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Focus Central America

Short synopsis of Amphilophus Agassiz, 1859

By , 2007. image
Last updated on 20-Jan-2007

Michi Tobler, 2005

Type species: Amphilophus froebelii Agassiz, 1859

Distinctive characters: Distinctive characters of Amphilophus were summarized by Bussing & Martin (1975):

  • Produced snout
  • Upper profile of snout straight
  • Maxillary not extending beyond vertical of anterior margin of eye
  • Pectoral fins long, reaching origin of anal fin or far beyond
  • Basic color pattern comprising five to nine cross bars on body

Species currently included:

Amphilophus amarillo


Amphilophus calobrensis


Amphilophus citrinellus

C, E(Polychromatism)

Amphilophus hogaboomorum


Amphilophus labiatus

C, E(Polychromatism), A(A. labiatus complex, includes other species of Amphilophus s.s.)

Amphilophus lyonsi


Amphilophus nourissati


Amphilophus sagittae

C, E(Polychromatism)

Amphilophus trimaculatus


Amphilophus xiloaensis

C, E(Polychromatism)

Amphilophus zaliosus

C=CRC Catalogue, E=Note on Ecology, S=Note on systematic status

Distribution: Altlantic and Pazific versant from South México to Panama.

Further information: Astatheros Pellegrin, 1904 (type species: Heros heterodontus), Erythrichthus Meek, 1907 (type species: Heros citrinellus) and Curraichthys Fernandez-Yepez, 1969 (type species: Heros lobochilus) are considered as synonyms to Amphilophus by Kullander (2003). Evidence from molecular phylogenies, however, suggest that Amphilophus is polyphyletic and Aststheros a natural group (Martin & Bermingham, 1998; Hulsey et al. 2004), so that some authors consider Astatheros as valid (Stauffer & McKaye, 2002; Kranefeld & Schindler, 2005; Concheiro et al. 2007). Based on data published in the recent years, I follow these authors and consider Astatheros as a distinct taxon.

In the lakes of Nicaragua, species of the genus Amphilophus apparently underwent an adaptive radiation leading to various closely related but distinct forms (Stauffer & McKaye, 2002). This includes cases of sympatric speciation in small crater lakes (Refer to Barluenga et al. 2006 for potential sympatric speciation in Lake Xiloa. Also consider the response of Seehausen et al. 2006 in the same journal pointing out that multiple invasion and introgression may account for the patterns docemented by Barluenga et al. 2006). Within Amphilophus, there might be a couple of undescribed species.

The taxonomic assignment of some species is still not entriely clear. Based on the results of Concheiro et al. (2007), A. trimaculatus is tendatively included in Amphilophus here (but see a discussion of the topic here). Furthermore, the placement of A. calobrensis (which according to Concheiro et al. 2007 is to be assigned to a yet undescribed genus) and A. nourissati in Amphilophus is likely not definite.

Male in aquarium

Amphilophus labiatus male in the aquarium of Don Danko; Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Don Danko. Determiner Juan Miguel Artigas Azas

References (11):


Tobler, Michi. (Jan 20, 2007). "Short synopsis of Amphilophus Agassiz, 1859". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on Nov 26, 2022, from: