Three eel catfish described

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Belgian scientists have described three new species belonging to the African eel-like clariid genus Channallabes.

Publishing their results in the latest issue of the journal Belgian Journal of Zoology, Stijn Devaere, Dominique Adriaens and Walter Verraes of Ghent University describe Channallabes ogooensis and C. teugelsi in one study and C. sanghaensis in another.

The eel-like clariids of Africa are also rediagnosed in the first study, with Gymnallabes alvarezi and Clariallabes longicaudatus both reassigned to Channallabes.

Channallabes ogooensisThis species is known from the Ogowe River drainage in central west Africa, and can be distinguished from C. longicaudatus and C. teugelsi in having the anterior edge of the pectoral spine with weak or lacking serrations, from C. alvarezi in having fewer dorsal- and anal-fin rays (100"113 vs. 110"160 and 85"102 vs. 101"155 respectively) and the presence of a pale spot on the skull roof, and from C. apus in having an interdigitating joint between the entopterygoid and quadrate and a large, pronounced process on the fourth infraorbital that reaches the rostral border of the eye.

Channallabes teugelsiThis species is known from the Ivindo and Ogowe river drainages in central west Africa and can be distinguished from C. longicaudatus and C. ogooensis in having strong serrations only on the anterior edge of the pectoral spine, from C. alvarezi in having fewer dorsal- and anal-fin rays (99"109 vs. 110"160 and 90"100 vs. 101"155 respectively) and the presence of a pale spot on the skull roof, and from C. apus having an interdigitating joint between the entopterygoid and quadrate and a large, pronounced process on the fourth infraorbital that reaches the rostral border of the eye.

Channallabes sanhaensisThis species is known from the Congo River drainage in central Africa, and can be distinguished from C. alvarezi, C. longicaudatus, C. teugelsi and C. ogooensis in having a having a small process on the fourth infraorbital that does not reach the rostral border of the eye.

It differs from C. apus in having a fenestra between the scapulocoracoid and the cleithrum, large foramina at the bases of the parapophyses of the first few post-weberain vertebrae and two large lateral processes on the second dorsal-fin pterygiophore.

For more information, see the papers: Devaere, S, D Adriaens and W Verraes (2007) Survey of the anguilliform Clariidae of Gabon and Republic of Congo, with description of two new species and key to the African clariid genera. Belgian Journal of Zoology 137, 99"109; and Devaere, S, D Adriaens and W Verraes (2007) Channallabes sanghaensis sp. n., a new anguilliform catfish from the Congo River basin, with some comments on other anguilliform clariids (Teleostei, Siluriformes). Belgian Journal of Zoology 137, 17"26.