Fishing trip puzzles

Discussion about cichlids from Central America
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John Heaton
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:04 pm

Those have been my thoughts.
When I start interviewing the Flores fishermen and showing the Margie picture I think that some will say they have seen it. However when I then show the pictures of the Melanurus with the bump they will say "Oh yes, that is the one". I have found juvenile melanurus in several parts of the Lake where the water is crystal clear but only found the young adults in the Flores location.
Until I can capture more of the mystery fish and grow them on, this affair remains without a solution.

For my amusement I created a B and W of one of the melanurus, not bad but no cigar :D
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drawings.jpg

blackghost
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by blackghost » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:37 pm

You can have a cigar (just dont light it yet). :lol:

Your mystery fish even seems to have the 'festae Y' that the 'original margaritifer' has.
The margaritifer also seems to have a longer anal fin than melanurus, and more spines/rays(?) I cant for now find reference to how variable melanurus's count is. :?
Mark Wright

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John Heaton
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Thu Jun 10, 2010 2:15 am

This is not directly relevant to the present discussion but it does relate to the Cichlids of Lake Peten.

The remarkable British Naturalist Osbert Salvin visited Guatemala numerous times starting in 1857 and finally with another Naturalist Frederick Godman in 1861. His principal interest was ornithology but he covered the complete field.
He collected from Lake Peten the following cichlids.

Vieja melanurus (Gunther 1862) 5 specimens
Cichlasoma urophthalmus (Gunther 1862) 3 specimens
Cichlasoma salvini (Gunther 1862) possibly 4 specimens
Petenia splendida (Gunther 1862) 3 specimens
Thorichthys affinis (Gunther 1862) 4 specimens
Amphilophus margaritifer (Gunther 1862) 1 specimen

The first 5 are the only cichlids that I have found in the Lake so far. All six were taken back to the British Museum for Gunther to describe.
It is on record that he also collected specimens of the cichlid named after him from a Rio Santa Isabel. No such river exists in Guatemala. If it refers to Lago Izabal it is misspelled.
During his visits Guatemala was still in turmoil following its final Independence in 1840. The Peten was completely isolated from the rest of Guatemala and ignored. Most people in the Lake Peten area spoke Maya Itza so he would have had a language problem amongst others.

In 1935 Carl Hubbs the American Ichthyologist visited Lake Paten and stated that he collected the following from the Southern Arm of the Lake (between Flores Island and the Airport)

Rocio octofasciata (Regan 1903) holotype found in Mexico
Amphilophus robertsoni (Regan 1905) holotype Stann Creek, Belize.

I have yet to find these cichlids

blackghost
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by blackghost » Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:20 am

According to my Ad Konings book 'Cichlids From Central America' (1989), R. octofasciata has been pushed out of most of its niches by the more recently evolved 'C'. salvini, and has to take to the swamps in order to continue. Do you/can you fish deep into the swamps?
Mark Wright

Bas Pels
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by Bas Pels » Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:51 am

The problem with the Ad Konings book is that he likes to speculate in it.

Among the examples where he is almost certainly wrong is the fact he sees the longimanus group as parent for Thorichthys, considers Petenia to be descendend from some fish eating Parapetania (now split up into a lot of genera) and considers fridrichsthalli, istlanum and - if my memory is correct - uropthalmus as the most primitive species in central America

I like the book for the pictures, but I don't take it seriously

On a sidenote, Ad Konings is deep into riftlake cichlids, and apart from this book he never ever wrote about central Amerikan cichlids

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John Heaton
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Thu Jun 10, 2010 10:01 am

Mark, At 73 I am now not fit enough to go messing around in swamps. The areas that I know are very difficult to approach by land but could be approached by launch. The lily covered lagoon at the end of the Southern Arm of the Lake is surrounded by swamp. This is one of the areas that Hubbs and his Michigan University team visited.
C. salvini are our most brightly coloured cichlids (sometimes). I have read about their habitats in Mexico; they themselves spend most of their time in hiding as they do in an aquarium. They are belligerent so they would displace another fish that likes to hide.

