Checklist of the continental fishes of the state of Chiapas, Mexico, and their distribution
expand article infoErnesto Velázquez-Velázquez, Jesús Manuel López-Vila§, Adán Enrique Gómez-González, Emilio Ismael Romero-Berny§, Jorge Luis Lievano-Trujillo, Wilfredo A. Matamoros
‡ Museo de Zoología, Instituto de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas., Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Mexico
§ Centro de Investigaciones Costeras, Instituto de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas., Tonalá, Mexico
Open Access


An updated checklist of the distribution of fishes that inhabit the continental waters of the Mexican state of Chiapas is presented. The state was compartmentalized into 12 hydrological regions for the purpose of understanding the distribution of fish fauna across a state with large physiographic variance. The ichthyofauna of Chiapas is represented by 311 species distributed in two classes, 26 orders, 73 families, and 182 genera, including 12 exotic species. The families with the highest number of species were Cichlidae, Poeciliidae, Sciaenidae, Carangidae, Ariidae, Gobiidae, and Haemulidae. This study attempts to close gaps in knowledge of the distribution of ichthyofauna in the diverse hydrological regions of Chiapas, Mexico.


Distribution, endemism, fish diversity, ichthyology, southern Mexico


The hydrological wealth of Chiapas is manifested through its 72 perennial rivers and abundant streams, lakes, and ponds. The presence of large hydroelectric dams has significantly increased the surface area of the state’s bodies of water (Velasco-Colín 1976). Chiapas has a coastline of 270 km and more than 70,000 hectares of estuaries and coastal lagoons (Contreras-Espinosa 2010), which favors the presence of rich fish diversity (Velasco-Colín 1976, Lozano-Vilano and Contreras-Balderas 1987, Rodiles-Hernández et al. 2005). Much of the state is located in the Usumacinta ichthyographic province/area of endemism (Miller et al. 2005, Matamoros et al. 2015), which means that its continental waters host a high number of endemic species, making Chiapas a freshwater biodiversity hotspot (Hudson et al. 2005, Matamoros et al. 2015).

Several attempts have been made to record continental water fish diversity in Chiapas through numerous works such as checklists, annotated checklists, books and scattered records in the literature (e.g. Velasco-Colín 1976, Lozano-Vilano and Contreras-Balderas 1987, Lazcano-Barrero and Vogt 1992, Tapia-García et al. 1998, Rodiles-Hernández et al. 1999, Rodiles-Hernández 2005, Rodiles-Hernández et al. 2005, 2013, Lozano-Vilano et al. 2007, González-Díaz et al. 2008, Espinosa-Pérez et al. 2011, Velázquez-Velázquez et al. 2013, Gómez-González et al. 2012, 2015). The first comprehensive publication on continental fishes of Chiapas was made by Velasco-Colín (1976), who reported 74 species distributed across 28 families. He also included brief information about the ecology, biology and distribution of several species and, in some cases, added relevant fishing information.

Subsequently Lozano-Vilano and Contreras-Balderas (1987) published an annotated checklist in which they registered 135 species belonging to 38 families in the state’s continental waters. In addition to an increase in the number of data records, for the first time the distribution of fishes was associated with seven of the state’s physiographic regions. Eighteen years later Rodiles-Hernández (2005) and Rodiles-Hernández et al. (2005) recorded 205 species in 44 families and 207 species in 45 families respectively. In the first study, distributions were reported at the level of the two main Chiapas river basins, the Grijalva-Usumacinta and the Coast of Chiapas, whereas, in the second study, the distributional geographic units were the Atlantic and the Pacific slope. Velázquez-Velázquez et al. (2013) was the last published attempt to summarize continental fishes of Chiapas. They reported 262 species across 57 families, and once again the geographic distribution units were the Grijalva and the Usumacinta River basins and the coast of Chiapas.

Two interesting trends emerge about the continental fishes of Chiapas. First, the number of recorded species has continued to increase over time likely due to an increase in sampling localities, implementation of new sampling techniques, new records and species descriptions. The second trend is related to the geographic units in which the state has been divided. For instance, Lozano-Vilano and Contreras-Balderas (1987) divided the state into seven physiographic regions, based on terrestrial relief. Most studies used broad delineations limited to the three major hydrologic regions (coast of Chiapas and the Grijalva and Usumacinta River basins) masking detailed information on finer distributional patterns like localized endemism and drainage interconnections.

Therefore, the aim of this study is to provide an updated checklist of the continental fishes of Chiapas, including distribution data, based on extensive literature research and complemented with material deposited in the ichthyological collection of the Museum of Zoology at the University of Arts and Sciences of Chiapas (MZ-P-UNICACH). For the first time, we use finer scale geographic divisions for the state, implemented at the sub-basin level, following the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI 2010).

Materials and methods

The bulk of records came from the material of 204 species deposited in the ichthyological collection of the MZ-P-UNICACH Museum of Zoology (MZ-P-UNICACH, SEMARNAT: CHIS-PEC-210-03-09). In addition, we performed an extensive literature review for records of continental fishes of Chiapas. The checklists previously published by Lozano-Vilano and Contreras-Balderas (1987), Rodiles-Hernández (2005), Rodiles-Hernández et al. (2005), Espinosa-Pérez et al. (2011), and Velázquez-Velázquez et al. (2013) were taken as the basis for this work and were supplemented with publications by Lazcano-Barrero and Vogt (1992), Tapia-García et al. (1998), Rodiles-Hernández et al. (1999), Lozano-Vilano et al. (2007) and Gómez-González et al. (2012, 2015) who developed lists for particular regions of the state. We also included Castro-Aguirre et al. (1999) and Miller et al. (2005).

