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Gasteropelecus sternicla (LINNAEUS, 1758)

Common Hatchetfish, Silver Hatchetfish

March 13th, 2012 — 1:23pm

This species spends almost all of its time at or just below the water surface, although it will sometimes retreat into midwater if threatened or feeding. Like other freshwater hatchetfishes, it is renowned for its ability to leap from the water surface and glide for distances of several metres. This behaviour is used both to catch flying insects, and to escape potential predators.

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Thoracocharax stellatus (KNER, 1858)

Spotfin Hatchetfish

March 13th, 2012 — 1:23pm

T. stellatus is superficially similar to its only congener T. securis, but can immediately be identified by the presence (vs. absence) of a prominent dark spot in the dorsal-fin. It is sometimes traded as ‘platinum hatchetfish’.

The genus Thoracocharax was originally erected by Fowler in 1906 as a subgenus of Gasteropelecus, but was elevated to generic status by Weitzman (1960).

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Gasteropelecus levis (EIGENMANN, 1909)

Silver Hatchetfish

March 13th, 2012 — 1:23pm

Gasteropelecids are commonly-referred to as ‘freshwater hatchetfishes’ due to their heavily-keeled body shape which has evolved in such a way due to possessing an enlarged, heavily-muscled pectoral girdle, and which resembles the shape of a hatchet head.

They are sometimes said to be capable of propelled flight above the water surface by beating their pectoral fins but in fact this is not the cas…

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Carnegiella strigata (GÜNTHER, 1864)

Marbled Hatchetfish

March 13th, 2012 — 1:23pm

C. strigata is an enduringly popular species in the aquarium hobby but is not bred on a commercial basis with all fish offered for sale collected in the wild.

It can be told apart from other members of the genus by its larger adult size and dark, marbled colour pattern appearing as a series of dark and light stripes running diagonally across the body below the lateral line.

This colour pattern is variable and popul…

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Hydrolycus scomberoides (CUVIER, 1819)

Vampire Tetra

March 13th, 2012 — 1:23pm

This species may be referred to using a variety of names including ‘scomb’, ‘sabre tooth tetra’, ‘sabre tusk barracuda’, ‘dog tooth characin, ‘vampire fish’, ‘Cachorra’ or Pirandirá (the latter two names being used in Brazil where they’re also applied to congeners).

It’s regularly confused with the payara, H. armatus, though that species grows considerably larger, is pop…

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Rhaphiodon vulpinus SPIX & AGASSIZ, 1829


March 13th, 2012 — 1:23pm

R. vulpinus is the most widely-distributed member of the family Cynodontidae.

Type locality is given simply as ‘Brazilian rivers’, but this species is currently understood to be distributed in the Amazon basin from the Río Ucayali system in Peru, eastward as far as the rio Xingu in Brazil, plus the rio Tocantins and Rio Capim basins.

It’s also known from the Río Orinoco ba…

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Poecilocharax weitzmani GÉRY, 1965

Black Darter Tetra

March 13th, 2012 — 1:23pm

Quite widely distributed having been recorded from Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. It’s been collected from the upper parts of several major river drainages including the Río Negro, Río Orinoco (including the Río Inírida and Casiquiare canal) and Río Solimões.

The type series was collected from ‘Igarapé Préto’, Brazil, said to be 60 kilometres to the south of the Colombian border city Leticia. Populations from Colombia and Brazil tend to be more intensely-coloured, and the Peruvian populations may apparently represent an undescribed species.

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Crenuchus spilurus GÜNTHER, 1863

Sailfin Characin

March 13th, 2012 — 1:23pm

This species is currently the only described member of its genus although colour pattern and morphology vary considerably across its range.

You may see reference to this species being the only fish species to possess infra-red vision, but other species also possess this ability and we suspect that infra-red plays an important role in the reproductive cycle of many fishes.

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Ctenolucius hujeta (VALENCIENNES, 1850)

Gar 'Characin'

March 13th, 2012 — 1:23pm

C. hujeta is traded under various names including 'slant-nosed gar', 'hujeta gar', 'rocket gar' and 'freshwater barracuda' but it and other members of the family Ctenoluciidae have traditionally been referred to as 'pike characids'. They're all predatory fishes native to South America, included in the order Characiformes and currently spread across two genera; Ctenolucius with two species and Boulengerella with five.

The two genera are …

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Hyphessobrycon pyrrhonotus BURGESS, 1993

Flame-back Bleeding Heart Tetra

March 13th, 2012 — 1:23pm

This is the smallest of three similar-looking species most commonly-referred to as the ‘bleeding heart’ subgroup, the other two being H. erythrostigma and H. socolofi.

All possess a reddish humeral spot which is not present in any other characid with other shared characters including possession of 6 -14 maxillary teeth, 7-9 scales above the lateral line, 5-7 scales below the lateral line and 26-33 anal fin rays.

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