Allotoca - Mesa Central

Allotoca – Mesa Central

  The Mesa Central in Mexico is the stronghold of the fish family Goodeidae, the Splitfins. About three-fourths of the 40 species live in this 250.000km² large area. Coincidentally this region is the centre of Mexican agriculture and the location of a great number of industrial plants. Fertilizers, pesticides, industrial wastewater, the water requirements of big cities and the repopulation of rivers with non-native fish and crayfish caused a massive decline of the indigenous fish populations during the last two decades. For some species this resulted in a population decrease of 75%, others lost a large share of their habitat. This process is still going on.

Laguna Zacapu

  The genus Allotoca with seven and its sister genus Neoophorus with one species belong to the most seriously affected representatives of the whole family. Allotoca goslinei disappeared completely from its sole known habitat around the turn of the millennium and is now kept only in aquariums. Allotoca diazi and meeki can nowadays be found only at a small fringe of their former huge distribution areas and the remainders of the two species Allotoca maculata and Neoophorus regalis suffer severely from the pollution of their biotopes. Allotoca catarinae and zacapuensis seem to have quite stable stocks, nevertheless they are restricted to two river sections in the vicinity of a big city in case of the first species and to a lake and an isolated spring in the second. Only Allotoca dugesii still seems to have a large range of distribution, however the species is split into at least four genetically isolated populations and the biggest percentage of their known habitats show a low density of individuals. Pollution, eutrophication and non-native fish lead to population losses even for this species of more than 75%.

Allotoca zacapuensis (male)

  This paints a gloomy picture of the future of both genera, therefore it has been decided to start a conservation project for this group of Splitfins. Taking into account that running a project for eight species can be very costly for one person, it has been decided to split this project into two subprojects. One is called Lined Allotoca and Neoophorus Project (LANP) and includes Allotoca dugesii, goslinei, maculata and Neoophorus regalis, the second one Banded Allotoca Project (BAP) for Allotoca catarinae, diazi, meeki and zacapuensis. Each subproject is run by a project manager and a project manager deputy. The goal is on reach a constant stock of at least 400 specimens per species and have this stock distributed to at least 10 different participants. As soon as this target number is surpassed by 20% (80 individuals), this surplus is permitted to be distributed to third parties. Who is permitted to distribute how many fish is up to the decision of the subproject management. The corresponding participants will be personally addressed by the subproject management with a precise instruction. This does not mean this surplus has to be given away, it just opens the possibility for the addressed participant. On the other hand, the falling below 70% of the target number (remaining less than 280 specimens) causes an appeal for intense breeding activities to rebuild the stock numbers. Annual stock estimations form the basis for the decisions and instructions given by the subproject management.

Allotoca dugesii (male)

  The justification for including these eight species in an ÖVVÖ conservation project is clearly given through their threat status dedicated by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). In alphabetical order:

Allotoca catarinae: Critically Endangered (CR)

Allotoca diazi: Critically Endangered (CR)

Allotoca dugesii: Endangered (EN)

Allotoca goslinei: Extinct in the Wild (EW)

Allotoca maculata: Critically Endangered (CR)

Allotoca meeki: Critically Endangered (CR)

Allotoca zacapuensis: Critically Endangered (CR)

Neoophorus regalis: Critically Endangered (CR)

River at Opopeo

  All of these species are comprised by only one evolutionary significant unit (ESU) meaning that we find only one phylogenetical lineage within these species, except for Allotoca maculata where two ESU’s are stated and Allotoca dugesii with four. All of these ESU’s are treated like separate species so they should be kept separately and the number of 400 individuals should be reached for all of them separately. So far, only one ESU of Allotoca maculata (Allma2) is in cultivationa and two of Allotoca dugesii (Alldu 1 and Alldu4). For more precise information about the ESU’s (distribution, threat status, aso) of the single species, please go to the GWG webpage ( This goes the same for information about the species, the husbandry recommendations and additional information:

Allotoca catarinae:

Allotoca diazi:

Allotoca dugesii:

Allotoca goslinei:

Allotoca maculata:

Allotoca meeki:

Allotoca zacapuensis:

Neoophorus regalis:


Allotoca-Mesa Central, Lined Allotoca and Neoophorus (LANP)

project manager: Jože Vrbančič (SLO)           Email:

project manager deputy: Fabien Liberge (FRA)

