Please Help! Sick Balloon Belly Molly- Clamped Fins, Strange Swimming, And Localized Spotty Growth Important

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by Aluabela, Aug 16, 2019.

  1. Aluabela

    AluabelaNew MemberMember

    I apologize for the super long post, but I’ve tried to answer every question I could think of that a helpful person like yourself might have as I drafted this. I also utilized the sick fish template as best I could. I’ve spent hours and hours searching online for the last few days trying to figure out what’s wrong. It’s starting to make me crazy. I love this fish very dearly, what should I do?

    Illness & Symptoms:
    My black balloon belly molly is clamping her fins so I know she is stressed. This has been going on for about three days. She perks up when I come to the glass, and is acting normally when it comes to food and interacting with her tank mates. There’s no aggression in the tank. However, for the last three days I’ve also noticed she sometimes starts swimming or resting at a weird angle. Like a 45° angle with her head pointed up. Sometimes even closer to vertical, but not quite full on tail standing. She also sleeps/rests like this. But it’s obvious she is struggling to sleep/rest properly. I thought it might be a swim bladder issue, so I swapped out the normal food for peas (boiled, shelled, and mashed) the first two days and fasted the tank today.

    In addition to this issue, she has something that appears to be growing on the back half of her body, mostly on the narrow part before her tail fin. There are also a few tiny dots on her tail fin. I noticed it the day after the clamped fins and weird swimming started. It looks like tiny white or gray spots but I don’t think it’s ich. They don’t look like crystals, they almost look a little bit fuzzy. They’re smaller than 1mm, but there are a lot of them. They are pretty close together. Her tank mates don’t seem to be affected, and she’s not displaying any other symptoms of ich (based on my internet research). They’re also not clumping up like cauliflower, so I don’t think it’s lymphocystis. I thought it might be a fungus, so I performed an emergency 25% water change, removed the carbon from the filter and started an antifungal (Pimafix, with Melafix, because I always use them together) in the tank two days ago. But I think it has spread a little bit more since I started medicating. And her stress and weird swimming are becoming more frequent. She has only been sick once before, shortly after I got her about one year ago. She had a fungal growth that almost looked like mold on her face. I knocked that out within a week with Pimafix and Melafix. They’ve been my go-to ever since. Since then, she’s been healthy.

    Side note: I opted to medicate the whole tank instead of utilizing a hospital tank for two reasons. First, I’ve had fungus spread quickly among mollies before when I first started fish keeping. And second, one of the catfish had a little skin issue going on a few days before all of this started, so I thought it might be related. Since medicating, I’ve discovered the skin issue was in fact just a small abrasion, and now it’s almost completely healed. Yay! I figure the addition of the Melafix in the tank helps prevent the abrasion from becoming infected while it heals.

    I have tried and tried to get a decent picture! Her dark color, the glass, and the lights all work against me. And, ya know, she won’t sit still. Seems to be a common issue with fish ;) I will continue trying, but I’m afraid I am asking for your help photo-free for now.

    It is a 20 gallon tank, and her tank mates include a young, orange balloon belly molly who is probably a few months old (this molly was just added to the tank 2 weeks ago. I medicated when adding her just in case) and 2 julii cory catfish. All the tank mates are displaying normal behavior. The tank is cycled, and has been established for about 9 months. I have a heater in the tank that keeps the temperature at 80°F. I use an Aqua Clear HOB filter, and I have a corner sponge filter connected to an air pump. Their tank light is on a timer that goes on at 10am and turns off at 8pm.

    **I see a lot of debate online, and I know a lot of people think this tank is too small. But it’s my only option right now, and I do my best to maintain it well. I also know that most people recommend both of these fish types be kept in larger schools than 2. I’m not here to have those conversations right now. I was incredibly mislead by an associate at Petsmart when I was first buying everything, and I’ve had to learn a lot on my own along the way. I admit I had no idea what I was doing when I first started, but I’ve learned to do a lot of research. Now, I’m doing what I can (and what I can afford) to give these fish life they deserve, and I’m really enjoying fish keeping. Feel free to talk to me later about an overcrowded tank. Right now, I just want to know how to help my sick fish.**

    I perform 25% water changes and vacuum the substrate weekly. I temperature match the new water and treat it with API Stress Coat before adding it into the tank.

    pH is 8.2 I know that’s a little high, even for mollies, but that’s how the water is where I live. I’ve had this fish for a year and the pH has always been the same.
    Ammonia 0; Nitrate 0; Nitrite 0. These readings have been steady for months. I use the API freshwater master test kit.

    I feed them once a day: a small pinch of Omega One freshwater flakes for the mollies, and 1-2 Omega One sinking shrimp pellets for the catfish. I occasionally mix things up with Hikari freeze dried blood worms or boiled, shelled, and mashed peas.

