Heiko Bleher (born October 18, 1944) is a German researcher, author, photographer and filmmaker best known in the scientific community for his contribution to the exploration of fresh and brackish water habitats worldwide and the discovery of many species of fish and aquatic plants, several of which carry his name, discovery location or are named in honor of Bleher's family including Hemigrammus bleheri,[1] Leporinus bleheri,[2] Bleheratherina pierucciae,[3] Streatocranus bleheri,[4] Channa bleheri,[5] Phenacogrammus bleheri,[6] Moenkhausia heikoi,[7] Chilatherina bleheri,[8] Vrisea bleheri,[9] Hyphessobrycon amandae, named for his mother, and various others.

Heiko Bleher
Born (1944-10-18) October 18, 1944 (age 75)
Known forIchthyological and Botanical field research worldwide
Awards1987 Book of Guinness Record for the discovery of the biggest freshwater Sawfish found in Central Australia in 1982; 1993
Chevalier des Grand Ordre Rocamadour du Diamant noir; 2008
Scientist of the year CAOAC; 2010
Fellow of The Explorers Club
Scientific career
FieldsExplorer, Researcher, Photographer, Film maker, Author, Editor


Heiko Bleher[10] was born in Frankfurt on Main, Germany. He is the fourth and last child of Ludwig Bleher and Amanda Flora Hilda Bleher, born Kiel. Bleher inherited his passion for freshwater fishes and aquatic plants from his mother.[11] Amanda Flora Hilda Bleher[12] was the daughter of Adolf Kiel – "Father of Water Plants" and pioneer of the modern aquarium starting in 1887, who established the world's largest plant and ornamental fish farm in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in 1900.[13]

At the age of 4, Bleher’s mother took him to Equatorial Guinea, in West Africa on a research expedition and 2 years later he accompanied his mother on a journey throughout Europe collecting plants and fishes. By age 7, he and his three siblings joined their mother on her adventurous exploration trip [14][15] deep into the "green hell" of the South American jungle, where they lived with natives. During this 2-year expedition from 1953 to 1955 his mother discovered many new aquatic plant species, fishes and other animals.[16] At the end of 1958, Bleher's family settled permanently in Brazil and established a water-plant nursery and fish-breeding hatchery called "Osiris" in the jungle outside of Rio de Janeiro. In 1962, Bleher moved to the US and later attended the University of South Florida, studying courses in ichthyology, biology, limnology, oceanography, parasitology, combined with the work at Elsberry's Fish Farm and at Gulf Fish Farm. Two years later, after his return to Rio de Janeiro, Bleher established his own export company "Aquarium Rio" and continued his research and collecting throughout Brazil.

At the end of 1964 Bleher introduced the first new species to be named after him, Hemigrammus bleheri (the brilliant rummy-head tetra) [17][18] to the aquarium hobby.

Bleher contributed to the rainbowfish species community by introducing Melanotaenia boesemani[19] and many of the other almost 100 species of Rainbowfish.[20][21][22] In 1970 Bleher was the first to collect live Pterophyllum altum from Venezuela [23][24]


