Golden Sailfin Molly – Overview, Tank Requirements, FAQs

The golden sailfin molly is a flexible and peaceful fish that are popularly known as livebearers . It is generally found in brackish environments including coastal marshes, streams, swamps, and ponds.

Are you a novice hobbyist of fishkeeping, and looking for both a beginner-friendly and a beautiful fish for your aquarium? Well, as per the expert’s suggestion, a cute little familiar golden sailfin molly fish will be the perfect choice for you.

If you are interested in petting this fish, then we are here to help you with a detailed care guide. Also, you may have some questions about this golden sailfin molly fish.

History of The Golden Sailfin Molly

People first introduced mollies to the hobby in 1899 and different varieties started appearing in the 1920s. Typically, this fish is small, only reaching 5 inches. Their males have large dorsal fins; its wild forms are gray with rows of dark spots. Usually, they are very popular in the hobby, as such, they have developed many color and fin varieties.

The Golden Sailfin Molly variety has bright orange to the gold body with reflective scales and red eyes. To keep this fish in captivity, water pH should be between 7.0 and 7.8 and water temperature should range from 70ºF and 82ºF. You should add plants, rocks, and a gravel substrate to the tank. Moreover, make sure you provide open areas for swimming.

You can keep them in community aquariums with other peaceful fish. However, you shouldn’t keep different molly together, to prevent hybridization. A 20-gallon tank is enough for a single golden sailfin molly. But for a group, you will need a larger tank.

An Overview of the Golden Sailfin Molly

You will surely get complete instructions to nourish and breed golden sailfin mollies but before that, have a quick look at a few facts about the species below.

Scientific Name – Poecilia sphenops

Origin – Mexico, U.S., etc.

Life-Span – Up to 5 years

Temperament – Peaceful

Size – Up to 4.5″ (11.43 cm)

Diet – Omnivore

Family – Poeciliidae

Compatibility – With Peaceful Community

Tank Size – 10 gallons

Care Level – Easy

Golden Sailfin Molly Habitat

The golden sailfin molly species is native from Carolina to Veracruz. That is, it is native from southern North America to Mexico. Also, their introduced populations can be found in many other countries like Columbia, Israel, Japan, and many others. Typically, they inhabit small creeks, ponds, lakes, marshes, and swamps.

Golden Sailfin Molly Size, Age, And Lifespan

A golden sailfin molly can grow up to 10cm. Its adult length is usually ranging from 5cm (short-finned) to 10cm (sail finned). Usually, their average lifespan is 3 to 5 years. Typically, they can live up to 5 years, if you provide them the right habitat.                    

Physical Traits of a Golden Sailfin Molly

Typically, their males have a larger dorsal fin than females. This means the males of the golden sailfin molly have beautiful high, broad dorsal fins that they display during their elaborate courting dance. Unlike platies, swordtails, or fancy guppies, mollies beautiful, and big fins are a natural trait. That is, they are not the result of domestic breeding programs.

Watching several male sail-fin mollies thrive for the attention of a female in a well-lit tank is a thing of beauty.  Especially when the males display this act in the wild. Typically, their males will also spar and chase one another, but it seldom result in permanent damage.

Behavioral Traits of a Golden Sailfin Molly

Being a flashy dancer and dresser for the ladies has a high cost. However, it also attracts predators and raises their chances of eating the fish. So, some male mollies never develop the beautiful broad dorsal but instead keep a low profile, schooling with and mating with the females. These are called “sneaky” males.

The male is also more aggressive than the females, and tend to be territorial. This is why they should be kept in groups of 3 females to one male. Naturally, this is to prevent the males from harassing the females.

Golden Sailfin Molly Diet and Nutrition

Golden sailfin molly is an omnivore. So, there is a wide variety of food choices for this specie. You just need to know the exact foods and the quantity to feed it at a specific time. This fish likes consuming both vegetation and meaty foods. It uses its mouth to scrape algae from the driftwoods and rocks underwater.

However, they are highly herbivorous, i.e. they only eat proteins once in a while. Typically, in the wild, they mainly feed on algae and sometimes on rotifers and small crustaceans.

In captivity, you can feed them with vegetable-based dried foods, such as; blanched spinach, zucchini, squashed lettuce leaves, boiled, and raw cucumbers. Once in a while, you can feed them some brine shrimp, tubifex or bloodworms.

Also, you should feed them good quality varied diet that includes crushed flake and live or frozen food as well as Algae-based food.

