Fishing trip puzzles

Discussion about cichlids from Central America
dwarfpike
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri Dec 12, 2008 5:51 pm
Location: Seattle, Wa

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by dwarfpike » Wed May 19, 2010 5:06 pm

Speaking of Lake Peten puzzles Mr. Heaton, have you come across Archocentrus spinosissimus in the lake? I thought I remember the original description listing the lake. It seems to be sorely missing in the hobby up here.
Chris Morris

User avatar
John Heaton
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:14 pm
Location: San Andres, Peten, Guatemala, Central America.

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Wed May 19, 2010 7:28 pm

dwarfpike wrote:Speaking of Lake Peten puzzles Mr. Heaton, have you come across Archocentrus spinosissimus in the lake? I thought I remember the original description listing the lake. It seems to be sorely missing in the hobby up here.
The spiny cichlid is endemic to Guatemala but is only found in Lago Izabal and the feeder streams. The Lake is in SE Guatemala.
Very little is written about this guy but apparently is easy to keep and breed but is not well known in the trade.

User avatar
chc
Posts: 182
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2004 4:51 pm
Location: Virginia Beach, VA USA

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by chc » Thu May 20, 2010 8:12 am

I agree that the fish in question looks very similar to the one Conkel labeled as margaritiferum. Both fish (this new one and Conkel's fish from 20+ years ago), if not an undescribed and very rare species, look to be hybrids of a uro and some sort of Astatheros (Amphilophus if you'd prefer).

The story on the Conkel fish leaves more room for discussion as Conkel has indicated the fish wasn't "discovered" until it had grown out in a pond with lots of fish collected at the same time (the few small individuals weren't noticed as anything unique at the time of collection). Only when the pond was harvested did he think he had something different. Some have suggested that the fish could have been the result of hybridization within that Florida pond. However, the similarity of that fish and this new wild collected fish is very interesting.

If I had to guess, I'd say both fish are naturally occurring hybrids but I'd be happy to be wrong. Who can tell for sure? Any chance to get some DNA testing on this new fish? Any chance to collect more?

User avatar
michi tobler
CichlidRoom Expert
Posts: 449
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2003 2:15 pm
Contact:

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by michi tobler » Thu May 20, 2010 9:13 am

I just dug out my Conkel and indeed the similarity is intriguing. Getting some actual specimens and tissues would be very interesting...
Cheers, m
Humans are not the pinnacle of evolutionary progress but only an aberrant side branch of fish evolution - Moyle

Website

User avatar
John Heaton
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:14 pm
Location: San Andres, Peten, Guatemala, Central America.

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Thu May 20, 2010 4:19 pm

When I receive my old computer back from repair hopefully with the hard drive intact. I will have a look at all the pictures that we took and comment further.

User avatar
Juan Artigas
Administrator
Posts: 1437
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 7:37 pm
Location: San Luis Potosi, México
Contact:

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by Juan Artigas » Fri May 21, 2010 8:42 am

John I think your fish is most likely a natural hybrid. I quite agree with Bas Pel on the provenience. During the pass of the years, I have found quite a number of oddball individuals in many river systems, for which you only see one specimen and has traits of two species present n the drainage. I spoke to Rusty Wessel about your problem to collect Astatheros robertsoni in Lake Peten, he told me he collected them in good numbers in the mud flats as we have spoke before. We are really looking forward to visit you, we are only to agree on dates. John would you let me use for the Cichlid Room Companion catalog some of your 'Cichlasoma' urophthalmus pictures? If so would you send your picks to me?
Juan Miguel Artigas
Editor

The Cichlid Room Companion
http://www.cichlidae.info

Bas Pels
Posts: 2261
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 9:17 am
Location: Nijmegen - the Netherlands

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by Bas Pels » Fri May 21, 2010 10:31 am

Juan,

Can you give estimates about those natural hybrids?

On one hand, books on biology state they are very rare, but these books also say hybrids are (normally) sterile - and we know MA cichlid hybrids are not sterile

Therefore, I wonder, are those books also wrong @ natural hybrids?

