Balloon Molly

Balloon Molly

Balloon Molly fish are a colorful and lively addition to any aquarium. These brilliant, lively little fish are quite easy to maintain and thrive in a community of peaceful fish with lots of fascinating actions that will keep spectators spellbound for hours.

They are known for their vibrant colors and interesting patterns.

In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive guide to Balloon mollies including: their history, care requirements, and breeding habits, as well as some tips on how to create the perfect environment for these unique fish.


Scientific NamePoecilia sphenops 
Common NameBalloon belly molly
OriginMexico and Central America
Minimum Tank Size30-gallon tank
LengthIt is approximately 2 inches when fully grown.
Ease of CareModerate
pHBetween 6.7-8.5
Temperature72-82°F (22.22-27.7°C)
Lifespan3-5 years
Balloon Molly Characteristics

Balloon Molly Origins

Poecilia sphenops, commonly known as the balloon belly molly fish, is a live-bearing species of fish from Mexico and Central America. The balloon molly fish, or Poecilia sphenops, is a recently discovered freshwater species first documented in 1939.

Molly fish prefer sluggish water with a slightly alkaline pH. Mollies, on the other hand, might be found in a range of spaces, including brackish water and areas with high levels of hydrogen sulfide.

In the wild, Mollies’ living area is typically sandy with debris and pebbles strewn over the surface. Heavy vegetation is also present, which is mainly utilized by the Mollies for protection from predators while lush plants provide a safe haven for young fry.

What Are the Features of Balloon Molly?

1. Appearance & Colors

The name balloon belly molly comes from their unusual appearance,  a rounded body with an underdeveloped lower jaw that gives the impression of a small balloon being stuffed into their stomachs.

The species is susceptible to a variety of inner organ diseases due to the structural formation of the body. They have a strongly curved ridge and a big stomach can’t protect organs from contraction.

The tails and fins are quite stubby. The fish’s dorsal fin extends down its entire back. Their beautiful lyre-shaped caudal fin adds to their charm.

Over time, balloon mollies have been selectively bred into a variety of hues. They come in a kaleidoscope of colors, including red, orange, silver, white, black, yellow, and gold. Marbled and multicolored variants are also encountered frequently.

2. Length

Poecilia Latipinna mollies are the smallest in the whole Poecilia Latipinna family. Adult mollies can reach up to 2 inches in length while their maximum size is typically 3 inches.

3. Lifespan

The average lifespan in captivity is three to five years, with proper care and nutrition. However, owing to their deformed shape which makes them highly susceptible to a variety of illnesses, it’s not unusual for them to die prematurely.

Considering the life span of Balloon Mollies, they have a shorter life span than other kinds of mollies. Because years of inbreeding and intensive production have made them genetically frail and prone to a variety of diseases.

Is Balloon Molly Hardy?

Wild mollies are extremely hardy. They can quickly adjust to any environment. However, artificially bred mollies such as balloon belly molly with many birth defects cannot adapt to all conditions equally well.

How to Care for Balloon Molly?

1. Tank Size

Live-bearers, such as balloon mollies, require distinct care. It’s true that a larger Living Space provides a more stable environment for a happy and peaceful life. As a result, they want a tank with lots of hiding places since they’re timid and easily frightened. Compromising means making your fish stressed and unhappy.

Mollies are frequently touted as suitable for compact aquariums, but this isn’t true. Despite the fact that balloon belly mollies grow no longer than 3 inches in length, they demand a huge tank because of their activity level, bioload production, and fragile health.

As a result, a pair of balloon belly mollies should be kept in a tank with a capacity of at least 30 gallons. While some people think it’s possible to maintain them in a 20-gallon aquarium, I’d still advocate for getting a bigger one.

2. Temperature

The ideal way to keep your balloon mollies healthy is to mimic their natural habitat as possible.

Apart from tank size, they also need a specific water temperature, because these are tropical fish that require properly maintained water temperatures of 72-82°F.

However, rapid temperature changes can be harmful and cause serious health problems to balloon mollies.

3. PH Level

Balloon mollies tolerate pH levels between 6.7 and 8.5, but you should aim for neutral because if the water is too acidic or alkaline, it can cause stress and potentially lead to health problems.

A pH level that is too far out of their comfort zone can also affect their ability to breed.

If you’re not sure what pH level your water is, you can test it with a simple kit from your local pet store.

4. Lighting

The most important thing is to provide a light that simulates the natural day/night cycle.

In the wild, they would experience a natural cycle of light and darkness. As balloon mollies are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night.

