Goodeid's files

Ameca spendens (Miller e Fitzsimmons 1971)

Butterfly Goodeids

Ameca splendens

an extract from the article Three Unusual Livebearers by Howard Norfolk. Original publication : Vancouver Aquatic Hobbyist Club Newsletter.
You can find the whole article here:


Ameca splendens is a Goodeid. Goodeids all come from Mexico, from a variety of niche habitats in the highland catchment area of the Rio Lema in Western Mexico, and Ameca splendens comes from the Rio Ameca basin (hence the name). Ameca splendens is endangered in the wild.

They grow to be two or three inches long. The male is particularly attractive, with iridescent blue-green spotted flanks and a pale orange underside. His tail has a strong vertical black band and a bright yellow one. The female is more plain, but with her spotted silver body and squarish (rounded) tail reminds me of nothing less than a miniature big fat Spring Salmon!

They will live in a wide range of water conditions and temperatures (13°C/55°F to 28°C/82°F) and are good community fish. They are very active and are voracious feeders, supposedly typically vegetarian, so I feed mine regular flakes and spirulina flakes, but find that they love frozen bloodworms or any other food for that matter. They will also eat filamentous green algae off plants and aquarium equipment.

They are livebearers. Their young are few but are born large: up to ˝" long (11cm.), fully developed and able to eat their adults' food right away. Gestation period is about sixty days, and in the womb the developing embryos have an umbilical cord (the trophotaniae) through which they obtain nutrients from the mother. During pregnancy the mother needs lots of food or she might abort. Fertilisation is required for each pregnancy (unlike Poecilidae). They breed readily when kept in a shoal, and once a few youngsters are present, the newcomers are left alone. The young like to hide near the surface amongst floating plants (in the wild they live amongst floating water hyacinths).

The adults are fast, smart, and difficult to catch in a landscaped aquarium. But the young ones have a curious habit of “fainting” – floating on their side apparently dead - the instant they are caught in a net, or even chased by a net. They "come back to life" as soon as they are released. This is a defensive mechanism which makes them unattractive to predators that only eat "live" food. I wonder how many have been released for this reason when netted in the wild!

I have them spread around various tanks now, but mostly in a 15 gallon species tank and in my indoor pond. (October 2002: Putting them in my indoor pond turned out to be a problem - they bred so successfully that they virtually took over the pond! I couldn't catch them, so I had to completely drain the pond and remove every single one).

They reproduce readily in a flock setting without being given any special treatment. I find that I get far more females than males.



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