Why is my molly gasping for air?

gnossienne

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Only ONE of my mollies is gasping for air. She likes to stay at the surface and basically act as a “vacuum.” Is this just her personality? None of my other fish do this, just her. There is plenty of aeration and you can even see little bubbles floating up to the surface all over the tank.
 

Guppylover3x

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Only ONE of my mollies is gasping for air. She likes to stay at the surface and basically act as a “vacuum.” Is this just her personality? None of my other fish do this, just her. There is plenty of aeration and you can even see little bubbles floating up to the surface all over the tank.
Hi and welcome to the forum :hi:

Gasping at the top of the water usually indicates a water quality issue.

However, you state it’s just the one fish that’s doing this.

Is there any chance you could provide us with your parameters?

Best of luck.
 
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gnossienne

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Only ONE of my mollies is gasping for air. She likes to stay at the surface and basically act as a “vacuum.” Is this just her personality? None of my other fish do this, just her. There is plenty of aeration and you can even see little bubbles floating up to the surface all over the tank.
Don’t mind her blending into the back! I had to zoom in from afar because otherwise she will come down to greet me.
 

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gnossienne

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Hi and welcome to the forum :hi:

Gasping at the top of the water usually indicates a water quality issue.

However, you state it’s just the one fish that’s doing this.

Is there any chance you could provide us with your parameters?

Best of luck.
I have recently done a water change and she has been doing it for quite a while before. This is all I have for my new testing strips. Please let me know if I should get more to test other things within the tank.

Nitrate - 40ppm
Nitrite - 0.5ppm
PH - 7.0
Genera hardness - 30ppm
Carbonate hardness - 40ppm

It is a 15 gallon tall tank with 4 other fish in it.
 

Guppylover3x

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I have recently done a water change and she has been doing it for quite a while before. This is all I have for my new testing strips. Please let me know if I should get more to test other things within the tank.

Nitrate - 40ppm
Nitrite - 0.5ppm
PH - 7.0
Genera hardness - 30ppm
Carbonate hardness - 40ppm

It is a 15 gallon tall tank with 4 other fish in it.
Are your nitrates usually that high? It’s recommended that you try to keep them at around 10.

Perform 75% daily water changes for the next few days, including gravel vacuuming.

How long has your tank been set up? I ask because it seems like it’s almost cycled due to a low nitrite level.

May I ask what other fish you have? Mollies should have a tank size of up to 30g.
 
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There are some serious issues with the parameters and water conditions here.

First, nitrates are too high; you want to keep this no higher than 20 ppm, and lower than that is the aim. Nitrates harm fish primarily by weakening them, which in turn causes other issues and stress, and it just keeps compounding. Your first task is to find out if the 40 ppm nitrate is occurring solely within the tank, or if you have nitrates in the source water (tap water). Test the tap water on its own for nitrate. Once you know this, we can discuss options. Nitrates occurring within the tank only is fairly easy to deal with.

The other thing and at this point more serious is the low GH. Mollies are livebearers, and all livebearers evolved in moderately hard water (Central America and Mexico). Their physiology is designed to use minerals, especially calcium, and magnesium, they assimilate fro the water in which they live. Their metabolism willnot function properly in soft water, or in acidic water (pH below 7.0). It doesn't really matter how high the GH and pH are, but right now both are too low and the mollies simply cannot survive long.

As Guppylover mentioned, another issue here is tank size; mollies are not small fish and they will grow to 3-5 inches (females tend to be the larger), some even to six inches. So they need much more space. I mention this because you need to rectify the GH if you intend keeping mollies (or other livebearers), but a larger tank is needed, and any changes you make to harden the water will not be appreciated by any soft water fish you might have. So fixing the molly problem might be making something else problematic.

Nitrite at 0.5 is a concern too...was this tank cycled before the fish were added?
 
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gnossienne

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There are some serious issues with the parameters and water conditions here.

First, nitrates are too high; you want to keep this no higher than 20 ppm, and lower than that is the aim. Nitrates harm fish primarily by weakening them, which in turn causes other issues and stress, and it just keeps compounding. Your first task is to find out if the 40 ppm nitrate is occurring solely within the tank, or if you have nitrates in the source water (tap water). Test the tap water on its own for nitrate. Once you know this, we can discuss options. Nitrates occurring within the tank only is fairly easy to deal with.

The other thing and at this point more serious is the low GH. Mollies are livebearers, and all livebearers evolved in moderately hard water (Central America and Mexico). Their physiology is designed to use minerals, especially calcium, and magnesium, they assimilate fro the water in which they live. Their metabolism willnot function properly in soft water, or in acidic water (pH below 7.0). It doesn't really matter how high the GH and pH are, but right now both are too low and the mollies simply cannot survive long.

