Monday,26 July 2021, 3 : 34 PM

Paretroplus maromandia

P macalutus
Paretroplus maromandia
Image Credit: Paul Loiselle


Paretroplus maromandia is a medium sized fish in its genus. It has a standard length of 4.9" and total length of 5.6".
Paretroplus mariomandia is the only member of the genus, apart from P. polyactis, in which the entire lateral series of bars is prominent, including in adults.
Also it is the only species of Paretroplus occurring in western drainage with strong lateral barring.


(Click for details of Cichlid taxonomy)

Paretroplus maromandia was first described by Sparks and Reinthal in 1999 .
The genus Paretroplus is further divided into several groups called clades.
P maromandia belongs to clade consisting of compressed Paretroplus referred as Clade I, which comprises all deep-bodied and essentially disk-shaped members of Paretroplus.
The other members of this clade are P. dambabe,, P. menarambo, P. macalatus, 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 maromandia refers to the town 'Maromandia" near which this fish is found.


Paretroplus menarambo is a deep bodied and medium sized member of its clade.
The body is laterally compressed and deep.
It has a standard length of 4.9" and a body depth of 58.9 % of SL.
Head is blunt and steeply sloping in lateral view, head length is 29.8% of SL and head width is 16.0 % of SL.
Predorsal profile is moderately to strongly curved and markedly convex in larger individuals.
Lateral snout outline is more or less straight.
Caudal peduncle is short, deep, and laterally compressed.
Total vertebral count is 32 or 34, 14-16 vertebra on body (pre caudal) and 18 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 5-7 on each side, and total 10-14.
Teeth in lower jaw number 3-5 on each side, and total 07 –10.
Teeth in both upper and lower jaws are frequently irregularly spaced and graded in size laterally.

Like all cichlids, P. maromandia 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 39–41 scales.
Chest scales are markedly reduced in size and embedded.
Scales along ventral midline are smallest.
There are 6-7 rows of scales on cheek.
Opercle, subopercle, and interopercle are scaled.
Snout, and region near eyes do 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 posterior of vertical line of Pectoral fin base and has XV–XVI spines, 20 –23 soft rays.
Soft Dorsal fin is weakly pointed.
Anal fin has VIII –IX spines, 14 –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 maromandia type series of was collected from the Maintsomalaza River.
This is the local Malagasy name for the river which is just downstream from the confluence of the Manongarivo and Andranomalaza rivers.
This location lies in the immediate vicinity of the town of Maromandia, along the northwest coast of Madagascar.
In addition to the Maintsomalaza River, local fishermen report catches from estuaries in the area and from the Andranomalaza River.

Specimens have also been collected to the south of the Andranomalaza-Manongarivo drainage basin, from both the Maevarano River and Lake Andrapongy, a shallow floodplain lake located within the Ankofia River drainage basin.
Regrettably, de Rham and Nourissat (2004: 109) report that this population is now presumed extinct.
Also no preserved material from the Maevarano River seems to have been deposited in museum collections.
The species has never been collected from the Ankofia or Anjingo rivers proper, and Lake Andrapongy presumably represented its southern range limit.
Based on collection locality data, P. maromandia appears limited to the lower reaches of large tidally influenced rivers, estuaries, and shallow floodplain lakes (i.e., Lake Andrapongy) that experience periodic connections to the sea during the wet season.
Apart from the former Lake Andrapongy population, the species has not been collected upstream of tidally influenced sections of rivers within its range.
Paretroplus maromandia exhibits a very distinct pigmentation pattern and coloration.
The additional populations from the Maevarano River and Lake Andrapongy, which were not part of the type series, share these distinctive features.

P. maromandia has only recently been discovered and that the surrounding region is poorly surveyed for freshwater fishes, little is known regarding the current status of this species.
If P. maromandia can tolerate estuarine conditions, as indicated by collection-locality data, including the type locality, this species may not be as critically endangered as other members of Paretroplus, which exhibit highly restricted inland distributions, frequently comprising but a single basin.
It has been hypothesized that estuaries serve as refuge for native Malagasy species.

Apart from P. maromandia, the only additional species of Paretroplus occurring almost exclusively in the tidally influenced portions of coastal rivers, or in estuarine conditions, is the widespread and still relatively common P. polyactis, which ranges along nearly the entire eastern coast of Madagascar.

