The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Limia vittata
Limia vittata
(banded limia)

Copyright Info
Limia vittata (Guichenot, 1853)

Common name: banded limia

Synonyms and Other Names: Poecilia vittata, banded limia, Cuban molly, Cuban topminnow, tabai

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Distinguishing characteristics were provided by Rosen and Bailey (1963) and Rivas and Fink (1970). For photographs see Dawes (1991), Wischnath (1993) and Yamamoto and Tagawa (2000). A commonly used name for this species is Poecilia vittata (Rosen and Bailey 1963; Rivas 1980).  The common name used in Hawaii is "tabai". 

The species has a blue-grey back, silvery sides and a white belly.  Scales along flanks are edged in black.  Females have a yellow patch near the vent.  The dorsal fin and tail of the mail are usually a yellow-orange with blue-black speckles.  Females may have a few scattered dark spots on their fins, but they are otherwise without color.  Summarized from Yamamoto and Tagawa (2000).

Size: Males to 50 mm SL, females to >100 mm (Yamamoto and Tagawa 2000).

Native Range: Streams, lakes, estuaries, coastal lagoons, and mangrove swamps throughout Cuba and Isle of Pines (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Limia vittata are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
HI195020053Hawaii; Hawaii; Oahu

Table last updated 2/27/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: The species is generally found in the lower reaches of streams or in coastal marshes near brackish and saline waters.  The Cuban limia eats worms, crustaceans, insects and plant matter.  Females can produce over 100 fry every 4-6 weeks.  Summarized from Yamamoto and Tagawa (2000).

Means of Introduction: According to Brock (1960), the origin and date of introduction into Hawaii are not known. Devick (1991b) listed the species as an aquarium release some time between 1900 and 1940; although its presence in Hawaii was not known until about 1950.

Status: Established in Hawaii by 1950 (Devick 1991b).

Impact of Introduction: Cuban limia, and other introduced poeciliids, have been implicated in the decline of native damselflies on Oahu, Hawaii. Often the distributions of the damselflies and introduced fishes were found to be mutually exclusive, probably resulting from predation of the fish on the insects (Englund 1999).

Remarks: Brock (1960) stated that the species inhabits several streams flowing through Honolulu, occupying the lower portions of the streams and in salt water.

References: (click for full references)

Brock, V. E. 1960. The introduction of aquatic animals into Hawaiian waters. Internationale Revue der gesamten Hydrobiologie 45(4):463-480.

Devick, W. S. 1991b. Patterns of introductions of aquatic organisms to Hawaiian freshwater habitats. Pages 189-213 in new directions in research, management and conservation of Hawaiian freshwater stream ecosystems. Proceedings of the 1990 symposium on freshwater stream biology and fisheries management, Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Englund, R.A. 1999. The impacts of introduced poeciliid fish and Odonata on the endemic Megalagrion (Odonata) damselflies of Oahu Island, Hawaii. Journal of Insect Conservation 3:225-243.

Lee, D. S., C. R. Gilbert, C. H. Hocutt, R. E. Jenkins, D. E. McAllister, and J. R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980 et seq. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, NC.

Maciolek, J. A. 1984. Exotic fishes in Hawaii and other islands of Oceania. Pages 131-161 in W. R. Courtenay, Jr., and J. R. Stauffer, Jr., editors. Distribution, biology, and management of exotic fishes. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Mundy, B. C.  2005.  Checklist of the Fishes of the Hawaiian Archipelago.  Bishop Museum Bulletins in Zoology, Number 6. 

Rivas, L. R. 1980. Eight new species of poeciliid fishes of the genus Limia from Hispaniola. Northeast Gulf Science 4:28-38.

Rivas, L. R., and W. L. Fink. 1970. A new species of poeciliid fish of the genus Limia from the Island of Grand Cayman, B.W.I. Copeia 1970:270-274.

Rosen, D. E., and R. M. Bailey. 1963. The poeciliid fishes (Cyprinodontiformes), their structure, zoogeography, and systematics. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 126:1-176.

Tilmant, J.T. 1999. Management of nonindigenous aquatic fish in the U.S. National Park System. National Park Service. 50 pp.

Yamamoto, M. N. and A. W. Tagawa.  2000.  Hawaii's Native and Exotic Freshwater Animals.  Mutual Publishing, Honolulu, HI.  200 pp.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Pamela J. Schofield

Revision Date: 8/23/2011

Peer Review Date: 8/23/2011

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Pamela J. Schofield, 2024, Limia vittata (Guichenot, 1853): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=853, Revision Date: 8/23/2011, Peer Review Date: 8/23/2011, Access Date: 2/27/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [2/27/2024].

Contact us if you are using data from this site for a publication to make sure the data are being used appropriately and for potential co-authorship if warranted.

For general information and questions about the database, contact Wesley Daniel. For problems and technical issues, contact Matthew Neilson.