Rheocles (Rheocles vatosoa)

Male Rheocles vatosoa
Loading more images and videos...

Rheocles fact file

Rheocles description

GenusRheocles (1)

Belonging to the genus known commonly as the Madagascan silversides, Rheocles vatosoa is one of several small, attractively coloured fish inhabiting Madagascar’s waterways (1) (2) (3). It is unique among Rheocles species in that only a single bone (a pterygiophore) supports the dorsal fin, as opposed to the usual three (2). The scientific name of this species, vatosoa, is Malagasy for ‘crystal’ or ‘gemstone’ and refers to its jewel-like colouration (2) (3); both sexes share the same body coloration of pale brown on the back, shading to a creamy yellow on the sides, and silvery yellow to white on the underside (2). The male’s second dorsal fin, anal and tail fin are creamy yellow at the base, fading into burgundy with a black edge, whereas all the female’s fins are clear yellow with dusky edges (2). The male Rheocles vatosoa grows to a larger size than the female, and typically has a deeper body with longer dorsal and anal fins (2).

Also known as
Crystal rheocles.
Maximum length: 7.9 cm (2)

Rheocles biology

Very little information is available on the biology of Rheocles vatosoa. Its diet appears to be somewhat opportunistic, consisting of both terrestrial insects, likely to have fallen into the water from overhanging trees, and aquatic insect larvae (2).

Rheocles vatosoa begins to spawn in late October and early November and is believed to have an extended breeding season (2). Based on the reproductive behaviour of a closely-related species, Rheocles alaotrensis, along with an absence of aquatic plants in its habitat, it is thought that Rheocles vatosoa deposits its eggs in patches of coarse gravel (2).


Rheocles range

Rheocles vatosoa is currently known only from the Lokoho River in north-eastern Madagascar, where it occurs in the upper and middle reaches of the main river channel in the general vicinity of the town of Andapa (1) (2) (3) (4). It typically occurs between 400 and 940 metres above sea level (2) (5).


Rheocles habitat

A freshwater species, Rheocles vatosoa occupies clear waters of both rapidly flowing rivers and small brooks, over gravel or coarse sand bottoms (2).


Rheocles status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Rheocles threats

According to local residents in the Andapa region, Rheocles vatosoa was formerly abundant throughout the Lokoho river basin; however, numbers have declined substantially over the past half century as native vegetation has been replaced with rice paddies, and this species is now restricted to streams that drain the slopes of the surrounding mountains, which still retain some forest cover (2). Continuing loss of habitat from deforestation and the presence of exotic predators and competitors, such as the eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki), the green swordtail (Xiphpphorus helleri) and the spotted snakehead (Channa maculate), pose the principal threats to the long-term survival of Rheocles vatosoa (2) (3) (5) (6).


Rheocles conservation

Although there are no known specific conservation measures currently in place for Rheocles vatosoa, the catchment of streams in the Lokoho basin is now protected by the Marojejy National Park (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

 To find out about wildlife conservation in Madagascar see:



Authenticated (17/08/10) by Dr. Paul V. Loiselle, Curator of Freshwater Fishes, New York Aquarium.

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


Anal fin
The fin on the under surface of a fish, behind the anus.
The area surrounding a stream or river from which it receives water, either from rainwater run-off or from tributaries.
Dorsal fin
The fin found on the back of the body of fish.
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Produce and deposit large quantities of eggs in water.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
  2. Stiassny, M.L.J., Rodriguez, D.M. and Loiselle, P.V. (2002) Rheocles vatosoa, a new species of freshwater rainbowfish (Atherinomorpha: Bedotiidae) from the Lokoho River basin in northeastern Madagascar. Cybium, 261: 71-77.
  3. Madagascar’s Endangered Fishes: Rheocles vatosoa (March, 2010)
  4. FishBase (March, 2010)
  5. Loiselle, P.V. (August, 2010) Pers. comm.
  6. Kiener, A. (1963) Poissons, Pêche et Pisciculture à Madagascar. Centre Technique Forestier Tropical, Nogent-sur-Marne.

Image credit

Male Rheocles vatosoa  
Male Rheocles vatosoa

© Paul Loiselle

Dr. Paul V. Loiselle
Curator of Freshwater Fishes
New York Aquarium
Surf Ave. and West 8th St.
United States of America
Tel: (718) 265-3406
Fax: (719) 265-3420


Link to this photo

Arkive species - Rheocles (Rheocles vatosoa) Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to Arkive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about



MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite Arkive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!


Back To Top