What is a Limia?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Many types of fish that people enjoy keeping as pets belong to the genus limia. The small freshwater fish that belong to the Poeciliidae family, limia, include mollies, platys, swordtails, and guppies. Over twenty varieties of these fish exist, mostly living in the Greater Antilles islands of the Caribbean.

Veterinarian with a puppy
Veterinarian with a puppy

These small fish vary widely by each individual species. Some have wide, stout bodies while others are long and thin. Body hues vary from solid yellow and iridescent blue, to black and red. Many species are very lustrous, with shimmery rainbows of coloration and elaborate patterns on their fins or tails. Some also feature stripes or spots, which are often black.

Depending on the specific species, male limia can grow up to 1.75 inches (4 centimeters) in length, while females may be bigger, measuring up to 3 inches (6.5 centimeters). Unlike many other types of fish, females of this genus give birth to live young. Frys typically yield twenty fish.

Male limia fish are typically more colorful than their female counterparts. Their coloration exists to help them attract females in order to mate. Mating occurs so often in some species that new frys may be born as quickly as every six to eight weeks.

Most species in this genus do not utilize courtship rituals, however. As a result, many males revert to quick, sneak copulation, and much mating occurs without the consent of the female fish. Researchers say that as a result, limia frys may not yield the strongest possible species that might result from typical sexual selection.

Though some hybrid limia fish have been developed, these efforts were largely unsuccessful. Their swimming patterns were jerky and uneven as well. As they were unable to reproduce, the two hybrid frys lasted for only one generation.

While limia are freshwater fish, they often live in semi-saltwater, or brackish water. Because of this, many people who keep the fish as pets may wish to add some salt to their aquariums. Veterinarians and pet shop employees can help make appropriate salt supplement selections.

When keeping limia as pets, it is important to maintain the proper aquarium temperature for them to thrive. A good range in temperature is between 72 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 26 degrees Celsius). Fish flakes will sustain most of these kinds of fish well, though other treats, such as live or frozen brine shrimp, can also be provided for variety. Vegetable matter, such as algae, may also be given to help maintain the health of the fish.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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