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Introducing Black Mollies, Platys And Swordtails To The Freshwater Aquarium

Updated on April 7, 2012

Black Molly


Pineapple Platy

The pineapple platy, looks similar to it's close cousin, the sunset platy. However it has more of a pineapple color to it, rather then a deep yellow. Platys make good first additions to any aquarium.
The pineapple platy, looks similar to it's close cousin, the sunset platy. However it has more of a pineapple color to it, rather then a deep yellow. Platys make good first additions to any aquarium.

Red Hybrid Fancy Swordtails

Red swordtails, like this hybrid species, shown in the photo, can brighten up any freshwater aquarium. It is a good fish type to introduce along with their close cousin the platy, as well as adding a few black mollies.
Red swordtails, like this hybrid species, shown in the photo, can brighten up any freshwater aquarium. It is a good fish type to introduce along with their close cousin the platy, as well as adding a few black mollies.

The continued joy and interest that a simple freshwater aquarium brings to those who own one are numerous. And it doesn't stop when you have completed the best task of all-setting up the tropical fish environment. So now that you have let the water age three days or more-actually the longer the better! You are now ready to introduce some occupants to their new watery home.

There are so many types of tropical fish species, some you may already know by name. But you are having a bit of difficulty in making the decision of what species of fish to purchase first, or what are the most hardiest species to purchase first. These are all good quesitons to be asking yourself and to add may take a bit of research on your part. However hopefully after reading on you will have an easier time in choosing a couple different varieties-a few of which I will describe in more detail.

As previously mentioned it's definitely not an easy task to pick out at least a half dozen fish to take home with you from the local petshop. It can definitely take a little work, planning and of course a lot of thought because the choice are indeed many. Some species are also hardier than other freshwater aquatic species. So try to keep this in mind as well when you choose the first few fish for your tank. I know an individual or two, who used to start off with a few goldfish or guppies for their freshwater aquarium. And the reasoning behind why they chose those simple looking species was two-fold. First of all Goldfish in particular are a very hardy species and so are Guppies.

Secondly they, out of a variety of different aquatic species, are probably the least expensive than any other. They are also two great fish species to test the waters out with-so to speak. If your water temperature within your tank is a bit too cold, or maybe too high-above lets say eighty-two degrees, these particular species will adapt quickly without going into shock, like some other species may. Also if your water PH and ammonia levels within your tank for example are not just quite right, than don't get too excited about it; because the goldfish that you start off with and the guppies get tougher when their watery environment is already less than desirable.

The worst thing that could happen is that the few goldfish or guppies that you purchase could perish unexpectedly. But again not a real big loss because you have used these species mainly to once again-test the waters in your new aquarium. And for the most part, a combination of a half dozen goldfish and guppies will not have cost you anymore than four dollars tops. On the other hand if you were to add two or three angel fish to a newly setup aquarium, they may cost you in the ballpark of nine to twelve dollars for three that are fairly small in size.

Angel fish also are one type of freshwater species, who are a bit fussy when it comes to preferring a freshwater aquarium, that has a constant temperature of at least eighty degrees and to add-a water PH that is slightly alkaline, which is about (7.4 to 7.6). And too much ammonia in the water for example will over time kill them. I will talk more about angel fish and a few other species, as well as testing water more thoroughly, adding chemicals and live plants in a future article. For now lets stick to the basics of choosing a few of the more common species that are also common inhabitants to new freshwater aquariums.

Assuming that you have already prepped your new aquarium and have had the water tested at your local pet shop. And also taking into consideration that you have all of the other elements in place to least three inches of gravel on the bottom of the aquarium, water temperature set at about seventy-eight degrees, with the assistance of a decent aquarium heater or thermostat.

And a piece of natural driftwood and a rock or two, for your new friends to hide behind, until they have become accustomed to their new home. Then ready, set and go for it! you are ready to fetch and bring home a few platys, black mollies and swordtails, which I will talk about in further detail.

Next to the numerous different types of platys that are available at a local tropical fish wholesaler, or from a pet store such as petco, I think that the Black Molly is probably my favorite. This freshwater species is fairly easy to breed and is a livebearer, which means that the female gives birth to approximately fifteen to thirty or more little black mollies of about a quarter inch in length at birth. For this reason it is always nice to raise freshwater aquarium fish like the black molly that adapts fairly well to a freshwater tank and to add is easy to raise.

