Electronic Journal of Polish Agricultural Universities (EJPAU) founded by all Polish Agriculture Universities presents original papers and review articles relevant to all aspects of agricultural sciences. It is target for persons working both in science and industry,regulatory agencies or teaching in agricultural sector. Covered by IFIS Publishing (Food Science and Technology Abstracts), ELSEVIER Science - Food Science and Technology Program, CAS USA (Chemical Abstracts), CABI Publishing UK and ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publisher - full membership). Presented in the Master List of Thomson ISI.
Volume 23
Issue 4
DOI:10.30825/5.ejpau.195.2020.23.4, EJPAU 23(4), #05.
Available Online: http://www.ejpau.media.pl/volume23/issue4/art-05.html


Saud M. Al Jufaili1, Laith A. Jawad2
1 Department of Marine Science and Fisheries, Sultan Qaboos University, Sultanate of Oman
2 Pokeno, New Zealand



Among the ways that the alien can introduce to a new environment is the aquarium trade that became one of the major problem facing the existing of the native species worldwide. This study confirms the presence of an established non-native molly population in two inland water in Oman. The sailfin molly, Poecilia latipinna was positively identified using the number of scales around the caudal peduncle as the main pinpointing character within the sailfin molly species complex. The study also reports on the presence of imperfect melanism incidence in one specimen of P. latipinna collected from Al-Amarat area. The causative factor of this anomaly was discussed. 

Key words: alien species, Arabian Peninsula, range extension, freshwater.


The series of mountains in Oman represented by the Oman Mountains (elevation 3,000 meters (m)) and the South by the Dhofar Mountains (elevation 1,800 m) were formed during the Miocene (23–5.3 million years ago) and when the North-East Arabian Shield collided with the Eurasia plate [16]. Through these mountains, rain water runs and accumulated in underground aquifers and in some places run over the ground surface, where can be seen as small lakes or small creek running between mountains [2]. This freshwater body embraces a limited freshwater life including freshwater fish species, these freshwater biota originate from the Iranian Plateau during the geological ages when the Arabian Gulf was not filled with sea water yet and Shatt al-Arab River used to extend to the Sea of Oman and receive freshwater from rivers in the Iranian side [9].

The presence of an alien species is generally deliberated to be the second greatest imperative reason for the presence of these species in the new habitats [30 Simberloff 2003]. The reasons behind introducing exotic species to any area are to enhance fisheries, aquaculture production, to support recreational fishery activities in developed countries, pest control research activities and aquarium trade [1, 7, 5]. 

The genus Poecilia comprises 40 valid species [20] is native to the Americas, and some species in the genus are euryhaline. Individuals of this species have been introduced into several countries around the world to combat mosquito the factor for transmitting malaria [10] or the aquarium trade [11].

The sailfin molly, Poecilia latipinna (Lesueur 1821) are small, live bearing fish inhabiting the north-eastern coasts of the United States and South America, which is considered the native environment for this species [23]. In its original habitat, sailfin molly are living in ponds, marshes, roadside ditches, and can stand low water conditions [6]. This species has been introduced into several countries around the world for aquarium trade [11] and biological control of insects [11].

The sailfin molly, Poecilia latipinna has been reported from several localities in the Arabian Peninsula [9]. AlJufaili et al. [3] reported the presence of this species in the inland waters of Oman, but no locality was assigned to this record, which is considered incomplete.

When absence of pigmentation due to hereditary reasons occurs, the organism will show different levels of what known case of Albinism. The developmental disorder in the pigmentations will subsequently cause a disorder in the enzyme that control melanin metabolism [14]. There are several levels of albinism, complete or total albinism, which is due to a lack of skin pigmentation; incomplete, where parts of the fish body lack melanin pigment; imperfect, which is recognized by reduced or light pigmentation in the skin and partial albinism or leucism resulting from reduced or absence of pigmentation from localized portions of the skin [4]. Any type of Albinism was not reported from the freshwater areas of the Arabian Peninsula.

The present study confirm the presence of the sailfin molly, Poecilia latipinna in two freshwater localities in Oman, Wadi Al-Bahayes and Al-Amarat. Also, reports for the first time an incidence of imperfect albinism incidence in the freshwater water system of the Arabian Peninsula.


On 24th July and 19th August, 2020 fish samplings were conducted at Wadi Al-Bahayes (23°40´47"N 58°11´36"E) (Fig. 1) and Al-Amarat (23°30´01"N 58°29´37"E) (Fig. 2) localities respectively. Both Wadi Al-Bahayes and al-Amarat are richly vegetated, with the former being flat brackish water body and the latter is mountainous area. In both localities, fish specimens were collected using hand net and fish trap baited with bread. Fishing in each locality last for 4 hours and the collected fish (80 and 90 specimens were collected from Wadi Al-Bahayes and al-Amarat respectively) were anaesthetized and preserved in a 70% ethanol. In the laboratory, all fish were measured (Total and standard lengths TL and SL, mm), sexed, and their colour variety was recorded. Males were distinguished from females based on the presence of a gonopodium. Morphometric and meristic characters were obtained following Rosen and Bailey [27] and presented in Table 1.

