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 maculatus
Xiphophorus maculatus
(Southern Platyfish)

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Xiphophorus maculatus (Günther, 1866)

Common name: Southern Platyfish

Synonyms and Other Names: (moonfish, platy).

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Distinguishing characteristics were given by Rosen (1960, 1979) and Page and Burr (1991). It is included in identification keys of Rosen (1960, 1979) and Greenfield and Thomerson (1997). Photographs or illustrations appeared in Rosen (1960), Mills and Vevers (1982), Petrovicky (1988), Dawes (1991), Sakurai et al. (1993), and Wischnath (1993). Formerly known as Platypoecilus maculatus.

Size: Females to about 6 cm TL; males to 4 cm TL.

Native Range: Atlantic Slope of Middle America from Ciudad Veracruz, Mexico, to Belize (Rosen 1960, 1979; Page and Burr 1991; Greenfield and Thomerson 1997), including Yucatan peninsula (Zambrano et al. 2006).

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 maculatus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
CA196819841Seal Beach
CO198519984Alamosa-Trinchera; San Luis; South Platte; South Platte Headwaters
FL197120238Cape Canaveral; Everglades; Florida Southeast Coast; Kissimmee; Little Manatee; Oklawaha; Tampa Bay; Vero Beach
HI192220053Hawaii; Maui; Oahu
LA200420041Liberty Bayou-Tchefuncta
NV196220014Imperial Reservoir; Lake Mead; Meadow Valley Wash; Sand Spring-Tikaboo Valleys
PR194720075Cibuco-Guajataca; Eastern Puerto Rico; Greater Antilles; Puerto Rico; Southern Puerto Rico
WA196419641Puget Sound

Table last updated 6/16/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

Means of Introduction: Probably the result of fish farm or aquarium releases. Specimens in Louisiana were collected near a tropical fish farm.

Status: It is locally established, or possibly established locally, in several states, including Florida (Courtenay and Meffe 1989; Nico, personal communication), Colorado (Zuckerman and Behnke 1986), Hawaii (Kanayama 1968; Devick 1991b), and Montana (Page and Burr 1991). It was reported from Texas (Courtenay et al. 1984, 1991). The species was mentioned as being extirpated from California (Swift et al. 1993), but there is no evidence that it was ever established in that state (Courtenay and Meffe 1989). Uncertain in Louisiana.  The species was introduced into Blue Point Springs near Lake Mead, in Nevada (Deacon and Williams 1984); the status of that population is assumed to be established locally. A second population, inhabiting Indian Springs, Clark County, Nevada, was considered to be a hybrid with X. hellerii (Deacon and Williams 1984; Courtenay and Meffe 1989); however, in 1989 M. Rauchenberger examined specimens (UF 91919) taken from Indian Spring and determined that they represented X. hellerii and not a hybrid.

Impact of Introduction: Southern platys, and other introduced poeciliids, have been implicated in the decline of native damselflies on Oahu, Hawaii. Often the distributions of the damselflies and introduced fishes were found to be mutually exclusive, probably resulting from predation by the fish on the insects (Englund 1999).

Remarks: This species has long been a popular ornamental fish and exhibits a wide range of color patterns (Rosen 1960, 1979; Dawes 1991; Wischnath 1993). It has long been the subject of genetic investigations and Kallman and Brunetti (1983) examined the genetic basis of several mutant color varieties of this species. Aquaculturists have hybridized it with related species to create a variety of forms and colors, and Florida fish farms raise tremendous numbers of these each year for the aquarium trade. Myers (1940) received unconfirmed reports that X. maculatus, along with several other introduced species, had breeding populations in the Florida Everglades but the location of unspecific; no specimens have ever been taken in the Everglades wetlands (Loftus and Kushlan 1987, Shafland 2008). There is some confusion surrounding the positive identification of a Nevada population (see account for X. hellerii). Courtenay and Meffe (1989) indicated that the Nevada record of Courtenay and Deacon (1982) and Deacon and Williams (1984) was actually a hybrid with X. hellerii. As such, the listing of pure X. maculatus for Nevada is obviously tentative. Nevada records are also covered in the hybrid accounts.
Voucher specimens: Florida (UF 91921, 91922, 91923, 91924, 91925, 92140, 97845, 98929, 118152, 171167, 171711, 171712, 171713, 171718, 171719, NCSM 27830); South Carolina (USNM 8760.5001419); Hawaii (USNM 245937.5104403); Nevada (CAS 225529, 226981).

