Home » Fish Guides » Do Molly Fish Eat Their Babies? ( Unfortunately, Yes )

Do Molly Fish Eat Their Babies? ( Unfortunately, Yes )

As a species that exhibits parental care, we expect all creatures to care for their babies. But, nature has its own way of creating different animals with different personalities. While some animals take care of their babies, some do not care at all. Even worse, some animals eat their own babies. But, “Do molly fish eat their babies?”

Do Molly Fish Eat Their Babies

Yes. They do. Although mollies are beautiful fish species, they practice cannibalism, which means they eat their young ones. In fact, it is a common behavior for molly fish to eat their young ones.

The practice of cannibalism is an instinctive behavior that helps in ensuring the survival of the species.

Why do molly eat their babies, and what can we do to save them? Let’s learn the reasons for this behavior and how to save molly fry while caring for their young ones.

Do all fish eat their babies? 

No. Some fish take care of their young ones even after they leave the safety of their protective environment, the eggshell.

Some fish species also practice parental care, which means they protect their babies from predators.

Fish are swimming creatures that swim through different depths of rivers, lakes and seas worldwide. They are known for their shiny scales, speed, and rapid growth. There are more than 33,000 fish species that scientists discovered in the waters, in the oceans, and on land.

Among those fish, Some species have prenatal care and maternal care instincts. On the other hand, cannibalistic fish eat their own young ones.

Do molly fish lay eggs?

No. Molly fish do not lay eggs like most other fish species.

They are livebearer fish and they deliver their young ones in a special pouch called the gravid pouch. The fish fries are tiny versions of adult mollies that are 7-9 inches long.

In rare cases, mollies lay eggs. If your molly has laid eggs, it means that your molly has had a miscarriage or an abortion. This often happens when your fish is stressed or has poor health conditions.

How many fries do mollies have?

Female molly fish give birth to around 40 to 60 babies at a time.

Sometimes, they give birth to more than 100 fries in one pregnancy. These babies are called fry because they are smaller versions of the adult molly fish.

Why do mollies eat their babies?

Molly fish eat their babies out of instinct.

There are many reasons why molly fish practice cannibalism, one of which is food scarcity. If the fish feel there is a lack of food, they may eat their own babies.

Molly fish also practice cannibalism because of the simple fact that it is their nature, their instinct. They can’t help it. It’s in their genes, which means they have a strong urge to eat their young ones.

Another possible reason is overcrowding their environment. Sometimes adult fish consider baby fish as their food.

And it also happens when the water is dirty, and the adult fish can not clearly see babies and think of them as food.

Will other fish eat baby mollies?

If other fish are carnivore or omnivore fish, they will.

These fish eat meat-based food, and fish fries are easy prey for any aquatic animal. If they see molly fish fry in the aquarium, they will quickly gobble them up.

Will betta fish eat baby mollies?

Since betta fish are carnivore fish, they will eat molly fish fry, especially if given a chance. Molly fish fries are easy prey for the betta. So, you should keep the baby mollies in a separate tank where no other fish can get to them.

Do guppies eat molly babies?

Guppies are omnivore fish. They eat meat and plant-based food. If you place a molly fish fry in a tank with guppies, the guppies will snack on the baby fish.

Do platies eat baby mollies?

Platies are also omnivore fish. They eat both plant-based and meat-based food. If you keep a molly fish fry with platies, the platies will eat it.

Do Molly Fish Eat Their Babies

How to save molly fish babies

If you want to save baby molly fish from other fish (including mollies) and raise them, you will have to separate your molly fry from the main fish tank.

The easiest way to separate them is to remove the pregnant fish into a breeding tank before giving birth.

Once the pregnant fish finishes giving birth to all the fish fry, you’d move the mother fish back into the main tank as it also eats its fry.

If your fish has already given birth in the main tank, you have to carefully take the fish fry from the main tank and put them into a breeding tank.

You can use a breeding net to scoop up the fry safely. Once you get the baby mollies, place them in a breeding tank and raise them until molly babies are old enough to be put back into the main tank.

Make sure there are no other fish around except for molly fish fry.

How do I stop my mollies from eating their babies?

If separating fish fry into a breeding tank is not an ideal option for you, and you still want to save your fish babies, you have to find ways to stop mollies from eating their babies. There are several steps you can take.

  1. Add more hiding places – Add more plants, caves, rocks, and other hiding places so that your fries can save themselves from getting eaten. If the mollies can’t find any baby fish to eat, they will leave them alone.
  2. Feed your fish more often – You can feed your fish more often with high-quality food. By doing so, you will satiate the mollies’ hunger pangs, and they won’t have to eat their own fish.
  3. Use a breeding trap – By using a breeding trap, you can keep your fish fry in the same tank safely without risk of any fish eating them. This is a suitable option for those who don’t have much space for a separate tank.

Do baby molly fish need oxygen?

Yes. Just like adult molly fish, baby mollies also need oxygen. If there is not enough oxygen in the tank, the fish will suffocate and die.

What temperature does baby molly fish prefer?

Just like adult molly fish, baby mollies also need warm water. If the temperature is too cold, the fish will die. The ideal temperature range for baby molly fish is between 16°C- 28°C (61.8°F- 82.4°F).

What do baby molly fish eat?

Baby molly fish eat exactly like adult mollies.

They eat flake food, pellets, freeze-dried food, and vegetables. However, The food pieces should be small enough for your baby mollies to eat.

So, you should crush the pellets and flakes and chop vegetables and meats before feeding them.

Since these fish are rapidly growing, you should feed them at least five times per day. Ensure you give them enough food, as insufficient feeding can also lead to death.

Feed them as much as they eat within 3 to 5 minutes and remove the excess food to clean the tank. A high-quality food will provide your molly fish with all the essential vitamins and minerals the body needs.

Related questions

Which is better, guppy or molly?

From our point of view, mollies are better because they are colorful, hardy, and can cope with a wide range of tank mates.

On the other hand, guppies are too small to find suitable tank mates. Because of their long tail, you have to be careful while choosing a tankmate for guppies.

But mollies don’t have a long tail, and they can easily be placed in community tanks with any other fish.

Does molly need an air pump?

Just like all other fish, mollies also need oxygen-rich water. If the tank doesn’t have enough oxygen, you will observe that your fish are gasping for air.

So, if you want your mollies to live longer, make sure that you install an aerator or an air pump in the tank.

Can I keep a single molly?

Yes, you can. In fact, mollies are peaceful fish that enjoy each other’s company. But, they can live in solitary as long as their requirements are met.

So, if you want to add a molly to your tank, you can add just one fish. But if you’re going to keep an entire school of mollies, it is better to add 3 or 4 mollies at a time.

Can mollies live with bettas?

No. Bettas are known to be fin nippers. If you try to keep them together, your mollies’ fins will get damaged. And because of that, they will die.

Can guppies live with mollies?

Yes, guppies can live with mollies. In fact, mollies are good tank mates for guppies.

However, you have to remember that some guppies will bite at the fins of other fish to make them weaker. So, if your tank has such guppies, you should keep them away from mollies.


Molly fish eat their babies. Although molly fish eating their young ones may seem barbaric to us, it is an instinctive behavior that helps ensure the survival of the species.

Molly fish are beautiful and fascinating creatures, and we hope you have enjoyed learning about them.

Credit to : Aqua Maniacs
Read Next : 
Molly Fish Feeding Schedule ( This Is How I Feed Them )
Are Molly Fish Aggressive? | 18 Things Must Know
Do Mollies Eat Plants? How To Solve That Problem Easy Way

Sharing is caring!

About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.