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Related FAQs: Four-Eyes

Related Articles: Brackish Water Fishes, Cyprinodontiform Fishes,

/The Conscientious Brackish Water Aquarist

Four Eyes and More, the Family Anablepidae

by Bob Fenner

Female and male Anableps anableps at the Steinhart Aquarium

Family Anablepidae, three genera, thirteen species, fresh, brackish and marine. The monotypic Oxyzygonectes is oviparous, the other genera/species are "one-sided" livebearers.

Mmm, talk about odd ball fishes... Being able to see and make sense out of four different optical fields of view simultaneously? Being livebearers that can/do only mate on one side, right-"handed" males with left-"handed" females and vice versa? Umm, the Anableps can live on land, moist for extended periods of time... tend to travel in schools... The family is known in the sciences as "the four-eyes, one-sided livebearers and white-eye"... I rest my case.


    Southern Mexico to the end of South America.

Subfamily Anablepinae, Genus Anableps, three species. Benefit from some salt in their environment, live foods, frequent water changes. Used in eye research. Will eat small fishes.

Anableps anableps (Linnaeus 1758), the Large Scale Foureyes. South American; Trinidad, Venezuela to the Amazon Delta. To a foot in length. Found principally in freshwater, but does move out to the mangroves, on mud flats where it feeds on algae, insects. Cond.s: temp. 24-28 C. Most commonly encountered species. 3-5 narrow dark stripes on sides.

male and female shown above

Anableps dowi Gill 1861, the Pacific Four Eye. Pacific; Southwestern Mexico to Nicaragua. To almost nine inches in length. Brackish to marine. Temp. 24-28 C. Upper body is dark brown, below is a yellow band, with brown under this.


Anableps microlepis Muller & Troschel 1844, Foureyes. South American; Trinidad, Venezuela to the Amazon Delta. To a foot in length. Has two narrow bands bordering yellow area in-between along body.


Subfamily Jenynsiinae

Jenynsia spp.




To 12 cm. Egglayer


Bibliography/Further Reading:

Jackson, Lee. Anableps, the four-eyed fish. Thanks to a thicker lens on top, Anableps vision above the water is as clear as it is below. TFH 8/87.

Klee, Albert J. 1968. Anableps, the four-eyed fish. The Aquarium 10/68.

Neal, Tom. 1998. Those fabulous Four-Eyes! TFH 3/98.

Taylor, Edward C. 1980. Anableps. The amphibious livebearer, pt.s 1,2 FAMA 11,12/80.

West, Patricia J. & Charles Lydeard. 1995. The fabulous four-eyed fish. TFH 7/95.


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