The large family of Cichlids is composed of at least 1300 species (Wiley & Johnson, 2010). It is also one of the richest fish families ever cataloged (Kullander 1998). In Brazil, the richness and diversity of its fish fauna are distinguished by the presence of more than 2,500 valid species.
Within the “Cichlidae” would be one of the most specific genera: the Crenicichla.
This genus has more than 90 valid species distributed in the basins of the Amazon, Southeast and South of Brazil. These fish are easily
recognized by their elongated shape with relatively small scales, a large mouth and a prognathic lower jaw. Their distribution on the South American continent is expansive, and they can be found in most pan-Andean and subtropical tropical regions (Lucena and Kullander 1992).
Crenicichla is also distinctive of all species by the nature of the parental care that its members provide, which go beyond the stage of the egg …
It is therefore not always easy to find one’s way around Crenicichla … and in this case, a little reminder is needed: Crenicichla fish are characterized by:
A very long body
A large number of vertebrae: at least 32
A large number of small scales ranging from 33 to 130
A large number of rays in the dorsal fin: 20-24 hard rays, 15 soft rays
[Branch] – Chordata
[Sub-branching] – Vertebrata
[Super-Class] – Pisces
[Class] – Actinopterygii
[Infra-Class] – Teleostei
[Order] – Perciformes
[Family] – Cichlidae
[Sub-Family] – Cichlinae
[Genus] – Crenicichla
The precise specific identification is often difficult to establish, species of this genus can be easily classified in different groups according to their morphology. What must also be known absolutely about the Crenicichlas is that the species of the genus Crenicichla have been classified by Kullander in 8 groups:
- Crenicichla acutirostris,
- Crenicichla lacustris,
- Crenicichla lugubris,
- Crenicichla missioneira,
- Crenicichla reticulata,
- Crenicichla saxatilis,
- Crenicichla scottii
- Crenicichla wallacii.
Particularity: It should be noted that the type species of the genus, C. macrophthalma, because of its “atypical” characteristics, does not belong to any of these groups and therefore constitutes on its own a “monospecific group”.
Crenicichla macrophthalma suffers from a reputation of aggression, partially unjustified. While intraspecific aggression is high at the time of sexual maturity, interspecific interactions are often acceptable, with fish exceeding half the size of Crenicichla. This behavioral peculiarity applies to almost all Crenicichla.
The group “Crenicichla acutirostris”
The Crenicichla of this group are very close to the group lugubris although thinner. These are large fish with a smaller number of scales (less than 110) than in the previous group and a pointed head and
compressed in the dorso-ventral direction. Juveniles have on their heads dots made of black dots (without bearing the pattern of lines and spots specific to “lugubris group”). The species in this group are fish
absolutely beautiful but reserved for very large aquariums and therefore relatively little present in aquariums.
9 species among which:
The group “Crenicichla lacustris”
These are the endemic Crenicichla of South East Brazil, male and female, which are generally distinguished with a diagonal stripe under the eye.
13 species among which:
The group “Crenicichla lugubris”
About fifteen large species, reaching almost fifty centimeters for some species, and having a large number of small scales (more than 110) along the upper lateral line. They all have rounded heads. The juveniles of this group have a coloration made of dots and black lines on the head, which they lose at sexual maturity. This set includes the most impressive Crenicichla by size!
They are distinguished by very small scales. The juveniles are remarkable thanks to their typical coloration made of dots and stripes on the head, this color disappearing in adulthood.
16 species including:
C. sp. Xingu I
C. sp. Xingu II
C. sp. Xingu III
The group “Crenicichla missioneira”
These Crenicichla are endemic to Rio Uruguai!
They carry a suborbital mark, some points, a spotted body and often a post-temporal spot …
There are 7 species including:
The group “Crenicichla reticulata”
Formerly named genus Batrachops, this group of crenicichla gathers a dozen
species with big head up to twenty centimeters. Some members of this group are reophile and have an atrophied swim bladder. During breeding, females change dress with orange to red bar on the flanks and rays of the dorsal fin.
In reophilic species, the red bar is restricted to the upper half of the soft rays.
There are 13 species including:
C. sp. “belly crawler”
The group “Crenicichla saxatilis”
These Crenicichlas are noticed by their humeral spot, with or without ring and besides white points with gilds along the body for the males and sometimes the females too. This group gathers some forty species that do not exceed twenty five centimeters for males, and which have a black spot in the humeral region, on or above the lateral line. The fish in this group are nicknamed “Glitter Pellets” by anglophone cichlidophiles, because of the many bright white dots that dot the coat of males of many species. They are very interesting fish and often quite easy to reproduce
This group is certainly the largest with 41 species including:
The group “Crenicichla scotti”
They usually have a suborbital streak and the females have a spot in the dorsal fin and horizontal lines on the flanks.
3 species are remarkable within this group:
The group “Crenicichla wallaci”
These are mainly Crenicichla dwarfs that do not exceed 10-12 cm. Females of most species have black spots circled in the dorsal fin. These are the Crenicichla species best adapted to life in
aquarium, but their reproduction remains delicate.
There are 11 species including:
C. sp. “Dwarf Orinoco”