Two new hamlet species described

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Two new species of hamlets (Hypoplectrus) have been described by ichthyologist Phillip Lobel in a review of the genus published in a recent issue of the journal Zootaxa.

The two new species are named Hypoplectrus maya and H. randallorum respectively. Hamlets are a group of small reef fishes found throughout the Caribbean that feed on crustaceans and small fishes. There are 13 species of hamlets currently recognised.

The Maya hamlet (H. maya) is distinguished from congeners by its solid deep iridescent blue colour and lack of black margins on fins while the Tan hamlet (H. randallorum) is similarly distinguished by its uniformly light brown to tan coloured body with distinct nose spots, a spot at the base of the pectoral fin and a caudal peduncle spot.

The Maya hamlet is known only from Belize, while the Tan hamlet (recognised as a distinct species since 1960) has a wider distribution and is known from the Florida Keys, Puerto Rico, West Indies and Belize.

Both species are predators of small benthic shrimp, crabs, mysids (pelagic shrimp), mantis shrimps and tiny fishes, sometimes also eating cleaner gobies (Elacatinus).

For more information, see the paper: Lobel, PS (2011) A review of the Caribbean hamlets (Serranidae, Hypoplectrus) with description of two new species. Zootaxa 3096, pp. 1–17.

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