Species were systematically arranged by order and family following Nelson (2006). Genera and species were arranged alphabetically; scientific names and authorities were corroborated following Eschmeyer et al. (2016). Tolerance to salinity was based on Myers (1938).

The 12 geographical units for Chiapas (Figure 1) were utilized to determine the distribution of each species across the state. These 12 units were based on existing hydrological sub-basins of the state (INEGI 2010). The main rivers, ponds, lakes and coastal lagoons of each sub-basin are listed in Table 1.

Figure 1. 

Geographical units for the study of the distribution of the fish fauna of the state of Chiapas: I (Usumacinta-Chixoy) II (Usumacinta-Lacantún) III (Usumacinta-Catazajá) IV (Usumacinta-Jataté) V (Grijalva-Tulijá) VI (Grijalva-Teapa) VII (Grijalva-Peñitas) VIII (Grijalva-Malpaso), IX (Grijalva-Chicoasén) X (Grijalva-La Angostura) XI (Costa-Itsmo) XII (Costa-Soconusco).

Table 1.

Geographic units utilized to study the distribution of the fish fauna of Chiapas and sub-basins that form them.

Hidrological region Basin Sub-basin Geographic unit
R. Cozoloapan
R. Cahuacán
Puerto Madero
R. Coatán
R. Huehuetán
R. Despoblado
L. del Viejo y Tembladeras
R. Cacaluta
R. Sesecapa
R. Novillero
R. PIJIJIAPAN AND OTHERS R. Margaritas y Coapa Costa-Istmo
R. Pijijiapan
R. San Diego
El Porvenir
R. Jesús
L. de la Joya
MAR MUERTO R. Zanatenco
Mar Muerto
R. La Punta
R. Las Arenas
R. Tapanatepec
GRIJALVA - USUMACINTA R. USUMACINTA R. Usumacinta Usumacinta-Catazajá
R. Chacamax
R. Chacaljáh
R. CHIXOY R. Chixoy Usumacinta-Chixoy
R. Negro
R. GRIJALVA - VILLAHERMOSA R. Viejo Mezcalapa Grijalva-Peñitas
R. Mezcalapa
R. Tzimbac
R. Zayula
R. Platanar
R. Paredón
R. Pichucalco
R. Tacotalpa
R. Samaria
R. de la Sierra Grijalva-Teapa
R. Almendro
R. Plátanos
R. Chacté Grijalva.Tulijá
R. Puxcatán
R. Macuspana
R. Yashijá
R. Tulijá
R. Bascá
R. Chilapa
R. GRIJALVA - TUXTLA GUTIÉRREZ P. Nezahualcóyotl Grijalva-Malpaso
R. La Venta
R. Encajonado
R. Cintalapa
R. de Zoyatenco
R. Alto Grijalva Grijalva-Chicoasén
R. Hondo
R. Chicoasén
R. Suchiapa
Tuxtla Gutiérrez
El Chapopote
R. Santo Domingo
R. GRIJALVA - LA CONCORDIA P. La Angostura Grijalva-La Angostura
R. Selegua
R. Lagartero
R. Aguacatenco
R. San Pedro
R. La Concordia
R. Grande o Salinas
R. Aguazurco
R. San Miguel
R. Yahuayita
R. Zacualpa
R. Tapizaca
R. Comitan
R. LACANTÚN R. Lacantún Usumacinta-Lacantún
R. Ixcán
R. Chajul
R. Lacanjá
R. San Pedro
L. Miramar
R. Perlas
R. Jataté
R. Azul Usumacinta-Jataté
R. Tzaconejá
R. Margaritas
R. Santo Domingo
R. Seco
R. Caliente
R. Euseba


The continental fishes of the state of Chiapas are represented by two classes, 26 orders, 73 families, 182 genera and 311 species (Table 2), including 12 exotic species (Ctenopharyngodon idella, Cyprinus carpio, Micropterus salmoides, Oncorhynchus mykiss, Oreochromis aureus, Oreochromis mossambicus, Oreochromis niloticus, Parachromis managuensis, Pterygoplichthys disjunctivus, Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus, Pterygoplichthys pardalis, and Tilapia zilli). Only five species were endemic: the catfish Lacantunia enigmatica, the cichlids Rocio ocotal and Thorichthys socolofi, the killifish Tlaloc hildebrandi and the molly Poecilia thermalis. Based on species richness the most important families were: Cichlidae (35), Poeciliidae (29), Sciaenidae (18), Carangidae (17), Ariidae (16), Gobiidae (12), and Haemulidae (11). Almost all of these families, except the first two, contains peripheral species. These eight families represented 44.37% (138) of the state’s total species richness. Thirteen species are included in risk categories under Mexican law (NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010; SEMARNAT 2010): Poecilia sulphuraria and Tlaloc hildebrandi are listed as endangered; Priapella compressa, Thorichthys socolofi, Vieja hartwegi and Xiphophorus clemenciae are listed as threatened; finally Chiapaheros grammodes, Gambusia eurystoma, Hippocampus ingens, Potamarius nelsoni, Priapella intermedia, Rhamdia guatemalensis and Chuco intermedium are listed as species under special protection. Based on general salinity tolerance, and excluding exotic species, 16 are primary freshwater fishes, 65 secondary freshwater fishes, and the rest of the species are peripheral (Table 2).

