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article imageLondon Zoo makes global appeal for females of rare fish species

By Igor I. Solar     May 13, 2013 in Science
London - The London Zoo is looking for female specimens of a critically endangered species of tropical freshwater fish to initiate a captive conservation program using three males which may be the last surviving representatives of their kind.
The small five-centimeter (two-inch) fish called Mangarahara cichlid (Ptychochromis insolitus) is considered extinct in the wild. Dam construction has dried several sections of the Mangarahara River in Madagascar, in which P. insolitus are endemic (unique to a geographic location).
Currently, only three specimens exist in captivity. Two of them are in the London Zoo and a third in the Berlin Aquarium. The problem is that these three individuals are male. Furthermore, the two Mangarahara cichlids in the London Zoo are 12-year-old, which for this species is considered nearly beyond prime reproductive age. Until recently, there was also a female in captivity in Berlin, but the efforts to promote their mating ended disastrously when the male killed the female, reports The Guardian.
With so little presence in captivity, the possibility of avoiding the complete extinction of the species is reduced to finding one or more females in private collections or aquariums somewhere in the world. After unsuccessful contacts with zoos and aquarium associations worldwide, the team of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has decided to make an open call to see if someone may have a female specimen in a private collection.
Female Mangarahara cichlid. This is the very valuable fish the ZSL is looking for to establish a cap...
Female Mangarahara cichlid. This is the very valuable fish the ZSL is looking for to establish a captive breeding program that may save the species from extinction.
ZSL
“The Mangarahara cichlid is shockingly and devastatingly facing extinction; its wild habitat no longer exists and as far as we can tell, only three males remain of this entire species.
We are urgently appealing to anyone who owns or knows someone who may own this critically endangered fish. They are silver colour with an orange-tipped tail. We want to start a captive breeding program here at the Zoo to bring them back from the brink of extinction"
says Brian
WANTED. Female Mangarahara cichlid.
WANTED. Female Mangarahara cichlid.
ZSL
Zimmerman, the Aquarium curator of the London Zoo in the ZSL webpage. However, Zimmerman is not very optimistic about the future of this species:
"I have not much hope. This worldwide crisis for freshwater fish is huge, as the water is diverted for human consumption it becomes scarcer, and generally the losers are the fish," he said, according to DailyMail.
Cichlids are a group of freshwater fish fairly abundant in nature and very popular as aquarium fish. Most cichlid species are native to Africa and South America. Among the best known cichlids are the African tilapias. Several species of cichlids are endemic to Madagascar. They are only found in rivers and lakes of the island in the Indian Ocean, off the southeastern coast of Africa, and are distantly related to similar species in the African continent.
ZSL-London Zoo is asking anyone with information about Mangarahara cichlids' females to email the team at fishappeal@zsl.org
More about Mangarahara Cichlid, Madagascar, Ptychochromis insolitus, Critically endangered, endangered fish species
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