Phallichthys amates pitteri (Meek 1912)
Common Name: Orange fin merry widow
Size: Male : 4.5cm. Female: 8cm
Etymology: Phallichthys meaning phallus or gonopodium – pitteri . Unknown
First Description: Meek 1912 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 La Junta, Costa Rica
Distribution: Northern Nicaragua to the Rio Guarumo, Atlantic Slopes of costa Rica Western Panama
Habitat: Found in stagnant waters, streams & edges of rivers mainly over mud bottoms which they use to hunt food.
Description: The body is robust, deep and almost rhomboid. The male has a large gonopodium that reaches the base of the tail. P.amates pitteri has an orange or red-orange dorsal band along the dorsal edge with a charcoal-colored band inside that orange band.
They tend to have a more greyish body with a blue metallic sheen. The scales are usually outlined in a reticulated pattern. Many specimens have a few wide bands along their flanks.distinct vertical bands may be present especially on more mature fish
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. Generally larger broods than P.amates amates.
Water conditions: 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.
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.
The orange-fin merry widow (P. amates pittieri) is just a bit smaller and more graceful than P. a. amates and is reported to grow to about ¼ inch or so less than its congeners. This attractive species is a larger relative of the Phallichthys amates (Merry Widow)
P.a.pittieri is a popular show fish as it displays itself very well.