News on cichlids
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (05-Oct-2015)
The Crenicichla species in the lower Iguazú River, part of the Paraná/La Plata drainage in Argentina have been studied by Lubomír Piálek and a group of scientists who publish their results in the Argentinian magazine Historia Natural. Five different Crenicichla species (four endemic) have been identified from this area, two of which are described as new; namely Crenicichla tuca and C. tapii. The better known of the new species is perhaps the very attractive C. tuca, which was known as C. sp. ‘botox’ as popularized by Oliver Lucanus. The given specific name tuca derives from the Guaraní language word for toucan (Tucá), in reference to the large lips of this species, allegedly used to seal crevices and capture invertebrates hiding within. The second described species C. tapii, derives its name from the Guaraní word for tapir (Tapirus), which refers to its down-facing mouth and concave head associated with its grazing and semi-herbivorous mode of feeding. The other three syntopic (found living together in that area) species are C. iguassuensis, C. tessay (for which updated diagnosis are also offered) and C. lepidota. The latter species not endemic from the lower Iguazú River and found only distantly related to the other four. It is thus likely that the four endemic Crenicichla species have sympatrically (in the same distribution) evolved from a common ancestor to achieve feeding specialization.
Piálek, Lubomír & K. Dragová, J. Casciotta, A. Almirón, O. Rícan. 2015. "Description of two new species of Crenicichla (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from the lower Iguazú River with a taxonomic reappraisal of C. iguassuensis, C. tesay and C. yaha". Historia Natural. 5(2):5-27 (crc06900) (abstract)
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (25-Sep-2015)
A new dwarf Crenicichla species has been described from the Xingú River (Amazon drainage) in Brazil, the new species C. anamiri was named after the Tuco-Guarani noun Anãmiri, meaning dwarf. Males of this species are known to only reach 6 cm. in length. This species was first reported in Cichlids Yearbook 2 in 1992 by Franz Warzel as Crenicichla sp. cf. regani, after it had been collected by Rainer Harnoss in a small ditch near Altamira, Rio Xingú drainage [Brazil], about 200 km upstream from Souzel. The description by Priscila Madoka M. Ito and & Lúcia H. Rapp Py-Daniel from the National Institute of Amazonian Research [Manaus] appears in the journal Neotropical Ichthyology and offers a diagnosis based on a combined set of characters that differentiate it from the rest of the Crenicichla species, without recognizing any unique trait. It differs from its closest relative C. regani in having a smaller adult size, a shorter snout, a deeper body, and conspicuous markings in the tail. With this, eleven species of Crenicichla are listed from the Rio Xingu basin.
Ito, Priscila Madoka M & L.H.R. Py-Daniel. 2015. "A small new species of Crenicichla Heckel, 1840 from middle rio Xingu, Brazil (Teleostei: Cichlidae)". Neotropical Ichthyology. 13(3):471-47. DOI: 10.1590/1982-0224-20140105 (crc06899) (abstract)
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (11-Sep-2015)
A new Heros species for what in recent years has been incorrectly known as Heros severus has been described by Wolfgang Staeck and Ingo Schindler in the journal “Bulletin of Fish Biology”. The new species Heros liberifer differs from all Heros species by a pattern of several horizontal series of bright red dots on the lower half of the body sides (versus no rows of red dots), tiny dark dots on operculum and cheeks in adult males (versus large dots or a vermicular pattern) and other aspects. It differs from its partly sympatric (having the same distribution) species H. severus in several morphological, behavioral and ecological aspects. The new species is a mouth-brooder, from which its specific name liberifer (Children carrier in Latin) was inspired, plus unlike H. severus it is found not only in black water but also in clear and white water, with a higher pH. H. liberifer is described from the Orinoco basin in Venezuela, but it can also be found in the Casiquiare River (that connects the upper Rio Negro and Orinoco basins) and in the middle and upper Rio Negro in Brazil.
Staeck, Wolfgang & Ingo Schindler. 2015. "Description of a new Heros species (Teleostei, Cichlidae) from the Rio Orinoco drainage and notes on Heros severus Heckel, 1840". Bulletin of Fish Biology. 15(1-2):121-136 (crc06878) (abstract)
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (07-Sep-2015)
A new South American cichlid species classified in the large genus Crenicichla, with currently around 91 generally accepted species, has been recently described by Sven Kullander and H. R. Varella in the journal Copeia from specimens collected in the upper Rio Negro in Brazil. The new species, C. monicae, was first collected to science by no less than Alfred Russel Wallace between 1850 and 1852. The preserved specimens were lost in a fire but drawings remained. The specific name monicae honors Mónica Toledo-Piza Ragazzo, a Brazilian biologist who compiled and published Russel’s drawings in a book. The new species has apparently never been kept in aquarium and differs from all other Crenicichla species by a distinctive pattern of scattered dark spots on and above lateral lines in one of the sexes.
