Lyretail Molly

Lyretail mollies are captivating freshwater fish, cousins to the well-known Guppy. With their distinctive lyre-shaped tails and lively demeanor, they have quickly won the hearts of aquarium hobbyists. These outgoing fish require moderate maintenance, making them a perfect fit for community aquariums.

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Care DIfficulty


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North America

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5 inches (13 cm)

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5 years

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Table of contents

Origin, Appearance, Size, and Lifespan

The Lyretail Molly, scientifically known as Poecilia latipinna, is a highly desired freshwater fish originating from the Gulf Coast region in North America. They are typically found in the brackish and freshwater systems of coastal regions, spanning from North Carolina to Texas and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

In their natural environment, Lyretail Mollies predominantly inhabit calm, coastal waters with a profusion of vegetation. These plants not only function as retreats but also as sources of nutrition, while the sandy riverbeds accentuate their shimmering colors. These sociable fish thrive in groups of at least five, and it's usual to find them in schools of even larger numbers.

Their natural surroundings feature warm, slightly alkaline water. The temperature generally fluctuates between 70 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 28 degrees Celsius), with a pH level of 7.5 to 8.5, and water hardness between 10 to 25 dGH. To reproduce a similar environment in your aquarium, make sure to maintain a steady water temperature, employ a high-quality filtration system, and include live plants and rocks.

By accurately replicating the Lyretail Molly's natural habitat and assuring appropriate water conditions, you're setting your fish up for a healthy and fulfilling life in your aquarium.

Lyretail Mollies are lauded for their unique lyre-shaped tail fin that enhances their allure, complemented by a gleaming silver body. These radiant characteristics make them a tempting and striking centerpiece in aquariums. Despite their small stature, growing up to approximately 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm) in length, their unique tail design and vibrant personality make them an excellent choice for those seeking a lively and engaging aquatic display. These charming fish delight observers as they actively dart around the tank, securing their status as a beloved favorite among enthusiasts of all skill levels.

With attentive care, Lyretail Mollies can live up to five years. As social creatures, they thrive in groups and are best maintained in schools of at least five individuals. To boost their well-being and ensure longevity in captivity, it's crucial to furnish a densely planted aquarium with ample hiding spots, along with a varied diet comprising high-quality flakes, pellets, and occasional fresh or frozen foods.

Fun Facts

Having covered the appearance and lifespan of Lyretail Mollies, we'll now delve into some intriguing facts about these charming fish that set them apart in the realm of aquarium hobbyists. From their distinctive tail shape to their lively social conduct, Lyretail Mollies are full of surprises that will undoubtedly enchant any aquarist.

  • Resilience in various water types: Lyretail Mollies are a unique species that can survive in both freshwater and brackish environments, demonstrating their impressive adaptability. This flexibility makes them more resilient to changes in water parameters, increasing their survival rate.
  • Live bearers: Unlike many fish species that lay eggs, Lyretail Mollies are livebearers. This means that they give birth to fully formed, free-swimming fry, which can be an exciting event to witness in your aquarium.
  • Color variations: Although Lyretail Mollies are often recognized for their silver color, they come in several color variations, including gold, black, and even dalmatian. These different color morphs add an extra layer of visual interest and variety to your aquarium.
  • Unique tail formation: The feature that gives the Lyretail Molly its name – the lyre-shaped tail – is a trait not commonly found among other molly species. This unique tail structure gives the fish a distinctive, graceful appearance as they navigate their aquatic surroundings.
  • Sociable nature: Lyretail Mollies are highly social fish that thrive in groups. This gregarious behavior not only helps them feel secure but also creates an engaging visual spectacle in an aquarium. Their active movements and diverse colors can turn your aquarium into a lively, captivating underwater spectacle.

With these intriguing facts about Lyretail Mollies in your knowledge arsenal, you can better appreciate their charm and complexities in your aquarium. In the following section, we'll provide advice on tank setups, ensuring your Lyretail Mollies have an optimal environment to thrive and flaunt their unique features.

Recommended Tank Setups

This section outlines different tank setups, from the most basic to the high-end ones, to provide a suitable environment for Lyretail Mollies and other compatible species. As you move from the most economical to the premium setups, you'll notice a greater scope for personalization, improved aesthetics, and advanced features. Lyretail Mollies are gregarious by nature, so a group of at least five individuals is recommended to reduce stress and ensure their well-being. The price for Lyretail Mollies generally ranges between $3 and $5 per fish, though this can vary depending on size, quality, and availability.

