Tapatia occidentalis

     “Aquiles Serdan”
     Abraham Gonzales
     Amado Nervo
     Guadalupe Aguilera
     Los Pinos
     Los Berros
     Nombre de Dios
     Ojo de Agua de S.J.
     spec. comala
     spec. Zacapu
     spec. Illescas
     spec. San Marcos

     Water levels
     University of Morelia

© All rights reserved
Guenter Ellenberg


All translations into English by Matthias Naumann, Germany and Bill Kohler, Ohio-USA  

Characodon lateralis


Characodon garmani MEEK, 1904

English name:
Rainbow Goodeid

Goodeidae JORDAN, 1923

Goodeinae JORDAN, 1923

Original description:
GÜNTHER, A. (1866): Catalogue of the Physostomi. Cat. Fishes Brit. Mus. 6: pp. 1-368.

Derivation of the species name:
Named lateralis after the latin word „latus“  (= a side of the body), which refers to the lateral patterns in the middle part of the fish’s body.

Type locality:

Meristic properties:
Dorsal fin = 11 - 13 rays;
Anal fin = 13 - 16 rays;
Pectoral fin = 16 - 18 rays;
Ventral fin  = 5 - 7 rays;

Keeping this relatively small Goodeid in aquariums of 60 litres or more is not difficult. The males reach a size of approximately 4 cm, the females of approximately 5-6 cm length. The dorsal fin lies far toward the rear. Another characteristic are the remarkably long ventral fins of the males.

Because of the high inner-species aggressiveness of the males sufficient plant vegetation and other hiding-places (stone superstructures, roots) should be provided.

The temperature of the alkaline water should lie between 22 °C and 24 °C. In its natural environment Characodon lateralis usually lives in habitats of clear springs, brooks and pools, which offer luxuriant vegetation. Also large pads of algae exist in the natural habitat. They are not common however and never emerge in large numbers.

Some enthusiasts report that these fish are relatively prone to disease, whereas other hobbyists report a high disease resistance. Probably, the basis of these contradictions is different aquarium conditions. It is advisable to make regular partial water changes with water of moderate temperature.

A diversified diet will contribute to the health of C. lateralis. Live-food is preferred. Scalded spinach and flakes are also willingly accepted. Algae vegetation in the aquarium would be a desirable source of additional food.

Despite its species-specific aggressiveness Characodon lateralis exhibits an interesting mating behaviour. It begins with the displaying by the male in front of the female in the so-called t-position. First the male tries to impress the chosen female with its spread fins, and bends itself with a shaking body. Subsequently, it takes a diagonal position in front of the female and forms an s-shaped bend. Further on in the process the male first points its head downwards and then, while heavily shaking its whole body, moves his head upward. The mating can differ from that description, however.

Recently, breeding has been successful more frequently. Gravidity lasts approx. 50-55 days. The number of offspring in a litter can vary between 10 and 20. Deviations upward are observed sometimes, although this is not the rule. The size of the young after birth varies between 7 and 12 mm, depending upon the number of offspring in the litter.

Due to negative influences on its natural habitat (pollution, biotope destruction) this species has been extirpated from some areas. Also competition with introduced exotic fish threatens this species. Therefore the preservation of the existing aquarium populations is very important.

Characodon lateralis can be crossed with Characodon audax.  Therefore these two kinds should not be kept together.

In 1990 Dr. DIETMAR KUNATH, Germany, was engaged in crossing Characodon audax and Characodon lateralis.  Here is the report:

Crossing of species-, genus or even family hybrids certainly allows conclusions in genetic and taxonomic relationships and permits at the same time certain statements about the depth and the age of a species as well as about their descent. Specimens of different species do not cross, if the formation of the species took place early and has become species-specific enough.

In this respect one has to distinguish between voluntary and forced crossing, the latter under the condition of close socialization. Especially with livebearers and their internal fecundation many parameters can be experimentally varied between voluntary and forced crossing. The results appropriately described can increase ichthyologic knowledge.

