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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all! Joined recently and now I have a reason to post.

I've had my balloon belly molly for about 2-3 weeks now. I've been cycling the tank with the fish (I regret it) and have been doing very frequent water changes to keep the ammonia/nitrites at bay. 10 gallon tank, bio wheel filter, 78.3 degrees. I'm doing 2 gallon water changes once or twice every day now to keep the nitrites down.

Currently the tank is in the nitrite stage of the cycle, ammonia is around .25-.50ppm, nitrites are hovering above 1ppm. nitrates are roughly 20-30ppm.

The problem:
The molly has been sitting on the gravel a lot, not swimming at all. When agitated if I tap the glass, she swims around perfectly fine, then settles once I go away again. Really looks like she's dying, but I'm not convinced.

When I turn off the hood light (fluorescent) she gets up and swims around fine, then stays at the top of the tank near the heater with my other balloon molly. As SOON as the light goes back on, she falls to the bottom and sits on the gravel again.

Pregnant? Have I been giving them too much light and she's just sick of it? It has been on quite long recently, sometimes until 2am. When the sun rises around 7am, that isn't much dark time.

Thanks for any help! I don't want to lose her!
 

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Mollies are one of the more delicate fish you can keep. They're kind of known as the "canary in the coalmine" of tropical freshwater fish. They are usually the first fish to show illness due to poor water conditions.
That being said, your fish isn't showing signs of illness per se, but more of a behavioral pattern that seems odd. I do NOT think it is anything to do with pregnancy.
I have zero ammonia, .25-.50 seems awfully high to me, same with the nitrates which can be devastating to fish. I am guessing it has something to do with the water quality and lack of cycling, unless it's being harassed by a more aggressive tank mate.
Female mollies will sometimes hide when they are birthing babies, mostly it seems to avoid the incessant attentions of any and all males in the tank. Not knowing if you have a bunch of floating or living plants or other hiding places, (or even males in the tank for that matter!) it's impossible to say. It MIGHT be a type of hiding behavior, at least blocking her ventral region from males attentions.
Only one other thing, I am not a big fan of the "balloon" type fish. It's a genetic fluke and bent backbone like scoliosis in humans that we've fostered by promoting this birth defect. Aren't regular mollies beautiful enough without the bent backbone and exaggerated tummy? Sorry, just my old fart opinion there......
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks for the detailed response! I think I agree that it is probably a chemistry problem in the tank. She is one of two fish in the tank, the other being a female balloon molly as well. No gravid spot.

I did an even more aggressive water change today to try and drop the nitrites to no avail (50%). It's still high, but I'm hoping it drops off in the next few days.

My white molly started having seizures and was floating around - I thought she was dead. After awhile she'd revive but still be shaking. I had to remove her and put her into a bowl with fresh (dechlorinated) water for the time being. (Stuck a little heater in there to make sure the temp is right as well)

Maybe a day of the non-nitrated water will help her get better while the main aquarium cycles. Nitrites have been spiked for about a week now, so the end is near I hope.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The white fish has dropped a few eggs in the bottom of the bowl she's in now. I stand corrected. This explains some of the awkward behavior then. I'm sure the nitrites didn't help, but this explains the sitting on the ground a lot.
 

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dropping eggs is a bad sign for a livebearer, its like premature birth. But maybe she'll feel better after. This is one place i'd use both an ammonia/nitrite 'detoxifier' such as prime or Amquel+ and some salt. Aquarium or Sea Salt. Mollies like some ions in their water and, unless you have very hard water out of your tap, adding salt when the look poorly can perk them up and also make nitrite less toxic. Do measure and calculate g/L or tsps/gallon, because you don't want the level bouncing around when you change water. Add enough to water change water to keep it steady.

If you can't keep ammonia and nitrite in the 'safe' range, you need to stop adding sources of ammonia, such as food. Fish are better off going hungry for a week than having their gills burned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yeah, I'm thinking the stress from the nitrite probably caused her to abort the birth. She must've gotten impregnated at the pet store. That doesn't explain the drastic seizures though, they were really scary. She was floating upside down for a couple minutes it was so bad.

I've been adding salt, gonna make sure I add a little more to account for the water changes.

Also, I have jungle ammonia tabs, they won't neutralize the nitrites though right?

Thanks again for your input guys, all is much appreciated!
 

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Not from what I read on the box. Get something that 'detoxifies nitrite' and use it until you are done 'cycling', then you can use up the ammo-tabs. This sounds like classic 'new tank syndrome'.

On adding salt, you want to add it to the new water. Mollies can take salinity going up, but you have to be very careful about not letting it drop quickly. Thats when you have 'swimming funny and died by morning' issues.
 

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I'm just going to throw this out there.....but the fact that it's a "BALLOON" molly could be the reason it's swimming funny. It *IS* a birth defect, the sharply curved spine, and I've noticed some of them seem to have a hard time just swimming.
Just sayin.'
As for the "molly eggs" - Not sure I believe that, I think it must have been something else. I've NEVER seen ANY livebearer drop eggs. I've even dissected pregnant females, and the "uterus" area (pardon, not sure what it's called in a livebearer) area contained FETAL babies, partially developed, but never just an undeveloped egg. I would hazard to guess that an undeveloped egg may be so small as to be almost microscopic, they don't become visible until after fertilized and 'nourished' and grown for a while.
That being said, if your molly is laying eggs, you got BIG problems.
Were either/both mollies just recently moved into this tank? If it's been less than a week, give it some time. If they're going to make it, you'll know by about day 10 if they're still healthy, swimming around, not lying on the gravel and laying molly eggs!!!!!
 

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mollies are ovoviviparous. They incubate eggs in a pouch, they do not have a uterus nor a placenta, they do not feed the babies in any way after creating the egg.

Goodieds are true viviparous livebearers. Yes I know, "viviparous livebearer" is redundant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
They were definitely eggs, a few of them looked a little bigger than the others and resembled fry however.

Not surprisingly, she passed away. She was in that tank for about a month, too. No more fish until it's cycled, I can't go through this again!!

I'm aware they're somewhat of a *weird* fish, but she was swimming erratically and very different from the normal balloon molly wiggle they usually exhibit.

I got a great deal on a 2pk of Stanley digital lamp timers for my hood though; No more fiddling with the light anymore! On at dawn off at dusk.
 
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