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Satanoperca mapiritensis (FERNÁNDEZ-YÉPEZ , 1950)

SynonymsTop ↑

Geophagus mapiritensis Fernández-Yépez, 1950

Etymology

Satanoperca: from the Ancient Greek Σατάν (Satán), meaning ‘Satan’ (the devil), and πέρκη (pérkē), meaning ‘perch’.

mapiritensis: named for the type locality, the Río Mapirito in Monagas state, northeastern Brazil.

Classification

Order: Perciformes Family: Cichlidae

Distribution

Native to the lower Río Orinoco basin in the states of Anzoátegui, Monagas, and Bolivar in northern Venezuela, including major affluents such as the ríos Caura and Caroní.

Similar-looking fish have been collected in rivers draining towards Guyana, e.g., the Río Cuyuni, but it is unclear whether they are conspecific or not. In addition, populations of unconfirmed identity in the middle and upper Orinoco are sometimes incorrectly referred to S. mapiritensis, and these include fish in the ornamental trade (see ‘Notes’).

Type locality is ‘Río Mapirito al Sur de Maturín, Estado Monagas, Venezuela’.

Habitat

Has been observed in main river channels, smaller tributaries and floodplain lakes, typically over substrates of sand or mud with patches of leaf litter and submerged tree branches.

Maximum Standard Length

120 – 150 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium with a base measuring at least 180 ∗ 60 cm or equivalent is required.

Maintenance

The most essential item of décor is a soft, sandy substrate so that the fish can browse naturally (see ‘Diet’).

Coarser materials such as gravel or small pebbles can inhibit feeding, damage gill filaments and even be ingested with the potential of internal damage or blockages.

Additional furnishings are as much a case of personal taste as anything else but the most favoured set-ups tend to feature relatively dim lighting plus some chunks of driftwood and scattered roots or branches.

Leaf litter is a typical feature of the natural environment but not really recommended in aquaria because the feeding behaviour of Satanoperca spp. tends to cause an excess of partially-decomposed material in suspension which not only looks unsightly but can block filter and pump mechanisms.

Water quality is of the utmost importance since these cichlids are extremely susceptible to deteriorating water quality and swings in chemical parameters so should never be introduced to a biologically immature aquarium. S. daemon also requires soft, acidic conditions and in most cases will not thrive in untreated tap water.

The best way to achieve the desired stability is to filter the tank using a combination of external canister filters and/or a sump system and perform minimum weekly water changes of 50-70%.

If the maintenance regime is insufficient health issues such as head and lateral line erosion or stunted growth can occur.

Mechanical filtration should also be tailored to trap small particles stirred up by the fish as sand can cause blockages and wearing issues with filter mechanisms if allowed to continually run through the system. High flow rates should be avoided so position filter returns accordingly.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 22 – 28 °C

pH5.5 – 7.5

Hardness: 36 – 215 ppm

Diet

Satanoperca spp. are benthophagous by nature, employing a method of feeding whereby mouthfuls of substrate are taken and sifted for edible items with the remaining material expelled via the gill openings and mouth. For this reason they are commonly termed ‘eartheaters’ and the provision of a suitable substrate is essential to their long-term well-being. Once settled they readily rise into the water column when food is introduced but continue to browse normally at other times.

The stomach contents of wild specimens mostly comprise small aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates including cladocerans, ostracods, and insect larvae (particularly chironomids), plus plant material (seeds), organic detritus and sediment.

Even large individuals seem unable to properly ingest larger food items, meaning the diet should contain a variety of high quality, fine-grade prepared foods plus small live or frozen bloodworm, Tubifex, Artemia, mosquito larvae, etc. At least some of the dried products should contain a high proportion of vegetable matter such as Spirulina or similar.

Home-made, gelatine-bound recipes containing a mixture of dried fish food, puréed shellfish, fresh fruit and vegetables, for example, are proven to work well and can be cut into bite-sized discs using the end of a sharp pipette or small knife.

Rather than a single large meal offer 3-4 smaller portions daily to allow natural browsing behaviour as this seems to result in the best growth rate and condition.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Unless breeding this species is surprisingly peaceful and will not predate on fishes larger than a few millimetres in length. Suitable tankmates are numerous and include most peaceful species enjoying similar environmental conditions. Best avoided are aggressive or territorial substrate-dwelling species, or those requiring less acidic or mineral-rich water.

