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FAQs on the Livebearing Toothed Carps, Poeciliid Fishes Identification

Related Articles: Poeciliids: Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies by Neale Monks, Livebearing Fishes by Bob Fenner,

Related FAQs: Poeciliids 1, Poeciliids 2, Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, MolliesLivebearer Behavior, Livebearer Compatibility, Livebearer Selection, Livebearer Systems, Livebearer Feeding, Livebearer Disease, Livebearer Reproduction,

Has Limia sp. "Americana" been properly described/identified/named   11/4/11
This was a fish, I believe first mentioned in TFH in February 2001 TFH; has this been identified yet?
Regards,
<Not according to Fishbase. Do a genus search there, and there don't seem to be any new Limia species. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy or Molly? -- 08/06/10
Thank you in advance for answering my question. I recently purchased a fish from my LFS that they said was a Molly. I had never seen this particular coloration on a Molly before, but I am not an expert, so I took them at
their word. After introduction into our 120 Gallon brackish (1.010 SG) tank, I was watching her interaction with the other Mollies, and noticed that NONE of the males came to 'welcome' her....This seemed a bit strange,
as new additions usually receive almost immediate male attention. I then began to look at her body shape and features a bit closer, and wonder if she might be a platy instead? This would explain the lack of male interest. I believe the amount of salt in this system is too high for platies, is that correct? I would like to have a positive identification, so that if she is a platy I can move her to my FW system. Thanks again!
<Erin, this looks like a Platy to me. I admit it's an odd shape, and possibly a hybrid of some sort. Mollies have distinct jaws that fold open to rasp away at algae. Platies have more normal-looking jaws that don't do this in quite the same way. Mollies also tend to come to the surface now and again to breathe the air/water mixture. Platies don't do that. For what it's worth, Platies will tolerate brackish water for a while, but it isn't good for them, at least not above SG 1.005. I'd move this young lady across to the freshwater tank, particularly if she shows any signs of distress.
Now, please, do note that on the page where you got our e-mail we do specifically ask for images to be 500 KB in size, or thereabouts. Your two images weighed in at 14 MB! Apart from taking forever to download, we only have a certain amount of e-mail space, and your message nearly gummed up the entire system. That would mean other people would have their messages bounced back. Usually, when someone sends messages with big attachments we simply send a reply telling them we deleted their message, and if they want another try, they should send a new message with smaller attachments. I'm feeling nice today, so I didn't do that. But please, next time around, do take a quick review of the House Rules. They're not there because we want to be annoying, but because we're trying to create a system that's fair to everyone. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Platy or Molly?    8/6/10
Thank you very much for your reply. I have moved her to my freshwater tank, and am awaiting further confirmation of her 'platiness' from the resident male platy.
<Should do the trick!>
I apologize for the picture size, it was due to technical ineptness on my part. I tried re-sizing them, but obviously failed!
<Indeed.>
My apologies!
<Consider your knuckles rapped. Moving on now. Have a good weekend, Neale.>

'Linia', unusual Poeciliid, sys.  4/15/2009
Dear WWW Crew
I have a pair of new fish that I bought marked up as 'Linia' I was told they originate in Haiti and wanted to find out more information on them so as to keep them in the best conditions possible. Unfortunately Google
searches etc are coming up blank. They are small fish about the size and shape of a Platy with pale fawn coloured bodies and slightly darker brown lateral bars. They are a livebearing species, definitely cannibalistic when babies are born, freshwater and very similar in appearance in both sexes.
The male however has a black 'laced' dorsal fin that he holds erect whilst courting the female. They are good community fish as have a very calm placid nature but that's about all I know about them and I would appreciate any help you could give me on identifying them properly
Many thanks
Emma B
<Hello Emma, these are likely Limia nigrofasciata or Limia melanogaster, the two species of Limia that are regularly traded. My money would be on Limia nigrofasciata, given your description. I have kept these fish for a while, and consider them to be wonderful fish. They aren't at all difficult to keep. Mine are in moderately hard, slightly basic water, but you can also keep them in brackish water as well. They are primarily herbivores, and do well on algae flake, algae wafers, and periodic feedings of things like frozen bloodworms. The males are not especially aggressive, but I'd still keep more females than males, just as with any other livebearer. Mine don't eat their babies; in fact I have far too many babies than I want! My
tanks are thickly planted with floating plants and tall stems of Hygrophila and Vallisneria; that probably helps. Maximum size is comparable to a smallish Platy, and they seem to do well in tanks as small as 15 US
gallons. The males remind me of scaled-down Mollies because of their mini-Sailfins. Very pretty animals, despite lacking bright colours. I have no idea why they aren't more popular, especially when compared to some of the really poor quality fancy livebearers on the market. Lovely, hardy little fish; enjoy. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 'Linia' 4/18/09
Dear Neale
<Hello again, Emma,>
Many thanks for your reply I've had a look and your absolutely right.
<Mystery solved!>
Though I've only had them a couple of days I'm very impressed with them already and hoping to produce more as the female is suspiciously plump!
<The females do indeed become very round prior to giving birth; they also tend to hide a bit more among the floating plants.>
We are in Cornwall in the UK and the supplier I got them from is the only one with this species in the county.
<Not sure this is completely true, though they are very uncommon, I'll admit. I've recently taken some specimens out to Wildwoods in Enfield, and the Aquatic Design Store in London often seems to have them in stock. I suspect that as more people keep this species (and they are) we'll see them a lot more frequently in the shops. I do hope so.>
I totally agree with you, already I can't see why I've only just discovered them despite having tropicals for many years, they are an enchanting little fish and should have a much bigger fan base.
<Quite so; I highly recommend them to anyone keeping community fish in at-least moderately hard water.>
Warmest regards
Emma
<Cheers, Neale.>

Mystery fish! Fish ID, FW  12/18/07 I recently "rescued" a fish from work that arrived at some point with a shipment of aquatic plants (these are shipped slightly moist, in butcher paper). I don't know what form it arrived in, and I've seen others appear before - they simply appear as fish approximately 1 inch in length - and they've later vanished from the system, but this little guy was so crowded that he had no room left to swim, so I brought him home and stuck him in the aquatic portion of my frog tank with some harlequin Rasboras, guppies, a small tadpole, and a Cory. I have NO idea what he is, and I'm not sure where to look for help with ID. <Mmm, perhaps the origin/source site of the plants that were shipped> As far as markings go, he looks like a flying fox. The yellow band above the black isn't as bold (more like the Siamese Flying Fox) - it's more like he's translucent on top - and the black isn't quite true black, but otherwise he looks just like one, with some exceptions. His caudal fin is rounded rather than forked, his mouth is slightly upturned, without barbels, and he appears to have a gonopodium, <Oh, this is a good clue> quite long, and held close to his body, with a single clear anal fin behind it rather than paired pelvic fins. My tank is quite dark, and he hides well among the plants, so getting a photo for ID purposes has been a fruitless task so far. Looking at his anatomy, I started off searching the images online and in books for uncommon livebearers. Then I considered how he came to be with us, and looked among the Killies. Of these, he most closely resembles a bluefin, but lacks the blue fins. He also resembles a pencilfish, but there is no red in his fins, and the tail is the wrong shape. Any ideas what I should be looking for? <Mmm, not directly, but I would resume your search... on Fishbase.org, under the list of species by country... try Malaysia (for Singapore, the likely source country of the plants shipment)... and sort by family... look at the species in the livebearing toothed carp families... Bob Fenner>