Food brands that you can use to feed a golden sailfin molly;

You will find various frozen pellets or dried flakes available in the market that are nutritious for your pet golden sailfin molly fish. Take a look at a few food names:

Fluval Bug Bites

API Fish Food Pellets

Hikari Fancy Guppy

A gold sailfin molly is small in size and it has a delicate digestive system, so feed them in a small quantity twice a day as per the suggestion of a veterinary nutritionist.

Golden Sailfin Molly Temperament

Golden sailfin molly is a peaceful breed as we have discussed at the beginning. Although, they may show signs of aggression whenever you keep them with a lot of other breeds. This is because this fish does not like an over-crowded tank. Therefore, experts suggest keeping them with passive fish in a spacious tank.


A golden sailfin molly is typically peaceful, although there is a bit of contrast in their males. Their males are known to be more aggressive than their females. Despite this, some people have nurture them successfully. Therefore, you can too!

Also, you will never find any complications in the breeding process of this fish because it is one of the easiest breeds that can mate and give birth both in captivity and wild.

To breed this species in captivity, their breeding tank, should be 50 gallons. Also, for every male, they should be 2 to 3 females. Furthermore, the water temperature should be about 79ºF. Also, the tank should have many floating plants. Moreover, they are livebearers. This means that their young ones are born live. Typically, their gestation period takes around 2 months.


Spawning occurs as male mollies grab unaware female mollies from behind. During the mating process, the male Molly Fish uses gonopodium, a tube-shaped ejaculation organ to stick closer to the female and fertilize her.

Female golden sailfin molly fish carries eggs for about 35-45 days in her abdomen and gives birth in a dark corner of the spawning tank at early morning. After the reproduction, the male fish takes care of its eggs or fries.

Not all, but some Molly fish can eat the small fries, so it is necessary to keep the fries in a separate tank until it grows to adult. Once the fries turn mature, you can feed small flakes, micro worms, fruit crumbs, and leaves juice to them.

At the age of six months, this fish becomes adult and ready to mate. Moreover, large female mollies could produce up to 80-100 eggs.

Common Diseases of the Golden Sailfin Molly

Golden sailfin mollies have a lower resistance to fungus and ich (white spot disease). Also, it is susceptible to a condition called shimmies which makes it shiver and shave. Typically, adding a teaspoon of aquarium salt to the water helps to prevent these health problems. This is because salts are known to be an anti-parasite or anti-fungi to aquarium fishes.

The Ich Disease

Ich is a common disease problem of all aquarium fish including wild sailfin mollies. However, Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, a protozoan parasite is the major cause. The organism causing this disease has a complex life cycle and can reproduce rapidly. Typically, this usually will lead to a sudden onset of the disease. Although, the development of this parasite occurs more quickly in warmer water. You should note that this disease can infect an aquarium by the addition of a new fish, live plants, or live food items.

Some symptoms include:

  • loss of appetite
  • Reddening of the fins
  • Flashing – a behavior in which fish rub their bodies on objects in the tank
  • White spots on the gills or skin
  • hiding on the bottom of the tank
  • Increased gill movements.

Ich is usually fatal if a fish keeper doesn’t attend to it promptly. The following products can be used to treat ich:

  • Salt (non-iodized table salt, Kosher salt, or sea salt)
  • Malachite green
  • Formaldehyde (formalin)
  • Copper sulfate
  • Victoria green and acriflavine
  • Acclimating a golden sailfin molly

The water the fish was packaged in, is different from the water in the tank since these fish are extremely sensitive to water conditions, the acclimation process is very important. However, you should never rush this process. Off aquarium lights for at least the first 4 hours of the fish in the new tank and you should not feed the fish in the first 24h.

There are two acclimation methods:

The Floating Method and the Drip Method.

The Floating Method

Turn off the aquarium lights, and dim the lights in the room. Place the bag containing the fish in the surface of the water to float for about 15 minutes, this allows the water in the bag to adjust to the water in the tank. Then, cut the bag under the knot, and the top edge of the bag should be rolled down one inch, then add ¼ cup of the aquarium water to the bag. Repeat this step every 4 minutes until the bag is full. Then, discard half the water of the bag, and the bag should be put to float again and add ¼ cup of the aquarium water to the bag every 4 minutes until the bag is full. Then, you can finally move the fish into the aquarium.

The Drip Method

Turn off the aquarium light and dim the lights in the room. Place the bag containing the fish in the surface of the water. And leave it to float for about 15 minutes. This allows the water in the bag to adjust to the water in the tank. The bag contents should be poured into a 1-gallon bucket that has never been cleaned with any chemicals, the fish should be entirely submerged.

