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


  • 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.

BreedingAs 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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here