Hoplias curupira, Oyakawa & Mattox, 2009

Oyakawa, Osvaldo T. & Mattox, George M. T., 2009, Revision of the Neotropical trahiras of the Hoplias lacerdae species-group (Ostariophysi: Characiformes: Erythrinidae) with descriptions of two new species, Neotropical Ichthyology 7 (2), pp. 117-140: 125-129

publication ID

http://doi.org/ 10.1590/S1679-62252009000200001

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taxon LSID


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scientific name

Hoplias curupira

new species

Hoplias curupira   , new species

Fig. 5 View Fig

Hoplias aff. lacerdae   : - Lima et al., 2005: 155 [species list, occurrence in the rio Tiquié, tributary of upper rio Negro, biological, ecological and ethnoichthyological notes].

Holotype. BRAZIL. Pará State. Tocantins basin: MZUSP 45582, 157.9 mm SL, rio Itacaiúnas, Caldeirão , Serra dos Carajás, 05º45’S 50º30’W, Mar 1983, M. Goulding. GoogleMaps  

Paratypes. BRAZIL. Pará State. Tocantins basin   : INPA 26893 View Materials , 3 View Materials , 156.4 View Materials - 219.3 mm SL rio Itacaiúnas, Caldeirão , 15 Oct 1983   , M. Goulding; MCP 41288 View Materials , 4 View Materials , 128.2 View Materials - 211.2 mm SL, same locality, 14 Oct 1983   ; MNRJ 30395 View Materials , 4 View Materials , 136.1 View Materials - 168.7 mm SL, same locality and date   ; MZUSP 33481 View Materials , 1 View Materials , 250.0 mm SL, same locality and collector, Jun-Jul 1983   ; MZUSP 22283 View Materials , 4 View Materials , 94.9-225.7 mm SL, Igarapé Pacuí on km 97 of Belém-Brasília road, 15 Aug - 20 Oct 1959   , Expedição Departamento de Zoologia   .

Material examined. BRAZIL. Amazonas State. Negro basin: MZUSP 34011, 2, 216.4- 220.8 mm SL; MZUSP 34013, 1, 271.5