A siphon, using airline tubing, should be set up and a drip line should run from the main aquarium to the bucket. Several loose knots should be tied in the airline tubing to regulate flow. Sucking the end of the airline tube that goes to the bucket will begin a siphon, the flow should be regulated to 2 to 4 drips per second. Once the water in the buckets doubles, half should be discarded and the process should be repeated until it doubles again, the fish can be moved to the aquarium.

General Tank Requirements of a Golden Sailfin Molly

As mentioned earlier, golden sailfin molly is adjustable with different water conditions in wild rivers and brackish water, so you don’t need any specification for the fish. But try to follow a precise guide while captivating it in your tank.

Tank Size

A 10-gallon tank is enough for a 4.5″ (11.43 cm) golden sailfin molly Fish. However, if you are keeping many golden sailfin mollies together then purchase a 20-gallon aquarium. This is because golden sailfin mollies need a huge space to swim.

Also, don’t overcrowd the tank because that may lead to fighting between the breeds. The largest Molly is the golden sailfin molly that needs at least a 30-gallon tank to live.


You should adorn the tank with plenty of plants for the greenery-lover fish. Also, you can choose taller plants like Anubias Nana and Anacharis, which can be the great shelters for this mid-level swimmer. Moreover, these plants can help them during the time of spawning and reproduction.

Furthermore, you can decorate the aquarium with caves, rocks, and crevices that will help the shy fish hide from its enemies.


Keep sandy substrate with debris, small rocks, and fine gravels at the bottom bed of the aquarium. This is because this fish prefers taking rest in the sandy bed at night.


Arrange a good supply of standard light on the ceiling of the tank that will help the growth of the freshwater plants in the tank. Moreover, this fish prefers bright light in its tank, as it is a diurnal-active species.


Golden sailfin mollies like living in shallow and slow-moving water, so you do not need to add water pump and artificial to their tank. Therefore, just keep a good filtration system that will help in keeping the water clean and germ-free.    

Water Type for a Golden Sailfin Molly Fish

If you put a pinch of sea salt in the tank water, then it will be the best place to dwell for your little golden sailfin molly. Remember, the water condition of the fish should be clean, and follow some experts’ guide while setting water in the aquarium.

Golden sailfin mollies can be good tank mates in a community setup. However, if you are adding salt to the tank (which we advise for Mollies), then you should take this into account when choosing tank mates. Typically, they thrive in 5g of salt/gallon of water.

Temperature: keep the aquarium water temperature between 72-78° F (22-25° C).

Hardness: Keep the hardness of the water between 20-30 days.

pH Level: Keep the pH level between 6.7-8.5.

Cleaning Method

Golden sailfin molly fish do not excrete much like other aquatic species. So, no need to follow a special process to clean the fish tank. Just use mild soap, a soft sponge and a brush to clean the walls and corners of the aquarium. Also, they can eat the algae of the tank, so there will be no need to brush out the algae from the tank specifically.

Furthermore, wipe out the water droplets from the internal and external walls of the tank after a clean wash to maintain dryness. 

Replacement Process

You may ask, why is it necessary to replace the water of the tank? The answer is quite simple, if you don’t change the water then the fish will fall sick because of the pollutants in the tank. So, replace 10% of the water once a week or change 25% of the water once a month.

This will help in maintaining water quality. Moreover, try to maintain the above-mentioned temperature, hardness, and pH level of the water during the replacement process.

Golden Sailfin Molly Suitable Tank Mates

A Golden sailfin molly is an active and social species that enjoys schooling with the same community fish and other peaceful breeds. Therefore, it is advised to not keep more male than female golden sailfin molly together. This is because the male golden sailfin mollies harass the females.

When you are encouraging their mating, arrange a separate tank where you can keep one male and one female golden sailfin molly together.

Some of the preferred tank mates of golden sailfin mollies are:

  • Danios
  • Cherry Barbs
  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Rosy Barbs
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Zebra loaches
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Platies
  • Yo-Yo Loaches
  • Tetras
  • Snails.

Unsuitable tank mates of a golden sailfin molly

It is quite natural that a shy and passive-natured golden sailfin molly will never like dwelling with aggressive and large fish. This is because predator fish breeds can fight with it. Also, because it can end up eating the Molly Fish. So, have a look at a few unsuitable tank mates for this fish:

  • Convict Cichlid
  • Angelfish
  • Oscar Fish

Compatibility of a golden sailfin molly Fish

This social and familiar-natured fish enjoys living in a shoal of Mollies. But as discussed before, avoid keeping male fish with the females. This is because males have a high tendency to fight with the females and harass them. Therefore, try keeping golden sailfin mollies in a school of the female. Also, you can keep other peaceful fish breeds together.

