The goal of many fish keepers is to keep a gorgeous community tank. However, this can be easier said than done. For example, did you know that keeping tiger barbs with molly fish can be trickier than you might’ve thought?
Both tiger barbs and mollies are among the most popular aquarium fish. It’s easy to see why someone would want to keep them in the same tank. Still, is this a good idea, or should you think twice before combining them?
If the thought of keeping tiger barbs in a tank with other fish species has crossed your mind before, this article is for you.
Here’s everything you need to know!
Can You Keep Tiger Barbs With Mollies?
First things first, let’s answer your burning question and stop the anticipation: Yes, you can keep tiger barbs with mollies. In fact, mollies are probably the best tank mates for these black and white fish you can find!
However, tiger barbs can be tricky fish, especially when it comes to good manners. They are semi-aggressive fish, and they might get into a brawl even with calm animals such as mollies.
Fortunately, mollies don’t tend to have any aggressive tendencies whatsoever. They are more likely to stay away, even if tiger barbs are truly picking up a fight. Their temperaments are perfect for fish such as barbs!
Because of this, mollies are my favorite companion for a tiger barb.
How To Make Sure They Are Getting Along
There are a few things you need to know about tiger barbs.
First off, they are social but territorial fish. They love having the company of other fish, but they can be bullies if their tank mates are unsuitable.
Next, they are fin-nippers. They love to shred other fish’s tails to pieces, especially if the fish in question are slow swimmers or have long fins. This is why keeping them with goldfish is a terrible idea!
Fortunately, not many of their quirks will bother your molly fish. Still, you might want to make sure the chances of a fight are as low as possible.
Here are a few things you might want to do:
Choose The Right Type Of Molly Fish
First and foremost, you need to pick the right type of molly fish.
There are many different variations of a molly fish. Not all are equally suitable for tiger barbs. How’s it?
Some molly fish, such as lyretail or sailfin mollies, have long caudal fins. As mentioned, tiger barbs are fin-nippers and this might provoke them.
Also, balloon mollies might be more prone to stress-related illnesses, and they are slow swimmers.
To stay on the safe side, always choose more standard-looking molly fish compared to types with various exotic features.
Pick The Appropriate Number of Fish
Both tiger barbs and mollies are social animals that like to have lots of fish from the same species. Otherwise, they can become stressed out. In the case of barbs, if they aren’t kept with at least 5 other tiger barbs, they can exhibit aggressive behaviors.
Similarly, mollies hate being alone. By keeping at least 4 mollies together you can increase their confidence levels.
Choose A Tank In The Correct Size
As you can see from the previous tip, if you decide to keep tiger barbs with mollies, you’ll likely have to keep at least 10 fish in a tank. Forget about 5-gallon tanks! These could never hold so many fish.
Instead, consider keeping your new community in a 20-gallon tank, or even higher. Personally, I would consider a 40-gallon tank a minimum if you wish to avoid any brawl.
Make Sure The Water Parameters Are Proper
Next, you need to reduce the amount of stress your fish might be going through. When fish are stressed out, they are more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors.
One of the ways to do this is to make sure your fish live in proper conditions.
Both mollies and tiger barbs prefer warm water, with temperatures between 77°F and 80°F. Mollies prefer slightly alkaline water, but they can still thrive in pH-neutral waters, which is perfect for tiger barbs, as well.
While it’s true that mollies like brackish waters, they don’t need salt to survive, so don’t worry about that.
Feed Them The Right Way
Next, you never want to allow your semi-aggressive fish to become hungry. Food aggression is very common among animals, and your aquarium fish are no different.
Fortunately, both of these fish are omnivores. They can live on the same diet, so this is one less thing to worry about. What you need to consider is the amount of food you’re giving them.
Tiger barbs are quick-swimming fish that are known to steal food from other fish. They’re likely to catch pellets and flakes before mollies. This can lead to your molly becoming starved, which is never a good thing.
On the other hand, if your mollies manage to get all the food before tiger barbs, your barbs might become aggressive as they’ll have the need to fight for their food.
No, barbs won’t eat mollies (the same cannot be said for their fry!), but constant stress from being bullied can put a toll on your mollies’ health.
Finally, if you overfeed your fish, food leftovers can contaminate the water. This will ruin the water parameters and lead to increased levels of ammonia. Unfortunately, this can lead to the death of your fish.
Because of all of this, you need to know how to give your fish the proper dosage of food. In general, I always monitor my fish during the first few feeding times. This will give me an idea of how much food is needed to keep all of my fish full.
If there are any food leftovers about half an hour after the feeding time, this means you’ve overfed your tank inhabitants. It goes without saying that you should take those leftovers out.
Maintain The Tank
Not only do you need to make sure the parameters are right, you need to keep them in check. This is done by proper tank maintenance.
Regular water changes are the key to making sure water parameters are stable. Don’t worry, you can change the water without getting the fish out. This will prevent any unnecessary stress.
A rule of thumb is to change about 30% of the water every week or two. By changing just this amount, you’ll make sure the water is fresh without disrupting the natural bacterial balance.
While cleaning aquarium glass isn’t mandatory, it will help you to keep a closer look at your fish, so you can know whether you need to react. Also, this will prevent algae buildup.
Control The Population
Considering that I’ve told you how both of these breeds are very social, you’re probably surprised by what I’m about to tell you. You can have too many of these fish in your tank, and this can happen without you going to the store.
Tiger barbs are fish that lay eggs. While they can reproduce on their own, this doesn’t happen too often. Also, the chances of eggs being eaten or destroyed are very high.
However, molly fish are livebearers. They don’t carry eggs but rather give birth to baby fish. Sure, tiger barbs might eat mollies’ fry, but they likely won’t eat all of them. Not to mention how it’s cruel to just leave tiny baby fish at the mercy of a predator.
To keep this from happening, always make sure you breed your fish in a 40-gallon breeder tank. This will keep the eggs or the fry protected from adult fish while also preventing overpopulation.
Also, always make sure you have more females than males. This will not just keep your fish from producing too many babies, but also lower the chances of aggression.
Can Things Go Wrong?
Just because two fish are compatible doesn’t mean things cannot go wrong. These are animals, after all, and they follow their instincts.
While, in general, it is safe to keep tiger barbs with mollies, I would advise you to monitor your fish’s behavior, especially during the first few weeks or if your aquarium setup is going through some changes.
Aggression can be triggered by various factors, and you should always aim to avoid them.
If you notice any signs of bad behavior, separate your fish to avoid chaos. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Hi fellow aquarists, I’m Ava and I’ve been an enthusiastic aquarium hobbyist for over four years now.
I’ve been amazed by these beautiful creatures since I was a kid and I’m thrilled to be sharing everything I’ve learned over the years with anyone who’s as passionate about the topic as I am.