New blind catfish and eel found in India

Dec 14, 2012 by Lin Edwards report
Top: Horaglanis krishnai Menon; Middle: H. alikunhii Babu & Nayar; Bottom: H. abdulkalami Babu. Credit: Photos: K.K. Subhash Babu.

(Phys.org)—A research team in the southern Indian state of Kerala has discovered a new species of blind catfish living in a deep well. The newly discovered fish was named Horaglanis abdulkalami in honor of a former president of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, whose contributions to science had inspired the scientists.

The team was led by Dr. Bijoy Nandan of Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) and Assistant Professor K. K Subash Babu of Jimma University in Ethiopia (who was previously at CUSAT). They were studying the organisms living in the old well in Irinjalakuda in the Thrissur district when they found the blind catfish, which is only 3.5-4 cm long and bright blood-red in color, with no eyes. The catfish feeds on organic matter in the sediments at the bottom of the well.

The fish was examined using a (SEM), which revealed its skin was covered in pores, especially in the head area, indicating the fish respires through its skin as well as through the gills.

The blind catfish is the third so far discovered in Kerala state, but H. abdulkalami differs from the other two, H. alikunhii and H. Krishnai, in gill membrane physiology and the structure of its dorsal and caudal fins.

The newly discovered catfish is one of several species of hypogean (living underground) catfish, and like many catfish is a bottom feeder. In the paper, the scientists say that the presence of H. abdulkalami in the old dug-out well indicates it can travel between wells through interconnected water channels through the laterite rocks, as H. alikunhii is known to do.

In the same region the researchers also discovered a previously unknown species of blind eel, which they called Monopterus trichurensis after the district in which they found it. The researchers said their discoveries are significant because the groundwater aquifers in Kerala and elsewhere in India are rich in biodiversity but are poorly documented.

The next phase in the research is to sequence the genome of the catfish to determine its relationships with similar in India and elsewhere. Further studies are also planned to determine the lifespan of the blind catfish and eel. Dr. Nandan said initial indications were that they could "live for a couple of years."

The paper was published in the Indian science journal Samagra.

Explore further: Cats relax to the sound of music

More information: Horaglanis abdulkalami, a new hypogean blind catfish (Siluriformes: Clariidae) from Kerala, India. K. K. Subash Babu (51-56) (PDF)

Related Stories

Eel-like catfish can 'walk' on land

Apr 13, 2006

A researcher at Belgium's Ghent University reportedly has discovered an eel-like catfish that can wriggle out of the water to stalk prey on land.

Catfish study reveals multiplicity of species

Jan 05, 2011

Peer into any stream in a South American rainforest and you may well see a small shoal of similar-looking miniature catfish. But don't be fooled into thinking that they are all the same species.

'Squeaker' catfish communicate across generations

Jan 29, 2010

It has been thought that young fish, lacking well-developed hearing organs, could not perceive the sounds made by their larger, older relatives. Now, researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Biology have u ...

Poisonous Poisson

Dec 04, 2009

In contrast to the exhaustive research into venom produced by snakes and spiders, venomous fish have been neglected and remain something of a mystery. Now, a study of 158 catfish species, published in the ...

Recommended for you

Cats relax to the sound of music

1 hour ago

According to research published today in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery by veterinary clinicians at the University of Lisbon and a clinic in the nearby town of Barreiro in Portugal, music is likew ...

Fruit flies crucial to basic research

3 hours ago

The world around us is full of amazing creatures. My favorite is an animal the size of a pinhead, that can fly and land on the ceiling, that stages an elaborate (if not beautiful) courtship ritual, that can ...

Crete's mystery croc killed by cold snap

3 hours ago

A man-eating crocodile that became an attraction on the Greek island of Crete last year after its mysterious appearance in a lake has died, probably of cold, an official said Monday.

Hunting for living fossils in Indonesian waters

3 hours ago

The Coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis) was thought to be extinct for more than 60 million years and took the science world by storm in 1938 when it was re-discovered living in South Africa. This fish has ...

An elephant never forgets the way to the watering hole

5 hours ago

A study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B tracked the movement of elephants across the African savannah. The elephants chose the shortest distances towards watering holes, pin-pointing the lo ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.