Interesting Facts About Golden Sailfin Molly Fish

  • Every female golden sailfin molly often chooses to mate with the largest male fish.
  • Compared to other freshwater fish breeds, this fish can reproduce fast.
  • They are active eaters and like to consume a huge amount of.
  • People also refer to molly fish as Mollienesia.


What do I feed my golden sailfin molly?

Golden sailfin mollies feed primarily upon algae and other plant materials, although they will consume several aquatic invertebrates, including the larvae of mosquitoes.

Where do golden sailfin molly live in the wild?

The golden sailfin molly species is native from Carolina to Veracruz. That is, it is native from southern North America to Mexico.

Are golden sailfin mollies aggressive?

Yes, tailfins tend to be more aggressive than other mollies, especially with the males. You will always have to keep at least 3 females per male, otherwise, they get territorial and aggressive.

Can different types of mollies be kept together?

Yes, different types of mollies can be kept together. Although, this usually can lead to hybridization between these mollies. You should keep them in groups of at least four or more.

How many golden sailfin mollies should be kept together?

Ensure you keep them in groups of at least four or more, they naturally stick together. Typically, for every group, it should be made of 3 females to 1 male. This is because the males are known to pester the females.

What does a pregnant sailfin molly look like?

A female’s belly will swell to be much larger than usual. This is generally easy to spot, especially when comparing them to other mollies in the tank. Also, you can tell if the female molly is pregnant by looking at their anal fin. Which would show a dark gravid spot.

Furthermore, an obvious increase in plumpness should be a solid indicator that she is carrying some fry inside her.

How long do golden sailfin mollies live?

Marine Aquarists often use golden sailfin mollies to cycle a new tank due to their salt tolerance and hardiness. Mollies will live for between 3 and 5 years and can grow to 6 to 10cm in length.

What do sailfin molly fish babies look like and how do you care for them?

The fry of a sailfin molly looks like small versions of adults, with large red eyes. Their colors vary depending on the species. Keep the fry separated from other fish (including their parents) until they are a similar size. Moreover, sailfin mollies are also peaceful creatures as their adults. However, many aquarist complaining about their fish not surviving till adulthood. This is because of the bad act of adult mollies eating their babies. As said earlier, you can prevent this by adding enough plants in the aquarium, which will serve as hiding spot. However, the best option is to separate the pregnant molly when she is close to birth. Place her in a breeding box, while the fry escapes through the box hole at birth. However, you should be ready to take up the task of raising many babies. As mollies releases a quite number of fry at birth.

How do I keep baby golden sailfin mollies alive?

Separate the pregnant golden sailfin female molly from the main display aquarium, till she releases her fry. After the pregnant female has released all her fry, remove the female, and return her to the main display aquarium.

How do I keep my golden sailfin molly fish happy?

It is highly recommended to keep the water temperature as stable as possible to avoid unneeded stress for your fish. This fish also prefers hard water (15 to 30dGH) and thrive at a higher water pH, preferably 8.0. pH level varies for different mollies, but the values from 7.5 to 8.5 can be applied to all.


Golden sailfin molly fish can bring ecstasy in your aquarium. So, both the beginners and experts like petting this fish. Also, its fan-shaped fins attract the fish keepers. Moreover, its peaceful nature is loved by all types of fish hobbyists.

Furthermore, this peaceful and hardy fish is suitable and it grows up to 6″ (15.24 cm) in captive. Also, this golden-hued fish is an algae eater and it prefers dwelling in a green environment. So, try to arrange a heavy-planted 30-gallon aquarium for this fish.


There aren’t many reasons you shouldn’t get golden sailfin mollies. Usually, they are a great choice for community aquariums. All you need is to consider the important factors, which have clearly been stated above.

Most importantly, their health is dependent on the conditions of the tank, which need to be within their preferred range. Typically, they can tolerate a wide range of tank conditions. This factor makes it possible for them to go to lots of different tanks. Also, you won’t have a problem with their diet either. Because they can eat a wide variety of food types.

Finally, they are very easy to care for if you have the right tank and meet all these requirements. In return, you get a group of fish that are easy to breed, peaceful, introduce lots of colors, and display lots of activity.