Sailfin Molly

Species NamePoecilia latipinna
Common NameSailfin Molly
Care LevelBeginner to Intermediate
Lifespan3-5 years
Adult Size3-4 inches (males), 4-6 inches (females)
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons
Temperature72°F – 82°F (22°C – 28°C)
Water ConditionspH 7.0-8.5, 10-25 dGH, brackish water optional

About the Sailfin Molly – Species Summary

The Sailfin Molly, known scientifically as Poecilia latipinna, is a stunning and robust freshwater fish native to the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. They are particularly distinguished by their large dorsal fin, which, when fully extended, resembles a sail – hence the name. This species is found in a variety of natural habitats, from freshwater to brackish waters, making them adaptable and a favorite among aquarists. They are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. Their dynamic colors, hardy nature, and unique sail-like fin make them an attractive choice for both novice and experienced fishkeepers.

Sailfin Molly Lifespan

Sailfin Molly typically has a lifespan ranging from 3 to 5 years under proper care in captivity. Like other fish, their longevity can be influenced by various factors such as diet, water quality, stress levels, and overall care. A well-maintained environment combined with regular health check-ups and a balanced diet can optimize their lifespan.


The Sailfin Molly’s most striking feature is undoubtedly its large, impressive dorsal fin, which can be especially pronounced and colorful in males. These fish come in various colors, from silvers and blacks to gold and dalmatian-spotted. Males generally showcase more vibrant colors, while females tend to be larger with a less pronounced dorsal fin.

Average Size

While females can grow to be between 4-6 inches, males typically reach sizes of 3-4 inches. The male’s dorsal fin or “sailfin” becomes more pronounced and ornate as they mature.

Sailfin Molly Care

Tank Size

A minimum tank size of 30 gallons is recommended for Sailfin Mollies, especially considering their active nature and potential size. If you plan on keeping a group or adding other species, a larger tank would be more suitable.

How To Set Up Their Tank

To replicate their natural environment, a mix of freshwater and salt is recommended but not essential. This brackish water setup requires adding marine salt (not table salt) to the freshwater. A sandy substrate, combined with aquatic plants, driftwood, and rock formations, can provide ample hiding spaces and mimic their natural habitat. Ensure there is open swimming space to accommodate their active nature.

Lighting Requirements

Sailfin Mollies aren’t particularly picky about lighting. Moderate aquarium lighting suffices, especially if you have live plants in the tank. Too intense light might cause stress, so it’s essential to provide some shaded areas using plants or decorations.


A pH level ranging from 7.0 to 8.5 is ideal for Sailfin Mollies. It’s crucial to maintain stability in pH levels, so regular monitoring and adjustments using natural or commercial products might be necessary.


For Sailfin Mollies, a water temperature range between 72°F and 82°F (22°C – 28°C) is optimal. As always, any adjustments to temperature should be made gradually.

Water Parameters

A hardness level between 10-25 dGH is best for Sailfin Mollies. They can thrive in both freshwater and brackish conditions. If opting for brackish water, ensure the salinity level is consistent, and introduce the salt slowly.

Disease Potential

Like other aquarium fish, Sailfin Mollies are susceptible to various diseases, including Ich, fin rot, and fungal infections. Ensuring proper water quality, quarantining new fish, and regular health check-ups can significantly reduce disease risks.

Food & Diet

Being omnivores, Sailfin Mollies have a diverse diet. While they will eat flake food, they benefit from a varied diet that includes live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. They also enjoy vegetable matter like algae and blanched vegetables.

Behavior and Temperament

Sailfin Mollies are peaceful and can be quite sociable, often seen swimming actively around the tank. Males, however, might occasionally display territorial behaviors, especially during breeding seasons. Therefore, it’s recommended to keep a higher female to male ratio to reduce potential conflicts.

Tank Mates

Due to their peaceful disposition, Sailfin Mollies can coexist with a variety of tank mates. They get along well with other livebearers like Platies and Guppies, as well as with peaceful Tetras, Corydoras, and some smaller Cichlids. However, larger aggressive fish or fin-nippers should be avoided.


Breeding Sailfin Mollies is relatively straightforward. Once a pair has formed, they will breed regularly. Since they give birth to live young, it’s essential to provide plenty of hiding spaces for the fry, either using dense plant cover or breeding boxes. The fry can be fed finely crushed flake food or specially designed fry food.

Sailfin Molly FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)