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Stressed Out Molly – Signs, Causes, and Solutions to Calm Them Down

In most cases, stress is the leading factor that fish die in aquariums. This is because it is hard to determine if your fish is in distress or not. Nevertheless, some signs and symptoms can help you better understand if your fish is stressed. This article will discuss the signs, causes, and solutions to calm down a stressed out Molly fish.

Molly fish are a type of brackish water fish often found in home aquariums. They are known for their lively personality and popular choice among beginners. However, when stressed, they can display some unusual behaviors.

Stressed Out Molly

Signs of a stressed out molly

There are many signs and symptoms of a stressed-out molly. A healthy and happy molly should explore around the tank and swim around with ease.

If your molly shows unusual behavior and its skin color has changed, there might be a problem in your tank.

Some signs of a molly that is in distress are,

Excessive hiding

A happy molly is not timid. While it is normal for any fish to seek out hiding places once in a while, a well-socialized fish won’t stay hidden all the time. It will go around and interact with other fish.

In the case of a stressed molly fish, things are different. It will try to hide all the time and will not interact with other inhabitants.

Fish often try to hide when they are threatened or bullied by other fish. Although there can be any other reason, this is one of the main signs that indicate a stressed molly fish.

Changes in Appearance

You know that mollies are colorful and bright-looking fish. When these fish get stressed, their appearance changes, they may turn pale, or their colors might start to fade. This difference is distinct and easy to spot.

An increase in respiration rate

If your molly is stressed, you will see that it works harder than usual to breathe. The respiration rate will be faster than average, and you will notice that the fish is gulping for air more often.

Swimming erratically

A healthy molly swims around in a relaxed manner. However, if it is under stress, it will start to swim around erratically. This sign is especially noticeable when the fish tries to escape from something.

Gasping for air at the surface

Molly fish are not air-breathing fish. So, if you see your molly gasping for air at the surface, it’s a sign that something is wrong.

Constantly chasing other fish

Molly fish are usually docile, and they don’t chase other fish. However, if your fish is stressed, it might start to pursue other fish relentlessly. This behavior is usually seen in fish when other fish are bullying it.

Fin rot and Ich

It might develop fin rot and Ich if your molly fish is stressed. These are both common diseases that can be fatal if not treated.

Loss of Appetite

A stressed molly often stops eating. This is because it’s too busy trying to escape and hide from the problem.

Scratching and rubbing on gravel and decorations

Stressed mollies often start to scratch and rub their body on the gravel and decorations. This is an attempt to relieve the itchiness that is often caused by Ich.

Constant diseases

When fish are stressed, their immune system is weakened, and they are more susceptible to diseases. So, if your molly is constantly getting sick, there’s a good chance that it is stressed.

Stressed Out Molly

Causes of stress in molly fish

There can be numerous reasons why your molly is stressed. Some of the most common causes are,

Poor water quality

If the water in your tank is not clean, it will cause a lot of stress to your fish. This is because mollies are very sensitive to changes in water parameters, and they don’t do well in polluted water.

Fish bullying

If some other fish in the tank are bullying your molly, it will cause a lot of stress. This is because molly will constantly be trying to escape from the bullies.

Inadequate tank size

If your tank is too small, it will cause a lot of stress to your fish. As mollies are active fish, they require lots of space to explore around. Therefore, a small tank is not enough for mollies.

Overcrowded tank

If your tank is overcrowded, it will also cause a lot of stress to your fish. This is because the fish will not have enough space to swim around and constantly compete for food.

Introducing new fish

If you suddenly introduce new fish into your tank, it will stress out your molly. It will create competence and stress as the new fish compete for food and territory.

Incompatible tankmates

If you have fish in your aquarium that is not compatible with mollies, it will cause a lot of stress. The mollies will be constantly chased and bullied by the other fish, or the other way around.

Poor aquarium maintenance

If you don’t perform consistent water changes and clean your tank, it will cause a lot of stress to your fish. This is because the tank will be full of ammonia and other pollutants.

Incompatible tank location

If you have your tank in a location where it gets direct sunlight or is near a heater, it will cause a lot of stress to your fish. This is because the fish will be too warm or too bright. Further, if your tank is located in a high-traffic area, it will also be stressful for the fish.

Illness or injury

If your molly is sick or injured, it will be stressed. When your molly gets ill or injured, it will try to escape from the pain and be unable to swim correctly.

Stressed Out Molly

Solutions to calm down a stressed Molly fish

If you see that your molly fish is stressed, there are several things that you can do to calm it down.

The most important thing is identifying and addressing the cause of the stress. Once you have done that, you can remedy the situation. Consider the list above to see if any of those items have recently changed.

Some of the solutions to calm down your stressed molly fish are,

Test the water quality and change water

If the water quality is poor, you must do a water change immediately. This will help improve the water quality and reduce the stress on the fish.

Add more plants

If you have a lot of open space in your tank, you can add more plants. This will help reduce stress by providing hiding places for the fish.

Add more decorations

If you have many bare walls in your tank, you can add more decorations. This will help reduce stress by providing hiding places for the fish.

Check the filtration system

If the filtration system is not working properly, it will cause a lot of stress to the fish. This is because the fish will constantly be swimming in polluted water.

Remove aggressive fish

If you have aggressive fish in your tank, you should remove them. This will reduce the stress on the molly fish.

Remove some fish to another tank

If your tank is overcrowded, you can remove some fish from your tank. This will reduce the competition for food and space.

Introduce new fish slowly

If you are going to add new fish to your tank, you should do so slowly. By introducing new fish one by one over several weeks, your mollies get the chance to acclimate with the new fish.

Quarantine new fish

If you add new fish to your tank, you should quarantine them first. This will reduce the chances of spreading diseases to your other fish.

Move tank to a different location

If you have your tank in a stressful location, you can move it to a different location. This will help to reduce the stress on the fish.

Reduce the light levels

If your tank is in a bright location, you can reduce the light levels. Although mollies prefer bright light, too much can be stressful.

Reduce the temperature

If your tank is in a warm location, you can reduce the temperature. Reducing the temperature will fix the water condition issues, hence will help to reduce the stress on the fish.

Remove sick or injured fish

If your molly is sick or injured, you should remove it from the tank. This way, the ill or wounded fish get a chance to recover in a stress-free environment.

Treat the illnesses

If your fish is sick, you should treat the illness. Mollies are susceptible to diseases like Ich, fin rot, and velvet. If you treat the condition, it will reduce the stress on the fish.

Final Words

When a Molly fish is stressed, it can be challenging to manage the aquarium. A stressed-out molly indicates an unhealthy aquarium.

If you want your mollies to thrive in your aquarium, managing stress in your mollies is essential.

While numerous things can cause stress in your fish, the main causes are incompatible tank size, incompatible tank mates, and poor water conditions.

If you basically solve these problems, your mollies will be much more relaxed and will live longer. Remember, it is essential to monitor your fish for any signs of stress to address them quickly.

By following the instructions in this article, you can reduce the stress on your molly fish and help to keep them healthy and happy. 

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.