To add they are a peaceful fish, non-aggressive by nature and get along with almost any other freshwater species, including platys and swordtails. However try to keep them together with similar species. Aqurarium species belonging to the Tetra family, or Cichlids can get quite aggressive at times and you should not place these fish in the same tank with mollies and platys for example. Unless you want to see bits and pieces of dorsal fins and tails nipped off of your fish and floating about your tank.

Mollies also prefer the water in their environment to be a bit briny or having some salinity added to it. One teaspoon of aquarium grade salt per two gallons of aquarium water, is recommended as an addition to aquarium water for all Mollies. So by adding a bit of natural aquaruim salts to the tank, it will benefit this species more so, while not causing any harm to the other fish in the tank with them.

Just do not overdo it and always read the instructions on any chemical that you are going to introduce into the freshwater aquarium, it just makes common sense. If ever in doubt ask the associate working in the tropical fish department. These people are very knowledgeable and are there only to help you-not to give you the wrong advice. Mollies also come in few other colors and/or varieties...silver, gold, marbled and the hybrid lyre mollies can also be purchased as your local pet shop.

The platy family-sometimes referred to moonfish because of their various markings or colors are also a great addition to the freshwater aquarium. They average two to four inches in length and like mollies can live up to three years in an aquarium environment that is approximately ten to fifteen gallons. A good starting size for the beginning freshwater hobbyist.

Platys can be fed a similar diet to mollies and other similar species, which consists of dried, frozen or flaked foods. Feeding mollies, platys and other freshwater aquarium fish a variety of different foods ensures that they will get the proper nutrition they need. Depending on the amount and size of the fish in your tank, a good rule of thumb to go by, is never feed your fish more food then they consume in a three to five minute period.

Just like any other freshwater aquarium inhabitant that you purchase for your new aquarium, make sure that the water temperature is between (72 degrees to 82 degrees). And probably more importantly make sure that the PH in the tank is at the proper level-ideally 7.2 which is considered neutral. A PH level that starts to drop below this number is usually considered acidic. For the most part you will find this to be the case if you still have well water in your home and have not yet hooked up to public water.

PH alone and next to ammonia levels is probalby the most critical component of keeping your fish healthy for a long time to come. If your water is not maintained properly which includes frequent water changes over a period of one to two months, than you wil risk losing your fish friends prematurely. Platys much like Mollies can take a wide variation in water temperature but again, when it comes down to the proper water conditions in their aquarium environment they are sensitive to changes. Something to keep in mind also is that Petco for one will do a complete test of your aquarium water free of charge.

ThepPlaty family also does well, like mollies with a variety of other freshwater fish such as the Zebra danios, rainbows, neons and their larger cousins, the cardinal. Platys similar to mollies also come in a variety of different color and types. The redwag platy has black fins and a black tail. Whereas the sunset platy's for example will have a yellowish-orange body with either a red fin and reddish tale, or a black fin with a black tail. AGain depending on the variety. In addition a wide range of color characteristics ranging from blue, tuxedo, crescent and gold are also available for the choosing, in this particular species.

Another fine addition to your newly setup freshwater aquarium would have to be last but not least, a swordtail or two. Swordtails are unique in their own sense in that they sport a one to one and a half inch extension if you will, from the back of their tail fin area. Swordtails like platy's and mollies can live up to three years of age within a properly maintained freshwater environment.

Adding a few variety of plants can make it easier to reach this goal by balancing the oxygen/carbon dioxide cycle within your newly established tank. Swordtails are also fairly easier to care for and grow to about three to five inches in length overall. Swortails similar to mollies and platys are also live bearers and give birth to young ones of the species.

For this reason alone also try to keep in mind, if you do not intend to start off breeding platy's, mollies, or swordtails, than do not overpopulate with these species. Because they will and can take over or populate your aquarium rather quickly which will make it an uncomfortable and overcrowded situation for other freshwater species that may already be in your tank.

Like mollies swordtails also prefer a bit of salinity in their freshwater homes, so it may also be good idea to add a teaspoon of aquarium salts prior to introducing then into the tank. Male swordtails can tend to be a bit aggressive with each other, but like platy's and mollies are a fairly peaceful species and will get along with each other. In addition make sure you have the top on your tank with light intact securely in place. Because if given the chance like many other species of fish, swordtails are known to leap out of aquariums. This is something you do not want happening to your newly purchased fish.

