Michi Tobler, 2005
Cichlid Room Companion
Focus Central America

The systematic status of Cichlasoma zonatum and Heros guttulatus

By , 2005. image
Last updated on 11-Aug-2005

Classification: Taxonomy and phylogeny, Central and North America.

Although Kullander (2003) lists Cichlasoma zonatum Meek, 1907 (type locality: Niltepec, Oaxaca, México) as a valid species in the genus Vieja, he admits that the validity of the species is uncertain. C. zonata was synonymized with V. guttulata (type locality: Lake Amatitlan, Pacific coast of Guatemala) by Miller (1966). According to Meek, V. zonata has a steeper head profile, a higher body and a smaller mouth compared to V. guttulata.

The reason why Kullander (2003) questioned the validity of V. zonata is not straightforward to understand, since a distinct Vieja form was repeatedly reported from the type locality and adjacent areas (e.g. Stawikowski & Werner, 1998 and picture below). Moreover, doubts on the validity of the species seem more appropriate in respect of Günther's H. guttulatus, since very little is known about Vieja forms from the Lake Amatitlan area and the Pacific coast of Guatemala. New information on Vieja forms from the Pacific coast of Guatemala would therefore certainly shed light into this problem. Any conclusions if the species from Oaxaca and the Amatitlan region are indeed distinct species or if they represent geographical variants of the same species seem premature unless new information is provided.

Male in the aquarium A male of Vieja zonata from La ventosa, Oaxaca [Mexico], in normal coloration in the aquarium of Don Danko. Photo by Don Danko. determiner Juan Miguel Artigas Azas


Tobler, Michi. (Aug 11, 2005). "The systematic status of Cichlasoma zonatum and Heros guttulatus". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on Dec 08, 2023, from: