Fish

10 Different Types of Molly fish—Can They Mate, Live Together

10 Different Types of Molly fish—Can They Mate, Live Together

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Mollies are one of the more commonly kept fish in home aquariums. They are arguably the most beautiful and diverse species, with a myriad of different forms available.

For instance, sailfin molly fish have large sail-like dorsal fins, whereas balloon mollies are morphs with an arched back, and large, rounded bellies.

That said, if you are new to fish keeping, molly fish types can be pretty confusing, so in this article, we’ll look at 10 common types of molly fish, plus a few insights for when you need to add them in your fish tank.

But first…

What are The Different Types of Molly Fish?

As I’ve mentioned above, there are many different types of mollies, but distinguishing them is quite easy, especially if you understand their history.

Usually, all mollies can be put under three major groups depending on their coloration, fin configuration, and body shape.

However, to start with, understand that all mollies are genetically linked to either (or a crossbreed) of these three species: Sailfin molly (Poecilia latipinna), short-finned molly (Poecilia sphenops), and Yucatan lyretail molly (Poecilia velifera).

Molly fish then come in a variety of colors, with all are derived from only 3 primitive color schemes: white, orange and black.

Then you have the fin configuration that includes the sailfin mollies that have long, sail-like dorsal fins, the short-finned mollies, and the lyretail that have a beautiful lyre (small harp) shaped tails.

Finally, we have the selectively bred balloon mollies which are characterized by their rounded bodies, larger bellies, and arched backs.

Having said that, all molly fish are of the genus Poecilia native to the Americas and Mexico and are all livebearers like their close relative the guppies, platies, swordtails, and endlers.

Almost all are also generally hardy and easy to care for, making them great for beginners, although they are arguably the most delicate of all livebearers.

Can Different Types of Molly Fish Mate (Breed)?

Albeit there being several varieties of molly fish, they all can be mated because regardless of the color or fin configuration, they are the same species, and any male will readily fertilize with all females.

For the most part, mollies are also easy to breed with a single female able to produce over a hundred baby mollies.

Should you keep different types of mollies in your fish tank, the male with the biggest fins and boldest color will mostly breed with the females seeing that these are hierarchical fish.

So, put simply, different colors and shapes of mollies are still the same fish and will readily breed.

Will Different Mollies Live Together?

As with breeding, these fish are the same species, and they’ll live together albeit the need to establish a pecking order the first time they are added into a new aquarium.

The positioning may take a couple of days but once established the fish will swim together and an individual will only spend a short time alone then join the rest.

Now that we’ve seen that mollies come in different fin configurations, color variants, and body shapes, below are the different types of molly fish you are most likely to find in your local fish store.

#1— Black Sailfin Molly

The black sailfin molly, also called Mexican sailfin, great sailfin, or sometimes simply the sailfin molly is a black color variation of the Poecilia latipinna.

It is a peaceful fish that do best when kept in a group with one male and several females, and should only share a tank with other peaceful fish that prefer hard water with elevated salt levels.

Male black sailfin is known to grow a tall dorsal fin and a pointed anal fin with both genders having a rounded anal fin. For this reason, these mollies require a tank of at least 30 gallons with algae and plenty of room to swim.

You aquarium should be well-lit and well planted on the sides and back with plants that can withstand a small amount of salt like Java fern and Java moss.

Black sailfin mollies are omnivores, so provide them a rich diet that includes flake foods, algae wafers, and herbivores food. Also, offer them freeze-dried, frozen or live meaty foods such as bloodworms and brine shrimp.

  • Size: up to 5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 75°F to 82°F, ph 7.5 to 8.5

#2 — Dalmatian Molly

The dalmatian molly is another popular color variant of Poecilia latipinna that has a black and white body and is at times referred to as the marbled molly or marbled sailfin molly.

If properly acclimated, this molly can be maintained in either a freshwater aquarium or a saltwater fish tank.

Moreover, in a freshwater tank, it is recommended you add a teaspoon of salt per gallon of water for optimum fish health.

Your dalmatian molly aquarium should also be heavily planted or have a thick mat of plants in the corner to promote healthy rearing of young fry as well as provide hiding spots.

