Only two species of Astronotus are recognized at present. They are large food fishes occurring in the tropical rivers of South America.





Sven O Kullander


Astronotus ocellatus (Agassiz)


Lobotes ocellatus Agassiz, 1831. In Spix & Agassiz., Sel. Gen. Sp. Pisc. bras. p. 129, Pl. LXVIII (Oceano Atlantico).
?Cychla? rubro-ocellata Jardine, 1843. Nat. Libr. Ichthyol. 5, p. 153, Pl. 10 (Rio Negro and its tributaries).
Acara compressus Cope, 1872. Proc. Acad. nat. Sci. Philad. 23, p. 256 (the Ambyiacu).
Acara hyposticta Cope, 1878. Proc. Amer. philos. Soc. 17, p. 697 ([Amazonian Peru]).
?Astronotus ocellatus var. zebra Pellegrin, 1904. Mém Soc. zool. Fr. 16, p. 183 (Santarem).
?Astronotus orbiculatus Haseman, 1911. Ann. Carneg. Mus. 7, p. 331, Pl. LIII (Santarem).

Astronotus ocellatus, just collected from Supay Cocha on the Río Ucayali in Peru. Photo © S.O. Kullander
Astronotus ocellatus, just collected from Supay Cocha on the Río Ucayali in Peru. Photo: S.O. Kullander


Astronotus ocellatus is distinguished from A. crassipinnis by having a series of ocellated spots along the dorsal fin base; first light vertical bar above the anal fin base instead of more anteriorly; and dorsal fin count modally XIII.20 rather than XII.21-22.

The dorsal ocelli seem to occur only in western Amazonian Astronotus, however, and only Peruvian Astronotus ocellatus have been studied in some detail. It is quite possible that some of the other names will be rehabilitated, or that A. ocellatus zebra and A. orbiculatus should be referred to A. crassipinnis.

The largest specimen measured was ca 213 mm SL, but larger specimens have been observed in markets.

Primary types

Lobotes ocellatus — Lost.
Cychla rubroocellata — Lost.
Acara compressus — Lectotype ANSP 9180. About 57.4 mm SL. Peru, Depto Loreto, R. Ampiyacu. No date. J. Hauxwell. Selected by Böhlke (1984, as 'holotype'), recognised as lectotype by Kullander (1986).
Acara hyposticta — Holotype ANSP 21286. About 69.1 mm SL. 'Peru'. 1873. J. Orton.
Astronotus ocellatus zebra — Holotype MNHN 02-46. About 192 mm SL. Brazil, Estado do Pará, Santarém. No date. Jobert.
Astronotus orbiculatus — Holotype FMNH 53992. 133.1 mm SL. Brazil, Estado do Pará, Santarém. 7 Dec 1909. J.D. Haseman.


ocellatus, -a, -um is a Latin adjective meaning with little eyes, from ocellus, dimunitive of oculus, eye.
rubroocellata is formed from the Latin adjectives ruber, -ra, -rum, red and ocellatus, -a, -um, with little eye(s), in reference to the red-ringed ocellus at the base of the caudal fin..
compressus, -a, -um is a Latin adjective meaning compressed.
hypostictus is a noun formed from the Greek preposition hypo, under, and the Greek noun stiktos, spot.
zebra, Amhar zebra, a noun, is in reference to the striped colour pattern.
orbiculatus, -a, -um is a Latin adjective meaning round, based on orbis, diminutive orbiculus, circle.

Geographical distribution

Known from Peru, Brazil, and French Guiana. Collected along the Amazon, including the Ucayali, Amazonas, Solimões, Içá, and Negro drainages, and also in the Oyapock and Approuague drainages.

Natural history

In Peru A. ocellatus was collected in white-water floodplain lakes (Kullander, 1986).

Local names

Peru: Acarahuazú and carahuazú (Tupi-Guarani)


BÖHLKE, E.B. 1984. Catalog of type specimens in the ichthyological collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Spec. Publn Acad. nat. Sci. Philad. 14: 1-246.
COPE, E.D. 1872. On the fishes of the Ambyiacu river. Proc. Acad. nat. Sci. Philad. 1871: 250-294.
COPE, E.D. 1878. Synopsis of the fishes of the Peruvian Amazon, obtained by Professor Orton during his Expeditions of 1873 and 1877. Proc. Amer. philos. Soc. Philad. 17: 673-701.
HASEMAN, J.D. 1911. An annotated catalog of the cichlid fishes collected by the Expedition of the Carnegie Museum to Central South America, 1907-10. Ann. Carneg. Mus. 7: 329-373.
JARDINE, W. (ed.). 1843. The naturalist's library [vol. 38]. Ichthyology Vol. V. Fishes of Guiana. Part II Edinburgh, 214 pp. [Also as Vol. XXXI. Ichthyology. Fishes of British Guiana. Part 2nd. Two pl. 18 listed in text and Contents, but only one present.]
KULLANDER, S.O. 1986. Cichlid fishes of the Amazon River drainage of Peru. Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, 431 pp.
PELLEGRIN, J. 1904. Contribution à l'étude anatomique, biologique et taxinomique des Poissons de la famille des Cichlidés. Mém. Soc. zool. France 16: 41-399.
SPIX, J.B. & L. AGASSIZ. 1829 [& 1831]. Selecta genera et species piscium quos in itinere per Brasiliam annis MDCCCXVII-MDCCCXX jussu et auspiciis Maximiliani Josephi I. Bavariae regis augustissimi peracto collegit et pingendos curavit Dr. J.B. de Spix Monachii, 138 pp. [1829, pp 1-82; 1831, pp. 83-138.]

Astronotus ocellatus, as illustrated in the original description in Spix & Agassiz (1829-1831)
Astronotus ocellatus, as illustrated in the original description in Spix & Agassiz (1829-1831).