Cyprinodontiformes vivíparos e ovovivíparos

Livebearer Cyprinodontiformes

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Species > Species profile > Skiffia multipunctata

















Skiffia multipunctata  Espinosa Perez et al, 1993

Xenendum multipunctatum
Pellegrin, 1901; ( válido como )
Ollentodon multipunctatus Turner, 1937; ( válido como )
Ollentodon multipunctatus Hubbs & Turner, 1939; ( válido como )

Skiffia Sal e Pimenta [ Português ]

Tiro Manchado [ Español ]

Spoted Skiffia [ English ]

Geographical distribution :

Mexico ( Hidrographic basin of Lerma River ).

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I - Morphology Synopsis ( some meristic characters )

Total absolute lenght

Adult male : 44.3 a 50.1  mm

Adult female : 48.9 a 61.2 mm

Dorsal fin rays : / 15 ( 17 )

Caudal fin rays : / 20 ( 22 )

Scales on lateral line : 34 ( 36 )

Head lenght body lenght ratio ( male ) : 0,17

Head lenght body lenght ratio ( female ) : 0,20

You can find more pictures about these species availabe at the photo gallery.

II - Habitat and Geographical distribution

Even taking in consideration that apparently this species can be wider distributed, in particular in the Lerma-Santiago basins, we can still only find this fish inside Michoacán and Jalisco Sates limits in Mexico.

Lerma River born at about 24 kilometres from a small city called Toluca, at the central Mexican plateau. It runs over about 560 kilometres to end at Chapala Lake close to La Barca, crossing both States of the Skiffia multipunctata geographical distribution.

It is situated at 1524 metres above the sea level and from it runs the Grande Santiago River, close to Ocotlán, that’s why this waterway is considered as an extension of the Lerma.

With 1080 square kilometres of surface this lake is the largest in Mexico, the third in Latin America and the 68º worlds largest. Maximum height rages from 78 and 82 kilometres and width go up to 19 kilometres.

Water maximum level can reach about 8125 millions of cubical metres, while medium level is around 4500 millions of cubical meters. In 2002 the lake level drops as low has ever, reaching critical values around 1120 millions of cubical metres.

Maximum profundity on this lake goes as far as 7 metres while medium depth is around 4.5 metres.

On the same tectonic rift we can find Lerma-Chapala-Santiago Rivers hydrographical basins.

These lake most important tributaries are Lerma, Duero and Zula Rivers, besides many other smaller watercourses like the Jiquilpan, Azuayo and La Pasión streams.

Today locals, especially for cultures irrigation in agriculture as well as domestic consumption use Chapala waters. Fishing is also an important economic activity related to this huge water body and has a specific regulation.

One interesting biodiversity can still be found on this aquatic ecosystem. Besides a rich flora, there is also a remarkable fauna composed by aquatic insects, molluscs, crustaceous, amphibious, fish, reptiles and plankton, whish can be regarded as the main reason for a vast amount of aquatic resident and migratory water birds.

The most representative fish species are :

Algansea popoche

Chirostoma sphyraena Notropis lermae

Algansea tincella

Cyprinus carpio communis ( introduced species ) Oreochromis aureus ( introduced species )

Allophorus robustus

Cyprinus carpio rubrofuscus ( introduced species ) Poecilia reticulata ( introduced species )

Allotoca sp

Cyprinus carpio specularis ( introduced species ) Poeciliopsis infans

Carassius auratus ( introduced species )

Falcularius chapalae Skiffia bilineata

Chapalichthys encaustus

Goodea atripinnis Skiffia lermae

Chirostoma arge

Iclaurus ochoterenai Skiffia multipunctata

Chirostoma chapalae

Ictalurus dugesi Xenotoca variata

Chirostoma consocium

Lampetra spadicea Xiphophorus helleri ( introduced species )

Chirostoma jordani

Lepomis macrochirus ( introduced species ) Yuriria alta

Chirostoma labarcae

Micropterus salmoides ( introduced species ) Zoogonecticus quitzeoensis

Chirostoma lucius

Moxostoma austrinum

Chirostoma promelas

Notropis calientis

The above list reveals some introduced species but as well as some industrial and game fishing favourites.