Since like the black sailfin, dalmatians have a pointed anal fin and a much larger dorsal fin, they require at least a 50-gallon tank.

They also need a good filtration system because of their hearty appetites which means a huge bioload.

Good plants for these fish include Java fern, Sagittaria, Vallisneria, and anubias.

Marbled mollies are well suited for a community tank because of their peaceful nature, and are compatible with other peaceful, large fish that can withstand hard water.

These (like all mollies) are omnivorous and require algae, so feed them with an algae-based flake food with occasional treats of freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and brine shrimp.

  • Size: 4.7 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 68°F to 82°F, ph 7.0 to 7.8

#3 — Golden Sailfin Molly

Golden sailfin mollies are known for both their brilliant orange coloration and their prolific breeding with mated pairs spawning roughly every 45 to 60 days.

Overall, they are great fish for beginning hobbyists who are looking for active swimming fish with striking colors.

Keep your golden sailfin mollies in a tropical aquarium with plenty of plants and hard water. Plus a teaspoon of salt per gallon of water is recommended as it beneficial to these and other mollies.

The golden mollies grow up to 6 inches in length, so you’ll need to maintain them in a tank that is at least 20-gallons.

The fish are generally peaceful and can easily coexist with just about any freshwater community fish that can tolerate hard water.

Classified as omnivores, feed your mollies a diet rich in plant matter including algae wafers and occasionally offer them frozen mosquito larvae or aquatic inverts.

That said, exert some caution when companioning golden sailfin mollies as they’ll snack on aquatic plants. Plus to prevent unwanted babies, keep either males or females in your aquarium.

  • Size: 4 Inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20-gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperature: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 68°F to 82°F, ph 7.0 to 8.0

#4 — Gold Dust Molly

The gold dust molly is perfect for aquarium owners who love the black molly but wants a colorful fish. It is a variety of the short-finned (Poecilia sphenops) molly with a half black and half golden color.

The fish is also called gold panda molly.

The gold dust mollies are suited for community tanks as they are peaceful and compatible with other peaceful, larger fish that can withstand hard water conditions.

The mollies are omnivorous that prefer both meaty food as well as algae. Ergo, provide your gold dust mollies with algae-based flake food, as well as freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex or brine shrimp.

  • Size: 2 to 5 Inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25 to 30 gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 72°F to 82°F, ph 7.0 to 8.0

#5 — Platinum Lyretail Molly

The platinum lyretail molly, also called the Mexican lyretail, giant lyretail, Yucatan molly or simply lyretail molly is a color variant of the Poecilia velifera.

The fish are platinum or gold colred with a peaceful demeanor and prefer hard water. Like most mollies, they have the ability to adapt to a variety of salt levels in aquariums and hence can live in either a freshwater or saltwater fish tank.

Platinum lyretail mollies require a heavily planted tank that is at least 30-gallons as the fish can grow to a length of up to 5 inches.

Having a group of floating plants in your tank will promote fry rearing outside a breeding tank and provide enough hiding spaces for adult fish; add a thick algae mat.

Although yucatan lyretails are peaceful and good community species, only keep them with other peaceful fish that prefer hard water with elevated salt levels.

The fish are omnivorous, so feed them both meaty food as well as plant matter. Algae flake food make a good base meal with occasional offerings of freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex and brine shrimp.

  • Size: 3 to 5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 galllons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperament:Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 75°F to 82°F, ph 7.5 to 8.5

#6 — Balloon Molly

The balloon molly is a breed of Poecilia latipinna (sailfin molly) that is characterised by an arched back and a large,rounded belly.

Color variations include black, yellow, and white all of which have large lyre shaped caudal fins and an impressive dorsal fin.

Like other mollies, balloon molly fish are adaptable to a variety of salt levels and at least a 20 to 30 gallon aquarium.

The fish tank need to be planted with strong aquatic plants like Java fern and anubias species and have a good filtration system because of their hearty appetites.

Balloon mollies are well suited for community tanks as they are peaceful, but be sure to maintain them with tank mates that prefer hard water conditions.

As they are omnivorous fish, feed your mollies both meaty and algae food including a high quality algae based flake food, and freeze dried bloodworms, tubifex, and brine shrimp.

  • Size: 3 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20-gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 68°F to 82°F, ph 7.0 to 8.0

#7— Harlequin Sailfin Molly

The harlequin sailfin molly is a stunning beauty of the Poecilia genus with gold, black and white patches and particularly suitable for community aquariums.

It is also peaceful and prefers hard water in a well planted aquarium with plenty of open swimming areas and enough hiding locations epsecially for pregnant females.

The fish grow to a maximum of 6 inches, though tank bred harlequin mollies are usually smaller. Either way, you’ll need an aquarium that is at least 30 gallons.

Feed your harlequin sailfin mollies an omnivorous diet that includes plant material and algae wafers. Occasionally, feed them frozen mosquito larvae or aquatic inverts.

Also, beware these fish have an appetite for live plants, and will devour most of them in the tank when not properly fed.

  • Size: 3 to 6 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 68°F to 82°F, ph 7.0 to 8.0

#8 — Gold Doubloon Molly

The gold doubloon molly shares the brilliant coloration of the harlequin sailfin molly but without all that dorsal fin flair. It is a short-finned variety of poecilia latipinna molly and has a black and gold color scheme.

The fish are playful and energetic but also peaceful hence make a lively addition to community tanks.

Gold doubloon prefer hard, alkaline water conditions and may not thrive in aquarium with acidic or soft water. However, they are still adaptable to a variety of salt levels in the aquarium.

For this reason, a teaspoon of salt per gallon of water is reccomended for the fish’s optimum health.

Keep your gold doubloon mollies in at least a 30 gallon tank with plenty of swimming room and only maintain them with other peaceful fish that prefer hard water with elevated salt levels.

Most mollies are omnivorous and so are the gold doubloon, so feed them a rich diet that includes both plant matter and meaty foods.

For an everyday meal, offer your mollies algae-based flake food with occasional treats of freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex and brine shrimp.

  • Size: 2 to 5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperature: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 68°F to 82°F, ph 7.0 to 8.0

#9 — Marble Lyretail Molly

The marble lyretail molly is a color variety of the poecilia sphenops and is characterised by a unique black and white shade (eerily similar to the dalmatian) and a peaceful demeanor.

The fish prefer hard, alkaline water conditions and are reasonably sensitive to acidic or soft water.Even so, they have the ability to adapt to salt levels, therefore add a teaspoon of salt per gallon of water in your fish tank.

Marble lyretail require an aquarium of at least 30 gallons with plenty of algae and room to swim.

Like all mollies, the marble lyretails are omnivores, so feed them both meaty foods as well as algae. Freeze-dried bloodworms and brine shrimp make good occasional treats.

  • Size: 2 to 3 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 to 30 gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions 68°F to 82°F, ph 7.0 to 8.0

#10 — Black Lyretail Molly

The black lyretail, unlike the black sailfin, has a caudal fin that is lyre shaped. However, the fish still has a black color scheme often with white highlights on the fins.

It is a breed of poecilia latipinna, same as the black sailfin and has the ability to adapt to a variety of salt levels in the aquarium.

With gradual acclimation, these fish can be maintained either freshwater or saltwater fish tank.

That said, they exist in a size ranging from 1 inch to 5 inches and require a tank anywhere from 20 gallons to 30 gallons.

Add strong live plants in your aquarium such as Java fern and Sagittaria, but leave enough space for swimming. Also, a good filtration system is crucial because of the species hearty appetites and resulting bioload.

The black lyretail mollies prefer both meaty food as well as algae, so provide them with algae-based food complimented with freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex or brine shrimp.

  • Size: 1 to 5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 to 30 gallons
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 68°F to 82°F, ph 7.0 to 7.8

In conclusion, these are the most popular molly types, and the once you’ll most likely find in your local fish store. Even so, there are a lot more less known variants, but they all have the same temperature and water conditions preference.

Plus they all like hard water with elevated salt level, although not all will survive in saltwater aquariums.

Moreover, all mollies are generally peaceful with females less likely to be hostile even when males get aggresive while establishing a pecking order.

That’s all…

…have fun keeping mollies

Eddie Waithaka

Resident Content Creator and Marketer at AquariaWise who talks about aquariums and fish and aquascapes a lot.

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