Xiphophorus - Northern Platyfish

Xiphophorus - Northern Platyfish

If you were a fish, you would probably like to live in clear water, maybe a spring pool with some aquatic plants and nice surroundings. So did the nothern platyfish - yet they found themselves in the wrong place. Semi-arid climate, rapid urban growth, pollution, water extraction... If you survive this and there is still some water left, you have to face the presence of exotic species. And you can imagine, what your chances are, when brisk, lusty and adaptive species such as the southern relative Xiphophorus variatus compete with you, a rather inconspicuous fish.

Muzquiz (La Cacdada park)

The history of northern platyfish is sad and intricate. These fish from genus Xiphophorus live (or lived) in Northwestern Mexico in States Coahuila and Nuevo León, far away from their nearest relatives. There are three species described scientifically, and a few other populations which were often lost before they had been examined.

The focal point lies in Monterrey metropolitan area which is inhabited by more than 4 million of people. This area was the  home of Xiphophorus couchianus, extinct in the wild since the 1960's, and some of the undescribed populations. Urban growth engulfed all rivers and springs and the area is extremely polluted, with strong presence of exotic fish species. While it might be the case that there are some forrest streams in adjacent mountains or springs on private ground which still hold a platyfish population not affected by hybridization, it is very unlikely.

Xiphophorus gordoni

Places like Ojo de Agua de Apodaca have changed over decades and it is hard to imagine that the population originally found there could be reintroduced one day. But it survived in the aquarium hobby, at least.

Habitats of two other species look much better at first sight. Xiphophorus gordoni lives in the protected area Cuatro Ciénegas. The landscape is wonderful and platies still abundant, but the area is very small and isolated. In other pools and rivers in Cuatro Ciénegas there are already invasive species (including jewel cichlids) finding their way through this unique valley. Considering the water requirements of farms and villages and desert nature of Cuatro Ciénegas, Xiphophorus gordoni is a very vulnerable species.

Channel in Cuatro Cienegas

Xiphophorus meyeri is the northernmost species of the genus. Originally found in a pool in a municipal park (converted to a swimming area) and nearby spring, its traces are lost and if you go to visit these two places, you will not find a single platyfish. Actually the spring is a source of water for the city and sourrounding farms, and there are years when it dries up completely. Scary, isn't it?

Xiphophorus meyeri "Muzquiz" - Spotted

Except Xiphophorus gordoni (and possibly the so called Regio population which is unresolved yet), all northern platyfish are most probably extinct in the wild. They are kept in aquariums, but scarcely and in low numbers, which is a very dangerous situation. Aim of the project is to strenghten the captive populations and make sure that their number and genetic diversity is as big as possible to allow species survival. Anybody who wants to be part of our network and breed one or more species of northern platyfish is welcome.

project manager: Markéta Rejlková    Email: RejlkovaM@seznam.cz

project manager deputy: Torsten Friedrich

project member
Philippe Beaucousin (FRA);  Henrik van Bennekom (NLD);  Kristýna Bendová (CZE);  
Ádám Berecz (HUN);  Christopher Boulmet Vallet (FRA);  František Brabec (CZE);  Jorg Buijs (BEL); 
Fabrice Colonna Cesari, Aquarium Tropical (FRA);  Volker Diekmann (GER);
Urban Hafner (GER);  Alain Detrie (BEL);  Artur Drąg (POL);  Torsten Friedrich (GER); 
Arjan de Graaf (NLD);  Alfred Henze (GER);  László Horváth (HUN);  Luboš Jedlinský (CZE); 
Kees de Jong (NLD);  Micheal Kempkes (GER);  Michael Köck (AUT); 
Kossuth Lajos Gimnázium Goodeid Projekt (HUN);   Holger Liedtke (GER);  Szabolcs Máté (HUN);  
Tiago Matos (POR);  Steven Oliver (GBR);  Attila Palágyi (HUN);  Adrien Palomba (FRA);  Jürgen Pape (GER); 
Bas Pels (NLD);   Marcus Plevoets (BEL);   Zoo Plzeň, Jan Konáš (CZE);  Erwin Radax (AUT); 
Thomas Rehbeck (GER);  Markéta Rejlková (CZE);  Rotterdam Zoo-Ron Bernhard (NLD); 
Jacques Sabatier (FRA);  Michael Schulze (GER);  Reinhard Seidl (AUT); 
Radek Sejkora (CZE);  Antonín Slaminka (CZE);  Shaun Stevens, Tropiquaria Zoo (GBR); 
Jiří Sýkora (CZE); Tierpark Berlin-Matthias Papies (GER); 
Dávid Urbányi (HUN);  Holly Walford (GBR);   Michal Ventruba (CZE);  Zoo Leipzig (GER);  

project-Email: contact_xiphophorus@conservation.oevvoe.org

project partner:

Zoo Ostrava KLG Goodeid Project Logo Haus des Meeres
Tierpark Berlin  Zoo Leipzig  Rotterdam Zoo
Aquarium Tropical  Tropiquaria Zoo  Zoo Plzeň


Xiphophorus couchianus Ostrava 2019

2020 seems to be a year of Xiphophorus couchianus

13.11.2020 - 11:07

This little fish is known to be extinct in the wild for more than 50 years. It is probably the most popular among the northern platyfish included in the Xiphophorus –...

ÖVVÖ Conservation Projects

XNP project annual report – year 2

26.07.2020 - 12:22

The Xiphophorus – Northern Platyfish project has reached the end of its second year in March 2020. Since then, most of our activities have been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic...

Husbandry manual for northern platyfish

Husbandry manual for northern platyfish

21.12.2019 - 18:47

The Xiphophorus - Northern Platyfish project continues to grow and we get quite a lot of questions about northern platyfish and their requirements. We have prepared a document which...

Extinct in the Wild

IUCN classifies northern platyfish as extinct in the wild

25.09.2019 - 22:29

IUCN has recently published the last update of its Red List. Two species of northern platyfish have been listed as Extinct in the Wild: Xiphophorus couchianus and ...

XNP Project publications

XNP project continues to spread word about northern platyfish and fish conservation by hobbyists

27.08.2019 - 20:40

Our effort to make aquarists aware of endangered northern platyfish continues. Several articles were published and the XNP project has been also presented in following magazines: Akvárium 41 (...

ÖVVÖ Conservation Projects

XNP project annual report – year 1

08.03.2019 - 18:46

The Xiphophorus – Northern Platyfish project has reached one year of its duration. Let's take this opportunity to look at what we have achieved and where we are heading.


Map of XNP members

XNP project expanding

22.02.2019 - 21:55

Eighteen members living in seven countries: this is the current status of Xiphophorus - Northern Platyfish project. Thousands of words written, hundreds of kilometers travelled.


XNP project in different magazines

XNP project presented in different European countries

24.01.2019 - 11:18

In recent months, articles about northern platyfish and our conservation project have been published in dedicated livebearer magazines: Poecilia Nieuws (Nov. 2018 - Netherlands), Poecilia Bladet (...

Fish packed at Würzburg University and ready to go

Transfer of fish from Würzburg University to Ostrava ZOO

26.10.2018 - 15:11

At the beginning of September 2018 we have visited Prof. Manfred Schartl at Würzburg University and received new stocks of Xiphophorus meyeri (both strains), Xiphophorus couchianus...

Muzquiz (La Cacdada park)

Start of the new conservation project

02.03.2018 - 21:43

The third and latest conservation project "Xiphophorus - Northern Platyfish" with Markéta Rejlková as project leader started in early...