Feed your swordtails-dried foods, flakes and a variety of frozen foods to maintain proper nutrition. Swordtails can also be purchased in a variety of colors and varieties. Orange, or red swordtails are among the more common species of this family and there is also a silver variety; as well as the fancier hybrid swordtails.

Upon bringing home all three of these freshwater species and introducing them into your freshwater tank, make sure that you acclimate or prep them for entry into their new home. Do this by opening the plastic bag that they are contained in. Afterward remove some of the water from the bag that your fish are in and place it into your tank.

In exchange for the removed water from the bag, take a little water from inside of your fish tank and add it slowly over a period of ten to fifteen minutes tops. All the while letting the bag with the fish float on the surface of your aquarium.

This will help your fish get accustomed and adapt much quicker to the new environment within your aquarium. Ensuring that they make a smooth entry into their new home with less chance of suffering from shock and dying on you. After ten minutes or so, you are ready to release and start watching your newly acquired fish swim about their watery world with family and friends. And to add-enjoy the peace and tranquility they will bring to your own home, for many years to come.


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    • Jlbowden profile imageAUTHOR

      James Bowden 

      2 years ago from Long Island, New York


      Thank you for reviewing my article and glad that you found it useful! I reviewed your YouTube video and found it very interesting as well. Thank you for sharing that link. Very descriptive and right to the point. Without being too drawn out!


    • Samitha Mihiranga profile image

      Samitha Mihiranga 

      2 years ago

      Superb Article.. I have breed them in my pond and now have several kind of Molly. They are really colorful and i love the patterns they get after breeding them. I also have sword tail together with molly. they breeding nicely as well.

      Well i these kind of little fish since they really easy to care. I have created a video for newbies to identify molly types.. here is it

    • Jlbowden profile imageAUTHOR

      James Bowden 

      2 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hello RiverDaughter;

      Thank you for your feedback in reference to my article. To answer your question about keeping various Platy fish, mollies and Swordtails together with a Betta fish. You are better off keeping a smaller five gallon tank or less for your beta only. They tend to fight with their own species. And they may pick on Platy's and Swordtails as well, in a separate 10 gallon tank. A male or male and female beta in one tank separate from platy's and Mollies for example would be a more successful community aquarium. I hope my answers help you with your fish questions and also help you to make the right decision in choosing your fishes. Best of luck!

      Jim B.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Can any of these fish live with a male betta? I want to start a community tank, and if my mom likes the fish enough, and the y can live in my 10 gallon with my betta, I can. These fish are pretty, and I'd like some.

    • Jlbowden profile imageAUTHOR

      James Bowden 

      4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hi Al:

      Thanks for stopping by to read over my article. Actually me too - the swordtails & Black Mollies in particular were my first love when it came to starting out with freshwater. Thanks again for your comments & I look forward to reading some of your articles in the near future!


    • PhiladelphiaWri profile image


      4 years ago

      Very nice article, Jim. Swordtails were one of the fish species that really got me hooked in the hobby!

    • Jlbowden profile imageAUTHOR

      James Bowden 

      7 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hi Cherry;

      Thank you very much for your feedback about the experience with your own Black mollies. Very interesting and also something I did not know in reference to this species and hormones. I do know that green swordtails for one, will interbreed with platy's and occasionally black mollies. Again thanks for the comment & glad you enjoyed this article.


    • cherrycrime26 profile image

      January Moon 

      7 years ago from NY, Now Living in Atlanta Ga

      Mollies can change sex if water and ratio to tank size is not right, I had two male mollies and a female, I guess my tank was not big enough and my female Molly turned into a male, the male fish were releasing hormones in the water, the coral ref fish can do this as well, interesting hub :-)

    • Jlbowden profile imageAUTHOR

      James Bowden 

      8 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hi Susan:

      I am glad that you found my article useful to you and that it will serve as a good reference tool in the future, when you set up an aquarium once again. Many people don't realize how much there is to setting up and maintaining a tropical fish aquarium. There is certainly more than meets the eye. I plan on writing more articles in the future that will be of use to the aquarium hobbyist as well as others who would like to set-up a first time fish tank. Again thanks for stopping in to check out the article.


    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We had a fresh water fish tank about ten years ago and we're thinking of getting it up and going again. I will bookmark this hub as there are many things I've learned from your hub that I didn't know back then. Thanks.


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