Xiphophorus malinche (Rauchenberger, Kallman & Morizot 1990)


Xiphophorus: Greek, xiphos = sword + Greek, pherein = to carry

malinche: named after an Indian slave girl who acted as an interpreter to Hernando Cortes during the Spanish conquest.

First description:

Mary Rauchenberger, Klaus D. Kallman and Donald C. Morizot 1990

Monophyly and Geography of the Rio Panuco Basin Swordtails (Genus Xiphophorus) with descriptions of Four New Species.

American Museum Novitates Number 2975, June 27, 1990.



Common Name:

Highland Sword


Xiphophorus malinche is one of nine northern swordtails and belongs to the Cortezi clade consisting of consisting of X. cortezi, X. birchmanni and X. malinche.


Collected by K. D. Kallman, D. C.Morizot, M. Rauchenberger, and A. Basolo February 18, 1988

Type Locality:

Rio Claro at Tlatzintla, Hidalgo State, Mexico


Rio Claro, Rio Moctezuma drainage, Panuco River basin, Rio Calnali and Rio Conzintla. Rio Atlapexco drainage and Arroyo Soyatla; Rio Calabozo drainage.


Rio Claro

Rio Calnali


Inhabits fast-flowing waters with a sandy substrate combining rocks and dense plant growth.


Males 55mm, Females 55mm

Distinguishing characteristics:

All members of the cortezi clade have a single zigzag horizontal/lateral stripe which runs from the eye to the caudal peduncle.

Males develop a prominent bump on their heads that is not as pronounced as that of X. birchmanni.

Colour/Pattern Variability:


The body colouration has a base colour of golden brown which can show as bright blue or even purple in places. The scales have darker edges to give a net like appearance and black spotting along the back and deep into the body from the dorsal fin to the caudal peduncle.

Along the flanks there are very distinctive and irregular bar patterns that vary from fish to fish, and even from the right to left sides of the same specimen. The bars can be slanted instead of vertical, it is possible that these bars are broken and vary in thickness.

The dorsal fin is large and is yellow with 3 or 4 rows of mid dorsal spots.

The caudal fin is pale to bright yellow depending on population. The sword is yellow with black edging and is shorter and broader than X. cortezi. Younger specimens can have an upturned sword which will straighten as the fish matures.


The colouration is similar in females but they do not show the same blue and purple colouring as males. The flanks show the same barring as the males but not so distinct.

The fins are generally clear but may show a very pale yellow tint.


Swordtails of the montezumae and cortezi groups in the wild are generally found hiding amongst or underneath large rocks and darting away when disturbed. X. malinche can be found large congregations in shallow water under floating vegetation.


A Biotope would be a good setting for this fish with a medium current. Areas of dense vegetation and layer of floating plants and a rocky substrate.

Will do well in a planted aquarium in a species set up or community set up.

Breeding Notes:

Brood sizes are around 30 for a good sized female. Brood cycle is around 28 days.


The three species of the cortezi clade were thought to be ‘allopatric’ this means that these species although closely related evolved in geographically separate areas and therefore could not hybridise.

There are reports that now show areas where the species overlap and in some cases have produced natural hybrid populations.

These fish are found at higher elevations than the rest of the clade and have been collected in water as low as 15 degrees.


American Museum Novitates Number 2975, June 27, 1990.

Monophyly and Geography of the Rio Panuco Basin Swordtails (Genus Xiphophorus) with

Descriptions of Four New Species                             Mary Rauchenberger, Klaus D. Kallman and Donald C. Morizot

Platies and swordtails                                                 Derek and Pat Lambert



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