Male in the aquarium
A male of Paraneetroplus bulleri in the aquarium of Richard Robinson, Nottinghamshire [England].Foto von Juan Miguel Artigas Azas. (04-Apr.-2006). identifiziert durch Juan Miguel Artigas Azas








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Paraneetroplus bulleri Regan, 1905

Erstbeschreibung als Paraneetroplus bulleri:


  • Regan, Charles Tate. 1905. "A revision of the fishes of the American cichlid genus Cichlosoma and of the allied genera". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. (Ser. 7) vol. 16; pp 60-77; 225-243; 316-340; 433-445 (crc00042)

Nomenklatur Geschichte:

Bewohnte Länder:

Etymologie: After Dr. A. C. Buller, who collected the type specimen in México.

Populärbezeichnungen: Corrientera del Coatzacoalcos (literature, Spanish), Mojarra del Sarabia (literature, Spanish), Sarabia cichlid (literature, English).

Typusmaterial: Holotype: A 218 mm TL specimen from Rio Sarabia, Oaxaca [Mexico], collected by Dr. A.C. Buller and stored in the Natural History Museum [London] with registration 1890.10.10.94.

Diagnose: Paraneetroplus bulleri better exhibits the dentition shape characteristic of the genus as described by Regan (1905:436); broad, compressed, and pointed or rounded. Two pictures (upper and lower jaw) where the dentition of P. bulleri can be better appreciated are found in Allgayer’s redescription of the genus Paraneetroplus (Allgayer, 1988:8). Regan establishes that P. bulleri is intermediate between Paraneetroplus nebuliferus and Neetroplus nematopus.

A diagnostic trait that sets apart Paraneetroplus bulleri from the rest of the Paraneetroplus species is the extension of the fifth and sixth longitudinal black blotches on the sides (being the first a faint one in the opercular area) up to the base of the dorsal fin, the sixth extending to the margin. In between these blotches there is a salmon shine on the scales in the dorsal area that intensifies in breeding individuals. A second area of salmon colored scales is present on the dorsal area of breeding or dominant individuals. The tail and ending parts of the dorsal and anal fins are red, as well as the pre-opercular, opercular, breast and cheek areas on adult individuals.

Größe: The holotype is 218 mm total length. Nevertheless, at least in captivity males can reach about 30 cm in size, while females about 25 cm. Kullander (2003:641) gives a maximum size of 25.5 cm.

Geschlechtsdimorphismus: There are not apparent difference between the sexes, males grow larger. Examination of the genital papillae is possible, it shows pointed in males and blunt in females.

Typusfundort: Río de Sarabia, Mexico.

Verbreitung: Paraneetroplus bulleri is endemic to the fast flowing areas of the low elevation (up to about 230 meters) middle and upper Coatzacoalcos river system main affluents, including Rio Uxpanapa, Coatzacoalcos, Grande, Sarabia and Jaltepec, located in the northern part of the Tehuantepec isthmus in Mexico (Artigas Azas, 2008; Miller, 2005).

Fundorte: Ajal River (Mexico, natürlich vorkommend), Río Chalchijapan (Mexico, natürlich vorkommend), Río Solosuchil (Mexico, natürlich vorkommend).

Lebensraum: Paraneetroplus bulleri inhabits well shaded shallow (up to about 2 meters) areas of fast to moderated flowing water in streams and rivers within its range, which are normally devoid of aquatic vegetation, normally with a substrate composed of sand, silt and rocky. Boulders are common in the streams in which Paraneetroplus bulleri dwells.

Water is clear with a high dissolved oxygen content and pristine habitats, although mud and detritus are present to some degree and rains reduce water visibility. Water parameters for Paraneetroplus bulleri include a temperature range from about 20 to 28ºC, pH on the alkaline side from about 7.5 to 8.0 and moderate water hardness.

