Meaning of Name: Phallichthys meaning phallus or gonopodium – amates possibly because of the type locality. Phallichthys meaning phallus or gonopodium – amates possibly because of the type locality.
First Description: Miller 1907
Reference Bussing, W.A., 1998. Peces de las aguas continentales de Costa Rica [Freshwater fishes of Costa Rica]. 2nd Ed. San José Costa Rica
Type Locality: Pond and its outlet at Los Amates
Common name: Merry Widow
Size: Females can reach 2½ inches(55mm) and males 1¼ inches(30mm)
Synonyms: Poecilia amates Miller 1907
Distribution: Atlantic drainage from Rio Motagua, Guatemala, to the drainages near La Ceiba, Honduras. Atlantic drainages, from southern Guatemala to Costa Rica and Panama.
Habitat Found in stagnant waters, streams & edges of rivers mainly over mud bottoms which they use to hunt food.
Distinguishing Characteristics: The body is robust, deep and almost rhomboid. The male has a large gonopodium that reaches the base of the tail. The sides of the males and the young exhibit 6 to 8 bark bars; these are diffuse or absent in females. The body is grey with bluish highlights. The body is robust, deep and almost rhomboid. The male has a large gonopodium that reaches the base of the tail. The sides of the males and the young exhibit 6 to 8 bark bars; these are diffuse or absent in females. The body is grey with bluish highlights
Colour/Pattern Variability: There is a black stripe through the eye that runs to the throat. Their most stunning feature is the black stripe along the edge of the dorsal fin, which is sometimes edged in a thin white stripe. In some populations, faint banding can be seen running along the sides, and sometimes the scales are edged in a reticulated pattern.
History: This sp. picked up the common name of ‘Merry Widow’ from F.H.Stoye who used this name to describe the black outer margin of the dorsal fin.Carl Hubbs named the genus Phallichthys the name would appear to be based the length of male gonopodium, typically half the length of the male.
Breeding Notes: Brood sizes can vary and range from 10 to 80, no need to separate the pairs as they don’t seem to predate on the fry. Females will produce fry every four weeks depending on temperature.
Husbandry: Water conditions are generally a P.H. between 6 and 8 with a temperature range of 20C to 37C. a Planted tank is not totally necessary but will make them more comfortable and they will show better colours and behaviour.
In the wild their feeding habits consist of sifting through bottom detritus for diatoms, insect larvae & filamentous algae, but in the aquarium they will eat flake and more than happy to feed on any available live foods.
General Remarks: There are two subspecies to Phallichthys amates, pittieri and amates. While pittieri has the orange fins and strong vertical stripes, amates typically lacks both of these features, having instead a strong black line on the top edge of it’s dorsal fin. It is this stripe that gave the amates subspecies the common name “Merry Widow livebearer” when F. H. Stoye used the name to describe it. Pittieri have this stripe as well, but it is generally quite unobtrusive. They also all have a slight vertical bar that runs through their eyes.
Meek (1914) did not reort on the existance of P.amates in the central valley, although Alfaro collected it there in 1928(Rosen &Bailey,1959) which suggests that it was introduced to the Rio Tarcoles by man between these dates.