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How Long Do Dalmatian (Dalmation) Mollies Live? Average Lifespan, Data & Care

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

Dalmatian Mollies

Dalmatian Mollies are cute bi-color fish that have the same black and white coloration as a Dalmatian dog. Like the Dalmatian dog breed, the name of these fish is spelled with an “a” and not an “o”, but you may see their name spelled as “Dalmation” instead of the correct spelling of “Dalmatian.”

These fish are a hybrid color variation of the popular Sailfin Molly, so you may spot a Dalmatian Molly with a large dorsal fin resembling a sail. Dalmatian Mollies are relatively easy to find in pet and fish stores, and they are typically very affordable fish. They are hardy and adaptable fish, which means Dalmatian Mollies will usually live between 3–5 years.

What’s the Average Lifespan of a Dalmatian Molly?

Dalmatian Molly fish can live 3–5 years with proper care, so they aren’t a short-term commitment like some other fish species can be. They are generally easy to breed, and Mollies are livebearers, so just a single male and female Dalmatian Molly may create enough offspring to keep your tank active for years to come.

Dalmatian Molly
Photo Credit: Eldergeek, Pixabay

Why Do Some Dalmatian Mollies Live Longer Than Others?

1. Nutrition

Like all fish, receiving higher-quality nutrition will provide a higher likelihood of a longer lifespan. Poor nutrition and a diet that is too low in nutrients that are essential to thrive can shorten the lifespan of your Dalmatian Molly. Feed your Dalmatian Molly a high-quality pellet diet intended for community tanks. They can also receive treats like bloodworms, spinach, cucumber, and brine shrimp.


2. Environment and Conditions

High water quality is essential for ensuring a long lifespan for your Dalmatian Molly. They need water with no ammonia or nitrites, or nitrates less than 30 ppm. They are tropical fish that thrive in water temperatures from 75–80°F and a pH range from 7.5–8.5.

Believe it or not, Dalmatian Mollies can be kept in freshwater and brackish water. However, they are not true saltwater fish and are not appropriate for saltwater tank environments.


3. Aquarium

Dalmatian Mollies should not be kept in a tank smaller than 10 gallons because they are shoaling fish, so they should always be kept in groups. Not keeping them in groups can lead to stress and shortened lifespans. Ideally, they should be kept in groups of 8–10 fish or more, but they can be kept in shoals as small as four fish.

Pair Dalmatian Molly
Photo Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

4. Sex

While sex doesn’t have a major impact on the lifespan of your Dalmatian Molly, there is a chance that females will live longer lives than males. This is true of most animals, with one study indicating that females of most species live around 18% longer than males. Males may live shorter lives due to the competition against other males for breeding rights.


5. Breeding History

While breeding doesn’t shorten the lifespan of your Dalmatian Molly, there are a few reproductive factors that can influence their lifespan. For female fish, they can be harassed by males looking to breed. Harassment for breeding rights can lead to extreme stress for a fish, which can lead to illness and a shortened lifespan. For males, competition for breeding can lead to stress and injuries that can shorten life spans.


6. Healthcare

When caring for any type of fish, it’s important that you keep a close eye on the health and well-being of your fish. You need to be ready and able to quickly intervene and know how to properly address health issues when they start in order to provide your fish with the longest and healthiest life possible.

sailfin molly
Photo Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

The 4 Life Stages of a Dalmatian Molly

1. Hatchling/Newborn

Dalmatian Molly females carry their fertilized eggs within their bodies until they are ready to hatch, at which point they will give birth to live young. These babies are born ready to eat, but they are very small, so they need very small fry food to support growth.


2. Fry

After the first few days of life, baby Dalmatian Mollies are fully into their fry phase. These tiny fish need fry food when they are still very small, but as they grow, you will be able to increase the size of the food. They likely won’t be able to eat adult fish food until they are at least a few months old.


3. Sexual Maturity

It’s hard to say at what age a Dalmatian Molly will enter sexual maturity because there are multiple variables, including tank temperature, diet, and water quality. Some Dalmatian Mollies can reach sexual maturity as young as 3 months of age, but 6 months of age seems to be the typical age of sexual maturity.

Once they reach sexual maturity, Dalmatian Mollies can begin reproducing. They are not at their full size at this point, though, so they will continue to grow.


4. Adulthood

After reaching sexual maturity, a Dalmatian Molly will enter adulthood. They will grow significantly through the first year of life, but they will continue to grow beyond 1 year of age. As time goes on, their growth will slow, so you likely won’t notice a significant amount of growth beyond 12 months of age.

aquarium plant divider How to Tell Your Dalmatian Molly’s Age

There is no surefire way to determine your Dalmatian Molly’s age because of the number of factors that can influence the growth of your fish. In general, these fish are 2–4 months of age when you purchase them from most pet stores, so you can typically estimate the age from there.

Dalmatian Mollies usually don’t exceed 5 inches in length at their full adult size, so if your Dalmatian Molly is 4–5 inches in length, there’s a good chance they are over a year of age.

sailfin molly (Poecilia latipinna)
Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

Conclusion

Dalmatian Mollies are beautiful black and white fish that can live quite a few years, although they’re not the longest lived of the livebearers. These fish can live up to 5 years of age, and with excellent care, it’s not unheard of to exceed this age.

Providing proper care, including excellent water quality, high-quality food, and plenty of space to thrive with other Dalmatian Mollies can all influence the length of your fish’s life.


Featured Image Credit: viczanuzzo, Shutterstock

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