Rivers in the Paraneetroplus bulleri range are found in the tropical rainforest of the northern Tehuantepec isthmus in México, which have their sources in the tropical rainforest mountains including in some cases the Chimalapas rainforest biosphere reserve. Yearly water precipitation exceeds 1,000 mm and can reach 2,500 mm in part of the range. Rivers can substantially increase their flow after the rains with the consequent decrease in visibility and temperature (Artigas Azas, 2008).

Ernährung: Paraneetroplus bulleri is normally found in groups swimming against the very strong current, where they use their sub-terminal mouth and chisel like teeth, properly adapted to rip-off chunks of aufwuchs and algae growing on the surface of rocks in shallow areas exposed to the sun. Juveniles are also found in these rivers feeding on algae but prefer to hide among the rocks and boulders (Artigas Azas, 2008).

Feeding on aufwuchs is easy to identify because the fish that feeds on them exhibit a very rounded belly after feeding, given the low nutritional value of aufwuch large amounts have to be consumed to obtain enough nutrition. Aufwuchs are loaded with small insects, blue-green algae and algae strands, so it is inaccurate to classify a fish that feeds on aufwuch as purely herbivorous.

The sub-terminal mouth of Paraneetroplus bulleri makes it easier to feed from the rocks in the strong current, as the fish does not have to lean in a big angle (and oppose the current) to be able to obtain their food, and hence the energy used in feeding is optimized.

Fortpflanzung: Breeding season for Paraneetroplus bulleri starts in the late winter in March and early spring with an apparent peak in April. The rivers have their shallower and warmer phase during this time, allowing for an abundance of food to be harvested. Paraneetroplus bulleri starts breeding efforts when males attain a minimum size of 20 cm. while females are normally smaller around 15 cm. total length.

Pairs apparently form prior to the establishment of a territory, which is then defended by the pair. The preferred areas for breeding are found not in the strong currents but just outside of the rapids, where water has a moderate but still strong enough flow. Pairs dig a small depression in the gravel of about 30 cm. in diameter. This depression is normally no more than 5 cm deep. The surface of the gravel and rocks in the nest is then cleaned of any debris by the pair, although some aufwuchs is allowed on the surface.

Males patrol the territory in big circles while the females stay just on top of the nest. Once the genital organs appear as white blunts in the genital area, spawn is imminent. Spawn happens when the female deposits rows of strongly adhesive eggs directly on the gravel or small rocks, passing from one to other without hesitation. The eggs, which number a few hundreds are about 2 mm in their longest axis, green and translucent in coloration and blend incredible well with the rocks on which they are placed.

Males are shy and rarely do they remain in their territories to face any perceived threat, females stay up to a point when the threat is perceived as too big and then they can momentarily abandon their nests, but more regularly start circling in every time bigger circles to confuse the potential predator about the exact location of the eggs, which are almost invisible. Approaching these cichlids for observation while they breed has to be done in a quiet and patience manner, if you want them to stay. Once females abandon their eggs they may become prey to the shoals of Astyanax if spotted, if so, they are doomed, as even the pair won’t be able to prevent it.

In the aquarium eggs hatch approximately two days post spawning. The defendless wrigglers carry their yolk sacs that provide them food for about five days. In this period the wrigglers are placed by the female in a crack among some rocks inside the nest area. Once fry are free swimming they are taken by the pair to the stronger currents, where they remain very close to the bottom and seem to hold pretty well.

At this point pairs are more willing to risk themselves facing dangers and allow the presence of observers, or at least the female would do. In face of any threat, the babies invariably hide under the rocks or in the cracks until it is gone. Pairs have to be extremely careful as the danger of the large Astyanax schools devouring the babies, on which at this point they have invested so much energy, is very real. The babies can be seen constantly nibbling on the exposed rocks in very shallow water and appear to be very fit to maneuver in the currents even at this small age. Signals by the mother, made with spasmodic body shakes plus opening and closing of her fins are quickly followed by the herd. As is normal in other Central American cichlid, males guide the displacements.

