Common name: Livebearers


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Livebearers, POECILIIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Jun 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

The poeciliids were reviewed by Rosen & Bailey (1963) and Merrick & Schmida (1984) discussed the biology of several species recorded from Australia. The family contains about 20 genera and 140 species. 

Family Distribution

Poeciliids are native to North, Central and South America. Most species are found in fresh water, but some are tolerant of brackish water.In recent years, species kept in aquaria have been released into the wild, often with adverse effects on native fishes (Arthington et al. 1983; McKay, 1984). At least six species are established in Australia.

Family Size

Maximum length for the family is about 100 mm; in most species females are larger than males.

Family Reproduction

Poecoliids are live-bearing fishes.

Family Commercial

Many species are popular in the aquarium trade, such as molly, swordtail, platy and guppy. 


Arthington, A.H., Milton, D.A. & McKay, R.J. (1983). Effects of urban development and habitat alterations on the distribution and abundance of native and exotic freshwater fish in the Brisbane region, Queensland. Aust. J. Ecol. 8(2): 87–101

Lloyd, L.N. & Tomasov, J.F. (1985). Taxonomic status of the mosquito fish, Gambusia affinis (Poeciliidae), in Australia. Aust. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 36: 447–451 fig. 1

McKay, R.J. (1984). Introductions of exotic fishes in Australia. pp. 177–199 in Courtnay, W.R. Jr & Staffer, J.R. Jr (eds) Distribution, Biology and Management of Exotic Fishes. Baltimore : John Hopkins Univ. Press

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. (1984). Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management.  Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. Figs

Rosen, D.E. & Bailey, R.M. (1963). The poeciliid fishes (Cyprinodontiformes), their structure, zoogeography and systematics. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 126(1): 1–176 figs 1–61

Whitley, G.P. (1951). Introduced fishes. II. Aust. Mus. Mag. 10(7): 234–238 3 figs

Wooten, M.C., Scribner, K.T. & Smith, M.H. (1988). Genetic variability and systematics of Gambusia in the southeastern United States. Copeia 1988(2): 283–289 figs 1–2