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© All rights reserved
Guenter Ellenberg


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

Girardinichthys (Hubbsina) turneri

DE BUEN, 1941

Girardinichthys turneri RADDA, 1984

English name:
Turner’s Sailfin Goodeid

Goodeidae JORDAN, 1923.

Goodeinae JORDAN, 1923.

Original description:
DE BUEN, F. (1941: Un Nuevo Género de la Familia Goodeidae Perteneciente a la Fauna Ictiológica Mexicana. An. Esc. Nac. Ecienc. Biol. 2 (2-3), pp. 133-141.

Derivation of the species name:
Named turneri after the American ichthyologist Dr. C. L. TURNER.

Type locality:
Presa de Cointzio, Michoac√°n.

Meristic properties female:
Dorsal fin = 31 rays
Anal fin = 12 rays
Pectoral fin = 16 rays
Ventral fin = 6 rays

Meristic properties male:
Dorsal fin = 33 - 37 rays,
Anal fin = 13-14 rays,
Pectoral fin = 15 - 17 rays,
Ventral fin = 6 rays.

This genus includes some of the most threatened Goodeids, although there are still populations in natural biotopes at some places.

Hubbsina turneri is difficult to maintain in the aquarium. Actually, it is hardly possible to keep these Goodeids for a long period in an aquarium. Attempts to create a robust aquarium line have not succeeded yet. Recently there has been news that offspring have been produced. Further developments remain to be seen.

In 1993 DOMINIC ISLA and JOHN MANGAN examined Goodeids in a park called Parque La Angostura. There they discovered the secret of Hubbsina turneri, a fish so rare that real myths had come into being.

Hubbsina turneri is very hard to find. The trick in catching the fish is to put a small trap overnight in a suitable place, which is muddy as well as grown over with plants. More than 50 Hubbsina turneri were caught in one such trap. All around Lake Zacapu  Hubbsina turneri can still be found in reassuring numbers. BRIAN KABBES was able to catch 30 fish of all age groups within a short time.

 Hubbsina turneri prefers to stay along the bank between plant roots and fallen leaves just above the substrate. They are sluggish, immobile swimmers that inhabit a small territory in their natural environment. We were able to ascertain this in a somewhat funny way: At a prominent point we caught a ragged (and thereby well recognizeable) male. We released it at another place. A short time later it was caught at its habitual place again. We caught the fish several times and released it at different places each time and it came back to the same spot every time. The population had a surplus of male fish at about 60 / 40. The fish seemed healthy and without illnesses.

 The water of Lake Zacapu contains a weak concentration of sulphur. Captive fish become prone to injury if they get introduced into different water. To prevent such injuries, it is necessary to not lift the fish out of the water, but to transfer them under water from the net into the transport container. Also direct contact with sunlight must be avoided. If one does not follow these precautions, the free sulphur molecules can react with oxygen and become a sulfuric acid solution. Then the mucous membrane of the fish would be strongly cauterized and death would result.

 The variability of the observed populations is very small and refers to differences in colouration only.

The situation in Lake Zacapu- as far as it concerns Hubbsina turneri - may become serious in the future due to habitat distruction.


The following report from the year 2000 was kindly made available to me by MARC VAN DRIESSEN, Belgium.

Hubbsina turneri

Since I was seeing them for the first time, they caught my attention. It was an evening together with some friends while visiting JAN DE MOREE. These were young, skinny fish. But one could already anticipate how they would look as adults. JAN DE MOREE got the fish from BRIAN KABBES, who had collected them during his Mexico trip (from November to December, 1999).

When some weeks later JAN and LUDO decided to fly to Mexico, I asked them whether they intended to visit the habitat of Hubbsina turneri. They did and promised to do their best to get me some of these fish. Some time later I received a postcard saying “we do have Hubbsina turneri” and I should go to LUDO’S to pick up the fish. These were 2 pairs. The females were about 2 cm, the males 2.5 cm long. One could recognize the males by their dorsal fin, which spreads almost over the whole body length and is taller than that of the females. Besides this characteristic, a distinction can be made by looking at the anal fin; but because of the transparence of the anal fins it was difficult to distinguish the fish. Both sexes had the same colouration, a yellowish-blue with irregular, slightly darker spots.

The first crucial step of catching the fish and moving them to an aquarium was created. The literature available to me named this as an important step. I could not get further advice from the literature, since Hubbsina turneri has been imported only rarely until the present and it can be read everywhere that this fish is difficult to keep.

Different opinions occur in the literature about the ideal water temperature. Hubbsina turneri must be kept cool, maximally at 20 ¬įC. This is in accordance with the temperature of their habitat, which is 19 ¬įC .

Considering the collecting season used in Mexico (from February to March) I suppose that the temperature still may rise in the course of the year. On the other hand, the temperature was probably taken at the water-surface, whereas the fish mainly stay just above the bottom. And half a meter under water the temperature can vary by several degrees from the surface.

Regarding this I suppose that the temperature in the natural environment of Hubbsina turneri may be about 15-16 ¬įC. By the way, I was told that KEES and the others had great trouble catching this bottom dwelling fish.

Tentatively I keep my Hubbsina turneri at 19 ¬įC. During the summer this might be difficult and one can try keeping them outside in a small pond or the like. Another possible location is in the cellar.

After some trouble-free days, in which I fed exclusively live water-fleas (Daphnia), I recognized that some fish had fallen ill with Ichthyophthirius.

My experience with Ichthyophthirius was that it could be combated best by raising the water-temperature, switching off the filter (to avoid water movement) and adding malachite-green to the water. Considering the problems that go with raising the temperature the two other means had to bring help.

