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Breeding Tropical Fish
Such as Mollies and Cichlids then Raising the Fry.

This page contains information about how to get started breeding tropical fish and raising the baby fish.
In particular this page discusses breeding Mollies and then links to other web pages that discuss how to breed Convict Cichlids and an interesting little African Mouth Brooding Cichlid.

Pet Fish Talk a Podcast about keeping pet fish in aquariums, fish bowls, and ponds.  
Click here to listen to a discussion titled "Breeding Pet Fish" by Tom and Nevin Bailey and professional fish breeder, Steve Corandan.
How to Breed Mollies
Mollies are a good fish to start learning about breeding fish. You can raise a few baby fish in your aquarium. Mollies are the easiest fish to breed, and you can quickly learn a lot about breeding fish by breeding Mollies.

Customer Comments

Hi, there! You have the best and most informative website. I have you on my bookmark for reference. I took your advice for beginner's fish spawning and started with the Mollies. It took no brainer, because the day after we bought the fat Molly, we got surprised with about 30 babies!
It's been about a week since the babies arrive, and they are doing fine. Thanks for the advice. The kids are thrilled to have baby fishes. It was rather easy to spot a pregnant Molly, ...
Thank you.
Los Angeles, California

All Mollies can Interbreed  
So all the various colors and shapes of Mollies can interbreed, and any female can breed with any male.

For example a Gold Sailfin Male Molly can breed with a Dalmatian Pot Belly Female Molly, even though their shapes and colors are very different.
Almost all female Mollies are pregnant. The females are usually plumper than males, and you can determine the gender of Mollies by the shape of their anal fins.

Click here for more information about how to determine the gender of Mollies.     Mollies are livebearers, which means the   female Mollies do not lay eggs, like most female fish, but release live baby fish.
Here's a list of conditions that will help your female Molly produce babies.
Mollies do not do well in fish bowls and small aquariums. They need an aquarium with at least 15-gallons of water and 30-gallons is much better. Be sure the aquarium has good water.

Click here for more about good aquarium water.
Mollies like warm water at about 78 to 82 degrees F. So your aquarium should have an Aquarium Heater.

Click here for more about Aquarium Heaters and Thermometers.
Add one Tablespoon of Aquarium Salt per each five gallons of aquarium water. So for example, add 3-Tablespoons of Aquarium Salt to a 15-gallon aquarium and 6-Tablespoons to a 29-gallon aquarium.

Click here for more information about Aquarium Salt.
Feed your female Molly lots of good food including floating flake food and freeze dried blood worms. If you can obtain live or frozen brine shrimp, feed her a few of them each day. If you can get live Black Worms, feed her about three live Black Worms each day.

Click here for more about live Black Worms.

Click here for more about Feeding Fish.
Change 20% of the water in her aquarium each day. Click here for more about changing water in aquariums.
Be sure your female Mollie is not being stressed by other fish, such as being chased and annoyed by a male or several male Mollies.

Remove the males or be sure there are lots of female Mollies and just a few male Mollies.
With all of these conditions most female Mollies will release babies about once a month. Female Mollies can deliver several batches of babies without a male in the aquarium.

So once your female Molly is pregnant, you don't really need a male Molly for several months, and male Mollies will often annoy female Mollies.

Click here to see the types of Mollies for sale at this website.
If you want to have a few baby Mollies, get two or three plump female Mollies. If you want to have lots of baby Mollies, get at least three male Mollies and about twice as many female Mollies.

Each adult Molly will need about 3 to 5-gallons of water. So 8 adult Mollies will need an aquarium with about 24 to 40-gallons of water.
How can you tell when your female will release babies?

That is very difficult to describe, but you can learn by watching your females, and after they have released babies a few times, you will be able to recognize the change in a female's appearance a few days before she releases babies.
When your female Molly is big and looks like she's about to release babies, gently move her to another aquarium or put her in a contraption to protect her babies, so they will not be eaten by larger fish.

