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Family Erythrinidae











The species is similar to the American Bowfin, Amia calva. The fish is a voracious predator and when things are not to its liking it simply moves out of the water into a better feeding area. If you decide to own a Trahira, be sure you have a tight fitting lid with no opening. These fish are fantastic escape artists.


It is a small group, without economic importance (except for Giant Trahira, which is becoming rare in the Guiana). Some are predators which have become adapted to life in small brooks or ponds, where they can exist without much oxygen, thanks to accessory system which can absorb it directly from the air. At last one species is capable of retaining moisture and air for a long time and walking on the ground at night in the search for a more suitable pond than the one just abandoned.

As regards their anatomy, particularly that of the bones of the head, certain experts believe that they are exceptional among the Characiformes. They are probably the most archaic in many respects (though specialized for predation), having 5 branchiostegal rays, a cylindrical body form with a short anal fin and large scales, numerous teeth on the palate and a primitive pectoral girdle like that of the bowfin.


Occurs in diverse habitats from free flowing clear water streams, well up into the valleys, to slow turbid waters, water courses, irrigation and drainage ditches, and ponds on the plains. Rests in vegetation during the day and is active at night. Adults feed on fish; juveniles feed on crustacean and insect larvae, shrimps and other small invertebrates.


During this update, California Academy of Sciences (CAS) added some new species and also many of the old names were moved into marine fishes.  Quite an interesting turn of events.


genus Erythrinus

Erythrinus Scopoli 1777

Etymology: Greek, erythros = red




Erythrinus erythrinus

Bloch & Schneider 1801

Amazon and Orinoco River basins and coastal rivers of northern South America: Argentina, Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuel

Erythrinus kessleri

Steindachner 1877



genus Hoplias

Hoplias Gill 1903

Etymology: Greek, hoplon = weapon


Photo by David M. Schleser

David M. Schleser had the following to say about this species: Hoplias caught in Rio Orosa (whitewater), although I have caught it in black and white water habitats ranging from large rivers to intermittent creeks.




Hoplias aimara

Valenciennes 1847

Widespread in South America

Hoplias australis

Oyakawa & Mattox 2009

Uruguay River basin: Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay

Hoplias brasiliensis

Spix & Agassiz 1829

Paracuaç R. basin in Bahia State, Brazil

Hoplias curupira

Oyakawa (O. I.) & Mattox (G. M. T). 2009

Rivers of Amazon basin: Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela

Hoplias intermedius

Gunther 1864

São Francisco and Paraná river basinsand tributaries of rio Doce: Brazil

Hoplias lacerdae

Miranda Ribeiro 1908

Ribeira de Iguape R. basin in São Paulo and Paraná states, Brazil

Hoplias malabaricus

Bloch 1794

Costa Rica to Argentina in most river systems: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela

Hoplias microcephalus

Agassiz 1829

São Francisco R. basin, Brazil

Hoplias microlepis

Günther 1864

Western slopes from Ecuador to Panama: Colombia, Ecuador and Panama

Hoplias patana

Valenciennes 1847

French Guiana (?)

Hoplias teres

Valenciennes 1847

Lake Maracaibo basin, Venezuela


genus Hoplerythrinus

Hoplerythrinus Gill 1896

Etymology; Greek, hoplon = weapon + Greek, erythros = red


Photo by David M. Schleser

David M. Schleser had this to say: Hoplerythrinus caught in a blackwater creek flowing into Rio Orosa, Peru.

I have only caught this species in blackwater habitats with lots of submerged cover.

Both Erythrinus and Hoplerythrinus described below are very close to each other.

The samples I have kept are easy to distinguish by their coloration and markings when young.




Hoplerythrinus cinereus

Gill 1858

Trinidad and Tobago Island

Hoplerythrinus gronovii

Valenciennes 1847

French Guiana (?)

Hoplerythrinus unitaeniatus

Spix & Agassiz 1829

Amazon, Paraná, Orinoco, São Francisco, and Magdalena R. basins and coastal rivers of n. South America and Panama: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela









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UPDATED: 12/27/2011