Top 16 Best Types of Molly Fish: Rare Colors and More

Molly Fish are colorful livebearing fish that live in fresh or brackish water.

In the wild they live mangrove swamps, tropical bays, and inlets. But, in aquariums they are often kept in aquascapes.

There are over 50 different colors, patterns, and body shapes available. Most species are peaceful enough to be kept with many popular community fish such as Danios and Tetras. Some are beautiful enough to outshine even the larger fish in the tank.

Here is a list of the 16 best molly fish types to help you decide which is the right one for your aquarium…

Best 16 Types Of Molly Fish

Species Beginner Friendly Price Rank
Amazon No Unknown (rare) 15
Atlantic Yes $3-$10 14
Balloon Belly No $6-$8 4
Black Yes $4-$7 1
Black Lyretail Yes $5-$12 8
Black Sailfin Yes $5-$12 7
Common Yes $4-$10 3
Creamsicle Yes $4-$8 9
Dalmatian Yes $5-$10 2
Gold Dust Yes $5-$7 5
Liberty No $8-$10 11
Marble Yes $4-$8 6
Platinum Lyretail No $5-$10 13
White Sailfin Yes $5-$10 12
Wild Type Yes $3-$8 16
Yucatan No $5-$12 10

1. Black

Black Molly

Black is a very uncommon color for most fish, but for the Molly it is very common.

You can find several different Mollies in black, but this section will refer to the Black Common Molly (Poecilia sphenops).

These fish are completely black and sometimes have a yellow border along their fins. Although the color does occur in the wild it is very rare.

They are typically smaller than the standard variety by about an inch.

Black Common Mollies look their best in a tank full of light colored plants and substrate.

If you want your jet black fish to grab even more attention, pair them with other more brightly colored fish such as fancy Guppies.

  • Color: Black
  • Tail Type: Standard
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $4-$7

2. Dalmatian

Dalmatian Molly

Dalmatian Mollies are covered in black spots just like a Dalmatian dog!

This color pattern can occur on Common, Sailfin, Lyretail, and Balloon Belly varieties.

White is of course the most popular base color but you can also find them in red, gold, orange, or grey.

These fish are very active and are sure to grab attention, especially in a tank with lots of brightly colored plants and other schooling fish. In addition to other colorful Mollies you can keep them with Guppies, Platys, Swordtails, Loaches, and other nano fish.

  • Color: Spotted
  • Tail Type: Standard or Lyre
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $4-$8

3. Common

Common Molly

The common Molly makes an excellent starter species for beginners.

This little fish comes in many different color forms, including: red, orange, black, yellow, and marbled. Wild type specimens are grey or light tan.

It is native to Central America but can now be found in the Caribbean and the southern United States.

If you are new to the genus then this is the species you want to start out with. It is easy to care for and needs no special equipment. You will need a 20 gallon tank for a school of 5. Use logs, driftwood, bogwood, and mangrove roots to decorate the tank. If you cannot find mangroves then you can use regular tree roots.

Plants are an important part of the setup as well and the best plants to use are either: Tapegrass, Hornwort, or Sagittaria.

These fish are excellent for communities and will get along with other small to medium sized schooling fish. Platys, Swordtails, Guppies, Tetras, and Danios make ideal tank mates for these livebearers.

  • Color: Various
  • Tail Type: Standard
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $4-$10

4. Balloon Belly

Balloon Belly Molly

A Balloon Belly Molly has a round stomach.

This unusual trait can be bred into any existing species but does not occur in the wild.

Balloon Bellies may be cute but they come with several downsides and need more advanced care and special attention.

Their body shape causes them to move slowly and affects their coordination and buoyancy. Because they are slow swimmers they have a hard time keeping up with tank mates. They must also be fed at a separate mealtime than any of your other fish, to make sure that they will not be out-competed for food.

The trait also stunts the body’s growth at 3 inches or less and can shorten their lifespan by a year or two.

Keep an eye out for signs of dropsy or swim bladder disorders.

Above all this particular variety is best kept by experienced keepers only.

  • Color: Various
  • Tail Type: Standard or Lyre
  • Lifespan: 2-4 years
  • Price: $6-$8

5. Gold Dust

Gold Dust Molly

Lyretails, Commons, and Sailfins can all come in Gold Dust.

This types has a golden yellow body with a black spotted tail. Some specimens have black spots over their head and body as well.

The golden color occurs in shades from bright yellow to a deep orange.

24 Karat Gold is a popular variant that lacks the black spots.

These fish can grow up to 4 inches in length and truly shine in schools of 6 or more. They will need a 30 gallon tank to accommodate a group of this size. They are extremely playful and fun to watch as they zip around the tank. Pairing them with a school of Black Mollies makes them stand out even more.