I forgot to mention our other cichlid found in Lake Peten and described by Dr Heckel (the Discus guy)in 1840. Parachromis friedrichsthalii. The Freddy appears now and again in odd places, always a one off. I can't imagine what an Austrian Zoologist was doing fishing in Lake Peten in 1840, and why he only found one species, an uncommon one at that.
Regan of the British Natural History Museum also discovered Freddy in the Lake in 1905 and called it Cichlasoma multifasciatum, which is now a junior synonym.

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John Heaton
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:15 am

The launch is booked for Sunday. My assistant and I will be cruising the Flores Island area talking to the fishermen and examining their catch.
While I was preparing the photos to show to the fishermen I noticed that the markings on the adult Margie photo are identical with the markings on the unidentified juvenile that I caught. (and the BM drawing)
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Willem Heijns
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by Willem Heijns » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:52 am

John,

here's a bit of advice. if you go out to examine fisherman's catch, be sure to take pictures of every fish you get to see. when taking the picture, hold the fish in a manner that shows its boby proportions correctly (no angles, no ventral or dorsal shots) and make sure that the mouth is closed to get a good view of the head shape. upright fins is also good.

another thing is to record the exact locality of the catch. use a GPS if you have one.

best of luck. looking forward to the results.
Slàinte mhath!

Uilleam

Rico Morgenstern
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by Rico Morgenstern » Sat Jun 12, 2010 11:18 am

John Heaton wrote:It is on record that he also collected specimens of the cichlid named after him from a Rio Santa Isabel. No such river exists in Guatemala. If it refers to Lago Izabal it is misspelled.
The river Santa Isabel is the same as Rio de la Pasion, see Günther (1868: An account of the fishes of the states of Central America, on page 380)
John Heaton wrote:I forgot to mention our other cichlid found in Lake Peten and described by Dr Heckel (the Discus guy)in 1840. Parachromis friedrichsthalii. The Freddy appears now and again in odd places, always a one off. I can't imagine what an Austrian Zoologist was doing fishing in Lake Peten in 1840, and why he only found one species, an uncommon one at that.
Regan of the British Natural History Museum also discovered Freddy in the Lake in 1905 and called it Cichlasoma multifasciatum, which is now a junior synonym.
Friedrichsthal has made only few zoological collections, he was chiefly a botanist, archeologist and pioneer of photography. However, P. friedrichsthalii was not the only fish collected by him. Further cichlids from his collection were described by Steindachner in 1864: Heros urophtalmus Günther, 1862 (Note: In 1936, Hubbs based on Steindachner's description, but without seeing the specimens, the new subspecies Cichlasoma urophtalmus stenozonum. Although considered by Kullander in the CLOFFSCA as distinct species, this is probably a synonym of 'C.' urophtalmus sensu stricto, as Friedrichsthal's collection is most likely from Lake Peten), Heros triagramma (= 'C.' salvini), Heros melanopogon (= V. melanurus) and Petenia splendita Günther, 1862.

Regan's C. multifasciatum is based on specimens from Salvin's collection, which have been already identified by Günther (1862, 1868) as Heros friedrichsthalii.
Mark Wright wrote:According to my Ad Konings book 'Cichlids From Central America' (1989), R. octofasciata has been pushed out of most of its niches by the more recently evolved 'C'. salvini, and has to take to the swamps in order to continue. Do you/can you fish deep into the swamps?
Rocio octofasciata is the most wide spread cichlid species of Mexico and - besides some other species - also in Guatemala. Although apparently not very common, it is found regularly. So it can certainly not be regarded as an unsuccessful species, much less one that is about to become extinct.

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Alex Odesit
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by Alex Odesit » Sat Jun 12, 2010 11:24 am

Rico Morgenstern wrote: Rocio octofasciata is the most wide spread cichlid species of Mexico and - besides some other species - also in Guatemala. Although apparently not very common, it is found regularly. So it can certainly not be regarded as an unsuccessful species, much less one that is about to become extinct.
I agree about Rocio. I've seen them in several different cenotes and small shallow water bodies in many places at Rivera Maya in Mexico.

blackghost
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by blackghost » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:23 pm

Thanks re R. octofasciata. I must buy some more up-to-date books !! :lol:
Mark Wright

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John Heaton
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:21 pm

Thank you for the update Rico. That is very interesting. The Rio Pasion part now makes sense, that is the drainage immediately to the South of Lake Peten.

