The Freshwater Fishes of Mexico

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Introduction to Freshwater Fishes of Mexico

By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas
Last updated on 08-Dec-2013
Juan Miguel Artigas Azas,

Since I was a little boy I have been fascinated with fishes and their habitats. Ever since, my main field of contact with them has been through the wonderful waterways of Mexico, and my wish has been to know all the fishes that inhabit this country. Studying Mexican fishes has turned out to be a long but very rewarding enterprise, one that requires a life time to be accomplished fully, even with the knowledge we have of them today.

Mexico hosts a combination of southern and northern hemisphere species lineages, as well as marine visitors to its freshwater waterways from both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. To this already rich assemblage of species we have to add those that have evolved in the highly varied ecosystems of the country, where even one family is endemic. Many fish genera are endemic to the freshwaters of Mexico. Robert Rush Miller, in his ‘Freshwater Fishes of Mexico’, lists 511 continental fish species classified in 47 families — at least one more family, Lacantunidae, has recently been added. The wealth of the Mexican ichthyofauna is immense.

One of the features of the richness of Mexican ichthyofauna is its variability. Miller (2005) recognizes seven different ichthyological provinces, each one hosting a different assemblage of species that are independent in their evolution from each other. The World Wildlife Fund goes even further and recognizes 26 different freshwater ecoregions in the country. The Comisión Nacional del Agua catalogs 404 separate hydrological basins.

In recent years, my photography and exploration trips through Mexico have often been, unfortunately, a sad, depressing venture. Every day more habitats are lost for a variety of reasons. The wealth of the Mexican fish fauna is suffering and some parts are already lost. The degradation of Mexican aquatic habitats has increased significantly, and many species are at the very verge of extinction, while a considerable number is extinct already, and with them a significant knowledge and enjoyment lost for mankind. The causes of the decline are many; from the introduction of exotic species of apparent commercial value, made with the misguided force of the government and consent of local people, to water pollution, alteration of waterways, overexploitation of water resources, and, more recently, to the introduction of a new breed of exotic species with origins in the aquarium keeping hobby. Regularly, the easier and less effective action taken by the government and local human populations has been to restrict fishing, which does nothing to prevent the decline.

After working fifteen years on the Cichlid Room Companion site, I thought it was probably not a good idea to open yet another site devoted to dissemination of information. As people that have worked on the development, administration, or edition of a web site know well, this is a very hard work and in most cases with little (if any) reward. Two years ago, after some depressing explorations, I decided I had to leave reason behind and go ahead and use the resources I have available and create this site. After all, if you don’t know something how can you love it and defend it? Fishes are regularly undervalued, and better knowledge of them should certainly help in slowing down the deleterious effects they suffer.

The Freshwater Fishes of Mexico site has been created in English as a main language (although the site is multilingual in nature) and references to the Mexican flag have been deliberately avoided because I believe Mexican fishes are a resource and a responsibility not only of the inhabitants of Mexico, but of those of the entire world.

I hope that this website improves the awareness, knowledge, and, ultimately, the well being of Mexican freshwater fishes. I also hope that the powerful software employed by this site helps to increase and improve the current knowledge of Mexican fishes. To achieve this end anybody with an interest in Mexico’s fishes is invited to participate.

Juan Miguel Artigas Azas — Dec-2013

Citation:

Artigas Azas, Juan Miguel. (December 08, 2012). "Introduction to Freshwater Fishes of Mexico". Freshwater Fishes of Mexico. Retrieved on October 18, 2017, from: https://www.mexfish.info/site_doc.php?id=223.