Overview

Brief Summary

Nematobrycon palmeri is a small characid widely known as Emperor Tetra in the aquarium trade. This species is endemic to the Atrato and San Juan River basins in Colombia, where inhabits backwater and ponds with aquatic vegetation (Weitzman anf Fink, 1971; Lima et al., 2003). It is largely appreciated by its iridescent greenish blue color contrasting with a broad black lateral stripe and yellowish fins. The males present interesting sexual dimorphism associated to the elongation of the dorsal-, pelvic-, anal, and caudal-fin rays. Although this species is well know by aquarists, very little information is available about its feeding habit, behavior and life cycle in the wild.

  • Lima, F.C.T, L.R. Malabarba, P.A. Buckup, J.F. Pezzi da Silva, R.P. Vari, A. Harold, R. Benine, O.T. Oyakawa, C.S. Pavanelli, N.A. Menezes, C.A.S. Lucena, M.C.S.L. Malabarba, Z.M.S. Lucena, R.E. Reis, F. Langeani, L. Casatti, V.A. Bertaco, C. Moreira and P.H.F. Lucinda. 2003. Genera incertae sedis in Characidae. Pp. 134-141. In: R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander and C.J. Ferraris (Eds.). Check List of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Edipucrs, Porto Alegre, 729 p.
  • Weitzman, S.H. and W.L. Fink. 1971. A new species of characid fish of the genus Nematobrycon from the Rio Calima of Colombia. Beaufortia, 19(248): 57-77.
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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Feeds on worms and crustaceans (Ref. 7020). Aquarium keeping: in groups of 5 or more individuals; minimum aquarium size 80 cm (Ref. 51539).
  • Lima, F.C.T., L.R. Malabarba, P.A. Buckup, J.F. Pezzi da Silva, R.P. Vari, A. Harold, R. Benine, O.T. Oyakawa, C.S. Pavanelli, N.A. Menezes, C.A.S. Lucena, M.C.S.L. Malabarba, Z.M.S. Lucena, R.E. Reis, F. Langeani, C. Moreira et al. … 2003 Genera Incertae Sedis in Characidae. p. 106-168. In R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander and C.J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, Brasil. (Ref. 38376)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=38376&speccode=10622 External link.
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Distribution

South America: Atrato and San Juan River basins.
  • Lima, F.C.T., L.R. Malabarba, P.A. Buckup, J.F. Pezzi da Silva, R.P. Vari, A. Harold, R. Benine, O.T. Oyakawa, C.S. Pavanelli, N.A. Menezes, C.A.S. Lucena, M.C.S.L. Malabarba, Z.M.S. Lucena, R.E. Reis, F. Langeani, C. Moreira et al. … 2003 Genera Incertae Sedis in Characidae. p. 106-168. In R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander and C.J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, Brasil. (Ref. 38376)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=38376&speccode=10622 External link.
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Geographic Range

Nematobrycon palmeri is found in the streams and rivers of Western Colombia in South America (Lundie 2000).

Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )

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Atrato and San Juan River basins, Colombia.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Nematobrycon palmeri has a body that is about 39 mm deep and laterally compressed. Anterior to the dorsal fin, body profile is partially convex. Posterior to the dorsal fin, the profile again becomes slightly convex until the caudal peduncle, where the body continues parallel to the lengthwise body axis until the procurrent caudal fin rays. The ventral profile is rounded and protrudes the most at the origin of the pelvic fin. The head reaches a length of about 20 mm. Approximately 6 mm of that is the snout. The scales of Nematobrycom palmeri are fairly large. The lateral line slopes slightly ventrally and is incomplete. There are generally 33 lateral scales, with 7 scales above the lateral line and 5 below. There are 14 scales around the caudal peduncle. The dorsal fin is located anterior to the anal fin, and posterior to the insertion of the pelvic fin. In males, the third ray of the dorsal fin is the longest, whereas the fourth or fifth is longest in females. The origin of the anal fin is located just behind the midpoint of the body. The pectoral fin is low on the body, either rounded or pointed, and is located about 28 mm from the snout. The pelvic fin is about 19 mm long and is found approximately 44 mm from the tip of the snout. The males of this species have a moderately wide black stripe that spans the length of the body, from the jaws to the posterior tips of the middle caudal rays. The scales above the stripe are a greenish blue color, with a narrow orange-yellow brown stripe that extends horizontally from the midpoint of the body to the caudal fin origin. This stripe is located just above the thick black stripe. The top of the head and back are a dark brown color. The scales just below the black strip are a pale tan. The belly of this species, as well as the underneath of the head, is white. The iris is specular blue as well as the area of the head just behind the eye. The fins are hyaline in color. The first three or four rays of the dorsal fin are black. The upper and lower edges of the caudal fin are also black. The central elongate rays of the caudal fin are black (continuing the black side stripe). Some of the rays of the fins are a creamy white color. The females have the same coloration, except they lack much of the specular blue (just a thin stripe above the lateral black stripe), much of the black on the rays of the fins, and almost all of the creamy white on the fins. There is also a black from of this species. (Weitzman & Fink 1971)

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Size

Maximum size: 55 mm ---
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Max. size

4.2 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 38376))
  • Lima, F.C.T., L.R. Malabarba, P.A. Buckup, J.F. Pezzi da Silva, R.P. Vari, A. Harold, R. Benine, O.T. Oyakawa, C.S. Pavanelli, N.A. Menezes, C.A.S. Lucena, M.C.S.L. Malabarba, Z.M.S. Lucena, R.E. Reis, F. Langeani, C. Moreira et al. … 2003 Genera Incertae Sedis in Characidae. p. 106-168. In R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander and C.J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, Brasil. (Ref. 38376)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=38376&speccode=10622 External link.
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Type Information

Paratype for Nematobrycon amphiloxus Eigenmann & Wilson
Catalog Number: USNM 205598
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): C. Wilson
Year Collected: 1913
Locality: Colombia, Tambo, Colombia, South America
  • Paratype: Eigenmann, C. H. & Wilson. 1914. Indiana University Studies. No. 19: 13.
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Paratype for Nematobrycon amphiloxus Eigenmann & Wilson
Catalog Number: USNM 205646
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): Wilson
Year Collected: 1913
Locality: Colombia, Raspadura, Colombia, South America
  • Paratype: Eigenmann, C. H. & Wilson. 1914. Indiana University Studies. No. 19: 13.
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Ecology

Habitat

Environment

pelagic; freshwater; pH range: 5.0 - 8.0; dH range: 5 - 19
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Nematobrycon palmeri lives in pelagic, freshwater rivers of South America. A pH range of 5.0 to 8.0 and dH range of 5.0 to 19.0 can be tolerated by this species. The rivers that contain Emperor tetra are located in tropical regions where the temperature ranges from 23 to 27°C. (Torres 2000)

Aquatic Biomes: rivers and streams

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Trophic Strategy

Feeds on worms and crustaceans.
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Food Habits

Nematobrycon palmeri is omnivorous in the wild, consuming worms, crustaceans, and plant material. In one year, this species consumes approximately 60 times its body weight. No information was found on the methods of feeding implemented by this fish.

(Lundie 2000, Torres 2000)

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Diseases and Parasites

White spot Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Fin-rot Disease (late stage). Bacterial diseases
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Fin Rot (early stage). Bacterial diseases
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Bacterial Infections (general). Bacterial diseases
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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Nematobrycom palmeri is dioecious, meaning there are male reproductive organs in one individual and female reproductive organs in another. Fertilization is external and occurs in open water. Only one egg is laid at a time, so spawning takes several hours. The parents do not stay and guard their eggs, but they may eat them. (Lundie 2000, Torres 2000)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Nematobrycon palmeri

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There is 1 barcode sequence available from BOLD and GenBank.   Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.  Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.

