Monday,26 July 2021, 3 : 51 PM

Paretroplus tsimoly

P tsimoly
Paretroplus tsimoly
Image Credit: Fishbase


Paretroplus tsimoly is a medium sized fish in its genus.
It has a standard length of 4.0" and total length of 6.0".

P. tsimoly is found in Ankalimilotrabe River, which is a tributary of Betsiboka River in Northwestern Madagascar.


(Click for details of Cichlid taxonomy)

Paretroplus tsimoly was first described by Stiassny, Chakrabarty & Loiselle in 2001.

The genus Paretroplus is further divided several groups called clades.
P tsimoly 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. damii, P. nourissati , 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 name is derived from its name in Sakalava dialect of local language where it called " see- MOOL".


Paretroplus tsimoly is a somewhat shallow bodied and relatively elongate member of its clade.
It has a standard length of 5.0" and a body depth of 44.5 % of SL.
P Tsimoly can be differentiated from other members of its clade by thick, lobed blue lips in adults.
The colour of lips ranges from bluish back to bluish gray.

Head is pointed, head length is 34.6% of SL and width is 18.1 % of SL.
Snout is 48 % of Head length and is moderately curved.
Predorsal profile is moderately curved and is 46.3 % of SL.

A pointed head with moderately curved snout and predorsal contour gives the fish a beaky appearance when viewed from side.
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 31-32, 14 vertebra on body (pre caudal) and 17-18 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 six to nine on each side, and total 12–14.
Teeth in lower jaw number six to seven on each side, and total 12–14.
Teeth in both upper and lower jaws are frequently irregularly spaced and graded in size laterally.
Like all cichlids, P. tsimoly 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 36–39 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 vertically or slightly behind above pectoral fins base and has XV–XVII spines, 13–14 soft rays.
Soft Dorsal fin is weakly pointed.

Anal fin has VII –VIII spines, 11 –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 tsimoly type series was collected from the River Ankalimilotrabe River, a tributary of the Betsiboka River, at the town of the same name and just upstream from where it is crossed by the main highway between Majunga and the capital, Antananarivo.
This place is approximately 43 km to the northwest of Maevatanana.
The Akalimilotrabe River is connected to the Betsiboka River by a series of two floodplain lakes.

It is somewhat surprising that the species was not discovered until the late 1990s. despite the fact that the type locality is at the crossing of the major highway to the north of Madagascar from the capital, Antananarivo.
P. tsimoly was also observed in another north bank tributary of the Betsiboka River, the Boinakely River, which is about 33 km to the northwest of Maevatanana, where it is crossed by the major north-south highway.
De Rham and Nourissat (2004: 124) also mention another population of P. tsimoly located in a lake (no name provided) three hours walk to the east of the Kalamilotra River.
However there seems to be no record of any specimens being preserved from this location.
Subsequent to the description of P. tsimoly, de Rham and Nourissat (2004) collected very similar specimens in the upper reaches of the Kamoro River, a tributary of the extensive Betsiboka basin, near the village of Antsalahina, and which they refer to as Tsimoly .

The upper Kamoro specimens share the characteristic enlarged and lobed lips and dark grayish-blue to bluish black lips, lower cheek, belly, and gular region with topotypic P. tsimoly.

Although de Rham and Nourissat (2004: 126) report that, in life, specimens from the upper Kamoro differ slightly in pigmentation pattern and coloration from topotypic P. tsimoly, in preservative specimens from these two populations are indistinguishable.
There do not seem to any anatomical differences to suggest that the Kamoro River population is a distinct species from topotypic P. tsimoly.
Interestingly, there appears to be hydrological evidence to support the hypothesis that the Kalamilotra and Kamoro populations are con specific, as well as to explain species boundaries within Clade F .

Paretroplus lamenabe, the sister species to the clade comprising P. nourissati and P. tsimoly, is known only from the lower reaches of the Mahajamba River, near the town of Androka, a locality well downstream from any connection with the Kamoro River.
The Mahajamba is the next major basin to the north of the Betsiboka.
As noted by Aldegheri (1972), the Mahajamba River is captured by the Kamoro River, a tributary of the Betsiboka, east of Tsaramandroso and near Morafeno, such that the upper 153 km of the Mahajamba flows almost entirely into the Betsiboka basin, whereas the distance from the capture zone to the mouth of the Mahajamba is 145 km.
Capture of the upper Mahajamba by the Kamoro occurs well upstream of the range of P. lamenabe.
Aldegheri further notes that in periods of low water all of the upper Mahajamba’s water goes to the Kamoro, and from this point to the sea, the only water the lower Mahajamba receives is from its small tributaries.

