Skiffia francesae

First Describer: 
Kingston, 1978
Goodeid
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Original Description: 

KINGSTON, D.I. (1978): Skiffia francesae, a New Species of Goodeid Fish from Western México. Copeia (3): pp 503 - 508

Etymology: 

The species is named for Frances H. Miller, in recognition of her help in furthering our understanding of Mexican fishes.

Holotype: 

Collection-number: UMMZ 201177. The Holotype is an adult male of 29.5mm SL, collected by R. R. Miller and J. M. Fitzsimons, 22.02.1970.

English Name: 
Golden Skiffia
Mexican Name: 
Tiro dorado
Synonyms: 

none

Karyotype: 

2n = 48    2m/ 6sm/ 40stt (following Uyeno, Miller & Fitzsimmons, 1983)

Size: 
The maximum known SL is 43mm
Terra typica: 

The Holotype comes from the Río Teuchitlán, below and just E of Teuchitlán, near the road between HW 70 and Etzatlán in Jalisco.

Status after IUCN: 

Extinct in the wild

Status after J.Lyons (2011): 

Extinct; Comment: Captive populations exist

Distribution and ESU's: 

This species comes from the Pacific Slope and is only known from the Río Teuchitlán of the Río Ameca basin in Jalisco.

Habitat: 

The habitat is a quiet, thermal and clear to murky water with only a slight current. Substrate is deep mud with a few rocks, silt and sand. A few species of aquatic plants are present, comprising EichhorniaPistia, Ceratophyllum and Potamogeton. The Golden Skiffia prefers depths of less than 0.5m. Miller and Fitzsimons measured watertemperatures between 24 and 26°C (February 1976). The water is heavily polluted.

Colouration: 

Males are bright gold with superimposed gray cast, especially intense in courting. Courting males show gray borders on the dorsal, anal and caudal fins and gray pelvic fins. There is a black crescent present at the base of the caudal peduncle, In non-courting males, the gold colouration is most evident in the dorsal, anal and caudal fins and faintly present along the caudal peduncle. Some scattered, small gray spots may occur at the base of the caudal fin and on the dorsal fin. Females and juveniles are gray-green with scattered small black flecks along the lateral scale row and the dorsal surface. The fins are clear. The base of the caudal peduncle has got a small black crescent.

Biology: 

Kingston documented 14 broods from wild caught fish. The mean number of young per brood has been 9, with a range from 5 to 15. The size of the newborn ranged from 8.5 to 10.7mm SL (based on three broods).

Diet: 

The gut is about 2 to 3 times the length of the fish. Kingston documented the content, mainly pennate diatoms, some (probably Ulotrichales et al.) filamentous algae, one small snail and a few pollen grains. The teeth are mainly bifid in both rows. This species is definitively grazing aufwuchs and algae. Another indication for this feeding behaviour are the upturned lips and the wedge-shaped head.

Remarks: 

Skiffia francesae is very close to Skiffia multipunctata, and sometimes thought to belong to this species. However, there are differences in the body-shape, the size and the colouration. 

 

Kingston (in the original description 1978) designated Skiffia francesae as a dwarf-species, evolved from Skiffia multipunctata.


This species lived in the Río Teuchitlán and disappeared from this river by competition through Xiphophorus maculatus, pollution and fragmentation and modification of the springs into a water recreation area. The Río Teuchitlán, former resembling a paradisiac river, is nearly completely dead. This situation has been the driving force for Ivan Dibble (who loved that river) to start the Mexico Fish Ark Project to rescue endangered fish in Mexico.

 

In the recent years, a colourful Skiffia has been found in the Sayula-valley (Cuyacapan spring). From size and colouration, it resembles very close francesae. Phylogenetically, it ranges between francesae and multipunctata, being definitely closer to francesae (however, even multipunctata is very close to francesae). It might belong indeed to Skiffa francesae, following Dominguez (pers. comm. 2011). In 2011, the Cuyacapan spring has dried out and so even this species/population might be extinct in the wild. However, visits in he future will reveal more facts.

Photos: 

 Image 1: male from the Río Teuchitlán

Image 2: a photo composition, showing both sexes from the Río Teuchitlán

Image 3: group of pond-raised fish from the Río Teuchitlán

Image 4: male from the Río Teuchitlán

Copyright by Omar Domínguez Domínguez

Image 5: female from the Río Teuchitlán

Copyright by Omar Domínguez Domínguez

Image 6: female from the Río Teuchitlán, pond-raised

Copyright by Martin Ravn Tversted/ Lars Vig Jensen

Images 7 and 8: Skiffia sp. from Cuyacapán spring, males

Copyrights by Martin Ravn Tversted/ Lars Vig Jensen

Image 9:  Skiffia sp. from Cuyacapán spring, male

Copyright by Omar Domínguez Domínguez

Images 10 and 11: Skiffia sp. from Cuyacapán spring, females

Copyrights by Ravn Tversted/ Lars Vig Jensen

Image 12: Skiffia sp. from Cuyacapán spring, females

Copyright by Omar Domínguez Domínguez

Image 13: pair of Skiffia francesae, Río Teuchitlán

Image 14: male from the Río Teuchitlán

Image 15: male from the Río Teuchitlán during an exhibition

Image 16: pair from the Río Teuchitlán during an exhibition

Image 17: male from Skiffia sp. from Cuyacapán spring, a short time after sampling

Images 18 - 20: males from Skiffia francesae from the Río Teuchitlán

Copyright: Anton Lamboj

Image 21: male Skiffia sp. from the Cuyacapán spring

Copyright: Anton Lamboj

Image 22: female Skiffia sp. from the Cuyacapán spring

Copyright: Anton Lamboj

Images 23 - 26: Skiffia francesae, males

Copyright: Elke Weiand

Images 27 and 28: Skiffia francesae, females

Copyright: Elke Weiand