Erythrinidae - Hoplias malabaricus (Bloch, 1794)

SOURCE FOR OCCURRENCE IN ECUADOR: Many references for its occurrence in Ecuador (e.g., Gery, 1977; Glodek, 1978; Barriga, 1991).
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Bloch, M.E. 1794. Naturgeschichte der auslšndischen Fische. Berlin. Naturgeschichte der Auslšndischen Fische. v. 8: i-iv + 1-174, Pls. 361-396.
TAXONOMIC STATUS: Valid (Eschmeyer and Fricke, 2011). However, it is likely a species complex given its broad distribution (occurs in Panama and throughout South America). Taxonomic work appears warranted.
RANGE ECUADOR: Northern coastal drainage system and rivers east of the Andes in Ecuador (Barriga, 1991).
RANGE OUTSIDE OF ECUADOR: This species has one of the broadest distributions of any freshwater species in Latin America and occurs in all major rivers from eastern Panama (Bussing 2002) to Argentina (Fishbase, 2011).
COLLECTIONS IN ECUADOR: There are many collections of Hoplias malabaricus from Ecuador. For example, the Field Museum of Natural History has good collections from eastern Ecuador made by Barriga, Stewart and collaborators in the 1980's.
MAXIMUM SIZE: 55.2 cm TL (Fishbase, 2011)
DISTINGUISHING FEATURES: Hoplias malabaricus is quite distinct from most other freshwater fishes from Ecuador. It is distinguished by its large size, distinctive shape, large teeth, and lack of an adipose fin. It is similar to its congener, H. microlepis, which occurs in the Guayas drainage of western Ecuador. The two species can be distinguished by scale counts, with H. microlepis having 43-47 scales along the lateral line and 11 rows of scales around the caudal peduncle, while H. malabaricus has 39-44 scales along the lateral line and 9 rows of scales around the caudal peduncle (Glodek, 1978). H. malabaricus does not appear to occur in the Guayas River drainage and is likely restricted to the Amazon Basin (east of the Andes) and the northern coastal drainage system (Esmeraldas province) in Ecuador (Barriga, 1991; 1994).
ECOLOGY: Hoplias malabaricus is a large, ecologically important predatory fish. It likely plays an important role in regulating populations of small fish species in rivers and streams. It occurs in a diversity of habitats from clear streams to slow moving, murky rivers (Fishbase, 2011).
ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE: Because of its large size, this species is exploited locally as a food fish.
CONSERVATION STATUS: NA, although the species is exploited as a food fish.
LINK TO FISHBASE PAGE: Click here for link

Created: March 6, 2011
Last Updated: October 7, 2012
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