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Apistogramma erythrura

Apistogramma erythrura

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A-number: 207


Apistogramma erythrura sp. n. - a new geophagine dwarf cichlid (Teleostei: Perciformes: Cichlidae) from the rio Mamoré drainage in Bolivia
Wolfgang Staeck & Ingo Schindler (November 2008)


It cannot be excluded that it's identical with the Apistogramma trifasciata macilliensis (Haseman 1911), but for clarification a critical check of the type material is necessary.

Mike Wise
has given some very interesting comments on this species.
The following is presented with his permission.

Apistogramma sp. 'Rio Mamoré' is listed in many publications under the names A. trifasciata maciliensis or A. maciliensis. In all likelihood this identification is not correct.

Comparing Apistogramma sp. 'Rio Mamoré' to the descriptions & figures of A. t. maciliensis and A. t. haraldschultzi (considered a junior synonym), there are some significant discrepancies.
According to Haseman (1911), specimens of A. t. maciliensis exhibit " ... a very faint stripe from the pectorals to the anal in the largest specimen {it's only about 3.1 cm/1½ in. long! - mw}, but no stripes in the smaller ones ...".
For A. t. harald schultzi, Meinken (1960) states {trans.} "A dark diagonal stripe from the corner of the preoperculum to the beginning of the anal fin, which appears as a typical feature of coloration in specimens preserved in alcohol, is completely absent in live individuals, not a trace is visible." Such a stripe - faint or otherwise - is NEVER visible on live or preserved specimens of Apistogramma sp. 'Rio Mamoré'.
Another feature of Apistogramma sp. 'Rio Mamoré' that is different on A. t. maciliensis and A. t. haraldschultzi is the shape of the lateral band. On figures and in descriptions of A. t. maciliensis and A. t. haraldschultzi, the lateral band is visible on the flanks from the eye and the base of the tail, and is relatively even in width. On A. sp. "Mamoré", the lateral band typically is much broader toward the tail and narrows toward the head - often becoming invisible on the front half of the body.

Obviously there are some important questions that need to be answered.
Only examination of the existing type material might be able to prove or disprove whether or not A. sp. "Mamoré" is the same species as A. t. maciliensis.
Since the type material of A. t. haraldschultzi is lost, we can only depend on Meinken's written description for his fish. The opportunity occurred in 2006 when Dr. Uwe Römer, David Soares, and I examined the type material of A. t. maciliensis at the Field Museum in Chicago.
On seeing the holotype, I know that I was very disappointed. The nearly one century stay in alcohol had been tough on the specimens. Fins had eroded measurably from what is pictured on the original plate. Nevertheless we could recognize the sex of the holotype, which was not given in the original description (I will let Dr. Römer discuss this; I do not want to "steal his thunder"). Black markings were missing except for a few tiny spots here and there; certainly not enough to determine whether the holotype of A. trifasciata maciliensis was either A. trifasciata or Apistogramma sp. 'Rio Mamoré'.
The only diagnostic feature that might be useful is the shape of the body. The holotype of A. trifasciata maciliensis definitely has the deep, more stumpy body of Apistogramma sp. 'Rio Mamoré'.
The problem arises on the condition of the fish when collected. The eyes of the holotype of A. t. maciliensis are enormous compared to fully-grown specimens of either A. trifasciata or Apistogramma sp. 'Rio Mamoré', yet its finnage indicated that it was a sexually mature specimen.
To my way of thinking, it appears to be a stunted fish. Such stunting often misshapens the body, too. To my way of thinking, even its shape cannot be used for determining the species.

To add to the confusion, Trop Rio introduced an A. trifasciata-like fish from the lower Rio Guaporé in 1996 [=A. cf. trifasciata Rio Guaporé (A 206)].
This fish had the same diagnostic features of the typical A. trifasciata - except it had a honey yellow back and the diagonal band was faint on large specimens but was almost invisible on small specimens.
This fish certainly matches Haseman's description of A. t. maciliensis more closely than does A. sp. "Mamoré"!
I even suggested that this was the true A. t. maciliensis in several articles and on line.

Then in 2004 I received an email from Jeff Cardwell. He had returned from Bolivia where he had collected some Apistogramma specimens that he wanted me to identify - including some A. trifasciata.
The unknown (to him) fish were easily identified, but the A. trifasciata surprised me because they showed NO diagonal band - not even on large males.
He supplied me with collecting information. His fish came from a pool close to a stream entering the Río San Martin in the general vicinity of Magdalena, Bolivia. This is the same type of biotope that Schultz described for A. t. haraldschultzi. Cardwell also collected specimens of A. trifasciata from the same area - but coming from flowing streams. These all showed a pronounced diagonal band.
Certainly the two forms would meet during periods of high water when the stream overflowed its banks and flooded the lake.
Could the presence or absence of the diagonal band be due merely to where these fish live? That is my suspicion. If it is true, then A. t. maciliensis is merely a color morph of A. trifasciata, there is no valid A. maciliensis, and Apistogramma sp. 'Rio Mamoré' is a still scientifically undescribed species.

Although Apistogramma sp. 'Rio Mamoré' was first proposed as a potenitlally undescribed species in Staeck (1996) the name sp. 'Mamoré' was proposed a year later (Linke & Staeck, 1997).



Until November 2008 known as Apistogramma sp. "Rio Mamoré"

Often sold as Apistogramma macilliensis

Distribution and habitat

The Mamoré drainage (Rio Pacaás Novos system, Brazil) and the Guaporé basin (Rio San Martin drainage, Bolivia).

Guggenbühl collected the fish in the Itonamas system in an extensive, approximately 200 meters (650 ft.) wide, zone of floating plants in the Laguna Mapava, a lake seven by two kilometers (4½ by 1¼ mi.) in size (pH 5.5; no detectable conductivity; 30ºC/86ºF).

Lacerda found the species in the Lago das Cobras in the Rio Pacaás Novos, where it occurs syntopically with A. cf. staecki (Guaporé) and A. cf. resticulosa (Mamoré Blue).

Prefers standing water ( little or no water movement) in its habitat.

Water parameters

PH : 5 - 6,5
ppm : < 20

My Experience

As easy to keep and to breed as A. trifasciata.

Eats even dry food

Requires water of good quality to stay healthy


Very polygamous in my tanks, but pairs also do well.

Defends a large territory, in which several females breed

A female usually ends up with only 20 - 30 freeswimming fry