Xiphophorus xiphidium (Gordon 1932)

Etymology:

Xiphophorus: Greek, xiphos = sword

+ Greek, pherein = to carry

Xiphidium: Greek, xiph from xiphos = sword. Latin, idium = diminutive

First description:

Dr. Myron Gordon going on expedition. Aquatic Life 15: 287–288. (1932)

Synonyms:

Platypoecilus xiphidium – Meek, 1904.
Platypoecilus maculatus – 1913. 
Platypoecilius variatus -1932.

Xiphophorus variatus xiphidium – 1960

Common name:

Spiketail platy

History:

Original collection by Gordon, Creaser, and Ostos on April 25th 1930

Group:

Xiphophorus xiphidium is one of the northern platys consisting of X. variatus, X. evelynae, X. xiphidium, X. couchianus, X. gordoni and X. meyeri.

Type Locality:

Río Corona at La Corona, 15 miles north of Ciudad, Victoria, Río Soto la Marina system, Tamaulipas, Mexico

Distribution:

Found throughout the Rio Soto La Marina system, including ponds and irrigation ditches close to the river system.

Populations:

Rio Purification

Rio Santa Engracia (Rio Corona)

Habitat:

Inhabits tranquil zones of slow-flowing waters of ditches, spring areas, marshes and ponds.

Size:

Males 30 mm, Females 40 mm

Distinguishing Characteristics:

A deep bodied species with a high back and a stubby tail, a small sword or spike is present on the mature males.

Colour/Pattern Variability:

Males

The basic body colouration is greenish brown on the top, becoming white on the belly, in males as they reach sexual maturity they begin to develop their full colouration.  This can be quite variable and well coloured specimens will have their basic body colour overlaid with purple and dominant males can develop a number of vertical black bars along the upper flanks. Sometimes black spots will also develop and may become so profuse that the whole of the middle region of the fish will be purple with a black saddle.

The caudal peduncle has a variety of markings from nothing to a full spot encompassing the caudal peduncle. The more usual markings found in the hobby are two spot, crescent and single spot.

The dorsal fin is a pale yellow to clear in colour and has a crescent marking within.

All other fins are pale yellow to clear in colour.

Females

The basic body colouration is greenish brown on the top, becoming white on the belly. Sometimes small black spots will also develop on the flanks.

The caudal peduncle has the same range of markings as the males.

The dorsal fin is a pale yellow to clear in colour and has a crescent marking within.

All other fins are pale yellow to clear in colour.

Behaviour:

Generally a peaceful fish, however a dominant male will guard a territory and protect it from other males. The females are free to roam between territories.

Husbandry:

A well planted tank with regular water changes and a diet that includes some live food. Temperature range is from 18C to 25C, with Dereck Lambert recommending 23C

Breeding Notes:

Broods are born on a monthly cycle and number from 20 to 35, provided there is plenty of cover and food then this species can be flock bred.

Remarks:

Dereck Lambert in Platies and swordtails states that the caudal markings have been associated with certain populations, but in fact, fish with all the tail-spot patterns can be caught in the same net in the wild.

References:

Donn E. Rosen: Middle American poeciliid fishes of the genus Xiphophorus.Bull. Fla. St. Mus. Biol. Sci. 5 (4): 57 – 242.

Derek and Pat Lambert: Platies and swordtails        

Photograph courtesy of Dave Macallister

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