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FAQs on the Goodeid Fishes

Related Articles: Goodeid Fishes, Livebearing Freshwater Fishes,

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Goodeids, gen.      5/12/18
Howdy WetWebMedia,
I was wondering if there was anything else that you could tell me about Goodeids, besides what is already on your site.
<What do you need to know? Which species are you interested in? There are a fair number of species, and while the group is pretty consistent in some ways, there is some variation among species. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Goodeids   5/16/18

hi, I'm very sorry about the late reply. I'm doing a project on the conservation of endangered Goodeids and i was wondering what you might know about how to conserve a species (specifically freshwater live bearers).
<What have you found out so far? For sure I'd be happy to add some comments, though from the perspective of the aquarist. Yes, there are species that exist only (or at least mainly) in captivity such as Ameca splendens. But there are issues about simply releasing these tank-bred specimens into the wild that we can talk about in detail later. Conversely, livebearers introduced outside of their natural range can cause headaches for those trying to conserve other species of fish. Mosquitofish are well known (and well studied) in this regard. So anyway, if you tell me what you've found out about so far, I can throw in some extra details. In the meantime, Wikipedia is a good starting point, but the IUCN website is
probably a better resource. Fishbase another good starting point. All of these will provide online/print media links that you will find useful.>
also if you know anything about their taxonomy that would be helpful as well.
<Again, yes, I know a fair bit about their taxonomy. But I'm hesitant to simply write it all down for you without establishing what you've already learned thus far. Wouldn't want to waste each other's time. So where are you at in this regard? To what extent have you pinned down the families, genera or species you wish to review? Do bear in mind freshwater livebearers range from Poeciliidae and Goodeidae through to things like Halfbeaks and Stingrays, so there's a lot of diversity within this grouping. Furthermore, sub-species level taxonomy can be complex, with numerous subspecies, geographical races, even simple polymorphism evident (see Micropoecilia parae as a good example). Conserving a species often ends up more difficult that simply conserving the species generally, but ensuring each distinct population is conserved, and gene flow between them minimised. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Goodeids      5/19/18

<Hello again Lance,>
I'm sorry i wasn't more specific. I have already spoke to Greg Sage and he explained to me the tank conditions needed to maintain and breed the species and he told me that the GWG (Goodeid Working Group) is mainly a database for Goodeids and really doesn't do much in regards to actual conservation work.
On top of what Greg told me I learned about Species like Zoogoneticus tequila, Ameca splendens, and Characodon laterais. what i need to know is the higher taxonomy of split fins up to order and family.
<These three species all belong to the family Goodeidae, which is in turn part of the order Cyprinodontiformes, alongside a number of other families including the Poeciliidae (i.e., Guppies, Mollies, etc.) Aplocheilidae (i.e., the southern hemisphere killifish), and the Cyprinodontidae (i.e., the north American Pupfish). Most of these fish are small, freshwater species adapted for life in shallow streams, ponds, and so on. Broadly, these are the fish we call livebearers and killifish, so obviously some families lay eggs while others give birth to baby fish. Nonetheless, there are some half dozen killifish families, and at least three livebearer families, so it's a complicated picture. Do look at the Wikipedia page on
Cyprinodontiformes for more.>
I also have not seen anything about Goodeid conservation so anything you can tell me about it would help, like what are the specific trouble of introducing a species to the wild or if there are groups working on the problem and how they are going about it.
<If you do some research on Ameca splendens, for example on ResearchGate.net, you'll come across papers such as "Captive breeding promotes aggression in an endangered Mexican fish" and "Aggression in captivity and the implication for interspecific aggression between once sympatric species of Mexican Goodeid". In short, the idea is that in captivity fish get better quality food, so can get away with spending less time foraging and more time fighting. Over the generations, aggressive males are favoured because there's no cost to being aggressive, but a positive benefit with regard to passing on your genes more often. In the wild this wouldn't happen -- overly aggressive males would likely starve because they don't forage for long enough to stay alive. Anyway, over 30-40 years, this seems to have happened with Ameca splendens, which is much more aggressive than it was in the wild when first collected. So if we just dumped captive fish in Mexican rivers, they'd either end up starving to death, or more likely, they would be so aggressive they'd harm other wild fish that they're living alongside. We've also got the problem of reduced genetic diversity. Aquarists tend to favour certain genes, whether deliberately (e.g., nicer colours) or subconsciously (e.g., fish that mature and breed younger produce more fry over their lifetimes, which often means the adult size of the species ends up smaller after several generations). Reduced genetic diversity makes a species less adaptable to changing environments, reducing the chances of long-term survival. Make sense? Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Goodeids    5/22/18