It is to be noted that throughout its limited range, P. maromandia seems nowhere abundant or even common and few collections have been made.
The region surrounding Maromandia, both to the north and south, is in need of comprehensive ichthyological surveys.
The Tarlatan Massif, the highest point in Madagascar (Aroma, 2876 m), is located inland to the north of Maromandia, and still contains large sections of intact rainforest that are difficult to access.
The massif also creates what has been referred to as the Zambian (micro-) climate (extending westward to the satellite island of Nosy Be), which is notably wetter than the dry western climate immediately to the south.

Habitat : P maromandia was collected from tidally influenced Maintsomalaza River. At the time of collection which was in dry season, this large river was generally shallow, and the water was relatively clear, with a moderate current. The substrate comprised mostly sand and silt, although in places was extremely muddy.


Base colour of body ranges from bright yellow, greenish yellow to olive.
There are seven vertical black bars on flanks.
They are prominent, broad and black vertical bars present on flanks.
Anterior most bar is sometimes considerably weaker than rest, but always visible.
Bars extend from front to back, from rear of opercle to caudal peduncle.
They generally extend over entire flank (sides) from dorsal fin base to anal fin base.

Head and opercular region are golden, golden brown, or greenish brown.
There is vivid red spotting on flanks, this is generally restricted to ventral to lateral midline and concentrated anteriorly, just behind pectoral- fin base.
Red pigmentation may extend onto opercle and subopercle.
Red flank pigmentation is generally interrupted by dark lateral bars, but sometimes partially occluding anterior bars.
In juveniles, red spotting covers entire flank.
Inter orbital region is gray.
Snout is golden, golden brown, greenish brown, or gray.
Gular region, chest, belly and ventrum ranges from bright yellow, to gray, to nearly black.
Grayish or black pigment may extend posteriorly along ventrum and dorsal to anal-fin base.
Lips are gray to dark gray.
Dorsal and anal fins are generally dark charcoal gray, both with thin red terminal band.
Caudal fin dark is gray proximally, becoming lighter at distal margin of fin, and fringed in red terminal band.
Pelvic fins are dark gray to blackish.
Pectoral fins are gray to dark charcoal.
A solid black patch is present in pectoral-fin axil, visible as black crescent when fin adducted.
All fins, except pectorals, have slight reddish tinge in life.

Conservation Status & Threats

IUCN Red list shows status of Paretroplus maromandia as "Endangered ".
This species is known from the Andranomalaza and Maevarano river basins in north western Madagascar.
It has an estimated extent of occurrence of less than 5,000 km² and is limited to two, possibly three, locations in a highly fragmented habitat.
Habitat loss/decline due to deforestation continues and the species is also impacted by competition and predation from introduced exotic fish species. The species is assessed as Endangered.
Major Threats are Habitat destruction, overfishing, and competition from a number of exotic species, primarily tilapiine cichlids and the Asian snakehead.

Tank Size and setup:

The fish can reach up to 8"", and will need a large tank about 6X2X2.
A group of 6 can be kept, this will allow them to breed when they reach maturity.
The hardscape should consist of plenty of bogwood and river worn boulders.
These fish like to sift substrate for food so sand is best.

Water Parameters:
They are quiet adaptable but should be kept in hard alkaline water.
All Madagascar cichlids are very intolerant of pollutants so water changes should be consistent and large 30-40 % weekly.


Radiological examination of the guts have revealed that the primary diet is small crustaceans. It is carnivore and should be given corresponding diet. Frozen shrimp, mussels, live snails can be give.

Species Snapshot

Species Card

Particulars Details
Scientific Name Paretroplus maromandia
Common Name Red Damba
Genus Paretroplus
Subfamily Etroplinae
Geographical Origin Africa: Madagascar.
Diet Carnivore
Gender Differences Mono morphic
Breeding Substrate Spawner
Temperament Mildly aggressive
Con Specific Temperament Mildly aggressive
Water hardness ph range ; 6.5 to 8
Difficulty Level in Aquariums 4

Morphometric Data

Particulars Details
Total Length(inches) 5.60
Standard Length(inches) 4.90

Measurements as % of Total Length

Particulars Details
Body Depth 58.90 %
Head length 29.80 %
Pre Dorsal length 46.20 %
Pre Pectoral length  %
Pre Anal length 58.80 %
Pre Pelvic length 40.10 %
Caudal Peduncle Depth 16.50 %
Caudal Peduncle Length 6.60 %
Fork length  %
Length of Last Dorsal Fin Spine 16.30 %
Pectoral Fin Length  %
Pelvic Fin Length 22.70 %

Measurements as % of Head Length

Particulars Details
Head Width 16.00 %
Snout length 45.20 %
Eye diameter 30.60 %
Pre Orbital Length  %
Inter Orbital Width 33.40 %
Pre Orbital Depth  %

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