Kullander, Sven & H.R. Varella. 2015. "Wallace’s pike cichlid gets a name after 160 years: A new species of cichlid fish (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from the upper Rio Negro in Brazil". Copeia. 103(3):512-519. DOI: 10.1643/CI-14-169 (crc06795) (abstract)
By Ad Konings (26-Jul-2015)
On a recent trip along the southern Tanzanian shores of Lake Tanganyika I was fortunate to encounter a fisherman who had just caught a number of deep-dwelling fish with a gill net. There were not very many cichlids, about 40, and they were almost all Benthochromis horii. Among these 40 fish I spotted one that stood out as being different and when the fisherman handed it to me I realized that the specimen was B. tricoti. I had never seen this species “alive” and years ago I concurred with Tawil (2008) that both B. tricoti and B. horii were the same species. After Andersen (2013) pointed out that indeed three different Benthochromis species exist (the third is B. melanoides) and that all three are regularly caught in deep waters in the southern part of the lake, I began to believe that B. tricoti and B. horii are different. But the doubt was always there. No longer; B. tricoti is rather distinct from the species we have in our aquarium. The male (?) specimen was larger than all the male B. horii in the fisherman’s catch, had a deeper body, and exhibited only two white longitudinal lines on the body while B. horii has three. Even though it was bigger it didn’t show any coloration other than the black markings. I had speculated (Konings 2015) that B. tricoti probably spawns in deep water where breeding colors are only perceived as black and white. Such is the case with all deep water breeders, e.g. Bathybates, Trematocara, etc. The fact that the single B. tricoti was collected in the same net as 40 B. horii makes it unquestionable that these represent two different species.
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (19-Jun-2015)
A new species of Retroculus from the high Rio Tocantins in the Brazilian Amazon basin has been described in the journal Zootaxa by Maria Isabel Landin, C.R. Moreira & C.A. Figueiredo from the Universities of Sao Paolo and Rio De Janeiro respectively. The new species, R. acherontos, had been originally reported by Oliver Lucanus in the April 2011 issue of Cichlid News Magazine. This species is distinctively different from the three other species in the genus from which it differs by a black blotch in the median portion of the first to seventh dorsal-fin soft rays. It also develops a nuchal hump in specimens of both sexes longer than 150 mm. It also differs in other less obvious characters. The specific name chosen for the new species, acherontos refers to the type locality in Rio de las Almas (souls river) in a cryptic way; Acheron in the Greek mythology is the river that flows to Hades, land of the souls. The new species has a known small distribution around Serra da Mesa Hydroeletric power dam, and it is considered as endangered.
Landim, María Isabel & C.R. Moreira, C.A. Figueiredo. 2015. "Retroculus acherontos, a new species of cichlid fish (Teleostei) from the Rio Tocantins basin". Zootaxa. 3973(2):369-380. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3973.2.10 (crc06779) (abstract)
By Ad Konings (15-Jun-2015)
A few days ago a very important paper was published by Genner et al. (2015) who looked at the genetic relationships of haplochromines in- and outside of Lake Malawi using mitochondrial DNA. For a very long time it had been assumed that Astatotilapia calliptera would be the logical ancestor to all Malawi cichlids, as it occurs inside as well as outside the lake, mostly in southern and eastern rivers. However, Genner and colleagues found that comparing the Lake Malawi species flock with a large number of riverine Astatotilapia from various drainage systems that an as yet undescribed species (A. sp. ‘ruaha’) is sister to all Malawi haplochromines, including A. calliptera. They found this ancestral species in the Great Ruaha River which is to the northeast of Lake Malawi. Due to different sediment depositions on the lake bottom it was already known that Lake Malawi was formed starting in the north and expanded towards a southern direction. Genner et al. (2015) make it plausible that the formation of the Livingstone Mountains (Kipengere Range), located along the northeastern shore of the lake, caused the split in the Ruaha drainage system with the southern part becoming Lake Malawi. The Ruaha cichlids, then in a novel environment, i.e. a deep lake, underwent rapid speciation and eventually also produced A. calliptera. This species subsequently invaded the rivers that flowed into the lake and even got isolated in the Ruvuma River which forms the border between Tanzania and Mozambique and has no longer a connection with Lake Malawi. All A. calliptera they tested fell within the Malawi species flock, even an A. calliptera population they found in Lake Chidya which is in the Ruvuma drainage system about 30 km away from the Indian Ocean and almost 600 km in a straight line east of Lake Malawi! Now that they know this ancestral species in the Ruaha they can examine whether the genetic variability of the huge Malawi radiation was already present in the riverine ancestral form or that this came about due to a deep lake environment.
