A hobbyist book review of Description of a new Serrasalmus species, Serrasalmus odyssei n. sp. [pp. 52-59]. In: Evolution of the neotropical ichthyofauna -- molecular and evolutionary perspectives about the origin of the fish communities in the Amazon. VDM Publishing House, Verlag Dr. Muller, Saarbucken, Germany. Evolution of the Neotropical Ichthyofauna.: 95 pp


Completed November 4, 2011 by Frank Magallanes, OPEFE

Minor revisions: November 30, 2011, January 24, 2015, February 6, 2015; composite image added. Further notes on S. iridopsis (Peru).


FROM FRANK MAGALLANES (Book review and OPINION are my own). Readers are cautioned that they must read this online manuscript (including the book above) in its entirety to form their own opinions:


Carl Popper (1966): As a realist I look upon logic as the organon of criticisms (rather than of proof) in our search for true and highly informative theories - or at least for new theories that contain more information, and correspond better to the facts, than our older theories. And I look upon criticism, in its turn, as our main instrument in promoting the growth of our knowledge about the world of facts. Source and references view.


Part of my responsibility at OPEFE is to review the publication and evaluate any future problems for hobbyists who collect these fish for the home aquarium. This review includes examining the material and photographs to see if they correspond correctly to imports of piranha fish. Also to evaluate the methods used to ascertain whether or not the descriptions are correct and easy to understand. This is very important for hobbyists and world wide fish dealers who rely on OPEFE for that information in their day to day operations.


I was made aware of this species in 2005, however I did not carry it on OPEFE until just recently. The following gives an explanation; the material in its book form presents some interesting views and potential problems with S. odyssei. The book uses molecular and evolutionary perspectives. Beginning in the 1960s, evolutionary biology was significantly transformed by the incorporation of ideas and techniques from molecular biology. This led to many novel views (and as many controversies) about phylogenetic relationships, rates and mechanisms of evolutionary change, and standards of inference and hypothesis testing VIEW.


The scientific literature from previous work was included in the body of work by Hubert  in the creation of this new species.  Much of the method is DNA related. The comparison is done for this description with only 4 species; Serrasalmus compressus (20 specimens) Bolivia, Madeira, Serrasalmus hastatus (11 specimens) Brazil, Amazonas, Serrasalmus hollandi (24 specimens) Bolivia, Madeira, and Serrasalmus altispinis (9 specimens) Brazil, Amazonas. What I don't understand is why S. hollandi is even mentioned in this comparison. It is not a member of the compressus group to my knowledge. Gery placed S. hollandi as a member of the humeralis group in 1976. Then in 1977 revised it again as follows; S. brandtii, S. elongatus. S. hollandi, S. humeralis, S. rhombeus, S. rhombeus-marginatus, S. sanchezi, S. spilopleura. In the Hubert body of work, S. sanchezi has been moved to a compressus group member, which I support based on the morphological features. but because S. altuvei  was not considered (see below) it raises some taxonomic issues. S. geryi was not included in the finished new description. It too is a member of the compressus group.


Currently, two species remain difficult to visually separate in the hobby, they are S. maculatus and S. spilopleura. These two species present morphology and locality issues since the Jegu rehabilitation. The only helpful tool is to determine where the fish was collected. Also problematic is S. eigenmanni and S. humeralis. While both those species are valid, there remains questions on the taxonomy and especially the range. S. humeralis is found in Amazon River basin: Bolivia, Brazil and Peru. S. eigenmanni is from the Amazon River basin and northern and eastern Guiana Shield rivers: Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela. Both species are difficult to differentiate and overlap their respective range. However, S. eigenmanni is not found in Bolivia according to Eschmeyer (California Academy of Sciences). Also problems with S. humeralis is the species itself (more on this below), there is no Holotype specimen. I have photos of this species by Adrian Leroy who stated Nicholas Hubert identified the species for him (see S. humeralis). Yet these species look nothing like the fishbase.org specimen photos. Not mentioned by Hubert is Serrasalmus nigricans. (Spix & Agassiz 1829) Amazon River basin, Brazil. This species is valid according Jegu in Reis et a., 2003:191 with author as Agassiz. One wonders why this important species was overlooked or not considered in the S. odyssei paper. Perhaps it was because no types exist (Kottelat, 1988); See Kottelat, 988: 79 for details on authorship. And because there is only a painted drawing of it and a specimen with wrong label? VIEW


According to Hubert, S. spilopleura is found in one river in Bolivia. However, in the Hubert map it overlaps S. maculatus range; Amazon and Paraguay-Paraná River basin: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Current distribution for S. spilopleura  is listed as; Guaporé River basin, Paraná River basin: Argentina and Brazil according to Jegu, et al.


