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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently my 2 sailfin mollies started gulping air from the surface, often for extended periods of time. When they aren't gulping, their gills aren't moving abnormally fast. My water parameters are:
pH: 7.8
Ammonia: .2 ppm
Nitrate: ~15 ppm
No nitrites
Temp: 77 F

I know my pH and nitrates are a little high. What should I do?
 

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pH is fine, Mollies are hard water fish, and a high pH is common when the mineral levels are in the levels Mollies need.
Nitrate is not a problem, 15ppm is plenty for the plants, and fine for fish.

Ammonia is not good. Do you have chloramine in the water? Did you do the test right after using some dechlor? Some dechlorinators will make certain ammonia tests show a hint of color, but the ammonia is locked up.
 

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What water conditioner/dechlorinator do you use?

Make sure there is enough water surface agitation to provide dissolve oxygen.

Are the fish's gills red or inflamed?
Are the fish flashing (scratching it's body against objects)?

As mentioned your pH is fine. NitrAtes are fine (recommended to be kept under 40ppm. NitrItes should be 0 ppm. Ammonia should be 0 ppm as well. Your test shows 0.2 ammonia, the ammonia can damage gill tissue. Even with low ammonia levels, fish can still die if exposed to it long enough. Normally a water change to remove/dilute the toxic levels, but as pointed out, we aren't sure if your water contains chloramines, and if your dechlorinator only breaks the bond of chloramine into chlorine and ammonia. Not all water conditioners detoxify the ammonia, so if you do have chloramine in your tap water and a dechlorinator that doesn't detoxify ammonia, you would just be readding more ammonia with a water change. The beneficial bacteria should deal with the ammonia shortly. If the issue is your water, I can tell your dechlorinator doesn't detoxify the ammonia because the fish are exhibiting symptoms of ammonia poisoning (so it's not detoxified).

You can google your city's water quality report or call your water district and see if they use chloramines.
Seachem Prime is a commonly recommended dechlorinator (detoxifies nitrogen up to 48 hours).

This is just going by the info given. There are other possible reasons for fish gasping for air and there are other reasons for possible ammonia readings.

Are you injecting co2?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What water conditioner/dechlorinator do you use?

Make sure there is enough water surface agitation to provide dissolve oxygen.

Are the fish's gills red or inflamed?
Are the fish flashing (scratching it's body against objects)?

As mentioned your pH is fine. NitrAtes are fine (recommended to be kept under 40ppm. NitrItes should be 0 ppm. Ammonia should be 0 ppm as well. Your test shows 0.2 ammonia, the ammonia can damage gill tissue. Even with low ammonia levels, fish can still die if exposed to it long enough. Normally a water change to remove/dilute the toxic levels, but as pointed out, we aren't sure if your water contains chloramines, and if your dechlorinator only breaks the bond of chloramine into chlorine and ammonia. Not all water conditioners detoxify the ammonia, so if you do have chloramine in your tap water and a dechlorinator that doesn't detoxify ammonia, you would just be readding more ammonia with a water change. The beneficial bacteria should deal with the ammonia shortly. If the issue is your water, I can tell your dechlorinator doesn't detoxify the ammonia because the fish are exhibiting symptoms of ammonia poisoning (so it's not detoxified).

You can google your city's water quality report or call your water district and see if they use chloramines.
Seachem Prime is a commonly recommended dechlorinator (detoxifies nitrogen up to 48 hours).

This is just going by the info given. There are other possible reasons for fish gasping for air and there are other reasons for possible ammonia readings.

Are you injecting co2?
NO CO2. I'm using API Tap water Conditioner.
 

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From the test results, you clearly do have a ammonia toxicity issue, but the source of that ammonia, I can't without more info (overfeeding, too high bioload, not fully cycled filter, something rottying, ammonia from chloramines, etc)

API Tap water conditioner does not detoxify ammonia.
http://www.oscarfish.com/water-conditioners/api-tap-water-conditioner.html

I still don't know if you have chloramines in your tap water, but if you do, API dechlorinator will just remove the chlorine from the chloramine, but not the ammonia that unbinds from the chloramine, which would result in ammonia levels which are toxic to fish.
If chloramines are the case, I would suggest switching to a dechlorinator that detoxifies ammonia, such as Seachem Prime or Amquel. (Prime being the better option)

If the nitrifying bacteria in your filter are well, they should be able to clear away the ammonia shortly

So again, if the ammonia is from chloramines, doing a water change won't help unless you get Prime. But if the ammonia is from another cause, water changes are recommend to bring the ammonia levels down. The source of the ammonia should be addressed appropriately.
 
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