Xiphophorus couchianus (Girard C. 1859)


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

couchianus after Lieutenant D.N. Couch.

First description:

Girard C. 1859

Ichthyological notices, 41 – 59.

Academy of Natural Sciences Philadelphia. No.11: 113 – 122.


Limia couchianus Girard 1859

Common Name

Monterrey Platy


Described by Girard in 1859 as Limia couchianus & later placed in Xiphophorus.

A female was used as a holotype measuring 41 mm. This was collected in the San Rio Juan in the area of Cadarecta & Monterrey, Nuevo León State, Mexico.


Xiphophorus couchianus is one of the three northern platys that belong to the Rio Grande platy subset consisting of consisting of X. couchianus, X. gordoni and X. meyeri.

Type Locality:

Rio San Juan, Cadarecta and Monterrey, Nuevo León State, Mexico.

There is some doubt as to the validity of this type location as there is a town named Cadereyta 35Km east of Monterrey.


Extinct in the wild


Huasteca Canyon (Nuevo León State, Mexico)


Headwater streams, spring pools & rarely in sluggish flowing streams & ditches. The base is mostly clay & mud with a few areas of rock. Aquatic plants are quite dense with marginal plants near the banks.


Males: 30 mm, females: 40 mm

Colour/Pattern Variability:

The upper part of the body is dark brown, the scales have darker edging to give a net like appearance. The lower part of the body is off white.

The dorsal and anal fins have several dark crescents on them. All other fins are clear.


A shy species and secretive species that like plenty of plant cover to hide in.


A well planted aquarium with a temperature of 24°C and regular small water changes, although fairly tolerant of water conditions a sudden change in pH will kill this sp.

This species is reported as short lived and only expected to reach 12 months of age.

Breeding Notes:

Older females are known to produce weak young which have a high mortality rate. Brood sizes are reported at an average of 20 but 40 has been recorded in young adult females.

General remarks:

The original populations from the Huasteca Canyon died out in 1964 when the springs dried out due to excessive water pumping lowering the water table.

 A Xiphophorus species was discovered at Apodaca 20km northeast of the centre of Monterrey which was believed to be an undescribed sp. possibly a spotted form of X. couchianus (markings reminiscent of X. meyeri) or even a new species. Unfortunately this species has also died out and as the type specimens of X. couchianus cannot be found comparisons between the two species cannot be made.


The Genus Xiphophorus in Mexico and Central America – Klaus D. Kallman and Steven Kazianis

Platies and swordtails – Derek and Pat Lambert

Photograph courtesy of Dave Macallister

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