Two new species of Lepidocephalichthys loaches described

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Two new species of Lepidocephalichthys loaches have been described in a revision of the genus by Justin Havird and Lawrence Page.

In addition to the two new species, the revision, published in the most recent issue of the journal Copeia, recognises 15 other valid species. The two new species are named L. alkaia and L. kranos.

Lepidocephalichthys alkaia
This species is known from the Irrawaddy and Salween river drainages in Myanmar. It is distinguished from congeners in having a dark mid-lateral stripe on the caudal fin extending along the entire length of the fin.

It is further distinguished from all Lepidocephalichthys in having a combination of a truncated or rounded caudal fin, top of the head without scales, the presence of a dark stripe or dark spots on the side of the body, dorsal-fin origin just behind pelvic-fin origin, 8–10 predorsal and 8–10 postdorsal dark bars on the back and a moderate size (to 38mm standard length). 

The species is named after the tail-like dark stripe on the caudal fin (alkaia is Greek for the lion's tail).

Lepidocephalichthys kranos
This species is distinguished from all congeners except L. irrorata in having large, exposed scales on the top of the head. It is distinguished from L. irrorata and L. arunachalensis by the dorsal-fin origin in front of the pelvic-fin origin and larger size (to 44mm standard length).

It is further distinguished in having a combination of a truncated/slightly emarginated caudal fin and a hunched body shape with a large muscular nape. 

Lepidocephalichthys kranos is known from the Mekong and Chao Phraya river drainages in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, where it frequents habitats with dense vegetation.

This species is named after the large exposed scales on the top of the head (Greek kranos=helmet).

The revision also redescribes the other 15 species in the genus considered valid: L. annandalei, L. arunachalensis, L. berdmorei, L. coromandelensis, L. furcatus, L. goalparensis, L. guntea (pictured above), L. hasselti, L. irrorata, L. jonklaasi, L. lorentzi, L. manipurensis, L. micropogon, L. thermalis, and L. tomaculum.

For more information, see the paper: Havird, JC and LM Page (2010) A revision of Lepidocephalichthys (Teleostei: Cobitidae) with descriptions of two new species from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar. Copeia 2010, pp. 137–159.