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Paretroplus maculatus

P macalutus
Paretroplus maculatus
Image Credit: Wikipedia


Paretroplus maculatus is a medium sized fish in its genus. It has a standard length of 4.4" and total length of 5.5".

Paretroplus maculatus is endemic to turbid, shallow floodplain lakes in the lower reaches of the Betsiboka and Ikopa drainage basins in northwestern Madagascar.


(Click for details of Cichlid taxonomy)

Paretroplus maculatus was first described by Kiener in 1966.

The genus Paretroplus is further divided several groups called clades.
P maculatus belongs to clade consisting of compressed Paretroplus belonging to Clade I, which comprises all deep-bodied and essentially disk-shaped members of Paretroplus.
The other members of this clade are P. dambabe,, P. maromandia, P. menarambo, P. petiti, and P. polyactis.

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 name maculatus refers to the large black humeral patch (Latin maculae), which is a characteristic feature of this species.


Paretroplus maculatus is a deep bodied and small member of its clade.
It has a standard length of 4.4" and a body depth of 56.6 % of SL.

Head is blunt and steeply sloping in lateral view, head length is 29.8% of SL and head width is 16.7 % of SL.
Predorsal profile is rounded and markedly convex in larger individuals.
Caudal peduncle is short, deep, and laterally compressed.
Total vertebral count is 32 or 33, 14-15 vertebra on body (pre caudal) and 18-19 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 6-8 on each side, and total 13-14.
Teeth in lower jaw number 5-6 on each side, and total 10–11.
Teeth in both upper and lower jaws are frequently irregularly spaced and graded in size laterally.
Like all cichlids, P. maculatus have pharyngeal teeth.
Upper and lower pharyngeal tooth plates are well developed with strong teeth.

Body is covered with large, overlapping, cycloid scales.
Dorsal and Anal fin bases have well-developed ridges of scales.
Pelvic auxiliary scale are present and well developed.
Lateral-line contains 34–39 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 3/4 length of fin on dorsal and ventral lobes, and 1/3 length of fin medially.
Dorsal fin is placed slightly anterior of vertical line of pectoral fins base and has XV–XVII spines, 16–20 soft rays.
Soft Dorsal fin is weakly pointed.
Anal fin has VIII –IX spines, 13 –16 soft rays.
Soft anal fin is weakly pointed.
Caudal fin is concavely curved but not forked ( emarginate) , crescent shaped,upper and lower lobes are broad and more-or-less rounded.
Pectoral fin is broad and rounded at the end .
Pelvic fins extend slightly beyond anal-fin origin.

Distribution & Habitat

Paretroplus maculatus is endemic to turbid, shallow floodplain lakes in the lower reaches of the Betsiboka and Ikopa drainage basins in northwestern Madagascar .
The range of P. maculatus extends in the north from Lake Ravelobe and surrounding small rivers in the vicinity of Ampijoroa Forestry Station, located to the southeast of Mahajunga (5 Majunga), southward to a number of small lakes in the vicinity of Maevatanana .
This includes lakes in the region of Ambato-Boeni which is more or less centrally located between Ampijoroa and Maevatanana.
Lake Andimaka, located to the southwest of the town of Mahazoma, which itself is located to the southwest of Maevatanana, is the most southerly collection locality known for P. maculatus.

De Rham and Nourissat (2004) have hypothesized that the rapids of the middle courses of the Betsiboka and Ikopa rivers act as barriers to the upstream dispersal of P. maculatus, restricting it to the lakes and small rivers, of the lower reaches of these drainage basins.


There are conspicuous alternating light (pale golden brown, yellowy green, or grayish green) and dark (dark olive to dark reddish brown) horizontal stripes present on flanks.
There is always a large, essentially square to rounded, solid black pectoral (5 humeral) patch, usually four scale rows deep, located above and slightly posterior to pectoral-fin base.
This black patch generally does not extend dorsal to upper branch of lateral line.

Flanks are usually somewhat darker dorsally, but frequently uniform.
There are six or seven (bar on caudal peduncle is very faint to essentially lacking in larger specimens) broad, vertical, dark olive bars on flanks, extending from anterior region of trunk to caudal peduncle.
Bars are more prominent dorsally and mid laterally on flank, yet always faint; bars very obvious in juveniles, becoming less conspicuous and barely discernable in large adults.

There are patch of red spots on flanks reported in some specimens .
Nape, postorbital region, and region below anterior spinous dorsal ranges from grayish brown to reddish.
Opercular region and cheek golden brown, golden green, or reddish.
There is black inter orbital bar present in adults. Inter orbital region is grayish to pale golden brown anterior to black bar.
Gular region ranges from light gray or grayish blue to blackish.
Ventral chest and belly grayish brown to black.
Dorsal and anal fins olive or gray proximal to base, and reddish distally.
Caudal fin charcoal anteriorly and medially, and reddish distally.
Spines of dorsal fin red distally.
Soft dorsal and anal fins, and caudal fin with vivid red terminal band.
Pectoral fins dark gray to black.
Pigmentation pattern of young fish (to about 30 mm SL) is characterized by large golden brown blotches and mottling, such that fish appears camouflaged.

Conservation Status & Threats

IUCN Red list shows status of Paretroplus maculatus as "Critically Endangered ".
This species is known from the Betispoka and Mahajamba river basins on the western slopes of Madagascar.
It has experienced a rapid decline in range and population size in the last decade due to severe fishing pressure, impact of introduced alien species, and habitat destruction.

With its estimated extent of occurrence of less than 100 km², a severely fragmented habitat, and a continued decline/loss of habitat and mature individuals, this species is assessed as Critically Endangered.

Major Threats:
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:

This fish should not be kept in groups of less than six, as the aggression in smaller groups will be high.


It is carnivore and should be given corresponding diet.
Gut contents comprised entirely of macerated gastropods in all individuals examined.
Paretroplus maculatus appears to feed exclusively on gastropods (snails & slugs).
Frozen shrimp, mussels, live snails can be give.

Breeding snd Sexual Diamorphism

There are no sexually dimorphic features apparent.
However unpaired fins of males are slightly longer and pointed then females.

Species Snapshot

Species Card

Particulars Details
Scientific Name Paretroplus maculatus
Common Name
Genus Paretroplus
Subfamily Etroplinae
Geographical Origin Africa: 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 4

Morphometric Data

Particulars Details
Total Length(inches) 5.50
Standard Length(inches) 4.40

Measurements as % of Total Length

Particulars Details
Body Depth 56.60 %
Head length 29.80 %
Pre Dorsal length  %
Pre Pectoral length  %
Pre Anal length  %
Pre Pelvic length  %
Caudal Peduncle Depth 15.80 %
Caudal Peduncle Length 6.40 %
Fork length  %
Length of Last Dorsal Fin Spine 16.60 %
Pectoral Fin Length 22.40 %
Pelvic Fin Length 24.00 %

Measurements as % of Head Length

Particulars Details
Head Width 16.70 %
Snout length 42.90 %
Eye diameter 33.70 %
Pre Orbital Length  %
Inter Orbital Width 33.90 %
Pre Orbital Depth  %

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