Aphanius fasciatus from Episkopi Bay, Cyprus

Help Save the Cyprus Killifish

The Mediterranean Killifish has only three remaining populations on the island of Cyprus, all of them are found in unprotected habitats which are suffering from a variety of anthropogenic threats; we need to gather funds and to act fast to protect this Cypriot fish and it’s last remaining habitats before it is too late – we need your help!

The Aim

The aim of this project is to work autonomously and alongside authorities and existing organisations and in line with existing projects to ensure the long term protection of the habitats which host the locally threatened Mediterranean Killifish Aphanius fasciatus in Cyprus.

The Objectives

  • Complete an island wide search-find survey which includes the Northern territory to determine for certain the absence or presence of the species.

  • Complete genetic sequencing of the three known Aphanius populations from Cyprus and develop specific methodologies for their individual conservation

  • Establish an ex-situ captive breeding and reintroduction programme for all populations with strict protocols for genetic exchange to ensure optimum gene flow and diversity.

  • Establish protected areas in Famagusta and Morphou with monitoring and management initiatives in place.

  • Support existing efforts to measure the impacts of invasive species on Aphanius populations

  • Collate evidence in association with authorities and NGO’s to achieve targets for scientific criteria required for Natura 2000 status of each of the three habitats hosting Aphanius (and other threatened or protected species) in Cyprus

Why is this Important?

Aphanius in Cyprus are under considerable pressure from a variety of threats at all of the three known habitats. In recent years we have been able to document some startling evidence which demonstrates the impending danger to these wild populations and the desperate need to initiate our action plan before it is too late.

Many Aphanius lagoons are uninhabitable due to waste dumping
Waste dumping is a huge problem at Morphou Bay and many Aphanius lagoons are baron and filled with waste and plastic

The Costs

This project will need to generate funding to cover costs of the following necessities:

  1. Logistics and equipment
  2. search, sampling and observation
  3. Impact assessment
  4. Education program
  5. Habitat restoration
  6. In & ex-situ conservation & re-introduction
  7. Ongoing monitoring

The Incentives

During the official meeting between the EU commission and Cyprus on 16.09.13 as part of the discussions on the country’s performance implementing water framework directives, Cyprus explained under action point 3.a.2 that in the absence of an assessment method, it does not monitor the hydromorphological quality of its coastal waters and that of the limited existing data, nothing is compiled.

All three habitats of the Cyprus Killifish have excellent ecotourism potential and could be ideal sites for ecological studies, protection of these habitats will also conserve important water resources, tackle climate change by improving carbon sequestration and provide safe refuge for many other protected, threatened and endangered organisms e.g. the critically endangered European Eel, Anguilla anguilla.

The Conclusion

Aphanius fasciatus is a protected species under the EU habitats Directive and the Bern Convention Appendices and yet, if its habitats are not protected, preserved and allowed to flourish naturally, the species and its ecosystem will face an untimely and undeniable extinction in Cyprus


Chris is an aquatic researcher and naturalist primarily interested in freshwater teleosts, crustacea and macrophytes. A specialist in fish nutrition, his background includes the establishment of his own business where he develops specially formulated feeds for ornamental & farmed fish and other aquatic species closely based on their natural diets. His personal research includes the freshwater and coastal habitats on the island of Cyprus and the ecological impacts of unsustainable practices occurring in the Amazon and Orinoco basins; he is also an avid collector and cultivator of rare and endangered rainforest plants.