Emma Turner comes across an interesting livebearer that's not commonly encountered in the hobby.
Scientific name: Skiffia multipunctata, Pellegrin, 1901
Origin: Endemic to the Lerma river basin, Mexico.
Size: Females to 6cm/ 2.4” TL, males slightly smaller.
Diet: In nature, these graze mainly on aufwuchs growing on submerged plant stems and also on some types of algae. They’re also attracted by small insects at the water surface.
Try to provide a varied diet of both vegetable and meaty fare, including frozen mosquito larvae, Daphnia and blanched spinach.
Over time, these fish usually accept dried foods, such as flake and green/vegetable flake.
Water: Moderately hard and slightly alkaline conditions are recommended, pH 7.2-8.5, DH 12-25°. Temperature should be 25-28°C/77-82°F.
Habitat: In the wild, these viviparous goodeids have been found inhabiting ditches, quiet river channels, small lakes, and spring-fed ponds — the substrate there usually being a mixture of mud, sand, silt and rocks. These fish typically prefer relative shallows up to 1m/3.3’. The vegetation there comprises duckweed (Lemna spp.), bulrush (Typha spp.), and Water hyacinth, along with plenty of green algae.
Some habitats are abundant with roots of Taxodium — flood- tolerant conifers — which provide some excellent hiding places and ample opportunities to graze aufwuchs.
Aquarium: This should be mature and well-filtered, with plenty of shady areas provided among aquatic vegetation and décor, such as small driftwood pieces or spindly Sumatra wood.
Both of these could be used to good effect to simulate the maze of tree roots that are found in this fish’s natural environment.
S. multipunctata is a fairly peaceful species, but will nip the fins of long-finned species. They are therefore best kept in a species tank environment, with a ratio of at least two females to every male.
This will reduce the amount of attention that any one female receives from the amorous males and will further your chances of raising more fry from them.
Notes: Wild populations of S. multipunctata have apparently been in decline since 2000. Ichthyologist J Lyons considers them endangered in the wild, now being found at only six of a previous 14 historical known sites.
However, they have not as yet been evaluated for IUCN red list status.
The fish pictured above have been commercially bred in the Czech Republic.
Sexing: Male coloration is highly variable; the background colour of silver/light greyish-brown often being superimposed with some patches of bright yellow and orange.
When in breeding condition, the males typically display large random black or brown blotches on the flanks. In some specimens, these have been known to cover almost the entire fish.
Female fish are silver to greyish-brown, without blotches or striking colours, and they show a fuller belly and noticeable gravid spot when carrying fry.
Breeding: This is pretty straightforward. When spawning, the male will line up his genital opening with that of the female to inseminate her. Males do not possess a gonopodium, as is seen with guppies.
The gestation period is between six and eight weeks, depending on water temperature. Sizeable, mature females may give birth to up to 20 fry, but the brood size is normally ten to 15, as the fry will emerge particularly large and quite well developed.
It’s unusual for adults to pursue the young, especially in tanks that have plenty of plant cover.
The fry are usually quite easy to feed and will take crushed flake, plus some small frozen foods such as baby brineshrimp, Daphnia and Cyclops.
It’s best not to keep different species of Skiffia together, as hybridisation will occur.
Availability: These fish were photographed at Maidenhead Aquatics @ Crowland.
Price: On sale at £11 each, or three for £30.
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