Mangrove rivulus

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KillifishDM1710 468x378.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cyprinodontiformes
Family: Rivulidae
Genus: Kryptolebias
Species: K. marmoratus
Binomial name
Kryptolebias marmoratus
Poey, 1880

The mangrove killifish or mangrove rivulus, Kryptolebias marmoratus (formerly Rivulus marmoratus),[1] is a species of fish in the Rivulidae family. It lives along the east coast of North, Central and South America, from Florida to Brazil. It is about 75 mm long.

The mangrove rivulus is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Species of Concern.


Scientists have recently discovered that the mangrove rivulus can spend up to 66 consecutive days out of water, which it typically spends inside fallen logs, breathing air through its skin.[2] It enters burrows created by insects inside trees where it relaxes its territorial, aggressive behavior. During this time, it alters its gills so it can retain water and nutrients, while nitrogen waste is excreted through the skin. The change is reversed once it re-enters the water.[3][4]

When jumping on land, the mangrove rivulus does a "tail flip", flipping its head over its body towards the tail end. The rivulus' jumping technique gives it an ability to direct its jumps on land and to make relatively forceful jumps. A team of scientists associated with the Society for Experimental Biology released a video in 2013 showing the jumping technique.[5]

The species consists mostly of hermaphrodites which are known to reproduce by self-fertilization, but males do exist,[6] and strong genetic evidence indicates occasional outcrossing.[7] They are also the only simultaneous hermaphroditic vertebrates, and the concentration of males to hermaphrodites can vary depending on the local requirement for genetic diversity (for example, if an increase in the local parasite population occurred, secondary male numbers would increase).[8]


This species is extremely vulnerable to habitat modification and fragmentation, environmental alteration, and human development/encroachment.

Conservation designation[edit]

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • American Fisheries Society: Vulnerable
  • Species of Greatest Conservation Need: Florida

Status reviews[edit]

Taylor (1999) is the last status review for the species.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ong, K. J.; Stevens, E. D.; Wright, P. A. (2007). "Gill morphology of the mangrove killifish (Kryptolebias marmoratus) is plastic and changes in response to terrestrial air exposure". Journal of Experimental Biology 210 (7): 1109. doi:10.1242/jeb.002238.  edit
  2. ^ "Tropical fish can live for months out of water", Reuters, Wed Nov 14, 2007 9:05pm GMT
  3. ^ "The fish that can survive for months in a tree", Daily Mail, 17 October 2007
  4. ^ "Tropical fish can live for months out of water", Reuters, Nov 14, 2007 9:05pm GMT
  5. ^
  6. ^ Lublnski, B. A.; Davis, W. P.; Taylor, D. S.; Turner, B. J. (1995). "Outcrossing in a Natural Population of a Self-Fertilizing Hermaphroditic Fish". The Journal of Heredity 86 (6): 469–473. 
  7. ^ MacKiewicz, M.; Tatarenkov, A.; Turner, B. J.; Avise, J. C. (2006). "A mixed-mating strategy in a hermaphroditic vertebrate". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 273 (1600): 2449. doi:10.1098/rspb.2006.3594.  edit
  8. ^

External links[edit]