Balloon Molly: Care, Feed, Breeding, Tank Setup, and More

Balloon Molly: Care, Feed, Breeding, Tank Setup, and More

Hey! Are you fond of keeping freshwater mollies?

If yes, then keeping balloon molly fish in your aquarium can be a perfect choice for you.

Mollies are one of the best freshwater fishes for beginners that are cool and unique. These cute little creatures are just like a beautiful embellishment for your aquarium.

To know, more details about Potbelly balloon mollies, stick to this Guide till the end. You will get to know a lot about balloon molly fish.

Let’s begin!

Balloon Molly Fish

I am a balloon molly ( Hybrid of Sailfin Molly ). People used to call me “Pot Belly Molly” because of the round belly that I have. For your information, I have three different species.

The first one is Sailfin Molly (Poecilia latipinna) which is the most common and widely available type of mine.

The second one, Short-Finned Molly(P.sphenops) is my other species.

The last one, Mexican Sailfin Molly (P.velifera) is my rarer species which you will hardly find.

I, as sailfin molly, is easily available everywhere so you will get more information on my first species. Here you go.

Types of Balloon Mollies by Colors & Fins

As far as colors are concerned, they are available in a combination of Black, white and yellow. These Eye-catching color variations are so attractive that even a person can sit for hours next to the aquarium to see the peaceful and calm fish movement.

If you visit your nearer fish shop and asked for molly fish. But you did not get molly fish of black, white and yellow color.

Then don’t panic. They still have other varieties.

Yes there are different types of molly fish-like

  • Dalmatian Balloon Molly Fish
  • Lyretail Balloon Molly Fish
  • Red Balloon Molly Fish
  • And the list goes on.

Their primary difference is due to color variations and the other one is due to types of fins. Talking more about fins male fish have sail Dorsal and Lair Tail fins.

Dalmatian balloon molly fish is like “Dalmatian Dogs” in Appearance. That is completely white with black spots all over their bodies.

Whereas, the lyretail balloon molly fish is tiny small fish which is silver in color with no Potbelly. On the other hand, the red balloon molly fish is red in color that’s obvious from its name.

Balloon Belly Molly Body Shape & Size

Balloon molly is amongst one of the beautiful mollies. Their body shape is almost different from the other mollies. As they have rounded “BALLOOeN”  like belly (Name is given to them because of their “Obese” Belly). They have an arched back along with rounded, large belly, with a lyre-shaped caudal fin that makes them quite unique in shape.

Talking about their sizes and how big they can become, Balloon Mollies are the smallest one in all types of Molly Fishes. The adult mollies are about 2 inches in length while the maximum of their size is about 3 inches or 7-9 centimeters.

Feeding Balloon Mollies:

Feeding mollies isn’t a hectic job at all, you can do it very easily, But for this, you must know what they eat. They are omnivorous which means they like to eat plants and meat as well. They are good algae eaters (Soft as well as Black algae too). In short, they can eat everything even their own babies.

I have written a guide on How to Care & Grow Molly Fish Babies (Fry)? Read Here.

Balloon molly food
Fish Food

Balloon mollies can eat the following things listed:

  • Live brine shrimps, mosquito larvae &  daphnia
  • Boiled vegetables like peas, cucumber, carrots, cauliflower & zucchini.
  • Blanched leaves Especially from fresh lettuce & spinach
  • Meaty foods including boiled chicken breasts
  • Dried & Frezed brine shrimps, Blood worms & tubifex worms
  • Commercial Flakes
  • Veggie pallets
  • Spirulina tablets
  • Veggies & Pallets
  • Every type of Algae

If you love to give them treat then serve them Zucchini medallions and cucumber medallions along with shelled peas. They will definitely love it.

But if you feel they need something different then try adding frozen food in their diet. It will include brine shrimps, blood worms and daphnia. These foods contribute a lot to their growth and development.

As mollies are very active aquarium fishes, so they need a lot of food, you have to feed them approximately 2 to 3 times within a day.

On the Other Hands, If you are keeping Adult mollies in your fish tank they can live without food, They will eat Debris (Decayed plants) and algae. How to prepare molly fish food at home Read Here.

Aquarium Setup For Balloon Mollies:

Unlike other aquarium fishes, Aquarium Setup is a very debatable topic. We will discuss each and everything in this section Like

  • Aquarium Size
  • Filteration
  • Water Changing Routines
  • Water Heating to maintain the temperature
  • Water Parameters
  • Decorations

Aquarium Size: Minimum tank Size for Balloon Molly

It is a fact that bigger Living Space means a stable environment for a happy and peaceful life. Same as it is Living space is a very important thing when it comes to active livebearers. Compromising means, making your fish unhappy & Stressed. So, the minimum tank size should be 20 gallons(75.70 in liters). They cannot live in a tank size smaller than like in 10 or 5 gallons.

