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Hyphessobrycon compressus (MEEK, 1904)

Mayan Tetra

SynonymsTop ↑

Hemigrammus compressus Meek, 1904


Hyphessobrycon: from the Ancient Greek υπελάσσων (hyphesson), meaning ‘of lesser stature’, and used as a prefix in this case, plus the generic name Brycon.

compressus: from the Latin compressus, meaning ‘compressed’, apparently in reference to this species’ compressed body shape.


Order: Characiformes Family: Characidae


Known from southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize.

Type locality is ‘Río Papaloapam basin at El Hule, Oaxaca, Mexico’.


Has been collected from smaller rivers, streams, temporal freshwater swamps and larger permanent lakes.

Sympatric species include Astyanax aeneus and Poecilia sphenops.

Maximum Standard Length

40 – 45 mm.

Water Conditions

Temperature20 – 26 °C

pH6.5 – 8.0


Probably an opportunistic omnivore by nature.

Sexual Dimorphism

Nuptial adult males apparently develop a much darker colour pattern than females.

NotesTop ↑

H. compressus is the type species of the genus Hyphessobrycon but is not well-known in the ornamental trade.

Hyphessobrycon was raised by Durbin in Eigenmann (1908) as a subgenus of Hemigrammus, differing from the latter by the absence of scales on the caudal-fin.

The grouping was revised by Eigenmann (1918, 1921) while Géry (1977) created artificial groups of species based on colour pattern, and these definitions are still widely used today, e.g., the H. agulha group, the H. heterohabdus group, etc. These cannot be considered to represent monophyletic assemblages, however, and their concepts continue to be redefined.

Weitzman & Palmer (1997) hypothesised the existence of a monophyletic assemblage within the genus based on colour pattern and male fin morphology that they termed the ‘rosy tetra clade’, with one of the characters supporting its monophyly being presence of a prominent dark marking on the dorsal-fin. This assemblage, plus other morphologically similar species, is considered to represent Hyphessobrycon sensu stricto by some authors, with the remaining species included in a much-expanded H. heterohabdus group.

Others have proposed conflicting, typically more restricted, views of both the genus and/or its constituent species groups, and significant confusion remains. What is clear is that, as currently recognised, Hyphessobrycon is a polyphyletic lineage containing several genera.

The process of splitting it up has already started, and Malabarba et al. (2012) revalidated the genus Ectrepopterus Fowler, previously considered a synonym of Hyphessobrycon. They also analysed its relationships within the Characidae in the context of Mirande’s (2010) previous work, but included the type species, H. compressus, for the first time in such a study. The results demonstrated that H. compressus is more closely-related to ‘rosy tetra’ representatives such as H. eques, H. pulchripinnis, and H. socolofi than other members of the genus including H. anisitsi, H. bifasciatus, H. elachys, H. herbertaxelrodi, and H. luetkeni.


  1. Meek, S. E., 1904 - Field Columbian Museum, Zoological Series v. 5: i-lxiii + 1-252
    The fresh-water fishes of Mexico north of the isthmus of Tehuantepec.
  2. Calcagnotto, D., S. A. Schaefer, and R. DeSalle, 2005 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 36(1): 135-153
    Relationships among characiform fishes inferred from analysis of nuclear and mitochondrial gene sequences.
  3. Endruweit, M., 2013 - Aquariophil
    World Wide Web electronic publication, www.aquariophil.org, accessed on 2013.09.09
  4. Géry, J., 1977 - T. F. H. Publications, Inc.: 1-672
    Characoids of the world.
  5. Malabarba, L. R., V. A. Bertaco, F. R. Carvalho & T. O. Litz., 2012 - Zootaxa 3204: 47-60
    Revalidation of the genus Ectrepopterus Fowler (Teleostei: Characiformes), with the redescription of its type species, E. uruguayensis.
  6. Mirande, J. M., 2010 - Neotropical Ichthyology 8(3): 385-568
    Phylogeny of the family Characidae (Teleostei: Characiformes): from characters to taxonomy.
  7. Oliveira, C. A., G. S. Avellino, K. T. Abe, T. C. Mariguela, R. C. Benine, G. Orti, R. P. Vari, and R. M. Corrêa e Castro, 2011 - BMC Evolutionary Biology 11(1): 275-300
    Phylogenetic relationships within the speciose family Characidae (Teleostei: Ostariophysi: Characiformes) based on multilocus analysis and extensive ingroup sampling.
  8. Reis, R. E., S. O. Kullander and C. J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds), 2003 - EDIPUCRS, Porto Alegre: i-xi + 1-729
    Check list of the freshwater fishes of South and Central America. CLOFFSCA.
  9. Weitzman, S. H. and L. Palmer, 1997 - Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 7(3): 209-242
    A new species of Hyphessobrycon (Teleostei: Characidae) from the Neblina region of Venezuela and Brazil, with comments on the putative `rosy tetra clade'.
  10. Zarske, A., 2014 - Vertebrate Zoology 64(2): 139-167
    Zur Systematik einiger Blutsalmler oder "Rosy Tetras" (Teleostei: Ostariophysi: Characidae).
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