Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Cyprinodontiformes
(Rivulines, killifishes and live bearers) > Poeciliidae
(Poeciliids) > Poeciliinae
Etymology: Poecilia: Greek, poikilos = with a lot of colours (Ref. 45335). More on author: Peters.
Environment / Climate / Range
Freshwater; brackish; benthopelagic; pH range: 7.0 - 8.0; dH range: 9 - 19; non-migratory. Tropical; 18°C - 28°C (Ref. 1672); 14°N - 2°N, 67°W - 52°W
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 5.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 59043); 6.0 cm SL (female); common length : 2.8 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 12193)
South America: Venezuela, Barbados, Trinidad, northern Brazil and the Guyanas. Widely introduced and established elsewhere, mainly for mosquito control, but had rare to non-existing effects on mosquitoes, and negative to perhaps neutral effects on native fishes (Ref. 12217). Africa: Feral populations reported from the coastal reaches of Natal rivers from Durban southwards, as well as in the Kuruman Eye and Lake Otjikoto in Namibia (Ref. 7248). Several countries report adverse ecological impact after introduction.
Inhabits warm springs and their effluents, weedy ditches and canals (Ref. 5723). Found in various habitats, ranging from highly turbid water in ponds, canals and ditches at low elevations to pristine mountain streams at high elevations (Ref. 11225). Occurs in wide variety of habitats with low predation pressure, usually in very small streams and densely vegetated lakes and springs (Ref. 59043). Has a wide salinity range but requires fairly warm temperatures (23-24 °C) and quiet vegetated water for survival (Ref. 7248, 44894, 79840). Feeds on zooplankton, small insects and detritus. One of the most popular aquarium fishes with many standardized varieties. Used in genetics research. Female reaches 5 cm SL (Ref. 2847). Males mature at 2 months and females at 3 months of age (Ref. 1672). Aquarium keeping: in groups of 5 or more individuals; minimum aquarium size 60 cm (Ref. 51539). A very popular and widely available species in the aquarium trade. In Australia, wild populations were established prior to the 1970s, undoubtedly the result of thoughtless aquarists discarding unwanted pets (Ref. 44894). Maximum length for female taken from Ref. 43281.
Males are about half the size of females with colorful tail and caudal fin; the anal fin is transformed into a gonopodium for internal fertilization. Males are continuously chasing and mating females. Females can store sperms for later fertilization and may produce young every four weeks. Pregnant females are recognizable by black triangle between anal and pelvic fins. After a gestation period of four to six weeks females give birth to 20-40 live young. No parental care is exercised and parents may even prey on their young.
Rodriguez, C.M., 1997. Phylogenetic analysis of the tribe Poeciliini (Cyprinodontiformes: Poeciliidae). Copeia 1997(4):663-679. (Ref. 26855)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)
CITES (Ref. 94142)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: of no interest; aquarium: commercial
Estimates of some properties based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00871 (0.00369 - 0.02053), b=3.15 (2.96 - 3.34), based on LWR estimates for this (Sub)family-body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 3.2 ±0.40 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): High, minimum population doubling time less than 15 months (tm=0.16-0.25; Fec=20-40 with multiple spawning per year).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low to moderate vulnerability (33 of 100) .