References: (click for full references)

Bradley, W. G. and J. E. Deacon. 1967. The biotic communities of southern Nevada. Nevada State Museum Anthropological Papers No. 13, Part-4. 201-273.

Brock, V. E. 1960. The introduction of aquatic animals into Hawaiian waters. Internationale Revue der gesamten Hydrobiologie 45(4):463-480.

Courtenay, W. R., Jr., and J. E. Deacon. 1982. Status of introduced fishes in certain spring systems in southern Nevada. Great Basin Naturalist 42(3):361-366.

Courtenay, W. R., Jr., and D. A. Hensley. 1979a. Survey of introduced non-native fishes. Phase I Report. Introduced exotic fishes in North America: status 1979. Report Submitted to National Fishery Research Laboratory, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gainesville, FL.

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

Courtenay, W. R., Jr., D. A. Hensley, J. N. Taylor, and J. A. McCann. 1984. Distribution of exotic fishes in the continental United States. Pages 41-77 in W. R. Courtenay, Jr., and J. R. Stauffer, Jr., editors. 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., 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.

Deacon, J. E., and J. E. Williams. 1984. Annotated list of the fishes of Nevada. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 97(1):103-118.

Devick, W. S. 1991b. Patterns of introductions of aquatic organisms to Hawaiian freshwater habitats. Pages 189-213 in new directions in research, management and conservation of Hawaiian freshwater stream ecosystems. Proceedings of the 1990 symposium on freshwater stream biology and fisheries management, Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Dial, R. S., and S. C. Wainright. 1983. New distributional records for non-native fishes in Florida. Florida Scientist 46(1):8-15.

Englund, R.A. 1999. The impacts of introduced poeciliid fish and Odonata on the endemic Megalagrion (Odonata) damselflies of Oahu Island, Hawaii. Journal of Insect Conservation 3:225-243.

Erdsman, D.S.  1984.  Exotic fishes in Puerto Rico, p 162-176, In:  W.R. Courtenay, Jr. and J.R. Stauffer, Jr., eds. Distribution, Biology, and Management of Exotic Fishes. John Hopkins. Baltimore and London.

La Rivers, I. 1962. Fishes and fisheries of Nevada. Nevada State Print Office, Carson City, NV.

Loftus, W.F. and J.A. Kushlan. 1987. Freshwater fishes of southern Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, Biological Sciences 31: 147-344.

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

Mito, T., and T. Uesugi. 2004. Invasive alien species in Japan: the status quo and the new regulation for prevention of their adverse effects. Global Environmental Research 8(2):171-191.

Myers, G. S. 1940. An American cyprinodont fish, Jordanella floridae, reported from Borneo, with notes on the possible widespread introduction of foreign aquarium fishes. Copeia 1940:267-268.

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.

Piller, K. - Southeastern Louisiana University.

Rasmussen, J.L. 1998. Aquatic nuisance species of the Mississippi River basin. 60th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Aquatic Nuisance Species Symposium, Dec. 7, 1998, Cincinnati, OH.

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

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

Shafland, P.L., K.B. Gestring and M.S. Standford. 2008. Florida's exotic freshwater fishes - 2007. Florida Scientist 71: 220-245.

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.

Swift, C. 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.

Woodling, J. 1985. Colorado's little fish: a guide to the minnows and other lesser known fishes in the state of Colorado. Colorado Division of Wildlife, Denver, CO. 77 pp.

Zambrano, L., E. Vazquez-Dominguez, D. Garcia-Bedova, W.F. Loftus, and J.C. Trexler. 2006. Fish Community Structure in Freshwater Karstic Wetlands of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwater 17: 193-206.

Zuckerman, L. D., and R. J. Behnke. 1986. Introduced fishes in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Pages 435-452 in R. H. Stroud, editor. 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: Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, Matt Neilson, and Bill Loftus

Revision Date: 9/17/2012

Peer Review Date: 9/17/2012

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, Matt Neilson, and Bill Loftus, 2024, Xiphophorus maculatus (Günther, 1866): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=872, Revision Date: 9/17/2012, Peer Review Date: 9/17/2012, Access Date: 6/16/2024

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 [6/16/2024].

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