Fig. 1. General overview of Wadi Al-Bahayes locality (23°40´47''N 58°11´36''E)

Fig. 2. General overview of Al-Amarat locality (23°30´01''N 58°29´37''E)

Table 1. Morphometric and meristic characters of Poecilia latipinna collected from two localities in Oman
Characters Wadi Al-Bahayes N = 80 Al-Amarat N = 90 Sex
Morphometric [mm]
Total length TL 47–85 45–80 F
54–79 50–73 M
Standard length SL [%TL] 34.3–65.9 (74.2–75.4) 42.1–64.7 (79.8–89.4) F
51.8–57.9 (65.3– 84.7) 48.3–58.9 (92.2–97.6) M
Head length HL [%SL] 19.3–20.6 (28.2–61.6) 19.5–20.0 (24–48.5) F
14.6–15.8 (33.5–37.8) 15.8–16.3 (29.2–38.4) M
Eye diameter ED [%HL] 6.3–6.5 (38.3–39.4) 5.4–5.9 (34.8–40.1) F
4.2–4.7 (30.7–32.2) 4.0–4.2 (29.2–30.5) M
Predorsal fin length [%SL] 27.9–28.3 (48.7–71.2) 27.1–27.7 (49.0–52.3) F
19.2–19.5 (43.6–49.7) 14.2–14.3 (28.6–31.1) M
Postdorsal fin length [%SL] 31.7–43.5 (69–82.2) 39.1–42.4 (63.3–82.1) F
40.5–41.1 (78.7–81.3) 39.6–40 (88.7–93.6) M
Prepectoral fin length [%SL] 27.4–27.7 (48.0–77.6) 26.8–27.1 (48.5–53.5) F
18.1–18.4 (39.2–41.7) 17.1–17.4 (32.6–39.1) M
Preanal fin length [%SL] 39.8–40.0 (70.5–73.5) 38.2–38.8 (61.8–80.8) F
25.7–26.3 (49.3–50.4) 26.4–26.8 (49.6–53.8) M
Maximum body depth [%SL] 20.8–21.8 (38.4–39.9) 20.1–20.6 (38.6–41.8) F
17.2–17.9 (37.8–40.3) 15.8–16.3 (29.4–37.3) M
Caudal peduncle length [%SL] 12.4–12.9 (20.7–26.5) 11.3–11.8 (21.1–28.6) F
14.3–14.7 (29.3–30.3) 13.4–13.7 (29.4–31.4) M
Number of dorsal fin rays 12–16 12–16 F
12–16 12–16 M
Number of anal fin rays 6–7 6–7 F
6–7 6–7 M
Number of pelvic fin rays 7 7 F
7 7 M
Number of scales on lateral line 25–29 25–29 F
25–29 25–29 M
Number of scales around caudal peduncle 16 16 F
16 16 M


The size of the specimens collected ranging between 54 to 79 mm TL for males and 47 to 85 mm TL for females. Specimens of P. latipinna (Fig. 3a, b) showed the following set of characters in both sexes: body with rhombus shape in the region under anterior part of dorsal fin and gradually becomes rectangular from the posterior third of dorsal fin; head pointed; eye large; pectoral fins moderate reaching to 3rd dorsal fin ray; body deeper in females than males; dorsal fin in males larger than that of the females. Colour: body grey to silvery on sides getting white at the abdomen, pectoral fin yellowish and pelvic fin transparent, interdorsal ray membrane with dark patches arranged vertically, inter-caudal fin ray of the dorsal lobe, with pale brown patches and with yellow background in males, females with transparent caudal fin rays.

Fig. 3. Poecilia latipinna collected from the inland waters of Oman, A, male 78 mm TL; B, female, 80 mm TL

The length of the imperfect albinistic specimen is 45 mm total length. The showed an imperfect albinism incidence, where the whole body has white background and yellows irregular spots arranged vertically. The left side of the specimen (Fig. 4a, b) showing irregular yellow spots arranged vertically and extended from the dorsal side of the body towards the abdomen. Four lines reaching just above the anus and the remaining lines do not pass the line passing through the base of the pectoral fin. Two small irregular dark batches present on the lateral line at the mid part of body and another two smaller dark patches located below the lateral line. The right side of the fish showed similar pattern of vertically arranged yellow patches, with three of those extending down to the abdomen. The rest of the lines do not the lateral line. A few small, dark and irregular spots found on the nape and below the 3rd dorsal fin ray. Eyes on both sides of the fish lacking colouration (Fig. 2b).

