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Tenerife freshwater fish found in the Canary Islands

Freshwater habitats in Tenerife

There is a great lack of natural freshwater habitats in Tenerife and in the other Canary Islands with only a couple of streams with water in them all year round, and only a few naturally occurring ponds on the island of Tenerife. Wildlife that need water that is not brackish or salt water are dependent on reservoirs, ornamental ponds and irrigation tanks.

Because of this there is only one species of fish found living wild in Tenerife that has been not been introduced and that is the Eel (Anguilla anguilla). The European Eel, which was once very common in the UK and Europe but is now Critically Endangered, is known to live in a water-source in a ravine in Afur in the extreme north of Tenerife.

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Tenerife Freshwater fish photos

Mosquito Fish (female). Photo by Steve Andrews

Mosquito Fish (female). Photo by Steve Andrews

Ponds in Las Galletas. Photo by Steve Andrews

Ponds in Las Galletas. Photo by Steve Andrews

Eel Photo by Steve Andrews

Eel Photo by Steve Andrews

Other freshwater fish found on Tenerife

The most commonly encountered fish is the Mosquito Fish (Gambusia affinis and G. holbrooki), which lives in many irriagtion tanks and reservoirs, as well as in some ornamental ponds in parks and gardens where it has been introduced.

This little fish is not fussy about water quality and can tolerate high temperatures, brackish water and a high degree of pollution. It is a livebearer, which helps it to reproduce quickly and where it lives it is often seen in thousands.

There are some brackish water pools on wasteland in front of the sea in Las Galletas in the south of Tenerife that support a population of Mosquito Fish. There were millions of them in the ponds in Erjos in the northwest of the island too but unfortunately a severe drought in 2008 dried up all the water and they all perished.

The Mosquito Fish, as its name suggests, will eat mosquito larvae, and this is why it has been distributed around the world in subtropical and tropical countries in an effort to eradicate these insect pests.

Another livebearer that can be found in some irrigation tanks and reservoirs for the farms is the Guppy (Poecilia reticulata). This attractive little fish is a firm favourite of tropical fish-keepers but the ones you can see living wild on Tenerife are not like the fancy ones that aquarists breed. Of course there is no reason why some enterprising person doesn't go into rearing the fancy types outdoors on the island.

Platies (Xiphophorus maculatus) too, yet another livebearing fish, are seen in some ornamental ponds in parks and gardens. There are Platies in the ponds in El Botánico botanical gardens in Puerto de la Cruz, for example.

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This is another fish that is very popular with aquarists and exists in many fancy colours and forms. Red Platies are the variety most often kept in ponds in Tenerife.

In addition to all these small freshwater fish, Carp species are also kept in some large ponds and reservoirs. The related Goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus) are another type of fish that can be seen in ponds in parks and gardens, just like in so many places all over the world today.

The Heron (Ardea cinerea) and the Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) are two water birds found on Tenerife that will hapily eat any freshwater fish they can catch.

Somewhat surprisingly for an island with a lack of natural freshwater habitats, there is a fish farm in the northern village of Aguamansa which rears trout.

Tenerife is an island of surprises and you never know what you might find if you fish about!


Rhyl on March 15, 2011:

When w´ve killed everything else we´ll just have to eat each other.

Steve Andrews (author) from Tenerife on March 28, 2010:

Thanks, Susie! It is disturbing to find just how many fish are becoming rare or are endangered with extinction. If you had told me when I was a boy or in my teens that one day Eels would be Critically Endangered would have thought this was rubbish. I remember when millions used to arrive each years in local rivers and would climb the sides of waterfalls. When there were so many that nearly every stone you turned over in a river would have a baby eel under it but not any more. I used to think they were immune to pollution having seen them thriving in a river in Cardiff that was black with coal dust and foaming with detergent but now I read that pollution is killing them!

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on March 28, 2010:

This is very interesting. I forgot how important lakes and streams are.

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