Mystery fish! Fish ID, FW  12/18/07 I recently "rescued" a fish from work that arrived at some point with a shipment of aquatic plants (these are shipped slightly moist, in butcher paper). I don't know what form it arrived in, and I've seen others appear before - they simply appear as fish approximately 1 inch in length - and they've later vanished from the system, but this little guy was so crowded that he had no room left to swim, so I brought him home and stuck him in the aquatic portion of my frog tank with some harlequin Rasboras, guppies, a small tadpole, and a Cory. I have NO idea what he is, and I'm not sure where to look for help with ID. <Mmm, perhaps the origin/source site of the plants that were shipped> As far as markings go, he looks like a flying fox. The yellow band above the black isn't as bold (more like the Siamese Flying Fox) - it's more like he's translucent on top - and the black isn't quite true black, but otherwise he looks just like one, with some exceptions. His caudal fin is rounded rather than forked, his mouth is slightly upturned, without barbels, and he appears to have a gonopodium, <Oh, this is a good clue> quite long, and held close to his body, with a single clear anal fin behind it rather than paired pelvic fins. My tank is quite dark, and he hides well among the plants, so getting a photo for ID purposes has been a fruitless task so far. Looking at his anatomy, I started off searching the images online and in books for uncommon livebearers. Then I considered how he came to be with us, and looked among the Killies. Of these, he most closely resembles a bluefin, but lacks the blue fins. He also resembles a pencilfish, but there is no red in his fins, and the tail is the wrong shape. Any ideas what I should be looking for? <Mmm, not directly, but I would resume your search... on Fishbase.org, under the list of species by country... try Malaysia (for Singapore, the likely source country of the plants shipment)... and sort by family... look at the species in the livebearing toothed carp families... Bob Fenner>

Can't ID these things molly? platy?  9/20/07 Hello WetWeb question answering gods! I'll spare you all the details of my last email and give you the short story (Neale answered the last one) mollies have fungus, treating the tank. Course the fungus seemed to have disappeared on it's own before treatment! Didn't realize I shouldn't be keeping the mollies with the platys, goldfish, angels, parrots, balas, tetras. etc. in the same tank. <Yeeikes!> Though I've had only 1 other problem. (ich, or some sort of parasite also starting with the mollies) I'm going to move my Mollies to a more suitable environment. (where they can stop causing trouble, or biological death threats, to my more expensive, and adored critters) I have other fresh and marine tanks and think it's best to move the mollies to the marine nursery/sick tank after the fungus treatment is done. <Agreed> While spending hours online researching to be sure I will be moving the correct fish, none of them look like mine. See... a while back these were "dumps" from a friend who ended up with too many fry. She housed guppies, platys, and mollies all together. so I got a "net full" of whatever was to slow to avoid the net. Maybe they're inbreeds! <Could be crosses> So I'm sending you 3 pictures to make sure I've ID'd them correctly. I'd hate to move the platys by mistake into an environment they may suffocate in. I can ID many different kinds of fish by looking at them, but I can't seem to get these little buggers straight. I labeled them 1,2,3 for easy reference. if I'm correct..... pic #1 is a molly? pic #2 is a platy? (maybe a sunset? don't think it's a female swordtail) pic #3 is also a platy? <I think your IDs are correct> the 4th fish that wouldn't sit still (not pictured) I think is a molly. It has the same orange color with black freckles, except there are lots less freckles on the bodies and the tails are almost all black. assuming this is the same type of fish, same body shape. I've trained them how to recognize their yellow and brown flake food can, versus the red and blue marine food can. They only react to their own. But I have yet to teach them how to sit and stay so I can take their picture! thanks a million. <Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Livebearers and The Houston Livebearers Association  - 0713/2006 I read your article: Livebearing Fishes for Aquariums and Not. I am building a livebearers club and I would like to know who they are. It seems like the president of a livebearers club would at least know which fish are livebearers. <Easy to find out... there are a few books on this topic...> I am trying to make a list of threatened livebearers and I found the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species so if I knew which fish I could search the list. Do you have a list of the fish that you would share with me? <Wish I did, but no... not as of yet> The Houston Livebearers Association is a new club with a small diverse membership that charges no fees or dues to join: http://maxsmi.100webspace.net/phpBB2/< http://maxsmi.100webspace.net/phpBB2/> <Outstanding. Thank you for your efforts. I would have to do the same as you are... query folks in the field. Best to make a few visits to a large/college library with a Biology dept., and ask a reference librarian to help you with a search here. Bob Fenner> Kingdom ANIMALIA       Phylum  Chordata             Class   ACTINOPTERYGII                   Order   CYPRINODONTIFORMS                          Family  ANABLEPIDAE ( missing - anableps? )                          Family  APLOCHEILIDAE <These are not livebearers...>                                  Genus   Campellolebias                                           Cynolebias                                           Leptolebias                                           Nothobranchius                                           Pachypanchax                                           Rivulus                          Family  CYPRINODONTIDAE <Nor this family...>                                  Genius   Aphanius                                           Crenichthys                                           Cualac                                           Cyprinodon                                           Empetrichthys                                           Fundulus                                           Kosswigichthys                                           Lucania                                           Megupsilon                                           Orestias                                           Valencia                          Family  GOODEIDAE                                  Genius   Allotoca                                           Ameca                                           Ataeniobius                                           Characodin                                           Girardinichthys                                           Goodea                                           Hubbsina                                           llyodon                                           Skiffia                                           Xenophorus                         Family  POECILIIDAE                                 Genius    Aplocheilichthys                                           Gambusia                                           Hypsopanchax                                           Laciris                                           Lamprichithys                                           Pantanodon                                           Poecilia                                           Priapella                                           Xiphophorus                   Order  BELONIFORMES                         Family  HEMIRAMPHIDAE sp? HEMIRHAMPHIDAE sp?                                 Genius    Dermogenys                                           Nomorhampus                                           Tondanichithys                                           Zenarchopterus                   Order  RAJIFORMES  ( missing? )                          Family POTAMOTRYGONIDAE ( missing - fresh water sting rays ) Max