Pairs guide their babies until they attain approximately two centimeter in total length, when they apparently decide to abandon their parents. Small P. bulleri are common in very shallow rapids with rocky bottom, normally among rock pebbles, where they are incredibly fast to hide themselves at the presence of any danger (Artigas Azas, 2008).

Aquaristik: The precise date when Paraneetroplus bulleri was introduced in the aquarium hobby is unknown, but it must have been in the mid 1980s by either Jean Claude Nourissat et al from France or Rainer Stawikowski et al from Germany. A picture of P. bulleri from Rio Sarabia appears in Werner & Stawikowski (1985:97). The introduction into the United States followed that in Europe and most likely imported from there.

Having read about the natural condition of the habitat in which this cichlid dwells should give you a clear indication about the water parameters that this fish require for its well-being. Well oxygenated water with low dissolved metabolites is a must. Water temperature has to be considered to be maintained in the range they get in the wild. This will allow not only for enough activity but also for enough dissolved oxygen in the water, preventing stress and diseases. Failures to comply with these requirements are obvious as the fish dramatically increases its respiration rate, which pose them in stress.

Tank size must be as well of consideration, a long tank of a minimum of 1.8 meters is my recommendation, but longer tanks should be provided if possible. Paraneetroplus bulleri is a fast and certainly aggressive cichlid, especially conspecifically. Bigger individuals constantly bite conspecific’s caudal peduncles until they get severely damaged. Being a water current fish, I guess this damage could be critic in their natural habitat.

Gravel, open spaces and some cover should also ideally be provided, as this makes the fish at ease and allow us to witness some of its natural behavior. As with most Central American cichlids, breeding is not difficult once the right conditions are provided. Small depressions are normally dug in open spaces in the gravel are used for spawning, which could be triggered by an increment in the amount food provided and the temperature followed by some days of fasting.

Fry can be easily fed with brine shrimp nauplii without problem. Adults, although mostly herbivorous, should however accept any food offered. I assume they should have certain degree of opportunism in their natural habitat and aufwuchs certainly contain more than vegetable matter. In any case, they are happy to take any dry foods offered. Use your common sense to provide them with a good food complement and be careful not to offer too much animal protein, to which the fish are not accustomed in the wild and may cause digestive maladies.

Don’t forget the natural shyness of this fish, which must be the first obstacle to surpass in order to keep them happy and lead them to breed, showing us the best of their coloration and behavior. There are a number of ways to overcome this shyness; dither fish are very useful for this end, and Poeciilids and Atherinids should do a fine job. Another way is to keep the fish in a high level tank. Death comes from above in their natural habitat and the fish feels much more at easy when they don’t feel they are constantly watched from above. Temperature in the middle to upper part of the range helps them to become active and not be so shy, but longtime variations are good for them. All this could be futile if more aggressive companions constantly bully on them, so watch out for this as well.

I dare to say that if shyness is overcame and conditions given there should be no way to prevent them to gain your heart with their beauty and gift you with their wonderful breeding behavior. Babies are well kept and can actually prosper to adulthood in the tank provided there are not big predators (Artigas Azas, 2008).

Artenschutz: Paraneetroplus bulleri wurde nicht durch die Internationalen Union für die Erhaltung der Natur (IUCN) in der Roten Liste bedrohter Arten bewertet. Paraneetroplus bulleri is not listed in the Mexican Official Norm NOM-059-ECOL-2001 or the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The habitat remains stable in its entire range.

There is however an important risk for this species; The seemingly unending deforestation of the northern Tehuantepec isthmus increases the silt on the rocks and the turbidity of the water in areas in which this fish inhabit, decreasing the amount of available food and creating a risk to this and other species.

For many years the plan to develop a major engineering project to establish a quick and cheap transportation route for items to and from the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec alternative to the Panama channel, has been threatening the incredibly rich ecosystem of the potentially affected area. The project would include railroads and a superhighway for the traffic of products, and would possibly bring ecologic affectation to the zone and possibly pollution as well, if as apparently it is the rule is not handled with care. It is likely that this project will materialize one day, but hopefully in a way that respects the incredibly rich flora and fauna of this wonderful place on earth.

