10 Gallon Tank black mollies acting weird 2 weeks into cycling

so I bought a 10 gallon tank, and added two black mollies after 2 days of letting the water sit, which the person from petsmart told me to do. it has stresscoat and some aquarium salt. a week after the fish I added two plants. a week after the plants (two weeks after the fish) the pet store person suggested a 20-30% water change which I did... after that the fish got very lethargic and/or scared... they used to chase each other around a lot and follow people back and fourth along the class but now they just hide under the rock/cave thing pretty much all day (I thought they were trapped once but they were fine, they just don't want to come out). after the water change one fish's back end became "floaty" and not it swims with it's tail completely upright. I fasted it for two days then started feeding it mushed peas, which I may have eaten a tiny bit of but they just started to rot so I scooped them out... after a few days of that I'm back to a tiny bit of flake food once a day. its now been 3 weeks since the fish went in and they've changed 100% from the playful fish they were! I took water to the store a week ago, he said the nitrates/nitrites were a bit high which was normal for this stage but everything else was perfect. he said to just wait it out and the fish might die

so heres my main questions:
how often should I be doing water changes during this cycling time?
if one is floaty and one's not, what should I be feeding them?
when I put food in, sometimes they do not care to come out of the rock to eat, what should I do to let them know there's food out there? (sorry if that one is a useless question)

thanks for any help <3
The way things are going shows signs of stress from the cycling..your ammonia and nitrite must be high which are toxic for the fish..
Keep on doing 50% water changes for the first 4~5 days and then 20% everyday till completely cycled.
Let's hope that the floating chap survives the stress.

No questions are useless..
If your molly is floating upside down I doubt it'll be able to feed anyhow so try and bring your parameeters down..that's the beat for all others aswell..
Try and feed minimal..fish can survive long without it..however make sure you don't starve them altogether
HI elizenazelie, welcome to the forum.

You're getting bad advice from the pet store, I'm glad you came here.

The reason your fish are hiding out, lethargic, and not eating, is because they are suffering from the toxicity of ammonia and/or nitrite poisoning. You need to do 50 percent water changes daily, and need to buy the test kits so you can test the water twice a day yourself. I recommend the API liquid test kit for ammonia, nitrite, nitrateand ph (don't get the paper strips, they're not accurate)

You must dechlorinate the water first, then make sure it's as close to the same temperature as the tank water. (temperature fluctuations can stress or even kill fish-- so make sure the new water is very close to the same temp as the tank water. Get an extra thermometer at the fish store)

I would change the water at the maximum, every 10 to 12 hours. Don't go longer than that.

Also, do you have a filter on the tank? What kind and what size? Also, do you have a vacuum syphon, for removing waste from the gravel/substrate?

Your fish can survive the cycle process, as long as you are diligent in keeping the ammonia and nitrite levels down, through twice daily water changes.
To speed up the cycle you can buy a product like Tetra SafeStart which induces bacteria to help in the process of cycling your tank.
Hello. Hate to hear about the fish woes you're currently having. Some great information above. However, I'm afraid it may be too late to be thinking about adding in Tetra Safe Start (TSS) There may be too much ammonia in the tank for the TSS bacteria to take control of. Also, I would like to suggest that you add Prime or Amquel + with each water change. These two conditioners will detoxify the ammonia for about 24 hours until it's time for the next water change. They will not inhibit the cycle at all. Even though you've added one of the conditioners you will still get ammonia readings though so don't panic. The conditioners turn the ammonia into ammonium which is not toxic. Best of luck!

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