Saturday 18 May
Valencia toothcarp (Valencia hispanica)
Valencia toothcarp fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Valencia toothcarp description
An attractively coloured, diminutive freshwater fish, while the Valencia toothcarp has a history of popularity in the aquarium trade, today its wild populations are perilously close to extinction (2) (3). The common name of this species is a reference to the fact that the jaws bear small conical teeth, used for catching and holding prey (3). The body is robust and elongated, with rounded fins and large eyes, reflecting the importance of sight for this species when hunting. The dorsal and anal fins are set well back on the tail, while the pectoral fins are large and enable this species to manoeuvre efficiently between dense vegetation (3). The colouration is generally brownish-green on the top becoming lighter towards the lower parts, with greyish-blue colouration exhibited on the sides of the adult males. A series of narrow, vertical brownish bars runs along the flanks, and the borders of the pectoral and caudal fins are yellow-orange (2) (4).Top
Valencia toothcarp biology
The Valencia toothcarp occurs amongst dense vegetation, possibly in small loose groups, where it feeds upon small, aquatic invertebrates (2) (4). Feeding activity varies seasonally, with less feeding occurring in the winter. The main source of prey is gammarid amphipods, tiny, shrimp-like freshwater crustaceans which swim rapidly through the water column. Freshwater insects and larvae are also taken, along with terrestrial insects that fall into the water (4) (5).
The Valencia toothcarp breeds between April and July, during which time the males become more brightly coloured and defend small territories from rivals. When a female enters a male’s territory, the male conducts a courtship dance involving swimming in a semicircle and sideways head movements. Females may mate with different partners during a single breeding season, spawning several, small batches of eggs (typically 10 to 30) that adhere to vegetation by means of sticky filaments (4) (6). Hatching usually takes place after around one week (4). This species grows slowly, and has a relatively long lifespan, with females reaching over four years, and males over three years (6).Top
Valencia toothcarp range
Wild populations of the Valencia toothcarp occur at just ten sites along the Valencian region of the eastern Spanish coastline (2).Top
Valencia toothcarp habitat
The Valencia toothcarp mainly occupies small coastal freshwater bodies formed from spring water upwellings, known locally as “ullals” (2). It may also inhabit wetland regions such as coastal lagoons and swamps with dense vegetation, providing cover and an abundance of invertebrate prey (2) (3).Top
Valencia toothcarp status
Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Valencia toothcarp threats
The population of the Valencia toothcarp has undergone a decline of more than 80 percent in the past 10 years, which is mainly attributable to the introduction of a non-native species, but also as a result of habitat loss and degradation (1) (7). In the early 20th century the eastern mosquitofish Gambusia holbrooki was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula in order to control malaria. The fish were not only successful in preying upon the mosquito larvae found in the wetland water bodies, but were also more efficient at foraging than the native Valencia toothcarp. The invasive fish were therefore able to out-compete the Valencia toothcarp for resources during periods of scarcity, and have promoted the native species’ decline (7). This has been compounded by the increasing habitat loss and degradation, predominantly fuelled by the fact that the Valencia toothcarp’s range is a popular tourist destination. Many areas of this species’ wetland habitat have been drained to make way for development and to reduce mosquito breeding grounds (3), while the remainder are affected by urban and agricultural pollution (1). At present the Valencia toothcarp is perilously close to extinction, with just ten wild populations, of which only five have favourable conservation status (2)Top
Valencia toothcarp conservation
The Valencia toothcarp is listed in the Annexes II and IV of the European Union Habitats Directive and in the Appendix II of the Bern Convention, both of which require that efforts are made to protect this species and its habitat (1). In order to fulfil this requirement, three European action programmes have been developed to create a reserve network within this the Valencia toothcarp’s range. In addition, since 1993, extensive reintroductions have been carried out, restocking regions from which this species was previously extirpated. Nevertheless, further protection is still required for the remaining wild populations, along with the continuation of reintroductions and implementation of educational programmes to raise awareness of this threatened species’ plight (2).Top
Find out more
To learn more about conservation of European freshwater habitats visit:
- The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands:
- European Pond Conservation Network:
AuthenticationThis information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgTop
- Anal fin
- In fish, an unpaired fin on the under surface of a fish, behind the anus.
- Caudal fin
- The tail fin of a fish.
- 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.
- Dorsal fin
- The fin found on the back of the body of a fish.
- Iberian Peninsula
- A region located in the extreme south-west of Europe, which encompasses Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Gibraltar and a very small area of south-west France.
- Animals with no backbone.
- Pectoral fins
- In fish, the pair of fins that are found one on each side of the body just behind the gills. They are generally used for balancing and braking.
- Areas occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
- IUCN Red List (October, 2009)
- Oliva-Paterna, F.J., Caiola, N. and Torralva, M. (2009) Threatened fishes of the world: Valencia hispanica (Valenciennes, 1846) (Valenciidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes, 85: 275 - 276.
- Marshall Cavendish Corporation. (2001) Endangered Wildlife and Plants of the World. Marshall Cavendish, New York.
- Ciprinodóntidos Ibéricos / Iberian Cyprinodontids (October, 2009)
- Caiola, N.A., Vargas, M.J. and de Sostoa, A. (2001) Feeding ecology of the endangered Valencia toothcarp, Valencia hispanica (Actinopterygii: Valenciidae). Hydrobiologia, 448: 97 - 105.
- Caiola, N.A., Vargas, M.J. and de Sostoa, A. (2001) Life history pattern of the endangered Valencia toothcarp, Valencia hispanica (Actinopterygii: Valenciidae) and its implications for conservation. Archiv für Hydrobiologie, 150: 473 - 489.
- Caiola, N.A. and de Sostoa, A. (2005) Possible reasons for the decline of two native toothcarps in the Iberian Peninsula: evidence of competition with the introduced Eastern mosquitofish. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 21: 358 - 363.
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.