Mystery Guppy Theater - 10/27/2005 Hi Crew! <Good morning to yah!> GREAT!!! site MANY thanks! <Thank you for these kind words!!> Two issues today. First I was hoping you could help me identify the fish in the photos I attached! <Can't tell from the photos which fish I am to identify....> He/she/it is SUPPOSED to be a feeder guppy.  <Okay.> From my limited experience it seems that this fish has male anal fins, and a female gravid spot??? I figure that since the fish were all off food for three days (as advised by LFS owner) the dark spot on my mystery fish wasn't likely to be food? <Could be just coloration.> I bought the fish in a group of feeders. (BIG mistake!) I ended up with a fungus that I was told to use Binox on, and I am now battling high nitrates. (I assume it is because the Binox killed the good bacteria??)  <Entirely possible.> I managed to catch the owner of the fish store the day my water conditions were checked and he advised that I should not have used Binox in a new tank (I guess his employees should have been told this!) <Best to reserve medications for quarantine/hospital tanks only, if in any way possible.> and told me to cut food for 3 days, and do daily 5 gal water changes. I have a 15 gallon. <Sounds great.> This tank is only a month old to begin with so I am concerned about the large daily water changes.  <Not a concern. Bacteria reside in the substrate, filter, on decor.... not in the water column itself.> From what I have picked up both from your site, and a "fish only" store over a hundred miles away I have decided on adding plants, <Excellent!> 1 gallon changes every other day, an air stone and using salt.  <Sounds good.> The only fish in the tank are guppies and a Cory cat. <Mm, you might want to omit the salt.... and get a couple pals for the Cory.> So the second question is am I doing the right thing to lower nitrates?  <Yes.... just test/observe as you go.> All my other levels are fine. The LFS owner tells me the high nitrates are the end of my cycle period and to keep my fingers crossed that I don't lose any fish before it completes.  <Just keep testing, changing water. You should be okay.> HELP!! :o) Thanks so much! -Doug Alley Cat <Wishing you well, -Sabrina "Bruno" Fullhart, who will probably never live it down once it's posted.... Still, it's older and better than "Tiny Bladder".... Yikes....> <<Bruno...???  Yes, it is better than "Tiny Bladder", or "The Piddler".  MH>>