In a densely planted 70-litre-tank (with Vallisneria spiralis forma tortifolia) I have kept since March 1989 the following species of Goodeidae (JORDAN, 1880):  Ataeniobius toweri (MEEK, 1904) 2/1/0 (that means:  2 adult males, 1 adult female, 0 young), Characodon audax (SMITH & MILLER, 1986) 1/1/0, Characodon lateralis (MORE GUENTHER, 1866) 11/8/10, Skiffia bilineata (BEAN, 1898) 4/5/6, Skiffia francesae (KINGSTON, 1978) 3/3/4, Xenotoca variata (BEAN, 1888) 1/1/0 and Zoogoneticus quitzeoensis (BEAN, 1898) 1/1/0.

While Ataeniobius toweri, Skiffia bilineata, Skiffia francesae and Xenotoca variata could be bred only by separation of pregnant females and/or freshly delivered young, Characodon lateralis reproduced itself without any help.  The Zoogoneticus quitzeoensis died without producing offspring in May/August 1989.  After being put into the 70-Liter-Aquarium, Characodon audax delivered some young twice, which did not survive however.

On September 11th 1989 one highly pregnant Characodon audax female was therefore set into a separate 20-litre aquarium, where it delivered six young on October 4th 1989 and seven young on October 5th. First they showed a regular grey colouring, thus a completely different juvenile colouration than Characodon lateralis.  On November 11th 1989 four males and 9 females could be identified, who already had a striking similarity to adolescent Characodon lateralis. These fish were always kept separately from other Characodon.  Today these animals are about 3 cm long and look like this:


253-Characodon audax lateralis 11 Bastard Kunath
Male of the hybrid Characodon lateralis x Characodon audax
illustration: Dr. DIETMAR KUNATH


On the basis of the two illustrations below (by Dr. DIETMAR KUNATH)it
is apparent that the hybrid has characteristics of both species.
246-Characodon audax 11 Kunath
217-Characodon lateralis 07 Kunath


The red coloration corresponds to the red coloration of Characodon lateralis.  These animals might certainly be a cross between a male of Characodon lateralis and a female of Characodon audax.

The Characodon audax - female delivered just once more again on January 1st 1990 in the community tank; a young fish with a length of 8 - 9 mm could be observed for several days, without being harmed by the other fish. 

The Characodon audax - male died on March 12th 1990 and had kept its species-characteristic colouring to the end. There were no signs of outside pathogens and the fish was well fed (approx. 4.5 cm length). The female did not recover after the last litter, so its death had to be expected.

The Characodon hybrids are still kept separately. So far it seems that the fish will be fertile; some females appear to have rounded belly portions.

This crossing between Characodon lateralis and Characodon audax can probably neither be defined clearly as voluntary nor as forced, since all sexes of both kinds were always present in normal condition.  Unfortunately no statement can be made whether the two previous throws and the following throw produced hybrids, too.  This coincidental crossing could encourage further attempts, however with the urgent request to spread no hybrids uncontrolled.

A lot of Goodeid enthusiasts regard Characodon lateralis as the most beautiful Goodeid.

Poecilia Scandinavia and Poecilia Nederland have each launched a project dedicated to the preservation of Characodon lateralis.


262-Characodon lateralis 10
Taken from: Aqualog publishing company
Title: all Livebearers and Halfbeaks,
Photo by: J. C. Merino
No further information



259-Characodon lateralis 04
Taken from: Aqualog publishing company
Title: all Livebearers and Halfbeaks,
Photo by: E. Puerzl
Habitat: Los Berros, Durango, Mexico, wild form, male, 6 cm.



263-Characodon lateralis 11 (Laguna Seca-Quelle) Artiga-Azas
Characodon lateralis
Habitat: source of the Laguna Seca
Photo by: Juan Miguel Artigas Azas



Characodon lateralis-Krönke
Characodon lateralis
Foto: Dr. Frank Krönke




735-11 Los_Berros_2000
Characodon lateralis
Habitat: Los Berros, Durango, Mexico



Characodon lateralis habitat
Photo by: Uwe Dost



Literatur of:

508-Kees de Jong


Characodon lateralis Günther, 1866

(1990): Hooglandkarpers (vervolg). Poecilia Nieuws (5): 82-84

J.M. Artigas Azas (2002): Characodon Pradawni przodkowie rodziny Goodeidae. Akwa Forum (april): 5-13

