Meek & Hildebrand (1913) described Neetroplus panamense on the basis of cichlids collected in the Rio Mandingo, Bas Obispo, Canal Zone, Panama. Already Rogers (1981) pointed out that A. panamensis does not possess the truncate incisor-like tooth structure, the key character of Neetroplus. Further differences include head morphology as well as breeding and non-breeding color patters. Consequently, Rogers (1981) moved the species to Cichlasoma leaving Neetroplus as a monotypic genus. Nonetheless, the species was still assigned to Neetroplus in subsequent publications (e.g. Stawikowski & Werner, 1998). Kullander (2003) finally met the concerns of Rogers and assigned N. panamensis to the genus Archocentrus.
The relationship to the species within Archocentrus is not known so far. A. panamensis shares previously unrecognized characteristics with some species that Allgayer (2001) assigned to Cryptoheros (e.g. A. septemfasciatus, A. nanoluteus and A. myrnae): Females have a conspicious spot in the middle of the dorsalis. Furthermore, A. panamensis shows a similar breeding color pattern rich in contrast. Wheras the region of head and breast turn dark, the rest of the body brightens.
Archocentrus panamensis male in breeding coloration guarding his fry in the aquarium of Don Danko; Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Don Danko