After 2 days no more little spots were to be seen. On the 3rd day I put them back into plain water, however, I could recognize 1 day later that the fish did not feel fine. The fins were put back in the treated water and the fish showed slightly shaking movements. I saw my good mood dwindling. But luckily: 2 days later these symptoms had also disappeared.

Now, 3 weeks later, all the fish are still live. Once a week I change half of the water. The small tank (30x20x20) is planted with hornwort and Java moss into that they withdraw into regularly.

Feeding really is special.

Daily I give them live-food that consists primarily of water fleas and some Cyclops. Because it seemed to me that the mouth of Hubbsina turneri is not very big, I sieved the big parts out. This food was accepted.

While other fish stuff themselves with water fleas, I have never seen Hubbsina turneri do this. There is also a female that only eats Cyclops.

One day I fed unsieved water fleas and strangely they picked out the bigger specimens only and then these were really drawn inside through the small mouth. But once more: they remain modest eaters.

I have also given different food, but only with moderate success: living red mosquito larvae were often taken into the mouth, but were immediately spit out again. Only now and again was one eaten. Dried food: they rarely accept. Deep-frozen mosquito larvae or Artemia: it is also taken into the mouth, and then spit out immediately again.

During the last days I recognized a change in the colouring of the females: now the dark spots became black; mainly in the lower half of the body .

In the 5th week I thought I noticed Ichthyophthirius again. I immediately added a malachite green solution (10%) to the water, with an amount adequate for the small aquarium. Two days later the little spots had disappeared.

I had the impression that the fish had a little more appetite, yet they still fed exclusively on water-fleas.

It has been observed that a male has distinguished itself clearly as the "head". Thus I thought that it was the best to distribute the animals over 2 aquariums, which might be advantageous if any problems appeared.

These have been my experiences at present.




277-Girardinichthys-turneri 01

Taken from: Aqualog publishing company
Title: all Livebearers and Halfbeaks,
Photo by: Manfred K. Meyer.
Habitat: basin of  the Rio Grande de Morelia, Michoac√°n, Mexico,
wild form, male, 6 cm.



278-Girardinichthys-turneri 02
Taken from: Aqualog publishing company
Title: all Livebearers and Halfbeaks,
Photo by: Manfred K. Meyer.
Habitat: basin of  the Rio Grande de Morelia, Michoac√°n, Mexico,
wild form, female, 7.5 cm.



Girardinichthys turneri
Habitat: Zacapu, Jalisco, Mexico



Literature of:

508-Kees de Jong


Girardinichthys turneri (De Buen, 1941)

F. De Buen (1941): Un Nuevo Género de la Familia Goodeidae Pertenciente a la Fauna Ictiológico Mexicana. Ciencia (2): 133-140

I. Dibble (0): Goodeid conservation project Diary 25th May to 6th June 1998. Viviparous (44): 0-

M. Driessen (2000): Hubbsina turneri. Poecilia Nieuws (5): 81-84

D. Isla (1999): Zur√ľck in Zacapu!. DGLZ-Rundschau (2): 56-60

K. de Jong (1994): Bijeenkomst van Poecilia Scandinavi√ę. Poecilia Nieuws (4): 72-75

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

D. Lambert (0): Hubbsina turneri De Buen, 1941. Viviparous (20): 0-

D. Lambert (0): The livebearer trail part 2. Viviparous (17): 0-

D. Lambert (0): The Hubbsina turneri story. Viviparous (12): 0-2

D. Lambert (1990): Mexico - the livebearer trail part 2. Aquarist & Pondkeeper (April): 34-

D. Lambert (1994): Introducing goodeids. Livebearers (133): 13-21

D. Lambert (1995): The livebearer world More Goodeids. Tropical Fish Hobbyist (5): 162-164

D. Lambert (1996): The search for Skiffia francesae The Aquarian Expedition 1996. Tropical Fish Hobbyist (november): 118-133

P. Lambert (0): The lake of delights. Viviparous (4): 0-

J.K. Langhammer (0): First impressions of Hubbsina turneri. Viviparous (12): 0-4

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

G. Mendoza (1956): Adaptations during gestation in the viviparous Cyprinodont Teleost Hubbsina turneri. Journal of Morphology (97): 73-95

R. Pérez Rodríguez, O. Domínguez Domínguez & K. De Jong (2002): Een bijzondere Goodeidae, Hubbsina turneri De Buen, 1941. Poecilia Nieuws (2): 26-33

R. Pérez Rodríguez, O. Domínguez Domínguez & K. De Jong (2002): Ein besonderer Goodeide, Hubbsina turneri De Buen, 1941. DGLZ-Rundschau (2): 38-44

A.C. Radda & M.K. Meyer (2003): Description of Girardinichthys ireneae sp.n. from Zacapu, Michoacan, Mexico with remarks on the genera Girardinichthys Bleeker, 1860 and Hubbsina De Buen, 1941. Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien

J.P. Ramírez-Herrejón et al (2009): Threatened fishes of the world: Hubbsinna turneri (De Buen, 1941). Environmental Biology of Fishes (): 0-

A.J. Rothwell (0): Observations on spawning Hubbsina turneri. Viviparous (43): 0-

E. Soto-Galera et al (1998): Fish as indicators of environmental quality in the Río Lerma Basin, México. Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management (1): 267-276

E. Soto-Galera et al (1999): Change in fish fauna as indication of aquatic ecosystem condition in Río Grande de Morelia - Lago de Cuitzeo Basin, Mexico. Environmental Management (1): 133-140

A.T. Tveteraas (0): Collecting goodeids in the area near Morelia part 2. Viviparous (24): 0-