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


XNP project annual report – year 6

14.04.2024 - 18:00

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...


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...


XNP project annual report – year 5

24.05.2023 - 14:16

After five years of the project's existence, we can look back on our experience a little more and evaluate how successful this format is. In short: it works! We cannot prevent the loss of some...

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...

ÖVVÖ conservation project

XNP project annual report – year 4

11.05.2022 - 07:43

The Xiphophorus – Northern Platyfish project has completed its fourth year. In the second half of this period, we were able to recover from the Covid-19 restrictions and almost get back to the...

husbandry manual

Update of Northern platyfish husbandry manual

27.02.2022 - 21:02

The husbandry manual produced by our project has been updated. New additions: more details about the disease control and optimal temperature + few more husbandry examples with photos from our...

Logos of Zoos

Another zoos/aquariums to keep northern platyfish

10.02.2022 - 18:33

During previous six months, another zoos or public aquariums have joined the Xiphophorus - Northern Platyfish project: Zoo Leipzig from Germany, Diergaarde Blijdorp (Zoo Rotterdam) from the...

Xiphophorus Working Group founded

Xiphophorus Working Group founded

12.10.2021 - 12:07

Several participants of the ÖVVÖ Xiphophorus - Northern Platyfish project have participated in the foundation of new Xiphophorus Working Group in Ostrava Zoo on 1.-3.10.2021. This new initiative...

Tierpark Berlin

Tierpark Berlin joins the XNP project

19.04.2021 - 13:31

Tierpark Berlin is a new partner of the Xiphophorus – Northern Platyfish project. We are happy that yet another zoo would like to help save our little grey fish! 40 young Xiphophorus couchianus...

Xiphophorus – Northern Platyfish

XNP project annual report – year 3

06.03.2021 - 21:05

Let's summarize the 3rd year of the Xiphophorus – Northern Platyfish Project: Covid-19 has affected our lives and of course our project activities. Most of...