Two Madagascan cichlids described

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Malagasy cichlid expert John Sparks has described two new species of Paretroplus.

The descriptions form part of a larger study on the phylogenetic relationships of the cichlid subfamily Etroplinae (consisting of the Indian genus Etroplus and the Malagasy genus Paretroplus) and taxonomic revision of Paretroplus published in a recent issue of the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History.

The two new species are named Paretroplus gymnopreopercularis and P. lamenabe, with 10 other species recognized as valid in the genus.

Paretroplus gymnopreopercularis is distinguished from congeners except P. kieneri by the presence of a blotchy and mottled (orangish-brown to golden-brown) colour pattern, the absence of both vertical bars and a horizontal striping pattern on the flanks, and the presence of a fleshy snout that extends both rostral to the lips and also ventrally to cover a portion of the upper lip.

It differs from P. kieneri in lacking scales on the preopercle (a feature after which the species is named, from the Greek gymnos, meaning naked) and having a blunt, strongly convex predorsal profile.

This species is known only from the Mangarahara River and its tributary the Amboaboa River (the Mangarahara itself is a tributary of the Sofia River) in northeastern Madagascar.

According to the author, he Amboaboa and Mangarahara rivers near the type locality are shallow, clear (low in turbidity), and the current is swift, with many areas of small cascades and riffles.

Paretroplus maculatus. Picture kindly supplied by Dr Paul Loiselle.

These rivers flow over large areas of exposed bedrock, and the substrate is generally rocky (with many exposed boulders), interspersed with areas of sand, with P. gymnopreopercularis appearing to prefer deep, isolated pools.

Paretroplus lamenabe is distinguished from congeners except P. nourissati and P. tsimoly in having two wide and convergent dark brown to black midlateral bands, representing the second and third or third and fourth bars in series.

It differs from P. nourissati and P. tsimoly by a deeper body, the presence of pelvic fins that extend beyond origin of the anal fin when adducted, and by a larger adult size.

This species is only known from the lower reaches of the Mahajamba River in northwestern Madagascar, where all of the individuals were collected from a rocky stretch with current.

Paretroplus lamenabe is named after the Malagasy words lamena meaning red one and be meaning big, in reference to its live coloration and large adult size.

Paretroplus menarambo. Picture kindly supplied by Dr Paul Loiselle.

In the phylogenetic analysis of the genus, hree morphologically distinct clades are recovered within Paretroplus, one comprising the comparatively elongate, primarily riverine and rheophilic species P. damii, P. nourissati, P. tsimoly, and P. lamenabe... the second comprising the deep-bodied, primarily lacustrine species P. polyactis, P. petiti, P. maculatus, P. menarambo, P. maromandia, and P. dambabe, and the third comprising the shallow-bodied and highly mottled species P. kieneri and P. gymnopreopercularis... which occur in both lentic and lotic habitats.

For more information, see the paper: Sparks, JS (2008) Phylogeny of the cichlid subfamily Etroplinae and taxonomic revision of the Malagasy cichlid genus Paretroplus (Teleostei: Cichlidae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 314, pp. 1"151.