Hubbsina turneri

English Name: 
Highland Splitfin
Mexican Name: 
Mexclapique Michoacano
Original Description: 

  DE BUEN, F. (1941): Un nuevo Género de la Familia Goodeidae Perteneciente a la Fauna Ictiológica Mexicana. Anales de la Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas 2 (2-3): pp 133 - 141


  Collection-number: The Holotype is deposited without Catalogue number in "La Estación Limnológica de Pátzcuaro".

  The Holotype is a mature female of 65mm TL, collected by V.C. Villasnor, 19.08.1940.

Terra typica: 

The Holotype comes from "the waters of the Presa de Cointzio" in Michoacán.


This species is dedicated to C.L. Turner, probably for his important part in studying Goodeids.



Distribution and ESU's: 

This species comes from the endorheic basin of the Río Grande de Morelia and from the Lago de Yuriria from the Río Lerma basin, Michoacán and Guanajuato.

Status : 

  International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN): critically endangered


  Conservation status and population trends of Mexican Goodeids (Lyons, 2011): Girardinichthys ireneae: critically endangered/declining – Until recently, this species was considered to be part of Hubbsina turneri (Domínguez-Domínguez et al. 2005; Miller et al. 2005). When Radda and Meyer (2003) subsumed Hubbsina within Girardinichthys, they split the former H. turneri into two species, G. ireneae and G. turneri. Girardinichthys ireneae, as currently defined, is known only from the upper portion of the Angulo River drainage of the Lerma River basin, primarily in Lake Zacapu and a few smaller spring-fed lakes nearby. It appears to have disappeared from the smaller lakes since the 1990’s and persists only in Lake Zacapu. Girardinichthys (Hubbsina) turneri: Extinct/No records since 1980s – As defined by Radda and Meyer (2003), this species was limited to Yuriria Lake in the Lerma River basin and the nearby endorheic Lake Cuitzeo/Grande de Morelia River basin. These two areas have been heavily polluted and modified, and no G. turneri have been observed in either area since the late 1980s despite repeated and intensive targeted sampling, strongly suggesting that the species is extinct in the wild (Soto-Galera et al. 1999; Domínguez-Domínguez et al. 2005b). Unfortunately, it appears that no captive populations exist, so the species may be completely extinct.


  NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010: Categoría de riesgo (Category of risk): P - En Peligro de Extinción (in danger of extinction)


It lives in quiet waters with currents none to slight of lakes, ponds, canals and ditches. The substrates in the habitats are mainly mud, silt, clay, sand, rocks and decaying organic matter. It prefers depths less than 1.3m. The water is clear to usually turbid or muddy, vegetation is present and dense, mainly green algae, Potamogeton, Eichhornia, Typha and Scirpus.


G. Mendoza took newborn fish on 26 May 1956, so this indicates that young are born at least from May through August. The broods are large, big females have 20 - 40 each.


The teeth have not been examined by de Buen, but probably the diet is similar to Hubbsina ireneae, that feeds in captivity nearly exclusively from small micro-crustaceans, like Cyclops and Daphnia. Together with its hiding mode of life and a diurnal migration of planctonic invertebrates in lakes ans ponds, it seems that Hubbsina-species are food specialists, picking up small plantonic organisms over the ground.

The maximum known SL is 58mm

De Buen described the colour of the preserved Holotype, a female, as "dark on the back and yellowish-white on the venter. On the sides it has got several dark blotches, mainly extending vertically. They appear on the venter and the lower part of the caudal peduncle. Unpaired fins are spotted, mainly the dorsal fin, the other fins are clear." The Alotpye, a male, he described as gray on the back and the sides, yellowish on the venter. No blotches visible; only between the rays of the caudal fin there are some dark chromatophores. On the upper part of the back are some narrow longitudinal- spaces without colouration. The dorsal fin shows some dark-coloured areas between the rays, the caudal base has got some coloured blotches. The pelvicl and pectoral fins are clear. The anal fin has got some blotches".


Radda described the male of the examined types from de Buen as "black in colour of the upper part of the body and in the dorsal."  


There is no report about Hubbsina turneri since 1980, so it seems, most (all?) of the observations and breeding reports about Hubbsina turneri have to be refered to Hubbsina ireneae. Hubbsina turneri is likely unknown to the hobby and science and might be extinct.


J.K. Langhammer (1999) indicated that Hubbsina ireneae (like all authors till 2003, he believed it is turneri) differs from other Goodeids in its nocturnal behaviour: "By day it disappears into 'caves' of coconut shells and flower pots of the type used by dwarf cichlids". Possibly correlated with this behaviour is the pale back and dark venter, the reverse of colouration in other, usually diurnal, Goodeids, he stated. Langhammer also posted that "Miller collected significant numbers in deep and very turbid water, similar to Derek and Pat Lambert, who found their best collections occured after heavy rains and on overcast days." Derek Lambert said, following Langhammer again, "that the only time, he has had luck on bright days was by collecting in well-shaded areas away from open water." All of these successful collections happened under conditions simulating dusk or darkness. This behaviour from Hubbsina ireneae might be the same with turneri, though the males are coloured "regularly" with a dark back and a bright belly and might be a reason for the disappearance of turneri, that (hopefully) might be simply overseen when looked for.


Some scientists don't treat Hubbsina ireneae as valid (Doadrio, Dominguez), though there are some (but few and weak) differences in the number of fin rays and scales. However, according to molecular and taxonomic studies (Moncayo-Estrada 1993, Doadrio & Dominguez 2004), the species turneri and ireneae are not distinguishable (after Herrejón et al). Domínguez (pers. comitt. 2011) pointed at the fact, that the description of both Hubbsina species had been done with only very few specimens and that the differences between both species might be not enough to separate them from each other. Until we have more facts, we will treat them separatly.


Hubbsina turneri is unique having the highest number of dorsal rays among known Goodeids.

First Describer: 
de Buen, 1941