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Livebearers / Poeciliidae / Short-finned Molly

Short-finned Molly, Pointed-mouth Molly
Poecilia sphenops

Synonyms: Mollienisia sphenops is the most common among more than 40 synonyms known.
Physical description: An elongated, laterally compressed fish with a pointed snout. The caudal fin is fan-shaped. The color is highly variable ranging from the black molly to orange and blue forms. The feral form has an olive-green back and bluish flanks. The flanks are spotted with orange spots, and the belly region is orange. The iris of the eye is blue. The fins are brownish.
Size/Length: Females to 4.7" (12 cm), males to 3.2" (8 cm)
Similar species: Mexican Molly (P. mexicana)
Habitat: In fresh and brackish water in coastal areas from Mexico to Columbia.
S: middle, top
Aquarium: A 32" (80 cm) or 30 gallons (114 L) is suitable for adults. Young can be kept in smaller tanks. The tank should be well-planted with plants and add floating plants to serve as a retreat for young. Use wood and rocks for hiding places and use a bright light to increase algae growth.
Water chemistry: pH 7.0-8.5 (7.6), 12-30 dH (20), 70-82°F (21-28°C). A 0.5-1.5% addition of salt can be used, although this is not required. This can be accomplished by adding 4-11 TSP. of salt to every 10 gallons (5-15 g/10 L).
Social behavior: This peaceful species can be combined in a community tank with other species that can tolerate hard, neutral to alkaline water. Best to keep one male to several females.
Suggested companions: Xiphophorus, Poecilia, Corydoras, Gouramis, Loricarids, tetras tolerant of hard, alkaline water.
FOOD: Algae; live; worms, crustaceans, insects, insect larvae; plant matter; vegetable matter; flakes; pellets
SEX: The male is slightly smaller, more colorful, and has a pointed anal fin (gonopodium).
Breeding techniques: As for other livebearers. As many as 120 young are born after a gestation period of eight weeks. Protect the young from the parents for they will be consumed.
Breeding potential: 4. An easily bred species.
Remarks: This species was originally crossed with P. latipinna to produce a more disease-resistant black molly. Several different color morphs are available.
Difficulty of care: 2. A robust species recommended for beginner's community tanks. 4. The Black Molly is less hardy, and requires warmer water temperatures from 77-84°F (25-29°C). The Black Molly requires well maintained water and rarely lives longer than three years in captivity. Frequent partial water changes are essential for the health of all morphs.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com