There are about 21000 fishermen all year round committed to the professional capture of 16 species in particular. From all these economically significant fish, 10 are native, ( Ictalurus dugesi, Ictalaurus ochoterenai, Chirostoma consocium, Chirostoma jordani, Chirostoma arge, Chirostoma chapalae, Chirostoma labarcae, Chirostoma promelas, Chirostoma sphyraena and Chirostoma lucius ), but 6 ( taking in consideration 3 subspecies of Common Carp ), are introduced, ( Oreochromis aureus, Ictalurus punctatus, Cyprinus carpio communis, Cyprinus carpio specularis, Cyprinus carpio rubrofuscus and Carassius auratus ).

The highest fishing record was achieved in 1981, with around 17700 tons, but now it doesn’t go as far as 3000 tons.

This capture decay is often associated to water quality degradation, climate changes and over fishing by our sources.

Two different climate typologies characterize the geographical areas of this species distribution, ranging from temperate dry to hot sub-humid. Usually on these regions there is a raining season from April to October, with precipitation annual values between 33.9 mm and something like 1800 mm.

On Skiffia multipunctata habitat air annual average temperatures goes from about 16ºC ( 60.8ºF ) to 24ºC ( 75.2ºF ) or a little bit more.

If we take in consideration Lake Chapala environment, ( even if it isn’t the most representative situation and is far to be a type locality ), we are in the presence of a semi-arid region.

Air annual average is 19.9ºC ( 67.82ºF ), almost without precipitation during the quite mild winter and spring seasons.

Maximum air temperatures sort just about 27ºC ( 80.6ºF ) or 30ºC ( 86.0ºF ), May and June, while minimum goes down to 9ºC ( 48.2ºF ) and 12ºC ( 53.6ºF ), December to February. Freezing can reach 4.1 days/year.

In this region annual precipitation reaches 875.2 mm mostly in June, July and August.

Extreme values on this species natural habitat are 13ºC ( 55.4ºF ) and 33ºC ( 91.4ºF ), but in some areas the occurrence of volcanic water flows can pull up these values.

While the species distribution decline can be universally acknowledged, according to observations of Brian Kabbes, a population containing a large number of fish with all ages was pointed in a biotope southwest Chapala Lake, in a place called Noroto, around 1998. In this place was by than still possible to discover a little safe haven for the Spotted Skiffia.

In December, during this visit water temperature was 14,5ºC ( 58.1ºF ).

The uniqueness of this population is the fact that these fish live in softer light acid waters ( pH 6,5 to 6,8 ), while the rest of the ecosystems where this species is present show pH values between 7,6 and 7,9. Please take this information in consideration while keep fish from this population in captivity.

Another reference location is inside the State of Jalisco, in Ornandino to be exact, ( 19º57’26’’ N / 102º19’36’’ W ). This is a clear water little dam with 1.4 meters deep, erect on a spring and ranging around 26.740 m2 in area ( La Vega-Salazar et al., 2003 ). Inside this specific habitat the species future seamed to be optimistic, which was no doubt good news concerning a rare and vulnerable classified fish.

By the beginning of this century, an additional hot point was Ornandino, a location showing around 18 fish by m2.

Besides a significant abundance of this particular species, others could be found by than within this particular lake waters ( J. L. Kelly et al., 2005 ) :

Allophorus robustus

Chapalichthys pardalis

Cyprinus carpio (  introduced species )

Goodea atripinnis

Notropis sp.

Poecilia sphenops (  introduced species )

Poeciliopsis infans

Xiphophorus helleri (  introduced species )

Zoogoneticus quitzeoensis

According to one of our reference sources, ( La Vega-Salazar et al., 2003 ), from 3 expectable locations inside the geographical distribution of this species, two had already prove to lost the respective populations.