User avatar
Juan Artigas
Administrator
Posts: 1437
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 7:37 pm
Location: San Luis Potosi, México
Contact:

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by Juan Artigas » Fri May 21, 2010 10:38 am

Sorry Bas, I can not give estimates, one pops up every few years, very rare I agree, but present.
Juan Miguel Artigas
Editor

The Cichlid Room Companion
http://www.cichlidae.info

Bas Pels
Posts: 2261
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 9:17 am
Location: Nijmegen - the Netherlands

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by Bas Pels » Fri May 21, 2010 10:45 am

Thank you, Juan

'very rare' and 'one every few years' is more accurate than I expected - in fact it is what i hoped for

The books don't have to be burned :lol:

User avatar
John Heaton
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:14 pm
Location: San Andres, Peten, Guatemala, Central America.

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Fri May 21, 2010 12:41 pm

Juan, The urophthalmus pictures are on my backup disk, so are avaiable in original format. I will reduce them to 800 wide. Please give me the email address as my address book is not available at the moment.
John

User avatar
John Heaton
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:14 pm
Location: San Andres, Peten, Guatemala, Central America.

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Tue May 25, 2010 5:50 pm

I have finally gained access to the files on my old computer. Refreshing my memory by looking over my records and have come to some conclusions which will not be popular here.
We have collected thousands of fish from the Lake during the last year. We have found very many variations amongst the various species but non that could be called hybrids.
If hybridization happened we would have a dreadful mess of fish in the Lake. Lake Peten is isolated, it has no outlet and is not connected to any other system. I and many other people have commented about the color variations in the Lake itself and between species found in the Lake and those found elsewhere.
A great many well known experts and amateurs have visited the Lake during the last 140 years. The chance of finding a new species is zero.
Having a very limited knowledge of Central American cichlids but being an expert on Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie I am using pure logic.

This fish must be an existing species that is found in the Lake. Quod erat demonstrandum

Hubbs in 1935, in the precise habitat where I found these fish, reported finding Rocio octofasciata and Amphilophus robertsoni.

I have looked at a lot pf photos of these species and there are variations in head shape. Discounting the coloration which can be misleading the markings appear very similar.

Although I don’t have photos when the markings were very dark, the bands over the head and the others resembled the Rocio juvenile.

The other photo is of a firemouth and another fish which was caught in a tributary of the Rio San Pedro, which is very similar.
Attachments
angry firemouth sm.JPG
angry firemouth sm.JPG (105.61 KiB) Viewed 3931 times
puzzle fish small.JPG

User avatar
chc
Posts: 182
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2004 4:51 pm
Location: Virginia Beach, VA USA

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by chc » Tue May 25, 2010 8:07 pm

Interesting! That first photo of the Rocio is a good shot.

So are you saying the fish in question is Rocio? Or are you saying it's a Rocio x robertsoni hybrid?

User avatar
John Heaton
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:14 pm
Location: San Andres, Peten, Guatemala, Central America.

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Wed May 26, 2010 8:59 am

http://www.aquariumphoto.dk/3_cich_am_central.htm

JJ Photos is a vast database of Nature photos by a Dane, Johnny Jensen. His photos are found in magazines and databases World Wide.

I realize that photos are of moderate value unless the location is known.
However my failing eyesight shows that these photos of robertsoni have a remarkable resemblance to my mystery fish.. His photos of Rocio and those in our database have little resemblance to my fish.
Attachments
robertsoni JJ 1.JPG
robertsoni JJ 2.JPG

Meeki67
Posts: 215
Joined: Thu May 10, 2007 3:49 pm
Location: FRANCE

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by Meeki67 » Thu May 27, 2010 2:08 am

The problem of the JJ photos database cause to me some question ... If you look the thorichthys Aureus pictures it's an Elioti ... Then what the insurance to have good name in this kind of database ...

User avatar
Rick Thibert
Posts: 591
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:10 am
Location: Newmarket, Suffolk, England

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by Rick Thibert » Thu May 27, 2010 7:18 am

John,

I still suspect your fish is a "natural hybrid" as Juan suggested. This single fish will breed back to other Robertsoni or Octofasciatum and produce fish which look more like one or the other, not a mix of genes and features will be all but bred out. Now I'm no genetic expert or anything but I'm sure someone can explain my thoughts more clearly.It is likely that all those fish that exist currently as described by science are non-hybrid fishes and all those that are a mix of the two are "natural hybrids", but perhaps over a thousand years, this "natural hybrid" may become established and even scientifically described in the future............. but it's genetic makeup will always be a mix from previous species...........

Am I making sense??? LOL!!

