Phallichthys tico

Phallichthys tico (W.A.Bussing 1963)

Meaning of Name: Phallichthys meaning phallus or gonopodium – tico in honour or Republica de Cost Rica the only country it is found.

First Description: W. A. Bussing, 1963
Bussing, W.A., 1979: A new poeciliid fish, Phallichthys tico from Costa Rica.
Type Locality Rio Puerto Viejo – 5.5 Km downstream from the junction with the Rio Sarapiqui

Size:  Male 30 mm females 35 mm

Behaviour: Peaceful

Group: Poeciliidae

Distribution: Costa Rica

Populations: Rio Puerto Viejo – Rio Sarapiqui drainage
Swamp area adjacent to Rio San Luis – Arenal drainage (9km NNE tilaran)

Habitat: Found in highly vegetated waters, Marsh areas, shallow slow moving streams & river banks with mud bottoms

Distinguishing Characteristics:  The Males gonopodium is large and is the reason Carl Hubbs gave the genus the name Phallichthys. They have a more elongated body than the larger species

Colour/Pattern Variability:  The body colour can range from orange to dark tan. the dorsal fin has a black edge leading to a black spot at the base, with all other fins clear.

Breeding Notes: Brood sizes can vary and range from 10 to 25, no need to separate the pairs as they don’t seem to predate on the fry. Females will produce fry every four weeks depending on temperature.
Husbandry:  Water conditions are generally a P.H. between 7 and 8 with a temperature range of 20C to 28C. a Planted tank is not totally necessary but will make them more comfortable and they will show better colours and behaviour.
In the wild their feeding habits consist of sifting through bottom detritus for diatoms, insect larvae & filamentous algae, but in the aquarium they will eat flake and more than happy to feed on any available live foods.

Remarks: Swims in small groups near the surface of turbid waters, on the shoreline or among the undergrowth. Currently available through specialist clubs in the UK and Europe, but care must be taken to breed and distribute this species as it is not as popular as the other Phallicthys species so is in danger of being overshadowed and forgotten about.

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Phallichthys quadripunctatus

Phallichthys quadripunctatus (W.A.Bussing, 1979)

Meaning of Name: Phallichthys meaning phallus or gonopodium – quadripunctatus in reference to the four distinct spots on the body.

First Description: Phallichthys quadripunctatus W. A. Bussing, 1979
Bussing, W.A., 1979: A new fish of the genus Phallichthys (Family Poeciliidae) from Costa Rica

Type Locality:  small tributary of Rio Sixaola, Costa Rica.

Size: Male 30 mm females 35 mm

Behaviour: Peaceful

Group: Poeciliidae

Distribution: Costa Rica

Populations: Rio Sixaola, Costa Rica.

Habitat: Found in a road side ditch, marsh areas, and shallow slow moving streams

Distinguishing Characteristics: The Males gonopodium is large and is the reason Carl Hubbs gave the genus the name Phallichthys. They have a more elongated body than the larger species

Colour/Pattern Variability: The body colour is a pale yellow grey with scale pockets edged black, the belly and ventral half of head is white. Pectoral, pelvic and caudal fins clear and anal fin has black interradial membranes. four black spots are found along the body the dorsal fin has a feint black edge sometimes edged with white

Breeding Notes: Brood sizes can vary and range from 5 to 20, no need to separate the pairs as they don’t seem to predate on the fry. Females will produce fry every four weeks depending on temperature.

Husbandry: Water conditions are generally a P.H. between 7 and 8 with a temperature range of 20C to 34C. a Planted tank is not totally necessary but will make them more comfortable and they will show better colours and behaviour.
In the wild their feeding habits consist of sifting through bottom detritus for diatoms, insect larvae & filamentous algae, but in the aquarium they will eat flake and more than happy to feed on any available live foods.

Personal experiences:
Paddy Davies: Kept this species in a small 40 litre tank as a colony for years, temperature was about 22 degrees C. Very slow air operated sponge filter was used. This species did not do well when moved to a larger tank. Best kept with own species and not mixed with others (except maybe small cory species such as C.pygmaeus and peaceful shrimp)

General Remarks: Swims in small groups near the surface of turbid waters, on the shoreline or among the undergrowth.