Of the 12 geographical units (Fig. 1), the region with the highest number of species was Costa-Itsmo with 174 species, followed by Costa-Soconusco with 153 species and the third was Usumacinta-Catazajá with 72 species. The region with the lowest recorded species was Usumacinta-Jataté with only 11 species. Numbers of species from other geographical units are presented in Table 2. Spatially, Astyanax aeneus and Rhamdia guatemalensis appeared in all regions within Chiapas. Other species with widespread distributions were Poecilia sphenops and the exotic cichlid Oreochromis niloticus (10 and 11 regions respectively). Atherinella alvarezi, Brycon guatemalensis, Dorosoma anale, Dorosoma petenense, and Ictalurus meridionalis were distributed in nine regions, while Aplodinotus grunniens, Gambusia sexradiata, Ophisternon aenigmaticum, Parachromis managuensis, Poecilia mexicana, Pseudoxiphophorus bimaculatus, and Thorichtys helleri were recorded in eight regions.

Eight marine species were newly recorded as species found in continental waters of Chiapas: Acanthurus xanthopterus, Atherinella panamensis, Fistularia commersonii, Halichoeres dispilus, Nicholsina denticulata, Orthopristis chalceus, Stegastes flavilatus, and Sphyraena ensis.

Table 2.

Systematic list of the continental waters ichthyofauna of Chiapas. Ecological classification: PF (Primary Freshwater), SF (Secondary Freshwater), PF (Peripheral Vicarious), PC (Peripheral Catadromous), P (Peripheral), Ex (Exotic).