But if you really love your balloon molly, give them a large tank so that they can swim freely anywhere. It would be a great idea to shart with 30 to 40 Gallon tanks to enjoy them. That will be a perfect suit.

Tank Setup for Balloon Mollies

In large Fishkeeping communities, many people said that you can add 4 mollies per 20-gallon tank setup. It sounds hilarious, a complete tank setup only for keeping 4 mollies into it.

But according to my research, I found that you can put 3 to 4 mollies per 10 gallons. It is my personal experience too.

Wanna Setup a tank for your fish? Need Guidance about Standard Aquarium Sizes, Weights & Tank Dimensions? Click Here

Filteration: Do Balloon Mollies Really need a Filter?

In Aquariums, Ofcourse Yes, They do need it very badly. You can install both internal and external filters for performing water filtration. But in the case of ponds, they can live without it.

As we know that unlike other fishes, mollies also produce enough wastes in water. In Such condition, Your Dirty water, Full of poop & wastes, need proper filtration to maintain water quality.

If you have a community tank, highly rushed with the high number of fishes in it. Such overcrowding can be very dangerous and fatal for fish health.

In this case, You need Ultrafiltration. For this job, you need Big Sized Filter with a Biological filtration feature in it. This is how you can Cycle your fish tank and also save your fish from excessive ammonia (Toxic material produced by decaying organic matter, food, and plant exposure.

For an aquarium Size of 20 to 75 Gallons, I prefer to install external Polar Aurora Canister Filter. I am using it in my tanks for 5 years due to its superb filtration in both mechanical and biological ways. Purchase it without filter media. Add your own Sponge on the bottom & add Seachem Matrix on the middle and top of the tray. It is also cheap in price. and believe me its value for money. You can order your filter Here.

I always try to maintain at least 4 inches of substrate layer on the tank bottom. Because thick substrate helps to transform nitrate into nitrogen and oxygen gas too. This is how I used to cycle my aquarium.

Water Heating to maintain the temperature

As we know that all tropical fishes especially live-bearing as mollies need a perfect water temperature in their tanks to give birth and for survival. For this job, I am using Aquarium Heater.

Water Changing Routines

For every Active Fish in Aquarium, Water changes are very important. Unlike Other Fishes, Balloon mollies are sensitive in terms of water changes.

Apart from having a water Filter and aquarium cycle. I personally Change 25% of the water of my small tank every weekend to remove all the toxic wastes from my water. For my community tanks, I Change almost 50 to 60% water, Due to Overcrowding.

I am using Tap water that contains toxins Like chloramine and chlorine. They always proved to be dangerous for a fish but also for useful bacteria in the tank. I used to treat it with some water conditioner. To remove these harmful toxins and heavy metals I use Seachem Prime Fresh and Saltwater Conditioner. Use one capful for 50 gallons of water. This 500ml bottle is enough to clean 5000 gallons of water. Is not it cheap enough? Buy Here.

To clean my substrate, once a month, I use the Vacuum pump to remove wastes from my substrate. A cheap Siphon pump like this one from Amazon can help you to rectify this job easily for you.

Water Temperature & Ph Levels:

Apart from tank size, they need some appropriate water temperature and pH level, as these are tropical fishes so they need properly maintained water temperature that is 65-82 ◦F and 7.0-7.8pH. so for this, you need to install an aquarium heater in your tank. Most aquarium heaters are automated they can do this job perfectly you only need to set the temperature from the heater probe. For Checking Ph levels, you should buy the PH test kit. I usually check my water Ph once a week.

Adding Salt & Aquarium Decorations:

One more thing, if you are using fresh water in your tank, try adding a teaspoon of aquarium salt, this will give them the feel of actual aquatic habitat. These small and tiny creatures like tank decorations and are extremely very comfortable with that. It’s good to decorate your tank with live plants like Anubias, Saggitaria,& java fern, as these pot belly mollies like live densely populated plants. You can Go for Artificial plants if you can not afford live plants.

Best Tank Mates for Pot Belly Molly:

Talking about the balloon molly fish compatibility, these are the fish of peaceful temperament so they prefer living with fishes of the same nature. They can comfortably live with livebearer fishes.