mm SL; MZUSP 34014, 2, 207.9- 272.4 mm SL; MZUSP 34017, 2, 254.0- 275.8 mm SL; MZUSP 34018, 9, 232.6- 298.8 mm SL; MZUSP 34019, 2, 226.1-245.0 mm SL, Anavilhanas, rio Negro; MZUSP 32355, 12, 66.6-105.8 mm SL, lake on island of rio Negro, Barcelos; MZUSP 32361, 3, 58.6-68.0 mm SL, lake on Ilha de Tamaraquaré, rio Negro; MZUSP 32364, 1, 101.63 mm SL, Cachoeira de São Gabriel, rio Negro; MZUSP 32365, 1, 129.3 mm SL, rio Negro upstream of Barcelos; MZUSP 32366, 4, 61.3-81.6 mm SL, rio Negro downstream of rio Daraá; MZUSP 32371, 2, 89.4-133.9 mm SL; MZUSP 43682, 1, 138.5 mm SL, rio Negro, Cururu; MZUSP 34010, 1, 231.2 mm SL, Ilha Buiú-Açú, rio Negro; MZUSP 34015, 2, 260.0- 295.9 mm SL, rio Marauiá near the mouth; MZUSP 34020, 1, 191.8 mm SL, rio Negro right below rio Daraá; MZUSP 34012, 3, 146.4-213.1, rio Negro, Barcelos; MZUSP 62078, 1, 52.9 mm SL, rio Negro; MZUSP 81351, 1, 232.1 mm SL, Igarapé Umari Norte at rio Tiquié, São Pedro community; MZUSP 81520, 3, 188.6- 206.7 mm SL, rio Tiquié, Caruru community; MZUSP 92300, 1, 90.1 mm SL, rio Tiquié between communities São José do Meio and Floresta; MZUSP 92925, 1, 14.8 mm SL, igarapé Castanha, tributary of rio Tiquié, Sítio Belém, below community Santa Rosa; MZUSP 93097, 1, 146.8 mm SL, igarapé Castanha, tributary of rio Tiquié, surroundings of Sítio São Pedro; MZUSP 91580, 2, 85.3-91.7 mm SL, rio Uaupés. Pará State. Trombetas basin: MZUSP 23664, 23, 18.7-206.1 mm SL, igarapé Jaramacuru, tributary of rio Cuminá, rio Trombetas. Pará State. Tocantins basin: MZUSP 23933, 1, 108.5 mm SL, igarapé Canteiro near Vila Santana, rio Capim; MZUSP 24117, 1, 97.5 mm SL, lagoon near Jatobal, rio Tocantins; MZUSP 24203, 10, 57.3-164.4 mm SL, igarapé 11 km 11 of Tucuruí-Mato Grosso road; MZUSP 32333, 24, 39.0- 123.1 mm SL; MZUSP 33479, 9, 231.2- 312.4 mm SL; MZUSP 33480, 1, 229.3 mm SL; MZUSP 33482, 1, 232.0 mm SL; MZUSP 33484, 4, 186.9- 255.4 mm SL; MZUSP 33487, 4, 136.7- 185.0 mm SL; MZUSP 50359, 4, 166.0-245.0 mm SL, rio Itacaiúnas, Caldeirão, Serra dos Carajás; MZUSP 79078, rio Itacaiúnas, Marabá. MZUSP 33490, 8, 122.5- 219.6 mm SL; MZUSP 33492, 1, 198.9 mm SL. Pará State. Xingu basin: MZUSP 38853, 9, 40.9-67.2 mm SL, rio Xingu, Belo Monte; MZUSP 32344, 1, 99.6 mm SL, rio Xingu near waterfall in Belo Monte; MZUSP 36019, 1, 241.7 mm SL, rio Fresco at Aldeia Gorotire, São Félix do Xingu. Pará State. Tapajós basin: MZUSP 25304, 3, 187.8- 194.1 mm SL, rio Tapajós downstream from the Porto Flexal; MZUSP 25464, 1, 158.6 mm SL, rio Tapajós in Porto Flexal; MZUSP 32346, 5, 47.1-109.7 mm

SL, rio Tapajós, igarapé on Jacareaganga-Itaituba road. Goiás State. Tocantins basin: MZUSP 40722, 2, 38.3-56.2 mm SL, rio Bezerra, tributary of rio Paranã, Monte Alegre de Goiás; MZUSP 43136, 1, 58.1, rio das Pedras, tributary of rio Paranã at São Teodoro Village. Roraima State. Branco basin: MZUSP 33483, 1, 255.7 mm SL, Cachoeira do Bem-Querer, rio Branco. GUYANA. Potaro-Siparuni. Essequibo basin: ANSP 179635, 1, 77.8 mm SL, Essequibo River in Kurukupari; ANSP 179626, 2, 94.6-99.0 mm SL, Pirara River, upper Takutu. SURINAME. Brokopondo. Suriname basin: MZUSP 65417, 1, 54.3 mm SL, Maykaboeka Creek at Gros Rosebel Area. Nickerie. Nickerie basin: MZUSP 41508, 3, 80.7-94.6 mm SL, Nickerie River. Saramacca. Saramacca basin: MZUSP 41510, 2, 126.9- 192.3 mm SL, Toebaka Creek, Saramacca River; MZUSP 41512, 4, 58.7-108.0 mm SL, Coppename River. VENEZUELA. Amazonas. Orinoco basin: ANSP 164976, 4, 162.8- 189.4 mm SL, tributary of rio Orinoco at sandy beach, circa of half-hour upstream from the Isla Temblador.

