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Apistogramma identification guide?

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37
So I know this may be a stupid question and someone will likely have some smartass answer, but is there any decent identification guide to the Apistogramma genus? I ask because, as a wildlife biologist, I frequently use dichotomous keys and field guides to aid in the identification of native plants and animals, fishes included. However, I know these are written and compiled much easier because the collection of US organisms is easier and more accessible. Regardless, are there any decent guides to this genus, or should I just stick to the articles by M. Wise, personal acquisitions through breeders and shops, and whatever I can find online/here to help learn the species?

P.S. - not as concerned with bred varieties and color morphs. I’m just curious as to the various species (described and undescribed).

Thanks!
 

Apistoguy52

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Yeah, that. ^^^

CA1, and CA2 Romer, are probably as good as it’s going to get for stateside availability, even if they are dated. Tomc.no is pretty incredible in breadth, but not really a guide per se.
 

Mike Wise

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A genetic tests appear to be the only true method to accurately ID some apistos. Recent genetic studies point to the possibility that every micro-environment in the Amazon could potentially house its own distinct species, meaning there could be thousands of apisto species. See: Estival et al. 2023. Exceptional Genetic Differentiation at a Micro-geographic Scale in Apistogramma agassizii (Steindachner, 1875) from the Peruvian Amazon: Sympatric Speciation? Evolutionary Biology 50(3).
 
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A genetic tests appear to be the only true method to accurately ID some apistos. Recent genetic studies point to the possibility that every micro-environment in the Amazon could potentially house its own distinct species, meaning there could be thousands of apisto species. See: Estival et al. 2023. Exceptional Genetic Differentiation at a Micro-geographic Scale in Apistogramma agassizii (Steindachner, 1875) from the Peruvian Amazon: Sympatric Speciation? Evolutionary Biology 50(3).
This all depends on which species concept you follow. It’s the same for fishes (darters specifically) here in the Appalachian Mountains. Molecular, phylogenetic, evolutionary, biological, etc. Dichotomous keys work in morphological traits, and sometimes behavior/range, but they’re helpful to get down to where you need to be. It depends on my mood, my goals, and how in depth I wanna go whether I’m a lumper or splitter. With fishes, I prefer to use biological species concept, but I understand the use of, and sometimes need for, genetics. However, it stands to reason that when any group of fish is isolated long enough in headwater streams, for example, they will eventually diverge enough from the parent complex or group and become genetically distinct. I’ve done a lot of work with butterflies and sister species of certain groups, as well as bats and other small mammals. Not as much with fishes in that regard, but I still love them!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
and how in depth I wanna go whether I’m a lumper or splitter. With fishes, I prefer to use biological species concept, but I understand the use of, and sometimes need for, genetics.
It is like Mike says, tricky with Cichlids generally and really tricky with Apistogramma spp.

Most of the work has been on African Lake Cichlids, but the Geophagine clade has also undergone / is undergoing an adaptive radiation in S. America.

"Mapping the hidden diversity of the Geophagus sensu stricto species group (Cichlidae: Geophagini) from the Amazon basin" <"https://peerj.com/articles/12443/">
"Replicated Functional Evolution in Cichlid Adaptive Radiations" <"https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2023.09.30.559334v1.abstract">

cheers Darrel
 
Last edited:

Mike Wise

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Personally I have problems with any concept of species. Nature doesn't put organisms in little boxes and then says, "this is a species". Humans do this. My philosophy is if an organism can successfully pass its genes on to a new generation, that's all that's important. I, for example, would not be surprised if I had genes passed on from some Homo neanderthalensis ancestor. Does it really matter to me? No, my "species purity" isn't important to me. Organisms do orient their most similar organisms, however. This assures a better likelihood of successfully pass its genes on to a new generation. Otherwise it's "any port in a storm":) This is where 'mate-choice selection' helps compare genetics with physical taxonomy. See: Estival et al. 2020. The Amazonian dwarf cichlid Apistogramma agassizii (Steindachner, 1875) is a geographic mosaic of potentially tens of species: Conservation implications. Aquatic Conservation, Mar. and Freshwater Ecosystems. v, 30 (8): 1521 - 1539.
 