Rick

User avatar
John Heaton
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:14 pm
Location: San Andres, Peten, Guatemala, Central America.

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Thu May 27, 2010 12:38 pm

To throw another spanner in the works I attach below copies of emais sent to a member of another forum.
I have not found a picture of Conkels fish yet.

Thanks for your e mail concerning A. margaritiferum. The Amphilophus group of cichlids was originally referred to as Astatheros Pellegrin, 1904. In 1966, Dr. Robert Miller restructured this large group and named it Amphilophus. In the 1997 work, Molecular Systematics of Middle American Cichlid Fishes and the Evolution of trophic-Types in 'Cichlasoma (Amphilophus)' and 'C. (Thorichthys)', Roe, Conkel, and Lydeard recommended that the substratum-sifting clade of the section 'C. (Amphilophus)' be placed in the resurrected genus Astatheros.
In January 1983, Dr. Paul Loiselle, Vann Mitchell and myself collected 6 specimens of the fish pictured, A. margaritiferum, in Lago de Peten Itza on the island of Flores. The photo on my website is one of those six specimens. Mr. Salvin collected one 6 1/2" specimen in 1862 from this same lake in Guatemala. This specimen is located in the British Museum of Natural History. In Dr. Guenther's work on the fishes of Central America, there is a line drawing of that fish which I have attached. C. Tate Regan's 1906 paper, Biologica Centrali-Americana, a good description of this fish is given (see attachment). Salvin's, Guenther's and Regan's works very closely describe the fish I refer to as As. margaritiferm. While I cannot say with 100% certainty this is the exact same fish, I am not an icthyiologist, I am quite confident it is. I do know for a fact it is not a hybrid. All 6 wild extracted specimens were identical as well as their offspring. Why these so called "arm chair experts" choose to beleive otherwise is beyond me, but perhaps it is because they were not as fortunate to locate or collect it or because I am a cichlid farmer. No other expedition by any one has produced a more similar specimen to that of Salvin's than mine. In addition, in July of 1989, Dr. Robert Miller personally looked over this group of fishes on my Tampa farm and also felt it to be the legendary A. margaritiferum.
Unfortunately, this population of fish is no longer in captivity. I have a farm in Frontera, Guatemala and have made 3 expeditions to Lake Peten since 1998 for more broodstock with no luck. I hope I have enlightened you with the facts.

Kind Regards,
Don Conkel

Thanks for your reply. Yes, I sold the fish as margaritiferum for 3 or 4 years in the late 80's, around the world. Unfortunately, like rhytisma and the related calobrensis, they are delicate and subject to skin irritations if not kept in in good condition. They're for advanced aquarists as most riverine fishes are. Though I caught them in 83 in a small drainage canal flowing into the Peten, I was told by a fisherman they were very rare there and were mainly found in the surrounding streams. This Mayan called both robertsoni and margaritiferum (maybe I should call it sp. Peten) "tepemachine". The lake in 1983 was up 10-12 feet. Paul Loiselle mentioned to me that no one knew why. The first floor of all lakeside buildings (houses, stores and restaurants) were 3 to 4 feet under water. Catching fish was so easy inside the buildings.
The lake during the past several years is back to normal levels. It is very "tanic" in color, has been overfished, and polluted. The Guatemalan government has built several large acre sized pens around the lake's banks to breed Petenia splendida for food fish. The "Mojarra", Cichlasoma, are much lessor in numbers now. All of them. Find attached a photo of a stringer of cichlids I took a couple of years ago. That was a day's catch. The Mestizo fisherman told me he used to catch that amount in an hour 10 years ago. The Astatheros grouping appears to have taken the biggest "hit" in population numbers over the past 10-15 years. No longer can we locate or capture margaritiferum or rhytisma. They are both probably extinct. Calobrensis, rostratum and the alfari form from Lake Arenal in Costa Rica are at near extinction levels. Our collectors find very few of them any more. Pollution and the resulting loss of food source are to blame. These fishes are very specialized.
You will have to speak with Rusty to get his feelings why Robert changed his mind about my specimens. Bob never indicated that to me. I personally used the works of Regan, Guenther, Bussing and Miller when I collected and published my works. That was the best of any info available. Maybe my "margies" were an unidentified species. However, the reported description, reported location and specifically the drawing of margaritiferum led me to beleive I had found it and until proved otherwise, I will feel this way. The literature I speak of matched the other 100 plus species I have collected in more than 50 collecting trips to Central America and Mexico. The photo's I have seen of Wessel's animals look very different to me, more longimanus like. Rusty does come up with some different and rare animals. He's been doing this a while also and is reputible. It's too bad we cannot get the mitochondrial dna of the preserved holotype specimen. It's preserved in formalin. Only matching body meristics will let us know now.
Are you personally in the hobby? What's your experience with these types of fishes or any other American cichlids? If I can ever be of any future help, please let me know.
Best Regards,
Don Conkel

