characin

/kar"euh sin/, n.
any freshwater fish of the family Characidae, of Africa and Central and South America.
Also, characid.
[1880-85; < NL Characinidae name of family, equiv. to Characin(us) the genus (charac- ( < Gk charak-, s. of chárax pointed stake, a sea fish) + -inus -IN1) + -idae -IDAE]

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fish
      any of the numerous freshwater fishes of the family Characidae. Hundreds of species of characins are found in Central and South America, a smaller number in tropical Africa. Characins are distinguished by toothed jaws and, usually, an adipose (second dorsal) fin on the back. They range in form from a small, blind cave fish (Anoptichthys jordani) of Mexico to the salmonlike tigerfishes (Hydrocynus) of Africa and the deep-bodied piranhas (Serrasalmus) of South America. They range from 2.5 to 152 cm (1 inch to 5 feet) in length and from herbivorous to carnivorous in diet. Many simply scatter their eggs among aquatic plants, but the spraying characin (Copeina arnoldi), placed in a separate family, Lebiasinidae, deposits its spawn out of water on an overhanging leaf or other suitable object, the male keeping the eggs moist by periodically splashing water on them with his tail.

      Many characins are small, colourful, lively, and unaggressive and are often kept in aquariums. The tetras are popular pets, as are the bloodfin (Aphyocharax rubripinnis), a red-finned, silvery fish, and Pristella riddlei, a red-tailed characin with black and white in its dorsal and anal fins.

      Characins form 1 of about 16 closely related groups of fishes. Some authorities consider each of these groups a distinct family, while others treat them as subfamilies of a single large family, Characidae. Thus, such fishes as the pencil fishes (Hemiodontidae, Anostomidae, and Lebiasinidae ) and freshwater, or flying, hatchetfishes (Gasteropelecidae) are sometimes separated as distinct families and sometimes included among the characins.

      For more information about characin species and groups, see dorado; hatchetfish; pencil fish; piranha; tetra; tigerfish.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • characin — n. any freshwater fish of the family {Characinidae}; also called {characid}. Syn: characin fish, characid. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • characin — [kar′ə sin] n. [ModL < Gr charax, a kind of fish, orig., pointed stake] any of a large family (Characidae, order Cypriniformes) of small, strong jawed freshwater fishes of South and Central America and Africa …   English World dictionary

  • characin — characid characid n. any freshwater fish of the family {Characinidae}; also called {characin}. Syn: characin, characin fish. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • characin — noun Etymology: ultimately from Greek charak , charax pointed stake, a fish Date: 1882 any of a family (Characidae) of usually small brightly colored tropical freshwater fishes that includes many aquarium fishes • characin adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • characin — noun any freshwater fish of the family Characinidae • Syn: ↑characin fish, ↑characid • Hypernyms: ↑cypriniform fish • Hyponyms: ↑tetra, ↑cardinal tetra, ↑Paracheirodon axelr …   Useful english dictionary

  • characin — noun Any of many diverse fish, of the order Characiformes, related to the carp and catfish and including the tetra …   Wiktionary

  • characin — (cha ra sin) s. m. Espèce de saumon …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • characin — [ karəsɪn] noun a small freshwater fish of a tropical family (Characidae) including the piranhas and tetras. Origin C19: from mod. L. Characinus (genus name), from Gk kharax pointed stake …   English new terms dictionary

  • characin — char·a·cin …   English syllables

  • characin — char•a•cin [[t]ˈkær ə sɪn[/t]] also char•a•cid [[t] ˌsɪd[/t]] n. ich any freshwater fish of the family Characidae, of Africa and Central and South America • Etymology: 1880–85; < F < NL Characini a subgeneric group (Linnaeus) « Gk chárax… …   From formal English to slang

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