Genner, Martin & B.P. Ngatunga, S. Mzighani, A. Smith, G.F. Turner. 2015. "Geographical ancestry of Lake Malawi's cichlid fish diversity". Biology Letters. 11(6):1-12. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0232 (crc06744) (abstract)
By Rico Morgenstern (08-May-2015)
Felipe Ottoni and José Leonardo Mattos have redescribed the little known, endagered cichlasomatine cichlid Nannacara hoehni Ribeiro, 1918, and have established a new genus, Rondonacara, for this species. This was doubtlessly an overdue step that ends the taxonomic odyssey of this species. A molecular phylogenetic analysis placed the new genus as sister group to Laetacara, from which it is readily distinguished by a unique combination of characters.
Ottoni, Felipe & José Leonardo O. Mattos. 2015. "Phylogenetic position and re-description of the endangered cichlid Nannacara hoehnei, and description of a new genus from Brazilian Cerrado (Teleostei, Cichlidae, Cichlasomatini)". Vertebrate Zoology. 65(1):65-79 (crc06694) (abstract)
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (28-Apr-2015)
Melanie Stiassny (American Museum of Natural History) and Elizabeth Alter have described a new Teleogramma species after US president Barak Obama and his wife Michelle Obama; “in recognition of their commitment to science education, development, gender equality, and self-reliance for all peoples of African nations, and their dedication to environmental conservation in Africa and beyond”. The new species, Teleogramma obamaorum, was found in the main channel of the mighty Congo River at the western part of the Pool Malebo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an area of turbulent and deep waters and of high species endemism. T. obamaorum differs from the four known Teleogramma species, among other many traits, by not having a dorsally depressed head and body, not showing sexual dimorphism (inferred not to be necessary in the dark habitat where they live) and having enlarged sensory pores. The new species could only be discovered during an extreme drought in 2011, which made the otherwise invisible deep rocky areas of the river surface. It has not being seeing since.
Stiassny, Melanie & S.E. Alter. 2015. "Phylogenetics of Teleogramma, a riverine clade of African cichlid fishes, with a description of the deepwater molluskivore — Teleogramma obamaorum — from the lower reaches of the middle Congo River". American Museum Novitates. (3831):1-18 (crc06666) (abstract)
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (19-Mar-2015)
The new edition of the most complete treatment of Lake Tanganyikan cichlids is finally available today! The book covers all the 219 known cichlid species in the lake and includes 1,200 pictures taken in natural habitat. Many taxonomic changes for the lake cichlids are included, they are the result of new information, analysis of the latest DNA comparison test and consult with many of the top lake Tanganyikan cichlid specialists around the world. The book is available through this site or directly from CichlidPress.
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (07-Jan-2015)
Apistogramma kullanderi, the largest known Apistogramma yet, has been described in late 2014 in the journal Ichthiological Exploration of Freshwaters by Henrique R. Varella & Mark H. Sabaj Pérez. The holotype of the new species has a standard length (without tail) of 79.7 mm. This feature alone diagnoses it from the rest of Apistogramma species currently described (second largest being A. steindachneri). Additionally, A. kullanderi is diagnosed by a combination of coloration aspects found in males and females. Males A. kullanderi show an irregular and attractive pattern of dark spots and vermiculations on the cheeks and sides with 10-12 dark stripes. The new species was previously known as Apistogramma sp. ‘gigas’, and was discovered in 2009 during the PIPE-Expedition to the Serra do Cachimbo in the upper Curuá river, Xingú basin, Amazon drainage, and is believed to be endemic to a waterfalls isolated plateau in the Brazilian watershed (Central Brazil), where it inhabits clear to light black waters.
