Why Is My Molly Gasping at the Water Surface?

If you witness your Molly gasping for air in the tank, you will be concerned. This is not a good indication and implies that something is wrong with your small fish.

Several reasons could explain your Molly fish’s behavior. Some are more serious than others, but all should be investigated to ensure the health and well-being of your fish.

In this guide, we will explain the most common reasons Molly gasps at the surface and what you can do to help your fish.

1. Poor Water Quality

Although mollies are hardy species, they are still sensitive to water parameters, especially water quality. If the water in your tanks is not clean, your fish will start to show signs of stress, including gasping at the surface.

Unclean water can cause various health issues in your fish, such as skin problems, infections, and respiratory disorders.

To ensure the water in your tank is clean and well cycled, you should carry out regular water changes and use reliable multiple filters. It is also a good idea to test the water regularly using an aquarium water test kit.

Also, you should perform a water change cycle of at least 25% once a week and vacuum the gravel to remove any waste.

2. Lack of Dissolved Oxygen

If the water in your tank is deficient in dissolved oxygen, your mollies will begin looking for well-oxygenated locations within the aquarium, which is usually the surface.

There are several ways to increase the dissolved oxygen levels in your tank and aeration. One way is to use air stones or bubbler to create movement in the water and help dissolve

You can also add plants to your tank. Plants produce enough oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis to keep the water well-oxygenated.

3. Parasites Or Bacteria

Some parasites can attack the gills of fish and cause problems with respiration. One of the most common parasitic diseases is gill flukes.

Gill fluke disease is a parasitic infection caused by a tiny white worm that infiltrates your fish’s gills, causing breathing difficulties and bleeding.

Adding new plants or fish is a common method for introducing gill worms into your new tank. Thus, you must carefully quarantine any new fish at all times.

You should also pay close attention to your fish’s appearance. If you notice any white spots or patches on their gills or bodies, you should take action immediately.

4. Old Age

An old molly will start to experience difficulties with respiration and may even stop eating. This is due to the fact that their organs are starting to fail.

Mollies have a lifespan of between 2-5 years, so if your molly is over 5 years old, it is considered elderly.

Elderly mollies will often seek out areas of the tank where the water is cooler and more oxygenated.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to help an elderly molly other than making sure the water quality is as high as possible and providing a good diet.

5. Overstocked Aquarium

Mollies like to have plenty of space for swimming and exploring. If they are kept in an overcrowded tank, they will look for areas of the tank where they can get some peace and quiet.

Overcrowding in a tank can cause fluctuations in water parameters that harm the mollies’ gills and respiratory systems.

To avoid this, you should ensure your multiple fish have the proper tank size. The general rule is that you should have one gallon (3.8 L) of water for every inch (2.5 cm) of fish.

6. Ammonia & Nitrates

Ammonia spikes and nitrate levels that are too high can cause swollen gills in fish, making it difficult for them to breathe.

High ammonia levels are produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the tank, such as adult fish waste and uneaten food.

Nitrate is a by-product of the Nitrogen cycle and is produced when ammonia is converted into nitrite by bacteria.

By carrying out regular water changes and using a reliable filter, you can control ammonia and nitrate levels in your aquarium. It is also a good idea to test the water regularly using an aquarium ammonia test kit.

7. Improper Water Temperature

Improper water temperature is one of the most common causes of respiratory problems in fish.

Although colder water contains more oxygen than warmer water, extremely cold (below 72 F) water can cause parasitic infections and a lowered immune system in mollies.

On the other hand, hot water ( over 78 F) contains lower oxygen levels than cold water. This means that if the water in your aquarium is too warm, it could cause your mollies to experience difficulty breathing.

Therefore, you should maintain a consistent water temperature in your aquarium, between 72-78 F. You can use an aquarium heater to maintain a consistent water temperature.

8. Improper pH Level

Mollies are highly sensitive to changes in pH levels and will experience difficulty breathing if the pH level in their aquarium is not within the correct range.

If the pH level in the tank rises, it’s due to too much alkalinity. As a result, it will cause ammonia and nitrite levels in the tank water to rise, which are deadly to fish.

Molly’s health can also be negatively affected by extremely acidic water, which promotes the development of bacteria.

Low levels of dissolved oxygen (too acidic) or excessive quantities of carbon dioxide (too alkaline) in the water can also cause problems with respiration.

The ideal pH level for mollies is between 7.5 and 8.5. You can test the pH level in your tank using a reliable aquarium pH test kit.

9. Poor Diet

Healthy feeding is essential for all fish, but it is especially important for mollies as they are prone to malnutrition.

Mollies are omnivores and require a diet that contains both plant and animal matter. To ensure your molly is getting all the nutrients they need, you should feed them high-quality flakes or pellets as well as live or frozen foods.

You should also offer your molly a variety of vegetables, such as zucchini, cucumbers, and spinach.


How to Tell if a Molly Fish Is Pregnant?

There are a few ways to tell if a molly fish is pregnant:

  1. A swollen belly
  2. A gravid spot at the anal vent
  3. A pregnant molly will be eating more
  4. They will be seeking warmth around the tank

How to Tell If Molly Fish Are Male Or Female?

Males are torpedo-shaped and have larger fins than females. Males also have pointed gonopodia, or anal fins that they use to mate with females. Female mollies are significantly larger in the belly than males.

Why Is My Molly Fish Dying?

Mollies die unexpectedly for a variety of reasons, such as poor water quality, low oxygen levels, and illnesses. 

Why Is My Fish Swimming at the Bottom of the Tank?

When the water temperature in your tank falls too low, your fish may lie motionless at the bottom of the tank to save energy.

In contrast, if the water temperature rises above 78°F, fish will stay on the bottom since oxygen concentration levels will be greater there.

Last Words

Molly fish are docile fish that are easy to care for. However, they are prone to a number of health problems, including gill worms, respiratory problems, and malnutrition.

By understanding the common causes of these problems, you can take steps to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them in the section below.

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