Heros spec. "Rotkeil/redshoulder" and the real Heros severus

Discussion about cichlids from South America

Moderator: Florent

Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:45 am
Location: Graz, Austria

Heros spec. "Rotkeil/redshoulder" and the real Heros severus

Post by maccichlid » Mon Sep 12, 2016 9:48 am

Hi All,

there is a mystery I would like to hear your opinion about:

The origin of Heros spec. "Rotkeil"

I know - that question is quite old and often asked since the Rotkeil appeared first in a petshop in germany (Aquarium Dietzenbach) 16 years ago.
The point is, that now we have much more informations about the genus Heros than at that time. Even a tentative phylogeny (by Zuzana Musilová) will be published soon (in the book of Peter DITTRICH about Heros, coming soon at http://sungaya-verlag.de) including most of the known Heros species and forms.
AND we know NOW that there is another Heros with a very similar color pattern (as far as the red shoulder is concerned) - Heros severus from the upper Rio Negro/ upper Orinoco and the Rio Casiquiare area. And these two forms are the only ones which show such a unique coloration. Of course there are some differences between the "Rotkeil" and the real H. severus like e.g. the number of vertical bars (Rotkeil: 8, severus: 9 with a halved 3rd one), the color of the pelvic and anal fins (Rotkeil: orange; severus: brownish/dark).
OK - so far so good. But there are some points that make (at least) me suspicious:
- there is a broad variation of different "Rotkeil"s - the shape, size and color of the red zone varies between several strains and even within a brood. And the Rotkeil-Heros distributed in 2000 look different from those that available now. Yes - this can be explained by the small gene pool and inbreeding... But - how about the next point:
- the halved 3rd band occurs in some strains of Rotkeil-Heros - at least - as long as they are juvenile. And there are many examples for adult fishes which also show 8 1/2 bands...
- thre is not a single photo of a redshoulder-Heros directly after it was caught in the wild. And there is NO reliable information about the type locality. And yes - i know that there have been imports from Peru to germany (e.g. from Glaser in 2002, 2003, 2005 und 2014). Without data of the place where they have been found - it could have been an artificial pond in or nearby Iquitos... ;-) Many aquarists and scientists travelled the Nanay area around Iquitos and upstream - and to my knowledge nobody ever found a "Rotkeil" in the wild - only the usual H. appendiculatus.
- without the intention of accusing somebody by this... But it is known that Heros severus from the upper Rio Negro and Rio Uaupès area (with the nice red shoulder) were available in germany since 1996. And the guy who kept them was the same who introduced the Rotkeil-Heros to the hobby... uuhhmmm - that's at least a tiny bit strange or suspicious, right? In a short article about the real Heros severus he stated that there were only very few specimen - among them only one female - which did not spawn together until 2003.

Is it so weird to think that one of the red-shouldered Heros severus has been cross-bred with e.g. Heros appendiculatus or H. (cf.) efasciatus between 1996 and the year 2000, when the Rotkeil appeared?
There are indications that it occured - that's no evidence; of course. But I think it might be worth to check if it possible that the "Rotkeil" is the product of a cross-breed between the real H. severus - which is available now in the US, Canada, germany, austria and france - and another Heros species which shows some of the aspects of the color pattern similar to the "Rotkeil" (like H. appendiculatus).

Well - it is just a hypothesis. Easy to prove or disprove...
Peter Dittrich and me tried to place an article about this hypothesis and a project to check its value in the journal of the DCG. Unfortunately this idea was too progressive or subversive - anyway; the article was declined. OK, I don't care - that's not the point... I simply want to find out if the "Rotkeil" is a real species (which has to be conserved, since it might be threatened - nobody know the type locality... ;-) ) or if it is just a nice cross-breed.

Soooo guys - what do YOU think? Does anyone have already experiences with cross-breeding "Rotkeil"-Heros and/or the real H. severus?


PS: I try to add some pics we used for the paper...

Heros severus, male
Heros severus, female
Heros spec. "Rotkeil" F1 of F. Warzel's breeds
Heros appendiculatus "Peru"
Heros severus, juveniles, 3 month old
Last edited by maccichlid on Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:45 am
Location: Graz, Austria

Re: Heros spec. "Rotkeil/redshoulder" and the real Heros severus

Post by maccichlid » Mon Sep 12, 2016 9:58 am

some more pics....

juvenile H. spec. Rotkeil (pic taken from malawicichlidhomepage.com)
rotkeil_juvenile.jpg (102.6 KiB) Viewed 1877 times
H. spec. Rotkeil, very old specimen (pic by A. Jekel)
H. severus (pic by U. Werner, fish: owner A. Seva)
severus-seva.jpg (27.12 KiB) Viewed 1877 times
7 yo H. spec. Rotkeil (specimen obtained from Frank Warzel in 2000)
rotkeil 7 yo.jpg
grandson of the fish in the upper picture, do you note the differences of the color pattern as compared to his direct relative?
rotkeil 3gen.jpg

Post Reply

Return to “South American Cichlids”