    Thank you!!!!
    Thank you in advance for your help! I have learned so much on this site in the past year. This is the first time I’ve ever had to post my own problem, since I can usually find the answers I need on other threads. I just haven’t been so lucky this time around, and I am afraid I might be running out of time.
  2. Carmen79

    Carmen79New MemberMember

    Hi Aluabela,

    I think that if your tank is overcrowded, only once per week water changes won't be enough. This will bring stress to your fish, such as is happening now.

    The best I would do is, to higher up the frequency of those water changes, to ensure there is no water quality issue. This will be giving your fish full chance to pull through

    A question, those numbers for nitrates, did you test right after a water change..? It worries me that they are zero.. that would be a sign that the nitrogen cycle hasn't completed yet..
  3. CheshireKat

    CheshireKatWell Known MemberMember

    Those are made from Bay oil and Meleluca tea tree oil. I wouldn't consider them true meds. They can help for some situations and for small things, but they typically aren't strong enough for real problems.

    I personally don't consider a 20 gallon too small for 2 mollies and 2 cories at all. Growing up, we bred dalmatian mollies in a 10 gallon plus we did 100% water changes, which is totally bad. They still lived their average lifespan. Sometimes fish aren't as delicate as people think. And I currently have young mollies in a 5 gallon tub and mollies and platies of various ages in a 25 gallon with excessive filtration (AquaClear 110!) on it. I do weekly water changes of about 50%. Looking at tank size shouldn't be the only factor when determining overcrowding. Often times, bioload is more important. You have an AquaClear and a sponge filter. You most likely have enough filtration for 2 mollies and 2 cories.
    It's completely possible to "break the rules" as long as you do it well! Anyway, just wanted to provide my 2 cents on that topic since it was brought up.

    Do the white spots appear to move? Or grow larger?
    Wihout pictures, it's hard to say really what it is, but you can try maybe aquarium salt baths... Having the cories in there makes things difficult because they are less tolerable to certain treatments. Otherwise, your best bet would be another type of fungal treatment. You may want to up how many WC you do weekly so that whatever it is doesn't have time to potentially settle in the tank and spread.

    I'm also confused as to why your nitrates are at 0, especially with only 25% wc weekly, as that shouldn't be enough to remove all nitrates.
  4. OP

    AluabelaNew MemberMember

    I tested about 10ish hours after the water change. I guess I tend to test after water changes now that I think of it. The nitrate color is the only one that's never an exact match to the guide, so it's maybe closer to 1 or a 2 than 0, but it's definitely closer in color to the 0 swatch than the 5 swatch on the guide. Everything I've read has said to keep nitrates as low as possible, so I didn't think 0 was a bad thing :sorry: I've had slightly higher nitrate readings in the past (moooonths ago), but I've been chilling at 0 for a while now.
  5. OP

    AluabelaNew MemberMember

    I like that the Melafix and Pimafix are mild, especially with the cories in the tank. I've been considering salt baths for my molly, but I've never done one so it scares me a little. Any advice?

    The white spots do not appear to move or grow in size themselves, but I do think the affected area is growing a little bit. Any recommendations on other fungal treatments? My closest "fish store" is Petsmart, and they didn't have much the other day. But I'll go anywhere to find something that might help.
  6. CheshireKat

    CheshireKatWell Known MemberMember

    Mollies are very tolerant of salt; in fact, it's often recommended to keep salt to the Molly aquarium, although in my experience it's not necessary, especially if you have hard water.
    You can just follow the aquarium salt's instructions for dosage. Dissolve the salt in a container and put in your fish for like 15 minutes.

    Yeah, that won't give you accurate results since you just removed everything from the water. ;)
    Not very good advice, especially if you have live plants. Nitrates aren't very harmful unless above 40ppm, and sometimes fish can handle even that. My tap water has 20ppm so I always have that much in my tanks. My plants appreciate it.

    Without knowing for sure what it is, it's hard for me to suggest anything specific. If you want other rather gentle but still often effective med, Paraguard is an antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasite med that I've used for bacterial issues. Methylene Blue is often used for fungus as well (Methylene Blue as an Anti-Fungal & Anti-Parasitic for Aquarium Fish). You could try Fungal Clear tabs. You may have to order online or go hunting at actual fish stores because chain stores usually don't have a lot of useful meds. You can go there and check out the selection though. Just be cautious as your Corys might not do well with just any med.
  7. OP

    AluabelaNew MemberMember

    Alrighty, thanks for the suggestions! I'll attempt a salt bath and look into those meds, just in case. I was considering making the tank brackish before we got the cories. But then my husband really wanted the cories and I found out later that they don’t tolerate the salt like the mollies will. I don’t have live plants in the tank. I’m not brave enough to try it yet, haha. I’ll keep an eye on my parameters before water changes in the future and see what happens.