Zoogoneticus tequila

Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
Zoogoneticus tequila
English Name: 
Tequila Splitfin
Mexican Name: 
Picote tequila
Original Description: 

  WEBB, S. A. & R. R. MILLER (1998): Zoogoneticus tequila, a new goodeid fish (Cyprinodontiformes) from the Ameca drainage of Mexico, and a rediagnosis of the genus. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology University of Michigan Ann Arbor 725: pp 1-23


  Collection-number: University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Cat. No. UMMZ-233655.

  The Holotype is a mature male of 26.7mm standard length, collected by R. R. Miller and J. T. Greenbank on March the 25th, 1955, and originally identified as Zoogoneticus quitzeoensis (Cat. No. UMMZ-172224). Paratypes were two immature females of 25.4 and 28mm standrard length, collected with the Holotype (UMMZ-233656), and several aquarium-reared descendants of fish collected by M. Smith. C. Rodriguez, L. Butler and D. Lambert on February the 26th, 1990.

  Drawing of the Holotype of Zoogoneticus tequila:

Holotype of Zoogoneticus tequila

Terra typica: 

  The Holotype was collected in the Río Teuchitlán, at the east end of the town of Teuchitlán in Jalisco.


  This species is named for the Mexican Volcán de Tequila, which looms north of the type locality.


Zoogoneticus sp.    Lambert, 1990

Distribution and ESU's: 

  The Tequila Splitfin is a freswater fish species endemic to the Mexican federal state of Jalisco. It was historically only known from the type localiy, the Río Teuchitlán in the Río Ameca headwaters and already thought to be Extinct in the Wild while it had been described. Only one time later, a single male individual was seen at the El Rincón spring in 1999 (Kabbes, 1999). Another location close by the type location was detected in 2001 (de la Vega-Salazar et al., 2003), but reported as extinct in 2013 (Domínguez-Domínguez, pers. comm.). The species is actually (2019) and since 2016 in a process of reintroduction at the type location (Herrerías-Diego et al., 2016; Medina-Nava et al., 2017; Domínguez-Domínguez, 2017). As known only from the type location, the Río Teuchitlán, no subpopulations are distinguished. The underlined names are the ones officially used by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía; nevertheless, other ones might be more often in use or better known and therefore prefered.


  ESU ist short for Evolutionarily Significant Unit. Each unit expresses an isolated population with different genetic characteristics within one species. ESU's can be defined by Molecular genetics, Morphology and/or Zoogeography and help in indicating different phylogenetic lineages within a species. The abbreviation for an ESU is composed of three letters of the genus, followed by the first two letters of the species name and an ongoing number in each species.

  In Zoogoneticus tequila, there are no different populations known, so the only ESU for this species is Zoote1


  The Upper Río Ameca subasin on a Mexico map:

Upper Río Ameca subbasin

  The Tequila Splitfin occured - as far as we know - exclusively in the upper section of the Upper Río Ameca subbasin (UAM-U). It became Extinct in the Wild by the end of the 1990's and is now (2019) in a process of reintroduction, with the first few hundred individuas back to the wild. The bold red line encompasses the species' distribution. As the species is known only from the type location, there is no map for the Maximum Extent of Occurence (EOO) drawn:

Zoogoneticus tequile infrabasin

Status : 

  International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)Critically Endangered

  Conservation status and population trends of Mexican Goodeids (Lyons, 2011): critically endangered/stable?: "This species, endemic to the Teuchitlán Springs in the upper Ameca River basin, was thought to be already extinct in the wild when it was first formally described in 1998 (Webb and Miller 1998), and many scientists and aquarists continue to believe that no wild populations exist (Miller et al. 2005). However, in 2000, a tiny remnant wild population was discovered in a small and isolated area of the Teuchitlán Springs (de la Vega-Salazar 2003b), and the species continues to persist there (Domínguez-Domínguez et al. 2005b, 2008a). Unfortunately, this population is so small that it has become inbred and its long-term viability is in doubt (Bailey et al. 2007). Several captive populations exist, but those that have been checked also appear to be inbred."

  NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010: Categoría de riesgo (Category of risk): P - En Peligro de Extinción (in danger of extinction)


  The original type habitat was a shallow and open lake like expandation of the Río Teuchitlán, 8m in diameter and 1.3m deep. The species prefered depths of less than 1m. The substrates were mainly mud and silt, a few rocks and sand were present. The currents were none to moderate and the water warm (about 26°C in March) and continuously turbid by cattle, pigs and horses. Few plants were living there: Eichhornia, a broad-leaved Potamogeton and a hyacinth-like plant. The species disappeared from there at the beginning of the 1990's. Regarding the rediscovery of the species go to "Remarks".


Río Teuchitlán Río Teuchitlán


Río Teuchitlán Río Teuchitlán


  There is not much known about this species in the wild, due to its fast disappearance. Webb and Miller determined, that both sexes become mature within ten weeks when kept by 26-28°C. This could take more time in the wild with lower temperatures. Broods numbered as many as 20 - 29 offspring, fewer than 10 in the first year.


  As there is no information available about the life of this species in the wild, we only can gather informations by  looking on related species, means Zoogoneticus quitzeoensis and purhepechus. Observations in November 2014 (Köck, Artigas-Azas, Valdés-Gonzáles, Radax, Davies and Hunter) on Zoogoneticus quitzeoensis in lagos Zacapu and Cuitzeo revealed this species living there within dense vegetation of reed or Taxodium roots. In these habitats, it would have been no difficulty to sample hundreds of fish of different sizes in half an hour. In the manantial la Mintzita, the same species could be found between large rooks and dense vegetation (Elodea or Egeria) as well as between the stems of water-lilys. Also here, a group of GWG members was colleting and sampled dozens of fish of different sizes in a few minutes. In the manantial La Luz and Lago de Camécuaro, Köck, Davies, Radax, Hunter and Betancourt collected Zoogoneticus purhepechus in November 2014. In the Lago de Camécuaro, the species was hiding between Taxodium roots similar to the sister species in Zacapu, whereas the same species was hiding between rocks and reed at La Luz. In all habitats, different stages of juvenile fish as well as adult fish and even gravid females could have been collected easily with hand nets.


  Conical teeth and a rather short gut suggest a carnivorous feeding behavior. Combined with a small mouth, this species is definitely a predator, probably picking small invertebrates like crustaceans and insect larvae in the wild. 

The maximum known standard length is 48mm (Miller et al., 2005).

  Adult males are dark olivaceous on the sides, back, nape and top of the head. Mottling is present on the side of the body, which often has a greenish hue. Many of the lateral scales are reflective, producing iridescense. The colour fades to pale yellow below the lateral scale series on the belly and below the eye. There is a pair of spots, which usually coalesce, at the base of the caudal fin. The mottling and the basicaudal spots may not be visible during breeding condition, when the body is darkest, nearly black. The unpaired fins are dark, fading towards the margins, with the pigmentation concentrated along the lengths of the rays. The greenish cast of the body can occasionally be seen in the dorsal and anal fins. The borders of the dorsal and anal fins have a thin cream-coloured band. The caudal fin has a broad subterminal red to orange band, and the region proximal to this band is heavily melanized. The pelvic fins occasionally show some terminal cream colouring, but the pectoral fins are unpigmented. Females are olivaceous. The sides, back, nape and top of the head are dark and display mottling, while the belly below the lateral series and the area below the eye are pale yellow. Two to four large spots are found on the ventral half of the caudal peduncle. These spots occasionally fade in older individuals. A pair of basicaudal spots, which typicaly coalesce, are visible in most specimens. The unpaired fins may be dusky, but are not dark, and do not possess the cream-coloured margins that males display. Occasionally large females show a thin subterminal band of red-orange in the caudal fin, but it is less intense than in males. The unpaired fins are clear.


  A single male of the Tequila Splitfin was sampled in 1955 by Miller and Greenbank, but identified erroneously as Zoogoneticus quitzeoensis, with which species it was collected and found sympatrically (UMMZ 172224). Many years later, the mistake was detected, the fish identified as a new species and finally, 43 years after the first capture, described by Webb and Miller.


