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Guenter Ellenberg


All translations into English by Matthias Naumann, Germany and Bill Kohler, Ohio-USA  

Allotoca maculata


Allotoca HUBBS & TURNER, 1937
Allotoca maculata SMITH & MILLER, 1980

English name:
Opal Allotoca

Goodeidae JORDAN, 1923

Goodeinae JORDAN, 1923

Original description:
SMITH, M. L. & MILLER, R. R. (1980): Allotoca maculata, a New Species of Goodeid Fish from Western Mexico, with Comments on Allotoca dugesi. Copeia 1980(3) pp. 408 - 417.

Derivation of the species name:
named maculata after the Latin word for spot (which refers to the black caudal-spot)

Type locality:
Laguna de Santa Magdalena, 80 kilometres west of Guadalajara close to Highway 15 and Etzatlan, Jalisco, Mexico.

Meristic properties:
Dorsal fin = 13 - 14 rays;
Anal fin = 11 - 13 rays;
Pectoral fin = 13 - 15 rays.

This species was considered to be extinct!

Allotoca maculata once lived in a small area with a rich flora and many birds, which dried up in the arid years 1980 and 1982. In the end the water was just a muddy, stinking puddle grown over with Eichhornia and without any fish.

On January 12th 2001 BRIAN KABBES, Netherlands, gave me the information that Alloctoca maculata was still to be found in its natural habitat. So in spite of different references in the literature Alloctoca maculata is not yet extinct. During his Mexico trips in 1999 and 2000 BRIAN KABBES was able to collect many specimens at different localities. In El Palo Verde and at Granja Sahuaripa for instance, there were dozens of animals of all age groups. The size of the Magdalena-channel population could not be estimated because of the characteristics of this water. Nevertheless, the fact that this species could be found at several different places indicates that Alloctoca maculata still exists in good numbers. The fish prefers shallow water with luxuriant vegetation. In open waters this species is always found close to the lakeside. Exposed areas are shunned.

There can (and will?) be problems in the former Magdalena-basin. Here Allotoca maculata is in great distress because of massive agricultural operations. Since there is an increasing demand for arable soil, which is needed for the cultivation of sugar cane, swampy areas are constantly drained.
Other habitats suffer from heavily polluted wastewater that is discharged there.


Allotoca maculata (Text by JAN DE MOREE, Netherlands, 2001)

At a glance, this species is hard to distinguish from Allotoca dugesii. But they are more robust and have as a main characteristic feature up to seven vertical bands and black spots or even stripes at the back part of the body. It seemed that Allotoca maculata was thought extinct some years ago, but it has been found several times since then.

We found this species at some places at Granja Sahuaripa in narrow ditches. Allotoca maculata is certainly distributed over a larger area than originally assumed.

It is a beautiful, relatively timid fish that is easy to feed. It is not difficult to get offspring, but as yet near impossible to raise the young.



The keeping and breeding of Allotoca maculata
(Text by KEES DE JONG, Netherlands, 1998)

The genus Allotoca (HUBBS & TURNER 1937) covers five small Goodeid-species from eastern central Mexico.

The species are only distributed over a small area. Rapid increases in population and extreme drought during the last several years are the main threat to their natural habitat.

All species of the genus Allotoca are considered threatened. Allotoca maculata (SMITH & MILLER 1980) was not found for two decades and was regarded to be extinct until DEREK LAMBERT collected the species again in 1990 and brought some animals alive to Europe. At another visit in 1996 this fish seemed to no longer to exist where it had been found six years ago.

Although there may still be some remote ponds in which populations can be found, this fish, that has a length of up to 6 centimetres, is a certain candidate for the list of endangered species.

At a DGLZ-meeting in 1991 I was able to buy some specimens of this species. Though I was aware of the fact that I obtained a species whose keeping and breeding was of enormous importance, I did not succeed in maintaining these fish for a long period of time in an aquarium. The following summer all these fish died, possibly due to the fact that I lacked experience in keeping and breeding Allotoca maculata.

Taking together my experiences with Allotoca maculata and many hints by IVAN DIBBLE as a basis, some things have to be considered when keeping and breeding this species.

