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Is there a new undescribed species of Paracheirodon Tetra?

Discovery of a New Paracheirodon Species by Heiko Bleher

In 2006, renowned ichthyologist Heiko Bleher made a discovery. While exploring the intricate waterways of the Amazon, Bleher stumbled upon a new species of the widespread Paracheirodon genus, which includes the well-known Neon Tetra and Cardinal Tetra. This new species, found in the Rio Purus system south of the Amazon River, has captured the interest of fish enthusiasts and scientists alike.

The Unique Habitat

The newly discovered Paracheirodon species inhabits a small, secluded creek within the Rio Purus system. Unlike the typical habitats of other cardinal tetras, this particular creek does not flow continuously throughout the year, remaining still both in summer and winter. Such a unique environment supports distinct characteristics in the fish residing there.

Distinctive Features

Heiko Bleher's new find stands out from its Paracheirodon relatives in several ways:

  • Schooling Behavior—While most cardinal tetras are known for their large schools, often numbering in the hundreds or thousands, this new species prefers much smaller groups, typically schooling in groups of three to five.
  • Colouration and Pattern—The new Paracheirodon species is a visual marvel, boasting a colour pattern that sets it apart from its relatives. Its red hue is more pronounced and extends further along its body, while its neon stripe is the longest ever observed in any Paracheirodon species.
  • Size—This species is larger than other cardinal tetras, with individuals reaching up to three inches in length, making it one of the largest in its genus.

Challenges in Taxonomy

Despite its discovery, the formal classification of this new Paracheirodon species remains in limbo. The esteemed ichthyologist Jacques Géry, a close friend and colleague of Bleher, recognized the fish's uniqueness and began the process of formally describing it. However, taxonomy is a complex and time-consuming process, requiring extensive research, comparison with existing species, and peer review. Unfortunately, Géry passed away before completing the task, and his extensive notes and descriptions, including those of this new species, are currently housed in a museum in Dresden, Germany. No one has taken up the mantle to publish these findings officially, highlighting the need for continued scientific collaboration and support.

Significance of the Discovery

This groundbreaking discovery by Heiko Bleher holds profound implications. It not only broadens our understanding of the Paracheirodon genus, revealing their remarkable adaptability to diverse environmental conditions but also underscores the critical need for ongoing exploration and documentation of the Amazon's biodiversity. This vast region, still shrouded in mystery, is a treasure trove of life forms yet to be unveiled.

Conclusion

Heiko Bleher's discovery of a new Paracheirodon species adds a fascinating chapter to studying tropical fish. While challenges remain in formally classifying this species, its unique characteristics and the story of its discovery highlight the rich biodiversity of the Amazon and the ongoing need for scientific exploration. Bleher's work continues to inspire ichthyologists and fish enthusiasts worldwide, reminding us of the wonders still hidden in our planet's waterways.

Look at Neon Tetras Here 

Look at Cardinal Tetras Here

Look at Green Neon Tetras Here

 

This blog post is based on an Finatics Friday Coffee Date episode with Cam Scott & John Mitchell. The interview with Heiko Bleher, a renowned ichthyologist and the discoverer of the new Paracheirodon species, streamed live on the 11th of April 2024, where he details his discovery and the unique aspects of the new Paracheirodon species.

 

View the full video here:

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