New loach genus described

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A new species of nemacheiline loach found in Iran has been placed in a genus of its own.

Loach expert Teodor Nalbant and Brian Coad, an ichthyologist specialising in the fishes of Middle East, described the fish as Ilamnemacheilus longipinnis in a paper in the relatively obscure journal Travaux Du Museum D'Histoire Naturelle Grigore Antipa.

The loach was discovered by Coad in 1978 in the Meymeh River - a former tributary of the Tigris River that is part of the Euphrates drainage - in the Ilam Province of western Iran on the Iraqi border, but has only just been formally named.

The authors believe that the species is a close relative of another undescribed loach found in Syria: "This genus and species appear closely related with an undescribed specimen from Syria in the Orontes basin (in the collection of the Zoological Museum in Munchen), concerning the shape of body, length or pelvics and forked caudal fin. However, Ilamnemacheilus differs very much from the Syrian specimen in the number of dorsal rays (10 vs 9), mouth structure, digestive system and the shape of the gas-bladder."

The genus is characterised by a number of features including a high, laterally compressed body, large head, small eyes and mouth, forked tail and a long dorsal fin with 10 branched rays. The new species is pale brown in colour and has unusually long paired fins.

Nalbant and Coad plan to discuss the genus in greater detail in a future paper on nemacheiline loaches.

For more information see the paper: Coad B and T Nalbant (2005) - A new genus and a new species of remarkable nemacheilid fish from Iran (Pisces: Ostariophysi: Nemacheilidae). Museum D'Histoire Naturelle Grigore Antipa, Vol. XLVIII, pp 303-308. December 30, 2005.