Rare Mexican Freshwater Fish Rewilded, Goodeid Working Group, Synchronicity Earth!

by | Nov 16, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Rare Mexican freshwater fish re-wilded. Meet the Goodeid Working Group, and Synchronicity Earth!



With the help of local children, on November 5th, a team of conservationists released more than 1,000 golden skiffia (Skiffia francesae), a freshwater fish found only in Mexico, into the species’ native range in the Teuchitlán River, Jalisco. The golden skiffia has not been seen in the wild since the late 1990s as the result of water extraction, pollution and the introduction of invasive species. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has classified the species as extinct in the wild. This weekend’s events, in the midst of Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations, included formal speeches at the Guachimontones archaeological site visitor center, traditional dances and the official release of the fish. 

Bringing the species back from the ‘dead’ is the result of collaborative conservation work between Michoacan University of Mexico, Chester Zoo, Goodeid Working Group and SHOAL (a program of Re:wild and Synchronicity Earth). Omar Domínguez-Domínguez, a professor and researcher from the Michoacan University of Mexico, said: “Releasing this species back into the wild is a light of hope for this wonderful family of fishes—the goodeids—and for the conservation of freshwater fish more generally.” 

The fact that universities, zoos and aquarists can come together to fix some of what has been destroyed and return to nature some of what has been lost is why this matters to us. The reintroduction will benefit not only the natural ecosystem but, because of the habitat restoration work that has already occurred, the communities that live near the river as well.

DEEPER DIVE: ReWild, Chester Zoo, SHOAL Conservation, Synchronicity Earth, Goodeid Working Group



The Goodeid Working Group is a non-profit international Working Group managed and run on a 100% voluntary basis. It was established on 1st May, 2009 in Stoholm, Denmark in response to the critical environmental issues facing the majority of wild Goodeid species/populations, plus the poorly-documented ‘disappearance’ of many captive collections.

The organization is named after Goodeidae, a family of teleost fish endemic to Mexico and some areas of the United States. They’re also known as “splitfins.” The primary goal of the Goodeid Working Group is to promote collaboration between like-minded hobbyists, universities, public aquaria, zoos, museums and conservation projects in order to maintain aquarium populations of Goodeids while assisting in preservation of remaining natural habitats.

Another fundamental aim is the compilation of a database containing Goodeid literature relating to systematics, biogeography, biology, ecology, captive reproduction and maintenance, practical experiences and conservation status both in nature and captivity. The Goodeid Working Group was instrumental in the rewilding program designed to return Mexico’s freshwater Golden Skiffia back to the Teuchitlan River.

In preparation for that species’ return to the wild, individual fish due for release were placed in ponds, where they are expected to adapt to semi-captive conditions. Individuals due for release are dewormed and marked, then taken to floating cages in the river known as mesocosms where they are kept for at least a month, so that they can adapt to natural conditions before release. 

Individuals released into the wild are tagged with a non-toxic elastomer before release and will be monitored for the next five years to assess whether the population is increasing and whether the fish are reproducing and growing successfully in their natural habitat.




Another group involved with the Golden Skiffia rewilding is Synchronicity Earth. It’s a UK-based non-profit focusing on global environmental conservation. Its goal is is to protect and restore nature where it is most diverse, but also most threatened, identifying overlooked conservation challenges that desperately require support and funding.

According to its website, the group “aims to be a different kind of conservation organization.” It’s research-driven, raising and distributing donor funding to the conservation sector. It also develops programs, collaborating with others to coordinate action. Basically, Synchronicity Earth is in the business of building networks of other conservationists. It does that by associating with Affiliates.

Affiliates are local partners across the world with a focus in tropical regions, including West and Central Africa; Southeast Asia; Melanesia; and Latin America. SE believes locally-led conservation is vital to success and therefore the more we can support this approach, the more we can contribute to strengthening the skills and knowledge of people with the greatest and most sustainable means to make a difference.

Another benefit is that local affiliates are likely to remain within the target region, so the skills and knowledge developed during their time as an affiliate is likely to be retained within the local conservation community, where it is most needed. In other words, affiliates remain invested in their communities, allow Synchronicity Earth to invest in them. 

And that’s why SE matters to us. Its belief in the strength of local community leaders leading local community action on climate change. Programs fully or partially funded by SE include bolstering bio and biocultural diversity in the Congo Basin, in both Freshwater and Ocean fish, along with amphibians.

DEEPER DIVE: Synchronicity Earth