Bemerkungen: The initial generic placement of this species in Paraneetroplus regained acceptance (Allgayer, 1988) after Kullander's restriction of Cichlasoma (Kullander, 1983). However Miller (2005:373) does not recognize Paraneetroplus and includes P. bulleri in Theraps.

The phylogeny and relationships of Paraneetroplus bulleri have been studied using comparisons of mitochondrial and/or nuclear DNA (Říčan et al., 2008; López-Fernández et al., 2010; McMahan et al., 2010). P. bulleri results as closely related to species of Vieja (regani and maculicauda) and Paratheraps (bifasciatus, breidhori, hartwegi, fenestratus, guttulatus, melanurus).

Literatur (13):

  • Allgayer, Robert. 1988. "Redescrition du genre Paraneetroplus Regan 1905, et description d'une espèce nouvelle du Mexique". Revue Française des Cichlidophiles. vol. 9 (n. 75): pp. 4-22 (crc00268)
  • Artigas Azas, Juan Miguel. 2008. "Corrientera del Coatzacoalcos - Pareneetroplus bulleri Regan, 1905". Cichlid News Magazine. v. 17 (no. 3): pp. 11-16 (crc01576) (Kurzfassung)
  • IUCN. 2002. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". International Union for the Conservation of Nature (crc01159)
  • Instituto Nacional de Ecología (INE). 2001. "NORMA Oficial Mexicana NOM-059-ECOL-2001". Mexico (crc01158)
  • Kullander, Sven. 2003. "Family Cichlidae (Cichlids)". Check list of the freshwater fishes of South and Central America. pp. 605-654 (crc01092)
  • Kullander, Sven. 1983. "A revision of the South American cichlid genus Cichlasoma (Teleostei: Cichlidae)". Swedish Museum of Natural History. 296 pp. (crc00309) (Kurzfassung)
  • López-Fernández, Hernán & K.O. Winemiller & R.L. Honeycutt. 2010. "Multilocus phylogeny and rapid radiations in Neotropical cichlid fishes (Perciformes: Cichlidae: Cichlinae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 55(3): 1070–1086 (crc02456) (Kurzfassung)
  • McMahan, Caleb D. & A.D. Geheber & K.R. Piller. 2010. "Molecular Systematics of the Enigmatic Middle American Genus Vieja (Teleostei: Cichlidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 57(3):1293-1300 (crc02683) (Kurzfassung)
  • Miller, Robert Rush. 2005. "Freshwater Fishes of Mexico". University of Chicago Press, Chicago. pp. 1-524 (crc01245)
  • Miller, Robert Rush. 1966. "Geographical distribution of Central American freshwater fishes". Copeia. v. 1966 (n. 4); pp. 773-802 (crc01105)
  • Regan, Charles Tate. 1905. "A revision of the fishes of the American cichlid genus Cichlosoma and of the allied genera". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. (Ser. 7) vol. 16; pp 60-77; 225-243; 316-340; 433-445 (crc00042)
  • Stawikowski, Rainer & U. Werner. 1985. "Die Buntbarsche der Neuen Welt. Mittelamerika". Essen (crc01091)
  • Říčan, Oldřich & R. Zardoya & I. Doadrio. 2008. "Phylogenetic relationships of Middle American cichlids (Cichlidae, Heroini) based on combined evidence from nuclear genes, mtDNA and morphology". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 49: 941-957 (crc01818) (Kurzfassung)

Externe Kataloge: Catalog of Fishes, Encyclopedia of Life, FishBase, ZooBank.


Artigas Azas, Juan Miguel. (April 16, 2015). "Paraneetroplus bulleri Regan, 1905". Cichlid Room Companion. Abgerufen am Juni 20, 2019, von: