Sailfin mollies can be found fresh, brackish, and coastal waters all over Florida, but most people I have pointed them out to were unaware of their existence. A minnow is a minnow to many…and if someone only
sees a group of female sailfins, he or she might easily dismiss them as slightly larger than average mosquito fish. Their bodies are light grey or silver, and rows of spots appear in straight line patterns along the sides, back, and dorsal fin.
However, the mature male of the species displays an enlarged dorsal fin and a wide tail that are tinged with iridescent blue. As a child wandering along the dark tannin-colored creek, I often marveled at the shimmering blue tail of a sailfin near the bank, and watched as the male darted about his harem like a sultan trying to ward off any rivals.
From the 4th chapter, “Minnows,” in Growing Up Floridian:
From the moment I caught my first Golden Topminnow in Indiantown, fish fascinated me. The diversity of the species in the creek, which flowed through the swamp separating the headquarters of the Quarter Circle A Ranch from State Road 62, captured my attention on the first day I wandered along the creek’s banks. The variety of shapes, sizes, and preferred habitats of the minnows was lost on my brother and others like him who focused on fish that could be caught for the dinner table. Smokey concerned himself with how big the bass, bream, and bluegill were and only gave passing attention to my captures of Flagfish, Pygmy Sunfish, and Golden Topminnows.