Aphanius sirhani Villwock, Scholl & Krupp, 1983

Azraq killifish, Azraq toothcarp, Jordanian killifish



Taxonomy & Nomenclature



Conservation Status

Extinct in the wild

Last record: between 2004 and 2006

IUCN RedList status: Critically Endangered


This species was endemic to the Azraq Oasis in Jordan, and thought to be extinct when the Oasis dried out in 1992. However, after pumping water back the species was rediscovered in 2000 by two Austrians (Weisenbacher & Horst, 2001). 45 (or c.45) individuals were taken into captivity and a breeding program started. Artificial stocking in 2002 and 2003 failed and the last wild individuals were taken into captivity sometime between 2004-2006. Partial restoration of the wetland (c.8%) has allowed in-situ conservation-dependent populations to return, and breeding has taken place. It is therefore currently extinct in the wild, as in-situ populations are maintained artificially to a great degree, as either "water must be pumped into the wetland [regularly]" (Hamidan, 2014:27), or populations exist in man-made ponds ([i]op. cit.[/i]).



Azraq Oasis, Wadi Sirhan valley, Syrian desert, Jordan


Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Villwock, W., Scholl, Adolf and Krupp, Friedhelm. (1983). Zur Taxonomie, Verbreitung und Speziation des Formenkreises Aphanius dispar (Rüppell, 1828) und Beschreibung von Aphanius sirhani n. sp. (Pisces: Cyprinodontidae). Mitteilungen aus dem Hamburgischen Zoologischen Museum und Institut 80: 251-277.

Other references:

Anonymous. (undated). Aphanius sirhani VILLWOCK, SCHOLL & KRUPP, 1983. Species Profile. Seriously Fish, available at:

Crivelli, A. J. (2006). Aphanius sirhani. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. ( Downloaded on 19 April 2014.

Esmaeili, H. R., Teimori, A., Zarei, F., Sayyadzadeh, G. (2020). DNA barcoding and species delimitation of the Old World tooth-carps, family Aphaniidae Hoedeman, 1949 (Teleostei: Cyprinodontiformes). PLoS ONE 15(4): e0231717.

Hamidan, Nashat. (2014). What to do if there is no more water? Conservation of Aphanius sirhani, the Azraq Killifish. Saving Freshwater Fishes and Habitats. Newsletter of the IUCN SSC/WI Freshwater Fish Specialist Group 4: 26-27.

Hrbek, T. and Meyer, A. (2003). Closing of the Tethys Sea and the phylogeny of Eurasian killifishes (Cyprinodontiformes: Cyprinodontidae). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 16(1): 17-36. [Abstract]

Krupp, F. and Schneider, W. (1989). The fishes of the Jordan River drainage basin and Azraq Oasis. Fauna of Saudi Arabia 10: 347-416.

Maceda-Veiga, A.; Domínguez-Domínguez, O.; Escribano-Alacid, J.; Lyons, J. (2016). The aquarium hobby: can sinners become saints in freshwater fish conservation? Fish and Fisheries 17: 860-874.

Weisenbacher, Anton and Horst, Zornig. (2001). Report on the current situation of Aphanius sirhani. Vienna, Austria University of Vienna.


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