New fish found in Colombian cave

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A new species of cave trichomycterid catfish has been described from Colombia.

Cesar Castellanos-Morales named the new catfish Trichomycterus uisae (after the abbreviation of the Universidad Industrial de Santander, UIS) in the latest issue of the journal Neotropical Ichthyology.

The new species is known from the Cueva El Misterio located in the upper Sogamoso river basin of the Departamento de Santander in the northeastern portion of the Andean range of Colombia, and can be distinguished from congeners by the following combination of characters: anterior and posterior fontanels separated but connected by a narrow channel, five to nine opercular odontodes, mouth width 32.6-41.2% of head length, head depth 48.6-66.3% of head length, reduced pigmentation consisting of a narrow predorsal dark bluish-gray stripe from the nape to the origin of the dorsal fin and ground coloration light-brown without spots, variable reduction of eyes from 7.4 to 11.1% of head length, nasal, maxillary and rictal barbels 85.2-108%, 93.6-111.8% and 55.1-70.2% of head length respectively, caudal fin with a slightly convex margin, and the dorsal lobe of the caudal-fin longer than the ventral lobe.

Of the type locality, the author writes, he cave, with a total of 110 m of explored passages, is isolated from the epigean stream and is oriented longitudinally with galleries formed by gentle slope tunnels and narrow passageways.

The cave has small wells interconnected by reduced descending channels where water infiltration was observed.

In dry months, an isolated sump pool was observed at each gallery. The bottom of each well is rocky and contains much sediment composed chiefly of bat excrement. Cydnid bugs (Hemiptera: Heteroptera) were found inside the wells.

Diptera, crayfish and bats were observed in the interior of the galleries. Water temperature, when the holotype was collected, was 20C and cave temperature was 18.5C.

For more information, see the paper: Castellanos-Morales, CA (2008) Trichomycterus uisae: a new species of hypogean catfish (Siluriformes: Trichomycteridae) from the northeastern Andean Cordillera of Colombia. Neotropical Ichthyology 6, pp. 307"314.