10 Best Molly Fish Tank Mates
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There are several fish tank species that require no introduction and mollies are one of them. But just to be thorough about it, here are some of this species’ highlights, just in case you’re not familiarized with it:
- High adaptability – Mollies have adapted to life in captivity better than most fish species. They can reproduce and thrive in aquariums and can withstand some variation in their water parameters within certain limits.
- Low maintenance – Mollies are great for novice fish keepers due to their low maintenance requirements. They are omnivorous, which is another way of saying they eat almost anything and only require stable water parameters and a natural-looking environment to remain healthy and happy over the years.
- High diversity – Mollies have become incredibly diverse in terms of coloring, patterns, body shape, and size over the years. This is the natural outcome of continuous selective breeding, allowing humans to promote the traits they like and inhibit those they don’t.
- Community-tank compatible – Mollies are friendly and peaceful, especially when kept in larger and stable schools. They will get along with any tank mates, provided they are also peaceful and non-combative. This makes them the ideal choice for community tanks.
Now that we know the essentials, which are the best molly tank mates to consider? Here are the 10 optimal choices:
Guppies are pretty much the go-to fish for both novice and experienced fish lovers.
There are 3 primary reasons that make the guppy the most adored tank fish in the world:
- Its breeding rate – Guppies reproduce monthly, with females being capable of producing up to 200 fry at once. But the really impressive aspect is the female guppy’s ability to store the male’s sperm in its body and use it when there are no males available in its habitat. This can lead to females getting pregnant in female-only tanks for up to 8 or even 10 months. This high and consistent reproductive rate makes guppies some of the best candidates for selective breeding, which brings us to the next point.
- Amazing color and pattern diversity – Guppies differ wildly in terms of colors, color patterns, and even body shape. Based on tail shape, you have double swordtails, veil tails, delta tail, Halfmoon tail, and others, all belonging to different guppy categories. Based on coloring, you have Moscow blue, silver grass, meduza snakeskin, platinum solid, tuxedo rot, Schwarz, etc. The list is endless for all intents and purposes, and it keeps growing.
- Easy-going attitude – Guppies can live in peace with any tank mates, so long as they are not aggressive, territorial, or too large, causing them to view guppies as food. This makes guppies perfect for community tanks and ideal tank mates for mollies and other species sharing their personality and water preferences.
If this wasn’t the best selling point for guppies, nothing is.
Swordtails check all the boxes when it comes to adaptability, high reproductive rates, an easy-going attitude, and overall cuteness.
These can grow around 4.5 to 5.5 inches, making them slightly larger than mollies, but not so much that they pose a threat to them.
Male swordtails are very distinguishable thanks to their caudal fin taking on a sword-like appearance. Females lack this unique feature.
Swordtails are tropical fish belonging to the same family as guppies, mollies, and platies. This means they prefer the same environmental conditions, thrive in almost identical temperature ranges, and prefer similar-looking environments.
They also have omnivorous diets, making them optimal tank mates for any friendly and calm fish species, mollies included.
The only downside to consider is the need for space. Unlike mollies and guppies, Swordtails require more space to feel comfortable and calm.
One swordtail requires around 15 gallons of water, compared to the 2-3 gallons you need for each guppy. So, when setting up your community tank, consider this aspect as well.
Platies are small, friendly, and vivacious fish that are perfect for community tanks with other peaceful fish species.
This schooling species thrive in groups of at least 6 individuals. You can double that number in larger tanks, capable of accommodating several schools.
The issue with platies is that males want to mate all the time since they’re livebearers like guppies. Just like guppies.
So, you need a healthy male-to-female ratio to give the females a break from the male persistence. I recommend 2-3 females for each male platy, which is enough to keep both sexes happy and calm in the long run.
It’s also worth noting that platies don’t have a designated mating season. So, expect females to deliver fry monthly, especially since the gestation period in platies is similar to that of guppies – around 28 days.
4. Dwarf Gourami
Dwarf gouramis are small fish, only reaching up to 2 inches, which makes them significantly smaller than the 4-5-inch mollies.
Unexpectedly enough, it’s the small gouramis that form the combative part in situations where aggression is to be expected.
Mollies are overall peaceful and will actively avoid tense situations, but dwarf gouramis don’t work like that.
Males, especially, are easily ruffled by brightly-colored fish, which they will consider the competition.
They might display aggressive behavior as a result, especially if not kept in larger schools, which will keep them calmer. These fish are also pretty sensitive to loud noises, so a quiet room would be ideal for them but not an absolute necessity.
To accommodate dwarf gouramis, keep them in a lush aquatic environment with a lot of plants and hiding areas.
And keep in mind that this species possesses a labyrinth organ, which means they go to the water surface to breathe atmospheric air occasionally.
Angelfish are some of the most easily-recognizable tank fish species due to their staple triangle-shaped bodies and sharp fins. The angelfish is a cichlid that can grow up to 6 inches, even 8 under optimal conditions, but that’s rather rare.