J.M. Artigas Azas (2003): Characodon, the ancient Goodeids. Tropical Fish Hobbyist (May): 72-76

T. Bauer (2007): Beobachtungen zur einfacher Unterscheidung der Weibchen einiger Goodeidenarten. DGLZ-Rundschau (1): 41-41

O. Böhm (0): Quelques espèces intéressantes de la familie des Goodéidés. Aquarama (): 13-16

J. Dawes (1997): Goodeiden Teil 3: Allgemeine Hinweise zur Pflege und Zucht sowie Kurzbeschreibungen zu einigen Arten (1). Das Aquarium (342): 16-19

I. Dibble (1999): Hobbyist Aqua Lab Conservation Group "Mexico" Dagboek over de veldtrip 2. Poecilia Nieuws (6): 117-126

I. Dibble (1999): Goodeiden im Norden Mexikos. DGLZ-Rundschau (2): 61-63

I. Dibble (2000): Fish Ark Project - Mexico. Viviparous (48): 5-10

I. Dibble (2000): Fish Ark Project - Mexico. Viviparous (49): 0-

U. Dost (2008): Op zoek naar de 'zwarte prins' en de regenbooggoodeiden. Het Aquarium (6): 4-9

K.-H. Eckhardt (1997): 5 bis 35° - Freilandhaltung von Juni bis Oktober. DGLZ-Rundschau (4): 77-79

G. Eckstein (1984): Rainbow goodeid. Livebearers (74): 10-11

R. Fischer (1992): Characodon lateralis. Livebearers (123): 3-5

J.M. Fitzsimons (1972): A revision of two genera of goodeid fishes from the Mexican plateau. Copeia (4): 728-756

H. Flöthmann (1991): Beobachtungen bei der Haltung und Zucht von Goodeiden. DGLZ-Rundschau (4): 83-85

D. Gentzsch (1990): Characodon lateralis Günther, 1866 ein hübscher Pflegling für gehobene Ansprüche. ZAG Lebendgebärende Zahnkarpfen (4): 11-12

R.C. Griffiths (1986): Goodeids I have loved (or liked, anyway). Livebearers (85): 8-9

C. Grimes (1993): A Goodeidae. Livebearers (132): 4-5

A. Günther (1866): Catalogue of the fishes in the British museum. London (vol. 6): 1-386

H. Hieronimus (1987): Characodon audax, Smith & Miller, 1986. DGLZ-Rundschau (1): 4-7

H. Hieronimus (1987): Characodon audax, Smith & Miller, een nieuwe goodeidae. Poecilia Nieuws (4): 52-55

H. Hieronimus (1997): Member's forum. Livebearers (150): 3-5

I. Hilton (2006): Characodon lateralis. Livebearer News (13): 22-24

L. Hutchings (1979): A different kind of livebearer - Characodon lateralis. Livebearers (44): 9-10

K. de Jong (2008): Characodon lateralis Günther, 1866. Poecilia Nieuws (3): 44-45

M. Kempkes (1999): Drei besonders empfehlenswerte Hochlandkärpflinge. DATZ (2): 28-33

M. Kempkes (2007): Die aquaristisch bedeutsamen Goodeiden-Arten. Aquaristik Fachmagazin (197): 12-17

G. Knol (1994): Problemen met mijn Ameca splendens. Poecilia Nieuws (6): 117-118

D. Kunath (1990): Die Kreuzung von Characodon lateratlis Günther, 1866 mit Characodon audax Smith & Miller, 1986. DGLZ-Rundschau (4): 4-5

D. Kunath (1990): Die Kreuzung Characodon lateralis Günther, 1866 mit Characodon audax Smith & Miller, 1986. ZAG Lebendgebärende Zahnkarpfen (2): 7-9