Hubert further states that there is possible hybridization between S. compressus and S. sp (= S. odyssei). Hybridization between 2 sympatric species that don't spawn together in polygyny is like our native sunfish (Lepomis), where sperm drift is possible, would be rare indeed!?! One must wonder about S. hollandi, especially since no one seems to be comfortable with delineating what it really is.


Serrasalmus hollandi, according to CAS, is a valid name. Its locality falls under questionable river's; Madeira River basin and ? Guyana rivers: Brazil and Guiana (?).


S. hollandi has not had any recent rehabilitation except in a few of lines of description by Jegu in his rehabilitation of Serrasalmus maculatus. Photos would be nice, but not seen in this book except for a preserved specimen collected in 2005 (MNHN 2005-2268). The actual holotype of this species is lost. I do not know if the preserved species is recognized as a new holotype or simply a specimen that fits the Jegu/Hubert & Renno description. Since it appears that S. hollandi is rarely collected, begs the question, what is Hubert actually looking at? Is it  S. manueli Venezuela?  or this one Jegu S. humeralis? or is this S. humeralis in fishbase.org? Another S. manueli is from the Rio Negro VIEW.


S. humeralis has historical description problems such as contradicting descriptions and locality questions. One can pick and choose which drawing or plate image to follow.


As one can see, both the Venezuela S. manueli and the Amazonia S. humeralis at fishbase.org look strikingly similar. If they are the same then S. manueli, Fernández-Yépez & Ramírez, 1967 would likely be considered a synonym by some future authority to S. humeralis Valenciennes in Cuvier et Valenciennes 1849 (Pl. XI, Fig. 2). Why? Because S. manueli is younger name than S. humeralis, assuming both species were properly described. This would make S. manueli a Venezuelan sister to S. humeralis Amazonia. If they are not the same, then it would be up to a future Systematician to diagnosis both species in a comparison study.

Hubert lists the cladogram (hypotheses) of phylogenetic relationships with the characid subfamily Serrasalminae. Part of the material for this species is derived from DNA analysis using several species, including some questionable ones in the first body of work. The author was unable to find any single diagnostic or semi-diagnostic locus between S. eigenmanni and S. spilopleura. He could not rule out that they might be different species. S. eigenmanni is largely distributed  in the upper Madeira basin, but not in the upper Guapore River where only Serrasalmus spilopleura has been found until now. Hubert et al 2006 showed the citation  by Jegu and Dos Santos 2001 from the Madeira was erroneous regarding S. eigenmanni.


The error originated from confusion with S. spilopleura (see Hubert & Renno 2009, 2010). Could this be S. spilopleura  specimen VIEW that Hubert said was misidentified as S. eigenmanni by Jegu? This specimen, an unknown Pristobrycon-type sp. collected by George Fear and photographed by David M. Schleser. It has since been identified as S. serrulatus. It has a thin black band and clear edge of the caudal fin. According Dave, this fish was collected at the Tachshacurary river (a blackwater stream) just upstream from the village of Tacshacuraray which is located where the Tachsahcuraray empties into the Napo, Peru. David has caught many more in all age classes.


Any advanced hobbyist who has seen S. spilopleura and S. eigenmanni know those two species look nothing like each other. But as a hobbyist, I personally wonder how Jegu could have easily misidentify a specimen like S. eigenmanni and S. spilopleura. But even S. eigenmanni has historical description and locality problems (see further down below).


Ortega & Vari (1986) tentatively placed specimens morphologically  very similar S. spilopleura from the Ucayali within S. humeralis, another closely related species  (Jegu & Dos Santos 2001).The results of the present study by Hubert suggest that the specimens from the Ucayali analyzed here currently belong to S. spilopleura. In my thoughts (whether right or wrong),  I suggest the image by Schleser fits the misidentified specimen. Again, this is just a guess on my part and no scientific license to say so. In dealing with bad scientific descriptions and samples, one has to work with what one has. In this case, samples spread out over the world that not just anyone can have access to. It would also involve a team of researchers to explore all the world museums for specimens and comparison's.


