Vitalis-fed fish reintroduced to its natural habitat after being declared extinct-in-the-wild.
When talking conservation, we most often hear about the impact of pollution and habitat destruction in the world’s oceans. It’s sometimes easy to overlook the effects that climate change and human interference have on the delicate ecosystems of freshwater habitats around the world. Shockingly, some native species are even driven to extinction in the wild.
In Mexico, conservationists of the Fish Ark Project are looking to change this - attempting to slow the trend of extinction by reintroducing extinct-in-the-wild species back into their natural habitat. The first of these is the tequila splitfin (Zoogoneticus tequila). Endemic to a single location, the Teuchitlan River in Central Mexico, the tequila splitfin is part of the goodeid family. The once species-rich river habitat has been affected by dam construction, pollution and the introduction of exotic species, driving the splitfin and other species to extinction.
The Fish Ark Project, led by Professor Omar Dominguez, with over 20 years’ experience in Mexican fish conservation, began work in the region in 2014 with an aim to reintroduce extinct species back into the Teuchitlan ecosystem. The Fish Ark is supported by several global conservation organisations as well as dedicated aquarists from around the world. Among those involved is Dr. Gerardo Garcia, working at the UK’s own Chester Zoo. In support of the project, we supplied Vitalis Tropical Flakes which served as the primary source of nutrition for the captive splitfins in the Mexico facility. The captive fish thrived throughout the breeding process and continue to flourish following reestablishment into their natural environment - which began on the Day of the Dead (November 2, 2016), an important cultural day for the Mexican people, symbolically reconnecting Mexico with a species thought lost many years ago.
In the years since, research suggests the tequila splitfin is coming into balance with its natural environment once again. We at Vitalis are proud to have played even a small part in the project and look forward to supporting the Fish Ark Project as they continue their conservation journey.