Keeping Molly Fry Populations Under Control: 13 Compatible Tankmates

Keeping molly fry populations under control is essential to maintaining a healthy community aquarium. Mollies are live-bearing freshwater fish that multiply rapidly when kept in ideal conditions. A single female Molly can produce 20-60 fry every 21-30 days, meaning a tank with just a few adults could see >200 new baby fish per month.

While raising hordes of Molly fry may initially seem exciting, most aquarists soon find themselves overwhelmed. These tiny new fish take up tank space and create extra waste. And as they mature, finding homes for hundreds of adult Mollies can be challenging.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to regulate Molly fry populations humanely. One strategy is adding compatible fish to the tank to eat newly born fry. Avoid aggressive species that may attack adult Mollies when selecting “Molly control crew” members. 

Molly Fry Populations Control

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Humane methods for controlling excess Molly fry populations

  • Use Molly Fry Traps

Place fry traps made of plastic bottles or nets in the tank overnight. In the morning, remove and rehome or ethically cull any trapped fry. Using traps prevents molly fry from being eaten alive while allowing easy removal.

  • Introduce Compatible Predators

Adding small predatory fish like “cory cats, mollies, or danios” will help reduce molly fry numbers through predation. Ensure any predators added don’t threaten adult Mollies.

  • Give Away Extras

Offer excess Molly Fry for free on “forums, social media or apps” like Craigslist. Many fish-keeping hobbyists will happily take homegrown baby Mollies. This allows ethical removal without euthanasia.

  • Control Breeding Triggers

Introducing more males than females, limiting feeding, lowering temperatures and removing hiding spots can all slow Molly’s breeding cycles. This curbs population booms at the source.

Implementing even just 1-2 of these methods consistently should prevent Molly tanks from becoming overrun while allowing some fry production. With a balanced ecosystem, culling healthy fry should rarely be needed.

13 Tankmates to control molly fries and population

control molly fries

Corydoras Catfish

Corydoras catfish can be added to the molly fish tank as a tankmate. These 2-3 inch bottom feeders are peaceful but will eat baby Mollies that venture too close to the substrate. A group of 4-6 catfish should keep populations in check.


Bright-coloured platies are active mid-level fish at 2-3 inches long that will readily gobble up fry despite their tiny mouths. And as livebearers themselves, they may even crossbreed with Mollies.


Barbs are 2-4 inch fish that thrive in hard, alkaline water and are perfect for Mollie’s fish tank. They zap tiny Molly fry quickly with their large mouths.

Zebra Danios

Hyperactive zebra danios, reaching just over 2 inches long, will chase down Molly babies at lightning speed throughout all tank levels. A group of 6 or more is ideal.

Cherry Barbs

Cherry barbs are tiny fish and perfect to house with a molly aquarium. These red-and-yellow striped Cyprinids grow over 2 inches long and quickly find and eat free-swimming fry. Keep a dozen or more to offset rapid Molly reproduction.

Serpae Tetras

No Molly fry lasts long when kept with a school of these feisty mid-level Tetras. Groups of 6 or more 2-inch fish work well for population control.

Pearl Gouramis

At over 3 inches long, pearl gouramis can swallow larger fry than the other fish on this list. Just one is enough to counter prolific Molly breeding.

Convict Cichlids

If Molly numbers are already out of control, dropping in a breeding pair of these aggressive 4-inch Cichlids should solve the problem fast, though the parents may also become targets.

Jack Dempsey Cichlids

A full-grown 6-10 inch Jack Dempsey leaves zero chance of survival for baby Mollies! But be warned: they may also dine on adult Mollies if housed long-term. Consider this powerful predator a last resort for extreme cases.


  • A single full-grown angelfish (over 6 inches long) can eat hundreds of Molly fry daily and effectively control the population.
  • However, do not keep angelfish in tanks under 30 gallons tall; they need ample swimming room.
  • Introduce angelfish only after Mollies are fully grown, as juveniles may become food too. Monitor for any aggression towards adult Mollies.

Dwarf Pufferfish

  • These tiny (under 1 inch) fish are vicious hunters with big appetites for small prey like Molly fry.
  • Keep 1 puffer per 5-10 gallons only with fast tankmates (tetras, rasboras, adult Mollies) that can evade attacks.
  • Despite their size, dwarf puffers require pristine water conditions, so they provide strong filtration and frequent water changes.
  • Note dwarf puffers may nip the fins of slow tankmates once fry is depleted. Always have backup tank space available.

Dwarf puffers can rapidly solve overpopulation issues but must be added cautiously and monitored closely. Correct tank size and compatibility are crucial for responsibly housing fish with Mollies. 

Keyhole Cichlids

Keyhole Cichlids
  • A mated pair of keyholes will keep each other occupied, reducing the chances of bothering adult Mollies.
  • Provide plenty of sightline breaks with plants and rocks so more timid species have places to retreat.
  • Though adults reach 6-7 inches, juveniles are ideal Molly tankmates while they grow out for a year before becoming fry predators.

Blue Acaras

  • This cichlid grows slower (5-6 inches over 2+ years), making a juvenile acara a longer-term Molly fry control.
  • Ensure the tank has smooth gravel rather than a sharp substrate to protect the acaras’ ventral area when digging.
  • Give acaras a cave or overturned plant pot to claim as a territory; this focuses hunting efforts around their designated area.

In both cases, picking young cichlid specimens allows a built-in “delay” – slowing the transition to active fry predation and giving you lead time to rehome Mollies or move predators to another tank. Gradual integration is key for smooth mixed community tank compatability. By introducing compatible tank mates from the above list of 13 fish, most aquarists can successfully keep Molly populations at manageable levels without disrupting tank tranquillity.

Can Mollies Have Babies Without Males?


Controlling Molly Fry numbers is crucial to maintaining a healthy tank ecosystem and preventing overcrowding. Fortunately, there are several humane approaches aquarists can take:

  1. Use nets or traps to remove extra molly fry for rehoming or ethical culling manually
  2. Introduce compatible fish species (cory cats, mollies, tetra) that will prey on fry without harming adults
  3. Promote natural breeding behaviors like filial cannibalism under controlled conditions
  4. Limit breeding triggers through environmental adjustments (temperature, plants, tankmates)
  5. Offer extra fry for adoption to other hobbyists through forums, mobile apps and social platforms

The key is being proactive and consistent with one or more population control methods before stocks boom out of control. This allows Mollies to continue breeding while keeping numbers in check and water conditions optimal.

Molly owners can enjoy raising fry with suitable tank mates and breeding curbs while preventing stressful overcrowding issues in a sustainable ecosystem.

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