Also left to wonder why he mentions S.compressus as ENDEMIC to Madeira...when it isn't an endemic species limited to that river but wide spread species. Hubert, however offers an explanation; through a combined use of biogeographic, phylogenetic and phylogeographic approaches at several spatial scales (see back cover of this book).


For hobbyists, biogeography is a relatively new term in the field of science. It takes into account several suppositions. It is usually considered to be part of physical geography as it often relates to the examination of the physical  environment and how it effects species and shaped their distribution across space. Below are applicable definitions;



1. Biogeographic: (McGraw-Hill Science & Technology Encyclopedia): The scientific study of the geographic distribution of plant and animal life. Factors affecting distribution include the geologic history of a region, its climate and soil composition, and the presence or absence of natural barriers like deserts, oceans, and mountains. Biotic factors such as interactions among competing species, coevolutionary influences, and the reproductive and nutritional requirements of populations and species are also studied.  A biogeographic region is a large, generally continuous division of the Earth's surface having a distinctive biotic community. Biogeographic regions are usually defined separately for floral and faunal communities and are largely restricted to the terrestrial areas of the Earth.


Comparative Biogeography

Discovering and Classifying Biogeographical Patterns of a Dynamic Earth (2009)

Lynne R. Parenti, R. Claro and K.C. Lindeman co-editor with M.L.J. Stiassny and G. D. Johnson.


(Quoted text) Description; To unravel the complex shared history of the Earth and its life forms, biogeographers analyze patterns of biodiversity, species distribution, and geological history. So far, the field of biogeography has been fragmented into divergent systematic and evolutionary approaches, with no overarching or unifying research theme or method. In this text, Lynne Parenti and Malte Ebach address this discord and outline comparative tools to unify biogeography. Rooted in phylogenetic systematics, this comparative biogeographic approach offers a comprehensive empirical framework for discovering and deciphering the patterns and processes of the distribution of life on Earth. The authors cover biogeography from its fundamental ideas to the most effective ways to implement them. Real-life examples illustrate concepts and problems, including the first comparative biogeographical analysis of the Indo-West Pacific, an introduction to biogeographical concepts rooted in the earth sciences, and the integration of phylogeny, evolution and earth history.


Another good book to read : Biogeography and Plate Tectonics (1987)

J.C. Briggs, Department of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, FL, USA


(Quoted text) Description; One needs to look at only a small portion of the enormous literature on plate tectonics published in the last 15 years to realize that there are many differences between the various reconstructions that have been presented. It becomes obvious that, although there is a general agreement about the presence of an assembly of continents (a Pangaea) in the early Mesozoic, there is considerable disagreement among earth scientists as to the configurement of the assembly and the manner and timing of the subsequent dispersal. While the revolution in geophysics was taking place, systematic work in paleontology and neontology was being carried out. This book is an attempt to incorporate the biological evidence into the theory of plate tectonics. The author traces the changing relationships among the various biogeographic regions and demonstrates how such changes may often be correlated with the gradual geographic alteration of the earth's surface. He analyses recent information about the distribution of widespread groups of terrestrial and freshwater vertebrates, invertebrates and plants, and discusses the biogeographical effects of the movement of oceanic plates. It is particularly important to obtain dependable information about certain critical times in the history of continental relationships. We need to know when the terrestrial parts of the earth were broken apart and when they were joined together. The present investigation makes it clear that we cannot depend entirely on evidence from plate tectonics nor will purely biological evidence suffice. This book thus provides much of interest to systematists working on contemporary groups of plants and animals, paleontologists, evolutionary biologists, and professors teaching courses in biogeography.


2. Phylogenetic: (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Biology) Biology the sequence of events involved in the evolution of a species, genus, etc.


3. Phylogeographic: (Wikipedia English) Phylogeography is the study of the historical processes that may be responsible for the contemporary geographic distributions of individuals. This is accomplished by considering the geographic distribution of individuals in light of the patterns associated with a gene genealogy.


So what exactly is Hubert telling us in his book? For that you have to go back in time to Charles Darwin and  Alfred R. Wallace

One hundred and fifty years after the publication of the Origin (Darwin), there is a revival of dispersal explanations, occasioned in part by the development of molecular systematics and molecular clocks. This is credited to Alfred Wallace work in the mid-to-late 19th Century in England, as naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, and biologist.. He extensively studied the Amazon River and other land masses. He is today, considered the father of biogeography.