These things I will discuss here briefly:

Allotoca maculata can hardly cope with temperatures warmer than 22 °C over a long period of time. During the summer it can be a problem to keep the temperature this low.

Aerating the aquarium will have a positive influence on the strength of the animals. Also a seasonal rest at temperatures of about 16 °C is beneficial.

During the winter the temperature in my lowest placed aquariums, which I keep in an extra room, goes down to that temperature for a longer period of time.

The metabolism of Allotoca maculata slows down significantly and the fish appear absolutely calm. In the spring as the temperature rises again the fish will become more active and start mating.

I know from my own experience that it is good to keep the fish outside during the summer. An aquarium of at least 100 litres that must not be exposed to the sun does the job well. In smaller tanks the temperature may vary too much.

Keeping Allotoca maculata outside has shown that temperatures going down below 10 °C do not do the fish much harm. Of course it is possible to keep the fish in a pond, but here the problem is to pick them all out again in autumn. Besides the variation in temperature another advantage of keeping Allotoca maculata outside is that their colouration becomes much more intense.

Although in their natural habitat Allotoca maculata – just as most other Goodeids – lives in different pools of water, they are sensitive to deteriation of the water quality in the aquarium. It is important, therefore, to carry out regular water changes. I have had good results changing at least 50% of the water.

Referring to my knowledge the water parameters are of minor importance though extremes seem disadvantageous from my point of view.

The best food for Allotoca maculata is a variety of live-food, which can also be frozen. Vegetable diet plays a minor role only. Mosquito larvae are greedily eaten and relished by these fish. Of course there should be variation in the menu.

If some basic points are considered, breeding should not cause any problems. On the other hand it has to be taken into account that periodically Allotoca maculata does not breed. Especially during the summer, when the temperature is high, my fish stop breeding.

Keeping Goodeids, it can often be told from a look at the calendar if one is to expect offspring. On the other hand, as with this species, it is the case with some

Goodeids that one cannot expect young to be born at regular intervals of time.

During their pregnancy the females become constantly thicker until they are almost round. The number of fry depends mainly on the size of their mother. Huge females can deliver up to 30 young, smaller females, which are probably pregnant for the first time, only about 8.

It is striking that the fry of huge mothers are smaller than the young of smaller females. For the breeder, this may be a problem. Although Allotoca maculata is not very cannibalistic, the fry are endangered in poorly planted tanks. In such cases, the combination of huge females and small fry can end in a disaster. In a group of fry and smaller animals the chances for the newborn fish are better.

I am not very fond of separating the females, because due to the strain the young are often born too early (and dead).

I prefer to catch the fry as quickly as possible after their birth and raise them in a separate tank. Unfortunately, it happens that dead specimens or those with dysfunctional swim-bladders are among the fry. This is mainly the case if a litter consists of many young.

These factors and the constant resting periods make Allotoca maculata a fish that is not very prolific, and the surviving young have to be raised with great care. The best way to achieve this is a separate aquarium with regular water-changes.

The fry can be fed with live-food twice a day. They develop rather slowly and it takes about a half year till the young reach maturity.

So it can take some time to get good stock for breeding that is essential since Allotoca maculata needs a group of at least six specimens.

It would be desirable if this article encouraged some persons to keep and to breed Allotoca maculata or other species of this genus for a longer period of time.

The species of Allotoca are not aggressive and can be kept with fish of the same size. Although they may not seem very beautiful at a first glance, a closer look reveals that they are quite attractive fish.

Because of the fact that the genus Allotoca is threatened in its natural habitat, it would be welcome if more Goodeid enthusiasts would consider keeping and breeding these fish.

These points being made, that are valid for other Goodeids also, may hopefully contribute to successful maintaining and breeding of these fish.



360-Allotoca maculata 02

Taken from: Aqualog publishing company
Title: all Livebearers and Halfbeaks,
Habitat: Laguna de Santa Magdalena, Hacienda San Sebastian,
Jalisco, Mexico. wildform, male, 3,5 cm
Photo by: J. C. Merino.



359-Allotoca maculata 01
Taken from: Aqualog publishing company
Title: all Livebearers and Halfbeaks,
Habitat: Rio Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico, wildform, male, 5 cm.
Photo by: Manfred K. Meyer.



