Significance to humans

Species in the genera Orestias in the Andes and Anableps in Central and South America are taken in subsistence fishing by local inhabitants. In the bait fish industry in the United States, fundulids, such as Fundulus heteroclitus, and cyprin-

A mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) about to feed on mosquitoes. (Photo by Robert Noonan/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

odontids, such as Cyprinodon variegatus, are sold routinely as bait fish. In the case of the latter species this sometimes leads to disastrous consequences for the local fauna when end-of-the-day bait-bucket releases occur. Both killifishes and live-bearers are voraciously larvivorous, thus helping to control mosquito populations and their resulting detrimental effects upon humans. In many areas killifishes and live-bearers represent an important forage item for game fishes. In the Everglades, Florida Bay, and the Keys there is an interesting food chain of great economic significance. The salt marsh mosquito is very abundant in southern Florida. The killifishes and live-bearers feed heavily on mosquito larvae, obtaining the energy necessary to produce many offspring. When the killi-fishes and live-bearers move into the tidal creeks, they provide abundant forage for tarpon, redfish, and snook, which feature heavily in the economy of southern Florida.

Aquarium hobbyists keep many species of Cyprinodontiformes. Various live-bearers, selectively bred for color and fancy fins, are sold in large numbers. Many specialty hobbyist groups, such as the American Killifish Association, the Deutsche Killifisch Gemeinschaft, the American Livebearer Association, and the Association France Vivipare, have been formed to keep and study these fishes. The cooperation of hobbyists and ichthyologists has had a significant impact on the furtherance of our knowledge of the Cyprinodontiformes. Cyprinodontiform species have been used widely in evolutionary studies, the study of life history patterns, the study of the effects of exotic introductions, and the disciplines of ecology, reproductive biology, genetics, physiology, toxicology, and behavioral psychology. This list is by no means exhaustive. Xiphophorus hellerii, Fundulus heteroclitus, and Rivulus mar-moratus alone have accounted for hundreds of articles in professional journals and other publications. The beauty of many of these fishes has led to their being featured on the postage stamps of several countries, which aids in stimulating an interest in conservation efforts.


1. Largescale foureyes (Anableps anableps); 2. Redtail splitfin (Xenotoca eiseni); 3. Ascotan Mountain killifish (Orestias ascotanensis); 4. Northern mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus macrolepidotus); 5. Blackfin pearl killifish (Austrolebias nigripinnis); 6. Mangrove rivulus (Rivulus mar-moratus); 7. Tanganyika pearl lampeye (Lamprichthys tanganicanus); 8. Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis); 9. Chocolate lyretail (Aphyosemion australe); 10. Green swordtail (Xiphophorus hellerii ssp. hellerii). (Illustration by Emily Damstra)

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