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Limia Overview, Types, Tank Setup, Mates & Breeding

It’s a big deal to select attractive fish for your aquarium but it’s never been an easy task. Do you need an ultimate suggestion? Limia fish could be a great choice. The livebearing fish have an enjoyable appearance and behavior that capture all eyes seeing towards your aquarium.

Limia refers to the livebearing fish from the Poeciliidae family that make them have a close tie to the platys, swordtails, guppies, and mollies.

Growing only 3 – 6 cm, this fish can fit in a smaller aquarium in your office room or flat.

With many endemic inclusions, limia can thrive in the aquarium environment with stable, controlled water parameters.

Species Overview

Level of CareMedium
AppearanceSmall fish with dorsal spots while the specific characteristic is subject to different species
Life Expectancy2-3 years
Size1- 3 inches
Tank Size20-gallons
Tank EnvironmentIt can thrive in controlled water parameters with darkened tank’s bottom
Tank MatesLarge species: better alone. Small species: can have compatible tank mates.

They are the livebearers from the family Poeciliidae which also includes hundreds of livebearing species. There are currently 21 limia species that make up every one of ten Poeciliids species. More species are waiting to be discovered but the existing ones are already attractive to aquarists.

This species is native to the Caribbean Island including Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Caymans. They can range from one inch to six inches which makes them a suitable choice for an aquarium.

Since there are tens of different species, the appearance may vary as well. The common characteristics include contrasting body colors and shimmering scales. Some of them may have some color in the dorsals, body’s stripes, or even intensifying color when aging, depending on the particular species.

Types/Species of Limia

There are currently more than 20 limia species that are formally documented but not all of them are common or eligible for aquarium traders. Some notable species include the Immaculate or Plain Limia, Fuscomaculata or The Blotched, Melononotata (The Blackbanded), and Limia Caymanensis ( the Grand Cayman Limia).

While they look familiar in fish magazines or scientific journals, they’re not popular as aquarium species. Keeping those species could be full of hassles as you can’t find a proper guide for the maintenance and breeding.

Tiger limia (Limia islai) and Limia nigrofasciata (the Blackbarred limia) are two major limia species that have gained popularity in aquarium trades. You can start with these species if you want to keep limia fish in your aquarium.

Tank Setup

Tank Size

With only 3-6 cm in length, you can keep fish in groups of six or eight. The minimum requirement is a 20-gallon aquarium but it’s always better to use a larger tank so the group of fish can properly school and swim around. Keeping them in groups is not optional to keep them well in an aquarium environment.


The plantation and decoration play a fundamental element in an aquarium. You must heavily plant the tank with robust hardy plants that not only enhance the water quality but would also work as hiding spots. Darken the bottom tank and decorate the environment well to keep them active.

It doesn’t necessarily need substrate or gravel but when you decide to put one, keep the application no more than 1/4 inch deep. Gravels may trap food wastes from the filtering system that can end up contaminating the water. Always secure your aquarium with the tight-fitting lid system to prevent limias from jumping out of the tank once scared or threatened.


Contamination could be a serious issue for a tank. At this point, you need to install the bio-wheel filtering system that can promote the beneficial bacteria that can digest the wastes and improve the water quality.

To keep nitrate at the proper levels, you better add non-poisonous lava rocks in your Limia aquarium that can also appear as amazing decoration and improve the water quality as well.

Water Parameters

You need to set up the water parameters to mimic its native habitats. You need to maintain the water temperature at 74 °F or somewhere between 65 °F to 80 °F. The ideal environment is brackish or calcium hard water but some captive-bred limias can thrive in a wider range of water parameters.

It can’t thrive in acidic, soft water so you need to keep the water acidity somewhere between pH 7.0 and 8.4 and hardness of 10-25 dH with GH 20-28. Set the medium flowing water and the medium lighting in your tank.

You must change 10% of the water every week or 25% every two weeks to maintain optimum water quality for these livebearers living well in your tank.

Two humpbacked limia

Limia Tank Mates

Limias have different spectrums of temperament commonly depending on their size. The larger species like Perugia and Grand Cayman are absolute predators that would attack or even consume tank mates they consider prey. Smaller limias generally have a peaceful temperament and active behavior that won’t be aggressive as long as they have enough space to school and swim.

In general, you can put big fish with tank mates of other large species. You can put any peaceful freshwater tank mates for smaller Limia fish.

You can start with a group of six limias consisting of two males and four females in a tank and one or more of these species as tank mates:

  • Tetras
  • Danios
  • Corydoras
  • Small Gouramis

Food & Diet

Fish are omnivores that would eat all meaty foods but they can also accept some portions of vegetables. Flakes and pellets can be great staples while you can also treat them with live foods and frozen foods to complement their diet. The food size must match their mouth size when provided into the tank.

There is a strict rule about the feeding dose for limias. It’s better to underfeed your fish instead of oversupplying. Leftover or uneaten foods can increase the ammonia and nitrite to dangerous levels and make your aquarium cloudy.

Following the rule, you can schedule feeding either once or twice a day. Ensure the proper and proportional diets throughout time. This way, your Fish can live longer and healthier while growing to their optimum size.

Breeding Guidelines

Female limia in aquarium

Breeding them in captivity isn’t difficult but requires diligence also depending on the species. A breeding tank could be necessary if you want to seriously breed Limia fish. Generally speaking, a couple of males and females can reproduce once they’ve been adapted to the tank environment.

Learning the courtship behavior is very important in breeding the fish. Their mating system is very competitive in that it refers to how dominant the males are in terms of physical and behavioral traits but not aggressiveness. Females would prefer less aggressive males but with higher fitness.

However, the particular mating system may be slightly different depending on the size and the specific Limia species. Sexual selections generally weigh the courtship dominance and behavior that apply differently for different species. While smaller ones can use force mating or more coercive approaches, larger ones present the males courting the female.

At this point, differing male and female could be tricky when observing your tank but you can identify them with some signs. Males may have black spots on their dorsal and caudal fins that differ them from females.

However, the most obvious sign of the mating behavior is shown by the males that would get their coloration intensified and expose their fins to attract females. The color intensity indicates the motivation for reproduction among males. Each species may also have unique mating behaviors or signs that you need to learn further for successful breeding.

Females are considerably selective towards males they want to court with. The sign of acceptance is when females allow males they consider as the potential partner to swim closer. Once clicked, the male would thrust their gonopodium fin to the genital pore of the female fish which is described as sneaky/hidden copulation.

While you can notice the signs of mating, you won’t likely witness one. The sneaky mating behavior of limias is even enhanced with a larger fish population in your aquarium and dense plantation. There would be two or three weeks until the female livebearers give birth to fries.

The live plants and decorations would help limias to secure their eggs but the born fries need to be relocated or isolated to prevent them from being preyed on. They’re born all females and become fully grown adults after three or four months when the male sex comes out. However, males would need two or three more months to be mating-ready.

For successfully breeding limias, you must ensure the water quality and parameters to meet the ideal mating conditions. Visualization and vision in the tank are surprisingly fundamental factors for Limia’s reproduction. Keep the water as clear as possible to promote breeding.

Cloudy or polluted water environments can become prohibitive factors for Limia’s reproduction in the tank. What you can do is, control the water parameters, change the water regularly, keep the adequate(but not excessive) nutrients, and do other things to promote mating.