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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Behaviorist, Breeder, See Qual.
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 19765
Experience:  18+ years Breeding Experience, Former vol. Vet Assistant, Dog Behaviorist
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I have 4 mollies and 2 guppies in a 20 gallon tank, the tank is 2 weeks old, and I wai

Customer Question

Hi, I have 4 mollies and 2 guppies in a 20 gallon tank, the tank is 2 weeks old, and I waited 5 days before adding fish, I started the tank with a gallon of water from my other tank and new water with declorinator. The fish were doing great, I later transferred a few plants from my other tank and added some washed gravel. The next day 3 of the 4 mollies were laying seemingly lifeless on the bottom of the tank, all breathing and looking around but not swimming unless nugged(only did this because I didn't know if the fish was dead) They are very still. The 2 guppies are staying at the top and one is more normal than the other, both guppies were transplants from my old tank. The 4th is perfectly normal. PH is 7.5 water temp is 80 no nitrates. I also have a UV sterilizer in this new tank.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,
My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
It usually takes several weeks for a tank to cycle. You can speed up the process by adding gravel, filter material and even plants from an existing cycled tank. However, if you rinsed the gravel in hot water, you likely killed of the beneficial bacteria present on them.
When the tank cycle nitrites are created and the bacteria converts the nitrites into nitrates. Since your tank has no nitrates, that indicates you likely have either ammonia or nitrites. Test kits as well as in tank monitoring wheels for ammonia exists. So you could check for ammonia and nitrites to verify this is what is causing the issue. Read more on the subject here:
Since you have an established tank, get some of your filter material and add it to the new filter. You can also purchase good bacteria now at pet stores to jumpstart your tank quicker.
I would have recommended only adding a guppy or two to start with and waiting until your nitrates were on the rise to add more fish slowly. In the future, float a filter sponge in your established tank. Good bacteria will colonize the sponge and when you want to jump start a new tank, you can cut the sponge in half and use half of it in the new tank to cycle the tank that much faster.
I'm likely do another partial water change and see about getting that bacteria from your pet store. Hopefully your fish will survive. Guppies are pretty hardy but Mollies can be trickier than guppies and might not be as hardy.
Remember that when transferring fish from your tank to another tank, you still need to be sure you acclimate them to any temperature changes by floating them.
I hope this information is helpful to you. If you need more information or clarification, please reply and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. If you are satisfied, please take the opportunity to rate.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Hi Shri,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Jane Lefler