User avatar
John Heaton
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:14 pm
Location: San Andres, Peten, Guatemala, Central America.

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Thu May 27, 2010 2:27 pm

A margaritifer was discussed on this forum in early 2009. This is Conkel's photo which he collected with several others from Lake Peten near Flores.

A most unusual fish to find in Lake Peten.
Attachments
margie.jpg
margie.jpg (46.71 KiB) Viewed 3867 times

User avatar
chc
Posts: 182
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2004 4:51 pm
Location: Virginia Beach, VA USA

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by chc » Thu May 27, 2010 5:32 pm

Interesting how these emails keep getting passed around within a small group of fish people! Haha!

I am aware of comments by Conkel on another forum that he caught the so-called margaritiferum as very small individuals along with lots of other fish. He said he didn't notice anything unusual about the fish at the time of collection and didn't identify the fish at that time. He then deposited all those fish into one of his ponds in Florida to grow out (i.e. all the juvenile fish collected were grown out together in the same earthen pond). It wasn't until that pond was harvested later that he found the six individuals that he ultimately called margaritiferum. He indicated that he lost all of those fish in "the freeze of 1989."

Personally, I have to question the validity of that identification. Based on his own recollection, the fish were not identified as margaritiferum at the time of collection, they were mixed in a growout pond with other species, and once identified as the only specimens of perhaps the rarest species collected in years the were still housed outdoors where they succumbed to the cold. Too many holes in that version of events for me to take it at face value. I want to believe the fish was indeed a new species (whether or not margaritiferum), but the cynic in me won't let me. Sorry if that offends anyone, and I'm not insinuating the DC doesn't sincerely believe in his ID, but the burden of proof is always on the claimant.

User avatar
John Heaton
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:14 pm
Location: San Andres, Peten, Guatemala, Central America.

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Thu May 27, 2010 8:35 pm

That throws a different light on the matter. Conkel's experience was the same as mine. The two small mystery fish were caught with several others in the Southern Arm of the Lake to the East of Flores. In my case they were melanurus. I took no notice of them when we caught them. We probably thought they were colourless affinis. It was only several days later that we realized they were oddballs.
Here are photos of one of the fish when caught and later in the tank. The other photo is of the other fish showing the vertical bars becoming more prominant.
I photograph all fish on capture but the photo of the second fish was not of good quality and looked the same as the other except for the design of the blotches, of course.
You may notice that these fish do have a slight pink tinge.

Finding an adult fish in Lake Peten looking like the fish in Conkel's photo would make me think that somebody had put something other than coffee in my coffee. However after saying this I will pass this photo around amongst some of my ancient local friends to see their reaction.

When I first came to live here 16 years ago the Lake was as described by Conkel with very high water.
Attachments
Mystery coll.jpg
Puzzle bars.JPG
Puzzle bars.JPG (151.66 KiB) Viewed 3854 times

User avatar
John Heaton
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:14 pm
Location: San Andres, Peten, Guatemala, Central America.

Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Fri May 28, 2010 12:26 pm

I had a long conversation with an ancient gentleman who can name all our "weeds" and knows their medicinal uses. He also has a profound knowledge of the local fauna and which fish are found in the Lake and rivers. He recognised the "Pink" Margie but said it is not known in the Lake but he has seen it in the rivers to the North of us, but it is rare. This is the Rio San Pedro system. I questioned him about the colour and he confirmed that it was correct.
He wanted to see my Pleco which the locals call "Devil Fish" He then noticed a Petenia Splendida in one of my tanks and said that is from the Lake, in the rivers they are red. This is the Red Bay Snook found in several locations in Belize and other places.
This obviously does not help but confuses the issue further.
When I have the opportunity I will have to question the fishermen in the Flores area.

Post Reply

Return to “Central American Cichlids”