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Phallichthys amates pitteri

Phallichthys amates pitteri (Meek 1912)

Common Name:  Orange fin merry widow

Size: Male : 4.5cm. Female: 8cm

Etymology: Phallichthys meaning phallus or gonopodium – pitteri . Unknown

First Description: Meek 1912 Reference Bussing, W.A., 1998. Peces de las aguas continentales de Costa Rica [Freshwater fishes of Costa Rica]. 2nd Ed. San José Costa Rica
Type Locality La Junta, Costa Rica

Distribution:  Northern Nicaragua to the Rio Guarumo, Atlantic Slopes of costa Rica Western Panama
Habitat: Found in stagnant waters, streams & edges of rivers mainly over mud bottoms which they use to hunt food.
Description: The body is robust, deep and almost rhomboid. The male has a large gonopodium that reaches the base of the tail.  P.amates pitteri has an orange or red-orange dorsal band along the dorsal edge with a charcoal-colored band inside that orange band.
They tend to have a more greyish body with a blue metallic sheen. The scales are usually outlined in a reticulated pattern. Many specimens have a few wide bands along their flanks.distinct vertical bands may be present especially on more mature fish

Captive care:

Behaviour: Peaceful
Breeding Notes: Brood sizes can vary and range from 10 to 80, no need to separate the pairs as they don’t seem to predate on the fry. Females will produce fry every four weeks depending on temperature. Generally larger broods than P.amates amates.
Water conditions: P.H. between 6 and 8 with a temperature range of 20C to 37C. a Planted tank is not totally necessary but will make them more comfortable and they will show better colours and behaviour.

In the wild their feeding habits consist of sifting through bottom detritus for diatoms, insect larvae & filamentous algae, but in the aquarium they will eat flake and more than happy to feed on any available live foods.

General Comments:
There are two subspecies to Phallichthys amates, pittieri and amates. While pittieri has the orange fins and strong vertical stripes, amates typically lacks both of these features, having instead a strong black line on the top edge of it’s dorsal fin. It is this stripe that gave the amates subspecies the common name “Merry Widow livebearer” when F. H. Stoye used the name to describe it. Pittieri have this stripe as well, but it is generally quite unobtrusive. They also all have a slight vertical bar that runs through their eyes.
The orange-fin merry widow (P. amates pittieri) is just a bit smaller and more graceful than P. a. amates and is reported to grow to about ¼ inch or so less than its congeners. This attractive species is a larger relative of the Phallichthys amates (Merry Widow)

P.a.pittieri is a popular show fish as it displays itself very well.

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Phallichthys amates amates

Meaning of Name: Phallichthys meaning phallus or gonopodium – amates possibly because of the type locality. Phallichthys meaning phallus or gonopodium – amates possibly because of the type locality.

First Description: Miller 1907
Reference Bussing, W.A., 1998. Peces de las aguas continentales de Costa Rica [Freshwater fishes of Costa Rica]. 2nd Ed. San José Costa Rica

Type Locality: Pond and its outlet at Los Amates

Common name: Merry Widow

Size: Females can reach 2½ inches(55mm) and males 1¼ inches(30mm)

Behaviour: Peacefull

Group:  Poeciliidae

Synonyms: Poecilia amates Miller 1907

Populations: ?

Distribution: Atlantic drainage from Rio Motagua, Guatemala, to the drainages near La Ceiba, Honduras. Atlantic drainages, from southern Guatemala to Costa Rica and Panama.
Habitat Found in stagnant waters, streams & edges of rivers mainly over mud bottoms which they use to hunt food.

Distinguishing Characteristics: The body is robust, deep and almost rhomboid. The male has a large gonopodium that reaches the base of the tail. The sides of the males and the young exhibit 6 to 8 bark bars; these are diffuse or absent in females. The body is grey with bluish highlights. The body is robust, deep and almost rhomboid. The male has a large gonopodium that reaches the base of the tail. The sides of the males and the young exhibit 6 to 8 bark bars; these are diffuse or absent in females. The body is grey with bluish highlights

Colour/Pattern Variability: There is a black stripe through the eye that runs to the throat. Their most stunning feature is the black stripe along the edge of the dorsal fin, which is sometimes edged in a thin white stripe. In some populations, faint banding can be seen running along the sides, and sometimes the scales are edged in a reticulated pattern.

History: This sp. picked up the common name of ‘Merry Widow’ from F.H.Stoye who used this name to describe the black outer margin of the dorsal fin.Carl Hubbs named the genus Phallichthys the name would appear to be based the length of male gonopodium, typically half the length of the male.

Breeding Notes: Brood sizes can vary and range from 10 to 80, no need to separate the pairs as they don’t seem to predate on the fry. Females will produce fry every four weeks depending on temperature.