Thank you for that information, but if Ameca splendens become to aggressive to be put back into the wild, are they only going to live in an aquarium setting?
<There's nothing to stop you creating a half-way house setting, like an outdoor pond, where the Ameca splendens would have to feed themselves on natural algae rather than fish food. After a few generations you should get more natural foraging behaviour. So yes, if you just chucked domestic Ameca splendens into a Mexican stream that might cause problems, but people could breed more 'normal' Ameca splendens by actively selecting desirable traits, just as we do with any other animal.>
And is this aggression only found in this species of Goodeid or is it all Goodeids?
<I'm not aware of other Goodeids being so well studied, but I would imagine the basic risk of genetic drift in captivity exists for most if not all of them. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Goodeids

thank you again for all the information.
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Mystery Fish - 02/06/2007 Hello, <Hi.> I went to my local fish store today to get a few new fish. I spotted the cherry barbs and decided to take a few of those. When the owner was getting some from the tank I noticed there was a white fish in there with them. Thinking maybe it was a different color for some reason, I asked the owner and he said he didn't know and said it was mine for free. He mentioned it might be left over from whatever was in the tank before the cherry barbs. I don't know where to look to find out what it is. I have looked over the site a bit but couldn't find what I was looking for. I've attached a few pictures hoping maybe someone on the crew could let me know what it is. <It looks like it may be a young female silver molly, but I'm not certain from the image.> I've looked into the possibility of it being a baby cherry barb, due to its small size, but it sounds like cherry barb fry are usually tan or brown? Help would be very much appreciated. <Any chance at a larger picture?  Though these pics are not bad at all, it'd be great if you could get a bit bigger of a picture, or a picture of the fish against a single color background (easier said than done, I know!)> Thanks,  Laura <All the best to you and your Mystery Fish,  -Sabrina>

Maybe another... a Goodeid? RMF

Re: Another few questions for Neale. Livebearer sel., Goodeids   - 1/31/08 Wow, thank you, Neale! <Nicole,> Those suggestions for livebearers are right up my alley. Rhonda Wilson (who I mentioned having really taken inspiration from) also keeps many of these wild type livebearers - Goodeids, Limias, etc. and that's just the kind of setup I am interested in, some messy plants growing however they please, lots of algae for grazing, basically as natural a setup as possible. <Sounds nice.> Since there is no hope that the LFS in my area can special order anything like this, I searched Aquabid.com. There are a couple of Limias, one person had a pair of Liberty mollies, and the same person had Ameca splendens, the butterfly Goodeid. (I keep wanting to spell it Goodeoid, so my apologies if there's a typo.) The latter really interests me, mostly because I know zilch about Goodeidae and I love learning something new that's fish related! <Goodeids are fascinating fish, though some are pretty nippy, boisterous animals!> I am checking out goodeids.com, which has lots of helpful information, but would you know of any livebearer book that does more than gloss over this species? I've never seen a book on wild type livebearers, perhaps there is one? It's hard to get a feel for the livebearer books on Amazon since most aren't reviewed. <I have a couple of specialist livebearer books, of which 'Interpet Guide to Livebearing Fishes' is the one I like best. It's cheap and easy to buy used.> I can just imagine the look on the faces of my LFS if I asked them to special order these fish, since they had never heard of Pelvicachromis taeniatus, "Nigerian red" Kribs before. Their response was, "Are you talking about a freshwater fish or a saltwater fish?" <Ah, nice fish; kept and bred them myself. Increasingly easy to get in the UK, thankfully. Not sure why US-based aquarists are so poorly served when it comes to freshwater fish.> This is the same LFS that had a tank full of young Rainbowfish which they called "rainbow tetras". I helpfully took out a book from their shelves, and opened up to the page on Rainbowfish, which had plenty of pictures... <Heh...> I'm going to just take my time and research everything very carefully. After being in this hobby about 5 years, I now know that the amount of time spent planning an aquarium *definitely* pays off in the end. <Indeed so. And it improves the fun too. You can only buy a certain number of fish, so you'll get the best value from your fishkeeping if you very carefully choose exactly the species you need for fun, colours, breeding, and interesting behaviour.> Even if the fish you choose nonchalantly can co-exist together peacefully, it's awfully nice to have as close to a perfect stocking scheme as you can achieve, given your personal tastes...and going to the pet store and grabbing this and that is certainly not going to take you there! <Precisely.> So for all the newbies out there, it's not the slightest bit absurd to spend a couple months with an empty tank just planning. Use the time to fishless cycle, if need be! <Correct!> Thanks so much for your help, I knew you would be able to provide a fresh perspective. I am still a bit nervous about ordering fish online, I've never done it before, but my plan is to try to buy all the fish from the same seller at one time, so that I only have to pay the $30 shipping fee once. I will be sure to acclimate the newcomers carefully, and will be on top of water quality, doing daily water changes to ensure that as many as possible of the new fish survive. <One bit of advice I'd make with livebearers is to avoid getting fish from one person's batch. Those'll be descended from one pair of fish, so your gene pool is pretty small. Ideally get two batches of fish from two different people. That'll mix the genes up. Inbreeding with livebearers is problematical, and you can easily end up with a fair proportion of fish with crooked spines, deformed swim bladders, Siamese twins, etc.> Take care, Nicole <Will try my best.> P.S. Thanks for letting me know about livebearers and earthworms, I'll skip that then. My tetras and Bettas absolutely love this treat, it's probably their favorite food, but I can see that their mouths differ considerably from livebearer mouths. <Lots of fish LOVE earthworms. They're easily the best food in the world for settling in Spiny Eels. But livebearers are, on the whole, adapted to scraping algae and slurping mosquito larvae from the surface. They have neat upturned mouths for just this purpose.> I'll probably end up skipping the swordtails, although the aforementioned LFS can get green swordtails in, as I have seen those in stock before. <I'd tend to steer clear of Swordtails unless you have a big enough tank. They're funny fish. But do look out for Swordtail-Platies, Xiphophorus xiphidium, a neat little fish with the looks of a Platy but a little sword like a Swordtail. Cheers, Neale.>