No Taxon Ecological classification Grijalva- La Angostura Grijalva-Chicoasén Grijalva-Malpaso Grijalva-Peñitas Grijalva- Teapa Grijalva-Tulijá Usumacinta-Jataté Usumacinta-Lacantún Usumacinta- Chixoy Usumacinta-Catazajá Costa-Istmo Costa-Soconusco
Order Carcharhiniformes
I Family Carcharhinidae
1 Carcharhinus leucas (Müller & Henle, 1839) P x
2 Carcharhinus limbatus (Müller & Henle, 1839) P x x
3 Carcharhinus cerdale Gilbert, 1898 P x
4 Rhizoprionodon longurio (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x
5 Negaprion brevirostris (Poey, 1868) P x
II Family Sphyrnidae
6 Sphyrna tiburo (Linnaeus, 1758) P x
Order Pristiformes
III Family Pristidae
7 Pristis pectinata Latham, 1794 P x
8 Pristis microdon Latham, 1794 P x
Order Rhinobatiformes
IV Family Rhinobatidae
9 Pseudobatos glaucostigma (Jordan & Gilbert, 1883) P x
Order Myliobatiformes
V Family Urotrygonidae
10 Urotrygon aspidura (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x
11 Urotrygon chilensis (Günther, 1872) P x
12 Urotrygon munda Gill, 1863 P x
13 Urotrygon nana Miyake & McEachran, 1998 P x
14 Urotrygon rogersi (Jordan & Starks, 1895) P x
VI Family Dasyatidae
15 Hypanus longus (Garman, 1880) P x x
16 Himantura pacifica (Beebe & Tee-Van, 1941) P x x
VII Family Myliobatidae
17 Aetobatus laticeps Gill, 1865 P x x
VIII Family Rhinopteridae
18 Rhinoptera steindachneri Evermann & Jenkins, 1891 P x x
Order Lepisosteiformes
IX Family Lepisosteidae
19 Atractosteus tropicus Gill, 1863 PF x x x x x x
Order Elopiformes
X Family Elopidae
20 Elops affinis Regan, 1909 P x x
XI Family Megalopidae
21 Megalops atlanticus Valenciennes, 1847 P x x
Order Albuliformes
XII Family Albulidae
22 Albula esuncula (Garman, 1899) P x
Order Anguilliformes
XIII Family Ophichthidae
23 Myrichthys xysturus (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x
24 Ophichthus zophochir Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 P x x
Order Clupeiformes
XIV Family Pristigasteridae
25 Pliosteostoma lutipinnis (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x
26 Odontognathus panamensis (Steindachner, 1876) P x
27 Opisthopterus dovii (Günther, 1868) P x
XV Family Engraulidae
28 Anchoa argentivittata (Regan, 1904) P x
29 Anchoa curta (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x x
30 Anchoa ischana (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x x
31 Anchoa lucida (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x x
32 Anchoa mitchilli (Valenciennes, 1848) P x
33 Anchoa mundeola (Gilbert & Pierson, 1898) P x x
34 Anchoa walkeri Baldwin & Chang, 1970 P x
35 Anchoa starksi (Gilbert & Pierson, 1898) P x x
36 Anchovia macrolepidota (Kner, 1863) P x x
XVI Family Clupeidae
37 Dorosoma anale Meek, 1904 P (V) x x x x x x x x x
38 Dorosoma petenense (Günther, 1867) P (V) x x x x x x x x x
39 Harengula thrissina (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x
40 Lile gracilis Castro-Aguirre & Vivero, 1990 P x x
41 Lile nigrofasciata Castro-Aguirre, Ruiz-Campos & Balart, 2005 P x x
42 Opisthonema libertate (Günther, 1867) P x x
43 Opisthonema medirastre Berry & Barret, 1964 P x
Order Gonorynchiformes
XVII Family Chanidae
44 Chanos chanos (Forsskål, 1775) P x x
Order Cypriniformes
XVIII Family Cyprinidae
45 Ctenopharyngodon idella (Valenciennes, 1844)Ex Ex x x x x x x
46 Cyprinus carpio (Linnaeus, 1758)Ex Ex x x x x
XIX Family Catostomidae
47 Ictiobus meridionalis (Günther, 1868) PF x x x x x x x
Order Characiformes
XX Family Characidae
48 Astyanax aeneus (Günther, 1860) PF x x x x x x x x x x x x
49 Bramocharax sp. PF x x x x
50 Brycon guatemalensis Regan, 1908 PF x x x x x x x x x
51 Hyphessobrycon compressus (Meek, 1904) PF x x x x
52 Roeboides bouchellei Fowler, 1923 PF x x
Order Siluriformes
XXI Family Lacantuniidae
53 Lacantunia enigmatica Rodiles-Hernández, Hendrickson & Lundberg, 2005 PF x
XXII Family Loricariidae
54 Pterygoplichthys disjunctivus (Weber, 1991) Ex Ex x
55 Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus (Hancock, 1828) Ex Ex x
56 Pterygoplichthys pardalis (Castelnau, 1855) Ex Ex x x x x x
XXIII Family Heptapteridae
57 Rhamdia guatemalensis (Günther, 1864) PF x x x x x x x x x x x x
58 Rhamdia laluchensis Weber, Allegrucci & Sbordoni, 2003 PF x
59 Rhamdia laticauda (Kner, 1858) PF x x x x x x x
60 Rhamdia parryi Eigenmann & Eigenmann, 1888 PF x
XXIV Family Ictaluridae
61 Ictalurus meridionalis (Günther, 1864) PF x x x x x x x x x
XV Family Ariidae
62 Bagre panamensis (Gill, 1863) P x
63 Bagre pinnimaculatus (Steindachner, 1876) P x
64 Cathorops dasycephalus (Günther, 1864) P x
65 Cathorops cf. fuerthii P x
66 Cathorops kailolae Marceniuk & Betancur-R., 2008 P (V) x x x x x x
67 Cathorops liropus (Bristol, 1897) P x x
68 Cathorops steindachneri (Gilbert & Starks, 1904) P x x
69 Notarius kessleri (Steindachner, 1876) P x
70 Notarius planiceps (Steindachner, 1876) P x
71 Notarius troschelii (Gill, 1863) P x
72 Potamarius nelsoni (Evermann & Goldsborough, 1902) P (V) x x x x x x x
73 Potamarius usumacintae Betancourt-R. & Willink, 2007 P (V) x x x
74 Sciades dowii (Gill, 1863) P x
75 Sciades felis (Linnaeus, 1766) P x
76 Sciades guatemalensis (Günther, 1864) P x x
77 Sciades seemanni (Günther, 1864) P x x
Order Gymnotiformes
XXVI Family Gymnotidae
78 Gymnotus maculosus Albert & Miller, 1995 PF x
Order Salmoniformes
XXVII Family Salmonidae
79 Oncorhynchus mykiss (Walbaum, 1972)Ex Ex x
Order Aulopiformes
XXVIII Family Synodontidae
80 Synodus scituliceps Jordan & Gilbert, 1881 P x x
Order Batrachoidiformes
XXIX Family Batrachoididae
81 Batrachoides boulengeri Gilbert & Starks, 1904 P x
82 Batrachoides goldmani Evermann & Goldsborough, 1902 P (V) x x x x x x x
83 Batrachoides waltersi Collette & Russo, 1981 P x x
84 Porichthys greenei Gilbert & Starks, 1904 P x
Order Mugiliformes
XXX Family Mugilidae
85 Agonostomus monticola (Bancroft, 1834) P (Ca) x x x x x x
86 Joturus pichardi Poey, 1860 P (Ca) x x
87 Mugil cephalus Linnaeus, 1758 P x x
88 Mugil curema Valenciennes, 1836 P x x x x
89 Mugil hospes Jordan & Culver, 1895 P x x
Order Atheriniformes
XXXI Family Atherinopsidae
90 Atherinella guatemalensis (Günther, 1864) P x x
91 Atherinella alvarezi (Díaz-Pardo, 1972) P (V) x x x x x x x x x
92 Atherinella panamensis Steindachner, 1875 P x