Click here to go to another page in this website with more information about Pet Fish Talk.
How to Protect Baby Fish
There are two types of these contraptions available, and both fit inside aquariums.

One such contraption is called an Aquarium Net Breeder, and it has a thin frame made of plastic that's covered with a fine net to separate the babies inside the net from the larger fish outside the net.
Click here to see a picture of two Aquarium Net Breeders that have been assembled and attached to an aquarium.
The second type of contraption is made of solid plastic and has an upper space for the female. There is a second space below and a slotted divider between the upper space and the lower space.
The slots are small enough to keep the female out of the lower space, but big enough to allow the babies to fall through to the lower space, after the female releases them.

Aquarium Net Breeder at   You assemble the 12 stiff plastic edges, then put the netting over the four sides and the bottom, making a box-shaped container that goes inside your aquarium and attaches to the rim of your aquarium.

You can put fish that need to be isolated in this contraption.

Click here for more about Sponge Filters.
Baby Swordtail fish in an aquarium at
This picture shows a baby Swordtail, which is just a few days old. You can see it has a round full stomach and is doing well.

It's in a large aquarium with lots of adult Swordtails, but it's able to hide and survive in a big clump of Java Moss.


If She won't Release her Babies?
Here are three things you can do to gently encourage her to release them.
Change 20% of the water in her aquarium each day. Click here for more about changing water in aquariums.
Increase the temperature of the water by 2 degrees F. So for example, if the temperature is 78, increase it to 80 degrees.

This requires only a very slight turn of the dial on the aquarium heater.

Do not increase the temperature above 82 degrees F.

Click here for more information about how to adjust an aquarium heater.
Feed your Molly female more good food. Feed her floating flake food and freeze dried blood worms.

If you can obtain live or frozen brine shrimp feed her a few of them each day. If you can get live Black Worms, feed her about 3 live Black Worms each day.

Click here for more about live Black Worms.

Click here for more about Feeding Fish.
These changes will also encourage other types of livebearer females, such as Guppies, Platies, and Swordtails, to release their babies too.
How many Babies will She Release?
The number of babies varies.

The first time a female releases babies, she will usually have only 12 to 30. It may take her a few hours to release the entire batch of babies, and some of these babies may still be eggs or even stillborn.
Often a Female Molly will still look very round, after she has released her entire batch of babies, because she may still be full of fertilized eggs, that will soon begin to develop into more babies.
About a month later she should release another batch with about 50% more babies, even if there is no male Molly in the aquarium, because a female Molly can retain many fertilized eggs in her body for several months.
So a female Molly can release babies each month for about five or six months. Then she may be depleted of fertilized eggs.

At which time you could put her back in an aquarium with a male Molly. Very large older female Mollies can release hundreds of babies at one time.
After She Releases her Babies.
remove the female Molly from the contraption.

Leave the baby Mollies in the contraption and feed them powdered flake food. There is an explanation below about how to make powdered food for baby Mollies.
We're often asked how soon can the baby Mollies be released from the protective contraption, but the rate of growth of baby Mollies and most other types of fish depends on the water quality, the water temperature, the amount of food, the quality of the food, and many other factors.

So it is not possible to say how many days the babies should stay in the contraption.
But we can say that generally it is safe to release the baby Mollies, after they have doubled in length.

So take note of the length of the baby Mollies, when they are a day or two days old, and later you can safely release them from the contraption after they have doubled in length.

At that length they will be able to swim fast and avoid being eaten by most of the large fish.
Click here to see the list of currently available Mollies in our facilities.


Customer Comments

The other day I e-mailed you with a couple questions regarding my mollies and breeding. With your tips I was able to successfully have healthy molly babies!
I noticed you did not have any pictures on your website of mollies in a breeding apparatus, so I have included one below of my female molly and her babies, thank you so much again for all your help ...
Tory H.
Reply. Hello Tory. Thank you for emailing us the picture of your female Molly and a few babies in the breeding apparatus.

