Searching for the Cypriot Killifish (Aphanius cf. fasciatus) PART 2

Our first trip to investigate the biotopes, behaviour and distribution of the Cypriot killifish, Aphanius cf fasciatus yielded some interesting results and outlined the serious environmental pressures being placed upon Aphanius cf fasciatus in Cyprus. It brought to light the bleek outlook for the future of this potentially unique species of native Cypriot fish.

On the 31.07.14, Christodoulos and I returned to Akrotiri to examine the individual sites at this location where Aphanius can be found. Areas of particular interest on this day were the coastal lagoons located at the military perimeter.

 
The largest lagoon (shown above) nicknamed “Stinky Pond” by the British Soldiers is only 150m x 100m at its largest points

We drove through the thick reed beds and eventually got to the opposite side where some English soldiers directed us to the coastal pool, which they had nicknamed “Stinky Pond”.  On arrival we were disheartened to find that this deep pool was littered with discarded tyres and other junk and even found one juvenile female Aphanius diseased and dying at the waters edge. This was however, a positive sign that we had come to the right place and the dying fish was likely due to the combination of high water temperature (29.3°C) and extreme hypersaline conditions in the pool (63.3 ppt Salinity).

 Driving through the high reeds    
We finally arrived at the coastal pool location


We were successful in finding Aphanius cf. fasciatus at a second location here at Akrotiri

I was able to record the fish in their habitat which is shown in my video below. To my knowledge, it is the first recording of the Cypriot Killifish underwater in their biotope

The isolated location of this coastal lagoon as well as the extreme water parameters are likely the reasons that only the Aphanius are able to survive here. However, the area is very small and is not officially protected like the adjacent Salt Lake, which leaves cause for concern as to how much longer the pool can be used as a dumping ground. With now only two locations on the island where this species can be found, compared with 3 locations just 2 years ago and with the recent extinction of two closely related species (The ‘Iranian’ Aphanius farsi and ‘Algerian’ Aphanius saourensis) as a result of similar environmental pressures, I’d like to hope that the Cyprus Department of Fisheries and Marine Research would act soon to protect this native species from disappearing from the island.

One method to help preserve the species on the island was proposed by Dr S. Zogaris in his recent publication (download here) which suggested that Aphanius were likely to have existed in the past at the salt lake in Oroklini, Larnaca and could be re-introduced there to occupy that niche in replacement of the current Gambusia population. This idea seems to have been wisely adopted for consideration in the recent publication by the RSPB and Birdlife Cyprus (view here). It seems there may be hope for the species yet but it is early days and action is awaited.

In an effort to initiate some type of captive preservation and propagation of the species, we collected some tiny fry (only 4mm in TL) which Christodoulos has been raising with a specially formulated feed provided on behalf of C.E. Fish Essentials. The 4mm fry can be seen in his video shown below at approximately 5cm and thriving! The only drawback? ALL FEMALE!

Chris Englezou is the owner at C.E. Fish Essentials and founder of the Freshwater Life Project, an international freshwater fish conservation charity based in the UK. His passion for keeping and breeding ornamental fish has spanned over 25 years and has taken him deep into the jungles of Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, India; he is passionate about the freshwater biodiversity of the Mediterranean, particularly Cyprus.

Chris Englezou

Chris Englezou is the owner at C.E. Fish Essentials and founder of the Freshwater Life Project, an international freshwater fish conservation charity based in the UK. His passion for keeping and breeding ornamental fish has spanned over 25 years and has taken him deep into the jungles of Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, India; he is passionate about the freshwater biodiversity of the Mediterranean, particularly Cyprus.

2 thoughts on “Searching for the Cypriot Killifish (Aphanius cf. fasciatus) PART 2

  • 29th March 2015 at 3:32 pm
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    Hi Chris, in your blog post “Searching for the Cypriot Killifish (Aphanius cf. fasciatus) PART 2” 23rd January 2015, you write that “With now only two locations on the island where this species can be found, compared with 3 locations just 2 years ago”. Could you let me know what the 3rd location was?
    Thanks,
    Gerald

    Reply
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