93 Atherinella schultzi (Alvarez & Carranza, 1952) P (V) x x x x
94 Membras gilberti (Jordan & Bollman, 1889) P x x
Order Beloniformes
XXXII Family Hemiramphidae
95 Hyporhamphus mexicanus Alvarez, 1959 P (V) x x x x x x x
96 Hyporhamphus snyderi Meek & Hildebrand, 1973 P x x
97 Hyporhamphus naos Banford & Collette, 2001 P x x
XXXIII Family Belonidaex
98 Strongylura hubbsi Collette, 1974 P (V) x x x x x x x
99 Strongylura exilis (Girard, 1854) P x
100 Tylosurus fodiator Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 P x
Order Cyprinodontiformes
XXXIV Family Rivulidae
101 Cynodonichthys tenuis Meek, 1904 SF x x x x x
XXXV Family Profundulidae
102 Profundulus punctatus (Günther, 1866) SF x x x
103 Tlaloc candalarius (Hubbs, 1924) SF x
104 Tlaloc hildebrandi Miller, (1950) SF x x
105 Tlaloc labialis (Günther, 1866) SF x x x x x x x
XXXVI Family Anablepidae
106 Anableps dowei Gill, 1861 SF x x
XXXVII Family Poeciliidae
107 Belonesox belizanus Kner, 1860 SF x x x x x
108 Brachyrhaphis hartwegi Rosen & Bailey, 1982 SF x
109 Carlhubbsia kidderi (Hubbs, 1936) SF x x x
110 Gambusia eurystoma Miller, 1975 SF x
111 Gambusia sexradiata Hubbs, 1936 SF x x x x x x x x
112 Gambusia yucatana Regan, 1914 SF x x x
113 Heterophallus echeagarayi (Alvarez, 1952) SF x x
114 Heterophallus milleri Radda, 1987 SF x
115 Phallichthys fairweatheri Rosen & Bailey, 1959 SF x x x
116 Poecilia kykesis Poeser, 2002 SF x
117 Poecilia mexicana Steindachner, 1863 SF x x x x x x x x
118 Poecilia nelsoni (Meek, 1904) SF x x
119 Poecilia sphenops Valenciennes, 1836 SF x x x x x x x x x x
120 Poecilia sulphuraria (Alvarez, 1948) SF x
121 Poecilia thermalis Steindachner, 1863 SF x
122 Poeciliopsis fasciata (Meek, 1904) SF x x x x x
123 Poeciliopsis hnliickai Meyer & Vogel, 1981 SF x x x
124 Poeciliopsis pleurospilus (Günther, 1868) SF x x x x x x
125 Poeciliopsis turrubarensis (Meek, 1912) SF x x
126 Priapella intermedia Alvarez & Carranza, 1952 SF x
127 Priapella chamulae Schartl, Meyer & Wilde, 2006 SF x x
128 Priapella compressa Alvarez, 1948 SF x
129 Priapella lacandonae Meyer, Schories & Schartl, 2011 SF x
130 Pseudoxiphophorus bimaculatus (Heckel, 1848) SF x x x x x x x x
131 Xenodexia ctenolepis Hubbs, 1950 SF x
132 Xiphophorus alvarezi Rosen, 1960 SF x
133 Xiphophorus clemenciae Álvarez, 1959 SF x
134 Xiphophorus hellerii Heckel, 1848 SF x x x x x x x
135 Xiphophorus maculatus (Günther, 1866) SF x x x x
Order Syngnathiformes
XXXVIII Family Syngnathidae
136 Hippocampus ingens Girard, 1859 P x x
137 Pseudophallus starksii (Jordan & Culver, 1895) P x x
XXXIX Family Fistulariidae
138 Fistularia commersonii Rüppell, 1838 P x
Order Synbranchiformes
XL Family Synbranchidae
139 Ophisternon aenigmaticum Rosen & Greenwood, 1976 PF x x x x x x x x
140 Synbranchus marmoratus Bloch, 1795 PF x x
Order Perciformes
XLI Family Centropomidae
141 Centropomus armatus Gill, 1863 P x x
142 Centropomus medius Günther, 1864 P x x
143 Centropomus nigrescens Günther, 1864 P x x
144 Centropomus robalito Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 P x x
145 Centropomus undecimalis (Bloch, 1792) P x x x x
146 Centropomus parallelus Poey, 1860 P x x
147 Centropomus poeyi Chávez, 1961 P x
148 Centropomus unionensis Bocourt, 1868 P x
149 Centropomus viridis Lockington, 1877 P x x
XLII Family Serranidae
150 Dermatolepis dermatolepis (Boulenger, 1895) P x
151 Alphestes multiguttatus (Günther, 1867) P x x
152 Epinephelus labriformis (Jenyns, 1840) P x
153 Epinephelus analogus Gill, 1863 P x
154 Epinephelus quinquefasciatus (Bocourt, 1868) P x
155 Mycteroperca xenarcha Jordan, 1888 P x
156 Rypticus nigripinnis Gill, 1861 P x
XLIII Family Centrarchidae
157 Micropterus salmoides (Lacepéde, 1802)Ex Ex x x
XLIV Family Nematistiidae
158 Nematistius pectoralis Gill, 1862 P x x
XLV Family Carangidae
159 Carangoides otrynter (Jordan & Gilbert, 1883) P x
160 Carangoides vinctus (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x
161 Caranx caballus Günther, 1868 P x
162 Caranx caninus Günther, 1867 P x x
163 Caranx sexfasciatus Quoy & Gaimard, 1825 P x
164 Chloroscombrus orqueta Jordan & Gilbert, 1883 P x
165 Gnathanodon speciosus (Forsskål, 1775) P x
166 Hemicaranx leucurus (Günther 1864) P x
167 Hemicaranx zelotes Gilbert, 1898 P x x
168 Oligoplites altus (Günther, 1868) P x x
169 Oligoplites saurus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) P x x
170 Selene brevoortii (Gill, 1863) P x
171 Selene oerstedii Lütken, 1880 P x x
172 Selene peruviana (Guichenot, 1866) P x x
173 Trachinotus kennedyi Steindachner, 1876 P x x
174 Trachinotus paitensis Cuvier, 1832 P x
175 Trachinotus rhodopus Gill, 1863 P x x
XLVI Family Lutjanidae
176 Hoplopagrus guentherii Gill, 1862 P x x
177 Lutjanus argentiventris (Peters, 1869) P x x
178 Lutjanus colorado Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 P x x
179 Lutjanus guttatus (Steindachner, 1869) P x x
180 Lutjanus novemfasciatus Gill, 1862 P x x
XLVII Family Lobotidae
181 Lobotes pacificus Gilbert, 1898 P x
XLVIII Family Gerreidae
182 Diapterus brevirostris (Sauvage, 1879) P x x
183 Eucinostomus currani Zahuranec, 1980 P x x
184 Eucinostomus dowii (Gill, 1863) P x x
185 Eucinostomus gracilis (Gill, 1862) P x
186 Eugerres axillaris (Günther, 1864) P x x
187 Eugerres lineatus (Humboldt, 1821) P x
188 Eugerres mexicanus (Steindachner, 1879) P (V) x x x x x x
189 Gerres simillimus Regan, 1907 P x x
XLIX Family Haemulidae
190 Conodon serrifer Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 P x
191 Genyatremus pacifici (Günther, 1864) P x x
192 Haemulopsis axillaris (Steindachner, 1869) P x x
193 Haemulopsis elongatus (Steindachner, 1879) P x
194 Haemulopsis leuciscus (Günther, 1864) P x x
195 Haemulopsis nitidus (Steindachner, 1869) P x
196 Orthopristis chalceus (Günther, 1864) P x
197 Pomadasys bayanus Jordan & Evermann, 1898 P x
198 Pomadasys branickii (Steindachner, 1879) P x
199 Pomadasys macracanthus (Günther, 1864) P x x
200 Pomadasys panamensis (Steindachner, 1876) P x
L Family Polynemidae
201 Polydactylus approximans (Lay & Bennett, 1839) P x x
202 Polydactylus opercularis (Gill, 1863) P x x
LI Family Sciaenidae
203 Aplodinotus grunniens Rafinesque, 1819 P (V) x x x x x x x x
204 Bairdiella armata Gill, 1863 P x
