XNP project annual report – year 6

2024, the sixth year of the "Xiphophorus - Northern Platyfish" project, did not bring any major breakthroughs. And we are glad for that, because we simply did what is the main purpose of this initiative: we raised fish, sometimes exchanged or donated them, and talked or wrote a lot about fish, their breeding and their natural habitats and reintroduction prospects. Progress is our activity directly in Mexico (more on that below), but it is based on the solid foundations of breeding fish in the aquariums of enthusiasts from many European countries.



Here are the numbers of fishes kept and how they evolve since the start of our project (as of the beginning of 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024, respectively):

Xiphophorus meyeri Spotted: 434 - 645 - 1145 - 1436 - 1072 - 1041

Xiphophorus meyeri Wild Type: 93 - 180 - 109 - 37 - 210 - 303

Xiphophorus couchianus: 114 - 180 - 438 - 664 - 765 - 850

Xiphophorus gordoni: 29 - 63 - 56 - 18 - 27 - 70

Xiphophorus sp. "Apodaca": 12 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0

Xiphophorus sp. "Regio": 19 - 110 - 83 - 86 - 49 - 106

Total number of fish: 701 - 1178 - 1831 - 2241 - 2123 - 2370

As you can see, we were successful in most forms. We have record high numbers of X. meyeri Wild Type (unspotted form), X. couchianus (numbers are increasing here year after year, which won't go to infinity, but we're getting close to the magic thousand), X. gordoni (we needed that a lot, even if only the following year will show the quality and potential of the newly acquired fish). We have the largest total number of fish in the project, 2370 individuals. Hats off to all breeders who contributed to this number.

A year ago, we wished that we had succeeded in increasing the number of fish and groups of the unspotted form of X. meyeri and X. sp. "Regio". In the first case, we succeeded significantly as we started 2024 with six breeding (i.e. actually reproducing) groups compared to three the year before. In the case of "Regio" we are still in low numbers, but in a year instead of one group and fifty fish we have three breeding groups and twice as many fish.

Any "moments of growth" need to be used to pass some of the fish on and start a new group.



The number of project members is not an indicator that should keep rising. Stability, a healthy solid core is desirable, but we also welcome new serious applicants. We need the help of skilled breeders. Most of the terminations have come from the project management, because we don't need to group as many people as possible and then ask them every year repeatedly for a reply to our calls. Which does not mean that every member must clearly and currently hold northern platies. But (s)he must understand the meaning and principles of the project and cooperate with others.

We have not published the overall statistics of members since the beginning of the project in this way. Here it is (for the beginning of 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024): 18 - 23 - 28 - 42 - 51 - 52

Our members are now from 10 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal

At the beginning of 2023, we agreed with several participants to terminate their membership. Even a year later, some quit because they didn't do well with the platyfish and don't want to try again, which is a very understandable reason. But the decrease was compensated by new members from Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, the Netherlands and Portugal (the first ever breeder from this country).



Our project received unique attention at the Pilsen Zoo. In October 2023, they opened a new exhibit "Fish Ark", where they show endangered species of freshwater fish. In addition, the exhibit presents four international conservation breeding projects there, demonstrating that each of us can contribute to saving the species in our aquarium. These projects are: Citizen Conservation, Goodeid Working Group, Sulawesi Keepers and ÖVVÖ Conservation Projects - and there is Xiphophorus couchianus swimming in the exhibit tank! It goes without saying that the Pilsen Zoo is a member of our project.

Several new articles have been published on the website of the Xiphophorus Working Group (https://xipho.org/), which are closely related to the northern platyfish or their breeders. These are, for example, interviews with two members of our project, Dávid Urbányi and Erwin Radax; a very interesting look into the history of northern platyfish directly in Mexico by Andreas Tveteraas; and last but not least, the report from the Mexican project and from the meetings of Xipho breeders.

In terms of meetings, a joint meeting of the Xiphophorus Working Group (XWG) and the Goodeid Working Group (GWG) took place in Maribor, Slovenia in June 2023. Goodeid breeders had the upper hand here, but Erwin Radax came out with a lecture on the fishes of the Río Coatzacoalcos basin, where Xiphos could not be missing. The second meeting took place in October 2023 in Markkleeberg near Leipzig, Germany. In addition to the GWG and XWG, the German association for livebearing fish VDA-AKLAF was very involved in its organization. Northern platyfish were one of the main topics in the lectures.

The XNP project was further presented, among others, at aquarium or professional meetings in the Czech Republic (AKVA-congress), Finland (meeting of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria), Mexico (conference Cooperaciones internacionales a initiativas locales: protección y conservación de los peces de agua dulce en México), Portugal (European Union of Aquarium Curators meeting). Articles about our activities were published in magazines in English, Czech and German, among others.



A year ago, we announced in the annual report that Zoo Ostrava and Aquarium tropical Paris (both institutions are members of the XNP project) received a grant from the European Union of Aquarium Curators, thanks to which they can start cooperation with a new Mexican partner, the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL). In 2023, the project took place very intensively. Its goal was to improve the conditions in the UANL laboratory for the breeding of endangered Xiphophorus, as well as to examine the current status of the sites of all fish that are the subject of the XNP project. And so it happened, brief findings from (former) locations were published at the above meetings and, for example, here: https://xipho.org/project-mexico-2023/

The Mexican project is still running, we had to adjust our plans somewhat based on what the situation looked like on the ground. (In short: The drought is really a problem!) So there is no rush, on the other hand, working with Mexican partners is of great importance. Further collaborations are emerging, including with Acuario Inbursa, which has expressed an interest in acquiring northern platyfish for its exposition in Mexico City. It is a very important step to send these extinct-in-the-wild species back to their homeland. The Ostrava Zoo is mainly working on the preparations, relying on the support of all breeders involved in the project. This is what we wanted, our fish will be a (big) step closer to their original locations!

In 2023, there was no change in the financial status, i.e. all costs were covered by the respective members individually and the balance of the project is zero.


Plans for the future

In 2024, we will continue to work on activities directly in Mexico, i.e. developing partnerships with UANL, Acuario Inbursa and any other interested parties.

Above all, however, we concentrate on breeding fish in aquariums. We are curious to see how the new additions of X. gordoni will turn out. We hope to increase or stabilize numbers of all forms and avoid major losses. We would like to satisfy the demand for fish from all our members who want reinforcements for their breeding or a new founding group. The meeting of the GWG and XWG in Mosonmagyaróvár, Hungary, on 11-13 October 2024, will mainly serve this purpose.


In conclusion, as I do every year, I would like to thank all the members of the XNP project once again. You are saving rare species from extinction!


Markéta Rejlková

14.4.2024, Ostrava, Czech Republic