Husbandry: Water conditions are generally a P.H. between 6 and 8 with a temperature range of 20C to 37C. a Planted tank is not totally necessary but will make them more comfortable and they will show better colours and behaviour.

In the wild their feeding habits consist of sifting through bottom detritus for diatoms, insect larvae & filamentous algae, but in the aquarium they will eat flake and more than happy to feed on any available live foods.

General Remarks: There are two subspecies to Phallichthys amates, pittieri and amates. While pittieri has the orange fins and strong vertical stripes, amates typically lacks both of these features, having instead a strong black line on the top edge of it’s dorsal fin. It is this stripe that gave the amates subspecies the common name “Merry Widow livebearer” when F. H. Stoye used the name to describe it. Pittieri have this stripe as well, but it is generally quite unobtrusive. They also all have a slight vertical bar that runs through their eyes.
Meek (1914) did not reort on the existance of P.amates in the central valley, although Alfaro collected it there in 1928(Rosen &Bailey,1959) which suggests that it was introduced to the Rio Tarcoles by man between these dates.

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Phallichthys fairweatheri

Phallichthys fairweatheri (Rosen and Bailey 1959)

Meaning of Name: Phallichthys meaning phallus or gonopodium – fairweatheri after Dr Gerald Fairweather.

 

First Description: Rosen & Bailey in 1959

Type Locality: Rio san Pedro de Martir, or a branch, about about 1/4 mile below Laguna de Yalac

Size: Male 35 mm females 45 mm

Common name: The Elegant widow

Behaviour: Peaceful

Populations in captivity:?

Distribution: Guatemala, Mexico & Honduras

Habitat: Found in highly vegetated waters, slowly moving streams & river banks. Predominately in marsh areas.

Distinguishing Characteristics: They have a deep but fairly narrow body.
The Males gonopodium is large and is the reason Carl Hubbs gave the genus the name Phallichthys.

Colour/Pattern Variability: The body is grey with blue overtones, there are rows of orange spots running horizontally. The fins are pale yellow and the dorsal fin has the black edge that gave the fish their first common name of ‘Merry Widows’.
Breeding Brood sizes can vary and range from 10 to 40, no need to separate the pairs as they don’t seem to predate on the fry. Females will produce fry every four weeks depending on temperature.

History: First imported into the U.K by Ivan Dibble in 1979 via a German collection.

Husbandry: Water conditions are generally a P.H. between 6.5 and 8 with a temperature range of 20C to 24C. a Planted tank is not totally necessary but will make them more comfortable and they will show better colours and behaviour.
In the wild their feeding habits consist of sifting through bottom detritus for diatoms, insects & filamentous algae, but in the aquarium they will eat flake and more than happy to feed on any available live foods.

Personal Experiences:

General Remarks:

 

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Central Monterrey

This river was quite dry when we visited. This stretch is bang in the centre of Monterrey, one of Mexico’s largest cities.

Despite the environment this habitat is home to several species including:

Hericthys cynoguttatum

Pseudoxiphophorus jonesi

Xiphophorus hybrids.

 

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Huasteca Canyon, Monterrey

Cañón de la Huasteca is an incredible place, it is only 10km from Monterry City centre with spectacular rock formations. It is a popular recreation area with cyclists, climbers and other outdoor pursuits actively enjoyed here.

This site is now almost completely dry. The only pools of water that exist here now are either temporary or cause by leaks from irrigation systems.

This was the home of the Monterry Platy, Xiphophorus couchianus, this species is now extinct in the wild, and its population in captivity is tiny.

The previous water line can be seen very clearly in the pictures below.

There is some water still in the canyon, but this is either temporary, or caused by leaks near pumping stations used for irrigation. The species found in these waters are predominately introduced an not native to this area of Mexico.

Species found here include: Tilapia sp and Poeciliopsis senilis.

If you can provide photographs of X,couchianus that we could use for this article, please contact me.

 

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La Cofradia, Jalisco

La Cofradia. Main Stream. Photo by Ivan Dibble

La Cofradia. Main Stream. Photo by Ivan Dibble

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Presa de Cutzarondiro, Michoacan

Presa de Cutzarondiro, Photo by Ivan Dibble

Presa de Cutzarondiro, Photo by Ivan Dibble

 

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Jesus Maria, Jalisco

Jesus Maria. Photo By Ivan Dibble

Jesus Maria. Photo By Ivan Dibble

 

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