Two new bagrid catfish described from Aceh

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A pair of ichthyologists have described two new species of bagrid catfish from from Aceh in northern Sumatra.

Renny Hadiaty of the Division of Zoology at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences and Heok Hee Ng of the University of Michigan's Museum of Zoology described the new bagrid catfishes as Leiocassis aculeatus and Mystus alasensis in Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters.

The two new fish were found in the Alas River in the province of Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra - an area devastated by the tsunami last year, and one almost completely unexplored ichthyologically.

One of the fish, Leiocassis aculeatus, is said to be similar to L. poecilopterus, but has a slightly longer adipose fin and longer dorsal and pectoral spines.

The second new catfish, Mystus alasensis, like M. nigriceps, M. castaneus and M. impluviatus, has a long, low adipose fin, a uniform colour and maxilliary barbels which reach past the base of the tail fin.

However, M. alasensis lacks the triangular dark mark often seen at the base of the caudal which is a common character in other Mystus species, including the three most similar ones.

Ng and Hadiaty say that the fish fauna of Aceh and the rest of northern Sumatra is one of the most poorly known in Asia, since most previous studies have focused on the fishes found in the south.

A study of the Alas river drainage by researchers from the Research Centre for Biology at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences found many endemic fishes present there, all of which have been shown to be new to science.

For more details on the new species see the paper: Ng, HH and RK Hadiaty (2005) - Two new bagrid catfishes (Teleostei: Bagridae) from the Alas River drainage, northern Sumatra. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters. Vol. 16. No. 1, pp. 83-92.