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Family: Lebiasinidae, Subfamily Pyrrhulininae

Common Name:

Origin and Habitat: Upper Amazon basin in Peru.

Compatibility/Temperament: Peaceful shoaling fish. Must be kept in a group of six or (preferably) more with similar non-aggressive fish.

Pyrrhulina Diet

Naturally feeds on insects at the water's surface, small aquatic invertebrates. Accepts prepared foods, frozen or live bloodworms, daphnia, artemia (brine shrimp). Primarily a surface feeder.


Attains 3 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

36 inches in length.

Water parameters for Pyrrhulina

Soft to medium hard (< 5 dGH) acidic (pH < 7) water, temperature 24-28C/75-84F. All fish will be wild-caught.


The fish in the Pyrrhulina genus are not well known in the hobby, but they make interesting additions to Amazonian aquascapes including other characins and small catfish.

The up-turned mouth and flattened head of these fish are indicative that they are primarily surface fish. They are good jumpers, and the aquarium must be well covered. Thick plants including floating plants are necessary for these fish. They do not require open swimming space, preferring to swim among the plants individually and in groups; the heavy planting will also provide some separation for the females from the attentions of the males. Light should be minimal, and may be partly achieved with floating plants.

The fins of the male are slightly larger than the female's, and the upper lobe of the male's caudal fin is longer. Females are rounder. Not easy to spawn. Eggs are deposited on the undersurface of a leaf and guarded and fanned by the male. The eggs fall to the substrate and subsequently hatch; survival of the fry will be more likely if the eggs on the leaf are removed to a rearing tank shortly after spawning occurs.

This species was described by H.W. Fowler in 1940. The Subfamily Pyrrhulininae now contains two tribes, the Pyrrhulinini containing the genera Copeina (2 species), Copella (9 species) and Pyrrhulina (18 species), and the Nannostomini tribe of the closely-related pencilfishes in the genus Nannostomus. The adipose fin is never present and the mouth is upturned in the Pyrrhulinini, whereas the mouth is terminal in the Nannostomini and the adipose fin is sometimes present.

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: Byron


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