Ancistrus White Seam

1. April 2014

customers, the scientific names in Ancistrus are sadly a total mess.
First of all: the genus Ancistrus contains a large number of species.
Currently 66 species are accepted, scientifically described species in
Ancistrus. However, in former days a great number of species has been
described under the generic name of Ancistrus, which currently are
placed in totally different genera – examples are Lithoxus,
Pterygoblichthys, Hemiancistrus, Dekeyseria etc.. So one must be aware
that reviewing these genera will probably recover other, additional
species and will make changes of names necessary.

“Common Bushmouth” has been established in the 1950ies in our tanks. At
that time nobody even guessed how many species exist. This is the
reason why that fish was determined under the name of Ancistrus
dolichopterus. At that time it was usual practice to cross in
established aquarium populations wild collected specimens for
“refreshing of blood”. So we can be almost absolutely sure that our
“Common bushmouth” is a cross, a multiple hybrid. At least no species is
known from wild populations that has exactly the features that our
“Common Bushmouth” has. It is comparably easy to cross different species
of Ancistrus, as it in between platys and swordtails. This is no
criterion for species discrimination.

are not only the 66 scientifically described species known, but also
another 90 species – some with, some without a L- oder LDA-number (see
Mergus Atlas on catfishes, vol.2). All of them are occasionally imported
or bred. We are far from understanding the systematics of all these
fish, but one thing can be said for sure: Ancistrus dolichopterus is one
of the so called White Seam Ancistrus and has been given the L-number
183. So please keep in mind: L183 = Ancistrus dolichoperus.

“Common Bushmouth” is a cross and so it cannot bear a scientific
species name according to the international rules of scientific
nomenclature. From a scientific point of view it must be named by the
generic name only, eg Ancistrus.

There is more than one species
of Ancistrus with a white seam in the dorsal and the caudal fins. A.
dolichopterus can usually easily recognized by the fact that it has 9
soft rays in the dorsal fin (all other similar Ancistrus have 7-8). Only
very occasionally individuals of A. dolichopterus with less than 9 soft
rays in the dorsal fin occur. The coloration is no good determination
feature, for juveniles look different than adults and Ancistrus can
change their colours also mood-dependent quite quick.

it was found that L183 is Ancistrus dolichopterus, L183/White Seam
Ancistrus was wrongly determined as Ancistrus hoplogenys. However, today
we know that Ancistrus hoplogenys is identical with L59, which has
orange seams on the dorsal fin. There is another species of Ancistrus
which is repeatedly confused with Ancistrus dolichopterus, L183/White
Seam Ancistrus. This species obtained several L-numbers: L71, L181 and
L249. However, all these L-numbers represent the same species. It was
given the common name “false hoplogenys”, because only the small
juveniles have the pretty white seams, in contrast to the “true
hoplogenys” (which is Ancistrus dolichopterus, L183/White Seam
Ancistrus) which has these white seams the whole life through. In “L71,
L181 and L249” these white seams disappear in elder fish. Sadly both
forms are not distinguished in Brazil. So even we never know what we
will get when we order small White Seam Ancistrus from Brazil.

this mess in names still persists. Please note that on our stocklist
due to technical reasons no solution that satisfies all needs is
possible. So the “Common bushmouth” is still called “Ancistrus
dolichopterus” and has code 20420. We call all undeterminable wild
collected Ancistrus that look similar to the “Common bushmouth”
“Ancistrus dolichopterus wild”, code 20411. The real A. dolichopterus or
“L183/real hoplogenys/white seam” has code 20440 and the name A.
hoplogenys. Juveniles, that could be both L183 and L71, L181 and L249 we
call Ancistrus sp. White Seam, code 20480.

Despite the fact that
we are always trying to use correct names, this seems to be impossible
in some special cases, like this one. If you are in doubt which species
is meant on the stocklist, please don´t hesitate to ask our employees.
Thank you!

Text: Frank Schäfer, photos: Frank Schäfer, Dieter Bork, Erwin Schraml