Diagnosis. Hoplias curupira   differs from the other species of H. lacerdae   group in always having four pores of the laterosensory canal along the ventral surface of the dentary that become gradually subdivided into four patches of multiple pores in specimens larger than 60 mm SL; a dark brown ground coloration of head and body; by having fewer lateral line scales (34-39 vs. 38-48 in remaining species of H. lacerdae   group) and a wider head, with larger ranges of relative snout width and interorbital width (13.1-27.2% and 16.0-35.5% respectively, vs. 12.6-22.9% and 14.9-30.1% in the remaining species of H. lacerdae   group) ( Figs. 6-7 View Fig View Fig ). In addition, an anterior profile of head that is rounded in lateral view distinguished H. curupira   from H. brasiliensis   and H. intermedius   , which have the anterior profile of head angular.

Description. Morphometric data presented in Table 5. Body cylindrical, deeper than wide. Greatest body depth at vertical through third scale anterior to dorsal-fin origin in specimens smaller than 85 mm SL, closer to dorsal-fin origin in larger specimens. Anterior profile of head rounded in lateral view, more angular in specimens smaller than 85 mm SL. Dorsal profile of head almost straight. Dorsal margin of orbit reaching dorsal profile of head in specimens smaller than 85 mm SL, but falling short of dorsal profile of head in larger specimens (e. g., 160 mm SL). Head relatively broad, especially dorsally ( Figs. 6-7 View Fig View Fig ). Dorsal profile of body convex from vertical through first series of scale of body to dorsal-fin origin; straight and posteroventrally inclined along dorsal-fin base; concave from vertical through base of last dorsal-fin ray to origin of dorsal most procurrent caudal-fin ray. Latter portion of profile slightly less concave in specimens smaller than 85 mm SL. Caudal peduncle robust, relatively deep. Ventral profile of lower jaw distinctly angular in region of dentary symphysis, convex from vertical through anterior nostril to posterior margin of lower jaw. Medial margins of contralateral dentaries running in parallel ( Fig. 1 View Fig a-c). Ventral profile of body slightly convex to pelvic-fin origin; approximately straight from latter point to anal-fin origin; straight and posterodorsally inclined along anal-fin base; slightly concave from last anal-fin ray to anterior most ventral procurrent caudal-fin ray.

Upper and lower jaws of similar size. Posterior portion of maxilla dorsally enlarged and extending medially to anterior margins of second and third infraorbitals. Upper and lower lips fleshy with short skin projections covering canines externally. Anterior nostril tubular with anterior slit along its distal half. Anterior and posterior nostrils situated along horizontal through center of orbit, anterior nostril at length one-half of orbital diameter from anterior margin of orbit; posterior nostril closer to anterior margin of orbit than anterior nostril. Eye proportionately larger in smaller specimens. Infraorbital bones well-developed and horizontally elongate. Infraorbitals 3, 4, and ventral portion of 5 partially covering preopercle. Ventral margin of infraorbital 3 convex. Posterior margin of infraorbital 4 relatively straight and margins of infraorbitals 5 and 6 slightly convex. Small specimens (ca. 85 mm SL) with infraorbital 3 not reaching orbital rim and with proximal ends of infraorbitals 2 and 4 in contact. Larger specimens (ca. 160 mm SL) with infraorbital 4 almost excluded from orbital rim.

Teeth in both jaws conical or canine. Premaxillary teeth in single row. First premaxillary tooth large canine, second and sixth teeth medium sized. Seventh tooth canine and almost as large as anterior most premaxillary canine. Third to fifth, eighth, and ninth premaxillary teeth small. Maxilla with single row of approximately 33 relatively small teeth, except for very well developed canine-like fourth tooth. Dentary with anteriorly, external row of teeth and posterior internal row. External series with three anterior small teeth, followed by two well developed canines, with posterior canine larger than anterior canine, and then 13 conical teeth. All slightly smaller than anterior most dentary canine. Internal series beginning at level of last conical tooth of external series and composed of approximately 16 very small teeth. Accessory ectopterygoid and ectopterygoid toothed. Ectopterygoid with series of small conical teeth along its ventrolateral margin and many smaller viliform teeth ventromedially. Endopterygoid edentulous.

