Mexico Fish Ark - Chester Zoo

Mexico Fish Ark Project

We’ve been working with the Fish Ark Mexico since 2006. The project combines field and aquarium conservation for a unique group of fish, the Goodeinae.

The subfamily Goodeinae is made up of 41 species of fish. Over 80% of these species are threatened with extinction. Some of which have already gone extinct, whilst others only remain only in captivity.

Although focusing predominantly on Goodeids, the Fish Ark Mexico also works with a number of Cyprinid and Ambystoma species. Many of the fish we work with are endemic to Mexico, where freshwater communities are under severe threat from deforestation, overfishing and invasive species.

Through breeding and reintroductions the aim is to establish new populations and bolster existing populations in the wild. The project runs a large ‘Aqualab’ where populations of 39 species are maintained. A number of species are also maintained in outdoor ponds, providing a naturalistic environment to better prepare species for release.

A key success from the project has been the discovery of a new wild population of the Opal goodeid (Allotoca maculate), previously thought to be extinct in the wild. There is a current focus on reintroducing two species back into the wild; Zoogoneticus tequila and Notropis amecae.

Since 2011, both species have been part of breeding programmes in the large naturalistic ponds. In order to reintroduce the species successfully, a complete analysis of the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the release site is taking place and possible interactions with invasive species are being evaluated.

As well as working to prevent the extinction of these species through conservation breeding, the project aims to minimise the existing threats in the wild.

Project team

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Key Facts

Each large semi-captive pond is home to 16 species of fish and 2 species of salamander
Mexico is home to approximately 520 freshwater fish species, of which 163 are endemic
Goodeids give birth to live young

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