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Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > The Livebearers > The Mollys
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This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the

South America


Molly variety
Molly variety
Molly variety
Molly variety

Poecilia sphenops, Poecilia latipinna
Poecilia velifera


    One of the oldest kept species the Molly has retained its popularity. Through selective breeding we now have many color and shape variations that have help the molly stay in demand.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Males Up to 6" (15cm), females larger
    Tank: 30 inches
    Strata: Middle, top
    PH: 7.0 to 8.5
    Hardness: Medium to hard dH range: 20.0 - 35.0
    Temperature: 70°F to 79°F (21-26°C)


    Order: Atheriniformes
    Suborder: Cyprinodontoidei
    Family: Poeciliidae
    Genera: sphenops, latipinna, velifera

Common name

    Black Molly, Sailfin Molly, Lyretail Molly

Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


  • Poecilia sphenops
    Central America, from Mexico to Columbia.
  • Poecilia latipinna
    Southeastern North America. From the Carolinas through the Gulf Coast to Southern Mexico.
  • Poecilia velifera
    Southern Mexico

General Body Form
  • Poecilia sphenops
    Elongated, with the males slender and the females with a very round belly profile. Males can reach a length of three inches and the Females almost five.
  • Poecilia latipinna
    Moderately elongated, with strong lateral compression. The outstanding feature of this fish is the Dorsal fin of the male, which he can extend out like a sail. Males can reach a length of three and three quarters inches and the females about one inch more. They tend to be smaller in the home aquaria.
  • Poecilia velifera
    Very similar to P latipinna, with the major difference being the markings on the Dorsal fin in P velifera they small,round light spots while in P latipinna they are dark and rectangular. Males can reach a length of six inches and the females even larger.

  • Poecilia sphenops
    Several subspecies and color varieties are known. The best known is the "classic" Black Molly where the back is usually Olive Brown and the sides may be silvery with a Green or Blue luster marked with a series of brown or Orange dots. The Popular Lyretail varieties also belong to this species
  • Poecilia latipinna
    The males upperside is a dark Greenish Brown changing on the sides to a blue luster with whitish markings on the throat and belly. The sides are marked with a series of stripes or bars that are made up of Red, Green or Blue dots and there can also be a few Black bars near the belly. The Dorsal fins light Blue with Black-Blue spots and streaks with the upper margin being Orange. The Caudal fin is also Orange-red with dots much like the dorsal fin. The female is very similar to the male but with less vibrant colors. This species has many varieties with different coloration's.
  • Poecilia velifera
    This is one of the most beautiful livebearers you will see. The sides are Blue-Green with iridescent greenish, Silver or pale Blue dots. Between the dots are dark Blue to Copper color bands that extend all the way to the Caudal fin. The Belly and throat area is also Bluish, Green or Orange. The Dorsal and Caudal fins are marked with Pearly dots and are edged in Orange, Brown or Black. The female is very similar to the male but with less vibrant colors

  • Poecilia sphenops
    An easily cared for fish that does well in all types of community aquaria. Give them a fairly large tank with live plants and open swimming areas, avoid too much driftwood as a rule the livebearers do not like acidic water. Although not a schooling fish they benefit by being kept with a large number of their own kind. Temperature range from sixty-eight to seventy-seven degrees.
  • Poecilia latipinna
  • Poecilia velifera
    these pretty fish are best kept alone or with other Livebearers in large well planted aquariums. They prefer a little sea salt in their water (one teaspoon to two gallons of water). In addition to live and flake food their diet should be supplemented with some plant material. The males large fins depend on the nutrients from the plant food and may not develop properly if they are not received. These are a temperate zone fish and can tolerate fairly low water temperatures, but they do prefer the range of 75 to 82 degrees f.

  • Poecilia sphenops
    Wild form in fresh and Brackish water, especially in rivers from Venezuela to Mexico.
  • Poecilia latipinna
    Fresh and Brackish water, in rivers from South Carolina to Mexico.
  • Poecilia velifera
    Coastal areas in Yucatan, Mexico.


    As the male matures the Anal fin develops into a structure for reproduction called the Gonopodium. The Gonopodium can be moved in almost any direction and stores the sperm in packs called spermatophores. Once the sperm is inserted into the female it fertilizers her eggs and the rest is stored in the Oviduct walls for later use. The eggs are very rich in yolk and the young develop by consuming their yolk stores. In light colored females pregnancy can be recognized by the growing dark body marking in front of the Anal fin. Young Live-bearers are fairly large at birth and their development is very advanced. They can swim right away, which is needed to avoid their enemies including their parents who give no natal care whatsoever. The fry grow very rapidly and will eagerly accept fine flake food. The number of fry is variable due to the size differences in the species, but in larger females can number well over one hundred.