(Quoted text) Molecular dating of lineage divergence favours oceanic dispersal over tectonic vicariance as an explanation for disjunct distributions in a wide variety of taxa (de Queiroz, 2005). The molecular clocks mostly indicate that divergences in phylogenetic trees occurred too recently to be explained by vicariance. de Queiroz (2005) pointed out that although mismatches between area cladograms and tectonic fragmentation do not necessarily imply oceanic dispersal, in many cases dispersal is the most plausible explanation. Thus in the past few years there has been an increase in the number of molecular studies that support oceanic dispersal (e.g. Calsbeek & Smith, 2003; Howarth et al., 2003; Heinicke et al., 2007; Vidal et al., 2008). Therefore, dispersal hypotheses have claimed a new-found respect, with molecular clock theory providing decisive evidence. But there are those who strongly question the precise estimate of divergence events by molecular clocks (e.g. Graur & Martin, 2004) and their attributed evidence in favour of dispersal. (e.g. Heads, 2005b; Grehan, 2007; Nelson & Ladiges, 2009). view PDF for conclusions and references.


As an additional  foot note, biogeography and the related sciences,  raises red flags for believers in  creationism (Intelligent design) and a banner for atheists who do not believe in creationism or God and support simple evolution of species through processes. That is part of the controversy in researching this field for hobbyists. I considered seriously whether or not to include this in the page. But I asked myself, why not? It is part of the ongoing debate.


Possible examples of specimens compared to the new species S. odyssei


 Below are samples of various caught fish including their locality if available. Unfortunately, Hubert did not show any live photos of the fish he references in his literature. Only 4 preserved specimens!


Serrasalmus compressus


Jégu [M.], Leão [E. L. M.] & Santos [G. M. dos] 1991:102, Figs. 2 (a-b) [Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters v. 2 (no. 2) Laguna Mocovi, Río Mocovi, Béni Province, Bolivia. Holotype: MNHN 1986-0615;Paratypes: MNHN 1986-0616 (9, 1 c&s), 1986-0617 (3), 1986-0618 (1), 1986-0619 (1), 1988-1703 (3), 1988-1704 (1); INPA 1341 (3), 1342 (1), 1343 (1), 1344 (2), 1345 (1), 3327 (3); UTB (Univ. Técnica del Beni, Trinidad) uncat. (6), uncat. (1). Valid as Serrasalmus compressus Jégu, Leão & Santos 1991 -- (Merckx et al. 2000:197, Hubert & Renno 2010:57. Current status: Valid as Serrasalmus compressus Jégu, Leão & Santos 1991.

Copyright. Do not use outside of OPEFE without photographer permission.\

Serrasalmus species resembling S. compressus but not as deep bodied. Collected near Itionama river, Bolivia

Photo courtesy of David M. Schleser. May not be used without permission of photographer.

Serrasalmus compressus


May not be used outside of OPEFE without permission of photographer.

Serrasalmus maculatus,

San Martin river, Bolivia

Kner [R.] 1858:166 [6] [Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Classe v. 32 (no. 22); Rio Guaporé, Bobota, Mato Grosso, Brazil. Lectotype: NMW 57085. Paralectotypes: NMW 16344 (1, dry), 79457-59 (1, 1, 1, all dry). Appeared in more detail in Kner 1860:43 [p. 35 of separate], Pl. 5 (fig. 11). Lectotype designated by Jégu & Santos 2001:125. Valid as Serrasalmus spilopleura Kner 1858 -- (Ortega & Vari 1986:9. Cestari & Galetti 1992, Gómez & Chebez 1996:51, Britski et al. 1999:66, Butí & Cancino 1999:71. Nakayama et al. 2000:149. Jégu & Santos 2001:119. Lasso et al. 2001:96, Jégu in Reis et al. 2003:192. López et al. 2003:32. Casciotta et al. 2003:116. Menni 2004:78. Current status: Valid as Serrasalmus spilopleura Kner 1858.

Photo courtesy of David M. Schleser. May not be used without permission of photographer.