Budget-friendly setup (around $200):

  • Tank: 20-gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($40 - $70)
  • Filter: Hang-on-back (HOB) or sponge filter suitable for a 20-gallon tank ($20 - $40)
  • Heater: 50-100 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($15 - $30)
  • Lighting: Basic LED aquarium light ($20 - $50)
  • Substrate: Affordable aquarium sand or small gravel ($10 - $20)
  • Decor: A few pieces of driftwood and rocks, supplemented with budget-friendly live plants like Java Fern and Anubias ($20 - $40)
  • Fish: Minimum 5, maximum 10 Lyretail Mollies ($15 - $25)
  • Thermometer: $3 - $10
  • Substrate Vacuum: $10 - $25
  • Fish Net: $2 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $5 - $20
  • Siphon and Bucket: $15 - $30
  • Test Kit: $15 - $50
  • Fish Food: $5 - $20
  • Water Conditioner: $5 - $15

Mid-range setup (around $400 - $650):

  • Tank: 30-gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($80 - $150)
  • Filter: Canister filter or superior-quality HOB filter suited for the tank size ($60 - $150)
  • Heater: 100-150 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($25 - $50)
  • Lighting: LED aquarium light with settings adjustable for plant growth and color enhancement ($50 - $150)
  • Substrate: Nutrient-rich substrate intended for planted tanks ($20 - $40)
  • Decor: A mixture of driftwood, rocks, and live plants like Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne species ($40 - $80)
  • Fish: Minimum 5, maximum 15 Lyretail Mollies ($15 - $40)
  • Thermometer: $3 - $10
  • Substrate Vacuum: $10 - $25
  • Fish Net: $2 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $5 - $20
  • Siphon and Bucket: $15 - $30
  • Test Kit: $15 - $50
  • Fish Food: $5 - $20
  • Water Conditioner: $5 - $15

High-end setup (above $800):

  • Tank: 40-gallon rimless aquarium with a glass canopy ($150 - $300)
  • Filter: Superior-quality canister filter suitable for the tank size ($150 - $300)
  • Heater: 150-200 watt adjustable aquarium heater with an external temperature controller ($40 - $80)
  • Lighting: Advanced LED lighting system with customizable settings for plant growth, color enhancement, and day/night cycles ($150 - $300)
  • Substrate: Premium aquarium substrate meant for planted tanks, with additional root tabs for extra plant nutrition ($30 - $60)
  • Decor: A combination of driftwood, rocks, and live plants, forming a natural aquascape with plant species like Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, Cryptocoryne species, and carpeting plants such as Dwarf Hairgrass or Monte Carlo ($60 - $150)
  • Fish: Minimum 5, maximum 20 Lyretail Mollies ($15 - $50)
  • Thermometer: $3 - $10
  • Substrate Vacuum: $10 - $25
  • Fish Net: $2 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $5 - $20
  • Siphon and Bucket: $15 - $30
  • Test Kit: $15 - $50
  • Fish Food: $5 - $20
  • Water Conditioner: $5 - $15

These figures are simply recommendations, and it's important to consider other factors like potential tank mates and the individual personality of each fish when deciding on the number of Lyretail Mollies for your aquarium. Prices might vary depending on location, brand, and availability.

Set Up Your Tank

In the previous discussion, we've talked about the ideal tank environments for your Lyretail Mollies. With that foundational knowledge, let's dive deeper into the systematic process of setting up your aquarium. This comprehensive guide includes choosing the perfect location, cleaning and preparing the tank, installing necessary equipment, and cycling the tank to create a balanced ecosystem for your fish. We'll also delve into the correct acclimation process to ensure your Lyretail Mollies transition smoothly into their new habitat. Follow these steps to create a thriving underwater environment where your fish will thrive.