205 Bairdiella ensifera (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x x
206 Bairdiella icistia (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x
207 Cynoscion albus (Günther, 1864) P x x
208 Cynoscion stolzmanni (Steindachner, 1879) P x
209 Cynoscion xanthulus Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 P x
210 Elattarchus archidium (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x
211 Isopisthus remifer Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 P x
212 Larimus effulgens Gilbert, 1898 P x
213 Menticirrhus elongatus (Günther, 1864) P x
214 Menticirrhus nasus (Günther, 1868) P x x
215 Menticirrhus panamensis (Steindachner, 1876) P x
216 Micropogonias altipinnis (Günther, 1864) P x x
217 Micropogonias megalops (Gilbert, 1890) P x
218 Nebris occidentalis Vaillant, 1897 P x
219 Paralonchurus goodei Gilbert, 1898 P x
220 Stellifer cf. walkeri P x
LII Family Mullidae
221 Pseudupeneus grandisquamis (Gill, 1863) P x
LIII Family Kyphosidae
222 Kyphosus elegans (Peters, 1869) P x x
LIV Family Chaetodontidae
223 Chaetodon humeralis Günther, 1860 P x x
LV Family Cichlidae
224 Amphilophus trimaculatus (Günther, 1867) SF x x x x
225 Astatheros macracanthus (Günther, 1864) SF x x x x
226 Chiapaheros grammodes (Taylor & Miller, 1980) SF x x
227 Cincelichthys pearsei (Hubbs, 1936) SF x x x x x x x
228 Chuco intermedium (Günther, 1862) SF x x x x x x x
229 Cribroheros robertsoni (Regan, 1905) SF x x
230 Kihnichthys ufermanni Allgayer, 2002 SF x x x
231 Maskaheros argenteus (Allgayer, 1991) SF x x x x
232 Maskaheros regani (Miller, 1974) SF x x
233 Mayaheros urophthalmus (Günther, 1862) SF x x x x x
234 Oreochromis aureus (Steindachner, 1864) Ex Ex x
235 Oreochromis mossambicus (Peters, 1852) Ex Ex x x x
236 Oreochromis niloticus (Linnaeus, 1758) Ex Ex x x x x x x x x x x x
237 Oscura heterospila (Hubbs, 1936) SF x x x
238 Parachromis friedrichsthalii (Heckel, 1840) SF x x x
239 Parachromis managuensis (Günther, 1867) Ex Ex x x x x x x x x
240 Paraneetroplus gibbiceps (Steindachner, 1864) SF x x
241 Petenia splendida Günther, 1862 SF x x x x x x x
242 Rocio ocotal Schmitter-Soto, 2007 SF x
243 Rocio octofasciata (Regan, 1903) SF x x x x x
244 Theraps irregularis Günther, 1862 SF x x x x
245 Thorichthys meeki Brind, 1918 SF x x x x
246 Thorichthys pasionis (Rivas, 1962) SF x x x
247 Thorichthys socolofi (Miller & Taylor, 1984) SF x x
248 Thorichthys helleri (Steindachner, 1864) SF x x x x x x x x
249 Trichromis salvini (Günther, 1862) SF x x x x x x X
250 Tilapia zilli (Gervais, 1848) Ex Ex x x x
251 Rheoheros coeruleus (Stawikowski & Werner, 1987) SF x
252 Rheoheros lentiginosus (Steindachner, 1864) SF x x x x x x
253 Vieja bifasciata (Steindachner, 1864) SF x x x x x x
254 Vieja breidohri (Werner & Stawikowski, 1987) SF x
255 Vieja guttulata (Günther, 1864) SF x
256 Vieja hartwegi (Taylor & Miller, 1980) SF x x x x
257 Vieja melanura (Günther, 1862) SF x x x x x x x
258 Wajpamheros nourissati (Allgayer, 1989) SF x x x
LVI Family Pomacentridae
259 Abudefduf troschelii (Gill, 1862) P x x
260 Stegastes flavilatus (Gill, 1862) P x
LVII Family Labridae
261 Halichoeres aestuaricola Bussing, 1972 P x
262 Halichoeres dispilus (Günther, 1864) P x
LVIII Family Scaridae
263 Nicholsina denticulata (Everman & Radcliffe, 1917) P x
LIX Family Dactyloscopidae
264 Dactyloscopus lunaticus Gilbert, 1890 P x x
265 Dactyloscopus amnis Miller & Briggs, 1962 P x
LX Family Eleotridae
266 Dormitator latifrons (Richardson, 1844) P x x
267 Eleotris picta Kner, 1863 P x x
268 Erotelis armiger (Jordan & Richardson, 1895) P x x
269 Gobiomorus dormitor Lacepéde, 1800 P x x x x x
270 Gobiomorus maculatus (Günther, 1859) P x x
271 Guavina micropus (Ginsburg, 1953) P x
272 Leptophilypnus guatemalensis Thacker & Pezold, 2006 P (V) x x
LXI Family Gobiidae
273 Aboma etheostoma Jordan & Starks, 1895 P x x
274 Awaous transandeanus (Günther, 1861) P (Ca) x
275 Barbulifer mexicanus Hoese & Larson, 1985 P x
276 Bathygobius andrei (Sauvage, 1880) P x x
277 Ctenogobius sagittula (Günther, 1862) P x x
278 Evorthodus minutus Meek & Hildebrand, 1928 P x x
279 Gobioides peruanus (Steindachner, 1880) P x
280 Gobionellus liolepis (Meek & Hildebrand, 1928) P x
281 Gobionellus microdon (Gilbert, 1892) P x x
282 Microgobius miraflorensis Gilbert & Starks, 1904 P x x
283 Parrella lucretiae (Eigenmann & Eigenmann, 1888) P x
284 Sicydium salvini Ogilvie-Grant, 1884 P (Ca) x
LXII Family Microdesmidae
285 Microdesmus dorsipunctatus Dawson, 1968 P x x
286 Microdesmus suttkusi Gilbert, 1966 P x
LXIII Family Ephippidae
287 Chaetodipterus zonatus (Girard, 1858) P x x
288 Parapsettus panamensis (Steindachner, 1876) P x
LXIV Family Acanthuridae
289 Acanthurus xanthopterus Valenciennes, 1835 P x
LXV Family Sphyraenidae
290 Sphyraena ensis P x
LXVI Family Trichiuridae
291 Trichiurus nitens Garman, 1899 P x
LXVII Family Scombridae
292 Scomberomorus sierra Jordan & Starks, 1895 P x x
Order Pleuronectiformes
LXVIII Family Paralichthydae
293 Citharichthys gilberti Jenkins & Evermann, 1889 P x x
294 Cyclopsetta panamensis (Steindachner, 1876) P x
295 Etropus crossotus Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 P x
296 Syacium latrifons (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) P x
297 Syacium ovale (Günther, 1864) P x
LXIX Family Achiridae
298 Achirus mazatlanus (Steindachner, 1869) P x x
299 Achirus scutum (Günther, 1862) P x x
300 Achirus zebrinus Clark, 1936 P x
301 Trinectes fimbriatus (Günther, 1862) P x
302 Trinectes fonsecensis (Günther, 1862) P x x
LXX Family Cynoglossidae
303 Symphurus chabanaudi Mahadeva & Munroe, 1990 P x
304 Symphurus elongatus (Günther, 1868) P x
305 Symphurus melanurus Clark, 1936 P x
Order Tetraodontiformes
LXXI Family Balistidae
306 Pseudobalistes naufragium (Jordan & Starks, 1895) P x x
LXXII Family Tetraodontidae
307 Arothron meleagris (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) P x
308 Sphoeroides annulatus (Jenyns, 1842) P x x
309 Sphoeroides rosenblatti Bussing, 1996 P x x
LXXIII Family Diodontidae
310 Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus, 1758 P x
311 Diodon hystrix Linnaeus, 1758 P x x
Total species by geographical units 23 31 45 55 36 46 11 63 54 72 174 153