I still find it amazing that a visitor was touring Guatemala in 1840. He must have been a truly adventurous and resilient guy.
The Central American Federation was breaking up with the help of General Rafael Carrera who proclaimed Guatemala a Sovereign Republic and became its Dictator for the next 25 years. However he probably entered the Peten by way of what became British Honduras (now Belize) and would not have been affected by the events in the rest of Guatemala. It is also interesting to note that British Honduras became an official British Colony in 1862 the date of Salvin's last visit and Gunther's description of the fish of Lake Peten.

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John Heaton
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Sun Jun 13, 2010 5:46 am

Further investigation into the activities of Emanuel von Friedrichsthal produced amazing results. Although based in Mexico at the Austrian Consulate he travelled extensively and was the first to photograph the newly discovered Mayan Ruins. In view of his contacts (Stephens and Catherwood) he probably travelled into the Peten using mule trains to see our Mayan Ruins and hence encountered Lake Peten.

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John Heaton
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Sun Jun 13, 2010 2:25 pm

We encountered less fishermen than expected. The wind was blowing at 10 knots which discouraged fishing in open water.
All the fishermen that we met were extremely friendly and very happy to have a chat, with one exception. This was a very large woman who told us to ******* off. We had to approach the canoes very carefully as a heavy 35 foot launch could easily sink one of the canoes.
The first two fishermen we approached immediately recognized the colour photo of the Margie but as expected when I showed the photo of the V. melanurus they agreed that was the fish they knew.
Several of the fishermen had caught nothing and were blaming the wind. Two encounters later the fishermen recognized the Margie but called it Tilapia and said it was found in the Rio Pasion. We have 4 species of introduced Tilapia in Guatemala, luckily none have found their way into the Lake so far. None of the Tilapia closely resembles the Margie, some databases show some with stripes and pink colouring. .
Another fisherman in a sheltered location was catching plenty of medium sized C. urophthalmus. While we were chatting he had a bite and dropped the can on which his line was wrapped. The fish took off with the can in tow. We chased after it and retrieved it for him and the C. urophthalmus had a photo op.
All the fishermen were using live bait so their only catch was a few Petenia splendida, C.urophthalmus and a lot of V. melanurus.
A pleasant cruise but a disappointing result.
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John Heaton
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Sun Jun 13, 2010 6:18 pm

MYSTERY SOLVED :D
Don Conkel has been in contact with me and confirms that the fish I found are identical to the fish he found in 1983 and 2005.
Here are a couple of photos that he sent.
He also sent a copy of Regan's work on the margaritifer in 1906.
Everything fits perfectly. So the mysterious Amphilophus margaritifer does exist. Well done Osbert Salvin for finding it in the first place.
Don is now anxious that I can find some more juveniles for him so my boys are going to be busy fishing.
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Alex Odesit
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by Alex Odesit » Sun Jun 13, 2010 11:25 pm

Here both pictures next to each other. Looks somehow different to me, head/mouth shape, but this may be due to the fish age difference as well photo equipment and lighting conditions.
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John fish
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Don's fish

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John Heaton
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:11 am

The better picture is straight out of the lake. The head appears elongated because it is hanging on a hook. With mouth closed the shape would be the same.
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John Heaton
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:11 am

These photos may be helpful. The descriptions are taken from Regan's re-description of the adult specimen. The second photo taken from a different angle shows some of the features more clearly.
The position of the 7 vertical bars, which are not showing clearly yet, are correctly positioned with respect to the Dorsal spines. The spots on the caudal fin and the soft spines of the dorsal fin show up clearly in the second photo.
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John Heaton
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by John Heaton » Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:17 am

The Head
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Alex Odesit
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Re: Fishing trip puzzles

Post by Alex Odesit » Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:37 am

Well John, that's it then, you brough this fish back to the hobby 8)
Great job done man.

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