Allotoca-Mesa Central, Banded Allotoca (BAP)

project manager: Torsten Friedrich (GER)      Email:

project manager deputy: Márk Liziczai (HUN)  Email:


project member
Matej Bincl (SLO)    Henrik van Bennekom (NLD)    Detlev Bork (GER)  
Gabriele Calì (ITA)    Tamara Canalejas - Bristol Zoo Garden (GBR)    Kell Eradus (NLD)  
Benedikt Feldmann (GER)    Torsten Friedrich (GER)     Tamás Gergácz (HUN)    Arjan de Graaf (NLD)  
Jan Hammelmann (GER)    Melinda Kállai - SÓSTÓ Zoo (HUN)    Nigel Hunter (GBR)    René Jüttner (GER)  
Rafael Kölzer (POR)    Helga Kury (AUT)    Fabien Liberge (FRA)    Holger Liedtke (GER)    Milan Murko (SLK)
Mihnea Moraru (ROU)    Chris Neal (USA)    Kevin Neves - Bowling Green State University (USA) 
Michael Köck - Haus des Meeres (AUT)    Kossuth Lajos Gimnázium Goodeid Projekt (HUN)  
Ken Jarle Olsen (DEN)    Andrew Piorkowski (USA)    Marko Ravnik (SLO)    Gary Randall (GBR)  
Greg Roebuck (GBR)    Gertjan Roozeboom (NLD)    Michael Schulze (GER)    Felix Stadtfeld (GER)   
Shaun Stevens - Tropiquaria Zoo (GBR)    Hannah Thomas - Chester Zoo (GBR)    Andreas Tveteraas (NOR)  
Dávid Urbányi (HUN)    Ronny Vannerom (BEL)    Tiago Vieira (POR)     Jože Vrbančič (SLO)   
Sebastian Wolf (GER)    Miran Zupevc (SLO)


project partner

Logo Haus des Meeres KLG Goodeid Project  Logo SÓSTÓ Zoo
 Logo GWG Logo Chester Zoo  Tropiquaria Zoo
 Bristol Zoo Gardens    


Annual report on the Allotoca-Mesa Central project

25.02.2024 - 19:52

Allotoca-Mesa Central, annual report 2023

The development of membership figures in 2023

At the beginning of 2023, 38 participants from 12 countries were represented. There was no...


10. Meeting of the Goodeid (GWG) and Xiphophorus (XWG) working groups in Maribor

01.07.2023 - 10:24

The 10th European meeting of the Goodeid Working Group (GWG) took place from 02.06. to 04.06.2023 in Maribor (Slovenia). The Xiphophorus Working Group (XWG) also joined the conference as usual...

Conservation Projects


25.03.2023 - 07:31

Recently, there has been an increase in phishing e-mails with extortionate intent to addresses of the ÖVVÖ. Unfortunately, some of these were also forwarded through our automatic distribution...

Allotoca meeki

Annual report on the Allotoca-Mesa Central project

15.01.2023 - 23:31

Allotoca-Mesa Central, Annual Report 2022

The development of membership in 2022

The year 2022 resulted in some changes in the Allotoca - Mesa...


First coordinators Meeting LANP and BAP

30.10.2022 - 18:07

On 02.10.2022, the coordinators of the 2 subprojects LANP and BAP met to discuss/coordinate the census for 2022 at the Haus des Meeres in Vienna.

Male of Allotoca diazi

Allotoca-Mesa Central, Annual Report 2021

09.03.2022 - 17:04

  Section A: The development of membership since January 2020

  At the beginning of 2020, the Allotoca-Mesa Central project had fourteen...

Female Neoophorus regalis from the Río El Chivo (Photos: Isai Betancourt)

Annual report on the Allotoca-Mesa Central project

19.01.2020 - 16:31

Annual report on the...

Allotoca catarinae, male

The species of the Allotoca - Mesa Central Conservation Project - Number 1: Allotoca catarinae

20.04.2019 - 15:26

Common Names: Catarina Allotoca (English), Catarina-darázspontyocska (Hungarian), Catarina-Kärpfling (German), Tiro Catarina (Spanish)
Synonyms: ...

Allotoca meeki

From Oslo to Cologne

13.06.2017 - 16:53

The participants in a stud...

The Guanajuato River north of Irapuato. Here there were still fairly healthy stocks of Xenotoca variata and Goodea atripinnis. An exception in this area ...

Survey of the population of some Allotoca species in February

28.04.2017 - 16:51

In February 2017 I was traveling with Erwin Radax from the 1. Wiener Neustädter Aquarium and Terrarium Association and a friend from England in the Mexican states of...