Morphology Data of Coptodon zillii
Identification keys
Main Ref. Pullin, R.S.V. (ed.), 1988
Appearance refers to
Bones in OsteoBase Skull, Spine

Sex attributes

Specialized organs
Different appearance
Different colors

Descriptive characteristics of juvenile and adult

Striking features none
Body shape lateral fusiform / normal
Cross section compressed
Dorsal head profile more or less straight
Type of eyes more or less normal
Type of mouth/snout more or less normal
Position of mouth terminal
Type of scales cycloid scales

Diagnosis: upper profile of head not convex; lower pharyngeal bone about as long as broad, and with anterior lamella shorter than toothed area; median pharyngeal teeth not broadened; dorsal fin with 14-16 spines and 10-14 soft rays (mean 15, 12); 8-11 lower gillrakers; dark longitudinal band appears on flanks when agitated; no bifurcated dark vertical bars on flanks; dorsal and caudal fins not or feebly blotched (Ref. 53405). Body brownish-olivaceous with an iridescent blue sheen; lips bright green (Ref. 34290, 53405). Chest pinkish (Ref. 34290). Dorsal, caudal and anal fins brownish-olivaceous with yellow spots, dorsal and anal fins outlined by narrow orange band; "tilapian" spot large, extending from last spine to 4th soft ray and always bordered by yellow band (Ref. 34290, 53405). Specimens 2-14 cm SL with completely yellowish or greyish caudal fin without dots, but tend to develop a greyish caudal fin with dots of increasing size during development; above 14 cm SL, this species has greyish caudal fins with dots on entire caudal fin (Ref. 57660).

Description: body rather deep, its depth about 55% of standard length; head profile straight, slightly oblique; outer jaw teeth bicuspid and non-spatulate, inner jaw teeth and posterior pharyngeal teeth tricuspid; micro-gillrakers present; scales cycloid (Ref. 53405).

Coloration: in life: ground colour brownish-olicaveous (Ref. 34290, 53405) with iridescent reflections on scales (Ref. 53405). Back and sides with 7-10 darker cross bars (Ref. 52307, 53405), depending on motivational state (Ref. 52307), and dark longitudinal band at level of lower lateral line (Ref. 53405). Second longitudinal band sometimes present along upper lateral line (Ref. 53405). Lips pale green (Ref. 34290, 53405). Dorsal, anal and caudal fins brownish-olivaceous and yellow-spotted; dorsal and anal fins often edged with orange (Ref. 34290, 53405). Iridescent green spots on head in sexually mature individuals (Ref. 53405). "Tilapian" spot large, extending from last spine to 4th soft ray and always bordered by yellow band (Ref. 34290, 53405). Opercular spot very distinct; caudal fin with an irregular network of darker lines; in fingerlings, black spots on dorsal and anal fins orange and caudal fin appears as vertically striped (Ref. 53405). When courting and breeding, individuals can have a copper to reddish flush on their sides; throat, belly and sometimes anterior part of caudal peduncle then show an intense red color (Ref. 52307).

Ease of Identification

Meristic characteristics of Coptodon zillii

Lateral Lines 2 Interrupted: No
Scales on lateral line 28 - 33
Pored lateral line scales
Scales in lateral series
Scale rows above lateral line
Scale rows below lateral line
Scales around caudal peduncle
Barbels 0
Gill clefts (sharks/rays only) absent
Gill rakers
on lower limb 6 - 12
on upper limb


Dorsal fin(s)

Attributes extending over most of the back length
Fins number 1
Finlets No. Dorsal   0
Ventral  0
Spines total 13 - 16
Soft-rays total 10 - 14
Adipose fin absent

Caudal fin

Attributes more or less truncate; more or less normal

Anal fin(s)

Fins number 1
Spines total 3 - 3
Soft-rays total 8 - 10

Paired fins

Pectoral Attributes  more or less normal
Pelvics Attributes  more or less normal
Position    thoracic  behind origin of D1
Main Ref. (e.g. 9948)
Glossary ( e.g. cephalopods )
Entered by Luna, Susan M.
Modified by Musschoot, Tobias
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cfm script by eagbayani, 17.10.00, php script by rolavides, 13/03/08 ,  last modified by sortiz, 06.27.17