Aphanius captive breeding program

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The genus Aphanius is a member of the egg-laying toothcarps. These fish reach a maximum length of 6 cm and occupy extreme habitats in southern Europe, North Africa and Southwest Asia. They tolerate high salt and sulfur concentrations and easily survive daily temperature fluctuations of 20°C. Nonetheless, almost all of the nearly 20 Aphanius species and their subspecies are highly endangered. Two members of this group have even already become extinct. The threats include habitat destruction (for example hotel construction along the coast), intensive water extraction for agriculture and drinking water production, as well as the introduction of non-native fish species.


Eighteen species of this genus are being kept and successfully bred at Schönbrunn Zoo. Two of these species are already extinct in the wild. We are the only organization that has taken several other species under its wing as well. The offspring are distributed among other zoos and other organizations in the framework of species conservation programs. A number of universities have put in requests for the animals bred at Schönbrunn Zoo. Their research projects provide new insights into the various species.

A research project on the Azraq toothcarp (Aphanius sirhani) at Schönbrunn Zoo has yielded a wealth of new data on the temperature requirements and egg development of this species. Such information is crucial to set the correct measures for long-term species survival in natural habitats in the framework of renaturation projects.

Additional information:Scientific publications on members of the genus Aphanius