Some aquarists keep Satanoperca spp. alongside freshwater stingrays of the genus Potamotrygon which in many cases has proven successful but in some has resulted in the cichlids disappearing at night.

S. mapiritensis is gregarious and tends to exist in loose aggregations unless spawning, with juveniles in particular displaying strong grouping instincts. A group of 5-8 individuals should be the minimum purchase and these will form a noticeable dominance hierarchy. When maintained in smaller numbers weaker specimens can become the target of excessive antagonism by dominant individuals or the group may fail to settle and behave nervously.

Sexual Dimorphism

Unreported.

Reproduction

Unconfirmed; reports from aquarists appear to refer to populations from the upper Orinoco basin which do not correspond to S. maripitensis.

NotesTop ↑

S. maripitensis is uncommon in the aquarium trade, although its name is frequently misapplied to S. leucosticta and similar, unidentified forms.

It is very similar to the congeners S. jurupari, S. leucosticta, and S. rhynchitis, although unfortunately we have been unable to obtain its diagnostic characters to date. However, based on observation of live individuals, it possesses white spots and vermiculations on the head, which immediately separates it from S. jurupari and S. rhynchitis. In addition, these markings appear moreintensely on the operculum than the cheek, unlike in S. leucosticta where they are consistent over the entire side of the head, while adult individuals possess pale orange lips, versus plain lips in both S. jurupari and S. leucosticta, and reddish lips in S. rhynchitis.

Recent genetic research has revealed there to be a possibility that although S. mapiritensis is genetically distinct from S. leucosticta, it may turn out to be conspecific with S. jurupari and S. rhynchitis. There appears to be no clear genetic separation between these three putative species nor a form known to aquarists as S. sp. ‘Negro-Alto Orinoco’ which replaces S. mapiritensis in the middle and upper Orinoco, Casiquiare Canal, and upper rio Negro.

Based on current knowledge, it thus remains impossible to deduce whether the group currently comprising S. jurupari, S. mapiritensis, and S. rhynchitis, plus populations from Amapá and the upper Negro/upper Orinoco region, represent distinct taxa or a single meta-population which can be referred to as S. jurupari sensu lato. Here on SF we include the named species separately, since they continue to be considered valid.

Satanoperca was considered a synonym of Geophagus for a number of decades before being revalidated by Kullander (1986). It is separated from all other members of the putative cichlid subfamily Geophaginae by presence of a small ocellated spot at the upper caudal-fin base, and from Geophagus by a number of morphological characters as follows: equal numbers of abdominal and caudal vertebrae or one more abdominal vertebra (vs. more caudal than abdominal vertebrae in Geophagus); no ribs on caudal vertebrae and no postabdominal swimbladder extensions (vs. presence of both in Geophagus; cheek scaled rostrally to centre (vs. naked on anterior half; dorsal and anal fins naked (vs. scaled); external gill rakers on lower limb of first gill arch attached to the skin covering the gill filaments (vs. attached to ceratobranchial skin); jaw dentition reduced to one or two short series in each jaw (vs. pluriseriate with wide band of inner teeth); absence (vs. presence) of tooth plates on 4th ceratobranchial; presence (vs. absence) of an ocellus on caudal-fin base; both or only upper lip fold continuous (vs. both interrupted anteriorly); preoperculum and supracleithrum frequently serrated (vs. entire); absence (vs. presence) of median hypural cartilage; 3 (vs. 4) infraorbitals.

The genus is likely to contain additional species, and has been separated into three groups with distinctive morphology, namely the S. jurupari group, the S. daemon group, and the monotypic S. acuticeps group.

Among these, members of the S. jurupari group are characterised by a colour pattern comprising a dark lateral stripe or row of blotches along the side of the body, normally XV.10 (XIV-XVII.8-11) dorsal-fin rays, normally 27 (26-28) E1 scales (the longitudinal row immediately above the lower lateral line, excluding the pectoral girdle), and 12-18 rakers on the first gill arch.

S. daemon group members grow larger than other congeners, possess one or two large dark blotches on the side of the body and a prominent ocellus at the upper caudal-fin base, usually XIX.13 (XII-XIV.12-14) dorsal-fin rays, 29-31 E1 scales, and 18-22 gill rakers. S. acuticeps is unique in that it has a relatively more terminal mouth than all other genus members, normally XIII.12 (XIII.11-12) dorsal-fin rays, 27-28 E1 scales, and 17-20 gill rakers.

