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Re: differentiating apisto species


First of all, after seeing recent photos of specimens brought back by Jeff Cardwell, I am not sure that A. maciliensis should be considered a species separate from A. trifasciata. Basically, the only real difference between A. trifasciata & A. maciliensis is that A. maciliensis does not show (when alive, at least) the distinctive diagonal stripe present on all A. trifasciata. It is very possible that A. maciliensis is merely a geographic population of A. trifasciata. Such populations were previously called a subspecies by ichthyologists, but the term is not use anymore. The original describers were probably correct in calling this form a subspecies.

The problem with A. maciliensis is that we are not absolutely positive what a live specimen looks like. Very little collection has occurred in the left bank (Bolivian) tributaries of the middle Rio Guaporé, the known home waters of the maciliensis form. What has been collected was mostly from right bank Brazilian streams. There we find the typical Guaporé form of A. trifasciata (with the characteristic diagonal stripe, as well as a bright yellow base color above the lateral band) and a geographically distinct form of A. sp. Mamoré (which also shows the bright yellow base color above the lateral band).

The Guaporean form of A. trifasciata was originally sold by Lacerda as A. maciliensis. This is because specimens that he sent to Dr. Kullander were ID'd as the maciliensis form, based mainly on location. Koslowski wrote me that he had talked to Dr. Kullander about the A. maciliensis ID. Kullander told him that he had probably erred in calling Lacerda's fish maciliensis; that he had only taken a quick look at the preserved fish and noted the collecting location. I personally don't know if Dr. Kullander wrote Lacerda that they were A. maciliensis or the maciliensis form of A. trifasciata. Either way he seems to have erred

In his Atlas, Römer states that A. sp. Mamoré is the true A. maciliensis. I doubt that this is true, but I am not 100% positive. A. sp. Mamoré does not have the diagonal stripe - just like A. maciliensis, but other than this the dark markings on the 2 forms are different. A. maciliensis (as well as A. trifasciata) has a continuous lateral band that is relatively even in width; A. sp. Mamoré has a lateral band that tends to get wider toward the tail and often fades out in front of the lateral spot (Bar 3). A. sp. Mamoré usually shows a metallic red patch at the lower edge of the gill covers; I do not recall such a patch being mentioned in either Hasemann's (1911 - A.t.maciliensis) nor Meinken's (1960 - A.t.haroldschultzi) descriptions of maciliensis. For now, I believe that A. sp. Mamoré is a separate - undescribed - species related to A. trifasciata - but NOT maciliensis.

Last week Jeff Cardwell sent me some photos of an A. trifasciata-like fish that he recently collected in the Rio Itonamas of Bolivia. These fish look just like A. trifasciata in color and finnage - except none show any part of a diagonal stripe. This fish looks like the fish described by both Hasemann and Meinken. It comes from the right location, too. I told Jeff that this fish could reasonably be called A. maciliensis. Those of you who go to the ACA Convention in Cincinnati will see photos of the fish in Jeff's talk.

It appears that 2 probable misidentifications (Kullander & Römer) have led to confusion with regard to the maciliensis form. The original "A. maciliensis" [A. trifasciata (Guaporé)] sold by Lacerda is still being sold as A. maciliensis. Since Römer's Atlas has come into wide use, his "A. maciliensis" [A. sp. Mamoré] is now being sold as A. maciliensis, too. Two very different fish - and neither are likely to be the true maciliensis form! I can understand why Koslowski wrote in his book (2002) "Whether these two taxa [A.t.maciliensis & A.t.haroldschultzi] are possibly of species rank should not be discussed here, since a critical study of the type material is still overdue." I hope this helps.

Mike Wise

Zsolt Fazekas wrote:


What is the difference precisely between "maciliensis" and spec. "Mamore Red"?
Allegedly the two apisto species quite similar to each other.



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