Spanish toothcarp (Aphanius iberus)

loading
Spanish toothcarp, lateral view
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Spanish toothcarp fact file

Spanish toothcarp description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassActinopterygii
OrderCyprinodontiformes
FamilyCyprinodontidae
GenusAphanius (1)

Commonly known in its native Spain as the ‘fartet’, the Spanish toothcarp is a small fish in which the appearance of the male and female is dramatically different (2). The male is the smaller sex and has a colouration pattern consisting of narrow, silver, vertical bars running along the body and tail (2). The larger female’s body is covered in numerous small, dark spots that form horizontal rows, one of which runs along the lateral line (a line of pressure sensors that runs down the side of the body in fish) (2).

Size
Male total length: 4.5 cm (2)
Female total length: 6 cm (2)
Top

Spanish toothcarp biology

The Spanish toothcarp is an omnivorous fish that feeds on plant matter, copepods (small aquatic crustaceans), mosquito larvae and debris; however, its diet can vary greatly depending on which habitat it occupies (3).

The Spanish toothcarp’s reproductive strategy is adapted to living in an unstable environment, as it reaches sexual maturity after just a few months and shows a high reproductive effort (2), producing multiple batches of 10 to 30 eggs between May and August (4). The life history of the Spanish toothcarp is characterised by fast growth and a short lifespan, with most adults not living longer than around two years (2). It grows seasonally, with the growth period lasting from March to September, and the larger females have both a higher growth rate and tend to live longer than males (4)

Top

Spanish toothcarp range

The Spanish toothcarp occurs along the Mediterranean coast of Spain (1), and possibly also in north-western Algeria, although it is thought that this population may be a separate species that has not yet been classified (1).

Top

Spanish toothcarp habitat

Historically, the Spanish toothcarp, which is able to adapt to a large range of temperatures and salinities (2), inhabited a large range of lowland waters. Today, however, its distribution is limited to salt marshes and coastal lagoons (3).

Top

Spanish toothcarp status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered

Top

Spanish toothcarp threats

Populations of the Spanish toothcarp are estimated to have declined by at least 50 percent in the past ten years and, with numbers continuing to decrease, its threatened status shows no signs of improving (1). This population decline is due in part to competition with the mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) (2); introduced by man to the region as a method of  controlling mosquito numbers, this fish is one of the most invasive fish species worldwide (5). As a result, the Spanish toothcarp is now restricted to bodies of water where the mosquitofish is absent (1).

Habitat loss is the other major threat facing the Spanish toothcarp, as tourism and intensive agriculture over the last 30 years has led to the destruction and alteration of the toothcarp’s habitat (2). Pollutants, such as nitrate fertilisers that have been washed into streams and lakes from local golf courses, are also degrading this species’ habitat (2).

Top

Spanish toothcarp conservation

The Spanish toothcarp has been the focus of a number of conservation actions.  A project in Catalonia, running from 1996 until 2000, worked to conserve the toothcarp and other species, and a captive breeding program resulted in 20,000 Spanish toothcarps being released back into the wild (6). In Murcia, conservation efforts have included the elimination of the invasive fish species, habitat management and restoration, and captive breeding of the Spanish toothcarp (7). However, whilst introductions of captive bred individuals help boost population numbers of this species, the threats to the Spanish toothcarp’s natural habitat need to be tackled if its future is to be secured (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Top

Find out more

To find out about other conservation efforts in Spain visit:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
Top

Glossary

Crustaceans
Diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, slaters, woodlice and barnacles.
Larvae
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Omnivorous
Feeding on both plants and animals.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Oliva-Paterna, F J., Torralva, M. and Fernàndez-Delgado, C. (2006) Threatened fishes of the world Aphanius iberus. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 75:307-309.
  3. Alcaraz, C. and García-Berthou, E. (2007) Food of an endangered cyprinodont (Aphanius iberus): ontogenetic diet shift and prey electivity. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 78: 193-207.
  4. Vargas, M.J. and  De Sostoa, A. (1997) Life-history pattern of the Iberian toothcarp Aphanius iberus (Pisces, Cyprinodontidae) from a Mediterranean estuary, the Ebro delta (Spain). Netherlands Journal of Zoology, 47(2): 143-160.
  5. Alcaraz, C. and García-Berthou, E. (2007) Life history variation of invasive mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) along a salinity gradient. Biological Conservation, 139: 83-92.
  6. Conservation of priority species in Mediterranean marshes (March, 2010)
    http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/index.htm
  7. Conservation of Aphanius iberus genetic stocks (March, 2010)
    http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/index.htm
X
Close

Image credit

Spanish toothcarp, lateral view  
Spanish toothcarp, lateral view

© Tony Terceira

Tony Terceira
tony.terceira@gmail.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Spanish toothcarp (Aphanius iberus) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is affected by global climate change. To learn about climate change and the species that are affected, visit our climate change pages.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog RSS