Pyrrhulina brevis, ommochrome-form

Pyrrhulina brevis mostly inhabits forest streams and minor tributaries, and often occurs in flooded forests during periods of high water.

Distribution: Amazon and Orinoco River basin: Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru.


Submitted by
Natasha Khardina
-1.8340560, -55.0961533
Geographical region
South America
Drainage Basin
River catchment
Igarapè Ipixuna
Water body type
Water body name
Barra Mansa
Water body part
Water body course
Water body: tributary of
Tributary name
Type locality
Mouth of Rio Negro; Cudajas, Tabatinga, and Rio Negro at Manaos [Manaus], Brazil.
Conservation status/IUCN Red List
Not Evaluated (NE)


Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Clear water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
24-28 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

Dissolved Oxygen


Standard length
7 cm
Water volume (min. aquarium)
120 l
Social behaviour
Group fish
Behaviour description

In the captivity Pyrrhulina brevis grows to about 7-8 cm in length, eats all common fish food and has no special requirements on the water quality.

Apart from the territoriality of the males at spawning time, this species can be considered peaceful.

Aggression grade
Day active
Sexual dimorphism

The generic name Pyrrhulina means “small bullfinch” because the males of many Pyrrhulina species develop splendid red coloration in the breeding mood, that remind of the red plumage of the male bullfinch.

Nutrition in Nature

Pyrrhulina brevis is a micropredator feeding on tiny invertebrates and other zooplankton in its natural environment.


Breeding tank set-up

During the breeding season the males occupy small territories in the aquariums, coloring themselves splendidly. Pyrrhulina brevis deposits its eggs among vegetation. The eggs are guarded by the male during incubation,  who energetically defends the spawn until the young hatch.

Nutrition parents

To stimulate spawning it should also be offered daily meals of small live and frozen food: Artemia nauplii, Moina, grindal worm.

Mating type
Spawning behaviour

The males display their best colours and some fascinating behaviour as they compete with one other for female attention.

Breeding habits
Hatching period
36-72 hours
Number of eggs in average
Parental care
Fry number
Nutrition fry

The fry can be fed with dry food of sufficiently small (5-50 micron) grade. Once the fry are large enough you can introduce Artemia nauplii and microworm.

Notes on reproduction

The females can be removed post-spawning, leaving the male to guard and tend the brood.



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Comment by the expert

Ommochromes are widely occurring coloured molecules of invertebrates, arising from tryptophan catabolism through the so‐called Tryptophan → Ommochrome pathway.

Ommochromes are metabolites of tryptophan, via kynurenine and 3-hydroxykynurenine. They are responsible for a wide variety of colors, ranging from yellow over red and brown to black. Lighter colors tend to be generated by ommatins, while mixtures of ommatin and ommins are responsible for darker colors.

They are mainly known to mediate compound eye vision, as well as reversible and irreversible colour patterning. Ommochromes might also be involved in cell homeostasis by detoxifying free tryptophan and buffering oxidative stress. These biological functions are directly linked to their unique chromophore, the phenoxazine/phenothiazine system.

The most recent reviews on ommochrome biochemistry were published more than 30 years ago, since when new results on the enzymes of the ommochrome pathway, on ommochrome photochemistry as well as on their antiradical capacities have been obtained.