You just finished setting up and cycling your new 90 gallon aquarium, and after browsing your local fish shop you brought home a cute little guy from a tank labelled Green Terror.
You get home, get him settled and excitedly take some pics to post to your favorite dysfunctional Facebok fish group. Within the replies to your post you get a few comments saying that you don't actually have a Green Terror, and what you really have is a Gold Saum. You feel a bit gutted, a bit of denial, you do a Google search and read a few forum posts that confirm you do have a Green Terror. But the other folks are adamant that it's a Gold Saum. At this point the confusion is real.
So what's going on here?
Let me start with a bit of history.
In the early 1970's the Silbersaum first appeared in the aquarium hobby, imported to Germany from Peru. This fish was known as the Green Terror, due to its highly aggressive nature. At the time this fish was mistakenly described as Aquiedens Rivulatus, a strikingly similar, albeit different fish from the same family. Due to this mistaken description, fish stores and keepers alike began importing the Rivulatus (Gold Saum) and selling them as Green Terror. Fast forward to 2009 and the original Green Terror first adopted into the hobby, nearly 40 years earlier is re-described as Andinoacara Stalsbergi.
In an attempt to distinquish the two in the the hobby the Rivulatus was renamed the False Green Terror. By this time Green Terror had already stuck and continued to stick, so instead the Stalsbergi was given the name the True Green Terror.
Okay... So what's the difference then?
And why can't they both just be called Green Terror.
There are some major differences, not only in appearance, but in size and temperament. The reason they shouldn't be both called Green Terror is simple. If someone called your Jack Dempsey and Oscar the same fish would you agree? What about your mbuna and peacocks? Sure they're related but they aren't at all the same fish.
The Stalsbergi (Green Terror) is slightly smaller than the Rivulatus. But don't mistake this smaller size for being less of a fish. The Green Terrors aggressive temperament is many times that of the Gold Saum. That's not to say Saum's aren't aggressive, but they will generally play well with tank mates of similar size and aggression. A Green Terror however, won't hesitate to attack every thing in its path and they are known to be able to wipe entire tanks.
So how can you tell the difference?
The simplest way, is to look at the fin tips. Are they orange or white? If they're orange or reddish, you've definitively got yourself a Gold Saum. If they're white, you've got yourself a Green Terror, right? Well no. Just to fuck with you, nature decided to throw everyone a curve ball. The rivulatus comes in two naturally occurring color variations, the Gold Saum and the White Saum. So now what? You can still distinguish between a White Saum and Green Terror. The Saum's coloration band on the fins is quite a bit thicker than that of the Terror.
Further more, Saum's general scale pattern is a grey center with bright blueish green outsides, almost appearing as grey spots within the pattern, and bright blueish green war paint markings. The Green Terror, is just that. It is green. It's scales patter is a green center with a greyish outside and it lacks the bright blueish green of the Saum.
Chances are if you're reading this, you in fact, have a Saum.
Green Terrors are very rare in the hobby today and there are very few Stalsbergi breeders. Unless you specifically hunted down a Green Terror from one of these breeders, and instead picked one out of a "Green Terror" labelled tank at your LFS, there's a 99% chance you have either a White or Gold Saum.
Not to worry. Saum's are a brilliant and beautiful fish which are extremely personable and an absolute joy to keep.
So the next time you see someone posting pics of their new Green Terror, share this article with them to help educate them on the species they keep! Cheers!