Cichlid Room Companion

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The systematic status of Cichlasoma cutteri

By , 2005.
Last updated on 10-Aug-2005

Michi Tobler, 2005

In 1932, Fowler described a cichlid from the Rio Lancetilla in Honduras as Cichlasoma cutteri. Fowler saw a close relationship to 'C.' octofasciatum from which he differentiated the new species by having "a dark preocular band extending forward from the eye to the mouth and the 8 blackish vertical bands on the body entending on the adjacent dorsals and anals. Moreover, the last band on the caudal base is very broad and contrasted."

The status of C. cutteri is unclear for a long time (Stawikowski & Werner, 1985). Fish that were known as C. cutteri before the second world war in Germany turned out to be A. sajica (Kranefeld, 2005). In 1994, Allgayer listed C. cutteri as a valid species in the genus Archocentrus, but when he described the genus Cryptoheros only seven years later, C. cutteri is regarded as a synonym of A. spilurus. Ever since then, C. cutteri is regarded as a synonym of A. spilurus (see also Kullander, 2003).

Honduran A. spilurus are different

When comparing A. spilurus from the Rio Lancetilla and other water bodies in Honduras (type locality of C. cutteri) and from Guatemala (type locality of Günther's Heros spilurus), some major differences can be found (see also Kranefeld, 2005): The Honduras fish are smaller, males are not as deep bodied and do not have a steep head profile, the first and third vertical band are very distinct compared to the others and spot on the caudal base is larger. The distinct vertical bands, however, are not mentioned in Fowler's description and on the first sight, the fish pictured resembles A. spilurus from Guatemala rather than the fish found in the Rio Lancetilla. Further research has to show if the different looking A. spilurus form Honduras is just a geopraphical variant of the fish in Guatemala or if it is justified to seperate them in a different species: Archocentrus cutteri.

Geographic variation in Honduras: Rio Lancetillas vs. Lago Yojoá

Hobbyists already start to name A. spilurus forms from Honduras as A. cutteri. Usually they do not differentiate between fish from the type locality (Rio Lancetilla) and other habitats (such as the Lago Yojoá). However, even within Honduras there are quite some differences among the A. spilurus. For example, in fish from the Lago Yojoá (also known as A. sp. "Lago Yojoá"), the first and third vertical band are not as elaborated as in the fish from thr Rio Lancetilla. Furthermore, depending on the mood, the vertical bands can disappear leaving back only two row of spot in in the middle of the flank and along the basis of the dorsalis. I never observed this in fish from the Rio Lancetilla, but I'd be very interested in observations of others in this regard.

References (2):


Tobler, Michi. (August 10, 2005). "The systematic status of Cichlasoma cutteri". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on January 23, 2019, from:

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