SailFin Molly fish originally come from the west coast marshlands of America and are found in the brackish waters off Mexico. They inhabit salt water marshes and are easy to find trawling the surface or the water to capture and devour insects and larvae.
Sometimes better known as feeder fish for larger breeds, they are also popular in aquariums. With distinctive fins giving the appearance of the sail on a boat and sometimes with intricate spotted patterns, these fish are attractive and stylish.
Increasingly popular as aquarium fish, they give live birth to offspring and usually bear more females than males, more so in the wild where the males appear to succumb to more aggressive behaviour in their claim for territory or the favour of females!
- Fish Lifespan: Up to 3 Years
- Tank Size: At Least 20 Gallons
- Water Temperature: Between 77F and 82F
- pH: Between 7.5 and 8.0
- Hardness: Between 15 and 30 dH
- Compatibility: Compatible with Guppies and Some Mollies
- Fish Size: Up to 6 Inches
How do you take care of SailFin Mollies?
The SailFin Molly can be a fairly moderate fish to look after and offer a fairly similar experience to that which you’d expect from other mollies. They are seen as some of the most striking fish of their kind and are considered particularly exotic. SailFin Mollies are seen by some fish keepers and tank enthusiasts, however, as fairly delicate.
As with most tropical fish, keeping a SailFin Molly means you’re going to need to make sure that you get the right balance in terms of hardness, water temperature, pH and more. Mollies of this kind tend to be fairly dramatic, and can show a flair for the aggressive here and there, so be prepared to tangle with them over time.
That said, these Mollies – much like any other – are very easy to breed. They’ll also live in multiple water types despite their fairly delicate nature, making them great all-around choices for a tropical tank or two.
How big do SailFin Mollies get?
Usually in captivity these fish can reach a maximum of 6 inches in length. In the wild they have been known to reach 9 inches, especially where space and food is plentiful. It is obvious that the more space there is available, the bigger the fish will grow in the wild. However, in captivity, 6 inches is the usual maximum.
In any case, it’s well worth making sure you have a tank big enough to house them. 20 gallons at the very least is normally ideal, though if you can go larger, you definitely should.
Are SailFin Mollies aggressive?
The males can be aggressive and competitive with each other, so in captivity, where space is limited, it is advisable to have only one male in smaller tanks.
Females of this species and other species also need places in which they can take refuge. The females, though larger than the males, tend to be more docile and the females are generally docile towards other fish.
Female Sail Fins do however eat their own offspring sometimes, especially if food is in short supply! Sometimes, once the live offspring are born, the female is separated from her young to ensure they survive their infancy!
Can SailFin Mollies breed with regular Mollies?
Yes, Sail Fins can breed with other Mollies – and their offspring are known as Hybrid Mollies!
Mollies’ colourings and patterns therefore differ, and the variety in their appearance means individuals can be identified easily in the aquarium. They can produce up to 140 offspring at a time!
How long SailFin Mollies live?
Males only live for approximately one year and sometimes for even less time in captivity. Females live longer at up to 3 years, but much depends on the circumstances in which they live and breed.
Water quality, competition for food and stress from other combative fish sharing the aquarium are all factors. They also thrive for their lifetime, if the food supply is varied and sufficient for their needs.
Do Mollie fish die easily?
SailFin Molly fish are usually described as quite hardy. In the wild, with optimum conditions, their numbers are prolific.
However, in aquariums, as with all breeds, special care is needed to ensure they have sufficient space as they grow, sufficient food and that water quality is maintained to a high level.
At breeding time, more of the offspring are likely to die due to being eaten or as they are more acutely affected by adverse conditions in the tank. Though large numbers of offspring may arrive, the number of survivors can swiftly cut – and if it discovered that numbers have suddenly diminished, separation may be advisable.
If this occurs, they may have been eaten by other species or indeed their own mothers!
Decaying food, causing contamination of the water, is often a cause of poor health and even ultimately death. Incorrect water temperatures can also be a cause of mortality and again, particularly new born, extremely small fish with delicate bodies and very thin skin membranes, can succumb to water temperatures which are too hot or too cold.
Another issue may be injury or disease which a fish had at the time of purchase. Reputable suppliers take careful precautions in regard to the health of their fish and if possible, it’s a good idea to visit your supplier to look at the overall condition of the fish in their holding tanks. Treatments are available for some diseases but, as they say, ’prevention is better than the cure’!
Can Mollies kill each other?
Females are less aggressive than males and usually it is best to keep only one SailFin Molly in a tank because they can be extremely territorial, fight for females and will be combative with other males, sometimes even inadvertently causing death by injury.
Will Mollies kill Guppies?
In the wild, Mollies and Sail Fins live together, perhaps competing for food and sexual activity. Sometimes the ardent pursuit of females, can be mistaken for aggression. If food and space are plentiful, peace usually reigns!
Are Mollies fin nippers?
Yes, SailFin Molly may nip the fins of other fish and though these can be repaired, or while some fish can continue to live with this injury, it is disturbing to see your fish persist with this problem!
Apart from detracting from their appearance, more importantly, this activity causes considerable stress and if the fins become seriously damaged or diseased, it can cause a fatality!
Aquarium owners should regularly check the welfare of fish and usually at feeding times, fish can be encouraged to move in a particular direction for closer examination. In the most troublesome situations it may be necessary to isolate a fish to reduce stress and/or aid recovery.
Do Mollies mate for life?
As the males die sooner than the females, an interesting feature of the females is now clear. Female Sail Fins have the ability to store the sperm of their male mates and can release live offspring at intervals long after her partner has died!
Subsequent adult males, especially when added to an aquarium, may chase more than one female. Where groups of fish are kept, it is therefore difficult for owners to accurately establish who is the ‘Father’!
Female Sail Fins can and do mate with male Guppies but usually only of there is no male SailFin Molly in the aquarium! It may be difficult to identify who fathered the offspring until some of them grow large enough to be identified as hybrids and bear different physical features to the male SailFin Molly in the tank. No wonder sometimes the Male Sail Fins and Male Guppies are aggressive towards each other!
It is usual to separate males and ideally there is more harmony in an aquarium where only one male of the species is lives with one or more females!
Should I adopt a SailFin Mollie?
Mollies can be extremely rewarding fish to keep. They are bright, they are beautiful, and they are extremely energetic! We love them. However, as with any tropical fish, you’ll need to be very careful with your tank specifics.
As mentioned, the SailFin Molly is only usually aggressive when it comes to male territorialism. Therefore, some separation may be necessary. However, we feel the Sail Fin to be a fairly moderate fish to look after in terms of difficulty. That means while they may not be ideal for beginners with their first tanks, they will at least be rewarding fish to move up to once you’ve kept a tank or two for a while.
Mollies are brilliant fun to keep and watch. However, as with any fish of this nature, do always be ready to care for them in a very specific way. You’ll get the hang of fishkeeping in no time – and who knows, you might even find these fish to be the best you’ll ever keep.