Their best tank mates could be:

Thanks to their small size which makes them compatible with other mollies. A question may have popped up in your mind that is, are these balloon molly fish aggressive in nature?

Well, the answer is No. female mollies usually have a cool temperament than males. Males sometimes become aggressive in the presence of other male mollies in the tank. That’s it.

Breeding: Things to do for Successful Mating

Balloon mollies are livebearer, which means they do not lay eggs. Female mollies after breeding give birth to over one hundred small mollies or babies or you can even call them to fry babies.

If you want to increase the population of balloon molly fish in your tank then get your mollies and tank ready for the breeding session.

First of all, separate male and female molly in another tank with at least 30 gallons of water in it. Maintain all the required water, temperature and pH condition. You can keep two females along with one male molly at a time. Mollies often use their extravagant colors or their fin to attract the other mate.

Once you keep them in your tank, they will start attracting each other and after a while, you will see male molly fish is chasing a female molly fish. That’s the right time. Their breeding is just a few minutes away. The male will use his gonopodium or the pointed fin to breed.

How to Tell if Balloon Molly is Pregnant?

Now once this has been done, you are ready to start looking for pregnancy symptoms in pregnant molly. These symptoms will include lethargy, loss of appetite, and of course a protruding belly.

Gravid Spot under Molly belly

In addition to this, female molly has a “Gravid Spot” which she uses a pregnancy signal. You can find this spot under her belly. Moreover, there will be a drastic change in the behavior of pregnant molly, like she will become an introvert fish.

After spending a gestational period of 6-8 weeks, mommy molly gives birth to some young fry, which is about half an inch long and is born alive. However, the process of breeding takes about 28 days in warmer temperatures while more time would be required if the temperature is cooler.

balloon belly molly fry

As discussed earlier mommy molly gives birth to about 100 fry babies but unfortunately, only a few of them reach their adulthood because the rest of them will become the food of other adult fish.

Pearl of Wisdom:

Once mommy molly gives birth to fry babies, immediately separate them in another small tank. Otherwise, adult mollies or adult fishes will eat them and you will nothing in hand.

How to tell if balloon molly is Male or Female?

Let me tell you the major difference between male and female balloon mollies. The male mollies have a pointed and larger dorsal fin and the female mollies are smaller in size and have a rounded dorsal fin which differentiates both from each other.

Word of Caution: Don’t keep molly fish alone or in odd numbers. It is advisable to keep a pair of molly fish together because there will be increased chances of bullying or injuries if all mollies are either female or male. So try to keep them in pairs. In simple words, you have to maintain Sex or gender ratio within a tank

Life Span: How long do Balloon Mollies live?

Balloon Mollies usually live for about 3 to 5 years while all the types of mollies have a different life span. Considering the life span of Balloon Mollies, they have a shorter life span than other kinds of mollies. If they are kept with proper care, they can live some more years. That’s the reason Balloon mollies require special care due to their shorter life span and slower activities than other mollies.

Sickness & Disease:

Like other pet fishes, these mollies also susceptible to certain diseases. The same goes for balloon molly fish. Some of the common diseases that they caught are:

  • Fin Rot
  • Skin Slime Disease
  • Pop-Eye
  • Itch or white spot

It is recommended to have an eagle eye on molly fish behavior. Check out if they are behaving weird. For instance, if a balloon belly molly is rubbing itself against the rock, then the possible reason could be some fungal infection because of which it is rubbing herself. Similarly, if the balloon belly molly fish is swimming upside down, then you need to change the water immediately. Indeed, it’s because of poor water quality.

There are a lot of reasons associated with the behavior. But before giving any final conclusion you must consult your local aquarist.

I would recommend you to do proper care of these tiny creatures; they need lots of love and special attention. And as always prevention is far better than cure.

For this, you need to do special care, which includes:

  • Regular Tank Maintenance & Monitoring
  • Regular and Proper Temperature and pH level Maintenance
  • Give them a properly Balanced Diet
  • Do not Overcrowd Aquarium tank with too many fishes and Decorations.

Wrapping Up:

Like a human, these small colorful mollies need your full attention and time. You will find lots of balloon molly fish for sale on the internet today. I will recommend you to buy only if you think you will remain dedicated to them. Though their care level is moderate a little negligence in their care can be harmful to them.

Happy fish keeping!

Flora is a Fish Parent & Enthusiast for over 10 Years. She has Deep Love & Affection for Fish Keeping. It's become her Passion to Help others. Stay Tuned with her Blog to Know more about Pet Care Tips, Product Reviews, and Guides. If you've anything Interesting to Share about your Fish. She'd Love to Know.