The ground tetras belonging to the genus Melanocharacidium can change their coloration drastically. This makes a determination often pretty difficult, because the characters used in scientific papers to distinguish the species cannot be seen in life fish and the colours exhibited in preserved specimens may be very different from those observed in life specimens.
The genus Melanocharacidium contains so far nine scientifically described species, none of them has been ever reported for Peru. The only species that lives „nearby“ is Melanocharacidium rex from Ecuador. Sadly there are only two known specimens; however, it seems to be unlikely that our fish belong to the species M. rex, for the type specimen of M. rex is larger than 10 cm, while our fish seem to be at least sexually differentiated – they are currently 4-5 cm long.
So in all probability our imports belong to a scientifically unknown new species. The fish are very entertaining in the aquarium. They are more bottom-bound than their relatives, the ground tetras of the genus Characidium, which may occassionally be found swimming in the free water column. Depending on mood, our Melanocharacidium can look almost black, in other moods they exhibit a dark horizontal band that is followed by a brightly shining one.
For our customers: the fish have code 215903 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
Text & photos; Frank Schäfer