Juvenile Serrasalmus sanchezi


Géry [J.] 1964:27, Fig. 22 [Beiträge zur Neotropischen Fauna v. 4 (no. 1); "Caño Yarina", on edge of Río Pacaya, tributary of Puinahua Canal, branch of lower Río Ucayali, Peru. Holotype: ZFMK 1216. Paratypes: MHNG 2150.7 (1), ZFMK 1217 (1). Type catalog: Busse 1984:217. Herder et al. 2010:118.  Valid as Serrasalmus sanchezi Géry 1964 -- (Ortega & Vari 1986:9. Jégu in Reis et al. 2003:192. Current status: Valid as Serrasalmus sanchezi Géry 1964.

Photo property of David M. Schleser. OPEFE USE ONLY.

Adult Serrasalmus sanchezi (compare with Hubert S. odyssei)


Photo courtesy of David M. Schleser, Permission required to use outside of OPEFE by photographer.

Breeding Adult Serrasalmus sanchezi



Serrasalmus humeralis types and historical drawing. More information can be found by visiting the species page VIEW

With this species, it is unknown by me if a Neotype has been erected. The Holotype is unique.


To see fishbase.org  S. humeralis Amazonia




This one resembles S. manueli, Venezuela


Valenciennes [A.] in Cuvier & Valenciennes 1850:279 [Histoire naturelle des poissons. v. 22; Amazonas, Brazil [evidently in error for Araguay River, Tocantins basin]. Holotype (unique): MNHN A-9735. Type catalog: Bertin 1948:25. See Jégu in Reis et al. 2003:191 for type locality information. •Valid as Serrasalmus humeralis Valenciennes 1850 -- Géry 1972:226, Ortega & Vari 1986:9, Géry et al. 1991:39,  Planquette et al. 1996:376, Jégu in Reis et al. 2003:191,  Current status: Valid as Serrasalmus humeralis Valenciennes 1850. Distribution: Amazon River basin: Bolivia, Brazil and Peru.

Not to be used outside of OPEFE Web pages.

Text image Type de S. (Pristobrycon) humeralis, 115 mm 1.sd. (dessin de H.-Ph. Danoy) Géry (1963)


Note black terminal band on caudal


Serrasalmus humeralis nob Another species similar to that of M s in d Orbigny characterized by orbital in a little closer they are striated and other parts opercular/ The lower jaw is  less prominent than the front of the well that it exceeds the the entire width of the branch muzzle is rounded convex in front of the nostril slightly concave eye audessus the interparietal crest is convex,

1G B 4 d 16 A 33 P 7 V

color is blue for steel above the lateral line a silver on the belly is marked black spot behind the hearing the back and sides are  covered with dark blue points almost blackish caudal fin has a wide border Our type is black five-inch long it has been reported from the Amazon by M Castelnau

Serrasalmus species, photo courtesy of George Fear www.sharaquariium.com

Serrasalmus species (humeralis?) from the Aruana (rio Vermelho)

Note the V type caudal


This specimen appearance looks very much like a humeralis type from Kner 1860. Except it does not have the terminal caudal band. .

Castelnau 1843-1847 OPEFE Educational Use only.

Serrasalmus humeralis

Note the V type caudal


This is the Castelnau plate image  of the Holotype. It is mentioned in the IRD France data banks as part of the S. humeralis specimen holotype collection.. Included is this radiograph of the hototype MNHN A-9735: VIEW.


Likely used by Jegu, et al.,  depiction of S. humeralis along with some specimens they believe to be the same in the museum. According to the museum collection research I did, Jegu moved a few specimens purported to be S. humeralis to S. rhombeus.


As an advanced hobbyist, I'd be hard pressed to say that plate image actually resembles anything of value. It's nicely done. But with all the other descriptions and drawings, this is just another one to add to the list of humeralis types.

Serrasalmus humeralis:  OPEFE Educational use only.

Serrasalmus humeralis

Zur Famiiie der Characine

III. Folge der Ichthyologischen Reitrage, Kner 1859 Fig. 9

See species page for full description.


Note the black terminal band on caudal


Serrasalmo humeralis.

Cuv. 8f Vol. xxii. p. 279; Kner, Denkschr. Acad. Wiss. Wien, 1860, xviii. p. 38. taf. 4. fig. 9.

The height of the body is contained once and five-sixths in the total length (without caudal), the length of the head thrice. The second infraorbital is considerably longer than high, and separated from the praeopercular limb by a strip of naked skin.


Abdominal serrature composed of from twenty-six to twenty-eight spinous plates. Body with round blackish  spots; a large blackish blotch behind the gill-opening; caudal with the margin black.

Serrasalmus hollandi Holotype, drawings and specimens

As I stated earlier, S. hollandi Holotype is unique. I do not know if a Neotype has been erected for this species yet. According to IRD databanks, M. Jegu has been determining  S. humeralis as Pristobrycon  eigenmanni. Jegu determined 1 specimen as  S. hollandi (MNHN 1989-1363)  N. Hubert has been collecting and determining his own specimens as S. hollandi.


Holotype, photo courtesy of Antonio Machado-Allison. Permission required to use outside of OPEFE.

Holotype Serrasalmus hollandi

Rio Guapore

Eigenmann [C. H.] 1915:251, Pl. 48 [Annals of the Carnegie Museum v. 9 (nos. 3-4); Rio Guaporé at Maciél, Brazil. Holotype (unique): FMNH 56978 [ex CM 5792]. Type catalog: Henn 1928:69, Ibarra & Stewart 1987:79, Valid as Serrasalmus hollandi Eigenmann 1915 -- (Jégu & Santos 2001:136, Lasso et al. 2001:96, Jégu in Reis et al. 2003:190, Machado-Allison et al. 2009:128, Hubert & Renno 2010:58,  Current status: Valid as Serrasalmus hollandi Eigenmann 1915. Distribution: Madeira River basin and ? Guyana rivers: Brazil and Guiana (?).

OPEFE Educational use only

Serrasalmus hollandi - Eigenmann

Do not use outside of OPEFE without permission of photographer.

Juvenile species resembling S. hollandi from El Prado, San Martin river, Bolivia


According to authority, this may actually be juvenile of Serrasalmus spilopleura.

Do not use outside of OPEFE without photographer permission.

Adult  resembling S. hollandi  El Prado San Martin river, Bolivia .Maybe adult S. spilopleura.

Juvenile S. hollandi? Pando Bolivia.

Juvenile S. hollandi? Pando, Bolivia


Serrasalmus eigenmanni

Holotype is unique. Unknown by me if a Neotype has been erected. Jegu & Santos, 2001 placed this species as a Pristobrycon. However, Machado-Allison et al, 2009  returned it as a Serrasalmus. This species historically has been a problem.


Copyright. Do not use outside of OPEFE without permission of Antonio Machado-Allison.\

S. eigenmanni Venezuela

Norman [J. R.] 1929:804, Fig. 16 [Proceedings of the General Meetings for Scientific Business of the Zoological Society of London 1928 (pt 4) (no. 30); Rockstone, Guyana. Holotype (unique): BMNH 1911.10.31.496-497 (1 of 2, 120 mm). Norman mentions only one specimen (type of the species) in the original description. •Valid as Pristobrycon eigenmanni (Norman 1929) -- (Jégu & Santos 2001:136,  Valid as Serrasalmus eigenmanni Norman 1929 -- (Géry 1972:224, Machado-Allison 2002:81, Machado-Allison 2002:81, Machado-Allison et al. 2009:128, Current status: Valid as Serrasalmus eigenmanni Norman 1929. Distribution: Amazon River basin and northern and eastern Guiana Shield rivers: Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.

COPYRIGHT. Do not use outside of OPEFE without permission of Antonio Machado-Allison.

S. eigenmanni Venezuela

Copyright. Do not use outside of OPEFE without permission.

Photo ID by M. Jégu

Messr. Jégu saw this photo and said the fish was S. eigenmanni. W. L. Fink originally placed this as S. serrulatus.


According to Hubert S. odyessi can be confused with S. hollandi because both have the same body shape and both reach the same standard length. He also states  that S. hollandi can be distinguished at least by the coloration pattern of the caudal fin and the head, including meristic counts and morphometric measurements. The S. hollandi caudal fin  harbors a proximal black band in young individuals up to 130 mm SL and this black band grows in larger individuals, covering almost all the caudal fin. This differentiation separates S. odyssei from S. hollandi with the latter having just a terminal hyaline band in the distal part of the caudal fin. Likewise, S. hollandi does not show the orange coloration of the cheek nor does it have a higher number of scales between the lateral line and the dorsal fin.  Accordingly, S. rhombeus is morphologically similar to S. odyssei and S. hollandi., particularly  for young specimens to 150 mm SL. But S. rhombeus lacks the orange color of the cheek, presents a hyaline caudal fin with a single terminal black band. And of course, specimens of S. rhombeus have the red eye characteristic of the species. S. compressus is closely related to S. hollandi and S. odyssei, but is markedly distinct. S. compressus has a very small head width, deeper body and lower number of prepelvic serrae.


