Adult Mollies All Dead (But One)

Nicholaa

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*** Warning: Long Post ***

I am so torn right now - and I feel like I haven't been a good fishkeeper. Maybe I should have posted a long time ago, but I didn't think about it.

In the past two months, I have lost all my adult Mollies (~10) except for one female, who will die probably within the day. Even if I get advice, I don't think she's saveable at this point and part of me thinks euthansia is the best choice.

Possible History of the Cause of Illness:

I had an outbreak of Ich in one of my 10 gallon tanks a few months ago - and it only physically appeared on a couple of fish (the white spots). I treated the entire tank per instructions with the Malachite Green medication. When I began to lose fish, none of them had the physical symptoms of Ich anymore and I thought that they were clear.

I decided to purchase a new, 29 gallon tank to combine my 2 10 gallon tanks since I thought the Mollies would really love it *and* the Ich treatment had been completed. That is when all the "real" deaths began occuring.

I took the two tanks, used all the medium from the tanks (rocks, decorations, bubbler, even water - so ~18-20 gallons of water) - and added in the new water. ALL water tests have come back perfectly normal since the creation of the new tank.

There had been no real physical characteristics of a disease that noticed, but the fish began to just lay on the rocks at the bottom of the tank. That was the only thing I noticed odd about them. No other physical changes to their bodies. (I'm trying to remember if this had been the case in the 2 10 gallon tanks and I can't remember - I don't think they were laying around.)

My last Molly (female) that is alive looks thinner than normal, but maybe that's because I'm used to always having pregnant female Mollies and she is obviously not pregnant anymore. She was also the last one to have a batch of babies and after she had her babies, she "hid" and "lay" on the rocks for awhile and I thought *she* wouldn't make it. Seems ironic that she's the last one alive today.

Her right now:

She is laying on the bottom of the rocks and seems to have the inability to swim due to her lower abdominal fins "not working" ? Her two side fins and back fin (Okay, I don't know all the actual fin titles) - are moving in the "normal way", but it's almost like she's paralyzed in her lower abdominal fins (the fins used in genderizing and I'm sure swimming). She *wants* to swim. She struggles with her side fins and back fin, but her entire lower body just won't wiggle and allow her to fully surface. This morning it looked like she was trying to go to the surface to feed, but she couldn't hold her body up and she sank back down to the ground. (I was thinking swim bladder disease, but that's like the complete opposite).

I have begun to think it is a possible parasitic infection. I do remember at times the fish would have clear colored feces instead of the dark colored feces and I didn't think much about it until now when I am looking back on what could possibly have caused it. I have tried to look over the diseases chart and those charts have so many similiar symptoms that I think it's quite impossible for a somewhat amateur as myself to diagnose the fish.

I am worried - because in that 29 gallon tank, I also have 2 cory catfish (that seem to do nothing but lay around as well - unlike my other 2 cory catfish in my baby tank that are crazy and play with each other) and I have 3 Molly "babies" that were big enough to move out of my baby tank and into the adult tank.

Part of me wants to move the 2 cories and the 3 babies back into the baby tank and fully drain the adult tank out and vacuum all the rocks, thinking that will work, but now I'm guessing that if there is an infection, the other 5 fish in the tank might be sick too, even tho the babies are swimming around as normal, eating and growing. (they're not really true babies anymore - they're probably 5-6 months old. I unfortunately didn't keep track of which babies came from which mother when.)

The tank *is* somewhat brackish. I don't keep it too high because I have the cory catfish, but I had added salt - course, I haven't added it in awhile, but the tests were coming back that the salt was still present.
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Sooooo - even if I am unable to save my last adult Molly, what do you guys think could be the problem? What should I do with the other fish in the tank? Do you think they are actually sick too? Hoping that some will post here and give me advice.

Thanks!
 

Gunnie

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Please post what your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate readings are right now. How often do you clean your tank and do water changes? Do you vacuum some of the gravel each time you clean the tank, or do you vacuum all of it? How often do you feed your fish on a daily basis, and does a lot of the food sink to the bottom?
 
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Nicholaa

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I usually clean the tank once a week (do a 25% water change or so) - I vacuum the gravel as I clean. I feed the fish usually 2-3 times a day and since there aren't many in the tank, I don't put more than a pinch in. I don't get too much residue at the bottom.

Using the API 5 in 1 test strips (I don't like this brand - can't remember what I used before, but I liked the other better)

Nitrates are a bit high I guess right now (I didn't do a water change this weekend since I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the sick fish) - they're between 40-80 ppm
Nitrites: between 0 and 0.5 (just a wee tad of color over clear white)
pH: between 8 and 8.5
KH: 180-240
GH: 0 range

I put her in a breeder net so she wouldn't be "bothered" by the other fish and so there was less water for her to swim up through to eat and she doesn't seem to want to swim now at all and she's starting to lean over on her side. She hasn't touched the food I put in. I know breeder nets can be stressful to fish, but I thought maybe in this case it would have been better for her.

I think it's just a matter of time for her ... but like I said, I would like to figure it out to see if it's something the 3 baby Mollies and 2 Cory Cats might have as well ... or just an odd coincidence that all my adults died. The other 5 fish do seem "healthy" (for now at least.)

We're calling it the "death tank" now - and it's really a shame because it's a beautiful setup - spent about $400 for the tank/stand/etc... and now, blah. Just saddens me. At least she has like 10 babies living on in the baby tank right now.
 

