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Species: Poecilia sphenops, Mexican Molly

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

male body: rows orange spots
D 9-10, origin behind pelvic base; male - 2-4 blac
male C: yellow + several vertical rows black dots
male: pelvic tips swollen, sex organ short, + palp & spines under straight tip
scales: 26-27 lateral, 18 around tail base

Poecilia sphenops Valenciennes in Cuvier & Valenciennes, 1846

Mexican 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, inner band of teeth mostly with 3 points; 1 dorsal fin with short base, at rear of body, behind pelvic base, 9-10 rays; 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 9, origin a little behind (female) to well before (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 spines & a fleshy palp; tail base relatively narrow; tail fin rounded, without elongate sword; no lateral line pores on snout; scales smooth and relatively large, 26-27 lateral scales, 18 around tail base.

Male: Pale grey brown above, silvery white below; rows of orange dots along scales on upper ¾ of body; dorsal fin with yellowish to reddish margin, and 2-4 rows of blackish dots on membranes of inner 2/3 of the fin; tail fin with yellow to reddish wash, plus several vertical rows of blackish dots. Female: pale grey-brown, with dark spots, silvery white on belly and cheeks; fins clear except for a row of dark dots along dorsal fin.

Reaches 6 cm.

Fresh to brackish water.

Depth range: 0-3 m.

The S Gulf of Mexico, Belize to Colombia

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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
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Detritivore
  • Omnivore
  • Data
  • Benthic microalgae
  • Detritus
  • Insects
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic worms
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
  • GC endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 6
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 3