  • Step #1: Identify the best location for your tank, ensuring it is away from direct sunlight, heat sources, or cold drafts. The surface must be even and strong enough to hold the weight of your fully loaded tank. If a tank stand is necessary, follow the manufacturer's guidelines to assemble it and position the empty tank on top.
  • Step #2: Proceed to cleanse the tank by rinsing it with pure water (avoid soaps or chemicals) to get rid of any dust or residue. Use a clean, soft cloth or paper towel to wipe the inside of the tank. Rinse the substrate (such as sand or gravel) in a bucket until the water runs clear, then spread it evenly at the base of the tank, making a gentle slope towards the back for visual appeal.
  • Step #3: Plan your aquarium's layout, including the placement of vital equipment like heaters and filters, before filling it with water. This proactive step will make maintenance easier in the future. Install your heater and filter as per the manufacturer's directions. If you're utilizing a sponge or under-gravel filter, position it beneath the substrate prior to adding water.
  • Step #4: Beautify the tank with driftwood, rocks, and plants to provide hiding spots and a visually engaging environment, while also ensuring plenty of open space for your fish to swim. Take care to arrange the decor in a way that doesn't interfere with or damage the equipment. Anchoring plants to driftwood or rocks can help them stay put.
  • Step #5: Fill the tank with water that's been treated with a water conditioner, especially if your tap water contains chlorine or chloramines. Use a clean plate or plastic bag on the substrate to avoid stirring it up while filling. Fill the tank until it's around two-thirds full. Attach your aquarium light to the hood or canopy following the manufacturer's instructions. Consider setting a timer for your aquarium light to ensure a consistent day-night cycle for your fish and plants. Connect the heater, filter, and any additional equipment like an air pump or CO2 system, and install the thermometer in a location that's easy to see.
  • Step #6: Top off the water, leaving a gap between the water surface and the tank's top to allow for oxygen exchange. Switch on the filter, heater, and other equipment. Keep an eye on the water temperature and make adjustments to the heater if needed. Let the tank cycle for around 4 to 6 weeks to establish beneficial bacteria and stabilize water parameters. You can use a bacterial starter culture to hasten the cycling process. A test kit will help monitor ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
  • Step #7: Once the tank has cycled and the water parameters are stable, you can begin acclimating your Lyretail Mollies to the tank's conditions. Start by floating the unopened fish bag in the tank for about 15-20 minutes to even out the temperature. Then, open the bag and gradually add a bit of tank water to it. Keep adding small amounts of tank water to the bag every 5-10 minutes for at least half an hour to an hour. This process allows your fish to gradually adjust to the new water chemistry. Use a net to gently transfer your fish from the bag to the tank to avoid unnecessary stress and prevent the bag's water from entering the tank.
  • Step #8: After all fish are in the tank, establish a regular feeding schedule, offering suitable high-quality food for your Lyretail Mollies. Maintain water quality with regular changes (20-30% every 1-2 weeks) and continue to monitor water parameters with a test kit. Keep a close eye on your fish for any signs of distress or disease, particularly in the first few weeks after their introduction. If necessary, be ready to adjust water parameters or consult an experienced aquarist for guidance.

By diligently following this step-by-step guide and incorporating the additional setup tips, you can establish a vibrant and healthy aquatic environment. Your Lyretail Mollies will not only survive but thrive in their new home.

Recommended Water Parameters

For the well-being of your Lyretail Mollies, it's essential to maintain specific water parameters in your aquarium. Here's what you need to aim for:

  • Temperature: The ideal range for Lyretail Mollies is between 72°F and 78°F (22°C and 26°C).
  • pH: They thrive in a slightly alkaline environment, so aim for a pH between 7.5 and 8.5.
  • Hardness: Moderately hard to hard water (10-25 dGH) suits them best.
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate: Aim for 0 ppm for ammonia and nitrite, and keep nitrate levels below 20 ppm.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting is preferred by Lyretail Mollies.
  • Water movement: Moderate water flow matches their natural habitat and is best.

Regularly test your aquarium water and perform necessary water changes to keep the environment stable.

Routine Water Maintenance

Regular water changes are vital for a healthy Lyretail Molly aquarium. They help to remove excess waste and toxins. Here's a suggested routine:

  • Weekly water changes: Replace 20-30% of the tank water every week.
  • Test water parameters: Regularly check parameters such as pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and hardness.
  • Use a gravel vacuum: Clean the substrate during water changes.
  • Dechlorinate the water: Always treat tap water with a water conditioner before introducing it to the tank.
  • Match temperature and pH: Ensure the new water matches the tank water in temperature and pH.
  • Acclimate the fish: Allow your fish time to adjust to new conditions after water changes.

To ensure the health of your fish and the overall appearance of your aquarium, consider the following:

  • Monitor lighting duration: Maintain a regular 10-12 hour photoperiod to prevent excessive algae growth.
  • Plant maintenance: Regularly trim and maintain live plants and remove dead plant matter to prevent water quality issues.
  • Filter maintenance: Clean or replace the filter media as per the manufacturer's recommendation, typically every 4-6 weeks.

Diet and Feeding Schedule

Lyretail Mollies are omnivores and need a balanced diet. Here are some feeding guidelines:

  • Flakes and pellets: High-quality flake or pellet food should be the staple of their diet.
  • Frozen and live foods: Supplement their diet with live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp or bloodworms.
  • Vegetable matter: Include blanched spinach, peas, or cucumber for added nutrients.
  • Feeding frequency: Feed small portions twice a day, avoiding overfeeding.

Stress and Diseases

Lyretail Mollies may experience stress from poor water quality, aggression, or unsuitable tank conditions. Identifying and addressing these stressors is vital:

  • Watch for stress signs: Monitor your Lyretail Mollies for unusual behaviors like hiding, lethargy, color loss, or rapid breathing.
  • Check water quality: Regularly test your aquarium water and conduct necessary water changes.
  • Monitor tank mates: Ensure your Lyretail Mollies aren't being harassed by other fish.
  • Create a suitable habitat: Provide plenty of hiding spots and a properly sized tank.

