Characodon lateralis "Abraham Gonzales"

There are 3 species of Characodon recognized at the moment. One of these species is extinct; Characodon garmani. The other two are C. audax and C. lateralis. Lateralis has several populations that are recognized; 'Abraham Gonzales', Guadalupe Aguilera, Los Berros and Amado Nervo.

Günther, 1866

Common Names: Rainbow Characodon, Mezquital goodeid, Rainbow goodeid, and Regenbogen-Goodeide (Germany)

Family: Goodeidae (Splitfins), subfamily: Goodeinae

Order: Cyprinodontiformes

Locale: Abraham Gonzalez, a town 27 km from east Durango, Mexico.

Habitat: C. lateralis 'Abraham Gonzales' lives in clear springs with lush plant growth. The springs are less than 2 square kilometers in diameter. They feed on algae. The water is alkaline with low visibility, maybe a half a meter in the clearer areas. The spring has a shallow, muddy bottom. pH range: 6.0 - 8.0; dH range: 9.0 - 19.0, 18 - 24°C

Max. size: 4.0 cm (1.6") for males and 5.5 cm (2.2") for females.

Sex differences: Males have an andropodium (modified fin for reproduction - recognized by having a notch in the anal fin). The males anal fins are longer than the females. Females grow larger than the males. Dominant fish have a 'rainbow' of colours; yellow, red and black mostly. The basic body colour is an olive brown. The dorsal and caudal have a band of red on them. The caudal also can get a band of black on them. Sometimes older fish get a darker band along their body. Black spots can be seen on the back half of the fish.

Characodon lateralis is considered to be endangered. They are a very aggressive species especially males amongst each other. They are best kept in well planted tanks. They are said to be prone to disease in aquariums, but I haven't noticed anything like that.

In the wild, these fish live with Cyprinodon meeki, and Chirostoma mezquital (Charal). They also live with some introduced exotics like Tilapia, Gambusia senilis (Blotched Gambusia), even Lepomis macrochirus (Bluegill Sunfish) and Cyprinus carpio (carp).

I received a pair of these fish from a fellow club member a while back. I got a male and a female pair. When I returned home I placed them into a 30 gallon tank along with a pair of Gambusia marshi and several breeding pairs of Neolamprologus brevis. I know this is an odd combination of fish but it worked out great. Well, it worked out well in the end. The very first night, someone in the tank took great offense at the Characodon's red tail and basically got rid of it for him. I kept an eye on the situation and when he didn't seem to be showing any signs of new injuries, I left him in the tank as he seemed quite able to avoid the other fish if necessary. Even without his tail, he kept trying to show off to his female all the time. She'd occasionally swim to the other side of the tank to avoid him and he'd give her a little space for a bit and then return to his courting. The only fish that really seemed to not like the male Characodon that I could see was the male Gambusia. They seemed to reach a peace of some sort and left each other alone. The male's tail grew back slowly. I watched several times as the female got fatter and fatter. Each time I would think it was too soon and not be prepared and would come down to see her really skinny, obviously having given birth in the main tank. As there was no plants at all in the tank, the fry had no chance of survival. They would have been chased after by all the inhabitants in that tank. The tank itself was filtered by an Aquaclear filter and had a gravel bottom with several shells for the brevis. I also had at that time a major snail infestation in the tank. These snails are mostly gone now; being used as live food for my Africans who go nuts for the treat. The tank received water changes of about 30% weekly. I never treated my Characodon any differently than any of my other fish, even though they were supposed to be prone to diseases. They seem no different than any other livebearer I had ever kept. This tank was mostly fed with basic flake, but would get treats of frozen foods like bloodworms and mosquito larvae. They also got treats of brine flake, live baby brine shrimp and spirulina flake. They seem to thrive on this diet.

After not being able to get any fry from the female yet, I decided to keep a closer eye on her. When I felt she was going to release fry soon, I placed her into a small container without lifting her out of the water. I put as much hornwort in the container as it could hold as I'd heard that they are good fry eaters. One the first night in the container the female released 10 fry that I could see. I scooped her out of the container and left the fry in there. I put her back into the main tank with the male who seemed very happy to see her. The fry were mainly fed on microworms and live baby brine shrimp. After about 6 weeks, I started adding in crumbled flake food, which they seemed to accept fairly readily. After they reached 8 weeks old, I placed the 10 fry into a 20 gallon tank along with some Apistogramma trifasciata. I could immediately tell why the males are said to be very aggressive. It's because they are!! I could already sex the fry at this point and they were fighting and chasing each other all over the tank. I haven't seen any damage on any so I've left it like that for the moment. I'm sure I'll have to fix the situation later on. All in all, this is a pretty goodeid and I recommend keeping it. It has a beautiful colouration and is endangered. I think those two reasons should be good enough for keeping them around in the hobby. .

© Copyright 2001-2003 Lisa Boorman
All Rights Reserved

Suggested Reading:

Baensch Aquarium Atlas Vol. 2 by Dr. Rüdiger Riehl & Hans A. Baensch

Livebearing Fishes - A Guide to their Aquarium Care, Biology and Classification by John Dawes

Livebearing Aquarium Fishes by Manfred Brembach

Atlas of Livebearers of the World by Lothar Wischnath

Exotic Aquarium Fishes  by Dr. William T. Innes

Guppies, Mollies, Platys by Harro Hieronimus

To see other references on livebearers:

Livebearer Book List

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