Fig. 4. Imperfect albinism specimen of collected from Al-Amarat freshwater area, Oman, 45 mm TL, A, left side; B, right side


AlJufaili et al. [3] reported the presence of P. latipinna from Oman, butthey did not mention the locality that they collected the specimens of this species from. This is incomplete recording of fish species and based on the large number of specimens collected from both localities surveyed, therefore the present study is confirmation for the presence of P. latipinna in the freshwater system of Oman.

The sailfin molly, Poecilia latipinna differs fromPoecilia sphenops in the number of dorsal fin rays ranged from 13 to 16, which falls well outside the range of counts reported for later species. This result agrees with that of Koutsikos et al. [15].

It was possible to identify the specimens of P. latipinna based on a set of characters that considered characteristic traits for this species such as the oblong body with a small dorsally flattened head, enlarged colored dorsal fin and a broad caudal peduncle. This description is in agreement with specimens of this species obtained from Lake Manzala, Egypt [8], Lake Vouliagmeni near Athens, Greece [15] and Namak Lake basin, Iran [19].

Among the methods of introducing an alien species is the aquarium trade, which proves to be the eminent introduction pathway [21]. Both Wadi Al-Bahayes and Al-Amarat where the fish specimens collected have aquarium shops that deal with freshwater fish species of all sorts. There are two possibilities for the presence of P. latipinna in the inland waters of Oman. First, the fish may have been released to any of these two localities by ornamental fish hobbyist. Second, specimens of P. latipinna may got mixed with fish specimens brought from neigbouring countries in an aim to combat mosquitos that transmit malaria. This introduction was made by the Ministry of Health in Oman during the early 1990s.  

Despite the life and reproductive traits of poeciliids in general can be affected by salinity [17, 18], the populations of P. latipinna found in the two localities surveyed have survived the salinity gradients of the water in these studied areas. This may be P. latipinna is a euryhaline and can tolerate variable levels of salinity [12].

Slow moving habitats are the sort of environment that sailfin molly lives in as rapidly flowing water may hinder the setting up and the growth of the population [24]. Environmental setting at the two localities surveyed are encouraging for building an established populations of the sailfin molly due to the brackish water status, lentic condition and muddy vegetated bottom.

All types of albinism is a result of genetic disorder produced in combination with environmental factors such as the contact during the early life history to high concentrations of trace metals such as arsenic, cadmium, copper,  mercury, selenium and zinc [22] as these metals can cause a genetic arbitrary modification [31]. In such genetic changes, an autosomal recessive gene, when in homozygous state, produces a phenotype known as albino. Albinism can be inherited if the alleles are autosomal and recessive, autosomal and dominant, or sex-linked [25]. It is not plausible to believe that the cause of the aberrant specimen of P. latipinna is pollution as there is only specimens collected. The previous studies on albinism in fishes have related such abnormal colouration to the pollution with trace metals. Such factor might be applicable in the Amarat area where the aberrant specimen collected. The water body in this area is basically a ground water and in Oman it has been reported that such water to have high levels of pollution of different types [26].

Any level of albinism has an effect on the livelihood of P. latipinna as it is a diurnal feeders. Albinistic individuals could face high risk of predation due to being conspicuous to predators [29]. By contrast, it seems that albinism may have less influence in feeding, growth and other aspects of life, such reproduction [13]. As far the authors are concerned, this is the first report of imperfect albinism in the species P. latipinna.

The results of the present study suggest an urgent assessment to the biological aspects of biota living in the two areas examined due to the possible impact of sailfin molly on aquatic life in the inland waters in Oman. A comprehensive surveys are needed to obtain basic data about the populations of the sailfin molly and its distribution range in the inland waters of Oman.


The introduction an exotic fish species by aquarium trade has been shown in the present study and example of such introduction is the sailfin molly, Poecilia latipinna. Confirmation of the presence of the sailfin molly was given in the present study based on specimens obtained from two inland water bodies in Oman. The study also showed a case of anomaly in one specimen of P. latipinna, which indicate a level of pollution that caused such abnormality.


We would like to than Mr Saleh Naghmush Al Saadi, Director of Biodiversity, Environment Authority for granting us the permission to collect fish specimens from the inland waters of Oman. This project was funded by Geo-Resources Environmental and Earth Science Consultants owned by Mr. Ahmed Al Ghafri whom we thank for support science.


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Received: 27.11.2020
Revieved: 7.12.2020
Accepted: 9.12.2020

Saud M. Al Jufaili
Department of Marine Science and Fisheries, Sultan Qaboos University, Sultanate of Oman
P.O. Box 34
Al-Khod 123
Sultanate of Oman
email: sjufaily88@gmail.com

Laith A. Jawad
Pokeno, New Zealand
phone (+64) 225135795
Auckland 2471
New Zealand
email: laith_jawad@hotmail.com

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