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Species: Poecilia latipinna, Sailfin Molly

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body: 4-8 lines dots
fin rays - small dark spots
D 13-16, origin before pelvic orign; male - large
male C: rows brown spots, center orange
male: pelvic tips swollen, sex organ short, + palp & spines under straight tip, claws above & below tip
scales: 26-29 lateral, 16 around tail base

Poecilia latipinna (Lesueur, 1821)

Sailfin Molly

Head and body moderately robust, moderately compressed at rear; head depressed; front nostril not tubular; covering of eye not continuous with skin of head; mouth small, at front, slightly oblique, lower jaw slightly projecting, top jaw protractile; jaw teeth consist of an outer row of large backward curved teeth with expanded tips, and several rows of small pointed teeth; 22-27 gill rakers; 1 dorsal fin with short base, at rear of body; dorsal fin with long base, 13-16 rays, large and sail-like in male, its origin over or before pelvic fin origin; pelvic origin well behind pectoral base, near anal fin; tip of pelvic fin of males swollen, elongate; pectorals high on flank, 5th ray not scalloped in male; anal fin 8-9, origin under (female) or a little behind (male) dorsal fin origin; 3rd anal ray unbranched; anal fin modified in male to form an elongate sex organ, that organ relatively short, with straight tip that has small backward-pointing spines and small claws at top and bottom, & a fleshy palp; tail base relatively narrow; tail fin rounded, without elongate sword; tail base 19.9-21.3% of SL; scales smooth and relatively large, 26-28 along side, 16 around tail base.

Upper body olive-green to grey-brown, with cross-hatching above produced by dark scale edges; elongate dark spots on scales form 4-5 thin dark lines along side, those in male form interconnecting zigzag lines; fins transparent, with small dark spots along rays; dorsal fin of male with, thin stripes along inner half, a central row of vertically oval dark spots , small dark spots outside that and an orange margin; tail fin with rows of brown spots, central part of fin orange, rear margin black; anal fin bordered with whitish.

Reaches 15 cm.

Fresh to brackish water.

Depth range: 0-3 m.

North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico.

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Non Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Detritivore
  • Omnivore
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Benthic microalgae
  • Detritus
  • Insects
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Live birth
  • No pelagic larva
  • No pelagic phase
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 15
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 3