“I’m not one to wear lipstick but when I see it on a fish, it makes me want to call the Avon lady.”
That’s what Lesley H., membership sales coordinator, says about the red lip demonfish (Satanoperca rhynchitis), her pick for September’s Staff Pick of the Month.
Lesley is also struck by this fish’s iridescent blue fins, which shimmer when it moves.
“It’s the flash of blue that made me notice the fish in the first place. I wouldn’t have noticed it otherwise.”
This freshwater fish (a type of cichlid) is found in the rivers and lagoons of French Guiana.
The “red lip” part of this fish’s common name is self explanatory, but to understand the “demonfish” reference, we need to take a step back in time.
Demonfish comes from the genus part of its scientific name – Satanoperca – which references “Satan” or “demon,” and the Latin for perch, “perca.” The “Satan” reference comes from a native Tupi legend about a forest demon that swallows children in the night. Because these fish are mouth brooders (meaning that they protect their eggs in their mouths until they hatch), it’s a name that seemed fitting to ichthyologists in the 1800s.
Its name is somewhat scary, but it sure is pretty. Patience and some crouching will be needed to find this fish. Look for it in the pond in the “jungle” area of the Graham Amazon gallery (it shares an exhibit with Xingu River rays [Potamotrygon leopoldi]). There’s only one of this species and it lurks in the shadows of the pond exhibit.
Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.