Are Molly Fish Tropical? A Detailed Article

Molly fish live in bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and streams and often leave you questioning their origin. I have been trying to figure out where these fish actually came from and whether they were tropical. Molly fish are quite popular amongst aquarists these days for all the good things. You can find them living in the fresh water tank while not minding a little salinity in the other tank. They always leave you with too many questions, though. What if these fish belong to an entirely different time zone than you have imagined? Is Molly Fish Tropical? Do these fish belong to a temperate climate?

Yes, molly fish are tropical fish present in bodies of water that cover Central and Northern America, such as Mexico, the USA, etc. These fish live in saltwater or survive under warmer temperatures as they come from the area where river and ocean meet, hence the fish from brackish ditches and harbors.

Thanks to the origin of molly fish, you can keep them in a freshwater or saltwater tank, depending on your preference. There is always a unique feature of molly fish that will pop up in your aquarium and leave you in awe.

Let’s talk more about their tropical qualities below and decide what is more wonderful, the mere existence of molly fish or how it leaves you with curiosity every day. In this article, we will discuss the nature of Molly fish and decide whether or not to call these fish tropical.

Is Molly Fish Tropical?

Yes, Molly fish are tropical fish originating from Central America, like Mexico and Southern USA. They live in freshwater environments but don’t feel surprised if you live happily in the saline habitats.

You can find molly fish among loose vegetation and happily live in shallow surface waters in the wild. Hence, they exhibit the same behavior in the aquarium; hence you will find molly swimming in the top section of the tank.

They live in the lagoons and brackish ditches and breed in shallow marine environments. Harbors and water around the roots of mangroves give mollies the perfect environment to breed.

Molly fish are quite hardy, so don’t worry as they do well in temperate climates and are present between forested streams and mangroves. 

Are Molly Fish Coldwater or Warm Water Fish?

Molly Fish are present in both warm and cold water in the wild. However, there is no conclusive answer as to whether they can live in tropical waters because there is no scientific research.

They can be present in bodies of water that cover the North American continent. Still, they cannot live in saltwater or survive under warmer temperatures like other tropical fishes. But they have physical traits that could lead one to believe they can.

They have a silvery, iridescent color, leading many to believe they could live in warm tropical waters because it matches the water that other types of fish can survive in, like goldfish.

However, Molly Fish also have scales that would make them unable to tolerate warmer temperatures, and their scales are also more likely to come off, which is not a trait that would be helpful in warmer waters.

What Makes Molly Fish Tropical?

So it’s tough to find out for sure without doing a lot of research about the subject and getting into all sorts of debates with other fish experts. But one thing is for certain: They can live in both tropical and non-tropical environments.

They can live in various habitats near freshwater environments, lagoons, and brackish ditches. This is a good indicator that they are not sensitive to the temperature like other animals.

However, their body temperature must stay within 73-78 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain optimum health; if it gets colder, they will die.

They have some traits that say they should be present either in cold or warm water; their scales and skin look more like those of fish who live in colder waters, but this may be because they live in the water.

These fish cannot survive in hot climates; their skin can dry up and crack or become infected with fungus if it gets too hot. They are susceptible to the conditions, and they can die if it’s too cold or too hot.

The Are Molly Fish Tropical debate will be an ongoing discussion for a long time, but you can rest assured that this animal species is not picky with its habitat.

Whether in tropical or non-tropical locales, they can survive as long as mollies have the proper water temperature in the tank.

Are All Molly Fish Tropical?

The different varieties of Molly fish show different natures. So, it is one of the reasons why it is difficult to decide whether molly fish are tropical.

Some species cannot survive in the tropical climate. In contrast, other species seem to do well in warm and cold climates.

Species Of Mollies That Are Not Tropical

Mollies are freshwater fish, and as such, they will not thrive in salt or brackish water aquarium. Most researchers claim that they come from the Amazon, Congo, Nile Basin, Colombia River basins of South America, and Central Africa.

And the molly fishes that can not survive in a tropical climate are:

  • Albino Mollies
  • Dalmatian Mollies
  • Gold Dust Mollies
  • Leopard Dalmation Mix
  • Orange and Black Molly Fish
  • Red Devils
  • Sunset Mollies
  • Molly Fish With Stripe

How Can You Maintain Tropical Vibes In Your Fishtank?