Knowledge of the species richness of continental fishes in Chiapas has increased significantly over recent years compared to previous assessments (e.g. Rodiles-Hernández et al. 2005, Velázquez-Velázquez et al. 2013). The increasing number of known species is the result of collections in new localities, improvement in sampling effort, and larger systematic and taxonomic reviews. For instance, an extensive literature search provided many reports of marine species, principally elasmobranchs, in continental waters of Chiapas by Castro-Aguirre et al. (1999). The large increment in the checklist is due to the inclusion of many elasmobranchs fishes that were included previously in the work of Castro-Aguirre et al. (1999), but that for some reason these records were ignored in more recent accounts of fishes in the continental waters of Chiapas. Castro-Aguirre et al. (1999) reported 41 species of marine fishes including an important number of sharks and sting-rays in the state continental water.

Two species previously reported were removed from the list of species in Chiapas in this study: the American eel (Anguilla rostrata) and the Mexican tetra (Astyanax mexicanus). The American eel was mentioned in the pioneering work of Velasco-Colín (1976), and since then listed in subsequent publications (Lozano-Vilano and Contreras-Balderas 1987, Rodiles-Hernández 2005, Rodiles-Hernández et al. 2005, Espinosa-Pérez et al. 2011, Velázquez-Velázquez et al. 2013). However, these works do not offer precise geographical locations for these species and there are no vouchered specimens from Chiapas in national or international collections. Records of the Mexican tetra in Chiapas probably contain misidentifications as mentioned by Lozano-Vilano and Contreras-Balderas (1987) and Ornelas-García et al. (2008), thus supporting the absence of this species in Southern Mexico. We have included Important and recent taxonomic changes made in the family Cichlidae by McMahan et al. (2015) and Říčan et al. (2016), the family Poeciliidae by Palacios et al. (2016) and the family Profundulidae by Morcillo et al. (2016).

