Hemiancistrus Bleeker, 1862

Hemiancistrus medians

Hemiancistrus medians, Photo by M.H. Sabaj

Hemiancistrus sp., Photo by M.H. Sabaj

Hemiancistrus has long been used as a repository for species with unclear relationships.  With improvements to the taxonomy expressed in these web pages , hopefully Hemiancistrus will be the only garbage can genus left in Hypostominae.  It is likely that either Peckoltia and Hemiancistrus share species or that the species of Peckoltia actually belong in Hemiancistrus.  Many undescribed species best fit the definition of Hemiancistrus (which is basically if it isn't something else, then its Hemiancistrus) making Hemiancistrus an exciting avenue for research.  Herein, one groups is separated from Hemiancistrus, the H. annectens group which represents an undescribed sister genus to Pterygoplichthys.  A complete understanding of Peckoltia and Hemiancistrus awaits a thorough revision of both genera.  The following is an excerpt from Armbruster (1997).

Isbrücker et al. (2001) describe Ancistomus for Hemiancistrus snethlegae. I have recently added H. snethlagae to my analysis, and it comes out with other Hemiancistrus (although I have as yet been unable to examine the type species, H. medians). Apparently, the only diagnostic characteristic provided by Isbrücker et al. is that Ancistomus has more teeth; however, tooth number varies widely, and the species that is almost certainly the sister to Ancistomus, H. spilomma,has manyt fewer teeth.

There have recently been several Hemiancistrus described. Cardoso and Lucinda (2003) described three species from the Tocantins (H. spilomma, H. spinosissimus, and H. micromattos. I cannot find any differences between these three species and the differences stated in the text do not work, so I am treating only H. spilomma as valid. Cardoso with coauthors also described a group of species from Southeastern Brazil that are very interesting. The ranges of these species are currently disjunct from all other Hemiancistrus and the similarPeckoltia, and the one species I have analyzed was sister to all other ancistrins. So, this group may be a new genus. Hemiancistrus landoni also comes out separate from all other Hemiancistrus and is the sister to all other ancistrins except the SE Brazil species, and is treated on a separate page as it is likely a new genus. Many undescribed species remain to be described.

The taxonomy presented below is different than what I have published, but it represents my current belief as to what Hemiancistrus is. This belief, however, seems to change daily. I have moved Peckoltia oligospila and P. sabaji to Hemiancistrus in accordance with phylogenetic analysis and the diagnosis provided below.


Ancistomus Isbrücker and Seidel, 2001



Hemiancistrus is not a monophyletic group.


Hemiancistrus is an elusive genusI am not fully confident that the species referred to Hemiancistrus form a monophyletic group.  Because I am unsure whether the specimens used in the phylogenetic study form a monophyletic group with H. medians, I defer discussion of Hemiancistrus until it can be further analyzed.


Hemiancistrus differs from most of the ancitrins except Baryancistrus, Panaque, Peckoltia, some Parancistrus and Hypancistrus by lacking odontodes on the opercle. Among that group, it differs from Baryancistrus and Parancistrus by not having the dorsal-fin membrane expanded posteriorly (except for an undescribed species which differs from Baryancistrus by lacking spots and from Parancistrus by having restricted gill openings), from Panaque by having viliform teeth (vs. spoon-shaped teeth or elongated spoon-shaped teeth), and from Peckoltia by having light or dark spots or no spots (vs. dorsal saddles and spots, if present, restricted to head, abdomen and fins).


Prefers flowing-water habitats in medium to large rivers.


From the Guyanas, the Negro and Orinoco and the southern Amazonian tributaries. A likely undescribed genus currently in Hemiancistrus is found in coastal drainages of extreme southeastern Brazil.


Armbruster, J.W. 1997. Phylogenetic relationships of the sucker-mouth armored catfishes (Loricariidae) with particular emphasis on the Ancistrinae, Hypostominae, and Neoplecostominae. Unpubl. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. 409 pp.

Cardoso, A. R. and P.H.F. Lucinda. Three new species of Hemiancistrus (Teleostei: Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from the rio Tocantins basin with comments on the genus. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 12:319-332.

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