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  • Crenicichla Species Groups

    By Vinny Kutty

    There are over a hundred species and this genus is second in number and diversity only to Apistogramma. Difficulty involved in identification of these species has led to the creation of species groups, mostly by KULLANDER, LUCENA and PLOEG. While a species’ identity may often be unclear without knowing its collection locality, all species can be placed in their respective groups with only rudimentary knowledge of the characteristics of each species group. See below for a list of species belonging to each group and their shared physical characteristics.

    Saxatilis Group (41 species): these fish are known as Spangled Pikes for the numerous white to gold spangles found along the sides of males and some females. They all possess a humeral blotch (shoulder spot) that may or may not have a ring around it. albopunctata, Pellegrin 1904
    alta, Eigenmann 1912 (syn. C. cardiostigma)
    anthurus, Cope 1872
    britskii, Kullander 1986
    coppenamensis, Ploeg 1987
    frenata, Gill 1858
    hemera, Kullander 1990
    hummelincki, Ploeg 1991
    inpa, Ploeg 1991
    isbrueckeri, Ploeg 1991
    labrina, (Spix & Agassiz 1829)
    lepidota, Heckel 1840
    lucius, Cope 1871
    menezesi, Ploeg 1991
    nickeriensis, Ploeg 1987
    pellegrini, Ploeg 1991
    proteus, Cope 1872
    pydanielae, Ploeg 1991
    santosi, Ploeg 1991
    saxatilis, (Linnaeus 1758)
    semicincta, Steindachner 1892
    sipaliwini, Ploeg 1987
    sp. "Approuage"
    sp. "Arapiuns"
    sp. "Belem"
    sp. "British Guyana I"
    sp. "British Guyana II"
    sp. "Casiquiare"
    sp. "False anthurus"
    sp. "Inirida I" (sp. Bocon)
    sp. "Inirida II"
    sp. "Inirida III"
    sp. "Jurua Eirunepe"
    sp. "Madeira"
    sp. "Orinoco Puerto Ayacucho"
    sp. aff. britskii "Sao Francisco"
    sp. Tocantins I
    sp. Tocantins II
    sp. Tocantins III
    sveni, Ploeg 1991
    vaillanti, Pellegrin 1904 (syn. alta?)

    Lugubris Group (16 species): these are the largest of all pikes. Adults have a salami-like appearance. Possessing very small scales, they look smooth. Juveniles of these species have a unique spots-and-stripe pattern on their heads that they lose as they mature. adspersa, Heckel 1840
    cincta, Regan 1905
    johanna, Heckel 1840
    lenticulata, Heckel 1840
    lugubris, Heckel 1840
    marmorata, Pellegrin 1903
    rosemariae, Kullander 1997
    sp. "Arapiuns lugubris"
    sp. "Aripuana"
    sp. "Atabapo"
    sp. "Uaupes/Negro Multispot"
    sp. "Venezuela"
    sp. "Xingu I"
    sp. "Xingu II"
    sp. "Xingu III"
    strigata, Gunther 1862

    Acutirostris Group (9 species) : these rarely imported species are similar to lugubris group members but they all are more slender and have pointy heads. Juveniles of these species do not exhibit the spots-and-stripes pattern. acutirostris, Gunther 1862
    multispinosa, Pellegrin 1903
    percna, Kullander 1991
    phaiospilus, Kullander 1991
    sp. aff. acutirostris Madeira
    sp. "Tapajos Red"
    sp. "Trombetas"
    ternetzi, Norman 1926
    tigrina, Ploeg 1991

    Reticulata Group (13 species) : these fish were members of the genus Batrachops and are now considered Crenicichla. C. cyanonotus, C. reticulata, C. semifasciata and C. stocki have extremely large, round heads and are often referred to as Froghead Pikes. The others are specialized and inhabit swift flowing waters and have compressed heads. They do not have a shoulder spot (with one exception) but possess a distinct caudal spot and the females exhibit a red to orange bar on their flanks and dorsal fins during breeding. In the rheophilic species, the red bar on the dorsal fin is restricted to the upper half of the soft rays. cametana, Steindachner 1911
    cyanonotus, Cope 1871
    cyclostoma, Ploeg 1986
    geayi, Pellegrin 1903
    jegui, Ploeg 1986
    reticulata, (Heckel 1840)
    sedentaria, Kullander 1986
    semifasciata, (Heckel 1840)
    sp. "Belly Crawler"
    sp. "Tapajos Shoulder spot"
    sp. aff. geayi
    sp. aff. jegui
    stocki, Ploeg 1991

    Wallaci Group Species (11 species) : these are dwarf pikes. They rarely exceed 5 inches. Females of some species have ringed black spots on the dorsal fins. compressiceps, Ploeg 1986
    heckeli, Ploeg 1989
    notophthalmus, Regan 1913
    regani, Ploeg 1989
    sp. aff. heckelii "Cumina"
    sp. aff. notophthalmus "Maici-Mirim Madeira"
    sp. "Orinoco Dwarf"
    sp. "Xingu Dwarf"
    urosema, Kullander 1990
    virgatula, Ploeg 1991
    wallaci, Regan 1905

    Lacustris Group (13 species) : this group is under revision and does not have a clear diagnosis but they are all found in Southeast Brazil. Females often have a ringed black spot on the dorsal fin and both sexes often have a diagonal stripe under the eye. They do not have a shoulder spot. Most of these are large species, with a possible exception of C. jupiaensis, a reputed rapids-dwelling dwarf species. celidochilus, Casciotta 1987
    dorsocellata, Haseman 1911
    haroldoi, Luengo & Britski 1974
    iguassuensis, Haseman 1911
    jaguarensis, Haseman 1911
    jupiaensis, Britski & Luengo 1968
    lacustris, (de Castelnau 1855)
    mucuryna, von Ihering 1914
    niederleinii, (Holmberg 1891)
    punctata, (Regan 1905)
    sp. Iguassu I
    sp. Iguassu II
    vittata, Heckel 1840

    Scotti Group Species (3 species) : these are large gray species with suborbital stripe, dorsal fin spot in females and rows of horizontal lines along the sides. scotti, (Eigenmann 1907)
    gaucho, Lucena & Kullander 1992
    prenda, Lucena & Kullander 1992

    Missioneira Group Species (7 species) : these Rio Uruguai endemics are characterized by an unusual suborbital marking, consisting of only a few spots, a prominent post temporal spot and spotting on the body. Some females possess a dorsal fin spot. C. punctata of the lacustris group may actually belong here. igara, Lucena & Kullander 1992
    jurubi, Lucena & Kullander 1992
    minuano, Lucena & Kullander 1992
    missioneira, Lucena & Kullander 1992
    sp. Giraffe
    sp. aff. missioneira "Rio Forquilha"
    tendybaguassu, Lucena & Kullander 1992

    Other (1 species): macrophthalma, Heckel 1840.
    This unique fish has enormous eyes and is nocturnal. It is shaped like a wallaci group species but grows to about 8 inches. This ill-fitting species is ironically the type species of the genus.

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    Latest update: 30 April 2000
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