Holotype image, Serrasalmus (Pygopristis) serrulatus


Serrasalmus serrulatus

Détail sur le(s) spécimen(s) : Nombre de spécimen : 1 ;LS (mm) : 117 ;LT (mm) : 150 Conservateur : Alcool Observations : HOLOTYPE DE PYGOPRISTIS SERRULATUS VALENCIENNES,1849 IN C.V.,H.N.P., XXII : 300 / VOIR REV. HYDROBIOL. TROP.,21(3) : 239-274,tabl. II Détail sur l'origine : Origine : Bresil Milieu : Continent - Coordonnées : Bassin hydrologique : Amazone - Cours d'eau : Amazone Provenance de la collection : Détail sur le(s) collecteur(s) : Collecteur(s) : Castelnau ; Deville Date de prélèvement : 1847

Copyright. Do not use outside of OPEFE without permission.

Serrasalmus serrulatus


I took this photo at the University of Michigan during my visit with Dr. William L. Fink, 2006


Valenciennes [A.] in Cuvier & Valenciennes 1850:300 [Histoire naturelle des poissons. v. 22; Amazonas, Brazil. Holotype (unique): MNHN A-9898. Type catalog: Bertin 1948:25-26, Valid as Serrasalmus serrulatus (Valenciennes 1850) -- (Géry 1972:221, Ortega & Vari 1986:9, Jégu in Reis et al. 2003:192, López et al. 2003:32, Menni 2004:78. Current status: Valid as Serrasalmus serrulatus (Valenciennes 1850). Distribution: Amazon River basin and ? Essequibo River basin: Amazon (?), Brazil, Guyana (?) and Peru; Argentina.

Photo Property of Natures Image, INC. David M. Schleser. May not be used out side of OPEFE without photographers permission.

Serrasalmus serrulatus

Collected rio Nanay, Peru

David M. Schleser


Locality data is on photo

Copyright image. Property of Johnny Zanni and OPEFE use only

Serrasalmus serrulatus

Likely Peru


This is an aquarium specimen.

Copyright. Not to be used outside of OPEFE web pages without permission.

Serrasalmus serrulatus


This was a drawing in the Gery literature. Information is on the image.

Copyright. Do not use outside OPEFE without permission.


Collected by Raúl Yalán, Rio Nanay, Peru

S. serrulatus.


Hubert omitted S. altuvei because the species is restricted to Venezuela so was not used for this body of work. S. altuvei, S. hastatus, S. compressus, S. altispinis, and S. geryi are members of the compressus group (Jegu et al.,). Hubert revision; S. altuvei, S. hastatus, S. compressus, S. altispinis, S. geryi, S. hollandi, S. sanchezi and S. odyssei.


Serrasalmus altuvei, Venezuela


Ramírez [M. V.] 1965:1, Fig. (p. 3) [Evencias No. 14; El Polvero, Río San José, Guárico, Venezuela. Holotype: MAC 65639. Paratypes: AFY 65307 (7); MAC 65627 (7); MBUCV-V-12144 [ex MAC 65641] (1). Type catalog: Provenzano et al. 1998:17, Valid as Serrasalmus altuvei Ramírez 1965 -- (Jégu et al. 1991:97,  Taphorn 1992:328, Merckx et al. 2000:197, Fink & Machado-Allison 2001:10, Machado-Allison 2002:68, Jégu in Reis et al. 2003:190, Machado-Allison et al. 2009:128. Current status: Valid as Serrasalmus altuvei Ramírez 1965.Distribution: Orinoco River basin, Venezuela.


The allopatric distribution  patterns of these two species and the absence of genetic differences between them suggest that their taxonomy has been misunderstood (according to Hubert, 2010). Hubert does not compare S. sanchezi, also from the Ucayali with this new species, reason unknown. Indeed, he mentions in passing that S. sanchezi was split from the Ucayali and S. hastatus from the Negro.


