Come see my Evil Aquarium of Death!

Come one, come all. See the horror! Witness the destruction!

I am apparently in the process of creating an animal freakshow in my apartment. My girlfriend, not satisfied with us owning The Fattest Cat on the Planet, became enamored with the idea of owning a fish tank. So being a perceptive boyfriend, I took note of this and bought her a ten gallon freshwater tank for Christmas. We finally got around to setting it up in our apartment a few months ago. Then we bought an evil fish.

Not on purpose, of course. We bought three black mollies (run of the mill fish about 2 inches long, all black). They were a happy family. Two girls and one boy (according the weird fish guy). One female got pregnant and then all hell broke loose. I came home from work and found the male’s body suspended in a gray sac attached to a decorative rock. Upon closer inspection I noticed his spine was torn out and had sunk to the bottom. :eek: This “fish” is like a cross between Attack of the Body Snatchers and Predator. “Attack of the Molly Snatchers”. I imagine she would have spent time cleaning the spine and screaming into the night had I not disposed of the gruesome remains. Oh, but she wasn’t done then. Having developed a taste for fish flesh, she sent the other female to “sleep with the rocks on the bottom of the tank”.
The babies were born a few weeks later and you can figure out the rest. That’s right, mobile hors d’oeuvres. They were all eaten save two. I figured that they must be the fastest, toughest babies and could fend for themselves. They have made their mother more than proud.

A week later my girlfriend came home from work with…more fish! A beta and a sucker fish. I thought they’d do well as a sucker fish minds his own business at the bottom and a beta is a Japanese Fighting Fish. I underestimated the power of the Triad of the Unholy Tank Dwellers. The beta was found on his side with no freaking fins. At all. The sucker fish had disappeared completely. Probably wanted to take his chances outside the tank with the cat. My girlfriend feels bad for all the fish and claims she thought they’d all get along. The weird fish guy said, “They aren’t supposed to do that, but they are animals after all.” I’ve got the freaking Discovery Channel in my dining room and he tells me they’re animals!

Now, after all this, I would think it cruel to add more fish to the tank. At least until the Devil of the Sea and her evil spawn decide they want to take over Lake Michigan. The girlfriend does not hold this opinion because last night she went out and bought two more fish! They are creamsicle mollies and only a little larger than the evil ones. I feel so bad for them. :frowning:

I will update you on Monday of this continuing horror…

I don’t mean this to be mean, but did your girlfriend bother talking to people at the pet store when she bought the fish? Even the less-enthusiastic pet store employee should be able to tell her (and you) which fish make good companions and which do not.

Honestly, I thought everyone in the world knew that Bettas (a.k.a. Japanese Fighting Fish) are NOT good companions. They will certainly fight each other, and are likely to attempt to fight anything which isn’t significantly larger. They don’t play well with others. They need their own space.

Mollies are prolific fish, which again, a store employee would have pointed out. You should have expected babies and expected to deal with the fallout from that. Quite frankly, introducing new fish after the mother had clearly killed the others (probably in a maternal-instinct attempt to establish room for her brood), was stupid. Flat-out dumb. What did your girlfriend honestly expect to happen?

I can’t get over that she brought home a Betta for the tank.

Do yourself, your tank, and your girlfriend a favor: educate yourselves before you attempt to expand on your aquarium population. Owning fish is just like owning any other living, breathing pet: a degree of responsibility and basic understanding of your pet’s anatomy and inclinations is necessary. Pointlessly bringing home more animals certain to die is just… stupid.

That’s not at all always true. I have kept a betta in my community tank for ages with no trouble at all. In fact, the pet store I frequent keeps them in their community tanks to show people that they are not bad or mean fish- just to each other. Mine even left baby guppies alone- didn’t chase them or anything.

Mollies, on the other hand, are nasty little beasts, and they’re sold as community fish! I had two dalmation mollies that destroyed the other fish in my tank- chased them merciliessly. I got rid of them PRONTO and got some nicer fish. I’ve tried several varieties of mollies with the same results. Always too aggresive for my community tank.


PS- I’ll second the motion to ask the pet store staff about fish compatibility. Have her bring in the tank size and what fish are currently in the tank each time she selects more fish. The staff should help her pick out ones that will get along.

Also, 10 gallons is not big- be careful not to overcrowd it. The staff should also be able to advise her on that.