In an aquarium, this cycle can be replicated with artificial lighting.

There are a few various choices for lighting a Balloon Molly aquarium. This can be done with a regular incandescent light bulb, a fluorescent light, or LED lights.

Balloon mollies do best in an environment that has moderate lighting. So whichever type of light you choose, make sure it is not too bright or too dim.

When setting up the lighting for your Balloon Molly aquarium, remember to provide a smooth transition from light to dark because this will help them adjust to their new environment and minimize stress.

Start with a few hours of light per day and gradually increase it over a week or two. Then, do the same with the amount of darkness each night.

If you provide your Balloon mollies with the right amount of lighting, they will be happy and healthy fish that add beauty to your aquarium.

5. Filters

Mollies, unlike other fish, produce a lot of waste in the water. In these case, your dirty water polluted with poop and waste, requires special filtration to maintain the water parameters at good levels.

Several different types of filters can be used for a balloon molly aquarium, but sponge filters are the most recommended option out there.

They’re designed to have a weaker filtration intake, which means that small fish and fry won’t get sucked into the filter and hurt or killed.

If you’re setting up a balloon molly aquarium, be sure to include a sponge filter in your setup. This will help to ensure that your fish stay healthy and the water stays clean.

6. Tank Decoration

In the Mollies’ tank, you should have a layer of sandy substrate with a few ornamental pebbles or rocks strewn across it. Although the fish spend most of their time in the mid-water area of the water column, this creates a natural-looking image that enhances the aquarium’s attractiveness.

They’re used to living in a plant-filled environment. As a result, it’s ideal to provide your tank with live plants like Anubias, Saggitaria, and java fern, which are popular among balloon belly mollies.

Balloon Molly Diet

Freshwater Balloon Mollies are omnivores, which implies that they eat a wide range of foods, including meaty ones.

In nature, Balloon mollies will eat:

  • Small invertebrates.
  • Plants and algae.
  • Flakes.
  • Pellets.
  • Algae wafers.
  • Blanched leaves (spinach, lettuce, etc.)
  • Live and frozen brine shrimp.
  • Bloodworms.
  • Spirulina tablets.

It’s essential to offer your balloon mollies a wide range of food, whether you feed meaty or vegetable-based foods. This way you would ensure that they receive all of the vitamins and minerals they require to stay healthy by providing them with a varied diet.

Because these fish are so small with a compact body, their digestive tracts are deformed. As a result, they are highly susceptible to bloating and constipation, which, if not treated promptly, can lead to death.

So, twice a day, offer your fish tiny amounts of food. This regimen allows the fish’s digestive system time to handle the meal and lowers the risk of bloat and constipation, which round-bellied fish are susceptible to.

Feeding the fry

The fry of the balloon mollies can eat powdered flakes until they are big enough to share the adult fish’s diet, at which point the youngsters may be returned to the main community tank.

Balloon Molly Compatibility

When it comes to the balloon molly fish compatibility, these peaceful and friendly creatures make great members of any community tank. However, you should keep them with other peaceful and sociable species because balloon belly mollies don’t do well when put against an aggressive tankmate.

Other balloon belly mollies would be good tankmates for balloon belly mollies. These are schooling fish. As a result, they must be kept in a group of four at least.

Nonetheless, Their best tank mates could be:

  • Corydoras catfish.
  • Cherry barbs.
  • Danios.
  • Dwarf Gourami.
  • Platies.
  • Rosy barbs.
  • Tetras.
  • Zebra loaches
  • Guppies.
  • Swordtails.
  • Plecos.

And If you enjoy snails in your aquarium, consider the following:

  • Nerite snails.
  • Lava snails
  • Rabbit snails
  • Trumpet snails
  • Ramhorn snails

Cherry shrimp should not be kept with balloon mollies. Adult shrimp would be safe, but baby shrimp will undoubtedly be eaten.

Because balloon mollies are considerably larger than cherry shrimp, Amano shrimps may get along. Amano shrimps can reach a size of 3-4 inches and cannot be bred in freshwater aquariums.

You should avoid including very huge or aggressive fish, both of which may bully or harass the smaller mollies to the point where a stress-related illness kills them.

There are several examples of unsuitable tankmates for Balloon Mollies, including:

  • Green terrors.
  • Oscars.
  • Convict cichlids.
  • Firemouth cichlids. 

It’s very probable that your balloon belly fish will be harassed or even killed as a result of bullying. So you better watch out!