Varella, Henrique Rosa & M.H. Sabaj Pérez. 2014. "A titan among dwarfs: Apistogramma kullanderi, new species (Teleostei: Cichlidae)". Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwaters. 25(3):243-258 (crc06519) (abstract)
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (28-Dec-2014)
Geophagus sp. 'aripuanã’, first mentioned as a potential new species by Jens Gottwald in 2011 (Datz 64(n. 2), pp. 36-3), has got the official scientific name Geophagus mirabilis in a recently published paper in the Brazilian journal Neotropical Ichthyology. The description is authored by Gabriel C. Deprá, Sven O. Kullander, Carla S. Pavanelli and Weferson J. da Graça. Type locality and distribution of the new species is established in the upper Rio Madeira, Amazon basin, upstream the Dardanelos/Andorinhas falls in the Matto Grosso state in central Brazil. The new species is diagnosed from the rest of the Geophagus species by the presence of 2-6 black spots in a longitudinal row along the middle part of the flanks in specimens larger than 80 mm standard length (leaving out the tail), and by a rich pattern of iridescent blue, round or vermiculate marks on the side of the head. The beautiful (and unique in Geophagus) coloration of the new species has inspired the specific name mirabilis, which translates from Latin as extraordinary, marvelous, admirable. The holotype and 79 paratypes representing the species are stored in several Brazilian universities.
Deprá, Gabriel de Carvalho & Sven O. Kullander, Carla S. Pavanelli, Weferson J. da Graça. 2014. "A new colorful species of Geophagus (Teleostei: Cichlidae), endemic to the rio Aripuanã in the Amazon basin of Brazil". Neotropical Ichthyology. 12(4):737-746. DOI: 10.1590/1982-0224-20140038 (crc06517) (abstract)
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (14-Dec-2014)
A new species of Julidochromis, Julidochromis marksmithi has been described by Warren Burgess in number 15 of the Polish Tanganika Magazyn. The new species has been widely known as Julidochromis sp. 'regani kipili’, it is endemic to the Tanzanian coast of Lake Tanganyika and has a limited distribution. The species is differentiated from the rest of the Julidochromis species by its coloration, with a bright yellow background and three dark horizontal stripes on the sides, the upper one from the nape to about halfway along the back at the dorsal fin base. The species is described to honor Mark Smith, who was instrumental in providing the type material. With this, Julidochromis counts now six different species and Dr. Burgess has named two Tanganyikan cichlids to honor Mark Smith.
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (14-Dec-2014)
A new paper by Caleb D. McMahan and a group of authors has just been published in the journal Copeia. In this paper the taxonomic status of Cryptoheros coatepeque, a cichlid described in 2007 as endemic to Crater Lake Coatepeque in El Salvador is examined. C. coatepeque was described based on morphological differentiations with C. nigrofasciatus, the convict cichlid. The authors were unable to apply the diagnosis given for C. coatepeque to differentiate individuals of Lake Coatepeque, and using molecular and morphological characters found that C. coateque is within the natural variation of C. nigrofasciatus, and hence declare the synonymy of the former.
McMahan, Caleb D & W.A. Matamoros, E. Barraza, J. Kutz, P. Chakrabarty. 2014. "Taxonomic Status of the Lago Coatepeque Endemic Convict Cichlid Amatitlania coatepeque (Teleostei: Cichlidae)". Copeia. 2014(4):633-638 (crc06500) (abstract)
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (19-Nov-2014)
William Albert Bussing Burhaus, 81, professor emeritus of the University of Costa Rica died last Monday (November 17) after suffering a car accident in the pacific coast of Costa Rica, while passenger in a vehicle. Professor Bussing had arrived in Costa Rica in 1960 to research and write his master degree thesis for the University of Southern California. He decided to stay in Costa Rica, where he marred Mirna López Sánchez, also a biologist and professor of the University of Costa Rica. Professor Bussing is better known for his book “Peces de las aguas continentales de Costa Rica” (Freshwater Fishes of Costa Rica). Original news.
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (12-Nov-2014)
A revision of the Pelvicachromis taeniatus species group based mainly on caudal fin coloration and mitochondrial DNA comparisons has been published in the journal Zootaxa. The paper is authored by Anton Lamboj, Daniela Bartel & Emiliano Dell’Ampio. In this revision, P. taeniatus has been restricted to the western populations of its previously recognized distribution, in Nigeria and eastern Benin. The restricted taxon is established as distinct from all congeners by a caudal fin which is yellow or white with black blotches and no margin in its half upper part, and with a black margin with a white to pale bluish submargin in the lower half. A new species, Pelvicachromis drachenfelsi, is described for the population in the Wouri River in Cameroon, diagnosed to have a black margin with a white to pale bluish submargin in the lower half of the male caudal fin, not present in any congener but P. taeniatus. The specific name has been chosen to honor Ernst-Otto von Drachenfels from Germany, friend of the leading author. The name P. kribensis has been revalidated from the synonymy with P. taeniatus for the eastern populations in Cameroon (Dehane, Lobe Massa, Moliwe, Muyuka, Kienke) and is established to differ from P. taeniatus and P. drachenfelsi mainly by a male’s tail coloration without black or white margins or submargins.
