Critically endangered Tequila fish has been successfully reintroduced to the wild in Mexico after successful conservation.


The tequila fish, scientifically called Zoogoneticus tequila was critically endangered from 2003 and the population of this charismatic little fish was decreasing in the wild.

But now, that’s just a story and the good news is more than 1,500 Tequila fish have been released in the wild in Southwest Mexico and their population is increasing, thanks to conservation efforts. 


A team of conservationists from the Michoacana University of Mexico and Chester Zoo has put their effort into the reintroduction of Tequila fish to the wild.

Interestingly, their efforts have come to fruition.

Tequila fish


It is the first time an extinct fish species has been successfully reintroduced in Mexico, and therefore a real milestone for conservation. A vast majority of the country’s fish species are threatened or extinct in the wild, yet we rarely pay attention to them in the wild.

This project represents a landmark for the future conservation of these species.


The aquatic Biology Unit of the University received 5 pairs of Tequila fish from Chester Zoo in 1998. 

For 15 years, experts were trying to maintain and increase the population of these fish in their laboratory.


While their mission was in progress, they released 40 males and 40 females into large artificial ponds that have a semi-natural environment at the university.


In this environment, those fish encountered fluctuating resources and several parasites to build a strong lifestyle. 

This artificial semi-natural environment also consists of predators like snakes, birds, turtles, and other competitors. 


“The tequila splitfin has, for many years, been used by scientists to study the evolution, biogeography, and live-bearing reproduction techniques of fishes and is a very important species. We could not stand back and allow it to disappear. Successfully reinstating this fish in the wild also offers a wider positive impact. Not only has the fish itself been saved, but the environment it lives in has been restored,” said Prof Omar Dominguez from the Michoacana University of Mexico.


After four years of continuous effort by the conservationists, the population has increased to 10,000. 

This was enough for the reintroduction of tequila fish to the wild. Then, they released some of them into the Teuchitlan River in 2021.



“It is a real privilege to have helped save this charismatic little fish and it just goes to show that with the skill and expertise of conservationists, and with local communities fully invested in a reintroduction project, species can make a comeback from environments where they were once lost,” said Dr. Gerardo Garcia, Chester zoo’s curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates.

“With nature declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of extinction accelerating – this is a rare success story. We now have a blueprint for what works in terms of recovering these delicate fish species in Mexico and already we’re on to the next one – a new rescue mission for the golden skiffia is already well underway,” he added.


Based on the statements from the scientists, those fish were already started breeding since they were released into the river.

The project has been cited as an International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) case study for successful global reintroductions. 


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