As an aquarist, if you are skeptical about keeping balloon molly in your aquarium tank, you don’t need to worry too much about it. As balloon mollies are one of the top-ranked fish that are kept by many aquarists.
Caring for balloon molly is not a hard task, the same as many mollies specie. The basic thing it requires is; appropriate tank set up, suitable water condition, and adequate feeding.
In this article, we will delve into how to take proper care of your balloon molly, the various types of balloon mollies you can keep, balloon mollies breeding, lifespan, and many more interesting facts.
Table of Contents
Types of Balloon Molly
Mollies are beautiful starters that you will love to keep in your aquarium. Even for beginners, they wouldn’t stress you out. As fish-keeping will be your favorite hobby. However, balloon mollies are also referred to as, “potbelly molly”. They got this name because of their round belly. Also, they belong to the hybrid of sailfin mollies. Therefore, three different species exist in the balloon sailfin’s family today.
- The first species is called the sailfin molly (Poecilia Latipinna), which is the popularly known and widely available type of balloon molly.
- The second specie is called the short-finned molly (Poecilia Sphenops). T
- The last specie is called the Mexican sailfin molly (Poecilia Velifera). However, these last species are very rare. As you can hardly find them in fish stores, or home aquariums.
Balloon Molly Colors
Balloon molly exists in beautiful varieties of color combinations. Moreover, they are usually eye-catching. More so, if you want to add some sparkling to your tank, balloon molly is the right choice for you. Also, they exist majorly as white, black and yellow color combinations.
However, there are other varieties of balloon molly fish that may come in different colors apart from white, black, and yellow. Some of these varieties include red balloon molly fish, dalmation balloon molly fish, and lyretail balloon molly fish. For example, dalmation balloon mollies appear like the “dalmatian dogs”. This is due to their complete white, spotted with black dots features.
Also, lyretail balloon mollies are tiny fish, that has a silver appearance. And the red balloon molly is obviously red. However, differences not only exist in the colors but also with the type of fins.
Balloon Molly Shape and Size
Balloon mollies have distinct body shape (rounded belly), which is quite different from other types of mollies. As said earlier, they derived their name from the “obese belly”. Also, their back is arched, with a rounded and large belly. Besides, what makes their shape more unique is the lyre-shaped caudal fin they possess.
About balloon mollies sizes, they are the smallest size out of other species of mollies. Although, some aquarists have argued this is a result of their large and rounded belly. Moreover, adult mollies can grow up 2 inches in length, and about 3 inches in body size.
Balloon Mollies Lifespan
The question as regards how long your balloon molly will live for might have pondered your mind. Although all types of mollies have a different lifespan, but the lifespan of balloon molly may be quite long if you care for them properly. Generally, balloon mollies have a shorter lifespan, when you compare them with other mollies specie. However, they can live up to 3 to 5 years.
What Should I Feed My Balloon Molly?
As much as feeding balloon mollies is an easy job, it is good for you to also know what they eat, and how often to feed them. Often, balloon mollies love to eat plants and meats. This is because they are omnivorous fish. Also, they like eating algae. So, ensure you place enough plants in their aquarium tank. As they love eating the algae that grow on the plant. However, the bad thing about mollies is that they also tend to eat their babies. So, it is recommended that you separate the babies from the aquarium tank, to ensure that they reach adulthood.
The list of foods to feed your balloon mollies include;
- Boiled vegetables like cucumber, carrots, peas, cauliflower, and zucchini.
- Live brine shrimps, daphnia, and mosquito
- Dried & Frezed brine shrimps, tubifex worms, and blood worms.
- Blanched leaves. Especially sources of fresh lettuce and spinach.
- Meaty foods like boiled chicken breasts
- Veggies & pallets
- Spirulina tablets
- Commercial flakes
How Often Should I Feed My Balloon Mollies?
Mollies are very active fish. You need to feed them up to 2 times a day. However, you should be careful not to overfeed them. Because, if you permit them, they can eat in 5 minutes’ intervals. However, adult mollies can still survive with one serving daily. As they mostly feed on algae, and debris (decayed plants).
Breeding Balloon Mollies
Balloon mollies are livebearers that give birth a lot of babies at once. Sometimes, they release up to one hundred fry from their body. However, to get your female molly to start producing babies, separate the female and male, and place them in another tank. Ensure you place them in at least 30-gallon size. Also, the purpose of placing them in the same tank is for them to get familiar with each other. However, you should not force them to mate. If you notice their fight continues than usual, kindly return them to their previous home.
That being said, make sure you maintain the same water condition and keep to the tank requirement. Moreover, you can keep two females along with one male. Also, it is recommended that the females outnumber the male because the females often get harassed by the male gender.
Usually, the male attracts the female by displaying extravagant colors. However, this shows it’s the right time for the female and male mating. Therefore, the male species breeds by using his gonopodium or pointed fin.
How Can I Tell If My Female Balloon Molly Is Pregnant?
After placing the male and female balloon molly in the same tank, you will want to confirm if the female molly is pregnant. Therefore, you should look out for pregnancy symptoms. These symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, and a protruding belly. Also, they usually have a gravid spot that signifies pregnancy. However, this gravid spot appears under her belly, where you have to check to confirm.
