Sunday 24 November 2013

Two new species of Armored Catfish from Columbia.

Armored Catfish, Loricariidae, are large river-dwelling Fish native to Central and South America. They are covered in plate-like bony scales, and have distinctive 'suckermouths' used to attach themselves to a substrate in fast flowwing waters while still breathing. They are the largest group of Catfish, with over 680  described species and a fossil record that dates back to the Miocene. They are known in the aquarium trade as 'plecs'.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 26 April 2013, Donald Taphorn of Belleville Illinois, Jonathan Armbruster of Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn University, Francisco Villa-Navarro of the Grupo de Investigación en Zoología at the Facultad de Ciencias at the Universidad del Tolima and Keith Ray, also of the Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn University, describe two new species of Armored Catfish in the genus Ancistrus as part of a wider study into the genus in Panama, Colombia and Venezuela.

The first new species described is named Ancistrus tolima, where 'tolima' refers to both to Yulima, a Pijao princes who was murdered by the Spanish conquistadores, and to the Department of Tolima in Columbia, where the Fish was discovered. Ancistrus tolima is a 26-77 mm dark olive or brown Catfish with light green or yellow spots. It was found living in shallow streams with little vegetation and a sand or gravel bottom in the Upper Magdalena River drainage system.

Live specimen of Ancistrus tolima. Taphorn et al. (2013).

The second new species is named Ancistrus vericaucanus, meaning 'true inhabitant of the Cauca'; another species has previously been named Ancistrus caucanus (inhabitant of the Cauca), however this species is now known to be restricted to the Magdalena River drainage and is not found in the Cauca River. Ancistrus vericaucanus is 47-72 mm Armored Catfish. The species is described from specimens collected in November 2006 and preserved in alcohol; the original colour of these specimens is unclear.

Specimen of Ancistrus vericaucanus, preserved in alcohol. Taphorn et al. (2013).

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