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 Executive Director: Larry Larsen;   Editor: Lilliam Larsen

Information Central  (c) Larry Larsen

Specie Genetics

Finally, after many years of waiting, Danish ichthyologist Dr. Sven Kullander, along with Dr. Efrem J. G. Ferreira of Manaus, have released their taxonomy (classification) findings and definitions of 9 new peacock bass species (cichlid genus Cichla). They also identified the geographic range of all the species included in the New Speciespublication. That brings the total of described species of peacock bass to 15!

"Dense jungles, vast rainforests and convoluted floodplains have helped the region keep its secrets for centuries," explains avid angler, owner of Acute Angling and peacock researcher Paul Reiss. "Until fairly recently, only a few adventurous explorers probed its depths and they alone provided the information the world has seen regarding the Amazon species. As a result, Peacock bass (members of the family Cichlidae) have been poorly understood, only partially classified and often misidentified."

Although the publication is very technical, here's a short summary of their findings as I (Larry Larsen) see them: "Cichla is widely distributed in the Amazon, Tocantins, and Orinoco river basins, and in the smaller rivers draining the Guianas to the Atlantic Ocean," they write. "They are known locally by the collective names tucunaré in most of the Amazon region, pavón in Venezuela, toekoenali in Suriname, and lukanani in Guyana. Within South America, transplantations are recorded from the Paraná and Paraguay River drainages in Paraguay and Brazil, and the Paraíba do Sul and Paraguaçu rivers in Brazil. The genus comprises 15 species recognized by external characters of which color pattern and meristics (geometrical relation of body parts) are most significant."

"In six species, juveniles possess three dark blotches on the side and a dark band connecting the rear blotch to the dark blotch (false eye) at the base of the tail fin: 1. Cichla ocellaris is known from the Guianas, including the Marowijne, Suriname, Corantijn, Demerara, and Essequibo river drainages, and also the upper Rio Branco in Brazil. 2. Cichla orinocensis is known from the Negro and Orinoco river drainages in Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela. 3. Cichla monoculus is widespread in the floodplains of the Amazon basin, in Colombia, Peru, and Brazil, and also collected from rivers of Amapa in Brazil, and the lower Oyapock River on the border between Brazil and French Guiana. 4. Cichla nigromaculata is known from the upper Rio Orinoco in Venezuela and, tentatively, the middle Rio Negro in Brazil. 5. Cichla kelberi, new species, is New peacock speciesrestricted to the Tocantins river basin, but also found transplanted in the Parana and Paraiba do Sul river drainages and reported from the Nordeste region of Brazil. 6. Cichla pleiozona, new species, occurs in the Madre de Dios, Beni, and Guapore river drainages in Bolivia and Brazil, and in the Rio Jamari in Brazil. A subspecies is fixed for Cychla toucounarai which is a synonym of Cichla monoculus."

 "Juveniles and young of the remaining 9 species, in addition to the three side blotches, possess a dark horizontal band extending from the head to the dark blotch at the base of the tail fin: 7. Cichla mirianae, new species, is restricted to the upper Tapajos river drainage, in the Juruena and Teles Pires rivers, and the upper Xingu river drainage in Brazil. 8. Cichla melaniae, new species, is restricted to the lower Xingu river drainage in Brazil. 9. Cichla piquiti, new species, is restricted to the Tocantins river basin, but transplanted in the Paraná river basin in Brazil and Paraguay. 10. Cichla thyrorus, new species, occurs in the Rio Trombetas in Brazil, upstream from the Cachoeira Porteira. 11. Cichla jariina, new species, occurs in the Rio Jari in Brazil, where it is so far recorded only from the region of the Santo Antonio rapids.

12. Cichla pinima, new species, occurs in the lower parts of southern tributaries of the Rio Amazonas in Brazil (Tapajós, Curuá-Una, Xingu), and the lower Tocantins and Capim rivers . Tentatively identified specimens are recorded from the Amapá, Araguari, and Canumã rivers in Brazil. 13. Cichla pinima occurs translocated in the Rio Paraguaçu in southeastern Brazil, and is reported as translocated from the northeast of Brazil. 14. Cichla vazzoleri, new species, occurs in the Uatumã and lower Trombetas rivers in Brazil. 15. Cichla temensis is known from the Negro and Orinoco river drainages in Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela. It is also recorded from blackwater rivers along the Rio Solimões-Amazonas in Brazil (Tefé, Rio Puraquequara, Rio Uatumã, and Silves). Cichla intermedia is restricted to the Casiquiare and Orinoco river drainages in Venezuela.

Have you caught them all? What do these new classifications mean to the sportfisherman? For the moment, probably not much, according to Reiss. "The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) has no immediate plans to change the record books," he says. "Three species are currently included in IGFA's comprehensive line class categories (Cichla temensis, C. ocellaris and C. intermedia). Two more of the species listed by Dr. Kullander in 2003 are anticipated to join that category in the near future (C. monoculus and/or C. orinocensis). The rest will probably take quite some time before being included in the line class records. Anglers and fish experts alike must learn enough about the newly revised taxonomy to make species identification routine, predictable and broadly accepted.

According to Jason Schratwieser, IGFA's Conservation Director, the nine newly described species (along with a re-described tenth) will be eligible for all-tackle records, if and when, as with all scientifically recognized fish species, they can be successfully identified and documented. The most important thing for anglers is not likely to change anytime soon, however," Paul smiles. "Cichla temensis, the giant Amazon peacock, will continue to be the ultimate quarry for trophy peacock seekers."

Editor's Note: Tips reprinted with permission from PBA's "The World of Peacock Bass" monthly eZine.

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