Mollies are popular among aquarists for their easy maintenance, hardiness, and attractive colors.
They are also an excellent choice for those looking to breed fish since they are easy to breed and can produce a lot of fry.
So, how to breed mollies?
Steps to Breed Mollies Successfully
Mollies are easy to breed in captivity. However, you must carry out a few steps to ensure successful breeding.
Given below are the steps to breed mollies.
Choose the Molly Species
The first step in breeding mollies is to select a healthy pair.
There are many different species of mollies. You can choose the one as per your choice.
Then, introduce 4 to 6 mollies in the tank.
For optimal male-to-female ratio, put two males and four females in the tank to avoid aggression for mating.
Female mollies typically reproduce with the most dominant male in the tank.
You also need to consider the size of the tank since some molly species can grow large and may not be suitable for smaller tanks.
Condition the Pair
Mollies aren’t picky about their diet. They eat almost anything you feed them.
However, they need a balanced diet to stay healthy and mate successfully.
Feed them a nutritious diet consisting of high-quality flake food and live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, and daphnia.
Feeding a nutritious diet that is high in protein is beneficial for mollies’ health.
For conditioning the mollies, it’s best to feed them three times a day instead of the regular once or twice a day.
Small meals are best as they can help prevent overfeeding.
Set up A Breeding Tank
Once the pair is conditioned, the next step is to set up a conducive environment for the mollies to mate.
You can breed mollies in community tanks. However, it’s best to set up a separate breeder tank for mollies.
The breeder tank should have at least 20 gallons of water and a secure lid.
The tank should also have ample space for mollies to swim.
In addition, there should be plenty of hiding places for the mollies to feel safe.
For extra cover, you can add some plants, rocks, and other decorations to the breeding tank.
Ensure that the tank is well-aerated and has a robust filtration system to maintain water quality.
Set up Ideal Water Parameters
The water parameters need to be ideal for the mollies to mate successfully.
Mollies prefer water temperatures of around 78°F (26°C). The pH should be in the range of 7.5 to 8.5.
Besides, mollies prefer neutral to slightly alkaline water while mating.
It’s also essential to maintain stable water parameters and minimize fluctuations.
Monitor the Mating Process
The next step is to introduce the pair into the breeder tank and monitor them closely.
Look for signs of aggression or stress, and ensure that they are getting along well.
If you notice any signs of aggression, remove one fish from the tank and place it in a separate tank.
Once the pair gets along with each other, they will mate.
The male molly will start courting the female by swimming around her and displaying his fins.
If you notice your male molly under the female molly fish, it’s a sign of copulation.
Observe the Birth of Fry
Once the female molly gets pregnant, the male molly will fertilize the eggs.
The male molly will impregnate the female by depositing the milt into the body of the female through his anal fin, referred to as a gonopodium.
The milt contains the sperm that fertilize the eggs.
You can separate the male molly at this point since the female molly can get stressed if the male continues to pursue her.
Female mollies stay pregnant for about 45 days, post which they give birth to live fry.
A pregnant female molly can produce 10 to 100 offspring in a single spawning.
Separate the Female Molly
Mollies don’t provide parental care and may consume their babies.
You can use a breeding box inside the breeding tank to avoid this.
The breeding box has a separate opening at the bottom for the fry to pass into the larger part of the breeding tank.
The female molly will remain in the breeding box.
This ensures that the fry are safe and can grow in a separate tank.
Another way is to separate the female molly once she has given birth.
However, this can be tedious because you need to monitor the female molly and separate her immediately after the fry are born.
Feed the Fry a Balanced and Nutritious Diet
The newly born fry can eat within a few hours after birth.
However, you must be careful while feeding them as their mouths are small.
You can feed the molly fry with infusoria or powdered fish food. Feed them in small quantities three to five times a day.
Once the fry grow a little, switch them over to baby brine shrimp until they can consume regular food.
Then, after the fry are large enough to be safe from predators, you can transfer them to the main aquarium.
When Do Mollies Mate?
Mollies mate once they mature.
The time required to reach maturity can vary depending on the species, size, and age of the fish.
Most mollies reach maturity between six months to one year. You can breed them at this age.
Males mollies usually reach reproductive maturity at twelve months of age. However, female mollies mature at six months.
However, it’s best to breed mollies after they reach a size of at least two inches.
The breeding pair becomes healthy and strong at this size.
Breeding mollies smaller than two inches can cause the mortality rate of fry to be excessively high.
Once they mature, mollies can continue to reproduce for up to two and a half years.
How Many Fry Do Mollies Give Birth To?
Female mollies can produce up to 100 offspring in a single spawning.
The number of fry depends on the size, age, health, and environment of the female molly.
Younger mollies tend to give birth to less fry, while older mollies give birth to more fry.
The size of the female molly also affects the number of fry she gives birth to.
Larger female mollies give birth to more fry than smaller ones.
Do Mollies Give Birth at Night?
Mollies usually give birth at night. Giving birth at night helps the fry to avoid predators and stay safe.
Another reason for giving birth at night is that it allows the newly born fry to adjust to the light as the day progresses because too much light can harm them.
Parent mollies are known to feed on their fry. So, darkness allows the fry to hide and protect themselves from their parents.
Although mollies mostly give birth at night, they can sometimes give birth during the day when the environment is dim or dark.
Can Female Mollies Give Birth without Male Mollies?
Female mollies need males to mate and give birth.
This is because female mollies need males to fertilize the eggs in their bellies.
Without a male molly, the female molly will not be able to reproduce.
However, female mollies can store the sperm in their bodies for an extended period from a single mating.
It means that female mollies can reproduce every month, even without male mollies.