If the species of Molly you own is from a tropical area, maintaining those same conditions is important for their health. Tropical temperatures are key to developing good bacteria and algae growth in your tank, and Molly’s natural habitat resembles what they would have back home.

The best ways to maintain these necessary conditions are:

  • First, consistently monitor the temperature of your Molly Fishtank. Aim for a consistent range between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit and get a heater for molly fish to live happily.
  • Keep your water’s pH levels at around neutral or slightly acidic, with a scale reading between 6.7 and 8.5.
  • Have ample access to natural light to maintain their natural circadian rhythm.
  • Include live plants and rocks to provide the necessary hiding spaces for Molly. Breeders often recommend live plants in molly fish tanks as it replicates the natural habitat of mollies.
  • Add a good substrate towards the bottom of your tank for plant growth, such as rocks or gravel, to help maintain cleanliness.
  • An efficient filter system and cleaning them regularly. This is essential in reducing harmful chemicals found within tap water which can affect fish.

Things You Neep To Maintain Tropical Climate In Fishtank

To maintain these conditions consistently over a long period, you need to invest in a few types of equipment for the molly fish tank.

Consider investing in:

  • Thermometer for your tank to monitor the temperature accurately and easily without taking it out to a local lab.
  • An air pump provides them with enough oxygen, which is crucial for their health. But, your molly fish can survive without an air pump, so it is not a compulsion to get one if you have a good quality filter like Penn Plax Cascade 400 Submersible Aquarium Filter.
  • A UV sterilizer to help keep your tank clean without the need for harmful chemicals that could harm you or Molly.
  • AQQA Submersible Aquarium Heater maintains a consistent temperature and install aquarium lights on a timer to maintain the natural circadian rhythm.
  • Artificial light source if you cannot provide natural sunlight and artificial plants and rocks that do not require regular water changes or any other maintenance to make up for the lack of live ones.
  • Bacteria booster for maintaining water quality, including ammonia levels, nitrates, and nitrites.
  • Algae cleaner that does not contain copper or bleach not to harm Molly.

Some FAQs

What Are the Benefits of Owning A Molly Fish?

Tropical fishes are a diverse group of fishes that live in warm, tropical climates. While the exact number is anonymous, over 24,000 different species and subspecies have been identified until today.

The benefits of owning tropical Molly fish include:

  • they can tolerate warmer water temperatures than other aquariums options;
  • they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors;
  • Molly fish are very hardy with minimal care requirements.
  • Improved mental health because they are calming;
  • They are also non-threatening and easy to care for.
  • Finally, for aesthetic purposes, they make a home more lively and fun
  • They help with depression by providing companionship for people who are home alone and have no one to talk to.

So What Are The Disadvantages Of Owing A Molly Fish?

Undoubtedly, tropical Molly fish has various advantages. But like the two sides of coins. These fish do have some drawbacks as well. So, the disadvantages of owning tropical Molly Fish are:

  • They need a heated tank, and you will have to make sure the water temperature is suitable for them.
  • Molly needs a tank with lots of live plants, and mollies require water changes once every week or month, depending on the amount you change.
  • To thrive, you will have to keep the tank away from direct sunlight or some other artificial light source.
  • These molly fish are good for beginners.
  • If you live outside of an area with a warm climate, these Molly Fish will survive.
  • It’s important to research these fish before deciding if it’s right for you and your home.
  • Molly fish can get aggressive with other tropical in a tank when pregnant, sick, or incompatible with tank mates. So, it would help if you stayed careful before getting more than one individual.


In conclusion, molly fish come from tropical climates and prefer the tank environment replicating their natural habitat. Therefore, ensure to add a heater and proper filtration system in the fish tank to live a long life. The lifespan of molly fish ranges from 3 to 5 years only if you maintain the proper living environment.

I hope this article has helped answer your question and that these tips will help keep your molly fish happy and healthy.

 If you have any questions about the care of mollies, please feel free to reach out. We’re always here for you!

Good Luck!!

Happy Fishkeeping!!!