While Lyretail Mollies are generally hardy, they can be susceptible to common fish diseases such as:

  • Ich (white spot disease): Treat with aquarium salt or anti-parasitic medication and raise the water temperature slightly.
  • Fin rot: Treat with a partial water change, aquarium salt, and antibacterial medication.
  • Velvet disease: Treat this parasitic infection with anti-parasitic medication.
  • Swim bladder disease: Treat by fasting the fish and offering them blanched peas, and consider using an antibacterial medication if needed.

Maintain excellent water quality, avoid overfeeding, and provide a balanced diet to prevent diseases. Quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank and promptly address any signs of illness.


Breeding Lyretail Mollies can be a rewarding experience. Follow these steps to breed Lyretail Mollies:

  • Step #1: Prepare a suitable breeding environment. A separate tank is recommended. Maintain a pH level between 7.5 and 8.5, and a temperature of about 75°F (24°C). Ensure moderately hard water and provide plenty of hiding spots for the females.
  • Step #2: Choose healthy, mature male and female Lyretail Mollies for breeding. One male for every two females is a good ratio to prevent stress and over-pursuit.
  • Step #3: Feed the breeding pair a varied, high-quality diet to ensure their health and readiness to breed.
  • Step #4: Mollies will breed without specific triggers, but ensure that there are plenty of hiding places for the pregnant female and the fry.
  • Step #5: Once the female gives birth, it's crucial to separate the fry from the adults as mollies might eat their offspring. The fry will be free-swimming almost immediately. Feed them a diet of crushed flake food or specially designed fry food.
  • Step #6: Keep a close eye on the growth and development of the fry. As they grow, make sure to provide a larger space or separate the fry based on their size to avoid competition for food.

Breeding Lyretail Mollies can be a fulfilling experience for any hobbyist. It requires patience, care, and the right conditions for success.

Recommended Tank Mates

Here are the top 10 suggested tank companions for Lyretail Mollies:

  • Platies
  • Guppies
  • Swordtails
  • Zebra Danios
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Cherry Barb
  • Mystery Snails
  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Tetras

It's crucial to steer clear of larger, territorial fish like cichlids, and predatory species, as they might intimidate or prey on the Lyretail Mollies. Always monitor the behavior of newly added fish and ensure they don't incite stress or aggression towards the mollies.


In summary, Lyretail mollies are a charming freshwater fish known for their beautiful fins and ease of care. These fish require specific water conditions, a balanced diet, and a suitable environment to flourish in captivity. Nevertheless, with appropriate conditions, they can live up to five years and make a fantastic addition to any aquarium. When choosing tank mates, it's vital to pick peaceful and non-aggressive species to maintain a harmonious community. Breeding Lyretail mollies can be an exciting endeavor for hobbyists, with patience and optimal conditions being the keys to success. Overall, Lyretail mollies are an eye-catching and lively species that can enrich any aquatic display with their attractive appearance and energetic behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for Lyretail Mollies?

A minimum of a 30-gallon tank is recommended when setting up a home for Lyretail Mollies. A larger tank is even more beneficial, as it aids in maintaining stable water conditions while providing ample space for your fish to swim.

How many Lyretail Mollies should be kept together?

Lyretail Mollies are sociable fish and thrive in groups. However, to prevent overpopulation, a ratio of one male to three females is typically recommended. This not only helps your fish feel more comfortable but also allows them to exhibit their intriguing natural behaviors.

What water parameters do Lyretail Mollies require?

Lyretail Mollies flourish in water temperatures between 72°F and 78°F (22°C and 26°C), a pH between 7.5 and 8.5, and moderately hard water.

What do Lyretail Mollies eat?

Lyretail Mollies are omnivorous and need a diverse diet. Feed them a combination of high-quality flake or pellet food, along with live or vegetable-based foods such as algae, lettuce, or peas.

Are Lyretail Mollies compatible with other fish?

Yes, Lyretail Mollies are generally peaceful and can cohabit with other similarly sized, non-aggressive fish species. Ideal tank mates include platies, guppies, and smaller catfish species.

How long do Lyretail Mollies live?

With appropriate care and optimal tank conditions, Lyretail Mollies can live for 3 to 5 years.

How do I breed Lyretail Mollies?

Breeding Lyretail Mollies is relatively straightforward. They don't require specific water conditions or a separate breeding tank. The key is to maintain a good male to female ratio and provide plenty of hiding spots for the females and the fry.

Do Lyretail Mollies require a planted tank?

While not strictly necessary, a planted tank is highly recommended for Lyretail Mollies. Live plants provide hiding spots, improve water quality, and create a more natural environment that closely resembles their native habitat.

Can Lyretail Mollies change color?

Indeed, Lyretail Mollies can undergo color changes due to a variety of factors, including stress, illness, or alterations in water conditions. If you notice your Lyretail Mollies experiencing a loss of color, it's essential to check the water parameters and monitor their health closely.