Molly fish are one of the most popular species in home aquariums, and for a good reason – they are incredibly beautiful and peaceful.
But picking the right plants for them raises some questions. Which type is the best? Can molly fish live without plants? And if so, what can replace them?
In this article, I will dive into these questions deeply, and offer 11 excellent plants that can be used in a molly fish tank.
Let’s get started.
What Makes A Plant Suitable For Molly Fish?
There are a few things to keep in mind when picking plants for your molly fish:
The molly fish are a group of small, active freshwater fish, and their health can be greatly impacted by their environment.
It’s crucial that any plants introduced into their habitat are non-toxic, as the molly fish may nibble on the plant matter.
Plants that release toxins, either into the water or when consumed, could negatively affect the health and lifespan of the molly fish.
Key points to consider regarding non-toxicity for molly fish:
- Non-toxic plant species: Always choose plants that are known to be non-toxic to fish. Anubias and Java Fern are examples of non-toxic plants that molly fish thrive with.
- Avoid treated plants: Some aquarium plants might have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals that could be harmful to molly fish. Always buy from reputable sources and wash plants thoroughly before introducing them to the aquarium.
- Nibbling habit: Molly fish often nibble on plants, so it is necessary to ensure the plants are edible and beneficial for them rather than being toxic.
2. Soft Leaves
Molly fish prefer plants with soft leaves. They are small, delicate creatures, and plants with hard, sharp leaves could potentially harm them.
Additionally, mollies are known to be plant-nibblers, meaning that they will often try to eat the plants in their tank. Soft-leaved plants are easier for them to digest.
Key aspects to consider about soft leaves:
- Risk of injury: Plants with sharp or hard leaves can pose an injury risk to molly fish, potentially damaging their scales or delicate fins.
- Digestibility: Soft-leaved plants are more easily digestible for molly fish who are known to nibble on them. Amazon sword and Water Wisteria are examples of plants with soft leaves.
- Hiding and breeding spots: Soft leaves also provide excellent hiding and breeding spots for molly fish, which contributes to a less stressful environment.
3. The Right Size
The size of the plants matters as well. Molly fish need plants that are appropriately sized for their habitat.
Large plants in a small aquarium can crowd the molly fish and restrict their swimming space, while small plants in a large aquarium may not provide enough cover or food source.
Considerations for the right size:
- Tank size: The plants should be proportionate to the tank size. In a typical 20-30 gallon molly fish tank, mid-sized plants are usually the best fit.
- Provide ample swimming space: Molly fish are active swimmers. Plants should not overcrowd the tank, allowing molly fish enough space to swim and explore.
- Cover and food source: Plants should be large enough to provide adequate cover and enough leaves for molly fish to nibble on.
4. Water Conditions
Molly fish thrive in specific water conditions, and so the plants introduced into their tank should be able to survive under those same conditions.
The ideal water conditions for molly fish include a pH level between 7.0-8.0, a temperature around 70-82 degrees Fahrenheit, and hard water rich in minerals.
Important points regarding water conditions:
- Plant survivability: Choose plants that can survive and thrive in the same water conditions as molly fish. Plants such as Hornwort and Vallisneria are good options as they can live in a wide range of water conditions.
- Water pH: The plants should tolerate the alkaline water preferred by molly fish. Plants that require acidic conditions may not thrive or may alter the pH of the water unfavorably.
- Temperature tolerance: Plants must also be able to tolerate the warm temperatures that molly fish prefer. Tropical aquarium plants are generally the best choice.
Also Read: Molly Fish Tank Setup
1. Water Lettuce
Water lettuce is a popular choice for aquatic tanks due to its relatively low maintenance requirements and fast growth rate.
It’s a floating plant that provides nice coverage for fish and shrimp. Molly fish benefit from water lettuce for several reasons:
- Floating Coverage: The floating nature of water lettuce provides molly fish with shade, giving them a sense of safety and reducing stress levels.
- Spawning Support: This plant offers a suitable environment for molly fish to spawn and lay eggs, creating a healthy environment for fry.
- Natural Filtration: Water lettuce is known for absorbing excess nutrients, helping to maintain water quality that is vital for the health of molly fish.
2. Amazon Sword
The Amazon Sword is an attractive plant known for its large, broad leaves. It originates from the Amazon River basin and provides a great aesthetic look to aquariums.
For molly fish, the Amazon Sword is beneficial due to:
- Broad Leaves: These provide ample space for molly fish to rest and play, promoting their activity and health.
- Tall Coverage: Its height offers a hiding space and reduces stress among molly fish, contributing to their overall well-being.
- Substrate Rooting: The Amazon Sword’s rooting mechanism in the substrate helps stabilize water conditions, providing a healthier habitat for molly fish.
3. Java Moss
Java Moss is a highly versatile plant in the aquarium world. It’s well-regarded for its lush green appearance and is very easy to care for.
For molly fish, Java Moss provides:
- Ideal Breeding Ground: It creates a protective space for molly fish eggs, helping to boost breeding success rates.
- Food Source: Tiny microorganisms that molly fish love to snack on often live within the moss, providing a natural feeding ground.
- Stress Reducer: The thick foliage provides an excellent hiding spot for molly fish, reducing their stress and promoting better health.
Hornwort is a floating or planted plant with a distinct feathery appearance. It’s fast-growing and adapts to a wide range of conditions.