The groups also differ in reproductive strategy, with the S. daemon and S. acuticeps assemblages being substrate spawners, and the S. jurupari group mouthbrooders.

Satanoperca and a number of related genera are often included in the putative subfamily Geophaginae, and Kullander (1998) conducted a morphology-based phylogenetic study in which the neotropical Cichlidae was divided into six subfamilies of which the Geophaginae contained 16 genera divided among three ‘tribes’:

Acarichthyini – Acarichthys and Guianacara.
Crenicaratini – BiotoecusCrenicaraDicrossus and Mazarunia.
Geophagini – GeophagusMikrogeophagus, ‘Geophagus‘ brasiliensis group, ‘Geophagus‘ steindachneri group, GymnogeophagusSatanopercaBiotodomaApistogrammaApistogrammoides and Taeniacara.

Later molecular studies by Farias et al. (1999, 2000, 2001) resulted in the additions of Crenicichla and Teleocichla to the Geophaginae, a result supported by López-Fernández et al. (2005) who conducted the most detailed molecular analysis of the grouping to date including 16 of the 18 genera and 30 species.

However their conclusions regarding interrelationships between genera did vary somewhat from previous hypotheses and can be summarised by the following loosely-defined groups:

– a weakly-supported sister group relationship between Acarichthys and Guianacara.
– a well-supported ‘Satanoperca clade’ comprising SatanopercaApistogrammaApistogrammoides and Taeniacara.
– a ‘big clade’ with GeophagusMikrogeophagus, ‘Geophagus‘ brasiliensis group, ‘Geophagus‘ steindachneri group, GymnogeophagusBiotodomaCrenicara and Dicrossus.
– a ‘crenicarine clade’ with Biotoecus and Crenicichla.

No representatives of Teleocichla or Mazarunia were included in the study but the former is well-established as sister to Crenicichla while the latter has grouped closely with Dicrossus and Crenicara in earlier works.

The other main conclusions of the paper are confirmation that Geophaginae is a monophyletic group exhibiting strong signs of having undergone rapid adaptive radiation.

References

  1. Fernández-Yépez, A., 1950 - Memoria de la Sociedad de Ciencias Naturales La Salle v. 10 (no. 26): 111-118
    Notas sobre la fauna ictiológica de Venezuela.
  2. Gosse, J.-P., 1976 - Académie Royal des Sciences d'Outre-Mer, Cl. Sci. Nat. Méd. (N. S.) 19(3): 1-173
    Révision du genre Geophagus (Pisces Cichlidae).
  3. Kullander, S. O., 1998 - EDIPUCRS, Porto Alegre: 461-498
    A phylogeny and classification of the South American Cichlidae (Teleostei: Perciformes). In: Malabarba, L. R. , R. E. Reis, R. P. Vari, Z. M. S. de Lucena and C. A. S. Lucena (eds). Phylogeny and classification of Neotropical fishes.
  4. Kullander, S. O., 1986 - Swedish Museum of Natural History: 1-431
    Cichlid fishes of the Amazon River drainage of Peru.
  5. Kullander, S. O., 2012 - Cybium 36(1): 247-262
    A taxonomic review of Satanoperca (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from French Guiana, South America, with description of a new species.
  6. López-Fernández, H., R. L. Honeycutt, and K. O. Winemiller, 2005 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34(1): 227-244
    Molecular phylogeny and evidence for an adaptive radiation of geophagine cichlids from South America (Perciformes: Labroidei).
  7. 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.
  8. Willis S. C., H. López-Fernández, C. G. Montaña, I. P. Farias, and G. Ortí, 2012 - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 63(3): 798-808
    Species-level phylogeny of ‘Satan’s perches’ based on discordant gene trees (Teleostei: Cichlidae: Satanoperca Günther 1862).

One Response to “Satanoperca mapiritensis (Geophagus mapiritensis)”

  • [email protected]

    Hello
    You wrote:
    “mapiritensis: named for the type locality, the Río Mapirito in Monagas state, northeastern Brazil.”

    This is not in Brazil, this is “northeastern Venezuela”.
    Google maps: 9.652313, -63.070316

    Please check
    Regards
    Leo


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