This is the second article in a series about keeping endangered fish species in the home aquarium. Read part one: Saving Threatened Fish Species in a Home Aquarium.
We have had two aquarium births in one of our latest groups of (unofficially) endangered fish, Skiffia multipunctata! That’s a few of our new babies on the left. Knowing that we have increased captive populations is a thrill that you can have too.
Skiffia multipunctata, or ‘Speckled Sawfin Goodeid’, isn’t a fish that you will typically see in a fish store, as is often the case with wild-type fish. Aquarium hobbyists are often looking for more vivid colors in stores. It’s usually the seasoned fish-keeper who appreciates the classy beauty in wild fish, from patterns to unique shapes, and wild behavior. They’re not just a fish we keep for visual pleasure, they’re an experience. When we keep fish in our aquariums that are threatened or extinct in the wild, a higher purpose to fish-keeping is added to that experience.
These wild-type fish offer a striking, highly variable appearance. The males have a golden orange base color with a wide range of spotting patterns, from no spots, to speckling, to almost fully black specimens. Ours have shown virtually no spotting thus far. If you visit Google Images and do a search for Skiffia multipunctata, you’ll see some of the many variations. The dorsal fin is quite wide and long for a wild-type fish, with a multi-level shape, gold hues and black rim. The females are a silvery gray with black spotting.
Habitat and Environment
Skiffia multipunctata are a Mexican Goodeid (Classification Goodeidae>Goodeinae) endemic to the Lerma River Basin around Guadalajara. They are feared to be critically endangered due to habitat destruction, industrial development, pollution, and the introduction of non-native species.
The males reach about 2 inches (5cm) in length and the females just under 2.5 inches (6cm). Skiffia multipunctata can be started in a 20 gallon aquarium at room temperature, preferably with some day/night temperature fluctuation. They are considered to be a tropical fish, but do not require an aquarium heater at average household temperatures. In the wild they may experience temperatures over 28+°C (82°F), but enjoy cooler temperatures in aquariums. Ours are currently in an aquarium averaging 21°C, which lowers to about 19°C at night.
S. multipunctata thrive in a hard, slightly alkaline environment, but don’t rule out your soft water supply either. Our water is very soft so we use natural water additives to adjust the pH, KH & overall mineral content. To naturally harden the water and increase the KH, we use Tufa Rock, Texas Holey Rock, and seashells in the aquarium, along with crushed oyster shell in the filter.
While Skiffia multipunctata aren’t overly aggressive with each other, they may be aggressive to other species. A single species tank is recommended.
Skiffia Multipunctata Diet
The Skiffia multipunctata diet should include vegetation in the form of algae/seaweed or low-carbohydrate terrestrial vegetables. Protein may come in the form of smallish, live, frozen, or freeze-dried food.
Female Goodeids provide nourishment to their developing fry over a six to eight week gestation period, making a balanced maternal diet crucial to healthy fry development. According to Goodeid expert, Jim Langhammer, females should not be fed a diet too high in protein as it may result in birth complications from large fry (babies).
We don’t feed our fish manufactured fish flakes or pellets, but if you do we suggest brands that do not use the toxic ethoxyquin as a preservative. They should not be the primary source of nutrition, in our opinion.
Aufwuchs (algae, diatoms, tiny crustaceans, rotifers, protozoans, insect larvae, oligochaetes and tardigrades) growth should be encouraged in the aquarium to better simulate the wild diet. Our aquariums have live plants and soft, porous cactus wood to give micro-organisms a perfect environment to multiply and thrive in.
Our Skiffia multipunctata are fed a diet of about 60-70% meat protein and 30-40% vegetation. Our staple food is Bottom Bites and a 70/30 mix of freeze-dried ground krill and seaweed/algae. We also feed micro-worms (gut-loaded with ground seaweed/algae), frozen bio-encapsulated brine shrimp, rehydrated vegetable flakes, rehydrated mixed seaweed flakes, and frozen peas or green beans.
Breeding Skiffia Multipunctata
Skiffia multipunctata are Livebearers, meaning they give birth to live young as opposed to laying eggs. It is quite an easy Goodeid to breed as long as they are kept in a clean, established aquarium environment, and are fed a high quality, balanced diet.
On an interesting side-note: Female fish often demonstrate a preference for certain colors or patterns on male fish. However, a recent study on Skiffia multipunctata suggests that females prefer males with less black spotting, and the male coloration doesn’t impact female preference either way.
The fry are born very large and can eat small versions of the adult’s food immediately. While other livebearers may be inclined to eat their fry (yes, I know, “eeewww!”), S. multipunctata do not bother their offspring.
Here is a video of Skiffia multipunctata giving birth to her large young:
Video courtesy of ‘Livebearing Fish‘
Where to buy Skiffia multipunctata
You can often buy or trade for Skiffia multipunctata through your local fish club, or national Livebearer clubs such as the American Livebearer Association or the British Livebearer Association. Ours were brought into Canada by a kind, fellow member of the American Livebearer Association. You may also spot them up for auction on Aquabid. We should have some S. multipunctata available in Canada by Summer, 2012.
Goodeid Working Group
Coletti, Ted. Aquarium Care of Livebearers (Animal Planet Pet Care Library)
A. Moyaho, P. Guevara-Fiore, E. Beristain-Castillo and C. Macías Garcia. Females of a viviparous fish (Skiffia multipunctata) reject males with black colouration
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