Gunnie

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Okay, dump the test strips. They are notoriously inaccurate and more expensive to use than the drops. Try and find an Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Master Test Kit for around $15.00 locally, and if not, go online to the PetSmart Website or Big Al's to get one. Normally you will pay $30.00 locally for this kit, but sometimes they have them on sale. Here are the kits on those sites:





I didn't look to see if you listed your locations, but these links are if you are in the U.S. Let us know if you are somewhere else, and we will try and help you find them.

Cut the feeding back to 1 time a day, and only what they will eat in 2-3 minutes. This will eliminate excess waste in your tanks and reduce the nitrates. Your nitrates are way over what they should be. Your goal is to keep them below 20 all the time. Until you get your cycle back in order, try using amquel plus to help with the nitrites and nitrates. You may have ammonia also in your tank, and the master test kit will test for that also. Any indication of ammonia, nitrites, or high nitrates cause stress to your fish. After cutting the feedings down to once a day, when you clean the gravel, try only cleaning half of it at a time so your bacteria won't be so disturbed. This may be part of why you are having cycling problems right now (if the strips are correct). Try also bumping the water removed to 50% and see if this helps with the lethargy. Do you have any babies in that tank? They may need to be fed more often right now, and are more sensitive to the nitrites and nitrates. A rubbermaid tub could be used as a temporary tank as long as you had filtration and a heater.

One more thing, when you get your master test kit, test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates straight out of the tap. Post if you have any indication of any of these things in your water. Some folks do, and use amquel plus all the time to control this.

You can do this. You have been doing a great job so far with your efforts, and we are here for you. Don't give up! You will get control of this. You may not save your last female, but you will be the better fishkeeper for your other fish.
 
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Nicholaa

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Yes, I have 3 "babies" in the 29 gallon "death tank" - they're probably 5 and 6 months old and they're swimming and eating just fine. And I have the 2 Cory Catfish that are acting like lazy catfish. Don't think they're sick, just lazy. I have another 10 gallon tank that has the younger babies (about 10), 2 Cory Cats and a Pleco.

My nitrates are not normally in that range at all, but like I said, I didn't do a water change this weekend because I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the dying fish and I didn't want to disturb her anymore than I have already been disturbing her. I really feel that she's past saving unfortunately and now I have to try to focus myself on determining if the tank is "clean" or if the other 5 fish are infected with the "mystery disease" that killed off all my adults.

I will pick up one of those test kits for sure. The strips have annoyed me to no end. And I had been feeding 2-3 times a day because of the babies.

I am overly particular about vacuuming. My husband says I do vacuum too much, but I just always think that the surface area of the tank, the decorations and the filter maintain the good bacteria so I can remove all the actual "debris".

Do you feel it would be a bad idea to move the 3 babies and 2 catfish into my baby holding tank and then drain out the tank 100% and start with completely fresh water? Would the cycle be messed up if I did that? Or ... should I just start from scratch and thorougly clean everything and re-start the cycle... I am torn. I'm worried the other 5 fish are "infected" and would infect the baby tank, but on the other hand, if they aren't, I can get to starting the tank back up. I've spent too much money and worry to give up on it.
 

Gunnie

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If the babies are that old, I'd just leave them in that tank. If you have anymore carbon, use it to clear your tank of any meds that might still be lingering. I would just bump up to 50% water changes right now, and vacuum half the gravel each time. Your water chemistry is a big issue on your fish's health, so that is a real important factor right now. Doing too many things at one time can also cause problems because you won't know what's working and what isn't.
 
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Nicholaa

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Just thought I'd drop a line and let everyone know what happened:

The fish got progressively worse. I finally ended up euthanizing her (I don't need to hear people yelling or screaming that it was a bad choice to make. I made it and she is no longer suffering.) - She had laid on her side and progressively slowed in breathing and her side fin was barely moving when I decided it was time.

I went to Petsmart tonight to try to see if someone would have any knowledge -- and for some unforeseen streak of luck, a zoologist specializing in aquatic studies was there. I guess she works with Petsmart and was coming in to check on something and when she heard my story, she decided to let herself be known. She proceeded to speak to me for over an hour, talking to me about my Molly tank and my Cichlid tank.

She told me that in combining the 2 10-gallon tanks, the tanks' salinity would have intermixed, screwing with both of the tanks' inhabitants. She also said, that when I do a water change, I have to continue to add in more salt to maintain the brackish water (when I had been adding in only fresh water). I guess I thought the salt stayed on the sides of the aquarium/decorations/whatever and if I added more salt, it would raise the salinity way too high.

She said that with everything I said, she believes the cause of death of my Mollies was a type of swim bladder disease where the shock of the changes of water shrunk their bladders, causing them the inability to swim to the surface, hence them laying on the rocks and eventually "drowning" or starving - or a combination of it both.

She recommended that I buy 2 new Mollies and do a water change when I got home, putting in 10 gallons of salinized water, to restart the brackish process. I took out the 2 Cory cats and moved them to the baby tank, which I am going to turn into a freshwater/tropical tank. I'm going to be moving the babies into the brackish environment within the next few weeks, when they get a bit bigger.

Sooooo - I bought 2 Creamsicle Lyretail Mollies (1M, 1F) and they seem to be doing fine so far *crosses fingers* She did NOT believe my tank was infected and that it was just a terrible misfortune that occured with my adults.
 

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