Poecilia velifera Care Page - Back to Poecilia velifera Page

    Common Name- Giant Sailfin Molly
    Water Conditions- pH around 8, clean water, multiple daily feedings, Vegetable flake based diet
    Behavior- Large, well behaved community fish. Very distinctive, best in larger species only tank.
    Breeding- 10-50 large fry born after 30 day gestation
    Size- 3-5 inches, males will get up to 5.5 inches in the aquarium.

    - Also see the care and maintenance page for the P. velifera HERE.

    This will be a slightly longer care page, because this is a very special fish. For many years this was a
    fish I wanted to keep, and I knew it as THE iconic livebearer, it would be just the type of fish I should
    carry at Select Aquatics. Though not endangered in the wild, they are very rare in the hobby, and becoming
    more difficult to find.

    However, I had long believed that you cannot get full sized dorsals on tank raised fish (Not true), they 
    required salt (also not true), harder water, must be kept in a large tank, took forever to grow out, and had short
    intestines that required frequent feeding throughout the day. That in combination with nitrate intolerance that
    can often the result of overfeeding. Whew! I have soft water, had a job during the day, and never had the  
    confidence that I could keep them properly.

    It couldn't be that difficult to keep this fish! Well, it isn't, and you can keep it successfully with normal care that
    does not have to be extreme, with a few considerations for maintaining good water quality and appropriate
    feeding. The reward of big 5 inch bull males showing off to the ladies is well worth any effort!

    This would occur generally when they are eating, or often in the early morning. If you want to trigger a male to
    show off, removing a female for a couple days, then reintroducing here will often cause he males to show their

    Granted, this isn't a beginner fish. Going in to it, you will need a larger tank (30 for young fish, at least a
    40 for a couple adults, 55 and over for more than about 2 trios), a habit of regular water changes, good
    filtration and aeration, feeding at least 2x per day, water that can be kept around 8.0, and a vegetable 
    based spectrum flake. (They do need protein foods, but do prefer the bulk of their diet to be vegetable
   This Line

    From email discussions I have had with customers about this fish, there are some things about this line
    that are misunderstood. The male P. velifera possesses the largest dorsal of any other livebearer. In the
    past, P. velifera has been used to develop lines of high fin fish that we have all seen in pet  stores, fish that
    we are accustomed to seeing top out at about 2.5 - 3 inches.

    These velifera are the true Giant Sailfins from the Yucatan peninsula. The breeders maintaining this line made
    every effort to breed only the largest males to the most robust females, maintaining an exceptionally large, robust
    fish. Previous to being obtained by these hobbyists, they were originally kept at Clemson University. These are the
    same line of velifera that used to be sold by Goliad farms (We obtained them from the same breeder).

    As a result of this, these are BIG fish. I have a tank here of 2-3 inch fish that have yet to sex out!
    Customers have asked me to ship them two pairs as I would a pair of swords for a similar rate, and these
    fish are simply too large. As well, with space being what it is here, I simply do not have the room to grow out 
    dozens of sexed fish. So we are raising up the best possible pairs, and 2-4 month old fish from those 
    pairs are the fish that are being sold.

   The Actual Care

    The tank: Yes, they will need a larger tank. Overall water quality is important with this fish, so the larger
    the body of water, generally, the more stable the water quality will stay. Heavy water changes - at least 50% a
    week, is certainly warranted here. I do 15% daily, and change 20% at any sign of cloudiness. That amount of
    changes isn't required, but my tanks are fairly heavily stocked, and I feed many times per day.

    They also do best when kept slightly warmer than the swords and other livebearers. Though I have heard of these fish
    tolerating up to 83, 84 degrees, they are kept here between 77 to about 81 degrees. To assist in maintaining water
    quality, as warmer water reflects less oxygenation, air driven box filters are used here, and some means to maintain
    at least moderate aeration should be used. 

    To help with water quality, keep your setup with as few unnecessary organics in the tank as possible - a sparse 
    pebble bottom (no thick gravel, and definitely no soil or other contaminants.) I do use lots of plants here - mostly
    Java Fern and Bolbitis fern, and they do not seem to bother either of them. However, being mollies, I would keep
    an eye out for their munching on more palatable fare.

    As fry they are fine in a smaller tank, and I have grown them out in 29 talls until they are about an inch long.
    From there they will go to 55s to grow out. My biggest fish and breeders are kept in a 100 gallon. I can keep
    up to 15-25 adults in the 100 gallon aquarium.

    In following with the attention to water quality, be careful not to overcrowd them. They generally bother their fry
    very little, and can be quite prolific.

    Also to assist in good water quality, at least moderate light should be used to maintain healthy plants and
    stimulate bacterial activity in the water.

    Lastly, I have also found that with these being as active as they are, any use of rigid objects in the tank should be
    carefully considered, particularly anything with sharp edges or rough surfaces, as the bigger males seem prone to
    scratching themselves and causing injury.

    Salt - Those having kept the fish previous to me were clear that these do not require salt, have never been exposed
    to salt, and salt is never to be used with this fish. These are the most competent fishkeepers I have ever known,
    and have kept this fish for over 15 years, so keeping them without salt is clearly done successfully, and any introduction
    of salt should be carefully considered. You do not want to raise fish accustomed to salt,  that when put into water
    without salt could face opportunistic disease issues they are unable to fight off.

    I have found that they respond very well to salt, and initial acclimation to the water quality here to overcome
    some clamped fins, etc., was solved by using a medicinal dose of salt. (1 tablespoon per 5 gallons of water). All of
    the fish sold from here have not been acclimated to salt, and may never, as young fish, been exposed to salt.
    But I will often use salt in the 100 gallon when any sign of malaise is seen in any of the adult breeders, which 
    usually returns the tank to its healthy status within a day. I will then let the salt be gradually removed through
    water changes.

     If you want a truly distinctive, iconic, breathtaking fish, this is it. But if you want big full sized males showing
    off at one another in your living room, there is a certain amount of meeting their needs and patience needed. 
    With the arrival of fry, it will be a few months before your males will begin to show themselves, and that big
    dorsal grows fairly quickly. However, the males could be 8-10 months plus before you will see them in their
    full glory. But they are spectacular like nothing else available in the hobby.

    Greg Sage, 2016



    See other Care Guides Here