Angelfish are relatively peaceful and can make for a safe addition to community tanks. That being said, they still have cichlid blood running through their veins, so they might get hot-headed at times.
Angelfish are primarily aggressive towards each other since males display territorial behavior and will compete over anything worth their while.
This includes females, food, space, and even hierarchical ranking. You should also note that angelfish tend to hunt and eat smaller fish, so allowing mollies to breed in the main tank may not be a good idea.
Another issue would be that angelfish require slightly higher water temperatures compared to mollies, although the values do overlap.
Mollies prefer temperatures around 75 to 80 F, while angelfish revolve more in the 78-84 F. You will definitely need a heater to stabilize the tank temperature and accommodate both species.
If you can’t balance out the water temperature, don’t force the 2 species together since at least one of them will suffer the consequences.
Tetras are a small, schooling fish species that do great in community tanks, so long as they live in larger groups. Keeping your tetras in small groups will stress them and make them more aggressive overall.
They enjoy similar environmental conditions to mollies and love lush habitats with plenty of vegetation and decorations.
The only problem I can mention regarding tetras is that they are rather difficult to breed in captivity. They are egg layers and show little-to-no care for their offspring, which means adults tend to eat their own eggs shortly after laying them.
They also require optimal water conditions to breed, with even small variations in water quality affecting the outcome.
If you want to breed tetras, you definitely need a breeding tank to provide you with greater control over the process.
This small catfish is a valued addition to any community tank for several reasons:
- Bottom-dweller – All bottom-dwelling fish species act as the tank’s cleaning crew, consuming food residues and algae deposits from rocks and substrates. Their feeding behavior will contribute to keeping the water cleaner for everybody in the tank.
- Peaceful attitude – Corydoras like to mind their own business, especially when kept in happy and stable schools. I recommend keeping 3-4 Corydoras, provided you have sufficient space for them.
- Diving behavior – Corydoras like to go to the water’s surface occasionally to feed and grab a gulp of air. They will then immediately sink into the bottom like a torpedo. This will minimize their interaction with other fish species in the tank, which is why Corydoras can pretty much adapt to any community environment.
8. Bristlenose Pleco
This catfish will grow up to 5 inches and makes for a smart addition to your molly tank. The Bristlenose pleco is a bottom-dweller that feeds primarily on algae and plant-based matter, although they will not harm live plants.
They also like to keep to themselves and not interact with other fish species at all.
Unlike Corydoras, the Bristlenose pleco doesn’t lead the substrate too much, which means you need to accommodate them perfectly in their habitat.
Offer plecos plenty of wood, rocks, caves, and other hiding areas that they can use during the day since they are nocturnal fish.
As a side note, plecos tend to become grumpier as they grow, and they won’t accept other plecos around them.
The company of their own species will increase their aggression and territorial behavior, which means plecos can live happy and long lives solo.
They will also make for great tank mates for mollies, guppies, platies, and even various species of cichlids.
9. Kuhli Loaches
You could easily mistake Kuhli loaches for a species of eels if you didn’t know any better. These slender fish display long and slim bodies with tiger-like color patterns and sleek swimming, making for an interesting addition to your community tank.
This is another bottom-dweller that keeps to itself and bury itself in the substrate during the day.
They are most active during nighttime when they begin seeking food and patrolling their habitat. Kuhli loaches are great for any community tank, so long as their tank mates aren’t aggressive or overly inquisitive, which makes mollies perfect for the task.
Just remember to keep loaches in a group of at least 3-4 individuals, since they’re more comfortable that way, despite not being a schooling species.
10. Ram Cichlids
There are several species of cichlids that I would recommend as good tank mates for mollies, other than angelfish, but ram cichlids are one of them.
These are small cichlids, measuring up to 3 inches as full-grown adults, who can live with other fish species in the same habitat, given special requirements.
One of them is the need for enough space. Ram cichlids are territorial, which is to be expected from any cichlid species. They won’t hurt other fish, but they will poke at them and force them to leave the area.
I suggest investing in a slightly larger community tank, preferably above 20 gallons which is enough to accommodate both ram cichlids and mollies.
As a side note, always choose your ram cichlids carefully. There are 4 species of ram cichlids available, the Bolivian ram cichlid, the German blue, the electric blue, and the golden cichlid.
Each of these species come with different colors, patterns, body types, and even different personalities.
Some are more violent and territorial than others, so you might want to take that into account as well.
Mollies are friendly fish that will go along with many other species so long as they display a similarly-positive behavior.
Just make sure they enjoy stable water conditions and live in a lush and planted aquarium. Fit to accommodate all species, and your mollies will thrive.
As a final note, always remember that community tanks are more demanding than single-species environments.
After all, you will need to accommodate different fish species, each with its unique needs, requirements, preferences, and behaviors. It may take some extra work on your part, but the outcome is always worth it.