New plec described from Orinoco

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A new species of loricariid catfish has been described from the Orinoco drainage in Venezuela.

Harttia merevari was discovered in the upper Caura River in the the Orinoco basin in Venezuela, South America, and is a member of the loricariine tribe Hartiini.

The new species of tropical fish was captured close to the top of a 50m high waterfall called the Salto Para.

The waterfall divides the Caura River fish populations into two distinct groups, since it's an impassable boundary for anything downstream.

The authors say that the new species lives very near to the shore and was collected among large flat rocks in clear, fast to very-fast flowing water. The water was around 150cm/5' deep on average in the collection spots.

Harttia merevariThe fish, which was described by Provenzano, Machado-Allison, Chernoff, Willink and Petry in the latest edition of the journal Neotropical Ichthyology, is now one of 22 species in the Harttia genus and is one of the few members of the group from the Venezuelan portion of the Guyana Shield.

Most Harttia are found through the Amazon basin in the south east of Brazil, but a handful, including the new species, do occur in the Orinoco basin and the Guianas.

The dorsoventrally compressed (or flatenned) plec is light yellow in colour with small black speckles which form five dark bands around the rear portion of the body. The largest known specimen measures around 10cm/4" in length.

The fish gets its name "merevari" from the local Ye-kuana word for the Caura River.

For more details on the new species see the paper: Provenzano F; Machado-Allison A; Chernoff B; Willink P and P Petry (2005) - Harttia merevari, a new species of catfish (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from Venezuela. Neotropical Ichthyology, 3(4):519-524.