Mystery Guppy - Just a Sweet Transvestite From Guppselvania? - II - 10/29/2005 Hi again! <Hello!> Thanks for your prompt response! Sorry I forgot to point out the fish I needed help with! He/she/it is the all orange one.  <I see....> I hope these pictures are a little more helpful.  <Um. Well. Confusing, for certain.> I am sorry for the quality, but my digital cam is new to me, as are my aquarium photography skills. I would REALLY like to know what is up with this fish!  <Me, too. I would name this fish "Dr. Frankenfurter".> Is it just a unique colored guppy?  <Mm, I've seen plenty of gold-colored guppies, have a couple myself. Though this fish does look somewhat more like a small swordtail.> Is it male or female?  <Uhh.... Yes? I make the same observations as you on this - the animal has a rounded, robust belly common in females, a "gravid spot", does NOT have the slender body shape of a male, but very distinctly has a gonopodium. I think this fish's genes are a little confused.> I have observed that it is the most shy fish in the tank.  <I would be, too, if I were so confused on my gender! But I don't think fish are so picky about such things.> It often likes to sit in the Java Moss that is rooted in the driftwood and sometimes vanishes completely for hours. It seems to show no mating behavior, and is not aggressive at all. The dark spot in the belly NEVER goes away or varies. I sent a pic to a fish store owner an hour away from me, and he agrees that it seems to have both male/female characteristics, and feels that it may be a swordtail because they are known to change sexes(!?!).  <Mm, I agree with the observation that it might be a swordtail, but I think the idea that they "change sexes" has been discredited; late-developing males may look like females for a while, but not so very much so as this fish, I think.> I found an article where somebody thought they had a wild platy, and it was suggested that they had a Gambusia, but I looked at the available pictures posted on http://www.fishbase.org/search.cfm  and I don't really think that is the fish I have.  <No, this is not at all a Gambusia. I have quite a bit of experience in dealing with mosquito fish.... have seen/handled thousands.... your fish is not one, I assure you.> Is it a mystery to me to be sure!  <And to me. I honestly think this fish is exhibiting both male and female characteristics. It can happen in other animals, why not fish?> Also, you suggested I get my Cory cat a couple of pals.  <Yes - they're schoolers.> I have always been told that too many cats in a tank could lead to one of them starving?  <I've never seen/heard such a conviction.... To give you a bit of an idea how much of a schooling fish this really is, they live in groups of hundreds or *thousands* in the wild. Really. I like to see them in groups of six or more, with three being an absolute minimum.... You'll see much more active, happy behaviour out of them if you choose to do this.> The one I have is doing a GREAT job keeping up with the uneaten food, and I assume he is the one eating the snail eggs.(?)  <Could be.> Are these neat little cats the kind of fish that prefer uneven numbers in their "school"?  <The uneven numbers thing is kinda bunk, in my mind.... I promise you, they don't count each other in the wild and kick someone out if there's an even number of fish. They don't really care how many there are, as long as there are "several".> And should I just add extra flake food if I get 2 more cats?  <That'd be just fine.> I read what I could find about hospital tanks, and I have one set up. 5 gal. No gravel, no light, large clump of Java Moss, external biofilter, heat between 76/78f. The tank has been up just under a week. No fish. When/if I need to medicate fish, should I put only the visibly ill in the hospital/QT tank, or all of 'em, and then do a water change on the main tank?  <It really depends on what disease you're medicating. If it's a disease that might be isolated to a single fish, then just the single fish would need to be medicated. If it's a disease that may have spread to everyone else, like ich, then everyone would need to be treated.> Thanks for your help, and thanks most of all for this GREAT resource! <And thank you, again, for these kind words!> Doug Alley Cat #89 <Wishing you well, -Sabrina.... It's just a jump to the left!>