More than 1000 species of fishes have been reported in the continental waters of Mexico, including freshwater and estuarine fishes (Espinosa-Pérez 2014). The continental fish fauna of the state of Chiapas represents approximately 29% of the continental fish fauna of the entire country of Mexico. This highlights the great diversity of fishes inhabiting continental environments of Chiapas as a result of the region’s hydrological wealth. Our results are comparable with those from other southern Mexican states such as Quintana Roo (Schmitter-Soto 1998), Oaxaca (Martínez-Ramírez et al. 2004) and Tabasco (Espinosa-Pérez and Daza-Zepeda 2005).

The native obligate freshwater (primary and secondary) species of Chiapas accounted for only 26% (81) of the state’s total species richness. The communities are dominated by peripheral species, many of them permanent (vicarious) residents of the Grijalva-Usumacinta basin (e.g. Aplodinotus grunniens, Eugerres mexicanus, Hyporhamphus mexicanus, Strongylura hubbsi), but the majority are distributed in brackish environments of the Costa-Itsmo and Costa-Soconusco sub-basins. Some of these communities also permeate nearby rivers. In terms of slopes, the Pacific slope houses 68% of the state fish fauna while the Gulf slope houses 33%, and in terms of regional diversity the Usumacinta region is considered one of the most diverse areas of endemism for freshwater fishes in Central America; however, from a biogeographical perspective the entire Central American region has a depauperate freshwater fish fauna compared with the vast diversity of ostariophysan fishes found in North and South America (Miller 1966, Myers 1966, Bussing 1985, Chakrabarty and Albert 2011, Matamoros et al. 2015). This could explain the presence of a great number of peripheral species recorded in the continental environments of Chiapas. This pattern is comparable with other countries of Central America such as Guatemala (Kihn-Pineda et al., 2006), Honduras (Matamoros et al. 2009) and El Salvador (McMahan et al. 2013).

Mexican law protects thirteen freshwater species; however, Rhamdia guatemalensis is quite abundant in Chiapas and possesses a wide distribution through other geographic areas of Mexico and Central America (Miller et al. 2005, Hernández et al. 2015). Its inclusion should be reconsidered in the NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010. Conversely, we suggest that Mexican laws should consider including Lacantunia enigmatica, Rhamdia laluchensis and Vieja breidohri as protected species on the grounds of their restricted distribution.

Since the pioneering work of Lozano-Vilano and Contreras-Balderas (1987), this is the first time the state of Chiapas has been regionalized in a more detailed scale than the three great basins (Grijalva, Usumacinta and Costa). Lozano-Vilano and Contreras-Balderas (1987) proposed seven physiographic regions; however, their proposal was based on physiographic characteristics of landscape relief rather than hydrology. In this study we present a zonation based on the level of hydrological regions (sub-basins), which provides a more robust delineation of the geographical areas for fish species and facilitates a closer examination of the distribution of endemic species. This approach demonstrates that gaps in knowledge of the distribution of species is still quite large and indicates that some portions of the territory remain moderately sampled or unexplored. For instance, the Usumacinta-Jataté sub-basin, with only 11 species recorded, remains largely unexplored. The detailed regionalization of Chiapas highlights the necessity of increasing sampling efforts in certain zones.

Although hydrological regions Grijalva, Usumacinta and Costa of Chiapas have been used in previous studies to discover endemism in the state (Rodiles-Hernández 2005, Rodiles-Hernández et al. 2005, Velázquez-Velázquez et al. 2013), the zonation of our study allows identification of smaller geographic units, permitting us to be more specific in studies of endemism. Thus, the distribution of endemic species in Chiapas includes: Lacantunia enigmatica in Usumacinta-Lacantún, Rocio ocotal in Usumacinta-Lacantún, Thorichthys socolofi in Grijalva-Tulijá and Usumacinta-Lacantún, Tlaloc hildebrandi in Grijalva-Teapa and Usumacinta-Jataté, and Poecilia thermalis in Grijalva-Teapa. Of the 12 units, Usumacinta-Lacantún stands out as it houses three endemic species: Lacantunia enigamatica, Rocio ocotal, and Thorichthys socolofi.

Forty years of scientific research on the continental fish fauna of Chiapas has gone a long way since the work of Velasco-Colín (1976). However, this does not seem nearly enough time to completely finish to record the real extend of the state species richness with its distribution. In this work we present distributional data at 12 geographic units. However, although this is the finest distributional scale for the state, a major goal should be to complete distributional data for the 92 existing sub-drainages in the state. Many of these water bodies have never been sampled either for lack of financial resources or because they are located in remote areas of the state.


This work has been possible due to several research grants to MZ-P-UNICACH from Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT), Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO) and Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP). Recent ichthyological explorations in Chiapas have been possible by grants provided by the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE). We are very grateful to all members of the UNICACH Museum of Zoology for their field and lab contributions. We are in particular debt to UNICACH for their unconditional support of our research initiatives. Thanks to Allison M. Matamoros and Caleb D. McMahan for proofreading the manuscript.


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