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Personally I have problems with any concept of species. Nature doesn't put organisms in little boxes and then says, "this is a species". Humans do this. My philosophy is if an organism can successfully pass its genes on to a new generation, that's all that's important. I, for example, would not be surprised if I had genes passed on from some Homo neanderthalensis ancestor. Does it really matter to me? No, my "species purity" isn't important to me. Organisms do orient their most similar organisms, however. This assures a better likelihood of successfully pass its genes on to a new generation. Otherwise it's "any port in a storm":) This is where 'mate-choice selection' helps compare genetics with physical taxonomy. See: Estival et al. 2020. The Amazonian dwarf cichlid Apistogramma agassizii (Steindachner, 1875) is a geographic mosaic of potentially tens of species: Conservation implications. Aquatic Conservation, Mar. and Freshwater Ecosystems. v, 30 (8): 1521 - 1539.
That’s a very simple way of looking at it, but I get the picture. Ecological fitness is what you refer to, having genes successfully passed on. I agree that we are the ones who define “species”, but as humans, that’s just who we are. Haha.
 

anewbie

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,477
Personally I have problems with any concept of species. Nature doesn't put organisms in little boxes and then says, "this is a species". Humans do this. My philosophy is if an organism can successfully pass its genes on to a new generation, that's all that's important. I, for example, would not be surprised if I had genes passed on from some Homo neanderthalensis ancestor. Does it really matter to me? No, my "species purity" isn't important to me. Organisms do orient their most similar organisms, however. This assures a better likelihood of successfully pass its genes on to a new generation. Otherwise it's "any port in a storm":) This is where 'mate-choice selection' helps compare genetics with physical taxonomy. See: Estival et al. 2020. The Amazonian dwarf cichlid Apistogramma agassizii (Steindachner, 1875) is a geographic mosaic of potentially tens of species: Conservation implications. Aquatic Conservation, Mar. and Freshwater Ecosystems. v, 30 (8): 1521 - 1539.
So this begs the question about hybrids after all it seem to be very found to cross breed species and then make hybrids available yet your post seems to suggest this is perfectly fine as long as the off springs are able to breed. This also raises the issue how often hybrids happen in nature though that seems less likely these days from folks comment the last time i mentioned that topic (i.e, species near enough to cross breed is not super common).
 
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So this begs the question about hybrids after all it seem to be very found to cross breed species and then make hybrids available yet your post seems to suggest this is perfectly fine as long as the off springs are able to breed. This also raises the issue how often hybrids happen in nature though that seems less likely these days from folks comment the last time i mentioned that topic (i.e, species near enough to cross breed is not super common).
It totally depends on the species. The biological species concept says that if two can crossbreed and produce viable offspring, then they are the same species. The key is viable. This also depends largely on what taxonomic group you’re looking at, as certain species concepts are favored over others depending on what group you study. This goes back to his initial remark stating that species are essentially “made up” by us. And that’s true.

In nature, different “species” tend to not cross breed. This is due in large part to small differences in temperature, distribution, sexual selection, time frames, etc. it isn’t necessarily that they can’t, it’s that they have evolved slightly different pathways to reproduction based on similar individuals. Subspecies tend to come into play here, and some don’t even use that term anymore. It’s quite interesting to study all of it, and, like most things, most people will have a different opinion based on what they want to accomplish.
 
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ALSO, I’d love to add that I sincerely appreciate the genuine responses and engaging conversations that have been added to my questions here. It has been my experience that a LOT of forums online are riddled with smartass trolls who just like to start fights and “pick on the new kid”, so to speak. This forum, based on my extremely limited experience here, seems to be full of people who just want to learn. I love it. It’s such a nice difference.

Seriously, thank you all for the great replies and conversation.
 

Mike Wise

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Hybrid/cross-species (or population) forms do occur in Nature, as the genetic results in the 2023 Estival et al. paper indicates. This, however, is different from what occurs in captivity where there is no choice of mates sometimes. The latter I personally prefer to avoid if possible. My guess is that all of the domestic color strains are crosses of several similar species. I personally don't collect species for the sake of having them anymore. I am more interested in maintaining the few species that I have - and that I know where they were collected together. I do selectively breed, but only for traits found on specimens in the wild. But that's just me.
 

anewbie

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,477
Hybrid/cross-species (or population) forms do occur in Nature, as the genetic results in the 2023 Estival et al. paper indicates. This, however, is different from what occurs in captivity where there is no choice of mates sometimes. The latter I personally prefer to avoid if possible. My guess is that all of the domestic color strains are crosses of several similar species. I personally don't collect species for the sake of having them anymore. I am more interested in maintaining the few species that I have - and that I know where they were collected together. I do selectively breed, but only for traits found on specimens in the wild. But that's just me.
It was more of a curiosity in your statement; i do to the best of my ability keep fishes that might cross breed apart even in my very large community aquariums. One of the reason I have my three laetacara species (d,a,t) in different aquariums. If they didn't cross breed I'd be more tempted to put them together; well two of them.
 

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