A small and brightly coloured freshwater fish native to Africa and tropical America.
- Family Characidae: numerous species, including the piranhas and popular aquarium fishes such as the tetras.
- Each year since 1960, more than 35 tropical American species of fishes, including catfishes, characins, electric fishes, killifishes, and cichlids, have been newly described and named.
- And some fossil catfishes, lungfishes, and characins date back to the Late Cretaceous, 70 million years ago.
- These streams are occupied on the south slope by a subset of the fish that characterize freshwater rivers in the Orinoco Basin in Venezuela, including cichlids and characins.
Late 19th century: from modern Latin Characinus (genus name), from Greek kharax, literally 'pointed stake', denoting a kind of fish.
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