This is one of the wild short fin mollies (non-sailfins) we just processed. We got this fish at the American Livebearer Association’s 2012 convention auction in Florida. They were sold by John Boylan who collected them February 27, 2009, at La Margarita, Panama.
Here’s what John recently wrote me about the fish, “The fish were collected in a little pond near a large river, I believe the Rio Uni, at least that’s what the local farmer called it. The water had a TDS of 70, KH of 6, Ph was 6.8 and temperature 26C. Along with this species we found 3 types of characins and a Hoplias. La Marguerita was the town nearest to the location, actually La Marguerita is very close to the International American Highway, the site is off the highway.”
We raise P. gillii the same way we raise all our mollies. Three 55 gallon vats are dedicated to the fish. One vat, containing about six males and 40 females, houses the breeding colony. Another, usually with 200-400 fish is the sale vat holding young adults and adults to be sold. A third vat has juveniles. We process the vats about once every three months. First we net out the juvenile vat and sort the fish into 5-gallon aerated buckets as juveniles (usually none), young adults, and adults. The vat is siphoned down to collect the remaining fish and the “gunk” is netted out with fine mesh 10-inch (brine shrimp) nets. (The gunk is loaded with Paramecium, which we sometimes collect by allowing several inches of gunk to sit in a water filled 5-gallon bucket overnight. The Paramecium are easily decanted off the next morning. They are the perfect food for newly-hatched rainbowfish fry.) We next process the sale vat and sort these fish into 5-gallon buckets as young adults, adults, and potential replacement breeders. These latter are fish that are healthy and best exemplify the species. That vat is siphoned and cleaned like the juvenile vat was. Finally, we breakdown and clean the breeding vat and inventory the breeders and estimate the number of fry and juveniles.
At this point we have three clean vats. One of the vats is set up for breeding. To do this we place one of our “cichlid hotels” in the bottom and place a “livebearer cage” on top of it. Inside the cage we place another cichlid hotel. The purpose of this setup is provide adequate cover for new fry and some shelter to subordinate males and females fleeing the overly amorous advances of the males. If you are interested in our cichlid hotels and livebearer cages, I’ve written about them in my column in Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine or you can email me for more information.
After setting up the breeder vat, we place our breeding colony in it. Any losses are made up from the bucket of potential breeders sorted out earlier. Again, a breeding colony usually has six males and about 40 females.
The young adult and adult fish are inventoried and placed into a sale vat. The fry and juveniles are placed into their vat.
Generally, it takes about 45 minutes to process the three vats.
The photo is of a young male. Note the black bar on the caudal peduncle (just in front of the tail). Some males have even more black markings, including blotches on the body. We just split this species into two populations, one with black markings on the males and one without. We’ll see where the black markings line goes after a couple of generations to see if it’s worth keeping.