I’m glad to learn that, Zette. I have been told a few times (by fish-store people) that they’ll go after smaller fish, and the ones I’ve seen in big tanks at pet stores have always been with similar-sized or larger fish (not neon tetras, for example). I haven’t tried it myself, since I keep my pretty pretty betta at work and my other fishies at home.

She bought all the fish from a local pet store (not a chain). The black mollies there are kept in a community tank with other mollies, a betta, sucker fish, and various other little swimmers.

She was told by the resident fish expert that it had to have been an isolated incident and they would get along with a betta. Or at least not bother it.

Now these creamsicle mollies are a good half-inch bigger than the Bad Mother and - according to the fish expert - not likely to be bothered.

I agree that she should not have bought these two new fish, but what, should I return them? If they are among ther swimming that is. I didn’t mean to upset anyone.

I figured myself capable of maintaining a small fish tank and have in the past. As for overcrowding, there have never been more than 5 fish in there at one time (not counting all the babies that were eaten). As far as I know the rule is one inch of fish per gallon of water. Is that incorrect?

Oh, before anyone jumps on me about the fat cat, she is healthy, active, 12 years old, on prescription cat food that is monitored closely and enjoys her regular vet visits. She is just bigger than most cats.

I had a tank with a few neon tetras, one betta, and two little angel fish. They all got along swimmingly.

Zette is right about bettas only fighting each other.

You don’t always get good advice from fish store folks. The first tank I ever had was a 10gallon. I started out with, I think, three moons. (I’ve also seen them called platys). I asked the fish store employee one day what I could do about algae. “Get an algae eater!” he tells me, and sold me this vicious thing that completely sterilized my tank–there was nothing left alive except him within days.

I brought the thing back to the store. “Oh,” says a different employee. “That’s a Chinese algae eater, and he should never have sold it to you!”

She turned me on to otocinclus. (Which I know I’m misspelling). So I got some new moons. After awhile I got itchy to try another fish, and someone at the store told me I should get two pimilodellas. “Get two, and make sure they have someplace to hide, because they’re catfish and they like to hide.”

“Will they get along with my moons and my otocinclus? Will it be too many fish for my tank?”

“Oh, no, it’ll be fine.”

It wasn’t. They went back to the store, and I had to restock the tank yet again.

Finally the one employee who always seemed to give me good advice (I never bought anything if she wasn’t working) recommended “Sarah Fell Keppler’s School of Fish” which I found extremely helpful. And I started reading as much as I could about aquarium keeping, which was also helpful.

Anyway, my main point is, you have to find the employees who actually know anything or care enough to give you good advice, and that can take awhile. Reading as much as you can on the topic will help you sort out who is who more quickly, and save some fishy lives.

Another possibility is that the water conditions in your tank are not good, too much ammonia or nitrites, and the fish that are surviving are able to adapt somewhat and the others are not, they become weak, and easy prey for those who have adapted.

Fish will attack another fish that is weak or sickly. I have had mollies for ages with no problems – the alpha female will occasionally chase the other females and there should only be one male per tank for best results. Of course, it all varies from fish to fish.

It is no crime to take fish back to the store. Most stores will take them back, they won’t refund your money, but so what.

Bettas, in my experience, live best alone. In a big tank they either pick on someone or get picked on themselves. Also, the current in a big tank may be too much for them.

beat this!

You must provide a picture for perusal if you propose that her pussy has more poundage.

Go lurk on some aquarium-specific BBs (IMO, this is one of the better ones for newbies), and you will soon find many complaints among experienced fishkeepers about the inept advice that pet store employees often give.
Yes, you do sometimes find employees who care enough to do their own research and provide accurate info to the customers…but stores in general don’t seem to be very concerned about educating their employees. After all, why should the store bother when they make more money if people have to keep buying replacement fish?

Since mollies aren’t known for being “killers”, I have to say that my suspicion is that these fish actually died from water quality problems (a common reason for fatalities in a new tank), and once they were dead the other fish decided to pick at the remains…unless of course you’ve actually witnessed attacks!
The best way to prevent water quality problems is to “cycle” the tank before you add any fish…to read about cycling, check this article out: If nothing else, it may save you trouble in the long run.

Best of luck in figuring this situation out. :slight_smile: