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Old 02-03-2011, 04:59 PM   #1
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Fairly new tank - Black Molly and Ammonia

Hi all! I will try to list as many of the answers that I read that you would like about my daughter's tank, relative to the problem we're having.

Tank is new as of 12/26/10 (so about 5 1/2 weeks old), and is 20 gal. We have had water tested at pet store several times, and all levels are good, except ammonia. That has varied over the last 2 weeks from 4.0, down (today) to .25 ppm (those readings are with our home liquid test kit - by API I believe). We have been treating the water (last week, every day; this week, every other) with AmQuel Plus, which seems to hold the ammonia down. We have also done weekly 25% water changes (including vacuuming the gravel), and adding Tetra Aqua Safe Plus to the new water.

We have only fake plants, no live, 2 "accents" (including a clam aerator that is not being used), and an air stone set to run at mid-volume. The filter is a Marineland biowheel 150 - we have changed the filter pad x1 (just last week) and had rinsed out the old pad several times in the tank water. The heater is typically set at 78-80 degrees - with the extreme cold weather we've been having, it bounces around a bit!

My daughter initially put a Black Molly and Silver Molly in the tank - yes, we learned about cycling AFTER the fact. The Silver Molly died at 2 weeks. We thought that the Black Molly was pregnant and showed signs of giving birth - hiding under the inside of the clam, hanging out at the heater, etc. If she was, she gave birth in the clam and ate all the fry - no survivors; she is less "bloaty" now, and much more active. Should also say, we started the tank with aquarium salt to make it brackish (when we got the Molly), but have not added any add'l as we've done water changes.

This past Sunday (4 days ago) we added 2 small glo-fish. The Black Molly is not bullying them; however it does appear that they are nipping off parts of her tailfin. We noticed in the last 2 days, that the Molly is occassionally swimming vertically (head up) and appears "off balance." She is eating normally, but does seem to be swimming slower than usual. Would like to save this fish!! As of noon today, added about 6-7 tsp of the salt again (dissolved in small amount of water, temp matched to tank), as I had read this *could* help the situation.

Besides being able to save the fish, also curious to know how else we can keep ammonia levels down to a safe level without always having to treat - more frequent water changes? Thanks in advance for any info!

Lynne
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:01 PM   #2
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Yes, A Partial water change would help the current ammonia in the tank, with added Amquel (acts as Prime) the ammonia and nitrite should stay down until the next water change the next day.

The tank should cycle soon, It has been past a month and 1/2 week now, So keep up the PWC's until you get 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, and 5-20 NitrAtes.

Once the parameters get in check and stay stable, Add the school of Glo-fish to at least 6 to keep the nipping to a minimum.
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Old 02-04-2011, 05:37 AM   #3
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Yes, like Ty said, do water changes to keep that ammonia down as low as possible. If you have to do 2 water changes a day, that's okay.

Sounds like the molly could have a swim bladder issue, which can be caused by dirty water, and you can feed her boiled, shelled peas, which are a laxative for fish. I feed my fish peas once a week as a preventative.

Remember also that salt does not exaporate, and you will need to manually remove it with water changes over the next couple weeks. I don't think Glofish are brackish, so you can't keep it salty.

You never need to change out the filter media unless it's falling apart, since that's where most of the good bacteria lives. If you do need to change it, try putting the new media in next to the old one for a week or so, to give the bacteria and chance to grow on the new one. If you can't fit both, cut up the old one and stuff it where you can without restricting the flow too much. I also have a bio wheel, and I can fit two medias in there.

Remember also that livebearers can store sperm for about 3 months, so you might have more babies soon.
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:31 PM   #4
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ty and dkpate - thanks so much for your suggestions! We weren't able to do a water change until just now, but before we did so, the ammonia level was at .50 (up .25 since yesterday's test). Did the PWC (about 5 gals), and added the Tetra AquaSafePlus...will plan to test again tomorrow and do another PWC.

dkpate - boiled up and mashed some shelled peas - daughter very excited as the Molly ate them! She is still tilting vertical and "convulsing" (more frequently than 2 days ago). We also learned that the larger of the 2 glo-fish (about 1" in length) is taking advantage of the Molly when she's vertical, and nipping her tailfin. Will it regenerate? Do we need to remove the "mean glo-fish?"

My husband indicated that the Molly's dorsal fin should "stand up" when she's feeling threatened/chasing the other fish away. When she's "with it," she will chase the glo-fish away; when she's vertical, all bets are off. Don't know if the dorsal fin comment is truth or fiction....

Thanks for your continued feedback through this process. We're trying our best to help the Molly live.

Lynne
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Old 02-05-2011, 01:22 AM   #5
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Keep up the peas for one more day, no other food (the other fish will be fine), and then fast them for a day after that. This should clear her up, and if it doesn't you can try the peas again.
As long as the glofish doesn't nip it all the way to the base of her body, the fin should grow back. If it starts to get black or fluffy white stuff around it, then you will need to do more water changes and possibly medicate with anti fungal meds.
Your husband is right about the fins, and it's called clamped fins. Fish usually do this because of dirty water, but you are working on that. You can google clamped fins and find way more information than I can give you.
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Old 02-05-2011, 08:00 PM   #6
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Update - Saturday

Peas seem to help A LOT. She is swimming SO much better today - barely seeing her tilt vertical (once or twice, tops), which means that the glo-fish are leaving her be/no nipping. It 's the very tip end of her tailfin that they've been chomping at....but no new chomps overnight.

We tested the water around 11 am - 0 ammonia (first time ever, so daughter is quite excited!). Did a 20-25% water change/gravel vacuum, adding the Tetra Aqua Safe Plus as usual. Computer was down and didn't see reply about feeding solely peas, so fed as normal this am - plan on giving peas tonight. Just (literally) tested water again - back at .25 ppm for ammonia (but that filter is probably working overdrive with all the gunk that kicked up when we did the water change!).

We'll keep working on keeping the water clean and probably feed peas on a regular weekly basis once things stabilize.

Lynne
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Old 02-05-2011, 11:45 PM   #7
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The peas once a week is good, I do that as a preventative, and my fish LOVE peas anyway.
I am so happy to hear she is doing better!!! Good job!
When you do a gravel vac and are still cycling, only vacuum half the substrate at a time, that way you don't get rid of all the good bacteria. Oh, and only do 1-2 vacuums a week.
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