Cleithracara is a genus of the subfamily Cichlasomatinae, tribe Cichlasomatini.





Sven O Kullander


Cleithracara Kullander & Nijssen


Cleithracara Kullander & Nijssen, 1989. Cichlids of Surinam, p. 173 (type species by original designation Acara maronii Steindachner). — Feminine.

Cleithracara maronii, freshly collected from a tributary to the Mana River near Saut Sabbat, French Guiana, NRM 28321. Photo © S.O. Kullander.
Cleithracara maronii, freshly collected from a tributary to the Mana River near Saut Sabbat, French Guiana, NRM 28321. Photo: S.O. Kullander.


South American cichlids of small size (to 71 mm SL), with four dentary lateralis foramina, distinguished by characters in combination: preopercle with two scales on horizontal limb; triserial predorsal squamation; extensively scaled unpaired soft fins; one supraneural; two palatine-lateral ethmoid articulations; lacking accessory caudal fin lateral lines, parhypurapophysis, interarcual cartilage, ceratobranchial 4 teeth and mesial foramen on second infraorbital. Similar to Laetacara in having a deep notch in the dorsal margin of the anterior ceratohyal; uniquely diagnosed by the much widened anterior arm of epibranchial 1 and a small ventral process on the quadrate approximately midway between its head and the level of the anterior end of the preopercle. (From Kullander & Nijssen, 1989.)

Included species

Cleithracara maronii (Steindachner, 1881)
Acara Maronii Steindachner, 1881. Denkschr. k. Akad. Wiss. Wien Math.-natw. Cl. 43, p. 141, pl. II, fig. 4 (Maroni-Fluss in Guiana).


The generic name was inspired by the trivial name given by aquarists to the only contained species, Keyhole cichlid, referring to the characteristic flank marking. It is derived from the Greek kleithron, lock, and the Guarani word for cichlids, acará. The species name is a genitive referring to the river from which the species was first recorded, the Maroni.

Geographical distribution

The only included species ranges from the Orinoco delta in Venezuela east to the Ouanary in French Guiana (Kullander & Nijssen, 1989; Lasso, 1993). The species may be absent from the relatively well-collected Essequibo and Oyapock systems. Cleithracara maronii is obviously nowhere abundant. Evidently there was a population also in southern Trinidad (Buenos Aires, Cedros Ward), verified up to 1965, but not encountered in 1974 (Kenny, 1979).


KENNY, J.S. 1979. Some recent animal colonizations. Living World, Journal of the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists's Club 1978-1979: 27.
KULLANDER, S.O. & H. NIJSSEN.1989. The cichlids of Surinam. E.J. Brill, Leiden and other cities, XXXIII+256 pp.
LASSO, C. 1993. Primer registro de Cleithracara maronii (Steindachner, 1882) para Venezuela: consideraciones biogeográficas. Memoria, Sociedad de Cienciad Naturales La Salle 53:149-157.
STEINDACHNER, F. 1881. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Flussfische Südamerika's II. Denkschr. k. Akad. Wiss. Wien Math.-natw. Cl. 43: 103-146.