Mollies Dear Robert, could you please tell me the difference between Poecilia latipinna and Poecilia velifera? Can you actually have male mollies without Sailfins? >> <You mean, whether these are two distinct species? Yes, they are... take a look at the ref.s on FishBase (.com) for more... and yes, there are male mollies w/o sailfin dorsals. Bob Fenner>

Modified Mollienesia Hi Bob, I was wondering if you could tell me anything about balloon belly mollies? I can't seem to find much info on-line. What I want to know is are they naturally like that or are they like that because of selective breeding? Are they some kind of mutation? Thanks, Terri <Selective breeding after some "regular" Mollies were observed to be "irregularly shaped" if memory serves... Will delve into (on schedule, yikes) and post about this genus and other poeciliids on www.WetWebMedia.com soon... Bob Fenner>

Fish ID Went to my LFS today- bought 10 Zebra Danios for the community tank (already had 7, wanted a true schooling effect. And, besides, I had space available... anyway, when I was netting the Zebras out of the float bag, I noticed that the smallest wasn't a Zebra, or even a Danio. It was a small (approx 0.75 inch), colorless (kinda white, looked like the silvery ZD background color) guppy. I said to myself "well, I could leave him in here, or I could put him in my guppy tank". Figured he was a guppy, or guppy-like anyway, so off he went into the guppy tank. Since he's been in there, (about two hours now) he's... well... changed. The silvery clear color has been accented with three pronounced spots on each side, and an iridescent blue on and near his tail. Is this common, or do I have a freak fish? And, yes, I know I should have a QT... it's a question of cost right now. That, and space. My wife says that we can't add another tank until we have a place to put it. >>Hello :D Congratulations on finding a "contaminant"! I am unsure of ID of the new fish, it could be a guppy, or an Endler's, or any other livebearer. Is the tail long and flowing? If not, it might not be a guppy, though it could be a guppy normally sold as a Feeder. Or it might simply be a female, in which case it should have a gravid spot, (a black area under her belly near the tail) Otherwise, it could be anything, most likely a tetra. If you have access to a Baensch atlas, simply peruse the pictures and see if you can find it. There are websites also, like http://fins.actwin.com/species/index.php?t=3&f=1. Good luck! -Gwen<<

Platy Identification Question Hello fish Gurus! <Morning> After reading many, many questions and answers, you guys seem very knowledgeable and extremely helpful about Platies and Livebearers in general. We were hoping you could help us answer a question we can't seem to find the answer to no matter how many pictures of fish we look at and fish sites we go to. <Okay> Is there a good way to identify if a fish is a Platy, distinctively? <Mmm, yes... there are distinctive differences in "hard body parts" like fin-ray counts, branchiostegals...> It seems like there are so many different kinds, and Platys look so similar to other fish such as Guppies and Mollies. We recently caught (with drinking cups!) some mystery fish which look more like Platies than any other fish but we're not sure. Based on other sites, Platies come from Central America, <Yes, originally... they're now in many other places> but we caught them in Georgia (USA) -- thus the confusion.  Our fish are pale peach to transparent in color and the stronger colored fish have curved lines on their tailfins. Are these platies? <Maybe> We've taken a lot of pictures of the fish and picked the five best pictures, showing the shape and fins if you'd like to see (don't worry, the pictures are cropped down to be small): http://greensand.sytes.net/fish/  <Oh, nice pix... these appear to be other livebearers... used in vector control (to eat mosquitoes). Please see fishbase: http://www.fishbase.org/search.cfm  Put in the term: Gambusia affinis in the search for scientific name or "Mosquitofish" in the common name tray... click on the resultant image... to see others... or look on the Google Pix link there...> We would love to find out what our mystery fish are, and if not, at least learn more about what it would mean to have a "wild Platy" or if they exist. Thank you, -- Dawn :) <Could be... but my guess is on the Gambusia. Thank you for writing. Bob

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