    Molly fry

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Goldencat
Have found mollies very difficult fishes to keep, apart from common black mollies. Contrary to myth, they are not good starter fish, since they are touchy. Once you meet their demands for clean, nitrite/nitrate/heavy metal free water, AND abundant vegetable food (not "veggie" flake food which is meat based), AND warmth of 78-80F, AND no aggressive nippy fishes like tiger barbs, skunk botias, or angels, THEN you will get lots of babies and friendly flocks of mollies. My water is hard well-water with high particulate, high dissolved mineral salts, sulfur, iron, and manganese. Lost many mollies and platies before getting a filter media to remove the metals. "Stress-Coat" was not enough to neutralize the dissolved solids in my water, and reverse osmosis water was not good for them either...probably not hard enough or salty enough. Got many babies with giving romaine lettuce every day or so, using submerged feeder clip. No problem with cannibalism. Probably prefer to peck at the live plants or lettuce.
From: PhillyMom
This is such a great fish for your tank. I initially bought a male and two females so that my seven year old could see the babies in the tank. I actually had to separate the male from the females because I couldn't get them to stop having babies..I now have added another aquarium, and have separated all of the babies out into the two 50 gallon tanks. I only kept 3 males and have them in my smaller 29 gallon aquarium, the rest I donated to my daughter's school where they live in three fishtanks. As for the females, I kept all 23 that lived (YES-23 of them!!!) and have them in all of my tanks. They are wonderful fish, very friendly, and very easy to care for. A little salt, and they're happy. Be mindful and do your research though-they are aggressive and will eat their young soon after birth if you don't put an expecting momma into a breeding tank. But have fun-they're one of my favorite fish to keep!
From: Dawn Cavin
I just read a comment from another person on here and they said that they had 4 males and 4 females. What people tend to not be told about this species is the males need 2 females if not more. I personally have 2 females and one male and both females are now expecting any day. These are very easy fish to take care of and they are also easy to please. a few fresh plants and some brine shrimp and they are happy
From: Stacy
I love these fish, but they do seem prone to some problems. During cycling I had 4 males and 4 females in a 20 gal long. I had to get rid of one of the males because he killed 2 of my other fish. Then the three other males didn't make it through the cycle. I treated for ich several times before figuring out I needed much more salt in the tank than I had been using. It seems to me that Lyretail need more salt than any others. Still like them, plan to get a 40gal to put the ones I still have along with a couple Sailfin.
From: nurse
I introduced 6 mollies into a 49 gal tank with 3 baby angels, being told that these were great community fish and could hold up against angels. Be warned that mollies CAN be aggressive and every once in awhile you can get one that has an attitude problem, worse than just a pecking order claim on life. My mollies politely pecked until they killed off all of the angels. They are now isolated to the small tank!
From: Tay
A great fish that does very well in a community tank. I keep five in a 29 gallon tank and have raised several babies. They are very easy to breed and I find leaving a night light on for them helps alot. Also they are very prone to ick but if treated within the first 24 hours should recover quite nicely. They do well in warmer water around 80 degrees. Also I have never used salt but would like to try in the very near future. Great fish not very demanding and when healthy very nice looking to. But just a final warning be sure to buy this fish from a trusted dealer as poor water conditions when young will lead to many health problems in their later lives. So have fun and love your mollies!!!!
From: Lionel Pichon
Sailfin Mollies are great fish. I have a 54 gal. tank with adult Sailfins and a 30 gal. with baby Sailfins. Neither of my tanks contain salt. I feed flake foods, Spirulina Wafer, frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, and Daphnia. I do a 25% water change every Sunday and Wednesday. The larger tank is planted with Hornwort and Mangroves. The baby tank have no substrate or plants. I feed them heavily, and they are growing fast. I had trouble with keeping these fish when I started about two years ago. I tried everything including salt. It was the water changes that made the difference for me.
From: Kay Wonderley
I have found that male sailfin mollies tend to be much less resistant to diseases than their female counterparts. Prolonged levels of ammonia and nitrite while I was establishing the aquarium killed all the males but the females survived. When the tank was properly cycling I introduced 2 male sailfins and they have survived.
From: Lauren
These are very amusing little fish when they are healthy. However, be warned, they are prone to velvet and ich. I have had endless cycles of treatment for my little family. I find that minimizing this problem requires, careful checking of water chemistry, regular cleaning and gravel vacuuming and having live plants that are easily removable for cleaning. Also, sea salt is a must. Good luck.
From: Molly
Gorgeous little fish. I have five in a 30 litre heavily planted tank. And they are doing great. Sometimes they like to chase each other around, just an innocent quarrel over pecking order I presume, but it never gets serious, and they always stay in their school. However I don't know what all the fuss is about on the difficulty of keeping this fish. The water in my tank is relatively hard and they are doing perfectly fine. As soon as I introduced them their noses started to glow bright red and their black and white tails became more intense within a few minutes. I strongly recommend this fish for any community tank.







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