Book review – The Freshwater fishes of Suriname
This unique work contains for the first time all 64 inland fish families as well as the species of the 9 recognized subfamilies in the Characidae, with the exception of Serrasalminae, which is a good family, the Serrasalmidae, with the Piranhas and Pacus, also the subfamily Briconinae has family status, Briconidae, and the same applies to the subfamily Iguanodectinae, which is correct Iguanodectidae.
A correction should also be done for the family Alestidae, which is restricted to Africa, instead for this family text the correct topic should read Chalcidae, for the species Chalceus macrolepidotus. But for the family Loricariidae, the 3 subfamilies represented in Suriname are correctly identified, the Loricariinae, Hypostominae and the Hypoptopomatinae.
The book compromises 487 inland species, which is 6 more than the previous record from Suriname, and it is very well explained in the introduction, which again is really worth reading, very well researched and written. Also the Origins of the Surinamese freshwater fish fauna in chapter two is an excellent account, well researched with a geological time-table pertaining to the fish evolution in the neo-tropics and Suriname.
The faunal composition in chapter three is again very well written with the 487 species occurrences in the 7 river systems, Corantjin River, Nickerie River, Coppename River Saramacca River, Suriname River, Comme wijne
River, Maronwijne River (also known as Maroni), and those species which have as type locality just ‘Suriname’. Also details with remarks which are brackish water species and those entering from the Atlantic.
Chapter four is about the ecology, climate and the tropical freshwater ecosystems, really worth reading carefully, it includes an extensive account of white-water, black-water and clearwater habitats. There is great photography of water colours, habitats above and below water, and fishes in nature, in their biotope, with or without aquatic vegetation. There are photos of estuaries, rainforest creeks, and again above and below water pictures, and the
main waterfalls and rapids. It also shows some of its wetlands and plains, as well as the Brokopondo reservoir with its habitat degradation. The exotic species are shown, where the tilapine Oreochromis mossambicus dominates, as elsewhere around the globe.
Chapter eight has an account of ‘Dangerous Fishes’, which I cannot – at all – agree to, nor to the text or the photos shown. For instance there is a injury shown at a man’s foot from a Serrasalmus rhombeus, but it happened in a recreation park (in captivity), which is not unusual, those fishes do not belong there. In nature no piranha ever has attacked a human these are only fairy tales, it belongs to sensationalism. The one fish which is also shown and one should be aware of, is the electric eel, and the sting rays. The latter will never harm anyone, if
one walks carefully in rivers or lakes.
I found the colour comparison of Surinamese fishes in chapter nine with very nice photos an excellent account as well, this is rarely done and one should more often publish the different colour pattern in different populations.
The chapter 10 explains the external anatomy of fishes, and a key is given in chapter 11 for all families and subfamilies.
With chapter 12 starts the main part of this thick book, from page 136 to page 807, with a detail account of each one of the 487 species. And most species are shown in live photography, naturally of several species only preserved specimens could be shown, and of a few only drawings (mainly the Corydoras species). Some of the photos unfortunately are from the Book Atlas des Poissons d’ Eau Douce de Guyane (in which I contributed together with the late Jacques Géry), and show specimens from different locations, not Suriname populations
(or species). A good example is the Anostomus ternetzi from Suriname. It is very different from Le Bail’s photo on page 180, and I believe the Suriname species is an undescribed one, and not ternetzi. Hemigrammus unilineatus is also a Le Bail photo from the Atlas (as H. unilineatus cayennsis), and for sure there is a different species of population in Suriname. Also other photos from Le Bail and the Atlas, are miss-identified or not populations or species from Suriname. And under some photo is written ‘live’ although only preserved specimens
are shown (i.e. page 277, 295, top, 299, bottom, 349, bottom, 2 pictures on 345, etc.). I think this could have been avoide. But all in all this is a magnificent and very unique book, and any scholar, ichthyologist, taxonomist, nature as well as aquatic habitat lover of freshwaters, should have it. Probably never again will such a magnum work be done.
Congratulations Jan H. A. Mol.
PLANQUETTE, P., KEITH, P. & LE BAIL, P.-Y. 1996. Atlas des poissons d’eau douce de Guyane. Tome 1. Service du Patrimoine Naturel, Institut d’Ecologie et la Gestione de la Biodiversité, MNHN, Paris Cedex, 429pp.
OLIVEIRA, C. et al. 2011. Phylogenetic relationships within the speciose family Characidae (Teleostei: Ostariophysi: Characiformes) based on multilocus analysis and extensive ingroup sampling. BMC evolutionary biology, 11: 275. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-11-275 reference page