Goodeid Livebearers - 05/07/2006 Hello, I started my aquarium hobby one year ago when I purchased a Betta for my nephew's 10th birthday.  (In addition, I bought a Striped Raphael, named Cookie, and a 10-G tank for myself.)  Since then I have been reading books, magazines, on-line articles and the WetWebMedia FAQs to ensure success with my current 10-G, 55-G, and new 5 day old 29-G tank/s. Last weekend I attended my first convention - the American Livebearer Association, 35th Anniversary, in New Jersey - and at the auction on Sunday, I bought 6 Ameca splendens, 5 Xenophorus captivus fry, and a bag full of 20 Peppered Corydoras.  Since these species are more rare in the aquarium hobby, I need your help. I set up the 29-G tank with dividers separating the fish.  Can I put them together instead?? < I would not mix Goodeids together for fear that they might interbreed.> I read somewhere (on-line) that the Ameca splendens do not mix well with Corys ....  What about the X. captivus fry, can they mix with the Corys? < The catfish would probably not harm them, but may out compete them for food.> So far it appears that they both like the bottom of the tank.  Of course I will not put all 20 Corys in the 29-G; many have already settled in my 55-G. Last question, my 55-G contains a mix:  neon tetras, brass tetra, mollies, swordtails, guppies, platies, 1 dwarf Gourami, and Corydoras.  Could the new fish mentioned above live with my other fishes? < You just purchased some rare livebearers and I would think that you would be interested in breeding them and keep them pure. If you mix them together they may cross with each other. If you don't have the space you could just throw them in all together and they would probably get along just fine.-Chuck> If all these fish continue reproduce, at some point in the future I may need to move them around. Thank you much for your help - with this question and with all the others you answered as I read through your website.  Adrienne Heggs, Queens NY

Goodeidae I recently purchased four fish at the local fish store that were marked unknown. The fish look like the Goodeidae in An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aquarium Fish. The only difference, is the four I have a spot on the side.. the smaller fish have green iridescent and the larger have red lines and the spot. They are acting similar to cichlids in being territorial and challenging the male blue ram. I would like to know if this is the fish I purchased. Their fins are clear, the body is the same and they have the same tail and mouth as the picture in the book above. The only difference I can see is the coloring. They are eating flake food and pulling at the plants. Two of them have set up territory in one corner and are not real aggressive, but certainly don't act like other live bearers. The store manager said they came in marked, general, community; flag fish. >> Hmm, I love a challenge... and this one isn't too tough... they might be the Goodeid, Ameca splendens... or the Cyprinodont (egg laying toothed carps, sort of like the killifishes) Jordanella floridae, the Florida Flag Fish... Read on... though domesticated livebearers like the swordtails, guppies, mollies and platies are easygoing... there are MANY other species of livebearers that are tough! Bob Fenner, who won't scold you for buying an "unknown" animal at this point, but surely hopes he and you won't be picked up by space aliens and tossed in an enclosure of "unknowns" from another planet

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