Distal margins of all fins rounded. Total dorsal-fin rays 13-16 (n = 154; ii,11-14; mode: ii,12, n = 84). Dorsal fin located at midbody, its origin at vertical through approximately third scale anterior on series along pelvic-fin origin. Length of longest dorsal-fin rays slightly more than one-half of body depth. Anal-fin base short. Total anal-fin rays 8-10 (n = 155; ii,6-8; mode: ii,8, n = 148). Specimens larger than 160 mm SL with tip of depressed dorsal fin extending beyond vertical through anal-fin origin. Few specimens with longest anal-fin rays (third- to sixth branched rays) reaching origin of anterior most ventral procurrent ray of caudal fin. Total pectoral-fin rays 11-14 (n = 153; i,10-13; mode: i,11, n = 83). Pectoral-fin origin located at vertical through posterior region of opercle. Tip of pectoral fin separated from pelvic-fin origin by four or five scales, and almost reaching vertical through dorsal-fin origin in some specimens larger than 160 mm SL. Pectoral, pelvic and anal fins of similar size. Pelvic-fin rays i,7 (n = 154, i, 6 in three specimens). Pelvic-fin origin situated at midbody and approximately three scales posterior to vertical through dorsal-fin origin. Tips of pelvic fin separated from vertical through anal-fin origin by three or four scales. Caudal-fin rays i,14-16,i (n = 145, 14 branched rays in seven specimens and 16 branched rays in one specimen).

Well developed cycloid scales imbricated along body. Dorsal scales begin in series at posterior margin of parietals and overlap supraoccipital spine. Last vertical series of scales on caudal peduncle forms slightly convex arch on caudal-fin base in lateral view.Anterior margin of scales with small recess and posterior margin rounded. Approximately eight radii extending from center of scale to its anterior margin and around eleven radii, some anastomosed, extending from center of scale to its dorsal, posterior, and ventral margins. Lateral line straight and complete, extending from posteroventral margin of supracleithrum to posterior most scale in body. Lateral line with 34-39 (n = 143, 39 in three specimens; mode: 36, n = 60) perforated scales ( Table 2). Lateral-line scales with single laterosensory canal. Longitudinal series of scales between lateral line and dorsal-fin origin 4.5-5.5 (n = 152; mode: 4.5, n = 112). Longitudinal series of scales between lateral line and pelvic-fin origin 4.5-5.5 (n = 150; mode: 4.5, n = 146). Longitudinal series of scales around caudal peduncle 18-20 (n = 150; mode 20, n = 144).

Approximately 11 gill rakers on first epibranchial, most in form of small denticulated plates.Lower branch of first branchial arch with four to seven more elongate rakers and approximately 10 plate-like rakers (n = 148). Laterosensory canal along ventral surface of dentary in form of four well defined patches of several small pores in specimens larger than 100 mm SL ( Fig. 1c View Fig ); usually four pores of laterosensory canal, and some pores divided in two or three smaller pores, in specimens around 50 mm SL ( Fig. 1a View Fig ). Pores gradually more divided in specimens between 60-80 mm SL ( Fig. 1b View Fig ) ( Table 3).

Color in alcohol. Ground coloration of head and body dark brown, darker dorsally and paler ventrally. Ventral region almost as dark as dorsal portion in several specimens. Dark reticulated pattern present in specimens smaller than 20 mm SL; pattern expanding and becoming darker in larger specimens (ca. 90 mm SL), covering most of body in some of largest examined individuals. Dorsal surface of head dark brown, slightly lighter than remaining dorsal surfaces of body in some specimens, often with lighter reticulated pattern. Lips dark brown with alternating dark and light vertical bands in some specimens. Coloration of infraorbital region and dorsal surface of head similar. Many specimens with one or two dark stripes radiating posteriorly from eye across opercular series, more conspicuously in specimens with light brown coloration. Ground coloration of opercular series dark brown. Opercular membrane with same pattern as opercle.

