Aphanius fasciatus from Episkopi Bay, Cyprus

Help Save the Cyprus Killifish

The Aim

To rehabilitate, restore, and protect the habitats of the three populations of Cyprus killifish, establish a local captive breeding and reintroduction program, and work with local community groups and organisations to conduct habitat maintenance and monitoring.

The Objectives

Identify all populations of Cyprus killifish

Complete genetic sequencing of the three known populations of the Cyprus killifish and establish their threat status

Complete an ecological survey to determine the current status of the three populations of the Cyprus killifish

 Develop a conservation action plan for the Cyprus killifish

Establish an ex-situ captive breeding and reintroduction program for all known extant and extirpated populations of the Cyprus killifish

Measure the impacts of invasive species on Cyprus killifish populations and facilitate actions to reduce their impacts

Establish areas of habitat that can be allocated as refuges with protected status for the Cyprus killifish

What work has already been done?

In 2015, our team discovered a third population of Cyprus killifish (Aphanius cf. fasciatus) and published a scientific article in 2018 outlining its conservation requirements

In 2021 our team collaborated with colleagues at the University of Pisa to complete a phylogenetic study on the killifish of Cyprus. Our work concluded that the killifish species found in Cyprus represents a distinct genetic lineage, each population is sufficiently genetically distinct to be considered independent conservation units, and the species qualifies as endangered at the national level.

Why is this Important?

All three of the killifish populations in Cyprus are under threat from multiple human-induced and environmental impacts. Fragmentation, destruction, and degradation of habitats, agricultural run-off, waste, and chemical pollutants, introduction of predatory and invasive species, and climate-related events are pushing each of these populations to the very edge of existence. Despite being a protected species listed under Annex II of the European Union Habitat Directive and in Appendices II and III of the Bern Convention, populations of the Cyprus killifish appear to be subject to an increasing threat of extirpation, and so implementing an effective conservation strategy is increasingly time-sensitive.

A mass fish kill of approximately 20,000 killifish was recorded at Famagusta Bay where habitat fragmentation caused by construction has resulted in highly unsuitable living conditions for fish species including Aphanius

Why should we act now?

The recent adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework by 196 countries at the COP15 United Nations Conference on Biological Diversity outlines that members will commit to conserving at least 30% of land, freshwater, and oceans and restoring degraded ecosystems globally by 2030. A newly proposed EU Nature Restoration Law is also pending with 20% of EU land to be restored, within that, 25,000 km of free-flowing rivers are to be restored by 2030. With several other European populations of the species having become extinct, and at least one former Cypriot population lost from the Larnaca wetlands sometime after 1896, it is now a matter of urgency that we act to ensure the Cyprus killifish thrives once again.


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.