This is the case of Zacapu ( 19º42’19’’ N / 101º58’22’’ W ), another dam with around 225.000 m2 and 4 meters deep taking advantage of a spring, recorded in 1977 has an viable habitat by than, as well as from Santiago River, where it was abundant back in 1947, ( La Vega-Salazar et al., 2003 ).

Nevertheless, Camecuaro Lake, as well as Uren River and La Luz are still places here resident populations can be found at this date.

The species predilection for habitat is quite variable. Wild populations are found in spring lakes, rivers, brooks, creeks, and dams; here they look for shelter and protection on close luxuriant submersed aquatic plants.

Skiffia multipunctata natural water show dissolved oxygen levels usually between 6.3 and 8 ppm.

In most cases water clearness is very close to 100%, with low nitrate levels ( 1.97 to 2.89 ppm ), as well as irrelevant ammonia remnants.

III - Physical-chemistry parameters

Ideal temperature range : 17ºC ( 62.6ºF ) - 22ºC
( 71.6ºF )

Tolerated limits : 9ºC ( 48.2ºF ) e 27ºC ( 80.6ºF )

Survival limits : 5ºC ( 41.0ºF ) a 32ºC ( 89.6ºF )

Ideal pH : 6,5 – 7,9 ( depending from original population )

Ideal dH : 3º - 20º ( depending from original population )

Maximum salinity : 1,001 a 25ºC ( 77.0ºF )

Temperature monthly maintenance for this species in captivity ( suggestion ) :

Thermal regime (1) 

Thermal regime (2) 

13ºC ( 55.4ºF )

15ºC ( 59.0ªF )

15ºC ( 59.0ºF )

17ºC ( 62.2ºF )

17ºC ( 62.6ºF )

19ºC ( 66.2ºF )

19ºC ( 66.2ºF )

21ºC ( 69.8ºF )

20ºC ( 68.0ºF )

22ºC ( 71.6ºF )

21ºC ( 69.8ºF )

23ºC ( 73.6ºF )

22ºC ( 71.6ºF )

24ºC ( 75.2ºF )

23ºC ( 73.6ºF )

25ºC ( 77.0ºF )

22ºC ( 71.6ºF )

24ºC ( 75.2ºF )

21ºC ( 69.8ºF )

23ºC ( 73.6ºF )

18ºC ( 64.4ºF )

20ºC ( 68.0ºF )

15ºC ( 59.0ºF )

17ºC ( 62.6ºF )

Each one of this table lines report a different month period.

The temperature values are provided only as a reference for captivity maintenance.

Performing on this way your action can be considered reasonable, according with the species known thermal exigencies.

It is sometimes difficult, if not even impossible, to recreate in aquarium the natural conditions, most favourable for the fish biology. The most ideal situation was, if you could be able to provide your fish a daily as well as a weekly temperature variation, like in the wild.

For better understanding about perfect environment or to simulate water temperature annual evolution according to natural habitat for this species, please be so kind and have a look to Guadalajara and San Luis Potosí graphics at Wild water's temperatures ( all year round ) issue.

Note about Skiffia multipuncatata : The above lower thermal regime is appropriated to the hale and hearty keeping of this species, while the higher thermal regime, on the right side, ( more realistic on domestic aquarium environment ), is no doubt more satisfactory when inside conditions do not allow a more realistic achievement.

IV - Biology and ecology synopsis

This species show a remarkable sexual dimorphism. In addition, males can display a rich assortment of chromatic patterns; whish can vary from one to another, almost as an individual feature.

Even in wild populations it is possible to find some distinguish atypical males showing large black and orange areas, in particular lying on the flanks. In a certain photograph from Kees de Jong is possible to observe a melanistic individual, roughly entirely black.

Fallowing the behaviour pattern of other Goodeinae sub-family species, males courtship prior to mating is made of acrobatic swimming movements describing more or less an “ 8 “ outline. This energetic endeavour to cause an impression to females is also accompanied by flank and fins exhibitions, as you can see on the short movie Skiffia multipunctata - Male's flirt dance , with 15 seconds ( 1.154 KB ), available at the Gallery section.

Aquarium born males are in fact very pugnacious and rummage around for frequent fights with other opponents.

This performance is no doubt more intense than those observed in open air communities. A small example of these confrontations can be visualized at the short movie Skiffia multipunctata - Male's fight with 19 seconds ( 2.022 KB ), available at the Gallery section.

Even so, it is important to keep in mind that we are debating here a shy gregarious species. By this reason they must be raised in large groups, with as many fish as space available can allow it.

The best way to maintain them is to carry on with the group in 100 litres or more single species tank. In alternative, you can keep this jewel in company of other sympatric species of the same family ( apart from for other Skiffia ), in particular Allophorus robustus, Chapalichthys pardalis, Xenotoca variata, Zoogoneticus quitzeoensis and even Goodea atripinnis.

For a balanced diet, live small prey as well as vegetal food must never be ignored. Captivity populations do accept very well artificial flake food, but this should never be the most important component of feeding, in order to provide them with a good physical condition and wellbeing.

For the above reasons, never forget to feed them also with slight boiled spinach, peas or other vegetal supplement as well as industrial flake food to vegetarian species.

All the nourishing ideas in the general feeding suggestions at aquaristics section are very well accepted, including several vegetal alternatives, milled raw sea fish and molluscs and other usual live or frozen options.

The brood number is around 10 to 20 by birth, decreasing for only 4 to 5 for very young mothers during first delivery.

Newborns from this species are quite large getting around 10 mm at birth. By this reason raising them is no difficult at all.

Small particles from adult feeding as well as brine shrimp nauplii or other live zooplankton prey are convenient dimensions ( like Brachionus calyciflorus, and Moina macrocopa ), besides any of the usual industrial substitutes.

If free from stress causes as well as in ideal conditions, regular gestation ranges from 6 to 8 weeks, depending on water temperatures, 21ºC ( 69.8ºF ) to 23ºC ( 73.4ºF ), on a winter period at least around 17ºC ( 62.6ºF ), on water quality, diet and feeding, as well as other unpredicted reasons like atmospheric pressure. Under nasty or unfavourable conditions gestation can be deferred several months.

V - Complementary notes

A large number of aquaria hobbyists that have some experience with the Spotted Skiffia, declare that this is a very delicate and susceptible species.

Sudden fatalities happen from time to time without warning and leaving no traces of what so ever could be the reason. Simply without any evident explanation, or warning sign, some fish depart this life abruptly.

In face of such recurrent unfortunate events some hobbyists have discover that near daily partial water exchanges of around 20% to 50% could avoid radically these sad lost.

Please be careful with temperature differences during the partial water replacement as well as it purity level.

Tap water can present high toxin levels, in particular chlorine or any other sanitizer and metal traces from the piping. These contaminant substances above a certain level can reveal to be more harmful than exceptional for the fish healthiness while promoting the water partial replacement.

In general, water quality does signify a huge difference between persistent fatalities and a growing population.

Drinking water can in fact induce mortality, specifically when loaded with substances in innocuous concentration for human wellbeing however poisonous for delicate aquatic species.

In such doubtful dilemma some hobbyists opt for inexpensive bottled or mineral water, in particular when the chemical composition is near the fish demands.

An additional condition to keep away from is to allow two or more species from this genus staying together and share the same space.

Black Beauty is a famous hybrid very wanted in the hobby. This fish is the ultimate consequence of a cross between Skiffia multipunctata and Skiffia francesae. It is a fertile hybrid that must be apart from the two parental species in order to avoid further occurrences.

The above mentioned behaviour variation between fish born and raised in aquarium and others from the same specie kept outdoors, mentioned by hobbyists local observations, do confirm some conclusions in the paper “ The influence of rearing experience on the behaviour of an endangered Mexican fish, Skiffia multipunctata “.