Lamboj, Anton & D. Bartel, E. dell'Ampio. 2014. "Revision of the Pelvicachromis taeniatus-group (Perciformes), with revalidation of the taxon Pelvicachromis kribensis (Boulenger, 1911) and description of a new species". Cybium. 38(3):205-222 (crc06434) (abstract)
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (05-Oct-2014)
A new publication in the online magazine Zootaxa offers the description of the popular Apistogramma sp ‘papagei’ as Apistogramma ortegai Britzke, Oliveira & Kullander, 2014. The new species is named after Professor Hernán Ortega Torres from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos [Lima]. The description, based on a combination on differentiating characters, comprises what had been considered as two closely related species inhabiting together; namely Apistogramma sp. ‘papagei’ and Apistogramma sp. 'pebas'. Albeit the small differences that led to the proposition of the two forms as potentially undescribed species by Ingo Koslowski back in 2000 and 2002, the authors have not found taxonomic differences that in their opinion could justify the proposition of two different species, and have therefore described just one. The new species is endemic to the Amazon drainage in Peru, specifically the upper reaches of the Rio Ampiyacu, from where it is only known.
Britzke, Ricardo & C. Oliveira, S.O. Kullander. 2014. "Apistogramma ortegai (Teleostei: Cichlidae), a new species of cichlid fish from the Ampyiacu River in the Peruvian Amazon basin". Zootaxa. 3869(4):409-419. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3869.4.5 (crc06425) (abstract)
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (26-Sep-2014)
Two new species of Parananochromis, P. orsorum (Parananochromis sp. 'ntem') and P. elobatus (Parananochromis sp 'sanaga') from Cameroon have been described by Anton Lamboj, elevating the number of Parananochromis species to eight. Both P. elobatus and P. orsorum are distinguished from the rest of Parananochromis species by combinations of characters. The specific name elobatus (without lobes from Latin) was given in reference to the short lappets on the dorsal fin in this species. P. orsorum is described after Rose and Tony Orso (Vernon, USA), who helped the author import a number of new species of cichlids over the years.
Lamboj, Anton. 2014. "Two new species of Parananochromis of Cameroon, Central Africa (Teleostei: Cichlidae)". Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwaters. 25(1):49-57. ISBN: 0936-9902 (crc06399) (abstract)
By Rico Morgenstern (21-Aug-2014)
A new haplochromine cichlid from the Great Ruaha drainage in Tanzania has been described by Frederic D. B. Schedel, John P. Friel and Ulrich K. Schliewen: Haplochromis vanheusdeni. The new species is named after Hans van Heusden, who has first documented its ecology and behavior. H. vanheusdeni was previously known as “Orthochromss sp. ‘Sonjo’”, but the authors expressly refrained from placing the species within Orthochromis for it does not fit the current diagnosis of that genus. Furthermore, unpublished molecular data suggest that it is not closely related to the type species O. malagaraziensis. Much rather, it forms a lineage of its own within the haplochromine assemblage.
Schedel, Frederic D. B & John P. Friel, Ulrich K. Schliewen. 2014. "Haplochromis vanheusdeni, a new haplochromine cichlid species from the Great Ruaha River drainage, Rufiji basin, Tanzania". Spixiana. 37(1):135-149 (crc06350)
By Juan Miguel Artigas Azas (20-Aug-2014)
A new species or Lamprologus from the main channel of the lower Congo River in western Africa has been described by Stephanie Tougas & Melanie Stiassny from the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The description, just published in the journal Zootaxa, splits the population of Lamprologus tigripictilis in the lower Congo into two species separated by the Inga rapids. Specimens found in and above the rapids remain L. tigripictilis, while those below the rapids in a stretch of about 100 km are proposed to be renamed Lamprologus markerti, the name given in honor of Jeffrey Markert, who initially suggested the study. The description is based on a diagnosis which includes among a other traits, a slightly smaller number of wider vertical bars than in L. tigripictilis, a reduced number of gill rakers in the first arch and a longer head. The absence of an intestinal loop in L. markerti is also noted. With this description, the species of Lamprologus increase to nine.
Tougas, Stephanie & Melanie L.J. Stiassny. 2014. "Lamprologus markerti, a new lamprologine cichlid (Teleostei: Cichlidae) endemic to the lower Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, west-central Africa". Zootaxa. 3852(3):391 – 400. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3852.3.8 (crc06342) (abstract)