Thus, the lower reaches of the Mahajamba are effectively isolated from the Kamoro and Betsiboka basins.
Given the isolation of the lower Mahajamba from both the upper Kamoro and Betsiboka basins, it is not hard to imagine that populations of Paretroplus tsimoly in the upper Kamoro and the Kalamilotra (5 Ankalimilotrabe) rivers, both tributaries of the Betsiboka River, would be con specific, whereas a distinct species, P. lamenabe, is present in the more or less isolated lower Mahajamba River.

Somewhat surprising, however, is the fact that P. tsimoly is recovered as the sister taxon to P. nourissati, endemic to the Sofia basin located to the north of the Mahajamba, instead of P. lamenabe, which occurs in the adjacent basin to the north.
Nevertheless, during exceptionally rainy years, the flood plains of the Mahavavy du Sud, Betsiboka, Kamoro, Mahajamba, and Sofia rivers are often contiguous which in part may explain the close relationship between Betsiboka and Sofia endemics.

Habitat :

The substrate at the type locality is rocky, interspersed with patches of gravel and small stones, with numerous rocky outcrops creating a series of pools.


Base colour of body ranges from pale beige to orangish or reddish brown to to bright yellow, yellowish orange.
While breeding the colour changes to bright red.
There are six or seven vertical bars present on flanks.
Their colour ranges from dark gray to blackish bars. 4-5 posterior bars are strongly pigmented and more or less equally prominent.

Unpaired fins and pelvic fins are grayish brown to reddish brown with red margins (non breeding).
While breeding the colour changes to charcoal with vivid red margins to more or less uniform bright red .
Pelvic fins have white leading edge.
Pectoral fins are reddish gray, golden brown, or bright red.
There is a Grayish to dark gray triangular patch generally visible in pectoral-fin axil.

Lips, lower cheek, gular region, and belly dark grayish blue, dark purplish gray, or bluish black.

Conservation Status & Threats

IUCN Red list shows status of Paretroplus tsimoly as "Least concern ".
Although originally known from the Akalimotra and Boinakely rivers, additional robust populations have recently been found in the Kamoro river basin.
Given the wide distribution range and lack of any known, major widespread threats, this species is assessed as Least Concern.

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:

It is a medium to large size fish. Given the fact that these cichlids love to live in groups a tank should not be less than 500 liters.
Water Parameters:
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.


The stomach content has shown P tsimoly to a highly opportunistic feeder. Crushed insects as well as large number of fibrous plant matter has been found. However the gut of fish is short and intestine are short, having the same length as Standard length. This body structure suggests a preeminently animal matter diet.


There are no sexually dimorphic features apparent. P tsimoly are bi parental substrate spawner and practice long term care of its fry. Courting and brood caring pairs are found in deep pools, where eggs are laid over stones. Each pool is habitated by one pair only, and these spots are shared with P kieneri and sub adult Cyprinus carpio.

Species Snapshot

Species Card

Particulars Details
Scientific Name Paretroplus tsimoly
Common Name Tsimoly
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) 6.00
Standard Length(inches) 5.00

Measurements as % of Total Length

Particulars Details
Body Depth 44.50 %
Head length 34.60 %
Pre Dorsal length 46.30 %
Pre Pectoral length  %
Pre Anal length 62.60 %
Pre Pelvic length 41.70 %
Caudal Peduncle Depth 15.10 %
Caudal Peduncle Length 7.90 %
Fork length  %
Length of Last Dorsal Fin Spine  %
Pectoral Fin Length 21.60 %
Pelvic Fin Length 21.40 %

Measurements as % of Head Length

Particulars Details
Head Width 18.10 %
Snout length 48.00 %
Eye diameter 24.80 %
Pre Orbital Length  %
Inter Orbital Width 29.50 %
Pre Orbital Depth  %

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