D. Lambert (0): Characodon lateralis. Viviparous (2): 0-

D. Lambert (1992): Forgotten rainbows. Practical Fishkeeping (Februari): 54-

D. Lambert (1994): Introducing goodeids. Livebearers (133): 13-21

D. Lambert (1997): The livebearer world: Goodeids of the genus Characodon. Tropical Fish Hobbyist (September): 146-150

P. Lambert (0): An exciting parcel of fish. Viviparous (2): 0-

J.K. Langhammer (1976): The lost treasure of the Aztecs. Livebearers (28): 2-5

J.K. Langhammer (1982): The lost treasure of the Aztecs Part III The bumblebee and rainbow Goodeids. Livebearers (66): 10-11

J.K. Langhammer (1986): The lost treasure of the Aztecs Part VII- an update on the goodeids. Livebearers (91): 5-8

J. Lyons (2005): Goodeiden in de natuur (slot). Poecilia Nieuws (1): 24-27

S.E. Meek (1903): Distribution of the fresh-water fishes of Mexico. The American Naturalist (443): 771-784

S.E. Meek (1904): The fresh water fishes of Mexico north of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Field Columbian Museum - Zoology (5): 1-252

E. Meinema (1990): Kleine hooglandkarpers. Het Aquarium (9): 209-212

P.J. Mellegers (1994): Een moeizame bevalling. Poecilia Nieuws (3): 50-55

J.C. Merino (1991): Characodon lateralis. Poecilia Nieuws (5): 81-84

J.C. Merino (1992): Characodon lateralis (Günther, 1866). Picasso onder water (): 0-

J. de Moree (1998): Van de werkgroep zuid-west: Characodon lateralis. Poecilia Nieuws (6): 94-96

G.G. Nelson (1975): Anatomy of the male urogenital organs of Goodea atripinnis and Characodon lateralis and G. atripinnis courtship. Copeia (3): 475-482

A.C. Radda (1986): Cyprinodonte vissen in Mexico 3. Poecilia Nieuws (2): 40-43

A.C. Radda (1986): De Goodeidae van Mexico; deel II. TI'H (44): 11-14

M.G. Ritchie et al (2007): Sex and differentiation: population genetic divergence and sexual dimorphism in Mexican goodeid fish. European Society for Evolutionary Biology (20): 2048-2055

D. Sanford (2002): The "red flash" livebearer. Livebearer News (1): 28-29

P. Schubert (1989): Eine undursichtige Sache. DGLZ-Rundschau (3): 8-10

P. Schubert (1990): Gedanken zur Vergesellschaftung von Goodeiden. DGLZ-Rundschau (1): 18-22

P. Schubert (1991): Wie schützt man Jungfische von Goodeiden vor dem Gefressenwerden?. DGLZ-Rundschau (2): 41-43

P. Schubert (1992): Characodon lateralis Ein Juwel mit besonderen Reizen. Das Aquarium (11): 20-21

P. Schubert (1992): Characodon lateralis - Ein Juwel mit besonderen Reizen. Das Aquarium (november): 20-

M.L. Smith & R.R. Miller (1986): Mexican Goodeid fish of the genus Characodon, with description of a new species. American Museum Novitates (2851): 1-14

D. Speirs (1988): Livebearer taxonomy: a race between discovery and extinction. Livebearers (97): 6-8

E.C. Taylor (1984): Hooglandkarpers (vervolg). Poecilia Nieuws (2): 5-6

G. Teichmann (2009): Die Gattung Characodon. Das Lebendgebärenden Magazin (1): 9-14

G. Teichmann (2010): Die Gattung Characodon Teil II. Das Lebendgebärenden Magazin (1): 8-14

M. Vestergaard (2001): LBB-Status für die Jahre 1999-2000. DGLZ-Rundschau (2): 35-35

L. Wischnath (1996): Hooglandkarpers uit Mexico. Het Aquarium (2): 32-36

J. Wubbolt (2000): Characodon lateralis: the rainbow Goodeid. Livebearers (163): 21-22


lateralis, Characodon Günther 1866: 308 [Cat. Fishes v. 6; ref. 1983]. Central America. Syntypes: (at least 9) BMNH 1855.9.19.317-320 (4?), 1855.9.19.1566-1569 (4?). Valid as Characodon lateralis Günther 1866 -- (Espinosa Pérez et al. 1993:40 [ref. 22290]). Characodon lateralis Günther 1866, Goodeidae: Goodeinae. Habitat: freshwater.