  • Color: Gold and black
  • Tail Type: Standard or Lyre
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $5-$7

6. Marble

Marble Molly

A Marble Molly looks very similar to the Dalmatian.

They have thick black spots that occur over a white body and fins.

This elegant color form occurs in Common and Lyretail varieties.

Just like all Mollies they need non acidic water and a hardness over 15 dGH. They look their best against light colored substrate. Use light colored rocks, logs, driftwood, and bogwood to make their environment look just like a tropical bay habitat.

They should be kept with an even number of individuals in their school, with more females than males. Males behave aggressively when they are looking to compete or attract a mate.

  • Color: Various, with marble pattern
  • Tail Type: Standard or Lyre
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $4-$8

7. Black Sailfin

Black Sailfin Molly

The Black Sailfin is a melanistic variety of the Sailfin Molly.

This is one of the most common varieties to keep and one of the most appealing livebearing fish for beginners.

Like the common Black variety it can have a yellow border along the edges of the dorsal and caudal fins with a black body. However this fish has a well defined wide dorsal fin.

It grows up to an inch larger than the Lyretail.

Black Sailfins look best in light colored tanks that look like tropical mangrove swamps. You can even use mangrove roots to decorate their habitat.

  • Color: Black
  • Tail Type: Standard or Lyre
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $5-$12

8. Black Lyretail

Black Lyretail Molly
Black Lyretail Molly (back left) with Common Mollies

The Black Lyretail can be completely black or have a mixture of black and grey shades.

They have iridescent scales which make them stand out against light colored plants and decorations.

All Lyretails have a forked caudal fin. Their dorsal fin is tall and wide like a ship’s sail.

This is an active and social fish that travel in groups of 5 or more. They are very slow and graceful swimmers so they should be kept in a tank with very little flow. You can use a hang on back or under gravel filter to generate a calm current.

They can be kept with other Mollies and livebearers. They make a particularly good tank mate for Swordtails.

  • Color: Black
  • Tail Type: Lyre
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $5-$12

9. Creamsicle

Creamsicle Molly

This bright little fish is orange with a white underside

They look just like the frozen treat they are named after.

The color form can occurs on Commons, Sailfins, and Lyretails.

Creamsicles are a bit more boisterous than other color forms. They are more likely to chase and nip at each other and their tank mates.

To keep the peace you should make sure there are at least 6 in a group.

When there is no competition within the group these fish should be peaceful to their own kind and their tank mates. They can be kept with Danios, Corys, Tetras and other livebearers.

  • Color: Orange and white
  • Tail Type: Standard or Lyre
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $4-$8

10. Yucatan

Yucatan Molly

The Giant Sailfin is one of the rarest species and one of the largest too.

It is endemic to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and is grey or bronze with iridescent scales.

Their defining characteristic is their tall dorsal fin which is taller than a typical Sailfin.

This species is better for more experienced keepers. It is slightly more sensitive to water conditions, and more care must be taken when setting up its habitat. It requires more precise water temperatures, pH ranges, and salinities. In addition to that it is difficult to breed and therefore quite a rare find.

A 30 gallon tank can host a breeding pair but you will need at least 10 extra gallons for a school.

If their tank is too small then the male’s dorsal fin can collapse and fold in on itself.

  • Color: Grey or bronze
  • Tail Type: Standard
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $5-$12

11. Liberty

The Liberty is a rather uncommon Molly which is native to El Salvador.

It is named after its striking red, white, and blue colors.

The body is white or silver, with red, orange, black, or blue appearing over the fins. A marbled variety is also available.

Its wide dorsal fin is similar to that of Poecilia latipinna. It grows up to 3 inches long and the brightest colors appear on the males.

This species is slightly more aggressive than others and is known for fin nipping and harassing tank mates. For this reason it is better kept in a single species setup. Aggression increases with the number of males in a group, so keep a higher female to male ratio in order to keep the peace.

  • Color: White/silver with red fins and black/blue spots
  • Tail Type: Standard
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $8-$10

12. White Sailfin

White Sailfin Molly

This is a white color form of either Poecilia latipinna or Poecilia velifera.

White Mollies stand out in darker tanks so you can use dark colored substrate and plants with darker green leaves.

Caring for them is no different than caring for any other Sailfin so they are an excellent beginner fish.

Because their white color is not the result of albinism it does not have the same health and vision problems that many albino fish do.

A 30 gallon tank will be ideal.

