DIS­TIN­GUISH­ING CHAR­AC­TER­IS­TICS

Animal Scene - - FISH IN YOUR TANK -

Ho­plias species are sim­i­lar in ap­pear­ance and iden­ti­fy­ing them can be tricky. In fact, more of­ten than not, fish hob­by­ists post pic­tures of their fishes to ask for pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the species they have. Aside from the large size that H. ai­mara at­tains, it is in sub­tle dif­fer­ences vis­i­ble only to the highly ob­ser­vant that one can iden­tify a true H. ai­mara.

• Like most in the genus, H. ai­mara has an elon­gated cylin­dri­cal body shape. It de­vel­ops a mas­sive body as it grows older.

• The base body color may be light brown to dark grey with a num­ber of gen­er­ally thick ver­ti­cal patches or stripes. How­ever, this base color and pat­tern may vary from each type of lo­cal­ity of the H. ai­mara.

• The head of the H. ai­mara ap­pears to be big­ger and wider than most of the species.

• The eyes of the H. ai­mara ap­pear big­ger, es­pe­cially when it is young, and these are not clear but rather, can best be de­scribed as “wall-eyed”.

• The teeth, like with all species in the genus, are im­pres­sive, jagged, and large.

The Key Dis­tinct Fea­tures (KDFS) to look for that will help in pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of an H ai­mara are: • Small spots that are vis­i­ble on the up­per front por­tion of the body and on the head; and

• A ver­ti­cally-elon­gated dark spot on op­er­cu­lar mem­brane or edge of the gill plate.

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