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Feb 29, 2024
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Morris IL
I recently donated all of the juvenile mollies in my tank to the LFS I work at, and now that there’s more room in the tank my mollies have been “doing it” nonstop. Yesterday I noticed that my black molly’s belly was a bit bigger and more squared off, but now I’m concerned. She’s removing herself from the group and skimming the surface of the water back and forth to no end. Her fins aren’t clamped or anything, but when I dropped a bit of food next to her she dove down to avoid it, which isn’t normal for her. She’s also been hanging out by the heater for most of the day, which I know is a trait of being pregnant, but I’m not sure about the other stuff. Is she okay? Is she pregnant? Is she sick?

P.S. don’t worry about how the water looks in the picture, I just propagated my amazon sword three times and stuff is stirred up. The scheduled weekly water change is tomorrow.
Have you added anything to the tank in the last 2 weeks?
Is the fish eating anything?
What does its poop look like?

How often do you do water changes and how much do you change?
Do you gravel clean the substrate when you do a water change?
Do you dechlorinate the new water before adding it to the aquarium?

What is the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate of the water. Post the results in numbers.
What sort of filter is on the tank?
How often and how do you clean the filter?

What is the GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and pH of your water supply?
This information can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website (Water Analysis Report) or by telephoning them. If they can't help you, take a glass full of tap water to the local pet shop and get them to test it for you. Write the results down (in numbers) when they do the tests. And ask them what the results are in (eg: ppm, dGH, or something else).
Mollies do best in water with a pH above 7.0 and a GH above 250ppm.

Post pictures of the other fish so we can check them for disease.

Post a video of the fish showing it swimming normally and when you put food near it?
Upload videos to YouTube, then copy & paste the link here.
If you use a mobile phone to film the fish, hold the phone horizontally (landscape mode) so the footage fills the entire screen and doesn't have black bars on either end.


The fish has excess mucous (creamy white film) on its head and pectoral (side) fin. That is caused by something in the water irritating the fish. Because it is only covering part of the fish, the most likely cause is an external protozoan infection.


Wipe the inside of the glass down with a clean fish sponge. This removes the biofilm on the glass and the biofilm will contain lots of harmful bacteria, fungus, protozoans and various other microscopic life forms.

Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate. The water change and gravel cleaning will reduce the number of disease organisms in the water and provide a cleaner environment for the fish to recover in. It also removes a lot of the gunk and this means any medication can work on treating the fish instead of being wasted killing the pathogens in the gunk.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

Clean the filter if it hasn't been done in the last 2 weeks. However, if the filter is less than 6 weeks old, do not clean it. Wash the filter materials/ media in a bucket of tank water and re-use the media. Tip the bucket of dirty water on the garden/ lawn. Cleaning the filter means less gunk and cleaner water with fewer pathogens so any medication (if needed) will work more effectively on the fish.

Increase surface turbulence/ aeration to maximise the dissolved oxygen in the water.

Add some salt.



You can add rock salt (often sold as aquarium salt), swimming pool salt, or any non iodised salt (sodium chloride) to the aquarium at the dose rate of 1 heaped tablespoon per 20 litres of water. If there is no improvement after 48 hours you can double that dose rate so there is 2 heaped tablespoons of salt per 20 litres.

If you only have livebearers (guppies, platies, swordtails, mollies), goldfish or rainbowfish in the tank you can double that dose rate, so you would add 2 heaped tablespoons per 20 litres and if there is no improvement after 48 hours, then increase it so there is a total of 4 heaped tablespoons of salt per 20 litres.

Keep the salt level like this for at least 2 weeks but no longer than 4 weeks otherwise kidney damage can occur. Kidney damage is more likely to occur in fish from soft water (tetras, Corydoras, angelfish, Bettas & gouramis, loaches) that are exposed to high levels of salt for an extended period of time, and is not an issue with livebearers, rainbowfish or other salt tolerant species.

The salt will not affect the beneficial filter bacteria but the higher dose rate (4 heaped tablespoons per 20 litres) will affect some plants and some snails. The lower dose rate (1-2 heaped tablespoons per 20 litres) will not affect fish, plants, shrimp or snails.

After you use salt and the fish have recovered, you do a 10% water change each day for a week using only fresh water that has been dechlorinated. Then do a 20% water change each day for a week. Then you can do bigger water changes after that. This dilutes the salt out of the tank slowly so it doesn't harm the fish.

If you do water changes while using salt, you need to treat the new water with salt before adding it to the tank. This will keep the salt level stable in the tank and minimise stress on the fish.

When you first add salt, add the salt to a small bucket of tank water and dissolve the salt. Then slowly pour the salt water into the tank near the filter outlet. Add the salt over a couple of minutes.

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