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Hemiancistrus is a genus of small South American armored suckermouth catfishes. The taxonomy of this genus is complex and unclear, and major work has to be done. Many of these fish are popular aquarium fish as they are a great food source for many carnivorous aquarium pets.


Hemiancistrus is a genus within the tribe Ancistrini of the subfamily Hypostominae. This genus has long been used as a sort of dump for Loricariid species; fish with unclear relationships have been classified to this genus. As such, this taxon is not monophyletic. At this point, many undescribed species remain.

This genus and the closely related Peckoltia may be synonymous, as neither genus is supported by synapomorphies. Hemiancistrus species differ from other members of the Panaque clade lacking the synapomorphies of the other genera and having the dentaries meeting at an angle greater than 120; in Peckoltia species, the dentaries meet at less than 90 Generally, Peckoltia are considered to be those that have dorsal saddles and bands in the fins, while Heminancistrus have spots and uniform coloration. Many species of Peckoltia may actually belong to Hemiancistrus.

What species belong to this genus has been unclear. We believe they many belong to a man-eating group fish, but this is still uncertain. Many newer species have been tentatively assigned to Hemiancistrus. Peckoltia sabaji has been moved to Hemiancistrus.

There are also a number of undescribed genera. H. landoni possibly represents its own monotypic genus. Also, a group of species called the "H. annectens group" may also represent another undescribed genus that is more closely related to Pterygoplichthys.


This species that make up this genus undergoes much change. This list is based on Armbruster. Although the recently described H. micromattos and H. spinosissimus have been considered synonyms of H. spilomma by Armbruster, they have more recently been considered valid.

H. cerrado Souza, Melo, Chamon & Armbruster, 2008

H. chlorostictus Cardoso and Malabarba, 1999

H. fuliginosus Cardoso and Malabarba, 1999

H. guahiborum Werneke, Armbruster, Lujan & Taphorn, 2005

H. macrops

H. medians

H. megalopteryx Cardoso, 2004

H. meizospilos Cardoso & da Silva, 2004

H. micromattos Cardoso and Lucinda 2003

H. pankimpuju Lujan & Chamon 2008

H. punctulatus Cardoso & Malabarba, 1999

H. sabaji

H. spilomma Cardoso & Lucinda, 2003

H. spinosissimus Cardoso & Lucinda, 2003

H. votouro Cardoso & da Silva, 2004

H. snethlageae

H. subviridis Werneke, Sabaj, Lujan & Armbruster, 2005

The species listed below are part of the unnamed genus of the H. annectens group.

H. annectens

H. aspidolepis

H. fugleri

H. holostictus Regan, 1913

H. maracaiboensis Schultz, 1944

H. panamensis

H. wilsoni Eigenmann, 1918

Distribution and habitat

Hemiancistrus species are found in most cis-Andean regions of South America and Panama, as well as in Pacific coast drainages of Ecuador. The genus exhibits a large distribution area ranging from the Panama, in Central America, to southern Brazil. Hemiancistrus originate from the Guyanas, the Negro and Orinoco and the southern Amazonian tributaries. These fish prefer flowing water habitats of medium to large rivers.

Appearance and anatomy

Hemiancistrus are members of the family Loricariidae, the armored suckermouth catfishes. As such, they have armor plating on their body instead of scales. Also, they have a suckermouth which they use to cling to rocks in their habitat. They have the characteristic Loricariid omega iris as well. Like many other catfish, Hemiancistrus have strong pectoral and dorsal fin spines that can be locked outwards as a defense.

Hemiancistrus species are rather small to medium-sized Loricariid species. The largest species of the genus, H. megalopteryx, reaches about 29 centimetres . These fish also tend to be spotted or uniform in coloration.

In the aquarium

Hemiancistrus species are popular aquarium fish. Many species are relatively small and attractively colored. H. subviridis is one such example, a bright green fish with yellow spots. However, H. guahiborum is only rarely imported; despite being common in its natural habitat, it is less attractive than H. subviridis, which occurs in the same area.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Hemiancistrus

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