  • Color: White
  • Tail Type: Standard
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $5-$10

13. Platinum Lyretail

Platinum Lyretail Molly

The Platinum Lyretail is solid silver and has shimmering scales.

It has a forked tail and swims with a very graceful gait. Despite its beauty it is easy to care for and does not cost much money.

You can find this color variety in either P. velifera or P. latipinna.

To tell the two species apart take a look at the dorsal fin. P. velifera has a much taller, wider dorsal fin and grows up to an inch larger than P. latipinna.

  • Color: Silver
  • Tail Type: Lyre
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $5-$10

14. Atlantic

The Atlantic, or Mexican Molly, is very similar to the Common Molly.

It grows up to 3 inches long and comes in a few different color varieties.

The Atlantic Molly’s natural color is grey with orange or yellow highlights along the fins. Some have been bred for iridescence or black pepper spots over the fins.

A 30 gallon tank accommodates a school of 6 fish and allows each fish to grow to its maximum size. The water temperature should range from 73 to 80°F, and the water hardness must be over 15 dGH.

This species comes from tropical inlets so your tank setup should mimic this environment. Include plenty of logs, roots, and freshwater plants that can handle higher salinities.

  • Color: Grey/tan with yellow/orange fins
  • Tail Type: Standard
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Price: $3-$10

15. Amazon

Most of the fish on this list are widely available. The Amazon Molly however, is a bit of a rare gem.

They are a shimmering platinum color.

All members of this species are born female through parthenogenesis. This means that they do not need males to reproduce. This, along with the species’ rarity, makes it an unpopular pick. You will really only find this species in a dedicated keeper’s tank.

  • Color: Platinum
  • Tail Type: Standard
  • Lifespan: 2-5 years
  • Price: Unknown

16. Wild Type

Wild Type Molly

Mollies are not quite so colorful in the wild.

The colors that we are familiar with are the result of selective breeding, crossbreeding, and hybridization in captivity.

However if you want to create a more authentic brackish habitat then a wild Molly can be a big help.

Wild Types come in grey, bronze, and tan.

They lack any additional markings or special traits for the most part but some come with yellow highlights on the edges of the fins. While they may not be much to look at they create a more natural look for your tank. They are excellent for wild mangrove swamp setups.

In a setup full of Wild Type fish you can use other fish to provide the colors. A few Tetras, Guppies, or Gouramis will help catch attention.

  • Color: Grey, bronze, tan
  • Tail Type: Standard
  • Lifespan: 2-5 years
  • Price: $3-$8

How To Keep Molly Fish Healthy

Depending on which species you have you should expect your Molly to live from 3 to 5 years.

The most important thing to remember is that they are brackish water fish. They can be kept in harder freshwater tanks but cannot withstand very low salinities. When setting up your tank you want to aim for a hardness of 15-30 dGH. You will need to add a small amount of marine salts to increase the water hardness.

Keeping them in water with a low hardness can make them more susceptible to infections and illnesses.

These fish also require a very basic pH range (7.0-8.5).

Acidic water can increase the possibility for bacterial and parasitic infections so avoid it.

Some species can survive cooler water temperatures between 66-70°F, but for the most part you will want to keep the temperature between 73-80°F.

You should offer them a mix of protein and plant based food. In the wild they would snack on algae and plant material, zooplankton, and small worms. Since they do eat more greenery than protein, use veggie-filled fish flakes and algae wafers.

Bloodworms, brine shrimp, and water fleas can be given as a supplement.

Of course a clean tank is important to your fish’s overall health. Between 25 and 50% of the water should be changed every 2 weeks and the substrate and decorations should be cleaned as well.

Plants and natural decorations will degrade over time and should be removed as soon as they begin to rot.

Which Molly Fish Should You Pick?

With so many marvelous Molly fish out there it is easy to choose the best one for your aquarium.

Most species are beginner friendly and their care requirements are quite straightforward.

In environments where the river meets the sea these hardy fish are adapted to ever-changing water conditions and higher salinities. Some species need a larger tank than others and can be more sensitive to the quality of their environment. Others may be a bit more aggressive or rambunctious.

If you can become familiar with each variety’s eccentricities then you will find a rewarding and enjoyable experience in caring for them.

We hope that this guide has helped you decide which Molly is right for your tank.

Which type of Molly fish is your favorite?

David Thomas Author Bio Picture
David Thomas leads the team at Everything Fishkeeping as the Editor-in-Chief. David has been keeping fish since he was a child. In his first tank he kept goldfish and since then he has kept over 30 different species. Now he has 4 separate tanks and his favorite is a 100 gallon freshwater tank with a school of Rasboras, Tetras and Loaches.