ACCCTTTATCTTGTATTTGGTGCTTGGGCCGGGATAGTTGGCACAGCTTTA---AGCCTGTTAATCCGAGCAGAGCTAGGTCAACCTGGATCTCTATTAGGAGAT---GACCAAGTATATAATGTTTTAGTGACTGCACATGCCTTCGTTATAATTTTTTTCATAGTAATACCTGTAATAATCGGGGGTTTTGGAAACTGACTGGTCCCATTAATG---ATTGGCGCCCCTGATATAGCCTTTCCTCGAATAAATAATATAAGCTTTTGGCTTCTCCCTCCTTCTTTTCTTCTTCTTCTAGCTTCTTCTGGCGTAGAAGCTGGGGCAGGAACAGGATGAACTGTATATCCCCCTCTTGCTGGAAACCTTGCACACGCAGGAGCTTCTGTAGATTTA---ACTATTTTTTCACTTCATTTAGCCGGAGTTTCATCTATTCTTGGGGCAATCAATTTTATTACAACTATTATTAATATAAAACCCCCAGCCACTTCACAATATCAAACACCTTTATTTGTTTGGGCTGTATTAGTTACAGCTGTTCTTTTACTCCTCTCTCTCCCAGTTTTAGCAGCC---GGAATTACTATGCTTCTAACAGACCGAAATCTAAACACTTCATTTTTTGATCCGGCAGGAGGGGGTGACCCCATTCTTTACCAACACTTA
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Nematobrycon palmeri

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

This species does not have an IUCN threatened status (Torres 2000).

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Threats

Not Evaluated
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

aquarium: commercial
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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There is no negative economic impact on humans caused by Nematobrycon palmeri.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

This species is very popular in the aquarium trade in the United States. A black form of Nematobrycon palmeri is very common in aquariums as well.

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Wikipedia

Nematobrycon palmeri

The emperor tetra (Nematobrycon palmeri) is found the streams and rivers of western Colombia including the Rio Atrata and the Rio San Juan. It was imported to the United States in 1960.

In the aquarium[edit]

The emperor tetra is a placid aquarium fish and will be disturbed by more boisterous species. It grows to 4.2  cm.[1] It prefers a pH of 6.5, a hardness of 50–100 mg/l and a temperature of 23–27 °C. It does not school as readily as most tetras, and a pair appears happier than with most tetras. However, with the addition of fresh cool water, a large group of emperors will school across an aquarium, sometimes for several minutes.

Foods and feeding[edit]

The emperor tetra is an omnivore, eating both animal and vegetable food. Any good flake or pelleted fish food is a good basis for its diet. It will benefit from live food like daphnia and mosquito larvae as well as frozen fish food including frozen bloodworms.

Gender[edit]

Emperor tetras are highly sexually dimorphic and thus males and females are quite easily distinguished from each other. There are several ways to tell a male and female apart, the most reliable method is to observe the eye color. Males will have metallic blue eyes while females possess metallic green eyes. Also, the male has a three pronged tail with the medial black stripe usually extending beyond the rest of the tail, while in the females this median black stripe will typically only reach as far as the clear part of the tail. However, this is not always the best indicator as the third prong in males can sometimes be nipped off in competitions with tank mates and more dominant females may sometimes grow this extension of the tail as well.

Breeding[edit]

In a large well planted aquarium a single pair of emperor tetras will often breed without any extra stimulation. If there are no other fish, some of the babies may survive especially if the parents are well fed. In a large, well planted aquarium the babies will find some useful natural food in the form of protozoa, algae, etc. Screened daphnia will provide them with more nourishment as they grow, and dry fry food can be used.

Appearance[edit]

The purple hue of these tetras will be more apparent in an aquarium with floating plants on the surface and relatively subdued lighting. If the aquarium is too bright, the yellow coloration will dominate. The body is long, slim, and flattened to about 3 inches at maturity. Looking from the eye to the tail area, you will find a black line placed within a blue stripe. The sickled shaped dorsal fin, along with the pectoral fin and anal fins are yellow. The male is larger than than the female and his anal fins are longer. The male, caudal is more pointed the the female.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

List of freshwater aquarium fish species

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Emperor Tetra". Fishlore. 


[1]
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