No further analysis was gathered to indicate why he ignored S. sanchezi  morphology in comparison to the new species. Certainly, S. sanchezi is comparable to S. odyssei in size and body shape. Though the colors are distinctive, the opercle matches the deep coloration of both species. Several other key features of S. sanchezi fit the new species description. Hubert used DNA to state S. sanchezi and S. compressus were related as sister.


I also find it most puzzling that no comparison was done with S. sanchezi, a species found within the range of S. odyssei and most similar in appearance to it. Another species collected is Serrasalmus iridopsis. Jacques Gery placed this as synonym of S. humeralis. In my opinion, its possible this may actually be a juvenile of either sanchezi or odyssei.


Intenez River, 13 October 2002, 128 mm, Bolivia, by Nicolas HUBERT

Intenez River, 13 October 2002, 128 mm, Bolivia, by Nicolas HUBERT

Length: 16.7 cm SL male/unsexed

Hubert [N.] & Renno [J.-F.] 2010:49, 52 [Evolution of the Neotropical Ichthyofauna.; Rio Itenez, Bella vista, 13°31.1'S, 61°33.2'W, Madeira, Bolivia. Holotype: MNHN 2005-2216. Paratypes: many at MNHN. •Valid as Serrasalmus odysei Hubert & Renno 2010. Current status: Valid as Serrasalmus odyssei Hubert & Renno 2010. Distribution: Rio San Martin and Rio Paragá, Bolivia.

OPEFE USE ONLY. May not be extracted for outside use. Copyrighted

Serrasalmus sanchezi HOLOTYPE See credits on photo.

S. sanchezi adult preserved specimen. Property of Frank Magallanes, OPEFE

Serrasalmus sanchezi, 144mm SL. Collected Amazon, downstream from Iquitos, Peru


Composite image of S. odyssei (top) Bolivia and Peruvian Serrasalmus sp. collected as S. humeralis.

Composite image of S. odyssei (top) Bolivia and Peruvian Serrasalmus sp. collected as S. humeralis. The Peruvian fish was collected with samples of S. sanchezi. Both are sympatric.


The book by Hubert documents specimens from Bolivia in the Rio Madeira and other surrounding areas. The Hubert and Renno used a German publication company that does not require peer review according to Google search engines. A method not often seen, but becoming more prevalent in a publish or perish world.  Why it was not published in a peer reviewed scientific journal is unknown by me. Perhaps Hubert had his reasons. But at this juncture, it doesn't matter.


The book is out there and can be purchased at Amazon.com for those willing to spend the money for it. Overall, it is an interesting book and gives this hobbyist a glimpse of the direction piranha classifications is going. Ultimately, that is better than nothing.



Added: 11/30/11

According to Historical Biogeography of Neotropical Freshwater Fishes Edited by James S. Albert and Roberto E. Reis 2011, Continental Analysis, page 161, they wrote: The suggestion by Hubert and colleagues (2007a) that those intracratonic arches may have played a role in determining vicariant events for the clade comprised by Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus species should also be dismissed as a gross misinterpretation of the nectectonic processes in the lower Amazon, which were much more complex than a simple model of such deformation (e.g., J. Crosta eat al., 2001). Though the lower Amazon River is a relatively "recent" addition to the western-central Amazon River ecosystem. Incorporated into the system since the breaching of the Purus arch, dated either as taking place during the late Miocene. 8 MY (Lundberg et al. 1998: Costa et al, 2001) or late Pliocene, -2.4 MY (Campbell et al. 2006), faunistic differences between the portion of the basin from the upstream reaches of the basin seems more likely to be due to ecological rather than to historical, factors.


Until a future Systematician reviews the Hubert species description, the species name is accepted and herein considered valid.



  1. Hubert N. & Renno J. F.  2010 Description of a new Serrasalmus species, Serrasalmus odyssei n. sp. [pp. 52-59]. In: Evolution of the neotropical ichthyofauna -- molecular and evolutionary perspectives about the origin of the fish communities in the Amazon. VDM Publishing House, Verlag Dr. Muller, Saarbucken, Germany. Evolution of the Neotropical Ichthyofauna.: 95 pp.

  2. See links above and OPEFE S. odyssei

  3. Eschmeyer, W. N. & Fricke, R. (eds.) Catalog of Fishes electronic version (30 November 2011). VIEW

  4. Edited by James S. Albert and Roberto E. Reis 2011 Historical Biogeography of Neotropical Freshwater Fishes. University of California Press. ONLINE.



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