I have done more? or less?

Thank you Bernie for such a detailed message. I really appreciate the help. I think it was an ammonia spike as Dave mentioned, on top of everything, that was just too much for her because last night the nitrates and nitrites were slightly elevated after being zero all this time. The ammonia reading was 0.05ppm - elevated but not currently toxic. I turned down the temp and picked up some Prime and some Stress Coat. My remaining fish seem to still be doing well.

My tank is a bit unbalanced right now with 2 male mollies and 1 female, but the alpha male (the dalmatian) actually harasses the other male (the black one), not the female. The Dalmatian is a lot bigger and chases the black male around, especially at feeding time. It's really becoming a bad habit. I have to block him with a hand-held net so the other one can eat in peace. I didn't expect him to be this aggressive. I know additional females would probably distract his attention, but I don't think I should add a bunch more fish now while the tank is still cycling. Should I just continue what I am doing for now and wait out the cycle? Should I get a tank divider or feed them differently? Thanks!
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