Sailfin Molly (Poecilia Velifera) Looking at just the name and a photo of the sailfin molly, a person could easily be forgiven for thinking that this is just another variation of the popular Common Molly (P. latipinna). After all, the common molly comes in so many different colors and fin types that the varieties often look like completely different species. However, if you were to put adult examples of the two mollies side by side, you would instantly recognize they are different animals. The sailfin molly is a true giant and is more than twice the size of the common molly when fully grown. The males of this giant are breath-taking. As their name suggests, they possess an enormous sail-like dorsal fin that when fully spread is a sight to behold. A healthy male will display his finnage often such as when he encounters a rival male or when he tries to attract the opposte sex. Unfortunately, they are often kept in tanks where conditions are less than perfect and they rarely show off their dorsals in such conditions. Like most fish, when they are unhappy or unhealthy, mollies clamp their fins and will often just shimmy in place. What makes them unhappy? Well, first is tank size. They are big fish and a trio requires at least a thirty gallon, 110 liter tank. A small tank stunts the growth of the dorsal permanently. Second, they cannot abide soft water. They like a pH of between 7.0 and 8.5. They can also be kept in lightly brackish water, but avoid full marine conditions. If kept in soft water, sailfin mollies are prone to bacterial infections. If kept in water that is not kept clean enough, they are vulnerable to velvet disease. However, if you have the right conditions, you have the opportunity to breed this fish which could be profitable as these magnificent fish are often in high demand and can bring good prices. They are not as easy to breed as many livebearers, but if you are lucky, your female sailfins can give you between 20 and 200 young every 4 to 8 weeks. More often than not, the number of babies is on the lower end of that range. Do not keep these fish with other members of the genus Poecilia which includes the mollies and guppies. However it is safe to keep them with Swordtails and Platies as the mollies cannot interbreed with them.
Origin: SE Mexico. Has been introduced to waterways in many other countries including New Zealand, Singapore, Columbia, Israel and more.
Size: 17.5 cm/ 7 inches
Temperature: 22-28°C/ 72-82°F
Feeding: Easy to feed, they accept all types of food. They need to eat greens in addition to other food so provide them with spirulina wafers, blanched vegetables, or fresh algae.
Habitat: They want to be in a tank with a lot of rooted and floating plants with some open areas for swimming and displaying to each other. Salt is not necessary as long as the water is hard. You can make your water harder simply by adding seashells that leach their minerals into the water.
Breeding: Livebearers. Because of their size, do not attemp to use a breeding trap. If you want to save most of the young, give a gravid feme her own well-planted nursery tank. Sailfin mollies will actively eat their own fry.