Customer Comments

I just sent a picture of my baby mollies, but she just had like 20 more, so I ma sending another picture if you want to use it on your website just email me the link so i can see it! The picture is of my female molly in the breeder with her fry and some still-born, still in the egg-sack fry.
Thanks again for all your help!
Tory H.
Reply. Hello again Tory. Yes, I see a lot more Molly Babies.

Congratulations. I think I can also see some round tan eggs that apparently did not hatch inside the female to become babies.

I see the female looks a little slimmer too.


How to Make Baby Food?
for Baby Mollies and some other types of baby fish. Put 1 or 2 tablespoons of flake food in a plastic bag.

Make sure the bag doesn't have too much air inside, then tightly seal the bag with a rubber band.

Squeeze the bag between your fingers to mash the flakes inside the bag into a powder. It may take you 10 or 15 minutes to mash all the flakes into powder.
It's difficult to get a small amount of the powdered food out of the bag and into the aquarium. Here's another hint. Use a toothpick.

Dip just the tip of the toothpick into the water. Then wipe the tip off with your finger, so it's just moist. Dip the moist toothpick into the powdered food in the plastic bag.

A very small amount of the powder will stick to the end of the toothpick.
Just touch the tip of the toothpick to the surface of the water above the baby fish and watch them eat. They'll need several feedings each day.

When your baby fish have grown to double their original length, they can usually be released from the breeding contraption into the aquarium with the other fish.

Pet Fish Talk a Podcast about keeping pet fish in aquariums, fish bowls, and ponds.  
Click here to hear to DrTom and Nevin reminisce about the good old days, when they collected and raised many types of live foods to feed to the pet fish living in their aquariums and ponds.

This method of preparing food for baby fish will produce a fine powder, that many baby fish can eat.

But some baby fish are too small to eat this powder. For example, baby Angelfish are too small to eat this powder.
Many newly hatched baby fish, like Angelfish, are too small to eat this sort of powdered food and need to eat newly hatched baby brine shrimp for a few days, before they can start eating powdered food.

Click here to learn more about baby brine shrimp.
Some other baby fish, like Baby Bettas, are even smaller. In fact they are too small to eat the newly hatched baby brine shrimp.

So Baby Bettas must eat infusoria, which is the name for the very small life forms that live in pond water.

After a week or ten days baby Bettas can start eating the powdered food, and then they will begin to grow much faster.


When do you Release the Babies?
from the baby-saver contraption? The rate of growth of baby fish varies.

Warmer water, more food, higher quality food, less stress, and many other factors can increase the rate of growth of baby fish, and so the rate of growth will vary.

But you can usually release baby fish after they have doubled in length from the time they were born.
So look carefully at your baby fish, when they are born. After they have doubled in length, they will usually be able to swim fast enough to avoid being eaten by other fish, and so they can safely be released into the aquarium.

Sponge Filters
are good for aquariums with baby fish. The sponge prevents the babies from being sucked into the filter, and baby fish can often be seen biting on the surface of the sponge, where tiny bits of food may grow.
Dirt Magnet aquarium sponge filter at   These Sponge Filters are very good with small fish that might get sucked into a filter with a powerful pump such as a BIO-Wheel Filter, like the one shown far above on this page. Both DrTom and Nevin have used Sponge Filers for may years in aquariums with baby fish.
Click here for more about Sponge Filters.
Important Tip: Baby fish can get trapped under a Sponge Filters, so it's best to be sure the sponge does not sit on the bottom of the aquarium.

You can do this by using a cloths pin  attached to the edge of the aquarium to lift the sponge filter by its airline.

Click here to go to another page in this website that contains Customer Comments and our Replies about Breeding Mollies.

Raise another Kind of Fish?
You could raise another kind of livebearer, such as Swordtails, Guppies, or Platies.

They're fun and interesting, and slightly different from Mollies, so you'd learn a few new things about breeding and raising fish.

But you'll learn a lot more about breeding fish by trying a completely different kind of fish. We recommend you try breeding Convict Cichlids.

Click here to go to another page in this website and read about breeding tropical fish such as Convict Cichlids.
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