The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Xiphophorus variatus
Xiphophorus variatus
(Variable Platyfish)

Copyright Info
Xiphophorus variatus (Meek, 1904)

Common name: Variable Platyfish

Synonyms and Other Names: Platypoecilus variatus, sunset platy, shortblade swordtail.

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Distinguishing characteristics were given by Rosen (1960, 1979), Page and Burr (1991), and Wischnath (1993). It was included in keys of Rosen (1960, 1979). Photographs or illustrations appeared in Rosen (1960), Mills and Vevers (1982), Petrovicky (1988), Dawes (1991), Sakurai et al. (1993), and Wischnath (1993).

Size: to 7cm TL

Native Range: Atlantic Slope of Mexico from southern Tamaulipas to northern Veracruz (Rosen 1960, 1979; Page and Burr 1991).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Xiphophorus variatus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AZ196219673Lower Colorado Region; Lower Salt; Yuma Desert
CA196820234Salton Sea; San Luis Rey-Escondido; Seal Beach; Southern California Coastal
CO198619861San Luis
FL1967202311Alafia; Cape Canaveral; Everglades; Florida Southeast Coast; Kissimmee; Oklawaha; Peace-Tampa Bay; South Atlantic-Gulf Region; Tampa Bay; Upper St. Johns; Vero Beach
MT196019907Beaverhead; Flint-Rock; Jefferson; Madison; Missouri Headwaters; Pend Oreille; Upper Missouri
TX200420211Austin-Travis Lakes
UT201820181Upper Virgin

Table last updated 6/23/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Means of Introduction: Probably due to aquarium releases.

Status: Locally established in Florida (Courtenay and Meffe 1989; museum specimens): a population in Alachua County, Florida, first recorded in the 1970s (Burgess et al. 1977), still survives. Locally established in Montana (Courtenay and Meffe 1989); possibly established locally in California (Swift et al. 1993). Possibly established on Oahu, Hawaii: listed as established by Maciolek (1984), but this species is not listed in the state by recent reports (Devick 1991; Yamamoto and Tagawa 2000; Mundy 2005). It was established locally in Arizona from 1963 to 1965, but that population was presumably destroyed by a flood in late 1965 (Minckley 1973). The species was reported from Colorado (Zuckerman and Behnke 1986).

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: Similar to some of the other poeciliids, this species exhibits considerable natural variation (e.g., Wischnath 1993). It has been popular as an ornamental fish for many years.

Voucher specimens: Florida (UF 16992, 30868, 91926, 91927, 91928).

References: (click for full references)

Brown, C.J.D. 1971. Fishes of Montana. Montana State University, Bozeman, MT.

Burgess, G.H., C.R. Gilbert, V. Guillory, and D.C. Taphorn. 1977. Distributional notes on some north Florida freshwater fishes. Florida Scientist 40(1):33-41.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr. 1985. Florida Atlantic University Quarterly Reports for 1985 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gainesville, FL.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., D.A. Hensley, J.N. Taylor, and J.A. McCann. 1984. Distribution of exotic fishes in the continental United States. 41-77 in W.R. Courtenay, Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr., eds. Distribution, biology and management of exotic fishes. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., D.P. Jennings, and J.D. Williams. 1991. Appendix 2: exotic fishes. Pages 97-107 in Robins, C. R., R. M. Bailey, C. E. Bond, J. R. Brooker, E. A. Lachner, R. N. Lea, and W. B. Scott. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada, 5th edition. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 20. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and G.K. Meffe. 1989. Small fishes in strange places: a review of introduced poeciliids. 319-331 in G.K. Meffe and F.F. Snelson, Jr., eds. Ecology and evolution of livebearing fishes (Poecillidae). Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., H.F. Sahlman, W.W. Miley, II, and D.J. Herrema. 1974. Exotic fishes in fresh and brackish waters of Florida. Biological Conservation 6(4):292-302.

Dawes, J.A. 1991. Livebearing fishes. A guide to their aquarium care, biology and classification. Blandforn, London, England.

Devick, W.S. 1991. Pattern of introductions of aquatic organisms to Hawaii freshwater habitats. 189-213 in: New directions in research, management and conservations of Hawaiian freshwater stream ecosystems. Proceedings of 1990 symposium on freshwater stream biology and fisheries management, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources, Honolulu, HI.

Holton, G.D. 1990. A field guide to Montana fishes. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Helena, MT.

Hubbs, C.L., W.I. Follett, and L.J. Dempster. 1979. List of the fishes of California. California Academy Science Occasional Papers 133.

Maciolek, J.A. 1984. Exotic fishes in Hawaii and other islands of Oceania. 131-161 in W.R. Courtenay, Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr., eds. Distribution, biology, and management of exotic fishes. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Mills, D., and G. Vevers. 1982. The Golden encyclopedia of freshwater tropical aquarium fishes. Golden Press, Racine, WI.

Minckley, W.L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Fish and Game Department. Sims Printing Company, Inc., Phoenix, AZ.

Moyle, P.B. 1976. Inland fishes of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Mundy, B.C. 2005.  Fishes of the Hawaiian Archipelago.  Bishop Museum Bulletins in Zoology, Number 6.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Petrovicky, I. 1988. Aquarium fish of the world. Hamlyn, London, England.

Rosen, D.E. 1960. Middle-American poeciliid fishes of the genus Xiphophorus. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum Biological Sciences 5(4):57-242.

Rosen, D.E. 1979. Fishes from the uplands and intermontane basins of Guatemala: revisionary studies and comparative geography. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 162:267-376.

Sakurai, A., Y. Sakamoto, and F. Mori. 1993. Aquarium fish of the world: the comprehensive guide to 650 species. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Shapovalov, L., A.J. Cordone, and W.A. Dill. 1981. A list of freshwater and anadromous fishes of California. California Fish and Game 67(1):4-38.

St. Amant, J.A., and F.G. Hoover. 1969. Addition of Misgurnus anguillicaudatus (Cantor) to the California fauna. California Fish and Game 57(2):330-331.

St. Amant, J.A. and I. Sharp. 1971. Addition of Xiphophorus variatus (Meek) to the California fauna. California Fish and Game 57:128-129.

Swift, C., T.R. Haglund, M. Ruiz, and R.N. Fisher. 1993. The status and distribution of the freshwater fishes of southern California. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Science 92(3):101-167.

Williams, J.D., D.P. Jennings, and D.C. Haney. 1992. Exotics in the Indian River Lagoon System. National Biological Survey, Gainesville, FL. Unpublished manuscript.

Wischnath, L. 1993. Atlas of livebearers of the world. TFH Publication, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Yamamoto, M.N. and A.W. Tagawa. 2000. Hawaii's native and exotic freshwater animals. Mutual Publishing, Honolulu, HI.

Zuckerman, L.D., and R.J. Behnke. 1986. Introduced fishes in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. 435-452 in R.H. Stroud, ed. Fish culture in fisheries management. Proceedings of a symposium on the role of fish culture in fisheries management at Lake Ozark, MO, March 31-April 3, 1985. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

FishBase Summary

Author: Nico, L.

Revision Date: 5/24/2019

Peer Review Date: 9/27/2011

Citation Information:
Nico, L., 2024, Xiphophorus variatus (Meek, 1904): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=874, Revision Date: 5/24/2019, Peer Review Date: 9/27/2011, Access Date: 6/24/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [6/24/2024].

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