Scientists Discover a New Species of Endangered Killifish

16 Jun, 2018

A beautiful new species of Killifish, Austrolebias wichi, is discovered in Argentia. Shown here, a male. Image Credit: Alonso et. al.

A beautiful new species of Killifish, Austrolebias wichi, was discovered in Argentina. Shown here, a male. Image Credit: Alonso et. al.

Austrolebias wichi is the name given to a beautiful, newly-discovered Killifish species hailing from Argentina. The new species description was recently published by researchers Felipe Alonso, Guillermo Enrique Terán, Pablo Calviño, Ignacio García, Yamila Cardoso, and Graciela García, in an open access journal article in PLoS ONE.

A. wichi is an attractive species. Males sport dark fins, vertical barring, and beautiful blue spotting on the posterior half of the body.

Males of Austrolebias wichi. Image Credit: Alonso et. al.

Males of Austrolebias wichi. Image Credit: Alonso et. al.

Being sexually dichromatic, females of the new species sport an altogether different appearance. While not brightly colored, their pale bodies are covered with large dark spots.

Females of the new species Austrolebias wichi. Image credit: Alonso et. al.

Females of the new species Austrolebias wichi. Image credit: Alonso et. al.

Unfortunately, the scientists describing this species already consider it to be in great peril, writing, “This species was found in a single pond, a paleochannel of the Bermejo River, which is seriously disturbed by soybean plantations surrounding it. Despite intensive sampling in the area, this species was only registered in this pond where it was relatively scarce. Therefore, we consider this species as critically endangered.”

Fig 6. Type locality of Austrolebias wichi, which is also home to the only currently known population of the new species. This ephemeral pond is depicted over the year: (A) January 2006, (B) January 2014, (C) April 2017, (D) August 2012. Image Credit: Alonso et. al.

Fig 6. Type locality of Austrolebias wichi, which is also home to the only currently known population of the new species. This ephemeral pond is depicted over the year: (A) January 2006, (B) January 2014, (C) April 2017, (D) August 2012. Image Credit: Alonso et. al.

A. wichi is an eye-catching species, with an appearance similar to several related species, including Austrolebias patriciae, A. varzeae, and A. carvalhoi. While it’s unlikely that you’ll find A. wichi in the aquarium hobby, especially given its proposed endangered status, some of these sister species are available on occasion through fellow killifish specialists. These substrate-spawning annual killies are considered some of the more difficult to keep in the aquarium, so be sure to do your homework before attempting to acquire and keep any of these fishes.

Reference:

Alonso F, Terán GE, Calviño P, García I, Cardoso Y, García G (2018) An endangered new species of seasonal killifish of the genus Austrolebias(Cyprinodontiformes: Aplocheiloidei) from the Bermejo river basin in the Western Chacoan Region. PLoS ONE 13(5): e0196261. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0196261

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About the author

Matt Pedersen
Matt Pedersen

Matt Pedersen is a Sr. Editor and Associate Publisher with Reef To Rainforest Media, LLC, including AMAZONAS & CORAL Magazines. Matt has kept aquariums for 35 years, has worked in most facets of the aquarium trade, is an active aquarist and fish breeder (both marine and freshwater), and was recognized with the 2009 MASNA Award as the MASNA Aquarist of the Year.

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