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latin names
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ant1
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Joined: 09 Mar 2011
Location: barnsley

PostPosted: 2011.03.15(Tue)16:07    Post subject: latin names Reply with quote

I've been looking around the site for a while now and I was wondering why almost every fish is mentioned by its latin name.they're are a few that I recognise but the rest go over my head and I find myself googling to find the common name is there a page that covers this subject by any chance?.
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Topper
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Joined: 22 Feb 2008
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: 2011.03.16(Wed)11:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

The scientific or Latin names (genus and species) are specific to a particular species of fish. A single species can have as many as three or four common names and some of these are used for more than one species (angelfish, Blue Gourami, zebra, rainbow, dwarf cichlid, etc.). In the case of angelfish, there are two distinct freshwater species - Pterophyllum scalare which encompasses almost all angels you will see in a store (marble, half black, koi, etc.) and also Pterophyllum altum which are quite rare and a different species. The care needed for these two species is also different. And this doesn't take into account the five or six different genuses of saltwater angels with dozens of different species. Using the scientific name avoids any confusion.

It's a good idea to become familiar with the more common genuses in the hobby. You might be surprised at how quickly you pick up on the different classifications and subsequently the individual species.

My biggest problem is not that I don't recognize the latin name - my problem is that I can rarely spell it correctly without looking it up.
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Peterjay
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Joined: 19 Feb 2011
Location: Gales Ferry, CT, USA

PostPosted: 2011.03.16(Wed)15:51    Post subject: Reply with quote

What makes it even tougher is that scientific names aren't necessarily Latin. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think "pterophyllum" is Greek for "winged leaf." "Scalare," I believe is Latin. There's a lot of mixing and matching, not to mention the animals that are named after various VIP's and discoverers, etc. Guess there's some value in being a classical scholar after all. When I took Latin in high school, I thought it was a waste of time, but now I wish I'd paid more attention.
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Joined: 22 Feb 2008
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: 2011.03.17(Thu)5:08    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
When I took Latin in high school, I thought it was a waste of time, but now I wish I'd paid more attention.


You've got that one right. Four years of Latin and French in high school and I can barely remember the basics. Yet I can get by in Japanese, Spanish and some Greek without one class. Laughing

As you are probably aware, most of the English language is derived from Latin and Greek words. In this hobby, learning the various popular genus' is not as overwhelming as you would think. For example, seeing Puntius you know it's a type of Barb. Once you make that connection a few times, remembering the more popular species names in scientific terms isn't too tough.
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Peterjay
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Joined: 19 Feb 2011
Location: Gales Ferry, CT, USA

PostPosted: 2011.03.18(Fri)6:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess it's a matter of motivation. I had five years of Spanish in HS/college, and the best that can be said is that I have a pretty good accent and I can order a cup of coffee. Yet I taught myself French and I'm reasonably comfortable with it. (at least for an American LOL)

Something I've done is make up lists of the scientific names of fish and plants along with descriptions and common names, and it helps when I'm browsing an LFS. I don't have them all memorized by any means, but writing them down seems to make it easier to remember later.
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diademhill
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Joined: 18 Apr 2007

PostPosted: 2011.03.18(Fri)7:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

I took Latin & wish I'd had the chance to study Greek too.

As an example of confusion when using common names:-

How many times has someone bought a supposedly peaceful upside down catfish and ended up with the highly predatory Mystus leucophasis instead of the good community fish Synodontis nirgrventris?
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unissuh
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Joined: 29 Mar 2005
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: 2011.03.19(Sat)0:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another - the "siamese algae eater". Laughing

That said, misidentified fish can be a problem even with scientific names. There are many similar species on the market and many don't get it right, Corydoras spp are a fairly classic example. The other caveat is that species may also be known under multiple scientific names. To use a recent example Anubias afzelli is also known as Anubias congensis and Anubias heterophylla; the first name is also often incorrectly applied to a very different small Anubias variant.
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