All fins light brown to dark grey with white spots on rays and interradial membrane forming pattern of irregular light stripes. Three or four white stripes on dorsal fin, five white stripes on caudal fin and approximately four white stripes on anal fin. Ventral surfaces of pectoral and pelvic fins with same pattern as dorsal surfaces.

Distribution. Rivers of the Amazon basin including rios Capim, Tocantins, Xingu and Tapajós on the right bank of the rio Amazonas and rios Trombetas and Negro on the left bank, including upper tributaries of the rio Negro (rios Tiquié and Uaupés). In the rio Orinoco basin, Hoplias curupira   occurs in the upper Orinoco, near the río Casiquiare. The species also occurs in coastal rivers of Guyana and Suriname, such as Essequibo, Demerara and Nickerie Rivers ( Fig. 3 View Fig ).

Etymology. The specific name curupira   , a noun in apposition, refers to the Curupira, a mythical creature of the Brazilian folklore that protects the forest. A Curupira   is a small Amerindian child who has its feet turned backwards, making it difficult to follow its tracks.

Remarks. The distribution of Hoplias curupira   greatly overlaps that of H. aimara   , with the exception that the latter species is unknown from the rio Negro basin (including rio Branco) and upper rio Orinoco. These two species, however, do not seem to occur syntopically, as H. aimara   is found predominantly in rapids and waterfalls ( Mattox et al., 2006) while H. curupira   prefers large rivers and igarapés ( Lima et al., 2005). Despite the evident differences between these two taxa (see above), specimens of H. aimara   are commonly mistaken as H. aff. lacerdae   (= H. curupira   ) in fishing magazines. Our data show that H. curupira   does not grow as large as H. aimara   , the true large trahira that is regarded as a good sport fish and pursued by anglers in Amazonian rivers such as rio Xingu.

Although most of the morphometric data from specimens presented herein overlap among different species, two characters can be used to diagnose H. curupira   from congeners. Specimens of the taxon have broader heads compared to the remaining four species in the Hoplias lacerdae   group, with this reflected in the snout width (13.1- 27.2% of head length) ( Fig. 6 View Fig ) and the interorbital width (16.0- 35.5% of head length) ( Fig. 7 View Fig ), vs. the remaining species of the group (12.6-22.9% and 14.9-30.1% of head length respectively). The mean relative snout width of H. curupira   is 23.2% (standard deviation = 2.7) vs. 18.7% (standard deviation = 1.9) in the remaining species of the Hoplias lacerdae   group, and the mean relative interorbital width of H. curupira   is 27.9% (standard deviation = 4.1) vs. 21.1% (standard deviation = 2.9) in the remaining species of Hoplias lacerdae   group. Hoplias curupira   is often referred as “cabeça chata” (flat headed), in reference to the larger width of its head compared to other species of Hoplias   .

Hoplias curupira   has a wide distribution in the Amazon Basin, and variation of the color pattern was detected from different localities. It is not possible, however, to define if this is due to ecological variation or indicative of a second species in the basin. Therefore the type series was restricted to rio Tocantins basin.

According to Lima et al. (2005), Hoplias curupira   occurs in large rivers and igarapés, exhibits diurnal as well as nocturnal habits, is often seen in pairs, and probably spawns inside hollow logs. It feeds on various insects, larvae, small fishes, shrimps and worms, and also eats certain fruits.


Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo


Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul


Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia














Hoplias curupira

Oyakawa, Osvaldo T. & Mattox, George M. T. 2009

Hoplias aff. lacerdae

Lima, F & Ramos, T & Barreto, A & Cabalzar, G & Tenorio, A & Barbosa, F 2005: 155