Can Molly Fish Live Without An Air Pump?

Molly fish are freshwater fish that typically originated in Central America. They produce oxygen through their gills, using this to breathe underwater. You can also keep Molly fish as pets for many people due to how easy they are to care for. Molly Fish will eat just about any food provided to them. When keeping Molly Fish,  it is important to focus on their aquariums. But can Molly fish live without an air pump?

Yes, Molly fish can live without an air pump in the tank as long as the filter provides the water momentum for oxygen exchange. Getting an air pump for the molly fish tank is entirely your decision and preference, and yes, it does help maintain the oxygen level in the tank.

Molly fish don’t need an air pump in the tank but if you want to see your fish playing with bubbles, then go for it. However, live plants, the aquarium filter, and sometimes the heater will do the job of the air pump, making it only a waste of money.

I know you have more questions swirling in your mind and driving you insane. However, fishkeeping isn’t that hard if you research and prepare yourself for the journey beforehand. So, don’t worry; I will answer most of your questions in the article below.

Let’s Dive In!

Can Molly Fish Live Without An Air Pump?

The simple answer is Yes. Yes, molly fish can live without an air pump in the tank until the oxygen level is right and the filter works fine.

Most people prefer to get an air pump to add to the aesthetics of the tank. Yes, Molly fish need oxygen to survive, but do these mollies need bubbles?

Yeah, well, your mollies prefer having something to play with, so bubbles work. And, of course, they will die in a tank where there isn’t enough oxygen. Thus, you must remove carbon dioxide from their environment or if bubbles are not present in water.

Sometimes you may keep Molly fish in a tank with a hooked-up air pump that does not function correctly. These fish will be delicate in those tanks for about two to three days.  But keeping them in a tank without a properly functioning air pump will be stressful and cause death.

Molly Fish needs constant oxygen circulation because they live in water where they lack dissolved oxygen at all times.

In addition, these mollies swim at the top part of the tank, so the oxygen supply is comparatively high in those areas. Thus, they are fine even when you don’t install an air pump in the molly tank.

Is Keeping Molly Fish Without Air Pump Bad?

Since Molly fish is one of the best freshwater tropical fishes, most aquarium owners want Molly Fish in their tanks.

Having Molly Fish requires us to pay more attention to water quality and filtration systems like air pumps for filter activities. In addition, we know that Molly is an active swimmer with tiny fins, which makes them need a constant water flow to stay healthy.

However, some of the dangers of keeping Mollies without an air pump are:

  • Molly Fish can die from a fungus in the tank when you keep them without an air pump. In addition, they usually have skin problems if it stays stagnant for too long. Therefore, you must provide Molly fish with a constantly fresh and clean water flow to keep them healthy.
  • If Molly Fish lives in the oxygen-deprived environment for too long, Molly Fish can develop gas bubble disease.
  • Molly Fish will have a bloated belly and may not be able to swim correctly. In addition, aquarium ornaments such as sharp rocks can cause injuries to these fish. Molly Fish can also have swim bladder disease, which Molly Fish cannot control their buoyancy.
  • They may not eat properly if Molly fish gets a swollen belly, and Molly fish will die from malnutrition or choking on food.
  • Molly might not be able to swim because of the lack of oxygen. These fish can die if there is no water flow on their own.

How Molly Fish Live Without Air Pump?

Molly Fish need an air pump if you want them to survive, or else provide some other form of aeration such as a large stone that the Molly can hold onto with its mouth to gulp some air from the surface. Of course, you can keep Molly fish in an aquarium without an air pump, but they do not thrive and will require special care.

Some things to consider when you keep Molly fish without an air pump are:

  • Change the water of the tank regularly. Molly fish like clean and clear water. Mollies are sensitive to water parameters like pH, ammonia, nitrites, hardness, and temperature changes, so you must regularly pay attention.
  • Maintain good filtration in your aquarium when Molly Fish lives without an air pump. Molly’s are very messy eaters, so that you will need a sound filtration system in your aquarium. In addition, Molly’s are sensitive to changes in water temperature, so you must maintain regularity with the cleanings and maintenance of your tank.
  • Provide proper nutrition for Molly Fish when they live without an air pump by feeding them formulated flake food or brine shrimp. In addition, Molly fish are omnivorous, so you must provide them with a good diet of meat and vegetables to keep them healthy.
  • Molly Fish can be sensitive to changes in pH levels when they live without an air pump, so make sure not to overfeed your Molly because this will increase the acidity level in your tank. Molly’s are also sensitive to high nitrate levels, so you need to do regular water changes when Molly Fish lives without an air pump.

How To Manage The Tank Of Molly Fish?

