We characterized the ontogeny and dynamics of gonadal development, embryogenesis, and gestation in captive stocks of the viviparous redtail splitfin, Xenotoca eiseni. Using histology, we showed that gonads were fully differentiated at the time of birth with a male:female sex ratio of 1:1 in the captive stock. External secondary sex features included a modified anal fin and a distinctive orange tail coloration. These features first appeared at 4 weeks after birth and were discriminative for males thereafter. There was no sex-related dichotomy in body size, and X. eiseni reached sexual maturity at approximately 12 weeks of age. We found no evidence for sperm storage in females. Gestation normally took 6 weeks, and there was a positive correlation between female body size and the number of offspring produced, with up to 27 offspring for a single pregnancy. Yolk is the main food source for developing embryos for the period up to 2 weeks, and thereafter, trophotaeniae in embryos act as nutrient exchange surfaces in the ovarian lumen, which subsequently undergo complete regression within 2 weeks of birth. In our final analysis, we discuss the great potential of X. eiseni as a model for studying the effects of chemicals on sexual development.

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