Creature Feature # 23
SAILFIN MOLLY (Poecilia latipinna)
The sailfin molly is one of the most prolific and beautiful of our forage fishes. Growing to about four or five inches, sailfin mollies are found throughout coastal waters from the Carolinas to Florida and Texas as well as the Yucatan. They are able to survive in a wide variety of conditions from salty to brackish and even fresh water. Here at Mound House, you can find sailfin mollies schooling in the shallows of the kayak and canoe launch, amongst the rocks along our shoreline ,and even in the culvert pipes under our entrance. They are easily recognized by their flattened heads and spotted bodies. On the males, large and colorful blue dorsal fins and tails make these species easily distinguishable. Like other species of forage fishes in our region, the sailfin molly finds its way into tidal marshes and salt flats as well as ponds and ditches where it feeds on mosquito larvae. In fact, one method of mosquito control used here in Lee County decades ago was to excavate a series of ditches from tidal waters and into areas of marsh or standing water so that native fishes, including the sailfin molly could find their way in and feed on the mosquito larvae growing in the formerly stagnant water.
But life is rough for the sailfin molly, they are the target of numerous species of predator fish as well as wading birds and may live less than a year after reaching maturity.