Mollies are among the most popular aquarium fish. Molly lives in a group and needs to have several companions, so we can say that they prefer living in schools or shoals of at least five individuals. Molly is an active and fun-loving species; it does not like staying alone. Therefore you must provide them with enough company if you want them to be more active and happy.

Furthermore, some of the tips to manage the tank of Molly fish are:

Provide Enough Space For Mollies

Molly fish can grow up to 14 cm or about five inches. However, Molly does not grow its entire length until they are at least two years old. Therefore you must provide them with an adequate space if you want them to live happily and healthily in the tank. So, make sure that the tank size is at least 50 gallons or 100 liters of water.

Maintain Water Quality

Molly fish like to live in water with a pH level of between six and eight and a water temperature of about 18 to 24 degrees Celsius. Molly fish are susceptible. Therefore you must maintain the quality of your tank’s water to help them live longer.

Provide Molly Fish The Right Food

Molly needs a diet rich in protein and vegetable matter that can be present in bloodworms, brine shrimps, and grindal worms. In addition, Molly fish are omnivorous, which means they eat both plants and animals. Therefore, you must feed them with a variety of food to keep them healthy.

Keeping Molly Fish Healthy

Molly fish can stay healthier if you properly filter their tank. Maintain the filter’s efficiency by checking it weekly. Molly fish are sensitive to high levels of ammonia and nitrates, so you must maintain the tank’s water quality to help them live longer.

Choose The Best Tankmates

Molly fish are peaceful and easy-going. Therefore they can live together with other types of fish. Molly is compatible with most species of tetra, barbs, or catfish. However, you must avoid keeping Molly in the same tank as Goldfish because Molly may not compete for food against them.

Place Plants And Rocks

Molly fish like to swim in the mid-level of the tank. Therefore you must place some rocks or plants that are suitable for Molly. Molly Fish are very active swimmers, so they benefit from being near structures that provide them with resting places when needed. Some live plants that you can use are Java Moss and Java Fern.

In addition, Molly fish can get sick if they have parasites or bacterial infections. Therefore, you must keep your eyes open for any signs of disease that Molly fish may show. You can quickly treat Molly’s disease if you do it as early as possible. However, Molly fish tend to die soon from a condition that you leave untreated.

What Is The Importance Of an Air Pump?

An air pump creates oxygen in an aquarium which Molly fish need to survive. Air pumps come with different features and have a wide range of prices depending on the quality sought after by you or your pet’s needs.

Some of the importance of air pumps are:

  • Molly fish respire oxygen from water, hence the importance of an air pump in the Molly Fishtank.
  • Air pumps help create bubbles that provide a natural habitat for Molly fish and remove carbon dioxide from the aquarium environment. The number of bubbles produced will depend on the air pump you use.
  • Higher quality aquarium air pumps will produce more bubbles than the standard air pump.
  • Molly fish can feel stressed out without an air pump, so it is important to have one in every aquarium with these fish living inside them.

Some FAQs

How Long Do Molly Fish Live?

Molly fish can live anywhere from three to five years. The lifespan of mollies depends on the care you give. If you are attentive and considerate, these fish will attain their maximum lifespan.

However, mistakes and carelessness will lead to the sudden death of your fish, even though mollies are not the fish to die too easily.

Why Do Molly Fish Need Air Pumps?

Molly fish need air pumps because they breathe oxygen from the water as other fish do. However, they will only live a few days without an air pump. Molly fish and air bubble stones Molly fish need an air pump because they cannot get enough oxygen from the water. Thus, their tanks should have some bubble stones to help add extra oxygen.

Do Molly Fish Breathe Oxygen From the Water Like Other Fish Do?

Molly and other freshwater fish take oxygen from the water through their gills, which they then use for energy. They need to be in the water with a PH of around six. Molly fish love plants, rocks, and other decorations in their tank because they can hide under them when feeling stressed or scared.

Can You Keep Molly Fish In A Fishbowl?

Unlike some aquarium fish, molly fish cannot live in such a small, confined space of a fishbowl. So instead, your fish is quite active and social and prefers company to explore the area they live in.

So, keeping mollies with a group in an aquarium is a better idea, and keeping molly fish alone in the fishbowl is straight-up cruelty.


Molly fish can survive in water low on oxygen, but it is not suitable for them over time. If you plan to buy Mollies, install a proper filtration system in the tank or any other form of aeration if your tank does not include one already. You can get away without installing an air pump as long as you maintain the oxygenation process in the tank. In addition, Molly fish prefer a little water current that increases the oxygen level rapidly in the tank.

Hopefully, this post helped me learn about Molly fish and its needs. Molly’s are a great addition to any freshwater tank, but they must have an environment with oxygen-rich water to thrive.

Good Luck!!

Happy Fishkeeping!