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Paretroplus damii

P damii
Paretroplus damii
Image Credit: wikipedia


Paretroplus damii is a medium sized fish in its genus. It has a standard length of 4.5" and total length of 6.8".
It is found in many river basins in Northwest Madagascar.


(Click for details of Cichlid taxonomy)

Paretroplus damii was first described by Bleeker in 1868.
The genus Paretroplus is further divided several groups called clades.
P damii belongs to clade consisting of fish which are comparatively elongate and primarily live in rivers and swift flowing waters.
The other members of this clade are P. nourissati, P. tsimoly, P. lamenabe, P. loisellei.

The genus name Paretroplus comes from the Greek 'para' meaning 'on the side of'; in taxonomy it is commonly used in generic names to express similarity or relatedness.
Hence the genus name literally means 'next to Etroplus' and signifies the close relationship these two genus have.

The species is named in honor of the Dutch naturalist Van Dam, who along with F. Pollen, collected the type material.


Paretroplus damii is the largest and most deep-bodied member of this clade, and specimens of nearly 40 cm TL have been collected.
It has a standard length of 4.5" and a body depth of 50.2 % of SL.

Head is moderately pointed, head length is 32.5% of SL and width is 17.8 % of SL.
Snout is 46 % of Head length and is shaped straight to slightly curved.
Predorsal profile is moderately curved and is 45 % of SL.
Dorsal body outline is slightly curved, Ventral(lower) outline mostly straight (except posteriorly).
Caudal peduncle is short, deep, and laterally compressed.
Total vertebral count is 31 or 32, 14-15 vertebra on body (pre caudal) and 16-17 on tail.

Lower and upper jaws are similar (isognathous).
There is a single row of thin, flat, single cusp teeth in both upper and lower jaws.
Teeth are laterally expanded, flattened at crown. In upper jaw, tooth on either side of pre maxillary symphysial are greatly enlarged, other teeth graded in size laterally.
Lower-jaw teeth at symphysial are not enlarged, but reduced in size compared to adjacent lateral teeth, presumably to accommodate enlarged upper symphysial teeth.

Teeth in upper jaw number four to seven on each side, and total 12–13.
Teeth in lower jaw number five to seven on each side, and total 11–13.
Teeth in both upper and lower jaws are frequently irregularly spaced and graded in size laterally.
Like all cichlids, P. damii have pharyngeal teeth.
Upper and lower pharyngeal tooth plates are well developed with strong teeth.
Body is covered with large, overlapping, cycloid scales.

Flank scales on back side are thin, lack circuli(rings) , un ossified and form a flexible 'flap'.
Dorsal and Anal fin bases have well-developed ridges of scales.
Pelvic auxiliary scale are present and well developed.
Lateral-line contains 35–39 scales.

Chest scales are markedly reduced in size and embedded.
Scales along ventral midline are smallest.
There are four to five rows of scales on cheek. Opercle, subopercle, and interopercle scaled.
Snout, and region near eyes does not have any scales.
Scales on caudal fin are small in size and extending posteriorly about 1/2 to 2/3 length of fin on dorsal and ventral lobes, and 1/4 to 1/3 length of fin medially.
Dorsal fin is placed vertically above pectoral fins base and has XVIII–XX spines, 11–16 soft rays.
Soft Dorsal fin is weakly pointed.
Anal fins as IX–XI spines, 9–12 soft rays.
Soft anal fin is weakly pointed.
Caudal fin is concavely curved but not forked ( emarginate) , upper and lower lobes are broad and more-or-less rounded.
Pectoral fin is broad and rounded at the end .
Pelvic fin extends to about level of anal-fin origin.

Distribution & Habitat

Paretroplus damii are found in rivers and lake in northwest madagascar.
Although Paretroplus damii was first collected by Bleeker from a volcanic lake " Ampombilava" on Island of "Nosy Be" situated off the Northwest coast of Madagascar, it was never found or collected from that location.
Paretroplus damii has a widespread in northwestern and far northern Madagascar.

