With the influx of ornamental fish species from Suriname to the aquatic trade in recent years, several rarely kept species have become available. Most of these have a fairly high price tag, which again causes the majority of Suriname exports to often end up in Asia. This new supply of Suriname fish is mainly the result of the markets request for the Stingray Potamotrygon boesemani. This was a highly sought-after species among Stingray enthusiasts. With the collection of this species, others soon followed. One of them was a new Peckoltia, later labeled L502 by yours truly.
Name: Peckoltia sp. “L502”
Trade names: L502, Peckoltia sp.“Kwamala”
Origin: Rio Sipalwini, Suriname
Maximum TL: 14 cm / 6''
The fish fauna of Suriname is actually quite well studied and documented (see for example Mol, 2012). Several species from this country are in fact old, well known aquarium fish. However, most of them are exclusively tank- or farm bred. Other species are, on the other hand, very rare in the hobby. Some examples of this are Loricariidae species, which were not traditionally easy to breed and mass produce in captivity in the past, when several other Suriname species were established in the hobby this way. As a result, many of the Loricariidae species naturally found in this region are still pretty much unknown among fishkeepers.
Scientific studies and and collections have also resulted in a great part of the aquatic biodiversity of Suriname being described scientifically. But still, it’s possible to find new and undescribed species even in the waters of this relatively small region. This country hasn’t really been a focus area for the suppliers of the aquatic trade, but with new species turning up it may prove to be a place of great interest to our hobby.
One of the scientifically described Loricariidae species found here, is Peckoltia otali (Fisch-Muller & Covain, 2012). P.otali is known from the Maroni river, which forms the border between Suriname and French Guyana. P.otali is a fish with a more fine-spotted pattern than L502. But in addition to P.otali, another species of Peckoltia turned up at an exporter in December 2016. I presented the images of this fish to scientist Raphael Covain, who, together with Sonia Fisch-Muller, Juan I.Montoya-Burgos and Pierre-Yves le Bail, published his studies on Ancistrini from this area in 2012. Covain informed me that he knew of another Peckoltia species from Suriname, said to come from the area where Rio Sipalwini flows past the village of Kwamalasamutu, near Suriname’s south-western border with Guyana. After consulting with the exporter, it was revealed that the fish in question was indeed from this region.
A small group of this new discovery found its way to Norwegian importer Northern Lights Aquatics in May, 2017. As far as colour and pattern is concerned, Peckoltia sp. L502 has a rather modest appearance. In typical Peckoltia fashion, it has a pattern of irregular, pale yellow lines on a darker, grey-brown background. Juveniles have more well-defined, straighter lines, which appear to break up into a more mottled pattern in adults. Males show the characteristic odontodal growth on the back parts of their bodies, as we know from most Peckoltia species. The largest individuals seen so far are about 10 cm TL, which suggests a potential maximum length of about 12-14 cm.
With the recent restart of the tropical fish export industry in Suriname, it still remains to be seen if it will gain a stable foothold there. If it does, we may be treated to several new imports of exciting species, including fresh supplies of L502. If it stalls, on the other hand, caring for such new additions with the aim of breeding them becomes a much more significant project. Hopefully the specimens we currently have at hand will eventually reproduce, and lay the foundation for the species’ establishment in the Loricariidae community.