Just like humans, the female molly will also exhibit a change in behavior. As she will be more conservative. Moreover, her gestational period is within 6-8 weeks. Also, the breeding process will take about 28 days, when the environment temperature is warm. While it takes longer days in a cooler temperature. However, as much as female mollies give birth to a lot of babies, only a few of them reach adulthood. As the bad thing about balloon mollies is, they are likely to eat almost all the fry they give birth to. However, you can prevent this by placing the female molly in a breeding box when she is close to giving birth. At birth, the babies escape into the “nanny” tank, while the mother is trapped in the breeding box.
How Can I Tell If My Molly Fish Is Male or Female?
Having discussed things to do to breed your male and female mollies, there is a need to know the difference between the two sexes. However, the major difference between male and female mollies is their shape and size. Whereas, the females are usually smaller in size, with a rounded dorsal fin, while the male mollies have pointed and larger dorsal fin.
Balloon Molly Tank Size
It is a fact that large tank size is suitable to make livebearers live a happy life. You don’t want to make your molly fish unhappy and unhealthy. As much as a big tank will create a peaceful and happy environment for your fish, it will also influence your fish activity. Whereby, a stressed fish will appear dull and inactive. Moreover, the minimum tank size that is appropriate for balloon mollies is 20 gallons. Anything below this is a threat to your fish. A large tank-like 30 or 40 gallons is a good start. This will encourage your balloon mollies to swim freely. Besides, you can keep up to 4 mollies in a 20 gallon.
Do Balloon Mollies Need a Filter?
The importance of filter in an aquarium cannot be overemphasized. Moreover, a filter is one of the basic important tools that comes first in setting up your aquarium tank. However, you can install both external and internal filters for water filtration. Although, having a filter may not be necessary for a pond.
Moreover, mollies are voracious eaters, they release plenty of bioloads and waste into the aquarium water. In such a case, the filter will help prevent infection, by reducing the number of harmful microorganisms present in the tank. Especially in a community tank, where it is highly populated, you need to watch out for overcrowding. As this can harm your fish. However, in a case where the fish present in a tank is quite many, you need to improvise the ultrafiltration system. Whereby, you get a big filter, that has a biological filtration in it. Moreover, this will assist in cycling your aquarium water, and it will also help eliminate excess ammonia. That is, a toxic substance released from decayed plants, foods, and matter.
Also, for the aquarium size of 20-75 gallons, it is preferable to install an external filter. As this will help filtrate in both biological and mechanical ways. You can add at least 4 inches of substrate layer at the bottom of the tank. Moreover, having a thick substrate is helpful, as it helps change nitrate to oxygen gas and nitrogen.
Do Balloon Mollies Need a Heater?
Apart from filter, the other major thing you need to add to your aquarium tank is a heater. The water heater will help maintain its temperature and PH level. Whereas, the appropriate temperature is between 65 and 82°F, and the normal PH level is 7.0-7.8. However, using an aquarium heater should be easy, as they are often automated. All you need to do is set the water temperature from the heater probe. However, you should get a PH test kit, that you can use in testing for the PH level.
Changing Water in Balloon Mollies Aquarium
Balloon mollies are very sensitive to water changes. You need to follow certain measures to prevent costly mistakes. And endeavor to change 25% of the aquarium tank every weekend. However, in a community tank, you should change at least 50% of the tank water. Also, you should add tap water that is treated with chlorine, or chloramine to replace the old water that you remove from the fish tank.
However, you should add a little quantity of chlorine as it can sometimes be a threat to the fish. Besides, chlorine can be useful in reducing the number of bacteria present in the tank. Moreover, you can add saltwater after conditioner, to remove heavy metals and harmful toxins. Also, you can use a vacuum pump to remove any waste present in the substrate.
Place the fish in another bowl with the old water, during the water change process. Because, putting the balloon mollies in a completely different water condition, may cause shock to the fish, and death in severe cases.
Balloon Mollies Tank Mates
As mentioned earlier, balloon mollies are very peaceful species that can live with almost every livebearer. However, the most suitable tank mates are; Platyfish, Snails, Guppies, Swordtails, and other species of molly fish.
However, two major factors make them suitable for a community tank. Their non-aggressive nature, and their small size. As their small size will not make them appear as threat to other fish present in the tank. However, you need to be mindful of bigger predators that may likely take advantage of them. Also, ensure you separate them from these types of fish. Concerning their aggressive trait, female mollies are often submissive, while the male mollies are usually aggressive towards another male species in the tank. However, this often appears to be a territorial fight.
There are cases where mollies are highly susceptible to certain diseases. In most cases, this appears as a result of bad water conditions. However, some of the common molly diseases include; slime disease, fin rot, pop-eye, and itch (white spot). Moreover, if you are well observant, the first weird thing you will notice is their change in behavior. For instance, a fungal infection will make balloon mollies rub themselves against the rock. Also, poor water quality may cause your fish to swim in an upside-down position. However, proper care will help manage the infection of bacteria or fungal. This care involves;
- Maintaining regular and proper temperature and PH level.
- Feeding them with an adequate balanced diet.
- Regular Monitoring
- Avoid overcrowding your aquarium tank with too many decorations.
In conclusion, balloon mollies are sensitive creatures you need to treat with care. Although they require a moderate care level, little negligence can be harmful to them.