Along the northwestern versant of the island, the known range of P. damii extends in the south from the Anjingo-Ankofia River basin and Lake Andrapongy northward to the rivers (Sahinana and Sampiana) draining the western slopes of the Montagne d’Ambre massif in far northern Madagascar.
The species has also recently been collected by Paul Loiselle (NY Aquarium/WCS) from the middle reaches of the eastward draining Mahanara River to the north of Sambava in northeastern Madagascar .

The geographic range of P. damii is noteworthy in that it is the only member of the genus that occurs in both eastward and westward draining basins.


Base colour of body ranges from golden brown, to grayish, to dark brownish olive.
There is triangular black patch present in the pectoral-fin axil, and is visible in lateral view dorsal to pectoral-fin base.
Fin coloration ranges from gray, to grayish brown, to dark brownish olive.
Juveniles less than about 40 mm SL show mottled colour with characteristic large dark predorsal saddle and concentrated black blotch on posterior margin of soft dorsal fin.
Unstressed individuals are dark gray to grayish brown and exhibit a wide, pale yellow band on the anterior flank.
The head, dorsal opercle, cheek, inter orbital region, and snout are also pale yellow in unstressed specimens.
This pale yellow coloration quickly disappears if the fish is disturbed.
In breeding individuals from west coast populations, this yellow region becomes brick red.

Conservation Status & Threats

IUCN Red list shows status of Paretroplus damii as "Data Deficient".
Earlier it was listed as "Vulnerable" , however taxonomic uncertainties have risen and this resulted in this species being placed in "Data Deficient ".
This species has a very widespread distribution and is thought to be collection of many species, if it is regarded as single species then its distribution exceeds 2000 sq km and can be assessed as "east concern".
However more studies are needed to confirm the status.
No data is available on population trends for this species.
Habitat destruction, overfishing, and competition from a number of exotic species, primarily tilapiine cichlids and the Asian snakehead are major threats faced all madagascar Cichlids.

Tank Size and setup:

It is a medium to large size fish, individuals up to 16 " have been reported.
Given the fact that these cichlids love to live in groups a tank should not be less than 1000 liters.
These fish live in rivers and large lakes, and need exceptionally clean water.
As their diet is rich in proteins the filteration should be very good.
P damii love to live in groups hence a group 5-6 should be kept.


It is carnivore and should be given corresponding diet. Frozen shrimp, mussels, live snails can be give.

Sexual Dimorphism and breeding

There are no sexually dimorphic features apparent, but males are larger.
P damii are substrate spawner's. A pair will dig a spot in sand, and lay eggs. The eggs hatch after one week.

Species Snapshot

Species Card

Particulars Details
Scientific Name Paretroplus damii
Common Name Damii
Genus Paretroplus
Subfamily Etroplinae
Geographical Origin Africa: Endemic to the northwestern part of Madagascar
Diet Carnivore
Gender Differences Mono morphic
Breeding Substrate Spawner
Temperament Aggressive
Con Specific Temperament Aggressive
Water hardness ph range ; 6.5 to 8
Difficulty Level in Aquariums 2

Morphometric Data

Particulars Details
Total Length(inches) 6.80
Standard Length(inches) 4.50

Measurements as % of Total Length

Particulars Details
Body Depth 50.20 %
Head length 32.50 %
Pre Dorsal length 45.80 %
Pre Pectoral length  %
Pre Anal length 60.80 %
Pre Pelvic length 41.80 %
Caudal Peduncle Depth 15.50 %
Caudal Peduncle Length 5.80 %
Fork length  %
Length of Last Dorsal Fin Spine  %
Pectoral Fin Length 23.20 %
Pelvic Fin Length 22.50 %

Measurements as % of Head Length

Particulars Details
Head Width 17.80 %
Snout length 46.60 %
Eye diameter 29.10 %
Pre Orbital Length  %
Inter Orbital Width 33.10 %
Pre Orbital Depth  %

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