On this scientific article, the common citizen is face up to some extraordinary situations that even the most caring endangered species keeper is usually not aware.

The study in question brings to light the influence of captivity behavioural induced conditions, focussing manifest deviation in courtship, aggression, foraging and boldness. To carry out such research, indoor lab and outdoor pond facilities were utilized.

Thank kept fish inside the laboratory have demonstrate a distinguished prevalence to emphasize all the studied conducts and to confirm more boldness right the way through unusual elements placed inside the aquarium, even during the introduction of an supposed predator ( Kelley, J. L. et al., 2005 ).

After these conclusions, captivity is no doubt, from now on, regarded as an environment that is clearly favourable to induce behavioural tendencies that reveal to become fatal to captive-reared threatening species if reintroduced in nature, in particular because they do not possess the behavioural skills required for survival in the wild ( Kelley, J. L. et al., 2005 ).

VI - Threats, protection and present status

All four Skiffia species are facing today a conservation threat in some level.

Several have suffered local extinctions in more than 50% of areas studied where they were previously known to have existed.

In general these species have a limited tolerance to environmental degradation, and are susceptible to water lost of quality. Even so, the most probable exception to this susceptibility is Skiffia bilineata, which is comparatively more tolerant to eutrophication, turbidity and seasonal changes in environmental conditions, in particular higher nitrate levels.

Anthropogenic pressure on the natural habitat has result in dramatic consequences to the survival of these fish.

Water pollution and fast eutrophication are two of the main reasons of wild population’s extinction.

Dramatic draws as well as environmental disturbances, allied to the low economical importance to fisheries and industries have revealed to be devastating for them.

The majority of Goodeidae species, if not all, are usually considered irrelevant by their small size, which has led to this family being for the most part ignored by conservation efforts.

Little and not sensationally highlighted, Skiffia species don’t call people attention for them so often as other aquarium favourites.

The fortunate enthusiasm of a small number of hobbyists has led to a recent increase in the amount of research dedicated to the entire family.

Skiffia lermae and Skiffia bilineata are the most widely distributed of the genus.

Skiffia multipunctata is more and more restricted to the last wild sanctuaries.

Skiffia francesae has been declared extinct in the wild by the I.U.C.N. There is only one locality from which captive Skiffia francesae stocks in private aquariums or institutions and zoos have been derived from one single location… Teuchitlán. In the aquaria hobby is generally believed that all captive fish of this species have descended from one stock collected by Dr. R. Miller in 1976, ( Langhammer, 1995 ).

For further knowledge or information about this please check Livebearer Cyprinodontiformes in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Other topics available about this species :

Literature cited ( references ) :

De la Vega-Salazar M.Y., Avila-Luna E., Macías García C., 2003. Ecological evaluation of local extinction : the case of two genera of endemic Mexican fish, Zoogoneticus and Skiffia.

Biodiversity and Conservation 12, pp. 2043–2056.

Kelley J. L., Magurran A. E., Macías Garcia C., 2004. The influence of rearing experience on the behaviour of an endangered mexican fish, Skiffia multipunctata.

Biological Conservation Vol. 122, no. 2, ( Mar 2005 ), pp. 223-230.

Langhammer J.K., 1995. Skiffia francesae : A fish on the edge of tomorrow. Can we save it ?

Aquatic Survival: Bulletin of the Aquatic Conservation Network 4: Dec 1995.

Teruya Uyeno
, Robert Rush Miller, John Michael Fitzsimons, 1983. Karyology of the Cyprinodontoid Fishes of the Mexican Family Goodeidae.

Copeia, Vol. 1983, No. 2, ( May, 1983 ), pp. 497-510.

We should be extremely gratified and thank you in advance if some one could provide new data about this topic, or even eventually any correction to be made on this document. For this purpose please be so kind and write us.

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