So in my last entry, I wrote about the completely unresearched, unscientific way that I found myself walking out of the LFS with a bag of five female balloon mollies. Totally out of character for me to get a fish without learning as much as I can ahead of time. But I really wasn't thinking straight after senselessly losing multiple groups of baby pearlscales in an effort to establish my first-ever all-tiku tank, so I rolled with my impulses and found myself standing in front of my empty-but-thoroughly-sterilized aquarium, floating my bag o' mollies and wondering what to do next.
At some point in all the general fishkeeping reading I've done over the years, I had learned to differentiate between male and female mollies (which is super easy to do, as they have some very distinctly different physical characteristics). I also knew that males can be territorial and persnickety with one another. So I'd selected only female mollies, figuring maybe one or two would already be pregnant, but assuming that that would end quickly with a few fry, and we'd put the baby-birthing behind us.
Within days, two of the already-round balloon girls became even rounder, and kept ... well, ballooning, until I thought that one of them, the all-white fish (named "Shiny" by my young niece) would quite literally burst. I was feeding the whole gaggle of them one morning when, to my surprise, a tiny little speck with huge eyes darted out from the mouth of the tiki statue and gobbled at a passing flake of food. Fast little bugger. He was dispatched via turkey baster to a small "fry tank" I quickly set up. A second baby, who had buried itself in the gravel to avoid being eaten by the always-hungry mature fish, only lasted a few days after transfer.
Okay, one pregnancy done, maybe one more to go, right? Imagine my shock when I learned that from a single breeding, female mollies can store sperm for as long as SIX MONTHS, and can basically get pregnant whenever they feel like it (and do so, on average, once a month).
So with five females, all showing varying degrees of roundness, I could conceivably be looking at 25 or more births. All without any additional fish-sex taking place, mind you. There are miracles of (literally) biblical proportions occurring in my aquarium. When the Three Wise Fish come riding up on seahorses, I won't be a bit surprised.
But since that first birth, zilch. Three out of the five molly girls look ridiculously pregnant, but they either won't drop their fry, or are somehow releasing them in the dead of night, eating the evidence, and strangely remaining bloated.
I've been trying everything. Increased the temp a couple of degrees, which is supposed to encourage labor. Been feeding these mostly plant-based eaters a higher protein diet, with thawed frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp, which is supposed to be good for the babies' development and (surprise) encourage labor. Added a large "fry tunnel" ornament that's covered with bushy artificial grass, which would give any babies a place to hide, the moms a place to give birth, and should relax them enough to (you guessed it) encourage labor.
Nope. One very fat fry in the grow-out tank, with no buddies to speak of. He/she is growing so rapidly that I don't think I could add newborn fry to that tank anyway, as he might actually be large enough to EAT them at this point.
I should print and paste this to the aquarium's side, to inspire them to get busy already!
Baby fish look mostly the same, but they're all pretty cute.
This waiting game is getting old really fast. Gimme babies!