It offers molly fish the following benefits:
- Oxygen Production: As a prolific photosynthesizer, Hornwort produces oxygen vital for molly fish’s respiration.
- Toxin Absorption: It absorbs harmful toxins from the water, improving the living conditions for molly fish.
- Hiding Spots: Its feathery structure offers molly fish plenty of hiding spots, reducing stress and encouraging natural behavior.
5. Marimo Moss Balls
Marimo Moss Balls are unique, slow-growing algae formed into round shapes. They are great for beginners and require minimal care.
They are suitable for molly fish due to:
- Low Maintenance: Marimo Balls require very little care, letting you focus on the needs of your molly fish.
- Water Cleanliness: They help filter and clean the tank, providing a healthier environment for molly fish.
- Playful Interaction: Molly fish are known to nudge and play with these moss balls, encouraging natural behaviors.
Also Read: Do Molly Fish Need A Filter?
6. Brazilian Water Weed
Brazilian Water Weed, or Anacharis, is a submerged plant known for its bright green, dense leaves. It is both attractive and functional.
Molly fish benefit from this plant due to:
- Thick Coverage: The dense leaves provide cover and breeding grounds for molly fish.
- Oxygen Producer: As a fast-growing plant, it aids in oxygenating the water, creating a better environment for molly fish.
- Toxin Reducer: BrazilianWater Weed is efficient in absorbing nitrates, keeping the water quality high for molly fish.
Moneywort, or Bacopa monnieri, is a versatile plant with bright green leaves that grow along a stem. It’s easy to care for and thrives in a variety of conditions.
Molly fish will enjoy the presence of Moneywort due to:
- Vertical Growth: This plant’s vertical growth offers different levels of cover and resting areas for molly fish.
- Egg Protection: Its dense growth provides a safe place for molly fish eggs, enhancing breeding conditions.
- Water Stability: Moneywort assists in maintaining a stable water chemistry, beneficial for the health of molly fish.
Anubias is a beautiful, slow-growing plant with broad, thick leaves. It’s a robust plant that can survive in various light conditions.
Anubias is suitable for molly fish because:
- Durable Leaves: The robust leaves of Anubias can withstand molly fish nibbling, making it a long-lasting plant choice.
- Hiding Places: It provides ample shelter for molly fish, promoting a stress-free environment.
- Low Maintenance: Anubias’ resilience to different light conditions and slow growth rate makes it easy to care for alongside molly fish.
Also Read: Do Molly Fish Need Light?
Cryptocoryne is a genus of aquatic plants with an interesting variety of leaf shapes and colors. They thrive best in subdued lighting and darker substrate.
Cryptocoryne provides several advantages for molly fish:
- Visual Variety: The variety in leaf shapes can stimulate the molly fish’s curiosity, promoting active exploration.
- Secure Hiding Spots: The dense growth of Cryptocoryne gives molly fish a safe and comfortable place to hide.
- Stability: Once established, Cryptocoryne is a hardy plant that helps stabilize water conditions, ensuring healthier molly fish.
10. Java Fern
The Java Fern is a classic aquarium plant with its unique leaf shape and slow growth rate. It’s one of the most popular choices due to its hardiness and low light requirement.
Java Fern is beneficial for molly fish because:
- Tolerant Plant: Its tolerance to a variety of conditions makes it a reliable plant for maintaining a molly fish habitat.
- Safe for Fry: The leaf structure of the Java Fern provides a secure place for molly fish fry.
- Low Light Requirement: This makes it easy to care for in a molly fish tank, as it does not require additional lighting systems.
11. Guppy Grass
Guppy Grass, or Najas guadalupensis, is a fast-growing aquatic plant known for its dense, feathery foliage.
It’s an excellent choice for breeders and those seeking to boost their aquarium’s biodiversity.
Molly fish will appreciate Guppy Grass for:
- Excellent Coverage: Its dense growth provides great hiding and breeding spots for molly fish.
- Natural Food Source: The plant fosters the growth of microorganisms which serve as an excellent food source for molly fish.
- Water Quality: Fast-growing Guppy Grass helps to absorb excess nutrients, maintaining water quality for the health of molly fish.
Do Molly Fish Require Live Plants?
Molly fish do not strictly require live plants, but they greatly benefit from their presence in the aquarium.
Live plants can enhance the tank environment by offering hiding spots, helping to regulate water quality, and providing a natural breeding ground.
Moreover, plants foster growth of small organisms that can serve as an additional food source for molly fish.
For those of you who are in a rush, here is a quick summary of what I discussed above:
- Choose non-toxic plant species and avoid treated plants to ensure the health and lifespan of molly fish.
- Select plants with soft leaves to prevent harm to the delicate fish and provide easy digestion and hiding spots.
- Consider the size of plants relative to the tank to avoid overcrowding or insufficient cover and food sources for molly fish.
- Choose plants that can survive in the specific water conditions preferred by molly fish, including pH level, temperature, and water hardness.
- Water Lettuce, Amazon Sword, Java Moss, Hornwort, Marimo Moss Balls, Brazilian Water Weed, Moneywort, Anubias, Cryptocoryne, Java Fern, and Guppy Grass are suitable plant choices for molly fish tanks, offering various benefits such as floating coverage, spawning support, natural filtration, and stable water conditions.