705-12 Magdalena_Kanal
Allotoca maculata
Habitat: Magdalena-canal, Jalisco, Mexico
Photo by: Brian Kabbes



Allotoca maculata
Habitat: Magdalena-canal, Jalisco, Mexico
Photo by: Ivan Dibble



709-18 San_Marcos
Allotoca maculata
Habitat: San Marcos, Jalisco, Mexico
Photo by: Brian Kabbes




Allotoca maculata
Habitat: Granja Suharipa, Jalisco, Mexico
Photo by: Kees de Jong



Allotoca maculata
Habitat: Granja Suharipa, Jalisco, Mexico
Photo by: Kees de Jong



Allotoca maculata, habitat: San Marcos river
Photo by: G. D. Sanders




Allotoca maculata, habitat: San Marcos river
Photo by: G. D. Sanders



Literature of:

508-Kees de Jong


Allotoca maculata Smith & Miller, 1980

I. Dibble (1999): Hobbyist Aqua Lab Conservation Group "Mexico" Dagboek over de veldtrip 2. Poecilia Nieuws (6): 117-126

I. Dibble (2000): Fish Ark Project - Mexico. Viviparous (49): 0-

I. Dibble (2003): Mein Tagebuch der "Arche-Projekt"- Feldexkursion 2003. DGLZ-Rundschau (4): 86-97

K. de Jong (1995): Nieuwe soorten in Nederland. Poecilia Nieuws (6): 108-109

K. de Jong (1998): Verzorging en kweek van Allotoca maculata. Poecilia Nieuws (6): 106-109

B. Kabbes (1999): Vangreis van Brian en Simone Kabbes, Mexico 1998 Conclusies en bevindingen Familie Goodeidae. Poecilia Nieuws (2): 22-35

B. Kabbes (2000): Hij is niet dood, hij leeft! (maar hoe lang nog?). Poecilia Nieuws (1): 14-16

J.K. Langhammer (1982): The lost treasure of the Aztecs Part III The bumblebee and rainbow Goodeids. Livebearers (66): 10-11
J.K. Langhammer (2007): De historie van Allotoca maculata in de V.S.. Poecilia Nieuws (4): 15-18

P. Loiselle (1992): The Grim Reaper Desert Fishes Status Report. Livebearers (124): 7-10

J. Lyons (2006): Korte update van enkele biotopen in Mexico. Poecilia Nieuws (3): 29-30

E. Meinema (1992): Die aus die kalte kommen. Poecilia Nieuws (4): 17-20

R.R. Miller, J.D. Williams & J.E. Williams (1990): Extinctions of north american fishes during the past century. Livebearers (114): 16-28

R.R. Miller, J.D. Williams & J.E. Williams (1990): Extinctions of North American fishes during the past century. Livebearers (113): 11-21

A. Morales (2006): Die Herausfoderungen des Artenschutz. DGLZ-Rundschau (1): 8-14

J. de Moree (2001): De Allotoca's. Poecilia Nieuws (1): 9-12

J. Robinson (1993): Allotoca maculata. Livebearers (132): 22-24

M.L. Smith & R.R. Miller (1980): Allotoca maculata, a new species of goodeid fish from Western Mexico, with comments on Allotoca dugesi. Copeia (3): 408-417


maculata, Allotoca Smith & Miller 1980: 410, Figs. 1A-B, 2 [Copeia 1980 (no. 3); ref. 6906]. Laguna de Santa Magdalena, ca. 82 km west of Guadalajara by hwy 15, Jalisco, Mexico, 20°54'N, 103°57'W, elev. 1210 m. Holotype: UMMZ 200250. Paratypes: UMMZ 173553 (15, 5 c&s), 178322 (48, now 47), 203851 (51); USNM 219779 [ex UMMZ 203851] (4). Valid as Allotoca maculata Smith & Miller 1980 -- (Smith & Miller 1987:610 [ref. 6773], Espinosa Pérez et al. 1993:39 [ref. 22290], Meyer et al. 2001:455 [ref. 25811]). Allotoca maculata Smith & Miller 1980, Goodeidae: Goodeinae. Habitat: freshwater.