Balloon Molly Gender Difference

When purchasing a group of Balloons mollies, it’s important that you can tell which ones are male and female. As mentioned before, ideally there should be more females than males so they don’t get harassed or stressed out by all the amorous males.

The distinguishing features of the fish’s genders are straightforward to identify. A male balloon belly molly has a modified anal fin called a gonopodium. It is pointy and thin. Instead, a female’s anal fins are triangular, short, and fan-shaped.

Balloon molly females have rounded dorsal fins, but males have a “sail” dorsal fin and sometimes a “lair” tail fin. Unlike common black molly males, balloon belly molly males are somewhat bigger than females.

Females furthermore have a pregnancy spot that will aid in distinguishing them from males.

Balloon Molly Breeding

When it comes to breeding balloon mollies, you might be surprised at how easy the process is. In fact, in just a few months your tank can fill up with these little guys, and then there’s no room for any more!

You can increase the water temperature, feed them a protein-rich diet and perform an occasional water change in order to encourage breeding.

Balloon mollies are livebearers, which implies that they do not lay eggs but rather produce their young right away.

Ideally, A tank of 30 gallons is recommended for spawning. A spawning box, a lot of dense, live plants, or a thick algae mat should be included in the tank. It’s also useful to add a bunch of floating plants in one corner of the aquarium to encourage breeding. These would do the trick.

First off, you need to separate the males and females in another tank. Make sure they’re maintained with all their water requirements including: water temperature, and pH level. You can house two females and a single male molly at a time. Mollies frequently utilize their bright hues or fin to seduce the other partner.

When the male balloon molly is trying to fertilize the female, they will flare and show off. Females usually select larger stronger males as their mates because those that can protect their offspring from other species.

After the eggs are fertilized, it takes around 35 to 45 days for the fully-developed fry to hatch.

Every two months or so, a female Mollies mother produces between ten and sixty fry. They are typically around one-half inch long at birth. Once the youngsters are born, they must be separated away from their parents or else a significant number of them will be eaten. you can do so by keeping the pregnant female inside the spawning box for a few days before they give birth. Then fry can leave via tiny holes, but the female is safely trapped within.

Possible Diseases and Prevention

Balloon mollies are known to be resistant to many diseases, but they are not entirely immune.

The most common diseases that Balloon mollies face include fin rot and ich par es.

Fin rot

Fin rot is a bacterial infection that affects the fins of fish.

It is characterized by ragged or frayed fins, and can eventually lead to death if left untreated.

Fin rot is often caused by poor water quality, so it is important to keep your Balloon Molly’s tank clean.


If the rotting is jagged, use antibiotics.

If the rot is more evenly distributed and there are holes in the fin, you can use antifungal medication.


Ich parasites are another common issue for Balloon mollies.

These parasites attach themselves to the fish and cause white spots to form on the skin.

Ich can be deadly if left untreated, so it is important to catch it early.

The best way to prevent ich is to maintain good water quality and quarantine new fish before adding them to your tank.


The most basic therapy is to go to your local pet shop and buy an Ich treatment.

The vast majority are made with formaldehyde, malachite green, copper sulfate, or one of these ingredients.

Hikari Ich X is the greatest medicine available.


How to Care for Balloon Molly Fry?

The only thing that baby balloon mollies need is proper water conditions, like their parents. They require adequate water quality, as well as a variety of high-quality food and plenty of hiding places.

How to Tell if Balloon Molly is Pregnant?

However, in the case of balloon mollies, determining if a female is ready to give birth might be difficult. Because they have such a large and rounded body form, it’s tough to tell if she’s pregnant or not.

There are, however, a few indicators that a balloon molly is in labor. When a balloon molly female is about to give birth, she will usually conceal herself in a corner of the tank or among aquatic plants and her anus will be swollen.

Female balloon mollies might die in labor owing to tension or difficulties, which is not unusual.

Do Balloon Mollies Need a Heater?

Yes, balloon mollies require a heater. Although they can withstand a wide range of water temperatures, the fluctuation is bad for them. To maintain a constant water temperature, you will need to invest in a heater for your aquarium.

Last Words

Balloons are a beautiful, colorful addition to any aquarium and make for a charming, active, and appealing showpiece. and they’re an excellent fish for the beginner.

It’s crucial to understand that balloon belly mollies are not as hardy or resilient as ordinary mollies. These fish have a compressed physique and a misshapen spine, making them vulnerable to a variety of illnesses and woes.

Make sure you offer a clean, stress-free environment and feed your fish a nutritious diet on a daily basis. And your balloon molly might even make it to its fifth birthday.

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