Pterophyllum Heckel

Pterophyllum Heckel, 1840. Annln wien. Mus. Natges. 2, p. 334 (type by monotypy Platax scalaris Cuvier). — Neuter.
Plataxoïdes Castelnau, 1855. Anim. nouv. rares. Poissons, p. 21 (type by monotypy Plataxoïdes dumerilii Castelnau). — Masculine.

Pterophyllum sp., from Peru. Living specimen in aquarium. Photo © S.O.Kullander
Pterophyllum sp., from Peru. Living specimen in aquarium. Photo S.O. Kullander


Included species

Pterophyllum altum Pellegrin, 1903
Pterophyllum altum Pellegrin, 1903. Bull. Mus. Hist. nat. 9, p. 125 (Atabapo (Orénoque))
Pterophyllum leopoldi (Gosse, 1963)
Plataxoides leopoldi Gosse, 1963. Bull. Inst. r. Sci. nat. Belg. 39 (35), p. 4, pl. I, fig. 2 (Furo du village de Cuia (rive gauche du Solimôes à environ 90 km en amont de Manacapuru))
Pterophyllum scalare (Lichtenstein, 1823)
Zeus scalaris Lichtenstein, 1823. Verz. Doubl. Mus. Berl. p. 114 (Or. Brasil)
Platax? scalaris Cuvier, 1831. In Cuvier & Valenciennes, Hist. nat. Poiss. 7, p. 237 (-)
Plataxoïdes Dumerilii Castelnau, 1855. Anim. nouv. rares. Poissons, p. 21, pl. 11, fig. 3 (Para)
?Pterophyllum eimekei Ahl, 1928. Aquarium, Berl. 1928, p. 31, fig. p. 31 (Mündung des Rio Negro in den Amazonenstrom)

Species level systematics is problematic. But there may be more species than the three now considered valid. There is no type specimen preserved of P. scalare, and the type locality (eastern Brazil) is imprecise.

Primary types

Pterophyllum altum. MNHN
Plataxoides leopoldi. IRSNB
Zeus scalaris. None known.
Platax scalaris
Plataxoides dumerilii. MNHN
Pterophyllum eimekei. Syntypes

Identification guide to species


altum, from altus, -a, -um, Latin adjective meaning high, tall.

Geographical distribution

Pterophyllum altum is known only from black and clear water tributaries of the upper Rio Negro and upper Rio Orinoco in Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. Pterophyllum leopoldi has been collected in only a few localities along the middle Amazon River and in the upper Essequibo drainage. Several Pterophyllum species confused under the name of P. scalare are known from the Amazon drainag lowland floodplain in Colombia, Brazil and Peru, and also from the Oyapock (French Guiana) and Essequibo (Guyana) drainages.

Natural history

To be added.

Local names

To be added.


HECKEL, J. 1840. Johann Natterer's neue Flussfische Brasilien's nach den Beobachtungen und Mittheilungen des Entdeckers beschrieben. (Erste Abtheilung, die Labroiden.) Annln wien. Mus. Natges. 2: 327-470.
KULLANDER, S.O. 1986. Cichlid fishes of the Amazon River drainage of Peru. Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, 431 pp.