  1. ^ Lima, F.C.T., L.R. Malabarba, P.A. Buckup, J.F. Pezzi da Silva, R.P. Vari, A. Harold, R. Benine, O.T. Oyakawa, C.S. Pavanelli, N.A. Menezes, C.A.S. Lucena, M.C.S.L. Malabarba, Z.M.S. Lucena, R.E. Reis, F. Langeani, C. Moreira et al. …, 2003. Genera Incertae Sedis in Characidae. p. 106-168. In R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander and C.J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, Brasil.
  2. ^ Géry, J., 1999. A new anostomid species, Leporinus bleheri n. sp., from the Rio Guaporé-Iténez basin, with comments on some related species (Teleostei: Ostariophysi, Characiformes). Aqua J. Ichthyol. Aquat. Biol. 3(3):105-112.
  3. ^ Aarn and W. Ivantsoff, 2009. Description of a new subfamily, genus and species of a freshwater atherinid, Bleheratherina pierucciae (Pisces: Atherinidae) from New Caledonia. Aqua Int. J. Ichthyol. 15(1):13-28.
  4. ^ Meyer, M.K., 1993. Description of a new Steatocranus species from Luapula River system, Zaire. Zoologische Abhandlungen, Staatliches Museum Für Tierkunde Dresden 47(9):113-120.
  5. ^ Zhang, C.-G., P. Musikasinthon and K. Watanabe. 2002. Channa nox, a new channid fish lacking a pelvic fin from Guangxi, China. Ichthyol. Res 49(2): 140-146.
  6. ^ Géry, J., 1995. Description of new or poorly known Alestinae (Teleostei: Characiformes: Alestidae) from Africa, with a note on the generic concept in the Alestinae. Aqua J. Ichthyol. Aquat. Biol. 1(4):37-64.
  7. ^ Carvalho, T.P. and V.A. Bertaco, 2006. Two new species of Hyphessobrycon (Teleostei: Characidae) from upper rio Tapajós basin on Chapada dos Parecis, central Brazil. Neotrop. Ichthyol. 4(3):301-308.
  8. ^ Allen, G.R., 1991. Field guide to the freshwater fishes of New Guinea. Publication, no. 9. 268 p. Christensen Research Institute, Madang, Papua New Guinea
  9. ^ Bromeliaceae Vriesea bleheri Roeth & W.Weber Bradea 2(38): 262. 1978
  10. ^ Corbihan, M., 2010. Heiko Bleher – Explorateur & Cherceur de poissons. L’aquarium à la maison, LRPresse SARL, Auray Cedex, FR – Septembre/Octobre 2010:33
  11. ^ May 30, 1968. TASPO Thalacker Allgemeine, Nr. 22, page 4
  12. ^ A. F. H. Bleher. Iténez – River of Hope, 2005, ISBN 88-901816-9-9
  13. ^ Neue Presse from July 14, 1953
  14. ^ Friederike Tinnapperl. Frankfurter Rundschau, December 31, 2005. Die Frau mit dem Tarzanherzen
  15. ^ Bleher, H., 1991. Abschied von Amanda Flora Hilda Bleher, geb. Kiel. Aquarium Heute, Bielefeld, Wien, 4/91: 46-47
  16. ^ April 4, 1955. El Mercurio. Familia Alemana Viviò Singular Aventura en Selvas de Brasil
  17. ^ Bleher, H., 1987. The Most Spectactular Rummy-nose – An odyssey in search of the fiery Hemigrammus bleheri. Tropical Fish Hobbyist, T.F.H. Publication Inc., New Jersey – U.S.A., April, 1987: 10-21
  18. ^ Bleher, H., 1989. Die Geschichte des echten Rotkopf-Salmlers Hemigrammus bleheri. Aquarium Heute, Bielefeld, Wien, 1/89: 49-51
  19. ^ (Allen, 1980) aus Irian Jaya. Datz, Germany, July: 274-276
  20. ^ Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine 1986. Collecting the Forktailed Rainbowfish, Popondetta furcata. Tropical Fish Hobbyist, March, 1986: 17-27
  21. ^ Practical Fishkeeping Magazine 2013. Discoveries: male, Melanotaenia sp. 5, male Pseudomugil cf. inconspicus, male Pseudomugil, cf. paludicola, male Etna Bay Melanotaenia sp. 2. Practical fishkeeping, Emap Active Ltd., Peterbourgh – UK, Issue 10: 98-99.
  22. ^ Practical Fishkeeping Magazine 2015. "All the colours of the rainbow". Practical fishkeeping, Emap Active Ltd., Peterbourgh – UK, Issue 11: 70-73.
  23. ^ Amazonas Magazine 2011. Aktuelles über “Blattfische“. Amazonas Süßwasseraquaristik-Fachmagazin, German, Nr. 42 Juli/August: 14-20 (in German)
  24. ^ Nutrafin Aquatic News Magazine 2003. "Fishes in nature and in the aquarium" – Angelfishes and their history. Nutrafin Aquatic News, Italy, Issue #3: 4-6