As Guppylover mentioned, another issue here is tank size; mollies are not small fish and they will grow to 3-5 inches (females tend to be the larger), some even to six inches. So they need much more space. I mention this because you need to rectify the GH if you intend keeping mollies (or other livebearers), but a larger tank is needed, and any changes you make to harden the water will not be appreciated by any soft water fish you might have. So fixing the molly problem might be making something else problematic.

Nitrite at 0.5 is a concern too...was this tank cycled before the fish were added?
Oh no! I’m pretty new to keeping fish, and I usually just rely on my fathers advice who has a bunch of fish, and he said that a 15g would be fine, but I trust your you guys.

The tank has been set up for a few months now with the fish, so yes it was definitely cycled.
How do you lift the hardness and PH of the water? Would getting a bigger tank fix this problem as well?
For nitrates, I’ll start performing the 75% change ASAP.

Ugh I feel like such a bad fish momma, I have so much to learn and the last thing I want to do is harm my fish thank you guys!
 

Guppylover3x

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Oh no! I’m pretty new to keeping fish, and I usually just rely on my fathers advice who has a bunch of fish, and he said that a 15g would be fine, but I trust your you guys.

The tank has been set up for a few months now with the fish, so yes it was definitely cycled.
How do you lift the hardness and PH of the water? Would getting a bigger tank fix this problem as well?
For nitrates, I’ll start performing the 75% change ASAP.

Ugh I feel like such a bad fish momma, I have so much to learn and the last thing I want to do is harm my fish thank you guys!
You can increase your PH/GH by adding salt minerals. I live in a soft water area, and add these into my guppy tank. Most members recommend the riftwood lake brand.

However, bare in mind that once you start adding them, you’ll have to add them in with every water change you do.

Adding shells can naturally increase the PH as well.

I would definitely recommend you upgrade your tank! I think the fish would also appreciate this.

Best of luck.
 

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As the OP (gnossienne) is new to this hobby, I would caution on jumping into having to prepare water to suit fish. At the moment, nitrates are an issue and this should be dealt with (OP, you didn't mention testing the tap water for nitrate?). But thinking ahead, if the tap water is soft, soft water species would be advisable until the OP is more comfortable with keeping fish.
 

Guppylover3x

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As the OP (gnossienne) is new to this hobby, I would caution on jumping into having to prepare water to suit fish. At the moment, nitrates are an issue and this should be dealt with (OP, you didn't mention testing the tap water for nitrate?). But thinking ahead, if the tap water is soft, soft water species would be advisable until the OP is more comfortable with keeping fish.
@Byron has a point. My apologies. You should of course deal with your nitrate problem first. Testing regular tap water for nitrate is the best way to figure out if your water naturally contains high amounts.

In relation to mineral additives. It does take time to figure out how much to add into each water change. Some people can find it quite confusing.

Once you do work it out, you just add the same amount every time.

If you chose the more straight forward option, which would be to keep soft water species. You would need to re-home your current fish.
 

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Though the tank should be cycled by now, it seems that based on the nitrite reading you may have lost the cycle.

Test for ammonia. If you have any ammonia, your tank is not cycled.

Those test strips don't test for ammonia, which is possibly the most important reading for tanks on the newer side.

What filter are you running and how do you clean your media? Filter media houses much of the beneficial bacteria and cleaning it with anything but tank water can destroy your bacteria.

You really dont need to clean or change media as often as you would think.
 

Guppylover3x

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Though the tank should be cycled by now, it seems that based on the nitrite reading you may have lost the cycle.

Test for ammonia. If you have any ammonia, your tank is not cycled.

Those test strips don't test for ammonia, which is possibly the most important reading for tanks on the newer side.

What filter are you running and how do you clean your media? Filter media houses much of the beneficial bacteria and cleaning it with anything but tank water can destroy your bacteria.

You really dont need to clean or change media as often as you would think.
Very good advice @Metalhead88
 

Deanasue

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Though the tank should be cycled by now, it seems that based on the nitrite reading you may have lost the cycle.

Test for ammonia. If you have any ammonia, your tank is not cycled.

Those test strips don't test for ammonia, which is possibly the most important reading for tanks on the newer side.

What filter are you running and how do you clean your media? Filter media houses much of the beneficial bacteria and cleaning it with anything but tank water can destroy your bacteria.

You really dont need to clean or change media as often as you would think.
I agree with everything except cleaning the filter. It should be swished in tank water every 2 to 3 weeks to clean it out.
 

Metalhead88

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Filter maintenance is definitely situational based on your stocking level, species, tank setup, and filter type. That's why I didn't put a number on how often it should be rinsed.

For instance, if a new tank is setup it would probably not be a good thing to mess with it on the 2nd or 3rd week.

I always use prefilters so all the extra food doesn't gunk up the filter media. Those sponges I rinse at least once a week to insure the best flow.

Since my tank is not stocked heavily and I have multiple filters, I have no need to rinse so often. I haven't had ammonia or high nitrates since the tank was set up over 15 years ago.
 
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