  In 1955, when the fish was taken first, all of the fish at the type locality were abundant, including Skiffia francesae (though the water was turbid by a lot of domestic animals). In 1990, it still was present (also Allotoca maculata) whereas Skiffia francesae had disapperared. Several exotic species had been introduced in the habitat. Since 1992, collections have been unsuccessful. Intensive sampling in 1996 failed to reveal any Goodeid in the type locality. So it took humans not even 40 years to extirpate consequently all species of Goodeids in only one habitat.


   Brian Kabbes detected a young but mature male in the Balneario El Rincón in 1999, which gave hope, that the species was still existing there, but no more individuals were seen therafter.


   In 2001, a wild population of this species was rediscovered in a very small spring pool (3 x 4m in diameter). The population there was composed of only a handful of adult fish and a few tens of juveniles (De la Vega-Salazar et al., 2003). In 2007, N. W. Bailey et al showed, that the allelic richness of this population (though it was comparable in size to an aquatic stock) was higher than in any aquatic stock. In 2013 the loss of this population was reported (pers. comm. Domínguez), so there is not much hope that this species is still persisting in the wild.


   This species has been used by A. Arbuatti and P. Lucidi to survey, wether the environmental structure of a tank leads to a change or loss of behavioral richness. Due to the fact, that differences have not been found between enriched tank set ups and natural structures, this study encourages the breeding under captive conditions to conserve this species for a later reintroduction in the natural environment.


  The Goodeid Working Group, Chester Zoo and other organisations started together with the University of Morelia a reintroduction project for this species (and the critically endangered cyprinid Notropis amecae) in 2015. This project encompasses strategies to get the local residents on board, the using of recreation ponds for the acclimatation of captive bred fish, the reintroduction of the fish and a monitoring and scientific guidance over 2 years. The whole project is thought to go over four years and would have been the first reintroduction project done with a Goodeid species. Here can be read the details of the project in 2016.


  Looking on the habitats of the related species Zoogoneticus quitzeoensis and purhepechus, they suggest Zoogoneticus tequila may also prefer dense vegetation and roots (in the aquarium even dense artificial staff) to hide. In the wild, there was little or none current to observe in hte biotops of these species, so it won't be necessary in the aquarium as well.  In the aquarium, the fish often hide deep in the shelter, but courting or impressing as well as fighting males can often be seen in the open water. Fry is eaten in some cases, in others not, so it may depend on the quantity and quality of food and on the number of space to hide. When several different stages of juveniles occur, fry is often neglected, so it makes sense to add separate brought up fry to the group with a size of 1.5 or 2cm to provide these stages and get a flock breeding colony.


  The recommended tank size is at least 80 liters, bigger ones are better for sure. Dense vegetation combined with many roots and wood and free space areas for the males to impose and fight make sense. The current should be low.


  In the wild, related species seem to feed from small invertebrates. Zoogoneticus quitzeoensis was observed at la Mintzita spring looking for small sources of food between rocks (Köck, 2014) and picking up small Copepods or organic matter. In the aquarium, the food should be composed of different small frozen or freeze dried invertebrates (Daphnia, Bloodworms, Artemia), small livefood (e.g. Nauplia, Cyclops, Daphnia) and good flake food or tablets respectively granulat food.


  In some cases, Zoogoneticus tequila are attacking tales of other fish, not only Guppys but also Goodeids (e.g. Ameca splendens), whereas Skiffia - species have not been attacked by the same fish (pers. obs. Köck). However, this species does better in its own tank.


  Concerning water quality, this species is in need of greater water changes (60 - 80% every week), so an automatic water changing system can be helpful. Otherwise, in combination with constant temperatures higher than 24°C, fish may get sick, lose resistance against diseases and burn themselves out. So, mainly for keeping the strain healthy and strong, give the fish a rest during winter time with temperatures lower than 20°C for 2 or 3 months so they stop producing fry. In spring, when the temperature slowly increases, they will start spawning at 20 or 21°C and won't stop until it gets colder again or gets too warm (25°C?).


  This species does very well when is kept in the open from spring to fall, starting when the temperature exceeds 15°C water temperature and cold periods are no longer expected. During the warm summer, reproduction will stop and may occur again in fall. Bring the fish in before the temperature goes below 10°C water temperature and keep them cool for the first days, then slowly raise the temperature but try to stay below 20°C over the winter time.