Fish Gasping For Air.

LaesaMajestas

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Hey all!
 
I've had aquariums for about 20 years, but this is a new one to me.  One molly was gasping for air for a few weeks and died, and now two more are showing similar symptoms. I've had fish live for up to 11 years, and it's very rare for me to lose any, particularly such a hardy species.
1. Water parameters. (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, PH, temp', Hardness etc) -- I haven't tested them.  I generally count on frequent water changes and good maintenance to keep things going.  The temperature is 72F
2. A full description of the fishes symptoms. -  Two of the mollies are gasping for air for several weeks, colors are flushed out. On one I see whiteness on the tail, but it is not fungal or ich. The "sick" fish readily accept food but otherwise sit on the bottom or on a plant leaf and gasp for air.  Oher fish are hardy and are even giving birth.
3. How often you do water changes and how much. - Every two weeks, about 15%
4. Any chemicals and treatments you add to the water. - None.  I feed them twice a day -- granules.
5. What tank mates are in the tank. - Other mollies, four hillstream locaches, 2 botias, 1 farrowella, various algae eating shrimp, two bamboo shimp, various ramshorn snails
6. Tank size. - 55 gallons
7. Finally Have you recently added any new fish? - No, but they've given birth, so there's several young in the tank

I don't know if this bears on anything, but the only unusual behavior we've observed in the tank is that our Amazon lace plant has shown incredible growth recently -- growing a new flower stem, many new leaves, and showing dramatic leaf growth.
 
My wife is very fond of the mollies -- any help you can offer would be appreciated!
 
molliy-55.jpg
 
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:hi: to the forum
 
It sounds like ammonia or nitrite poisoning, test for them and post the results ASAP.
 
How long has this tank been set up?
 
OP
L

LaesaMajestas

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Thank you for the welcome!  The tank has been set up for maybe 18 months. Do you really think that that modest number of fish could generate enough ammonia and nitrates, given that we do water changes regularly and feed them carefully?  Only the mollies are suffering, and only two of the eight adults.
 

Ninjouzata

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I don't really know much about fish illnesses, but could it maybe be a parasite in their gills? Obviously don't go throwing meds at them but it's just a thought.
 
Are you doing any form of co2? I ask since from what I know that plant needs that and it looks like it's going wild..so must be quite happy.
But if you are doing co2, could it have malfunctioned and is causing the fish to have trouble breathing?
 
I don't know anything about co2 and plants either really but these are the only things I can think of, other than what Blondie has said. Sorry I can't be of more help. :/
 
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How many mollies do you have?
 
Depending on the number of mollies, you may need to do more of a water change, 25% weekly is what most people do, though some do more or less depending on their stocking.
 
The increase of bioload from the birth of the mollies could have caused the ammonia or nitrite to spike. If you can get the readings for these that would help a lot.
 
Could you have done anything to upset the bacteria in the filter? I.e. a large water change, changing filter media, rinsing the filter media in tap water, forgetting to put dechlorinater etc.
 
Do a large water change (at least 50%) and see if the condition of the fish improve.
 

tunagirll

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As blondie said, I would also do a 50% water change (conditioned and temperature matched) and see if this improves your fish. If it does, it's likely your water is dirty.
 
If you don't have a test kit, take the water to a GOOD fish shop for testing.
 
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tunagirll said:
If you don't have a test kit, take the water to a GOOD fish shop for testing.
 
Just adding to this, if you do go down that route, make sure to ask for the exact test results.
 

fishy_wishy

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Gasping for air is sometimes because there is not enough oxygen it the tank. there are lots of little gadgets you can buy from ebay or a fish shop etc. to oxygenate the water
 

bodge99

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Hello,
 
Get an airline in asap.. Just the cheapest pump and airstone will do if you don't plan to use one permanently.
 
This will help with the general oxygen levels (if this is actually the problem..), it will give at least some indication in which direction to look next.
 
I'd up the water changes for a while.. (now might be an idea...)
 
One thing that I've noticed recently/heard about from some others is an increase in oxygenation problems caused by larg(er) bacteria levels in the tank. There seems to be some correlation with species that produce larger amounts of waste (I keep only mollies... so I'm familiar with this!) coupled with (perhaps slightly too large) feed quantities.
 
I'm unsure as to why I'm seeing/hearing this now.. It just "rang a bell" when I saw your post.
 
Bodge99
 

Ch4rlie

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Would recommend you post the water parameter test results if you have them, these have already been requested by others on this thread.

Without test results, it's difficult to determine what is happening in your tank and why your fish are gasping at water surface.

Usually down to two things, ammonia/nitrite poisoning, water changes as mentioned already will help reduce these toxic levels.

2nd possible cause is lack of oxygen in tank water, airstone and pump will help or increase water agitation from filter to help aerate water.

That is really all we can recommend at this stage without water test results.

No point in throwing in any meds without knowing what is the cause or diagnoses.

Has now been 3 days since you posted, is there any updates at all?
 

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